Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What has Miguna done?

Sheng' rose up in Nairobi decades before Miguna Miguna set his sights (once again) to becoming Nairobi City's governor. Sheng' doesn't just define Nairobi, it is Nairobi. If Miguna Miguna fails to see the relevance of Sheng' to the dynamism of this City, then it begs the question, Why the hell does he want to be its governor?

This is what Mr Miguna said,
I'm going to develop Nairobi into a PROSPEROUS FIRST CLASS CITY; not a hodgepodge for Sheng & other ethnic languages.
In his mind, "first class" cities don't have a hodgepodge of the equivalent of Sheng' or other ethnic languages. Presumably, those kinds of cities only have languages that would be considered "first" class and they would exclude the Shengs and other ethnic languages of the world that are "definitely not first class." 

This is surprising on two fronts. First, Mr Miguna has lived in Canada for over a decade. He has seen the poisonous relationship between the English-speaking and French-speaking parts of Canada. He has also seen how the First Nations have been treated by both the English-speaking and French-speaking parts of Canada, including the racialist attempts to erase the First Nations' cultures by denying them their native languages. It is the same racialism that almost wiped out the Aborigines of Australia and, closer to home, has left the Yaaku with only seven native speakers of their language.

Second is the elitism of it all. Those who speak Sheng' or other "ethnic" languages are, by Mr Miguna's description, not first class. Perhaps Mr Miguna believes that only those who speak English are first class and sophisticated enough for him to build a prosperous Nairobi for. Everyone else must forego their culture, including those whose culture has been shaped by Sheng' because Nairobi and Sheng' are all they have ever had.

We, the suffering residents of this City, are eminently familiar with the way we are treated by the men and women who believe they are our betters, Mr Miguna included. We are used to the long stare down their noses, or the upturned nose when they "smell something funny" about us. We have always been treated as if we are permanently befouling the air that rightly belongs to them. We don't usually take it to heart because none of this City's elites have ever been stupid enough to set down in black and white their odious thoughts about us. Mr Miguna continues to set records.

Sheng' is no longer just a language; it is a culture. It is our culture. Those of us who grew up in Eastlands, that swathe of territory extending east of Landhies Road, Lusaka Road and Mombasa Road have lived this culture for over fifty years. Sheng' was here long before Mr Miguna descended from the Mt Olympus that is Nyando, famous for its river and its floods. Our music has crossed borders as Jaguar reminds us and it has employed dozens upon dozens of young people as Jua Cali's music and fashion lie continue to do every single day. What has Mr Miguna done in order for him to look down his nose at Sheng' or "ethnic" languages? What successful enterprises has he run with his precious English-speaking skills? In short, other than to him, what proof can he show for the prosperity he has brought to others using his precious first class English language skills?

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