Our society thrives on fame. Tabloids thrive on the failures and short-comings of our idols and awards such as the Nobel Prize attempt to immortalize and the leaders of our age in history.
It would seem the fulfilled life is one that leaves behind a legacy. One that thrives in life and survives them once they pass on. The more humble person might say their legacy lies in what they leave to their children and contribution to their community. The vain may seek to be remembered in perpetuity as icons. These established ideas all seem quite warm and fuzzy to me but I haven’t really had the opportunity to honestly examine and challenge the reality of this idea of legacy.
I first examined my own family. It is obvious my grandparents have sacrificed much and worked hard to allow me the privileged position I am in now. As I started tracing my mind back, I couldn’t even tell you the first or last names of my great-grandparents. I know they have traversed many corners of the Kenya, evident in my own heritage tracing from the island of Mombasa to Naivasha, Nakuru, and now Kiambu. But what do I know of them? I can not even honour their name. What of their profession, their pride, their achievements, their personality, their LEGACY?
I find it sad that someone that is so vital to my own identity and my own personal heritage is merely a faded black and white ghost in my family tree. I guess I benefit from his sacrifice now and can acknowledge that, but the person that was my great-grandfather, hiss image is a faceless one. A man that came from poverty and uprooted his whole family to move to a foreign land. A land where he had never laid eyes on, could not speak the language, knew no one and had no guarantees of a livelihood, made the trek for the benefit of future generations.
That is my only impression of the man. What was he like, what was he respected for, what was his life’s work? All blank empty questions. I subscribe to the benefits of his sacrifice however I have no precept of his struggles, personal sacrifices and most proud achievements. It is humbling to know that a man can lose his legacy amongst his own blood in a few short decades. The majority of us will not have our names etched into the annals of history but isn’t it the least of our most primitive innate goals to be remembered by our own blood. It turns out a legacy can be washed out into a faceless entry to family tree with the subtle work of a few decades.