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?

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THE DOCTORS’ STRIKE :A WAR OF GENERATIONAL IDEALS

Tears….

I am on the verge of tears every time I watch prime time news.

I have been following the doctors strike since it started and I cant help but side with the doctors and cry for the Kenyans losing loved ones at public hospitals that are nothing empty buildings.

They lack basic equipment that would go along way towards saving lives,yet doctors are expected to act like God and somehow save the patients who show up there everyday.

Having worked at the largest referral hospital in the country and even had a chance to do ward rounds with the doctors the few times I was there as a nutritionist,it is a frustrating  experience working in the public health sector…

I watched patients share beds,some sleeping on the floor …

And that was at Kenya’s largest referral hospital,what then happens in far flung areas laround the country?

Kenyan doctors in public hospitals really are miracle workers if they have been able to work for so long with so little and been able to send patients home,cured of whatever was ailing them.

But more than the better renumeration and improved working conditions they are asking for,this is a war among two generations of Kenyans.

On one hand you have the seasoned politicians and trade unionists who are the wheeler dealers in the political scene and on the other are a relatively young crowd of doctors,some of the sharpest minds from the best schools in the country.

Who studied  through high school,got the best grades and were called to med school,went through five years of medical school,worked on cadavers,graveyard shifts,witnessed all the blood and gore found in casualty wards during internship  and finally when they graduated, they realized all their hard work was going to be nought.

Not because they did not work hard enough or love their jobs but because they were working for a government that has skewed priorities.

These doctors whose average age cannot be more than 30 are battling with men and women who have watched over the ruin of the public health sector.

They have watched the way our leaders have placed priority over digitizing parliament when incubators for saving babies remain pipe dreams in most public hospitals.

They have watched the government furnish its Ministers with entourages of fuel guzzlers when for a population of 40 million Kenyans there are only 24 dialysis machines.

They have watched us put up a Vice Presidents residence at the cost of 1 billion Kenya shillings when the government has withdrawn budgetary allocation for post-graduate studies of medical students.

The doctors have watched the way our legislators are pampered with the best in health care insurance,guaranteed even airlifts incase one of them falls sick when doctors in North Eastern province are hanging IV drips from tree branches.

They have watched the way we are spending 200,00  for Kenya shillings for chairs that will be used for 3 days in a week for a few hours by legislators,when we cannot afford to hire pay the same amount to hire more doctors

The doctors have come from a generation of Kenyans that have watched the way politics was played with the issue of taxes by MP’s,where  money was miraculously found to pay of their tax arrears.But none can be found to hire more doctors to relieve the work of the 2.300 docotrs who work 19 hours every day for a population of 40 million.

This a war of ideals but who is going to blink first?

Is it the old guard used to getting their way or is it the young men and women fighting for the ideals they believe in?

That the public health sector needs more funding and that the Kenyan tax payer deserves better services at reasonable cost in public hospitals.

How do you believe a government that has pampered its legislators.

How do you trust a government that has not shown it has the will or commitment to fight corruption?

How do you trust a government that says one thing today and another tomorrow?

How do you trust a government that playing games with the life of its citizens?

How do you trust a government whose ministers(the ones in charge of public health and medical services)are nowhere to be seen when the health sector is in a crisis?

In another country they would have resigned,but hey this is Kenya…..

Where Ministers say they would rather die than resign…

Where all traffic comes to a standstill when the top government honchos are going anywhere,creating gridlock sfor hours even before they leave their houses.

Where their entourages are accompanied by police outriders

….. yet public hospitals lack ambulances and sometimes even  fuel.

Who is going to be the first to blink in this war that is increasingly becoming more a show of mettle than of words?

Is it going to be the generation of Kenyans that have watched over the rot and ruin in the country  or the young Kenyans fighting for a bigger cause ,for somehting they believe in?

WHY I AM NOT VOTING IN THE NEXT ELECTIONS.

