The Story of every African Nation By Ahmad Moalim

In life every one of us has their own story, all the stories are unique to that individual just like DNA, and stories may look alike but not the same.T hose before independence, and to date the stories have had 3 issues as the denominator, the issues mostly perceived and determined by the colonialists who regarded the African community as a backward illiterate society:

· Illiteracy, the colonialist disregarded our social structure that catered for all, making us believe literacy is going through western educational system, and to achieve that our stories spread from going to school on empty stomachs to without shoes and accessing education at advance age in life like that of 84 year old Kimani Ng’ang’a Maruge, making him the oldest man in Kenya to attend primary school. The Guinness Book of World Records listed him as being the oldest person in the world to start primary school. Western education system became part of us growing up forgoing our culture

· Poverty, white man collaborated with the Africans during colonial period and thereafter the tribal kings perpetuated the narrative of poverty in Africa. The perpetuated belief created stories and pictures shot of how poverty has its pangs on people including the story of southern Sudan girl whose photo was taken with a vulture behind her waiting for her death. The picture was taken in 1993 but since then has that changed even after attaining right to self-determination? And was poverty an issue in African society before the colonial masters and how was the societal setups before?

· Diseases, from malaria to HIV/AIDS conditions and lately cancer that people have had their share of, to those with wealth and those without equalized by the pain of disease. The rich also cry for their loved ones, the powerful are powerless before the diseases. The current day colonial masters (tribal kings/ so called leaders) have ensured that systems (health, education, agriculture, manufacturing industries) don’t work so that they continue being beneficiaries of colonizing the masses with ‘mtu wetu’ syndrome. They are nor reaping from their own systems of neglect but they are slightly better because they can still afford to go abroad for treatment.

That which we are not told is, the continent is faced with the 3 issues as the main problems. Therefore being poor, sick or illiterate is normal what matters is what are you doing about your current status?

First we were told education has an effect of equalizing the poor and the rich as well as the solution to the 3 problems. However since the departure of the colonial power and inception of Africans as the leaders, things have taken a different turn. The Africans who fought for independence never enhanced the system of governance to accommodate growth through industries, and exploitation of natural resources. With 54 countries, the richest continent endowed with natural resources, every country has its tribes and every tribe has its own semi gods who call the shots. The tribes in power are the new colonial powers compared to the situation in which Britain had companies managing Africa on its behalf. Just like the companies the tribes in power manage Africa and on behalf of the western and eastern nations. Africa is growing and the debts are increasing every year, they are unable to negotiate for better deals because of the already incurred debts and the pressing demand for the infrastructural development which will never repay itself. The population has tripled since independence, democratic principles and laws are cut and paste without consideration of the people to extent of equating democracy to periodic shambolic elections. In Kenya government is taxing the citizens for every coin, and for everything including using the roads where the highway authority is introducing a new tax for those using highways!

Sounds brilliant as those with cars and businessmen will be the ones to feel the pain but the real effect is to the consumer who is the poor man who earns below a dollar. The cost will be transferred through increase of commodities. More to that, being young is equated to, a disillusioned and disinterested member of the society. Researchers have said that we (youth) do not care “how” we get anything what matters is we have it. Fortunately or unfortunately we constitute at least over 60% of our population not forgetting infotrak research, that Kenyans feel the country is headed in the wrong direction!

We were made to believe how our life should turn for the better after having gone through education but the reality is taking us into disarray. 90’s babies we grew up reading stories and society also told us how so and so became successful. Blinded with the stories, we went into education with expectations of success only to be stranded on the streets of Nairobi with our educational papers.

The same society revised the rules and told us to call our uncles/ aunties or they will call ‘mheshimiwas’, simply to find something other than having papers, that is connections or whom you know. From so and so went to school, the stories changed to so and so is related or known to who and through the linkage they got there. The education lost the “weight” and it became just a system that we have/had to go through as part of the growth / formal cultural expectations and get to the age of majority.

