Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Out and About Namibia

As the aircraft descends at the Hosea Kutako Airport, the huge tracts of land, take me aback... they just lay there, fallow and under-utilized... mmh! I wonder about land ownership here...

The kind Namibian gentleman chauffering me to my new base of operation comes to the rescue. He informs me that rural Namibia is largely communally owned and controlled by the local Councils. For a ‘barely-there’ sum of cash, residents get the right to live in and graze on the land.

However, it is not all 'free-range'. There have been calls for land reforms as most of Namibia's commercial land is still owned by European farmers who make up six percent of the country's population.

Now, Kenya's population is nearly 20 times that of Namibia (2.1 million). History records the tragic genocide (between 1904 - 1907) of nearly 70% of the Namibia's population in German concentration camps built in Africa for Africans.... Behold, the savagery of European colonial ideology!

Back to the land question: If we were to distribute the land equitably, each Namibian citizen would bag 300 sq. meters of land, compared to their Kenyan counterpart, who would have to eke out an existence from the 10 sq. meters. (This translates to an acreage allocation ratio of 30:1).

The abundance of land notwithstanding, Namibia has the most uneven income distribution on the planet. With a Gini co-efficient of 70.7, the gap between the rich and the poor begs for urgent action.

Anyway, 40km later, we get to Windhoek CBD. It has a very European feel to it. Unbeknownst to the 'pedestrian' traveller, poverty lurks in the periphery, meaning that you have to go out of your way to find it.

And find it, I did. It is alive and well in townships such as Katutura and Babylon, only a few minutes from the squeeky clean city. (Ironically, Namibia has been declared a middle income country... the paradox of International Development ratings!)

Later in the afternoon, I make my way past three metal gates and two dogs (I dunno, but this dog-phobia has got to go... cold-turkey!) and prayerfully navigate my adrenaline-pumping self into my new 'home' (or shall we say Fort Knox?), unharmed.

Tootsie (Afrikaans for bye)!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Witness to History

No amount of dissuasion: possible eruption of violence (courtesy of mama dearest); contraction of contagious diseases that lurk about in crowded places (my own fears); the morning drizzle (nature); not even the possibility of a human stampede (my darlin' brother) was going to keep me away from the historic promulgation of the new Constitution at the crack of dawn on the 27th of August, 2010, that Promulgation Friday.

It was as if the City had thrown up its inhabitants into Uhuru Park. It was raining wananchi. As the seconds rolled into minutes, the Park’s terraces were swollen with humanity, with still a good many others perched on trees and the roofs of the buildings around the Park, we waited with great expectation!

My calf muscles were screaming for relief after a morning of balancing my entire body weight on my toes. My neck muscles were not silent either; having been stretched to the max, craning to catch a glimpse of the day’s events, which went well, for the most part. The new Constitution was signed into law, and we rejoiced... our hearts filled with fresh hope!

However, there were a few flies in the Promulgation ointment:
i) Kamlesh Pattni: When this man (in my eyes, he’s still not managed to shake off his image as the personification of all things corrupt) strolled into the VIP section of the Promulgation arena, the wide grin on his face awakened in me memories of lost billions from our national coiffeurs and disregard for common man which I had buried in a shallow grave. (Oh, Brother Paul, was it absolutely necessary to rub these un-glittering national indiscretions in my face on P-day?)

ii) Omar el Bashir: Yo, enough has been said about this one already! Still, I wondered whether his presence in Kenya was a premonition of things to come. Could we trust our leaders to uphold the spirit of the new Law? Methinks not! But, I earnestly pray for God’s wisdom and political good-will in the process.

iii) The on-again off-again sound system: It stretched my lip-reading skills to the limit.

The side-shows by my fellow country-men included live commentaries, jokes and heart-warming camaraderie, which were a great source of distraction and hilarity. Kenyans have a great sense of humour. It helps ease the pain of our collective existence.

Nature kept smiling upon us. From time to time, a cold breeze would sweep through the Park and refresh the stale, still air... Oh, sweet relief! I pray that the new Constitution will offer Kenyans some relief from some of the man-made (read corruption) pain and poverty that plagues many of our people.

