Strive to overcome ‘the old guard’ mentality

Moving

“Mtu waku-come” is mostly used by people who were born in a locality or have resided there for a considerable amount of time.

Photo credit: Igah | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mtu waku-come may sound fancy. It may even sound innocent.
  • It may sound like one is advocating for their interests.

“Mtu waku-come” - meaning, “someone who has come” - is an urban street slang that refers to a person who is considered an alien in a neighbourhood.

This supposed alien may be residing or doing business in a place where they are considered outsiders.

“Mtu waku-come” is mostly used by people who were born in a locality or have resided there for a considerable amount of time and, as such, have grown roots in that place.

I was reminded about this slang last week when a group of youths - Gen Zs, to be exact - were embroiled in a tussle over a business space.

I respect the hustle of the young cats in my estate. They have built vibanda along the road and set up different businesses.

The bone of contention was a kibanda.

“This guy can't tell us nothing,” the youths from my estate declared. “After all, ni mtu waku-come.”

Being protectionists

These youths did not realise that by branding someone as “mtu waku-come”, they were perpetuating the same ill - prejudice - which they had been fighting against for the past few weeks.

In their utter ignorance, they did not know they sounded exactly like that old sick moron from Rift Valley, whose video was shared widely, and who was warning other tribes residing in Rift Valley to shape up or ship out.

Mtu waku-come may sound fancy. It may even sound innocent. It may sound like one is advocating for their interests. Which is good, but it should not deny others the right to life and liberty.

I felt like these youths were being protectionists. But they don't know that no estate is an island. If we just stick to our estates and deny others the opportunity to venture into our spaces, we will all be poorer for it.

To cut these youths some slack, this term is used by all and sundry during elections. This is when people retreat to their enclaves to, ostensibly, look out for the interests of those they feel are more worthy of political office. You can see such people's primal instincts.

“So-and-so is mtu waku-come,” you will hear people say. “This time round, we must elect one of our own.”

Efficient pollinators

Me? I believe elective politics should be about progress, not primitivism or prejudice. Folks, it's not about whose roots are the deepest, but who can make us soar farthest and highest.

Ideas bud and blossom only if they cross-pollinate. And this can only happen if we allow bees and butterflies from other fields to do what they were created to do.

Museum of the Earth says: “Insects are efficient pollinators because they can move directly from one flower to another, picking up and unintentionally depositing pollen along the way, allowing angiosperms to reproduce.”

If we lock new blood from flowing in our veins and venues, we are blocking doors to reproduction and renewal. If we all decide to stick in our little patches of earth and lock others out, we will not pick life lessons or deposits, which are supposed to cause us to, as the Museum of the Earth says, “evolve an array of colours, patterns, fragrances, shapes, and floral rewards”. 

Let's retrace our roots and footsteps. If we do that, we will realise we are all watu waku-come. What we claim as ours, and are ready to stake our lives on - to the sole exclusion of others - is not really ours.

Thus, we should not stake a claim to a space simply because of longevity, but because of the value we add. Being old guards does not give us the right to lord it over others.

In Roots, Alex Haley says: “Through this flesh, which is us, we are you, and you are us!” That's the spirit, folks; that's the spirit.