Tag Archives: Kenya

The Thing About Boston

The thing about Boston is that it grows on you. I moved here from a small city in the western part of the Spirit of America. Having spent four years in said city – don’t get me wrong it’s a beautiful place and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there – I was looking forward to living a short train ride away from a major city. I had high and – now that I think back to them – unrealistic expectations of what Boston life would be like. Prior to the move, I had visited Boston a few times but hadn’t stayed long enough to fully experience the city. I initially thought that Boston would be a slightly tamer version of New York, a city that I had the opportunity to revel in on a number of occasions. That did not turn out to be the case because Boston is its own special place.

I spent the first few months looking for Boston on Google, you know, trying to find things to do in the city. As a young adult who had just finished college, I was more interested in the social scene – read nightlife – than anything else. It didn’t take long for me and my friends to realize that the nightlife in Boston really is what you make it. We reluctantly embraced that and adjusted accordingly – by looking for other social activities in the area. Now that I think of it – hindsight is 20/20 they say – being disappointed in the nightlife was good for us. It forced us to explore other options. We took up picnicking and had the opportunity to enjoy the local beaches while at it. We got acquainted with Downtown Crossing and its stores. We watched acrobats at Faneuil Hall and Harvard Square. We became foodies and ate at restaurants with non-adult friendly prices. We listened to train platform musicians. We expressed interest in attending festivals but that summer we only made it to the African Festival. That’s the other thing about Boston – it has something for everyone. Much to our own amazement, we were actually enjoying the city. Just like that, Boston had charmed its way into my list of favorite cities. Over the years, we have continued to find many a ways to delight in this city.

Fast forward to present day and I often find myself counting down with much excitement to major events in the city, with the Boston Marathon being my personal favorite. On Marathon Monday, like many others, I was expecting nothing but a great day. The weather was perfect for running unlike last year when the heat gave runners more to worry about than the legendary Heartbreak Hill. It took us – my family and friends – about an hour to navigate the barricaded streets and get to the finish line. After the first few elite runners had crossed the finish line, a number of people began walking away, we were among them. One of my friends and I walked to Faneuil Hall. It was while at a restaurant there that we found out about the bombings. I was shaken up after watching a video of the bombings that we found online. Only a few hours earlier, we had been standing right where the first bomb exploded cheering on our Kenyan athletes. I was still in a state of disbelief by the time I got home. Who would do such a thing and why, more so at a family event, I like many others wondered. Such evil makes one lose some faith in humanity.

I must say that people’s actions, since the explosions, have restored my faith in humanity. From the first responders and civilians who ran towards the explosions to help people to the marathon runners who finished the race and went on to donate blood. The stories of courage and heroism that have come out of this tragedy are all inspirational. There is a couple- a dancer and her boyfriend-that was profiled on the news the other day. He used his body to shield her during the explosion and later carried her to safety. While her leg had to be amputated, she has vowed that she will dance again. What amazed me the most is the positive outlook she maintained as she gave her story. Hers is one of the many stories that are a reminder that tragedy should not define us.

Last week ended on a dramatic note. The entire city was on lockdown as law enforcement searched for one of the suspects of the bombings. He was found hiding in a boat on someone’s backyard. A collective sigh of relief was heard all over Boston and its environs when he was taken into custody. The “Who did this?” was answered on Friday and now we all wait for the “Why?”

Until then, the city is doing its best to move on. There are many people who sustained injuries that will take a long time to recover from. I pray that they have the strength to go through the healing process. There are those who lost loved ones. I pray that they too will have the strength to go through this difficult time and may their loved ones rest in peace.

I believe that Boston is a resilient city that will triumph over this tragedy. That’s the other thing about Boston – it is strong.

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Uhuru Kenyatta and 25 Presidential Promises

Kenya’s presidential inauguration was held today. Uhuru Kenyatta’s inaugural address focused on his administration’s agenda. He called on Kenyans to hold their leaders, both at the local and national level, accountable. In order for the citizenry to do this effectively then they need to be aware of their leaders intentions. To that end, this blogger has compiled a list of the promises that Uhuru Kenyatta made in his speech.