On July, 20th 2019, at unfungamano house, I was seated among young people from different walks of life for a book launch, entitled “UNBREAKABLE” by a young person who battled with his life story but decided to share the same life with us and those who come in long after we are gone. The author named Danish Odongo now is and will be described as an author for having shared the story of his life to encourage others and also fight for himself. “How” many of us can share their story only to inspire and tell their unfortunate story for others fortune?

Every story has its roots somewhere and for me the story lies within our governance. All our billionaires have had interactions with the government in one way or the other, what they possess may have been acquired through shoddy deals. Government ministers are the billionaires, state officers, are ranch and business owners, due to connection systems which have failed the governance system. Once on a dinner table, someone challenged us to think of a country as a home, government/ leadership as the two parents and the children as the citizens while those family members and neighbors as the neighboring countries! In the house if fathers and mothers fail to dispense their roles then that house becomes just another building and the children will suffer.

That said, the young people, today is a gift but you have to earn tomorrow!

Peace!

By Ahmad Moalim
Lawyer,Democrat,Community rights champion and student of contextualized democratic principles
Twitter: @moalim_ahmad

The Magic of Storytelling through Podcasting By Cecilia Maundu

The feminist tech exchange safety reboot modules podcasts

The month is August, the year is 2018, am in Nepal for the feminist tech exchange (FTX) convening. My first time in Asia and I must say it was an amazing experience. The meeting was a four-day exchange with feminist trainers and facilitators working on digital security and engaged in building stronger and more resilient movements in a digital age. After the convening the Association for progressive communication (APC) who were the conveners of this meeting floated a grant. The participants were given an opportunity to apply for this grant. And come up with creative ideas around feminist digital security. I applied for the grant and my idea was to localize the feminist tech exchange (FTX) safety reboot modules through podcasts! Yes podcasts. Why podcasts one may ask? Well before I answer that let me give a brief introduction about the FTX training modules, their purpose and who their for. FTX safety Reboot is a training curriculum made up of several modules for trainers who work with women’s rights and sexual rights activists to use the internet safely, creatively and strategically. It is a feminist contribution to the global response to digital security capacity building and enables trainers to work with communities to engage technology with pleasure, creativity and curiosity. It is for trainers working with women’s rights and sexual rights activists on digital safety. Trainers should be familiar with the obstacles and challenges faced where misogyny, censorship and surveillance are restricting activists’ freedom of expression and ability to share information, create alternative economies, build communities of solidarity and express desires. Safety Reboot explores how the online spaces are occupied, how women are represented, how discourses and norms that contribute to discrimination and violence can be countered.

Back to the question of why I choose podcasting, to localize the modules. Well first and foremost podcasting is just one of the most engaging forms of content delivery. Podcasts is basically storytelling in the digital age, and who doesn’t love a good story? I know I do. It’s so important in this technology integrated era that we are living in today, to take advantage of the digital platforms to tell stories, our stories because if we don’t tell our stories who will?. Storytelling is about transporting your listeners to a world they had no idea existed, and it’s your responsibility to make sure you don’t lose them along the way. Actually storytelling has been in existed for centuries. From the Bible being the greatest story ever written to Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet. (Thank me later for jogging your mind). And what better way than podcasts to localize the feminists’ tech exchange safety reboot modules. I was very excited when my idea went through and it was now time to implement the idea. Have you heard of the saying easier said than done? Or in this case easier proposed than implemented? That was the space I was in. Actually I was the poster child for that statement, with this idea. But they say until you are out of your comfort zone, you will never know what you are capable of.

I started with the process of familiarizing myself with the process of creating a podcast, by listening to different podcasts and different tutorials on how to go about it. I then booked my first session in the studio. Let me just say I had assumed since am in the broadcasting industry it was going to be a walk in the park. I mean I work for a media house and we are in the business of broadcasting. So why would the production of podcast be rocket science to me? Let’s just say I was a bit wrong, underline the word a bit. I must admit my first session was challenging. You see with podcasts you assume just because it’s audio it’s just a matter of going in the studio and recording and getting out. On the contrary a lot is involved. Your listeners can pick up on your intonation, the emotion in your voice hence apart from you have to be prepared both mentally and psychologically. For someone who has not done podcasting, it’s good to know that it’s not easy, however it gets better with every episode. Let me replace the word better with interesting.

