I silently watch as the fly feasts on his eyes. The breast in his mouth seems to be producing gas, not milk, just gas. His mother tries to shoo the fly away. For a minute it is out of sight then it returns, this time with an ally. He lets out a voiceless cry; a cry that shows he is frail, helpless and starved. His stomach is bulging, not from satisfaction but from kwashiorkor. The mother looks at him in woe. The words, ‘my son am sorry I could not give you a better life’ seem to be all she can think of. To her, life is a nightmare, a curse.
Tears fill my eyes. Disappointment, sorrow, hurt, pain. For seconds it seems as if someone is piercing my heart over and over again. Wishing I had the ability to help her, to comfort her and tell her things will be okay. All of a sudden my brother storms in, “Mom, Njeri anaona wale watu hufanya alie. Wamekonda vibaya, alafu huyu toto ako hapa anatambwa na nzi. Tena anakaa kufa anytime. Woi.” After broadcasting what I was doing he changes the television station to a cartoon station and comfortably sits to laugh. To him, the images barely had an impact. The story being told was of less importance to him or rather, it did not concern him at all.
See, when you grow up in a third world country, some things become normal. The mentioning of the word poverty, hobos in every street, drought-stricken places, drug abuse among youths and prostitution. But what is so standard is how people in third world countries play the blame game. When a building caves in-serikali haikufanya kazi. When drought strikes some parts like Turkana-ni serikali. When there is an outbreak of a disease or floods, again, the same story, serikali saidieni or serikali haifanyi kazi.
For years, Kenyans have been singing the same song and letting the same story cover their television sets. Hunger and drought in areas like Turkana is now a norm. For decades, we have watched and listened to these inhabitants of Turkana lamenting. Asking people to intercede. But what do we do as Kenyans? We turn to the government saying, “Serikali saidia.” What we do not get is that as citizens we have to deal with our issues. Just like in a marriage, the husband is the head of the family but in issues affecting children, the mother has to interact with her kids to get to the bottom of the problem. What impact would we have if we as citizens decided to offer relief food or offer free medical services to these people? Would the situation change? Would the cry of serikali saidieni reduce or increase?
We watch this people suffer, starve to death and all we can manage to say is RIP. When will we take charge and say it is high time to take some action? High time to let our actions speak. And most of all, high time to be the reason there is change. Maybe our kids will be the ones to implement these changes, or maybe a miracle worker will save us because we are part of the reason why these people starve. But till then, I’ll keep doing what am used to. WATCHING and CRYING.