This thing called Death

deathNo one alive is immortal,

The ticking clock never stops,

Though at times we do forget,

Tick-tock is always loyal.

 

Big or small we are all level,

When the chiming comes along,

You and me once hardly equal,

In death we are all gone.

 

Unity gathers strength,

Yet not enough to trample death,

Solitude fosters reason,

But death will hardly listen.

 

When your time is up,

Death is punctual,

No second chances,

Death is no judge.

 

Death is the hangman,

The job must be done,

And once you are gone,

It’s on to the next count.

Odinga knows his numbers won’t add up

RailaElections are about garnering the highest number of votes and the opposition, under the leadership of Mr. Odinga is aware of this. My article seeks to substantiate what we all know; CORD cannot marshal enough votes to beat the Jubilee coalition as currently constituted. At least not without a miracle!

Article 88 of the Constitution mandates the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to regularly revise the voters register by adding eligible voters to the Principal Register and updating by deleting dead voters, effecting transfers and corrections. Unfortunately, Odinga and CORD are not taking this fact with the seriousness it deserves.

Early last month, an article on the IEBC website by CEO Ezra Chiloba laid out the apathy malady afflicting the opposition strongholds. A comparison of the 2009 census figures on the estimated population eligible to vote vis-à-vis the number of non-registered voters left a lot of questions that the opposition continues to avoid pondering over.

The percentages of non-registered voters in these counties are outlined: Kwale (43%), Kilifi (34%), Tana River (35%), Garissa (60%), Wajir (64%), Mandera (75%), Turkana (70%), Samburu (46%), West Pokot (55%), Trans Nzoia (39%), Baringo (34%), Narok (36%) and Kitui (31%). It should be noted here that none of these counties are presumed to be Jubilee strongholds.

The second headache for CORD is the counties with high populations but low voter registration. According to Mr. Chiloba, IEBC statistics listed these counties as: Bungoma (36%), Busia (27%), Kakamega (27%), Nandi (27%), Makueni (27%), Meru (24%), Migori (33%), Kisii (23%), Nyamira (21%), Siaya (20%) and Homabay (26%). With an exception of Nandi and Meru, all the remaining counties are presumed to be CORD strongholds. The voter turnout is even worse for CORD counties.

Comparing Kakamega County to Kiambu County; the population for Kakamega County as indicated by the 2009 census was 1,660,651 persons to Kiambu County’s 1,623,282 persons. The catch however, comes when we compare statistics for registered voters. Kakamega County boasted 567,460 voters to Kiambu County’s 861,829 voters. Whatever happened?

Although the mass voter registration by IEBC indicated a slightly higher number of new voters in the opposition stronghold, more voters have been registered in the Jubilee strongholds after the closure of the mass voter registration exercise than in CORD areas. How then does CORD intend to beat Jubilee fair and square without forcing a ‘nusu mkate’ once the inevitable happens?

The opposition MPs need to pull their act together and motivate voter registration first, then high voter turnout before complaining that the elections have been stolen. Tensions are high whenever IEBC protests are called. The country pulls apart with every aborted demonstration. However, the numbers remain the same; and so does the probability that the losing faction will blame it all on the electoral body. Mr Odinga, sir, this time around get your numbers right before disputing election results.

The writer is a Leadership and Social Development Consultant for Savic Consultants. Email: victorooko@gmail.com.

The Little Yellow Dress (Part 1)

yellowThe day was dull. Dusk approached fast. Time decided to engage the high gear. Friday was fast wearing away, ushering in a cold and wet Saturday morning embodying all the characteristics of the day before. Affysir had just left the the comfort of Links Place. The depth of his pockets that night would not allow him to stray beyond the Cabanas bypass to the right or the Donholm roundabout for that matter. Every other option was open and worthy of consideration. And on top of that list was Links Place. The sinister yet charming joint that never sleeps, never disappoints and above all, never ceases to amaze!

Having arrived here at a few minutes past midnigt, only amateurs begin downstairs then carry with them the intoxicants in their systems a couple of steps upstairs. Not Affysir, He is a master of this game. Of course, only second to his protege and great buddy, Anasa. The nights always commence at Captains. Here, after a couple of shots and unsuccessful bouts of ‘feeding with eyes’, the hunt is taken downstairs. And here, Anasa is the man! The real deal. His fame here is second only to the title Links Place itself!

