Saturday, March 13, 2010
A society grows when it transforms and adapts to ethical conduct. Acts of corruption occur with the confluence of three factors:
1). One party with a 'critical need' that must be solved fast;
2). An event that hinders a quick end to the need, and
3). A third party that bears the power to allow access to the remedy.
Of all effects of graft on society, the ultimate is delay. What is corruption but delay of the ideal? People’s values vary and states may not legislate on morals, but time stays true and fair. An hour is sixty minutes, whether in the city or in the wild. To wait for justice, service, healthcare, licensing, amenities, education and security, wastes time and wreaks torment. A whole nation must wait longer for a future when people will serve the roles they are paid for. Because everything delays, some adapt to 'greasing palms', to get served.
When this becomes a way of life, the cost in money matches the cost in time. More people paying bribes raise its costs and induce more delays, "since everybody knows it takes time..." What a city must have is delayed for decades on end.
Always, one party has a quick need that must fester or go awry, unless another party is induced to ‘help.’ Corruption occurs when one offers inducements to another to arrest delay.
Were all services offered in reasonably quick time, corruption would abate. Where enough facilities exist, there is no need for long queues and shortages of options. Corruption is delay, and the easiest way to deal with delays is to embrace time limits for every service. The Kenya POA assures that all officers will declare fair time frames for their work, and will not bear the power both to permit and perform tasks.
It is a common occasion in policy debates for the interlocutors to skirmish over the principles of equity and equality. Depending on the ocular power of the lens one elects to view the stage through, there is a veritable glut of mallets and pick-axes available to any protagonist, for breaking the rock of these broad principles into smaller pieces of scary projectiles, to be hurled at the opponent, as time will unfortunately have stood him. Since skirmish we must, then we might as well understand the reasons for our opposed array on these fierce battlefronts.
Having no luxury of dictionary definitions I will, in their stead, present my 'surprised-out-of-sleep' understanding of the two, to explain why and when either is necessary.
To my mind, equity is best represented in the Gadhian expression: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. But since that only helps to address the supply side of the economic coin, we shall flip to the 'coat-of-arms' and observe on the demand side that to whom much is given, much is expected. Fair exchange! The goose will only lay the golden egg if she is fed on the finest grain and assured of life by the farmer; who will only secure these assurances if he must, without option of default, ultimately obtain his prized eggs.
Equality on the other hand is a concept born of all communal effort. At a certain basic level of humanity, all people are distinguishable only by the outturns of their mental exertions. We are just male or female, all requiring each other for successful accomplishment of our most basic endeavours.
Just as men cannot beget babies without women, geniuses cannot exist in a vacuum - they are born, raised, recognised and celebrated amongst the blundering hordes of the 'average.' They are children of someone, parents to someone else. We all, for the harmony and advancement of society, must shed our 'public airs,' hang the frock of fame and fortune on the office coat-stand and bolt the door behind us as we walk home to common society. At 'home' within society, we are mere participants, equal partners to everybody else co-operating in society's progressive trek though the treacherous plains of life. We become boys or men, girls or women; warriors, farmers, teachers, students, etc., each working for the final benefit of all. Selfish actions and restrained participation, aiming to reserve one’s best for own benefit is the bane of all societies.
Nature roots for equity, advancing its majestic law of survival of the fittest. In the wild, disability counts for certain demise. Human history - that is what we read, for we know nothing of the histories of reptiles: who are their heroes, which their wars, who their gods? - not only records but also recounts the deeds of our finest. Everywhere it is apparent, then, that life, left to its own vagaries, will always lead to equity. It is vain and wasteful effort, to fight for equity. Being the natural law, it does not require our weak slaps on a mountain to shake it.
Our business distils itself to understanding the purpose of social organization: why people seek groupings - to spread and share the high benefits of genius among the greatest number, to carry along those whose beneficial output is only but a future expectation, and to lend a helping hand to 'precious' laggards, those rare creatures amongst us whose value lies in extreme adaptation derived from debilitating deprivations of other 'normal' faculties, the sub-normal. This calls for a more compassionate look at all members of society. That what good one human deserves, is what all people deserve. Society, therefore, cannot afford equity. Compassion quickly resolves itself into equality.
