The silver lining in COVID-19.

Two local engineers assembled a ventilator from locally available materials, the trade Cabinet secretary quickly linked them with kenyan research institutes to develop a prototype that would meet international standards. A textile factory in kitui is making 30,000 surgical masks a day-we barely made any before as a country. Kenya medical research institute has come up with technology that can test and detect COVID19, putting kenya at the brink of being the first country in Africa to start mass testing. These developments reinforce the belief of many educated and skilled Kenyans-we have never lacked in capacity. The world is locked within limits of a racial hierarchy that has regelated africans to the bottom of the pile. This racial complexion of world politics has eroded our self-belief. We believe anything foreign is better than homegrown solutions.

The greatest challenge of our generation isn’t western imperialism though, it is lack of political goodwill. Our politics is not fueled by the desire to create enabling environments for the common African to thrive but is fueled by a materialist rivalry. A rivalry that has propagated patterns of primitive accumulation of wealth.Governments import goods and services, not because we lack the ability to provide these back home but because this model offers a perfect conduit for profiteering to the billions, through inflation of contracts. We have now been forced to look from within as factories in the west and china are overstretched. Look at what happens when we’re left with no choice!Maybe there’s a silver lining in this Covid-19 pandemic after all.

A right to vote,not a right to fight.

“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything”-Malcom X.

This statement best personifies us, the Kenyan people. I would be at pains to explain what we really stand for. Barely do we read from the same script as people of one Nation. The constitution which is supposed to instil a sense of togetherness, is followed/not followed depending on “who” or “what”  we’re dealing with. The country has reached a political crescendo, with half of the population expressing their desire to ascend to power, and the other half seeking to remain in power.  Such a competition can only be healthy if it’s a climax of competing ideologies, rather than a comparison of might between political factions. We seem to be of the latter opinion.

Why are elections in Africa often associated with war? We should have learnt how to prevent such strife by now, but we’ve  chosen to ignore the benefit of experience gained from previous bungled elections . We are so comforted by the routine, that we don’t even realise we’ve become prisoners in plain sight.No matter the grandiose nature of elections, let’s not forget they’re the means and not the end. The end is the prosperous future we all yearn for. Citizens and not politicians, need to dictate the tempo of elections. We seem to have delegated this duty to our politicians, with little or zero demands for accountability. We choose to trust the same politicians who launch their ‘’pointless manifestos’’ amidst dancers’ gyrating bosoms that bamboozle us from their charade.

Politics is all about perception, and our politicians have proven not to be good at the perceptions they’ve created over the years.It’s time for Kenyans and Africans to define their political terrain and create new perceptions. Taking power from our politicians is the only way to save ourselves from their lure. Wars break out in Africa because we back our politicians’ acrimonous rhetoric with lopsided judgement. Our judgement or opinion should never trump the right of others to express their own. We can disagree all we want but we should check our utterances because, civil wars have a very unforgiving way of uniting disagreeing parties in shared mass graves.

Elections in Africa will always be precursors for war, if we continue putting little thought in their legitimacy. We must embrace reason and truth in place of speculation and rumours, during elections. Better yet, we shouldn’t remain silent in the face of political adversity. In the words of John F. Kennedy,

‘The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality’’.

We should stand for something bigger than ourselves, our politicians should have more belief  in service over ambition. We cannot cast votes and face the gods for chance. No, it does not work thatway and if so, it seems the gods have left us to our own devices. Free and fair elections don’t come by chance, they come with institutional independence of the bodies tasked with conducting elections. We need to look at the institutions, not the heavens.

 

Xenophobia witnessed in South Africa, is nothing but common nonsense.

