In Response to BBA’s Alex

So Alex wrote a letter on his Facebook wall justifying his decision to nominate El Presidente for eviction from the Big Brother house. I don’t know how much trouble Alex is having walking the streets of Nairobi seeing that we didn’t even care…, thaaat much. I know I didn’t. I don’t even know his 2nd name. But his letter more so the effort put into writing it, just put a bad taste in my mouth.  And seeing that it was addressed to the country (that should include the people of West Pokot) then it’s only fair I reply. Coz no one likes to send a message and not get a response.

Dear Alex

Thank you for your letter. At least, it proves you actually give a rat’s ass what the world thinks of you. While you attempt to locate the middle finger on your hands,  let me applaud you on your effort in being a patriotic Kenyan.

Indeed our flag is a beautiful and unique thing. For you to have it on your fireplace, in your bedroom and on all your cars, must mean you eat, sleep and dream thinking of nothing but this country. I’m sure you forgot to tell us about all the Kenya t-shirts and scarfs you have. But don’t worry, we figured that out.

By the way, having the flag in your bedroom.., very kinky. If you never get laid with that flag there, that chic is simply unpatriotic, a traitor and certainly not a nationalist. Thank you also for reminding us that having a flag on our cars is not a privilege reserved for our president and minsters. I hope that every patriotic citizen of this country who owns a car will eventually put a flag on it.

Then there’s that little issue about not knowing the words of our national anthem. Man, I bet that was hard. It’s like going to heaven and realizing that you don’t know the words to the Lord’s Prayer. And God would be looking at you, tapping his foot, stroking his beard and thinking.., should I evict this guy?

So the question keeps arising why you  nominated your countryman for eviction. Actually Alex, the question arises among the people you call “friends” on Facebook. We who did not know you and may never meet you, forgot all about it when your kinsman survived eviction and YOU came back home.

You claim that your fellow Kenyan violated your personal interests and freedom of association. Biggie should really have a human right’s body on location to look into such grave accusations.

In defending your actions, you also claim that “the right of an individual legally executed comes before patriotism, because whoever violates your rights is unpatriotic in the first place.” To this I ask, does revenge include your definition of patriotism?

But of course you would say that you have “legally executed freedom” (whatever that means), protected by the new constitution, which like the Kenyan flag, you love very much. You’ve got so much love bwoy. Love for everything.., maybe just not everyone.., at everytime.

So your countryman came across as selfish, hiding luxury items from other housemates including you. While you make a shoddy attempt at displaying your legal prowess, you may need a lesson in the economics of needs and wants. Luxuries tend to fall in the latter and lacking them does not cause death.

Sure Alex we respect you, as you respect us. We do not expect you to act on every one of our wishes. If you do, you will be unhappy and the last thing we need is another depressed, suicidal Kenyan. We also support your appeal for “peace to prevail”. For real dude. We cannot have another spate of post-poll violence. Never again.

Besides, BBA is only a game.You had the right to play the game as you wished. It’s you who got into the house. Not us. While there, you had the right to offend others and defend yourself as you pleased. Writing illogical statements later defending your actions is rather lame.

So people think you’re an asshole, others think you’re a failed strategist. Who cares? You may not make the best brand ambassador, but you got your shot. That’s all that matters. You were in a game. If only you looked at it that way from the very beginning, you’d move on with your life now. If not for yourself, for the love of your country.

Me.., I just hope you find your middle-finger dude.

A Disappointing Breed of Kenyan Teachers

Among the things I’m passionate about is teaching. Having had a short stint in the profession as a college lecturer, I’m certain that, given a chance, as a “retirement” option, I will share some knowledge with a few students, and they will in turn educate me as well. It’s a two-way process. And a very fulfilling one.

Now, a close of friend of mine recently told me that he intends to find his son a place in a different high school. The boy is currently a Form 2 student in an X Secondary School in Machakos. I inquired from my friend what was wrong with the school? Were the facilities wanting? Was the food bad? Was the performance poor? He said all these things were in order. What he had a problem with were the teachers.

