Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Curtain on our eyelids

In an organizational leadership class, our instructor brought up cultures within the organization. She was therefore forced to discuss racial differences. The tier within the provided curriculum has the whites at the top, the mixed or passing (for white) in the middle tier and the blacks, Hispanics and natives Americans, amongst others at the bottom. In exactly 5 seconds, she had changed the entire mood of the class. Just by showing that one slide.

Then began the tense arguments that roughly said:
The white males: It's all bullshit. The whites are not on top of anyone. Power is mixed and evenly distributed.
The instructor: (Mixed race). In what sense? Think about who's running corporations, who's the leader of this nation...
Another white male: The governor of California is not white.
Instructor: Think about these things, Who has the ultimate purchasing power, the 6 figure jobs, in what ratios. That's the power. So who has the power?
Black female: Oh, we know!
all the above interjected with terse silences.

Finally, one black male, very senior position in a government establishment.
Black male: I notice that when we get to these topics, the white people get defensive and stop talking about it. We're all in graduate school, we should be able to discuss this, whether we agree or not.
White male: I would be fired for discrimination, My company does not allow this...
instructor: It's not about you. It's the general society.

This argument goes back and forth and involves several people.

I'm observing, literally from the farthest point of a V shaped class. And I watch them all start to bleed out. Silence and pain. Tangible. I'm still reeling in shock at how terribly the deeds from years past can haunt people in the present day. I knew but had never had a chance to feel, to really experience the tension that ensues in these instances.

It made me wonder about Rwanda 20 years from today. The hutus and Tutsis in the same classes. And if there was a way to intercept that pain and make it better and easier for the incoming generations to deal with the genocide after effects.

Because honestly, everyone in that class is a victim of slavery. The whites are descendants of the slave drivers and that's all most of them have ever done wrong to a black person. While the blacks are still angry about being brought up in a society that told them they were second class when it mattered the most in their growth years. Only I, and I suspect one other African native in that class were outsiders to that issue. We saw and understood what was intended by the author.

It's absolutely strange that a white man would argue about who has power in America when put in tiers as it was presented to us. I mean seriously, don't antagonize the black by pretending they too have the power in places where it matters.

But as you listen to the white, especially males, you realize they are protecting themselves. The white males is always a villain in these debates. Even if he's poor and struggling like the rest of the folk, he's still a white male. And that's the dorminant position. What's a man who has never experienced power to any significant degree, nor wealth for that matter, supposed to feel when injected in as a dorminant and perhaps oppressive party in a pie chart? What do you mean when you say to him the white male has power? Unless you're suggesting that he's not a white male he doesn't get what the F you're talking about. Or does he?

And the less he understands, the more the black man gets pissed.

The black man just needs this white male to accept that positions of power are held by people of white color, mostly males.

Are we all just walking around with curtains on our eyelids? Just protecting ourselves from the perceptions or accepted norms of society. So much that we cannot see the bare naked truth? To the point where we have become stumbling blocks? Are we so victimized by our own societies that we have become defensive of our positions and become blind to our realities?

So I thought about the general "I hate Kikuyus" sentiments that are all over Kenya. And tried to equate them to this. And came up with an apples to oranges situation. The similarities only lie in cultural differences. Or do they? Didn't the Kikuyus get better education sooner because the white man settled in and around Kikuyu neighborhoods? Didn't they therefore get better opportunities sooner? Did this lead them to become entrepreneurs when the country was just growing, giving them a chance to prosper? Even if the answer to all these questions is yes, aren't the differences obvious. In that Kikuyus did not oppress the other communities. They just benefited from geographical locations and got better opportunities. Including that they have fertile lands, and this is Africa, agriculture is the order of the day. At the end of the day, isn't the enemy the colonialist in this case? Basically, can I equate this to the racism debate I experienced without flawing logic and meaning? I personally don't think so. Still there was a lot to be learnt from it all.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Revitalized but still very frustrated

I feel like things are worth speaking out loud, read blogging, out loud again. I guess I had allowed myself to get to where everyone goes sometimes. That place where it becomes evident that nobody really cares about anything. It seems to me it takes too much for people to think through things, it's too difficult to get out of the status quo that has become the everyday norm and people are walking around feeling doomed and hoping to find a loophole. Basically, we've all sold our souls to whomever it is that controls this status quo.

I started back at school again and that may be the source of my renewed vitality. It's nice to be in a room full of people with opinions, ideas and a definite determination to change things. Some of them with ways and ideas I would never endorse, but they are thought out and they have a valid source as far as their lives and backgrounds are concerned. But it simply feels good to know there are still a few people that are worth hoping for something in. Still, I wonder how many of them are eventually going to lose their current passion as they wade through the system.

