PEACE: Reality or a Mirage- Hafsa Mohamed
Peace. What do I know about peace? I’m just a girl from Mandera who distant bullet and bomb sounds in Bulla Hawa sing her to sleep. What do I know about peace when my neighbours who borrowed salt from each other yesterday kill each other today in the name of a tribe? What do I know about peace? I’ve got to take two days to travel from Nairobi to home through rough roads rigged with land mines and full of shiftas, thanks to my people voting for a tribesman who doesn’t even live in Mandera and when he comes to campaign, he takes a flight.
What do I know about peace when my jilbab which should be a sign of modesty is translated as a terror instrument? How can my heart not break every time my source of strength and identity “Islam” which literally translates to peace is being misused by few to spread hate, terror and fear? How can I be at peace when the moment I travel to other regions in the country I’m viewed like I’m part of the same terrorists who butchered my relatives at home?
How can I be at peace when Kamau says to my face that he is more Kenyan than I am and Asha from Somalia says I’m not a real Somali? So what if my ancestors weren’t around to fight for independence? Isn’t this my home just as it is Njeri’s, Wafula’s, Kipchirchir’s and Otieno’s? What do I know about peace when the police that are supposed to protect us stormed into my aunt’s house where we were all asleep and broke down the door in the middle of the night in Eastleigh among other houses without giving us a chance to cover ourselves? How was I supposed to prove that I’m Kenyan? Straight out of high school applying for an identification card being harassed by the office of the chief to prove that I was born there. Who do you know he asks? Who am I supposed to know? I spent 3/4 of my lifetime in school after another. How can I be at peace when till now I’m afraid to leave the house without my Identification card? How can my mind be at peace when any call from home makes me fear that some attack or another has happened or a family member or a friend was hurt? Why do I have to use the vaccination mark on my left hand when nothing else is believable to prove my citizenship? How can I be at peace with myself when since as a child society shuns me and my kind either for being a girl, or a Muslim, or for the simple fact that I do not conform to a certain perfect picture that my family and society has preset. In all these, I am not as blameless as I want to portray myself. Why didn’t I speak up earlier? But then again I myself am learning to crawl and that is all I can teach.
I may not know much about peace but what I know is, just like any other quality, it starts from within. From this moment I’ll no longer wait for someone else to bring peace to me, I will bring peace to myself and those around me. Kamau, Asha and the rest are just reacting to the information and action around them it is up to me to stop curling into my safe ball of fear and insecurity and stand up for what is right and what I believe in. The fact that I know I’m Kenyan is enough for me and no one can take it away from me. Peace demands action and active persuasion of others and soon our generation will take our country to greater heights where discrimination, nepotism, terror and poverty are bedtime stories and peace lives in each and every one of us.