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Friday, December 31, 2010

KCPE and The Poverty Trap

This week the results of last year's KCPE exams were released and as expected private schools dominated  top positions all over Kenya.
 Its such a shame that in 2010 a child's destiny is sealed by an examination that only serves to reproduce the existing class system in Kenya. The fact that Ministry of Education is bent on scuttling education reform when its not busy stealing FPE money is an indication that this nation is yet to realise the importance of education as a social class delineation busting force.
  Candidates come from diverse economic and social backgrounds. This fact is completely ignored in form one selection. The lack of quota system gives an edge to the upper echelons of society that can afford to send their kids to private schools which are equipped with proper facilities and personnel. It completely ignores vital factoids such as the performance of a student within the locality in which he was schooled and across his 8 years of primary education  when deciding his fate.
  Its pertinent that we change this archaic convoluted method . The paradox of the new Kenyan meritocracy is that its so far tilted in the favour of those that have resources and away from the poor. NEP and other places need to scrutinize this bias. Its despicable that private schools have a tight grip on top positions in the country and end up producing  future leaders, lawyers and purveyors of justice. We are only helping create a new aristocracy that is so out of touch with the pedestrian reality of the average person's life.

North Eastern Province KCPE Rresults

The best performing schools in Garissa this year were privately owned. Many of the city's public schools under-performed and big names like Garissa Primary were not even represented in the TOP 100. For another year the disparity between NEP and the rest of the country widened with NEP lacking representation in the TOP 100 nationally. However, the best candidate nationally beat his NEP counterpart by a meager 22 points which is way less than previous years. This disparity seems to be re-enforced by socio-economic conditions. Many of our schools lack the resources to compete on a national stage but it should be noted that the province and especially Garissa has been improving the quality and provision of education year after year since 2003.
Should current trends continue, I have no doubt that private schools in Garissa will go a long way in equalizing the socio-economic scale in the country. The sad thing is, many parents in the province cannot afford to send their Kids to these elite-I use the word liberally-schools. MPs should use CDF money to help public schools in hiring quality teachers and closing the gap. I wonder why most civic leaders, MPs and parents haven't realized the importance of education in correcting the archaic economic hierarchy that defines this nation. Its time our MPs woke up from sleep and worked to correct this glaring disparity. Education needs serious investment and if the government is not going to provide it, we as a whole should. Its time to start working from a blueprint instead of staggering towards failure.
Finally, a bit of good news, gender disparity in NEP seems to be slightly on the decline with girls taking up 33% of the top 100 positions.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Garissa Youth Express

 One of the many readers of this blog sent me this video which I found truly inspiring. It's so good to see some of our young boys and girls taking charge of their destiny and deciding to get involved in the leadership of this beautiful city. Come 2012, I hope to see at least 75% of positions at the Municipal level filled by 21-35 year olds. After all this age group predominates the voting bloc in this city. Should this sleeping giant wake up and realize the power that they wield , it will mean a new dawn for Garissa.

Garissa Youth Days from Alicia Sully on Vimeo.

Finally, I hope to categorically state that I'm not in anyway involved with G-Youth. However, I wish them nothing but success.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Garissa's Most Livable Bullas

 For those of you that are regular readers of this blog, you must have realized by now that I love stats, numbers and rankings like most of you do, so here is another ranking for the ages. The factors taken into account when determining livability include: cleanliness, availability of schools within one kilometer radius of a neighborhood, number of health clinics, access to market and grocery shops, entertainment and social living, number of football teams and their overall rank. We also incorporated the rate of construction and price of land into the ranking. Property rents and social amenities were also a minor factors. Finally, the number of famous residents was taken into account.

The number of possible point a neighborhood can garner is 100.

