Al Kags

I’m proud to be Kenyan, and I’ll say it out loud, thank you.


When Rodgers Rop turned to Christopher Cheboich, Francis Kiprop and Mbarak Hussein, to hurry up and catch up and take the memorable photo finish at the 2002 Boston marathon, winning more than 20 seconds ahead of the rest, every Kenyan, who watched it, including myself, felt like a winner.

In the pub where I was watching the marathon, a whole pack of people smiled wistfully as Rop turned and beckoned to his compadres to catch up and when they finished, ever so spectacularly, the room exploded in hugs and high fives, the likes of which it warms my heart to remember. Many of those high fives were between strangers.

At that point, as we jubilantly patted each other in the back for our boys’ win, the fact that we were broke faded into the background, that fees needed to be paid and mothers taken to hospital tomorrow and jobs to be found urgently and rent to be paid and the government screwing up left and right… all of it faded into the background and to the fore came the oneness that joined us together.

When Dr. Alfred Ng’ang’a Mutua launched the “Najivunia kuwa Mkenya” campaign, I read a lot of derogatory stuff about it. I read that it was plastic and lacked in merit. I read an explanation from him of the rationale behind the campaign and that made sense too. Just as did Barrack Muluka, Macharia Gaitho’s and Kwendo Opanga’s arguments – which were mainly linked to the fact that the government leaves quite a bit to be desired and that Kenya is no Utopia.

But the day that Rop and his friends won that marathon got me thinking. Being brave is not not being afraid, it is being afraid and facing your fears regardless. Being patriotic is not failing to see what is wrong with Kenya and speaking up about it, it is doing so and also giving credit where it is due and counting our blessing regardless.

Reading the articles by Muluka and Gaitho and others, I get the sense that the problem is more the messenger than the message. I hear the voice of David Makali, one of my mentors, who would hold that there is nothing to celebrate and so this whole campaign is premature at best.

Muluka says, “But more significantly, this kind of publicity stunt occasions resentment, even among generally apolitical people.” Apolitical people? Kenyans are very political and this is why one his chief reasons for dismissing the najivunia campaign is political.

But more importantly, he quotes Achebe who says, “A patriot is a person who loves his country. He is not a person who says he loves his country. He is not even a person who shouts or swears or recites or sings that he loves his country. He is one who cares deeply about his country and all its people.”

Now this is true, only, if I really do love my country and care about it and its people, may I not also shout it from the rooftops?

Macharia explains how it is that the problem with the campign is the messenger and not the message. Good ol’ Alfred is the official public communicator serving the government of the day and therefore the tone of the campaign equates the love of Kenya with support for Narc/ Narc Kenya.

I’ll tell you why I will have a sticker on my bumper that says “najivunia kuwa Mkenya”, regardless of who makes it.

Because despite the fact that I am not happy with many aspects of Kenya and I know that there is a lot to that needs to get done, I see the glass as half full, where Kenya is concerned. The message, “I am proud to be Kenyan” has nothing to do with the government, it has everything to do with my relationship with the country I was born in and whose citizenship I choose to keep.

No, Mr. Muluka, you are right. “Mutua (and I) should know that patriotism is not about putting useless stickers on bumpers” but the fact that I am patriotic and bursting with pride of the simple fact that I am and feel Kenyan, is reason enough for me to want someone else to know and hopefully, we will learn to be more positive.

Say it. I am proud to be Kenyan. Say it again. How do you feel?

By the way, in advertising, that’s called assertive marketing. Say I am a winner enough time and you will act, speak and play as one. Say I am proud to be Kenyan enough, and the glass will look positive despite the politics and economic divides etc.
There’s tangible advantages to that too. We stand up more straight, because we know we are a proud people. We walk taller as a result. and everyone else wants to be part of our pride… and so investment flows in, and tourism flows in and we get incomes and we stand taller…

Barrack Muluka is dismissive of Mutua as a Nyayo kid who “in the 1980s, Mutua was a boy, drinking Nyayo school milk and ingratiatingly singing ‘Tawala Kenya, tawala’ in mass choirs. Hindsight cannot help him appreciate the extent of resentment borne out of sycophancy at public expense.”

I am a Nyayo kid too. I drank Nyayo milk too. But I did feel the effects of the sycophancy and fear of the eighties. I’m the one who couldn’t find a job in the nineties, after all. And that resentment? Its a bitter pill that is beyond its time. Spit it out and move on.

Keep it simple. You are proud to be Kenyan. Just say it. On your web site, on the signature of your email, on your car’s bumper, on your window pane, on your wall. Say it. Feel it. Act with it.

21 thoughts on “I’m proud to be Kenyan, and I’ll say it out loud, thank you.”

  1. I once read that “,,,,you dont love your wife because she is beautiful,she is beautiful because you love her”

    If we wait for Kenya to be beautiful for us to love her,she may never be and hence we have to love her so she can be beautiful.
    In sickness and in health,for better or for worse
    Kenya nchi yangu,Kenya nitaipenda
    Ukenya najivunia,Mkenya milele.