See,  when my friend accompanied his son to school after a student’s strike. He was shocked to discover that the teachers were “way too young” and if not for the fact that they didn’t wear school uniform, he would have mistaken them for students. He recalls one who, despite it being a weekday was clad in sagging jeans, a t-shirt and sandals, going to class to teach.

Neither in his (nor my) days as a student, was this acceptable. Perhaps my friend and I are old-fashioned for demanding that teachers assume some sense of decorum. I remember when I began teaching, I had to adjust my wardrobe from something other than what I wore to class in Uni. Also, there was no way I was going to wear six-inch heels and a mini-skirt (with or without tights). But then I see some of you going to your fancy jobs dressed in that. It’s one thing to hide your thighs under an office desk from 9 to 5 and another to stand in front of young, vulnerable minds with your thighs exposed. How this is not common sense, I don’t know.

Perhaps that’s why, the students of Rwathia Secondary School got their way and had their parents and teachers give in to their demand  for short, tight skirts. Did anyone bother to ask the girls  exactly what purpose the new skirts would fulfill in their quest for an education and good grades? Also, why exactly did the teachers give in to this request? Would they be surprised if come next year the girls demand that the school dispensary start stocking oral contraceptive and that each student be given their ration every month?

Back to Machakos and we meet another breed of teachers who wanted to treat themselves to a  trip to Mombasa. Only problem is, they didn’t have the money. So they demanded that each parent fork out Kes.2,500 to meet their expenses of this luxurious trip. All this time, the parents thought the teachers were joking. But when they didn’t pay up, their children were sent home. Now, here’s what makes me think TSC should fire these teachers if not line them up and execute them:-

1. Do these teachers realize that some of these parents cannot even afford a trip to Mombasa, and have never been to Mombasa in the first place?

2. The teachers say that the trip is “a way of motivating them to work harder and post better results.”  Wait a minute? Who’s supposed to post results, is it the students of the teachers?

3. Are there more pressing needs in this school (perhaps facilities that require an upgrade) that this money would instead help meet.

4. Is this even legal? If not, can the students and their parents sue the school board?

5. What kind of example have these teachers set for their students? What will they become as employed adults? Will they go on strike when their employers fail to finance their company retreats?

I don’t know whether we are just a frustrated lot of Kenyans who cannot think clearly anymore. It’s like we’ve all lost it. And who can turn things around? Is it the students who clad in miniskirts seem to be training for a career on Koinange Street? Is it the parents who don’t mind if their daughters attract the wrong attention? Is it the teachers who would fleece their way to Mombasa? Remember the teachers are parents as well.., of some equally crazy children. Is it KNUT and KUPPET who are busy trying to get their wages sorted, and who will then claim that their members cannot afford a trip to Mombasa? Is that what they’ll strike over come 2017?

We’ve failed our children people. And they will in turn fail us, if they haven’t done so already.

How Are You Taking Part in the National Mourning?

As you are aware, the government has declared the next three days, national days of morning following the deaths of Hon. Saitoti and Hon. Ojode.

It’s unfortunate that past the age of 18, very many Kenyans don’t know what to do with themselves when the government sets aside days of National Mourning. Most of us think it’s a public holiday. We actually hope it is a public holiday. So we can sleep, watch movies, go to Naivasha, get high, spend all our money and do anything else, BUT mourn.

Perhaps we don’t know how to mourn. Or maybe we think that the deceased are usually too far removed from us. So we give various excuses : “I didn’t personally know the guy “. “I feel nothing.” “I’m too ninja to cry for three days.”  “I hated that guy.”

I’m no expert in National Mourning. But I can tell that it is not Christmas Day and neither is it a State of Emergency. I also know, that whether we are mourning or not, we must go to work. And because I’m no expert mourner, I hope that you, dear reader can contribute your ideas and suggestions at the tail end of this post. Please do.

National Mourning at Work?

On a state level, national mourning is denoted by flags flying at half mast. In some countries, when the government declares national mourning, public events are cancelled or postponed. On the other hand, the 4th estate give us more shoddily done news, filled with eulogies and dirges. They also give us a chance to call in, email or sms our heartfelt condolences.

Beyond that, what else can we do?