The most livable Bulla's are:
1. Lower Province, 68
2. Sunnah                57
3. Ngamia Road     55
4. South C             53
5. Iskadag + Suuqa Xolaha  47
6. Town (downtown)           35
7. Garissa Ndogo           31
8. Bulla Sheikh               28
9. Upper Province + Bulla Iftin 25
10.Bulla Adaan including Tetu   18

  Places like Province rank highly in many of the measurable indices except for health care and social interaction. A lot of the residents are uptight snobs holed up in gated houses rarely running into their neighbors. Bulla Sheikh fails in cleanliness while Ngamia got undone by a relatively high crime rate.
While the borders between Bulla's can be relatively vague, most people know where the unofficial demarcation lines are.
Happy new year all. Thank you for giving this blog almost 10000 hits in 3 months.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Of Blasts, xenophobia and Somali victimhood mentality

  The bus blast that occurred in Nairobi on Monday night will mean another field day for xenophobes and conspiracy theorists alike. They'll use this incident to ratchet up the volume of their hate speech and I-told-you-so campaign mantra. The police might respond in one of their trade mark "human fishing" expeditions in Eastleigh. No facts will stand in their way including the fact that Police have identified Albert Mulanda, a Tanzanian national, as the sole person behind the heinous act  that took the lives of two people, including the bomber himself, in River Road yesterday. While I wouldn't write off the participation of terror groups in organizing the act, I'll let the semi-professional police do their work and connect the dots. That said, The Kenyan fearfully paranoid mindset should not be whipped into a terrified frenzy by hyping this latest attack. Turning Somalis into bogeyman for all the violence that is going on in the region will further destabilize the country. Any subsequent monumental over reaction to the verbal bluster of Al-shabab might lead to disastrous consequences for Kenya's foreign policy, safety and internal cohesion.

 While this incident might be used by xenophobic local commentators and policemen who are interested in lining their pockets with some cash for Christmas shopping, Somalis should come out swinging against this act, condemn it and offer the police all the help they can. At the very least this will establish a degree of good will between law enforcement and the larger Somali community.Instead of offering ourselves at the alter of self martyrdom and waiting for people to take pity on us, you and I, and other whose ideas overlap with ours should take on the system in defense of our people.

I do not want to enter a new realm that I do not understand very well and thus end up confusing my readers instead of enlightening them. Therefore, I'll spare you anymore of my off the cuff platitudes and poor substances and urge you to write to me what you think we can do change the  Somali alienation that is taking hold in Kenya.

 Alshabab is now holding any Somali anywhere hostage, more so, Somali Kenyans who fall victims to police swoops anytime such acts take place in Kenya.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

In defense of Gen. Mohamed Ali & others

   As a Somali Kenyan, I am shocked to see a fellow Somali and five other hardworking Kenyans getting threatened with prosecution by white men whose sole interest in Africa has been and will always be the perpetuation of poverty and ignorance. Gen. Ali is helping the marginalized masses of the North East get their fair share of the national pie. We want him to remain at the helm of Postal Corporation so he can divert all letters containing cash to addresses in Garissa, Wajir and Mandera. More so this Christmas holiday period when many Kenyans are sending their hard earned cash to family members in mashinani.

  Just like Somalis, Kikuyu Kenyans deserve to have their man at Treasury. Because of him, a lot of kids in Central and parts of Rift valley have food to eat and a place to sleep. His private security firm, Mungiki Inc has hired a lot of otherwise hopeless men and given them a dignified life. Now they can freely roam villages and extort small business protection fees. In short Uhuru Kenyatta is the Robin Hood of this century.
Ambassador Muthaura is a senile old man who has hired millions of GEMA members to serve the public. He was a reliable source of employment for Meru graduates. What will happen to all those young Meru men who were relying on him for jobs once they finished university?

  Representing the Kalenjin community are Messrs Ruto and Kosgey. Ruto and Kosgey are in equal parts James Bond and Red cross. These two men stood up for their tribe when kikuyus were over-running kalenjin land. They also helped their relatives get lucrative land parcels in Mau forest and jobs in government Parastatals under their dockets. If your cousin is qualified enough to run an office why give it to someone else?

 The liberal intelligentsia that is always swift in calling for the resignation of those involved in organizing rape, murder and graft should be ready to fork out checks for all the families that derived their sustenance from these men. Who will give Wanjiku money for her husbands funeral who died of drinking methylated alcohol?

