The revolution will feature sculptors

The revolution is coming, and the revolution is going to feature, among others, the greatest sculptors, most amazing designers, greatest poets/spoken word trail blazers. The revolution will be characterized by a dash of badassery and a whole lot of fierce interruption. Stay tuned to partake in the next ground breaking, next level thing.

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“You know you are capitalism’s ideal puppet (and that education betrayed you) when winning the lottery is your only chance to realizing financial freedom.”  – Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Not sure what I should write about, yet I feel the urge to write. Not because there’s nothing to write home to, but because prioritizing the issues that need discussing/addressing is the hard bit. See, when you love your country this much, you almost automatically have to romanticize hate for your politicians (both in government and opposition) worst case scenario. Best case scenario, you get an indigestion for every bunch of crap the political elite subjects you to. Mmh..explains why it feels like I just might be coming down with a bad case of the irritable bowel syndrome. (God forbid).

Do I go on an unapologetic rant about what seems to be lack of integrity on the part of Deputy Chief Justice of Kenya, Kalpana Rawal, who just like the typical  African leaders, won’t retire with dignity  at 70? What happened to people looking forward to retirement in a beach house somewhere in a tropical island, cleansing their souls by staring at the blue-green oceanic view, rolling in the white sandy beaches..sipping to mojito’s or fresh fruit juices, getting high off the memory of stupid mistakes committed in their 20’s, laughing till they cry…choking on laughter and embarrassment… You know, living on bonus gracefully and peacefully with loved ones? SMH.

Do I make this about the opposition who have managed to turn our Moneydays (Mondays) into “tear gas Mondays” here in the City in the Sun? Breeding a culture of hooliganism among the jobless, brainwashed idling youths? SMH.

Or do I exhort Mr. President for taking hard-line positions in handling matters of make-or-break nature (as that of the cleaning the IEBC)..allowing the side shows that have Kenyans like myself rolling our eyes and shaking our heads ever so often that our necks are beginning to ache perpetually? Treating Kenyans to a not so amusing, amateurishly scripted show glorifying political wars between power houses, shamelessly chest-thumping and flexing their flappy arms as if the lives and future of Kenyans were the gym that is meant to beat those loose fats into well toned biceps? SMH.

Or maybe I should address the topic of irresponsible journalism that was exhibited by one of the top investigative journalists’ recent expose that, in my not so humble opinion, achieved nothing more than shaming a slain man’s family and slandering a young lass? You see my predicament now, don’t you? Too many non-issues are being dressed as real issues and aired for us, the hardworking tax payers, to watch during the News hour, that it is becoming quite insulting for any sane mwananchi to just keep calm. But naah… I will not delve into any of the above matters for now.

I’m all about the African youth within and without the territorial borders of Africa but are still African because Africa was born in them.

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Take risks now and do something bold. You won’t regret. – Elon Musk

I’m rooting for the gullible African youth who has had to experience unrest in their country every general election year. Because the leaders are just power hungry individualistic persons with no vision for their individual country’s let alone Africa as a region, and only care about getting rich by looting public coffers, grabbing tracts of land, and calling the shots… For this reason, they are willing to watch people kill each other, businesses close down,property go up in flames…to get to power.

 

But why are the common wananchi so willing to give it all up for these persons? For people who only use them to ascend to power and discard them until the next general election period? No, it is not juju/voodoo/kamuti! It has got to be desperation stemming from joblessness and brainwashing. If you are sick about going on rants on social media each time we hear hundreds of millions of public monies have gone unaccounted for, like myself, maybe it is because we should focus on electing leaders who mean good for us. Not because they are our tribesmen, but because they actually have a plan.

How will we remain objective if we cannot resist the mheshimiwa who throws hundred shilling notes (equivalent of a single USD. LOL) at us? It is, methinks, by achieving financial freedom. You know, when we aren’t desperate for anything, maybe we can make sober decisions in life. And please don’t let them tell you how evil money can get, being broke is not exactly holy. LOL.

“While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.” – Groucho Marx

Look, I don’t even have the answers or spot on guidelines..a sort of one size-fits-all solution to this financial dependency that we the youth are struggling with. But I do know we cannot make sober decisions on the ballot and in life when we are compromised, intellectually and financially. We lack the bargaining power. I also know we can stop whining about joblessness and start getting creative. Creativity does not stop at those wonderful imaginary compositions/essays we wrote in school to earn those good, or not so good, marks/grades. We can still create jobs for ourselves and others, right? Maybe not everyone is going to be a lawyer/doctor/engineer..you know those boring, yet noble careers my colleagues and I settled for? Guess what! They aren’t all there is. There is more. More fun, more rewarding, more exciting careers…and we need to embrace those ones because 85% of the world’s population is not going to make a kill off the “mainstream” professions.

