BECAUSE OF YOU, KENYA IS SAFE: An open letter to my dad in uniform

Dear Dad,

Boom! …..Boom!……Boom, boom, boom, boom!……..

A bullet has been fired….followed by another and another and another…….

That’s​ the early morning alarm that has – for six years now – replaced the chirping birds which used to wake you up in our rural village home of Difathas, Kirinyaga County many years ago.

Since Operation Linda Nchi was commissioned in 2011, you have faithfully been part of a war that Kenya so much tried to avoid; yet the options were limited.

When the then Commander in Chief, H.E. Mwai Kibaki declared war on Somalia militia group, the Al Shabaab, you simply answered the call of duty, dressed up in your camouflaged combat utility uniform, grabbed your gun and off you went to deal with those who threatened to rubbish the hardwork, sacrifice and resilience of our forefathers.

Courageously, you ventured into a foreign territory – well aware of the numerous risks – yet determined to serve.

Since then, to this day, in and out of Somalia you have been.

And so far, you have never disappointed.

You have remained true to self and even more importantly, true to country.

Yes, you may not be my biological dad but as per our culture, you are indeed my father.

The day you oversaw my transition from boyhood to manhood is the day you qualified as my dad.

And even before you helped me become a man, you had taken time to mentor Yours Truly day after day, stage after stage.

I have not forgotten how you passionately assessed my primary school English compositions and constructively criticized them where sense was non-existent.

Back then, copies of weekend newspapers were bae to you; they still are.

Those crossword and codeword filling lessons won’t leave my mind any time soon; they built a strong foundation for the columnist I am today.

But perhaps, nothing in those papers you invested your hard earned pay shaped my life more than Mutahi Ngunyi’s ‘Last Word on Sunday’ columns.

It is because of what I read back then that my works occupy the same space Mutahi used to own; many years later.

That stuff made me a man!

And for close to 20 years now, you have continued to serve in the force without any regrets whatsoever.

If you never knew, the entire village (including my septuagenarian grandpa) now refers to you as a hero because you dared to dream.

By all standards, you have been a true patriot; sacrificing the comfort of being with your immediate family to safeguard Project Kenya.

And today, as President Uhuru Kenyatta presides over the pass out parade of several others of your kind, I take time off my rather busy schedule and use this space to tell you that you are a true embodiment of the Kenyan Dream.

That salute, that oath you took 20 years ago evokes the highest level of emotions in me.

Everytime I remember you, I fall in love with Kenya even more. Each day I wake up, I know you can die yet I know, most of us are secure because you sacrificed your happiness and freedom for us.

Definitely, your sacrifice is not in vain. History shall never forget.

I am proud to be the son of a soldier.

Endelea kulinda nchi mzee.

Alvan Kinyua
Nairobi, 9th June 2017