THE POLITICS OF KIGALI.

KIGALI AND ITS UNWEPT, UNHONORED AND UNSUNG DISSIDENTS.

When the Rwandese president landed in Kenya this past week as one of the keynote speakers at the governors’ conference; I doubt he had anticipated that Kenyan journalists would be lurking in the bushes, waiting to bombard him with hard questions about his recently deceased former head of external intelligence, Patrick Karegeya.
Ask they did; from why the defectors from Rwanda government who are exiled seem to die in mysterious circumstances; to his recent comment about traitors facing consequences of their betrayal; to the death of Karegeya at a top hotel in South Africa where he was in exile since 2007 after he fell out with president Kagame.

What is more? Being the journalists they are, they tried to connect the dots with a close friend of the deceased, Lt. General Faustine Nyamwasa, another defector who also sought asylum in South Africa and was a target of an assassins’’ bullet in 2010 that strained the relationship between the two countries.

A couple of weeks back, at a prayer breakfast on January 12th, president Kagame is reported to have said that ‘you cannot betray Rwanda and get away with it; there are consequences to treason acts’. He is even quoted as having said that the government had a right to pursue whoever betrayed the country.He further told his officials not to waste time denying the position since other countries had done ‘worse things in their own defence’.

This is particularly disturbing, considering that the said ‘traitors’ could simply be concerned citizens who are challenging the sitting governments’ views and its leadership styles.
Isn’t that supposed to be a healthy thing for any country and does this mean that the Kigali man cannot stand criticism”?

Rwanda’s Abandoned Properties and their ‘Consequences’?

In what seems to be a suspiciously premeditated extension of ‘consequences to the so-called Rwandese traitors and dissenters, the Rwandese government is in the process of amending its law on abandoned properties.

The current abandoned properties law was enacted in 2004 and it facilitates government takeover of buildings owned by genocide victims and perpetrators. Moreover, it was restricted to assets of owners who might have died and left no next of kin.

The amendment, if approved by parliament will allow the government to take control of all assets whose owners have fled the country for various reasons. (Very suspicious considering the huge number of defectors, right?).

In hindsight, last year September, the Rwandese government took control of Kigali’s oldest shopping mall, The Union Trade Center which is valued at 20 million dollars and is owned by an exiled citizen Rujugiro Ayabatwa who is in South Africa.

Now, to say that the government is acting in public interest because such abandoned property may pose security threats reminds me of the ‘other’ recent security risk; President Zuma’s renovated property being off limits to journalists’ camera’s because taking a pic of the renovated chicken house amounted to posing a security risk ‘to the chicken I guess’.

In other news, two opposition political parties Parti Sociale (PS) and (RDR) have formed a coalition with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

The Kigali government has however dismissed the coalition saying it will not recognize anybody associated with a terrorist organization. FLDR was blacklisted in 2005 by USA as a terrorist group.
The FLDR claim they are willing to disarm if the international community puts pressure on the Kigali government to open up political space and guarantee freedom of association and expression in Rwanda
Predictably, the Kigali government has responded by issuing a warning that whoever is working with the FDLR is likely to face…. you guessed it! ‘major consequences’

FYI:
If you think the said ‘consequences are a joke, please know that Mr. Karegeya cannot be buried in Rwanda and thus sadly fulfilling the prophecy of the English poet sir. Walter Scott in his poem ‘BREATHES THERE THE MAN’.
It goes something like this:

‘High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim,
Despite those titles, power and pelf,
The wretch, concentrated all in self,
Living , shall forfeit fair renown,
And double dying shall go down,
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored and unsung’.

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The Role of a Writer in the politics of His Country?

In his now famous open letter to Ngugi to return home,David Maillu brings forth a very pertinent issue that need not be ignored. The role of the African writer in the politics of the day.

Much as I may not agree with Maillu for choosing silence to save his skin during the Moi dictatorial era, my conscience does allow me a tad-bit sympathy to a man who, in a stroke of patriotism quite rare in writers, implores one of Kenya’s foremost intellectuals to reconsider and return home if only to share the copious honors his name seems to be attracting lately, with his motherland.

