Day 114 (Panga Puff Girls, Sad Politics and the Awakening of Identities)

Tonight Smriti was on NTV, Janet was on Citizen and Anne was on KTN, all of whom were looking as lovely as ever. Then I remembered that Panga Puff Girls Play I watched recently and how some men were battered by their wives for drooling at Linda Oguttu who often reads news for NTV.

The play itself was refreshing in many respects, original in some respects and for the most part, worth the ticket price. I particularly enjoyed the parallelism between the abusive father looking for 2 million signatures to alter the vows of marriage and the process of constitutional amendment through bargaining, negotiation, compromise and public participation.
However the sad irony of it all was that here we all were laughing unashamedly at the ignorance and retrogressive behaviour of fellow Kenyans in nearby counties. We all agree that domestic violence is wrong irrespective of the perpetrator’s gender. We all agree that ethnic and social stereotyping is backward and has no place in a modern Kenyan society. We all understand that the Kenyan nation is greater than any singular individual and we shall all strive to build a more cohesive, progressive society.

So in essence, the play seemed to me to be another case of preaching to the converted. I kept wishing the actors could be paid to go to other counties around the country. To entertain and educate the masses on some of the important issues raised in the play. To shock audiences. To provoke thought. And hopefully, leave them with a different view of their surroundings.

Moving along….

Prof. Ole Kiyapi is a man I was first introduced to through ‘S’. She was a ranger then and he was the PS of Environment and she went to pay him a courtesy call and spoke of his suggestive and pervy ways (let’s not judge.) Anywhoo, now Ki’yappy’ as ‘D’ calls him announced that he’s resigning from Government to run for office. What surprised me the most is the lukewarm reception he’s received. I have previously blogged about Tuju, another presidential aspirant who saw it fit to quit government and focus on his campaign. Both Kiyapi and Tuju should be admired and emulated for demonstrating integrity, faith in their leadership abilities not to mention a strong sense of civic duty and calling to serve the people of Kenya in the highest office of the land.

But Kenyans couldn’t be bothered. They would rather focus their attention on individuals who have already been given a chance to lead and have done nothing but enrich themselves off the very people they took an oath to serve. Individuals who have repeatedly been implicated in corruption, misappropriation of funds, electoral malpractices and international crimes. Individuals who have made names for themselves at the expense of others and have proved over and over again that they owe allegiance to none by themselves. Individuals that draw huge crowds by dishing out money and empty promises.

If this race continues being about personalities and popularity, then candidates like Kiyapi and Tuju should never expect to lead this country as President.

Finally, let me just say that Kenya is witnessing what can only be described as an ‘awakening of identities’. Even the drafters of the Constitution of Kenya understood that certain groups of people in Kenya have suffered injustices, prejudices and abuses through systematic marginalisation and discrimination and thus these historic inequalities can only be addressed by creating mechanisms and policies geared toward restoring balance. I have still not forgotten Justice Majanja’s unfortunate ruling in Constitutional Petition 243 of 2011 challenging the appointment of the Chairperson of the Gender and Equality Commission. This was a clear case of ethnic and social profiling that was committed by the Executive, rubber-stamped by Parliament and then sanctioned by the Judiciary. Sweeping under the carpet these complex issues of identities within ethnicity and social background will not make them go away.

And so when I look at MRC, I see the same problem arising. The MRC continue to feel marginalised in Constitutional Kenya. They feel voiceless. Their grievances and concerns have been ignored. They feel removed from the nerve centre of power. They feel marginalised. So now, they want to secede. I believe if the question of the MRC is looked at in the proper light, it will emerge that this is a group whose followers fervently believe that there have been previous historical injustices and other wrongs committed dating back to independence. Land is always top of the list and when one considers that the Kenyatta family owns so much of the land over there, while generations of residents live in poverty, it’s no wonder they are some disgruntled elements that begin agitating for justice.
I could be wrong about the MRC but branding them a proscribed group is going a bit too far since they have not committed any acts of violence and are only asserting their right to self-determination and identity.

| now playing: Big K.R.I.T. – “The Vent” |

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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

Day 215 (Final Reflections on the Proposed Constitution)

Mood: Calm

Mode: En faisant le bilan

Thoughts:

My name is N.V and I am citizen of Kenya. These are my final reflections on the eve of the August 4th 2010 Referendum on the Proposed Constitution of Kenya.

The quest for Kenya’s new constitution has polarized society to the extent that even usually neutral institutions such as the media and religious society have become partisan. These institutions would ordinarily serve as arbiters when society is embroiled in conflict. For the past three months in a row, the constitution has been Kenya’s most debated subject to the point where it overshadowed the just concluded World Cup tournament in South Africa.

Sadly, this constitutional debate has been reduced into a contest of Greens and Reds on a handful of contentious issues which have been conveniently isolated from the contents of the draft constitution as a whole. This minimalist approach to constitution making has overshadowed the strong and sound fundamentals that underlie this proposed constitution. Let us rise above academic, moral, political debates over the few contentious issues dividing us and look at this constitutional process as a whole. Shall we? Why did Kenyans spill blood, break limbs, get detained or even maimed? The real struggle for a new constitution has been to strengthen and protect human rights and good governance; achieve government accountability; facilitate generational and gender equity; promote and safeguard separation of powers; foster open politics; establish a high quality civil service capable of administering government policy effectively and impartially; address corruption broadly; foster an open and productive debate between government and civil society; and enhance economic transformation and social justice and access fair and quick justice for all.
My dear friends and fellow colleagues, we have reached the proverbial crossroads: Tomorrow, we will all be going to the polls to vote whether we accept or reject the proposed constitution of Kenya. It is unprecedented for any country of the world to have had one let alone two constitutional referendums, not to mention being the most expensive and longest review process in post World War II history. And the results? Nothing yet. But as Kenyans we have still yearned ever so patiently for a new Constitution. Why? Two reasons: we wanted and still want the best possible constitution in the world; one that would defend individual rights and freedoms while at the same time safeguarding national interests and secondly, Kenyans wanted to be involved in the constitution-making process. We wanted a constitution we can own and call our own. And I agree that “owning” this constitution lies in healthy disagreement and robust debate, which in our case has led to the formation of the Yes and No camps. But this is not a winner-takes-all contest since we are all Kenyans and our primary objective should be to move Kenya not for our personal benefit but for the greater good of this and the coming generations.

A few years back, a writer by the name of Lev Grossman published an article entitled ‘Forward Thinking’ in which he said: “Albert Einstein, in 1932 remarked that ‘there is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable ….. Thomas Edison thought alternating current would be a waste of time…. Franklin Delano Roosevelt once predicted when he was Assistant Secretary of US Navy that airplanes would not be useful in the battle against a fleet of ships…. In 1883, Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society and no mean scientist predicted that ‘X-Ray will prove to be a hoax.” To all this Grossman concluded that “there is nothing like a passage of time to make the world’s smartest people to look like complete idiots.” Borrowing from Levy’s wisdom, I am of the view that those who are opposed to the proposed constitution may think that they are the smartest people but time could prove them ‘complete idiots’.

As Kenyans, we know that a constitution will not magically solve all the contentious political problems of this country. But it will provide a shared spirit and framework for re-structuring and re-organising our politics, economy and society in a democratic and just manner. Our new proposed constitution will therefore become a focal point on which political leaders can develop a political culture, which enlivens and fosters integrity. A constitution will not establish constitutionalism. A constitutional culture and a prudent constitutional jurisprudence (in which the three branches of Government, lawyers, academics, citizens, the civil society, among others understand their respective roles) establishes constitutionalism.
A “good” constitution is not drafted; its hopes and aspirations are not in its elegant and spotless phraseology. A good constitution is lived and experienced; its strengths and hopes are in its interpretation and jurisprudence.

I am afraid that Kenyans will be searching for a perfect constitution for a long, long time unless they realize the simple truth that consensus-building on every single contentious issue is an exercise in futility.

Working with idiots can kill you..

meeting

Frustrating morning at work. I think God meant me to be a UN intern so I can see just how fucked up dysfunctional all its organizations actually are and hopefully, I would be forever deterred from wanting to work here later in my professional career. Gee God, thanks a mill.

The short-term contract, the small remuneration and the quasi-staff access is all the glimpse I needed into the deep, dark rot which lies beneath its blue-flag-wreath-logo exterior and I now see just how much of a difference there is between this organisation’s laudable objectives on paper and what it really does in practice. This is a far from a sudden realization. In fact, what am I saying? The only reason I wanted to work here was because of the exposure and the benefits that come along with the job. Like many of us, I had also heard of all the corruption, mismanagement, elitism, discrimination and other embarrassing scandals involving this organization and its staff but I chose to ignore it. I chose to ignore it because I believed that the UN is still considered by many as one of the most respected and safest places to work and gain career advancement. Not!

I wont rant and rave too much about all the underhanded, dubious things I’ve witnessed since I started because it will only take more of my precious little lunch time but I remember how desperately I prayed to get in here which can only be matched now by how anxious I am to leave.
As for my earlier concern about the impact the economic crisis will have on them and how their ‘noble work’ around the world will be hampered by it, that was the old me trying to be a good little intern. But, if you ask me, they deserve it. Its’ a simple equation really:-

70% of expenditure is on staff members + current economic recession = drop in organisation’s income from member states, donations, contributions etc.. + expenditure remains constant = overall deficit = job losses

And I sure hope that everyone in my Division gets axed first! And be clear, the puny no-name intern you spat on will be long gone by then watching everything come crashing down.

—————

Now listening to: Ludacris – Slap

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

——————————————

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.