Heroes are a rare breed… They appear every so often and save the day and astound the people around them, but they also have a tendency to leave people dependent on them… Somewhere along the way, they merge with the problems they solve…
Forgive the generalizations.
People latch onto things very easily. It’s how the brain works… Make easy associations and keep them even when they are no longer relevant.
And people are lazy. Outsource the solutions to your problems, and then elevate those to whom you have outsourced, and in the grand scheme of things, heroes become that much more heroic. Doing things nobody wants to or can do.
There is no shortage of heroes in the human imagination… Displaying the ideals of strength and intelligence, trying to fit in to regular society, even when their disguise is a pair of glasses, regularly meeting foes that test their limits and beating them…
Heroes are our modern day gods. They represent ideals which we cannot achieve using our own strength… They are a symbol that we can reach beyond the limits of our frail human bodies and achieve something greater than what we imagine. They are evidence that we are not the product of our environment, rather, we contain within ourselves the seeds of change, the transcendent quality that reaches far and wide, long after we are gone and declares that we did what we could with what we had and made the world a somewhat better place…
This is still true today. Our heroes are the ones that stand out, the athlete that breaks the world record, the General that fights a thousand battles, the unfortunate soul that overcomes his background to succeed and such. For every hero that receives accolades, there are many more that are lost in the background whose work will never be acknowledged until it is too late, but they still work, knowing that their time in the sun will come.
History also has a way of creating heroes… Hindsight is an interesting tool. Nobodys are turned into somebodys long after they are dead, because the human memory has a way of glossing things over, making them all pretty and scrubbing out the bad parts, idealizing everything.
Heroes also have a way of being overlooked, even with their seemingly massive contributions. Take Kenya for example. In the fight for independence, there were the Mau Mau on one side, having sacrificed their lives for the promise of a free nation, only to be screwed over when the country they fought for became free. Successive generations of leaders have pretty much put themselves at the forefront of the nation’s history, with their names plastered on everything, from airports to highways and such, while the Mau Mau fighters do not even have a decent memorial to their cause. Fine, statues have been erected and streets renamed, but what good is that when the nation’s true heroes are dying off without as much as a marked grave in their honour? Heroes’ Acre, Mashujaa Day, Kimathi’s statue, they are all good attempts at restoring the Mau Mau vets’ image in the public eye, but it’s entirely cosmetic. I mean, what do we care? We are, after all, comfortable in our place, we have our jobs and our lives and our comforts. they fought, it was a long time ago. We are the future after all.
But that is where we go wrong.
Our mistake is assuming that we can keep what we have and go about our business and the state will take care of itself.
Far from it. The state is a creation of man. as such, it is imperfect. And as a result of its imperfection, it is open to abuse. We have to look deep within ourselves to realize that we are not as perfect as we may want to think. We fight, but what are we fighting for? Until that question is answered, then the pointless wars and battles will carry on.
While that happens, another generation of heroes is passing, the agitators for multiparty democracy and such. While everyone else was cowering in fear, these men and women stood and fought the powers that were. They were not afraid, they were tortured and they stood their ground. Who we are as a nation now can be linked to what they did in the 90s, the days of Mwakenya, the days of YK92, the days of Mlolongo, the days of Nyayo House and Nyati House and violent crackdowns and FORD. And now a generation has grown up without a hint of what these people did and how they have suffered for the freedoms they enjoy now.
Until a hero will rise up and save us from the mess we have stuck ourselves in, all the things we hope for, all the things we believe in as a nation and as a people will remain ideals.
So now the question is, who is that hero?