Thursday, January 27, 2011

Water shortage crucial in realizing MDG

Kenneth Korir drawing water from a stream in Maseno University, Kenya.
Providing clean water is among the MDG

Kenyan government introduces petrol price control

A neon sign at night showing petrol soaring prices which forced
the Kenyan government to introduce price control

A child walking a bicycle over a stream blocked with disposal

Enjoying newspaper in Africa which is seeing growth as compared to the West

Sir Jah welcome "SAH JAA WEL COME"

A scrap peugeot 504

A child buying from a rasta decorated shop

A child attempting to buy from a rasta decorated shop before being helped by a man

A woman selling omena in Kisumu

Thorn over sunset

Equator Fm Radio Booster

A dangerous bee hive from the ceiling

Malcolm X; A support graffiti from Kenya

Welcome 2 Zimbabwe the Land of Mugabe

A Kenyan walks by a graffiti supporting Robert Mugabe in
 Migori County south of the country

Walking in Sunset

EAC 2: Succession politics bad for the region

Secretary General Juma Mwapachu

The ongoing succession politics for the next Secretary General of East Africa Community 2 to take over from Juma Mwapachu, a Tanzanian, on April after the end of his term is worrying.

On one side Kenya insists on producing the SG since ambassador Francis Muthaura served for only a year compared to Amanya Mushega and Juma Mwapachu a Ugandan and Tanzanian respectively who served for two years.

Kenyans believe it didn’t have adequate time at the SG to check its interest, this is a bad indicator which caused the collapse at the EAC 1 where only elites benefited from regional co-operations at the expense of wanainchi.

On the other hand Paul Kagame and Pierre Nkurunzinza of Rwanda and Burundi respectively insist their countries should take the post on the rotation of leadership basis which is the norm.  This ‘small countries’ as newcomers site bullying from other members.

The success of EAC 2 should be safeguarded against elitism which caused the collapse of the first regional bloc. The joining of Rwanda and Burundi, with Southern Sudan, DRC and even DRC on the horizon should be a blessing not a battle ground for cheap Kingmaker for head od states.

The EAC Arusha offices Should embark on making common citizens to feel and enjoy the benefits of common market, free flow of labour and capital rather than be bogged down by succession politics by elites on a ego trip.

Published  on Standard on Friday 29th January 2011 and Business Daily on Monday 31st January 2011 

Poor use of mosquitoes nets bad for anti-malaria campaign

Mosquito nets used to fence a kitchen garden.
The fight to stop malaria which kills children under the age of five and pregnant women who are at a  higher risk, is at a risk of failing because of poor use of mosquito nets distributed by the US president initiative, Governments and other NGOs.

Since the use of aerosol sprays are environmental villains, drainage of wetlands being unattainable, the use of treated nets is a safe alternative though it is going to waste.

Equally the rigorous campaigns by artists like Yvonne Chaka Chaka from South Africa and spraying of homes may go to waste if citizens won’t change their attitude on proper net use.

Sadly treated nets meant to fight this deadly disease are not being used regularly with some used as fence in kitchen gardening, as fishing nets or tailored for home decoration.

The main reason was the one child per net which was not viable as many children share beds with their siblings or their parents making other ‘idle’ nets to go to waste.

The government and donors should embark on using communication experts and social marketing to reverse this trend which not only usurp effort to fight malaria but also affects the economy as sick people are less reproductive.

Published on Daily Nation Friday 29th January 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

African Independence; First Editor Presidents, First Newspapers

Kwame Nkrumah
The colonial administration in Franco-phone, Anglo-phone and Belgian thought Africans press left to ‘barbaric’ Africans could turn nationalistic and be dangerous to their complacency.

Agood example is Nigerian governor Fredrick Lugard, in 1917, who felt threatened by the emerging elites and discordance, he thought of founding fathers and natives pressmen as “mission educated young men who live in village interfering with native council and acting as correspondents for a mendacious native press” as quoted by Francis Ugboajah in Traditional-Urban Media Model: Stocktaking for African Development.

The colonial governments discouraged ownership of press by outing heavy taxes on import of newsprint and printing machines. Governors had the power to seize and censor papers and required import bond from publishers.

These expense dictatorial power by governors to confiscate printing materials and fine libel at discretion, sadly, is still pervert over a half a century after start of African independence.

