End of a Decade : Timeless Jazz in Cheap Sauce

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new year

The face of an ending year is a horrible soul tape with spritzes of happiness.  As this year comes to an end I am forced to grapple with two questions. 

Is it just the beginning of a new ? 

Or the closing of a hued decade. 

I feel like a new decade should slide in jubilantly with a slew of whatsapp notifications. Shouts and wails. Ladies and Gentlemen celebrating ten years of unusual existence. In fact one that marks liberation of our kenyannese from the stalemate of political tumors. But we are still grappling with unequal opportunity rights, corruption and a host of bankrolled governance headaches. In this decade I even heard that one’s happiest day is like the moon. In search of this one moment of satisfaction, you miss out on myriads of  little stars of happiness.

Perhaps the face of this new decade, as timeless as it seems; marks the beginning of a new era. A magical time we all expect to be perfect immediately. As I write this in the background of a fluid blur – 

I can’t help but wonder whether my grandmother  knows it. 

Does she even know this is the beginning of a new decade?

The old will be past and gone. Solid and forgotten. 

Marking the beginning of the new millennium at the start of this ending decade. Hama Tuma in “Who Cares for the New Millennium?” ; was skeptical as I am that most rural Africans would know a new year has come, let alone a new millenium. The question I would pose from Tuma’s perspective is that of a new decade. But here is the real deal that simply and clearly reveals the journey we’ve travelled those ten years. 

In the time of writing “Who Cares for the New Millenium” , Africa was a ticking clock whimsying in the hum of lucid struggles. Tribal politics, Ambitious Leaders (And in Ambitious I whatsoever not mean a positive attribute) – Kenyatta will be ambitious will he run for another term after 2022.

He will be no different from all African despots.

Allowing his presidency melt into a peaceful transition will slowly translate his name into the books of nobility. Nobility as the likes of Licoln. A time when the illiteracy level was more than 50% of the total African population.

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As of the writing of this post, the literacy level in Africa is more than 50%. Approaching the figures of 75% by mid 2020. This reveals close a 360 degrees review of reality, within ten years painting the story of Africa. So in asking that most Rural Africans would know a new decade has come -; is more likely cynist than Snowwhite’s step mom. 

Pretend that it doesn’t matter and usher this new year like you’ve done with the rest. 

Armed with a to-do list and ten annual goals you have in mind. No dear. The bitter truth is that your are repeating a tragedy. Fewer than One in ten achieve their annual goals. You know why? 

It’s because they all appropriate success with the high school timetable analogy. If need be perfom an autopsy on the past ten years of your life ; dissect your various decisions one by one through the years. Slice into the months and reveal the fragments glued into each. Fragments that have only made one out of your ten annual goals circle into childish dreams. 

I don’t mean it’s bad to have goals. 

Haven’t you heard that people want to change goals yet they don’t want to change their approach. What bigger tragedy awaits you than repeating mistakes of the past ten years; for another ten years? 

The most impoverished people? The highest infant mortality rate? The highest number of ADS victims? The most number of refugees? The highest number of illiterates? The least developed countries? Ask any such question and the answer is Africa. Wouldn’t it be better to claim that sometime in the past millennium they, whoever they may be, have conspired with our unelected leaders and stolen our next millennium and all the possibilities of our welcoming it with joy?

Hama Tuma: “Who Cares for the New Millenium?’

Hama Tuma outlined several potentially life threatening issues that were the crux of Africa’s problems.

Most Impoverished people.

Highest number of AIDS victims.

Highest number of refugees. 

Highest infant mortality rate.

Least developed nations. 

Highest number of refugees.

I mean it when I say this New Year should be celebrated with flashes of headlines. A barrel of whatsapp notifications and Twitter posts signifying ten years of remarkable achievements. It is a particular special event that Africa’s people are not the most impoverished. Syria is the country from which the highest global population of refugees come from. (I say this with slight tremors of optimism – no one is proud of political asylum). The second, third and fourth are not even African states. 

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How about our very own Zimbabwe with a remarkable adult literacy rate of ninety percent. Although we haven’t won in the literacy front, the continent has made remarkable progress. We might have Swaziland leading among countries with the highest prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS; but the mortality rate of patients has greatly improved. We don’t’ have the richest countries or many individuals with a net worth equivalent to the GDP of several African nations put together; but the economy has improved. At least 65 percent of Kenyans live beyond the international poverty line of (more than $1.99 a day). 

So Hama, you answer is a bit delayed for it comes ten years later on a Sulky 31st December afternoon. 

