Articles Tagged Life & Society

Feb 19, 2006
It’s crunch time for Kenya

This is indeed our “moment of truth”. For every nation, every organisation, every individual, there comes a time when the brutal facts must be faced squarely. That time is here for Kenya. We will either deal with this truth bravely and resolutely; or we will acquiesce again and fall into another decade of stagnation. John […]

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Jan 01, 2006
The people found their voice in 2005

Today is New Year’s Day, 2006. It is therefore very unlikely that you are reading this article early this Sunday morning. If you are like most Kenyans with money to spend, you will be nursing a hangover and treating a stomach-ache this morning, after a night of revelry. If you do manage to pick up […]

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Dec 25, 2005
Religious festivals have lost their meaning

Three important religious festivals came together at the close of this year: Eid-ul-Fitr, Diwali and Christmas. Today is Christmas Day; Eid and Diwali fell together a few weeks ago. Most Kenyans, therefore, have been in celebratory mode at year’s end. But what is it we celebrate, and what does it mean for us in our […]

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Dec 11, 2005
Save Kenya from this killer drunkenness

George Best was laid to rest last week. Arguably the most talented footballer ever produced by the British Isles, he was accorded a hero’s funeral in his native Northern Ireland. Tens of thousands braved the cold and the rain to pay their last respects. Soccer luminaries such as Sir Alex Ferguson and Sven-Goran Eriksson were […]

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Nov 10, 2005
Recapturing a society based on values

Talk given to Rotary Club of Nairobi, 10 November 2005 Ladies and Gentlemen Thank you very much indeed for inviting me here. It is a privilege to address such an array of learned and accomplished people. Because you are learned and accomplished, you might agree that at some point in the process of learning, accomplishing […]

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Nov 06, 2005
Keep the economic good news coming

A reader of this column wrote to me recently and suggested that its title be changed to ‘A Cloudy Day’! Why? Because I apparently dish out too much of a mental battering on Sundays, which are for picnics and relaxation. Easy, guys. I’m no pessimist; if I were, I would not bother to write this […]

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Nov 01, 2005
Needed: a politician-proof economy

It’s nearly over. When the counting is done, we will know whether Kenya voted ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for a new constitution. The absurd campaigns, the squandering of billions on hot air and empty rhetoric will come to an end, and we must thank heaven for that. Until the next time. Meanwhile, a strange thing was […]

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Oct 30, 2005
What we must learn from exam fiasco

You all know what happened. The students who were sitting the KCSE Mathematics paper earlier this week were subjected to something unforgivable. Two tables were in the wrong places in the paper; a third was missing altogether. Most of us have sat through public examinations at some stage in our lives; most of us remember […]

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Oct 02, 2005
Is your life an elaborate hoax?

The Matrix movies are a Hollywood phenomenon. The three films generated US$ 1.6 billion at the box office across the world. At one level, they can be viewed as routine Hollywood blockbuster stuff: eye-popping special effects; infantile chases and fights; the regular titanic battles between good and evil. Standard teenager fare. Yawn, say ye of […]

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Oct 01, 2005
Big Bad ‘B’: The BOLLYWOODIFICATION of our Lives

Bollywood: the world’s most energetic film industry. Every year, it churns out more than a thousand movies, sells more than 3 billion tickets and generates well over 1 billion dollars in revenue. Bollywood: home of some of the greatest movies made anywhere in the world. Surendra Kumar, India’s current High Commissioner in Kenya, is a […]

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Sep 25, 2005
The real lesson of Hurricane Katrina

Katrina, a maximum-strength Category 5 hurricane, hit the USA’s Gulf Coast a few weeks ago and wreaked unprecedented havoc. By now you all know the numbers: thousands missing, possibly dead; half a million people displaced; a projected total cost of US$ 200 billion (16 times Kenya’s GDP, if you’re counting); and an estimated half a […]

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Sep 18, 2005
Yes or No – Kenyans will lose

Ah, we love our campaigns, don’t we! Look at the energy with which our politicians are racing across the country, caps, T-shirts and posters in hand. Look at the enthusiasm with which the crowds are turning out to brandish bananas and ogle oranges. There is only one conversation taking place in Kenya today: are you […]

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Sep 04, 2005
The package is now the product

Mike Tyson was once the world’s most feared boxer. In a remarkable period from 1985 to 1989, he annihilated all comers and was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. From 1990 onwards, unfortunately, Tyson began devoting himself to a life of excess. During one 33-month period in the 1990s, he is believed to have […]

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Jul 31, 2005
Basic freedoms are not negotiable

Nairobi was in chaos again last week. Activists marched to parliament. The police clobbered them. Tear gas and water cannon were used indiscriminately. Thugs and idlers took the opportunity to break into shops and help themselves to goodies. The capital city came to a standstill. Businesspeople counted their losses. Investors looked away. Some things never […]

