Day 354 (Ten Years Ago…)

Ten years ago today, I had just returned from West Africa. I enrolled for IB and was pondering on an Extended Essay topic. It was my French teacher Mr. Banzi that informed me that Léopold Sedar Senghor had passed on. I guess he did it because I told him about Sénégal and how that Land of Téranga had been my home intermittently for over a half a decade.

One thing led to another and I ended up writing my Extended Essay on Senghorian poetry exploring the famous concept he coined: “La Négritude”. The next year, I presented my work at a Conference held to celebrate the life and times of L.S.S organised at Alliance Française. To date, I consider that presentation and the warm welcome it recieved to be one of my most defining and memorable moments ever. At the time, I was doing two things which I considered to be of absolute importance, firstly I was paying homage to a great African scholar and public figure and secondly I was in a sense pledging my loyalty to that soil on the westerly most tip of the continent that witnessed my metamorphosis from childhood to adolescence.

Suffices it to say, I still feel a strong connection to Dakar. Quite natural, considering she was my first, in more ways than I can explain.

Sentimentality aside, the commemoration of 10 years since Senghor’s death for me is an opportunity to think back and reflect on the course my life has taken, while trying not to regret things too much.

I know the journey is far from complete so this is just a pause.

One of the dreams that I continue to silently harbour on this long journey is that of the Extended Essay one day sitting side by side with a Ph.D Thesis by yours truly… inch’allah.

Before I sign off, allow me to share one little poem by Senghor. A poem I crammed while in Junior High School just for the sake of passing exams but when I went back and studied it during IB and even now, I came to terms with just how powerful it really is. Senghor was a man who spoke fondly of his native Africa and his home country of Senegal, both when he was at home and more so when he was away in France or elsewhere. He relies quite heavily on personification as a stylistic device throughout his writing and in many passages, one finds him likening Africa and Senegal to a woman, a love, a wife, a mother, all wrapped in one. He speaks of Her ‘blackness’, Her beauty, Her warmth, Her eternal love for all, Her Culture, Her Civilisation, Her decolonisation…


Nuit de Sine

Femme, pose sur mon front tes mains balsamiques, tes mains douces plus que fourrure.
Là-haut les palmes balancées qui bruissent dans la haute brise nocturne
À peine. Pas même la chanson de nourrice.
Qu’il nous berce, le silence rythmé.
Écoutons son chant, écoutons battre notre sang sombre, écoutons
Battre le pouls profond de l’Afrique dans la brume des villages perdus.

Voici que décline la lune lasse vers son lit de mer étale
Voici que s’assoupissent les éclats de rire, que les conteurs eux-mêmes
Dodelinent de la tête comme l’enfant sur le dos de sa mère
Voici que les pieds des danseurs s’alourdissent, que s’alourdit la langue des choeurs alternés.

C’est l’heure des étoiles et de la Nuit qui songe
S’accoude à cette colline de nuages, drapée dans son long pagne de lait.
Les toits des cases luisent tendrement. Que disent-ils, si confidentiels, aux étoiles ?
Dedans, le foyer s’éteint dans l’intimité d’odeurs âcres et douces.

Femme, allume la lampe au beurre clair, que causent autour les Ancêtres comme les parents, les enfants au lit.
Écoutons la voix des Anciens d’Elissa. Comme nous exilés
Ils n’ont pas voulu mourir, que se perdît par les sables leur torrent séminal.
Que j’écoute, dans la case enfumée que visite un reflet d’âmes propices
Ma tête sur ton sein chaud comme un dang au sortir du feu et fumant
Que je respire l’odeur de nos Morts, que je recueille et redise leur voix vivante, que j’apprenne à
Vivre avant de descendre, au-delà du plongeur, dans les hautes profondeurs du sommeil.

– Léopold Sédar Senghor

A Tale of Two Constitutional Traditions: South Africa and Kenya

For the last two days, the Judicial Service Commission in South Africa has been interviewing the presidential Chief Justice* nominee Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng who is set to replace Justice Sandile Ngcobo at the apex court of the land, the Constitutional Court (Concourt).