It’s sad that a country can give birth to a person of insurmountable human dignity such as Nelson Mandela, and still have a xenophobic populace that abhors the quality of human life, as witnessed in South Africa. Guys Scott, a white man of Scotland ancestry became the vice president of Zambia in 2011.Barrack Obama, a black man of Kenyan ancestry, became the president of America in 2008, yet xenophobia still forms part of our conversations. It’s ironical that ‘Ubuntu philosophy’- a philosophy that advocates for humanity/humanness towards one another, is actually an ethical concept borrowed from the Zulu tribe of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela did not serve 27 years in prison, to emancipate his people, only for them to blame their failures on the harsh realities of the world. The harsh reality that,if one doesn’t get educated,another qualified person will get that white collar job instead of them.South African’s have to realise that, if they don’t put their land to good use but instead sell it for meagre sums, a buyer will make exponential returns on the investment capital they hurriedly took for quick cash.The unequal distribution of wealth and opportunities in south Africa,has nothing to do with resident employees from other countries.These are concerns that should be directed to their government. Hurting foreigners is definitely not a solution.

A keen eye on world politics, proves the xenophobia wave in South Africa, is in fact not an isolated event. From Donald trump to Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, the world is witnessing the emergence of far right leaders, ready to push the agenda of populism, with total disregard of the human implications therewith. Populism isn’t a bad idea when its alive to the fact that, all human beings were born free and equal, in dignity and rights. The kind of populism that isn’t alive to such facts is wrong and, nothing but common nonsense.

Kenya needs less prayers,and more action.

Just to correct any misconceptions. I’m a practising Christian, born of a catholic father and, a protestant mother covered by 1000 ounces of the blood of Jesus. I have no qualms about prayer but, I believe obsession with it breeds contempt. This being an election year, Kenyans are bound to develop haughty disdains towards each other, largely due to incitement from most of our politicians. The country’s panic button goes off right about this time, sending us into some praying frenzy. From fasting in churches to gathering in sports stadiums, we never fall short of acts that serve to show our purist adherence to religion.

Despite all this, I think most of us lack an understanding of how prayer works. We suffer from the “type amen mentality”, a fallacy that borders on ignorance of the scripture. Prayers, become useless, when not backed by complimentary deeds. For prayers to work, we have to go out and, preach peace. We have to vehemently deny our politicians, the ability to turn us against one other. The Christian God expects this of us, when he says “love your neighbour as you love yourself”.

Democracy, equality, peace and, inherent human rights were not solely achieved through prayers. They were achieved by resilient men and women of God, who besides praying, put their bodies and souls on the line, for their beliefs. From Montgomery to Soweto, Rev. Martin Luther King and Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu, led their congregants in the fight for justice. Despite sufficient “amens” in their congregation, Rev King and Archbishop Tutu, took the fight (non-physical confrontation) to their oppressors. They knew God was not going to send Jesus down to fight for them.

Kenya needs more action than prayers. We cash blank checks when we pray and keep quiet about injustices in the society. We should do more than just calling God’s name. We should write, tweet, and demonstrate peacefully against what isn’t right. While at it, let’s learn to be objective in our arguments and, tolerant in our disagreements. Let’s complement the Hallelujah in us by positive action. We owe it to our children that this country stays safe.

Why I disagree with Miguna and,any form of misogyny.

Women have significantly earned their place in the society, after years of being viewed as the lesser gender.Some countries in the world have women for presidents, Germany has a female chancellor, Britain has a female Prime minister and, Yahoo has a female C.E.O. Despite all the achievements made by women-both in career and politics, issues of gender superiority still form part of our conversations. We’ve come a long way to do away with the folklore, that a woman isn’t good enough for high office. Recent occurrences have shown, most people still subscribe to the primordial instinct that portrays women, as a gender of less worth. A woman who strays out of the society’s moral arc is castigated to the dungeons. On the other hand, a man exhibiting the same kind of moral decadence is easily let off the hook. Recent debates between men and women seeking political office, have shown the real dynamic of gender superiority in the society.

The interview between Miguna Miguna and Esther Passaris, highlighted how even the most cultured of men, secretly hold an intriguing disdain for women in power. Quoting Miguna Verbatim “Esther is so beautiful, everybody wants to rape Esther. You are not beautiful Esther, it’s just the color”. Miguna was sarcastic but, the rape subject does not appreciate sarcasm(read Kiraitu).I’ll therefore  disagree with Miguna on two fronts.