Enough of trying to zig, is time to zag professionally and be happy while at it, don’t you think? Then the next time your politicians want to have you carry stones and stone people in the CBD you’ll be so busy painting the next  Monalisa portrait of our time, that you won’t be bothered enough to go destroy other people’s property.

changing african narrative

The revolution is coming, and the revolution is going to feature, among others,  the greatest sculptors, most amazing designers, greatest poets/spoken word trail blazers. The revolution will be characterized by a dash of badassery and a whole lot of fierce interruption. Stay tuned to partake in the next ground breaking, next level thing. 🙂

work-in-progress
A work in progress. And the possibilities are endless. Check back soon. 🙂 – Mbula Nzuki

PS: Please tag your favorite African designers, sculptors and young artisans. I am scouting for them.

STRIKING A DEAL WITH THE LEADERS… OF TOMORROW

Mentoring the younger generation, in my view, is providing a seat for the little ones at the table of the older ones. It is pretending to give them some of your power, courage and hope when in reality you’re only pleading with them to use the power already vested in them by God (- a force beyond us, a supreme being whatever you may perceive him to be) wisely and for the betterment of our society come tomorrow… And yes, tomorrow does come!

“A revolution is coming – a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough, compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough – but a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character, we cannot alter its inevitability” – Robert F. Kennedy

This past weekend I had the privilege of spending it with a bunch of visionary young leaders that I am so damn proud to call my friends- about 16 of them. We hit the road at the crack of dawn setting out for ‘a date’ with some mighty little ones in the heart of Kamba land (Kitui South to be precise). To say the very least, the experience was life-changing! You, dear ones, rock..never let anyone tell you otherwise! Asanteni.

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Friendship isn’t a big thing — it’s a million little things. ~Author Unknown

I was quite excited when my friend Davis (founder of Friends of Progress) reached out to me regarding this gig and of course I had to seize the moment and bring Youth Mentoring & Career Programme (YMCP) Org on board. Clearly I subscribe to the Umoja ni nguvu (Unity is strength) school of thought.  What a friend I have in you Davis! Thank you for reaching out. That’s what friends do!

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But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine. ~Thomas Jefferson Davis Muthoka & I

 

Now, this post is to let you in on the joys and pains of mentorship. Mentoring the younger generation, in my view, is providing a seat for the little ones at the table of the older ones. It is pretending to give them some of your power, courage and hope when in reality you’re only pleading with them to use the power already vested in them by God (- a force beyond us, a supreme being whatever you may perceive him to be) wisely and for the betterment of our society come tomorrow… And yes, tomorrow does come!

As I sat through the talks given by my colleagues to the pupils (in all five primary schools visited), I couldn’t help but wonder if these kids knew just how important they are. I wondered if they know how envious most adults are of them, I mean these kids have entire lifetimes ahead of them – case of the figurative clean slates! I looked into their curious eyes and felt the child in me drawn to the child in each of them. I wanted to tell them they are powerful beyond measure, I wanted to let them know that the future of our nation is in their hands, I wanted to tell them they are the people we will be judged against in just a decade or two. I wanted to tell them that it is not so much in going to school and getting the best grades, going to the Alliances, the Precious Blood Secondary Schools, the Starehe schools and the like that matters… I wanted to tell them that it is what we have over and above the accolades we accumulate over the years of formal education, that which is deeply engraved in our hearts and characters that matters the most.  I wanted to let them know that a grade A  in the exams scored by an individual with a grade E personality is the reason Kenya and most of Africa is swimming in poverty, crime and disease today.  And as I stood to speak to these little ones, I think I heard the the voice of Aristotle echo somewhere at the back of my mind saying, “educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all”.

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 With the team at Ndili Primary, Ikutha.  “The soul is healed by being with children.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

So, like my colleagues, I stood time after time, dramatically sweeping my eyes across the rooms, slowly letting my eyes take in the greatness in the kings and queens giving me their attention,  yet fast enough not to let such greatness intimidate me. I would hear myself tell them how happy I am to be a lawyer and asked them if any of them would want to be a lawyer when they grow up, or an engineer like one of my colleagues…a doctor, financial analysts, IT specialists, business men and women…my God! What do you want to become when YOU grow up? Hahha.. Then I would proceed to tell them the time is now, time to befriend their teachers and the top students, time for group work and sacrifice, a time to sow. I smiled and told them to be disciplined and prayerful..and to never sleep on their talents..and so did my colleagues. I guess that’s our way of telling them to be a little extra. Something a little more than just book smart. Heck, there is more to life than just being good with the books! But still, we rewarded the top three students in each upper primary class for being book-smart because sometimes indoctrination is a much safer evil than to be daring enough to go the Bill Gates way..that we gotta live with.

