Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Learning Curve

In 1998 just before I cleared high school, I was running out of my skin and wanted to conquer the world. Earlier on while in form two, I joined the Child rights club and the Red Cross Club so that I gain more experience in doing stuff that matter for the betterment of human dignity.

My journey to a different perspective to life then started when I made that decision to join extra curriculum activities while in high school. Looking back memory lane, I appreciate the person that I have become and quest to even be a better person in the coming days. My learning curve only got the more interesting. Life’s journey I a learning curve and I find my self, learning, unlearning and relearning new strategies to tackle the more complex issues that life brings on my platter.

If I could not have taken the bold step to volunteer my time, energies, youth, and professional experience, I would not be where I am today. To me it is more about how much I have given to society that defines my success in life. The journey continues.

I joined the red cross at the time in life with a very different expectation, only to tumble on the reality that, it was all a volunteer opportunity. Staying on, I met many friends that we still interact with up to today. I learnt how to administer community first aid to emergency victims and even learnt on what to do during emergency child birth. Later I went on to start the child rights defeners movement a youth group of young people who had just cleared high school and wanted to fill up their livelihoods with something worthwhile before they joined college or University. This very experience taught me about empathy, compassion and patience.

I remember in very many occasions when we could meet in town at Central park or jobless corner (the ring around the Hilton hotel and hold our meetings. In many occasions most of the members who came could not afford transport back home and as a community, we had to dig deeper into our pockets to contribute and ensure they reached home safely. Many a times we met and went to Luthuli avenue to buy chips which we could all share. Life was such fun looking back in time.

Through the child rights defenders movement, we managed to talk to our parents, friends and neighbours to donate their old clothing and food stuff that we later donated to children homes. This we did so diligently every three month and I still look forward to those days when I can get off and travel to go visit children in institutions that care for them and do what I can to make the children feel appreciated.

I went on to college and remember one day sneaking out and even missing out on one of the continuous assessment tests just to volunteer my time. To me, the act of giving back to society was more important than a short term continues assessment test in as much as it contributed to my mean score. But look who I turned out to be.
Everytime I go out there to speak to young people, my emphasis is on making sure they find something worth doing for free in order to appreciate this very challenging life. It is only through giving that we appreciate that, there are other people who do not have the very basics in life.

My first job at the Kenya Alliance for Advancement of children was also another act of sacrificing my ambition to go and carry out child protection projects in Kuria community away from my city comfort. For three years, I diligently served and ensured that girl child education was promoted and that female genital mutilation was understood to be a retrogressive cultural practice that any modern society should shun by all means.

My experience at the Youth Employment Summit was an eye opener to the issues that youth go through in different parts of the world. I got opportunities to interact with global leaders in international for a as well as grassroots youth who are committed to changing the course of history in their localities. One of the defining journeys has been the experiences I have learned in my interactions with friends in Sweden, the Tallberg Foundation and its Tallberg Forum has shaped me to understand the deeper rooting of systems and how to do things. My work at the Foundation shaped my understanding of global systems and their overarching impact on humanity and those paths that we must find or create to appreciate ourselves and our role in the larger sphere of the being human.

I had a stint in mainstream civil society activism. My activism revolved around good governance, anti-corruption campaigns, youth rights and inalienable freedoms of the citizens to freely exercise their freedoms and liberties. This is the time I was at the help of the National youth conventions of 2007 and 2008.
My experience in civil society movements was made even richer when I finally joined the Open Society Foundation (George Soros Foundation) as a member of the International advisory board. I spanned a four year term with designing global outreaches but specifically focusing on the African region. Through OSF, I managed to learn how large multinationals operate.

Most of my international experiences were not paid opportunities but I had to contribute a lot of my resources to gain the experiences that I have earned over the years. Establishing the National Youth sector Alliance was yet another very exciting opportunity to reflect on how policy frameworks are shaped, instilled and implemented.

A couple of month ago, as I was doing my reflection, I made a decision to transit from the mainstream youth activities and focus more on bigger issues that affect society at large. I have since moved on and now serving an amazing organization known as Evidence Action. My current brief is on supporting the Kenya future Leaders Programme (KFLP).

