“So They Didn’t Kill Them?”

Ed: It might help to read: “They killed them?” first

It’s funny how things pan out, isn’t it?

I had called John as we left my mothers apartment building and told him to come pick us up from the road outside. Even he seemed confused as to why I would wait for him outside. The thing is, we needed to go to the shop right outside to buy pesticides and some other item I forget so it only made sense. By the time we got down and had purchased the goods, he would be there. Or so we thought.

We had to wait a few minutes. Couldn’t have possibly been 10 minutes but a lot can happen in 10 minutes. A lot can happen in 2 minutes in fact; and I’ll give you an example. In two minutes, a motorcycle with 3 young men on it can ride by you. The man behind the handles can pull out a duct taped pistol (looked like a 9mm) as two others begin to offload you of…well, everything. They can get in your pockets and that of the lady behind you and pick everything they can carry off you. Then they can ride off and leave you destitute. Then you will remember every smart idea you had two minutes earlier for two minutes afterwards.

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Wangari Maathai, Charity Ngilu, Martha Karua: Political Moments and the Legacies of ‘Mama’

“Leadership is not simply a matter of filling the top positions in a government. Nor is it a quality restricted to the ambitious, the elite, the politically gifted, or the highly educated. Indeed, not every person in a leadership position is truly a leader” – Wangari Maathai, ‘The Challenge For Africa’ (2009).

A good place to start would be the 1997 General Elections. Charity Ngilu, who was already a household name after capturing the Kitui central in Kenya’s first ever multiparty elections held in 1992, announced that she would be running for the presidency on a Social Democratic Party (SDP) ticket. “Ma saa na Ngilu”, for those who remember. We all cheered for this gallant politician who arrested our imagination when she stormed out of Mwai Kibaki’s Democratic Party (DP) and boldly struck out for the country’s top job despite a relatively short career in politics. And then, several months to the election, Wangari Maathai, too, announced that she was vying for the top job. The results? Moi won, of course. Kibaki came second, Raila, third and Ngilu managed a respectable 5th place, one notch higher than the late Martin Shikuku. As for Maathai, she came third from last in those elections with 0.07% of total votes cast.

With today’s news that Charity Ngilu will be seeking the presidency in the 2013 General Elections, one cannot help but feel that history is somewhat repeating itself. Martha Karua, the proverbial long-distance runner, launched her presidential bid a couple of years ago, and has been on the campaign trail ever since. Now Karua has company in the form of ‘Mama Rainbow’. It may be political naivete to ask, but would anyone serious about campaigning for the presidency launch a bid with only five months to the polls? Prior to her campaign announcement, wasn’t she on record that she would support Raila’s presidential ambitions? These questions may seem to you, rhetoric or a display of my ignorance, but allow me to continue.

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On Rudisha, Kitum and the 2024 Olympic Bid

David Rudisha World Record

The man pictured above is a beast. A godly beast.

There are 2 things to note about that picture. The first is the man pointing at that world record; a humble and proud man who has done a formidable thing. The second is that flag. That country he bears on his back, that covers his identity, that Kenyan flag.

Last night, Rudisha quite literally had the entire country on his back. We needed that victory. We needed that gold medal. And boy did he deliver; in such spectacular fashion. Gold. World Record. Olympic record. Three in one.

Not to be overshadowed was the 17 year old running beside him.

Kitum Rudisha

Timothy Kitum ran his ass off and took that bronze. Not a small feat for that age. When I was 17, I think my greatest achievement could be measured in how many shots I took the night before without blacking out. This kid just ran 800m in 1:42. That’s formidable. And Kenya recognized that. With Kemboi’s hugs still fresh in our minds, that national anthem played last night in its original capacity as a lullaby.

Kenya slept well.

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Hug Like a Champion

Ezekiel Kemboi won our lovely country its first gold medal in the London 2012 Olympics. It was an ecstatic moment, not just for all Kenyans but for Kemboi himself. Certainly, no one foresaw the celebration that would follow Kemboi’s victory. Some have called it an embarrassing show of bromance.., which can be forgiven given that Kenyans were really praying to register their first gold medal at the games. Kemboi delivered.., not just the gold, but a show as well.

While we can’t show you how to dance like Kemboi,  we can at least show you how to hug like only he can.

So first..,

Run like you stole something

Two..,

Win.., but don’t smile just yet.

