Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Poem: Some dreams by Manuel Odeny

Courtesy: Lesley Harrison
They just disappear




like morning mist



gone completely

unfelt, uncherished

like an odorless fart

in a gale

From a collection of my unpublished manuscript I'll Dare Dream (The Ghetto Dream) and other poems)

© 2011Manuel Odeny

PS: I just created a Facebook page for the blog follow the link to 'Like' http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Burning-Splint/182240281845987

Monday, August 22, 2011

Poem: Nairobi by Manuel Odeny

This concrete jungle
striking, confusing
with a dearth of appeal
like a doodle,
an open man hole
gaping, grasping
maggots slimy
squirming, squelching
trip in-
before rock bottom
you dare dread
the slimy you
when surfaced!!!!

PS: I have created the Facebook page for The Burning Splint. you are welcomed to 'Like' and 'Share' 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Is bullying a learnt or hereditary trait?

Blame it on the genes.
Recent studies by scientists have established that bullying and aggressive traits in people can be caused by genetic formation in the DNA.

Thalia a London based scholar studied 1,523 twins in Sweden and Britain with a half of them being identical and sharing some identical inheritance found that gene play a role in formation of aggressive behavior causing bullying.

The study, published in Child Development Journal strongly tied Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) has a flaw in character trait that makes a person to be more likely to be a bully.

“Aggressive behavior can be inherited by the gene ADHD although social environment plays a highly significant role in non-aggressive anti-social manners” the research said.

The finding now adds genetics to other causes of bullying like low self-esteem, poor parental upbringing and social context.

While boys are more likely to be influenced into bullying from their environment, girls are predestined be traits in their genes into the anti-social behavior, the study said.

“In girls, a beautiful and more sexually active female is more likely to be bullied as she appears to be more attractive for mating making her more competitive” Zapito Marini’s atavistic angle in Bullying from an Evolutionary Perspective is quoted in the study.

Marni espouses that gene leads to bullying as a specie is forced to procreate and pass the dominant gene to the next generation in Darwinian theory.

Equally excess or low genetic neurotransmitter serotonin and other enzymes are a main cause of the trait with bullies having a 10% likelihood of verbal abuse and 16% chances of getting into a physical fight as compared to other people.

“Bullying is when people use their strength or power of some kind to hurt weaker people” Prof Dan Olweus of University of Bergen, Norway says.

A bully dominates, blames and uses others for their means with poor soial skills and lack of compassion for weaker people whom they see as preys.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Horn of Africa: Will Famine in Ethiopia lead to a Regime Change?

Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi, his government has been implicted for holding aid from rebels and opposition areas.
The report of Ethiopian government under Meles Zenawi using aid as a weapon against opposition in the famine ravaging the Horn of Africa is worrying. This trend is compounded with mass detentions, widespread torture and extra judicial killings.
Sadly, this same scenario during famine in the country helped in toppling Haile Selassie and Mengistu in 1974 and 1991 respectively. The current famine affecting about 10 million people in the region and the worst in 60 years according to UN may cause a regime change.
BBC Newsnight report has uncovered the ruling party Ethiopia People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) as denying people deemed to have voted for the opposition in 2005 and 2010 elections food, fertilizer and seeds.
The report has been supported by earlier ones by Amnesty International and UN.
As a major western ally in counter terrorism, Ethiopian is among the largest recipient of aid in the continent explaining the laxity in upholding human rights record since the country is pivotal in controlling Somalia’s Al-shabaab rebels.
It is estimated that 13 million Ethiopians are dependent on aid making it a potent weapon of war.
“There is a great deal of political differentiation. People who support the ruling party, the EPRDF, and our members are treated differently. The motivation is buying support (by) holding the population hostage” Prof. Beyene Petros an opposition politician is quoted in the report.
Southern Ethiopia is worst hit like areas controlled by Somalia tribe Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) where about 200 people throng to Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya daily.
 Considering the country’s history of regime change in famine will the ripple in Ethiopia tickle in other countries of the Horn of Africa?
The 1973 famine that claimed tens-of-thousands peasant became the last straw that broke Emperor Selassie by coalescing disparate rebels and elites against his monarchy. The rebels included Ogaden, Oromo and Eritrea.
Then, like now, the government insisted it could feed the population to avoid shame in international community.  When he was toppled and killed by Mengistu in 1975, a British movie The Hidden Famine was aired on state television showing the Emperor and his entourage feasting on champagne, caviar and feeding dogs from silver trays while the famine killed people. (I posted Selassie's life here)
Later, in a sharp precision the ghost of 1984 famine would topple Mengistu in 1991 undermined by support gained from Soviet bloc and Cuba in quashing rebellion.  To avoid international condemnation and shame the government banned donors, journalist and foreign visitors from famine areas.
Aid was used as a weapon in war, to fund the army and in celebration of Mengistu decade rule. (Mengistu's rule is here )
“There was famine in Ethiopia for years before we took power, it was the way nature kept the balnce” Mengistu is quoted by Dawit Wolde Giorgis his minister in Red Tears: War, Famine and Revolution in Ethiopia (Red Sea Press: 1989)
The world was only jolted into reality when Kenya photojournalist Mohammed Amin and Michael Burke from sidelines of Mengistu celebrations on 23rd October 1984 broadcasted the famine for BBC which was aired on 425 TVs worldwide and aid in rising over $1 billion in a year. (Read about Amin's life  here)
A famine victim in Dadaab Kenya 
This revelation never made Ethiopia to relent on her stance which brought together Tigray rebels (now in power), Eritera and Ogaden in a major offensive that toppled the government.
Now Zenawi is in power supported by aid from the West which he uses against opposition and rebels. Zenawi is reading from the same script as its predecessors and expects peace and unity.
The famine across the Horn of Africa is causing mass movements, conflict and little faith on governments. The big question now is: how long will foreign aid be used as a weapon in Ethiopia before a war against the regime erupts?

