Thursday, January 22, 2015

Langata Road Primary School teargassed, Ndlovu and Hector of South Africa memories, but for sure Malala is a force!



When they went to school on Monday 21st, January 2015, the students went to class as usual but at break time, they occupied their playground. It was time to play and chat, and have a bite. But they knew their land had been fenced off and a perimeter wall erected. They went in there as a matter of asserting their right to the land of their school. Months had passed since the land was stolen and nobody was moving a finger. Not the land minister, not the National Land Commission. 
A perimeter fence is the last sign one sees when such a piece of land is to be developed! The next thing would be a huge construction that rises with the speed of smoke for some of these buildings are also channels for money laundering. 
The children were well prepared to confront an evil that ails Kenya. 
Greed. Insatiable hunger for land by politicians mainly and the rich, so shameless cruel that it has spread its tentacles to public spaces, including police stations, i was to learn. Yet the police...
Sadly and in an unprecedented case in Kenya, police who had been stationed on the road near the school from as early as 6am in the morning teargassed them and other activists who were involved in the #Occupyschoolplayground. I laud those activists, Boniface Mwangi foremost who were there. There is so much to be done in the world why do some want to look away when another is active?
For many Kenyans it seemed to come as a surprise that children of a public primary school whose land was grabbed by a senior politician would come out with speakers and banners chanting: Haki yetu! Haki yetu! Words in Kiswahili whose beat and meaning every Kenyan can drum or march to! Our right! Our right!
The children were teargassed and injured by the police who stood on guard from 6 am before. Parents, teachers and pupils were in shock but so was Kenya and the world. 

Lucy Njeri fell unconscious from gas fumes. Has recovered now
but health problems remain. This man safely took her for treatment
and disappeared much to the joy of Lucy's mother. Daily Nation Newspaper
Photograph Sam Nzima. 1976, Soweto, S. Afrika. From Wikipedia
In no time the news flashed across the world live on the Internet. There was a round condemnation of the heinous act.  The violence of armed police who lobbed teargas canisters and led to much fear and panic among the students. Two activists Boaz Warungu, long standing activist and Irungu H, working in SID, Nairobi on inequalties were arrested.
I could hear and see the tears and cries of Soweto children piercing our sky. They too set out on a peaceful demonstration only that it was in resentment of a language being built on them as a priveleged medium of instruction.  
Recoil in the prospect of a repeat of a Hector Piertersen as I sit in a western capital still counting my days in exile. As I remembered how I we overcame teargas in our days and never imagined that unjustly as it is used most of the time, it will never be directed at children but it was. Kenyans in different parts of the globe followed the story live and it was in the world news channels and awash on Social Media. 
There is no doubt that anybody should expect to herd voiceless minors as it was when Victorian times expected women like 
children to be seen and not heard!
My immediate reaction on seeing the events unfold firstly through Shailja Patel on Fb, was to condemn this base action and to draw parallels with South Africa, the only place where in 1976 children died and Ndlovu and Hector Piertersen are remembered for this, fighting Apartheid oppression. Who is taking Kenyans so far back. It is now clear that the apartheid of Kenya is about land and the rich versus the poor. 
                      I remain with the children.

I looked up Soweto in 1976 and shares of the a very similar photo in South Afrika began to do the rounds. The next day I read that the Cabinet Secretary Information. Dr. Fred Matiang'i was concerned that Kenyans should dare compare Kenya with South Afrika. The hue and cry was that children were used to bring down a wall, which they did do because it was used to take away their land. 

