GENERATIONAL BAGGAGE, PERHAPS

Hating on social media is on unprecedented levels, they call it ‘Pull Him/Her Down’ syndrome(phd), in fact it sells like hot cake. We are a generation that coalesces and perhaps relates so well with negatives to an extent of igniting hatred and making people feel bad about themselves. Social media has replaced the role of parents, partly because they are in the business of making ends meet hence having not much time with their children, and still because they have subconsciously left that role to teachers. Without good foundations, virtues and values, picking vices along the way becomes very ‘attractive’ and indeed inevitable. We are always told, the Big Brother is watching, but is that really the case when people are trading insults left, right and center.

Are we depicting bad parenting? Or is it a society that has neglected its role, why is hating so ‘fashionable’ and ‘cool’, and when will the government act? The truth is that, we easily tend to relate to allegations, rumours, hearsays than facts, truth and tolerance. As the cliche goes, before the truth emerges from its confines a lie has covered half the world. The flip side is, its so easy to poke holes to peoples careers at the comfort of a coach behind those smartphones and screens, while underneath lies timid personalities who cannot even hurt a fly and probably struggling with esteem issues.

We have a lot of baggage and loathe from the past which includes our childhood, and unfortunately the world has taught us, the only way to air it, is through the social media. Theses are the streets where we unleash unwarranted anger, pull mud-slugging stunts as we declare vengeance or death threats to discerning foes or anyone who is perhaps doing better than us in life. Take a look at Nick Mutuma,nick_mutuma one of the most accomplished actors in East Africa. Social media has never appreciated him, instead we pick the petty and cheap issues and magnify them to overshadow any positives. This is despite him being the only actor in the country to feature in the new season of Nigerian production of MTV Base sex and relationships drama series popularly known as Shuga.

Last week TNA strategist Moses Kuria was grilled by National Cohesion and Integration Commission over a controversial Facebook post. This is what he posted, “I think it is only a matter of time before Kenyans start violence against perceived terrorists, their sympathisers, financiers and those issuing travel advisories without intelligence,…I am not sure I will not be one of those Kenyans. When you touch Gikomba, the nerve center of our economy, you really cross the line. Brace yourself. Choices have consequences,”. In my own opinion, that’s an inciting post. Few weeks ago the popular TV anchor Lilian Muli was the ridicule in what many perceived to be a shallow interview she did to the much celebrated Jamaican musician, Konshens. As usual, twitter went berserk for several days forcing her to brace the wrath. Other unlucky media personalities who have developed a thick skin range from Larry Madowo, Carol Mutoko and Dennis Itumbi.

Why have we replaced love with slander? The solution can only start with being a bit tolerant, I guess that is what was in Martin Luther King Junior’s mind when he said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Lets talk about love and act with it.

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BRING BACK OUR GIRLS

Michele ObamaInternational Labour Organization estimates 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide, and the US State Department says as many as 27 million men, women and children are victims of trafficking at any given time. It is these statistics that cause outrage and anger among millions across the globe when a terrorist group, Boko Haram invaded and kidnapped close to 300 girls at the cover of darkness on April 14th, at Chibok Girls Secondary School. It is only despicable to tolerate such a thought. More annoying was the lackluster reaction from Nigerian government, for starters it took 18 full days for President Goodluck Jonathan to comment about the issue. To show how clueless he was, he mentioned formation of a committee to look on the issue and possibly bring the girls home, that’s pure nonsense and ridiculous. How do laid back, pot bellied men in government imagine they can bring the girls home, three weeks after. Was it justified for the government to squander all that time while they had a military at their disposal.

Boko Haram founded over a decade ago as Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism & Jihad by one Mohammed Yusuf, an Islamist religious sect and terrorism group believes Nigeria is led by ‘non believers’.The group’s goal is to establish a fully Islamic state, including implementation of criminal sharia courts across the country. Nigeria’s government like any other developing country faced with terrorism, is struggling to contain this ‘madness’. Some political pundits have argued a lot of politics its at play consequently helping Boko Haram ride along and drive home its agenda. President Goodluck Jonathan comes from the southermost state and his nemesis mainly from the northern states are organising and funding Boko Haram to make their states ungovernable thereby destablising the national government.

bkThe world is tilted towards Chibok area in Borno State, Northern Nigeria where 72% of primary aged children never attend school, according to the US Embassy in Nigeria. Boko Haram loosely translated as, ‘Western Education is sin’ destroyed as much as they could in the ill fated school, thereby shutting education and dreams to many school girls. Its race of hope against hope as the world shudders at the worst fears, sexual exploitation, child soldiering and forced marriages. It is also believed the girls could be used for intelligence gathering, cooking and cleaning for the militants.

