MY PROBLEM WITH KENYA

 

I love my breathtakingly beautiful Kenya. Mine is a great nation, home of the great runners who drink the tasty and healthy mursik.

kenya-643634_1920.png
My darling Kenya

Mine is the great East African giant, home of M-pesa. Mine is the home of real ugali – nowhere else will you find our kind of ugali– soft but not too soft, hard but not too hard, yet really tasty. My people are warm and welcoming. We have a rich cultural heritage and traditions (unfortunately these are quickly being eroded). My people are the Turkana, Maasai, Luo, Kikuyu, Meru, Luhya, Kamba and many more. We are diversely blessed. Our differences are our strength. My nation lies on the equator and has a pleasant tropical climate. Mine is indeed a beautiful nation.

My main problem with my people is that we are okay with being poor, dying of preventable disease, substandard education, corruption, the gap between the rich and the poor, selling our nation to the highest bidder, laziness, dead aid, fighting one another and not having a sense of patriotism or national identity. We are okay with selfish, myopic, naïve and vision-less leaders who do not care to think. We are even more okay with borrowing laws that we cannot interpret within our context. We are okay with competing for limited places in the ‘national’ schools (left by the colonialists) other than improving all schools in the republic so as to increase the standards of education.

It is sad that we have had 53 years of independence in my country and malaria is the leading killer disease. 20 per cent of my people live on less than a dollar per day. We have 1 physician per 10,000 people. 60 per cent of the 3 million people living in Nairobi are in the slums. 50 per cent of our physicians practice in Nairobi where we only have 3 million people. Approximately 30 to 40 per cent of primary school pupils fail to transit to secondary schools.

I live in a country where the elite carry out research, not to offer solutions, but to get funding. Our greedy intellectuals blindly follow rules and guidelines designed by the donors. We dance to the donors’ tune. We proudly go after the proverbial carrot on the stick without questioning why we cannot chart out and execute our home made programs. Most unfortunately, we all admire these intellectuals because they are paid in American dollars. We are proud of our sometimes greedy civil society that serves foreign-owned or controlled organizations. We admire their big houses and nice cars. After getting enough money, they run for political office. We then elect them and give them power to fight the same civil society organizations they vehemently served.

My people love international aid – an instrument used by foreign governments and organizations to corrupt our leaders and to blind them from the problems of their people while they serve the interests of the donor countries. Can’t we see that if foreign aid would develop any place, Africa would be the most developed continent in the world?

We glorify the western media that teaches us to hate ourselves. We hate our food, our language, our mannerisms, and the texture of our hair and color of our skin. We celebrate and consume western and Chinese junk without question. The western media consciously portrays us as unable to manage our own affairs and as a people that need them for survival and existence. This we readily believe. We readily accept that they are a superior race and they have a duty to civilize the inferior us. My people, let us open our eyes.

My problem with Kenya is that we do not realize our value. We deserve better. We can be better. We have to be better. We have to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. We have to work hard and shun shortcuts. We have to be producers and not just consumers. We have to stand up to bad leadership and negative ethnicity. We have to change our bad attitude and the negative self-image. We have to demand for quality education for all our people. We must improve and encourage math, science and engineering education. I believe with good education, we should be able solve our problems instead of relying on others. Finally my Kenyan brothers and sisters, we have to discover ways to integrate our useful traditions with science, modern medicine, commerce and evolving culture.

 

Advertisements

Tech stuff boring?

Is technology a boring subject really?

banner-1033941_1920.jpg

Though I’m not a techie, I’ve slowly but surely been shown that technology is not such an unfriendly subject, destined for only small populations of strange people, but is truly an area with endless opportunities. See below and I think you’ll be convinced too.

 

How many people want to read articles on technology? My guess would be, not so many! Why would they anyways? Maybe technology is truly a boring and unpleasant subject, but then, as I sit in my office I look out at all these techies, creatives and some others that rage about C+, Javascript, Ruby and other foreign programs. But what is weird and unfitting with my assumption about technology being boring, is that all the techies are smiling and enjoying their work! What’s this about?? So here I’ve been forced to come to the temporary conclusion that it might not be that entertainment-lacking after all. What makes them enjoy what many people may perceive to be mundane and not for the average person? This got me thinking…

 

Again, as I am enjoying a chat with my friend Gift at a party, a conversation around technology pops up and he seems really excited about it. He breathlessly tries to show me the many possibilities technology has to offer and by now I can’t help but imagine a life with fewer troubles courtesy of technology. I am truly enjoying this.