Now, not every Kenyans has a flag outside their doorstep (but that’s not so say that we are not patriotic. We are damn well patriotic, when our athletes win a marathon abroad.)

But the question remains: How can we make an individual contribution to  national mourning in this country? Because whether we like it or not death is inevitable, mourning comes with death.

If you care, like I do, I think that this an area where the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture (does it still exist?) would shed some light on the issue. Them that gave us the National Dress at a cost of 50million. Brand Kenya can also offer some ideas. Besides, aren’t they the ones that advertise all the things that make us proud and that unite us as Kenyans? Perhaps the clergy can also offer some ideas. They’ve done really well with the National Day of Prayer. Surely, if they can get us to pray as a nation, they can show us how best to mourn as well.

I don’t know.., what are your thoughts? How are you taking part in the 3 days of National Mourning?

Courting The Youth Vote & Getting It Wrong

I was pleased to hear the youth vote will be a key factor in determining who will lead this country to hell again come the next general election. As a young person, I have never felt so WORTHY a citizen of this country. But even when this information came to light courtesy of some research firm (can someone please give me the stats?) I haven’t seen any RATIONAL effort by the current crop of aspiring politicians to court this youth vote. From a PERSONAL view (that’s MY opinion, not yours), everyone of our politicians seem to be getting it wrong. It’s evident in the public addresses, the TV ads and the body language. None of them seem to be speaking to ME.

I have asked myself, over and over again why this is the case?

Is it because, these aspirants cannot grasp the concept of youth? So much so that in their 40s, 50s and even 60s they consider themselves “youthful”? That, by the way is not just annoying.., it’s insulting. Certainly that’s no way to court us. It’s one thing to identify with our problems and general way of life, but it’s another to assume our identity.

Simply put, it would rile me to see my father (in his 60s) dress like my kid brother (in his 20s) – in skinny jeans and supras- just to show that he “identifies” with my brother’s youth. Everyone has their place in a team. Dad has to be the leader and act like it, while my brother, though empowered with a voter’s card gets a chance to monkey around until he’s at a certain age.

That said, I figured this morning, while brushing my teeth, that the reason our politicians don’t seem to be communicating to ALL youth is because no one has bothered to dissect and research on this huge, complex, invincible force so casually dismissed as YOUTH.

We are all so different. We have different needs and aspirations.

Not all of us are suffering, and not all of those who are want handouts . Not all of us are educated. Some of us choose not to get formal education, whether the resources are available or not. That doesn’t mean that those who don’t want to be in a classroom end up being thugs. Not every youth wants to go out party and dance. There’s a segment that would rather go home and read a book. That doesn’t mean that segment is saved or Muslim.

Not all of us want to be employed under Kazi Kwa Vijana, there’s a segment that would like to employ themselves. However, even the latter would rather not access the Youth Fund to see their dreams realized. Not every youth speaks sheng. They are those among us who detest it. Yet the youth who live in suburbia admire the ones in the slums that speak sheng and would love to be equally fluent. But then again, suburbia have their own slung. Has anyone bothered to address these high class youth segment in their preferred language. Oh, that’s right – they only only speak English and they don’t vote. You think?  Not every youth afflicted by poverty listens to reggae. Even suburban youth listen to reggae and not necessarily sufferer reggae. Not every unemployed youth drinks illicit brew or does drugs.

Most importantly, not every youth will listen to their parents or “village elders.”In fact, history has shown that the youth tend to do the opposite of what their elder counterparts DEMAND of them. But that’s not to say all youth are disobedient – and I use the term disobedient with caution.

Here’s the thing, it’s evident we youth have a mind of our own – a mind that changes very fast. One time we like something, the next we don’t. We are not as predictable as you assume we are. And to look at us as a unit, with similar interests and reactions is to insult us. The one thing we have in common though is that we have a powerful thing in our hands – a voter’s card. So if anyone cares about getting the youth vote and getting it right, you best put your money in some youth research in respect to current politics – hoping that the results you get are not cooked.

For now though, I’ll have to leave you standing at the podium doing your thing.