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Jul 24, 2005
Loss of language hurts everyone

Languages are lost for many reasons. Some go as people give up isolated lives and pastimes and aggregate into larger, more integrated communities. Others become extinct as the result of invasions: the widespread colonisations of the 18th and 19th centuries, for example, resulted in the loss of hundreds of indigenous tongues. Today, globalisation is leading […]

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Jul 10, 2005
Why I didn’t watch Live 8

The Live 8 concerts were held last week – 10 concerts staged simultaneously around the world, to put pressure on the leaders of the world’s 8 richest countries to tackle poverty in Africa. The event has been judged a wild success: over a million people attended the concerts in person; as many as two billion […]

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Apr 17, 2005
Why insecurity is Problem Number 1

Insecurity will be our undoing. If there is a single thing that stands in the way of economic growth and development, it is the fact that violent crime is out of control. If a populace does not feel safe then there is no future. It’s really as simple as that. It doesn’t really matter what […]

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Mar 06, 2005
Without values all will be lost

Watching Kenyan television news is a depressing pastime these days. After a few days’ continuous intake, thoughts of hibernation, or worse, migration, tend to grip the sensitive soul. Why is the country in such a pathetic state? Who is at fault? Why do we all seem to hate each other? Why are we all shouting? […]

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Mar 01, 2005
Kenya ‘Damu’?

Awaaz has done a great deal to set the record straight about South Asians in Kenya. For too long, we were the ‘in-betweens’, the ‘unmentionables’ who were expected to know their ‘place’ (the duka). Eloquently, methodically, Awaaz has been filling in the missing gaps in Kenya’s modern history. Its achievement cannot be overrated, and it […]

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Feb 27, 2005
Our diversity is our strength

You don’t need to be a biologist to know that biodiversity is a good thing. A multiplicity of species of plants and animals on our planet increases everyone’s chances of survival. Genetic variety matters a great deal: it ensures that there are always organisms on the planet that can cope with seismic or climatic upheavals. […]

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Jan 23, 2005
Education begins in the home

Last week, we looked at the quantity aspect of education in Kenya – how many get through the system. This week, let’s talk quality – let’s take a trip inside the classrooms to find out what those little boys and girls are being taught. We all know that most of our children are being educated […]

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Jan 16, 2005
Tragedy of education by numbers

After 30 years of neglect, 6,000 rats were reportedly killed at Wakulima Market recently, with another 6,000 allowed to escape. After 30 years of neglect, our education system now annually allows 350,000 children to proceed to secondary education. Another 350,000 are told “Sorry, house full”. Why am I comparing our children to rats? Because as […]

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Jan 09, 2005
Let Tsunami teach us something big

On Boxing Day 2004, the word “tsunami” was imprinted on our collective consciousness forever. The sea, exploited and polluted by mankind for aeons, bit back. On that day, we finally understood the cruelty that nature is capable of. The giant waves came crashing in all over the Indian Ocean, destroying everything in their path. The […]

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Jan 02, 2005
Kenya must get its act together in 2005

How does a country develop? Much in the same way a successful company does. First, a few visionary men and women get together and think deeply about what they want the country to be and stand for. Then, they define the common values that hold the country together as a nation. Next, some specific, measurable […]

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Jan 01, 2005
Time to rethink our approach to job creation

What comes first: jobs or economic growth? Put another way, should we create jobs directly, so as to inject purchasing power into the economy and stimulate growth? Or should we put the right conditions in place to enable the economy to grow, and let more jobs be a desirable by-product? It was lack of clarity […]

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Dec 05, 2004
Time to think calmly about health

Professor Jeffrey Sachs was in town this week and, as usual, he made waves. Our health minister’s much-debated, much-maligned NSHIF Bill was listing dangerously, having been breached below the water-line by employers, employees, hospitals, insurers and actuaries. Just as it was about to capsize, the famous professor came to its rescue. He praised it in […]

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Nov 07, 2004
Prodigals abroad can transform this land

Ngugi wa Thiong’o is Kenya’s best-known literary figure. He is a novelist, playwright and essayist of worldwide repute. He is a professor of English and Literature, and has held positions in leading American institutions. He is the winner of an array of literary prizes. Prof. wa Thiong’o chooses not to live in Kenya. Ali Mazrui […]

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Oct 31, 2004
Beware the lure of the ad-man

You are asked to believe some remarkable things these days: that a foodstuff can “give your children the confidence to face the future”; that a toothpaste will make very attractive members of the opposite sex flock around you in helpless abandon; that once you buy a certain type of life assurance you are protected from […]

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