 

Much was said, but none of us dared tell these kids anything close to  what one Doris Lessing coined out in her book,’The Golden Notebook’ and which I borrow here:

Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly throughout his or her school life is something like this: ‘You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have  not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry , but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself – your own judgments. Those that must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded  and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.’

Of course I wanted to warn them of the beautiful mess that our education system is. I should have warned them about the dangers of working so hard only to join the rat-race, but they might have been too young for such truths. Maybe the next time my colleagues and  I mingle with them, we will try change the “work hard at school, go to the best universities and get a job then climb the corporate ladder”-narrative to something like, “go to school, be keen at discovering your strengths, focus on the things that make you come alive – be it science, humanities or pure talent, single out a path that best suits you, keep at it and never settle. You’re born for greatness!”

The next time I see them, I will not be afraid of teaching them freedom! I will tell them it is okay to zig when the world finds comfort in zagging… I will tell these little ones that there is no beauty in rounding ones edges…I will tell them to break free from the fear of the unknown and I will pray they understand what I mean. I will ask them to be bold enough to dance even when only they can hear the song! I will let them know they are the leaders and that the offices we are holding today, we are only holding for them in trust and that they must make us proud.

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“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts” – C. S. Lewis  
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We are the selfie – generations. 🙂
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Sanitary towels for the girls.

With that, our mission was accomplished and of course we had time to play and boy, don’t we love to play! So now, on behalf of Friends of Progresshttp://www.friendsofprogress.co/ )and YMCP ( www.YMCP.org ), we call upon all persons of good will to join in the mentoring of the youth if only in their own little ways. Let us drink from late Nelson Mandela’s wells of wisdom and remember that, “What counts in life is not mere fact that we have lived. It is  what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” and without forgetting the words of Robert F. Kennedy, “The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.”

To my team, the dream team, keep inspiring multitudes everywhere you go. Greatness is what we’re on the brink of! Blessings galore to each one of you.

 

A prosperous 2016 to all my readers. Bless!

There’s,somewhere in the world, a saviour for Somalia: That saviour is most probably neither Kenya nor Ethiopia!

“A nation is born stoic but dies epicurean.”

Policy solutions must come from Africa if at all Africa is going to record any trans-formative progress this moment on. There are myriads of reasons why I would advice against Africa depending on the opinion and analyses of outsiders to understand herself, or even the problems affecting the continent at large or individual states. For decades we have fed into the lie peddled by the mainstream media, politicians and most western-allied economists into believing that a continent so rich in natural resources and brain power could be termed “hopeless”, “dark”, and desolate.
The Economist, in the year 2000, referred to Africa as the “Hopeless Continent”, in 2011 the same magazine referred to Africa as the “Rising Continent” and in 2013 the March issue of the Economist referred to Africa as “Hopeful continent”. Now, I do not know what that tells you about outsiders’ opinions but I know what that tells me of opinions generally: they will never pay the bills and for that reason they really do not matter! The only opinion that really matters is that which Africans have of themselves, and of their continent, and that is to say that, only Africans can cure any hopeless situations we might have in Africa.
I am starting with an attempt to address the dire need for stability in Africa. Stability is brought about by security internally and externally. Whether stability gives birth to security of vice versa, is an issue of a child giving birth to a mother, we know they are conjoined truths.
The debate that has been taking place on our social media platforms, our homes and other such places for sometime now is whether or not Kenya should withdraw her forces from Somalia. I am full aware that this is quite a sensitive matter but we need to understand that a win for East Africa, is a win for Africa at large, hence this is no longer a Kenya-Somalia affair. In my opinion, I think Kenya needs to withdraw her military forces from Somalia soonest possible and if you ask me, that should even happen immediately. Here’s why:
1). Somalia is paying the price of foreign aid fraud
Only Somalis can deal with their problems effectively. I say this because for anyone who cares to look keenly, they’ll see that the Somali people only have themselves to blame for the quagmire they find themselves in today. These problems are stemming from ideological sources. The Somalis have been sold a narrative of whom they are and sadly, they have bought it under the watch of selfish despotic leaders who have in continuously paid to have their country bombed into submission in the most literal sense of the phrase. “Why would persons entrusted with the leadership of a nation do that?”, you may ask. For selfish economic interests of course! There are people who have thrived from the instability of nations in Africa, thanks to the “foreign aid fraud”! And Somalia happens to be one of those nations where a section of their leaders would do anything to continue reaping from savagery and anarchy. These leaders reap big from famine, disease and instability and in that way the foreign aid flow would pass through their sticky hands and somehow get stuck in those hands only to end up benefiting the select few at the expense of a suffering majority. It is what one Rasna Warah would refer to as a “feast in the the time of famine”.  It is so sad how one of Africa’s oldest beautiful cities with rich history would only represent anarchy and suffrage today when the name Mogadishu is mentioned. What most people do not know is that Mogadishu became a place where anarchy and savagery reigned supreme from back in October, 1993 when the dead American soldiers were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by Somalis who jeered on. Even though at least 500 civilians were killed during the circus, the world only remembers the 18 American soldiers who died. Ever since that dark historic time, Mogadishu, and Somalia at large, hit rock bottom because the media has done a great job of painting a really dark picture of Somali to the world and they themselves have accepted that picture as a representation of their beloved nation.

