Life (49)

Friday, 03 March 2017 00:00

Baringo Mentoring in the Dawn of Drought

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Baringo, whirlwinds dominated the bare fields. I had to keep covering my eyes with the back of a sweaty hand. The strange thing is every time the whirlwinds would start they would head straight for the kitchen. When we were playing football which I will expound on later, the whirlwinds kept blinding the goalkeeper of the mentors’ team. The amount of loose soil did not make the situation easier. The team of mentees wore trousers during the game but they were not spared just like their opponents who mistakenly came out in very brightly coloured cotton shorts. Unlike the mentees, the mentors left the field wearing socks made of soil up to the knees.  

Lucky enough, Ngubereti Secondary had an alternative source of water from the traditional rain water source. When it rains, many locals harvest and store rain water in small containers, oblivious of the fact that when Peace Ambassadors visit an area, they do so in large numbers. However with salty water from a borehole, young Peace warriors, learned to appreciate fresh water.

My lips got chapped, from the hot sun and my nose got covered in what looked like the cracks of dry clay soil that had previously held water. The makuti hat I had bought in Mombasa from an Indian man struggling with Swahili ended up serving all the ladies of the family except me.

These ordeals presented an opportunity to reflect on the drought that has been eating the nation since late 2016. Newton a form four student struggled to remember the last time they had rain when it hit him, “when was the last time you guys visited?” he asked while scratching his head coupled with a narrow stare in the sky. Without giving me the chance to respond which I thank God for because I forget dates easily; he fiercely responded “that was the last time this soil got soaked with rainwater”.

7.3 billion humans in the world all need freshwater. The only percentage available at once for our use is less than 1% of fresh water, one would wonder, “how well is it distributed and utilized?” During our walk in the village, we came across a watering hole that was almost dry. The many livestock in the village came from all directions to drink a semblance of water. . This scarcity is bound to lead to conflict.

When the lack of natural resources is reported countrywide, life in large cities is not interrupted except for the necessary rationing. City dwellers are more concerned with the consumption and little about the production and availability of the resources.

Cities do not experience hardships that are experienced in the arid and semiarid areas (ASALs). They are given priority in the distribution of water hence the lack of piped water in the ASALs. Moreover cities have also recorded major contribution to the wastage of the scarce resource. Unlike Mogotio the village we visited, water that has cleaned dishes in the city can never be used for mopping the house. I was shocked to see the amount of water a grown woman uses to shower which would make one wonder “is it necessary to fill bath tubs?” The manicured loans also are dependent on the clean water from the tap instead of the recycled water from the toilets which would lessen the pressure.

Back in Baringo, the high level of poverty in this county has heightened the recurring drought over the years. Poverty was recorded at 58.6% in 2006 but with the alarming birth rate, this figure is probably higher. When the Kenya Meteorological Department warned of the possible reduction in the quantity of rainfall as a result of climate change, not much could be done by the residents. Their inability to develop larger water storage facilities or even sink boreholes to match the population and the number of livestock renders them susceptible to the ruthless weather patterns.

Our visit to mentor the young and aspiring professionals was the very first official national event for the Peace Ambassadors. We refer to them as national because, they get to target members countrywide. These mentors who were both at the early stages of their career and in institutions of higher learning, were in Baringo to uphold a commitment they made of walking with the high school students from the time they set foot in high school.

This time I was on official duty of recording all sessions between the form ones and their mentors. It gave me a chance to listens as mentors like Abdi a student of Environmental Science at Maseno University took on the heavy task. He was diligently sharing all the career options that his mentees could choose from as guided by his mentees’ interests. He offered nuggets of wisdom on issues like school performance.

This term we were out to build their confidence in capabilities and talents, hence the football match I mentioned earlier. We quickly put together a team of mentors to play against young, smart and energetic students of Ngubereti secondary school. The thought of the team facing these masters forced mentors into a quick desperate workout the previous day, a walk of 6Kilometers.

The time the game started I could not help but cast my mind back to the film about the legendary football Edson Arantes do Nascimento. In the movie, he acquires the nickname Pele which he is famously known by when he rises to fame as a result of the extraordinary ginga style of play. Ginga combines dance and music to give forth a unique martial arts style. This style was introduced in Brazil in the 16th Century by African slaves. It was later incorporated in cultural activities like football which put Brazil on the global football map. Pele was among the players who popularised ginga. Though not in Pele’s legendary league, some of the taller students played beautiful football and gave their mentors a run for their money. In the end, the young mentees won by 3 – 2. The game helped in cementing the mentor-mentee relationships

We were glad to witness more mentees demonstrating confidence and interest in extracurricular activities compared to the time we introduced the platform. The once timid models were the ones doing solo acts of rap and comedy. One girl asked the audience to complete her sentences with the syllable ‘te’. She began and in the middle got the audience in an uproar of laughter when she mentioned breasts in Swahili (matiti). This for a moment took our minds away from the scotching sun, dusty fields, and salty drinking water.

Mumo a mentor, was going back to Masinde Muliro University, lucky for her she was going to Kakamega. With the numerous eucalyptus trees which break the powerful wind and the mega climatic boost from the Kakamega Forest, she will hardly worry about the extreme hardship. The only thing boggling her was how she had to come up with a strong face for her mentees when bidding them goodbye. She was careful to neither appear too subtle nor too emotionally expressive to the fact that she was leaving. Her mentees Sarah and Brenda on the other hand wouldn’t let go of their mentor when the thought of her disappearing for another four months crossed their minds.

Occasional “I will miss you, keep in touch” were popped in the middle of a last minute conversation until Mumo took a sudden dash for the room we were staying.

“I had to put an end to that emotional havoc I was bringing my way” she confessed during final morning circle just before leaving Ngubereti secondary school.

Internet access: Vital to providing wider access to education and health awareness in rural communities in Mozambique
MAPUTO, Mozambique, December 23, 2016/ -- The Internet is one of the most important enablers of social development and education. While Internet services have been quite phenomenal in the rest of the world, access to the Internet remains very low in Africa, especially in the rural communities. According to the Internet World Stats for Africa 2016 (http://APO.af/AvhzA), only 9.3% of people across the African continent are Internet users.

“A few years ago anyone who could not read and write was considered illiterate, but today this concept goes further, encompassing people who do not know how to use information and communication technologies. Health organizations and schools in Africa often face a unique set of obstacles, including a lack of access to much-needed health education and counselling platforms. The Community Tablet was created to help solve these problems”, says Dayn Amade.                                 

In today’s digital world, bringing Internet access to rural communities is a tremendous step in the right direction of social development and education. Mozambican technology start-up company Kamaleon (http://Kamaleon.co.mz) has developed an innovative and engaging way of promoting digital literacy through a shared platform called the “Community Tablet” (“Tablet Comunitário”). The Community Tablet is a solar powered mobile computer with touch screen displays and virtual keyboards built in on a trailer to provide Internet access to remote areas. In order to facilitate interaction with the virtual world, Kamaleon also offers training on how to use the Internet and its features to members of the community and the local workforce.

