A few nights ago that I tried to speak my mother tongue with my son Baraka Chemmoss Kaania,only to be surprised, that one from my own loins did not understand one of the many languages that I claim to speak. When said to him, subai werii? He wondered and asked, Dada what are you saying? I tried to repeat the same line but his face, registered even a greater surprise. It was then that it dawned to me that we as a Samedi Kania family had undergone a significant transformation in terms of the context, norms and values.
This was a kind reminder that my Saboat roots have undergone systematic decline and it was just a matter of one generation down the road, that it will all be in archives that Samedi Arap Kania immigrated from Kenya and his origins, blah, blah, blah.This was also an kind affirmation that as a family, it had not been a priority to include other languagual repatoires in our curriculum.
Wait a minute! This thought brought some flash backs. When in Eldoret – Kenya, recently between the end of December 2007 and January 2008, I experienced many sad and scaryy things.With the ethnic clashes at the peak, tribal indentity became the standard of indentity and the proof of the indentity one was expected to be fluent in that respective mother tongue.
While driving from Ziwa towards Eldoret, we were stoped as at a road block, by this youngmen you then did not speak any other language other than the local dialect. If you could not hold a conversation in that meduim it was summarily concluded that you were not one of them, therefore, the rest was often sad stories told.
I wondered for a moment if my son had been in Kenya at that time, without a spokes person or a defender, he might have been persecuted by his own.This thought made me question my self. What is the true determinant of ones indentity? Is Baraka, not one of my own? If so, why should it be that language overides, his genes? May be the currency of indentity of tribal affliations (in Kenya), is tribe, language and related practices. So that if you are not in the main stream, you will eithr be forced to the center or be ejects and disowned.
It was in the middle of this, that it dawned to me that my sons name sake was the President elect of the United States of America. Can the same standards apply to him? Wait a minute, Baraka Obama if anything new no or a few luo words, yet he was not only a tribal hero in Kogelo, was one a hero even in the streets of Nairobi, after his victories election. If my claim is true the Baraka Chemmoss can as well still be a Sabaot, even without speaking the local dialect, only if he becomes a high achiever in whatever field he pursues.
I therefore have a game plan for Mr. Baraka Chemmoss Kania. The first and surer way to make sure that Baraka becomes respectable in the village I came from is by, pushing him to achieve. If rises above the tide then the pre-resquisite to admission is waived, that is my plan A.
If plan A, is not viable, then plan B can as well be pursued, by starting a rigorous language acquisation program right now, and right here. For studies conform that before the age of 11 there is a possibility that, if Baraka Chemmoss is trained, he willl soon be able to salute me, Subai Baba. What I joy when I salute him back Aboo werri.
Plan C, might be the easiest, to forget all about Mt. Elgon and its people and teach him Chinese instead. Afterall, Far East is the direction of immigrating in Baraka’s future. But for know Please Konja Chuu, let me weigh my options to determine which is the best plan.