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I’m certain by now it is clear I don’t quite fancy the notion that Africa needs foreign aid to rise. Africa is definitely better off without it, if anything, it benefits the powerful elite mostly.

2). Kenya is not the best mediator in this case.
History shows that the relationship between Kenya and Somalia is not any different from the relationship between Somalia and Ethiopia. The dealings between these three nation which border each other has always been one characterized by fear and suspicion. All these can be traced through the history of the three states in which you will see that it is argued that the British colony of Kenya extended northwards over a predominantly Somali area, and Ethiopia appropriated in Ogaden province territory to which is claimed to have belonged to Somalia. While Ethiopia could not trust the British with being impartial towards the Somalis, the Somali people felt that Kenya was the unfairly favoured “child” of the British. This consequently brewed some tension amongst the three states which would continue for decades. In 1977 the Somalia-Ethiopia war broke out in which the Somalis seized the Ogaden region from Ethiopia but an intervention from the USSR army to the aid of the Ethiopians would later result in the same disputed Ogaden region seized back from the Somalis. Long story short, their has been tension amongst these three states and it is evident the Somalis would not trust that Kenya nor Ethiopia would want them stable for rather purely political reasons stemming from a not so pleasant shared past. Even though many would argue that Kenya would benefit from having stable neighbours, it is not clear if the Somalis would believe the same to be true as the relationships between the two nations remain tense, characterized by fear and suspicion, and certainly what I would call a dysfunctional marriage which looks quite unpromising. It is, in my opinion, best if these two countries (Kenya and Ethiopia) back off and let Somalia deal with her issues first before any further interferences.

Somalia05-2007

3.) The problem in Somalia needs more than military-intervention.

It is hard to help a nation achieve stability when her leaders are benefiting from her being unstable. Ever wondered why we live in a so-called free world in which everyone  preaches freedom and the benefits that the same bring forth yet these benefits only accrue to a select few, specifically those in power? Well, I am certainly not the one to answer that question for you but logic dictates that the answer lies in the game of power and the rules that the world is run by. In the case of Somalia, a country run by warlords and a breeding ground for radicalized youths who are intoxicated by doctrines they can’t quite comprehend, we might as well need more that military intervention to undo the damage done by brainwashing the younger generations of Somalia as they are the future of the nation. In fact, we need to demilitarize the police and employ more pacific  counter-measures.  Whether it is a misinterpretation of religious texts or a victim mentality-affair eating into the nation it yours to decide but in the words of Tony Blair (Former British Prime Minister),”The reason why these people are radicalized is not because of something we are doing to them. They believe in what they believe in because their religion compels them to believe in it.” Whether that statement is accurate or not, is definitely a highly debatable topic and in fact, almost polarizing and for that same reason, I shall leave it at that.

4.) Enough of the blood-letting already

I need not recount painful happenstances that have taken place in Kenya and Somalia in the recent past all in the name of retaliatory attacks, leaving hundreds (thousands even) dead,orphaned kids living in abject poverty, many more maimed and homeless with images they would give anything to have erased from their memories…not to mention how our tourism sector has been left literally on its knees. Our economy is threatened and lives are being lost day and night.  We have lost too much and not much has been seen to benefit us. It must all come to an end. It is possible that there might be a saviour somewhere in the world for Somalia, but that is definitely not in Kenya. Sometimes it is really okay to quit if the price is too high and the gains only but minimal. Abort mission Kenya, abort mission already for the sake of Kenyans! Some will argue that the U.S.A has pledged to aid Kenya in this mission in Somalia, but do Kenyans quite understand the dynamics of that pledge? The U.S.A has vested interests in both Kenya and Somalia and now, more than ever, both countries need to fully understand what is in it for them. Does the west even want a stable Somalia? Go ponder.  The U.S.A just like the entire fraternity of the western countries and China have vested interests in Africa as a whole and East Africa happens to be such a prime area now for these self-proclaimed world powers and before any deals are sealed blindly, maybe it is time we re-evaluate our place on the high table  or we are in for more instabilities, and rude awakenings. A word is enough for the wise.