Launched in November 2016 in Mozambique, the Community Tablet ultimately aims to promote digital inclusion and a knowledge based society in Africa. Beginning in Mozambique with an astounding 24 million people with no Internet connection, the Community Tablet will be used to support campaigns on various Health and Education initiatives in partnership with governmental and private organisations. Spreading up-to-date messages and interactive lessons that showcase symptoms, prevention and treatment options – replacing the need for leaflet distributions to convey life saving information. Kamaleon is on a mission to close the digital divide and empower more people in Africa to engage in the digital economy and its educational benefits.

“I believe technology and digital literacy can contribute to greater effectiveness of civic education campaigns in various communities”, says Dayn Amade.

PIASA, one of France’s most distinguished auction houses, will hold its third sale of Contemporary African Art, “Origins and Trajectories” on November 17 in Paris, featuring the work of 50 African artists.

PIASA’s ambition to own part of this increasingly valuable market is well within reach, says Christophe Person, who heads the Contemporary African Art department at PIASA in the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. A financier turned art specialist, Christophe has the ability to match big figures and powerful images.

Person comments: “African art is taking a long overdue turn in the spotlight of world interest. There is a growing understanding of the  relevance of the continent’s artists whose themes are universal. And there is also a groundswell of interest from collectors and investors who have seen the prices climbing steadily.”

PIASA’s auction is part of a very busy schedule in Europe for African Contemporary art. After the 1:54 Fair in London in October and the AKAA Fair in November, next year (2017), will be very busy with an exhibition scheduled at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, and another at La Villette “Aperta Africa”, curated by Simon Njami of Revue Noire. And the Art Paris Art Fair at Le Grand Palais in March will be dedicated to Africa.

PIASA is determined to carve out a significant market share by using its powerful relations with Francophone Africa.

France and Africa have a long-intertwined art history. As early as the time of the ‘cabinets de curiosité’, artefacts from Africa were collected as these objects were seen as symbols of the African culture. At the turn of the 19th and 20th century, the Surrealists and the Cubists saw the intrinsic art value of these African artefacts. Today Classical African art remains a powerful component of the French art market, opening the way for the development of this new trade in Contemporary African Art which is being integrated into the global art market that still has its centre of gravity in Paris.  

With PIASA’s “Origins and Trajectories” auction on November 17th, it is not the ‘otherness’ of African art that the auction house is showing but the avant-gardism of African artists - in the way that it is produced by artists combining their African identity with their personal stories and exposure to the world.

The sale on November 17 includes artists who already have an international profile and a growing reputation. These include: Aboudia, Armand Boua, Ghada Amer, Godfried Donkor, Romuald Hazoumè, Oumar Ly, Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, Esther Malhangu, Gonçalo Mabunda, Dominique Zinkpè, Chris Offili, Wagechi Mutu, Mahi Binebine, Youssef Nabil and Nnenna Okore.

The sale reflects the diversity of the work of artists across the continent, some of whom move between Africa and the United States, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Belgium. The sale is organised into sections including migration; the place of women artists in Africa and the Diaspora; and the way contemporary artists interpret classical African art in a new way; and a group following in the wake of EL Anatsui taking their lead from him.

It also offers young artists such as Goncalo Mabunda and Nnenna Okore, Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga and Wallen Mapondera, who are leading the way in interpreting classical African culture and putting it at centre stage for the wider world.
The evidence that African art is on the march is all around us.  The Venice Biennale has most recently placed it centre stage, giving unprecedented visibility to a whole number of artists from Africa and its diaspora. Institutional interest and initiatives are multiplying too. The Bienniales in Marrakech, Dak'art, Bamako, Lubumbashi, Kampala and Luanda offer an invitation to discover the artists on the continent who are exporting more and more.

On a continent where public institutions have so far invested little in museums, there are passionate private collectors and collections that haven’t missed the opportunity to gather works from movements that will certainly establish themselves in time. The most emblematic are in Morocco, Benin, Angola, Nigeria and South Africa. Outside of Africa, we have seen exhibitions at the Tate in London and the Armory Show in New York, while Africa 1:54 at Somerset House in London offers art from every one of the 54 countries in the continent.

Now collectors have the opportunity to bid at PIASIA’s latest sale on November 17 in Paris. The sale provides a snapshot of all that is best of Africa’s artistic offering to the world.

Leading French art and design auction house PIASA has a 1,000 sq metre hotel particulier on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the heart of the city's art market district. Innovative auctions have established its reputation with specific themes or devoted to a single artist or designer, or covering such specialist collectables as furniture & objets d’art, haute epoque, 20th century design and modern & contemporary art.

Source: Piasa Press Release

The first time Ange heard this term, she thought about an actual shower that was given to a bride-to-be. But bridal shower was a slightly different notion to an actual shower. It was a showering of gifts and affection at a ‘bridal shower party.’ By 2016, these parties had evolved into elaborate events where attendees had to match clothes and look their best. The only think lacking was a legion of paparazzi and a red carpet. Indeed, Rwandan bridal showers have been imported straight from the American culture.

When Ange finally attended her first bridal shower, she knew that it would also be her last. She hated it. What hit her was the way these parties were organized: The gift gathering was coordinated by the bride’s close friend, also referred to in contemporary lingo as BFF. She would snoop around for other young bridal friends, young female family members and would add them to a WhatsApp Group named Bridal Shower – Bride’s name.

In the first days, the messages would be courteous, polite, well-mannered and femininely suave. Then slowly, as if the bridal shower attendants pulled by an irresistible string, would start sharing the most up-to-date, insane, sometimes riotous jokes of Kigali, stolen from other WhatsApp groups. And finally would come the ultimate mission: The Best friend forever who was also the Group admin would share a list of items, as long as the Nile River, to potentially offer the bride.

It was as if all of the bride’s friends dreamt the previous night about offering gifts and they were waiting for an extra push. The list would comprise a mountain of domestic items as if the future Mrs had no plans of equipping her house with stuff she would personally choose. The catalogue would be made of numbers sometimes ranging from 1 to 100, including items like kitchen utensils, bed sheets, dustbins and cleaning soaps. Then the friends would play the friendly game of being a good friend by dividing between themselves different numbers. In order to motivate others, the admin would launch the mission by typing:

Njye, I’ll take number 6, 18, 37 and 65.

Dies were cast. It was very important to pick up your numbers right after in the brief time-lag when affordable numbers were still available. And you would gain a bonus of likability that might push the BBF to recommend you as a faithful friend and a potential bridesmaid. The admin would send polite but gently aggressive reminders that the bridal shower date was coming soon as if they did not know! The list numbers had to reduce, girls had to generously prove that they were true friends.