Nonetheless, that he would beseech Ngugi to choose silence over activism against repression by the Moi regime sits Maillu unfavourablely beside one professor Ali Mazrui, author of the book ‘The trial of Christopher Okigbo’. In this ‘trial’, Mazrui takes Okigbo, a talented Nigerian poet who died young fighting in the Biafra war , to task for ‘wasting’ his great talent and youth on a conflict of disputable merit. Okigbo is thus charged with the crime of putting society before art in his scale of values.

Like Mazrui, Maillu seems to believe that the writer has no active role in the politics of social upheaval of his day. If anything, his call is for the writer to stand by the side, watch and document the unfolding events without so much as dipping his finger in the bloody mess.

Is this all a writer can do?

In his autobiography ‘There Was a Country,’ Chinua Achebe, argues that a writers’ role is not a rigid one and that any and every writer has the obligation of helping reshape his country’s dialogues; directly and indirectly . In so doing, the writer makes the world a better place and humanity’s passage through life easier. ‘I believe that it is impossible to write anything in Africa without protest’ said the father of African literature.

Maillu’s words to Ngugi to save himself by diverting from writing raw-nerve books and waiting for the hostile regime to cool down are as ridiculous and as cowardly as Mazrui’ s verdict to Okigbo that he was guilty of putting society before art in his scale of values. By being bold enough to speak out and act , Ngugi, Mkangi, Oyugi and others ended up losing lucrative jobs and comfortable lives. They however, rightfully earned enviable permanent places in the history of Kenya. As Elie Wiesel rightly puts it, ‘there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice , but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.

It therefore goes without saying that any writer, or rather any serious writer, cannot separate them self from the politics of the day. Like an old adage goes, Politics is always present in literature.

During her recent Nairobi visit, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie gave a public lecture at the University of Nairobi during which she explained her reasons for tackling a topic as hefty as the Biafra war in her novel Half of a Yellow Sun. ‘ I wrote about the Biafra war because I know of a women who had lived in suspended hope from 1969-2003 praying that her child who disappeared during the war would come back one day; I wrote about the Biafra war because My dad still has tears in his eyes when he talks about the war that deeply scarred him; I wrote about it because my mother still cannot talk about how her father died; I wrote about the war because my parents lost everything they ever possessed to the war and because both my grandfathers are buried in unidentifiable mass graves in what used to be Biafra.
Need I say more?

A poetic sendoff to Mandela

First published : http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/weekend/Kenyans-stage-a-poetic-send-off-for-Mandela/-/1220/2120370/-/cw59k8/-/index.html

Let’s ask? What did Mandela do
Except sit in prison for 27 years?
Let me tell you
Or else,
I will let Walter Sisulu tell you
I will allow Oliver Tambo to chime in
Listen to the voice of Desmond Tutu
Africa died a few nights ago
Africa will be buried three moons from now!

I wish we had Mandela for roads
I wish we had health care called UTata
I wish we had Madiba in our courts
As the supreme judge…

This was part of the poem recited by poet Oduor Jagero-Koa on the evening of Monday 9th December 2013 in what was dubbed an evening of tribute, poetry, music and art in celebration of Mandela’s exemplary life.
Groups of young poets, musicians and poetry lovers gathered on the rooftop of PAWA 254 under the open evening skies to bid farewell to the late Mandela in the best way they knew how; poetry and music.
The huge graffiti painting of the fallen hero on the wall, music from live bands and poetic pieces recited in English and sheng’ provided the right atmosphere for a legendary send-off.
The underlying message in the poems and songs was concordant to the sentiments of the rest of the world about the South African freedom fighter; filled with praises for a man who provided leadership that was so dignified that one of the poets couldn’t help but dub it ‘un-African’.

It was also clear throughout the recitals that Mandela was looked up to by many young men and women.

From Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther to Mother Teresa, Mandela’s name was favorably placed alongside those of historical heroic figures in poems and prose colored with his numerous wise quotes.
And poetic names he was called; from ‘pacesetter of pathfinders’ to ‘a cocktail of Martin Luther king and Obama’ to ‘outspoken dissenter’.

Were he here, The man who was described as having taught us values through the loudest words-‘action’ would have marveled at the wisdom the talented youngsters were drawing from his exemplarity life.

The poets married humor with witty advise challenging the audience to think about what their children would see if they dared google them in future.

Mtoto wako ataona nini akikugoogle? Ngatia a popular sheng slam poet asked. He then went ahead and advised African leaders to emulate Mandela and not waste time speaking ‘nonsense in foreign accents’.

One would undoubtedly dub the event a revolutionary poetry eve as the poets beseeched their audience to stop ‘Incompetent Citizenship’ and steer clear of vices like greed, corruption, hatred and the culture of silence and instead embrace peace and forgiveness like Mandela. ‘If we all sit still and do nothing to try better the world, who will make the difference? Asked Rix Poet, the organizer of the event, in his poem ‘Lust for Lost Causes’

Renown musician Juliani, the guest performer , advised the youth against pointing fingers at others and shifting blame, ‘it takes me and not anyone else to make a difference,’ he said.

Award winning Photographer Boniface Mwangi urged the poetry lovers to believe in themselves and create positive change, ‘ The world needs more Mandelas’s, and we can all make a difference through the little actions that we take . The only reason Mandela was successful was because he believed in a cause and followed it, passionately. So instead of sitting still and complaining, be the change that you want.’ Said the art lover whose dream is to see art rising in Kenya and beyond.

The audience was then treated to a very lively dancing session by two bands,Sarabi the band and Hart__the Band who composed a special number ‘Diary ya Madiba’ in which they hailed Mandela for heeding to the quote that ‘In war it doesn’t matter who is right but who is left’ and hence saving many lives that would have otherwise been lost had he persisted on being ‘right’.

Late in the night, watching the youthful crowd disperse, I could only hope that Mandela the history writer, whose long life had finally been punctuated by the full stop of death, had, even in death, inspired the audience enough to bring to life the prophetic words of a brilliant Nigeria Poet, Christopher Okigbo, who died young fighting in the Biafra War:
An old star departs/leaves us here on the shore/gazing heavenward for a new star approaching……beyond the iron path, careering along the same beaten track.

LEARNING TO SPEAK YOUR CHILD’S LOVE LANGUAGE; Lessons from Gary Chapman’s Bestseller book the Five Love Languages

First published here….http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/family-parenting/Learning-to-speak-your-childs-love-language/-/1954198/2154352/-/3q489x/-/index.html

How easy is it to communicate with someone who speaks an entirely different language from you?

‘If we are to communicate effectively across lines, then we must learn to speak the language of those with whom we wish to communicate’ Says Gary Chapman, relationship expert and author of the book The Five Love Languages.

Your emotional language and that of your child maybe as different as Chinese is from English. If your child spoke only Chinese and you English alone, you would never understand each other. This is because you each will be speaking in a ‘foreign’ language. However you cannot rely on your native language if your child doesn’t understand it. As a caring parent, you must therefore express yourself in the child’s primary love language if you want them to understand your love.

Every human being is born with a deep need for love. Without love, one can spend a lifetime in search of significance, self worth and security. Love isn’t everything but it creates a climate of security in which we can seek answers to whatever it is that bothers us.

It is therefore every parent’s duty to learn the primary love language of their child. However, given the uniqueness of each of us, we identify with love from different dimensions.

Giving a gift to a person whose love language is receiving gifts will work wonders; however, giving the same gift to another person whose love language is quality time will not work well as the latter appreciates meaningful time spent together much more than a gift.

A good lover must therefore, strive to understand and speak the love language of their loved one.
This is nonetheless, not different with children.

Every child has a unique primary love language though, when they are little, they do not know their love language and so all the five love languages must be poured out to them. If a parent is keen, they are likely to observe the child’s primary love language early.
A child who rushes to you, jumps on your lap and plays with your hair probably has physical touch as their primary language.

