Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Women leadership remain the exception in Northern Kenya politics but activists say things are looking up. Politics can be said to be the act of making public choice and making decisions on behalf of the people through the medium of the State and its apparatus. It is accepted that for development of society, women, who make up a larger proportion of the population, should not be left out because there is no doubt that both men and woman can equally contribute to the development and growth of our society. There is abundant historical evidence that African women have for long been playing crucial roles in the political life of their countries.
Many great women have helped in shaping African society and political evolution. Of late, one such great woman from the restive NEP - North Eastern Province - has cought my attention. Simply for her tireless effort to change the lives of the forgotten, downtrodden and marginalized women of Wajir County. Meet Madam Honourable Fatuma Ibrahim, the Women Representative for Wajir County - the women there call her the MOTHER of Wajir.
Honourable Fatuma Ibrahim is perhaps the only female 'visible' MP from the restive North. Not me saying but everyone in the streets of Wajir and to a larger extent, the region. How else could this blog get to know of her? Let her actions speak for themselves. In the short stint she was in Parliament, what has she done? Action speak louder than words, they say.
Lets start with the basics before the 'complications'. She has educated and still educating girls more than any leader from the region. At times she sacrifices her personal meagre resources to put happiness and joy in the lives of Wajir girls. She has enrolled more youths in the National Youth Service than any sitting MP. Again, the statistics are out there.
So what are the 'complications'? Of course they are many. For me three of these 'complications' major my list because they are landmark achievements. Never heard before. First, in the history of North Eastern Kenya, the first ever free Medical camp fully sponsored by a politician happened recently in Wajir County. All were treated. Only Allah heals. Major surgeries were done. Cleft lip deformities were corrected. Women were treated for women 'issues'. All courtesy of Honourable Fatuma.
Honourable Fatuma didn't stop there. She decided to uplift the lives of Wajir Women. She hosted H.E Rachael Ruto - wife of the Deputy President - to launch the first ever table banking in the region. When you empower a woman, you empower a society. Madam Hon knows that too well.
Weeks ago she hosted the first lady, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta in Wajir town to launch her Beyond Zero Campaign in the county. Again, the first in the restive region. Lets appreciate the doers. Hon Fatuma Ibrahim is a doer!
Before she joined politics, she was in the civil society where she sharpened her skills of serving the society ably. Mind you, she was a commissioner with the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights. While still a Commissioner, Hon. Fatuma Ibrahim Ali visited the United Nations in New York and Minnesota at the invitation of the International Leadership Institute (ILI) to share ideas with the African Diaspora on the human rights situation in Kenya. She has always championed for a free and fair society. In her, our beautiful daughters are not short of a role model. Women like madam Hon Fatuma can only succeed because of the men in their lives. Statistics suggest that successful women have great men in their lives.
So far, her parliamentary work is beyond reproach. I will not hesitate to endorse her for bigger political positions in the future. She deserves it. Today we decide to speak through the lens. Nowadays a picture is worth a billion dollar.
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
The increasing tribal hostility and rumours spewing from various Pages and Groups related to Facebookers from the restive North in social networking site - Facebook - must be condemned by all peace lovers.
These dudes - some call them internet trolls - are so obsessed with their clans, even when they have nothing to show, as individuals, for being that tribal. They 'pollute' our timelines and normalize acts of violence. Some even have the audacity to call fellow Muslims names that can't be mentioned here.
It is in our best interest to work towards a united and peaceful Northern Kenya so that we can build a bright future for ourselves and our families. For that to be achieved, the peddlers of hatred and their crackpots must be silenced.
Log into any of those pages - you all know them - and what you see can scare you to death. If you are a keen follower of the happenings in the region, you will agree with me that hatred among our people is at its peak. The negative things we post only escalate the violence more than we can imagine. Brethren ItaquAllah (fear Allah). If you have nothing to say -I know each one of us has an opinion - just read others' updates and comment accordingly and responsibly.
A fellow facebooker tagged me his Facebook post, what I assume to be a response to a previous post of mine. First, I don't tag people my posts to seek attention neither do I like my updates. That is un-facebook, if at all there is such a word.
We can agree to disagree but I don't have to insult you to sound brave. Many have done that today. I don't know what the beef is all about! When did debates become personal? When did ideas become personal? Can't we raise issues? Did I mention names?
Lets be civil for a moment. When we learn to debate from an informed perspective devoid of pride and arrogance - you can have a certain arrogance, and I think that's fine, but what you should never lose is the respect for others.
I have been taught not to fight wars that are not mine. I have never been a cheerleader.And I have never been loyal to anyone. Only ideas. We can always walk the talk. Not talk the walk 24/7.
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
The current crop of MCAs are a serious indictment on our society generally and our leadership in particular. If you have been following the news, by now you very well know that their latest victim is H.E Kivutha Kibwana, the governor of Makueni County.
