It’s a Thursday night in Nairobi, Kenya. The air is cool, but the atmosphere is warm. The music vibrates the stairs, swells outward from the bar, and inflates the street with every downbeat. People from the world over gather at one of the city’s favorite watering holes to swap stories and pass business cards as they fill, empty, and revive their glasses with clinking ice cubes and catalytic spirits. They work hard and play hard, living a fast life from Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. Tonight they are well groomed and blue blazered. Dapper. Progressive. Smart. They laugh jovially and shake hands, meeting future bosses, fiancés, and best friends. They are entrepreneurs, academics, aid workers, artists, teachers, diplomats, doctors, bankers, lawyers, military officers, and journalists. Makers. Shakers. Collectively, in one form or another, they represent every major pillar of power and influence in the modern international system. I would guess that by most metrics, they are good people.
There is an SUV parked haphazardly on the fringe of these good people. Inside it, with the door ajar and the windows down for all to see, a Kenyan man beats a Kenyan woman. He wails on her, thump after relentless thump. Thwack! You can see her reach for the door only to have it slammed hard against her by the man who has decided that she deserves no say in her well being. Thwack! He puts his whiskey into the cup holder. He takes the time to crack his knuckles. He hits her harder and harder, until her protests are muffled into silent, private sobs. It is not the kind of crying that pleads “Save me,” but that of a solo fury that says “I will endure.” His fists rise and fall and from a distance it feels almost rhythmic, a harrowing compliment to the spinning of the DJ. Her head ricochets off the window and into her palms. He smiles and finds great pleasure in the show of power he has put on for his gathering, yet silent crowd.
These good people, these people whom, albeit in different industries and capacities, are each individually working to make the future a better place than the present, do nothing. They, of relative privilege, watch the aforementioned horror unfold. Some are stunned. Some don’t notice. Some shake their heads. It’s a shame, they think. It’s fucked up, they think. It makes my blood boil, they think. But they do nothing. They hold their girlfriends tighter. They back their friends away from the scene. They try to break their stares. They go get more drinks. These are good people. But they do nothing. They are silent. Read More