Competition on the other hand will bring about equity. Consider an athletics sprint race at the Olympic Games. The organisers will provide a level track, in similar weather, at the same race time, with similar curves, a flat slope and accurately equalized distances for the participants to run on. The starting conditions are therefore equalized for all competitors from all over the world. When the race is started, by a ringing shot and ended later at the laser tape, the fastest and slowest runners are recorded by the time-stretch photo equipment. The athletes run an equal distance on an equalized track. The only difference, the main one indeed, in their positions at the tape is a product of their desire and physiques. That is the flower of equity blooming from the stem of equality. Nature wins out, again.
Where do I lead to with this? Just a simple point really! That we organise ourselves in groups to seek equality, because left to our own devices, we can only obtain equity. So, what is the role of common social organizations like Government? To provide equality - that level playing field - so that the individual brilliance of endowed individuals will separate common folk only when they advance well outside levels of tolerable life. That a boy in Turkana and a boy in Alego will have an equal chance in the Society's schools. That when a girl from Lamu beats them both, it should not be because her school was preferred, but because she has a higher IQ than these boys.
For national development, let us seek to equalize the facilities and amenities available to all persons and regions. Those that will squander their opportunities will thus be left behind, but from a tolerable starting point. Those who excel will, therefore, earn the respect of all, for their industry without imputations of graft, thievery and favouritism as are the usual fare here. And just like in the Olympic race, the winner will only be one metre ahead of the last to arrive, not a difference of the whole distance ran, as can be attested to by our rich-poor gap.
Government must be a tool for equality; equity is a natural grant.
The idea of a telecommunications company transfering money is much like a salon that offers a snack to its clientele. The meal is only an enticement; and the salonist has no obligation to improve the quality of her morsels. Infact, it becomes a health hazard to eat in such a place, though it provides the proprietor with vital experience, were she to diversify her interests into food. At the salon, whereas you certainly get your hunger satiated, the meal can never be as good or as safe as at a dedicated eatery.
I concur with Crown Paints' Peter Marangi and join him in chanting his chorused exhortation to us: ask the experts! Safaricom's M-Pesa and the whole litter of cash-zapping rival chefs are mere usurpers; they will never feed us on a first-class full course meal served with five-star grace. The reason is simple, a barbershop that stocks beer can never beat a real pub.
Every business has a core competency; its raison d'etre, its sine qua non. And the basis of banking is money. If anyone has the natural instinct for creating and transfering money, it is the bank. We only happen to live in an age of timorous bankers and stagnancy of innovation. Although the idea of mobile money transfer is great; its conduct by mobile phone service providers (MSPs) is not. One just wonders when banks will awaken from their slumber to leverage their licences and reclaim their forte.
Thousands of jobs
That the mobile money transfer phenomenon has transformed lives and transfigured townships cannot be gainsaid. Millions of households are being rescued from excruciating poverty and literally saved from sleeping on empty tummies. But at what cost to the economy? Unfortunately, humans are only impressed by sensual perceptions, and in this instance, by what they see happening. In most pursuits, however, what we do not see is more significant. For instance, what is the real cost of this industry? Respectfully, may I posit that MSP money transfer is not unlike a boil, a sort of sore abscess; principally, an inefficient outpouring of pent energy and waste, resulting from clogs in the natural systems. It is not only uncomfortable and difficult to hide, but also very painful. Let me expound.
The Kenyan banking system is too slow to react to new ideas and technological advances. Ever since Western Union and Moneygram came up with the secure Transactional Reference Code for money transfer, it was obvious that someone would use the idea for mass money movements across local wallets.
Why banks have never invested in technology that allows them to adopt this concept defeats logic. Fair lady Idea met MSP Technology along Money Avenue, and while staid Lord Banks hesitated, his lumpen servant, MSP quickly set up a candy store and stole her languorous attention. Can Mr Banks reclaim his street and woo back his pledged lady?
In responding to this query, we have to consider the efficiency and merit of the MSP offering against the natural competence of the banking industry.
To transfer money in the MSP model, the sender has to get cash - from some trade transaction, bank counter or cash machine and 'deposit it' into her mobile phone account at an agent of the MSP. Only then can she send it over the phone system to the recipient, who may send it onwards to a further recipient (or visit her local MSP agent) for 'withdrawal' and expenditure. This process involves at least four person to person exchanges, the first: when a sender trades commodities or visits the bank for cash; the second, when she visits the Send Agent for deposit; the third, when the recipient goes to the Receive agent for withdrawal; and the fourth, as the recipient exchanges cash for commodities.
This model is seriously vulnerable to insecurity and criminal intervention, as would be the case were thugs to accost the 'sender' and confiscate the cash while on her usually distant way between the source of cash and the Send Agent's premises; or even the recipient after withdrawal. Further inefficiency is encountered because these cash exchanges can only occur during the working hours of each Agency, which, again for security reasons, are limited to an average ten-hour day.
And does the economy work well with all these informal money agencies? Everyone cannot be a good doctor; certainly not many can make good bankers. Why do we need all these MSP agents? Systemic banking inefficiences are directing precious entrepreneurial capital into this MSP industry, away from greater social pursuits and achievements.
We do not need any informal bankers in an economy of over twenty thousand formal bankers working in forty-five commercial banks and serving only nine million bankable individuals. (Considering that Kenya's population of forty million is comprised, upto fifty-five per cent, of children below the age of majority, whose accounts, if at all anywhere held for them, are funded and operated by their guardians; and taking as granted that of the remaining forty-five percent, only about a half, still many of whom are enjoined as spouses, have the financial weal and muscle to hold a bank account), the banking system is adequately manned. The few account holders have even fewer monthly transactional counts.
Yet these few are the people transfering money within this economy. Any more agents are just rent-seekers. What can be more inefficient than that? We just end up with more people 'getting to know who has received how much,' exposing the recipients' privacy and as a consequence inflating consumer prices - because we must pay the excess baggage of informal bankers, and we must charge a premium on commodities sold to 'the newly rich villager, who has received money from Uppity.' Can an economy grow on internal transfer payments without matching productivity increases? Mobile Money Transfers are a form of intra-economy transfer payments, and their impact can only be inflationary, on the microeconomic scale.
That is the underlying social cost. Next time you want to complain of deteriorating standards of living and persistently higher costs of goods, perhaps we should consider blaming the twin C*K regulators - the Communications Commission of Kenya and the Central Bank of Kenya.
Now, in the bank-provider model; the bank runs a money transfer platform, employing the MSPs only for data exchanges. Any bank account holder can register to the premium service at her bank and access her account anywhere, anytime. The transaction process involves a data message to the Bank's software modules, and a virtual transfer of funds from own account to any individual mobile number in the republic. Every transaction only yields a reference and report of new virtual balances to each party concerned. And the bank system keeps a complete, safe and secure record of transactions per each account and associated mobile number.
This way, a registered user can access money on call from the comfort of her bed, any time of the day or night, and pay rent, school fees, water bill, purchase airtime, send pocket money to her old folk or young boarding school child, send money to the shamba boy, pay Mama Mboga, the doctor, the supermarket bill, and so forth; and the money can flow within twenty or thirty trades, without anyone touching any cash. Then we will not need to carry cash to Namanga because our bank has no ATM out there.
Your phone only transfers data. The money stays at the bank, and anyone needing hard cash should walk to their nearest bank or sacco branch for 'download'.
This way, banks deal with money, and the telcos with data. Fair trade! Neat division of labour and exercise of comparative advantage. The economy enjoys complementarity, not undue competitive pressure. But the banks must first wake up to this!
Nations rise out of women and the seeds of any culture flourish in the souls of its mothers. Races endure and raise their vital stock with each choice their women make. Who to love and bear babies with; which child to train to which trait; how to nourish a family; which codes of faith to endow and fuse into a child’s mind; and in what tongue to express free ideas, are native acts to the role of Mom. Women influence their men in subtle but strong ways and shape destinies with the stamp of fluent nurture.
Much war and evil has razed hope or life, in quarrels over ethnic purity and cultural merit. Sadly, the wagers of woe, from Nazi Germany to the Hutu of Rwanda neither consult nor care for women. They act to destroy women, subdue them, and plant in them aliens’ kids, in aim to disrupt their cultures at the base. The blood that flows in the veins of a people is their all. The more there are who bear it, the surer the chance that it will live on. Every girl enriches her adopted society, but is a loss when she leaves. If we must keep our finest women raising our heritage, we must shred barriers to their progress, clear their routes to high ambition, and greet their best deeds with approval.
So, it is in the neat interest of a nation, to make the lives of its women happy above all else, respect their choices, to love and cherish them at home, and ward off the lures of foreign snares. To those on who so much depends, utmost care is owed; therefore, to meet our nation’s debt to women, we must attain Millennium Development Goals fast.
The Kenya POA will.
The Indian Parliament has struck a hitherto unprecedented blow for democracy and gender balance. The Federal Parliament in Delhi has this March 9th, 2010, passed by a massive 186 - 1, the bill that reserves a third of all seats of Parliament in the national and state assembles, for women. It was a decision intended to coincide with the International Day for Women, but that had to be delayed overnight, after it was marred by extreme scenes of dissension, with some Parliamentarians tearing copies of the bill and shouting in vehement damnation against its authors. Six of those were suspended from House debate and had to be forcefully removed from the chamber. Upon passage, its proponents led by the ruling Congress Party's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were beside themselves with effusive praise.
India is not alone in this choice, having been preceeded by even bolder leaps elsewhere. Countries like Sweden and Rwanda lead the world in the proportion of women on their sovereign decision organs. Other cultures, ancient and modern; nations like Sri Lanka, Argentina, Chile and Liberia have, with the passage of time, gone a step further, and elected women as heads of their governments. To my mind, this is the epitome of the power of free choice, and the truest testament to the equality and competence of the world's womenfolk to the challenges of leadership. Everywhere, women have proved their merit, and their accession to power is no longer a matter for worrisome reconsideration.
For this reason, the Indian choice deserves more than glancing attention. While this step is laudable and, indeed, emulable, it still betrays an offensive triumph of sentimentalist force over the strict dictates of nature and reason.
Since antiquity, leadership has attracted the reverence and esteem reserved for the finest forms of culture and art. Indeed, leaders are a society's finest artists, and their shoulders sometimes bear the real lives of their subjects. What leaders dream, society drools at, and their word is the whole wide world to it. Like poetry, literature, music or natural science, leadership is, in some form, a spiritual concept. It is an outcome of passion. And we may not reserve positions of passion on the basis of gender! Can we, for example reserve a third of all poetic positions for women; a third of all sculptors, all architects, all newspaper columnists, all farmers? Nature dictates that the most passionate hearts and minds on these planes should excel. Reserving positions of leadership for a given gender is promoting mediocrity. In the already miserly temple of politics, society loses the rarely sacrificed steak of merit at the altar of arithmetic.
Perhaps more poignant is the perversion of this gender equity concept on the Kenyan political scene. If the Constitutional review goes according to plan, Kenya's 47 new counties will each be represented in Parliament by a woman. Noting that each county is composed of several current constituencies, it effectively means each 'old' district will have a Super MP, who will likely be the county spokesperson, and to boot, a woman! Ask with me: why would a more popular candidate representing real people at the lowest level, be subordinated to an amorphously defined 'leader' for political expediency, representing an extinct entity and answerable to no-one on the ground? When this county leader speaks, shall we take her word to be the synthesized wisdom of five or more Sub-MPs in her county? And what is to stop her from being subjective and partisan in her views? Isn't she just a human like all others in the House?
There has never been shown any proof that 100 women produce more and better ideas than 20 women. The same cannot be said of 100 passionate souls, whether men or women. Both in the real and the ideal world, we are better off with a passionate, focused all-men parliament, than a reward-for-gender House. Let justice be our shield and defender. Reserving seats for women is discrimination against men. The implied outcome is that no woman will be elected to represent a constituency, since their lot have a free pass, through the county quota system.
Unless the aim is merely to create jobs for cronies and spouses, the representation red-herring is dead and rotting. Tell me another, India!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Some willingly subject themselves to their leaders, fawning over them and risking their own comfort, to defend and promote the reputation and interest of their sovereign. Generally, however, majorities everywhere can barely tell the difference between one leader or another: they have much more immediate personal concerns to attend to, and the sovereign has enough resources at his disposal to not only fend off his troubles, but also to get his way, anyway. A sizeable minority will feel subjugated and oppressed by the authorities, and will sour the commune with their ceaseless rants, gripes and anguished whines.
Whether to love and consort with, or hate and fear leadership is a matter well settled by Niccolo Machiaveli.
The prism of mind sieves and sorts the ray of leadership into a wide spectrum of technicolour strips, at the beginning and end of which are vision and vocation. And rarely does it happen that a single person, as leader, possesses a wide enough temperament to encompass both extremes. In the paragraphs that follow, I attempt to cross the breadth of this frith.
a). Visionary leaders are strategic in their thinking: they weave one desired direction or destination for their realm, and are focused on large steps that, though in themselves appear unco-ordinated, lead to the one end. Visionaries invent solutions to pressing barriers to progress. They roam and range with the wind, and dare to interpret what mere mortals have difficulty thinking about.
To be visionary not only requires a deep appreciation of the wishes and desires of society, short-term sacrifice, and a lot of patient action, but also, and far more importantly, the inculcation of a saintly self-discipline, the will to plod on an unrelenting uphill track in the fog that is human prediction of future reality. It calls for consistent inconsistency - a flexible willingness and ability to reconsider general opinion in new light with changing times. It demands an enduring adaptability to circumstances as they unfold, and undying hope, with the one visionary aim as the ultimate beacon.
The visionary leader seeks the true germ of things; he carves new footholds and leads the risky walk up the cliff of intuition, guiding humanity on the journey it must take, in the sun-glazed direction of progress that it must face, thereby engraving his legacy to leave the world in the state it ought to be. He seeks inspiration and new thought, and sieves through old ideas for linking principles and the spirit that animates them all. A visionary uses his goal as his life's purpose, and were he to encounter constraints and bottlenecks, responsibly swallows the bitter pill of failure if he is thwarted in his endeavour.
However, vision is the most callousing of work, tiring the body and wearing the mind; it drinks effort and gobbles gluttonous chunks of time to actualize. The masses being impatient, seeking the quickest of fixes and relying on the approbation of others, are easily swayed and distracted from deep, esoteric ideas.
Anyhow, because they take gambles, daring to challenge established norms and behaviour, visionaries make courageous leaders, who wear new paths and walk at the head of the pack. Without a script, except the call of destiny, they establish causes and rally the masses to rise to the challenges of their remaining days and beyond. They hatch progress from unborn time.
b). Vocational leaders draw out and perform what must be done immediately. They think tactically, and operationalize visions. They aim to deliver on ideals, one ladder rung at a time, and seek effectiveness and efficiency in their work. Vocational leaders are professional: being very consistent and methodical, and relying on their vast knowledge and expertise. They achieve objectives by applying the power of their passion to their tasks. They revel in the process of getting the work done, excellently.
Professionals create procedures, standards, rules and guiding principles to foster efficiency and quality, reduce avoidable error and increase productivity, saving on resource misapplication. They are innovators who relish the challenge of directing diverse effort to the accomplishment of each new task. Excellence and consistency require much concentration, and much devotion to duty. These values call for control and focused direction of the powers of man. Professionals trust that if something can be done, it must be done well.
This focus on detail can be distracting on large, linked processes, but is the driver of all progress. Because of their insistence on procedure, professionals make very good implementors: managers and workers. They lead, like shepherds of the flock in the fields, from behind, and deliver every time. Their insistence on rules and procedures may hurt inventive thought, and lock out some individuals from contributing in ways that are non-conformative.
The true professional works with the world as it is, facing his most immediate challenges first, and working to avoid all occurences that have, by the universal suffrage of antiquity, been found wanting and measly in their contribution to progress. Significantly, vocational leaders must have a cause established before them, a path wrought for them to walk on; a way walked before for them, a hill climbed aforetime, a chasm spanned, for them to recount its story and estimate its worth on the golden scales of history. This debt to past heroism they repay by standardizing processes, marking out pitfalls, blocking dangerous detours and generally enhancing the safe flow of traffic on the highways of human advancement, howsoever steep and convoluted they may be.
It follows rationaly, that while visionaries are the true leaders, designers of principle; the professionals, the managers, are the interpreters and weavers to visibility, of the threads of wisdom. When the visionary says that there exists cotton fluff that can be woven into thread and worked on a loom to create cloth, the professionals plant the cotton, pick it, sort the fluff, work the loom and weave the shirt. Without the 'professional', the shirt would remain a concept of the mind. Without the visionary concept, cotton would remain a wild plant.
My nation needs both leaders, obviously. But, perhaps, in an age of timid men and overused principle, we need a few more brave hearts, to follow their bliss and walk out of the cradle; perhaps, to raise the antennae of their minds to far off corners of the universe and transmit home new ideas that will inspire others to venture out and break ground on the vast virgin fields of this nation.
Were I to choose, I think of listening out for something worthwhile.
We have enough expert workers, don't you agree?
Monday, February 8, 2010
winded, long, without end.
What some hate, nay, abuse
another will die to defend.
Of colours, races profuse,
cold feelings that hearts rend.
What love one finds diverse,
a stranger loved bids: Attend!
Helter-skelter some accuse,
its pace to nowhere, my friend.
And since to stop all refuse,
Who can tell of its last end?
Sunday, February 7, 2010
If you build a highway, someone will ride on it. If you build a hospital, someone will convalesce in it. And somebody else will train to be a nurse, and a teacher, mechanic, and all the rest. Objects react to objects and spirits respond to spirits. To change a people, just change their place. In this era of 'improving access to services,' to urbanize a rural township is to influence the hinterland in a most profound way. Most people have ideas of how to ameliorate their lowly positions, all they need is a helping hand out of the trench. Where they will go once they stand on the firm ground of Equality, is the subject of the Bill of Rights.
Overwhelming majorities are always led, whichever way the leader decides. In great societies, this malleability works well to yield unimaginable progress to the population, when a visionary mastermind strides boldly up the public stage, faces the audience and exhorts them to see their world through the technicolour lenses of his inspired pair of eyes. That is how you end up with Rome, the British Empire, America or the Panama Canal. That is how Kwame Nkrumah birthed the Independence struggles of Africa, and how Martin Luther King, Jr., inspired the Civil Rights movement in the United States. But, on a far wider scale, this technique has been misapplied, or rightly utilized to further wrong, deceptive intentions. The world abounds with histories of masses roused to fight wars that are not their own, and afterwards becoming embittered when this realization sinks in. And that is how you end up with the genocide of Rwanda, the electoral pogroms of Kenya, the xenophobia of South Africa, or, as earlier and on a larger scale, the Holocaust of Nazi Germany. Majorities focusing on inane illusions, and not minding their supervening self-interest.
That is how the masses of Guinea can 'demonstrate' to have their coup-executing leader returned home from Burkina Faso, to suffocate them with his deadly whims. Honestly, a majority that asks for military rule is quite incorrigibly misguided and irascible. Why not forment a 'civilian coup d'etat' against that headless military? I never saw a better opportunity washed downstream. And all is now well, because this sense has been grasped! Since I wrote this, some sense seems to have seeped into the sills of their minds.
Possibly, that means there always is a vacuum in the mass-mind that can be filled by anyone with a bold idea. No one can deny that a coup is a bold idea, or that ending a genocide, like Paul Kagame's Rwandese Patriotic Front did, is a heroic deed. The odd point is why heroism must, on our patch of Earth, only be associated with ill.
There is no point lamenting about our present. And the best way to face our future is to defeat our past. We learn without heeding the many lessons of the frail tastes of man. Does one man, for example the former NBA great, Michael Jordan, inspire a global male hair trend of skinheadism? Does England's David Beckham popularise feminine masculinity? Did President Barack Obama re-ignite the embers of hope in the breast of every global citizen, for unity in a fractured world? Does Shakespeare still clutch the rhythm and diction of the English tongue like the beat of a musical tune?
Yes. Infact, that is the point. That it only takes one man. But a 'man' it must be. Not some crybaby or demagogue, and definitely not some copycat. It takes a man with Adam's originality, and Luanda Magere's boldness. A man with Mandela's foresight, Gandhi's patience, Emerson's wisdom and Euripides' courage - to say, 'Give me a firm place and I will move the world!' Critically, it serves well to remember, that all genius is borrowed. The genius is the dwarf who learns and adapts to standing still on the shoulders of giants. And no dwarf ever complained of an obstructed view from so lofty a perch. He becomes a giant at that level and is only limited by the shortness of his attitude.
The only firm place I offer you is the strong conviction within your heart, of the truth of your view. Solidify your idea, and convince the world to move. You can then claim all the fame of having moved it. Friend, if you can move people, you will have changed their position, you will have changed their place in life, and a civilization will owe you one.
Are you a 'man' to change a place, and change a people? You are the leader!
Friday, January 22, 2010
See, I am just one man, just a person, and I have thought up a passion, I have worked my mind, listened to my heart and the advice of wisdom; I have evolved through thought, dusted the old that others thought, knew and fought mortally for, and I keep marvelling at the now-born. From these musings, weak hands and scarce tools no matter, working only with hope, and a desire to manifest it while I live these hours, I have synthesized, mixed and matched, until at this hour, I trust this thought.
And I thrust it out, like a god's Javelin, with all the power of my strained sinews, with all the warmth of my last breath, to the farthest ends it can reach, of this world.
Made in the image of God, to have a creative idea, is to simply fulfil nature. A door is only a door when open. Closed, were it a wall, for all the need of it, none would be the wiser, of its purpose.
Now, you too are made in this wondrous image of God. And God is the Supreme Good, the uncreated creator, the almighty source unsourced. He only forges the ultimate, the best. Clearly, then, you have this same creative capacity. You can come up with a better idea, you can warm up your own heart, kindle the fire of your own passion, strike your own pose and call out the world, to bear you audience, be still and listen to you, and if moved, haste to lug heavy boulder upon heavier boulder, to build your brave Pyramid.
Only the height of your monument, and the unimagined sum of the co-operative effort it unites, to raise it above mine, will hold hearts in beating rush, and pull lips in gaping awe, raise faces in bewildered gaze, and glare eyes in enchanted stupor, stopping feet in long, captive arrest, and wobbling knees so weakly, they will bend to the ground, and lead necks in reverence, to worshipful bow.
And any ear that hears about it, will rush tongues to exclaim, "I never saw the like of it before."
That is honour. That is fame.
Foe, you will not get that by arguing with me, and the world neither will respect the loudness of your voice, nor reward the scraping force of your words. Further, to argue with me is to be my slave, to work for me, in the foregarden of my mind's home, weeding the flowerbed of my ideas. If I did not exist, would you be idle and without a task, would you be a loafer, grabbing at morsels and unfed? Be a proud master of your own time, and raise your own rosebushes, though thorny, your own frontyard of thought.
So, do not argue with me. Create your better idea, and convince me.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Watching a video of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma snapping his feet on the ground, shaking his head in a joyful frenzy, kicking out at imaginary ghost enemies and lumbering like a flagpost, back-first, into a coterie of his seated tribesmen, amid cheers from his charmed and gawking visitors, I was amused by a very satisfied man, confortable and in charge of his dates with destiny. As his skin-skirt touched the ground, a 'village warrior comrade' jumps into the fray to jestily 'admonish him, find out how he fares, and inquire of this man, whose spirit has been felled by the charms of his new bride.' He was introducing his bride to 'elders and ancestors,' a BBC report says, and is still engaged to another future bride, a woman from Durban.
A president with unfettered access to all of the sartorial fineries of the world, but still cloyed in 'traditional bull fats' and dressed in strips of leopard skin, doing a jig on a grassy patch at his former Black reserve village is very gripping indeed.
A self-educated man (some say that is the best way in life), who bats his eyelids and takes two days off to marry a fifth wife, half a year into his leadership of Africa, in broad daylight, does not only strike me as a wise man who knows a thing or two more about life than his hollering detractors, it fills me with wonder about why Obama has to holiday with the whole White House in Hawaii.
What does Obama do, that is not on Zuma's role profile? Global Policeman? But the US has many more professional defense gurus, more specialist departments for specialized action, more tools of analysis and levels of permission, implying, to my mind, less need for presidential action. Further, Obama is far more formally educated, which means he should multitask better, without a full office on holiday. Or does formal education count for nothing in the management of humanity? If you ask me to choose between being Zuma or Obama, you know where my loyalties would go, to my African chief. I am sorry for my nephew from K'Ogelo. A man cannot enjoy a day off, to dance to the drums and jingles of his ancestors? What sort of job is this American Presidency? Freedom and Pursuit of Happiness, indeed!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Security: Host AfriCom at Wajir in Kenya.
Security is the wide base that holds the broad pyramid of any Civilization. Infact, in all known Civilizations of the world, military power was always the draw-horse preceeding the wagon of economic progress. With modernity, democracy and the much-vaunted rule of law, militarism has had to take a lower profile, to sit silently on the back-benches of public governance and discourse, to attend his illustrious diplomatic masters, as states and societies have sought to project softer, sweeter faces to the court of world opinion. But such facades should not lull the keen observer into any stupor, and we should make no mistake about the magnetic pull that attracts glory to the gun and yields honey after 'smoking the hive.'
The Colonialist lugged his religion in the left hand, and his rifle in the right. This was no accident of adventure. It is the thing it was meant to be: where the locals spurned the message of Love, Morality and opportunity, a few rounds of rumbling lead shots would exorcise their impundent ghosts and silence the leading rebel for ever.
'See, if he is the Son of god Khau-khii, why can't he raise himself up from the dead?' How would a caveman respond to such logic from the 'Stranger with a fire-stick, who could shut the Grand Magician up?'
Religious and folk lore abounds in histories of tribal increase through the ransacking, pillage and annihilation of weaker, less spirited contemporaries. Of course, current reality makes it imprudent, plainly unpopular and unwise, to seek economic progress by plundering and despoiling other nations' produce while riding the military power-horse. But then, that is not to say that it ended with Napoleon. The twenty-first century David attacks and sacks his neighbour's granaries using more subtle means, but back of all of which there is a clenched military fist in the velvety glove of aid, grants and free trade. The face smiles, but the voice is guttural, the feet ready to pounce and pound, the hands bear a huge stick called 'reform,' while the eyes betray a lurid lust for the host's resources.
But right here, where the beastly bear appears to overwhelm us with the stench of his unwelcome intrusion, is where our opportunity lies. We lose everything by resisting the irresistible. The tree that bends with the wind lives long and learns to scatter its own seed, while the reed that resists the gale breaks in rue. Knowing this, and aware that the best student learns from his teacher, to beat him, then it is our opportunity to page the grizzly king, and learn his ways to sharpen our own insticts. The more extensive our acquaintance with those who have excelled, the greater will be our powers of invention (creation of new ideas), and the purer, more original will be our conceptions.
So, if China, yes, the Oriental multitude, the million-man army from the East seeks a military base here, let them have it. If the Americans - Cousin Barack's blessed aunts, remember - say that they are seeking a camp for their homeless African battalion of their warrior class, then by the Hills of Kirinyaga, if we are the true home of the Maasai moran, we must be kindred spirits.
Consider the outcomes with me, supposing we decide to host AfriCom here in Kenya. What infrastructure goes into the institution of a full Yankee base? Roads, railways, water, communications, military hardware 'gifts' to the host nation, personnel training, equipment, a general perception of security in the Horn of Africa, medical infrastructure, some level of employment for the local community, the unlocking of unimagined opportunity, etc., etc. We could negotiate for a large scale 'peaceful' nuclear energy programme, have progressive partnerships with some of the world's highest institutions of research, learning and innovation. Part of the collateral damage will be in 'the rise of the Marines' - the Pointies or QuarterBlacks, I call them, and that will involve 'lots of love.' If the airlifts of JFK and Mboya gave Obama to the world, our girls could always do with reciprocation, or does anyone disavow little Johnnies anymore? Further, security will make our country highly attractive to serious investment flows into Africa.
Effectively, we become a Fifty-first American state, sort of, protected under the futuristic Missile Defence shield, joining Poland, Germany, South Korea, Japan, and Australia as strategic global defence posts. In geopolitics, as in no other human endeavour, does it ring more true that decisions are made by those who attend, and to my mind, I can’t find an easier ticket reservation for the high table, than by hosting the reception. Host AfriCom, and become Africa’s chief barracks.
Note that we are six (fighter-jet) hours away from all end-points in Africa, three hours away from Saudi Arabia and Israel, and would offer the perfect support for the bases in Germany and Turkey, in case of any imbroglios in Persia. For fifty future years, we enjoy proper security, and therefore have freedom to pursue liberty and happiness. A half century of peace and stability would establish us as the gateway to Africa, an entrypoint into the jungle that is Sub-Saharan Africa. If Africa is the continent of the future, then Kenya's NEP is the doorknob to that future. And that is how we should understand Mssrs Rannerberger and Carson, why Bill Clinton made Nairobi the capital of American diplomacy in the Cradle of man. How about long-term strategy?
And it would call a halt to Yoweri Museveni's oedipal military games, and Paul Kagame's expansionist ideals. The region would be on order and alert to Nairobi's call. What is Somalia in the face of a half-century Yankee siege? Yemeni and Al Quaeda will have to close base in Somalia and seek for refuge elsewhere, in an increasingly hostile world. This is our redemption in this region. Perish piracy, perish Eritrea, Djibouti and Ethiopia's silly sibling meanness.
But our notoriously mundane and ethically low leadership is beholden to non-issues in terms of appeasing undefined 'African' traditions and not thinking strategically. State House is mulling this opportunity, and the instinct for corruption is holding a nation for ransom. If we delay, some wiser elder will bag this gift that forever gives, and send us to bed, on empty tummies. These things are very rare in their occurrence..
What if we refuse to be their hosts? We do not gain much. We do not 'see' any loss. Life just moves on at our blurred Vision 2030 pace.
Host AfriCom Now!