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?

Women Will Spearhead Kenya’s Constitutional Commitment to Equality

On this International Women’s Day 2012, allow me to start off by briefly discussing the dynamics of social change. Throughout history, it has always been the oppressed groups within any society that have been at the forefront of the struggle for equality. For instance, during the Civil Rights Movement, African American leaders were on the front lines of the struggle for social change because they knew first-hand what inequality and discrimination was all about. Within the human rights struggle in Kenya, the women’s movement has perhaps been a well organised and formidable force resulting in part to the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010. It is because of women’s own past experiences of prejudice and injustice that they continue to push for social change and reforms.

Equality is a difficult and deeply controversial ideal. At its most basic and abstract, equality is a moral idea that people who are similarly situated in relevant ways should be treated similarly. Therefore, in the context of the gender equality struggle, women and men must have full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms which includes the right to equal opportunities in all areas of life. So, the struggle for ‘gender equality’ as we know is not only about women but rather about both the male and female genders. However the struggle for equality and equity between the two genders is led predominantly by women precisely because they have endured decades of prejudice and discrimination on the basis of their gender. Therefore women understand the importance of ‘equality’ both as a social ideal and more importantly as a legally binding requirement that is the hallmark of Kenya’s constitutional dawn.

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Another Beautiful African Bride: 5 Questions About Rwanda

If you were tuned in to CNN yesternight, you must have caught Richard Quest’s piece on CNN entitled “Kigali’s Bold Vision for 2020”. While our citizens are answering to charges of war crimes at Hague and the rest of our government is literally at a stand-still, a part of me paused momentarily to envy Rwanda and just how much the so-called “country of 1,000 hills” has been able to accomplish in just over a decade.
As we all know, yesterday marked the 17th commemoration of the genocide that left close to a million Rwandese dead in 100 days. Just as the whole world watched images of one ethnic community butcher another, we are now bearing witness to one of the most extraordinary economic and social recoveries on the continent and indeed even the world.

But all this doesn’t change the fact that I still have many unanswered questions about Rwanda.

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To the Heros and Heroines of Constitutional Reform in Kenya: Congratulations on a Job Well Done!

I did not ever doubt that the ‘YES’ side would win; what I was not sure about was by what margin. But now that Phase I of the Battle is behind us, the next question has to be: “Now What?” It has taken almost half a Century from the British-Kenya Lancaster Conference to get where we are today. That’s too long to wait before we see the full implementation of the New Constitutional Contract for the people take root and become the new foundation of the nation’s rule of law. Even as the celebratory mood sweeps over this great land, I would like to challenge us all to take up the battle of Constitutional Justice to a new level by beginning to raise questions about the inequity that persists in our land.

The New Constitution cannot be allowed to become a nice document that sits on legislators’ shelf collecting dust when two of the World’s largest slums sit a stone away from the capital and while nearly 100,000 citizens are still living in tents as internally displaced persons (IDPs). The Mathare and Kibera slum dwellers and persons currently living in tents have as much right to be given access to the nation’s resources as much as Members of Parliament. There is not a single MP who is more important or whose life is higher than an IDP or a law abiding resident of Mathare, Kibera, or the new emerging slums in Kisumu, Nakuru, Machakos, Mombasa or any other downtrodden temporary residential communities in our towns and cities. Rural peasants in Meru, Kitui, Homabay, Nyeri, Busia or other parts of the country that are unreachable by road are also citizens of the land, and the new Constitution will and must be theirs too. What cannot be allowed to happen is to let inertia creep in “The Day After” for to do so would only succeed in giving comfort to the enemies of progress; and that cannot be allowed to happen.

Heros and Heroines of Constitutional Reform in Kenya, because you’ve been so good at it and so successful in the past, I suggest that you use the platform you have now to start the campaign for a vigorous implementation of the Constitution. And for us lay-persons, I think it is our solemn and patriotic duty to continue to ask questions and demand answers, challenge the status quo and urge our leaders to think about the “road ahead” and the legacy our generation will be bequeathing from them.

50 Years is too long to wait if that was to be the time it would take before the new constitutional order can be implemented and be given the chance to take root.
Yes, fifty years is too long to wait if that were to be the duration it would take before Kenya’s women can have the same rights men have today.

50 Years is too long to wait, if over the next five decades inertia was to be allowed to sap the vitality of the New Contact that Kenya’s majority have supported so overwhelmingly.

Yes, 50 Years is too long to wait if the efforts, the energy, the commitment and the blood and tears of all those who have labored for so long and sacrificed so much were to be allowed to go to waste as each successive cohort of parliamentarians was to be allowed to repeat the mistakes of the preceding generations of politicians.

From henceforth, our new battle cry must be “Implement The New Constitution Now!”. The country does not have the luxury of time to wait for another 50 Years! To all you Heros and Heroines of Constitutional Reform in Kenya, you cannot afford to retire from the leadership you have so graciously given to this cause. It should be incredibly gratifying to see how my generation has become so engaged in this fight for social justice and human rights for all. We as the youth realize that we are an important stakeholder in this New Constitutional Contact. It is because of us and for us that the implementation process of the New Contract cannot be stretched out over the next half century, for to do so would be a betrayal of the highest order.

To my fellow Kenyans wherever they may be, “The Day After” has to be taken as the day when all of us must pick up a new pair of sandals that will guard our feet as we match on into a future in which all people, men and women, will have equal rights and equal protection under the new constitution. That’s the country we all yearn for and we must do all we can to ensure that you, will not have labored all those years in vain.