Beyond a shadow of doubt, there is a saviour, somewhere in the world, for dearest Somalia, but that saviour is going to come from within the borders of Somalia, not Kenya, not Ethiopia, and certainly not from the United States of America. That saviour will arise and Africa will rise with them. They will tell a more authentic tale for Somalia and the rest of Africa will rise in the Africa rising narrative. May that day get here sooner.

It is important we all accept that once most of Africa awakens, we won’t ever return to business as usual, but that knowledge offers hope for the future. Arise Africa, it is time we shaped our own destiny as a continent, it is time for a new Africa narrative, this time for Africa, by the Africans! The Africa Rising Narrative: let’s rewrite history together.

Let us not look at the future as a gift from our ancestors, but rather as a loan from our descendants!

TELL AFRICA TO LOOK AGAIN; THE WEST AND CHINA, TOO, HAVE A VESTED INTEREST!!

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

Did you listen/watch H.E. president Uhuru Kenyatta’s speech during the official launch of Global Entrepreneurship Summit, that was delivered at Strathmore Business School on 9th June, 2015?   Well, I didn’t. I was most probably so focused on the so-called paper-chase that I couldn’t afford to even sit still and watch telly at the time, but I made a point of getting to read it (the presidential speech), because I have a vested interest.

It is sad that most Kenyan watuz know and celebrate the fact that H.E. president of the U.S.A will be visiting the motherland sometimes in July, but stubbornly remain ignorant as to why the president with Kenyan roots would be taking time off his busy schedule to visit the country. What is even more pitiful is the fact that the compact majority think such a visit will spell more foreign aid to the country. Well, so be the case, but why exactly are Kenyans and Africans at large rejoicing at the sound of that? I personally remain unamused by the allocation of a bigger foreign aid kitty to the motherland and I have genuine reasons for the same. So I will take my time and explain why foreign aid should not excite Africans more so the common wananchi! However, what’s not amusing is not so much the foreign aid, but the wanting African attitudes that need urgent fixing!

Hello Africa, you don’t need saving by the west. Only YOU can save yourself!!

"Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I must acknowledge the fact that the initiative of an entrepreneurship summit on a global platform is quite in order and commendable and we all should take advantage of the same in a bid to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable growth and development in our capacities as developing nations. However, such great opportunities are doomed to fail at the worst case scenario and not yield optimal rewards at the best case scenario until we all realize two important aspects: 1.) That poverty is created and sustained by extractive institutions; and 2.) It is no longer what the west can do for Africa, but rather what African could do with the West. This is the agenda for everyone who, too, feels they have a vested interest (in the development of Africa).

POVERTY IN AFRICA

“Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”
“Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”

Diagnosing a problem is always the easier part, fixing it is quite the grueling other. It does interest me that more than a  quarter of countries in the sub-saharan Africa, are poorer today than they were in the early 1960s despite having been receiving their share of the foreign aid. Doesn’t that kind of statistic prove to us that foreign aid is not the solution to the problem we have in Africa? In fact, the problems and challenges we face as Africans in the 21st century are mainly as a result of  poor leaderships. Otherwise a continent this rich in mineral resources, stretches of vast beautiful landscapes, white sandy beaches scattered along the coastlines and an assortment of mostly friendly climates, should be developed by now! When I agree foreign aid is needed to some extent, I still assert that it will not end poverty in Africa, but will only continue to enrich the minority powerful elite class with access to the same as the vast majority continue to wallow in abject poverty as they wait for a messiah they know not much about either.