My first module was on online gender based violence, a topic that is very close to my heart. This module is about guiding participants through the issues relating to online gender-based violence – its root causes, how violence plays out on the internet, the continuum of violence that women, women-identified and queer identities experience online and offline, and its impact. The magic of FTX safety reboot modules is that a lot of group activities is incorporated in all their modules. This makes them more exciting and intriguing to the participants. And that’s the thing about incorporating activities in a training it keeps the participants more alert, and it also arouses their curiosity. After the first episode of the podcast was edited and ready to be aired I uploaded it to my Sound Cloud account and I also uploaded it on YouTube. The reason I choose two different platforms is to cater for the preferences of different audiences. The feedback I got after the first one went on air was very positive. It just fueled my desire and passion to keep going (not that I was going to stop anyway). That’s the thing about positive comments they keep you going and make you want to do better.

My second module was on creating space spaces online. This module is all about making the online space safe for the most vulnerable groups, facilitating learning and building capacity on creating safe online spaces, specifically for at-risk groups and individuals like women and sexual rights activists. I must say this was way much easier than the first one. Let’s say i was getting the hang of it!
The third module was about the “mobile safety”. In this module we work with participants to share strategies and tactics for using their mobile phones more safely in situations and contexts where they live in. How can we keep our phones safe knowing that our phones nowadays are basically our mini laptops.

Last but not least was self- care. Self-care is not a module. However the reason why included it was because it was really discussed during the FTX convening in Nepal. And thought I it was such an important issue that needed to be discussed. And just in a blink of an eye I was done, and I had to wrap up the project. The podcasts offered a comprehensive picture of different views and opinions on each module. And that’s the magic of podcasting. I must say it was a very interesting journey and truly an eye opener. This project would not have been possible without the generous funding of the Association for Progressive communication (APC).  Below are the links to the podcasts.

Both on sound cloud and YouTube. Kindly listen to them, share and give me your feedback.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJAVe-Hx4pc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yErbRrVw6fU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BhPyeXmJfU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BhPyeXmJfU
https://m.soundcloud.com/user-243131473

Cecilia Maundu is a Specialist in gender digital security training and consultant with a focus on training women on how to stay safe online. She is also a broadcast journalist, as well as a User experience trainer, (UX). Collecting user information feedback and sharing it with developers all in the quest of making technology usable for digital security trainers and human rights activists. She is also the current elected secretary general of the International association of Women in radio and television.
Twitter: @ceciliamaundu  |  LinkedIn: cecilia maundu

Would you share your food with your neighbour? By Mercy Kaponda

Last year, I was contesting for Miss Riara (my current institute of study) and all went well. In every pageant competition, the question and answer segment depending on your answers…will determine your chances of winning as either raised or lowered. What I mean is that they require brainy models. On this particular day, my question was, ‘What are the Big Four agenda?’ I knew I did not know the answer so there was literally no need of brainstorming. “Thank you for your question, I however don’t know the answer but I will go and research more on it” was how I probably framed my response. 

I will skip the part where I consulted a friend afterwards who gave me answers from the tip of her tongue, very confidently. Thinking about it now, it is something funny that we would both laugh together about now, because she was not entirely right. After research, the following day I got to know the answer to the question posed. With all confidence, allow me to rephrase the answer to the question posed, “Thank you for your question, my name is Mercy Kaponda and I am currently pursuing Business Administration. These are the big four agenda; Universal healthcare, manufacturing, affordable housing and food security”

