Monday, April 24, 2006

The Missing Link - Kenyan/African Politics

Is it possible that, like in the ever debatable evolution of man theory, there exists an evolutionary gap in the Kenyan/African political circle? Is it possible that everyone is doing their best, but the reason why so much is going wrong is because there are 2 different "species" out there. Each stuck in their survival instincts despite the fact that these instincts vary widely between the two species.

Meet the species
There are two types of people in Kenya and the general Africa. Pre independence and post colonialism. Now they say, mtoto wa nyoka ni nyoka. Nobody ever explains what happens when a snake changes habitats and the child snake has to grow up in different environments where it learns how to hunt for different food types with new instincts to match its new environment.

The missing link
Is it possible that what's missing in Kenya is that one generation that understands both attitudes and habits clearly? A generation that understands what it was to be colonized, yet one that was young and fresh enough to comprehend and grasp that we had attained independence and it was finally up to us to make changes in 1963?

Dominating Theory
I'm under the belief that our problem stems from colonialism. Remember the mtoto wa nyoka? Well, the first leaders of post colonial Kenya inherited Kenya from the white man. The very one who came masquerading as a Christian but went ahead to practice ungodly things such as stealing. It is stealing when you kick people from their most productive land so that you can selfishly (another ungodly trait) settle in this most desirable land. Not wanting to digress, our founding fathers, the Jomo Kenyatta and his peers, inherited this land from these people. What had they learnt from these people, the colonialist? They had learnt that once you're in power, you oppress the local people. You rule by fear and oppression. You also grab everything worthwhile and you use the local people to push your agendas. You make the people feel worthless, you enrich yourself and you make sure they will always need you so as to be able to find their daily bread. Or am I wrong? Isn't this what the Kenyan was to his colonial master? Wasn't he a slave? Didn't he do the menial jobs? Work in the farms of his master, despite the fact that he and his family once owned the land he now works in and they never sold it? Didn't he learn how to feel worthless and incapable? Weren't the colonialists the people that introduced dictatorship and its general tendencies to the African governments?

Compare our current leaders and the trend that exists and continues to exist. Aren't they the new colonialists? Aren't they out there using and manipulating their citizens? Haven't they failed to see that they need to help these people? That they are "their people" and the point is not to gain an unfair advantage? Haven't these leaders learnt from their generations that the leader dominates his subjects and aims only to please himself? Would the African politicians who may stumble upon this argue with the similarities they share with our colonialists?

The sons and Daughters
Then come along the second generation. Have never had a white man rule his country. Cannot understand tribalism and its meaningless core. This generation sees Africa as a place to be proud of. This generation has not been called stupid or worthless by any white man. This generation loves Africa as their home and wants the best for it. This generation sees the previous generation as an enemy to development in Africa. This generation wants change. This generation wants Africa in the hands of people who believe in it and want to make it work. This generation recognizes that every African is going to have to get involved in building Africa. And that means adopting a 'develop Africa' mentality versus an 'enrich my pockets' one. For this reason, this generation sees the previous generation as enemies of the continent.

Is the solution...
...The generation that gets both these people? The generation that might be able to receive a listening ear from our current leaders who mainly believe that a leader is an older person. That wisdom comes with age. Not always, obviously not. Is there a generation that understands the fear, pain and uncertainty, and more so bad habits left behind by the colonial master for our leaders to inherit and at the same time understands the current generation? The one that sees us all as being the same. The one that understands division was created as a tactic to conquer the black Africa. The generation that might be able to convince our leaders that they have become colonialists, intentionally or not. A generation that might be able to express to our leaders the understanding of their fears, that one day the white man will come back and they better have more than enough, so when he takes most of what they own, he'll still have some left; and at the same time express that this is not likely to happen if we strengthen ourselves by building our continent. The part of the population that experienced the white man's rule, the struggle and the early post white man rule (direct one at least)days. Importantly the ones who haven't become part of the continous circle of oppression. The ones that haven't yet learnt how to oppress.