Few days after the initiation of the compte-à-rebours, the admin would send tenacious reminders, sharing the vacant numbers. That would put too much pressure on the ladies’ purses but they would give up although they had other pressing needs and hadn’t budgeted for this in their tight economical lines. They would create tangible reasons in their minds that would permanently blow away the depressing, gloomy sentiment of guilt:

“We’ve been friends since high school.”

“Yarantabaye papa yapfuye!!”

“Elle ferait exactement la même chose pour moi!”

They were too afraid to dare to show up to the ceremony without an offering. Otherwise, they would be disqualified as friends; no one cared whether they had to borrow money or whatever sacrifice they had to make. No one cared that they had planned to offer a different and more meaningful present to the future bride. The bridal shower admin would never get discouraged which would make Ange believe that she had a real mission. A few days before the actual gathering, which had now become key in Kigali marriage celebrations, the best friend would send at least three reminders:

“Ladies, here are the free numbers, please pick them: No 11: Fridge. No 19: Water dispenser. No 21: Rice Cooker. No 83. 12 kg Gas cylinder. No 92: Bread toaster.”

Expensive utensils that sometimes could be indispensable for a house to function; at least in the African, Rwandan kitchen. That’s why Ange hated Kigali’s Bridal showers; wondering if Kigalians- female Kigalians, did get time to surf on websites such www.WikiHow.com to get an idea of how to organize a successful American bridal shower.

The upsetting part of it that would piss her off was the lack of minimum originality and creativity. was Ange remembered how Melanie Trump had been severely ridiculed for plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech. Yet most bridal showers were similarly guilty of zero originality!

Ange thought how it was much easier to call others duplicators and ignore similar imitation on ones part. But Ange was still open to the idea of offering a financial contribution to a person-to-marry, because this is something that resonated with her values, with her Rwandan culture. That culture that had its own version of pre-wedding gatherings where old women would give marriage tips to young females. If not, Ange would rather prefer imihuro, evening gatherings before the wedding where sometimes young people would devote themselves to fleshy, sensual, immoral pleasures.

As these thoughts ran through her mind, an online survey reached her laptop screen. The question was simple – what do you think about Rwandan bridal showers? Her answer was even simpler. She simply clicked on ‘dislike.’ With no regrets.

Sunday, 07 August 2016 00:00

The African Dream

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Ohh respectful Africa, my mother, my love, my land, my blood, my dust, my vein, my paint, my shape, my home, my comfort, my peace.

Ohh beautiful Africa, my sorrow, my pain, my tears, my nightmare, my war, my fight, my battle, my blood, my unrest, my discomfort, my agony.

I am your child, the blood of your blood, the darkness of your soils, the warmth of your sun and the end of your cries.

I was born here; I hold all my hope in my red hands as my ambition. I work for you till blood stops running in my veins. I dedicate every single thought of my mind to your re-beautification. You are as beautiful as your children are. As beautiful as I am in my blackness, in my darkness and in my shyness. I did not learn how to love you as children naturally esteem their parents. I am among your last-borns, but not among the latest, not among your bastards. I am your child of honor. I inherited your beauty and ugliness.

Mother Africa, I heard from the father you gave to me telling me that your richness is your ugliness. Your golden richness attracted your damnations. You are cursed with plenty of abundance. Such as any beauty, you have so many dredgers. You have been sold, assaulted and raped in front of your noiseless descendants.

Your richness I mean your ugliness is tremendously copious, inexhaustible, infinite, eternally renewable. It unwillingly seduces capitalistic souls who are not necessarily your own children’s spirits.

The 2016 African Union summit Followed 26 other precedents.

Do these Summits offer you Hope, Africa?

Does your whole heart rejoice that the ugliness will be kept inside your territories without reinforcing and creating another format that elects you as a dumping ground?

How do you feel Africa, are you joyfully moved as a newlywed woman?

Are you worried as a sterile female concerned that her husband will search progeny elsewhere? How do you feel Africa?

How do you feel when your children follow the American or European dreams as if you are not an equal continent?

Do you feel betrayed, indifferent or tired of these struggles?

Talk to me Africa, my mother! Murmur in my ear your dream for me, for all your children so I can start dreaming. Comfort me before I worry, talk to me it’s urgent don’t just send me to God, don’t just confront me to my rough present.

My time is running. Gun and racial violence are taking another step in the US, England has exited the European Union and elected a female Prime Minister, France is hit by another attack, there are unending fights in the Middle-East, more and more farmers on your land are suffering from a new, easily overspread, uncountable, uncontrollable, unstoppable disease. Experts call it climate change. My time is running and I can’t catch it. It slides between my fingers; it tears through my black body. My time is rushing as your children drown in the great Mediterranean. Aren’t you tired that their blood dilutes the cold waters of yesteryear warm sea?

Wake up and don’t be lazy, mother. Wake up and share your views. Don’t be a hard-hearted, unpitying, merciless and ruthless mother. Speak for yourself, for your children. What are your hopes for the African Union Summit that happened in Kigali and those that will come in later years? What is the dream you dreamt for all of your children?

Talk to me mother, Mum I want to hear your warm voice in these uncertain times. I can’t hear your nearly snuffed voice. Wake up Mama, talk to your daughters and sons. What is the African dream that your sons and daughters should claw at?

Well, if you dare to remain silent. I will think for you as it is my responsivity, our responsibility as your intellectuals.

I see the African dream at the horizon. The horizon looks like the endless beauty of the Indian ocean from the Tanzanian side. The horizon is a warm sunrise that reflects a smell of magic on this ocean and burns my black feet as they sink in the soft shore sand and darkens my skin color. The horizon is what I want now and not a random promise in the future. I want to craft a contemporary, attainable dream for you, mother Africa. Not the projection of statistics that create false hope in the desperate hearts of your children. I don’t want to dream of the Agenda 2063 because I am not sure if my life expectancy allows me to see the 63 sunrises. I want to dream now because in few hours my eyes will close again in deep sleep. I want to wake up tomorrow morning with a dream painted on the mirror of my soul. I want an African dream made of discernable letters, real words, short sentences and a meaningful paragraph that defines this common dream for African sons and daughters, a paragraph that my heart can easily memorize and above all believe.

Do all of your children feel represented when they observe the High Officials you sent to African Union Summits to discuss important issues, issues that matter for politicians and their political interests? Talk to me Mother Africa. Because I want to know your expectations, your anticipations, your highest predictable outcomes when the whole Africa meets in these summits. I know you can fathom the hope of your children and guess if it’s achieved. Do they impatiently follow the news on TV and await the resolutions from the summit? Or do they sneer in front of the tinted expensive cars carrying the Officials? Do they feel that their taxes are wasted in long discussions without concrete conclusions where satisfied stomachs fall asleep in the afternoons, missing the opportunity of painting the African dream for me?

