The booming sound of the Saba Saba, accompanied by flashes of fire, while we cower under our beds wondering …. Will today be the day? Will today be the day it lands on our home? Is today the day we die?
The depth of fear precipitated by a knock on the door in the dead of the night… Of angry voices speaking Kiswahili…. Of opening the door to look into the barrel of a gun.
The terror of a 12 hour journey you must make, for life must go on, you must go to school, you need the hope of a future.. And yet… To get there you must brave a thousand roadblocks … Manned by trigger happy, under paid soldiers, intoxicated with their power and God knows what else.
The power of holding your life in their hands… The power to kill with impunity, no questions asked… They have it and you know it… And they know you know it….
The fear that pervades every single day, thought and action, so much so that it becomes the norm….
The fear of night… The bile that rises in your throat as the skies start to darken …. As you wait for your parents to come home.., wondering……
Will this be the day they get ambushed? … Will this will be the day you hear gunshots at the gate? … Will they get gunned down today at the very gate to their own home as have countless others?
So you learn to whisper, to be unobtrusive, to not stand out in any way, not call attention to yourself, because that’s the only way you can figure out to survive.
Then one day peace comes…. And you cannot believe it, because it’s too good to be true… It cannot last… You hold your breath for a year, ten years.. Then you tentatively start to believe it.
And just when you start to believe it, you realize your “saviour” has become a despot… He is just a little less obvious about it. And you say nothing… You do nothing…
Because the way things are is still far better than the way things were… And you just can’t deal with going back to the way things were.
So once again you stay silent and try not to rock the boat … Hoping that if you stay still, peace will stay with you, not realizing that this is not peaceful, this place or state of being that you occupy.
And when others try to speak out … Or do SOMETHING … The fear that still rules you… Unbeknownst to you….. makes you cry out and try to silence them….
Not realizing that if it wasn’t for others like them, who spoke out, who ACTED… Who gave their lives….You would still be cowering underneath your bed, watching the Saba Saba……., wondering if you will make it through the night.
Not realizing that if you continue to keep quiet…., trying to maintain that status quo, future generations may end up cowering under their beds, fearing for their lives.
And so this state of fearful unobtrusiveness continues, until the covert despot becomes an overt despot, torturing and killing at will. When a simple prayer meeting becomes a cause for military deployment.
And one day you realize that that which you feared the most has come upon you……. As you remained silent, things devolved to the way they were…..
Being quiet is no longer an option, you cannot stand by and watch as people die, are tortured, abused, robbed, and mistreated, you cannot keep silent without losing your humanity.
Silence is tantamount to collusion, to aiding and abetting, to being a part of the problem.
We have a duty to those that come after us, to ensure that they will not experience the inhumanity that we have experienced, time and again.
To them, and ourselves, we owe a hopeful, peaceful future.