I picked up on a key distinction between Kenya and South Africa vis-a-vis key appointments to government. For example, the person nominated to be CJ in Kenya can only be appointed after parliamentary approval. South Africa’s constitution gives the President the sole discretion in appointing the CJ and his nomination does not have to go through parliamentary approval. This simple fact, I believe, illustrates Kenya’s traumatising history with the powers of the Executive. Whereas South Africans have never had to deal with an Imperial President who hires and fires at will and is accountable to no-one in the manner in which he runs the country. However, I know that apartheid South Africa had to deal with an Imperial Parliament that was majorly white and enacted the most oppressive and racially motivated laws ever recorded in human history. Therefore it is clear that the stance taken by the post-apartheid constitutional drafters was to remove a lot of the powers vested in Parliament and provide for clearer limits, checks and balances among the three branches of government.

Whereas here in Kenya, every single person that has been involved in the constitutional-making process, from Pre-Bomas to our Committee of Experts, recognised the urgent need to decentralise the powers of the President and make the Executive Branch of government more accountable to Parliament and more open to judicial supervision and guidance.

But I foresee a problem.

It seems like we have now given the Legislature waay too much discretion in second-guessing and questioning the decisions and proposed actions of the Executive. This problem is prominent especially now where parliamentarians are able to hold the Executive and Judicial arms of government at ransom. MPs, as we know them are a self-serving lot that have proved time and time again that exercise of their constitutional mandate is up for sale to the highest bidder. Parliament is now able to prevent the Executive from living up to its political pledges by dragging it’s feet on enactment of enabling laws or even by blocking the appointment of suitable Presidential nominees.

If you ask me, Parliament is the biggest beneficiary under the new Constitution deliberately because of the decades of mistrust and misuse of prerogative powers by the Executive under the aptly dubbed “Imperial Presidency”. However it is important to remember that these powers have been donated to parliament by the great people of Kenya therefore it is up to us to ensure that parliament exercise their new-found powers in strict accordance with the wishes of the people.
Thus, it was probably in the CoE’s wisdom that a Right of recall provision was included in the Constitution to empower the voters to chuck out their non-performing area MPs.

As we enter the second year since the promulgation of the constitution, I would urge everyone to familiarise themselves with their social contract with the state and cascade that knowledge to others so we can foster a more informed and more participatory democratic culture.

The Return of Raphael (Tuju)

Last month an artist called David Rapoza did the above fan art of Raphael, the orange bandana ninja turtle who wields the two ‘sahas’ (the mini Neptune Triton-looking knives). I think it’s pretty sick, wouldn’t you agree?

Anyways, over at my other blog iCon did a piece on another Raphael. This particular Raphael has been making major waves in Kenya with his Youtube presidential clip in local slang, “Sheng”.

In the crux of his post “#Rapho4Prezzo: “Redefining Raphael Tuju’s Candidacy”, he says:

“If you want to run a shoddy campaign hinged on gimmicks, this is the way to go. It may not win votes, but you will forever be the source of joy and laughter. And Kenya needs that.”

This post is an understandable reaction voiced by a young generation that doesn’t know who or what Raphael Tuju is. The scope of the attacks on Tuju has been on his attempt to reach out to youth voters, but no one has stood up to question the merits and demerits of Tuju’s candidacy. I mean after we’re done crucifying him for his poor sheng, wouldnt we want to know who he is and what he stands for? Has anyone googled him? Checked out his CV? Seen his past experience and track-record?

I think Tuju’s sheng video has definitely captured the public’s attention so the onus is on him to formally announce the details of his campaign including which political party he’ll be running under and what his campaign agenda is.

Day 218 (Poem For Post-Referendum Kenya)

Mood: Mellow

Mode: Silencieux

Thoughts:

The Referendum is over, and so is the weekend of celebrating the resounding victory for the ‘Yes’ campaign which was behind the push for a New Constitution.

WE. DID. IT!

Now, the task of nation-building must begin. My knowledge and analysis of post-1996 South Africa (given its unique constitutional history) tells me that Kenya’s long walk to freedom has just began and the challenges ahead will require the State and the Citizenry to put the well-being of the Nation first by upholding the supremacy of the New Constitution, particularly the purport, spirit and objects of the Bill of Rights.

So while thinking about the road ahead for Kenya, I thought of writing a poem. But instead of re-inventing the wheel, I shall refer you to Rudyard Kipling’s piece. I am sure you all remember it, and
it goes a little something like this:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And which is more; you’ll be a Man, my son!

—————-

Now playing: Drake ft. Alicia Keys – “Fireworks”

Day 216 (August 4th)

Mood: Anxious

Mode: Confiant

Thoughts:

I am typing this knowing full well I have nothing meaningful to blog about other than the fact that we have all made history as Kenyans by voting on the proposed new constitution of Kenya. As we speak the vote tallying is still going on but I’m pretty confident that the popular ‘Yes’ vote will carry the day.