  2. I am proud to be a Kenyan and I agree saying it makes it so, builds us up and gives us hope…BUT…you are right – it is the messenger Mr/Dr. Alfred Mutua who is causing the negative reaction. I don’t care where he was in the 80s but he used to write a well informed and intelligent articles on Sundays. It reminded us what the fight was all about… then the man joined the NARC/NARC-K (or whatever it is right now) camp and all we here from his mouth is blatant excuses, political rhetoric… he has lost his credibility to be the face of such a campaign. If he was a good marketer… he would make the stickers (which I wanna stick on my car) and use credible people who relate with their various generations to pass them around.

  3. Al Kags,

    Thank you for your replies. You probably need to review what you are referring to. Is it nationalism or patriotism.

    The trouble with so many Kenyan writers is this knee jerk reactions to everything. In the process, they miss out all the details and suddenluy realize that what they set out to achieve through the pen, has unfortunately been missed.

    Patriotism is not about location. Neither is it about politics. Neither can it be campigned for. You just feel it.

    Lets use your “unfortunate” analogy of a drunk mother above. That assumes that regardless of anything, she is still your mother. So what about children who have no parents and have been raised by guardians. And what about children who have been born outside Kenya (and they are many) but whose parents did not acquire citizenship of those countries they reside in (e.g. UK) and hence still are Kenya. If those children have lived in UK for all their life and still hold a Kenyan passport, which is their mother country? The one that continues to educate them or the one that their parents came from?

    See how your analogy is faulty.

    I could be rhetorical. Lets see. Using your analogy, the drunk mother proceeds home one day drunk and in a temperament fit, murders all the children and the husband and sets the house on fire with all the properties. What you gonna do? Are you going to let her escape the rule of law when it comes? Are you going to assist her to kill herself rather than face the rule of law/justice? Are you gonna do it yourself? What you gonna do?

    Al Kags, issues of patriotism cannot be reduced to mere locality. Neither can they be reduced to gender. And if I was a lady, I would wonder, why use the woman analogy (ala Kiraitu Muriungi’s remarks). Could you not have chosen a better example rather than go for anti-gender stereotypes.

    And you know whats funny. Kenya’s problems may manifest itself in politics. But truth be told, that is just the cause. The problems are economic (60% poverty), social (conflicts), cultural, etc Can these problems be solved. Yes. By who. By the people themselves with the support of a WILLIN and ABLE govt. Is this happening. The people are ready but the GOVT which is CAPABLE is not willing.

    However, is patriotism about GOVT. Hell No!!!! Its about a people. Is it about a country? Hell NO!!! Thats why Irish people are still patriotic to their peoplehood be they in USA, Australia, UK, Canada or still living in Ireland.

    Patriotism is about a peoplehood and the values they share.

    What do you think?


  4. To VEE,

    Thank you for your replies. And your opinions. You are entitled to them.

    A couple of responses:

    (a) So you think that in order to be a world citizen you need to be a Kenyan first. Good. No problems with that.

    I guess if I use your logic, in order to be a Kenya, you must be a Kikuyu or Luo or Kalenjin or Kamba or Luhya citizen first.

    And it order to be a Kikuyu e.g. citizen, you must first be a Muranga, Nyeri, Embu, Meru or Kiambu citizen. We could go on and on until the clan. Where do we draw the line?

    (b) You said, you were born in this country and hence are a citizen of this country. True dat. So too is 5% of Kenya’s population which was born outside Kenya.

    See what I mean. It has nothing to do with being born.

    (c) I agree with you that people (especialy those of us in the diaspora) should stop comparing Kenya to the West.

    That is not fair. They should also not deride Kenya un-necessarily.

    BUT that should not deter them from making constructive suggestions.

    However, you and I know that if diaspora people choose to deride or compare kenya with the west, its their right. It may not seem fair to you and me, but hey, thats their opinion and they are entittled to it.

    (d) Land, soil, lakes and some wildlife.

    I almost laughed. Really. You responded thats its yours.

    Then how come most of the people who go to see the wildlife are foreginers. How come the closest most common kenyans have come close to these wildlife is as game meat. Or as wardens. How come Kenyans are not trooping in huge numbers to all our parks (with their poor roads and exhorbitant fees). And how come most of the hotels, resorts, restaturants, gameparks and you name it in these locations are owned by Western businessmen. I’ll tell you a story that is so common about the unfairness of the tourism industry. Kenya, like most tourist countries, has the raw materials (wildelife, landscape and accessories). A couple pays 1400 Euros for a week trip to Kenya to see the top 5 attractions including Mombasa. This money is paid to a travel agent in Germany who banks in in a German bank. The local franshise holder is engaged to take case of their needs in Kenya and in return will be paid the monies to thier international account in UK. So in essence this 1400 has not touched kenyan soil. And you say its yours? Well, if you count the airport tax, gate fees, incidentals, etc


  5. Mwas,

    Karibu. Just saw your comment. Yes, I got wind of that last week from the GADO cartoons. Didnt realize that it has become the official “patriotic” theme now.

