I WAS NOT thought of yet. A wound in my mother had not formed yet. A wound in her mother had not been born yet. We were both not here, my mother and I, where we are now on both edges of love and contempt. I was eight, with a tongue quick enough to catch the secrets from slipping but also quick enough to spill them. She was twenty-six years old with a face growing tired of mothering and playing wife. But she was taught to always do her homework, as was I. Our democracy was four years old but walked like it was thirty. I had not known of it yet; I was covered in dust and eating up the streets for lunch when Lauryn Hill released her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I was sixteen and the album was eight when we met.
I remember feeling like a non-Kenyan for the first time in my life on that dark night Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the re-elected president, a decision that has since been nullified in a historic Supreme Court ruling. The court found the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the body charged with conducting elections, guilty of committing what it termed “illegalities and irregularities” that tainted the entire electoral process.
My sister and I disagree over the 2007 post-election scenario. She says we slept in the garage’s trench but I say we slept under a huge truck at the police station. I blame this on memory. It has been almost ten years since we ‘hurriedly’ left our home in Iten to look for shelter at the police station as the crisis of what we thought would be a few days escalated. But that’s just a blip in my memory, or hers.
Memory is a thing we love to play around with. The 2017 elections and the results that have followed have unveiled aspects of this country that we tend to forget, aspects that we tend to sweep under the carpet and hope tomorrow will be better or fit our perceptions of better.
There is a running joke on Kenyan social media platforms this week, variations of “Politicians sasa watoe posters, waganga wanataka kurudisha zao.” I laugh, I retweet, especially because the variation I come across features the woman-beating former governor Evans Kidero. It is that time in the political cycle when our lives are wallpapered with brightly-coloured but quickly-fading promises, some of which will survive, just barely, until the next election.