28-11-2022 by Freddie del Curatolo
The difference between the Kiswahili words "karibu" and "karibuni" are not just a grammatical fact. For that we could deal with it with a brief note: "karibu" is the singular of the statement "welcome!" (English "Welcome!"), which is also used as an adverb to mean "close to." "Karibuni" is the plural, thus "welcome." While both have meanings of welcome, these days we feel it is our duty to extrapolate the two words from Italian news events that we would never want to hear or see linked with the realities of social engagement in Kenya.
The fact is known to many of you readers, "Karibu" is the name of the cooperative created by the wife of the Ivorian-born Italian MP Aboubakar Soumahoro, and his family. The wife of the Green Alliance and Italian Left deputy, known for his battles for welcoming immigrants to Italy, is Rwandan as is her mother. So they know Kiswahili, spoken and understood well or poorly in all East African states. And they know the now pan-African meaning of the word "Karibu."
The cooperative is now in the eye of the storm for suspected evasion, nonpayment of employees, and luxury spending by Lilian Murekatete, Soumahoro's consort.
Parallel to these vicissitudes of our "low empire" and the politicians who put their own interests before those of the Italians and try to profit even on sensitive issues that affect human lives, there are the Italian social realities that for years have been trying to operate preemptively at the "Karibu Italia" both because they have no other interest than helping their neighbor and no other emotional drive than love for the land of Africa, and because the best policy of solidarity with the peoples of the African continent is "helping to help themselves" in their own homelands, within their own communities.
"Let's help them help themselves" is also the motto of "Karibuni Onlus" (here we go, with the suffix "ni" designating the plural) which was born 20 years ago in Como, with this very premise. "Welcome" was the word with which in the hinterland of Malindi welcomed the founder Gianfranco Ranieri and the members of his association.
Today, in the age of media tangling with social media and of information-bombed and fuming brains that confuse, it is easy to confuse "Karibu" with "Karibuni" and end up lumping all the facts together. While in this case we can say that the two headwords represent diametrically opposed philosophies (and morals)
"We are receiving messages and phone calls asking us if there are any links between us and the social coop Karibu at the center of a magistrate's investigation regarding its activities in the management of migrants," Ranieri explains, "Obviously Karibuni Onlus Como has nothing to do with this investigation, but it is appropriate to clarify... Karibunii Onlus operates only in Kenya through projects to support education , job creation and support the improvement of health services there. Karibuni Onlus operates with the aim of giving maximum support to people so that they can live with dignity, possibility of economic autonomy through work, create just expectations for the future of the new generations. And on this path we will continue to put maximum effort and with total transparency."
We at Malindikenya.net also know well the difference between "Karibu" and "Karibuni" when it comes to solidarity, and we will continue to support the projects of one of the most serious Italian non-profit organizations working on the Kenyan coast.
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