I do not blog. I have never blogged, and no, I am not about to start. I do not consider myself a writer. As a matter of fact, my days at the University were spent failing my written papers, and if my life depended on it, and a gun put to my head, I’d be shot. The situation is so dire, my sister jokes that I learnt to read/write English from a box of cereal. Also, since I spend plenty of time criticizing authors and bloggers and writers and papers, I would rather stick to what I know… Singing.
That being said, I realized possibly too late that I have something to say about FEB 28th. I am reminded of the scene in A King’s Speech where the soon-to-be King was with his speech therapist rehearse in the cathedral and despite his stutters and stammers shouts “I HAVE A VOICE!” Like him, I too need to be heard.
I will begin by saying that I do have my reservations about Feb 28th. Like every cynical blogger, twitter and super-analytical Kenyan and activist, I can engage you in a 4 hour conversation on the flaws of the “philosophy” or “ideology” or whatever different people have tagged FEB 28th. I struggle with the ‘And then what?” question. The idea of “the world watching” and a myriad of others details that I can defend as an activist. If you gave me another hour I would give you a SWOT analysis – my very own Powerpoint presentation, and an extensive talk on the Middle Class in Kenya, why making us sing the national anthem is a bad idea, and major points on a revolution. Then I would crown it with a song to finish it off on an emotional note.
When one says FEB 28th, what run through my mind are those common NGO phrases that make us laugh and/or annoy us. Expressions like ‘mobilize’, ‘resources’, ‘sustainability’, ‘funding’, ‘grassroots’, ‘disadvantaged’, ‘civil society’, ‘social capital’ and so on and so forth. Clichés. These are the things that I am exposed to on an everyday basis while interacting with my colleagues in the NGO sector, during the gigs I have played.
This morning, however, my thinking was challenged.
I am a born again Christian. I make no apologies about my faith and belief in Christ. This Sunday morning it dawned on me that when we are in trouble we do not hesitate to pray, whether it is for those we love, or simply turning to God for direction and comfort. I thought of those that struggled for our country’s independence and I shuddered to think that they would be saddened by the state of the government and our country today. I was sad, for in all my life I have never prayed for my country. I have never spent all of 5 minutes pleading for the Lord to bless our nation.
I doubt that singing the national anthem will cause a great revolution. Were we not forced by our primary and high school teachers to stand at attention, raise the flag and sing the anthem every Monday and Friday during assembly? If this were the basis of a revolution, my goodness what a great one Kenya would have. Powered by school children. Besides, how many of you reading this can get past the first verse?
Nonetheless I will pray for the country during those 5 minutes. Quietly in my room I will recite the words of our national anthem to God, for those great musicians that wrote the anthem prayed that Justice would be our shield and defender – we have been overtaken by corruption, where they hoped that we would have peace, we have killed each other. Like our own lives we desire to be blessed but hardly ever do we pray for a blessing for our nation. I imagine that as those great songwriters wrote that beautiful piece of music they shed a tear or two. Prayer can change things and people. And this time, in the secrecy of my home, I will pray. I have sung the anthem countless times, both locally and internationally, before dignitaries and laymen alike. Once again, tomorrow I will sing our national anthem. I will sing it like I’ve never sung it before and this time I will mean it. Because I will be praying.
Sara Mitaru is a Singer/Songwriter, UN Habitat Messenger of Truth, and UNMC MDG advocate based in Nairobi. Follow her on Twitter @saramitaru