I don't know Governor Kibwana at a personal level neither have I ever met him. The only time I 'saw' him, it was on my TV screen or his photos on the newspapers - I read them religiously. But for the years I have 'known' the good professor, I have known him as a man of high intellect and integrity completely intolerant of corruption and other shenanigans that accompany holders of high office. I was shocked when those rogue Makueni MCAs purported to have impeached him.
Their drama never ceases. In Wajir County, early this year, the Ward Representatives engaged in fistcuffs and chair throwing over a questionable vote that led to the appointment of a new Clerk. Sometimes early this month, they purported to have impeached one of the county women Executives. The whole drama ended in an ambiguity - they were last seen walking out of the assembly one by one and nobody knows what influenced their walkout. The story has never been different in the counties of Garissa and Mandera.
Our MCAs are like children who visit a supermarket for the first time, see all the lovely goodies and think their dream has just come true. They throw a tantrum at every turn, demanding to have everything on the shelves, the cookies, toys and all. They exhibit a serious structural problem that requires urgent rethink.
No doubt, many af the MCAs took office with the old councilor mentality only to find themselves being called members of an assembly, complete with a speaker and majority/ minority leaders. They heard that they were supposed to make laws to govern counties, and it dawned on them that they were VIPs.
There and then they demanded to be called waheshimiwa. They googled to find out what honorable people do to travel abroad, use VIP lounges at airports and drive monster vehicles bought by taxpayers. They even want us to take care of their spouses!
Soon, the MCAs may demand to travel in motor Cades complete with outriders and escort. Otherwise, how will the villagers know the MCAs are no small people? By the end of their term in office, MCAs will have become another wonder of the world.
This situation requires urgent intervention if the citizenry is not to be disillusioned by devolution. A Bill by Senator Kindiki which stipulates a jail term of up to two years or Sh500,000 fine, or both, for county assembly members found guilty of misconduct in the county assembly is on the floor of the Senate. The Bill's intention is to regulate behaviour during debate. I totally disagree with Senate and the originator of the Bill.
On this, I side with the MCAs. Who regulate Members of Parliament? MCAs were elected just like the the rogue MPs. The MPs and their fellow confused-octogerians in the Senate are also not accountable to anyone! They pass laws that only benefit, not Wanjiku, but them. Talk of the pot calling the kettle black.
Wednesday, 8 October 2014
There is nothing like Tribalism, forget about clanism and the never-ending clashes, Nepotism is NEP's new cancer
There is nothing like tribes in North Eastern Province (NEP) that can warrant tribalism. What is a tribe? According to Wikipidia, "The social structure of a tribe can vary greatly from case to case, but, due to the relatively small size of customary tribes, social life in those kinds of tribes usually involves a relatively undifferentiated role structure, with few significant political or economic distinctions between individuals. Tribalism implies the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates one member of a group from the members of another group. Members of a tribe tend to possess a strong feeling of identity"
Based on this definition, I think it's safe to say that there is only one tribe in NEP, that is, the tribe Somali- Kenyan Somali, Somali Kenyan, call them what you will.
What we have are clans.
Clanism has always been termed as the major stumbling block to the achievement of unity in the restive North Eastern Kenya. The never-ending story that is "tribal clashes" and violence have both been blamed on ethnicity, but is tribalisim the major problem behind our disunity? I don’t think so.
Clannism and nepotism will finish this region as we talk of “my tribe”. Devolution has made politics more local and violent than ever. Thanks to devolution, we can now clearly tell where the problem with our region is as far as cohesion and integration are concerned. If a fellow clansman can draw a gun with the aim of harming another clansman to settle a political dispute, then tribe - hope you still remember the tribe we are talking about- has no meaning. If clannism was the major obstacle to peaceful co- existence, why then do we hear of brothers - men and women of the same clan - 'killing' one another over county jobs? Why are we witnessing unending clashes among members of the same clan? It happened before devolution. It can happen anytime.
Many experienced and knowledgeable professionals from the region, some working for the national Government and others in the corporate sector do not apply for jobs in the region due to what they term as vicious clan squabbles. And you talk of underdevelopment? Who will develop the restive NEP if you don't pacify it? Whose kids and wives want to live in such 'uncivilized' culture?
For one to work in these devolved units, a lot of importance is placed on clan and family, and whether they supported the governor in the last general election. Some even applied through the so called Council of Elders -an entity that is not recognized by any law as far employment and recruitment are concerned. Yes, we respect our culture but the elders of our world do not deserve our respect. They belong to the highest bidder and are very partial. Elders of them days were highly respected because of their wisdom and impartiality.
In the last general election, members of the same family supported different candidates. That is democracy! Must they pay for it? To paraphrase Isaac Asimov, there is a cult of ignorance in North Eastern, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
This has seen unqualified people who are loyal to politicians in the counties take up senior positions. No wonder some of our counties are unable to prepare annual budgets for approval by the controller of budget. Our MCAs make matters worse. Those from big clans - there has never been anything big about our clans - plot among themselves on whom chief officers, Clerks or County Executives they want impeached on frivolous grounds due to the devolved tyranny of numbers in the county assemblies, as witnessed in Garissa and Wajir counties recently. All they need to do is cook up something irregular about the officer’s conducts, prepare a censure motion and throw him or her out. This has made working for the county governments risky.
