HOW I REMEMBER WAMBUI OTIENO-MBUGUA

1987,I was just eight years old in class 3 and i was fascinated by Wambui Otieno.

Her face was all over the newspapers,as she fought the Umira Kager clan who didnt want her burying her husband at their Ngong  home.The clan wanted him buried in Nyamila village,Nyalgunga in Siaya District.

I pored over the blow by blow accounts of the court proceedings that were printed out in the Daily Nation every day.

I could read pretty well for my age by then and I could not wait for my dad to bring home the paper so that I could see what would happen next.

Two things stuck out during that time,that Wambui was a woman fighting men who didn’t want her to bury her husband the way she wanted.

I will never forget picking out the words Umira Kager clan ,this  band of men that were hounding the poor widow because of traditions.

Feisty woman that she was Wambui fought the clan but the clan won and her husband was buried in his ancestral home.

Years later when Kenya had almost forgotten this woman who apart from being well educated ,came from a wealthy family and was reputed to have been a Mau Mau fighter,she hit the headlines again in 2003.

She was marrying a man 39 years younger than her.

Picture from mwakilishi.com

Kenyan society was scandalized but Wambui never faltered ,she was in love with Sam Mbugua.
I was enthralled with this feisty woman.

Now sad to say she has gone to rest after being unwell for sometime.

Let us not forget the courage with which she faced all her battles her gender not withstanding.

Let us remember Wambui the woman who was willing to confront tradition that said a woman should never challenge men in African society.

Let us remember Wambui the warrior who fought in the trenches with the men in the Mau Mau war.

Let us not forget that the rights we enjoy today as women were partly as a result of the battles and wars women like Wambui and others fought.

Let us remember and not forget that we owe Wambui and other fallen heroines of this country to fight for our daughters,grand daughters that they may enjoy freedom,rights and opportunities to live in a free and democratic country regardless of what tradition says.

Women like Wambui lit candle of women rights  when it was unfashionable to be so outspoken .

And now that she is gone,she has passed on the baton to the women left behind,let us keep the flame burning…….

Fare thee well Wambui Otieno- Mbugua.

Read about her court battle here and her marriage to Sammy Mbugua here.

BLOG ANYWAY………LIFE WITH WORDS

Blogging is a labour of love,putting thoughts into words and seeing them spring to life from my keyboard to the screen is so exhilarating.


Sometimes,most times I suffer from mental block and even cups of Kenya’s finest coffee do not have me bouncing off the walls with inspiration and feverish bending over my laptop;crazily typing away and breathing life into words.


But there are times I lie   in bed sleepless and cant wait to get up and see the blank white screen come to life with words.


As a blogger you can never tell,predict,imagine whether what you write will be understood or misconstrued but you blog anyway.


So far it has been amazing and I am loving every minute of it.


A peculiarity with my blog though is that i have seen more traffic from outside Kenyan than from within.
Maybe more people are curious about what is happening in our country than we are ..i do not know
But i write on


In another lifetime i will probably achieve my dream of teaching in a university about the beauty of words both spoken and written ,how much hope,fear,dreams and change they can bring if used well and how much destruction,hate,violence has been meted out on mankind using the same medium.


How I wish we were would be more careful with what we say,how we say it ,what we write and how  we write it…

VISION 2030 IS IN THE HANDS OF OUR CHILDREN,IN THE CLASSROOMS

Vision 2030 so far has been the property of all manner of stake holders,political pundits,skeptics,government officials,the Executive but not the Kenyan youth in schools who are the ones who are set to benefit the most from this vision as well as turn it into reality.

As a country are supposed to have achieved all the Millennium Development goals by 2015 before we can talk about 2030,these goals include,eliminating extreme hunger and poverty,achieved universal primary education for all,reduction in child mortality,improved maternal health,achieved environmental sustainability,achieved better partnerships with international development agencies and reduced incidences of HIV/AIDS and other major diseases.

Now those look easy compared to the ones vision 2030 aspires to,right?

We are yet to eliminate hunger,seeing that we had a major funds drive Kenyans4Kenya to feed fellow Kenyans that was mostly driven by the Kenyan public and the private sector.Every now and then most of us have read about one woman or several who have lost their lives during child birth,NEMA(National Environmental Management Authority) busy haranguing public service vehicles to provide wastebaskets while real estate developers are busy satisfying Kenyans appetite for living in suburbia by constructing gated communities in areas previously classified as wetlands.

