Kenya, will you marry me?
Kenya, will you marry me?
Whispering over lake Turkana
....All of us, Let us join hands with Pamoja, De Gado, Hariri, Umoja and all of us: Acheing’, Ang’ Kenyalin, Jogu, Gige… all of us. It is a new world. Everything is different from anything I have seen in Kenya. I put my hard brown ankle high boot on the ground on a piece of black rock. It was as if the hard boot refused to step properly on the hard ground. It would have looked like I turned my right foot inside my boot but no, it just happened that I saw my foot look up at me, and from under its sole was the rock’s cutting wedge which had been hiding in the very hot sand.
I do not know why but before even my foot was right, my right index finger, middle and thumb were feeling one of my hairs lock. Was it a dreadlock? It was one strand almost in the middle of my head. It felt good, natural and spongy but it was beginning to stand up on its own. The rising sun was already warning me that it would be very harsh in time.
“It gets fresh closer to the lake,” said the driver knowingly. He had lived here for at least six years now. This is a place I had not been to. It was fascinating to look all around me and see flat and rough ground; black rock. Frightening to feel the distance and alienation from Kenya’s capital.
I was warned that some snakes hid in such hot sand. My throat felt as if it had been smoked and dried up. I closed my eyes lazily as some women walked past me stopping to stare and trying to speak to me first in their language, and then in Kiswahili. We have a language we can share and a struggle to eat together. This is Northern Kenya. Here the woman whose skin- especially under and around her eyes- has got used to gathering like honey to protect itself from the hot sun thinks I am a foreigner. She asks me when I would be returning to Kenya.
Her husband, who only wears a piece of a rough old blanket over his shoulder and covering a part of his loin stops and crossing his left leg on top of his right knee leans on his long walking stick to rest. He is long! He is a very handsome man. His various earrings swing in the wind. I can see he has only this one cloth across his chest for many years. And there is no water to wash it. It is cleaned by the wind. When he rests, his wife sits in a nearby bush somewhere.
They see me as a very well off person; one who is advanced. In traditional times, one could not be progressive and not be wealthy. In those times, one's wealth was measured also in the beauty and ability to use language full of wisdom. This couple thought I had much money from America. Whatever I did, my ways, they said were more western than African. It was not a new story. They had called me a stranger in my own home town when I looked for a political seat.
The woman asked me questions about Kenya. She has been inside the boundaries but outside the nation for many years now. I could not tell her that she was in Kenya.