james ouma · James Ouma writes · Mentoring boys in Kenya · Writing by James Ouma

How the President Ended Up Shaking My Family Tree

Kenya has had three presidents before Uhuru Kenyatta. While I didn’t see Jomo Kenyatta I ended up not seeing our second president, which completely confused me. Our head teacher had announced that the president would pass by on his way to Bondo. Since he wanted us to welcome him, we had to walk for over an hour – from Kambare Market to the junction that separates Riat and Akala.

I didn’t get to see the president. The crowd of singing school children stretched as far as the eye could possibly see. Being a scout member who pledged undying loyalty to Arap Moi I wondered why we couldn’t see him. I also wondered why they had us standing in the sizzling sun, just to wave at a president who wasn’t ready to shake our hands.

I also didn’t get close to Mwai Kibaki. When I look back at Kibaki’s presidency, there is nothing admirable. And there is nothing to smile about. I am speaking from my family’s point of view, of course. I don’t know about you. But as far as our family is concerned, collectively that is, there was no way Kibaki was going to shake my family tree.

Let me explain my family’s obsession with the presidency and why we are keen on having the family tree shaken. A long time ago, even before Nyakwar Ajesi my grandma was born, a prophecy was made deep inside the enclaves of Kit Mikayi. Ramogi, my great grandpa had offered his sacrifices when he was promised the presidency was going to shake our family tree.

It didn’t happen during his time. Neither did it happen during Nyakwar Ajesi’s time. Nor did it happen during my early years as a young boy. And with each passing day of Kibaki’s presidency my family realized the family wasn’t going to be shaken. Then suddenly, in comes Uhuru Kenyatta with William Ruto his sidekick. Uhuru Kenyatta is the only president who has finally ended up shaking my family tree. Here is how.

The first sign that my family tree was going to be shaken was when President Uhuru Kenyatta promised Kelly, my nephew a laptop. Next in line was my neighbourhood when The Nyumba Kumi Initiative was adopted for our personal security.

When Ciku, my cousin in law got pregnant, we were already doing a celebratory jig because we knew our family tree was bound to ve shaken more. Yesterday’s announcement by the president proved that our jig wasn’t in vain, or premature.

“My presidency will make sure that no mother dies while giving birth,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said, while our eyes turned to Ciku, who patted her huge belly in response. As a wide smile parted and split her heavily made up face, her Ghanian hairpiece weaving this way and that, I feared for our family tree.

I know the president has promised a lot of goodies that are, without a doubt, going to thoroughly shake my family tree. But with Kelly still waiting for his laptop that was promised before the president assumed office, I keep wondering which one of us is going to hold the president accountable. Otherwise all these promises will amount to nothing while my family tree will remain unshaken.

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