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How My GrandpaTaught me to Appreciate Diversity

My grandfather, a Christian and a Gikuyu by tribe, in the Central part of Kenya near the snow capped Mount Kenya bought a piece of land in a far away from home location, in the Coastal region of Kenya (bordering Indian Ocean), an area dominated by Muslims and the Mijikenda tribe.

Granted that this was an area far away from his home, he needed someone to look after the land, just to make sure nobody will claim the piece of land. (It’s common in Kenya for people to claim land that is not theirs, because of corruption). Of course, the first thought to him was to look for a person from his tribe. But unfortunately (or fortunately) he could not find anyone.

After looking around and almost giving up, he eventually came across this middle aged man, who introduced himself as Mohamed Sheikh, a Muslim who also had roots to the Mijikenda tribe. My grandfather told him what he was looking for and Sheikh offered to keep an eye on the piece of land, at no cost at all. My grandfather was shocked but at the same time happy someone had offered to help.

Years went by and Mohamed Sheikh kept his word. He ensured that no one dared play around the piece of land. In fact, he would help erect a fence around the piece of land, at his cost. He took good care of it. This was a man who had only known my grandfather perhaps for the duration of their 4 or 5 hour first meeting, a man who subscribed to a different religion, different tribe, but who was there to assist as a Kenyan, as a fellow human being

Years went by and Sheikh and my grandfather kept communicating. Then, one day, the correspondence went quiet. Back then there were no mobile phones and so communication was not as efficient. Worried that Sheikh had not written to him for a while, grandpa decided to go check on Sheikh and see if all is well.
When he arrived at Mohamed Sheikh's home, he met his son, who told him of the misfortune that had befallen his dad; he had passed on a few months back. My grandfather would note on his diary; "today I cried when I got news that Mohamed Sheikh had died."

Grandpa did not cry because Mohamed Sheikh was no more to take care of his piece of land. He was mourning a genuine friend. A man who had defied old dogmas that tell people they cannot build trust with a person of another tribe, another religion. He was mourning the passing on of a man who taught him the true meaning of diversity.

This diversity is what Internations gives each of us, its a gift we have all been presented with. Dr King would say that I cannot be what I ought to be unless you are what you ought to be and you cannot be what you ought to be unless I am what I ought to be. That is the love we should all share today, not matter our differences, knowing that when we all succeed, the world sits better!

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