God bless our beloved country!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The paradox of life's journey

"It is only when we realize that life is taking us nowhere that it begins to have meaning."
P.D. Ouspensky

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Beyond Ring-side Seat... This is Yours Truly in the Ring

I asked God for fish... He’s given me a boat, a net and pointed me to the sea.

I have had this idea brewing in my head for a while now... I am on the brink of engineering my contribution to humanity ('Oh, please!' you say)... I know. I can be a bit much, shrouded in all this mystery... Well, that this loaded message is carefully coded is fully intentional – partly to precipitate blog traffic come 2012, (when my idea is matured & unleashed), and secondly, the idea is presently still in the dark room stage... and so, my dear project remains under wraps.

Back to the beginning: Early last year, during one of my volunteer stints, I stumbled upon a Transformation and Change Management guru. This month, our paths crossed again, and the CEO asked me to join the team. I accepted the offer with much delight. The brief to which I have been assigned, for the most part, falls squarely in the path of my Vision 2012.

The Buddhist expression, ‘When the student is ready the teacher will appear’ rang true for me with resounding clarity... God has been ordering my steps and that journey has brought me to this place, this moment... to accomplish 'this task'.

This experience is beyond ring-side seat... This is me in the ring... Oh so divine... Absolutely love it!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Finding My True North

It's been a good many moons since I last made contact with any of you beloved blogites (sounds like some of those warring bible tribes, (Hitites, Amalakites and other –ites…huh?)).

A good many things have happened since that last time... the most major of these changes being settling down north of South. T's been pretty hot-and-cold... finding my feet and bearing. This transition business is oh so not my cuppa tea!

However, there is an upside. I get to experiment with ‘this-and-that’ as I toy around with various possibilities that life presents to me from time to time. One of the highlights has been the opportunity to immerse myself in my pet-project: writing short stories. I have my first works of fiction under my belt, well almost... loving it!

Another of my little self-indulgences (or is it an act of sheer courage) has been signing up to learn French. Moi! I have had a love-hate relationship with the French language for years now... This year, I decided to take this flirtation to the next level, Oui! I am presently stumbling all over my French conjugaisons like a non-sense (if ever there was a totally tired Nairobian expression, this would have to be it!)

I have been involved in some community work too. That has been very insightful. I have learnt truck-loads about us human beings. We really are complex… This place called dunia and the people who live in it have a way of bringing out the best and the worst in all of us… (enough said... lest eh, mmh!)

I also intend to make my fair contribution towards saving the planet. I have decided to sacrificially shed off a few pounds in the name of traveling light through life (both literally and figuratively speaking). Watch this space[:)].

Been busy... so busy that I have opened an idea journal... (with enough luck and action, these ideas may just translate into cash... soon. Then, I will throw a legendary E-bash!).

The Verdict is In

Return of the Jury:

JUDGE: In the matter of Susan (the Plaintiff) vs. Gainful Employment (the Accused), what say ye?

JURY: In the matter of Susan vs. Gainful Employment, we the Jury find the accused NOT GUILTY.

JUDGE'S SENTENCE: This court therefore rules that the Accused is not guilty of either of the charges: namely, suitability for or compatibility with the Plaintiff. Further to this, the plaintiff has been ordered by this court to serve her time in the Unemployment penitentiary until this, or another court repeals this ruling.

… And so, that is how that went down... a less than impressive ruling if you ask me.

Ok., before I start ranting on and on about how blind justice really is, let the record show that with a little hind-sight, I am not entirely oblivious of the fact that part of my testimony and the overwhelming evidence unleashed by the Accused’s Counsel, may have provided the jury some of the rope they used to hang me... grrh!

Yes, that opportunity slipped through the cracks of justice. However, I am hesitant to share the “c’mon, you-should-have-known-better” lessons I learnt at ‘The Trial’ on this blog. Truth be told, that discussion would leave me with more than just a little measure of embarrassment. I would be running the risk of causing permanent and irrevocable damage to my person (kindly allow me to save my e-face). Still, I am the better for it.

I may not have gained the employment opportunity I was in hot pursuit of, but I sure did gain some invaluable lessons.