The Beauty Of Differences.

Friday, October 26, 2018

This summer I travelled to Kenya with family for six weeks - which has been the longest I've been to Kenya in my life for any one time. Going home, as I do consider Kenya to be home, is always warming - feeling a part of something bigger than yourself. Saying that, the thing that comes with that is culture shock - which runs pretty deep after hearing things like 'have you ever been sent home because your parents haven't paid your school fees?' isn't the norm in the UK and other western nations. I feel like most young Africans in the diaspora can relate in that our parents and family almost feel the need to constantly bring up the hardships of living in what is seen as third world standard. Understandably, my cousin assumed we too pay for our school fees and go to boarding schools - yet here to go to a boarding school is a sign of greater privilege and assumed intelligence.

Whilst there, I saw kids under the age of 10 building or assisting in manual labour jobs that I don't see myself doing in the foreseeable future - let me not lie to myself. I saw what my life could have been and that's not to say it wouldn't have been great, knowing the freedom Africa allows for and the experiences I know are only available there too. But I saw the differences in personal development, skill set and also what it means to have actual responsibility. My great grandmother passed just before we arrived in Kenya - she lived near the border of Kenya and Tanzania with Mt Kilimanjaro at her doorstep. Whilst we were there to lay her to rest we went for a family 'hike' - to us it was a literal hike for professionals - to where the water for the locals is. If I could describe what it was like I would personally class it as a beautifully enclosed deep necessity. Duke of Edinburgh does not equip you for the type of raw treks that some people take on a day to day. I learnt about persistence and the art of climbing rocks upon rocks.

Throughout my time there, among family and generations who had more to share about my heritage than I could ever learn from a textbook or Google - the one key element I learnt is that we are all fortunate in different aspects. From a western perspective to have a certain level of wealth immediately means that you are fortunate, yet from what I saw wealth doesn't mean everything if anything at all. The sense of community in regions of Kenya and arguably the Kenyan people allows for self reliance to not be at the top of your agenda instead unity and love for your neighbour prevails. In that instance, what's key to the growth of us as a people is to realise that in the end is it more important to be known for your wealth or the love you were able to give and lives you were able to influence without the use of any type of currency?

The beauty of Africa which western media chooses to destroy is the beauty of its people - who are what community is and should be represented as such. Currently on twitter I've noticed a couple of humour posts 'Kenya and Nigeria' - of which some I have seen as a step too far if I'm completely honest as I know at some point it may get twisted out of proportion by someone. But outside of that, there are countless times western African culture has fused with East African culture revealing our similarities - which makes sense since the bantu people dispersed from the West African region.

From this all I've learnt an important life lesson - to see the beauty of differences. Our differences. My differences.

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