After years of partitions done by Austria, Prussia and Russia between 1772 and 1795, national uprisings (November Uprising of 1830 and January Uprising of 1863), struggles and efforts in various fields, Poles, owing to their steadfastness, patriotism and heroism, managed to regain their freedom.
|Statue of Piłsudski on Warsaw's Piłsudski Square|
On 31st December 2010, many Kenyans will look back to the month of August 2010, as the most momentous in their country's history. A peaceful referendum and a new constitution, revamping the governance structures of the country. In many ways, August 2010 reminded Kenyans of the day their country gained independence from Britain.
Missing out on taking part in the process, would be for many Kenyans, a misfortune to say the least. I mean, how often do you get to vote for a new constitution, that has been arrived at through fairly *democratic and consultative processes (*by standards of Western democracies)?
However, on the last day of 2010, i will be remembering the month of August for completely different reasons. After being part of an amazing Ignatian young adult program, MAGiS 2010, Hungary, i had the opportunity to travel together with a group of Polish friends, across Hungary and Slovakia and into Poland. When Pope John Paul II visited Kenya on three different occasions, I was probably too young or disinterested (or both) in what was happening, and so never got to see him. Then in 2005, I signed up for World Youth Day, and besides the excitement of going abroad to an international event for the first time, I was very much hoping to finally see JPII. It never happened. He died in April, 4 months before the event. Setting foot in Poland (and eventually in Wadowice, JPII's birthplace!)
|In Wadowice,JPII's hometown|
was therefore a great consolation and in many ways the fulfillment of a dream, albeit through different means.
Trying to summarize my two-week experience in Poland in a single blog post would be next to impossible. But on the eve of Poland’s National Independence Day, I feel and strongly want to write something. What then, with so much to write about? From the beauty of the Polish countryside to the vibrancy of its cities, from Krakow to Bialystok to Czestochowa to Warsaw…
Coming from a country that prides itself in its ‘legendary’ hospitality, my experience in Poland was truly extraordinary. The warmth, friendship, love and welcome that was extended to me by my immediate hosts, acquaintances, people I met for the first time and in the homes that I was welcomed into, was so profound, that many are the times I felt close to tears of joy and gratitude.