Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kenya Scholars & Studies Association (KESSA)

I am comfortable in stating that Kenyans are smart. Our problem has never been a lack of educated or talented people. I have been continually (and very pleasantly) surprised to find Kenyans or people of Kenyan descent (i.e. immigrants and their offspring) contributing, competing and succeeding even in the most challenging professions worldwide.

So, over the weekend, I got an email from the Association of Kenyan Professionals in Atlanta (AKPA) regarding an upcoming Conference in Bowling Green Ohio hosted by KESSA. I think I will make it a point to try and attend it to check them out. The US educational system is rated as one of the best in the world and there are clearly Kenyans serving as educators in various fields and capacities in some of its institutions of higher learning. There are also Kenyans doing the same in Kenya, Europe, South Africa, Australia and many other parts of the world.

I think these guys may have something worthwhile to contribute (I am speaking faith here since i don't know any of these guys personally). In-fact, I think we Kenyans where ever we are can make out country great.

Oh yeah and although this really news to most of us, this should be interesting reading too.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Getting beyond an individual

The notice from President Obama to the US congress identifying 2 Kenyans (i.e. John Harun Mwau (Kilome MP) and Naima Mohamed Nyakiniywa to be on the list of Designated Foreign Narcotics Kingpins has me thinking. I have no idea who “Naima Mohamed Nyakiniywa” is, but most Kenyans are very familiar with Mr. Mwau.

To frame these thoughts, I would like to further point out
  • the media stories circulating at the end of last year about the list of 5 individuals that the Kenyan Government had shared with the US government who were banned from travelling to the US; and
  • the stories naming 4 MPs Harun Mwau, Gidion Mbuvi, Hassan Joho and William Kabogo and Mombasa businessman Ali Punjani as suspected drug lords for whom there was insufficient evidence to charge them in court.
I will start by firmly stating my belief that everyone should be “innocent until proven guilty”. No court of law has yet has found any of these individuals guilty of anything. Although, by reputation some of these guys are not very nice people, and could very well deserve to be behind bars, I think we all want and need for our legal systems to apprehend, prosecute and punish them within the bounds of the law because we will all be better off for having a government that works. However, that is a discussion for another posting.

I also believe that the United State doesn't arbitrarily designate individuals as drug-lords without some pretty darn good evidence so those names….... hmmmmmmm.......

But what i really want to do is to look at something bigger. I am concerned about what this says about us as a Kenyan people, what lessons we need to learn looking back, but also what is says about our future. What should our response as a society be when an elected official or person in leadership position has some serious issues that clearly call into question their leadership qualities.

I remember my high school days when supposedly all good upstanding citizens became doctors, lawyers, accountants and the trouble makers, the school dropouts and thugs became politicians. And for a long time, the rabble rousers, those who could round up the local hooligans during election time beat up opponents and by fear, bribery and all other means necessary won their parties nominations and were duly elected to be our parliamentarians. So, i have to ask, are we surprised at how corrupt and broken the system has been. If no self respecting Kenyan would get into politics, were you really expecting our country to have turned out any different.

But things are changing and have changed. I have watched with immense pleasure the process to find a new Chief and Deputy Chief Justice and while not perfect, there is clearly hope. When individuals begin to realize that public service is really public service and we the people can and must hold every individual accountable for their actions, then we can begin to hope for a government and public institutions and systems that serve for the good of the people.

So going back to the point i am trying to make. We have a long list of people that we keep electing back to office with very questionable links, deals and scandals hanging around them that we must get beyond. Think about Goldenberg, Anglo-Leasing and the myriad others. I think anyone in leadership needs to be held to a higher standard. How can we have extremely senior members of our government constantly implicated in questionable at the best or criminal activities and we the people keep on electing them or allow them to keep their government positions.

At some point, we have to find for ourselves a group of leaders that we are proud to represent us, that we can look up to and trust they are leading the country in a direction that gives us a future we can look forward to for ourselves and our kids.

To end, i will quote Ahmednasir Abdullahi responding to Aaron Ringera to defend the Judicial Service Commission’s decision to not shortlist him for the new Supreme Court:

“The position the judge applied for is not anybody’s birthright. The era of entitlement is over. Kenyans should outgrow the culture of entitlement and embrace a new culture of fair competition.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Drought, Floods, Drought, Floods, Drought....... A Stupid Never ending cycle

f6 months ago, ie September 2009, Kenya was in the middle of a severe drought. Many farmers were facing another miserable harvest and the guys from Dagoretti Corner i.e. Kenya Meteorological Department. were predicting that our old friend El Nino was on his way back. I am sure we all remember pictures of dying domestic and wild animals both in local and foreign media.

Well, reading the Kenyan media now, you would think that we have woken up from a bad nightmare and Kenya, the Land of Milk and Honey is BACK. Milk flowing so plentifully that we can afford to pour it away.

So whats my problem. Well, I don't have a crystal ball, but i think i can comfortably predict that in the next 10 months, the famine will be back with starving and dying animals and we will be back to begging for food aid. And you know what, another few months later, we will have people drowning again because the rains will have come and well, rivers will flood, roads will be washed away and people will suffer.

So whats my problem with all this, well....... When are we as a people and our elected leaders ever going to get around to making a sound water management policy.