 

Imagine a life where everything is in perfect order. I challenge you to think about anything that troubles you. Is it hunger, traffic congestion, death, divorces or even natural disasters? I believe that there is a solution to these common troubles lying in a yet-to-be invented technology.

Let’s take for instance traffic congestion. As the population in urban centers continues to grow, so shall the rate of traffic congestion. In fact it is estimated that over half the population in the world is today living in the cities and more than seventy percent of the human species will be living in cities in the next twenty to thirty years’ time.

 

However, imagine the possibility of travelling the world with the touch of a button. Imagine having a pair of shoes or a shirt that aids you in flying. I even imagine trains, planes and vehicles that can move on or under the water. I see the possibility of being in 10 different meetings at the same time, and in different parts of the world, through the ability to teleport yourself. How much more fun can it get? Think of the idea of teleporting yourself, you will be able to spend more time with your family and friends and do everything else that you ever need to do.

 

What about death? Imagine living to up to two hundred years or more. Now, that could create other unintended consequences, but that’s for another day…  With technology you will be able to detect a disease even before it has affected you. Right now you are even able to get gene testing to determine what diseases you may be predisposed to, pretty cool, eh? There will be medicines that will prevent aging. Won’t all these lead to a longer healthier and happier life? Maybe, but that’s not up for debate right now…

 

Maybe technology is not a boring subject at all, maybe it is a platform that provides for imagination, creativity and motivation to make the world a more efficient and interesting place.

 

What do you think??

My excuse

My excuse
My excuse, my death

On Wednesday, April 27, 1988. Jane, a woman of 30 years went into labor. She had woken up at 6 a.m. feeling antsy and excited. It was a day past her due date and she had an unexplained burst of energy and a gut feeling that the day could not end before she had given birth. Suddenly restless pelvic pressure mixed with pain rushed in. It was about 7:00 a.m.

The contractions got more intense, and so did the pain. She was frantically rushed to hospital and upon arrival, she had dilated enough and was ready to welcome the baby boy. It was around 11.00 a.m.

You will never fathom her joy as she received Ng’ash into her arms. A great smile, a big heart and a lovely dark skin is how he would turn out. Yes, that is me.

Born In a loving family, poor yet never felt like it, I grew up knowing nothing but love for the small community around me. We had little money, a lot of hungry stomachs and every reason to turn to God for help. We were happy. My age mates and I would borrow bicycles and play outside. We fought a lot, played a lot and loved each other a lot.

Nice. That was great but I had many issues I struggled with. I had a low self-esteem that I covered with my strength to communicate, I worked really hard to prove my value, I stole my parent’s money to impress friends, I hated our house and lied about my family. I felt we were unlucky, but something inside me told me I was great. I was talented and highly gifted. I would turn out great.

Despite the lack of a good flow of money, urinating in bed and constantly on the receiving end of my mother’s whip; I felt things always worked out well for me. I was doing well in class, I was in the debate team and I was quickly becoming popular.

Like you, I was not making the best toys, I could not play better football and I was not as informed about general issues as boys my age. I was, however, happy that I was regarded in high esteem at our local church.

I loved church.I participated in drama, poetry and singing. I also remembered what the church-school teacher had taught us the previous week with ease. I was regarded as good. I felt accepted. Additionally, my parents had leadership positions at the church. I was proud of them. All my sisters were active too. I loved that about us.

As I grew older, church was becoming boring but I did not want to disappoint my family by doing what most of my peers were doing. SINNING! At least not in their knowledge. The pressure to fit in among my friends at home was mounting. I wanted to taste alcohol; to kiss a girl; to try out cigarettes; to club. I tasted alcohol when I was 13 years. You remember merrycane and safire? I started to club at the age of 14.  Remember York House, F2, Holy Mbao and Nyanza House Club? Life was getting exciting. I lied that I was going for a kesha or a church related event so as to join my friends on the dance floor. I was sneaking from school and causing strikes. I became a master pretender. I was a saint in the eyes of my parents and teachers, but a pathetic lie in my closet.