The ultimate dream is … I sit and hesitate to define it. I want it to be exclusive, I want it to resonate with all of your new-borns. I want all Africans to buy, consume, own, believe and love the DREAM. …those who can still believe in it and build it to its ultimate end. I am afraid that our souls are desperate, hopeless and turned into a new oceans of bitterness. Their horizon has stopped shining in the warm mornings since the time you started breaking your word into sinned, sad, irretrievable pieces.

The African dream: The African dream should be that way of living… hesitation is still knocking on my door. I am tempted to dream of the era of my ancestors where abundance, prosperity and family ties reigned but if I shape such dream for you Africa, will you buy, consume, own, believe and love it? I have in mind all of your children especially those who were born after yesterday’s sunset.

The African dream is a temporary dream, a dream that all of the African children believe. Believe in possibilities, probabilities, prosperities. It’s a dream that our all stomachs are fed by the delight they prefer, all their illnesses are treated, all children are properly educated, all adults get dignifying job opportunities. It’s an Africa of joy, family-country-continent unit, collaboration and celebration. It’s an Africa of dignity, pride and generosity. It’s an Africa where a man from Mali can start a small business and believe it can make a living. It’s an African where a woman from Botswana can make and sell her handcraft items, it’s an African where a Kenyan fisher can catch gigantic fishes, sell them on the market and get enough money to re-invest in his business, buy a Tusker beer and dance Nakei Nairobi in his evening. I can paint dreams for all African nations but I want to borrow their thoughts. I want to paint their own dreams.

It’s an Africa mixed with the ancient and the contemporary. It’s an African where a North African man is not feared as terrorist, where a black child is not only perceived as a wretched immigrant or disdained black poor. It’s an Africa of families with manageable children, I would propose three or slightly four. It’s a land of warm sun, hot music, crazy dances, fried, non-fried food, fertile soils, strong friendships, oral and documented stories, unbreakable spirits, real compassion, social gatherings, happy unions, genuine love, real solidarity, local values. It’s an Africa where all African people dream to develop and sustain so they can see their children growing on their own land because they would have dreamed, created and realized a dreamed place. It’s an Africa where we will have fought low self-esteem, self-destruction, mental and metal barriers. It’s an Africa where traditions espouse modernization but both remain distinct entities, contributing to each other but remaining faithful to themselves. It’s an Africa with its own conspicuous mark. It’s a property of respect. It’s a dream of the African warmth shining from inside and outside of Africans’ hearts. It’s an Africa where blackness is not a weakness just a difference, where blackness is not a source of complexes rather a complementarity to humanity. It’s a dream that we just sow that rare seed of believing that Africa matters. It’s about daring to believe that Africa is home, true home for all of us. It’s taking that scary step and starting to test the beliefs of our ancestors, their vision and hope for this marvelous land.

I dream of an Africa that can inevitably hurt but also completely heal. An Africa that mischievously takes but also generously provides. It’s a dream where all children start thinking about changing what needs urgent attention rather than hypothetical plans of running away from home, from selves. It’s a dream of belief. Belief in the red, soft, African soil. It’s a belief in Africa. A belief in Africans. A belief in ourselves. A belief in myself as an entity. As option. As a choice. As a chance. As a hope. As a gift. As a present. As the only present. As a future. As the only future. As a believer. As a thinker. As a speaker. As a defender. As a guard. As child. As a daughter. As a son. As a mother. As a father. As an ancestor. As a god. As destiny. As a creator. As part. Of Africa.

This is my contemporary dream for you Mother Africa. Can you buy, consume, own, believe and love it? Can the African Union summits buy, consume, own, believe and love it?

Talk to me Mama. Talk to me Africa.

Ohh beautiful Africa, my sorrow, my pain, my tears, my nightmare, my war, my fight, my battle, my blood, my unrest, my discomfort, my agony.

Ohh respectful Africa, my mother, my love, my land, my blood, my dust, my vein, my paint, my shape, my home, my comfort, my peace.

Saturday, 06 August 2016 00:00

Young, Restless and Loved Unconditionally

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The high fashion supermodel that always caught the attention of both men and women for her high Janet Jackson cheek-bones and the body figure that was well complemented by her elegant height is mama Jabali. The young delightful sight was approached by many baring complements; some wondered why a goddess like her existed amongst them. She was consulted to give advice and coach “wannabe” models during beauty pageants, guaranteeing a win to the models that followed her word to the letter.

Jean-not her real name-who as a freshman ran for a crucial student’s council seat had given birth. The Gender and social welfare contestant was not only strong willed in politics but also in group discussions where she made subjects clearer and willingly lessened the burden of group assignments by offering to tackle the tough questions. Her intelligence offered a memorable narration of Greek mythologies, biographies and environmental systems to her attentive audiences. She was too busy for the juicy celebrity gossip, “that crap will fill space in my brain for nothing” she would lament dismissively adding that it did not make sense to obsess over the lives of people who had made it in life.  

The only things I had in common with Jean is that we both showered but I am pretty sure she showered more times than I did, on top of which she carried hand wash and several packets of both wet and pocket tissue. She cautiously watched where she sat, washed her fruit before eating it. By fruit I mean even the avocado and bananas that came with disposable covers or rather peels. I admired all these thus my ability to narrate it without leaving any detail. There is no way I could have matched that kind of hygienic standards.

I accepted my special place in the society as a tomboy, thanks to her girly standards that I could not keep up with. She has put on a little weight but that is not a bother to her as evidently indicated by her WhatsApp status “I know I weigh a tonne now... yes it’s totally worth it” at the end of which she has added the emoticon of a boy child’s head. She is therefore forced to share her younger brother’s clothes.

The young conservative, devoted father and partner was glad to receive Jabali. He worked two jobs to ensure the mother and child had a solid landing once they came back from Jean’s parents’ home. Whenever he did not visit he called and left an “I love you two” text message shortly after hanging up the call. This made Jean smile and sigh with relief as she passed the message of love to Jabali with a kiss on every inch of his face.

Two of my friends and I made sure to see baby Jabali before he outgrew the cuteness that comes with the new born. Jean who speaks in a low tone stands up with a grin between her now rosy cheeks that instantly informs us that chances are we could be dealing with a totally different person and so we should recalculate our moves and conversations. She stands up to give us light hugs and later on let us know that she was avoiding giving us our dream shower filled with milk. Her breasts were full with milk and any slight squeeze resulted in the serious oozing of it.

