Not Without my Daddy.

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of sharing in the joy and celebration of a young one of our kind being dedicated to the Lord. During the occasion, the preacher of the day, encouraged the new family to raise their young one in the ways of the Lord. This he said, quoting from the good book in 1st Samuel 1:27. A story is told of a young woman by the name Hannah, who desired of a child from God. In her prayer for a child, Hannah made a vow unto the Lord that if he will save her from her affliction and grant her a son, she would give him unto the Lord all the days of his life. Standing on this word, the servant of God greatly exhorted the young couple to dedicate their firstborn daughter unto the Lord as has always been the norm amongst Christians.


On a further reflection on the preacher’s sermon I realised how important a mother and father play a great role in the life of a young one. Time and again throughout history sociology professors have come up with theories and findings in trying to demystify the role of a father and fatherhood in the society; as such we need to ask ourselves what role should a daddy play in the role of raising up their children. Times have changed greatly since the stone age to apple and Facebook and therefore many social and cultural issues come into play in defining a father.In a  traditional African setting the father is always considered to be the bread winner in the family and roles were given to family members based on gender. I am made to understand that according to the swedes, in order for one to be considered to be a man he had to have a son, build a house and Plant a tree; on a deeper reflection, it shows the pressure society puts on men, which in my opinion is fair enough. It adds weight to the fact that a father has to be the provider and protector of his family. Some have added the roles of cooking, washing utensils and taking kids to school as part of being a father in the modern age; that is for you to decide.. depends with where you come from.

The good book in stressing the roles of the father in the society tells any father who would bother to read it that ” Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”in 1st Timothy 5:8. The father therefore remains the core provider of the family by all means whatsoever.Besides being a provider to his family, a father has the role of being a moral teacher to his children by instructing them according to scripture and the laws of the land. He serves the role of instilling qualities such as confidence, risk-taking, hardwork, persistence among others in their children. The father also plays the role of  a sex role model in the family set up. He gives a perfect example of how the male can fit into a family setting.His relationship with his boy child and girl child nurtures them into understanding their sexual orientation, behaviours and mannerisms and how to handle the opposite sex in a positive manner.

Sadly,a few cases of child negligence, single families around us;fathers,mothers killing their children just shows how the smallest unit in a society fabric is degrading into inhumane kind of behaviour. Sad stories in some slum areas have been told of young mothers aborting again and again;dead bodies of  infants found floating on a river. On reading between the lines,one learns of an irresponsible daddy, an irresponsible mummy broken or inefficient law and order institutions that do little in bringing the offenders to book.It is not a pleasant sight to behold when one bumps into children with a home but no food,homeless and food-less, street beggars by the day and petty robbers by the night forced to do this by circumstances brought upon them by their daddy’s and mummies, children with tattered clothes begging for a shilling or two.

It is upon us men to be the real daddies that society desires  of us by owning our children and bringing them to the ways of the Lord and the values we hold dear.

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Ever since the time you grew up, society conditioned you to view careers on a top to a bottom list; with the top being the best of careers while the bottom taking no credit. Conditioning came through when your parents would suggest a number of careers that appear or sound to be more prestigious; such as careers in medicine, law, economics, and engineering to name a few. Any other career, on the contrary, would not have appealed to them. The above-mentioned careers were considered and are still considered to be prestigious, worthy of honor and of a high social status. Careers in teaching, journalism, anthropology, policing, extension education would have and still brush some students the wrong way with their parents.
One big question I need to ask is; what parameters do you use to gauge or measure the value of a given career? Some measure a career in terms of how much it pays, some take pleasure in titles a career gives, some enjoy a given career because it makes them less of an office worker and more of a nomad worker. Some see the rate of career growth and networking as a factor. My point of concern is what would make a certain career more prestigious than the other? At the end of the day, everybody wants to make a living and make progress in their own individual lives. I am tempted to think social status is what determines the value of a career. No wonder careers in law, medicine, and engineering are highly placed in societies. This can be undoubtedly proven whenever national examination results are released especially in a country like Kenya. The top candidates that usually emerge in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations when interviewed over electronic and print media will proudly mention medicine, law or engineering as their dream career. Interestingly enough, no single candidate has ever been heard mentioning a career in agriculture, journalism, education and the like; notwithstanding that agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, doesn’t Kenya need more of agricultural experts to give technical advice on how to improve food production.

Kenya as a country has a development blueprint dubbed ‘Vision 2030’. It stands on three pillars of Social, Economic, and a Political pillar. My layman understanding is that by 2030, as a country we should be talking about development milestones on the three pillars. One thing you cannot run away from as an educated countryman is the fact that your economy thrives on agriculture, tourism, and industrialization. Methinks society has conditioned many of her offspring’s to view a career in terms of social status and honor rather than the need it can meet. As much as Kenya needs doctors and lawyers as a country, it equally needs agronomists, horticulturists, biologists, data analysts, social workers among other professions. The best of students should not only play the social status card but also try to add value to other well paying, national-building careers.