A lot of the time many of the things that are important like asking ourselves how we will achieve vison 2030 when the MDG goals have proved elusive are not discussed.

The vision 2030 is based on three pillars,economic,social and political;an economic growth of 10% over the remaining 18 years,in a just and cohesive society enjoying equitable social development in a clean and secure environment and ensuring our politics is issue based,people centred,result oriented,accountable and democratic.

Young Kenyans today aged about 12 years will be 30 years of age by the time this vision is achieved,which only makes sense that they should be made aware of what this country hopes to be by the time they are adults.This will help them bring the dreams of their fathers and grand fathers(the drafters of vison 2030) into fruition.

A country’s future is vested in its children and if we aren’t asking our young ones to be  part of this vision or even involving them into the walk towards a better Kenya, i am sorry to say we aren’t going anywhere.

We need to hear Vision 2030 being preached to young Kenyans in our high schools and our universities.
These  young people need to start being made part of the development of this country.Otherwise all we are going to see is them having dreams of immigrating to other countries because theirs (Kenya ) is in shambles.

Apart form those of us who have been privileged to get a look at the document,or maybe attended the workshops or think tanks that have been organized on this dream of a middle income economy of the future,how many school heads know what Vision 2030  is all about?

Has these grand march to “freedom” been made part of the school curriculum?have changes been made to the education sector to factor in the fact that in 18 years the world will be a lot more  different from what it is today?

We just need to remember the destruction that was wrecked by young people in London to see what idle energy and no sense of purpose and belonging can do.

And back home,if we remember the crowd that was at Uhuru park for the Kenyans4 Kenya concert,it was made up mostly of young people.

What better example or evidence for hope can there be than this?young Kenyans are changing our country left,right,centre,Generation Y  is the answer to how fast or slow vision 2030 will see the light of day.

We need to hear it being taught in our classrooms from Mbale in the western part of the country  to Balich village in Garissa.Young people need to hear about  the visions of a better  Kenya so that the they grow up knowing exactly what is the dreams of their fathers were.Only in this way will we be able to get rid of the demons of tribalism,nepotism and corruption that stalk our daily lives.

VISION 2030 AND DANCING ANGELS ON PIN HEADS

How many angels can dance on a pin head……?

Can you see angels?

Can it be proved they exist ?

The question of how many of these “beings” can dance on a pin head originated in medieval times and was often times used as a metaphor for debates that usually ended up nowhere or had no clear answers.

And that to me is how the debate on who the most popular presidential candidate is to me.

Already it seems we have almost if not more than 20 presidential candidates all seemingly offering miracle cures of the Loliondo kind for what ails this country.

Am beginning to ask myself whether we aren’t being hoodwinked with the popularity contests instead of focusing on the key issues.

Like my pet subject, Vision 2030.

A lot of the time the politicking going on about issues is done devoid of the grand plan for Kenya that was funded by tax payers money.

Politicians and Kenyans too ,forget that what oils the cogs of government is tax payers money,hell even the coffee and sandwiches members enjoyed when they sat till 12.00 am to pass the pending bills was funded by tax payers.

So why aren’t we asking what these presidential wannabe’s are going to do for our beautiful country.

Why are we wasting time discussing polls,tribal alliances and whom we are going to fix next.

Because we are so caught up in non issues we have lost focus of the three key pillars(economic,social and political)that Vision 2030 rests on.

Take the economy for example which at the moment we cant do much about…However, we can be vigilante and show collective displeasure for kleptomaniacs who are hell bent on leaving treasury dry with  their pilfering.

We can be responsible citizens by asking for more transparency in the way CDF(constituency development funds) monies are spent,in the way the CDF boards are constituted,such that an MP does not use it to reward cronies.

On the social  front ,do all Kenyans feel safe and secure ,of course not! and this is largely due to the social inequalities that exist and also the high rate of unemployment among the youth.

This has resulted in them being the perpetrators of social crimes like theft,burglary,hijackings and all manner of social evils.

But something can be done here,like government  creating an enabling environment  for the private sector to run business that can soak up the large numbers of unemployed youth.Removing most of the bottle necks and bureaucracy when it comes to investors setting up business here would be a great boost to the economy.Rwanda has already made quantum leaps in this direction and is now number one  among the East African countries when it comes to attracting investments,it takes only a day to register a business there.