Three..,

Play dead.., to confuse your enemies.

Four..,

Ask God to forgive you for what you’re about to do

Five…,

Get up and do the dance of your people

Six..,

Find an unsuspecting French guy and pretend you want to shake hands

Seven..,

Suddenly jump on the French guy.., shirtless.

Eight..,

Give the French guy your shirt and let him swing it in the air.., like you just don’t care!

Nine..,

*cough* “Okay kids, cover your eyes”

Ten..,

Wear your mate’s shirt with a name most Kenyans cannot pronounce

And that’s how to hug like a champion.

But if it’s too much for you..,

You can always air out stuff.

The New Kenya: “Children of The Fifth Monkey”

Sometimes enlightenment beams through the oddest crevices.

I was reading a book by David Thorne, a renowned internet troll, where he sarcastically called one of his coworkers something to the effect of “Harlow’s fifth monkey” for blatantly following rules without questioning them.

For those not familiar with Harlow’s monkey experiment, it goes something like this (and I’m paraphrasing).

He took 5 monkeys and put them at the bottom of the stairs and then put a bananaat the top. When one monkey approached the stairs, all 5 got sprayed with ice water. This was repeated until none of the monkeys tried to get the banana and resolved to remaining warm and dry. At this point, one of the monkeys was replaced with a new monkey. When this monkey went for the banana, the other 4 beat the sh** out of it. It was never sprayed. After this monkey was thrashed once or twice, yet another of the original 5 was substituted for a new one and it was yet again thrashed. The other monkey joined in to this monkey ass whooping with even more enthusiasm and vigor than the original four. No spraying. They replaced the third monkey to the same outcome; no monkey dared approach that damn banana. Eventually the fourth and fifth monkeys were also phased out slowly and initiated with the violent orientation whenever they approached the banana.

A new 6th monkey was introduced. And although none of the 5 monkeys that had been sprayed were there, the 5 in their place still handily dished out a thrashing to the new monkey when it tried to go for the banana. They had no reason to. They didn’t know about the water sprays and the cold that came with them. They didn’t know that they actually could have the banana now. Instead they made sure all other monkeys stayed in line. What line though, is questionable.

I read that and think of this.

 

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How Are You Taking Part in the National Mourning?

As you are aware, the government has declared the next three days, national days of morning following the deaths of Hon. Saitoti and Hon. Ojode.

It’s unfortunate that past the age of 18, very many Kenyans don’t know what to do with themselves when the government sets aside days of National Mourning. Most of us think it’s a public holiday. We actually hope it is a public holiday. So we can sleep, watch movies, go to Naivasha, get high, spend all our money and do anything else, BUT mourn.

Perhaps we don’t know how to mourn. Or maybe we think that the deceased are usually too far removed from us. So we give various excuses : “I didn’t personally know the guy “. “I feel nothing.” “I’m too ninja to cry for three days.”  “I hated that guy.”

I’m no expert in National Mourning. But I can tell that it is not Christmas Day and neither is it a State of Emergency. I also know, that whether we are mourning or not, we must go to work. And because I’m no expert mourner, I hope that you, dear reader can contribute your ideas and suggestions at the tail end of this post. Please do.

National Mourning at Work?

On a state level, national mourning is denoted by flags flying at half mast. In some countries, when the government declares national mourning, public events are cancelled or postponed. On the other hand, the 4th estate give us more shoddily done news, filled with eulogies and dirges. They also give us a chance to call in, email or sms our heartfelt condolences.

Beyond that, what else can we do?

Now, not every Kenyans has a flag outside their doorstep (but that’s not so say that we are not patriotic. We are damn well patriotic, when our athletes win a marathon abroad.)

But the question remains: How can we make an individual contribution to  national mourning in this country? Because whether we like it or not death is inevitable, mourning comes with death.

If you care, like I do, I think that this an area where the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture (does it still exist?) would shed some light on the issue. Them that gave us the National Dress at a cost of 50million. Brand Kenya can also offer some ideas. Besides, aren’t they the ones that advertise all the things that make us proud and that unite us as Kenyans? Perhaps the clergy can also offer some ideas. They’ve done really well with the National Day of Prayer. Surely, if they can get us to pray as a nation, they can show us how best to mourn as well.

I don’t know.., what are your thoughts? How are you taking part in the 3 days of National Mourning?