Then it got me thinking, what is Food Security? The state of having reliable access to sufficient quantity of affordable nutritious food. How do we attain Food security? Is it by producing more food or ensuring nearly zero waste of food or both? I’m here however, to talk on zero waste of food or rather minimal wastage of food. This in my opinion may lead to food security if the world’s population remains the same which might not be the case. Analysis has shown that 815 million people out of the 7.6 billion people in the world are malnourished with is about 1/10 of the world. Another study carried out by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology shows that 1/3 of the food produced goes to waste. Let us look at some of the statistics available, consumers in North America and Europe lose about 209-253 pounds of food annually per person and the average consumption is 4.7 pounds per person/day. I’ll be working out with the lower figure 209 pounds lost divide by 4.7 consumed daily is equivalent to 44 days which when multiplied by the total population of both N. America and Europe (1,043,067,530) is 46,383,215,695 days which is 127,077,303 years. Do I need to go on with the calculations?

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the population is 1,066,283,427. Statistics have shown that 1 out of 4 people in Sub-Saharan Africa are malnourished, which is approximately 299 million people. From my own analysis, the consumption rate of an African is 1.3 kilograms per person/day while the amount of food lost annually by the above is 6-11 kilograms. Working with the lower value 6 kilograms divide by 1.3 kilograms is equivalent to 4 days which when multiplied by the 767,283,427 non-malnourished people is 3,0691,133,708 days.

Here are a few tips to ensure minimum waste of food. Cook less and only what you need. I am a victim of cooking excessive food and putting it into the refrigerator and eventually throwing it away to the hens. Share food. Instead of throwing food away, share the food with your neighbor.  I know this is awkward in these times, so why not share with a person on the street. Also, changing consumption behaviors such as discarding unappealing food which I am a huge victim. Food is meant to be eaten at the end of the day not to be perfect. To add to that, restaurants can opt for natural preservatives other than artificial ones as they are more effective and healthy. Using fresh ingredients also helps food last longer.

Lastly, I attended an event recently at a certain hotel. After everyone served and headed for their homes, the amount of food left was a lot which would all be thrown away. The hospitality industry should come up with ways for their customers to carry the food. Such hotels can give guidelines on how one can preserve the food and sign disclaimers with their customers in case the food goes bad in their hands. I believe we can all try one of these tips as the little steps is what matters; as the Chinese proverbs says, “One step at a time is good walking”

Written by Mercy Kaponda

Email: mercykaponda98@gmail.com

KAIP Trained Youth MCAs in Busia County shining in Leadership and Governance By Patrick Wabwire & Charles Kithinji

In the past decades Kenyan politics have been dominated by men and few Youth and women could be seen actively involved in this crucial sector. This environment provided opportunities for several actors to push for the inclusion of youth and women in the politics in an attempt to increase voice for each population sector. The efforts were further strengthened by the new Kenyan constitution 2010 which provided requirements for gender balance in all positions making sure no single gender exceeds two third of the total. Similarly, there is constant effort by various bodies to advocate for youth inclusion at national and county government elective and appointment positions to amplify youth voice in decision making.

Siasa Place is among the civil societies in Kenya running interventions focused towards youth empowerment through capacity building in leadership and governance to enhance accountability at county level. Additionally, Siasa Place is implementing a one-year program in Busia County, which commenced on August 2018 under the DFID/DAI-funded KAIP program on accountable service delivery. One of the key areas the project is focusing on is to enhancing the capacity of youth legislators at county level to ensure improved responsiveness of youth MCAs to constituents and increased oversight on the CIDP and the annual budget process.

Immediately after the 2017 general election, Nancy Okademi was lucky to be nominated as the women member of Busia county assembly. “After nomination I realized have task of representing women and youth voice in Busia County”, Nancy narrated during interview. She noted that in initial stages there was no structure within the entire county for the youth and legislators to engage constructively in addressing various issues affecting young people.” When I joined assembly members had fear to engage youth because they were antagonistic and hostile” Nancy stated.

