‘A Christian is someone who is struggling for Liberation- James Cone’
‘I have come to set you free’- Jesus
It’s 5:30 pm, I am walking from one meeting, running late for the next. I see a woman, holding her loudly wailing baby. She is hiding from someone. The look on her face tells me all that I need to know. She has been running all her life. However, this time, she is running from the city council askaris. They have this cat and mouse game on lockdown. She is the mouse. They are the cats. She is never safe, they are never satisfied.
I look a few metres past her and I see lemons, green lemons scattered all over the potholed street. The City Council is meant to repair these streets…
I just came from a meeting about justice in the city
I am headed for another meeting about justice in the city.
This woman’s threadbare leso and the wailing of her child makes me wonder if the meetings that I attend hold any weight.
Will justice ever be her shield and defender?
She is here searching for daily bread
They are here searching for daily chai
She went to church on Sunday, she was asked to tithe
They went to church on Sunday, they were the ushers
Oppressor and oppressed.
All under one roof
What does their faith have to do with the scattered lemons on the streets of Nairobi?
What is her liberation? Her salvation?
Is her salvation her liberation? Is her liberation her salvation?
Everyday she walks past churches, government offices, NGO offices, they have all given her a name- She is Wanjiku
Wanjiku whose house is surrounded by sewer yet has no toilet to call her own
Wanjiku whose name is used to solicit for funds from big corporations
Wanjiku who is a nobody – she is everybody’s nobody.
Her body belong’s to whoever is holding the grandest workshop in the city’s grandest of spaces
Spaces her feet will never grace- or soil
If I were asked to give the symbol of pain in Nairobi- It would be the city council askari van
You see, this van represents the brokenness of this city, of our country
This van is only seen in the streets chasing after those whom the system has failed
This van targets the most vulnerable in our society- the poor woman, with a baby tied behind her back – selling lemons to make a living.
This van is the symbol of systemic failure, torture and collective pain.
The hawkers have to make a living; the askari’s have to ensure that they do not.
Every time a woman is pushed into this van and her wares scattered all over the streets- her God image is cracked.
In this van, she is crucified with Christ
Every time an askari scatters her vegies on the streets – the askari’s God image is cracked. He becomes one with the Roman soldier at the foot of the cross, doing the will of Empire but maybe recognizing the God image of the crucified Christ, of the wailing child and of the despondent mother.
With this action, Empire reminds her who is to be feared…
This cycle of constant dehumanization
Constantly crucifying on the cross
Constantly hearing the wails of the child on the back of the woman searching for daily bread-
My God my God, why have you forsaken me?
The lemons scattered on the street,
The water splashing from His wounded side… When will it ever be truly finished?