Affysir chose to bench Anasa this time around. There come a time when the student has to take the initiative and sit for the final examinations without the prospect of an impending revision. Or was this just one among a series of CATs? All the same, today was Affysir day. And Links just happened to be the den set to test whether the boy had matured into the man.

The bouncers at the door looked at him suspiciously.

“What? Do they think am doing this for the first time?” he mumbled to himself fixing his medium gait in the space left between the two mean looking faces.

“Aah! This is getting interesting!” he thought, spotting a stunning lady at a table on the outer extension of the club. Without a second thought, he tried his luck.

“Hey lovely, can I join you?”

“Am sorry, am here with someone” she responded. That was a much better response than a flat out NO to Affysir. He had reason to be optimistic. The night had just began.

“Oh, sawa, good evening” he managed, grinning respectfully and readjusting his gaze to the sea of humanity milling about the main lounge of the club.

Seated to his left were a few light-skins nibbling at a bottle of Black Ice, obviously hoping for a willing donation of a couple more bottles from an interested companion. Affysir was in no hurry, the evening was still young! To his right was a group of seven crammed around a table meant for four. The center of their convergence was a mixed selection of drinks from a couple of whiskey bottles paramountly occupying the central location of the table to several brands of beer carefully stacked facing their guilty consumers.

Everything else seemed the usual Links Place. The mystery of its attraction to revelers from far and wide hovering about.And of course he had memories of the place too, both good and not so good. The first time he raved at the club, he was lucky enough to land a nice looking lady who just couldn’t wait to get down to business. That always kept him coming back to this low budget easy-to-get-laid hangout.

Then of course the not-so-good memory of when his great friend Anasa had hooked a lovely madam. A bosslady who insisted on buying her own drinks. The narrative changed when upon getting home, the last thing he recalled was gobbling down a couple of eggs. The ‘bosslady’ managed to clean him out of a few valuables including his newly acquired phone, shit in his bathroom and leaving her mess unflashed and the shocker of shockers, make away with all his house shopping, mostly foodstuff. Later on when Anasa told the tale to Affysir, he couldn’t stop the laughter that threatened to pop out his eyeballs! He would not make the same mistake. He was Affysir, or so he told himself.

Having finally managed to land a seat at the exact same place he fancies, he lifted his weight to the ‘sina tabu‘ (long legged bar stool) and ordered 3 bottles of warm Guinness. The first sip of his favorite poison reminded him of his agenda here, getting laid! And he had just spotted the right target.

 

Watch out for part 2 coming soon!

Rights come with Responsibilities: A Message to Kenyan Youth

At independence, our founding father and first president of the republic identified three key hurdles to the sprouting nation in the pursuit of development. These were poverty, ignorance and diseas…

Source: Rights come with Responsibilities: A Message to Kenyan Youth

Is Africa really ready for African Solutions to African Problems?

Children are among the key victims of the strife in Burundi

Children are among the key victims of the strife in Burundi

It is Christmas today, yet Africa has very little to celebrate. As the leadership clings to power, African nations continue to burn, and with them, the hope of ever benefiting from what we all thought was a break from colonial subjugation. Countries are held ransom, and all in the guise of advancing national interests.

Today especially, my heart goes out to the Burundians, and I will give a brief history as adapted from Wikipedia

Burundi gained independence in 1962 and initially had a monarchy, but a series of assassinations, coups, and a general climate of regional instability culminated in the establishment of a republic and one-party state in 1966. Bouts of ethnic cleansing and ultimately two civil wars and genocides during the 1970s and again in the 1990s left the country undeveloped and its population as one of the world’s poorest (An estimated 250,000 people died in Burundi from the combined conflicts between 1962 and 1993).

In addition to poverty (Approximately 80% of Burundi’s population lives in poverty), Burundians often have to deal with corruption, weak infrastructure, poor access to health and education services, and hunger. Burundi is densely populated and has had substantial emigration as young people seek opportunities elsewhere.

