OPINION: Open letter to President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga

OPINION: Open letter to President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga

By Dr. Stellah Bosire

My elders,

I do hope that this letter finds you well.

I thank you for all the blood, sweat and tears that you put in, to the extent of your abilities to get this country where we are; even though most of the time I feel like we could do better. Ahsanteni.

2007 was a very significant year. I had just received news of being a recipient of the Rita Levi Montalcini Foundation scholarship to study Medicine in Italy. I was so excited that I, the daughter of Alice Nyambura from Gatwekera in Kibera, was going to be a doctor.

See, the closest I had ever gotten to a plane was at the fence of Wilson Airport when I was a street child in Lang’ata. So you can imagine my excitement! But it could not beat that of my community in Gatwekera. Their daughter was going to study Medicine!

That very year my elders, Kenya was going to the polls and we were all excited because Jaduong Raila Odinga was on the ballot box and this time my community had hope for a better tomorrow! Kibera and particularly Gatwekera was a favorite stronghold!

At the ballot box, there were two outcomes: either Baba or Mwai Kibaki would take the mantle of leadership or lead the opposition. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worst.

When the results started trickling in, there was so much unrest and agitation that had never been witnessed before in Kibera. Within no time, the country was burning, there was chaos everywhere! It was bad!

But let me tell you how bad it was for me, my family and my community in Gatwekera.

First, the youngins who were unhappy went to the streets armed with kite (stones). In the beginning, it seemed to be an innocent gesture not meant to hurt anyone but pass the message of their discomfort. But slowly by slowly, people who had lived together for years discovered that they were now different!

That I, Nya-Kisii who had a Wairimu name; Alice my late mother, who was a Nya-Rabuon; Syoks who was a Kamba and our Nubian neighbor, now did not belong in Gatwekera.

Until now, if you ask me, I can never differentiate between mothers: Mama Oduor, Mama Syoks and Mama Naf were all my mothers with the explicit mandate to discipline me if I erred. Even Alice my mom, when not battling schizophrenia, was a communal mother.

Overnight, all of those who would have celebrated my journey of becoming a doctor were taken away from me.

We were forced to retreat to our tribal cocoons: the fabric that held my community together was permanently severed! For the first time, we could not borrow matchsticks or even share a meal even though we were accustomed to eating communally.

The loud music in the neighborhood that often entertained us in the evening also died. Our loving community had been killed by politics!

Punde si punde, Kibra was surrounded by armed forces. There was no moving in or moving out! It was scary! I remember going out during the day to pick bean seeds from the ground to make a meal for my family, and of course, my family was not the only one. Mothers were often seen with children desperately scourging for food. It was sad.

Then the looting began: people who had kept the peace and who protected each other became criminals overnight: mostly because they depended on daily earnings for survival.

Then the rape cases began. It was heartbreaking! When we heard shosho was raped, we all wanted to die! How could they?! How could they violate our shosho?! How could they carry our such a heinous act against our shosho! A shosho who was a nana to the Luo, Luhya, Kamba, Kisii and Nubian children in Gatwekera!

My heart still bleeds when I recall what happened to her. One could say, that it was not politics that raped shosho. Indeed, the unrest and insecurity created an enabling environment.

I know you may be all asking why I brought up this matter.

Perhaps it is because of what we are lately witnessing in the country: leaders publicly abusing each other; exchanging blows; inflammatory comments on ethnicity that have the potential to divide us again or even the divisive slogans.

My elders, in a competition, there are both losers and winners and it is interesting that both of you have in the past opposed each other but decided to work together (March 2018 handshake).

You have always told us siasa ni siasa but sasa siasa mbaya inaumiza nchi.

It hurts ALL of us when we read the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report on the rapes that occurred in 2007; the number of sick Kenyans who could not access treatment, the number of families that experienced starvation as well as the learning that was disrupted in our schools.

We have had our lessons, we know better. For the sake of shosho, the many children, women and young people who lost so much in 2007, I hope President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, that we shall have peaceful and mature election as we express our democratic rights.

Dr. Stellah Bosire is a medical doctor, human rights activist and student of Law