When Professor’s Fall..

My mother is an academic professional.

Professor

She’s one of those people with so many academic distinctions that you begin to wonder what you’re doing with your life. Especially people, like me, who are very anti-school.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying education is pointless. I’m just against the current structure of the institutions through which education is disbursed. And I have been since I was old enough to pull an Encyclopedia off a shelf by myself.

This attitude only got worse once Encarta 95 found its way into the library and the 98 edition landed in our house. By the time I was toggling between Altavista and Google, I was barely listening to teachers.

They had this syllabus that was engineered to evenly distribute a set amount of specific information to a large group of students. Booooring. Every chance I would get, I was plucking books off shelves that had nothing to do with what I was being taught. I was reading my older brother’s literature novels and – and this is not a joke – even reading dictionaries cover to cover. I actually once started writing one.

Just because class was boring.

At least at the time I thought it was. At that age, I thought fairly little of teachers. But somehow regarded professors highly because of my mother. You see, she’s the one that kept feeding me books and unleashing me into libraries. She’s the one that bought Encarta when we really couldn’t afford it. She’s the one that encouraged my random reading and let me lose in her labyrinth of books – a bookcase in the house.

Which is where I saw Mazrui’s name for the first time.

Prof Ali Mazrui

There are 2 reasons I remember his name. First, it is because it was repeated on the spines of so many books that I began to pull them out to verify whether or not I was looking at multiple copies of the same book. I was not.

The second reason is because it was the first time a book made me feel stupid. I sat down and tried to read the first book and failed. It was entirely too much to comprehend for a prepubescent iCon. So I left it alone and that was that.

Until a decade later, when I had the great fortune to head out to New York for some seminar on Islam and Terrorism. The melodic Swahili accent was strong, and the calm and steady pace with which he was addressing us grabbed my attention and didn’t let it go until it was eased to a place of greater understanding. That man summed up in a few words what the rest of the panelists would yap about for the next 2 hours.

And I can’t recall what those few words were. But I can’t forget buying two of his books, looking at my bookshelf thereafter and remembering my mother’s.

That was when I got a deep interest in Kenyan intellectuals; especially those in the US. Every other university I visited (and I traveled A LOT) I would find a professor named Odhiambo here, a lecturer named Kamau there; a Head of Department from Kisumu, and sometimes, occasionally, on the walls of fame, I’d see a name on a plaque of distinction that was distinctly Kenyan with a place of birth that made me homesick.

So many names and faces that I can barely remember, that will never be acknowledged locally.

My mother still keeps a massive collection of books, a lot of those are still fellow Kenyans. Mazrui’s tomes still stand out by their numbers and if I’m honest, like many Kenyans, I don’t think I acknowledged the man’s greatness enough.

But one thing I do acknowledge now that I didn’t when I was younger is the invaluable contribution of the scholars we neglect. I understand now why teachers wanted us to understand the basics and why professors insist on us creating original regurgitations of already existing facts. The pursuit of knowledge is not a simple journey, nor is it for the faint-hearted. It is a selfless endeavour to better your society through yourself.

Prof ali Mazrui

Which is why I was sad when the good Professor Ali Mazrui passed away. I could list his laurels and awards, accomplishments and regals in a shallow attempt to justify why you should mourn him too. I could copy paste all the amazing things that Prof. Mazrui has done and contributed to the worlds of academia, the understanding of Africa in a globalising world, or to demystify Islam in a world driven by terrorism.

But I’d rather not.

I’d rather challenge you to do two things. The first is to watch one of his interviews, read one of his articles, discover one of his books, learn more about one of his passions. The second is to share that knowledge earned with someone else.

Professors are the vessels through which so many of us attain the knowledge behind the power we aim to change the world with. When they fall, it is our duty to pass that knowledge forward and keep their legacies and sacrifices alive.

May you rest in eternal peace, Mwalimu. May your legacy live long and your family stand proud.
نَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ‎

Random: Stereotypes from Google Images

shutterstock_93523804

While working on the concept for a magazine concept with this guy, we began to have a little argument about children.

I had suggested an image of a cute kid (above) and he immediately told me that that kid was “too cute to be Kenyan”. So we got into a little discussion about what Kenyan children really look like.

This inevitably became a question that was too difficult for our meagre minds. So we turned to the all knowing, all savvy, Google images. This is what we found:

Google image result for "Kenyan Children"

Fairly accurate. But someone immediately pointed out that they wondered how accurate this would be for other countries/regions. Below are the findings from our exercise. Continue reading

50 Years Angrier: On Celebrations, Riots & Revolution

Look at our country.

kenya at 50 celebrations

All 50 years of its freedom have amounted to everything you see around you today. All the freedoms that we enjoy, all the development that we witness and all the suffering that remains.

Last week, the the Creative Director at my place of work drafted a fairly sober email for one of our clients to send out on independence day. It talked of the “battles we won and the blood we’ve shed”. I had to tell him to rewrite it as it was too dark. Because if truth be told, we have tons of reasons to celebrate.

But while we’re being honest, it’s hard to remember those reasons when everyday, we are blinded by archaic injustices.

Yesterday, I happened to be a stonesthrow away from where the University riots began when they began. I read online about how the students were infuriated because one of their own supposedly committed suicide while in police custody for cheating on an exam. Students I spoke to seem to think “suicide” is a cover up. It’s not clear and I’m not here to take sides.

What is clear is that students rioted last night. And in response to the riots, police escalated from teargas and crowd control to live rounds and murder. Continue reading

They Rape You Because They Fear You

A teenage girl is jogging in her neighbourhood. A car starts following her. The car is full of boys. This is not the beginning of some day-time movie. This is something that happened just a few days ago.

Teenage jogger

How do you suppose that scenario turned out? If it was a movie, it wouldn’t be pretty. In regular life, the girl probably got intimidated and stopped jogging, which messes her health routine, and does a lot of damage to her mind. Those boys may not have said a word, or even laid a hand on her, but can you imagine what was going through her head, and what those thoughts are still doing to her? Now, reverse the roles for a second. Imagine it was a (teenage) guy jogging, and being followed around by a car full of girls. I doubt he’d be unhappy about it, let alone traumatised …

I’m not a bra-burning feminist. I quite like my bras actually. They’re comfy and fluffy and just a tad pricey. That said, I’m the single mother of a feisty, gorgeous, pre-teenage baby girl. I also live in hoodies and jeans, and wear my hair in short purple dreadlocks, so women’s lib comes up around me a lot. Plus, I have first hand experience with rape, so it’s a big issue for me.

Continue reading

#RaphLove: The Definition of Trespass

Tujuane
Credit: #KOT

I’m sure by now, you’ve all heard the nasty stories about this blog’s good friend Rapho aka Tuju aka Raph Lover.

The short version of it is that Ogunda(this guy who got booted from the police for somehow money laundering) found his way into Raph Lover’s house wife which led to Raph filing for divorce. Around the same time, Ogunda also started filing for divorce from his wife as well. Anyway, after a few more back and forths in court for Raph Lover and Ogunda, Ogunda was found dead one morning in Raph Lover’s house.

When asked what he thought of the situation, Raph responded by saying:

“There was an existing court order that barred him (Mr Ogunda) from going to any of my premises and it’s unfortunate his death occurred at my premises.”

That’s just gangsta. The guy that was ploughing your wife just died in your house in an obvious murder and your reaction is the legalese version of “Well, that negro shouldna been there in the first place, let alone die there.” Continue reading