First, Contrary to public perception, the feeling of being beautiful solely exists in the mind of the beheld and, not the beholder.

Second, beautiful women are wooed and, not raped.There’s no point of being sarcastic about it.

While Miguna’s remarks attempted to paint Passaris as a woman of little honour, his choice of words underscored his lazy understanding of the same. I’m not privy to details of Esther’s personal life, but I do not think her camaraderie with Men (genuine or not) should be a subject in the race for Nairobi’s gubernatorial seat. The ridicule went unabated to the chagrin of viewers. Rape was glorified and humorised. It was disparaging to insinuate Esther would be a willing participant in rape ordeals meted against her.The state of a woman’s family is often used to gauge her leadership potential.This is hogwash considering marriage is a union between a man and a woman,anyone might start the tango.

I have nothing against Miguna. Infact, I think he would make a better governor than Passaris.He was a victim of gender superiority and sadly,not the only one. KNUT’s secretary general-Mr. Sossion, is on record for making unflattering remarks about Hon. Laboso’s quest, for Bomet’s gubernatorial seat. I’ll quote, “Someone tell Joyce on my behalf to go and vie for the governorship in Kisumu. She is now a daughter of that land because they already paid us bride price.” Another case of a thinly disguised misogyny, from a male public figure. What appeared as a harmless phrase, was in fact a wave of the middle finger to women empowerment. If paying bride price is buying wives, then Kenya is a nation of insurmountable human trafficking abilities. Bride price should never be inferred as the buying of another human being. This might have been the case before, but we can’t get 21st century education yet continue to think like citizens of the 18th century. Despite Laboso being a formidable figure in Bomet politics, she keeps getting ‘attacked’, for marrying out of her tribe. How is her marriage more important than what she has to offer? This should be unheard of in 2016, where  women have broader ambitions than being defined by their husbands’ persona.

There are many cases in the world where male leaders tolerate the idea of gender superiority. Debates involving women in politics, often degenerate to bickering, with emphasis laid on a woman’s style over substance. This leads to digression from pertinent issues, as the antagonists resort to character assassination. Respect and dignity should be inherent to both male and female politicians. Gender equality is a fundamental pillar of development hence,its time we did away with the fallacy that women are the weaker sex.

Corruption in Kenya and, its diagnosis of multiple personality disorder.

Corruption in Kenya suffers from multiple personality disorder.This is an obvious diagnosis given it’s  shifting identity.We lost the war on corruption  before it began, because of the biased multifaceted approach of dealing with the vice. Any exposé on corruption prompts divergent views in the country’s social sphere. Pseudo activists pop up with all manner of conspiracies, based on facts and imagination. As is the norm,the fanfare of advocacy  lasts for about two weeks.A sad pattern is noticeable amidst the fanfare. A pattern that brings to fore, the symbiotic relationship that exists between tribalism and corruption. It becomes clear that, we abhor corruption only when we have nothing in common with its proponents and, tolerate it when suspects are of a shared heritage or interest.

Accusations levelled against suspects quickly become a non-issue, as they canvass to their kinsmen or party officials for support. Astonishingly, the suspects get enough supporters after peddling  half-truths. The allegations then become communal and, are unilaterally declared a witch hunt against the suspects’ community.

Allow me to put it in perspective.When accusations are made against politicians allied to the opposition, government supporters conquer the social sphere with bravado. With reverberating condemnation, they will ask for the suspects’ head on a platter (albeit politically) .Supporters of the opposition, at this point ‘become’ heedless to the current affairs.They feign ignorance and, refrain from any discussions on the corruption scandal. A few supporters of the opposition , with the guts of a beggar, rise above tribal and party lines to condemn ‘their’ person. An act that usually sparks imminent ire from kinsmen.