And what about our politics…..

We need to strengthen our parties,too bad that the  amendment by a section of parliamentarians to have party hopping safeguarded even a few days in the lead up to the general elections will do nothing but slow down reform in the political front.

Party hopping a quintessential Kenyan habit especially when it comes to politicians will be with us till another generation sees what lack of national values and political ideology can do.

In part Vision 2030 foresees this on the matter of politics as a pillar towards vision 2030 “…Kenyans shall formulate and adopt a set of national values,goals and a political ideology supportive of Vision 2030.Among the key guiding principles for this third pillar of the grand march to a middle income economy are :constitutional supremacy,sovereignty of the people,equality of the citizens,national values goals and ideology,visible political party system,public participation in governance,separation of powers and decentralisation.

All of the above make sense and if implemented would see us achieve political maturity as a country sooner than later. But after the recent happenings in parliament left me  wondering if we weren’t getting ourselves into  a fix by going against the very same plan against which our Vision 2030 is going to be propped on.

Pray,how does allowing party hopping and whimsical change of parties days to general elections strengthen or even promote ideology?

Guess this Vision will need another generation before it sees the light of day and that is why i posited in an earlier post that this change we need will have to start in our schools,among young Kenyans or else we will be discussing ethereal beings and their ability to dance or lack thereof on pin heads for a long long time.

WHY KENYANS NEED TO START WALKING OUT OF POLITICAL RALLIES

Apparently i am not suffering from arthritis as i previously thought i have wrist tendonitis.Le me explain…
I have been having some excruciating  pain shoot through my wrist every time someone shakes my right hand or i do any work that involves movement to my right wrist,texting,writing,sometimes even when typing my fingers have to be on the keyboard inclined at a certain angle.

Now i have been telling myself i can live with it till i get it attended to but it seems to be getting worse,so i need to see a doctor soon.

This discomfort if i may call it so has reminded me of the way Kenyans have been putting up with politicians                                          and their tribal rhetoric for as long as i can remember..which is like dog years .

We have been ululating,dancing to the drum beats of our politicians.Women have been gyrating their hips to the tunes of the piper who has paid them the highest to sing his praises and even our artistes sometimes grace this political platforms claiming to be doing it on neutral grounds but we should know better.

I was having a conversation with some very nice gentlemen on twitter and it started with someone asking whether Kenyans would ever move away from tribal based politics.Someone joined our conversation should and said that for you to succeed in politics you need tribal numbers.

Of course i had a rejoinder and  quickly tweeted back and told him that,its because we have made our politics that way,we think tribal numbers are all that matters when it comes to politics.

Then i sat back and thought,of course he is right in Kenya numbers matter,the bigger your tribal bloc the better.

Our leaders have made us believe that numbers and especially tribal number matter.It an excerpt fro the book Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan he says

 “……humans have a sad tendency to make the same mistakes again and again.We’re afraid of strangers or anybody who’s a little different from us.We we get scared ,we start pushing people around.We have readily accessible buttons that release powerful emotions when pressed.We can be manipulated into utter senselessness by clever politicians.Give us the right kind of leader and,like most suggestible subjects of hypnotherapists,we’ll gladly do just about anything he wants-even things we know to be wrong.”

Don’t you think this passage aptly describes us Kenyans..?

Look at the way we idolize our tribal chieftains,how there is so much hot air when someone is made an elder of such and such a tribe in Kenya.

Kenyans are very bright people and it is not like they do not know these readily “accessible buttons” as  politicians use.We know them.

Back to our tweeter discussion…I tweeted that Kenyans need to start walking out of rallies that are nothing but tribal rallying around.I was glad when it was re tweeted by a few Kenyans.Too few i thought.

But just think of what mass walk out would do  in one or two rallies,that is what should happen  and  (some of)  our  politicians would get it.We want issue based politics and not tribal war cries.

         

TEACHING THE CONSTITUTION TO OUR CHILDREN:THE WAY TO STOP TRIBALISM

This Saturday on the 27th of August,how many Kenyans will be popping bottles of champagne  and celebrating one year since we passed the new Constitution?Few if any and you know why,because nothing much has changed.