So much for the silence on who grabbed this particular parcel of land and was he the same person who had taken a man's land in 2008 during Post Poll Violence? And why the phobia at comparisons with South Afrika? There was at time when Kenya was 'advanced' in such ethic and was a showcase for South Africa and other lands, and that time is not so far away. 
Why the fear of digital power? Indeed the Secretary went on to say that it is improper to ask the president questions without protocol, so to speak. But he is on Twitter and is Africa's leading political Twiteratti, why now?
Besides, on the children issue, who has not heard of Malala? Children too in the liberation movement of U.S.A?
An article actually comparing Kenyas tribalism which is just the tip that shows on the ownership of land and property in the country had already compared Kenya's system to that of Apartheid.
Some people are in denial of what the children of Langata Road Primary School achieved last week. They want to scare other children from this lesson of claiming their rights. They want silence. They are disturbed each time more by bloggers. But from the mouth of young ones and she is a blogger, this: “We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced” 
― Malala YousafzaiI Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Tali
"I am Malala" She returns to school after shooting and treatment and goes strong
“We human beings don't realize how great God is. He has given us an extraordinary brain and a sensitive loving heart. He has blessed us with two lips to talk and express our feelings, two eyes which see a world of colours and beauty, two feet which walk on the road of life, two hands to work for us, and two ears to hear the words of love. As I found with my ear, no one knows how much power they have in their each and every organ until they lose one.” 
― Malala YousafzaiI Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
I am not sure that most African top politicians are doing much good in a world where communication has evened us in terms of access to Social Media your Tweet being as possible as my status on Fb for instance, a world where progress is IT and critical thinking if they keep on holding children and adults down to worrying about school playgrounds and they in power! 
Faith of the vigilant, awake and living beyond death
Those who oppress the mind or try to are everywhere. Those we learn from not to allow that too are here. No age no death for truth. Love that.
Child abuse is rampant. Children with voices determinant.
Children need to speak out more, and to act. It is time for grandmothers and fathers to listen to the wisdom of those who have lent this earth to us, leased it for I too believe we have not inherited this earth but borrowed it from our children who in return must lend it to others as they grow up. 
Malala was shot as most of us know now because a state gone wrong, no matter where it is, has its different formations of gangs. And these prefer wisdom to be found in learning ignored.

The words of Malala to the world have been heard far and wide.
When nations are under critical stress children suffer much. They are not always heard or seen but when Malala was shot it was clear that  children need a hearing. What has followed has not disappointed. It is true that many children were killed and sadly, will die in her country but the message of truth stands.
Children all around the world have recently seen her honored in her courage. Yes, people should not work with only awards in mind but they must be encouraged to voice their grievances. Nutshell has seen many children who were never able to point at their abusers. Silenced they lived and died. The voices of children can change a struggle forever.

Children are not 'children' in all the ways we tend to think particularly in lands or countries that are under socio-political stress. 

Time to Say: No! Edited by Helmuth Niederle and Philo Ikonya is a collection of poems and other responses to the shooting of Malala Yousoufzai in Pakistan. Contributions were sent from all over the world as the call was made online. The youngest entrant was a 7 --year -old from Brazil. 

From Norway a student heard the teacher explain the concept and he sent his entry : "The teacher says we should say yes, so here I go, I say No!"

With children there is only the possibility of a short walk to freedom. Once they have understood their situation they do not sit calculating. 

This is one big ailment in a Kenya which in the past was often categorized as a passive society. In truth, its fame as a country of people who can take a firm stand against an oppressive situation with all its political dimensions taken into account is built on a individuals such as the late Wangari Maathai, Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate 2003. 

Indeed some activists are now working to recover a piece of land she tried to defend in vain in Nairobi. This time they were rebutted by a gang with crude weapons. Kenya needs to step back from the brink. Wangari taught one should do their little thing, hum if all that is one could do and these children have heard her and should hear her again https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGMW6YWjMxw
Kenyan adults, especially the rich and middle class need to learn. Some students carried posters that questioned their parents:

"Mum and Dad, what do you do to bring about change?" This is not an elite school which nobody would grab anyway. So the children are asking for our voices, dare we say no? 

To do this one must divest themselves of the inclination to act or look at poor governance and approve it just because one voted for that person or that person comes from their ethnic group. This is a challenge in Kenya.

After the reclaiming of the play ground, which is now part of the school again and during the whole thing, the person who has stolen this land would not take responsibility and speak out. In the end only some people would use the information also found online to point out who this is. He is a powerful person in Government who had used an intermediary. 


4 comments:

Boaz WARUKU said...

2015, Nairobi Kenya, more than 25 years after Kenyan and other world leaders committed in Jomtien Thailand, and 15 years to the dot after the Dakar Declaration on Education as a Right for Every Child, agencies of State called Kenya brutalized young innocent lives whose only aspiration was to access their play ground and play. Crazy that Hector and Ndlovu of Soweto and Sharpville got replayed here in KENYA.... This Madness Must STOP!

Philo Ikonya said...

You were arrested Boaz on this day. What moves me is that you are so proud of the children. I am too but I know how it feels days after arrest. So I thank you. I wish that people moved in haste like that against corruption!

Simran Bellani said...

This is horrible. How can police do teargas to innocent children. Dont they have a heart or have they become heartless in greed of material things? Irony is they wont be able to carry it to their grave. What they will be able to carry is their deeds and their heart which they have sold for money.

NN Mhango said...

Too bad, so sad. UhuRuto has lot direction if this is the real situation.

2017, Kenya post- election deadlock is old; who did not see it coming did not want to, and the child is dead

       Mathare Math in voice...for Raila Odinga     His mouth is open with fear. The palms of his hands with fingers open. This is a fla...