Pure Madness

My thoughts on the "behind the scenes" of life. You will find inspiration here. Share it generously


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‘Touching Base’

Calling people by their first name is one of the indications of close friendship. When I got an email confirming my trip to ‘Base’, I felt like I was being invited to one of those multilevel marketing meetings where everyone seems happy and as if they’ve known each other for ages.

Since I was in Ukunda which is a few kilometers from Base, I confirmed my attendance as I tried hard to manage my expectations with little success. I have outgrown a couple of things in my life but the excitement of visiting a new place has refused to leave me.

When the cab driver picked me up in the morning I couldn’t hide my excitement so I went on to start a conversation, “What do you know about Base Titanium?” I asked as I ignored an incoming call. (I did not want any distractions at the time – sorry caller).

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The view of one of the Ukunda streets from my taxi. The Tuk tuk is a very popular means of transport here.

Luckily, the cab driver had a lot to say about Base Titanium and how it is benefiting the community by building schools, hospitals, roads and offering many other people employment opportunities. The guy went on and on and I was almost getting irritated because he was preempting my trip. To make matters worse, when we turned into the tarmac road that leads to the company he kept to the speed limit of 60kph! Who does that? There were no other cars in site!

As the driver went on speaking about how the company was helping the community, I zoned out and started focusing on the many road signs. Children crossing, sharp bend ahead… suddenly a 4×4 pick up with its lights on, a siren light on top and a reflective flag appeared from them corner. I hadn’t even opened my mouth to ask about it, the cab driver picked the cue and started talking about the many cars that Base Titanium had and how they had given jobs to many drivers.

I was ready to walk the rest of the way when I spotted huge structures that looked like silos or warehouses ahead. We came to a barrier and one of the guards started to approach the car waving for him to slow down. I could see some trucks in the compound and the huge structures were now fully visible. The guard asked for my ID and demanded to know what I wanted and if I had an appointment. He took my ID and went to talk what sounded like gibberish on the walkie talkie as he inspected the car, my bags even my camera! To be honest I felt like I had come to a ‘mini UN building.’

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Base Titanium Limited checkpoint

The guard came back smiling handed me my ID back and asked his colleague to open the barrier. Toyota should consider adding a sun roof to the small cars they produce. I felt as if I was being denied a basic right by being confined to the front seat. We came to another gate and just like the first one, everyone was in uniform, some reflective clothing on top (no political message at the back) boots and glasses. I felt like I was in the movies and this a “high security facility.”

I paid the driver off quickly because a very inquisitive guard came and stood right next to our car. I was escorted to another room at the gate where my details were taken and my bag confiscated (well, I added that to build drama). But they did ask me if I minded leaving the bag behind to pick it when I was leaving. Unfortunately, the security guys didn’t take my fingerprints. I had prepared an argument inspired by people with questionable character who operate under the motto; “Never let anyone take your finger prints.” Apparently, once they do, you can be tracked by all agencies including FBI, Interpol, KPF (Kenya Police Force – we need a cool name for them) and not forgetting the KMC (Kenya Maroon Commandos – these guys can get a confession out of you by just singing!).

Long story short, there I was seated in a class alone with a bulletin in front me, a visitor’s badge on my polo t-shirt and a pen. I was asked what my shoe size was and I answered hesitantly. After signing that I had read and understood the safety requirement while at Base, I was handed a pair of safety shoes, a reflector jacket, a helmet and protective glasses. I was given a brief safety talk which I suspect was because the lady realized that I was too excited to read the entire bulletin. I was asked if I had any questions and even though I had many, I decided to follow the instructions from The Good Book, ‘…even a fool is considered wise when he is quiet…’ I was asked to buckle up even though we were only driving to the next block.

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My chaperones at Base, Simon (right) and Martin.

Eventually, the fun bit begun! I got into one of the pickups with siren light and a reflective flag. Simon Wall the External Affairs Manager and Martin Macharia, the Communications Consultant introduced themselves and pointed out they would give me a brief introduction into Base Titanium and what they do. They also mentioned that the golf clubs in the bag at the bag were not part of any safety requirements. I had already started wondering what kind of mining they do here.

