WHY KENYAN EMPLOYERS SHOULD BE ASHAMED

Three months paid leave in addition to a month of paid annual leave that women in Kenya are now entitled to have made employers in the country uncomfortable about employing women.Compare that with Sweden that has an year of paid maternity leave for its women.While it Kenya maybe light years away from Sweden in terms of development women shouldn’t be denied jobs because of their gender in an era when big corporates in Kenya are jumping on the paternity leave bandwagon.This was highlighted in a short segment on NTV’S business program pm live where it was reported there was an 11%drop in the number of employers willing to allow hire women.

A lot of the time how a society treats it women says tonnes about its social progress.While we grudgingly let go of the traditional views that a woman’s place is in the kitchen we are also embracing progress and this cannot be better said than in the current constitution that gave women what has been theirs all along-a right to be heard and to make their choice of representatives .It has given women more seats in elective position than at any other time in our country’s history and it is my hope we will see people worthy and capable get elected.

Infidel is the gripping story of Ayan Hirsi who fled to Kenya with her family from Somalia and who despite her now famous status underwent female genital mutilation as a coming of age ritual and so as her grandmother put it she wouldn’t lack a husband.We still hear stories in Kenya today of girls running away from home because they are being forced to undergo the cut.At university one of my research papers in undergraduate classes was on FGM,and i cringed as i read about how girls were forced to undergo the cut in a bid to make “women”of them.But who says a woman should be defined by her physical attributes or lack thereof of some part,who says a woman is less than a a man because she has to rush a sick child to hospital and is passed over for promotion in lieu of a man who didn’t have to work 10 times as hard in his climb up the corporate ladder?all this because an employer has chosen to define a woman by the many roles she juggles at home and in the office and is looking at the bottom line.

Women are the ones who carry society”s future in the wombs,they nourish babies at their breasts and who work tirelessly to make sure the bellies of little children are full.Many a mother will forgo a meal for a hungry child,another will do work to the bone to make sure her children go to the best schools.Lets not disregard this crucial members of our society without whom we wouldn’t be here today.

HUNGER,DROUGHT AND WHY KENYANS ALWAYS PLAN TO FAIL

If you fail to plan you are definitely going to fail or so it goes.And looking at the things our leaders are really  good at,one of them is their lack of planning.

Samburu is always the first place we look to when drought strike and as sure as dawn will come , there are stories in all TV station of the dire straits these people are in due to the drought ravaging this  region.People are hungry and women are walking for miles in search of water.It sounds the warning bell that hunger in other part of the country will soon follow.

Just this past week i watched as a 65+ year old man with 12 wives and 60 children begged the government for help before they all died.As i watched him i couldn’t help but cry for the children of this man,what was a man like him thinking!60 children!and about a dozen of them seemed to be under the age of five years.Maybe he was hoping that with more children their rate of survival in the harsh climate that Samburu is would be higher if anything(God forbid) happened.But wouldn’t it be more reasonable to have fewer kids ,so that you are able to provide with them with the  best care better rather  than have  a coterie that you can barely feed when disaster strikes.

Anyway back to our lack of planning…….even after a warning was issued by the meteorological department about the looming drought that would face the country this year,our leaders were too busy traversing the country ,lambasting their opponents on their plans to finish them politically .

It should be time that we Kenyans took leadership seriously and sued our representatives for taking us for a ride.We are paying them and its about time we demanded value for our money,someone needs to get fired Donald Trump style,no velvet glove approach ,just a plain three word sentence“you are fired” will do.With a slew of ministries like Agriculture,Special programs,planning,Finance and even provincial administration how did they miss all the signs of an impending drought?do these people watch local news ?

If you read the Bible you are familiar with the story of Joseph’s smart thinking and planning when God spoke to him through a dream that not only saved him from the hangman’s noose but the people in the land of the pharaohs too from famine.Now if only we had 2 Josephs sitting in the cabinet someone would have noticed the bumper harvest we had last year and they would have thought of buying off the bags of grain from farmers whose maize went to waste because there was no space to store them.Someone somewhere would have come up with a way to prolong the life of the gallons of milk that went to waste in the KCC factories all over the country because they factories lacked storage facilities.Instead of putting up palatial residences for our leaders we would be better off spending the money on building more grain storage facilities and modernizing our milk and meat processing facilities.

