I am a Kenyan. That is what I like referring myself as. Well, it is actually all that I am. In my family, there is a mixture of tongues. Some of us can easily speak both Luo and Luhya just fine- or almost fine and some cannot. I have grown hearing both languages being spoken and so I consider myself of mixed tribe- as far as my observations are concerned. Then there is my own family. My wife is of a different tribe than I am and we have been blessed with two lively, lovely children. They are a at least a mix of two or more cultures. Actually, they are a mix of easily four tribes- Luhya, Luo, Kamba and Kikuyu. They are so Kenyan and I am glad that they get to have an opportunity to meet and be part of the other tribe I am (or we are part of both me and my wife) part of- the Tribe of the Called! That is coming up in a bit. For now, let me talk about this desire for my children to be a part of another tribe than what we may give them!
In Kenya, you are born a certain tribe. Yes. It is even more interesting when you, like me, have traces of more than one tribe flowing in your stream. But other than birth, we get to be of another tribe by affiliation or assimilation. Either ways, as Kenyans, we are a people of many tribes. And this is okay. It is nothing to be ashamed of. I hear people say, I am a Kenyan. And that is patriotic. But you are also of/ from a certain tribe! No one can run away from it, yet no one should be caught up in it. Have you ever wondered why there are many different types of birds in the air? Yet they never line themselves up and say, “I am a parrot bird, or falcon bird or whatever!”. They are simply birds of different types. Their uniqueness makes people travel from different continents to other different ones just so that they enjoy the DIVERSITY in the kingdom of birds! How does that apply to my point of being Kenyan? Well, we are in a world, of which Kenya is a small part of. If for nothing else, continents are big chunks of land, full of many different peoples and tribes. That’s what it is. Within the big chunks of land, many diverse cultures have come together to make a whole beautiful mash up- God’s creation revealed for what glory God intended it to be like. But there is sin! And that’s a story for another day. Today, the focus is on the fact that I desire my children to move from simply being influenced by the Luhya, Luo, Kamba or Kikuyu cultures that are represented in our homes, to the culture of the tribe of the called!
Having more than one kind of culture in my heart- if not my blood- has taught me to be all the more accommodative and by the grace of God, fight all the prejudice that dwells within my heart on account of the word ‘sin’ that I mentioned above. I have grown up with stereotype thoughts about certain communities that I have had to change as I have personally met people from such places and my prejudices have been undressed and thrown out of the window. I have loved the outcome of such dealings with the Lord in my heart. Why? Because of a change of heart-tribe that took place in my heart. This is the journey of the tribe of the called. As I look at my children, I have longings that they will be transformed into this tribe we are in with their mom. The Tribe of the Called!
You see, if my children can learn the thrust of Isaiah 49:6, “Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” This kind of thinking is not brewed up in an atmosphere of tribalism or racism or nepotism. It is not brewed up in a social class environment where, (in our futile boastings of things that are being stored up for the fire in the last days; things that will all turn into ashes and find their ending here in earth), we think are superior for one reason or another, or even in the lies and deception of marginalization, where some feel that they are nothing and they are and have become victims of ‘low self-esteem’ for no real reason. No. This kind of thinking comes into play when the play button has been pressed! Unless my children know that Kenya is too small for them- let alone Luhya, Luo, Kamba or Kikuyu- they will end up in a mediocre lifestyle, ranting and clamoring for all the wrong things. I want them to see what the prophet saw- it is too small a thing!
By Rev. Marvin Esonga- Youth Pastor,
Ruaraka Baptist Church, Kenya.