2015 witnessed large-scale political strife as President Pierre Nkurunziza opted to run for a third term in office, a coup attempt failed and the country’s parliamentary and presidential elections were broadly criticized by members of the international community.

President Nkurunzinza at a previous function.

President Nkurunzinza at a previous function.

In a nutshell, since gaining its independence in 1962, Burundi has not known peace. All Burundians have been treated to is tiny morsels of peace over a 50 years. And by the look of things, the situation is not bound to get any better.

My political sociology lectures cited governance and especially in relation to term limits as one of the main problems bedeviling the African continent and curtailing our cruise through to development. Yes there is corruption and ethnicity as key issues, but then the governments in place have played the role of a catalyst to an already volatile situation.

Attempts have been made all through to compromise between the two dominant ethnic communities, the Hutu and Tutsi, and in fact, in 1995, talks were initiated by Julius Nyerere, the former Tanzania President and upon his death, one of the prominent figures of African nationalism, had a continued with the negotiations that apparently bore little fruit. These were African leaders attempting African solutions to African problems.

Government forces apprehending protesters

Government forces apprehending protesters

Fastrack to 2015 and the story is the same. Today, a woman with her 6 children are homeless. Aimlessly wandering the streets hoping to stumble upon a refugee camp in a neighboring country because of political strife. Peace keeping attempts by the African Union have been rebuffed by the incumbent, and now, the whole continent watches as Burundi reverts to civil war.

This is indeed a sad development. Do we have a shortage of leaders in Africa? Rwanda under Paul Kagame and Uganda under Yoweri Museveni have already sought to doctor their constitutions to give an extra term to the sitting presidents! Whereas their track records may be ‘impeccable’, this is a blatant disregard to the spirit of constitutionalism. Whatever is wrong with a sitting president just retiring and becoming an elder statesman?

Nelson Mandela did it in South Africa, Daniel Moi of Kenya is slowly getting good at it despite his earlier reservations and the same applies to Thabo Mbeki, Benjamin Mkapa, to mention a few.

For how long will we watch as innocent civilians bleed all in the name of advancing a hard-line political statement? Till everyone has fled Burundi? Till more mass graves are unearthed in the deep forests outside the capital of Bujumbura? Till when?

It is not enough for Africa to claim that we can solve our own problems. It is necessary that we show the political goodwill, in the interests of common mwananchi, a factor that keeps lacking in the midst of greed and the politics of amassing wealth and robbing the public coffers.

The AU is a toothless body. At least that is a conclusion we can make thus far. And by the foregoing, we could very well say that without the United Nations, without the International Criminal Court, we may never remember what a semblance of justice feels like. The African leadership wouldn’t want to accord us such a long leash.

African solutions to African problems has not yet matured enough to stand on its own two feet. Today, sad as it may be to admit, we still need #UncleSam to hold our hand and guide us to the generally right direction, and keep hoping that we find it right.

Ooko Victor.

#WeAreOne: Celebrating the Mandera Heroes

image

The security threat posed by the Alshabaab on Kenya has refused to go away. Every other day, we live with the fear of a new report about an explosive device recovered here or a hijacked passenger bus elsewhere. In each of these instances, the real test has been on whether we as Kenyans would allow ourselves to be divided alongside radical religious lines.

The selfless move by the Muslim passengers in the ill fated bus to shield their Christian counterparts from the Alshabaab bullets is an embodiment of true brotherhood. It is a victory of sorts against the religious propaganda wars waged by the fundamentalist groups. And a refreshing counter narrative for Kenya at this time before the seeds of religious intolerance began to take root.

The Pope’s recent visit to Africa reminded all people that it doesn’t matter what religion you are in. The most important thing for us is to keep our humanity. To maintain true brotherhood and to have great love and compassion to our neighbours.

The Alshabaab are a politically disgruntled lot that has opted to use religious allegiance to sow discord amongst nations and to further play god in deciding who deserves to live or die. The rate at which fellow innocent human beings are losing their lives, all in the name of making a political statement is sickening. And the whole world needs to borrow a leaf from the #ManderaHeroes on the need for uniting as one against terrorism.