A good place to start in the quest to eradicate poverty in Africa would be that we all understand that poor countries are  poor because they are run by extractive institutions. These are institutions that understand that for the ruling class to remain powerful they must control wealth distribution and allocation. These institutions wield immense power but have no concern for the common good of you and I, the watuz, they are not working for the benefit of the majority, they are more concerned with defending the interests of the elite, the only real beneficiaries of these monies. The institutions are not and will not be inclusive because they are build to be extractive in their very nature in order to retain the status quo or else the wananchi would become too enlightened and overthrow the ruling class. Poverty in Africa will only end the moment we rid ourselves of these malicious institutions and have more inclusive ones. Former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, captured it so well when he talked of what he referred to as the golden thread: It is time to stop speaking simply about the quantity of aid and start talking about what I call the golden thread. He further explained golden thread as the idea that long-term development through aid only happens if there is a golden thread of stable government, lack of corruption, human rights, the rule of law and transparent information. And if you ask me, that is perfect recipe for what proper inclusive institutions would be made of.  Needless to say, we as Kenyans, cannot boast of a golden thread.. yet. I am only starting to forget that my president recently referred to newspapers as only good for wrapping meat..and everyone laughed, weeks later, in the eye of my mind I’m still transfixed in that moment, looking for the joke so I, too can burst out laughing at this subtle mockery on freedom of the media in the land of hakuna matata. Ha! Very funny..maybe not!

It is noteworthy that the road to salvation from poverty for Africans will not be a walk in the park, as will call for radical reforms in all public sectors. This is mainly because poverty for billions of Africans is the flip-side of elite power. The elite have amassed outrageous networths in wealth for themselves by rigging the economic systems in ways that ensure the majority are denied decent life opportunities. Needless to mention, that would definitely receive a retaliatory resistance. Maybe this would be a more meaningful read to most if everyone had an insatiable appetite for learning just how the world really works. Then we could strip financial markets naked and expose just how skillfully they’ve managed to cloth neoclassical economics in unwarranted complexity just so they don’t get challenged by outsiders.  And when we finally lift the veil of complexity covering the financial markets, democracy might finally be a relevant tool to face down the vested interests of the minority wealth and privilege.

HOW TO REALLY HELP AFRICA

I am not sure whether on the agenda of those who seek to help Africa is a drilling session on REALITY TALK, during which they just give Africans the truth of the matter.  We have one too many organizations and governments that just want to help Africa or so they say, but do these institutions tell Africa exactly what they gain from Africa as a result of such help? Do they also tell Africa that the truth is they do not have any lasting solutions? That Africa will forever be needy if they keep receiving that aid?

Anyone who really seeks to help Africa, ought to put this on their agenda: Tell Africans that the only help they need is to have proper governments that will mobilize the resources in the continent to : 1) Eradicate poverty; 2.) Achieve equal rights for both genders; 3.) promote human rights and freedoms; 4.) Ensure freedom of media; and 5.) Ensure integrity in government while upholding the principles of good governance

Also,you dear helpers of Africa, remember to warn Africa from over-relying on the west and China. In your quest to help Africa, tell Africans that people don’t just invest in anything unless they are benefiting. That the Western powers might sometimes induce shock in form of war, conquest, and terror so as to destabilize their countries and step in to help, and this is not in bad faith, it is simply ruling by what one Naomi Klein would refer to as the shock doctrine. Tell Africans that the western powers are power junkies and must always feel needed by the poor unsuspecting Africans, and it is just a way of ruling the world, nothing personal. 🙂 Tell Africans sometimes the Al-shabab and other militant group attacks have nothing to do with fanatical groups of misinformed extremists, but have everything to do with their saviors. Tell Africans that, as a matter of fact, the military interventions of western powers over the last two decades have caused more suffering and loss of life, and far greater damage to economic infrastructure than any actual terrorist acts! In that same breath, tell Africa that we only tend not to discuss that fact because we, Africans, are encouraged to believe that such engagements are well motivated. Tell Africa to stop being so cute and naive! Dear western powers, just tell Africa what it is. You will be more surprised when they forget it almost immediately! I am African, I would know how we operate. LOL!

They say I am polarizing. I say, no guts, no story. - Mbula Nzuki
They say I am polarizing. I say, no guts, no story.
– Mbula Nzuki

See, one Aldous Huxley once said, “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all lessons of history.” He was so right, that I couldn’t agree more! So wake up Africa and allow yourselves to understand that you don’t need any saving, at least not by the west nor by China, for they, too, have a vested interest which is not necessarily aligned to the one Africa deserves to have for herself!

Let’s start by changing our dialogues to place ourselves strategically as key players in world economic contributions through entrepreneurship and innovations and prove to ourselves first, then the world second, that it is no longer what can be done for African, but what could be done with Africa if we set out to do it!

Help me put this on the agenda, for I have a vested interest…in Africa!

“A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason.” – J.P. Morgan

OF EAST AFRICAN DREAMS AND ASPIRATIONS…FAR-FETCHED OR NOT?