Ironically old guards who suffered in these draconian laws become steadfast persecutors of the pres for survival. Among these first African leaders who where scribes before becoming leaders are;

Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana. Accra Evening News
Leading the Convection People’s Party which drove Ghana to the 6th March 1957 independence, Nkrumah established Accra evening News in early 1947 and became its editor. Writing in his autobiography he observed “I failed to see how any liberation movement could possibly succeed without an effective means of broadcasting its policy to the rank and file of the people”

Three years to its birth it was banned and its editors jailed by the governor Charles Arden-Clarke.
These jailing become an epitome of first African press which continued with the new governments becoming dictatorships which curtailing the press.

Sadly Nkrumah after independence built a citadel of power which hindered press freedom. Press the erstwhile agitators for the people become his mouth piece, Evening News once wrote in 1961;
“The man Kwame Nkrumah will be written of (sic) as the liberator, the messiah, the Christ of our day, whose great love for mankind wrought changes in Ghana, in Africa and in the world at large”

Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria. West African Point
The Nigerain president till the infamous 1966 coup started West African Point in 1937 for nationalist purposes with a score of other papers which helped in gaining of independence in 1960.

Azikiwe noted that the nationalist press gave mental emancipation from colonialism and saw the press as “the most potent instrument used in propagation of nationalistic consciousness”

Julius Nyerere, Tanzania. Sauti ya TANU
Nyerere is perharps the brightest of founding presidents he started his public life as the editor of the party newspaper Sauti ya TANU which solidly identified with nationalist aspiration of Tanzanians.

Before independence the British governments Public Relations department was the only one allowed to pass news in Swahili. The governor with the power to prohibit reporting fined Nyerere with libel.

Worth of note is that his predecessor Benjamin Mkapa was also a scribe as the editorial boss of The Nationalist in 1960s and Daily News in 1978 before venturing into politics.

Patrice Lumumba, DRC. Independence
Patrice Lumumba’s Independence, a journal of opinion was born when Lumumba visited the Ghana’s All African People Conference in 1958 where he emulated the success of Accra evening News. Started with the support of his part Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) its critical editorial clout made the nation to erupt into chaos in 1960 independence which lead to his death.

His rival Joseph Desire Mobutu was a freelance journalist from 1956 after being discharged from the army before gaining power in DRC.

Jomo Kenyattaa, Kenya. Muiguithania
Translated from Kikuyu as work and prayer, Muiguithania a Kikuyu paper was started by Kenya Central Association in 1920 to counter land grievances made Kenyattaa to be the first African to edit a paper in Kenya.

Muiguithani has been developed into a blog with the same name.

His first vice president Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Achieng’ Oneko purchased a press to publish Ramogi in Luo after a mythical ancestor in 1947. The press also printed Agikuyu in Kikuyu, Mwiatha in Akamba and  Mulinavosi in Maragoli.

Equally in Swahili W.W Awori started Radioposta while Francis Khamisi started Mwalimu

Leopold Sedar- Senghor, Senegal. La Condition Humanine
Leopold Sedar-Senghor
The poet president and a staunch French assimile was the publisher and editor of La Condition humanine in 1950. The paper was a mouthpiece for his political party Senegalese Progressist Party.  His fellow assimile Felix Houphert-Boigny of Ivory coast was the editor of Afrique Noire prior to independence.

Intrestingly the two as former French ministers wanted to remain in France sphere or form a confederation making their papers to be a means of political debate with minimum nationalist aspirations.

In contrast Guinea a former colony which wanted independence under Parti Democratique de Guinee (PDG) had their newspaper Liberte in 1950.

Wilcox Dennis in his book Mass Media in Black Africa: Philosophy and Control notes that these first African newspapers were fully utilized for nationalistic purposes and a chain in political organizations. Most lacked funds and were heavily restricted by colonial governments a trend which continued after independence.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Review; The River Between by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Title: The River Between (School Edition)
Author: Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Publisher: East African Educational Publishers Ltd, 2009 (first 1965)
Genre: Fictional (Literature)
Pages: 148
Reviewer: Manuel Odeny