Terrorist activities are in no way meant to benefit the Muslim religion either. Examples of countries that have experienced untold strife as a result of these fundamentalists are largely dominated by Muslim populations. Countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran are not predominantly Christian. Terrorism therefore is not Islamic in nature, and hence the need to rise up and unite against its perpetuation.

It is close to a year now since the Garissa University attacks which left families of more than 147 victims devastated. The #ManderaHeroes have greatly contributed to a change in that narrative. Today, we can hope again. Today we can look at each other United as victims of a war we never asked for. And because of that, we can choose to overlook religious differences as a determinant of who lives and who doesn’t.

The media should gobble down this story like never before. We now have a new lease of life against terrorism. A new narrative behind which we can renew the call for brotherhood and nationalism. As a country, we are grappling with a number of economic and governance issues, but we should not let religious intolerance find its way to that list. And even as we struggle for survival in these harsh economic times, let’s keep reminding these terrorists that indeed, #WeAreOne.

Ooko Victor

The Shades of Love

shade

Love
The potent 4 lettered word
Yet still attractive to the attentive
Enough to get heads rolling
And minds boggling

When sincere, it is a joy
When shared it nurtures hope
Belief that we are valued
We are appreciated
And that someone understands

When feigned, love hurts
It is exploitative and manipulative
It shatters dreams and disrupts futures
It is a double-edged sword
That just won’t stop cutting

No one really gets it
Not even they that have it
No formula is consistent
No approach is certain
Love is mysterious

Experts say,
Guard your feelings
True love waits…
Yet others have lost
Just because they held their horses!

Others say,
There is love at first sight
And that tomorrow never comes
Yet in seeming so eager
They appeared so desperate

There is never the way
The one true way
There are shades of love
You get what you can have
And if you do, count yourself lucky!

Ooko Victor

Why Ignorance Is Becoming Kenya’s New Normal

pev2

Kenya is warming up to the next general elections. Today, it is close to eight years since the dark glares of the shadow of the post-election violence engulfed our country; tearing lives apart and turning neighbors against each other. Eight solid years since we last saw the glaring consequences of feeding from the raw political emotions of tribal chieftains; of taking it upon ourselves to perpetuate ethnic intolerance and outright hatred at them that we once considered our national brotherhood. Above all close to a decade since we followed through the path of war-torn states and engineered the massacre of fellow Kenyans as well as the uprooting of established livelihoods under the guise that they just did not belong amongst us.

Today, we have forgotten all about they that suffered the greatest pains that ultimately provoked the international community to intervene on our behalf and engage in saving us from ourselves. Even as we celebrate the gains of the new constitution, we fail to remember that it was that dark period that ultimately pushed us towards facing our opposition against each other and seek to strike a compromise that would ensure we pull each other and indeed our country into the future that though we view from different perspectives, we all admit is a shared necessity for our posterity.

The political class which back then was the key perpetrators of the violence, as well as the great beneficiaries of the peace-deal that followed has muddled the public scene with counter accusations over who betrayed their ranks. Who defiled their code of honor and ‘sold’ one of their own to the ‘monster’ that is the International Criminal Court (ICC). No one is talking about the fate of the victims; some of whom to date continue to live with the scars of the past and who, with every day we draw close to the general elections, relive the painful moments they underwent.

The finger-pointing however is not intended to hoodwink the political class! Not at all, the voting masses have everything to do with it. Whether it is the shuttle diplomacy to express solidarity with a colleague at The Hague or blunt dares at each other to explain the roles they played at sealing the fate of their own at the international court, the show is put up specifically to influence the masses and ensure the continued political cushion that comes with running the government of the day.

We are no longer talking about the rising cost of living. We are no longer talking about the dwindling quality of education (the World Bank having recently raised an alarm about Kenya’s half-baked graduates), even as the Law and Engineering students from several campuses across the country pursue accreditation for courses they studied so hard to qualify for in the first place. All these do not grab the headlines; all that does is the political games of who tells the best lies. Of course, no one is interested in the truth. We are busy buying what the politicians are selling, and in the process, playing straight into their political dragnet ahead of the 2017 general elections, where we suspend our problems for their own. We forget what is owed us by the political class and instead, play errand boys and girls at their pleasure.

