Monday, May 20, 2013

#OCCUPY PARLIAMENT: Finding Self in the Collective

I have only been back in Nairobi for nearly three months now. It has been an interesting journey. From settling into a new job to having to find new friends, I have realized that either something has changed in Kenya or something has majorly shifted in me and the way I think of social relations. If the latter is the case, then I guess this should be understandable. I mean, com’on, who lives in South Africa and goes home the same? There is something about Johannesburg/Jo’burg/Jozi/ Egoli that just seems to allow for self-evaluation, self-discovery and all manners of self-things that may not be exactly open to public interpretation. So, yes, I am back in Kenya after more than six years.

I am different. I have been different for a while in fact.

Having left the country immediately after my undergraduate studies, you can imagine what has happened to my social life. I have no friends. But how is that possible for someone who was born in Kenya, grew up in different parts of the country and has family living in Nairobi? Is it even possible? May be it’s just that old age pattern that Kenyans who live outside the country –by the way being in Kampala for two weeks included– have formed. They come back with accents (except when they are from India), they dress differently, they don’t speak sheng anymore and they want to act like they are only visiting Kenya. Could that be what is happening to me? Where are my friends? How come they don’t want to hang out like we did before? No, I know my friends just too well; they wouldn’t do that to me. I mean, while I was away they always posted on my Facebook wall (that wicked cyber-place) about how much they missed me and how much they wanted to see me once I get back into the city! Well, this is the proverbial will with no way.

But I get them. I totally do. I mean they have kids now. They have jobs too. One of my friends even tells me that she has to ask for ‘permission’ from Baba B, also known as ‘my husband’ to join me for a Tusker baridi. Tjo! So, in my feeling lonely and isolated, I have taken to finding company on Twitter (disturbingly addictive & often fascist). I have this thing about civil action and I try as much as I can to partake in processes of protest and all sorts of direct action. But my kind of activism seems to have matured with time. From being a professional heckler to a now more analytical toyi-toyi-er, I am desperate for change. Change for hawkers. Change for sex workers. Change for women. Change for intersex persons. Change for differently-abled persons. Just change. Justice for everyone. The whole lot of us. And thanks to dear darling Twitter, I stumble upon #OccupyParliament and there I found it, just a few days before the agreed date, May 14th 2013. I found something that excites me. It is in Nairobi. I am in Nairobi. 

I strongly believe that Kenyan Members of parliament should not earn more than the Salaries and Remuneration Commission has allocated them. I think they are being too arrogant to want to disband the Commission. In fact, they shouldn’t even think of it. That would be unconstitutional. I want to ‘occupy parliament’. They must see us. They must hear us. We are marching for economic justice. So, #OccupyParliament it is. I will meet all these like-minded folks who believe in direct action. I will stop thinking Jozi and all the possible protests. I will not wish, at least for today, that I was in Jozi for Iranti-Org-led IDAHOT event on May 17th

I will be Kenyan. At least for a day. Today.

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