The enormous turnip.

I recently read a traditional folk tale which I believe can be used

Successfully on lessons in leadership, teambuilding and influencing skills in training. What struck me most about this tale is how one can easily relate to it, the fact that in our daily walk, we tend to look at those that aren’t so outspoken, are shy or not overly active as people we can do without. I hope this tale will help you realize never to underestimate the mice in our team. It might be that their weight is just enough to tip the balance.


 The enormous turnip.

Once upon a time, an old man planted a little turnip seed, and said,

‘Grow, grow little turnip, grow sweet and strong.’

And sure enough the turnip grew up sweet and strong –and big- and bigger and ENORMOUS.

     One day the old man decided that it was time to pull up the turnip. He pulled, and pulled and tagged and tagged, but it would not shift. He called to the old woman, ‘Old woman, come and help me pull up this turnip. ‘

    The old woman got hold of the old man and the old man pulled the turnip, but to no avail. They still could not pull it up. So the old woman called to her granddaughter, ‘Grand daughter she said, ‘come and help me pull up this turnip up

The granddaughter got hold of the old woman, the old woman got hold of the old man and the old man pulled the turnip. They tagged and heaved but still the turnip did not move.

The granddaughter called to the black dog, ‘Black dog, come and help us to pull this turnip up’.

The black dog got hold of the granddaughter, the granddaughter got hold of the old woman, the old woman got hold of the old man and the old man pulled the turnip. But no luck -the turnip remained just where it was

The black dog called the cat ‘Cat, come and help us pull this turnip up.’

The cat got hold of the black dog, the black dog got hold of the grand daughter, the granddaughter got hold of the old woman, the old woman got hold of the old man and the old man pulled the turnip. But still they had no success. ‘Well, said the cat as they all tried to get their breath back

’the only thing left is to call the mouse.’

‘’The MOUSE?’’’ the others exclaimed, ‘what good would he do, he is so small’

Nevertheless the cat called the mouse,’’mouse, will you come and help us pull this turnip up?’’

The mouse got hold of the cat, the cat got hold of the black dog, the black dog got hold of the granddaughter, the granddaughter got hold of the old woman, the old woman got hold of the old man and the old man pulled the turnip.

POP.’-out came the turnip at last.

And so that night they all enjoyed a delicious meal of turnip and the mouse sat at the head of the table.


 GLORIA MWANIGA                    


                         THE END



She stood at the doctor’s,


Hands folding and unfolding,

Small beads of sweat’

 Breaking from her well powdered forehead.

She already knew the answer,

But that did not keep the anxiety away,

After all, its doctors who talked of,

 Second and third, opinions.

She heard the lab door creak open.

Just as her heart split open,

And the doctor’s broad smile spoke volumes.

‘Well, allow me to be the first to congratulate,

The newest, youngest, mother in town’.

She held her chair and leaned on the wall,

She needed all the support she could get,


If tears were medicine, she could have produced litres.

She was,

After all, just fourteen,

And worse still,

It was her first time,

Her very first time.

She thought of all,

She could have been,

All she had wanted to be

And all that she would never be.

All her dreams,

Her dreams of a decade and a half

All being erased,



In just one day,

One hour,

A few minutes

Of a passion let loose.

If only she had listed,

To the boring teachers and their advice on sex

If only she had not shut out,

Her youth pastor and his crazy talk on abstinence

Or the wise man,

When he said not to arouse love, till it so desires

Then maybe,

She’d still be excited about the prospect of joining a university    one day,

And maybe,

Shed still be cherishing her fantasies

Of a stable marriage, and kids.

And giving herself to only one,

The one.

Kenya, a Working or Speaking Nation?

Of president Kibaki’s 48th Madaraka day Speech.
The reason I like listening to president Kibaki speak, and especially on development issues is because he has a deep economics background and so I keep telling myself that his isn’t just a written speech but an intellectual sharing on the economic situation in Kenya and in the world at large.
I was just about to leave the supermarket today at around 12.40pm when a statement in the president’s speech caught my ear and I decided to stay in and listen to the rest of his speech.
He, definitely addressed different issues affecting the country and in my opinion, most of them lie within the eight areas addressed in the millennium development goals ’M.D.G ‘s namely education, healthcare, poverty, H.I.V among other issues.
Of great interest to me were the issues of the rising cost of living, the escalating food and fuel prices and youth unemployment.
On the escalating fuel prices, he said that the government is trying to curb this by zero rating the tax on paraffin and reducing the tax on diesel which in the short term is a good plan. The long term measures on the same include encouraging more investors to venture into the fuel market to increase competition and hence reduce monopoly and its effects. This, to me is a good move if the price wars in the communications industry are anything to go by. Use of alternative sources of power like geothermal, solar and wind power and having oil reserves are also great measures if they are to be implemented.
On food and their prices, the president said that the government was working towards establishing a grain reserve that has a capacity to store 8 million bags of maize which to me is an over-delayed measure since this was to be expected with the global climate changes, draught predictions and the ever increasing population.
Boosting of agriculture was another method that the government planned to use to solve the food situation in the country. The president mentioned that they would set aside 3.8 billion Kenyan shillings for purchase of fertilizers and 4 million for buying seeds, also the government will help farmers put up fishponds to increase diversity in productivity. Another important mention was that Kenya as a country would no longer depend on rain fed agriculture but that we would take up irrigation and dam construction so as not to be inconvenienced during draught seasons.

On youth unemployment, the president mentioned that he was fully aware that this was a serious issue that was being addressed through measures like the kazi kwa vijana initiative and the development funds set aside for youth, the president then commended the youth who over the years had taken the initiative to create employment not only for themselves but for others by beginning their own businesses. He specifically recognized the boda boda people who provide the much needed transport in areas that are inaccessible to other forms of transport.

On matters to do with the constitution, the president said that the government is fully committed to its implementation and that relevant parties should go ahead and begin drafting bills which he would make sure are discussed by parliament in the shortest time possible. However, with the discussions on dress code, namely ‘earrings’ and hotel expenses for some cabinet ministers dominating the floor of the house in the very recent past, I am not too sure what the term ’shortest time possible’ is supposed to mean.
On health, the president said that the country now has 7,260 public health facilities as compared to the approximately 1,500 we had in 2007 and this was because of the constituency development fund and the economic development fund issued by the government, this in all honesty, is a very big plus to the Kibaki government. The efforts to curb transmission of the H.I.V virus have been hugely successful and currently, 460,000 people infected with the virus are able to access treatment.
The president concluded his speech by reminding Kenyans that eight years back, he had made a plea for us to turn Kenya into a working nation and he was pleased that as a country, we had heeded the call and still are working towards the same.
In conclusion, Kenya experienced an economic growth of 5.6% in 2010.Considering the global economic crisis and the situation at the time, I want to believe that as a country, we are headed in the right direction.
However, for us to realize the vision 2030, we need an annual economic growth rate of 10% .Anyone of us who has had a chance to be involved in strategic plan implementation is aware that speech and final presentations are just a tip of the iceberg and stirring real change and implementing a work plan requires more action than words, like one lovelorn musician said in his song ’More than words, ‘is all we have to do to make it right’ as a country.

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