The First of June was Madaraka day. It was a day to celebrate Kenya and being Kenyan. It was a time for us to revel in our Kenyanhood and Kenyanness.
And just like everyone else I was then, and I still am now proud to call Kenya Home and Motherland. Many of my friends question this, what with my stinging critique and wholesome derision of the Government. What I tell them is my love for my country has nothing to do with Government.
And just like everyone else I sat down and watched the first few minutes of the festivities. However this was where we parted ways with everyone else. Most people watched with pride as teachers, soldiers, firemen, policemen and even girl guides and boy scouts marched past the presidential dias. Me? I viewed it with acute resentment.
And at a given signal, each and everyone of the marchers would look to the right and salute the dias.
The straw that broke the camel’s back. I viewed this as a slap in the face — a mockery of the hard working people that ARE Kenya.
All of us have at one time or another have participated in a parade. It may have been at those ubiquitous national day celebrations or it may have been at school. Remember if you will standing under that hot sun, in the sweltering heat, waiting as endless speeches were read. Allow me to draw your attention to one fact — that there are a group of people WATCHING the parade, nestled comfortably under tents with cold drinks in hand.
This invariably was the school administration. At the very front were the headmaster and his deputies. Behind them were the other teachers. Behind those were the support staff. And finally the lucky parents who could fit in the tents. The other parents would sit on benches usually occupied by riotously shouting boys singing unbelievably dirty rugby cheering songs, or on seats brought from the classroom.
Similar parallels can be observed in history. Look at the conquering Romans under the leadership of men like Hadrian, Augustus, Trajan and Domitian. Over aggressive expansion programs, or while securing their borders, they build stadiums, collosseums and ampitheates. OUTSIDE their garissons — for the locals.
These stadiums were designed along George Bush -esque lines — to shock and awe the dominion. Of grand construction. Villagers and soldiers would parade and march before interesting activities like gladiators fighting to the death. The subdued would watch all this opulence and strength and discipline and the urge to resist would be silenced. They would hear from the lips of the Romans just how much better life was under them.
And then there would be the fights to the death of the gladiators, and for innovative emperors like Domitian, conquests between women and dwarfs.
And all the while the emperors and centurions and other officials would sit on an elevated, shady pavilion, safely out of the reach of those pesky villagers and mere soldiers. These pesky elements would then provide the entertainment, be it song and dance or butchering each other while blindfolded and tied together.
And some 2000 years later here I am watching the exact same thing, identical to a T.