Qualifying your Beefs, Haters

“Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.” Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

“Mannu, we need to look for a chance and blaze it out for these guys. I hate the ways these haters are pushing us down” Edu, my fellow internee complained for the nth time. We were strolling after lunch back to office.
I completely agreed, but my only reservation was how the word hater and beef, common in Nairobi, was thrown in the statement. I have come to think about Edu’s statement at the beginning of our attachment and found myself reciting the lines above from Desiderata.
For my readers outside the Kenya, the words originate from Hip Hop meaning someone hell-bend in stunting your growth in life, business, career or relationship.
The words have got a fad with beefs (quarrels) against haters being an in thing for one to appear cool and focused in life/business/career/relationship etc
In the case above, or rather Edu’s, the beef was that camera and events were being kept away from us though we later successfully skirted through the hurdles by keeping away from obnoxious individuals and gaining trust from helpful ones to learn a lot within a short period of time.
To the gist of this post is trying to look at how one can qualify beefs and haters; that is if there is a need to have any.
First and foremost, just because you think you have a tight business plan, in ‘serious’ relationship, run a popular blog, with a perfect CV etc, etc doesn’t make anyone not interested in your idea a hater. Just go ahead with your plan and not hating people just because they are not reading from the same script with you.
Consider Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew and George Orwell’s Animal Farm the two though rejected by publishers revolutionized paperback books and literature respectively.  The two went ahead with their plan without dwelling on haters.
Secondly, going about looking for and tagging haters is a sure way of killing your dreams and opportunities in life.  The world is filled with people calling themselves open minded/experts/pioneers clouded with their individual proclivities by taking issues with your lifestyle and achievements. Never take chance with someone struggling to pull you down to his level.
The best way is side stepping them to “avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit”
Additionally, taking an angle to shine so as to prove to a hater your worth only reduces one’s effort to being a mascot. You easily deviate from your goals to impress an ego giving a dearth of passion, satisfaction or need of success in life’s dreams and goals.
“We are experienced just take your time to ask and you will be helped” an office worker advised us which confirmed that people we have beef with may sometimes not be haters. Let me digress and explain this in the next two paragraphs.
Once when I was a kid growing up in Mombasa, Kenya we derived pleasure in hitting electric wires and marvel at sparks emitted when they touched. The best time was the midday heat when the wires were lax; we were oblivious of how excess current used to burn up appliances and power transformers.
We went on with our childhood pranks innocently which could have made KPLC tagging us as ‘haters’ laughable. That is exactly when you hold a beef with people who don’t even care if you exist leave alone your feelings.
In life when you are sure of what you do and being in right track then combine dedication, passion and honesty to reach your dreams. With a world full of people looking for scapegoats  in beefs and haters move on and never be bogged down with other’s trivia!