Except for the fact  that we have a new CJ,more judges were sworn in after going through a very open vetting process and that they   finally   get rid of the hideous wigs and cloaks they had to wear while in session,everything else remains as it was before August 27th 2010.
Things like the way we run our politics remain the same.And with an election next year,we are carrying on like we have done in the past ,basing our politics on personalities,tribal affiliations and nothing else.
How many of us have referred to the constitution in the run up to the general election?
Much as we may talk about the benefits of the new constitution i think we need to focus on the young Kenyans who still cannot vote and are in school because i think that is where the future of this country lies.
Teaching them about the Bill of  making it part of the their studies will go along way in ensuring that the next generation of Kenyans knows exactly what their parents and grand parents  voted in-a break from the past!
We should not wait for the government to start civic education ,as parents it should start in our homes.We could start with the easy stuff like the rights and fundamental freedoms they have as Kenyans and that are enshrined in the constitution.
The right to life for example, that is an easy one,that we are all equal before the law and that all women and men have the right to equal treatment  and opportunities in political,economic and cultural spheres.
Moving on would be that, no Kenyan deserves discrimination on any basis  whatsoever whether because of their sex,race,color,tribe,marital status,religion,conscience,belief or dress code.
Add to that the rights on freedom of expression so long as they do not include propaganda for war,or advocacy for hatred that constitutes ethnic incitement or is based on any form of discrimination.And that in exercising this freedom of expression the rights and reputations of others should be respected.
Too often we have had our politicians cloud our minds with tribal vitriol and it seems at least for now Kenyans have accepted their  charades as a way of life.
Yet this need not be so.
We can start changing the fortunes of our children by preaching to them the good news the constitution brings .That irrespective of their ethnic origins or gender they each have an equal stake in this country of 582,650 square kilometers.
Only in this way will we ensure that we are grooming future Kenyans free of the tribal bag loads their parents and grand parents have carried,yet make them proud of their ethnic diversity.
It will also ensure that we are grooming future leaders who will be focused on discussing issues and not tribal alliances,who will put the issues of all Kenyans before those of their tribes.
Catching Kenyans while they are young will be the best way to ensure these national values are part of the fabric of society.Can you imagine the ripple effect this will have in lets say 100 years?
Isn’t it a beautiful thing that we are seeing more and more Kenyans marrying across tribal lines even racial lines?that can be nothing but good news because soon we will not need to watch over what our politicians  or public office holders say or do just so they do not spread tribal bigotry or loot public funds.We shall have thrown off these “monkeys” of tribalism and corruption  that have  clung to our backs since independence and we can march on to a brighter future.

OPINION POLLS ARE JUST THAT……OPINIONS

The fact that an opinion is widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd;indeed,in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind,a wide-spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible”-Bertrand Rusell.

Opinion polls in Kenya,especially political ones are big business in Kenya and everyone is cashing in on it,especially now that it is one year to the election.

Everyone company polling Kenyans on their political opinions wants to prove to us that their have their pulse on Kenya’s political temperature and so you have  a poll released to media houses every other week.Most of them are all the same ,and they all focus on presidential candidates and their parties.

From who is most popular,to whose popularity is tanking you can be sure that most of them never offer anything new.

Too often Kenyans and politicians get fixated on these polls,yet they are just opinions which are just a reflection of people beliefs and are not based on facts.

If we look at the way the polls are conducted,they never even focus on issues,to me they are just glorified popularity contests like you would expect among teenagers in high school,we should not take them too seriously.

But as a harbinger of the general political mood of Kenyans ,they are a good indicator.

How i wish they would focus less on politicians and more on what Kenyans want form their next presidential candidate.In my opinion they are just exercebating the Kenyan obsession with personality based politics that relies more on individual clout rather than on real issues that face the 40 million or so Kenyans.

We can be sure that most Kenyans political opinions are not tempered with good sense,facts or even critical thought,most of the time our opinions are clouded by ethnic bias and are often based on “facts” gained from media and most of these are never thoroughly researched too.

We forget that most politicians are like actors ,they know how to read the mood of their audiences and playing to the gallery is second nature just like breathing.Kenyans too have perfected this art among themselves,we are very adept at hiding our feelings and have a penchant for never calling out greed,impunity and blatant disregard for what it really  is.

Opinion polls should not be the yard stick by which we use to form political alliances or even make decisions as to who heads this country.The search for the next Kenyan president should be based on facts and not widely held beliefs.It should be based on character,integrity,honesty,faithfulness to the constitution and a sense of servitude to the Kenyan people and the nation as a whole.