We just had a Constituional Referrendum a few days back. Soon Kenyan's, like we always do, will sweep this under the carpet and go back to business as usual. It was a good thing though. It was the first time I was taking part in a referrendum. I have been voting for awhile. I just didn't take part in the last one.

Throughout the campaigning period I already knew what I wanted, even though politicians and the clergy, kept on shouting at the top of their voices peddling unsolicited advice on what and what not to do. The last Sunday before the referrendum I attended church. The message was based on nothing other than; TRASH THIS ONE THEN ASK FOR A BETTER ONE LATER!!!

I still had not forgotten that my mind had been made up a long time before. The night before the D-Day, that is on the 3rd of August, 2010, I set the alarm on my phone to wake up at 5:24 am so I could vote early. I didn't go when the alarm went off. I waited for another 20 minutes. When I arrived at the place I was voting at (Harambee Primary School) there was a handful of people (not that you could carry them in your fist!!) gathered. I joined them. We were asked to enter the school, where we we told we were going to vote according to the initials of our surnames. I soon identified the right one. I was the third person, on that line that is, to vote.

"Odhiambo James Ouma!" the official shouted my name. I seldom shout back. "Yes," I replied. "You can proceed."

I followed the direction of his pointing finger, to a lady who gave me the voting slip. I left my ID and voter's card with her. It didn't take a minute to vote and cast it in the transparent ballot box. Then I returned to pick my documents. "Bring your little finger," the lady said, already reaching for my left little finger. She had a felt pen in her hand. She grabbed my left hand and went to work. "I don't normally get my fingers painted, or it is manicure, pedicure or what?" I asked. "It is pedicure," she said. "But this is necessary." "Okay." I said without a fight. I am, by nature very sturborn. But that morning, at 6:20 am I watched a strange girl paint my finger purple. I left the hall feeling happy that I had voted. I also felt sad that my little finger had been bathed in purple. Then came the waiting, as the whole country held its breath, waiting for the kind of results that we already knew! A week later a friend called me. "How did you vote?" she asked. "I believe that should be my secret," I said. Now I want to point out that she is from another tribe. A tribe whose members and mine don't want to mix and mingle on things like marriage and the like. And there we were, two adults talking over the phone about the outcome of the referrendum. "I know you voted XX," she said. "It is a secret." "No, I know you. It isn't a secret." "What do you mean?" I asked, even though I already knew what she meant. "Your people were obviously voting XX." "It is a secret like I said. So how are you anyway?" I asked, changing the subject.

Which finally brings me to what I meant to say today.

Kenya has 43-plus tribe and a host of other people from different races. The flag, on the other hand has four colours - red, black, green and white. I know the colours should mean or rather symbolize something. It is something that I don't want to dwell on. Anyway, if God had to paint a Kenyan painting I wonder what colours He would choose to use. Would it be 43-plus colours? Or what would He use?

I am sure of one thing. God would just laugh the idea of using colours to represent His people. He would just laugh. Imagine that!!! I am saying this because I believe there is no superior tribe, race, religion, language or person. All of us are equal and just like Katt Williams (oh, so you don't know him? oh you?) would say... "we all got problems!" That is what Kenyans to me have. Problems that level the last one of us. It doesn't strike me as strange that each and every one of the 43-plus tribes have a problem pronouncing certain words in English and Swahili, which are the official langauges. There is on single tribe that doesn't find it hard pronouncing certain words. That just goes a long way in showing that, yes we are different, but we are the same.

There is no superior tribe in Kenya. I have learnt this through my work with children. I have noticed that no one had the opportunity of writing an application letter to their mother asking to be born in a certain tribe or region in the country. The same apply to other people. No one writes a letter to their mother to be born what they are. We just find ourselves being who, what, where we are. It is soemthing over which we don't have a choice. If, for one reason or another, you think you have a choice, than I'll tell you what to do. If at all you are one of those people who like comparing themselves to others then this is for you. If you regret being who you are, then this is for you. If you wish you were born somewhere else, this si for you.

Blame it on your mother's choice of a husband!!! There, I have said it.

Keep it here, and have a new song in your life. That is what life is all about.

Comment on this Post


It is indeed a beautiful writing and i am really thankful to the world pulse for providing such a common platform to share our stories. You are very right that no one in this world writes letter or to mother to be born in certain community. We all are born inside our mother's body and when we come out they gives us name and cast and tribe, they treat us as if we are the one who insisted to born on our choice. Still we can't blame anyone for this yet no one is free from this blame. We human being in the name of god create this rules and regulation and the limitation. I am sure no god in this world has told us to fight in the name of tribe or the community or the country, its the people who creates these things for their own egos or benefits or whatever. But i really liked you writing and it shows how people still into it so badly.

thank you posting this comment.

Hi Lifesong--

I loved your piece. Your voice comes through so clearly, I felt like I knew you somehow...and the conclusion! Hahaha! I really enjoyed laughing at the wit and truth of it.

And, let me also welcome you to PulseWire! I look forward to reading more of your writing. There are only a few men here on PulseWire so far, but we hope to see our community of male allies in the movement for women's empowerment grow.

I encourage you to join the group "Through His Eyes" (http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire/groups/7474). This is a space for men to safely and freely share their thoughts and experiences on how to support women. Use this group, and your own personal journal to tell us more about yourself, your work with youth, or to jump-start a conversation!

I also noticed that you've joined the Voices of Our Future applicants group. Please review the criteria for the online training program, on this page: http://worldpulse.com/pulsewire/groups/21780.

Welcome again to our global community and I look forward to hearing more from you here on PulseWire!

Best, Scott

Scott Beck