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

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.

The Basic Need for Digital Security by Cecilia Maundu

Never has there been a need for digital security as the present time. When I embarked on a journey to become a digital security trainer, my mail goal was to help keep women and young girls safe online. I never thought that in my wildest dreams that this desire and passion would take me around the world. Digital security has become a basic need, in the current society that we live in and especially in Kenya where online violence is rife. This vice is targeted at women and especially women with voices online.

The goal of the perpetrators being to silence women online and the fact that we leave in a patriarchal society does not make it any better. Most of its victims shy away from the online platform and those who remain, resort to self-censorship. This leads to the widening of the digital gender divide gap. Despite being lauded for its vibrant and dynamic online scene, Kenya still grapples with gender disparities in the online space.

This ‘‘disease’’ can be defined as the digital gender gap, which refers to the inequality between men and women with regards to access and use of the internet. But it’s ironical that we are encouraging women to be online yet the same platform is so toxic. Hence the critical need for digital security.

Through the generous funding of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) I was able to organize for a focus group with four other digital security trainers. Before I move forward, I can hear someone asking what is APC? No worries I got you covered. APC is a worldwide network of social activists who use the internet to make the world a better place. APC is both a network and an organization. APC members are groups working in their own countries to advance the same mission as APC.

The main purpose of bringing together women digital security trainers, was more to focus on forming a community of feminist digital security trainers in Kenya. A community that we can rely on in this unique field, taking note that we are very few professionals in this field.

Building a community also organically increases the impact of the trainings we conduct since we are able to get valuable feedback from each other regarding our trainings. Additionally, the purpose of the focus group was to introduce some of the Feminist Tech Exchange (FTX) training modules, called the FTX: Safety Reboot to the digital security trainers. Feminist Tech Exchange: 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. 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.

The FTX: Safety Reboot explores how we occupy online spaces, how women are represented, how we can counter discourses and norms that contribute to discrimination and violence. It is a feminist contribution to the global response to digital security capacity building, bringing the APC Women’s Rights Programme’s unique methodology and approach.

This journey will also see me produce four podcasts on each of the Following FTX modules, mobile safety, self-care, online gender-based violence, and creating safe online spaces.

Podcasting is the digital medium built on the power of conversation. The aim of producing these podcasts is to try and localise, adapt the FTX modules to the Kenyan context and to demystify the terms which are not familiar. The FTX modules will go a long way in helping digital security trainers in implementing their trainings effectively.

Online harassment comes in so many shapes and sizes, and can target its victims via many different mediums and platforms, and it can be overwhelming to think about how to prepare for and respond to online attacks. Hence the need for trainers to come up with different ways and means of training.

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

Governing by Lying: On the Death Cards of Drought, Deceit and Delinquency By Sitati Wasilwa


“Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not to his own facts.” – Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Kenya’s current administration is without doubt an archetype of incompetence and delinquency based on the high levels of misgovernance witnessed over the last six years.

A legendary distinction of the Jubilee administration in comparison with the country’s past administrations is governing not just by lying, but by repeatedly doing so even when Kenyans are dying and suffering because of drought.

In an assemblage of what may be termed as “a grand presentation and sanctification of alternative, erroneous and disturbing facts”, the administration’s purported “machinists” denied any deaths resulting from drought that has largely affected Turkana and Baringo counties as well as counties in the Northern Frontier region.

Contrary to the “facts” presented by the “machinists”, there is undeniable evidence that Kenyans are dying because of the ravaging effects of drought.

Development Agenda

Featured twice on Jubilee’s agenda for the much touted but hardly evident development is creation of a food secure state; first through its manifesto, “Agenda for Kenya 2013-2017” harmonized with the second medium-term plan (2013-2017) of Vision 2030; and secondly, through its 2017 manifesto integrated with the third medium-term plan (2018-2022) commonly known as the “Big Four Agenda.”

A vague and totally empty campaign promise that now offers comic relief to politically conscious citizens regards the expected miraculous productivity of the Galana-Kulalu Food Security Project, the regime’s much acclaimed signature programme.

While launching Jubilee Party’s election manifesto in 2017, its deputy party leader William Ruto, in a utopic frenzy, remarked that the Galana-Kulalu Food Security Project would produce 30,000 bags of maize each month beginning July 2018. This remains a politically fat and equally irrelevant statement.

The Galana-Kulalu Food Security Project is one of the regime’s cash cows, a soon-to-be white elephant. A recent article revealed the irrigation project as Jubilee’s equivalent of the infamous Goldenberg Scandal, a fact confirmed by an unnamed wheeler-dealer of the administration.

Unsurprisingly, the irrigation project has been dogged by corruption. The Auditor General has raised fundamental questions about the usage of finances allocated to the project. Green Arava, an Israeli firm contracted to develop a model farm at the irrigation scheme, threatened to abandon its operations this year after not being paid as per the contractual agreement.

Additionally, the regime’s intention to construct dams with the aim of enhancing food production in regions perennially affected by drought and famine has turned out to be a scandalous affair. Ridiculously and unintelligently, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Agriculture claims that thirty one dams will be constructed before the onset of the long rains. Are Kenyans – politically conscious Kenyans – that stupid to be lied to?