If you observe him always trying to help a younger brother or sister, his could be acts of service,
If however, a child wants you to go to his room to see something and often calls you, then there is likelihood that his language is quality time.

How then, can a parent learn to speak their child’s love language?

Below are the five love languages and how you can single out your child’s

1. Words of Affirmation
A child who keeps telling you how good you look and what a good job you do has words of affirmation as their primary love language.
It is therefore important for the parent to always use words to build up this child. Words of appreciation and verbal compliments are powerful communicator of love in this case. However, one should be careful to steer off flattery as a way of getting the child to do something.
Unfortunately, most of us speak well to the child when they are young but as they grow up, we tend to condemn them for their failures rather than commend them for their success .To a child whose love language is words of affirmation, our negative critical demeaning words tear away at their psyche and esteem.

2. QUALITY TIME.
This simply means giving the child your undivided attention. It includes sitting on the floor and rolling the ball with them, playing with the car and doll for the small kids and playing ball with the older child or sitting with them as they learn to play the guitar.

3. RECEIVING GIFTS.
This can be noticed in a child who is often making presents for you, wrapping them up and giving them to the parent in special glee. That he gives you gifts could simply imply that he would like to receive them too.
Unless it is a child’s primary love language, it could mean very little to him emotionally. Especially if he quickly lays it aside, doesn’t care for it and seldom says thank you
A child, who shows it to others, cares for it and keeps it polished and plays with it often could be indicating that this is indeed their primary language.

4. ACTS OF SERVICE
This is the primary love language of a child that expresses appreciation for ordinary acts of service because it means that they are important t to him,
The parent in this case should help the child with their homework or projects as a way of expressing love.

5. PHYSICAL TOUCH
A baby who is held and hugged ends up developing a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long without physical contact.
A tender hug is a big communicator of love to a child whose primary love language is physical touch

THE OXYMORONS THAT DEFINE KENYAN.

Listening to Newsday- BBC on Monday morning caused me to think of a word I had last reflected on a decade ago while frightfully awaiting a literature exam.
Come this Monday, one of the Newsday presenters reported of Christian Militia in the Central African Republic and I went ‘wait a minute, Christianity as I understand it is supposed to be a religion based on love, so to speak of a Christian militia would basically be putting together two words that have opposite meanings and thus my current thoughts on oxymorons.
Here is a list of oxymorons popularly used in Kenya and beyond.
1. Africa Rising

If you have been following the Africa Rising story that is bombarding our media of late, then you must surely understand why I do refer to this phrase as an oxymoron. Opponents of this narrative are quick to point out the wars in South Sudan and Central African Republic, Al shabaabs survival so far, violence in DRC , perpetual electoral disputes and hundreds of refugees opting to die in capsizing boats as they flee in search for better lives in other continents as just a few of the reasons why Africa is in fact, not rising.

2. Democracy
This has got to be one of the most used oxymoron in Africa. A democratic state is supposed to be one by the people, of the people and for the people. However, over here it is used whenever an individual or a group of individuals feel a deep-set dissatisfaction with the government of the day. This usually leads to a coalition of the disgruntled to form parties that carry the word democratic. Nonetheless, anyone interested in closely examining the day to day activities of such democratic organizations will come to find that the party’s actions are usually as far away from the true meaning of the word as they can be.
Let us charitably begin at home. The Orange Democratic Movement has, in the past, had internal wrangling during the rather tough times of flag bearer elections. That the leader is usually rather predetermined doesn’t resonate well with those who my favourite East African columnist Elsie Eyakuze would describe as having president-flavoured ambitions, they, wounded by the undemocratic choices usually storm off in anger to join their rivals
Then we have Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change . It could be true that according to Mr. Tzvangirai, Zimbabweans have a yardstick for measuring democracy and morality isn’t a component of the said yardstick ( refer toi linq www. ). However, how does one begin to explain his complete belief that it is he and only he who can be on the frontline of the so-called fight for democracy?