I soon understood why most of the vehicles needed to be 4x4s. We had to navigate through a lot of mud and at times I stopped listening to Simon because I was sure we’d get stuck but Simon casually engaged the four-wheel drive every now and then without losing focus of what he was saying. A successful case of men multitasking.

When we finally got to the mine and Simon showed me the multi-million mining equipment, I was so disappointed! After going through all that safety precaution there were no explosions, no tunnels or underground carriages not even big guys covered in grease. Seeing my disappointment, Simon drew my attention to a huge dozer that was pushing soil into a conveyor unit that mixed the soil with water and poured it into huge pipes.  The pipes then carried the soil to another plant for further processing. That’s where all “the magic” happens.

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The Dozer Mining Unit (DMU) one of the multi-million mining equipment at Base.

As we moved to other parts of the mine, I couldn’t help but notice there was no noise, no thick smoke or residue hanging on nearby trees to be honest I did not see any environmental pollution. Maybe the movies had brainwashed me on what a mine was hence my expectations. Simon and Martin explained the whole process of mining as we moved to different parts of the mine including a dam that provided water for mining operations. I also got to see how they rehabilitate the mine so that it can be used for other purposes in future.

Truth be told, there is a lot that is happening up there that is more impressive than the machines, security and safety procedures. I found a group of interns being inducted and interesting enough they are not from the high and mighty campuses in the country. For every staff I met, I knew a family was being fed. I saw a school that Base has rehabilitated and heard many other things they are doing for the community. One company cannot solve all the problems of a county but Base is doing something. The enthusiasm of its staff tells it all!

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An 8.3 Million cubic meter dam built by Base Titanium Ltd. to provide water to the mining operations. The dam also holds rain water significantly reducing the risk of floods and ensures the community has a constant supply for their domestic use.

After unwillingly handing back my safety gear, I decided to use public means back to Ukunda and the security guys were kind enough to call for me a boda boda to take me to the main road. My boda boda guy however was not enthusiastic about Base at all. He complained that it’s not giving enough jobs and building schools and hospitals was not good enough. According to the boda boda guy Base should focus on giving the community more jobs. He even said that the locals employed by Base were the ones hindering the employment of other locals. How sad. Misinformation is such a bad disease. I asked him where he would be operating from if Base hadn’t built the road we were using and he casually answered that the government would have built one. I guess the national government would also bring him clients like myself daily.

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My ride from Base. This boda boda rider had quite a lot to say about the mining company.

I resolved to plan and go back to Base for a complete tour hoping that this time I can fully digest what they are doing up there and maybe this time hitch a ride on one of the multi-million dozers. I’m sure the driver would have better stories than the boda boda guy.


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Lessons from the Land of ‘Injera’.

#SomeoneTellEthiopians thank you for the many lessons they taught me for the short time was in Addis. When I left Kenya for Addis Ababa, there were two things I was told to look out for; spices in food because of my sensitive stomach and the beautiful ladies because of my curious eyes. Neither the ladies nor my stomach disappointed.

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It was rather easy to identify me as a foreigner the first few days and for obvious reasons. I was clearly disturbed by the beauty in Addis. Thank God for a friend who affirmed my seemingly rude and remote behavior by confirming that my reaction was not unique and that soon, I too would get used to the beauty. I never thought that was possible.

Beauty was not my only disorientation. In Addis, vehicles keep right and they are all left hand driven. I cannot even count the number of times I almost got knocked down because I crossed the road looking in the wrong direction. Something else that I could not get my head around was the number of big hotels in Addis. Maybe it’s because it hosts the African Union headquarters but hotels in Addis could very well be what exhibition shops are in Nairobi. (Exaggerations mine)

It was easy to identify that Ethiopian businessmen and businesswomen are not as aggressive as their counterparts here in Kenya. I walked into shops and restaurants where the attendants just looked at me from the comfort of their counters waiting until I called out to respond. Orders were forgotten a couple of times and even took longer to be served. We actually had to walk out of some shops because the attendant did not seem as if they wanted business that day.

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The transport industry is very similar to the Kenyan one even though the PSVs and taxis in Addis are quite old. PSVs in Addis still carry excess passengers and are driven recklessly. I still feel Kenyan PSVs are still leading in recklessness and unruly road etiquette. Ethiopia might soon catch up.