KFLP aims at promoting National Cohesion, Education Outcomes and Youth Employment where fresh graduates from universities will undergo a rigorous application process to be placed as volunteers in communities other than their own for one year. The programme will go on and expand as a national volunteer service for the country.

The Kenya future leaders programme therefore is being designed to be recognized as Kenya’s foremost programme for inspiring, empowering and unifying a nation of greatness. That young people must unite to begin to cultivate their personal growth into becoming a nation of greatness. That in greatness we can make this country a better place. That as we even make this country a better place, the greatness shall be inborn and en-grained within our minds and hearts. But for that greatness to be achieved, it has to start with the values of bigger dreams and getting out there to achieve those dreams for us and the generations to come. When all is done, we shall be united in greatness. But it all starts with that first step of volunteering. It is only through service that greatness is defined.

Through Evidence Action I know I will keep doing what I do best, because evidence action translates research into tangible results, scaling up what works. Because I love evidence based advocacy, I know my now new challenge will be scaling up what works so that it can be effective in making life better for many.

To all those of you I have interacted with, you have made me what I am today. I celebrate you all my friends. We are all a great people. The journey to greatness continues. 

Is it cool to be a tribalist?

Why are we so passionate about tribe?
Who is a "tribalist"?
I have spent painful days listening to our leaders and followers alike. A lot of political commentary on social media and the wake up to the hate speech shebang borders around tribalism. So I take time to understand this term “Tribe” and “Tribalism” and if the terms are used in their right framing or is it just a case of mass ignorance.

Research on how people of Kenya refer to themselves as "tribes", leaves a lot to be desired. |Tribes" have no state, nation or country and neither do tribes have governments. A look on social media will tell you how Kenyans insult and degrade themselves a great deal. What is the real meaning of "tribe"?
Here is how the free dictionary defines tribe:
1.   “A unit of sociopolitical organization consisting of a number of families, clans, or other groups who share a common ancestry and culture and among whom leadership is typically neither formalized nor permanent.
2.   A group of people sharing an occupation, interest, or habit: a tribe of graduate students.
3.    Informal A large family.
4.   Biology A taxonomic category placed between a subfamily and a genus or between a suborder and a family and usually containing several genera.

Clans define our ancestry and rich history.
So a tribalist could be someone belonging to a group of University students who studied the same course right?
It could be a group of people who belong to the same clan right?
So in the political contexts of our country, who exactly is a tribalist? And is it wrong to belong to any of the categories?

TRAIB could also be defined as any aggregate of people united by ties of descent from a common ancestor, community of customs and traditions, adherence to the same leaders, etc.
Ever heard of a tribunal? Yes, it is a grouping of tribalists from a tribunus headed by one person.

The Thesaurus goes on to state that a tribe is a group of people who share the same social relation. So next time you are drinking with your buddies, you are all tribalists because your social relation is drinking either tea, coffee or beer right?
According to Wikipedia, A tribe is viewed, historically or developmentally, as a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states "Tribe" is a contested term due to its roots in colonialism. The word has no shared referent, whether in political form, kinship relations, or shared culture. Can the Kenyan people begin to push so that tribes become polities granted by legal recognition and limited autonomy by the state? Over to you people.

What Kenya's elites dont want us to see by Patrick Gathara

Al Jazeera

What Kenya's elites don't want us to see
Kenyan opposition leader's return has rallied both friend and foe and the scare-mongering has begun.
Visit us at Al Jazeera

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Wait a Minute

This week has been a dramatic one when it comes to the performance of our legislators and Leaders at large.

It is the week we saw a not so useful discussion on the Order of Precedence Bill 2014. This Bill will soon become an Act of Parliament to provide for the order of precedence for officials, leaders depending on their standing in society based on Hierarchy. Starting from the President all the way to Constitutional Commissioners and Citizens at large. What it basically does is set the standards of how leaders will be called and what order will be followed when they are addressing gatherings of functions. 

This is what Members of parliament are thinning is a priority bill in the wake of so many ills happening in society today. You may also remember that there was a heated debate on whether Governors should be called Exellencies and the fact that they should fly flags on their Vehicles. Again, our members of Parliament find this as a very important matter in the wake of very crucial ills happening to Kenya today.

