My name is Antony Mwaniki and over the last 2 weeks I have nursed anger that I cannot shake off. Anger that that was aroused by the senseless murder of 51-year-old James Mureithi in a Nairobi slum. Anger at the mistreatment meted out on Charles Mwenda as he sought to bury his wife in Meru. Anger at young people arrested and fined for breaking Covid 19 protocols when jogging and keeping fit whilst over 30 leaders including a cabinet secretary who should model the upholding of these protocols trash these same protocols with impunity and receive not even a reprimand. Anger at the deaths of amongst others George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. I felt my anger was justified. After all I was a man who impartially applied the law, I was not a racist not a tribalist. But that all changed this morning as I was out on a jogging listening to podcasts where various speakers addressed some of the issue or race and ethnic bias. I was challenged and inspired to action, to be part of the change and song by Michael Jackson came to mind
I’m gonna make a change for once in my life
Gonna feel real good, Gonna make a difference, Gonna make it right
As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat, This wind is blowin’ my mind
See the kids in the street, with not enough to eat
Who am I to be blind, pretending not to see their needs
A summer’s disregard, a broken bottle top And one man’s soul
They follow each other on the wind, ya know ‘Cause they got nowhere to go
That’s why I want you to know
Then an unexpected punch to the gut, to the soul that came in the chorus.
I’m starting with the man in the mirror I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change
In that instance I was bundled off my high horse for looking in the mirror I saw my own prejudice. Subtle but real bias towards some races, some religions and some like people like our political class here in Kenya. How could I be an architect for change when what I am seeking to change lies inside of me. Someone said that often the real enemy is the inner me. If I am to become an agent of change, I must change; I must look at myself and make that change. So, I will embark on a process to change me even as I work to be an agent of change. Though I have acquaintances across different races and religions, I have not worked to build them as true friendships. This will be my first step as I seek to understand others. Daryl Davis an African American who built a relationship with a Klu Klux Klan leader, a friendship that led to the Klan leader leaving the Klan said “Ignorance breeds Fear. If we do not keep the Fear in check it becomes Hate. If we do not keep the Hate in check it breeds Destruction.” A crucial first step in my journey is to address my ignorance by building relationships with those who are unlike me and learning from them. What is your first step?