The most impressive thing about Addis was how much Ethiopians love their culture. From their food, coffee, music and dressing, it was evident that Ethiopians are proud of their culture. Coming from Kenya where we have different types of food to Addis where ‘Injera’ (Ethiopian national food made from teff flour) is served daily, it took me a while to adjust. Ethiopians love to have a cup of coffee after their meal. This is not the sachet coffee that Nairobi hotels whip up when you order. Its well brewed fine tasting coffee. I don’t like coffee because it give me heartburn but the coffee in Addis is so good that it was irresistible.(I never got a heartburn.)

Ethiopians love their music! You will hear it everywhere. What was even more surprising was how much they enjoyed listening to other Ethiopian communities’ music. I have to say, even though their music eventually grows on you, there are no adequate dancing styles to their songs. For Ethiopians, the mid-section of their bodies are seriously underutilized unlike in Kenya where every part of the body moves with more special emphasis on the waist line. Ethiopians dance a lot with their head, shoulders and feet. I felt as if I was in an aerobics studio each time I got up to dance to Ethiopian music.

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Even though there are over 7 different tribes in Ethiopia, they seldom describe each other on tribal affiliation. They don’t have demeaning jokes about each other’s cultures. To them, they are one even though they are quick to admit that the ‘tribalism venom’ is beginning to creep up on them. It is very easy to assume that Ethiopians are a single culture and tribe community because they coexist so well.

I love my country Kenya. It’s a beautiful country with very rich cultures but it’s not until I saw how Ethiopians promote their culture that I realized how much we have lost in the name of modernization. There are many cultural centers across Addis where different Ethiopian communities sing and dance as they eat injera with other accompaniments including raw meat. The audience in these places – foreigners and Ethiopians alike enjoy these acts.

Ethiopia provoked me. I was inspired by the national identity the citizenry has and are proud of. They are not busy trying to keep up with the West. They try to make what they have work best for them. Ethiopians however, do have a long way to go when it comes to political, governance and freedom of expression issues. Kenya on the other hand has a long way to go to build believe and sell its own brand to the world. We have more than 42 reasons to believe in Kenya. Today, all that tourists want to see when they come to Kenya, is a Maasai Moran – and so many other communities are learning to masquerade as Maasai Morans.

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Who are we as Kenyans apart from people living in Kenya? What are the more than 42 reasons why any tourist would leave their country to come to Kenya? Better yet, what are the more than 42 reasons that you and I are proud to be Kenyans? We almost “lost” a couple of intellectual properties that we have always thought were uniquely Kenyan (Kikoy, Kiondo, Shuka etc). How much more do we need to lose before we, like the Ethiopians find what works for us as a country?

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru


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Death Announcement!

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the sad and untimely death of our dear friend, Courage. Until his death, Courage has been living in our hearts from birth. He will be joining his kin faith, hope, trust, optimism, confidence self-belief, sacrifice who passed on a while ago. Courage leaves behind fear, self-doubt, limitations, cowardice, timidity and faint-heartedness.

Kenya Liz rape victim

Courage will be remembered for energizing many hearts to keep believing even when all hope was lost. He was there when we were fighting for our independence. He made the freedom fighters intolerant of injustices that were happening at the time. It is because of him that the freedom fighters sacrificed their lives and took an oath not to relent until the generations that would come after them were free to be whoever they wanted.

Courage will also be remembered for leading men and women into fighting for democracy in Kenya. He is the one who kept them from giving up when they were tortured and humiliated for taking a stand. It was Courage that reminded these men and women what they were fighting for. He showed them that even though some would lose their lives in the process, their posterity would enjoy the fruits of a democratic country.

Courage will also be remembered for walking with individuals like the late Wangari Maathai who fought greedy and self-centered individuals and organizations that were hell bent on robbing future generations of their inheritance; a safe, clean and functional eco system. Today we enjoy the benefits of her sacrifice and our children will grow up in a clean, unpolluted environment.