Come January 2, 2000, tell me, if you will, if the new millennium has relieved us of the likes of Iyadema, Kabila, of famine and AIDS, of subservience to the West and of poverty, or if it even promises to do some of that and I will eat back all my bleak words and apologize and hail the new millennium with the fervor of a Bill Gates or of any African tyrant who had been hoping to continue to dance on our backs.

Hama Tuma: “Who Cares for the New Millennium?”

The sun is hidden under pulses of tiny clouds. I have to adjust the panes on my window to stare beyond the clouds. A dissolving light that will swallow into the shattered  darkness of a dissipating year. 

Hama: 

It’s not that we don’t have the least developed nations, highest number of infant mortality rate or numbers of impoverished people. Nearby in Kenya’s Turkana we have a big number. I wouldn’t claim that any of the unelected leaders have stolen this millennium and the possibilities of us living it with joy. Neither have they bailed us out of the next decade. But remember the numbers are still numbers.

No matter least in the world, or highest in the world. These numbers represent the lives of mothers, single dads and children like your little brother at home. It is not a high number of Syrian refugees seeking asylum in Palestine but Ahmed, Fatma and 52 million others forced out of their homes. It’s not a high number of infant mortality rate but the death of your neighbour’s son to a host of life threatening diseases. 

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Meanwhile, Yes the new millennium has redeemed us the likes of Kabila, Iyadema, famine and the effect of AIDS. Mortality rate for HIV patients has reduced to less than 15% in most African countries. The 15% is however still a number. A big one. However, should all these troubles deprive us the energy to jubilantly welcome a new decade? 

Happy New Year all of You.

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Finding my Heartbeat

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Before everything happened. 

We used to talk and people would listen. Am not talking about any people. The top cream. The  top one percent ruling caste. They are lost in disillusion. Colonialist fantasies that woefully make them appear as ghosts. 

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The last time I saw blood on my pavement was 11 years ago. The lingering faith of such peace is not existent everywhere as you would want me to conservatively profess. Freedom, democracy, unity are all  themes that explore the complex journey of healing a dying nation. Even darker is the subject of economic empowerment for the typical Kenyan. 

In considering the contemporary political scene, dispossession occurs to be a rather retrogressive debate. Sadly, a debate  clothed in sweetness and denied its sarcastic freedom. It is not that authorities have curtailed the freedom of expression in Kenya.  In fact, it is the safest point of any era so as to say- when you can speak anything , anywhere, however you want. Unless for hate speech which seemingly would spur tribal malfire or violence. 

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Will you even forget those times before I was born? When to pass across a point you had to gather a community of people; organize them on a public space and speak. Contemporary Kenya  and the world at large is a digital space. Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp groups and so forth.  Gone is the frustration of community gatherings and civic talks. The blogosphere also paints itself on the front end of communication. It is where artists of all kinds conjure varying tastes of  magic. 

But were community gathering a frustration really ?

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Perhaps just like me, your day began on a lighter note. Without reluctance, you warmly woke up from your bed and teamed with millions of others into the dreaded rat race. Unlike me, you neither complained the water tasted pints of salt. You alighted from the matatu and surprisingly had the audacity to  smilingly great the traffic officer. Damn , that should have been a frown.

The newspaper salesmen threw the Daily Nation and without freaking at the headline ; you gladly and disappointingly grabbed a hundred shillings and gave it to him. Trust me , I would have freaked at the headline of a Kenyan Newspaper. But you see, I can’t just come and shout at you that politicians are ghostly tenderpreneurs out there to auction the divided souls of its people. 

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Doesn’t it perplex you my dear, 

That you are sitting pretty  tuning from one station to another while a tint; in a long line of Jubilee scandals is worth $600 Million (Approximately Ksh 60 Billion) – Kimwarer Dam Scandal. Does it not frighten the hell out of you, your son someday is still going to attend those USELESS SHAMS of halls adorned as universities. 

[ Challenge: its fun haha  – read the above bolded capitalized words quickly , two times repeatedly — I can see how you desperately attempted to wear a foreign twang into the words, come on, Wee ni Mkenya; Mwafrika]

Well let’s go on. 

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Like me, you will  probably shout your way through the crowd, desperate that someone will hear; but unlike the 90s where the freedom of speech was curtailed – People would speak at the slightest opportunity and the public would lend its ear – this time you got full rights to the podium and no one listens. 

Find your Freedom 

Find your Heartbeat

What was, 

Is no more.