It hit me in the airport toilet that the lady cleaning the toilets probably never gets to fly out of the country. Neither, probably, does the security guard. Yet here I am on my way to fly to Ethiopia. I am a product of an extremely unequal society.
My British accent jars me into realization that I am partly a product of imperialism. My British school never cared to teach me about Kenyan history, never taught me Kiswahili. I know what I do of my country’s history from my own reading. My spoken Kiswahili is laughable, so I prefer to reply to people in English, so they don’t mock me.
I am a product of a racist Kenyan Indian population who refuse to acknowledge their ingratitude to the local indigenous Kenyans, whom they abuse and assume higher status over.
I am a product of colonialism as many land injustices today stem from colonial land grabs and redistribution. Any building I enter, any large-scale farm from which I get my food, I do not know who was displaced for that many years ago, whom the land was given to, whom title deeds were created for.
I am a product of the flawed capitalist unequal system that places me and others born into opportunity above those equally deserving people who are not so lucky.
On the other hand, I am not entirely made from a negative history.
I am a product of a generation of hardworking Indians who settled here as hard labourers and poor merchants, and built their wealth through sweat and persistence.
I am a product of welcoming Kenyans who let the original Indians into their land, along with several other populations from countries across the globe.
I am a product of worthy cultures, both Indian and Kenyan – whose traditions need be valued, histories be revisited, and positive aspects be learned from and brought into today’s society.
I am a product of the love innate to humans, which we often forget in our robotic, enslaved lives. This love emanates from so many humans that I am privileged to have in my life, inspires me, and has made me who I am.
In re-shaping our future, we must learn from our collective histories, identities, cultures, and knowledge. We must acknowledge positive and negative past events. And we must not assume that just because we inherited something, we deserve it.