In my upbringing and also based on the African Context, we are expected to treat each other with respect. The younger members of society are supposed to obey the older members of society. It begs no question the wiser and the more responsibilities one has been able to achieve in Society, they are accorded the mutual respect they deserve irrespective of their standing in society. 

When members of parliament decide to put themselves higher on the hierarchy of order ahead of Governors, I find that as a self seeking and selfish Bill that the public needs to condemn. 

This week we saw the number of people who died for consuming poison laced alcoholic brew in Central Kenya (See: http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Illicit-Alcohol-Deaths-Joseph-ole-Lenku/-/1056/2308546/-/y3rhia/-/index.html ). The Government through the Ministry of Interior moved with speed and interdicted/sacked the Chiefs, County Commissioners and all administrators in the regions affected. I remember sometimes back, the President gave stern warnings to Chiefs and Administrators of the Illegal Alcohol prone regions to ensure they strictly Maintain Law and Order and report to him on the reduction of the consumption of the lethal brews. But as this happens, how come the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Health hasn't taken responsibility?

We all know too well that so many Kenyans due to unemployment and many other social problems have turned to alcohol as the only solace and hope for their livelihoods. I thought instead of our Legislators, Members of Parliament discussing stupid Laws that will not add value to the livelihoods of the citizens, should be discussing on how 
1. Making sure the livelihoods of Kenyans are improved and protected.
2. Improving the Economy from the surging wage bill
3. Improving Health Care, Education, Infrastructure, Food Security and all other very pertinent issues that need fixing.

Why did we elect our Leaders again?

Emmanuel Dennis Ngongo

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

You got it Wrong Mr. Governor: This is why the People will hate you

You got it Wrong Mr. Governor

Its been 1 year since the last Election and the coming into office the Governors, to manage our county governments. The pace at which development has been happening is worrying compared to the pace at which public funds are being squandered depending on case to case basis of each county. The County Finance Bills that have been subject of discussion in the recent past have caused alot of uproar in the local media as well as on the social media sphere. The people of Kenya are only realizing that the people they voted for as Governors are more interested in their money and not delivering the services they promised during the elections campaigns. Now the same people who were so hopeful that Devolution would transform their lives positively are realizing that the Taxes being imposed are going to hurt them rather than build them and anyone who does not tore the tax line will be punished.

Ridiculous Taxes Introduced

Kiambu County was the first in the news when they introduced a Tax for the dead. Then came Kakamega County on Taxing Chicken and poor traders who cannot afford the annual levies being imposed.  A man was shot dead after Hawkers, boda boda operators and small kiosk owners protested against the Meru county government’s move to demolish their kiosks and introduce new tax levies. With donor money in HIV/AIDS Programs in the country,Busia governor will take Sh500 from anyone who wants to access the service, seen as an expensive way to know your HIV status.

More than 400 angry motorcycle operators blocked the busy Mombasa road to protest the new taxes in Machakos County. Each cyclist is expected to pay an operation fee of Sh1,200 fee annually. Additionally, every cyclist is expected to pay Sh400. Defaulters are arrested and forced to pay a fine of Sh5,000. The Machakos Finance Act 2013 led to widespread protests.

While in Mombasa, alot of push and pull has been happening over plans by the Mombasa County Government to slap more taxes on the already overburdened hotels and resorts at the coast. Reeling from low occupancies as a result of poor perception as much as real incidents in the past, coastal resorts are up in arms over plans by the county government to tax them.


In Nairobi County: The County Finance Bill increased charges in nearly all service areas by margins of up to 100 per cent. Motorists will pay more parking fees more than double. Property owners will pay land rates at the rate of 34 per cent or double the current rate of 17 per cent.

Matatu- Public Transport Vehicles Parking Fees: This morning Nairobi woke up to a shocking strike by public service vehicles. In what I could describe as one of the most effective strikes in the history of Nairobi, coming at the first anniversary of the current government, members of the public could not find vehicles to go to work and alot of people had to walk for long kilometers to work. This is industrial actions that will begin to see leaders think again on their actions. While Traders took to the streets of Kakamega Town to protest on the high levies being imposed.

Kenyans are overburdened by the taxes. The cost of living continues to rise but the standards of living still deteriorating.

Corruption and High Spending by Governors

After their swearing in, the County Governors have been seen purchasing fuel guzzlers with uncountable chase cars. Each county has been striving to buy big cars for their Executive members. This has been much of a corruption than service delivery. 

The Governors have not concentrated on closing the floodgates on illicit financial flows in their counties. This has remained unchecked as they try to introduce more means to tax the poor people. It is commonly said that you can never tax yourself to wealth. That is why Governors need to rethink on the strategies on how county governments will make more revenue from other sources other than Taxes. There is need for innovation a fact that many of the Governors. 

Warning to the Governors

Dear Governors, The people of Kenya elected you on the ability of your transformation agenda and not on the ability for you to burden them more. The more you push for the agenda on burdening Kenyans, the more they will hate you. In the next coming days, it will become easier to use the constitution to throw you out of office. My advice is for you to think through strategies that will transform Kenyans and not taxing them to their graves. Think on innovative ways on how the counties are going to generate revenue. There are hundreds of thousands of ideas only if you involved the public in finding those ideas and projects.

Oh by the way, all these debates on Taxes and your larger than life lifestyles are the same agenda that will be used to either vote you back into office or permanently get engraved in the most brutal enemies of the Kenyan people. We need Governors for the people by the people. Stop your spending on unimportant things and focus on delivery of services.

Emmanuel Dennis

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Moving Up the Ladder

This is where I am: Inspiration to Move up the ladder:
Having reached the age of 35, I have been contemplating leaving the youth sector and concentrating on business and other personal development initiatives in the continent. There has been allot of reaction to my decision and many people still think I am young enough to continue doing what I do with young people. My position however remains as stated. While I will continue to support initiatives for empowerment of young people, I will no longer be on the frontline. I believe there are many young people I have personally mentored and they will be picking the pieces from where I am leaving. I also believe they are bound to have a much bigger impact than what I had. They have to remain committed, be driven by passion for doing good without expecting any material gain. Only that way we shall get the real empowerment and development that our communities require.

But again, I am not leaving the scene as yet. On my transition to my next challenge, here is what I will be up to: I am turning to large scale farming of high value crops from food crops to cash crops. I am also concentrating on making the Green Teams a real social enterprise. And I will for the next two years, do more on mentorship, coaching and developing strong social economies driven by young social entrepreneurs at community level. My drive is to gain a social capital that will transform communities. I will be expounding on each of the areas in the days to come with real examples of actions on the ground.

I sought a recommendation from one of my mentors Mr. Alexander Crawford, whoum I had an opportunity of working with while I was in Sweden at the Tallberg Foundation. Here is what he had to say about me. I am awed:

“Emmanuel is an exceptional young man and leader. He has an uncommon drive and energy, a deep understanding of the driving forces reshaping Africa, a firm inner compass and a strong desire to both improve the prospects of African youth, and to address the interconnected environmental, economic and social challenges that Africa and the world face. It is obvious that he commands the respect and admiration of many young people in Kenya and other Sub-Saharan African countries, and the Green Teams initiative is already a great success” Here is My Mentor’s Testimonial about me in motion: http://varldensbastacv.ledarna.se/v/emmanueldennis

Early this year I had an opportunity of interacting with the various entrepreneurs in Zambia courtesy of the Sweden@Zambia forum. I was equally humbled to see many people committe to the theme of sustainability in the initiatives they are undertaking. I met one particulat gentlemen from Sweden who introduced a unique application that turn your CV into a Movie sort of clips. Here is what I got on a portion of my CV: in Motion: http://varldensbastacv.ledarna.se/v/emmanuel-dennisngongo
Here are other interesting opportunities I had to talk about what I do and what drives me:
1.      Inspiration for Youth Enterprise (Entrepreneurship) : http://bit.ly/OaTB1z
2.       We cannot give up on our country (Governance) :  http://bit.ly/O8BCpv
3.      At the Commonwealth Secretariat in London   (Entrepreneurship) : http://bit.ly/NnBRfK
4.      Tallberg Forum (Leadership and Systems Thinking): http://bit.ly/O8BLtl
My energy is even stronger, my resolve more apt and I am not giving up yet. Let us all Do Something Positive in our communities. It is from those kinds of positive actions that will transform our world. Do good, as good will follow you.