Westgate heros saves child

You will remember Courage when he walked with individuals like the late John Michuki who dreamt of a safer public transport system. He put his foot down and refused to give in to pressure from the stakeholders in the sector. Today, his legacy lives on; public transport is orderly, safer and more comfortable than we could have ever imagined.

Before his demise, Courage has also been living in heroes and heroines who are still alive today. He was living in the GSU officer who chose to reason with rioters during the post-election violence period instead of using violence. Courage was at the center of the people who fought for this country to have a new constitution. He was in leaders who resigned from high positions because they did not want to be part of “the rot.” Unlike the famous “I’d rather die than resign” kind of leaders we are used to

Courage, if you can remember, has over the years put Kenya in the global map as he inspired many athletes to push themselves enough to win races and marathons. He has restored the pride we have in our country when our athletes have carried the Kenyan flag high every year. From the track to the swimming pool to the volleyball court the Kenyan flag has continued to soar.

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You too interacted with Courage a couple of times and can tell of his friendship. When you went out to demonstrate and demand justice over grabbed land, justice for rape victims and other seemingly ‘small’ injustices. You refused to keep quiet when something was not right. You let your voice be heard and when it wasn’t you, joined like-minded individuals to make it even louder. You brought the fight for justice home and into your networks, including social media. Any platform you got, you raised your voice and demanded justice. Thanks to Courage, your voice was heard, and you made a difference.

It took courage for you to wake up early that election morning to go vote for a new constitution and for a leader you believed in. You believed in the need for change and you actioned your belief. You chose leaders who had the courage to declare that they had what it would take to change the status quo. Courage made you see the benefits of your choice and you took the risk.

In his last days however, Courage lived a very lonely life. We all abandoned him and made deals with his enemies; fear and selfish ambition. We soon became cowards who only thought about themselves. We refused to respond to people who cried for our help and told ourselves that it was someone else’s responsibility. We built higher walls around our homes and around ourselves to keep people out.

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We soon joined networking forums not to offer others anything but to find out what they could offer us. We became selfishly competitive to the point of sabotaging colleagues so that we would look good. We stopped being courteous on the roads or anywhere else. Our selfishness became so severe that we started selling out our country and freedom to the highest bidder or just any bidder. We turned our back and hid our faces to injustices. We hid in our religious institutions saddened by how evil seemed to be thriving around us wondering what ill equipped simple people like ourselves could do in such times. Soon our country became the prey for terrorists, rapists thugs and land grabbers. We saw evil but shut our mouths to it and slowly Courage grew weaker and weaker.

Our leaders stopped listening to Courage. They forgot that Courage had once taught them that they were the heroes chosen by the people to fight injustices in society. They too became “crowds for hire” even at the cost of the mwananchi. They unanimously appointed a public servants who played to their tune and turned down qualified personnel that would bring the much needed change in the country. They ganged up and looted the country at any given chance.

So dear brethren, we are gathered here today to say goodbye to our departed friend. Our unsung hero who lived his latter years as a lonely, abandoned old man despite all that he helped us achieve over the years as individuals and as a country. Let us take this time to honor him by remembering all that we have lost in the demise of a dear friend, Courage.

(Moment of silence)

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru


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The Heart Ruin Run

I had not planned to attend the Mater Heart Run this year but Mr and Mrs Soxxy “coerced” me to sign up and buy the tshirt. After that there was no turning back. I had a week or so to get in shape and if you are like me and your CBD (tummy) has not been devolved yet, then you know walking or running can be quite a task. (Children, stay away from bacon it’s not from heaven.) I also managed to drag along my girlfriend Ciku hoping she would offer the much needed moral support.

Photo courtesy of @DjSoxxy

Photo courtesy of @DjSoxxy

The “run” (herein forthwith referred to as “walk”) started at around 9am. The turnout was great as the entire Nyayo stadium was painted green. In fact you couldn’t get into the stadium without having bought the t-shirt. I had an issue with that especially because you cannot force people to give to a worthy cause. That is a story for another day. To mark the beginning of our worthwhile venture we took a selfie.