The Kabaro led National Cohesion and Integration Commission should now re- focus its energy from tribalism to clannism and nepotism and help the people of North Eastern know how to share their share of the national cake amicably.
The unqualified fellows in our counties have turned out to be the unofficial spokespersons of the counties in social media. They spew venom and 'tackle' accordingly all those who question about the misuse of power and the scarce resource that is our 'fair' share of the national cake. We do not blame them. They are idle most of the time. Nevertheless, they draw salaries.
Am privileged to know a few men and women who are above our new cancer - nepotism. They reward meritocracy.
Friday, 3 October 2014
Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, will be observed tomorrow, October 4, 2014. One of two feast festivals celebrated by Muslims, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of the Islamic calendar’s last month, Dhu al-Hijjah.
Muslims all over the world will be marking Eid Al Adha. On this day, Muslims remember the sacrifice made by Prophet Ibrahim (A.S).
Eid Al-Adha, is not just an opportunity to celebrate, but also a valuable lesson in sacrifice for Muslims around the globe. According to the Islamic scriptures, Eid Al-Adha, also known as the Greater Eid, is an opportunity to give and forgive and reminisce about the story of the great sacrifice made by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) several centuries ago, when he surrendered to the will of Allah and offered to sacrifice his son Ismael (Peace be upon him).
Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was committed to Allah’s command, which later proved to be only a test. He showed that his love for his Lord superseded everything else.
In return, Allah gifted him a male sheep to sacrifice, and that action has become a ritual for all Muslims to emulate on the occasion. Its meat is to be equally distributed among family, friends and the poor.
May Allah shower His countless blessings upon you and your family. May this day be a special day that’s filled with warmth and love, and may it hold the happiness you are so deserving of!
Eid Mubarak to every one.
Thursday, 2 October 2014
FULL OF LIES: NEP's devolution story they never told you and why peace matters for development's sake
Early this year, in one of his captivating pieces, Dr David Ndii says "If you follow the media, you may have discerned that there are two devolution narratives. One narrative is that devolution is a Frankenstein monster. It is the narrative of tin gods, globe-trotting MCAs and chicken taxes. Devolution is cast as decentralisation of corruption, a fiscal disaster, an administrative nightmare. The second narrative is that of devolution as a godsend"
Indeed to the people of North-Eastern Kenya, devolution is a godsend.
Mandera county -that restive north-east tip of Kenya - has installed street lights for the first time since Independence.
It's not a news that Madera has borne the brunt of insecurity and terror attacks more than any other county in the country. Having floodlights will definitely help residents feel safe at night. Trivial as it may seem, these new street lights in Mandera are a wonderful example of why devolution is godsend for Kenya, more so, for Mandera and the entire North-Eastern Province (NEP).
Wajerians (People of the great county of Wajir) have decided to move with speed so that they could catch up with other parts of the country. Before we go deep into their charming devolution story, allow me to narrate a little bit fact about the middle-county of North-Eastern Kenya.
Wajir- probably the only place on earth where bucket latrine system still exists due to its high water table -has produced more highly educated and intellectual men and women who sit in high positions in different corners of the globe than any other county in NEP. Mind you, the first and the only woman that ever represented Kenya in an Islamic state is from Wajir. Her Excellency, Rukia Subow, is the current Kenya Ambassador to Tehran.
Recently, Wajir residents and their leaders came out in their droves to attend the ground breaking ceremony of the first ever tarmac road for Wajir, amid excitement and hope of a new change in town!
I have done my best to research about Garissa-the then capital city of NEP- but unfortunately there is nothing tangible (no big-deal project (s) ) to write home about as far as devolution is concerned. Surprise, Surprise, some of its leaders are fighting devolution at the national level!
The dwellers of the restive North who have known no real development, literally, were made to believe that they were "marginalised" because of unfavorable centralized national decision-making system. That is true, somehow. They have always hoped devolution will be a quick fix to “marginalisation” which was blamed for the underdevelopment in the expansive region. That is yet to materialize and no signs of big-time change are forthcoming mostly because of the kind of leadership in office and not devolution.
However, devolution is proving to be a curse for the residents in the drought prone area, than the anticipated blessing as deadly inter-clan conflict creates widespread mayhem. The inter-clan conflict especially in Mandera and Wajir counties is giving security apparatus sleepless nights in the region. Given that their hands are almost full with 'al-Shabaab' terror group renewed attacks, the security teams are now fighting a two front war. The Clashes have led to the destruction of properties and the mass killing of innocent women, children and elderly people. No one can tell exactly how many people died since the clashes begun.
If after 50 years, with the ever rising number of representation from the region, we couldn't lobby for the tarmacking of Garissa-Wajir-Mandera highway and quell the clashes, then, I don't think there is leadership worth talking about.