Day 143 ( I Miss the Triangle O.)

My Lakers are out of the playoffs. Again! Dang.

I remember a time when the Zen Master was in charge and the Triangle O was working so well, ninjas could afford to go around ‘rapping’ in RnB videos, just because. lol.

Can we go back there?

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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” |

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

Day 275 (Hello October)

Gazettement for admission to the Roll of Advocates is imminent, y’all!

In other news, I’ve hung up my undefeated Scrabble gloves and now I’m dishing out free cans of whoop-ass at Badminton and table tennis. Come one, come all. lol!

Last thing, Phonte’s first solo album: Sheer brilliance. Peep game:

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.

Gender, Affirmative Action and Quotas

She wrote an article that appeared in Today’s Nation entitled: “Women’s March to Power is Painfully Slow”

The gist of the piece is in the third last paragraph which reads:

“It is indeed preposterous that the Cabinet would contemplate a constitutional amendment Bill seeking to annul a fundamental constitutional gain for women that is entrenched in the Bill of Rights under Article 27.”

In the piece itself she cites the case of the proposed merger of the Gender and Equality Commission with the National Commission for Human Rights as another clear case of clear lack of political will to give full effect to, and translate the constitutional gains secured for both men and women into a substantive reality through informed legislation and concerted implementation.

In my discussion with her over this particular article and other related topics, I found myself drawing many parallels with South Africa. If you ask me, the issue of gender equality in this country has taken centre-stage in much the same way that racial equality did in post-1996 South Africa. Blacks in SuidAfrika, much like the women of Kenya, saw the enactment of their progressive new Constitution as an opportunity to push for full promotion of their rights and full access to opportunities. Their Bill of Rights much like ours is both horizontal and vertical applicability which means that every citizen can enforce any right or freedom against either the State or another individual or both. To cut a long story short, black South Africans using the Affirmative Action strategies that women in Kenya have started to adopt, succeed in getting quotas put in place in both public and private entities. The (in)famous Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) programme comes to mind.

So my words to her was that women of Kenya should take heart and know that the battle for promotion and protection of their rights under the Constitution could not be left in anyone’s hands but their own. When MPs use words like “not realistic” “largely aspirational” to describe rights you’ve spent decades for their inclusion in the supreme document, you must know that they’re trying to water down your achievements, stirring doubts and spreading falsehoods to break your momentum. Women of Kenya must not relax. The formula proposed in the Elections Bill, to me, made a lot of sense and it shouldn’t be discarded simply because some male MPs somewhere are afraid that the axe will fall on them.

The push of reform starts with the Supreme Court which must be properly constituted and continues with vigilance that all key subsidiary laws touching on gender are scrutinised and checked to ensure strict compliance. The elephant in the room remains implementation. The Executive must no longer be allowed to drag its feet.

Cloudvillian’s Five.

#My5Links. Remember it? It was all the rage last month. Like most trends in .ke, it’s probably faded to nothingness. Maybe it hasn’t but before it does, let me share my five links and tag other fellow bloggers in the struggle to share their links.

Here goes:

1. My Most Popular Post: An untitled post written in Feb 2009, it was a small piece on the World Cup tournament set to take place in South Africa the following year, 2010. I was a bit pessimistic about whether SA would be able to be ready and prepared to hold such a huge event especially since it was the first time ever for any country in Africa. We all know how that ended. Thank you for making us proud, South Africa! Oh, and Mandela lived to see it! Double woop!


2. The Post that Didn’t Get The Attention It Deserved:
“A United East African Community?” What can I say, I really wanted one of those shiny new baby blue “East Africa Community” passports that were being proposed by the EAC. Fastforward to present day, the East African Dream is slowly becoming a reality. Slowly.

Notable mention: “Keep Walking..” on decentralisation and decongestion of Nairobi. I was suggesting that Kenya follows the example of other countries like South Africa and Nigeria.

3. The Post Whose Success Surprised Me: “Shoot The Messenger” where I basically unleashed a whole barrel of haterade on Kenyan men in Nairobi. I’m thinking of doing a 2k11 list very very soon!

4. My Most Controversial Post: “Primitiveness” Yes fellow Kenyans, I called our flag (you know, the one with the shield and the two spears) primitive!

5. The Post I Am Most Proud Of: “Scared Sh*tless” where I confessed my deepest darkest fears to the world.

Notable mention: My J Dilla tribute post “The Greatest Triple Threat of All Time” I’m naming my first son Dilla… yes, the future mother of my progeny already knows.

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Big thanks to the two Ns that tagged me: nittzsah and ndinda_. In return I shall tag the following to share their links (in no particular order):

Crystal balls, “threeceebee”

d®, “Performance First”

Tricia, “Pages of My Journal”

Willpress, “Open Mic”

Ms. Slightly Off-White, Slightly Off White.

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My work here is done. Over to you.