Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Big Brother And Other Rubbish

Being on vacation for the last three weeks meant that I finally got to spend some time watching TV, daytime TV to be more precise. And so as I surfed the channels one lazy afternoon I came across a show called “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”, or something to that effect on the E Channel. I have heard the Kardashian name floated about though to be honest I did not know whether it is a name of a rock band or sibling actresses. And out of curiosity I decided to watch. I sat throughout the show for a full 30 minutes and at the end of it I still could not fathom what it was all about. I tweeted something to that effect hoping someone out there would enlighten me, hoping that the problem was with me, that I was getting too old and could not understand such shows. All I heard back was that one of the Kardashians (or was it all of them combined?) reportedly made $65m last year. Was this from the people watching that show? Then there is Snoop Dogg's Fatherhood, Girls of the Playboy Mansion and its offshoots etc.

The Kardashians image from the internet

Later that night I tuned in to Big Brother Africa, and it is supposedly the amplified edition, whatever that means. Since this edition began, I had never watched any episode and thought “let me see what the fuss is about”. All I saw is some guys and ladies just talk, talk about nothing. I tried to find out if I could get a sense of purpose to their conversation, some storyline, drama, plot…nothing. So why do people watch BBA? I tried to single out the Kenyan representative, more to find out if there was anything of substance she was contributing to the show. Was there anything new I could learn by listening to these participants/contestants? Nothing. Again, maybe my expectations were too high? I recalled hearing some radio presenter on Capital FM urging Kenyans to get behind their representatives and admonishing those who might want to make fun or mock their representatives. She just stopped a sentence short of calling such people traitors. I can understand supporting the country’s football, cricket or athletic teams at international tournaments, but this? I will not mind being called a traitor.

Image from the internet

It looks to me like nowadays we are content to sit back and watch people just go about doing nondescript stuff like waking up, taking a shower, gossiping and having sex. I don’t mind seeing someone taking a shower if I am expecting something dramatic to happen, you know, a killer appearing in the bathroom with a knife and setting the stage for an intriguing whodunit drama to follow. I like my entertainment the old fashioned way. I like some drama, a suspense filled plot, witty lines from standup comedians that provoke laughter, logic defying action stunts. Stuff that make you know that someone somewhere put in some effort to create a show. But this? Is this not voyeurism? There used to be a time when a sex tape involved porn actors, but nowadays it is celebrities that you find in them. Might be isolated now but is not where these type of shows are leading us to?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Death Of Childhood, And The Culprits

When I first moved here in 2008, I worried about how my daughter would make it to school now that we had moved further away from her school. I inquired from the school my daughter attended about the pick up times for her. I was told she has to be at the road by latest 6 am for the school bus to pick her up. My calculation told me that this meant she has to be up by latest 5.30 am. Now, I am in my 30s but waking up at that time is a great challenge to me, so what about a 5 year old kid? I promptly withdrew her from that school and now she wakes up at around 7 am in order to be in school by 8 am. Actually it takes her 5 minutes to walk to school.

But if you wake up by 5 am, you will see hordes of kids at the gate waiting for the school bus. And I am talking about kids as young as 5 or 6 year olds! I find it totally unacceptable that kids that young should be subject to such 'torture'. Most of these kids get back home late in the evening, so in other words, they operate like working adults. When I was growing up, we began school at about 7 years old (we did not have stuff like baby class back then!) and most kids went to a school just around the corner. In fact we could count the kids who needed to take a bus to school as they were very few, but today the ones who school nearby are the exception (I am talking about mostly middle class Nairobi). Most of the time, both the kids and parents are too tired in the evening to engage in any meaningful activities to build their relationships. There is no difference between these kids and the adults that wake up at the same time to go to work.

I read something interesting about television and childhood as well (John Corry, My Times).
"Western civilization took centuries to develop the idea of childhood. But television has erased it in a few decades.

What a child once learned through reading was roughly commensurate with his ability to process the information. In the television age, however, we all get the same messages. A child of five and an adult of 40 can see the same images and hear the same words simply by pushing a button.

It shows in our behaviour. Children and adults now dress alike, talk alike and play the same games. The concept of childhood is vanishing."

My verdict is that this type of competitive schooling (mass factory schooling?) and television (mass media?) is denying the kids their childhood.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Make Your Own Breaks - Points to Ponder

The thing with taking some leave days is that on the first day you decide to sort out all your documents that have been lying all over for the whole year. Well I finally started my long awaited 2 weeks leave days and figured out, "let me deal with my clutter!". In the process I came across these notes I made about 12 years ago and decided to share them as I found them so relevant to my life today. This is about making my own breaks, from Tom Morris' book "True Success: A New Philosophy of Excellence

1. Define your goals - the quest for success always begins with a target

Image from Internet

2. Seek out those who know more than you - plan to network with those who know more than you

Image from the Internet

3. Pursue your vision with stubborn consistency - the biggest difference between people who succeed and those who do not is not usually talent but persistence

Image from the Internet

4. Make an emotional commitment - without a deep commitment, it is difficult to pursue a dream

Image from the Internet

5. Review and renew your goals

Image from Internet

Do these make sense or is it just one of those so called wisdoms that are spewed at us by motivational speakers and writers?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hitting Her, Again...And Again

Over the weekend, a story developed in which a television journalist, Wambui Kabiru, was found murdered in her home. It is widely suspected that it is her husband who killed her and now he has gone missing and the police are looking for him (by the time I am writing this). I know a lot has been written and said about domestic violence, and gruesome pictures have been posted to warn or shock women into getting out of abusive relationship so I will not say much about it. Neither will I condemn her husband as I, like many other people, don't really know what went behind closed doors so everything is speculation for now. However what I ask myself is what drives men to hit their spouses?

I have heard bar talk of men boasting that you must hit your wife/girlfriend occassionaly just to establish who is the "man" in the relationship. I have heard stories of women who believe that being hit by their man is a show of affection. But as a man, when you are all alone with your private thoughts, how do you feel knowing that you repeatedly hit your spouse? Even if it is only once?

Some years back, I was involved in organizing an art/performance event in which my wife belonged to a team that was due to perform. She was extremely late and the order of events kept changing because of their no show. When she finally showed up, I met her at the entrance, and she correctly judged that I was livid with her. I stretched out my hand to grab her, my intention being to quickly usher her inside so that they could get going. She cringed backwards, thinking that I was going to lash at her. I was so scandalized that such a thought even crossed her mind, given that I have never hit her.

I tell friends, if someone hits you once, they will most likely do it again. For me, meting out violence on your spouse is the lowest level a man can get to. It is actually lower than the lowest level!


(image from )

"There is a subconscious way of taking violence as a way of expression, as a normality, and it has a lot of effects in the youth in the way they absorb education and what they hope to get out of life."
– Salma Hayek

"Long term domestic violence: Being abused in this manner is like being kidnapped and tortured for ransom but you will never have enough to pay off the kidnapper".
Rebecca J. Burns ...TheLastStraw - support in the aftermath and during abuse

“If the numbers we see in domestic violence were applied to terrorism or gang violence, the entire country (US) would be up in arms, and it would be the lead story on the news every night.”
– Rep. Mark Green