Monday, September 4, 2017

Monday Reflection: On Maraga's Courage and The Cowardice of the Kenyan Media

On Friday, Kenya's Supreme Court made an unprecedented decision in declaring the 2017 Presidential Elections null and void based on the fact that the constitution and electoral laws were violated. In his ruling, the Supreme Court Judges (there were two dissenting judges in a six judge bench) opined that presidential elections is a process and not an event thus affirming the principle that the product is only as good as the process that produces it. When NASA decided to go to court, I was relieved but at the same time felt that the best they were going to get out of the process was maybe a declaration that the election was marred by irregularities that were not enough to affect the votes. At most, an audit of the votes could be ordered. The President's election would be upheld and we would be asked to move on -- and in less than a year, politicians would begin to jostle for 2022.

My belief was not based on the fact that I believed the President actually won or that NASA had a weak case but rather on the fact that often when push has come to shove and big decisions need to be made in this country, we have often erred on the side of caution and gone with the status quo. After the bungled 2007 elections, we opted for a coalition government rather than go back to the polls, even if it was after taking one year off to heal from the violence. In 2013, despite the fact the IEBC were unable to account for all the votes, the Supreme Court opted not to upset the apple cart and upheld the election result. It was therefore my conviction that this court, given that it had retained four of the judge from the 2013 bench, was likely to follow precedent and replicate their 2013 counterparts. 

On Friday I sat at home, working (in case my bosses are reading this) but keeping an eye on the proceedings. However, when the Chief Justice made his now famous opening remarks, about fidelity to the Constitution and adherence to the rule of law, I instinctively felt we could be in for something special. This feeling was slightly tampered by his announcement that they would not be giving the full judgment due to time constraints but would publish the full judgment within 21 days.  The 2013 Supreme Court did the same thing and when the judgment was finally published, it was a disappointment and criticized by many. It was, therefore, the most pleasant of surprises when I realized that for once, there are men and women in Kenya willing, and courageous enough to make tough decisions outside the borders of political expediency. 

Chief Justice David Maraga

Kenyans will be going back to the polls again. The Court has already demonstrated that it will not entertain processes that do not adhere to the law. However, there is one important institution that has continued to demonstrate timidity when it comes to accountability. The Kenyan media. That the irregularities happening went about unreported by the media, who preferred to bury their heads in the sands and instead rely on word from the IEBC without seeking to authenticate its veracity is puzzling. Yes we know they do depend on government advertising revenue for their survival and have faced threats of shutdown from government forces but one hopes that the courage demonstrated by the Supreme Court will now rub off the media in their coverage of the upcoming elections. The Kenyan media has the wherewithal to cover all constituencies, report on results announced in all constituencies and provided parallel tallying to those of the IEBC and political parties. 

The elections will once again be hotly contested, and there will be lots of propaganda flying about from both NASA and Jubilee operatives. Whichever party will lose, we shall be told that the elections have been rigged once again. We therefore need and independent and robust coverage of the elections, including vote counting and tallying, by the media to help us decipher who is telling the truth. The money invested in the boring, poorly dressed, inarticulate and endlessly parroting panels / manels during the election is better invested in polling station result announcement coverage that will help us decide whether the elections have indeed been free and fair. By doing this, they will help reduce possible incitement of the public by election losers, regardless of the political side in which they will be found  

Friday, August 25, 2017

Forgetting the Neat and Organized

It has been a long while since I was here. The reason is that I did move the blog to a separate domain. One those blogs whose design is customized to suit your fancy, and you host it on a domain that you pay for so that it feels like it really does belong to you. You also feel that you are now on a different level, or that you have become "professional" enough, putting yourself under pressure to write "better" to keep up with your new "style". I then found myself struggling for content (my mind prefers the haphazard way)...of course, I did publish some stuff but then I realize that the joy is gone. I am struggling to think in the compartmentalized way that the blog has been designed, and to make it all clean and neat as supposed to the random mumblings I had here. Mmm.

I am not saying that it was a bad thing. Just that it was not the same. And after some time I realize that I don't really dig the new different. I don't have to evolve the blog like the others have. I stopped visiting the blogosphere frequently, and that meant I started missing all those blogs I use to follow, the ones that would automatically appear on my list here. This meant missing all the wisdom, knowledge and funny stuff I would interact with. I long for how stuff was before.

But then maybe it is just that the world and everything that's in it eventually evolves. Maybe stuff would have remained the same had I opted to stay here anyway. Maybe guys just get bored and want to try something different, and then later you realise the something different was not much fancy anyway. To cut a long story short, I have decided to come back here and see it will bring back the joys of blogging I use to enjoy. Maybe it will not. If it does not then I will know it is time to shut everything down and move on...