    I guess if Mutua and his Narc-K financiers had known better, they would not have dared launch this campaign.

    Watch how the Mutua rotation PR live televised propaganda town hall meetings will be used to show an anti Narc-K tilt by the people. He will probably see the fire burning.

    I also heard the new version.

    “NAJIVUNIA KUWA MNA NARC-KENYA” ….. this was sweet.


  6. i love to be akenyan no place apeople like kenya its my motherland iam south african now but go home twice in ayear i love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu
    it evenn got the beutiful flag
    cape town

  7. I love Kenya’s people- dearly, I often am angry at them, sometimes I pity them, sometimes I hate them, sometimes I am intensely proud of them, you know the whole gamut of emotions you would go through with your own family.

    But I am not proud to be Kenyan. That does not make sense at all to me. Still, I think patriotism is irrational and extremely dangerous. I am not a patriot, I hate flags, I hate national anthems, I hate defenders of Kenyan-ness like Alfred Mutua. He loved Kenya so much more when he wrote in defence of its people, rather than now when he writes and thinks in defence of its government.

    Patriotism is like religion, it brainwashes, it debilitates, it destroys. It has never been raised in defense of the poor, or the weak, but for their oppression.


  8. All I have to say is “NAJIVUNIA KUWA MKENYA. ANAYEUMWA, AMEZE WEMBE”. Kenya is a great place, I am a great person and I do my best to improve my country. What are you doing to change Kenya to be the country that you want to be proud of? Kazi kwenu, wenye hawajivunii kuwa wakenya.

  9. mtoto akililia dawa mpe tablets,kwani tablets si dawa.


    think of the virgin mary type,the one you drink and and enjoy your cigaretes meters away,you take it ten in the morning you see ten in the evening,highly explosive who said changaa manufacturers are not ´criminalised geniuses, forget saiberia liquors,changáa second name is lion tears thats a real rebal by its self.industrialize virgin mary:PROMOTE ALL THE CHANGÁA BREWERS:

    Government to review law on chang’aa
    Published on 10/07/2008
    By Lucianne Limo
    Chang’aa and other traditional brews will be legalised if a draft national alcohol policy is adopted.
    The Government will review the Chang’aa Prohibition Act Cap 70, and establish a standard procedure for the production of chang’aa with a view to legalising it.
    The Chang’aa Prohibition Act came into force on August 15, 1980, and was aimed at prohibiting the manufacture, supply and possession of the liquor.
    The Government will also revisit the repealed Traditional Liquor Act Cap 122 with a view of re-enacting it for better control, commercialisation and consumption of traditional brews.
    The policy stresses the need to develop manufacturing standards for community manufacturing of chang’aa and traditional liquors.
    The policy, drafted by the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada), noted that there has been widespread consumption and commercialisation of traditional brews, which need to be regulated
    Nacada also noted that lack of standards in the production of traditional brews had led to many deaths.
    Nacada National Coordinator Jennifer Kimani said the draft policy was undergoing fine-tuning at the ministry of Internal Security.
    The final document, she said, would be ready in two months.
    Research shows that 60 per cent of alcohol consumed locally is produced informally. Illicit alcoholic beverages include chang’aa, busaa, muratina among many others.
    Kenya has pieces of legislation that deal directly with illicit alcohol. However, the effective monitoring of alcohol production standards has been lacking.
    The policy, if adopted, will also see the minimum legal age for handling, purchasing, consuming and selling of alcohol pushed from 18 to 21 years.
    The policy recommends hefty fines and jail terms for bar owners or people who sell alcohol to underage individuals.
    Parents risk being jailed or fined if they take their children to outlets where alcohol is sold.
    The policy also seeks to introduce legislation to regulate and legalise random breath tests where drivers may be stopped and given breath alcohol content tests.

  10. we´ve got the best liquor in the world.

    imagine food and alcohol in one kenyan bailey aka busaa.

    best divai forget jesus blood,two glasses you shall figure it out how you shall stand-up,because the taste make you forget that you are not sloshing milk.

    how do you identify a genius.

  11. what are we doing,building breweries instead of building the pple.

    don´t harras the pple manage them.


    germans have lastly discovered the joy of unleashing sheng to the max.

    i hear nower days snicker chocolate is nolonger a snicker any more,its latest name is sniggers.

    jeggar maister has lost its name, sheng wise it has been leballed the nigger meisters.

    very soon you shall be hearing about kangara meister.

  13. am proud to be kenyan lakini …………….. the only thing that is new this year is the calender ,juu 4real all this things zinajirudia saana.politically kwanza


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