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Too close for comfort?

Too close for comfort?

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Nytimes reporting on the Mugabe/Morgan saga ( Nytimes.com, July 22, 2008). Accordign to the paper:

“Zimbabwe’s feuding political leaders appeared jointly for the first time in years on Monday to sign a preliminary agreement laying out terms for negotiations to wrest their land out of political chaos.

The two men did not shake hands, according to news reports.”

Yet, that picture shows them shaking something (or this is caressing each others hands..)

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According to Nation media report (free registration required):A foundation to recognise African heads of states and governments who have shown exemplary leadership will be launched in Nairobi on Monday (10.30.2006).

I would imagine that by the time you are a president, there should be no question about your leadership being exemplary, right? OK, so Jomo, Moi (and now Mwai?) and Mobutu and Mugabe and Museveni and many others have shown the exact opposite of great leadership, but are we not by this kind of awards and (even the BU thingy for former African presidents, the LloydG Balfour African Presidents in Residence Program) finally announcing globally our inept leaders?(not that everyone in the world, except us, does not already know and look at us in wonder at our ability to produce and tolerate such wonderful rulers). And you know, no matter how much we may protest, most of the times, a leader is just a reflection of the people whom he leads.

If i were an african president, i would oppose this award and make Mo pay more tax for the privilege of running his empire in my kingdom.

And to Mo;

(i) How would $20,000 “influence the behaviour of leaders”, to motivate them to not make $1b deals? Sounds more like the warped logic that says; pay Justice Ringera Ksh 2m so that he can be motivated enough to apprehend and prosecute Ksh 7b+ thieves. Riight?

(ii)if you cared that much, why not put this money to some useful cause, the way the likes of Bill Gates have done? Why give more money to those who have already helped impoverish their “own” people ( and i do not see them changing their SOP in the near term without push and shove from the people themselves)? Or impoversing people is a disqualifying factor for your award? How about those making deals that benefits everyone else (including external businesses) but the local people?

If you ask me, this is another clever way of influencing our rulers to be more inclined towards Mr Dr. Mo, or to make Mr Mo have it easier to run his Celtel biz ( and i have no idea what his biz morals are )

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On Hon. Koigi Wamwere’s article in the east African standard (September 13, 2006), I wrote him my observations, but of course I did not expect a response. Here it is (slightly edited for the blog):

 

Hon. Wamwere, well said. Ok, you have listed the problems, and where there is a problem, there may be a solution. How about showing us a way forward?

 

Problem: Africans have been made to look down on themselves: true, we all know this

Solution: Reverse this by using massive public information. We all know media shapes views.

Who can do this: The Information Ministry. What is he doing about it? What bills are you bringing up that seeks to tackle the problem as a national tragedy that needs to be immediately addressed? What legislation are you asking to put in place to reduce the consumption of American/Western media generated content ( which content we all know is very powerful in shaping one’s world views. By the way, you should see american local media: Most news about america is OK. Anytime there is news about africa or other developing nations, its almost ALWAYS negative. What do you think this does to people’s view?). Hon. Wamwere can do something about kenya’s own image locally, he has the power to. But will anybody do anything? Why, I heard the other day that the Chinese government have been allowed ( by the Kenyan government) to use KBC resources/frequencies, or whatever, to promote China; the Chinese, not doubt, having seen how successful the west has been in forming our minds, now want a piece of the action.

 

Problem: There is intense global competition for brains, talents and IP.

Solution: Western Nations are moving fast to set their countries at advantage, so they come up with all these programs (UK-HSMP, Canada-Skilled Worker Program, Australia-Skilled Worker Migration, USA-Green Card, and Germany/France also joined in) whose aim are to poach very highly educated professionals from other nations ( Africa, having highest % of professionals people seeking to jump ship, is one of the greatest victim).

 

What has Kenya done to protect its people from this? What is the ministry of information doing? Where is the public information that seeks to let our people know about the long term downsides of all these “good” programs. Who is telling our professionals that most of them will experience massive down-sizing in their lifestyle once in the west and that some ( 42% according to some estimates.) will experience “brain waste”? ( There is at least a group of folks at mwalimu.com that attempts this, in a small way but Hon. Wamwere is in a position to do this in a big way)

 

Problem: Africans seek solution outside of themselves, true, we know that; For example, just look at all the professionals who are willingly abandoning their “great” jobs in Kenya any time they feel they are not happy enough or they could do better by migrating to the USA, Canada, the UK, or Australia through the above mentioned programs.

Solution: Where is the public education/information that tries to influence these people’s world view? Who is telling them that the majority of immigrants take 3-5 years before they can have decent job equivalent to what they left behind in Kenya? Who is telling them that their accent and color will work against them in either landing a new job or in upward mobility?

 

Problem: Infatuation with donor “aid”. Effect of this, among others, is that it gives people the view that the donor is key to life, the recipient is worthless. Look at all these expats in Kenya, thanks to the aid. What do you imagine the average wanjiku thinks, seeing these guys in 4x4s and living in villas? “If the guy is having it good in this “poor” country, how it must be in his land!”

Solution: Stop the unnecessary aid. Someone correct me; Do we need all these so called “aid” that we ALL know, impoverishes rather that liberates? Will our economy collapse? There is a lot of money in Kenya. Why don’t we spent it as it should be spent and stop this “give me, give me” nonsense. If we must get money from the west, why, just make bilateral agreements with western governments and get it from all those Kenyans in the west!

 

Who is going to inform wanjiku that the “expat” is probably in Kenya because he cannot get a satisfying job in the USA? And that he probably would not be driving a 4×4 in the USA nor live in a similar villa? And that if he was the best in his field, he would be walking the boardrooms of American Corporations!

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