The youth legislator had an opportunity to attend the Siasa Place Youth MCA training in Naivasha from 28th to 30th March 2019 where the youth MCAs were equipped with the knowledge and skills to enhance oversight on the CIDP and the annual budget process and establish or enhance youth caucuses to represent the need and demand of their constituents.” “Through the Siasa Place training I was able to learn oversight roles of MCA and interact with some members of Busia youth steering committee which has made it easy and simple to engage youth using such already established structure” said Nancy.

As a result of the training and engagement with youth from various constituencies within Busia County she was able to develop and sponsor two motions; County youth service bill and Access to information” Establishment of big digital screen for information sharing” .She explained that the ideas to develop these important motions was fueled by youth ideas and thoughts after interacting with them through Siasa place platforms and as such the aim was to ensure every need of Busia county residents is addressed via establishing the appropriate policies”

Additionally, the youth legislators have never been left behind in fighting for youth involvement in county affairs. During the interview she revealed how she has been actively involved in analyzing and interrogating the county fiscal strategy paper for the financial year 2019/2020 to guarantee youth inclusion. She also stated that one of the issues she was able to lobby for in the estimates for the above financial year includes allocation for the youth empowerment centers worthy five million Kenya shillings.

Nancy sees the need to keep youth on their toes through constant engagement and communication with the county law makers. “If youth continues with the same trend of constantly engaging duty bears and more specifically members of county assembly, more youth friendly policies will be constituted within Busia County and I thank Siasa Place for playing a key role in linking the youth and MCAs” said Nancy.

Through establishing a good communication and engagement structure between youth and young members of county assembly there has been a deliberate effort to form new policies aimed at addressing youth concerns because both parties can now lobby and advocate for positive change. In addition, youth legislators are actively pushing for youth inclusion in county budget allocations since they have now established good working relations with youth leaders which enables them engage in a structured manner.

On Kenya’s Political Economy of Inequality, Class Struggle and the Deep State By Sitati Wasilwa

Karl Marx, branded as The Angry Oracle, writes in The Communist Manifesto that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” This is absolutely true considering that human societies in the course of time have had distinct power relations based on socioeconomic inequality; the rich or wealthy individuals dominating the low-income individuals.

As much as Marx is vilified by the dreaded capitalists, rogue capitalists doubling up as notorious neoliberals for that matter, his contributions to understanding the economic, social and political organization of man is highly regarded. Case in point is an article about Marx’s relevance published by the mainstream The Economist magazine in 2018 while marking the bicentenary of his birth.

The eventual rise of neoliberalism in 1970s and 80s, and thereafter its spread around the world by the Bretton Woods missionaries castigated any policies hinged on Marx’s ideas. The omniscient policy missionaries of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) including the United States’ Treasury Department proclaimed a new age of prosperity by advocating policies such as austerity (cutting government spending and increasing taxes), deregulation, trade liberalization and privatization with market fundamentalism serving as the common denominator.

Kenya is just but one of the states forced to embrace the ideals of neoliberalism by the hawk-eyed and hard-nosed policy merchants shuttling globally to proclaim economic salvation on the surface but imperialistic adventures underneath.

Manufacturing people’s consent is one of the surest ways to exert an entity’s dominance. The neoliberals succeeded in promoting inequality by preaching the relevance of their policy maxim by identifying the ‘Chicago School’ as the benchmark for economics curricula around the world. The outcome was the inebriate adoption of the ‘Chicago School’ curricula in the teaching of economics that religiously emphasizes free markets, a gravely utopian notion.

And sadly that is the kind of economics taught at Kenyan and African learning institutions. Dedicated faithful gloriously teaching neoliberal economics without any mark for critical thinking intentionally avoid teaching students about the relevance of the so called heretics such as Karl Marx, Thomas Sankara, Frantz Fanon and others who would help promote the understanding of class differences and the subject matter of inequality.

Noam Chomsky in his book “Who Rules the World?” writes on inequality while making reference to the exclusion of the low-income individuals and non-political class from the political system. According to Chomsky, the tiny sector at the apex of a political system largely determines the policy choices pursued by governments. Certainly, whoever controls the political system controls the mechanisms for wealth creation, and ultimately the functioning of an economy.