When a politician openly uses inciting and derogatory language, we choose factions from which to analyze the statements and make prejudiced conclusions. In essence, we quickly forget how the 2008/09 political scene was manipulated to make us the vessels upon which the raw emotions of the political class were manifested to our own detriment. We choose to be used and reused at the convenience of the politicians on every run-up to the general elections and remain whining when the leaders we choose care not about their election promises.

When dusk falls today, we shall still be keen to watch the latest twist of the CORD-Jubilee counter accusations and forget that if ever there was witness coaching, then the political class not only engineered the darkest political period of our post-independence nation, but also denied us the opportunity at getting justice! Talk about being fu***ed both ways! And instead of calling for the arrest and prosecution of those who openly confess their role in the obstruction of justice, we ignorantly cheer at their political bravery and settle on our coaches with bowls of pop-corn to watch the drama as it develops.

Kenyans need to rally behind the pillar of true nationalism and not convenient patriotism if we are ever to learn from our mistakes and deliver our country from the political slavery that currently manifests through our biased political mentalities, either that or we shall forever remain the victims of different political generations that, in lieu of the current trend are bound to perfect the art of using us against ourselves.

Who Will Stand Up for Kenya?

Our country is is crisis. And am not a doomsayer to say this!

To begin with, we are currently playing witness to the attempted open arm twisting of the Judiciary by the Executive. A court order once issued is met by blatant disregard by those of might, while another that openly targets they that have less might is expected to be obeyed to the latter.

And secondly, is a lesson on how to deal with the courts, when you cannot get the judgement you expect, there are two options available, that you either craft up figures to justify the court’s apparent apathy of the economic times experienced, or you go looking for another verdict that suits you best. Mind you, none of these antics has anything to do with trying to read from the same script with the victims, in this case, the teachers who have been at the centre of the pay dispute for close to 20 years now.

This problem will hardly go away. A guarantee however is that, unless it is, then Wilson Sossion and Mudzo Nzili may not be there tomorrow, but whoever will be in charge, just like the preceeding governments, will inherit the right to keep pushing for the debt owed them and their predecessors.

It is a shame that teachers are always at the receiving end despite the nobility with which most of us regard the profession. Well, we may not necessarily have this feeling towards them but when the founding president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta reiterated the three enemies to Kenya’s development that needed to be vanquished, at the top of the list was Illiteracy. And it is the teachers who were the chief agents expected to oversee this transformation. Fastrack 50 years later and today, those same teachers continue to work under arguably disturbing circumstances with very little pay to effectively support their families and advance their individual aspirations. And as the country continues to lose billions of shillings to yet another of the independence setbacks (corruption), government still views an attempt to solve the teachers problem a luxury they simply cannot afford.

We continue to think that it is okay to still meet your teacher riding his old ‘black mamba’  to school while soliciting for funds through Harambees to educate his own children while the foundations they installed in our lives have made us millionaires!

We continue to think it is okay that the teaching profession continues to be associated with ‘low academic acievers’  yet still expect these same people to steer our children into the height of academic success? It is time we accorded the necessary respect to the teaching profession and gave them their slot at the high table as key partners in steering the national development agenda.

The ongoing court case should therefore not be viewed as a win or loss to the teaching fraternity. It should be a wake up call to government and Kenyans to note that the education sector if treated casually will continue being a perennial problem to all stakeholders.

In fact, the assembling of the Salaries and Remuneration Comission ought to have given special attention to the teachers plight. And unless the SRC is oblivious of the pay dispute history, they shouldn’t feign surprise at the open disregard of their authority by the teachers unions. In trying to comprehensively resolve a conflict, it is pertinent that you consider the historical issues that have rise to the conflict in the first place. Coming up with fresh laws doesn’t change the current problems, it just redefines them. The roots of the conflict still need to be addressed.

It really is time that someone stood up for what is right. Instead, the country is focusing on trivial issues surrounding the impeachment of the president (that definitely won’t mature)  and useless counter accusations surrounding the ICC; all clear political gimmicks aimed at diverting public attention from the actual problems bedevelling our country.

Ooko Victor.