Photo courest of @DjSoxxy

Photo courest of @DjSoxxy

It always feels nice and sort of rebellious to walk in the middle of road. I know that seems vain in comparison to what others do in the name of rebellion but I admit I was very tempted to start yelling “Haki yetu”! At the Uhuru Highway and Haile Selassie Avenue roundabout you could only see hundreds of green t-shirts. Most of us may have misread the objectives of the event because we never saw a single person running.

It was a beautiful sight to see children as small as three years walking hand in hand with their parents obviously distracted by the presence of many ice cream vendors. The youngest of them all was a few months old being pushed in a pram with not even a care in the world. Some parents seemed to give in to the tantrums of their children quite early while others managed to control their children’s thirst. They were not the only ones, Soxxy’s wife Anne and Ciku were beginning to rationalize the temptation as well. But not Soxxy and I. We knew why we were there. We were focused.

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The first water point was a few meters after the Kenya Railways Club. We decided it was not yet time to start drinking water. We were of course thinking like the professional walkers we had become. This water point however changed our conversation for the better part of the walk. It’s not just our conversations that changed, our mood and perception did too.

One or two bottles littered here and there didn’t raise much alarm at first but when the entire road was covered in hundreds of plastic water bottles and plastic seals then there was reason for concern. We initially rationalized the littering saying that there was a cleaning company whose contribution to the event was to collect the litter during and after the run. But soon even that thought became unsettling.

The first thing we noticed was that most of the bottles that had been thrown away still had a lot of water. We began to ask ourselves why anyone would take a sip or two and then throw away the rest. Was it because water was readily available or was it because the 300ml bottle of water was too heavy for them carry? Was it because most of us took two or more bottles only to realize later that we weren’t that thirsty after all? Whatever the reasoning, it was very inconsiderate and wasteful of us.

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The other thing we noticed, was that at all the water points, there were huge dustbins availed for obvious reasons. Most of us did not even notice them. We grabbed the water, broke the seal, dumped it, drunk the water and disposed the bottles wherever we deemed fit. Why would we leave garbage bins behind only to go litter a few meters away? How much time would it have taken us to open the seal and dispose it appropriately in the provided bins? How long would it have taken us to drink up the 300ml water and then disposed the bottles in the bins before proceeding with the walk? How heavy were the bottles that we couldn’t carry them to the next water point and dispose them properly?

Our conclusion was, there is a huge problem. We are not a responsible people. The run helps to raise funds to cover expenses for heart operations for deserving children. This is by all means a noble and worthwhile cause and everyone should support it. While we are engaged in changing the lives of these young ones, we also need to think about their future and ours too. What will become of our home if we don’t take care of the environment?

Someone once said we only have one earth and there is no planet B. There were many parents who by littering in the presence of their children unknowingly taught them a lesson that will probably take years to unlearn. Indeed, children learn what they live. The same applies for the parents who saw their children litter and never reprimanded them carefully explaining to them the need to conserve our environment.

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For the rest of us who knew what we were doing and still went ahead and littered, our case is sad. It’s even sadder for those of us who thought that there was a cleaning company whose sole responsibility was to clean up after we had intentionally littered. When will we realize that this is our home? When will we wake up to the fact that there is no backup environment “saved” somewhere that we can revert to?

It is presumptuous and wrong for us to think that it is someone else’s work to take care of our environment. It is my responsibility and yours to make sure that as far as we are concerned we have done our bit to take care of our environment. Only then can we point a finger on our leaders when they don’t do their bit. So we did save a child through the run on Saturday, but by ruining the environment that child will grow up in we ruined the same heart we ran to save.

We set out to be part of a big vision and we ended up being part of an even bigger vision. The Mater Heart run taught us what really matters. Now it’s up to you and I to run with the vision of saving as many children as we possibly can be also taking care of the environment that will be their home and that of their children’s children.

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru


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Noah Floods; Kenya Edition

This past week got me worried on many levels. I was in traffic longer than I was in the office due to the heavy downpour. None of my leaders, from the president, governor or any of my leaders apologized for holding me hostage. None of them even went to see the damage the rain caused residents in South C (sea). Many people slept in their cars, had their property destroyed, kids traumatized and still had to go to work and school the following morning.