Come next year we will be having elections and apart from the usual suspects campaigning for the top seat we haven’t had any new entrants throwing their hats into the ring.A few months to the elections some people will wake up in the morning and call a press conference surrounded by a few side kicks and tell us they want to run for the top seat.No thought will have been put to their manifesto because it will be a matter of copy pasting another manifesto from some party outfit from five years ago,the only thing that will change is the party logo.

Maybe this is just a reflection of how we as Kenyans eschew planning ,but just take a look at the mad rush that goes on when schools open in January yet there was a whole month between the time when schools close and when they open.Lack of planning is a national disease and it is time we changed the way we run our lives or we shall be like dogs chasing our own tails.

Lets pray help comes to  the the old man and his family of 70 in Samburu  and soon before things get worse and lets plan to elect leaders with fore sight and vision next year.

Why i have been having nightmares.

Two stories have been causing me nightmares repeatedly over the past two weeks,maybe its because i am a mother and have a daughter who is pretty young.The stories have been of two young girls,one of them was murdered in Kariobangi South during a burglary and the other a young girl life snatched out of her in Thogoto while out on an errand.Where is Dr Frank Njenga to help us understand the sick minds of any man or woman who has sunk so low that human life especially that of a child means nothing to them.

On American TV there are strange shows like Women who kill,or they will even profile the life of a serial killer and as you watch them you may think the world is going to hell in a basket.I am never able to get through this shows so i always end up changing channels without ever finding out what drives these men and women but i never forget the empty ,dead look in their eyes when they recall their crimes.

Taking another human being life has to be the ultimate sin according to me and especially if it is that of an innocent,defenseless child.As i thought about the two young girls who lost their lives i couldn’t help but cry for their mothers,fathers and siblings who wouldn’t be able to understand the cruel hand that fate dealt them.It is hard to even imagine what was going on in the minds of these children,scared as they were when they realized that these person(s)standing in front of them were up to.They must have thought of their mothers,as most children do when confronted with danger,maybe they cried out for help hoping and praying someone would hear them.Maybe even hoping the perpetrators of the crime would find it in their hearts to let them be.But our girls were not lucky……

It is my hope and prayer that when they are caught and brought to trial the evil hands behind these murders face the stiffest and harshest sentences that can be handed out by our courts.

KENYAN TALK SHOWS-A Little more oomph please

Piers Morgan took over from Larry King and he got a show of his own Piers Morgan Tonight after Larry’s show winded up after 26 years which is a fairly long run for a show.We don’t have nay show on the Kenyan scene that has had such longevity.

Growing up i remember watching Press Conference that used to air on KBC which was then the only TV station and sometimes there were interesting guests other times i dozed off.Many TV talk shows later i have learned that the secret to a great show is a great host,someone who is able to engage their guests in a conversation and not a shouting match,show down or condescending attitude.

It seems to me Kenyan hosts always want to prove a point.It is okay for every host to have an agenda but it shouldn’t be so obvious to your audience that you are trying to prove a point.It is interesting to watch hosts who know how to bring out the best in their guest,this is because they have done their homework,know who this people are,what they think so much so that for the guest on your show it feels like you are having a conversation with a friend.Some people do this work of bringing out the best in others so well that watching Piers interview Howard Stern the infamous radio show host i actually loved him!

Captivating shows would be a great boon in a country where we have so many soap operas and Nigerian movies its hard to see a program where people are discussing real issues in a lively engaging manner.Julie Gichuru does this to some degree in her show but we do a need a place where real issues meet real people and great hosts.

POWERPUFF GIRL MENTALITY


After watching this carton series for years and now having to watch it with my four year old daughter, I have developed a habit of trying to learn something new from all the toons I watch. Before you ask what a cartoon series has to do with a women’s magazine, hear me out.

