Je ne suis pas #CharlieHebdo

CharlieHebdo 26

We say the words: “Je ne suis pas #CharlieHebdo” (“I am not #CharlieHebdo“) with due respect to all those affected by the terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices yesterday in the French capital, Paris. As Kenyans, we are all too familiar with the pain, loss and damage caused by acts of terror. So, we empathise with the French people and we say to them: “Poleni sana”. However, as #CharlieHebdo continues to flood timelines, media outlets and newspapers, we must decolonise our minds and remember not to get sucked into the Western Media frenzy. As Kenyans and Africans at large, we have very complex and pressing problems of our own that are not so fortunate as to receive the worldwide coverage currently being given to #CharlieHebdo.

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The Man Under The Elephant

I’ve waited to write this.

The last time I went to Westgate was exactly a week before the famed attack the mall is now associated with. When I say exactly, I mean exact, down to the hour.

I was meeting up with some friends in between my trips in and out of Kenya. It was the first time I’d been to Urban Burger. It was also the first time I realised how massive Nakumatt was. For some odd reason that day, all our phones either dead or close to it. So we were moving about in a panic, trying to finish our chores so we could regroup outside and go about our plans for the day.

The next time that same group of friends regrouped was at Aga Khan Hospital, one week later, to volunteer and donate blood. We were watching the updates terrified, all thinking the same thing, none of us saying it.  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

#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

Lest We Forget and Keep Forgetting

This will be short.

Yesterday, media houses had a field day with the Nancy Baraza story. This quote from The Standard stood out to me.

Declared a liar, a woman whose outlandish actions and runaway rage brought the Judiciary into disrepute and social rogue who brandished gun at an unarmed guard, Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza’s fate appears sealed.

Social media went amok as well.

And if it wasn’t that, it was the olympic coverage. That Kemboi can sure dance his ass off.

This was what we talked about all day.

In the evening I had a passionate debate with some folks. We all agreed that the culture in Kenya needs to change. The youth need to be better educated. They need to be motivated. They need to be more involved in decision-making capabilities. We agreed on these ideas.

Our point of contention was that I believed that in addition to all the above, someone needed to die. Continue reading

Surprise, Surprise. The Media’s Compromised.

I’ve never been one to care much for the media. I barely watch TV, and I only watch the news if there’s absolutely nothing else on or the internet isn’t working. Why? Because when I was very young I learned media houses were owned by various political entities. Shocked as I was, I remember my mother telling me this like it was just common knowledge. As I grew, I came to learn that it was. So how are we supposed to trust people who clearly have other interests? They’re all liars as far as I’m concerned; bake you a mud pie and tell you it’s chocolate fudge.

So I wasn’t surprised when a new tip got to me that a certain huge media house was involved in some shenanigans. The TV station in question had been running ads for an exposé Investigative Feature that brought to light the fact that the Kenyan government was recruiting Kenyan youths to the Somali National Army to go to Somalia and fight Al Shabaab. What supposedly happened next was that some super high ranking military bullies marched their way into this media house and put a halt on the show that was supposed to start yesterday. Continue reading