Nigeria should have acted more swiftly, President Goodluck should have also swallowed his ego on time and admit they need help from the developed countries who have more experience, are better organised and armed with more intelligence. The world is not helping much apart from the roller coaster reactions, the noise has dwindled, how do world leaders sleep and tolerate such inhumane acts. The noise must not stop nor fizzle, you simply never know who they will target next, it could be you, me or even our relatives.

ALCOHOL SCOURGE

ImageFrom a young 16 year old form 3 student to a high school Biology/Chemistry teacher, all wiped by the poisonous liquor laced with methanol is certainly a sad reality poking holes on virtues we uphold as a generation. Do Kenyans have a drinking problem? Well, a recent study indicated that 75% of alcohol consumption in East Africa is imbibed by Kenyans.There is a problem when young men and women pop to the nearest pub as early as 5 am. And as the affluent grapple with alcoblows, the paupers dance with their deaths as unscrupulous entrepreneurs know too well this a big market with instant returns to tap on. Illicit brewing has a strong correlation with poverty and thanks to high corruption tolerance, scary statistics of unemployed youths who survive from hand to mouth, and the icing on the cake, funny names like Shauri Yako, there is little to expect.  Low income earners have no history of being inquisitive of what they drink, you will never make them appreciate cheap is expensive. They literally drink anything to get high, the rest does not matter, not even the next minute.

We are a peculiar nation no doubt about that. Every perennial year we watch in the news scores of people hospitalised from drinking poisonous brews processed from slums in Nairobi carefully sealed with a KEBS sticker. The latest scourge distributed to over 8 counties has its source from Kawangware at least that’s what law enforcers allege, killing close to eighty within 48 hours and over a dozen, days after. Every County have their popular ‘brand’ be it Country man, Kosovo, Wings, Yokozuna…, the consistent ingredient in all being methanol, an industrial chemical. Speaking of methanol, am made to understand 10 ml of methanol can cause loss of eyesight.

Cracking on some statistics, in Kenya, 13% cases of HIV/AIDS infections are caused through abuse of alcohol, 2.2 million Kenyans between 15 – 65 years abuse alcohol. Nairobi County has over 30,000 alcoholic outlets, way more more than any other business activity. We all have one or two friends in our peer groups or relatives who struggle with alcoholism. Modern women have also embraced alcohol in their numbers, they say what a man can do, a woman can do it even better, this is a generation that can confirm that. Women drink for many reasons, but the most popular, being to flaunt their financial independence. Men will drink for totally different reasons, they basically view bars as safe havens to seek solace from the modern ‘career’ woman who is not only intimidating but over empowered, a good number of men also have no idea on how to utilise their free time.

I sympathise with the many families struggling to cope with lose of their loved ones, some being bread winners however meager they bring home. NACADA must also be held accountable for lip services and wasting taxpayers money on talk shop. I think government failed by charging excise tax on the popular Senator Keg, its only fair for the poor to drink genuine and affordable beer.

SUBTLE RACISM CLINGS ON

daniQuoting the words of legendary Bob Marley, “Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everything is war.” In retrospect, racism has evolved as civilisation came along from a simple human problem, ballooning to something subtle that has refused to be shaken away . Adolf Hitler blamed the Jews in the First World War after defeat of Germans. He called them sub Humans. Many decades ago Christian regions blamed Jews for the death of Christ, this was until 1960s when Catholic Church stated Jews were not to blame for the death of Jesus. Pundits in this area are in agreement racism emanated from Western countries.Some of the worst hit are United States and United Kingdom, but in 1994 Rwanda almost crumbled after extreme xenophobia was witnessed when at least 800, 000 Rwandans were killed in a span of 100 days. The Tutsi tribe were brutally murdered by the Hutu community.