I was trying to be all neat and presentable 

But I prefer the old cheekiness and spontaneity

Monday, February 2, 2015

Moved to a New Home

Dear Friends,
This is to thank you for having been a regular visitor to this blog but also to let you know that I have moved to a new site
I hope we shall continue having conversations on the new site, and let me know if you like. I also hope to have your links on my new site as soon as I can.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

On Friendship and Death

This morning I thought about someone I had not seen or communicated with for some time. I hesitate to use the term 'friend' as it is the word under scrutiny in this post. Well, we had been what one would call childhood friends. We grew up together, from around the age of seven or eight, till when I was twenty when life sent us our different ways. We played together, went on childhood adventures together and flirted with girls together. I recall him having kissed some girl in the estate and he came to tell me about it and describe how it was. I resolved to also kiss a girl and experience the feeling. As we grew older we even shared some drinks together. So yes, he was my friend back then. 

When I was twenty I packed my stuff and went to India - to get an education, it was said. This was in the 90s, before mobile phones became a gadget for the hoi polloi, this was before the age of the internet for the masses (at least in the third world) and social media was unheard of. Those days when you went away, and had no friends ready to commit to writing and licking postage stamps, that was it, you never saw or heard from each other until fate (or or Facebook years later) would conspire to bring you together. And that is how it went with my friend Peter. 

This is how I looked like growing up in the 80s, how my childhood friends might remember me

I never saw or heard from Peter until 6 years later when I was back in Kenya. Of course there were the occasional updates from mutual friends or acquaintances who had run into him -- stuff like "Peter is still in Nairobi and doing well...", stuff like that. When I came back to Kenya from my studies...well, three years of studies and two years of partying and figuring who I was, he was among the first guys I inquired about. About a year later I traced him and we were able to catch up on the good ol' days. We met several times over the next couple of years, had a chit chat here and there and when Facebook finally took over the world, we connected on Facebook and occasionally had the FB chat. 

But we were busy people with our own lives to live and promises like "we should link up and catch up over a beer..." were never fulfilled. So it has been several years since I last saw him. Occasionally I told myself that I need to make contact with him but that's all there was to it, telling myself. So this morning I thought about Peter. And because I did not have his number I thought about posting something on his Facebook wall. I always never have people's number because somehow I have never mastered the art of back-up, or I am not just disciplined at it. So I did not have his number and when you don’t have a friend’s number you look them up on Facebook. So I checked Facebook this morning.

What I saw on his wall were RIP messages. Messages dating back two years.  

At the beginning I put the word 'friend' under scrutiny because your friends don't pass on and you don't know about it for two years. That just sounds wrong. But maybe the essence of "friendship" changes over time, no? I mean, we meet at the workplace, became close, even share secrets, embed ourselves in each others' lives and when one get another job, moves to a new city or country that relationship starts to become faint and fainter until it is no more. Does friendship then end? Does a childhood friend cease becoming a friend because you no longer talk or see each other frequently? Or should friendship be judged on the experience you had together and be frozen for eternity regardless of what will become of you later in life? Someone once told me you only walk through life with one or two friends, that when you look back, you will only see one or two people who have walked with you through the different "epochs" of your life. That the rest have just been mere acquaintances through different stages of your life. The supporting cast, not the main actors. I choose to disagree. If Peter had not been my friend I would have not felt the extreme sadness I felt this morning.

I feel a sense of guilt that I never grieved him when it mattered. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On The Arrogance of Turning 40

Yes, I know I have been away from here for long but I will not bother to explain why, only maybe to mention that I have spent the better part of the last 20 months or so absorbing knowledge and reflection from all quarters. Sometimes it is good to simply keep quite and listen...and learn. That (and the occasional work - we all need to put bread on the table), is what I have been up to. 

In the process, I have also managed to detoxify myself...and not the bio-physical detoxification kind but more of the meta-physical, psychological, mental kind. I also became older. And stopped caring about much. Months of reflection made me realize that I almost stopped becoming what I should have been, and started becoming what I thought I ought to be. In a way I have also become "arrogant" - in that I don't really care what my social environment perceive me to be, feel that I don't have to be responsible for others. But again could this be just about getting old now that I have hit the big Four-O?

This is a passage I recently came across:

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. 

I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.” 

- José Micard Teixeira (words Meryl Streep)

I am not saying these words necessarily describe what I am today, but that I identify with most of it. I feel that as one ages, one starts to care less about the society's perception of their actions, their words and become more concerned about being authentic, about being themselves. I am now at a place where I no longer feel the insecurities of the world, I feel more creative, more alive, and feel like my life has just began. I now know what they meant when they said life begins at 40. 

I spent my formative years (in terms of developing my core values) in India, living their between 1994 to 1999. There are things that I saw, I felt, I learnt that shaped how my life was to become. Last year I went back to India for the first time since then, and as I visited the Taj Mahal, I had a chance to reflect on what I had carried with me from Hindustan (as we used to call it) all those many years ago. What I had lost that I needed to rediscover, and what I still had with me that I needed to lose. And now I feel lighter, and more creative. I have stopped doing the stuff that I did as duty, and now only do the stuff that I need to do out of love.  In a way, when one turns 40, they tend to become more arrogant...

At the Taj in October last year 

As I said at the beginning, I have spent time absorbing knowledge and the reflection of others. Now it is time to share my reflections and the knowledge I have gained as well. I have a feeling this ride will be merrier than the previous one!