And now, I shall bore you with the mundane details of this historic day. I promise never to do this again but only for today, just humour me.

Continue reading

Celebrating Youth Day..

HectorPieterson

After spending so many years in South Africa, its taken me this long to realise just what Youth Day is all about. Today commemorates the start of the Soweto Riots of 1976, initially sparked by a government edict that all instruction in black schools would be held in Afrikaans during the Apartheid regime.
The bravery and courage of those schoolchildren in Soweto on June 16, 1976 is alive in all of us as the youth.
Let the example of those brave children in Soweto remind us all that we must fight to change our world just as they did. siyabonga.

Young people, we CAN change our world!

dog-headphones

If life is a female dog, well atleast mine’s got headphones!

Aside from the daily ups and downs, I’ve been following the news and headlines and I swore I would drop a blog post or two with my views and thoughts. But I’m tired, it’s late and I’m pulling another late night of studying before work tomorrow morning..
So, instead of giving you my 2 cents on everything that has taken place thus far, I thought I’d tell you what song jumped in my head when I read the news stories and headlines in the media.

In no particular order:

Martha Karua leaving Kibaki’s Grand Confusion Government :-

Brenda Holloway – What Are You Gonna Do When I’m Gone

Kibaki’s reaction on hearing the news of Karua’s resignation:-

Bob Marley – She’s Gone

Charges against Jacob Zuma aka “JZ” dropped:-

Jay-Z ft. R Kelly – Guilty Until Proven Innocent

President Obama on his G-20 visit-turned-world tour extraordinaire:-

Ludacris – Pimpin’ All Over The World

——————————————

2010 world cup tickets

Was I the last person on earth to find out that the 2010 World Cup tickets went on sale two weeks ago?
I guess that’s what I get for relying on blogs for my daily dose of news updates. Mea culpa.
Nonetheless since the tickets are not being allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis but rather by lottery selection, its not to late to apply for tickets!
Although the tickets are even available online (payable in USD), they dont come cheap: expect to pay between $80 (opening matches) and $900 (World cup finals) while South Africans will only be paying $20.

As for me, I’m saving my hard-earned cash for one or two games, semi-final games tend to be the most entertainment! (Trust me.)

However I still have several concerns. One the security situation and secondly the transport system. These two issues actually go hand in hand in South Africa because the transport system even within the various major cities, spread out across the Rainbow Nation, are not safe at all.
Enter the Gautrain. This high-speed commuter train will provide a desperately needed boost to the logistical and safety concerns many sceptics have raised about South Africa, a land that is five times larger than Great Britain and three times the size of Texas. Although truth be told, last time I was out in RSA (one year ago), there were still a number of World Cup stadium sites where no construction had begun so I guess we’ll have to see whether the Gautrain and the soccer stadiums will be completed on time.

But as you can tell from the picture, this post isnt about spreading doom and gloom. The single biggest sporting event in the world is coming to Africa!!! But it is important we give the world a show they will be soon to forget and silence all the critics. In this connection, perhaps our fellow South Africans could borrow a leaf or tree from the Chinese at last year’s Olympic Games, with their level of organisation, planning and attention to detail.

Nothing Zimpossible..

zimflation

To all my young Zimbabweans out there, who says you can’t make it!

In life, nothing is impossible.

However, you must realise that success is not always measured by how much money you have in the bank.

Here are some success stories to ponder about:-

From a tea boy to Reserve Bank GovernorGideon Gono.

From a Welder at Trojan Nickel Mines to Prime MinisterMorgan
Tsvangirai.

From a security guard (mahobo) at railways to Deputy Prime Minister
Thokozani Khupe.

From winning only 600 votes in an election contested by over 8000 people to becoming Deputy Prime Minister – Arthur Muatambara

From a carpenter to Deputy President – Simon Muzenda

From a security guard ( mahobo) at Harare City Council to Chairman War
Veterans Association / Chairman ZFTU/ Entrepreneur
– Joseph Chinotimba

From a clerk to First Lady a.k.a “First Shopper”Grace Mugabe

From a Prime Minister to a farm invader – Abel Tendekai Muzorewa

From a Minister to a murder suspect – Shuvai Mahofa

From a ZANUPF MP to an asylum seeker – James Makamba

From  Minister Of Information to a columnist in a rural newspaper website – Jonathan Moyo

Moral of the Story:  Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.