How strange is talking about Remembrance Day in Kenya

In Africa every celebration is like a party, not a sad moment

27-01-2023 by Freddie del Curatolo

Today is "Remembrance Day" all over the world, but here in Kenya few people know what it is. 
Remembrance serves no purpose in these parts and the day barely bears the weight of itself. 
There are many holidays in Kenya: all the Christian ones and several of the Muslim ones, there is the Independence Day as in America, the Republic Day as in Italy, the birthday of the first president of the Republic as in Papua, the birthday of the second president as only in Kenya.
After being elected president, on December 30, 2007, Mwai Kibaki declared December 31 a national holiday, "post-election day".
Happy intuition, what happened in the following days, not exactly a holiday, seems already forgotten.
Punctually, someone, during the 2017 elections, tried to reintroduce its themes, and foment clashes, stirring up thugs and desperate people.
The forces of law and order have not been inferior in repressing them. 
In 2017, between elections, counter-elections, nominations and parades, there was a record number of national holidays.
But none experienced with transport, identity and attention to meaning. 
Our unforgettable Prime Minister Silvio, whom we may find in the saddle again in a few weeks, was right: too many holidays are bad for you.
But the "Day of Remembrance" in Kenya, and in particular here in Malindi, is something unknown.
Here people live for the day, at the most they can dedicate an hour to Remembrance. 
We could establish the "Forty-five minutes of Remembrance", between noon and a quarter and one o'clock.
Then everyone eats and drinks, and the Muslims pray.
"Do you know what Memory Day is?" 
I ask the owner of the fruit and vegetable stand.
"Do you want some arugula? It came very fresh."
"Memory day?"
"No, I don't have any. Write it down here and I'll try to order it."
I try the phone card peddler.
"Memory day?"
"No, but I have the weekend rate if you want it."
I also get a shrug and a stunned look from the bank security guard and the fake Masai man who has the bead stall in the middle of the mall.
Not much would change, even if I asked for details or dates of the terrible massacre in Rwanda, or the revolution in South Sudan.
Here memory, in the sense of memories, becomes such only when you leave the country.
Then memories become emotions, they refer to Nature, to experiences, to states of mind.
There is a tendency to remove everything else. 
It is natural that Africa does not remember the Shoah. 
"Someone has heard of the Holocaust, but it's something from a long time ago that involved the Germans and Israelis," a Kenyan-born Indian who studied in Mombasa tells me.
As Fossati sang of Argentina, memory in Kenya is bad and close, very close. 
It is the memory of the day, of every day in which people sweat for bread and fight for that sweat. 
In Africa they continue to kill each other in a barbaric way, in northern Kenya for land and cows, today between Congo and Uganda, and every day for the last twenty years in Somalia.
Under the guise of "ethnic cleansing" or a "power game", the worst war is being waged, that of the poor. 
No showers or mass graves, no gas chambers.
Here machetes and knives, flashlights and gasoline are used. 
The power, the real one that doesn't play, doesn't move a finger, this is the real "state of cleanliness".
They have tried it with democracy, with capitalism.
No, it is not for Africa, for the kingdom where the lion has always fought with the gazelle, the leopard with the warthog, and there is no battle.
Democracy has taught the lion how to fight the leopard and, what is worse, the gazelle how to kill the warthog. 
What's the use?
Who needs it? 
Since the Holocaust Memorial Day we are used to think that behind every massacre, every purge, every war, there are economic, political, social reasons. In Vietnam for opium and China, in Iraq for oil and fundamentalism, Venezuela for cocaine.
In the rest of the world there are only sporadic trucks thrown on the crowd, occasional shootings, random stabbings, devices here and there...
In Kenya, it seems absurd to reduce everything to two rich and drunk Africans who want to be in charge, to two bosses of tribal lobbies of power who, after having challenged each other and caused thousands of deaths, have shaken hands smiling and are back to making deals as in the rest of the world.
And yet it is so.
After all, we are in the Land of "There is no why".
Today, "Remembrance Day", other innocents a few thousand miles from my home have been killed and there are so few of us down here who carry the weight of so many days alive.

TAGS: Malindi memoriaKenya ricordiKenya giorno

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