 Has Ocampo stopped to think about any of these question before he came up with his politically motivated list? Any Kenyan of average intellect should dismiss this list as machination of the west meant to harm Somalis, Kikuyus and Kalenjins.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Suspected masterminds of post poll violence named

  Deputy Prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Henry Kosgey, Joshua Arap sang, Francis Muthaura and Former police commissioner Hussein Ali have been named by Ocampo as the prime architects of the violence that followed the rigged 2007 elections.

 Messrs Ruto and Kenyatta plan to run for the top job in the country in 2012. Its not yet known how their supporters and tribesmen will react to the news of their impending change of address to a cell in the Hague if found guilty.

 I personally hope all those named will resign from any political office until their names are cleared. We cannot have alleged genocidaires running political offices.
We'll update you as soon as this fast evolving story throws up new stuff.

Sullying Kenya's Good Name

By Mark T Jones

  As one of Africa’s most ethnically diverse cities, Nairobi is a magnet for those seeking a better life. Kenya’s capital exudes an entrepreneurial spirit that helps ensure the nation remains a place of innovation and creativity. Education is valued and the vast majority of people are eager to make the most of a generally outward looking country, one eager to be the dynamo of the region. That said, to those prepared to look as well as see there are also a number of disquieting features that indicate serious weaknesses that have the potential to gnaw away at the heart of the Kenyan dream.
Recent events in Eastleigh are in many ways symptomatic of these weaknesses. When the Police and Armed Forces consciously set out to round up individuals like cattle in the name of a so-called security operation, then we are aware that the State has contempt for the rights of the individual. No amount of sophistry, semantics or half truths will mask the fact that arrests have been indiscriminate and that innocent people have suffered on the Orders of the State; for the Police and Armed Forces do not move without the blessing or say-so of the powers that be. The Authorities excuse their actions claiming that such action is necessary to deal with those who are in the country illegally, or may be subversive elements intent on perpetrating acts of terror. If this is the case why are the same Authorities not arresting individuals, owners of companies and prestigious institutions and dare I say it Heads of Government Departments and Ministers who employ and take advantage of individuals who may be in the country illegally?
Before action can be taken there needs to be proof. The Police and Security Forces make mention of an attack, before a proper investigation has taken place to prove it was precisely that. In these challenging times it is far too convenient to blame every explosion or incident on the likes of al Shabab. The vast majority of people in Kenya of Somali heritage are law abiding individuals and yet all too often the Somali community and those from other countries in the Horn of Africa are stigmatised. Derogatory remarks are made about ‘the Goat People’ and if Kenya is truly to live up to its democratic and pluralist aspirations such racism and xenophobia must end.
The arrest of some 400 individuals has been defended by the likes of Anthony Kibuci, Nairobi’s Provincial Police Chief; yet what has actually been taking place is an extensive trawling exercises that would appear to have an ulterior motive. People including women, children and the elderly have been held in conditions which in a time of war would be deemed a contravention of the Geneva Convention – with in many cases no food, limited or no access to water etc. As if this were not bad enough, there are reports of individual’s families having to buy their freedom. Such extortion of Kenyan nationals, foreigners and the vulnerable seems to have become something of a tradition in the run-up to Christmas. These modern day fishers of men, women and children sully the good name of Kenya.
No one doubts that there are legitimate security concerns throughout the region, but by seeking to demonise Somalis and others is both simplistic and dangerous. In the post 9/11 world it has become far too easy for governments to pander to the fear agenda. 2010 has seen Kenya take a bold step forward by endeavouring to embrace a new constitution; it would be a tragedy indeed if before the ink was really dry those meant to be the guardians of the State were allowed to undermine social cohesion and trust.
If cast iron evidence can be found for genuine wrong doing then let the Law follow its course, not as an instrument of Government, but as its pure impartial self. As for the people of Eastleigh and similar such communities, let us not forget that like Mary, Joseph and Jesus they have found themselves in a neighbouring country due to circumstances beyond their control. All the great faiths speak of charity and neighbourliness, and at this time of year it is all the more important to seek the truth and not rush to judgement. One thing is for certain and that is that Nairobi is a better place for its diversity.

