Hakuna matata

Posted: August 26, 2009 in Kenyan


Today morning in a matatu, on my way to work, I saw a man slithering, rugged and tattered. He looked beaten and agonized. His pants almost falling off, I thought he was rushing for a piss but that didn’t appeal much to sense.  I puzzled asking my friend questions hoping that he would stub my concern out with his usual genius speculations. At that realization, I paused as if to cry for the man, I wanted to cry thinking it would relief me off of blame. People didn’t seem to bother; all focused on errands, cars rushing by, passengers stuck in matatus, heading to workplaces all too busy to make an extra shilling but not rescue a wounded spirit.

I, too, stand accused. I am guilty of being part of an idiosyncratic people. Our compassion is draining out and not too long ago, we were well thought-out as gentle and warm. Remember the song Hakuna matata? (The title of the song is in Swahili referring to Kenya as hassle free nation.  The song is now an ironical background song in our country at present). Where did we go wrong? The city of sun is a big ghetto, hardening us not to over play fear and other thwarting sentiments.  A few weeks ago, I was… or rather we saw a a dead man, covering the eyes of the children not witness the horror, as we whisked them away from the late night scene. Singing songs and lying in their ears so that they could stop howling. They, too, had heard the blaring gunshots and witnessed grownups petrified, fleeing and abandoning them from the scene. (I

That was in the serene country side, Karatina, in Central Kenya, where we had gone for a family get-together. In the villages, such episodes are relatively odd. And as the incident quickly spread to make itself agenda, it was palpable to point out the visiting Nairobi onlookers, who didn’t seem dumbfounded, some sipping off their beers watching from the balcony without much care, still mesmerized by the fair price of beer in the countryside.

Nonetheless, residents knew the deceased as a police officer, who was said to have had a brief confrontation moments before he walked out of the bar only to meet his death angel.  About a month before the happen, the deaths of law enforcers were making shocking headlines in some media outlets.  Later on as I told my story to my fellowsback in Nairobi, they gawked impassively as if it was never news.

Several weeks before, an early morning crowd was drawn to an off road trench, where a body lay cold dead. And as our matatu driver strolled by to present himself a chance to inspect the corpse, I saw it.  His eyes deep and intent, his face without a trace of the last word he said. It looked like he had been mugged or maybe dumped after killed by gangsters. As we drove off, the vehicle that had burst out in loud murmurs at the sight of the dead man quickly faded to silence, nothing to fuss about. Obviously the chapter had been long forgotten.  There is too much insanity going on, and to over emphasize for us is to over empathize. But what a shame, that we cannot trace how we got to such a point?


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