Sad enough is the fact that some Kenyans will never appreciate certain careers in this country. Careers in Kenya Police especially traffic, Kenya football especially the national team head coach. The head coach of the football national team is never spared either such that however much he tries to work to improve the performance of the national football team a single win among many loses won’t receive a single praise. However much he outshines his previous performance, Kenyans will still have a reason to point a finger.

While our Police force has been a sham ( extra-judicial killings, bribery, ghost police officers, controversial promotions)to the point of attracting the attention of an Independent Police Oversight Committee – IPOA, children should not be allowed to grow up feeling a career in the police force is for the losers in society. On the same knot, a career in football should not be viewed in a bad light by young job seekers. Kenya is no doubt proud of Victor Wanyama the Southampton midfielder who is moving to Tottenham Hotspurs next season for £ 11 million. Though a few of our players have made it to the international football arena, we are not to say that the chances for our players are dim.  I believe our good days in football are yet to come.

Your career is your choice, you know best where your passion lies. I encourage you to live your dream and be the best you were meant to be.

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First and foremost I want to sincerely laud former president of Kenya Mwai Kibaki. Upon taking the reigns of power  after the general elections of 2002, Kibaki (and his government Narc) forever changed history in the Kenyan education sector. Millions of Kenyan parents with school going kids breathed a sigh of relief when Kibaki announced free primary education to millions of school going children. For sure, that was a milestone in Kenya’s education history. For sure, it was a far cry from maziwa ya nyayo.
In that year alone (2003) public primary schools flooded with pupils as enrolment skyrocketed almost to the high heavens. The world was pleased with a nation that was ready to educate it’s children, as such foreign aid was readily granted by the UK government.
Children hungry and thirsty for an education couldn’t have been rewarded more. It was a success story to say the least.
However, somewhere along the way cracks started forming on a wall  well-built and with so strong a foundation. It wasn’t long before it was alleged that their was massive misappropriation and embezzlement of funds meant for free primary education by top officials in the education ministry. It was sad, pathetic and a stab in the back of school going kids. One of the local dailies then screamed the headlines ‘A tale of two professors’ The then education minister Professor Sam Ongeri and his permanent secretary professor John Ole Kiyiapi were put to task to explain how the money had been misappropriated by education officials….
One other thing as a writer was to later write is the fact that the Narc government never foresaw the danger that loomed ahead. Education facilities in schools and institutions of higher learning became congested and flooded with students thanks to the double intake programme. The double intake programme began in 2011, the year I joined University in the month of August. Having sat my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in the year 2009, I had selected four and revised the courses I intended to pursue. The exercise had been conducted at the Western education provincial headquarters in Kakamega. Thereafter I was to await my admission letter to campus for one year 6months. In the time in between I engaged myself in tertiary courses like computer in addition to running my uncle’s businesses. At the time I joined university,  a degree took four academic years to be completed which is still the case, however today unlike then,long holidays come after a semester instead of one academic year. This had been announced to us after we had completed our first semester to our consternation. The main reason given was that there was going to be a double intake and the school could not accommodate that large number of students and therefore one group ( K.C.S.E candidates 2009) had to go for a long holiday  and allow the K.C.S.E candidates 2010 to be enrolled in January 2012. This happened in the University I was. There were other scenarios different from mine in other universities. The 2010 candidates were lucky; thanks to the double intake they had not been at home for long waiting for admission to University.

I was  highlighting a situation that had been brought about by free primary schooling in Kenya over the years. Institutions of high learning as I write this are flooded with students who are under facilitated and with less materials, laboratories, libraries and workshops for research and innovation. Adding insult to injury lecturers in both public and private universities have been periodically complaining of poor pay forcing some to skive lecture sessions. It was only recent when Moi  University KPA campus students in Eldoret rioted over lecturers not attending lecture sessions when they had payed their school fees in full.Due to strained resources and large number of students in universities, (five students sharing one computer -case scenario) quality of education and that of graduates is beginning to dwindle.

After independence, Kenya only boasted of 8 major universities, currently their are 31 universities registered with the Commission for Higher Education (CHE). Despite this being progressive, that number still can’t measure to the large number of students joining University yearly. Amongst universities counted, some are private and only afforded by the well-off in society. Private universities seem to be better equipped and facilitated compared to public, however, few are the number of students who attend private as compared to public universities.
Employment in Kenya is also becoming a tricky affair in Kenya given the large number of universities holding graduation ceremonies for their graduands every year; with some even holding two graduation ceremonies in a year. As I write this, am not formally employed and the number of my course mates who are employed can stand up and easily be counted. Unfortunately, this is a reality that the economists, policy makers, strategists and researchers in the government were supposed to foresee and create measures that would ensure such large number of students are accommodated  both in government and private sectors where their skills are much needed.
It’s a pity that many are still on the job search without any experience. It’s only experience and what you are good at that employers want to see. Some  careless about the papers and recommendations you carry. This begs the question, how can the government transform it’s top cream ( fresh graduates from universities) from being academicians into practitioners who can solve the present world problems in their area of study. In my opinion, the government owes it’s graduates big in terms of making them relevant and practical in their careers.
Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that the government has also played a big role in ensuring that it’s students are able to complete a university education through the Higher Education Loans Board ( HELB). That is much appreciated though not a beneficiary myself. In most graduation ceremonies graduants are encouraged to be job creators and not only seek jobs. I believe in creating a job , one needs to possess the relevant skills that will put him /her in a better position to create the job but here is a scenario where a half -baked graduate with little exposure ; who even securing a good place for their field industrial attachment wasn’t easy owing to the large student population is expected to be skillful and well oriented upon leaving campus. The government I believe should link up with private individuals who have set up companies that nurture graduates in their field of interests to help them nurture students from being academicians to practitioners with hands on in solving problems in their field of endeavour.