The creator of the series Craig McCracken came up with these animated series that revolves around the lives of three lovable girls, Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles .They are the super heroes of Towns ville (a fictional town) and their work among all the normal hum drum of attending school, playing house is to save and defend the towns people from monsters and villains the likes of mojo jojo and the amoeba boys.
In real life, I liken Blossom and her siblings to your normal day to day African woman in Nairobi,Kampala or Kigali juggling work, family and other social responsibilities. But this woman faces a number of villains as she goes about her daily life, from societal prejudices she faces as a result of her gender, to the proverbial glass ceiling as she climbs the corporate ladder, maybe even the emotional, physical and sexual abuse she may be facing it is no easy task being a woman today.
One of my favorite annual rituals every year is to buy the pull out of the Top 40 under 40 in the Business Daily, which is a profile of women doing well in various disciplines from business, to the public and private sector to academia. And this year true to their word they never disappointed. They had the crème dela crème of women in Kenya today who are making inroads in all facets of society.
When confronting issues that are facing women today, we need to be careful not to overplay the equality card lest we leave out the men whose support we may require. The key to achieving balance in any woman’s life is to strike a balance where she is able to use her wits, femininity and skills to her advantage.

One of the women interviewed for these series was Kanini Muthoni who at 34 is a director at Kleinwort Benson and she says” women are endowed with a number of qualities that give them an advantage over men in the boardroom if they utilize them well. We are better risk takers, far better at communicating than men and generally very well organized’
From the first female pilot at the national carrier Kenya Airways, Captain Irene Mutungi to Caroline Mbui who at 33 is the Group Business Strategy Director at Ogilvy (Kenya) and whose responsibility it is to market Kenya to both local and foreign investors, Kenyan women have made great strides in all fields.

The three girls in the cartoon series have been described as sugar, spice and all things nice-which is an idiom used to describe girls but their creator Professor Utanium accidentally added something extra-Chemical X which gave each of these girls superpowers. Call this chemical x fortitude, courage to go where no other women have dared to or ambition, but this is what every woman needs in order to excel in whatever field she finds herself in be it business, the public or private sector.

Young women and girls today are not lacking in role models as we a few decades back, women need to go out and show what they can do. They need to go fight the monsters and villains that are facing our society today from poverty, to discrimination, to lack of information there is still a lot that women reading this today can do to pave the way for future generations to learn from.
Mentoring young girls in schools is one way for them to show this girls who may or may not have role models that the sky is the limit. They need not be afraid or ashamed of their gender. Their skills and their femininity are a strength that they can tap into to chart a brighter future for themselves.
Every year in Kenya we have the national examination for high school students that start in October and each year we have girls who sit their examinations just after giving birth. Our girls need to know about their sexuality and the need to abstain till they are through with their education. And there is no better way for them to learn this than from their sisters reading this article or even from the mother with a little girl reading this. One day that cute four year old is going to ask you the birds and the bees question and there is no one better placed to address this than you.
We also need to have more women involved in their community affairs be it in civil or political societies because the big wigs in parliament making the decisions that are affecting women today may not have the pulse on what is affecting the woman in Kenya today. It is up to you and me to confront these issues be it by joining civil society groups or standing up for elective posts women and young women especially need to make their voices heard amid all the din the men are making. The issues affecting women like accessibility to quality health care, poverty, abuse are better articulated and understood coming from a sister.

Last but not least, as they say you can only change the world one bit at a time and it start with you and me. Let women today make those subtle changes that will make the world a better place for the next generation of girls. We can tap into harness the little things that make the woman in us special, the sugar, spice and all things nice that we possess. Let’s unleash our power puff girls’ mentality and conquer the world!

TIME TO END THE KENYAN PITY PARTY

A pity party is basically a bash where you spend time feeling oh so sorry for yourself and how life has handed you lemons and you have no juicer to make lemonade.You can even throw nyama choma and crates of Tusker(damn the Mututho laws) and invite all your BFF’s to feel sorry for you.

