Monday, June 21, 2010
My clothes line and Mount Kenya in the back ground.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The crowd anxiously sits, shifting in their chairs, as a local politician speaks about the Kenyan holiday—yet their eyes are focused on one thing; boxes. Now these boxes sit at the front of the stage, as an ever present reminder of their importance and everyone knows what is inside—the constitution. The proposed constitution is a document that has been in the works for quite some time, and upon its completion is being distributed to Kenyans who will vote in August a simple choice—yes or no.
Kenya has had constitutions before, which began with a Majimbo Constitution, constructed at the time of independence in 1964, with help of the British (former colonizers), and another revision was made, yet their was need to create a constitution independent from British influence. The process began years ago and the first draft ultimately received a no vote. They began drafting a new constitution and finally completed it in May.
The speeches finally ends as people, pounce the boxes, each hastily trying to grab a constitution. A police officer has to step in the control the crowd but eventually everyone gets one. I make a bee line for the boxes—yet back off when I see the crowd grow, a friend of my snags me two, one for my teachers, the other for my students.
The idea of a government being so malleable is exhilarating too me. As a student and lover of history, you always imagine what it took to form a nation; I wished to be a fly on the wall James Madison (father of the U.S. constitution, nerd alert) when he was carefully crafting the constitution. Everything has a feeling of being “set in stone”, stories of our forefathers feel unreasonably foreign, from a different time, almost given folklore status. Yet here I am in Kenya witnessing history- and everything feels so obtainable, so tangible.
Everyday the break room at the school is filled with the buzz constitution talk. We engage in all sorts of political debates about the nature of a Constitution and I am asked many questions about my own. Which somewhere from the dark spaces in my mind I recall—I still somehow remember the whole preamble ( thanks Mr. Skeen). It seems all of Kenya is filled with the excitement, or opposition.
I plan on interpreting the whole constitution to my students in class 8. I teach social studies, and I feel it is imperative for them to know. Most of my students are left in the dark—in fact ¾ of my class had no idea what a constitution even was, yet I remain determined to finish all 500 plus pages. One teacher suggested I was wasting my time trying to explain the constitution to them, at times I feel like many people believe the Deaf should remain in this other world, outside of the hearing—this attitude of “why should they be bothered”. At times I admit it is difficult to press on; because they have very little understanding of the world outside their school and their village; and are denied access to the buzz I so enjoy; they are lost amongst the movement of lips that reveal so little. Regardless I want them to feel included, to feel apart of this country that bore them, I want them to know that this is their Kenya.