Surely, out there exists this missing link. Because without it, no young generation governments can be formed successfully. There's no winning by shutting out the pre independence generation. They do not trust other people to lead them. And unfortunately they don't lead very well. They also now have old money, stolen corruptly or not. And winning an election needs money. So isn't there a desperate need to identify the missing link and encourage them to bridge this wide and looming gap? For the sake of Africa, where is this missing link?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Under the weather, Kaybees kudos

The temperatures finally went above 20 and boy are they determined to show us something! It's been close to 90 degrees for 5 consecutive days (notice it's still April). The bugs are so many. Wasps must have spent winter breeding. What's killing us here is the pollen and allergens in the air. Like if you drive with your windows open you will actually have residue remain on your person.

Which explains why I'm so under the weather. Red, itchy watery eyes, itchy nose and throat, a corroded roof of mouth, sinus headaches and general feeling of malaise. It's allergy season again and this one is on with a vengeance. Needless to say I've given up on my "I'm not using prescription meds again" campaign that I had signed into not too long ago. Tough times call for tough measures. There's no winning with this season. Either you itch till you drop or you take meds and feel so exhausted from them, you might as well drop!

You'd think with all this in mind they'd slow their roll at work. No. Deadlines are still deadlines despite the fact that staring at a computer with a sinus headache makes me consider plucking my hair, one strand at a time, until I am bald. As a result, I've taken to working 9 hour days to get 7 hrs worth of work accomplished. I'm fully aware I've no idea what's going on in the world past few days. Couldn't be bothered less. I'm trying to feel normal. My eyes were a much lighter red today, more pink than red. That's improvement. It's why I'm in here, attempting to think through my medicine head.

I wanted to post a congratulations to all who were nominated for the kaybees. So, congratulations, y'all! I'd say the finalists were pretty much what I expected to see. I thought they should give an honorary award to bankelele's blog for giving such needed financial information in a very easy to read format. Of all blogs, this is one where you actually look in before making a financial decision sometimes. I think that's huge. Maybe a most useful blog nomination for this next year?

Anyway, it's back to bed for me. I wonder, seeing that the erratic temperature changes are causing us such added distress, you think next year there will be a section that allows us to claim global warming as an added expense on our taxes?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Kenya, Malaria and PBS

Public Broadcasting Service, PBS. They get to everyone who cares to learn something.

I came home from a movie at about 12:30 am on Sunday morning and switched TV on. My plan was to fall asleep with TV as background noise. I had been watching some documentary on PBS before I left so the channel was on PBS. I was getting my blinds as I turned the TV on and had a moment of sheer confusion as I detected Swahili coming from TV. It peeked my curiosity and I paid attention. There was a hospital, in a place called Ogambe, a chief Kombo and certain “quacks” who “treat” the villagers when they fall ill. The documentary was largely about Malaria, research in Europe and test centers in Kenya and Gambia.

Well, chief Kombo is a very active chief. He went to the hospital to give some woman, whose child was admitted, money so he could be discharged and also some bus fare. He attempted to arrest the quacks but the villagers (about 15-30) stopped him. They said they needed the quacks to treat them. What the quacks are doing is causing resistant strains of malaria to develop by under prescribing malarial drugs. So the parasites remain within the body and recur as resilient types. Additionally, in the name of treating” people, they are causing deaths.

This whole thing is complicated. There are good reasons why these villagers need these quacks. This is a village that is very sparsely populated and obviously very impoverished. The chief walks everywhere and actually had to use rope to “cuff” one of the quacks because he didn’t have any other handcuffs. I also noticed the chief lacked police assistance. Basically, these villagers cannot afford the bills at the main hospital. Seriously, the bill for a child who had spent 3 nights was Ksh300. Sounds very little. But this woman could not afford it. Not only that, this child already had a resistant malarial strain and this lady did not buy the prescribed drugs because she couldn’t afford them. Needless to say, some 3 days later when the chief went to her house, her son was still ill, and yes, one of the quacks was in there.

My heart broke some many times as I watched this documentary. There was a European researcher who was begging the wealthy nations of the west to give out mosquito nets as a solution. Apparently they market these via ‘social marketing’ programs where they have plays that educate people as to why they need to buy the nets. The point they are all missing is that these targeted groups cannot afford the nets at any cost. So basically, the nets these wealthy nations provide sit in warehouses as scores of people die from Malaria. One of my heart breaking moments was when his plea fell on deaf ears. I watched, as he spoke, Charity Ngilu nodding her head to everything he said.