“Freedom isn’t free. It shouldn’t be a bragging point that “Oh, I don’t get involved in politics,” as if that makes you somehow cleaner. No, that makes you derelict of duty in a republic. Liars and panderers in government would have a much harder time of it if so many people didn’t insist on their right to remain ignorant and blindly agreeable.”- Bill Maher

“Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”
“Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”

I hate dates, I hate going on dates nowadays! They have a way of turning into heated political debates, somehow no matter how hard I try to just be a normal person, hold normal conversations, and actually be a lady about it, it ends up here, in the inside of politics! Well, I don’t hate politics, what I hate is the realization that I am now acutely aware that I probably may never be able to make a normal date for any normal charming fella. But wait… normalcy, just like perfection, has never been my first love and I tend to attract persons who can hold weird conversations for hours on the end. Perfect, just perfect when like poles attract..! 🙂

So, I finally meet up with a good friend of mine, a Canadian medic, who knows, or at least thinks he does know,  more of Kenya and East Africa at large better than myself! I feel insulted already, but I’ll let him have his way this once! Naturally, we talk about pretty much anything, from God’s gender, to the perceived Color of Law, to Medicine, Race, Religion, Geo-politics, failed Relationships , how he hates love (ha ha!), why I hate African-neediness and reverence to the West as though they were a god of sorts..and so forth. At this point, it is safe to say, from how brutally honest and comfortable in our nakedness of thought and speech, we got issues, major issues! We also  tend to always disagree on virtually everything,and i mean EVERYTHING! Except this once and the subject had to be EAST AFRICA! Yes, the big ambition that is the formation of a political federation of East Africa and the problem of the Integration process in East Africa.

“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories...” ― Amilcar Cabral, Revolution in Guinea
“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories…”
― Amilcar Cabral, Revolution in Guinea

FEDERALISM?

First and foremost, just what is this federalism thing they’ve (East African leaders) been on about for years? Far as my understanding permits, federalism refers to a political organization in which two or more states agree to form a union government with central authority, while retaining  their autonomy. It is basically a structured political arrangement amongst states that share a common vision of attaining common interests and objectives and a common, shared political jurisdiction is, more often than not, the ultimate goal. It is noteworthy that a political union calls for the surrendering of states’ sovereignty either in whole or partly to a central political governing unit.

The East African Community intends to attain a political federation eventually, albeit piecemeal, starting first with a customs union and followed by a monetary union. While all this may not be out-rightly unwelcome, the   big question remains: just how realistic is this goal of achieving a political federation of East Africa? While I might consider myself an ambitious one with a knack for sheer devilry risk-taking antics, I am more concerned in not getting (in the hands of leadership of East African leaders) involved in a wild goose-chase.  I don’t mean to be a pessimist but the odds don’t seem to be in favor of a political federation..not just yet..maybe never unless a few things are fixed. Here’s why:

1.)History so dictates

Moves towards the integration of East Africa were initiated long before my own grandparents were born, and even though I do not claim that the old sweethearts (two of whom have already left for the land yonder, R.I.P) are as old as Methuselah, I certainly do assert that they are not young either! The earliest moves towards an integrated East African region dates back to as early as 1894 when the British decided to start the construction of the railway running from Mombasa, Kenya to to Uganda. This move was purely for the benefit of the British who had colonized the region and had no such intention of integrating the region for the benefit of the “locals”, at least not the way the East African leaders envision it today. So it is safe to say that the first move towards an integrated East Africa, was a purely accidental one. Oh, beautiful accidents! Then followed the establishment of the Court of Appeal for East Africa in 1902, a postal union in 1911, a Customs Union in 1917 and finally the East African Currency Board in 1920, all by the British. After Tanganyika became a British mandate shortly after World War 1, and later merged with Zanzibar to form what we presently refer to as Tanzania, it was also gradually but surely absorbed into the above mentioned institutions. However, after the independence of the three East African states from British colonial rule, the East African Federation which was an attempt to form an economic cooperative failed to take off the ground and soar in that spirit of a united region due to a strong nationalism and conflicting priorities in matters economics and politics of the three countries. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the first and second phases (1894-1947, 1948-1966) aimed at integrating East Africa came to an end.

In 1967 the attempts to integrate East Africa were revived when the three countries formed  The East African Community (EAC), an economic cooperative.The EAC also had five councils: the Common Market Council, the Communications Council, the Economic and Consultative and Planning Council, the Finance Council, and the Research and Social Council. There was also an East African Legislative Assembly, a Common Market Tribunal, and a Court of Appeal. But then again the community was soon overwhelmed by political strife, ideological rifts, and severe economic problems and in June 1977 the three member states simply could not agree on the EAC budget for the coming fiscal years, and as fate could have it the EAC for all intents and purposes collapsed. Long story short, it is clear from history that the region has unresolved issues that spell doom to the prosperity of any such political federation for it to thrive. This being the fourth attempt at creating a political federation, much strategizing and planning is needed or we are looking forward to recording yet another of East African failures this time amongst five states as Burundi and Rwanda have joined the circus!