Which reminds me that while taking a good friend to check out a law school in Ohio several months back (She went by the way, good luck to her!), I learnt that the discrepancy in starting salaries between lawyers who go into public/government service and those that don't is almost $100,000 a year. Yes, apparently, lawyers get started at about $39,000 a year in some cases. The average starting salary was $96,000 a year and the highest was I think about $126,000. As per the statistics then. Which begs the question, why would you go to the $39,000 job? Well, this is the only way to provide a true community impact. Translates to the fact that the status quo has made it not lucrative to go into jobs that fight the system. Now working in major law firms, high earners that have clients who are high income earners, survivability of the creme de la creme must always be protected. And they'll reward you for it. So there is hope because there are many people who, despite the knowledge of the pay discrepancy, opt for the $39,000 jobs.

My frustration is always with the people though. I often wonder about the reality of how history has played out. I think it's imperative that people fight back when pushed to certain corners. This is a theory that I think would have changed the outcome of the holocaust and Rwanda 1994. What am I talking about? Think about the documentaries you have seen, real footage from the holocaust. Some 100 armed guards to thousands of Jews. Fleets after fleets of the same thing. Had anyone of these fleets of Jews started an uprisal, don't you think chances are they would have stopped the carnage before it went on for too long. That this part of history would be different? Same thing in Rwanda. Why didn't the Tutsis pick up their garden tools and fight back at the point where it became obvious they were being massacred? Remember it took a few dead Hutus from the RPF to stop the massacre. My point being that a little resistance goes a long way. I believe things get out of hand because everyone sits back and hopes someone else will intervene. Closer to home, remember the Molo clashes in Kenya? Those things stopped immediately when the targeted kikuyus displayed a bloody uprisal and, using their pangas, fought back. The media portrayed them as horrible and cold blooded for having done it. Yet that fighting back stopped what could have easily progressed to a civil war.

So what's my point? My point is that I'm frustrated, always, from history and in the present by the inability we, as humans, portray to fight for our rights. I think my real frustration lies in how quickly we allow ourselves to be manipulated to submission through fear by our fellow human beings. And just how many things keep going wrong, even though they may not involve obvious loss of life, everyday because of this weakness we carry. I think it's worse for me because I'm still trying to accept that I personally and those people that orchestrated genocides such as Rwanda's are of the same biological species. Quite frankly, I suspect a deviation of the species here that I hope a biologist will one day prove.

So, while I know it's not the easiest thing to do anything we feel is tangible, I think we all could do better by informing ourselves and avoiding mass opinions. Choosing to make informed opinions, or have no opinions at all, based on no information. I think it would reduce our overall propensity to be manipulated, and that translates to somehow, beginning to weaken the reins by which the 'world masters' have controlled and continue to control the masses.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

No, No, NO!!!

Minimum or maximum, just say no to the proposed constitution reforms. Truth be told, enough time has been wasted. Emphasis on wasted here. Ask yourselves:

1. Who are the beneficiaries of the reforms? To answer that question correctly, barely you the citizen. This is yet another selfish ploy from your elected leaders. Its about them and keeping posts. The constitution may not be great, but the constitution barely sucks. And Kenya definitely HAS GREATER problems. If they try to convince you, it's for you, don't believe that.

2. What are you losing while debating, discussing these reforms? Time and money! These politicians have done little in their constituencies to show for the 4 years. A major part of which they spent lobbying for themselves within the constitution draft. Waste of time and resources. You know what would benefit you, the average Kenyan more? More schools, water projects, more hospitals and hospital equipment within existing facilities, better infrastructure, including roads, hish speed internet access amongst others. These are the tools that open up business opportunities and reduce cost for existing ones, making them better able to afford more staff... Chain reaction is positive to all.

3. Following up on 2 above. What are you gaining from these reforms? Not what is your elected official gaining. You, the tens of thousands that are the rest of you that weren't elected? Do you expect that the minimum reforms will be about minimum wages, gender rights, fair employment practices or anything else that benefits you? Or do you expect that these reforms are about consituencies and elections? What do you gain? If you have an answer to this question that you feel is satisfactory, please share it.

4. Think about how much you're paying these people. YOU are paying these people. Otherwise, that money would have been left within your available income/purchasing power and provided you with a means to afford more. So it's an election year next year. YOu are still working everyday. Why should your MPs start campaigning on your time? You're paying for it. Demand results! Their job is to serve your constituency, not their selfish needs.

5.Think about this. If every election year, 1.5 years before the actual elections are held, time starts being wasted this way by your elected officials. If this becomes a norm, it represents 7/10 working years in a decade. That's 70%. Ask yourself if 70% is satisfactory in terms of showing up for work. As they campaign, what about your constituencies? Who is thinking about that are, its people, its needs, its development? And then start to add up that in 2 decades, 3, and see how quickly those wasted years add up. This is before you include their very obvious absences in parliamnet throughout the years.

6. Fact is, let them wait to be re-elected, attend parliament and format a workable, reasonable, informed and educated way to identify weak points, reasons why they are weak points and how to ammend these weak points satisfactorily (versus selfishly) within the constitution.