Deceitful PR: Of Food Relief Pilgrimages

To be a gallant politician one must be a master opportunist, a firm believer in propaganda and a “saviour” of the poor, needy and desperate masses.
Close to six decades since the British imperialists ceded political power to Kenyans, ordinary folks are still economically impoverished because of the invisible hand of the tiny elite that has strangulated the country’s economy by plundering resources.

The politico-economic tyranny occasioned by the tiny elite has dominated Kenya’s post-colonial history, a true indication of lack of economic and political independence for ordinary Kenyans. The success of this tiny elite is through the creation of a kleptocratic political monopoly that oversupplies short-term solutions and undersupplies long-term solutions.

We’ve got to remember that the yearly food relief pilgrimages are consequences of short-termism fashioned by Kenya’s tyrannical tiny elite.
Such short-termism keeps the masses in a perpetual state of dependence on the tiny elite and acts as fodder for gaining political capital. Acts of benevolence especially by politicians in helping desperate and poor citizens qualify as deceitful public relations exercises, and such is the case with the food relief distribution activities in the affected counties.

Voting & Political ‘Misleadership’

A country’s economic well-being or lack thereof depends on the nature of its political leadership. But the nature of the political leadership is an outcome of the voting patterns of the majority, and a reflection of the thought processes of a significant number of citizens.

High affinity to short-term solutions meant to address perennial challenges such as drought and famine would be avoidable only if the republic’s politics was based on relevant political ideologies. But as Bryan Caplan notes in his book, The Myth of the Rational Voter, “in real-world political settings, the price of ideological loyalty is close to zero…” No wonder ideologically deficient politics is the order of the day in Kenya.

A handful of Jubilee administration supporters who voted twice in 2017 to endorse the regime’s corruption and misgovernance have suddenly turned into its critics. This is pretence and ignorance.

In fact, Caplan further notes in his book that “voter ignorance opens the door to severe government failure”, and Kenya would have avoided such a failed government if only voters made right decisions at the ballot by not ignoring the terrible record of most of the politicians.

County governments especially in the regions affected by drought need to prioritize agriculture which is a devolved function.

The only way forward for Kenya to avoid humiliating situations like deaths resulting from drought, and food relief pilgrimages is to collectively root out the corrupt, tyrannical and imperialistic tiny elite that promotes state capture hence political ‘misleadership.’ Is this possible? Only if the misled significant majority embraces progressive thinking.

Sitati Wasilwa is a political economist, consultant on political and economic governance, public policy, geopolitics and geo-economics at Savic Consultants, and a youth leader at YMCA Kenya. He blogs at The Insight and Savic Consultants Blog, and can be contacted through sitatiwasilwa13@gmail.com.

It is time for parents to come out of their dugouts By Burns Noah

Lately, there has been so much fuss revolving around the bold proposal orchestrated by distinguished judges of the Court of Appeal to lower sexual consent age from 18 to 16 years. This move comes in amidst a crucial time when there has been relentless mechanisms put in place to empower the girl child. Furthermore, parents around the country are yet to come to terms with the Court of Appeals mouth gapping proposition.

A substantial number of Non-Governmental Organizations, churches detest the idea claiming that it will grant ill minded folks a free pass; to molest their adorable naive daughters and sons at a tender defenceless age.

Nonetheless, conclusive facts as well as figures from the Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 report stipulates that our innocent boys and girls have gotten way ahead of themselves. Yes! They engage in sexual intercourse under our noses. Here are some of the contributors facilitating their sexual endeavours.

Poverty is an undeniable predator raging terror and havoc in the society which ultimately renders people vulnerable to questionable schemes. It’s unfortunate that teenagers have fallen culprit to advances that involve partaking in sexual activities in exchange for favours. The perpetrators of such heinous acts choose their prey wisely and present themselves as friends yet they have a deadly plan to execute.

Life is full of challenges and teenagers do battle with their own Goliaths from time to time even though adults seem to dismiss this obvious fact. It is at this moment that their instinct for survival kicks in and it only takes a little psychological nudge to seduce them into something. Lack of basic resources creates awkward situations which enables wicked individuals to sexually exploit kids in exchange for favours and kickbacks.

It is time for parents to come out of their dugouts and have that decisive sex talk with their teenagers by streamlining as well as highlighting crucial details. Our young adults lack a sense of awareness and direction which leads them in an expedition to explore sexuality guided by curiosity.

Pursuing this further, along the way they get bombarded with mind-blowing ideas from friends, interested suitors which they will be tempted or lured to try out. The changes in teenagers happen so abruptly and they cannot fully comprehend what is going on. This is where you as a parent come in to provide insight as well as guidance to enable the young adult cope with the situations as they arise.

Lastly, the society has played a crucial role in ensuring that our young adults are fully exposed to content beyond their cognitive comprehension. Additionally, the things we do as adults do have long lasting impressions on our kids since they learn by picking up clues from our actions.

Consequently, the society as a whole needs a complete overhaul in terms of moral uprightness since our actions are betraying the values we believe in. We tend to shun and mock immorality yet we openly engage in fornication, adultery.

Written by Burns Noah an undergraduate at Kenyatta University pursuing BSc Petroleum Engineering
Twitter: @The_Analyst00