Showing posts from 2015

President Kenyatta, wife, Catholic Bishops curtain-raise Pope’s youth meet with ‘Mukangala’ dance.

When you have a Cardinal, dozens of Bishops, hundreds of priests and nuns in one place, you expect all things secular to go through the window. When you have politicians, as we have seen in the so-called prayer rallies, politics usually takes over. But Friday, at the Moi International Sports Centre, in Kasarani, we had His Holiness Pope Francis – and neither politics nor prayers took over, but song, dance and deep self-reflection. The thousands of the young people who had heeded the call of the Catholic bishops in the country turned up at the stadium to have their date with Pope Francis on his maiden tour in the country. They sat on the terraces singing, cheering, and dancing. As they awaited the Pope, a party mood engulfed the stadium. "...the Bishops, in their black cassocks with pink band cinctures on their waists had no option but to dance away. And that they did, not simply swaying from side to side, but actually doing that shoulder-shaking dance, hands raised and sto

Pope Francis to Kenyan youth: Shun corruption, tribalism and pray to defeat radicalisation

The curse of tribalism, the ghost of corruption and the threat of radical teachings yesterday formed the topic of Pope Francis’ talk with thousands of young people in Nairobi. The Holy Father dropped the religious red tape, turned to his mothertongue, Spanish, and through a translator, engaged thousands of eager Kenyan youth in a heart-to-heart talk at a packed Moi International Sports Centre, in Nairobi’s  Kasarani neighbourhood. The global head of the Catholic Church confessed that “even in the Vatican there are cases of corruption” and lamented that it was something that disturbed him every day. But his mission yesterday morning was to inspire a change in attitude among the thousands of young people in Kenya whose role models made their money through dubious means. “Corruption is something that eats the inside. Like sugar, it is sweet. We like it. It is easy… you end up taking so much sugar that you become diabetic or the country ends up being diabetic. Each time we acce

Laughter galore as Kikwete’s flawless Kiswahili washes off on Kenyan House Speakers

Tanzania's President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete shakes hands with the Speaker of Kenya's Senate Ekwee Ethuro (in blue robes) as the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi looks on. (PHOTO/STATEHOUSEKENYA FACEBOOK PAGE) Kenyan lawmakers cornered Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete and demanded an address in Kiswahili. The MPs who had sat quietly listening to the visiting Head of State address the House in English, pushed for a Kiswahili address from their guest, and being an easy man, Kikwete obliged. The Tanzanian President’s aide promptly handed his boss a sheaf of papers with the Kiswahili version of the speech, and it is in there that the deep secrets, hitherto known to only a few people were poured out to the whole country in a speech beamed live on Kenya’s public broadcaster. The Kiswahili delivered in a conversational tone, with the ease of a brother talking to a brother, Kikwete explained why, to Tanzanians, Kenya is a very important partner not just in

LONG READ: The YALI Experience in 3,200 Words

There are lessons you are inadvertently taught when you are a 35-year-old being forced to sit in the same class with an 18-year-old. Imagine someone who is half your age, with less of life experiences sitting by your side, being taught the things you should have learned eighteen years ago. You feel a little jealous that you were not told these things early enough; that some people are just lucky. But you also feel hopeful that a young generation is being made to learn about better ideals of leadership, and what a good society should look like. It is also somewhat shameful that you haven’t really done a lot to ‘change lives’, and in a country with a life expectancy of 61 years such as Kenya, you take a silent vow – the things you tell your heart and your mind and your conscience— to use the remaining part of your life to change the world. Your world. But when you sit in that class with an open mind, to learn not just from the lecturers but also from your colleagues, both the one

30 gems from Prof Olive Mugenda to the YALI participants

YALI invited the Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University,Prof Olive Mugenda to give one of those motivation/inspiration talks. She is, they said, a transformational leader. The good professor came and gave a talk titled “Systems Theory and Transformational Leadership: Building blocks for sustainable performance” It was, in a nutshell, the story of her life, intertwined with the story of Kenyatta University. Here are 30 things she said. Read, get your lesson, smile and move on. Is it ever that serious? Well, let's see.... "When I was here many many years ago, this place was like a desert…The first thing I did was make it green. Have you seen the beautiful green hedges? When we first planted, the students would uproot them, but I'd tell my people to go and plant them again… now if you try to uproot them, the students won’t allow it. They love it!  "In a university like KU, even if I didn't transform it, life would go on.  I'd come to the office,

Decisions...Results. Choices...Consequences. Lessons.