Enough time wasted. Ask these officials to shut up about elections and constitution reforms. Campaigning is to be done at their own time. Not yours and mine. Including those spending enough time campaigning and soliciting funds in the states. Who is working within their elected constitutions as they do this? Teach them that their real campaigns will be in the output of their 5 years. Tell them what they really need to do is to double over and start getting caught up with measurable results. No, No, NO!!!! No more veering off the path of development.

Please do all of yourselves that favor.

Friday, August 04, 2006

So why do I care?

About these things. That's if I really do care. They do bug me though. That I know for sure.

1. The cheap perfume. And why so much of it? So much that I gag when I walk into the bathrooms after you've been there? Despite the fact that you're no longer there, and I don't know how long ago you were last in here. But I know you were in here because your cheap smell is still hogging the air so tightly. It's so bad that I have to hope I don't leave the place smelling the same as the current air I'm struggling to breathe in.

Here is a tip. Dump the cheap perfume. Buy a more expensive one. Use like 1/10 of the amount you are using currently. Seeing that you will shop a lot less often for perfumes, your everyday cost will remain unchanged, if not reduced. And why do I care? Because you're infringing on my share of the air as well!

2. The ineffective manager. The one who is afraid of everyone and hopes to make all his subordinates the same as him. Becomes openly hostile to his subordinates when they don't comply, while he's a total woos amongst his peers. Result, underfunctioning department, unhappy, frustrated direct reports, a team that nobody wants to work with and a general pain in the you know where! Worse than him is the Bit**, (always a woman, in this case. Anyone know why?), the person he tries to shelter from answering basic questions that would assist his team in working out her problems. Why does he shelter her from answering questions? Don't know. Because it sure as hell won't kill her!

Why do I care? Because we the other departments have to deal with your department. And we hate that we work with them undercover, and can only let you in on what we are doing at the very last minute, so that you don't cripple them, and us in the process!

3. The freaking wars all over the damn place right now. The fact that in the old days, when wars were fought by the sons of the Kings at the head of the battle lines, controlled the wars that were fought to within necessecity. Not today. We pick an elite group. Vote them into powerful positions, and make it easy to okay a war. We then go out and recruit poor kids into an army, convince them that the word of their superiors is law, and then proceed to send them to meaningless wars. You know why they are sending these kids to these wars?Because their own children are not at the frontlines! Had they been, their opinions on these issues being war worthy would be very different. And while I'm at this, can anyone tell me why Israel keeps bombing Lebanon over a war it has with Hezbollah? Doesn't this violate like some many war pacts sitting inside of the UN?

Why do I care? Because I am shit, pissed tired of the rich, greedy, guileless, immoral people being so easily able to manipulate the rest of the people. And in the process, enriching themselves and chasing meaningless power at any cost to the lives of the regular folk, those that apparently don't matter! And worse, that we the masses, sit here and continue to live in a world that lives like this. And especially because those resisting it have been lumped together with the real terrorists. And we will no longer be able to tell the difference between the two!

And to end on a lighter note. If you live in the states. See if you have a frenemy you may wanna send this to.

I've also had this with me for so long, I'm not sure if it's live in production yet. Here, entertain yourself as to some of the new vista sites coming soon.

Xbox crazy? This one's for you! It was especially hot during world cup. And there are so many more. All in small doses, peeps.

Enjoy your weekend folks!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blogworthy featuring mention of Lionel Ritchie

You can listen to this masterpiece hit, "I call it love" here. This man still has got it! I'm referring to the ever elusive "it" that most wanna be stars are always hoping to have, find, acquire, create, buy..., whatever. Can't wait for that cd. And I was just commenting on how Neyo and Chris Brown are making decent attempts on bringing back love songs. They aint got nothing on this man! And so many years later. My father must be jumping around somewhere with the thought of new music from Lionel. And the radio DJ was super excited about Nicole being in the upcoming video. He proclaimed it was going to be good. I mean how sexy can one get in front of her dad?

Can anyone say tail between legs? I wonder how they all feel about this. Having to reverse their self serving policies. If that money is coming in with sanctions, Just say no! I have to say I think we need to be prepared in case Somali gets out of control for the sake of Kenyans, but we still have the upper negotiating hand here. Al qaida isn't mad at Kenya, if you all know what I'm saying. They get a strong hold in our neighborhoods, not good for us, but much worse for others! Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

The blogs have been interesting. So is the Kachumbari of KenyanVillager dead? Or is Samuel, Kachumbari's alter ego? I sure hope the latter is the case. Yes, I'm in denial, seriously!

And I was in San Fran. Had to scream at a cousin, name Njeri, to cross over so that we wouldn't miss the cable car. So I scream"Njeeerrriiiii!". White woman to my right looks at me, she is flabbergasted. "What a coincidence," she reckons. "Even, I'm about to scream the same name across." And proceeds to shout "Jeerrryyy ", to her male friend (Jerry) across. Which brings me to a new philosophical question. "Is this or is this not a coincidence?" You know, like in the tree falling in the forest with no one to hear it thud, and hence, does it make a sound? Seeing that we weren't calling the same name, despite sounding like it? Feel free to debate on this one, if you please.