Opinion

So what, after carnival month of December?

So what, after carnival month of December?

Members of the public queue viewing a caged lion at the Nairobi Animal Orphanage on December 25, 2021.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

In Kenya, December is a month worthy of the title “The Carnival Month”, going by the feasting, dancing and merrymaking witnessed all around.

In December, Kenyans celebrate not one, but two birthdays: The first one, on December 12, is the birth of our independent nation in 1963 after 68 years of British colonial rule, while the second one, on December 25, is the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago.

And as with every birthday, after the festivities and gaiety comes the reflection and introspection: Taking stock of the dreams and aspirations of yesteryears and whether they have been achieved.

At the birth of our nation, our founding fathers had this lofty dream of a healthy, wealthy, peaceful and prosperous society free of ignorance, inequality and illiteracy.

During his sojourn on earth, Jesus of Nazareth, whose followers in Kenya are legion, filled his disciples with this wonderful dream of a just and righteous society guided by the tenets of love and forgiveness.

After the fete comes the moment of reckoning: Is ours the dream society aspired for by our founding fathers, and taught about by the Christ?

Well, of our founding fathers, the less said about them the better. For no sooner did they find themselves in the hallowed corridors of power than, for some, where a dream once flourished an insatiable appetite sprouted, and we their progeny, dutifully, devotedly and delightfully continue to water it.

Were Jesus to take a stroll along these shores and seek to know why we feast on the occasion of his birth yet disregard his teachings, we, like the grand inquisitor in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, would ask him, “Why have you come to meddle with us now?”

For ours is the story of a dream gone awry. But what happens when a nation’s dream goes awry, to paraphrase Langston Hughes, he of Montage of a Dream Deferred. It breeds all imaginable and unimaginable sins. No wonder, almost everything on these beloved shores has a negative tag: We talk of our porous borders, shoddy construction works, forged documents, irregular land allocation, ballooning public wage bill, jobless youths, loss-making state agencies.

Shocked, you pause to catch your breath, but not for long, for reckless matatu drivers rule our roads, aided by bribe seeking police officers, as our crooked legislators pander to the whims of the well-heeled in society.

And like Mama in Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raising in the Sun, asked rhetorically, after witnessing his son apparently straying away from the family’s dream, after we are done with the double birthday party, we must take stock of our 58 years of independence, and claims of a God-fearing society, and ask, “is this the harvest of our days?”

Tom Siambey, Kajiado