3. Free and fair elections
This is of course another well loved oxymoron which simply refers to elections marred by among other things; irregularities; delayed results that keep the mwananchi at the edge of his seat, damned to listen to sorrowful patriotic songs as he awaits results from Tharaka Nithi to arrive because the current figures on TV aren’t ‘moving’ ; malfunctional dollar shilling VBR kits that cost the taxpayer an arm and a leg, missing forms ; telephone jams that mar otherwise digital transmissions of M-results; uninformative regular news briefs by electoral body chairmen, social media political wars and finally solemn faced election ‘non-winners’ announcing to the nation that they would have won if only the elections were free and fair.

4. #KenyansWeAreOne and #TribelessKenya.
This is particularly hard to believe in a country where an adamant MP would lash out at the father of the nation for unfairness because he gave more cabinet positions to ‘his’ people and hence shortchanging the people from the other region. ‘Our people were sidelined’ doesn’t really reek oneness. Also, that an acquinteace, in the process of making small talk would begin with ‘ not to be tribal or anything but which part f the country do you come from? As though your answer to that is what determined the drift of the conversation….

5. CORRUPTION FREE ZONE
In marketing, there is a concept known as subliminal marketing in which a product is subconsciously sold to a client without the clients’ knowledge. This is done through say, putting up images of the product in the room, however, no one directly speaks of the product. However, the human brain unconsciously receives this message and if the client walks out and finds the product being sold at the door, he is very likely to buy.
This would be the same concept at play in the so called ‘corruption free zones’. Just by coming across the word corruption, the person walking into the place is already indirectly made aware of the possibility of bribing their way to a great service. If push comes to shove then the said person will most likely try out the option since the word corruption is embedded in their subconscious.
Have a trouble-free weekend, won’t you?

A dumb country soul I am.(Yet he still loves me so).

When I open my mouth to speak

Often the words dry halfway up,

And what I say usually isn’t what I wanted to say,

For I am but a dumb ole country soul.

 

When it comes to society,

My dumbness there I show,

Can’t seem to piece the right conversation

Or speak with grace and poise ‘prop’ly’

 

I pressed my dress and stockings once,

And looked mighty fine,

But when I mixed with that high crowd

My knees gave way and knocked

And all I could say was a quaky ‘hello’

 

I dig up old Billy Graham Sermons and tear as I listen,

I hum along to old Jim Reeves, Bill Gaither and Hymn knolls,

Quiet country life and simple existence are to me a Seventh Heaven,

Country tunes and old time religion leave me dreamy.

 

Just dumb enough to trust the Lord, I pray,

Though every so oft I want to change,

I wouldn’t mind if I remained but just,

A dumb ole country girl,

with Jesus in my heart.

A POEM TO A FRIEND IN A FAR AWAY LAND. (For Olivia)

She’s left again dear Lord,An old dear dear friend
Gone off to search and wonder,In God’s vast earth for meaning, college and a job to find

She won’t be here to wipe off the tears I shed tomorrow,I won’t be there to hold her hand and laugh through the fears of a foreign land,
I’ll talk to her some, but I’ll hold back some, not wanting to ‘disturb’For distance puts a huge wall, albeit unplanned, on even the tightest friendships.

She might fall in love, Dear Lord,And I won’t even get to see the wonderment in her eyes,
I won’t be there either, to help select the perfect power suit, For her first job interview,
She won’t be here either Lord,When I turn twenty seven, in old cold June,
and get inducted into the Quarter Life Crisis Club. For distance puts a huge wall, albeit unplanned, on even the tightest friendships.

I got a letter from her last week, dear Lord. Seven pages of memories for a past half decade, of which I haven’t been,
She’s made new relations, new friends, I didn’t miss out on the ‘American-ness’ in her choice of words either,
For distance puts a huge wall, albeit unplanned, on even the tightest friendships.

They say, distance makes the heart grow fonder, Ours is but bittersweet,
Save for the commonness of the beautiful faith we share, And the pen on paper we have stubbornly refused to replace,
For even distance has nothing on a friendship anchored in His love.