I knew I was wrong. I was sinning against God but I had enough excuses. I am young. My friends would reject me if I lived a straight and godly life. I had gone too far. I would become a better person when I got married. My friends would perceive me as weak if I lived for God.

Then I learnt about grace and my excuses became better. Nobody is perfect. Turning from sin is a process. Everything is permissible. I am only human. This is just me. All have sin and fallen short. God will forgive. I became comfortable with my sin.

Since then, I am learning that the devil is happy about our excuses. I have learnt that I don’t need to bend verses to cover my guilt. I have learnt that I have victory over sin. Can God give us the power to heal the sick, to move mountains and to raise the dead and not give us power to live right? No! He has given us the power to say NO to ungodliness.

I am learning to trust that God loves me; He knows me; He cares for me; He can help me; He will help me and He wants the best for me. More than ever, I know He has a plan for my life. I have no excuse.

27 years later and every day is new to me. Just like the first.

WHAT SHE TOLD ME

WHAT SHE TOLD ME“Ng’ash!” In deep pain she called. She was still looking blankly into the air. Tears stealthily flowing down her face.  “I am trapped in a cage Ng’ash! I can’t move. It is clutching on me slowly by slowly. I can feel it, but I can’t see it. No one seems to see it either. No one can get me out of it.” She desperately let out a sigh before she continued. Her words piercing into the now more-than-silent air.

“Pain seems to be my truest companion. I am a confused lonely girl who grew all alone and never had the pleasure of having friends or real family around me. I don’t know what I am, what I want or where I am going.” More tears.

By this time I was choking on what felt like a huge piece of potato on my throat. I looked up to catch her wiping her tears and snot with both her hands. She took a deep breath, held it, then let it out slowly, sending a gush of desperation. She shook her head from side to side and then managed a smile that looked even more painful. She fell back on the carpet and just looked into the air.

Looking a bit more collected, she suddenly stood upright and said.  “I have held this painful experience in my heart for years. I have locked it all up for too long and never said a word. I have never told anyone what I’m about to tell you.” She paused dramatically as though waiting for a signal to spur her on. I just looked. Then she continued. “Do you love art? I love art! My life is a well done piece of art by a depressed artist. But I don’t love my life. The artist made sure to prove to me that some people are just not meant to be happy. He also wanted to show that money is not everything. I have a lot of it but I’m still not happy.”  So weird!  People think money is everything but it is not.

“My mother conceived me while she was still in high school while my Dad was a freshman at the university. They could not raise me. As an infant, my parents sent me to stay with my grandparents. My grandfather was a great dad, my brother and my life. I loved him to death.” A smile broke out as she narrated. “He treated me like a queen. He spoilt me.” I also smiled.

“Grandmother was the disciplinarian. She felt I was being spoilt and it was her duty to mold me into a good person. Although she seemed harsh, I loved her. I knew she loved me too. They were very poor, but they both worked hard to support me.” With every word, she smiled harder. Then she continued.

“When I met my father, he and mother had separated. I was now a school going proud girl of 8 years. Father had just completed his undergraduate and had gotten a job. He was now ready to take care of me. Life was great. I was doing well in school. I even started having friends. I was enjoying this new experience. Then father turned!”

The warm smiley face was now downcast and tears rolled down her pale cheeks, the deep pain in her heart expressed by every word she was letting out.

“I was no longer good enough for father. He wanted a perfect daughter, and not leading in class was not an option. When I came first in class, I did it for him. Life was nothing if you were not bright enough. In fact, life was hell if you did not live to please him. I believed that if I did not come top of my class nothing and nobody would appreciate me. Then he started seeing me like his wife!” She paused a bit cringed her face and let out a slow sigh. “Is this not the worst thing that can happen to you? Your own father, who is supposed to protect you from any danger in the world turning on you and trying to sexually molest you? How are you supposed to respond when this happens?”

Her questions coming on hard and fast. Do I need to answer? She turned her emotionless eyes towards me before she continued. “I was 11 years old and in class 5 when father decided to marry someone else. At first, I thought my stepmother was the best thing that happened to me but woe unto me. She was worse! When she got a baby, dark became darker! She became hell. I could not understand how such a beautiful bundle of joy could come from such a demon.” I also don’t.