The chancellor of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Dr. Mwai Kibaki while addressing students in a recent graduation ceremony at the institution encouraged  every stakeholder on board including lectureres, professionals, economists, researchers, policy makers to not only equip students with knowledge but a possible reflection and a true picture of the job they are studying for. He encouraged them to make their students also love and enjoy what they do. He emphasized that institutions of higher learning are meant to be centres for research and innovation by world class standards and therefore the government should put more funds into developing our institutions of higher learning.

Kirimari, Kenya

Kirimari

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Kirimari is a word coined by the Aembu people in Kenya, meaning land on top of the hill. You would still be right to title this blog post as Embu, Kenya.
It is a now a month since I landed in this economically vibrant town in Eastern Kenya. Born and raised in Western Kenya, Embu to me was yonder and a place I had never been.

I am here to do what people do – work. Given that it’s an agriculturally rich county you would be forgiven for thinking am an agriculturist. Embu is in a  semi-arid area with high temperatures that make you sweaty and thirsty; if you actually find it hard to gobble 6-8 glasses of water a day, Embu is the right place to change that. I myself have been doing with 4litres of water half a day given the hot working environment. I find myself taking shower two times a day to relieve the body of heat and sweat. For the hydrophobic guys, this is not your place, flee away very fast.

So what does my job entail!? I work on a growers farm majoring in the production of horticultural crops namely Demon chili ( kanyenje) for the local name, French beans ( mishiri), watermelon, bananas and onions. My typical day begins at 5 a.m. Wake up hot or sweaty shower up, prepare and take a hurried breakfast and jump on the next motorbike to my place of work. By the time am leaving my place of stay it’s 6a.m  so I arrive at my place of work at about 6:30a.m thanks to a bumpy 11km ride over a rising and falling terrain with roads that are quite unfriendly, showering you with dust in a dry weather and slippery, sticky mud on a wet season. By virtually 7:30 a.m almost all employees and workers have reported for duty. A normal working day usually begins at 8:00a.m. Walking on gumboots the whole day is now a part of me; I work in the production department and my key responsibilities include supervising labor in blocks, supervising bed maintenance and general routine management practices on the crops in various blocks. By 4p.m am done working but due to the distance,  transport logistics and sometimes the nature of work on a given day I arrive at my place at about 6 or 7 p.m.

Here in kirimari,  two local tribes exist the Aembu people and their cousins the Mbeere people. I am in Mbeere south, Kiritiri to be more precise. Though other tribes have also found Embu hospitable and liveable such as the Akamba, Agikuyu and Abaluhyia like me. The Agikuyu resonate well with the Mbeere people and therefore can communicate effectively. The dominant economic activity is agriculture with miraa being the main cash crop that sells like hotcake. On entering a pub or a club one would mistake revelers as people suffering from mumps. Their left or right cheeks can be seen bulged with shovings of miraa (muguka) accompanied with roasted groundnuts ( to make it tastier) , taken down by a bottle of beer and wound up with a smoke puff from cigarettes. What a stuffy and breathtaking place to be.

Given the side effects, the sour or rather tasteless plant may have on your healthy young men and women consume it with relish enjoying every bite that goes by. However, it leaves behind a wake of irresponsible father’s and husbands that lazy around making their unusually beautiful women more productive than men; no proclivities here, save me your curious mind. Women walk as far as 11 kilometers to go work to and fro something I have not seen in Western Kenya. Most women there would prefer to stay at home doing house chores or be forced to stay at home by their husbands who go to work instead. A lazy, irresponsible husband will be harangued with an avalanche of insults and contempt from an irate wife.

In Kirimari, agriculture thrives more so because of River Thiba backed by the seven folks hydroelectric irrigation schemes namely Kamburu, Kiambere, Kindaruma, Gitaru, Masinga , Mutonga and grand falls. The last two are still not operational.
To anyone with misgivings about this place I would advise you on the contrary that it’s a place to be. Tourist attraction sites within include the 7 folks, Mt. Kenya and the Karue hill picnic site off Embu- Runyenjes road.