2) The Legal Machinery is Wanting

Speaking of federations, they are children of well-drafted legal machinery otherwise they are dysfunctional! The treaty governing East African community has major loopholes, if you ask me. To point out but a few, the treaty does not define what a political federation of the region would eventually be. As one Ben Belassa identified, there are five ideals of integrations:

  • The free trade ones in which the tariffs and quotas are eliminated among the members of integrating region.
  •  Customs union which involves the elimination of tariffs and quotas and also eliminates discriminatory tariffs by non-member countries by setting up common external tariffs.
  • Establishment of a common market which entails the elimination of any obstacles for the free flow of labor and capital.
  • Establishment of an economic community or union entailing the harmonisation of economic policies which may involve the introduction of a common currency.
  • The highest form of integration is a political union where the structures and political institutions which harmonise policies also become harmonised and unified.

The treaty by not defining a political federation’s destination, is simply leaving room for conflict of ideologies and political strife.  It is noteworthy the politics of political federations is not an easy thing to handle. Mark you countries in the European union are still struggling with the volatile issues of political cooperation.  It particularly amuses me that the constitutions of the five countries are silent on the issue of a political federation. Is this an unspoken indication that this political federation story is just that- a story for our entertainment? I do not know!

3.) The process is leader-led

The main issue of concern as far as the East African federation is in question, has got to be that it is purely a leaders only affair! Most citizens in all five countries know nothing about it, and those who do are not even sure of what exactly they know! Then whom is the Federation to serve if the common watus remain oblivious of the same?  Last time I checked access to public information was a Constitutional right, at least in Kenya! Not to say it is a purely secretive affair, but certainly not much effort has gone into ensuring the watus stay enlightened in this matter and that’s wrong! Unless of course it’s only for the political-elite class, in which case, that’s what I call abuse of power!

Maybe a good place to start would be by finding out if East Africans are desirous of a federation, or at least let them know why the same would be desirous!

4.) Political instability

“It's a civic virtue to be exposed to things that appear to be outside your interest. In a complex world, almost everything affects you – that closes the loop on pecuniary self-interest. Customers are always right, but people aren't.” ― Clive Thompson
“It’s a civic virtue to be exposed to things that appear to be outside your interest. In a complex world, almost everything affects you – that closes the loop on pecuniary self-interest. Customers are always right, but people aren’t.”
― Clive Thompson

Political instability and insecurity in the region should be the main agenda we seek to address first, otherwise,  without managing our smaller political units, how on this earth will we succeed at managing a larger one? From Burundi to Kenya to Rwanda and rest of the region, we can neither talk of political stability nor security. If I am not complaining about the current situation in Burundi with a heart-wrenching rising toll of deaths reported following a disputed election outcome, I am worrying sick about the terror attacks targeting my motherland (Kenya)..and woe unto you if you’re seduced into thinking Uganda and Tanzania are any islands of peace, not at all, we are all fighting our own demons et cetera. Fix it all, somebody..anybody!

I could go on with points on why it is not yet time for a political federation in East Africa, but that is not to say I am against it altogether! No, not all. Let alone an East African Political Federation, I would hate to think that the pan-African unity dream is six-feet under with Col. Moammar Gaddafi of Libya! I still hope for a day that Africa would stand, turn around and re-write her own history and unite! That would be perfect but see, greatness comes piecemeal rather than overnight. And it all begins with eliminating the little hindrances such as political strife and ill-will. It also starts with being realistic in our goals and ambitions, it starts with including the people in affairs that affect them such as formation of federations, and it starts with you and I summoning the leaders to accountability. See,Irving M. Copi phrased it perfectly when he said, “the success of democracy depends, in the end, on the reliability of the judgments we citizens make, and hence upon our capacity and determination to weigh arguments and evidence rationally.”
..And as our coffee date ended, we both agreed that it is not yet time for a political federation of East Africa and it will not be ready till the above issues are ironed out and of course my list is far from being exhaustive, so that’s where YOU too realize that citizenship is not a right on a silver platter but rather a chance at responsibility (and identify more issues on the same that need addressing)!

There's nothing more erotic than a good conversation!
There’s nothing more erotic than a good conversation!

Maybe my dates don’t suck that much after all!

“Kati ya nchi yako na serikali yako ni kitu gani unakipenda zaidi? Ipende zaidi nchi yako, kuliko serikali yako!”
― Enock Maregesi