Articles Tagged Life & Society

Jan 03, 2021
Let’s go back to school – but let’s do it differently, please

After a blighted year, the children are going back to school in 2021. Never before have so many youngsters stayed away from school for so long. The pandemic year should be seen as a petri dish in which we conducted a long experiment about the nature of education. The results are in – and there […]

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Dec 27, 2020
The real lesson of 2020 is about your mother

My last column of 2019 was about respecting nature. Little did I know then what the natural world was about to unleash on us in 2020. But I did know this: “Each and every day, a beautiful sunrise occurs. The birds strike up their orchestra to herald another day. The light streams through the leaves; […]

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Dec 20, 2020
As this unusual year ends, let go of the search for more

I recently gathered some of the alumni of the leadership programme I founded, to reflect on this craziest of years. My question to them in this virtual congregation was this: yes, we were all caught napping by the pandemic; yes, we all achieved some remarkable business pivots; but what are the lasting lessons of this […]

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Dec 13, 2020
The man with the hammer is about to disturb you

The man with the hammer is ready to start work. He is employed on a construction site. His job is to attach metal sheets to steel girders. It is a very noisy job. A high-decibel racket is about to ensue. The site is on a quiet residential road in Nairobi. The time is 12 midnight […]

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Dec 06, 2020
Let’s record the heroes of the global pandemic

When there’s a crisis on, sometimes you just have to laugh out loud.  The best cartoon I have seen depicting the pandemic situation (by Arghxsel) showed a hungry wolf facing a herd of sheep, and looking perplexed. “You know that I am a wolf,” he asks the sheep. “Why won’t you run away?” Because “there […]

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Nov 29, 2020
Stand up to be counted during this global crisis

There’s a global pandemic on, for crying out loud. I say this because some of us seem not to understand the gravity of the situation. Some of us seem to regard this thing as a minor irritation, a temporary encumbrance, to be ignored or wished away, so that something called “business as usual” can continue. […]

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Nov 22, 2020
Why the pandemic won’t kill globalization

A Brazilian visitor uses his Uber app to hail a Toyota taxi in Nairobi.  You watch a German series on Netflix, sitting on your Kenyan sofa, using a Korean TV, while eating takeout food from a local restaurant, ordered via a delivery app. Which country benefits from these various transactions? All of them.  The coronavirus […]

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Nov 15, 2020
We are at our best when we give without receiving

Amidst the drama of the US presidential election last week, a significant development may have escaped your notice. The Fox News Channel turned on candidate Trump. Fox News and Donald Trump have been kindred spirits for a long time. Fox’s anchors and opinion leaders have supported Trump through thick and thin, backing him to the […]

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Oct 25, 2020
The two deadly viruses working with corona

The coronavirus is the worst virus most of us have encountered in our lifetimes. It has killed more than a million people worldwide; it has brought entire economies to their knees; it has changed the everyday lives of billions. Even as we thought we had a grip on it and managed it and flattened its […]

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Oct 04, 2020
Which way for the university degree?

It’s almost an article of faith: if you want your children to be something in this world, you have to do your level best to get them a university degree. That’s how we’ve been brought up; that’s how we’ve all been pushed by our parents and teachers; those are the standards we’ve set for ourselves […]

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Sep 06, 2020
How the virus masked and unmasked us

Face-masks? Who apart from a few knew about them before 2020? Now they are a daily necessity, a wardrobe item. Most of us may think we never put on a mask before this pandemic, but actually we did. I refer not to the triple-layer protection we now sport, but to the masks humans wear by […]

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Aug 16, 2020
How I travelled around the world in a pandemic

A confession: I have been travelling far and wide in 2020, even though there is a global pandemic on.  For example, even as that city locked down amidst one of the most challenging periods of its history, I was in New York, in the company of a troubled teenager who went on a 48-hour drinking […]

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Jul 19, 2020
We are in this mess because of our assaults on nature

Before 2020 I did not, I am ashamed to admit, really know what a virus was. I knew a little bit, certainly. I knew that viruses are bugs that seem to come out of nowhere; I knew that they cause some terrible diseases; I knew that antibiotics don’t work on them and we really just […]

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Jun 21, 2020
My 900th column: notes from a pandemic

A few months into the lockdowns and slowdowns caused by a pandemic, perhaps we should pause. This is my 900th column for the Sunday Nation, so let me commemorate the occasion by sharing some personal reflections from my own experience of recent reversals; of isolation and distancing; and of thinking about the world to come. […]

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Jun 14, 2020
Use the pandemic to seek the best version of you

