I’ve always associated activism with raising hands to answer questions in lecture halls. Or even, to ask a question. How on earth do humans do that? The few times I raise my hand, a fly gets spanked. I’ve raised both hands in church too. But a pal made me curious about the ‘activism’ hullabaloo. He requested my participation in the medical students’ demonstration against the government’s failure to honor bargain agreements with doctors.
Admittedly, many times the systems fracture. Minorities get neglected, public funds go down the drain, crazies go around shooting rhinos, natural resources get depleted with wanton greed as politicians’ promises become white elephants when they get to power. The trouble with the world isn’t that the fractures might tear up some day and turn us into a disintegrated society like that of baboons. Neither is it that corruption has been threaded into its very fabric. The problem is; the very lack of public outcry.
I’m not a medic. More so, my buddy didn’t tell me what to expect; but like always, the devil lies in the details. Let’s see what a dummy expects of himself as an activist.
So I was sucked into this melee on a late night out, digging into my share of matumbo panfry courtesy of this buddy. While I was soaking up the grease on the plate with the last bit of ugali, I witnessed the government, on TV at the 9 pm bulletin, adamantly decline to pay up medical employees as agreed. News nowadays is a show of societal ills. You only need one episode to get fired up.
On the other hand, watching news helps you arm yourself. Have some knowledge on your fingertips. It’s not fun when you have to roll your eyes back into the head as if looking for answers in the dark abyss; just because a question was thrown your way about your ‘cause’ as an activist. Long-story-short, if you can’t explain why you’re vegetarian, there’s no use making noise for the ‘stop animal cruelty campaign’ because there are other meaty issues to root for.
News frustrates everyone. Sports’ news is the best bet. Well, the weather forecast too, if that is considered part of the news.
Frustration obviously turned my face into contorting vortices. I’m simply trying to explain my face at that time. It wasn’t the regular one. Yours won’t be too if you are passionate about a cause, yet you feel enough isn’t being done to commit energy into it.
I believe in human rights. I believe in equal distribution of resources. I also believe in all that is enshrined in the constitution. That’s why I clenched my fists and dug my knuckles into the edge of the table as I watched a government neglect it’s own. I hope my buddy hadn’t pre-planned this. He’s a student leader. By the time I was having my second refill of water, I’d been convinced. That’s the second easiest step to make an activist; get angry.
Have An Online Voice
This simply means spewing your vitriol on social media. You don’t sit and watch comrades in famine-stricken zones getting wasted by malnutrition while politicians salaries. Punch those QWERTYs and get those hashtags trending because that can make a difference. It’s massively effective. Such channels have been used by successful campaigns to achieve their goals. The Executive Director of Young Democrats of America for the 2012 elections, Emily Sussman, by terrific tweeting, is famed for her significant role in coaxing the Senate to vote in the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ repeal bill. Well, it allowed gay servicemen to feel free in the U.S military. That’s impact.
The #LipaKamaTender baby was born in a similar fashion. Road demonstrations, work boycotts, and court battles are celebration events that follow the baby. The medical students followed suit by going to the streets and doing what Kenyan campus students are famed for. The tag enabled (and still does) like-minded patriots to share their concerns whilst encouraging each other. See how this works?
Need we mention that blogs too are the grapevine of the internet? No?
It’s not second nature for me to like doctors. They make me feel sick. They wear ugly white coats. They carry jabs. They look geeky. They must be quite the intimidating lot. But I like my health enough, and I did at that time, to fancy getting dirty painting a few cool placards and lose weight distributing ‘class boycott’ pamphlets. Meanwhile, graffiti and chewing gum make good a day when lecturers are on strike. Ha!
Volunteering is in every essence ‘leading by example’. Volunteering as an activist can be in diverse forms. Leading by example obviously entails giving your time and services for a passionate cause. Need ideas? Simply raise money or create public awareness for the cause.
Volunteering is also infectious. Cool down, that doesn’t mean like a venereal disease but more of, like a yawn. Friends and family will most likely follow suit and voila … you have a gang.
This article was first published in the Capital Campus magazine on 14th March 2017.