Dear Kenyans, You Will Die Soon

I’ve been skimming through today’s dailies hoping to see at least one Op-Ed with that title up there. Sadly, none of the country’s opinion writers had the guts to beat you black and blue with the truth. But that’s what blogs are for. So I’ll spell it out for you loud and clear. YOU WILL DIE.

And no, I won’t kill you. Not even Bonny’s prophecies will. See while all of you went HAM when Bonny was making death wishes on vultures, your relatives, brothers and sisters, had formed a sizeable crowd right outside Assanand’s trying to catch a glimpse of .., I don’t know what. Continue reading

Pass or Pass Away: The Fate of Kenya’s Examination Candidates

 

Something isn’t right when children in this country commit suicide because they performed poorly in the national exams or because they have been forced to repeat a class or several classes, owing to their poor performance. Which prompted me to tweet yesterday:-

https://twitter.com/#!/Nittzsah/status/156777850094108672

https://twitter.com/#!/Nittzsah/status/156772028781838336

I realize child suicide is not an uncommon occurrence around the world. Yes it happens, as far as China and across the other side of the globe in the USA, for different reasons. That we can sit back and say “ain’t nothing new” says something about us.

Children shouldn’t commit suicide no more than adults should. Not when they are at that age when they dream and create beautiful, imaginary worlds in their minds. Not at that naive age when they trust adults to guide them. Certainly not at that age when the brain is just so fertile, it freely accommodates any idea (good or bad) planted in it.

I tried to place myself in that 15-year old’s shoes. What amount of futility and utter hopelessness overcame him? How did he figure that death was the only escape? If you have never dealt with a suicidal person or never contemplated suicide, perhaps you wouldn’t know how difficult it is to actually commit suicide. It’s one thing to say you’ll do it; it’s another to actually do it. Moreover, it goes against the 1st law of nature – self preservation. The very reason you can’t bite your palm until it bleeds. Unless you’re trying hard to impress someone or you’re high on a substance.

Well, we may rationalize the matter as just “a few unfortunate cases. About 5 children out of a possible 700,000 candidates who sat the same exams.” But then I’d ask: How many young lives would it take for the number to be deemed significant? How many child suicides should we accumulate until we are moved enough to actually want to look deeper into the matter?

I’m surprised that the Ministry of Education has not said a thing about the suicide(s), yet they government was quick to and defend the adult teachers and headteachers who are being lynched by parents, in various “poorly performing” schools. 

Who are we? What are our priorities? What shape does our hierarchy of needs take?

We hacked, burned, raped and clobbered each other over delayed election results. We torched a church because of two guys we now call Principals. This country stood still at that dark period because of two people who we don’t even interact with. Yet we are not moved over children’s poor exam results, their shame, their feeling of futility and their final act of suicide?

Doesn’t it say something about us?

Doesn’t it point to a discrepancy within the system? A system that seems to invest in and  pass judgement on our children based on one aspect alone – academic prowess. How dictatorial? How limiting? Yet we know, individuals are much more than academics. One’s skills talents and abilities count, and can put a meal on the table. Just because we all cannot be the Pope doesn’t mean we are sinners to be condemned into the flames of hell.

And please note, the system is a very large organism with different components . It’s not just the ministry or the government, or even the teachers. As far as education is concerned in this country, we are all involved one way or the other. Pupils, parents, the entire family, religious institutions, future employers, etc., The system is much larger than our minds want to perceive.

Surely, if constitutions can be reviewed, amended or done away with, why can’t we possibly look into our education system? Just because it has worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work forever. Things change. They come and go. Like I keep saying, the world keeps turning, but society refuses to move with it.

We cannot all be number one. Education is not about winning, it’s about empowering. It’s not about reciting what is already known , it’s about discovering what is not known that we may adapt better to the unknown future. It’s about opening up a child’s mind to the possibilities that are out there.  There’s no end to education. So when a child commits suicide, something tells me that there was very little “learning” that took place in that child’s mind, whether at home or in school. Getting your child an education involves much more than buying a school uniform, paying school fees and sitting him in front of a teacher.

Especially if that kid will end up hanging from the ceiling at only 15.