MUHAMMAD ALI: WHAT KENYA CAN LEARN

WHY HISTORY IS MADE BY THE UNEXPECTED, NOT JUST THE HOPEFULS

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“An unjust law is no law”

-St. Augustine

“A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

There is a blanket of gloom that seems to have come over the world as it mourns a dear child of its own who passed away recently. Muhammad Ali; a man of his own time. He was untamed and unfettered; in the face of difficulty in the history of the African American people, he stood for something. That is a forgotten element of society today. Looking at his story as an African Christian from Nairobi, Kenya, I realize now that he embodied the meaning of being the difference that he sought to see in the world.

Declaring from the beginning, his pride in his identity as a black man at a time when many struggled with their African American identity, he paved the way for change that was never before witnessed. We now see the need for the world to have more like him. His stance is the pedestal of the world’s greatest; a title that he proudly took on for himself. Let’s take a glimpse at history, more specifically revolutionary figures who’ve fought for justice on issues regarding discrimination and injustice; Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and now Muhammad Ali…just to name a few.

These individuals showed the world that the way to defeat oppression is by first being free, standing above their circumstances. In the way they lived, they realized that the way to solving the issues of society was by first identifying the underlying problem: injustice. It’s odd how injustice is an issue in nearly all religions. In my own, Christianity, justice/injustice is said to be the “foundation of Yahweh God’s throne”. It is because of God’s zealous desire to see justice done through offering up Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice in order to allow mankind to enjoy freedom, as it is written, “in him we live and breathe and have our being (i.e. no longer slaves)”.

Now, in my identity as a black man from Africa, more specifically Kenya–a land that is well conversant with oppression and slavery, I understand what it means to be a fourth generation youth who is now battling to find his voice in a society that is still being plagued by the issues of the past. Not only is injustice an issue, social unrest and corruption still plague Kenya like a three-headed Hydra. Each time a head is cut off, as the saying goes, two others take up their place. These issues are not issues that I blame the leadership for; they are issues that I blame the darkness that has invaded and penetrated every sphere of life in my society.

The lesson? Kenya needs individuals who need to stand proudly as one nation in diversity. For whereas we have as a people conquered one battle on paper, we are yet to conquer one battle crucial battle, the battle of our national psyche. May we realize that standing proudly as Kenyans will lead us to stand united as a people.

“We are the only people that I know of that have a prayer as a national anthem”

-Unknown

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