Tuesday, July 07, 2009
What technology can not give us....
It is strange how people; relatives and friends no longer meet as much as they used to. Weddings are no longer places to meet old friends, they have become family affairs.
Burials become more of a must, because if you don't turn up, people are going to wonder what kind of friend or family member you are. In our traditions, attending burials of family members and friends has sort of been mandatory. Not that the person will rise or fail to go six feet under because you did not turn up but its considered a measure of respect.
So, when Solo died, it was a time for friends and relatives to meet, he was a great guy, a friend who was not scared of telling us off especially when we start acting up.
He was a telecommunications pioneer in Kenya, I met this techie who told me that in 1997, Solo was probably one of the few Kenyan techies who could configure PABX and make it work perfectly.
For me, he challenged me, when I won a $ 6000 award from Ford Foundation New York when I was 21, he guided me through the motions, how to invest, make savings and to survive in the US when I went for the fellowship.
Yes he was a great guy and role model.
That is why we were shocked to learn about his death in a tragic car accident, and as usual, everyone gathered in his house during the period.
The gathering of women was probably one of the best I have been in the past. There were all working women, who are juggling their careers and families. People who are facing the same c challenges like me.
Then it came the part where those who are single, married, divorced and unlucky in marriage share their experiences. We say why we are not married and the others say why it is good or not nice to get married.
The best was when this powerful woman, a teacher who has a masters, a role model and a mother shared her experience about this guy who she was married to, and he would come home at 10pm and demand that he wants to take Ugali and Sukuma Wiki and chicken, and she would go to the shamba at night, and make the food. We were all like; how? Forget that the guy would accompany her to the shamba at night but it was not right.
Anyway, the older women and the younger married women get to share their ideas and the younger women share theirs too. It is a synergy that technology can not give us.
What we shared that night can not be exchanged via chat, website or even talking on the phone. It is a treasure of our traditional customs that unfortunately is dying off. Now when we want to talk to our role models in the village or elsewhere, we have no time to sit down and talk, we say, I will call or email you.
When people die, we just send money via mobile phones as contributions, when our grand parents summon us, we label them as nagging and backward. Yet for them, our money and accomplishments are the least of their interests, they are just interested in the time that you have for cjit chat.
I am not saying that talking to people will solve all the problems, but it will show that we are not alone; that other people are experiencing similar challenges. It is that which technology will not give us, the valuable time to improve as people.
Maybe many of us are failing to get married or marriages have failed on flimsy grounds, maybe if we heard some of the experiences, we would learn to deal with some of the issues.
Our strength in oral traditions is unsurpassed; for instance, there was a former classmate who was hessitating about his boyfriend's proposal; she thought she was too tough or they would not cope. Then a former teacher and a friend posed the question; do you want a guy who will hold your hand at the labor ward and cook for you after giving birth or a guy who thinks cooking is backward and he is better drinking with frineds and he will never know when you go into labor?
She did not need to give the answer, she just needed to think beyond the patying phase and think beyond the fun and into seriousness.
Anyway, we can read all we can and become all tech savvy but there is no doubt there is something in our oral traditions that technology can not give us.
Maybe it is good once in a while to go back to our roots.
Maybe I will make time to sit with my grandma and listen to her tantrums once in a while and share with her my challenges, which dont compare anyway.
Posted by REBECCA WANJIKU at 10:15 am