Of Hate Speech and Tribalism

There was a picture that was doing rounds on Facebook of two children one white the other black holding hands  clearly unaware of their obvious differences in race.It reminded me of where i grew up,not in the suburbs with white picket fences.  There were lots of rental houses that housed people from all over the country,from all tribes.We had Luo,Kamba,Meru,Teso,Kalenjin,Luhya and Kikuyu  neighbors.Like those kids in the picture,we never saw each other as different in any way,we played together and even our families got along just fine,i never once heard anybody refer to the other as Luo or Kuyu,we were just children happy to play together and that love triumphed over anything else that could have divided us.

When i think of that and of the how happy we were i despair because of all the hate speech and tribalism especially in social media, Facebook and twitter has given people a platform to air their hate and practice their mediocrity.Whats even shocking is that the people propagating this kind of behavior are cultured,elite and very intelligent people.Whatever happened to tolerance?To love and neighborliness?I was having a conversation with one of my cousins at a get together and i saw how easy it can be to be drawn into picking a side and start rubbishing people from a different  tribe.Either way,let us always remember that nobody chooses to be born from a particular tribe,and being from a certain tribe does not make you a better person than others.It does not elevate you to a new height,it does not give you the right to condescend on others.In the eyes of our maker we are very little and He is impartial,He does not have love, HE IS LOVE ITSELF.An example worth imitation!

Away from that,I met with a friend of mine today and he told me a story i that touched more than my heart,it took me to a different place,it put things into perspective for me.I hope it will for you.Another friend of mine told me that am like Grinch a character i understand was such a pessimist he tried to murder Christmas  I  had a happy story to write,I have been told that my stories are sad,but read this one and i promise you the next one,will be a happy story.This is a true story,i have just altered the names of my friend and his friend for their privacy.

****Mike****

We were at a popular fast food joint in town with Ivan,we had not seen each other for over two months,we were catching up while munching on the delicious pizza.When we finished eating we realized that we still had time and had nowhere we needed to be at,we therefore decided to get ice cream,as a rule you can  not just hang out at those kind of joints if you are not eating or drinking.He went to get the ice cream while i waited,thumping a tweet on my phone while looking up to gawk at the hunk on the next table.

He came back after five minutes with the inviting ice creams,peanut butter chocolate and vanilla  flavors with a waffle stick in the cup.As we savored the delicious ice cream,he told me about his friend Mike who recently died.Mike was a fourth year actuarial science student at a local university,he and Ivan were classmates.Now, Mike is the kind of guy every girl dreams of and every guy is envious of,very charismatic,charming,cultured,handsome, sophisticated,dresses well.He is the kind of guy who can get you everything,he gets all the movies series,and music for people at the hostels .He hits the gym thrice a week,he is not a player,he has a girlfriend to.He is an eight in the looks department and takes great care of how he looks,his hair is even texturized..His grades are not bad either as he puts a lot of effort to his school work.Expect for the usual campus madness he is a good kid.

Last year,during the December holidays Mike’s class were given a project that they were meant to hand in once they re  opened. He joined a group and tried to work with it to get the project done but could not keep up.The group was too fast and the project was very intense.He gave up on the project as it was not possible to do it on his own.However just two weeks to handing it over one of Ivan’s friends Paul encouraged him to join their group as they were not so far along,he agreed.He had changed though,he was a lot quieter and focused.He had a cold,he kept sniffing and someone jokingly told him that he needed to get tested.

When they finished the project he thanked Paul for pushing him to finish the project.Ivan told me that came as a shock,his exact words were, ”Why this nigga be thanking us?Whats with all  the sissyness?” But decided not to embarrass him with witty comments.After that project he started missing classes,which was very unlike him.His room mate asked everyone else to mind their business when they tried o inquire on his whereabouts.He told them he was unwell.

In February,Mike died.Ivan and his friends were told that he had an asthma attack he was taken home but did not make it,but that was just one of the many versions that were being told.The truth was that he and his friends had gone out after getting paid for a job they had done for someone,they decided to go drinking,and blow the money.He woke up the following day and  found himself in a bus headed to Athi River where his folks live.He had no memory of the events of the previous day.It turns out he had taken some hard drugs.He did not have sex with anyone but after a few days when he went to the doctor he was told that he had contracted HIV/AIDS.According to Ivan he may have shared a syringe with someone,his theory though.He went into a denial and shock trance.His folks arranged for him to see a psychiatrist to get help but  unfortunately he did not get the help he needed.Mike’s school work was affected,he lost his focus,he lost weight he broke up with his girlfriend,he stopped hanging out with his friends,all he would do was lock himself up.Maybe he saw no reason to live,his bright future was over even before it could begin.He became frustrated so much and on 27th February 2013,he decide to end it all by taking his life away.He  hung himself in his bedroom.

He was probably afraid of all the stigma he would have otherwise lived with.Maybe he was afraid he was of becoming a social pariah.Maybe he was depressed.The world lost a brilliant actuarial scientist to this.

When Ivan finished his story,my ice cream was  a yogurt,that was one of the most surreal stories i had ever heard.

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