My friend Boniface Mwangi told James Smart on KTN Prime on Sunday that he is quitting activism. “Why die for Kenyans who don’t care for their own country and future?” he posed. My response:
Fighting for the soul of a nation is an ongoing struggle. Its soldiers fight on different fronts, not just on the streets. Speaking for my generation of activists, we demonstrated on campus when the Moi regime murdered Ouko; we took part in drafting the first draft constitution in the early 90s dubbed ‘Kenya Tuitakayo: A Model Constitution for Kenya’; we founded NCEC; we took to the streets in the mid 90s with the clarion call, ‘No Reforms, No Elections!’
When politicians tried to reduce the 2008 crisis to a simple matter of sharing power, we insisted that long term issues be added as Agenda 4. We leveraged on that crisis to continue the momentum to recreate our Republic and made significant gains through the adoption of the new Constitution in 2010.
In all this we were humble enough to recognize that we were not alone. We were merely a small part of a movement of Kenyans that have risen up in all generations to reclaim their humanity from a system that was determined to crush them and keep them in chains.
From Mekatilili wa Menza to Waiyaki wa Hinga, from Koitale Samoei to Harry Thuku, from Mary Wanjiru to Dedan Kimathi, from Markam Singh to Pio Gama Pinto, from Tom Mboya to Elijah Masinde, from JM Kariuki to Wangari Maathai and countless others who have given their blood sweat and tears to fight for the dignity of the Kenyan people.
Nor shall we be the last, for others shall come behind us to take our place when we fall or are no longer on the scene, or like some have done, when some of us choose to ‘cross the floor’ and join the oppressors.
Boniface Mwangi has played a part in this struggle. He has been on the front line for half a decade and is clearly drained. He needs a break and is entitled to take one, just like many before him. He may even think that Kenyans are not worth fighting for.
But activism is not a choice one makes. It is a call that one cannot run away from. I have not spoken to him, but from my own experience, I daresay that once he has recharged his batteries, Boniface shall be back. For the struggle continues, and once you have joined the struggle, it is impossible to watch from the sidelines as others fight for the soul of your nation and the future of your children.