Racism- the colour domination card - one of the major causes of negative authority and beastly control?

Seeing our divisions through the eyes of a child Children are innocent and untarnished by the impositions and conditioning up to a certain age. They are humane. They do not discriminate. They love without boundaries. They promote peace and harmony until the adults teach them how to like/dislike and create differences that become the way of life. Let us not negate the fact that children can also be unkind, but where do you think they learn that from? If the world was ruled by children, my feeling is that we would have a completely different take on how we would live as there would be no oppression, exploitation and war. The greatest lesson we can learn from children is the fact that they are not divisive before they are contaminated with adult negative conditioning that has destroyed humanity from time immemorial. If we saw our divisions through the eyes of children we would realize that another world is, indeed, possible. God made us all equal then why racism? Why the superiority and inferiority dramas to create divisions, inequality, class, status and more? Hierarchically white, yellow, brown and then black WHY? My mind has kept asking the question through several decades of my existence and I have done whatever it takes to walk beyond these ugly masks of this utter absurdity in my life. I am of the Uhuru generation. Growing up as a South Asian African child in East Africa I quickly came face to face with the cultural conditioning that tells one that they are different from the other. I had no clear idea of the colonial apartheid system that the Kenyan independent state had swallowed hook, line and sinker. As a child I saw people as people and not based on colour. I wanted to play with all the children and not be confined to playing with those that seemed to look like me. I wondered about racial differences that were continually exhibited in the relations between our house help and the rest of the family. From this early age I felt that my humanity was confined to what others thought was the norm. I rebelled explicitly against being racially pigeon-holed. When my family could not put up with my rebellion, nor understand it, I left home in search of an environment that allowed me to express humanity. My rebellion by this point had extended beyond race to tribe, religion, gender, age and entered innumerable areas where I was becoming very aware of discrimination and separation. At 18 years of age I was already sure that this would not be how I would live my life! If nations had definite collective cultures that reflected the richness of each of the individual cultures, our lives would be lived differently. Each culture fights for its space in the national scheme of things. Cultures have a life of their own and they fight to stay alive. They resist domination and fight for independence. When they are resisting domination they retreat into their own cocoons and rally all those who subscribe to it to stay united. This unity can bring racial tensions and discriminations. States that want to divide people in order to rule them find such spaces very useful. The rule for power is not restricted to cultural divides but spreads like cancer to traditional, religious, tribal and racial arenas where the divide and rule law works unquestionably. Policies such as the Africanisation policies of Kenyatta s government thrived on racial tensions and fears. By the time it was realized that what was needed was Kenyanization substantial South Asian African population and their capital had escaped 1

the wrath of being Brown . This is the genesis of the debate on why Singapore and other Asian Tigers prospered while Kenya regressed. The debate continues and it is time we consciously and intelligently address the need for a Kenyan identity that cuts through the old rule. When one rebels against their family, community and culture one ends up in the wilderness. Very quickly one finds support in the humanity of others outside their family and community. There are economic, social, cultural and political consequences that accompany such rebellion. One is constantly being wooed to get back into the fold and get the necessary protection. It is a great challenge to confront these consequences. In my case my rebellion was also my blessing. I discovered that there was a community of rebels in Kenya and that racial discrimination had various bed fellows, namely, ethnic, religious, region, gender and generation. The schools I attended reflected all these challenges. Reading some of the back issues of AWAAZ I realize how the national struggle for independence brought rebels together from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Colonialism was the identified evil that united Kenyans across race, generation, gender, religion, region and class. It has been very interesting for me to read of the South Asian Africans who must have rebelled against their families and communities to join fellow Kenyans in the fight for independence. There were many aspects of life I did not understand clearly and over the years life has been an amazing teacher! My rebellion led me to healthy relationships that were not confined to the impositions of my childhood. I married a man who is of mixed race incorporating the Kikuyu, Kelenjin, Dutch and British bloodlines. Adding my ingredients to the pot my 2 daughters are a combination of 3 races. After I became a mother I realized that my rebellion would condition my daughters to the identity that I lived by which was mainly my humanity, namely, Kenyan. As they grew among racial and ethnic profiling (identity terms such as mkosa kabila, mixed, point five, black, people of colour) were all identity issues they had to deal with in Kenya and abroad. Grounded on the fundamental culture of humanity they are able to find a healthy balance for their survival. This does not mean that they have not been challenged or that lives have been simple however they have managed to retain their dignity as human beings, women and being Kenyan is their mark of greatest pride. I share my brief story to pose a very important question for communities in Kenya. How do we remove generations of negative conditioning to create a collective culture that is national? We may want to begin by finding out what will this new collective culture look and feel like and whether all that is positive in the individual cultures is reflected in the holistic culture. We may want to go back to the basics and critically examine our education, political, and cultural systems. The importance of teaching humanity and values to our children and the younger generation may begin the path to a different road that we are so desperate for. Dealing with the fears, resistance and neurosis of many who prefer the status quo will be imminent however that cannot be the sword that stops us anymore. We have traversed a tough road since independence and now have reached a brand new terrain. We have a new constitution, we have rights, we have freedom of self-expression and we have the right to choose REAL LEADERS and not politicians. The choices we make will impact the generations to come, will affect the activity towards progression and dignity for every Kenyan and will mean a different way of interacting with life and having new outcomes. 2

I am convinced the problems I faced as a child are rampant in Kenya. I hear whispers as I walk by people and strange stares that actually give me quite a kick. I still strongly believe that we can resolve these issues by shifting our perception and looking at life through the eyes of our children. Our great country will remain stunted economically, socially, culturally and politically if we do not learn quickly to do things differently. We need to create a melting pot where all our positive cultures can interact and integrate if we are to call ourselves a nation and more importantly KENYAN . The vested interests that keep us divided must not be given the opportunity to flourish or remain in authority or control. It is time to reevaluate our individual and collective direction. Within a beautiful place in my mind lives a world where everyone is equal. What divides a person is not how they look, dress, or feel but instead whether they live by a set of human values where fair is fair. I know it is a magic fairytale space in my head however I know it is possible to begin the walk towards that way to be. It is important to learn to reject what has been considered the norm and reconsider the potential for new possibilities.


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