A single drop of tears fell from her left eye. She now seemed angry. “My father was so harsh, my step mother treated me like dirt, and I was not good in making friends any more. I was lucky to go through primary and high school alive. All this while, I never heard from my mother. I decided to look for her and tell her everything I was going through. She listened, but all she said was that times were hard and I should do what I had to do.” She clenched her fist and her jaws, and as if talking to herself, she said, “What mother says that to her daughter?” Then she breathed out heavily.

With a feigned smile, she looked at me and wondered out loud. “Paradox of life, the parents who treated me badly took me to good schools. My schoolmates wanted my life while I desperately longed for theirs. When they said that I walked badly, I was ugly and weird, I believed them, but I should not have. That one thing that ought to be used to express love, was used by my father to kill me. Did he expect me to fall in love with him romantically?”

I was possessed by a passionate hatred, a rage at the beast who dared to do this to this woman I barely knew. My jaws clamp shut as she continued to narrate. “I was alone and in need of love and affirmation, so any guy who approached me, I would give myself to him. Anyone who showed me a hint of attention became my god. I fell in love stupidly.  I think I was too clingy and they all took advantage of my vulnerability. They all hurt me.”

“After campus, I met an old friend who was five years older than me. He had a good job, he was cute and he could take care of me. I acted like I was in love with him, got a baby with him and now we are married.  My baby is the only source of my happiness, the best thing that ever happened to me, but he, he hits me.”

(This is a true story)

DOES IT MATTER?

Does it matter?
What if he finds her in my house?

DOES IT MATTER?

She knocked at my door, I opened and she showed me a new reality.

After a long, tiring, busy workday, all I longed for was a steaming hot shower, a cup of tea and sleep.You can imagine how delighted I was to find that KPLC had sorted our power issues. Being in the dark for 24 hours is not anything to smile about.

I was leaving the shower when I had a knock on the door. I wondered who that could be.  I hurriedly put on a short and rushed to open the door.

There she stood with her strong figure leaning on the wall. I had never seen her before.  She rolled her eyeballs a bit and looked straight into my eyes. Her braids covering much of her face. She giggled, hiccupped and asked “Hi, may I come in?” I tried to smile courteously, wondering whether she had knocked on the wrong door. Almost stammering I asked her who she was and why she needed to come in.

“Does it matter?” She asked.

Wow! That threw me aback. “If you don’t want me in, I can go.” She said before starting to walk away.

A tinge of guilt rushed in. I wondered why she chose to knock on my door. what kind of help does she need?  “Hey! Are you okay? Do you need any help?” I called out. She giggled, hiccupped again and asked, “Would I be standing here if I was okay? Of course I need help.” I could not believe she could be so impolite yet she was asking for help. “What’s your name?” I asked. “Does it matter?” She answered. “How can I help you?” I asked. She explained to me that she was my neighbor and that she could not get into her house drunk. It would be chaos.

I had never seen her before. “Do you really live in this apartment?” I asked as I let her in. “Yes.” She said with a smile. “What house?” I asked. “Does it matter?” She responded.

She looked absorbed, almost worried, I thought. She asked for a glass of water as she made herself comfortable. She asked for my name. “Ng’ash.” I said and off I went to bring her water. Doesn’t she want me to see her face? I brought her the glass of water to find her laying on the floor.  My heart stopped. I stood there, grounded to the same spot for a minute wondering what was wrong. A thin sweat broke from my brow. Then she started sobbing softly amid loud hiccups.

“Here is your water. Are you ok?” I mumbled trying to sound calm. The small crystal beads on her face becoming a steady stream of salty tears. Her crying became hysterical and noisy.  Her unblinking blood shot eyes begging for help. Watery snot streamed down her nostrils into her quivering lips. She was fighting to speak above the lock on her throat. “Do you love art?” she asked in a brittle voice. Her whole body was now shaking. She clasped her grey sweater tightly. “Do you love art?” She burst out.

I nodded hopping that my creased brows and my widely open eyes did not show my confusion.  My heart was pounding at an ever more rapid pace. I checked my watch. 9:30 PM. I need to sleep.

“Do you write?” she whispered. “I am 28 years old and I don’t know who I am. I am confused. Kindly write my story and tell it to the world”….. to be continued.

What do you think she told me? Comment below.