Kenyans are not desperate enough for change and come next year August,December or whenever elections are going to be held ,I am not voting.

I am willing to forge go my civic duty because I do not think we have reached the point at which we desire real change.

Why do I say so…

If you look at what Kenyans are asking for in their leaders,it seems we have a very low threshold when it comes to leadership,political or otherwise.

All we ask is that the person leading us have a following from their constituency(read tribe),financial muscle and spew alot of rhetoric without action.

It has been said desperate times call for desperate measures and going by the way things are going ,we still havent become desperate enough to desire real change.

One of the very familiar faces from past general elections will be president of the country.

So come January 2014,we will wake up to the same problems we are seeing now because we will have the same leaders who lack vision and the drive to inspire the people they lead.

We are looking up to the same leaders who have een there in the past 3 elections telling us the same things they have been saying for the past 10- 12 years.That they want to lead us to the land of milk and honey but they are telling us how and why this is in our best interest.

They are not telling us how they intend to take us there in trucks,matatus or in mkokotenis.

They are not telling us  if these are free rides or if we are going to be contributing something small towards this venture to “greener pastures.”

They are not telling us how Kenyans will benefit from this relocation to the land of plenty when we leave the island of peace in a sea of turbulence  that is our country today.

Ad we are listening to them and taking them seriously…seroiusly?

Dr Steven Covey defines leadership this way “Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly  they come to see it in themselves .”

He goes on to say that “leadership is not a position it is a choice”.

Now think about how many of the current crop of our leaders fit this criteria…very few.

All of them seem to be telling us by their speeches and actions that we are victims and they are our saviours.

Yet truth be told these leaders cannot save us from our problems be it rising food and fuel costs or insecurity,we are the only ones who can save ourselves.

Kenyans need to be be desperate enough   to want leaders who insire not incite ,leaders who talk of our aspirations rather than our desperation,who by their actions are the very embodiment of integrity rather than relying on the dicitonary’s definiton of integrity.

Leaders who are so have the shared visions and values that Kenya as a society and a country is crying out for.

Unitl we have such leaders and until we as citizens collectivley  become desperate for such leaders i will not be voting.

KENYANS,WE SHALL NOT BE AFRAID

Cowards have never won wars and Kenyans we will not win war by cowering in our houses,afraid of going shopping,taking our children to school or going to work.

What we should be doing is standing tall and proud ,confident of our men and women in uniform who have gone into Somalia in search of the enemy in “Operation Linda Nchi.”

Watching the news yesterday at 9pm, after the second blast in less than 24 hours ,the fear and the antelope- caught -in -the- headlights of a tour van look  was clearly visible in the eyes of our news anchors.

That is not what we need.

We need to be confident  that we are doing the right thing not only for ourselves but  for our children.

Just think of what Kenya will be like if we let the Al shabaab overrun us with fear and intimidating attacks ?Kenya will cease to exist,all 542,650 square kilometres of it.

Like all terror groups the Al shabaab are thriving on instilling fear in all of us,fear of walking out of our doors of going on with our lives as usual,and who wants that ?

Am sure if the freedom fighters had though for a minute that their home-made guns could not stand up against the British,we would still be a  colony still.

Why should a band of rag-tag militia scare us?

We need to fight for the pride that we had at independence  when so many of our fathers, mothers,brothers and sisters who are not here with us saw the Kenyan flag being hoisted up for the first time.

We need to fight and reclaim the sense of nationalism we had at independence when we were all united together in forging a common future.

We need to fight off the fear that the Al Shabaab are better armed  than our armed forces,ofcourse they are not.

Our men and women in uniform are among the best trained and disciplined forces  in Africa.They can and will win this war.

Media houses need to do away with the me- first mentality when it comes to news reporting.They are quick to tell us when and where the blast was, but how many have bothered to give a face to the men and women in uniform. fighting away so many kilometres away from home?

Or their families who are worried about the safety of their loved ones,praying that they come back home safe and sound when this is all over.