If Chomsky’s account of power relations is anything to go by, then Kenya is a typical example of a country reeling on inequality. According to Oxfam International, 0.1% of Kenya’s population (approximately 8,300 people) owns more wealth than the bottom 99% (over 44 million people).

Of course Kenya’s case demonstrates that prosperity after all is not a trickle-down affair, where excesses of the tiny top in terms of wealth accumulation does not guarantee collective socioeconomic success. Doubts cast on the relevance of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of prosperity by a significant number of Kenyans underline why the country’s much touted economic prosperity is more of a fairy tale on one hand and political rhetoric on the other.

Lorenzo Fioramonti, in his book “Gross Domestic Problem”, notes that GDP is more than just a number since it also serves as a powerful political tool. All states, Kenya included, often use GDP figures to paint a rosy picture of how the ruling parties or administrations (regimes) are working so hard to improve the economic well-being of the masses.

Additionally, a 2009 report by the Beyond GDP Commission indicates that GDP should be considered as a measure of market production and not as a measure of economic well-being of which governments have embraced the latter. The report cautions that interchanging the two measures in view of GDP would lead to wrong policy decisions due to distorted information about people’s economic well-being.

Recently, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) released the 2019 Economic Survey which indicates that the country’s economy expanded by 6.3% in 2018. It is best to consider the figure as growth recorded in view of market production and not an improvement in the economic well-being of Kenyans.

Notably, a significant number of Kenyans casted doubts on the importance of the ‘6.3% expansion of the GDP’ when the cost of living is currently high, and they are right.

Prevalence of growing inequality and an intense class struggle in Kenya are hardly reflected in the ‘impressive’ GDP growth rates the country has realized in the last decade. Rampant embezzlement of the public’s resources, money laundering, the gambling and betting craze serve as indications of a country defined by class struggle and inequality.

High rates of unemployment and underemployment are pointers of an economy that only works for the few and negates the ‘beautiful’ statistical data cherished by the regime’s mandarins especially on the significance of GDP expansion.
Difficulties by the commons in accessing high quality education, better healthcare, clean water and humane sanitation, and improved food security and nutrition justify Kenya’s GDP growth as merely political rhetoric.

Various reports indicate that Kenya is a hot-bed of money laundering and illicit financial flows. A 2017 report by the African Development Bank indicates that a total of US$10.6 billion had been stashed in foreign banks as from 1970 to 2010. In 2018, one of the leading local dailies uncovered the operations of an international money laundering syndicate based in Kenya.

Another local daily also published an account of money laundering activities while primarily referring to the content of a report published by the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs on International Narcotics Control Strategy.
Weeks ago, a leading Kenyan think-tank released a report implicating Kenya and Uganda as conduits for illicit financial flows fueling South Sudan’s war economy.

Incidences of tax evasion in Kenya by foreign entities and local entities associated with politicians and political wheeler-dealers, and tax increases by the national and county governments serve to widen the inequality gap by enriching few individuals at the expense of the commons.
Addressing inequality should be at the centre of social and economic policies pursued by the national and county governments. If not, the power of the people should fervently advocate for an all-progressive, all-inclusive economic system.

But can this happen? The voting patterns of Kenya’s electorate tell it all. Furthermore, the reality of state capture with invisible hands determining the outcome of elections and who ought to ‘benefit’ from the government would obviously derail any course dedicated to addressing inequality.

Hope cannot change the Republic’s fortunes in view of inequality, class struggle and the actions of the deep state but a resilient and focused public keen on cementing its authority as provided by the Constitution: “We, the people of Kenya…”

Sitati Wasilwa is a political economist, a partner at Savic Consultants, and a youth leader at Kenya YMCA. He blogs at The Insight and Savic Consultants Blog.
Email: sitatiwasilwa13@gmail.com Twitter: @SitatiWasilwa.