WHAT REALLY MAKES A GREAT LEADER?

April 2010.

My daughter was three years and we  were at the Rift Valley Sports Club in Nakuru .

It was late afternoon and while we were having lunch who comes in?

Kabando wa Kabando in the company of a few other people who looked like MP’s.

My daughter was running around with a book and she happened to pass by Kabando just as he was being shown to his table.

He bent down shook her hand and asked her what she was doing.

On showing him the book she was reading, he took it and proceeded to go through the 10 or so pages with her reading out aloud.

He waved at us and proceeded to join his group.

Now most Kenyan MP’s have this diva attitude about them,like they would rather not talk to the mere mortals who elected them.

They drive around in cars that have tinted windows,have traffic cleared hours before they leave their houses and are members of very exclusive clubs.

I wrote about the reason Kenyans should not be surprised about this behaviour here.

This is in sharp contrast to the very ideal that leadership should be about.

Being a leader is a call to service.

It requires that the men and women who aspire to such positions  be servant leaders.

How many times have you seen a Kenyan leader rise to the occasion and put the country first before self?

Did they do it when they were asked to pay taxes?

Do they do it when joining political parties driven by ideals and not-self interest?

Do they show it when passing legislation in parliament?

Do they show when carrying out their political campaigns?

Are they showing it now as we gear up for the elections in an year’s time?

What really makes a great Kenyan leader?

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.

IN MEMORY OF SAMUEL WANJIRU

It has taken me almost a week to get over Samuel Wanjiru’s tragic death,since Monday morning when i heard about it i couldn’t stop asking myself why the young man died in such a manner.I have scoured the internet reading the articles and forums discussing the circumstances surrounding his sad demise and still there aren’t any answers that can explain it.The ensuing drama and controversy among his immediate and extended family has not made things any better and at this rate he will be remembered as much as for the records he broke as well as for the manner in which he lived and died.

I never met Samuel but having watched him for the first time as he won Kenya’s first gold at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008.At a steady pace he entered the stadium amidst cheers from the huge crowds attending the games.When he got to the finish line,he made the sign of the cross then knelt on the track head bowed as if in prayer.At 21 he was the youngest ever marathon champion since 1932.

Then last year he went and did his magic at the Chicago marathon,which he won for the second time.Just before he went to Chicago for what was to be his last marathon,he appeared on the comedy show Churchill live and the host Daniel Ndambuki (Churchill)asked him for a favour,that when he won the Marathon he would make a two finger salute just so Churchill)could remember he had been on the show.He went won the race and Churchill got his salute.When the show was aired this past Thursday Churchill played clips from the interview and he sterling finish at the Chicago Marathon in October and i teared up.I could not help crying for this young man who met such a ad end at such a tender age.

For the first time,i realized what a troubled young man he was.Like all child prodigy’s he had problems.These children ,young men and women who show extraordinary ability and talent face so many problem including self esteem and anxiety issues.The BBC had a beautiful article in 2006 highlighting the problems these children face and you can read it here

Samuel had all the classic signs of a troubled young man but the people around him seemed to have missed all the signs.At 24 he had money in his account that would take me several life times to earn,drove top of the range cars and lived in a lavish house,he was rolling in money as Americans would say.But he was also battling with alcohol abuse,marital problems and just early this year he was taken to court by the woman we knew as his wife Teresia Njeri.Kamau was accused of threatening his wife,security guard and domestic help with an unlicensed AK 47,the wife was also seeking separation and financial support.She later dropped the charges and the couple reconciled on the 14th of February this year.

If you are reading this and remember watching the sitcom Different Strokes in the late 80’s you will recall Arnold(Gary Coleman) and Willis(Todd Bridges) who played African American brothers who were adopted by a wealthy business man Mr Drummond(Conrad Bain) who had a daughter named Kimberly(Dana Plato).The comedy was a hit and garnered the child starts immense popularity.

However for the child stars their lives were a far from the perfect,all of them except for Willis(Todd Bridges)are alive today.Dana Plato died from a drug over dose at just 34,Gary Coleman died from complications resulting from his congenital autoimmune kidney disease at 42 years.Dana had been arrested twice for armed robbery and for forging a prescription while Gary’s life featured legal battles with his parents for financial mismanagement,troubled marriage,assault charges and disorderly conduct.Todd Bridges while still alive has battled drug abuse but eventually he cleaned himself up.

Without laying any blame on any one person for Samuel’s death it is at least clear that somehow we missed the symptoms of the inner struggles he had.The athletic industry being the cut throat business it is pushes athletes to be nothing but the best ,care should be taken that these young people at the camps are not pushed to the precipice.The sudden thrust to stardom when they break world records maybe too much for these young people who still haven’t matured emotionally enough to handle such stress and pressure to perform.Even the lavish lifestyles they follow after winning millions at the races maybe too much for them.They are being forced to grow ip so quickly with society and the country expecting so much of them that we are seeing 20 year old men being forced to act like they are 40 years.

Something i am sure of is that this should be a wake up call for the athletics body in Kenya,the mangers who train the athletes,parents and older athletic fraternity to take a careful look at the way these young talented boys and girls are being brought up.They need to be nurtured,mentored and managed in such a manner that they are allowed to be children and to mature like any normal child and in an environment devoid of pressure and the stress of bringing home medals and cash.It is only be making sure this happens that we will not see another young man walk down the road Kamau walked in his short life.

R.I.P Kamau,you made Kenyan proud.

Tribute from the IAAF on learning of the death of the young Kenyan can be read here.

IN MY DAUGHTER’S EYES………..


While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

Just the other day while we were watching Tusker Project Fame show on Citizen TV(Kenyan version of American Idol)my daughter asked me where Alpha (last years winner)came from.I answered Rwanda, and she told me”you are going to take me to Rwanda mum,so i can go see him”.I was stunned to say the least,that she said this and her voice held no doubt that mummy is going to do it.

While more often than not i am always second guessing myself,here was my four year old reminding me that i can accomplish anything i set my heart on(within reason of course).

She is still afraid of the dark and will not go to any room at night without her pleading”mummy come switch on the lights” but my four year old has taught me quite a number of lessons.I have watched her determination as she struggled to roll chapati dough like mum.and while i often scold her at spoiling my dough i am amazed at her willingness to take on challenges,she lives by the energizer bunny mantra “never say die”.I hope i remember this all so often whenever i am faced by challenges in my business and personal life.That its OK to be scared but help is just a call away,and that if i keep it at,i will definitely get it right …eventually.

So here is to hoping my daughter gets the intricacies of making chapati dough and rolling the perfect circle in another 10 years.