We all Love Kenya: But Foreigners Love it more?
The love of a country is as deep as its citizens. Even Kenyans who leave the Jamhuri to settle wherever around the globe keep a special place in their hearts for the village. But speaking to some foreigners, they express a love for the Jamhuri that is hard to ignore. They speak of having been there several times and their desire to go back again. I spoke to an Englishman whose dream is to have a tent in the Maasai – Mara and retire there among the animals. I told him the lions love white meat too!
What is really amazing is when some of these visitors to Kenya take it upon themselves to tell others about their experience. As a library geek, I have always loved to stop at public libraries. It is sad that Kenya does not have good public Libraries, and those, which exist, have almost nothing to desire credit. They are building a library around upper hill. The talk however is about the architectural marvel it will be. I wonder whether a library should be admired for its architecture rather than its content. As the saying goes, ‘Do not judge a book by its cover.’
The university libraries in Kenya have such few collections that one wonder what kind of knowledge people receive from these institutions! Daystar University Library credits itself, as a giant Christian university in Kenya, yet its library has so few volumes that it is not worth spending time in the building. Kabarak university has a modest library and though it does not meet what I would call the standard for a university library, it suffices to say that comparatively a student gets a better chance of finding something to read at Kabarak University Library than say, Egerton: My nephew called Egerton University the ‘devils’ workshop. Maybe they need a Library with books! Give the students a place to brighten their minds.
Libraries have always been essential parts of civilizations. The university in Alexandria Egypt was so popular during its time that people travelled from across the world to go and sit and read a book or admire the art pieces displayed. Scholars like Herodotus and Plato are said to have visited the great Alexandria Library in the 3rd Century. The city of Jerusalem always kept an active library. It is here that the biblical writers were able to refer to write pieces like this:
“ . . . . .. Jesse the father of King David. . . Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.” See Mathew 1; 1ff.
The writers of these biblical genealogies got the information from the Jerusalem library, which kept the record of the historical development of the culture and traditions.
My favorite Library is the Northwestern University Library in Evanston Ill. Almost grew mold there researching for my postgraduate dissertation. What impressed me is the policy of dedicating one whole floor to African Studies. There, one can get the entire Kenya Government gazette, Daily Nation and the Standard Newspapers. You can also find publications of the Kikuyu proverbs and any works published in Kenya that they can get their hands on. Northwestern University Library is what a university library should be.
Reentry in my usual visit to United States public libraries, I stopped at the Library in Cocoa beach Florida. As I entered through the automatic glass doors, I was greeted by a beautiful display of pictures on the library walls. As I approached the counter, I saw displayed on a glass folder these words, “The three of us, John Allen, Dondi Allen, and Penny Lowell have visited several different areas in Kenya over the past few years. . . . We combined our display to show you the beauty of Kenya.”
The display and the words reminded me again that ours is a special country. To these guests, ASANTENI NA KARIBUNI TENA. To the Cocoa Beach Public Library, Florida, keep the display up and thanks.
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD)
CEO Bibilia Broadcasting Network BBN-TV Kenya
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist