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.
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