Friday, December 3, 2010

If this country burns...

My Google reader feed provided me with this gem earlier in the week. It's a video made by a Kenyan group called Kuweni Serious exhorting young people in Kenya to demand a more just, prosperous and peaceful society from their leaders. And to take responsibility as part of the movement that can bring about that change. From the group's website:
It is perhaps only when our country was set on fire that we began to see how deeply politics affects us. A few months later, we were paying hitherto-unheard-of prices for fuel, there was water rationing, and power rationing, and then food started to run out. Only then did many more of us realize that we can’t hide forever in the company of the Lil’ Wayne’s and Prison Breaks of this world. Perhaps it is only when our comfort zones were threatened that we realized that our leaders, our “Honorables” are self-obsessed, thieving, murderous idiots. Honorables, indeed.

And so we at Kuweni Serious – we’re a bunch of kids ourselves – have decided to go out there and find out: how do Kenya’s youth feel about all the chaos around us? Are we proud to be Kenyan or are we secretly wishing we could get green cards and disappear forever? Where shall we raise our own kids? Are we happy?

We intend to seek out all the young people out there who are trying to make sense of all this, the youth groups, the activists, the people who read the news and get so annoyed that they write angry status updates on Facebook, the students, the guys and girls who’ve just landed their first job and have been hit hard by the realities of the economy. We want your opinions, we want your stories. We don’t know what we’ll find, we might step on a few toes, but we’ll do our best.

The fires Kuweni Serious are referring to are the riots that took place in Kenya following their presidential elections in December 2007. Hundreds or people lost their lives in the chaos. But for what? I like how this video suggests how powerful people can be when they are informed and motivated, demanding truth and opportunity from their leaders.

The metaphor presented it that of a house. A renter doesn't have to care too much about the condition of a house. Eventually they will find another one. But the owner of a house must be invested in the house's future, as their own livelihood is tied to the house's condition. In this way, Kenyan's have their nation to care for. They are owners, not renters, there is no other Kenya to go to if their society crumbles. The same goes for Gambians, Tanzanians, American and the people of every country.

My favorite line from the video (actually the whole thing is amazing, but here's one):
It is not Obama's job to save this country. It is not the donors job. and the government has shown it's not their job either. Responsibility is not shared, it is earned. Freedom isn't given, it is taken. When we decide we want freedom, we will have to get it ourselves.

The video shows simple slow-motion shots of real Kenyans, Kenyans of different ethnic groups and different races. It was nice to see the recognition of Indian-Kenyans in the video as they too have played an important role in achieving independence for the country as well as economic growth. It is the same sentiment as that expressed by the novel Petals of Blood by legendary Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiongo. This show of diversity challenges our misconceptions and forces us to wake up to the realities of demographics and humanity.

This is truly a powerful video of exceptional quality. I look forward to seeing the future projects of Kuweni Serious and learning about how much of an impact their messages are having on Kenyan youth. I want to see this type of media coming from every country in the world, particularly those that have struggled with governance.

Knowledge is power. Strength in numbers.

The Kuweni Serious video reminds me of another video by Kenyan music group Just a Band that shares the same spirit of youth uprising with references to the post election violence of 2007-2008. The song happens to be damn catchy as well.

1 comment:

The Kuweni Serious Team said...

Thanks for putting this up, and for the kind words! Good catch on the Usinibore video--Kuweni Serious and Just A Band are very closely interwoven.