Wambui Kamiru, the wife to Safaricom’s CEO Bob Collymore has adressed in a long article, conversations on social media that branded her as a gold-digger. Ms Kamiru, who runs one of Kenya’s grandest art galleries-Art Space Kenya addressed the rumors and the stereotyps in a letter written in form of a diary for her children to read when they came of age:
“To my dear children,
You will have stumbled on this post as a teenager.
In your exploration of who your mother is, you have come across some things that are true and some things that are not. The internet does not forget and one day one of your classmates will say something about something they read on the internet. When you next see me, please don’t be afraid to ask me about these things.
Long before your mother, adults had the luxury to live life without scrutiny. Since social media came about, no one lives life quietly. I suspect that in your lifetime, you will have lived your life online and that for some people, they will meet you online before they meet you in real life. It is the world we now live in.
Remember. Some of it is true and some of it is not. Some of it is really funny and it remains funny of you remember that it is not you they are talking about, but a perception they have of you.
But some of it is actually, just really funny – check out the memes.
Probably, a key moment you will read about, will be when your mother married a man that she loves and respects. There was celebration, lots of people who knew us wished us well. And some who didn’t even know us, also wished us well. There were jokes and we laughed at them.
But there were also some very cruel things said. And in these things, my dear children, you will see the cracks of humans.
As in real life, there do exist some people who can say some very mean things to try to break you down.
But as a friend of mine says, in every village there is a mad man. I add this to his saying: “In the same village, there are people who call out the man as being mad.” Not everyone is cruel and you have to believe that. There are people who know a mad man when they see him.
You will have grown up with me and in that time, you will know me to be different in real life, different from the person you see in public.
Trust what you will have seen in real life.
My marriage to the man that I love and respect had some interesting effects on the conversations on Twitter and Facebook (these may be obsolete by the time you are reading this). However, for a few days there, lots of Kenyans talked about “tribalism” and some admitted their desire to leave and go to another country because of how unbearable it can sometimes be to live in a society where people first judge you by your “tribal” origin. A lot of people refused to be part of the conversation, arguing that it should no longer matter. These people are the reason why we will still have a country to call home.
I pray that by the time you read this, we Kenyans will have talked so much about this and done so much about it, that you won’t have to first ask, “What tribe is she?”
Because it won’t matter anymore. Because by that time, we will see each other as Kenyans whether we are of European Origin, Somali Origin, Asian Origin, Kikuyu, Luo, Kamba, Taita, etc. And beyond that, we won’t even be fighting each other on the basis of religious background.
In the conversations, people also talked about whether I was a gold-digger and if at all I had become more successful after I married this man that I love and respect. To you my daughters, your husband is not your value. If you make him your value, then you make yourself of less value.
You should only add value not seek value from a man, but you can only add value if you are of value.
To my son, I pray that whoever you end up spending your life with adds value to your life. I pray that you add value to their life. Your life together.
My successes are the sum of my experiences – which you have been part of.
People also talked about whether I am dark skinned or light skinned. By the time you read this, our world will have changed so much that it shouldn’t matter. But if it still does, if the world has not changed to see the beauty of diversity of skin colour, then please read my words and understand, humans are inclined to division and difference.
In my time, when my wedding was the news, we had a number of beautiful girls who bleached their skin because our society placed value on light skin. These girls remain beautiful and through them, we remember that we have to protect our spirits from humans that love division. These beautiful women only tell us what we sometimes choose to deny, that humans can be superficial and only look at people from the surface of their bodies. It wasn’t because they hated themselves but rather that they understood human nature, both good and bad.
To my daughters, I love you with your dark skin, light skin, purple skin, pink skin, peach skin, ashy skin whatever you choose to be and whatever your choose to not be. I love you with what you are, as you are.
Finally, my dear children, I write this letter as a reminder to you that we don’t know what tomorrow holds. We can’t even talk about the distant future. But we can live each day as it comes. In it, we don’t know what our journey of love is going to be. But we write it each day and all we can be, is open to love’s possibilities.
My dear children, life will not be lived online, but in the great world outside.
I Love You.
April 5th 2016.