The bottles of hand wash had doubled in quantity; this was shared with everyone who dared to ask to hold her son. “Jabali caught flu, I did not like it. He now has a rash on his tongue which makes him very uncomfortable hence the caution”, said Jean protectively

“Forgive me for being too cautious it comes with the job” she adds amid a guilt smile. Jabali was sleepy the entire time we were visiting with them for he had not slept the entire previous night. For this reason Jean asked me to spend the night to assist when he would be stubborn again.

I was allowed to sleep earlier because according to Jean, I would be the one to keep an eye on the bubbly and cunning Jabali at night. I was awoken by tales of Jean’s experience, she spoke of mothers who experienced post partum depression for finding it tough to handle the aftermath of child birth. She consummately narrated a story of a woman whose family was furious for thinking black magic was used on their daughter who was now acting like a mad person. We were joined by her expectant friend who listened keenly to the recommendation from a woman who had barely come close to experiencing such. “Take time out and watch birds play in the trees, even if it cries, give your brain a break” Jean advised expertly.

Jean lied on her back held her legs by the toes; she pulled on the legs and simultaneously thrust forward as if trying to stand up. The expectant lady, who went by the name Esther, watched, closely without blinking as Jean demonstrated the easiest way to push the baby during labour. Esther burst into laughter but stopped immediately on reading the message of concern on Jean’s face

At night Jabali was up as expected and therefore I was asked to wash my hands or use the hand wash before embarking on my duty for the night as the nanny. The first few hours were smooth, I held him and he instantaneously fell asleep. His sleep lasted less than five minutes after which a short cry followed. The cries were mollified by a gentle rocking as advised by mama Jabali or a pat on the back while Jabali was leaning on the shoulder. There are times Jean took Jabali to breast feed him this was triggered by a loud continuous shrill that sent Jean to her feet. “I know that tone” Jean would say as she stood with her breast already out or a made up song which started with soft humming. This was the last time I held Jabali for that night, I slept and the next morning Jean told me, Jabali together with her went to sleep at mid night.

I came back home to my parent’s place only to realize the chicken that had roamed the house with her two chicks replicated the same behaviour as Jean. The chicken picked fights with anyone or any object that dared come close to her chicks. It caught bugs and looked for bits of spilt foods to feed her chicks. The announcement for food was made official with a clacking call from the mother chicken as the chicks ran responding with an exited squeaky call.

The chicken mother ensured every single chick was present for cuddling under her wings during breaks and at night. One chick died and therefore the only thing left behind to carry on the legacy of the family was one loud chick. The feeble creature made the same loud noise as if missing its sibling but was silenced when offered grains of rice. It followed the mother chicken around. Any attempt by the mother chicken to leave was a chance for the loud cry to resume.

June and July are cold months in Kenya, for the past two months I had made a habit of wearing my sleeping bag even during the day. I was not going to take chances with the cold that saw us record the highest electricity bill since the year started. Apparently 17 degrees is not cold at all according to a friend in the UK. In light of the facts presented I allowed the remaining chick to join me in the luxury of the warmth and cosiness of my sleeping bag under the watchful eye of its mother. It took pleasure in the invite and hardly made any noise while at it. The chick took short breaks to feed but made sure to locate even warmer spots near my armpits and even behind my pony of hair when it came back.

I remembered Jean using a heater to warm her room and ensuring a thick layer of Vaseline covered Jabali’s delicate skin in addition she made him wear layers of clothes. I also recalled the noises that alarmed Jean, prompting her to breast feed Jabali or to simply hold him, they were the same noises the chick made, when it was alone or when it was uncomfortable.

The last chick passed on two days after its food sack was badly severed by a careless cousin who accidentally stepped on it. I eagerly fought the compulsion to shed a tear or two when I saw it squeaking helplessly; lying immobile on the spot beside the ball of food it had consumed that day. In less than three minutes it was up on its feet. Jean did not equip me with the knowledge of what to do if that happened, so I tied tape around its neck amid protests from its mother who had to be restrained. The tape was gone by morning. Its efforts to feed were rendered futile since the food escaped through the opening, which it ate again. The food sac dried leading to its death.

GN... If one happened to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) which is located next to Nairobi National Park and opposite Banda school on Magadi road, the embodiment of the mother elephant by humans is witnessed. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was established by Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick in memory of her husband. It has managed to raise and released over 150 orphans back into the wild. Since 1977 DSWT has been rescuing abandoned elephant and rhino calves and assigning a care taker to ensure the absence of the cow is not felt. A blanket is used to cover the calf and it is fed every two hours with formula milk which contains less fats. Elephants have a poor digestive mechanism therefore cannot be fed using cow milk. The care takers go to the extent of ensuring the calf does not spend nights alone by keeping it company throughout.

The City of Kigali wakes up and invades the dirty and paved streets. It’s a city that is walking towards the Vision 2020 and its full ambitions. The Rwandan woman wakes up with it as early as the first signs of nighttime fade.

The Rwandan society as many other societies has tailored itself to the modern civilized world. The economy is flourishing. Kigali the main city and capital of the country is growing like a mushroom taking its shape in the sophistication of its Master Plan. The modern Rwandan woman was not left out, she joined the crowd as pulled by an invisible string of the development era. She has learned different skills so she can cope up with this competitive world. She is no longer a house mistress, who is proudly caring for her husband and her children; rather she is a professional. What an intimidating word! This also means she has to wake up as early as 5:30am, every morning.

Before she takes a shower, she thinks about the struggle she has to secure. She murmurs words of prayers and ensures that she is really communicating with her God. But her heart is beating fast trying to remember every single task she must take care of. Although she is praying, her inner mind is making a to-do-list.

She has to wake up her tenderly sleeping children and prepare them for a school day. They lazily open their eyes, try to fall asleep again but she is there such a school matron to ensure they get ready on time. By the same time, she has ensured that the maid has put a bucket of hot water in the bathroom.

-          “I hope she remembered to iron their clothes” she murmurs to herself and her God.

She goes back to her room and tells her husband:

-          I have prepared your clothes for the meeting. Your socks are also in the white box in the closet.

She runs to the bathroom. As she is showering, she thinks about her work. The institution is about to restructure again, which is a polite way of downsizing. She heard some seniors saying that women are more likely to be the ‘beneficiaries of the restructure’. She can’t lose her job! Her job is her pride. Not only she is making money to provide for her children but also her extended family. Her job is a source of pride in her entourage and in her society. It allowed her to gain a respectful place. She is responsible of herself, self-confident and financially independent. Even her church seeks her advice because she appears to be a respectful and smart woman.

As she is reflecting, she closes the tap and the lukewarm water deprives her of its freshness. Her son has called ‘Maman’. He has shouted so hard as if someone slaughtered his stomach. She knows that he has a complaint.

-          Maman, I don’t want to wear this red pullover!”

