Cyberbullying: A Personal Experience

Last night, as with all nights, I was tuned to BBC radio. There was a feature on Cyberbullying spurred by the suicide of a 15-year old girl from Canada. It was a tragic story given that only five weeks ago, the girl had “uploaded a video to YouTube describing years of bullying that she said drove her to drugs and alcohol.” Her cry for help was misjudged as a pathetic search for attention. Clearly, no one bothered: The bullying continued and she eventually took her own life.

I pondered on the story while listening to various experts views on why cyberbullying occurs and what can be done to prevent it. While their views were insightful, I found it disconcerting that they seemed to focus on Cyberbullying among children.

Those who have been using social media for quite a while know very well that Cyberbullying is a reality among adults. As the number of social media users in Kenya increases, certain issues arise regarding the use of various sites. Concerns have been raised over Hate Speech, Incitement as well as Ethnic and Religious Targeting. But few of us are talking about Cyberbullying.

Experts say anytime you are harassed, humiliated or threatened online it’s cyberbullying.

As the country’s SM user crowd grows there are those who seek to stand out and make a name for themselves whichever way they can. Some, more so the tech savvy, will result to Cyberbullying.

This was my experience in the last 24hrs:- Continue reading

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.

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

Mboro, Biscuits, Ice Cream and Gynecological Healing

Zimbabwe is famous for a few things: Mugabe, the Victoria Falls, naming people after days and holidays and now Mboro.

That’s Pastor Prophet Paseka Motsoeneng Mboro to you. You see, you only call him Mboro when he has his fingers(or his foot) in your biscuit. And by ‘biscuit’, I mean ‘lady parts’.

That’s right, this pastor heals worshippers and releases their demons by sticking his digits in their…biscuits.

I apologize in advance because I will quote the large bulk of this article; it’s pure gold.

“As he was praying for her she collapsed. Motsoeneng then told the teenager, who was lying on her back, to open her legs, which she did.
He then plunged his fingers into her private parts and started moving his fingers inside her vagina.
As he was busy with his “healing process”, Motsoeneng ordered her to call him by his nickname, Mboro.

“Say Mboro,” he ordered her.

“Mboro” she said, with a stifled cry.

He was interrupted by a female congregant who brought him a glassful of what looked like ice-cream, which she spoon fed him. He was still sitting on the woman’s lap.”

Continue reading

I Was Carjacked By A Car Tracking Company

We get a lot of emails with people’s complaints and stories and in many cases do the best we can to help them out. But last week we received an email that was quite shocking and we felt I had to share it with you. The title frames the tale, but barely scrapes the surface of the story. I won’t babble on longer. Read below for Grace’s story. Continue reading

When Racism Isn’t Racism: Part I

As a teenager, I was naive enough to think that if I ignored racism, it would just go away. That if I refused to talk about it, if I refused to give any sort of weight to it, it would wither and die back and the world would eventually become a better place. I am an adult now (at least, that is what my official papers say) and as for the world becoming a better place, all I can say is that when I want one thousand and one miracles, I’ll just go right ahead and ask for them. About racism, well…it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in a hurry.

When it happens in a tube somewhere in Eastern Europe, you take it in your stride. When a middle-aged white dude stands up and relocates to the aisle as soon as you sit down next to him, you say to yourself, ‘It doesn’t matter…I’m on his turf…and he probably thinks I’m sponging on his tax money’. You are not justifying. You are not rationalising. You are just dealing with. When a bunch of KKK devotees roughs your roommate up, he says to you, ‘Hey, man, it could have been worse. At least I’m still alive, right?’ He, too, is just dealing with. You both acknowledge that you don’t have the home ground advantage. It’s an away match. If stuff like that had happened back home, you console each other, things would have ended quite differently. How differently, you can’t tell. You just know it would all end differently. Except it doesn’t. Even at home, especially at home, we take it lying down. Sometimes, we gloss over it—pencil it in as a misdemeanour. Continue reading