Waiyaki, the story’s protagonist while standing on God’s hill overlooking Mount Kirinyaga next to Kikuyu’s holy tree, the Mugumo, sees the expense ridges and valleys lying like dormant lions waiting re-awakening.
This tranquility is shattered with British colonials who bring change that places the society in a cultural dilemma of enlightenment or going back to ancestral roots, this theme of change is core in this Ngugi’s first book.
The author Ngugi wa Thiong’o skillfully narrates the effect of change through two opposing ridges which face each other like angry fighters before a clash. The first and greater is Kameno which is home to the great seer Mugo wa Kibiro who prophesized the coming of white men. Waiyaki and his father Chege are direct descendants of Mugo from this ridge.
Its rival, Makuyu embraces Christianity and white man’s way of life as lead by an overzealous preacher Joshua.
In this life and death struggle for leadership and supremacy there is a river between the two ridges defying the season of time and change. Representing the continuity of life the river between is Hanoi which Ngugi gives the book its title.
In the story, Waiyaki becomes an African elite after acquiring the white man’s education in the missionary schools which he tries to impart to the society to counter the encroachment of the white man. Makuyu’s ridge overzealous Christianity and Kameno’s conservative tribal purity of folk tradition threatens to destroy the society unity.
The author gives hope in this quagmire as the rift between the two ridges widen as the book ends in a love story. Waiyaki bound by an oath to safeguard conservative way in Kameno marries Nyambura, an impure uncircumcised girl from Makuyu whose father Joshua leads the Christians.
Meditating quietly in God’s hill after making a choice to marry Nyambura, Waiyaki observes change in the society;
“Circumcision of women was not important as a physical operation; it was what it did inside a person. It could not be stopped overnight. Patience and, above all, education, were needed. If the white man’s religion made you abandon a custom and then did not give you something else of equal value, you become lost. An attempt at resolution of the conflict would only kill you.”
This attempt makes Waiyaki to be betrayed by his two childhood friends Kinuthia and Kamau, and the all society.
The River Between is Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s first novel written in 1961 while he was a second year student in Makerere University College, Kampala Uganda, at the age of 23 years. Although published four years later after Weep Not Child (1964, Heinemann) it established Ngugi as a prolific writer.
The clarity of prose, the simple and powerful words he uses gives him magnetism as a narrator giving the reader a mirror to check the society through the novel’s characters.
This school edition which the author has changed some lines and phrases is a high school set book in Kenya. Writing the preface of the book from Irvine California where he is a don the author hopes the book will inspire young readers to write like the same way he felt challenged before independence when there were no African writers.
Ngugi is an author of several plays, essays and novels like Petals of Blood (1977) which caused his detention by the Kenyatta government, Matigari (1987) and wizard of The Crow (2006). His novels A Grain of Wheat (1967) and Devil on The Cross (1982) were voted among AFRICA’S 100 BEST BOOKS of 20th Century.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nation Columnist Philip Ochieng’ was Stereotyped on Luos

Philip Ochieng'
I would like to comment on Philip Ochieng’s column My People have lost their sense of genuine heroism (Sunday Nation 16th January 2011). The columnist tone and complacency shows how tribal stereotype is dangerously rooted in Kenyan society.
Mr. Ochieng’ begins by writing of growing up with a particular kind of ethnic arrogance showing the wide scale stereotype of the Luo community.
This typecast like for other tribes has a dearth of any intellectual input often dangerously lumping together a whole community in a presumed character pool. The Kikuyu are ‘thieves’, Akamba  are ‘artists’, Luos are ‘educated’ and ‘stone throwers’,  Abaluhyas are ‘gluttons’,  Kisii’s love ‘bananas’, and so forth. The columnist Makau Mutua called the Kalenjins to Rwandan Hutu!1
Started from allocating ministerial posts based on tribal stereotypes by political elites it has percolated down to common wanainchi and even public colleges where student’s leaders are subjected to tribal bigotry in getting a post!
Equally, parents and students in this stupor often insist in developing careers through perceived tribal acumen. In many graduation ceremonies it doesn’t take rocket science to pick a tribal trend in the degree awards.
The greatest downside of these labels was felt in PEV. Often they are untrue and recipes to truculent debates making the hoi polloi to venture into different professions for fear of the unknown.
Mr. Ochieng’, though, creatively used the adversity affecting the Luoland; poor leadership, spineless elites and fake heroism to show why not only is Western Kenya underdeveloped, but the all country and the East Africa region.
As the author of Kenyattaa Succession and with expense journalism experience in East Africa and Europe (notably UN) Ochieng’ is truly elite whose observation of Luos and the community is often taken seriously. But when he wrote in the column “As such, there is nothing wrong with ethnic arrogance” my mind was triggered by to the forward of Mr. Ochieng’s book I Accuse the Press (1992) by Celesteous Juma as one of the most praise worthy I have read.
I hope Mr. Ochieng’ wont see it as a stereotype, or ethnic arrogance.