First forward now, you would shudder to imagine that some people still find it okay to be racists. A recent case in time was when Brazilian International full back player, Dani Alves while taking a corner at Villarreal for Barcelona was thrown a banana by a ‘fan’ just to signify he is more of a monkey, presumably. Sensationally, he took it and had a bite which would later trend all over the social media as fellow footballers across the world took cue. The same week, an elderly American owner of little known Clippers team of NBA was recorded by his twenty something girlfriend scolding her for bringing along black Americans to watch Clippers games.anti-racismLupita Nyong’o only recently broke the bomb shell of how she struggled with her dark skin. She prayed and hoped one day she would wake up light skinned. This was to change when she stumbled on a celebrated American based Sudanese model Alek Wek on magazines as she stole the limelight in all runaways. The fact that people were dazzled and talked of how beautiful she was, inadvertently helped Lupita overcome and surpass her own insecurities and perceived inadequancies.

South Africa struggled with xenophobia even before they got their independence in 1994. It initially started with institutionalisation of apartheid where black and whites schooled and shopped in different places. After independence the hunter became the hunted,cases of xenophobia became rampant and dire. In a recent research, 21% South Africans favour complete ban of foreigners and another 64% support strict limitation on the numbers allowed.

Back home, as we  struggle with national security, the Somali community have been the worst hit with all manner of security xenophobia. This week on Monday, worried Kenyans coming to terms with the twin blasts along Thika road, alighted from a matatu in Nairobi after a guy with the so called ‘somali features’ boarded the vehicle. You would be forgiven not to appreciate that the said young man was a winner of a popular leadership reality show dubbed ‘Uongozi’ which aired last year in one of the local TV stations. Am also told of a woman on buibui, who was forced to alight from a matatu by fellow commuters.On social media, there has been a popular narrative commonly referred to as ‘Light Skin Syndrome’. Any lady with a brown complexion will be made to look more of a blonde for all the bizarre reasons.This retrogressive actions depict and badly cast this nation badly in terms of tolerance.

With all the remarkable civilisation globally, you wouldn’t expect condescending and primitive behaviours or statements belittling fellow humans at this day and age from the very developed nations. Its just sad and disheartening for anyone to discern or subscribe to a notion that one can be sub human based on skin colour.I can only peg my hope on a quote by Martin Luther King Junior, “I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”

NANYUKI MY TOWN

Sitting strategically along the ever busy Nairobi – Meru highway, a 3 hours drive from the capital city, sand winched by highlands of Nyeri and Meru. Nanyuki town dances on the backdrop of an all time huge branding besides a rich history dating all the way from times of construction of the railway.Everyone has had heard or eavesdropped a story about Nanyuki. Unlike many small towns, its a cosmopolitan which boosts a conspicuous presence of white settlers who have heavily invested in the economy of the vast Laikipia County whose headquarters and epicenter is Nanyuki.

But Nanyuki is more than the town, having dozens of opulent, high end hotels out of town which ordinarily engage in cut throat competition for the ever growing tourism market. Laikipia County is a world class tourist destination with numerous private and government owned humongous ranches dotted across the region. This has consequently offered many casual and formal jobs to the youths complemented by the white settlers who have invested in a wide range of investments from flower firms to cattle breeding and milk industry.

One amazing fact that really stands out for me is how foreigners interact casually with the locals. In fact you will spot most of them choosing to walk rather than take cabs as they find it more thrilling, if not finding them bargaining with a maize vendor.IMG_20140418_173228_00-1-1 British Army have also set up a training base which has hugely impacted on the economy of the town. They offer ready demand for coffee houses and booming business in the only shopping mall.

There are peculiar habits though, starting with extremely long queues witnessed around end month in most major banks.IMG_20140502_080925-1 The notion that Nanyuki is a huge entertainment base is rather quite true. With a number of serene restaurants out of town with well manicured golf courses and a view of Mount Kenya and one or two in town that can match the likes of Tribeka or Rumours of Nairobi. The flip side is, twilight ladies have a big business here with teens as young as 15 walking along the streets in the night hawking their bodies.This is also a town with so many street families probably because they are given hand outs by the very many whites in the town. My last and most awkward observation is the high number of mentally ill people, they are just so many.

A friend working in Nairobi once complained of food joints being a bit expensive and so are the stalls dealing with clothes and shoes. On a light note , you do not need to worry of alcoblow, your scare should be drawn to the fast speeding miraa pick ups as you cross the road or the military jets landing or taxiing away at the nearby Laikipia Airbase. Its a great town for those who need a less congested place and environmental friendly ambiance to live with no matatu madness or traffic. Life is relatively cheap if you make ‘good money’.