People really reveal themselves in a crisis, and the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most challenging global situations in human history. The health crisis has morphed into an economic cataclysm. And it will reveal who we really are. When times are good, we can all look amiable and generous. When times are bad, whatever […]

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May 03, 2020
To be ready for the new normal, start working on these 3 things

9/11. Most people know what those numbers mean. On September 11, 2001, a series of unprecedented terror attacks took place right on American soil. Four passenger airliners were commandeered by terrorists; three of them were deliberately crashed into buildings. As you would imagine, air travel volumes plummeted, throwing airlines into crisis. But after a raft […]

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Apr 19, 2020
Here comes the Low-Touch, High-Friction world

So many of us feel imprisoned in our own homes, staring at the same walls, missing contact with others, tired of dealing with family issues. So many of us are just waiting to be told that the coronavirus pandemic is over, that lockdowns and shutdowns are over, and that we can burst out into the […]

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Apr 05, 2020
This problem is everyone’s problem

We are, all of us in the world, deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some more than others, though. Consider a first group. The members of this small but privileged category fled to safety once the dangers of the coronavirus were clear. They were the first to work from home, because they can. They have […]

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Mar 15, 2020
Three reflections on the coronavirus

The coronavirus has upended the world. A few tiny dudus that seem to have emerged from a market in China have taken over our daily discourse. One country (Italy) is in complete lockdown; many others will have to follow. Wherever you look, airports are empty; airplanes are grounded; hotels, malls, stadia and public squares are […]

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Mar 01, 2020
Your calendar reveals who you are

Time, we can all agree, is really precious. We have very little of it; and we don’t know how much. So where do we expend it? Let me continue the discussion about the time of our lives, begun here last week. As time marches on, and when we have had our fill of trying stuff […]

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Feb 23, 2020
Are you still answering the phone all day long?

If a telephone is ringing, it must answered. If you are of a certain generation or earlier, that was just a fact of life. The phone rang, we answered it. Did we want to receive the call right then? Were we expecting it? Did we feel like talking to a random person? Were we busy […]

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Feb 02, 2020
Focus on your three feet of influence

It can all seem too much. Perhaps you have problems in your extended family. Perhaps people are squabbling, disagreeing, agitating. You do your best to intervene, but there are entrenched positions and big egos in play. Old grievances are being nurtured. You want this to end, but there are too many variables. It feels easier […]

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Jan 19, 2020
How will you use your new superpower?

Your landline telephone. Your fax machine. Your dictation machine. Calculator. Watch. Timer. Notebook. Filing cabinet. Calendar. Music player. Camera. Photo album. Map. Alarm clock. Key. Newspaper. Scanner. Camera. Library. Dictionary. Encyclopedia. Translator. Weather forecaster. Wallet. Flashlight. In 2010, I wrote here that the future of your business would be in the palm of your hand. […]

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Jan 05, 2020
Do you shoulder blame, or dodge it?

Perhaps you know the old joke: there are two types of people in the world – those who believe in dividing people into two types, and those who don’t… For the purposes of today, this columnist becomes one of the first type.  What happens when things go wrong around you, mishaps occur, problems arise? When […]

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Dec 29, 2019
Are you honouring your mother, or defacing her?

There is nothing more awe-inspiring, breathtaking or majestic on this planet than nature itself. Nothing created by humankind even compares. All our achievements – the targets we hit, the numbers we clock, the reports we file –  are mere pastimes. They don’t touch the soul.  All our material wealth, our accumulated riches and trinkets, our […]

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Dec 22, 2019
Those who lead for the few cause perpetual turmoil

Every so often you have to look at the world around you and wonder what on earth is wrong with human beings. There seems to be turmoil everywhere. Massive public demonstrations, often turning violent, are occurring in every corner. Hong Kong, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Lebanon, Spain, Iran, Iraq, India, Thailand – is that a long […]

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Dec 15, 2019
Education needs a reboot

Last week’s column about the ‘Education Express’ raised some questions – and some eyebrows. I made the case, obliquely, that our education system is in severe need of an overhaul. It functions like an old-fashioned train service: it runs the same way it has for decades on end; it runs on fixed tracks; and not […]

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Dec 08, 2019
Welcome aboard the Education Express, kid…

Hurry up, kid, don’t look so nonchalant. You nearly missed the train – and that would have been catastrophic for you. You must take this very, very seriously. Your entire life is at stake. I am your ticket inspector. Show me your ticket, please… Very good. It seems you have been getting good grades so […]

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