OFF MY CHEST: Don’t judge a person by their neighbourhood

Thursday March 21 2019

I remember clearly when I attended a youth seminar and when I mentioned my neighbourhood, one person said, “Mmh! Na hiyo kizungu yote?” ILLUSTRATION| IGAH

I remember clearly when I attended a youth seminar and when I mentioned my neighbourhood, one person said, “Mmh! Na hiyo kizungu yote?” ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

JOSHUA MUTISYA
By JOSHUA MUTISYA
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I was quite disappointed recently when one of the members Ethic, famed for the songs “Lamba Lolo”, “New Position” and “Instagram”, was caught on camera getting a beating for allegedly stealing.

See, I had earlier heavily defended their music, largely because we share the same a background, and was quite impressed that they are ‘representin’ the hood.

The group later released a statement clarifying that it was a case of mistaken identity.

ALL SORTS OF REACTIONS

When the video of the young man went viral, it spurred all sorts of reactions.

There were those who were seeking to know if it was factual, others trying hard to defend the man, insinuating that being part of a successful music group releasing hit after hit, it’s either music wasn’t paying enough or he had too much money to be interested in stealing!

But for others, it was more a case of prejudice than common knowledge.

This explains the speed at which guys jumped to conclusions about the whole issue.

That a person can judge you by where you come from or how you look like is a huge disappointment to the levels of exposure in the modern world.

The group later released a statement clarifying that it was a case of mistaken identity. PHOTO| COURTESY

The group later released a statement clarifying that it was a case of mistaken identity. PHOTO| COURTESY

I can bet that the situation could have been different if he was more affluent. In fact, it could have really built his status.

A real gangster. A bad boy! A true hustler!

Also, even if he had committed the crime, it seems that the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ tenet of the law is not entirely universal.

Isn’t it embarrassing of our society to shove about seven microphones and audio recorders in front of a person accused of allegedly faking the president’s voice to con someone, to ‘clear the air’, but be ruthless towards those engaging in crime in the streets?

Isn’t it interesting how the suspect in the streets is given names like ‘suspected gangster’ (the ‘suspected’ is ignored sometimes), rapist or just a thief, but well-off folks involved in corruption and even sexual assault are called ‘renowned businessman’, ‘doctor’ or ‘honourable’?

Take it or leave it; the status of the accused has a big impact on how we weigh the crimes committed.

And by the way, this is not just a judicial problem, it’s a social problem.

Back to our story, there is so much I observed from this case. See, I hail from Eastlands, and there are countless times that I have encountered sentiments that were ‘innocent’ to the speaker, but quite provoking to me.

“ALL THAT ENGLISH”

I remember clearly when I attended a youth seminar and when I mentioned my neighbourhood, one person said, “Mmh! Na hiyo kizungu yote?

And I responded, “Eeeh, pia watu wa Dandora tumeenda shule na tukasoma.”

A story is also told of a guy who went to the Nairobi Serena Hotel and was so baffled by the big names in the menu that he took an eternity to order. The host concluded that the young man wanted to eat a meal that would last him for days on end.

Or the person whose boss would not entrust him with any financial responsibility, but the people she had faith in because they came from good neighbourhoods and were older were reaping her of in every transaction conducted?

The list is endless.

In such a vast world-turned global village, we are really not there yet. In every day of our lives we come across such biases. If not social like in this case, they are tribal, or gender-related, or even age-related.

There is so much we miss if we choose to deliberately make conclusions about people by where they come from.

There is a lot you could learn from people through simply being less sentimental about them, and there is a lot they conceal from you if you do.

In an area that is, through comedy shows and news articles, perceived to be full of hardships mixed with desperation and crime, you would be interested to know that there is so much good that goes unreported!

And in the middle of all that, there are young people who take every opportunity to be useful not as a favour, but an opportunity to be better, and good ambassadors of Nazareth for those coming after them.

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