Let news editors not be afraid of raising the national psyche when it comes to this war with great stories of how well our armed forces are doing.

As for politicians lay off the bickering……

We need to see senior government officials rallying Kenyans around the cause of Operation Linda Nchi.

We need to see government officials  visiting  our troops and telling them we are so proud of them,it will do wonders for their pscyhe.

Let religious leaders pray that our men and women in uniform come back home safe and sound

Let them urge their congregations to speak up when things are going wrong in their neighbourhoods.

Granted they may all be marching to heaven but last time i checked our feet whether we are religious or not are still firmy planted on the earth.

Let us make it a better place to live in as we await our heavenly abodes.

I am so proud of the father,mothers,sons and daughters of   Kenya who were not afraid when national duty clalled…they answered.

Dear Kenyans do not be afraid ,we shall win the war against terror and we are already winning.

We shall not be afraid

We have forgotten our tribal tags and for once we are united against one cause and that is protecting our land.

Let us not be afraid of naming suspicious looking people in our estates,at bus stops and other social places

Let us not be afraid to report on suspicious activities that we see taking place in our estates,at  our  work places or even places of worship

Let us not be afraid of asking our politicians to quit the navel gazing and focus on important national security issues.

Let us not be afraid of wearing our national colors when duty calls.  

Once we let fear get to us,they will have won,don’t let them win.

WITH LIPGLOSS AND NAIL VARNISH……..KENYA NEEDS ITS WOMEN.

Yesterday  9pm prime time news,I was greatly embarrassed by my fellow women  who were caught on camera ,rolling on the ground and screaming like crazy.

I never saw any men in that protest!

The reason for the protests was because some two male politicians were being summoned by the Narc Kenya disciplinary committee for un-party like behaviour.

Read story here

Now picture this fellow women heckling a fellow woman because she had the balls to put the men in their place and ask them to behave.Strange things happen in Kenya I tell you.

For any keen observer of Kenyan politics ,women gyrating to adulations they are singing for a politician and a man at that is not new.It happens all,the time.

 I am yet to see an  all male singing choir belting platitudes for a female politician.

It is disheartening that women more than 4 decades after independence are still playing second fiddle to the men,especially on the political front.

If it is not a female Minister saying she is going to strip ,it is women rolling on the ground when men have been behaving badly.

It needs to stop.

That is why we need someone who wears lipstick and nail varnish at state house,that way women can see that “IT IS POSSIBLE” to “kick ass” as the Americans would say  in lipstick and nail varnish.

That they do not have to be hired for a few hundred shillings to go and be an embarrassment to fellow women when they roll on the ground and scream themselves hoarse  like deranged beings.

For far too long Kenyan politics has been a preserve of the men and only a few brave women like Martha Karua have had the guts to stand up against the “boys”.

And now even with a new constitution in place that has ensured men no longer get all the elective posts,women are behaving like the constitution never saw the light of day.

Instead of swinging our hips as we entertain the men seated under canopies while we are out in the sweltering sun during political rallies,we should be thinking of ways by which we can have more women in the next parliament and senate.

Instead of waiting for revolving funds to be set up by government so that we can access loans we should be using our chama’s to empower ourselves economically.

Instead of keeping quiet when some men pilfer away funds meant to educate our children ,we should be the first to speak out when funds are being embezzled in our places of work.

Instead of attacking fellow women who stand up for what is right,we should be scolding the men for lying as low as envelopes when things go wrong.

Instead of mucking around in the muddy waters of Kenyan politics and playing it like the men do,we should be bringing class and finesse to Kenyan politics with our nail polish and lip gloss.

Who said politics is dirty,who said politics is a preserve of the men?

Great women throughout history have lived up to their ideals without getting rid of their femininity,why should we not do it like they did.

Kenyan women…..stand up in all your glory and be counted,your children need you to save this country from mediocrity.