Before Kidero said, Dannish said… And I am not suggesting anything!

do BY DANNISH ODONGO Sir, I admire your ‘showbiz’ philanthropy. The fact that you walk with liquid cash running into hundreds of thousands of shillings is something that only men who have planted money on trees can compete with. (I hope you have a vineyard of notes in your backyard) You are just as generous with your abuses as evidenced on a local radio show a while back. Your body guards brandish guns in morgues and public places without regard for common sense and decorum. ‘You live large’, that goes without question. Your trade mark gold chains, ‘blinged’ cars, wrapped Mercedes and tattered jeans are admirable to a section of young men who dream of a life of such wealth. There is a thin line between fashion and circus and I think you have mixed both. With all that said, I have an elephant bone to pick with you Mr. Senator, a very BIG bone. Why? Mr. Senator, your ‘initiatives’ are sensational and resemble those done in banana republics. Pretend to meet short term needs of your electorate and they will always stretch their hands to receive more because of the dependency syndrome you have cultivated in them. These initiatives don’t really help the impoverished majority in Nairobi county as you claim. They are intentionally sensational for political purposes, because if you were genuinely interested in creating sustainable solutions for the poor majority of Nairobi, you would use established structures (and your time at the Senate) wisely e.g. by donating the ambulances to Red Cross or buying more affordable patrol cars and donating them to informal settlement police posts. Further, you could donate that money (that never seems to run out) to purchase dialysis machines at Kenyatta Hospital for use at a highly subsidized rate by the scores who are presently dying in pain for lack of funds (I hope you are aware that Renal Failure is a serious issue in Kenya), help set up a proper affordable cancer treatment center or set up well equipped police posts in slum areas( The cost of 2 land rovers would cover all this adequately well ). Whatever you have provided does not constitute the basic needs required by the slum dwellers you claim to represent. And Sir, don’t get angry, but what these people you claim to have undying care for need are; affordable health care, clean toilets, clean drinking water, food, school fees among others. (Set up a school, flood lights, feeding programmes etc in any of the slum you claim to provide security in and the crime rate will drop) Role of a senator According to chapter 8 of the constitution, the key mandate of the Senate of the Republic of Kenya is to safeguard and promote the interests of the units of devolution known as Counties. Hence the Senate must endeavor to influence national laws and revenue amounts that touch on Counties as well as the relationships and frameworks of cooperation between the Counties and the National Government and State Organs. Reading the above provision of the constitution, I don’t see cash dishing or other sensational ‘developments’ you claim to do. Enough is enough senator, we cannot take your buffoonery any longer. The truth as to why you are doing this lies in this statement, ‘you are covering up for your overwhelming incompetence as a policy maker.’ Because that’s the role of a senator, to make policies that work. The governor bears the role of implementing policies made by the senate through laws. I would however be lying if I didn’t mention that your knee jerk initiatives have always been catastrophically successful. Lucky enough for you, your shortsighted electorate do not know the importance of policy making. You continue to cash in on their nescience, bigotry and the worship of demigods syndrome. Without regard to your role, you have continued to increase your popularity ratings through gimmicks such as calling the president on loud speaker, punching metal doors and wanting to show parliament your private parts which you alleged were injured following an assault by police officers. The trouble with you is that you lack the power of conversation but not the power of speech. You constantly confuse activity and productivity. In a land of blind men, one eyed man is king. Same, in a county of non performing leaders, you seem to be the only one doing something. My fear is this, in view of the degree of influence that you have gathered, my children may grow up with a warped example of what a public leader ought to be. You have expressed your interest to capture the Nairobi’s governors seat in the forthcoming elections, I wish you well. Remember, man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them-your electorate seems to have forgotten about this. My advice Empower your electorate through policies. If you are to give donations, do it through established structures. But why do I expect this from you? Your kind of politics is that of preying on the needs of your electorate. You can’t solve their issues and empower them to earn a living because if you did that, they would not be desperate for your handouts and would not worship you for your crafty generosity and you, good sir, would lose your job at the next elections to a leader who is actually capable of formulating long term socioeconomic empowerment policies

To the great!

I am inspired by the words of a philisopher, Leo Tolstoy, who said that there is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth. Moreover, nothing tells of greatness like the act of Christ who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God (something to be used to His own advantage,) rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.

If anyone seeks greatness, humility and sacrifice must be carried in the deepest part of his or her heart. #Greatness