Honestly, the mother has no time to think about pullover colors but she knows from experience, if she doesn’t handle that right now, it will lead to an ocean of tears till the child reaches the main school gate. And the teacher will call her to ask for an explanation of that sadness.

She sighs and listens. She has not planned to give in to her son’s caprices. She just has to find the magic words to calm and convince him to wear red pullover.

By that time, breakfast is ready. Daddy is savoring his. He has put on a tie that doesn’t match his shirt. The one his wife has not prepared. She knows he means: ‘You pick my clothes but I have the final choice, the final word’. She doesn’t have minutes to discuss about another cloth preference. So far, she has got time to wear her underwear, a bra and a skirt.. She patiently orders her kids to finish breakfast. Dad is there on the other end of the table as a third entity. He doesn’t shout, it’s mom’s role. Maman’s chest is still solely covered by a black bra. As papa and kids are having breakfast, she can rush to the room and get ready. She slips on a colored blouse. She puts on red high heels that the maid has cleared of dust after waxed dad’s black leather shoes.

As usual, she has her make-up box in her handbag. Again she wasn’t able to block off 3 minutes for her beauty treatment. It’s time to go. Her two children have their backpacks. Homeworks were completed last night, all poems repeated and songs sung. They were ready for a successful school day. By the time, they have to get in the car, the second born has forgotten his brand new Mathematics book, he accuses his sibling of hiding it. They find it and finally are ready to leave the family cocoon. The maid opens wide the gate, the car engine hums.

Among other things professional women have adapted to is owning and driving cars. She is driving her kids to school. When she reaches the gate. The maid shouts:

“I don’t have money to buy food stuff”

“I was here since last night, why didn’t you ask me for the money in the evening?”

She is upset. She handles her a 5000 frw note.

“What I am going to cook for tonight?” The maid asks again.

“I will call and tell you.”

She is more upset. Dad has already left with his own car. He has said a hurried almost authoritative “Goodbye kids”. He has forgotten to say nice words to Maman. He didn’t care about food stuff, he knows Madame will handle that. She is an expert. He secretly and unconsciously appreciates she manages such details.

Madame drives to school first. She enjoys the loud but warm screams of the kids in the back of the car. They even sing for her. Her maternal heart is softened, touched. She is instantly forgetting the morning rush. Now, they are mock fighting, prompting her to intervene as a fight is a fight and it should stop.

She has reached the office compound. She is 7 minutes ahead of time. She has time to make up. When she penetrates the office hall, she is a fresh professional woman. None, not even her husband can imagine how many decisions she took for everyone at home to have a good day. No one can guess how many times she ran and came back between her bedroom, the kids’ bedroom, the bathrooms, the dining room and the parking.

At the office, she reads her emails, chats and gossips with some colleagues. She is clandestinely investigating on the restructuring process. Who is going to fall or to stay? Someone close to the human resource manager or to the country director? It’s hard to know, there are so many speculations. It’s so hard to focus on work, the pressure is too high. She should have smiled more to the HR manager but she hates that woman. Although she holds the final verdict, she incarnates a vulgar character.

She heard some women have offered sexual favors to their bosses. She knows some stories are rumors but others are also the truth.

She sighs again. Her phone vibrates, which means that emails are popping up. She touches the sensitive screen and sees a yellow envelope. She opens it and it’s a message from a guy, the one who has never given up on chatting her up. It’s a series of sweet words. She feels flattered and condemns that feeling of pleasure. It’s illegal for a married woman.

She focuses on the work, the red, elegant and tight shoes are torturing her feet. She doesn’t think about removing them. She receives another SMS, it’s from her husband. He is asking for details about their bank loan. It’s message without ‘Hi’ or ‘Thanks’.

She thinks about the restructure at the office, again. She has made effort to improve her English and Computer skills. She should have done a Master’s degree. But when? Between two pregnancies, between two diapers? She has lost that intellectual curiosity. She has another expertise to acquire. The balance between the wife, mother, Christian, community member and professional. It’s as hard as finding the right balance in her high heels.

It’s the afternoon, she has enjoyed lunch and she feels lazy and sleepy but she can’t show that. What would others think? In this restructuring period? There is no room for idleness or snooze.

Her phone snoozes reminding her of the meeting she has in ten minutes. She checks her phone, there are two other yellow envelopes. One is from her telecommunication company, it’s an annoying advertising message. The other one is from her house maid.

Kandi n’amakara yashize! - there is no charcoal at home!

This maid! She never makes one exhaustive list of the house needs. Ok, perhaps the maid is not the one to blame but people should curse inflation. She is still earning the same Rwandan francs but the dollar’s value is increasing. She can’t buy the same thing with the same amount as eight months ago. It’s hard to make the two ends meet. She can’t ask money to Mister. He has bought her a car and he is in charge of big family investments. There is her pride too. She wants to prove to him that she is capable of covering her needs and their home’s. It’s important to her.

She could have got that promotion if she didn’t fall pregnant last year. It slowed her career growth. She blames that pregnancy but she can’t blame her baby. He is such an angel. During the meeting, she is actively participating and she is carefully composing the dinner menu. They have guests tonight and she has to impress them. She has to defend her husband’s honor by playing the role of cordon-bleu cook.

It’s 5:40 pm. She leaves the office and passes by the supermarket, she buys some food and condiments. The traffic jam doesn’t help; she is losing time. The fish she bought is de-freezing in the back of the car. The smell is not very charming.

While queuing, she calls the charcoal shop tenant and asks him to send a sack of charcoal to her place. She receives a call, it’s from a great cousin from the village. He wants her financial support. He has been insisting as he is urged to start a small agribusiness. She repeats to him that she doesn’t have money. He begs, she persists and finally hangs up with a lie:

“I’m driving and I am near to the police, I risk to get a fine”

She is still stuck in the jam. She is sure he is cursing her. Because the cousin knows they own a house in Kigali and two cars. He deducts they are rich people who just don’t wish to assist his agribusiness dream. She will hear this from another cousin in the coming days.

She listens to the radio. They are talking about women’s empowerment. She knows there are a lots of women in the parliament and women rights are very respected. Sometimes, she doesn’t know what it means. She misses the point of how this translates in her busy-and-packed day. There is an imbalance in the emancipation. She knows that there are so many things that her husband is not yet ready to support her on. She has to pay attention so he doesn’t feel disrespected because of her professional status. She knows him. He can be bitter and aggressive. She knows how and when to be submissive to him. For her peace.

It’s the night. The stars are discretely shining in the sky. The guests are enjoying food. Men are channel surfing between Aljazeera, France24 news and a soccer game.

While men are distracted, she verifies if the maid has ironed the children’s school uniforms. She helps them to do some homework.