To Kenyans

100-day Promises

  1. Abolishment of maternity fees
  2. Access to government dispensaries and health centers free of charge
  3. Development of a framework to direct the Kshs 6 billion allocated for the election run-off towards establishing a new Youth and Women Fund
  4. Enact measures to ensure that all students, joining class one next year, within the public school system receive a laptop
  5. Support devolution and enable county leadership to carry out their constitutional mandate and fulfill the pledges they made

Term Promises

  1. Prioritize unemployment
  2. Harness the gifts and talents of the youth in order to make sports and entertainment providers of profitable livelihood and make Kenya a global leader in these areas
  3. Simplify the process of starting and running a business in order to make it friendly and cost-effective to do business in Kenya
  4. Expand electricity generation, extend the transmission network and ensure that electricity supply is more consistent and reliable
  5. Increase accessibility through roads and rail networks, as well as increase digital connectivity
  6. Create an enabling environment for the private sector so that they can play their part in creating employment and fostering economic growth
  7. Diversify the country’s economic base
  8. Ensure that government supports local industry by buying Kenyan first
  9. Ensure that the national government reflects the true face of Kenya
  10. Ensure that the interests of women and young people are represented in government
  11. Support the National Land Commission as they seek to provide the land answer
  12. Exploit Kenya’s natural resources in a way that benefits the current generation while safeguarding the interests of generations to come
  13. Protect the environment
  14. Ensure the peace and security of the citizenry

To East Africans

  1. Continued commitment to fight terrorism and eradicate piracy
  2. Commitment to regional trade and cooperation, and strengthening of ties through the free movement of people, goods and investment, including the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade within the EAC

To Africans

  1. Continued partnership and alliance
  2. Unity in continuing to insist on relating with all nations as equals, not juniors, and as partners, not subordinates

To the rest of the world

  1. Ensure continued partnerships and invitations to invest in Kenya
  2. Uphold Kenya’s international obligations, so long as they are founded on the well-established principles of mutual respect and reciprocity

 

 

 

 

 

 

Africa and The Single Story

When many people think of Africa, they imagine this corruption-rampant, war-prone, disease-laden land mass occupied by primitive individuals who are charity cases. For a long time Africa has been portrayed in the media as the dark continent that has mastered the art of producing one tragedy after another. Many a journalists arrive in African countries to cover a story with most of the article already written. All they need to do is add a few local names and interview some sources to plug into their narrative. To them, the story of Nigeria is the story of Kenya, let’s ignore the fact that the two are in completely different parts of Africa. Africa is not perfect but neither is it this single story.

There are many stories about Africa that remain untold. Some of these include the stories of the positive strides that are being made towards the betterment of countries. The successes range from the growth of businesses, to improvement in healthcare and innovative mobile banking solutions among others. Africans are also increasingly using social media and ICT to find solutions to daily challenges. We have become active participants in and taken ownership of our own progress. Sure we have corruption, disease and conflict but those are issues that we are actively tackling.

Even in the successes it is important to remember that the model is not singular. Africa is very rich in diversity and each country follows its own development script.

I came across this documentary that shows how Africa is not and will never be a single narrative. Enjoy!

 

The “Weka Condom Mpangoni” Advert and Slightly Hypocritical Side-eye

An advert encouraging unfaithful partners to use protection has been airing on national TV in Kenya for quite some time now. Check it out below.

As you can see, the advert shows a married woman confiding in her friend about her husband and extramarital affair. The friend in turn tells her to protect her family by practicing safe sex in her affair.

Weka condom mpangoni means use a condom in your extramarital/side dish affairs. Needless to say, the advert has been the subject of a fiery public debate among Kenyans. There are those who argue that the advert promotes promiscuity and immorality. Others argue that it is simply encouraging people to protect themselves and their loved ones.

For the record this blogger does not condone unfaithfulness. If you are unhappy/unsatisfied in a relationship it is better to leave your partner than to cheat on them. It saves all the parties concerned time, energy, draining emotions and heartache.

That being said, the outcry against and condemnation of this advert is a bit hypocritical.

As a society, we have created a conducive environment for infidelity to thrive. Now that it has acquired the courage to step out of the darkness and into the limelight of our TVs we are complaining!? Now we remember everything that the scripture says about faithfulness!? Now we recall where the moral high ground is located!? Now we want to petition the CCK and everyone in between to have the advert pulled off air!? Really now!?

We laugh at our friend’s late night exploits with somebody’s spouse. We listen keenly to our neighbor’s intimate weekend adventures with someone’s boyfriend. We look forward to our workmate’s narration of a lunch hour tryst with their relative’s girlfriend. All the while these stories are relayed in whispered tones.

Those of us who are against such behavior protest silently. We walk away when the stories begin. We raise an eyebrow and our noses when we catch the narrator mid-sentence. If we know someone who is being unfaithful to their partner we simply sweep it under the rug.

To each his own it is said after all.

We can’t keep pretending that everything is perfect in our society. The reality is that infidelity is on the rise and so are STDs.  Attacking the advert is not going to shift this reality. We created this situation either through our tolerance or silence.

Why condemn in public what we condone in private!? Why are we hiding behind the wall of religion and morality!? Why are we so determined to run away from the truth!?  Why not channel our collective energy into tackling these issues head on!? Wouldn’t this benefit our society far much more than the insults and pretence!?