I fell asleep finally. Last I saw of this documentary was a chief Kombo frustrated but determined, giving in saying he had to deal with the quacks after the malaria season in September. The people needed them and he would meanwhile keep asking the quacks for their certifications. The villagers volunteered to fundraise so as to pay for the quacks education for certifications. The white guy from Europe, whose name I don’t remember ever hearing, continues to experiment with a malaria vaccine. This is one genuine white man after the health of the African, not the dollar or the pound.

I was amazed at how backward certain parts of Kenya are. I was also upset at the unwillingness of IMF and other bodies to genuinely assist these needy people. I was irate that people are dying from malaria in Kenya over drugs that cost less than ksh200. I questioned if the root problem was with the allocation of funds from the ministry of health to malaria prone areas. Or the problem was with the unwillingness of Kenyans to get involved with their own problems. Could maybe a “walk against Malaria” raise enough money annually to alleviate this scourge? I’m sure part of the problem is the quacks, who mean well, but are causing major issues. What about the lack of administrative presence to assist a man such as Chief Kombo? He very much seemed like a man who works alone. He physically went to the hospital to deliver the funds, walked to the villagers homes to see the ailing and also to make arrests. It’s interesting to note that I learn more about Kenya by not living in it. Kudos to chief Kombo. He is one dutiful man.

Where is Ogambe? I thought the people spoke a language close to kikuyu like maybe Embu or Meru. Every now and then though I thought it was Kisii. Anyone know? I didn't see any water mass. I usually associate that with malaria prone areas. Also, may I challenge anyone that still lives in Kenya to organize an annual "Stamp Malaria Out" walk?

Monday, April 03, 2006


This past weekend, I took my friend to a diversity weekend at Ohio state University, from where she is considering beginning her journey to a law career. I had intended to write all about the very interesting and informative weekend. I'll get to that later.

Last week, just before I left for Ohio, a friend of a friend passed away. She has suffered from an unidentified liver condition since about 15 years ago. 2 liver transplants later, a regular hospital visit where they just unclogged her ducts turned out the terrible news that her liver had completely attacked itself, again. Third liver in a lifetime was where it all gave in. This time it was too late to hope for a transplant. Her liver was attacking itself vigorously, her kidneys failed almost immediately after, and the rest is history. Her body will be cremated following a wake and a service later this week. What will be left of her is her pieces of her first liver, which the doctors are still doing research on in an attempt to identify the cause of her very rare condition.

This morning, I received news that a friend of a friend's sister died in a road accident this past weekend. Let's refer to her as J. The accident was caused by a drunk driver who was driving the vehicle that rammed into theirs. It does make you stop and think. About the many times you watch your friends drive drunk, if not drive drunk or buzzed yourself. 3 of J's friends are in hospital following the same accident. J, the young girl whose life has met an early demise, was one I met over the well known rugby LA weekend this past February. A young energetic, flambouyant character, one who was full of life even where most of us just give in and take a rest. It's hard to imagine her not alive.

It must be at the reception of this news that I've decided to post this. I heard Terry Schiavo's dad on radio this morning, suggesting that the president should have placed his daughter under protective custody while therapy rehabilitated her. I'm beginning to appreciate the power of denial. It has been declared that Terry's brain was half the size of a normal brain at postmortem. I'm going to reserve my judgement of Terry's dad today. I can't believe that J died despite our somewhat brief meeting and experiences together. I keep seeing her walking, laughing and hearing her say what she said to me following a "situation" that arose from a bunch of females being together, "peacemakers and warmongers" created therefore. Thank goodness it was a very nice comment she made of me. I keep wondering if I'd been on the other side of this argument and she had said the opposite of what she said to me. Her being dead now, how would those words have taken on a new meaning, a new sting, maybe a new portion of personality to practice self loathing on.

Maybe we take death too seriously, maybe not, considering its finality. Whichever way, this post is dedicated to two young females, who have completed their journeys on earth, albeit a little too soon. Rest in peace.