This is what Kenyans are doing and are fond of every time there is a disaster.Jut take a look at what is happening 18 days into the new year.Starting off with the lack of food in the country , alerts were put out in September last year but we were too busy waiting for the Ocampo list to take any notice.Now i hear there are farmers in Eldoret lining up to sell their harvest at the NCPB offices while a portion of the country starves.It is only last year too where we had a milk glut and we witnessed milk by the gallons going to waste.With lack of food we have malnourished children who guess what-will get powdered milk from relief agencies who will have imported it from country that knows the importance of planning ahead.

Things get even sorrier for us because now we have the Ocampo six legal fees to think about while IDP’S are still languishing in camps and the land the government had promised would be available for resettlement in Mau Narok has been declared a no go zone by the high court.Bring on the champagne because now KRA says its falling short of its tax collection just 5 months before we get to hear the budget read and what this probably means increased taxes on basic commodities.

You cant have a party without an audience and just like babies we know the loudest cries get mummy’s attention.We have become a nation of whiners and listening to any Kenyan you can bet they are complaining about the Mututho laws,the governments unfair decision to increase quota allocation for students from public schools,sky rocketing fuel prizes,insecurity,corruption and a host of other Kenyan made problems.But for all our hollering our mummy’s(read politicians and government) have gotten so used to it it no longer serves its purpose.

It is time for the party to end ! We spend so much time glorifying ill gotten wealth,promoting ethnic exclusivity and generally not thinking too far ahead that is why we have no one to blame for our problems but ourselves.Listening to the people positioning themselves for the top slots in the coming elections,we all know what they have or haven’t done whether good or bad but i can bet my last kobole that we will see the same faces in parliament after 2012.As we whine about increasing insecurity and corruption,we know we live with these same thieves and muggers in our homes yet we prefer to bury our heads in the sands as they commit their crimes and we brush off their misdeeds but who knows we may be their next victim when they run out of victims.

It is time we stopped feeling sorry for ourselves and took responsibility for our problems and actions.We need to elect sober and better leaders with a vision that goes far beyond their bank account,parents need to push the government for better education standards where classes in public schools are smaller and teachers receive better remuneration.We need to demand a higher moral code from our leaders in both the private and public sectors where we eschew corruption and reward integrity and honesty.We need to stop the pity party and get to work building a future for our children and ourselves.And not just any future but one where a child born todday is assured they will not die at birth because of poor hospital facilities ,or have their dreams quashed in teenage hood because of a flawed education system or at the hands of a speeding public service vehicle in their twenties because of poor road network and a crazy driver or in their thirties as a result of illegal brews or hang themselves in their forties because life became too hard.

CALL RATES,TAXES AND BUDGET DEFICIT

When the mobile price wars started and everyone was celebrating the lowered rates i said we would pay for it in a few months when KRA fell short of its tax collection.At the time people said i was spoiling the party.Months later the chickens have come home to roost and KRA has already fallen short of its target for this quarter by 5 billion.
Airtel on the other hand goes ahead and lowers its call rates to 1 kshs per minute,you have got to wonder what they are using to pay their employees .

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore has come out and said price wars will not be sustainable and this coming from a man who heads a company that is essentially Kenyan made and owned we need to worry.While everyone would love today almost next to nothing for calls we need to remember we have husbands,brothers,mothers and fathers who run this hugely successful(so far) corporate and come October it share holder will be expecting to get some dividends for investing heir hard earned cash on this Kenyan company.Its i my hope that the CCK i taking some time out to reflect on the ongoing shenanigans in the mobile phone market and their sustainability in the final end because come June when Mr Uhuru reads the budget which is expected to hit the 1 trillion mark they will not want to play to the public gallery again by endorsing rules that hurt successful enterprises.

For the country to be bale to pay its bloated cabinet,run its fuel guzzlers,pay the endless commissions and our not so honorable members of parliament we may need to pay more for certain essential items.As sure as the sun will rise from the east tomorrow i would bet my left arm that we are going to see tax increases in June.And seeing that next year is an election year the issues facing the common man will be very far from our legislators mind so forget the MPS being rational over the mwananchis’ concerns