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Governor’s wedding a cultural statement

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Mumbi’s courtship and wedding to prominent Nairobi lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo was a unique event for a couple of reasons. Well, the perfect blending of money and tradition. 

For Africanists like me, the customary wedding last week, known in Gikuyu language as ‘ngurario’, was the ultimate traditional statement of the year. The duo would have done a white wedding, with all the razzmatazz associated with it. But it was refreshing that they chose the way of our ancestors.

Clearly, I am not the only one seeing the gradual renaissance of the African society. After outdoing themselves in a poor attempt at Westernisation, and flopping big time in their quest, black Africans are now retracing their steps in search of their identity.

Indeed, we are the only race suffering from grave self-hate, creating a conducive environment for exploitation. As he continues on the journey of his twilight years, US-based Prof Ngugi wa Thiong’o must also be seeing light at the end of the tunnel, in his lifelong admonitions asking Africans to decolonise their minds.

During a recent public lecture at the United States International University in Nairobi, Ngugi observed that while we are busy trying to ape Western accents and mannerisms, the West has had a field day accessing our resources.

Interestingly, the youth, especially in my own Gikuyu community, are having a cultural reawakening of sorts. They have formed several WhatsApp groups aimed at discussing their traditional cultural practices in all areas of life. They are asking hard questions about why we abandoned the time tested ways of our forefathers, for modern practices that have damaged our societies.

Indeed, Kamotho and Mumbi have shown us that it is not too late to rediscover ourselves. We now need other influential personalities to follow suit, and be courageous enough to look old fashioned by being authentic.

We can infuse many other areas of our lives, both as individuals and as a society, with our cultural values. If this happens, many of the social vices will fade away.

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Recently, a colleague and friend told me that I am admonishing ourselves a tad too much. That’s right. But then, how do I love us if all we do is goof? For instance, a recent news item on one of the TV stations questioned, for the umpteenth time, how we identify and recognise our national heroes.

Pointedly, the story observed that several of former recipients of State commendations are currently facing criminal charges in courts of law, while others, like ‘Githeri man’, had reverted to their default settings.

This continues to affirm that very little has changed in our thinking. I mean, we have deliberately shunned tens of patriots who highly merit national commendation, in place of personalities whose sole acclaim to fame is simply doing the absurd, or serving certain parochial or political interests.

Unfortunately, this outrageous mediocrity has become a national culture that pervades all sectors. Merit was thrown out of the window long ago. Meanwhile, our businesspeople are still poisoning us for profit, and we wonder why we are dropping dead like flies.  After meat, what next? Apparently, the worst is yet to come. In Kenyan speak, ‘reke nemwo’ – I can’t!  The writer is a communication expert, and public policy analyst. [email protected] 

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