We are a society that “respects rules” — rules that we were not even involved in creating; we are unmindful members of cultures of conformity that devalue our own identities. And this is what needs to change—and no new technology, no new constitution, no new institution will bring us that change. Instead, as a country and as individuals, we must interrogate ourselves—ask ourselves if we can only accept others only when they are like us.
In Gîkûyû we say kîa mwene kîrî ruo, which loosely translates to what belongs to the owner hurts. In other words, you feel it when what you’ve worked hard for goes to waste. Most of us learnt financial discipline from parents who valued the little they had because it literally took hours to make a hundred shillings, the equivalent of a dollar.
Fast forward to 2018 and I work with a great team at Nova Pioneer, an educational startup changing the way education is done in Africa. The office feels like home and the team feels like family. I’ve shared the joy of avocados with the team more that six times now. A colleague asked why I don’t sell the avocados to them and I joked, “I am just giving samples like a drug dealer, and soon you’ll all be hooked and I’ll start charging.” And just like any good joke, there’s a kernel of truth in this joke.
I grew up in a small village called Kabazi in Nakuru County, about a three hour drive from here. As kids in the village, there’s this nursery rhyme that we would sing in Gikuyu, my first language. Fortunately or unfortunately, my memory of the rhyme’s lyrics and rhythm has since faded.