#KenyaAtWar: Terror, Fear, and the Beginning of the End

Before I get started: Please remember to register as a voter. Deadlines are approaching, it’s a quick and easy process.

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People are talking about the 2013 Elections with a quiver in their voices. It’s hard to pretend you haven’t considered that violence could erupt, like it did last time.

I was fortunate enough not to be around during Post-Election Violence in 2007.

I was somewhere in Obamaland pursuing that elusive piece of paper they call a Degree. Also, making wasting money.

At the time, it wasn’t Obamaland yet.
It was still Bush America. Worse still, post 9/11 Bush America where Muslims and immigrants were blamed for every problem in the US. Continue reading

“Why I Will Not Be Voting” by @iFortKnox

Guest blog by @iFortKnox

Vote For Nobody Graffiti

I grew up a lone child and since I lost my mum when I was seven, it was just me and my dad until my teenage years when I was sent to boarding school.

Living with my dad, I was exposed to a lot of life experiences either through practical participation or historical narratives. My dad reads a lot. I mean A LOT. And he’s not much of an outgoing person unless it’s a church-related function, which he had a lot to attend because he was and still is a catechism facilitator. So when he wasn’t involved in any of those church functions, he’d just stay in the house reading, listening to music, and when he’d get bored with all that, I was the only human being around he would have conversations with. We’d talk about virtually everything, from religion and specifically why I didn’t like church and church-like stories like why I shouldn’t eat white meat, women, and our clan back in the village, my education, and sports – he was a very good hockey player back in his school days and lots and lots of history. That is how I spent most of my weekends. Week days were play days for me.

That is how I gained interest in politics, reading and discussing politics. Continue reading

#2013Elections: Debatable Debates, Small Steps and Big Dreams

Did anyone manage to watch the Kisumu Gubernatorial debates a few nights back?

I eavesdropped from the kitchen for a while before deciding they weren’t worth me relocating to the living room. But I listened.

It was basically a bunch of candidates who don’t know how to answer questions making outlandish statements. At some point, one guy, whose agenda was that Kisumu county can produce its own food and be self-sustaining, was asked a question about education and why so few children complete school, perform well and something about the quality of education they get anyway.

He replied that the problem was that children were hungry and as a result they couldn’t do well. Seriously, he said that. Not overcrowded classes, underfunded schools, underpaid teachers, obsolete teaching methods but food. This is akin to answering the question “Why is smoking dangerous?” with “Cocaine kills.”

This made me wonder about what we were to expect from the upcoming Presidential debates.

My mother watched those debates and while she had criticisms, she let out a huge sigh of relief and said “This is a step forward.” before stepping away.

And the Presidential Debate is an even greater step forward.

It has much more potential than the he said she said campaigns of yesteryears. Now we get to see if these guys will really poke each other in the eyes when the distance is reduced to a few meters. I’d like to say that we’ll finally get to hear their policies and plans, more about their parties and manifestos, but something tells me we will mainly hear lies.

And that’s IF we pay attention.

A few weeks back, the Presidential debates were announced and the Kenyan interwebs began their own debat on who should moderate the debates. Frustrated, I joked that we should have debates to see who should moderate the debates but would probably end up debating who should moderate that debate. The point I was making was that it didn’t matter who would moderate or what was being debated if we were still bickering among ourselves instead of discussing issues. The problem, oddly enough, seemed to be us.

How does one choose a Saint from the pulpits of Hell based solely on what comes out of mouths so accustomed to lies and hypocrisy, while we’re still debating the moderator, the only person that we shall not be casting a vote for? Continue reading

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

#FUMP: Sam Ongeri Thinks Bloggers are Misleading Kenyans

Last night, Sam Ongeri decided to take on bloggers and let us know that we were wrongfully inciting Kenyans on Twitter to insult their leaders and further inform us that we could be legally dealt with.

I wasn’t online to see it, but quite a few people informed us because we’d printed some t-shirts earlier in the week expressing our displeasure with MPs and their greed. Thank you all.

As for you, Mr. Ongeri, a few things:

1. I refuse to call a man ‘Professor’ if he cannot distinguish between “they’re”, “there” and “their”. It is pre-primary grammar, Mr. Ongeri.

2. I refuse to call a man a leader if he cannot lead. At best, MPs are representatives. In fact, they’re our employees.

3. I refuse to call a man, Minister or otherwise, ‘Honorable’, if he is not honorable.

4. How dare you talk about misleading, Mr. Ongeri? How dare you talk about leadership? Continue reading

Where Are The Songs For Our Coming Revolution?

I wince with displeasure every time I have to watch another section of Kenyans demonstrate on the streets of our major towns. Not because I do not support their cause or understand their plight. Far from it. My displeasure comes from the fact that I have to listen once again to a song which should have by now, been stored away in the cliche cabinet.

Solidarity forever!

Solidarity forever!

On and on it goes. First with the teachers, then with the doctors, enter the nurses and right behind them another group of civil servants. Even University students, disgruntled private sector staff and politicians flaunting alliances, find reason to sing Solidarity – a song once thought to be the reserve of labour Unions.

Where are the songs for our coming revolution?

The songs we can sing not just on the streets but in in our homes when we look at our unga reserves dwindle. The songs we can sing while we do our laundry and ponder on the next move that will keep us alive?

Where are the songs that annoy our government so much, it wouldn’t want them played on radio?

Why do we instead sing songs to mock other tribes? Songs that insult their cultural beliefs and their very identity. Why do we compose songs that highlight our tribal differences and inspire ethnic hate?

And not the songs we sing in church. Not the praise songs whose tune we maintain and lump new words on in a poor attempt at creativity. Not the songs from that holy place. Let’s keep those for God, and upon our victory, we can praise him without getting the words mixed up.

Where are the songs that will wake us up to the reality of our current situation?

The songs that will carry in one chorus,  the ills of our current political class, the shame of our slowly growing economy and the silence of a lower class, whose lips are caked with the dust and odour of our slums.

Where are the songs that will enlighten our educated middle-class?

Songs that will challenge their pursuit of luxuries as mere vanity. Songs that they can teach their children, while narrating in pride and not shame, where they have come from and where they should never return. Songs that will summarize all the clever words that make our placards so heavy.

Where are the beautiful songs we can sing together? Songs that won’t pit one tribe against the other? Or the rich against the poor. The songs we can sing in groups while we go about our work under the sun? Where are the songs that will bring us to tears, or jolt our fists upright. The songs that will make us rise up and defend our dignity while we thump our chest in a show of might.  The songs that will bring us to shout IYAA!! or OYEE!! like we do at every rugby tournament our countrymen take part in.

Our National Anthem will not do. It isn’t enough. We can do better.

It is not a lack of talent.

There are those who have tried to compose such songs, but few can recite ALL the words to Eric Wanaina’s Nchi Ya Kitu Kidogo or Kenya Only. Jaguar may have tried to explain our complex situation in sheng, but Kigeugeu is nothing but a club hit to the majority of us.

Even with the political freedoms we now enjoy, the freedoms of speech and self expression that are now upheld unlike they were in the former regime, few are the artistes who will pen down songs that inspire unity, peace or change.

Who will compose the songs for our coming revolution? And not just any songs. Songs that are easy to grasp. Simple songs. Songs that everybody can sing. And when those songs come to be, who will put them all together and teach us so that we may in turn, teach our children.

Songs of our coming revolution.