Why healing is quite the feeling when you visit this facility

Kenyans are not enthusiastic sightseers and that is why even on a weekend a recreation facility like the museum is almost empty. This is a disservice to the nation. 

BY JACOB OKETCH

Recently, I took a walk to the national museums of Kenya and discovered a very significant feature there. This is what is called a peace path. It is a ground which is designed with rings and it forms a labyrinth. The interesting thing is that the labyrinth is constructed with stones from all parts of Kenya. One is supposed to walk barefoot on this ground and it has several benefits.

 This is what the board that is erected besides the ground reads in part; “A labyrinth is a universal symbol of wholeness patterned from nature. It creates a sacred space where inner and outer worlds connect. Labyrinth walking offers a vision of how we can live together in harmony”.

This feature made me to think about its significance with regards to the well being of citizens of this country who are grappling with a myriad of challenges. It really costs nothing to walk into the museum and enjoy this amazing creation. Kenyans are not enthusiastic sight seers and that is why even on a weekend a recreation facility like the museum is almost empty.This, in my view is a disservice to the nation. This is where domestic tourism starts.

Many people are hurting for one reason or another. The therapy that is encased in this feature is worth going for. Depression and stressful situations are leading hundreds of Kenyans to suicide. Healing is quite the feeling when you visit this facility. At times, we don’t need much to live healthy. Besides, our country is beset with all sorts of danger; be it terrorism or crime and there is no better way of restoring our peaceful atmosphere than experiencing the tranquility that comes with visiting such a place.

At a time when political tensions are rising in the country, one way of ensuring there is constant peace is communing with such a space. There will soon be heightened political activity which comes with a lot of baggage related to violence. Other than prayers and church services, hordes of Kenyans ought to consider doing peace walks at the museum. From what normally happens, the political rallies will definitely foment some sort of tension as opposed to uniting people. The fact that this facility is constructed with stone materials from all parts of the country perfectly suits the Building Bridges Initiative and an effort of carrying out peace walks here could go a long way in cementing the unity that we so crave.

The thematic concern of this feature rekindled my artistic curiosity and I recalled a poem that I wrote several years ago about peace and I reproduce a part of it in this piece;

“If peace is what you desire

Why do you go for a lesser price?

Why do you go for shouting marches in rallies?

Hurling epithets at each other, Issuing ultimatums 

To political opponents.

If peace is what you desire

Why do you go for a lesser price?

Why do you go for Goldenberg, Anglo-leasing,

Triton, NYS, Kazi kwa Vijana,

Kimwarer and Arror, adfinitum?

If peace is what you desire

Why do you go for nepotism,

Marginalization, discrimination,

Witch hunting, blackmail,

If peace is what you desire

Why do you go for PEV-92, 97, 2007?

Wagalla, Ngoroko, Jeshi la Mzee,

Mungiki, Chinkororo, Baghdad?

If peace is what you desire

Why do you go for a lesser price?”

I realize that we need to preach peace at the moment more than any other time. We must ensure that we don’t slide into any form of violence due to political activity. It breaks my heart to read very virulent posts from a section of Kenyans who are not happy with certain political developments for one reason or another. Social media is a very powerful medium of communication and it can greatly influence the course of events. We have seen what the social media was able to do in the Arab world. The state has to keenly monitor the goings on in this media. Going by what I have read in the recent past, bloggers and other people who post on social media must be held accountable for their statements. It seems as if everybody has the liberty to spew whatever they feel like regardless of the repercussions of their statements. This must change if we have to secure our nation from a flare-up of violence.

We cannot claim to love our country when we don’t even know her. A walk to the peace path got me thinking about a campaign to persuade Kenyans to visit their scenic beauties. Patriotism that we talk about so passionately is enshrined in our physical features. It doesn’t have to be game watching in national parks. Ordinary Kenyans who cannot afford such places have places like the museum to discover our flora and fauna. For a long time, the mindset of many Kenyans is that tourism is about the visitors from the western world. That way, we have killed domestic tourism which I believe can generate substantial earnings from this sector. A feature like the peace path does not only provide recreation but also motivates and reassures one that they are spiritually sound as indicated in the words behind its philosophy;

“Walking a labyrinth is a three step process:

1) We walk towards the centre, releasing any feelings or thoughts that do not serve us

2) We pause in the centre to reflect and receive

3) We walk out along the same path returning with peace, remembering who we are”

This is what you have been missing. By the time I left this place, I felt very peaceful. Let us not look for peace where we are most likely not to find it. Sometimes, we need to commune with nature to feel the real sense of peace. Any cosmetic display of a peaceful environment underrates the intelligence of the creatives who came up with this wonderful peace gift. Kenyans ought to embrace it whole
 heartedly.  

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