- May 25, 2021
Sometimes I stare at mama with nothing much to say, and many times I have caught her staring at me.
When that happens, I cry for her to hold me and not just stare. Is that not my right? This afternoon was no different; my mama sat me down at our lovely spot. A place where she shares her dreams and worries with me, a spot that I am growing fond of.
“Richter, we must go back to the city”.
Her words were not coming out clearly; she sounded choked, unhappy. I thought she loved this town.
“Richter growing up, I would have given anything to live in Nairobi”, mama murmured these words though they were so loud; it was as if my neighbours needed to hear. I wondered what changed.
My mama was born in a small village on the slopes of Mount Kenya, Mbiriri-Kabaru in Nyeri county. This village, she says, came to life in 1990, when the former president Moi decided to settle some squatters who had been displaced; her mother – my grandmother – was lucky to be among the settlers.
“Richter, Mbiriri was my home. Actually, Mbiriri is my age-mate, we both came to be in 1990. It’s a place where I made all my childhood memories, but I knew I wanted to go to Nairobi in the end. When I joined Tumutumu girls in 2004, I could not speak good English, but my classmates, especially those from the city, spokes the queen’s language. I envied them. And Nairobi sounded like the home I wanted.”
But just as Mbiriri was home to mama, Nairobi was home to me. I was born in the city. But mama doesn’t seem happy to live in the city-my home, the place where I was born, my identity! What changed? I was so curious. But mama did not allow me to coo or cry. She continued with her story.
“Richter, my dream of living in the city somehow came true. But Nairobi is not what I imagined it would be. You spend 5 hours trying to navigate the city due to traffic; you spend all your hard-earned money shopping for some not very fresh things, you don’t know your neighbours, not to mention the money that goes into paying rent. How can you call that home? It is not home.
But son, you must work hard so that if you want to live in Nairobi, in Turkana or Tharaka Nithi, then go for it. Home is where your heart is. Sometimes we get so obsessed with a place that we forget that we are not limited to where we were born and that the world is our oyster”.
And Kenya belongs to you, to all of us. We, therefore, need to want the best for Kenya, for home.
A place where every child gets a quality education.
A place where all people can access quality medical services.
A place where youth get employed irrespective of their first language.
A place where women are treated with dignity, where they get to sit at the table and make decisions and not just serve tea in meetings.
A place where people are free to worship.
A home for all!
“Richter, I was born in Nyeri”, mama continued with her unending tales. “I longed to live in Nairobi, but I am happy to call myself a resident of Tharaka Nithi, a place full of life, bananas and sugar cane.
Son, home is where your heart is”.