Almost a week gone by, have we seen anything done to ensure such a mess never recurs? Has the County Government written or produced a Public Service Announcement on which routes to avoid or general movement order if it rains that heavily again? Has the County and the country been sensitized on possible disease outbreaks? Have we considered the most at risk populations if the floods persist? Do we have an evacuation or resettlement plan for people in these risk areas that also includes people with disability?

Does my government only respond to mass deaths and huge catastrophes? Why wasn’t a helpdesk set-up to assist those who lost lives, those who were traumatized or those seeking affirmation and reassurance about their next move? Why were there no appeals for clothes, blankets and food stuff for the affected? Why was there no #WeAreOne hashtags trending that night? What about the visits to the affected homes by politician albeit for PR?

Why was there no declaration of a public holiday to allow Kenya’s workforce time to rest? Why were there no free ambulances sent out around Nairobi or better yet choppers to make sure that anyone who needed emergency medical assistance or evacuation was not stranded? What message did we tell all those Kenyans who were affected in one way or the other about their value to this country?

I am very fortunate and blessed to work for an organization that values me. I was getting calls as late as 3am from my line managers asking me if I am safe and if I needed assistance. We were actually advised to work from the house the following day and to avoid unnecessary movement until “normalcy” returned in the city. Am I not lucky? (Asking with the tone of the girl who recited a poem for the Dep. President)

Photo courtesy of www.hekaheka.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.hekaheka.com

How many others were unlucky that evening? How many Kenyans only got home to shower, dress up and go back to work after spending the entire night in traffic? How many Kenyans went to work for fear of losing their jobs but their minds were at home wondering where they would sleep that night? How many home owners went to work to please their bosses but deep within they were crumbling because of the millions they had invested in the now “sewage infested” homes or the trauma the little ones underwent inside their submerged school bus

What would we have lost as country had we paused to show solidarity with the affected families? Imagine the sense of patriotism Kenyans would have because they felt valued enough by their country. We don’t have to wait for terrorists to attack and lives to be lost for us to show each other that we care. At that moment a mother needed time to compensate the time she was away from her children. Some children needed to recover from the trauma of being trapped for more than 10 hours the middle of nowhere.

Workers needed time to rest and rejuvenate their strength so that they can deliver at work as expected instead of going to work the same morning they got home. The greatest investment a nation has is its people and the greatest investment the people have is their bodies. Many of us were cold, hungry, tired, frustrated and anxious for hours on end. Surely I must mean something to my country. Am not a robot!

God forbid but had there been a terror attack on those congested roads at 3a.m we would have heard from the President and our leaders. But we were alone like sheep without a shepherd in the forest. None of our leaders found a way to reaffirm and console us. We all huddled together in the rain, at petrol stations and food joints yawning and shivering at the same time.

Your silence, my leaders was the loudest statement you have ever made. You missed an opportunity to unite us. You missed a chance to validate our choice when we voted for you. You broke most us. The Next time it rains that heavily we will follow your leadership. Every one of us will run to save themselves not caring about their neighbor or anyone else.

All I wanted to hear that night (and morning) from my president and his leaders was that I would be fine and that you Mr. President were doing everything in your power to ensure my safety regardless of where I was. The County Governor’s statement came in a tad too late, in the morning. A friend joked that Nguata Francis’ job was in danger since the Governor’s statement read like it was from the Weatherman.

These are the seemingly small things that build or break a nation.

The bigger question however remains, “Have we both the government and the citizens learnt our lesson, are we better prepared for next time”? Only time (and rain) will tell.

Editing by Wanjiku Kimaru


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In God’s Name

A lot has been done in Kenya in the name of God. The other day, a pastor in Machakos is said to have been caught praying for naked women in the middle of the night, as if clothes have been known to hinder answers to prayers. In the name of God, a group of gun blazing youths recently left an entire nation wounded and 148 promising Kenyans dead.

This is not the first time “shameful” activities are done in the name of God.These days, the miracles promised in the Holy Books to anyone who believes, are now on sale on the pulpit, in parks and in buses. In pursuit of these seemingly elusive and expensive miracles, many a people have sold their shambas and other possessions only to be robbed of the hope that put them on that journey. Others have in the name of God refused to take their children to school for education or to hospital for treatment. The list is endless.

Christianity isn’t the only religion that has had its fair share of challenges in the name of God. Our Muslim friends are now looking for ways to deal with the radicalization of the younger Muslim generation into religious militias that have seen Kenya lose many lives, the recent Garissa attacks still fresh in our minds. We have seen Mosques turn into battle grounds as the police raid and disband suspects hiding inside the mosque.

Religion is personal maybe that explains why most people are very defensive when it comes to matters religion. But does that mean we ought to turn the other way when religious injustices are going on unchecked? Where do we draw the line? Do we have to wait for lives to be lost for us to act? Do we have to wait until an entire generation has been radicalized before we say its needs to stop? Or an adherent who will not take his children for immunization and chases away health officers? What must happen for us to start talking about the danger of “unchecked religion?”

What can you and I do anyway? I believe the answer lies in very uncomfortable quarters -cleaning up our places of worship. Christians already have a perfect example on how to clean their places of worship. Jesus once went into the temple and chased out the people who were doing the wrong business in the temple. Our places of worship, just like during Jesus’ days, have become “A den of thieves.”

Pakistani Muslims Form Human Chain To Protect Christians During Mass. (Photo: www.huffingtonpost.com)

Pakistani Muslims Form Human Chain To Protect Christians During Mass. (Photo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com)

The government has intimated that they want to start regulating religious institutions. My suggestion is we do it ourselves; if we don’t and the government authorities do so, I guarantee you there will be an uproar. We will feel as though our holy places are being intruded by outsiders and most likely we will be up in arms.

I believe the religious umbrella bodies like the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and Supreme Council of Muslims (SUPKEM) need to be empowered especially by the religious groups they represent to play a more active role-in monitoring what happens in their respective groups. These umbrella bodies also need to have powers to shut down religious institutions that do not adhere to their code of conduct.

There should be registration procedure put in place before one is allowed to start a church. All activities happening in the Churches, temples and Mosques should be privy to their umbrella bodies. If any doctrine is being taught in any religious institution that is not in line with the Holy Books, action should be taken against that institution. This way, the government authorities will only need to deal with the religious bodies as they do with unions.

Religious leaders will need to do what they preach and be humble enough to submit to their umbrella bodies just as the congregants submit to them. Their finances need to be audited by an independent professional auditing company. This way, if any activity is noted in a religious institution that is questionable, the umbrella body will be asked to account for them. If that institution is not registered then the government can close down the institution and take legal action against them. If it is registered then the government deals with umbrella body who in turn takes action against the individual institution that is “out of line”.

Muslims pray while Christians form a protective human chain around them in Nigeria's capital Abuja, January 10, 2012. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotund

Muslims pray while Christians form a protective human chain around them in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, January 10, 2012. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotund

Sadly (and God forbid), if status quo remains and we don’t put some controls to our religious institutions. Religious intolerance will soon soar and cause religious institutions to form militia groups to “protect” themselves from the other religion or fellow religious institutions. Worse still, religious leaders might start aligning themselves with political leaders who promise them “protection” once they are in power.

Pirelli, the world’s fifth largest tyre manufacturer have a slogan, “Power is nothing without control” and a common phrase from the Spiderman movie is “With great power comes great responsibility.” Friends, our religion and our faith need to be checked for our own good. The latter (faith) is personal responsibility. You and I have the great responsibility (are mandated) to live our lives as the Holy Books we subscribe to dictate.

Libraries are a great resource to help us add knowledge and complement our education. Spending time in the library reading is beneficial to our education but it does not guarantee passing exams. In the same way, Churches, Mosques and other religious facilities are just aids to complement our faith. Regular attendance helps us increase our spiritual knowledge but these institutions should never replace personal devotion and effort required to grow our own faith.

Power is nothing without control and with great power comes great responsibility.

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru


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Kenya Bowed.

“Kenya Unbowed!” “We Are One” and “#147NotJustANumber” were some of the headlines during the Easter weekend after the terror attack in Garissa that led to the loss of over 147 lives. Yes, one hundred and forty seven young and promising lives. This was the saddest Easter season in the history of this country.

weareone.co.ke

Photo courtesy of http://www.weareone.co.ke

The same disaster that brought this nation to its knees also made Kenyans and the world over take a stand in solidarity with the victims. I am sure that is a card the selfish terrorist had not thought about. Kenyans donated blood, gave foodstuffs and offered counseling to the victims and their families for days. The social media went viral as the world over condemned the attacks. In anger, images of the slain terrorists went viral and so did the photos of Kenya’s security elite squad, Recce as they put to an end the standoff at the university.

The Garissa attack is still a very sensitive issue to the affected families and Kenyans at large, however there is need to pause and reflect on how we are handling the entire situation. I love the fact that we are very resilient as a nation. We have an extra ordinary drive to pick ourselves up and continue with our lives. This is a good thing but only if we learn from our mistakes.

So, was Kenya really unbowed that weekend? Are we unbowed today? Who said we are unbowed? Is it the victims of the attack, their families or the rest of the country? Who wasn’t on their knees that weekend? Whose heart wasn’t shattered as the number of deaths increased every hour? Who did not pray that terrorists would burn alive without the option of death? Who did not wish that they had certain supernatural powers to rescue the innocent university students? Then how is it that our headlines were “Kenya Unbowed?”

kenyan-families

Photo courtesy of http://www.cctv-africa.com

I cringed at the thought of what the students experienced that early morning; terror, panic and confusion with nowhere to run for hours!Calling your parents and hearing their voices for the last time, soaking yourself in a pool of blood so that you can appear dead when the terrorist walk on your throat, hiding in the closet and under the bed for hours and hours on end, kneeling waiting for your turn to be shot as bodies drop one by one next to you, gathering the courage to save yourself and running because your life depended on it. Unbowed? We are One?

Parents must have been looking forward to see their children during the Easter season or at least hear from them. Some parents had taken loans to take their children to the university; a sacrifice worth making. Some parents had exhausted their lifetime savings so that their kids would have a chance of a better life. Their children were full of dreams and vigor to change their lives and that of their country. A phone call from the terrorist as they mercilessly shot the students is not human in anyway. Those parents will never forget the screams of their children or the voice of the terrorists. Some will forever blame themselves for taking their children to the institution. Kenya Unbowed?

How dare you and I say how unbowed we are? What do we know about pain and terror?  Many parents would not even identify their own children’s bodies because they were disfigured while others will have to live with a traumatized child without an idea of what they can do end the misery. How many of the victims have contemplated suicide maybe that would stop the nightmares they have in broad day light? Do we still think Kenya is Unbowed?

Let’s not forget that the terrorists had families too. They were born and nurtured by a mother and father somewhere. They grew up within a family of brothers and sisters who will forever suffer for the selfish actions of their siblings. Their parents are hurting too. We all probably think it’s their fault that their children turned out to be terrorist but they too are in as much pain probably even more because the flesh of their flesh went against everything they sacrificed for them to take innocent lives. They too need comforting and validation that it’s not their fault. Imagine what the look on people’s eyes and their whispers are doing the terrorists families? No one is telling their story, they too are victims but do we think they are unbowed?

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Photo Courtesy of http://www.behance.net

What about the leadership of the country? Are they unbowed? I am sure our leaders are all too familiar with the security situation in the country but none of them ever thought it would cost the country so much. Neither did you and I. We are a nation in pain. A nation with so many questions. A helpless nation not hopeless but helpless. Helpless that we cannot turn back the hands of time and save the young lives that we lost that morning. Helpless that no matter what we say or do even though important, will never bring back the lost lives. Nothing we can ever offer compares to the loss these families experienced. The lives of the survivors will never be the same again. They will forever bear wounds and scars that only eternity can heal, if it is meant to.

So dear brothers and sisters, we are not unbowed. Far from it. We are crippled by pain and questions. We are on our knees. Our hearts are full of anger, hate and we cry for vengeance. We are bowed. But just for now. Tomorrow beckons. Even though we are wounded and have lost so much, tomorrow brings hope. This hope however needs not to be a false sense of calm. This hope should be a promise to our country that never again will we (citizens and the government alike) leave our posts unattended. This hope dictates that You and I become vigilant to secure our own future by securing our country.

We are bowed. Yet we rise. We rise.

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru