Standoff at Kenya Music Festival
by Alex Bliss
Now, here we Kenyans are in the 21st century, still wrestling with issues of who is better than the other – who gets to dominate who in the pecking order.
This is not just a challenge. It is a bug. A pebble in the shoe of a tired traveller. A malignant congenital disorder.
It is everywhere. And because the rain on any plain sounds the same, we need to kill this bug and crack its eggs, so that we are sure it is fully exterminated.
In 2010, Jeff and I attended music festivals in Rift Valley Province. There at a traffic check point stood two police officers, a man and a woman. The country was still bleeding from the 2007-2008 post election mayhem in which Kenyan soil bore a new colour of crimson. The wounds were raw. Children who had watched their parents being butchered were still petrified. Tribes held grudges against other tribes, and you can imagine how bad this can get in Kenya, a country with more than 43 tribes. Some people identify with tribes rather than a unified country.
It had been raining, so we had taken shelter a few yards from the road. When we emerged, a nearby man started speaking, his voice gruff from years of anger, alcohol, and cigarettes. He was blunt, his question was surgical and direct.
“What tribe are you?”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! Jeff couln’t, either… After all the violence and bloodshed of the previous few years , had we learned nothing? After a long silence Jeff managed a reply.
“We belong to the Kenyan tribe.”
The policewoman smiled. She thanked us and admonished the bellicose man. We were pleased to see her stand up for us.
We need humanity. We need each other.
Sometimes it’s the small things that manage to hold us together.