Mark T Jones
London based freelance writer and international advisor on African Affairs

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In a sign of Political Maturity, Ruto admits to being a War Criminal

 In his latest effort to save himself from the guillotine, William Ruto has  said today he was willing to agree that he is a war criminal. Political tensions have been ratcheting lately as ICC prosecutor Moreno Ocampo threatened to out the names of prime suspects in 72 hours.

Ruto's participation in 2008's PEV has been the point of debate and under exaggeration for the past three years. In agreeing to wearing the war criminal tag, Ruto's intention was to lower the stakes of Ocampo's announcement.

In his unilateral admission of guilt, Ruto said, "My intention was to save my fellow Kalenjins from the impending holocaust. We've been picking up reports of Central province gangs arming themselves to wipe out the kalenjin dirt from Wangu wa Makeeri's land."

"We won 2008's war and I thought it was good to quit while ahead since the pusillanimous Luo's have betrayed us." Ruto further went on to say. But Mr. Ruto's acceptance of 'war criminal' status seems to have  been to little too late. His nemesis, the leader of the Kikuyu criminal association, His excellency, Mr. Michuki said that Kikuyu had to have the last laugh. "If you rattle a snake, expect to bitten." He bellowed at a press conference organized at Kikuyu Central Command headquarters.

Elsewhere, after reports of Kibaki involvement in graft were made public by wikileaks, Kibaki responded in his typical calm, diplomatic manner and said , "Pumbavu! Assange ni mavi ya kuku. Tutamshika akiwa parepare. Kubaff, Waacha aandike. Pia sisi tukipewa donation ya kalamu by our Shynese (chinese) friends to tutaandika." Apparently the President didn't realise that the report was originally written by the US Ambassador. It was reported that the president ordered his followers to troll on Mr. Assange's facebook page as a sign of showing their displeasure.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kenya; The African Mexico, Its Stockholm syndrome and what Somalis can do to change their fortunes

 Kenya is being over-run by drug cartels and narco-hitmen. Its unprofessional and untrained police officers are getting whacked Mafia style right in the heart of Nairobi while they are pre-occupied with explaining their bad fortunes on non existent 'terrorists' and burqa clad femme fatales.

The uptick in clashes between Police and drug traffickers is a sign that Kenya's long running drug problem is coming of age. We have now entered a new phase where drug barons feel powerful enough to take on the weak  and co-opted police force. Kenya's is fast morphing into a Mexico. Its now the equivalent of a Brazilian Favella. Traffickers have heavily embedded themselves deep into every level of society and  are virtually controlling law enforcement on this almost failed state.

Thursday's police killings in Eastleigh and Roysambu was a show of force by the God fathers. Expect a new wave of assassinations carried out by commando-style hitmen. On Thursday, the Police's, or shall we say kenya's ragtag militia's weaknesses were layed out bare for all to see. Instead of cordoning off the place, collecting evidence and re-assuring the public, they went on to allege that  terrorists were behind the heinous act. How could they know in such a short time? They heard it from someone, who heard from someone that saw something. This engagement in rumour mill village policing only heightened the media's hysteria and vilification of Somalis.

To decipher this inexplicable obsession with Somalis, you don't have to look any further than Kenya's two biggest Media houses that are both beholden to their Indian owners and benefactors. These Indians and their allies in Parliament are engaged in wanton destruction of the country's future by plundering its wealth, selling narcotics to its youth and corrupting every public office in the land.

