Saturday, 26 December 2015

A road trip to Mombasa and meeting a man I have always admired.



Last week, Friday, 18th December, me and my good friend Ahmed Mohamed -Eastleigh's point man and 'Governor' at large - decided to take a road trip to Mombasa. Though we have been to Mombasa before, this trip was totally a different one for three reasons.


On the road
 One, I was travelling with a story teller. Ahmed - popularly known as @Asmali77 on Twitter, is a close friend, mentor, guardian and big brother all rolled into one - can tell all sort of stories that can make one shriek with laughter. He can translate Somali songs word by word and give you the reason behind each and every song.  Of course we had a full compact of Somali music. The curious beauty of Somali music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad tale. Probably a true love gone sour. Somali music is often about the inspirations of the Somali people. Indeed we're in a festive mood. Ahmed is the kind of man you will cherish to travel with to anywhere.




Ahmed Asmali deep in the sea

Two, we were looking forward to meet a man we have always admired. A man we have interacted many a time on social media. A man who inspires his followers and fans. Am talking about Mohamed Hersi, CEO of the Heritage Hotels.
A week before we decided to travel, Mohamed shared on Facebook about an event -The White Party themed ‘unleash the courage within’. The White Party, organized by the Mombasa Rotary Club, Nyali branch - Hersi's wife, Mrs Sureya Roble is the president of the club - was meant to raise funds for some charity work the club is engaged in. As the guest speaker, Hersi never disappointed. He gave us an exceptional, inspirational talk that gave everyone in the room a reason to look forward to 2016.
Mohamed is an irreproachable and upstanding man. We also appreciate Mrs Sureya's care and concern during our stay.
Even City lawyer Rahma Jilo was there.

From Left: Ahmedkadar, Mohamed Hersi and Ahmed Asmali

Three, we travelled to Mombasa to unwind, have fun, eat Mombasa's mouth-watering Biriani, drink madafu, rediscover the beaches and all that pertains to Mombasa. We really enjoyed the gorgeous beaches - From the Pirates (I have no idea why it's called the Pirates) to Voyager Beach in Nyali - exciting water sports, vibrant night scene and bustling Mombasa city life. Of course you cant be in Momasa and not visit the famous Kongwea Merket.


Ahmed Asmali with a friend (Baken) shopping at the famous Kongwea Market.


Our journey back to the city was equally thrilling. One day, when I grow up, I will relocate to Mombasa and try to see whether I can make a sense out of a coasterian. Indeed Mombasa is a Cockaigne.Watu wa bwani husema, kama raha yaua, sumu ni ya nini??




Boat ride

At the Voyager Beach Resort Hotel

Saturday, 12 December 2015

CORRUPTION: NEP Governors owe NEP people a list of corrupt officials.


March this year, while delivering his State of the Nation Address, President Uhuru declared war on corruption. In doing so, the President tabled a list of senior government officials - including cabinet secretaries - suspected of corruption before Parliament.

Recently the President, while reshuffling his cabinet, declared corruption a threat to national security, dropped all the cabinet secretaries mentioned in his March speech and released a raft of the most comprehensive anti-corruption measures in history. The President restated his firm commitment to step up the war against graft in his Jamhuri Day address.

With devolution came governors. A sort of mini-presidents - after all the constitution talks of two levels of government. North Eastern heartily welcomed devolution, for the people of the restive North - who have known no real development, literally - always believed that they were marginalised because of unfavorable centralized national decision-making system. They hoped devolution will be a quick fix to marginalisation which was blamed for the underdevelopment in the expansive region.

Instead of delivering on local priorities long neglected by successive regimes, the region's governors are wantonly blowing money and spending incredible amounts on things that do not benefit the citizens who elected them. Corruption has 'officially' been devolved since reports emerging from these counties suggest that the county leadership has expanded the eating table and spread the loot around. As a result, we have counties where all is in harmony. Where no dissenting voice or challenges to county expenditure or budget is heard because they are all in it together.

In a rare move, NEP residents petitioned the Senate. In the petitions presented separately before the Senate Finance committee, the three governors have been accused of allocating projects in a skewed manner, institutionalized corruption, nepotism and plunder of public resources.

NEP Governors ought to deliver the great expectations with which devolution was received in North Eastern and not dash the legitimate hopes and inspirations of the people.

Therefore the governors of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera owe the people of NEP a comprehensive explanation for what has been happening on their watch.
Above all, they owe us all a long list of shame.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

SOMALI HERITAGE WEEK: SOMALI KENYANS, KENYAN SOMALIS, CALL THEM WHAT YOU WILL





This week, a festival of its kind happened in Nairobi - the first Somali Heritage Week – a festival meant to highlight ‘’the contribution of Somalis to the beauty and cultural richness of Kenya’’.  Last night, this blog promised its fans and followers that it will highlight the contributions made by the community to the development of Kenya. But before the blog was published, the Sunday Nation carried a shallow feature with a catchy title but little content. 

Other than quoting some panelists and participants, the Sunday Nation’s feature ‘’Insight into the earliest settlers of EA: Somalis’’ either ignored the community’s contribution politically, economically and culturally or the writers were too lazy to do a proper story. Bloggers have a duty to correct those who disregard the truth and distort facts. Allow me to educate them.

It’s foolhardy to write about the contribution of the Somali community ‘to the beauty and cultural richness of Kenya’ without capturing their daily struggle politically, economically, socially,  how we have reached where we are now and the men and women on the steering wheel of the community.

The Somali Heritage Week – An event that brought together Somali leaders, writers, youths, activists, bloggers including yours truly -was officially opened by Kamkunji Member of Parliament Hon Yussuf Haasan. Yussuf’s  – a veteran journalist, long time employee of the UN, activist and an ex executive member of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPPK) – personal story is intertwined with that of Somalis in this country.  His opening remarks “The Somali national is everywhere and is easily visible, yet invisible because little is known about us. It’s now important to engage with other Kenyans,” set the stage for an interesting discussion that lasted for four days.  Hon Abdikadir Ore, Member of Parliament for Wajir West, was also a panelist and heavily contributed to the event’s success.
So, who are the Somalis and what is their story. Why is it important to celebrate them now? In his documentary, Not Yet Kenyan’’, renowned journalist Mohamed Adow brought to the fore an interesting, dramatic and yet bold narrative of the tribulations the Somali community has endured over the last 50 years of Kenya’s independence. The Somali Heritage Week was meant to highlight this historical injustices, share the community’s contributions to the development of the country and change the perception other Kenyan communities have of the Somalis. In order to overcome ignorance and prejudice, we must celebrate diversity. Diversity is our strength.

As I sip my favorite sweet-hot- black tea, comfortably sitting at the balcony of Diamond restaurant, overlooking Eastleigh’s skyscrapers, let me tell you the story of Somalis commercial enterprise and their political power. Welcome to Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate, you are now at the global commercial hub of Somali entrepreneurship. When the British colonialists established an airbase at Eastleigh, little did they know that it would grow into a huge commercial gateway. It has since evolved into a “Dubai” of East Africa, where cheap imports are accessible. Today, the dry ‘free’ inland port attracts traders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Uganda. Capitalism finds its real home here; with small businesses coexisting alongside big establishments. Eastleigh, described by many as "Little Mogadishu", as well as a city within a city on account of its robust business sector has come from far. All that thanks to the Somalis who were here as early as 1914.
Somalis are the most entrepreneurial people in Africa. It is due to their entrepreneurial spirit that the Somali grew up with the mentality of leadership. When you have leadership drives you also have entrepreneurship with it because you don't want to take orders from a 'boss' so you go out and set your own business even if it’s a taxi. Somalis have a thing with taking orders.

 

Politically, Somalis have contributed to the political development of the nation, from Lancaster conference, second liberation to the struggle for the 2010 constitution.

Here are the most Notable  Political  figures of the Somali Community.


Hon Adan Dualle –Hon Adan Duale, Mmeber of Parliament for Garissa Township and Leader of Majority is the ruling party’s – Jubilee – top MP and the most senior politician from the Somali Community. Vocal, fearless, inspiring, deeply religious and highly educated.
 To most Kenyans, Duale is the Jubilee government’s foremost defender.
The Garissa Township MP takes on opponents of Jubilee – from the civil society to CORD leaders – head-on. He has heavily to contributed to the success of the Somali community and majority of the community youth see him as a role model.  He has a dream of one day becoming the President of the Republic of Kenya, as he once said on Jeff Koinange’s show, JKL.

Hon Billow Kerrow: The Senator for Mandera  and Chair, Finance, Commerce and Budget Committee, Kenya Senate is one of the most vocal senators in the country. He’s also a columnist with one of the local dailies.

Ambassador Amina Mohamed:  Ambassador Amina Mohamed, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme at Nairobi is Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade. A former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs and former Ambassador of Kenya to the United Nations at Geneva. Amb. Amina Mohamed is a lawyer and diplomat by profession and has served in the public service for the last three decades. Somali girls need not look anywhere else for inspiration.

Hon Yussuf Hassan: Politician, diplomat, social activist and former journalist and Director of IRIN is the Member of Parliament for Kamkunji. The only Somali politician representing a cosmopolitan constituency in the heart of Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi.

Late Ahmed Khalif Mohamed: The former Labour Minister and MP for Wajir West died in a plane crash in 2003, weeks after he was sworn. One of the most respected and renowned politician since 1978. He was among the founders of KANU B, a rebel group within the then ruling party, under the one party state.



Sunday, 8 November 2015

WHAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT MANDERA

Welcome to Mandera. Located about 1200 km from the capital city -Nairobi - Mandera is a semi-arid county in North Eastern Kenya.

Mandera has often been described as “the worst place on earth to give birth”. The county with the highest maternal mortality rate. This week the First Lady launched her 33rd Beyond Zero Campaign Clinic in Mandera County. It will go along way in reducing maternal death by 75%. No woman should die while giving life.

Mandera has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Security has really deteriorated. Internecine conflicts and cross- border terrorism have trapped so many of Mandera’s people in poverty and misery. Rather than acting as a deterrent, it strengthened the people's  resolve and they're on the journey of pacifying their county. Things have really improved. Business is booming. Buildings coming up every other day. The glorious days are back!

Mandera has produced world-conquering men and women. Champions such as Senator Billow Kerrow, Senior Counsel Ahmednasir aka the Grand Mullah - Publisher. Newspaper columnist. Tough Advocate. Clothes horse. Hell-raiser. Arsenal FC aficionado and Godfather of Kenya's corridors of justice - as once described by a local daily hail from Mandera County. I know you know that I admire the Grand Mullah a lot and always stick my neck out for him in social media wars.
The Senior Counsel has also coined "The Raila Doctrine, a phrase which has been used to describe how Raila Odinga has been reacting to his losses in Elections in Kenya."

The great Banker and Harvard alumni - former Barclays Bank CEO for East and West Africa - and the current Cabinet Secretary for Trade and Industrialization Hon Adan Mohamed is a Mandarian. So is another Harvard alumni and award winning lawyer Hon Abdikadir Mohamed. Abdikadir, ex-MP for Mandera North constituency, is President Uhuru's Constitutional Advisor.

Vice Chair of Commission for Revenue Allocation Fatuma Sheikh, Fatuma Ali Saman, IPOA Commissioner, Adan Mohamed aka Patel, NCIC Commissioner, Former powerful Rift Valley PC Mr Adan Noor and currently a senior official at the Devolution ministry, Senior lecturer Fatuma Daud, Hadi Sheikh Billow, Commissioner KRA, Ambassador Mahat, Ministry of  Foreign Affairs's Abdishakur Hussein, National Bank of Kenya CEO Munir Sheikh Ahmed and  Mohammed Abdalla, Director of ICT at National Bank, are Manderians too, just to mention a few.

In the 2013 elections, Mandera County was the Tharaka Nithi of Jubilee coalition. It voted 98% for Uhuruto. They're yet to pay back the political debt. Hope UK will soon visit Mandera.




Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Eid Mubarak to every one


Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, will be observed on Monday, 12th September 2016. 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.

*This Article has been edited to reflect the date of this year's Idd-ul-Adha.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Education Crisis: Parents and students are the biggest losers in this standoff


The government's directive that all schools be closed from Monday is going to be a double tragedy for parents. The one million dollar question is: What happens to the fees the parents paid to cover the third term? Will the fees be refunded or will the balance be carried forward to 2016? What was the rationale of sucking in private schools into the crisis? Is Tahidi High affected by the same directive?

There is the possibility that the performance of this year's national examinations may be hampered. KNEC keeps saying that they're ready to administer the exams. Who will supervise the candidates?

The cost of closing schools early and  indefinitely will definitely be an additional burden to the struggling parents of this nation. The unexpected expense of hosting the students at home plus the time and energy required to supervise them to ensure that the time spent at home is well utilised is an additional one many parents can't afford. Clearly parents and students are paying dearly for the teachers strike.

Am shocked that the Senate is agitating for former councillors to be given hefty gratuities and pensions. We are currently facing a cash crisis over teachers' pay and instead of finding a solution, they are championing spending more money. This is foolhardy, reckless and downright immoral!

The union has dug in and is in for the long ride. The government seems unwilling to budge. The only way out is a compromise. For the sake of our children and their parents.