I love going to the market. Mostly because I enjoy shopping for vegetables. But even more than this, I get to chat the mamas in the market. They always have cool stories to share! Like Sarah Otieno, who always has the best tomatoes and spinach and a seat for me!
I have always chatted her up every time I go veggie shopping, and yesterday was no different. After roaming the market and tons of haggling, it was time to take a break, and I chose my favorite spot. Sarah’s stall. With a water melon in hand, we started catching up on issues. As we continued, we got into the most talked about issue in our country today. The elections. After a few exchanges, I noticed a worried look on her face. I wanted to know what had suddenly changed her demeanor and this is what she had to tell me.
“You know Mama Junior, I love this country very much. But after what happened during the last elections, I am very worried. I am a praying woman, and I have been praying and fasting for this country a long time. And since we are on Lent, my main dedication has been this country. Not many people know this, but we people, who own stalls in markets were worst affected. As you know, this stall is my life and where I make money to feed, clothe and school my 2 children. Last election’s not only was my stall under threat, but my life as well.
As you have noticed, vendors here are from all tribes and we get along very well. We refer customers back and forth and we have co-existed for the last 15 years that I have been here. This was not the case when the post-election violence broke out. We were no longer friends. We turned against each other. We fought like we were fighting strangers. People lost their stalls. You wake up to come to work and find your stall and wares have been claimed by someone else, and they are holding a panga to you. You have no choice but to go back home. We went hungry.
We are optimistic, but to tell you the truth, we are scared. The market and our suppliers are not also committing to long-term supplies like we are used to. They say, let’s wait and see. I understand where they are coming from but this does not grant us much comfort. I plan on taking the children upcountry once the schools close for that one week, but I cannot afford to go away. I just hope with our strong faith, the love for our country and the lessons from our past, we can vote wisely, accept the results and move on with life, knowing that while some leaders will not have our best interests at heart, we, the common people have to, in the end, live as neighbors in this country we love.”
Her story gave me pause. Being a mother, trying to feed your children, trying to stay alive and at the same time, never giving up hope on the country you love is not easy. I know all moms out there echo this brave mom’s sentiments. We vote wisely, knowing that this is our country and no one will come from outside to run it for us. It belongs to us.
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