If I may paraphrase Frank Rich in a different context, to understand Kenya's subservience to Indian businesses and their interests, all you have to do is consult Wikipedia's article on "Understanding Stockholm syndrome"." It explains that hostage takers are mostly successful in winning the loyalty of their subjects if they temper their brutality with a bogus show of kindness. Before you know it, the victim will start concentrating on his captor's 'good side' and develop psychological characteristics to please them. 'Dependency,lack of initiative and an inability to think, act or decide."
Kenya's people and media have been under Indian hegemony for so long now that they are fully under spell of Stockholm syndrome. Ever since Somali merchants started to break this foreign strangle hold on business and finance, pro status quo forces have been agitating for a return to the old days of Indian ownership of half Kenya's GDP.
Somalis have to counter this concerted racial attack through a number of means:
(i)   Bleed the media houses financially by suing them through legal apparatus. Forming a legal body that sues them for defamation every time they write a fake story will waste a huge chunk of their profits  on legal fees.
(ii) A blanket boycott on products that are advertised on KTN and NTV. No Somali businesses and affiliates should also advertise on any of these media houses either.
(iii) Buy the services of journalists and columnists. These guys are even more corrupt than the police. A small fee will go a long way in getting you a lot of positive coverage.
(iv) If the media is not giving you a fair shake, start your own media. Frame your own agenda and don't let others brand you names. Aljazeera's success in shaping how the world sees the middle east is prove that it can be done. There must be a few Somali millionaires with the resources and  the will to do so.
(v) Somalis should form lobby groups whose purpose is to forward Somali interests in the legislature. This corrupt Godforsaken place is ruled through the checkbook.
(vi) Somali businesses and companies should also be a force for common good. Giving a little back to the slums that surround Eastleigh and South C will go a long way in dispelling the myths that are propagated by KTN and NTV.
(vii) Our brain dead representatives in Parliament should make some noise about this continued racism on the floor of the house. This might instigate some media self flagellation and reduce the intensity of this sustained racial defamation. To solve this, bellicose reprisals will be necessary but they have to be grounded on pragmatism.
(viii) Finally, as youths we should  take to social media such as Facebook and twitter to defend our brethren. I'll summarize by quoting Edmund Burke, "All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Of Sh. Mustafa, The Deficit of Leadership, Misplaced Priorities & The Makhraj (Solution)

 Two weeks ago I wrote a piece for the blog on Clerics that went down well with majority of the readers but drew the ire of a few of those who trade in cheap "holier- than-thou' monologues. Basically I elucidated my opinion that within the sparkly bubble that is our so called guardians (read clerics) reside individuals of questionable moral and intellectual capacity.  Their pontifications should be subject to rigorous questioning and cynicism. To get the best results out of our leadership, secular or religious, we should not never rely purely on their human good will. Also to succeed as a society we should never suppress debate and the free exchange of high brow opinions. I have no desire to tread in carefully scripted socially correct platitudes . I also don't wish to be popular since I don't fancy selling my soul. My hope is to illicit a strong reaction from my readers so that we can all begin to question the fundamentals our society is based on.

 Among the respondents to my earlier post was an individual who called my Opining "Kufr and blasphemous." This Bifwoli-esque individual also insisted that I "delete the post since it was abusing our Lord!" Capital letters and all. Unfortunately this sort of the cuff verbal hemorrhage is pervasive in our society anytime controversial issues such as clanism, bad leadership and the role of clerics in the perennial failure of Garissa to catch up with other kenyan cities come up. If we are to see any tangible difference in our lives Post 2012, such misplaced sensitivities have to replaced with visionary thinking that will free us from the doldrums of the status quo. This will boil down to the sort of leadership we chose. But the question of who is a good leader is an inherently difficult one to answer. How much of a leaders decisions should be informed by pragmatism and how much should be swayed by religious puritanism? These sort of questions will be integral to the debate once power is devolved to ethnically and religiously homogeneous counties. There will be jostling for power between religious leaders and those we elect (our clansmen). I have no answer to these questions but luckily for us, Sh. Mustafa, (may Allah bless him) has. In a very enlightened lecture, he goes where none of todays (somali) sheikhs have ever gone and by the way, I follow the lectures of almost all the famous somali ulamaa regularly so I'm not making that statement lightly.
Please listen to it if you have the time it will be 90 minutes spent well.
                                                                                                                                         -A. Ainy