This pattern is coherent across the divide. Accusations levelled against government officials elicit angry reactions, from supporters of the opposition. An overnight shift in tide occurs, as tribes and parties affiliated to the opposition direct a barrage of attacks to pro-government citizens. Government supporters will remain quite about the state of affairs. Donald Trump’s rants at this point appear more important than the state of the nation. Similarly, only a handful of government supporters condemn the act of corruption.

We have sunk so low by  rationalising corruption just because our friends, tribes or parties are involved. A wrong should remain wrong regardless of a perpetrator’s identity. Surely, are we so comfortable with the future of our children being robbed from them, even before they are conceived? Are we so comfortable when our politicians enrich themselves to their infinite generation, as we suffer and struggle in our present day existence? The solution to the corruption menace lies with us. Our whining might not stop corruption immediately, but it will spur action from the political class. The relationship between corruption and tribalism is one that has to be severed, for the benefit of our children. It would really be of help if we became unanimous in our tirade against corruption,irrespective of tribe, party or any association therewith.

Because I have a platform to address Kenyans…

Most of our politicians are masters of double speak. They get to power using the wagon of our interests but, abandon us to become sycophants of the executive. Negative ethnicity has become so pervasive and entrenched in our society because of them. Our politicians will preach against negative ethnicity in public but, this isn’t the most revered sermon within their circles. Expecting them to deal with tribalism is like expecting a robber to sell a home safe. The explanation is simple, they can’t poop in their own nest.

We live together in harmony but we are ready to slice each other’s throat at our politician’s behest. Why give them such unlimited powers without supervision? Why be so subservient to them yet, they are our servants and, we their masters. They pretend to like you from their tribe and hate me from ”the other’’ tribe but in truth, they detest both of us. You and I are both means to their ends.

They tell us to give birth to increase “our” support base, despite the struggles we encounter, raising the few children that we have.Our struggles seem to matter less, in their grand scheme of things. They tell us to chase other communities from “our” land, despite the fact that we are all Kenyans. They see us as a support base, but not as diligent citizens that work hard every day to earn a decent living. They see us as votes but not as diligent citizens that need proper representation that reflects on our well-being.

With their “man eat man mentality”, our politicians will spill acrimonious rhetoric, inciting us against each other. They will sound drum beats of war with slapstick justifications. Our habit of buying into this justifications unequivocally, does not help, because we end up fighting a proxy war on their behalf. In principle most of them agree the public coffers are theirs to loot, there differences arise on the strategies of looting. They  increase their pay significantly, in a coherent show of greed.Mind you,there’s normally no mention of the country’s minimum wage at this point.The best oxymoron to describe them is, their difference is the same.

The machete wielding vigilantes are enemies of progress but, you and I are the terrorists. I say terrorists because, we have the power of information but, we chose to pick what fits our prejudiced narratives. We fan political temperatures online just because it’s easier to conform to existing trends. We hardly try to stand for what is right. We so often miss the point, because our obsession lies in the identity of the messenger and, not the message. We are hell bent at squashing any dissenting opinion, just because the messenger isn’t from our bloc.

We give our leaders our votes and, not our brains. That means we still have the ability to think for ourselves after elections. Let’s advocate for a society governed by the constitution and not by politicians. We cannot justify wrong deeds just because the perpetrators wear a familiar mask or, have  familiar faces. I believe life is a series of doors, sometimes you get to choose the doors you go through, sometimes you do not. We do not have to go through the door of Negative ethnicity. We can chose to go through the doors of peace and national cohesion.

This does not mean we shouldn’t be political. We should by all means, because I believe a country is as good as its politics. I believe we can be political in an urbane way. A way that tolerates different opinions and, accepts criticism of ideas. Our differences in opinion should never be a source of squabble.Contrary to what many of us think, we are of a shared downfall or prosperity. I refuse to believe I’m walking a beaten path, neither should you. There is so much to admire in our ethnic diversity. Let’s stand against negative ethnicity

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