RE: The parents of child prodigy Goldyln Kakuya should be very wary of Kenya’s media and the likes of Lillian Muli.
So, TV host Lillian Muli found it appropriate to ask a fourteen-year-old whether she has a boyfriend, in front of her parents, on national TV no less!
That’s precisely what the Citizen TV presenter did when she was “interviewing” this year’s top Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) student Goldalyn Kakuya.
Frankly rather than get shocked at the idea of a 14-year old having a “boyfriend”, I was more interested in the ensuing frenzy and publicity given the studious albino – from Western Kenya no less – by the country’s media.
We have seen how partisan and whimsical Kenya’s media and media personalities can be.
The same talking heads who were “praying for peace” during the run-up to the elections were conspicuously silent when the “peace” (and justice) of those not aligned with the incumbency was repeatedly violated.
Let me say this:
The more I live in America and stay attuned to Kenya’s socio-political, economic and cultural happenings, the more I see very distinct similarities between the various groups in either society.
Unfortunately, the interactions in Kenya are between Kenyan Africans and the interactions here in America are between the various races in a hierarchy that has white Americans at the “top” and dark-skinned African Americans at the “bottom”.
So someone, Goldalyn Kakuya, from a group AND region traditionally vilified and discriminated against by the media is suddenly “the ‘true’ face of Kenya” now that they have excelled, in this case, in the KCPE.
I saw it when Barack Obama ascended to the presidency of these United States.
I see it during the Las Vegas Sevens rugby tournament.
When Origi, Wanyama, Mariga and Olunga excel on the pitch in the Bundesliga or EPL or La Liga or Serie A, these sons of Nyanza and western Kenya are “wanaKenya Halisi doing Kenya proud”.
But as soon as they step onto the tarmac at JKIA in Nairobi, these conquering world-class athletes are immediately linked to their ethnic group or onto political candidates of their choice – replete with the related vitriol.
Albinos have been discriminated against for as long as I can remember.
The article “Albinism in Africa: Stigma, Slaughter and Awareness Campaigns” in “Dermatologic Clinics” describes the young savant’s condition as “an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by a lack of pigment in the hair, skin, and eyes” – just like any other medical condition.
However, the article goes on to write that the condition has long been associated with stigma and superstitions including “intercourse with a white man”, that the child is a “ghost of European colonialist” or worse – that albino body parts “are good-luck charms or possess magical powers” and are thus valuable – oftentimes fetching as much as $75,000 on the black market!
Fortunately, Ms. Kakuya’s intellect and polish exposed that xenophobia and bigotry for exactly what it was: Fear and insecurity born out of ignorance but masked by a sense of entitlement.
The young girl’s poise and edict and enunciation not to mention vocabulary were preternatural; embarrassed Ms. Muli actually.
I have previously written about the phenomenon of the “modern minority” here in America. That mantle is primarily “bestowed” onto Asian Americans – by the dominant paradigm i.e. white Americans.
Occasionally, it is “bestowed” onto other minorities who “excel” in their respective profession/s.
Stateside, the likes of Jerry Yang (Yahoo!), Steve Jobs, Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Sergy Brin, Michael Jordan, Neil deGrasse Tyson (renowned astrophysicist), Tiger Woods, Obama, LeBron James, the Williams sisters Serena and Venus are “Americans” – so long as they excel in their respective fields.
As soon as they do something that rubs the dominant status quo wrong, they become “chinks”, “Japs”, “niggers”, “Eurotrash”, “sand niggers” and a host of other racist and unsavory characterizations – all linked to the respective group instead of their person.
Tangentially related is the group indictment and pathologization when an Arab or Hispanic commits a violent act. The narrative is markedly different when a white man walks into a church and shoots several congregants. Suddenly, the discussion centers, not around “whites” and “Europeans”, but on “mental illness” and “what society can do to ‘help’ those who need help”.
Similarly, the erstwhile “Kenyan” who excelled or did well suddenly becomes a “Luo” or “Luhya” whose now-less-than-stellar behavior is suddenly representative of the entire tribe!
I view the fawning over Ms. Kakuya, much like any other attempts at “magnanimity” and “acceptance” of “others” by a Kenyan media AND society that has shown itself to be murderously intolerant with the trepidation and hesitation that along with African-Americans and other minorities, I view the “model minority” construct.
It is opportunistic and expedient and oftentimes capricious.
While I am ecstatic that Goldalyn Kakuya’s performance in the national exam has, like Obama’s ascension to the presidency and his performance compared to DJT’s, shattered stereotypes and that her comportment on national TV out rightly embarrassed several high-profiled supposedly “degreed” politicians and governors, I am hesitant to let my guard down given the relationship between Kenya’s media and those who don’t sing the (ruling) party line.
Based on the outcome of the KCPE, the young lady is smart.
With continued focus and parental guidance, Ms. Goldalyn is destined for greatness and the cool thing is that she has already demonstrated that she does not need “support” from the likes of Lillian Muli or the partisan and banal Kenyan media to succeed in life.