It’s 21:30pm. Guests leave. She has to keep smiling from the beginning to the end to make them feel welcomed. She silences the pain in her back. She takes all the dirty dishes to the kitchen before leaving the living room. Mister is still washing TV news. He used to help her in the first days of their marriage. He has stopped. She resents him, overtime. It’s true that he bought her the car that adds a portion to her pride but she wishes… she sighs. She wishes he could help her more to handle these day-to day invisible but tiring tiny tasks. She brings him slippers and takes his black leather shoes outside. He omits to say ‘thanks’. It’s a care he earned the day he wedded her.

By the time she finishes to showering, he has come to their room. He asks her to turn to his side. She doesn’t necessarily feel love at the moment. She dreams of a long night of deep sleep. She forgets to dream and turns to him. Tomorrow another day awaits her. But she is always thankful to her husband as he ensures that all the house doors are locked before going to sleep.

I was at it again with Mumo of course. This time round in Baringo, on a mission to mentor high school students on a vast number of issues. In order to aid their transition from high school to tertiary level of education accompanied with resilience in tackling societal difficulties such a sex in relationships at their age and career choice and development.

I was sitting next to the plumb, dark, pot bellied man who wore a grin to let me know he was the driver and my companion in the matatu till we reached our destination. I experienced a quality inherent in all drivers; the travelling made them so talkative and so knowledgeable. History and other vital information was brought to my attention about sites such as Lake Naivasha being a fresh water lake and that people mistook it for Lake Elmentaita because they were both rift valley lakes and they were not very far from each other. The shimmering blueness of the waters at a distance accompanied with the vegetative fence was proof enough that water held life in high regard and in return offered a delight to the sight of many.

Topics were switched without my knowledge and at some point I found myself comfortably agreeing that clandestine relationships led to wastage of wealth. “Too many consumers, lead to the hurried depletion of money, a resource which is very hard to get a hold of” he explained confidently with a scorn to emphasize the point. This he did as he offered me roasted maize, water and many edibles he bought by the road side with me in mind

Throughout the journey I wished I were a robber, because by the time we were getting to Nakuru, which is where we would board the next Matatu to Baringo, I knew how much wealth my driver had, and where it was stored.

We assembled in Nakuru in order to wait for every other Peace Ambassador coming from the East, the West, South and Northern Parts of Kenya to ensure Ngubereti Secondary learned lessons with everlasting value.

Peace Ambassadors Kenya, a youth led organisation which was established in the year 2012, to ensure peaceful coexistence among communities was the host organisation. This organisation adopted various strategies in implementing its vision; one of them being the mentorship of the remotely placed high schools. The programme which pairs a high school and a university student or a professional with similar interest, works to ensure students who are exposed to a myriad of challenges feel like they are part of a bigger Kenyan picture. The programme is currently in three schools, one in West Pokot, Lamu and Baringo.

For the two full days of mentorship and the three arguably greatest nights in the history of Peace Ambassadors Kenya, I managed to mentally record stories to make this blog post interesting and informative enough. First it was our arrival which had the word adventure written all over it. It was raining heavily, which we came to find out would happen throughout our night stays. During the daytime, the sun would suck dry all the water making an attempt to reach the roots of the scarcely populated vegetation. The hot sun gave everyone a permanent tan that is usually difficult to spot on a melanin engulfed skin, but this was not the case, dark became darker.

The newbie’s came packing, reminding everyone of a form one student and a freshman reporting to school or university respectively for the first time. This was a ploy by the veterans to make fun of them since they had no idea of what transpires during our visits to the schools for mentorship. Three to four t-shirts with one bottom is enough

Just like the case of Mau, mattresses were laid on the ground but there would be no exploring on this rainy night rather, the participants made use of this time to catch up, play board games and to make unnecessary noise just to annoy introverts. A hot meal of sukuma wiki, ugali and meat was served officially allowing every individual to decide how their night would end.

Baringo is a lovely county, with very hospitable and very loud people who straight away notice that you are new in the area but become very helpful. The number of acacia trees and shrubs that cover the bare rocky land gave clues of the climatic condition of this region. Sisal does very well here. The presence of the equator monument near Ngubereti Primary school added to the number of clues about the weather of this region.  

The first official day of connecting with students came, received with a compulsory shower to the few who thought the morning dew and chill could not penetrate the traces of blubber underneath their skins. The morning circle which is a well preserved tradition of Peace Ambassadors Kenya, allows individuals to make known their expectations, disappointments and their inspirations in joining the mentorship programme. It is at this point that individuals introduce themselves by mentioning, where they are from, their full name, and the professional course undertaken in the institutions of higher education.

We all got a chance to meet our mentees. My mentee is called Judy Korir, a gracefully tall and slender form four girl with a beautiful face and aura about her. I met Judy last year and she made clear her passion for travelling, which was sparked by the only trip she has ever been on; National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi. Ever since then she has been dreaming of visiting Eldoret for reasons she is not aware of, “Probably it is because I will be meeting my destiny of bathing in luxuries over there” said Judy amid laughter that had an indication that she was not serious nor obsessed about luxuries and the thought of it was enough for her.

She also wanted to become a doctor but was afraid the lack of access to information would deter her dreams. This was a school that did not have a television to show what was happening outside their school. The school did not have the capacity to purchase newspapers neither did it have even the smallest collection of literature to fill the eager minds with knowledge. I asked Judy whether she knew any female leaders; the response I received was disheartening as she gave me a straight “no”.

We got to have interesting times with our mentees, it started with photos which were shared on social media immediately and after the visit. We enjoyed sessions of team building exercises and challenges with the most innovative and creative team emerging as the winner. These sessions allowed our minds to be refreshed for yet another session of intimate discussions for the different sexes. Sexual and reproductive health and rights are was the topic of discussion allowing the girl and boy students separately to speak openly about the challenges they face on a daily basis both in school and at home.

I am a woman so I only know of what girls were taught. Various mentors spoke of the dos and don’ts when it comes to handling the down-town madam who is also known as the vajayjay. We used all sorts of names on the vagina to make it fun and in order to reduce the awkwardness that comes with this topic; it also becomes our free pass to getting access on the issues that bother them. We equipped them with information they would need in case, God forbid, they were raped.

We hypocritically discouraged sex and recommended it for marriage, yet at the back of our minds we are aware that engaging in sex should be a personal choice. The remoteness of the school; makes it easy to impart such knowledge on delicate subjects such as premarital sex or sexual orientation. We mainly capitalize on what they know and reduce the amount of new information coming to them. This is usually a risk we are willing to take, however, we remain reachable on phone when a tough one comes knocking.

The evenings were made official by the heavy nimbus clouds, announcing what would befall the land for the better part of the night. New games were invented for each night we spent in Ngubereti Secondary School however poker prevailed and on the last night an improvised dance ceremony.