A Dholuo Poem: Akwanyo Sindan by Manuel Odeny

Akwanyo sindan,
Atang’ meru,
Amero kong’o,
Akong’ lau,
Alaw gweno,
Aguen chogo,
Achog rabolo,
Abol suka,
Asuk wiya,
Awi tuoro,
Atuor nindo,
Anindo kama,
to anindo kama,

(There is a calming madness when writing in your mother tongue, Dholuo)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Will Fundamental Islamists fill the void left by Arab Revolution?

Demonstrators at Tahrir Square, Egypt.
Last Friday after prayers from mosques Muslim Brotherhood lead demonstrators at Tahrir Square which was the largest after the 11th February overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.
The protesters led by salafist calling for a strict implementation of sharia laws are stoking fears and tension from secularist whose basis for democracy and freedom was core for the Arab revolution. The secularist who started the revolution boycotted the demonstrations last week and they risk being pushed away by Muslims.
With over 90% Muslim population and the Brotherhood being the longest opposition party and the one that suffered most under Mubarak this demonstration is an attempt in showing its muscle in the country’s politics.
The BBC reported death, violence and guns shots were heard especially in Sinai region bordering Israel by Islamists.
Arab dictators loathed by their citizens and backed by the West helped curb fundamentalists groups like Al-Qaeda through the iron rule. Ironically their control couldn’t reach the mosques making radicals to flourish through religion.
It was from the mosques that last week’s protests were organized as torture and indiscriminate jailing is controlled, will radicalism find a free opening?
Already Israel which abuts Arab countries is afraid of Islamist shifting the revolution away from it course which may aid the Hamas.
Though the revolution desire to outset a dictator by popular uprising is the main glue holding together disparate functions, tribes and religions, once the erstwhile figure is removed there is danger on internecine squabbles to start.
Consider the killing of Libya’s National Transitional Councils commander Abdel Fatah Younes who defected from the government to aid his tribe in Benghazi. Reports indicate he was killed by rebels from an opposing tribe.
Gaddafi has already gone on record taunting the West supporting the rebels that his 42 year iron rule checked tribal and religious strife in his country, which begs the picture after his demise.
Further in Yemen the upheaval has disintegrated into tribal functions and Al-Qaeda clawing each other and the government giving President Abdullah Saleh a life line.
The picture is grim in Syria where the 40 year of ASSAD dynasty is fraying at the edge with the West and neighbors fearing the void left behind. This void with over 200 sects and tribes and the country which abuts Middle East volatile areas has made a resort to soft diplomacy unlike open one in Libya.
“What makes Syria distinct is that the region and the system has a close structural link with every conflict or player in the region: Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, Lebanon, Israel, America, Iraq, Turkey.” Rami Khoun, a Middle East analyst from Lebanon is quoted by Reuters.
This Syrian empty space, reflecting other Arab revolutions, can cause sectarian  violence and satellite sates between Shi’ites and Sunnis, Arabs and Kurds/Tribes, and Christians and Muslims which Islamists like Al-qaeda can thrive in the turmoil.

Mombasa Fuel Spillage a Disaster in Waiting

Engineers from Kenya Pipeline Company fixing the fuel spillage last week (PHOTO: Daily Nation; Kenya)
The fuel spillage from Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) last week in Mariakani Mombasa is a tip of an iceberg for disaster waiting to occur due to poor planning.
The Thursday incident caused by bulldozers on road construction saw over 400,000 liters of fuel worth over Ksh. 28 million going to waste.
That the pipe was only a foot from the surface instead on the mandatory 6 feet shows that the pipes laid in 1978 need repair to check the effect of erosion and population pressure for safety.
Wanainchi scrambling for fuel and late police intervention even with the country’s history of deaths caused by spillage compounds the problem.
This scenario is perhaps more pronounced at Magongo overlooking the entrance of the refinery where even though several signposts cautioning the danger of underlying pies, with valves on grounds, are ignored. Hotels using raw fuel, construction and human and matatu traffic goes on in the area oblivious of the danger.
Last week’s incident if it may happen at night in a place like Magongo plus the delayed police response which shows our slow disaster preparedness can be catastrophic.
The ministry of energy and the KPC together with the Mombasa Council need to check the status of these pipes. 

(Published in 2nd August 2011 issue of The Star and The Standard)