MY IDEA OF HEAVEN AS A KENYAN

I have never gone to heaven ,neither do I know anyone who has seen the so-called pearly gates but I sometimes imagine I have an idea.

Definitely not a place where we play harps all day or drink fruit juice from morning till night but it may have a huge library that has all the books that have ever been published,has a wine bar that serves French champagne and Italian wines and a coffee shop that sells French pastries and Kenyan coffee.

I may probably be labelled a heretic for this but I like to think it’s filled with good things,why else would we all be happy to heading there anyway?

I believe heaven should be a place where everyone feels they belong and where it is not necessary to convince people it was worth  waiting a lifetime to get there.

Now Brand Kenya has a very nice advert on Kenya that gives you the warm fuzzy feeling and you want to go ohhhhhh that so sweet and patriotic.

But we forget that branding the country has got more to do with how its citizens feel about themselves,their leaders and how the national psyche at the time is.

It needs to be based on a value system that describes us as a whole as 42 tribes,brown,chocolate,mahogany,dark-skinned,white,asian   in all our different hues

Right now if you ask me ,it is a bad time to be Kenyan.With fuel prices on the rise,food prices have quickly followed suit and with a rag-tag government that is more concerned with next years elections than with how things are right NOW,we need grace to survive the day-to-day struggles of putting food on the table.

And all these problems aren’t because Kenya is a bad place or has horrible citizens who love breaking the law.

It just because things sometimes do not work and we seem to be averse to following rules and the letter of the law for the most part.

We have some of the best sights and sounds   in the world,South Africa literally fights with us for tourists,a lot of people in the developed world have a  Kenyan Safari on their bucket list.

We produce the worlds finest coffee and tea and we have some of the most enterprising people on earth.You can be sure you will find a Kenyan in Iceland doing his thing or selling nyama choma(Kenyan version of roast meat)

 Kenya has many great things but it also has many more things that are wrong.

From the glaring inequalities that have fuelled social crimes to the blatant disregard for the law by every one of us ,we seem to be  turning this little piece of heaven on earth into a veritable hell hole.

With our skewed political interests, we  forget that the haven Kenya can be will only be achieved if we all work together,and that it is not the work of politicians to turn it into a haven of peace for citizens.

It is everyone’s responsibility.

It is going to require that we throw away the tribal tinted glasses with which we seek to view fellow Kenyans.

It could start with us taking more  care of our environment,and now even more so because Wangari  Maathai our Nobel laureate  is gone.

A few weeks back I had the privilege of getting a bird’s-eye view of Nandi Hills forest and Kakamega forest and was left in utter shock.

Not because of the amount of forest cover in the country, but because smack in the middle of the forests there were empty patches of land where trees had clearly been cut down.

And there was more,there were spiffs of smoke finding their way into the clear  afternoon sky from various spots in the forests,a clear and sure sign of charcoal burners.

Kenya needs to be the little haven where every Kenyan regardless of tribe,color,creed or belief feels welcome and at home.

Look at the South Africans with their Rainbow Nation,they have figured out a sense of what being South African is all about.

It does not matter whether you can name your ancestors  3 generations back or you just acquired citizenship,are visiting for a short while or just passing by en route to somewhere ,Kenya should be home to everyone who sets foot on our soil.

There need to be values that we as Kenyans can identify with,it could be hard work,welcoming or enterprising we need to pick what defines us.

It does no good for national psyche for Somalia militants to come and kidnap tourists right under our security organs noses,we need to improve on our security.We need to feel safe at “home”.

And let us  not forget leadership plays a big part in all this business of branding.After all Brand Kenya is funded using tax payers money,we need to see our top leaders standing head ans shoulders above the definition of what it  means to be Kenyan,once we agree on what that is.

 Kenya can be a heaven down here,if we all believe in it.After all what legacy is our generation going to leave for the next one,a wrangling,quarrelsome,drama loving country- I hope not.

Let us  make it possible.

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.