With that said and done. We left the place feeling like we deserved a second life for giving a feel of importance to persons who felt undeserving of such a visit. We will not be allowed in the school next term, no one will, orders from the government, leaving us with the option of visiting in 2017.

Green Note

While in Baringo, I saw the Prosopis Juliflora shrubs that didn’t stand out in any way until I learnt that the  Cummins cogeneration Company is seeking to generate 11.5 MW worth of biofuel from them. If this works out well, then Baringo will be one of the few places in Africa where energy is literally grown!

Sunday, 17 July 2016 00:00

The Centre for Hope or Mockery Disguised

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In the middle of the disorder of an informal settlement, accompanied by musty scents from the never ending sewer in the labyrinth of the drainage trenches and hips of solid waste that occasionally harbour human waste in the name of flying toilets, lies a troubling environment. This honourable oasis had renewed the hope of the inhabitants of Mukuru Kayaba, sending most minds and bodies reeling at its sight. It had this effect on the most of them who were comfortable in iron makeshifts and could only see stone buildings in DJ Afro movies.

Mukuru Kayaba is one of Kenya’s well known informal settlements found in Nairobi. It is said informal settlements mushroom out of the ground to offer cheap labour to industries and nearby middle class settlements. This was the case with Mukuru Kayaba, it is located in the heart of the industrial area of Nairobi, and is home to thousands of people that provide cheap labour to dozens of nearby factories.

In the middle of this slum lies Mukuru Primary School. Since 1985, this school was the only source of formal education for both adults and children from Mukuru slums.

Mornings in Mukuru are characterized by hasty movement of workers making their way to industries on foot in order to save their meagre wages. As their parents eke out a living through any means necessary, children are often left to their own devices. Many end up in idle existence at best and violent crime at worst. It is against this backdrop that Mukuru Primary School strives to offer invaluable education.

Over the years, the school has managed to nurture great talent that includes Vincent Ateya of Royal Media, Eunice Mwende a nurse at a prominent hospital, Jeff Muli a sports journalist, and Catherine Wanjiru a leading advocate and renowned feminist.

The year 2007 was the year that saw the flimsy structure that had for a long time supported what was called a school for the longest time get dismantled by hammers and indignant glances from users who were fed up. Students used to enjoy the rainy seasons the most, the iron sheet roof would put an unexpected end to long boring classes, giving them time to share stories from home about a battered wife, about the marriage of a drop out, about a foetus found lying in the clogged drainages. The iron-walled structures also made it easy to avoid punishments as they could easily spy on teacher through gaping holes in the walls.  

By the time the school was receiving a face-lift, it had been providing both education and food to thousands of children. The school had become an asylum where children from tough homes had their anger mollified through child play and the tales of Aladdin and the gini. The school had also become a safe haven from social evils such as drug abuse, sexual abuse, early child marriages, and robbery.

The face-lift gave the school a new face - storey buildings neatly arranged to allow for the brief playing ground that could only be utilized for catching the 10 am sunshine. Hoarding untold stories from both students who represented their parents’ view of the whole matter and the teachers who did not have the slightest idea of how it got there.

During my last visit to the school I met John who stood in a corner outside his classroom as the other pupils played happily. John was a class eight pupil and at his age he ought to have been engaging in the same manner of play. The thought of a bright future crossed his mind, evidenced by a microscopic smile that would be dismissed the moment it tried to mess with his intelligence. His hand slipped to a plastic Rosary given to him by his mum. The only parent he and his siblings had ever known.

When I asked John why he chose to isolate himself, his answer was soft and hesitant, “a lot is at stake for me to pretend I needed to play for the mere reason of being a child.”

His mind was focused on securing one of the highly competitive scholarship slots. Eighty students had to compete for the only two scholarships that were available. These scholarships were offered by local corporates like banks plus both local and international donors..

Despite the efforts of these children to perform, very few transitioned to the next level of education. The stone building had turned well wishers against them. To an outsider, the school was now a state of the art and therefore its students had changed with the changing times as well. The truth of the matter was that these pupils still had to put up with the darkness that came with poverty.

The reduced number of scholarships was one of the benefits trampled underfoot. In addition, the health of the students was threatened by diarrhoea and other water borne diseases from the poorly managed drainage that often resulted in sewage mixing with drinking water. The emotional well being of these students who are forced to adapt to situations that extend into their adult life is wanting as well. All these alarming conditions have made the stone building in the middle of Mukuru Kayaba a mockery or is it the copper snake that people look at and assume wellness.

This building has left residents wondering whether the success of education is evaluated by improving structures or by improved overall quality of education.

This is the plight of John the class 8 student. If he doesn’t get one of the two scholarships, he will move from life beyond the glittering school structures will be mired in the slum’s squalor.

  

 

 
In 2014 a think-tank chaired by Kofi Annan had estimated that Africa lost $20bn a year on fishing and logging, with Mozambique one of the worst sufferers

BEIRUT, Lebanon, June 30, 2016/ -- Privinvest (www.Privinvest.com) has noted recent inaccurate comments in the media with regards to maritime programs executed by Privinvest for entities owned by the Government of Mozambique.  

These programs were deemed by Mozambique as necessary to build a local industry to contribute to the economic development of the country and in order to establish sovereignty over its own waters and natural resources after years of poaching and unlicensed exploitation.

At the time that the contracts were signed in 2013 and early 2014. Mozambique was being widely feted as the “Qatar of Africa”. At that point, The World Bank had raised its forecast for the African Continent, naming Mozambique as one of the fastest growing economies in the world [i].

It was widely recognised that Mozambique had extremely limited maritime infrastructure and no means of supervising and protecting its huge offshore gas fields, vital to reach, as a first stage, its economic independence.

In the fishing sector in 2013, only one registered vessel out of 130 that were licensed to fish in its offshore waters was Mozambique-owned. [ii] In 2014 a think-tank chaired by Kofi Annan had estimated that Africa lost $20bn a year on fishing and logging, with Mozambique one of the worst sufferers [iii] . Mozambique needed food security, and developing a modern and efficient fishing industry was rightly seen as critical to achieving that.

The maritime programs were requested by the customer and then designed to deliver an integrated solution – to allow oversight and control of the country’s EEZ (exclusive economic zone), to set up a viable homemade, home-owned and self-sustaining commercial fishing industry and to set up a shipbuilding and ship maintenance industry. Both for local craft and also the servicing of vessels in the offshore oil and gas industry. For that purpose, the necessary intellectual property has been made available to the customer as well as the related transfer of technology.

Contrary to certain reports, no weapons whatsoever were supplied under any of the maritime programs. The scope of supply for the maritime programs far exceeds all that has been erroneously reported to date, moreover, the services provided, beside the transfer of technology, cover a wide scope of training and maintenance services.

This was from a Press Release by Preinvest

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