The first week at YALI just flew past. I remember that first day on a sunny Monday morning when the tears rolled down the cheeks of Mark McCord as he shared his personal story about taking responsibility for decisions he made years ago. I don’t know how he felt, because I have never made a decision that directly led to the death of someone I worked with. The past is a great place to visit but a terrible place to live. #YALITransformation — YALI RLC EA (@YALIRLCEA) August 24, 2015 I am a journalist, so inadvertently, I may write stories that get people killed or fired or haunted. But it has never been that personal, like Mark’s guard when Mark was a bigshot of some company in Jalalabad in Afghanistan, and he watched as an IED planted on a road blew out his guard. His friend. His colleague. After Mark’s tears, there was this game about the basic things that you need to know about people; about their families. Farah called it Bingo. I didn’t know it

YALI Cohort 2 Chronicles: The French connection

When you are a Kenyan who speaks three languages –English, Kiswahili and Luhya (my mothertongue), it is not funny when providence thinks it apt to match you with a Burundian. That’s what happened when David Kamau, @TheRealKamauD , said we should pair up and introduce each other to the rest of the YALI clan. I ended up with Njari Jean (read John, because I can’t figure out how to make it sound like John when it is written). Now Njari is a guy who heads Yowli (it actually rhymes with YALI) but it stands for Young Women Knowledge and Leadership Institute. And I had to speak the little French that I had learnt overnight from my roommate Freeman Luboya. That is what YALI does to you… they throw you in some unfamiliar territory in front of 81 strangers – 162 eyeballs—and they expect you to dance on that stage flawlessly. Let’s just say, I tried. Because after the exercise, Pascal walked up to me and spoke to me in French, then Lingala, and when he saw I was just staring, he act

YALI Cohort 2 Chronicles: ‘Figure it out’

What does a journalist do in the middle of entrepreneurs, budding activists, organisers, and aspiring politicians, okay, should I say leaders? How does a journalist get in? How did you get in? These are the questions people were asking me, and like everyone else, I had a template response: I applied, I was accepted, so here I am. Some did not understand why I’d be here to study public management! Well, here’s the short answer: I cover politicians. I think I know politics. I also think I know baloney. Plus I think I know a little bit about legislation and public policy. I just want to know, why we tend to have very good politicians, but a hopeless development record. A hopeless government. That’s it. I was approached by people who asked me what “column” I wrote. I didn't have an answer. If you were me, well,  you can’t do anything but explain that you do news, analyses and features, and that you don’t have a column. That’s until a fearless participant walks to you and asks

YALI Cohort 2 Chronicles: Dress Code

I hate parties because of one thing: the rules! I get invitations to evening cocktail parties where I have to come dressed in “business attire”. In the evening!  I simply don’t attend. One, because I don’t touch alcohol; two, because it is after work, and I am usually too stressed at that hour to engage in light banter; three because I wear suits as a professional necessity, not because I am comfortable in them. See? So, guess what? On the first day of YALI Cohort 2, Intel East Africa threw a party and asked people to come wearing “native dress or attire from own country”. Basically, they were throwing a bash to tell us ‘Congratulations for making it’, but we had to dress in a certain way to showcase the culture of 14 countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Central Africa Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, and Somaliland. @YALIRLCEA learn form the past but don't live in it#yalitransformation

President Uhuru marks 37th anniversary amid fresh clamour for Jomo Kenyatta's mausoleum to be open to the public

President Uhuru Kenyatta will today walk to Kenya's most secure grave to honour the life and times of the man who sired him and gave him a big name which together with political serendipity have opened many political doors for him. The President who was born to power and who now rules Kenya plans to carry flowers for his father's grave, pay his respects and then attend mass at the nearby Holy Family Minor Basilica, according to State House. Tomorrow,I will lay flowers on the grave of our founding President ahead of a church service at Holy Family Basillica #RememberingKenyatta — President of Kenya (@PresidentKE) August 21, 2015 The pavement to the mausoleum is made of concrete slabs. On each side of the pavement just inside the gate there are 22 evenly spaced flagpoles, 11 on each side about two metres apart. The poles always fly flags of Kenya. The flags in nearly every other place can afford to fade or even tear as they submit to the weather elements, but these on

Raila Odinga names Anne Waiguru, Isaack Hassan in his 'List of Shame'

PHOTO/ RAILA'S FACEBOOK PAGE Opposition leader Raila Odinga Friday honoured a promise he made a week ago with the release of old names in a new style, this time, with an explosive declaration that the names were mysteriously deleted from President Uhuru Kenyatta's dossier on corruption. At a news conference in Nairobi's Capitol Hill offices, Mr Odinga said the name of Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru and electoral chief Issack Hassan as those that were left out of the final dossier that the chief executive of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Halakhe Waqo submitted to Parliament four months ago. Raila’s statement came with just seven days to go to the day US President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive in the country to for a key visit at which he is scheduled to address the runaway corruption in the Jubilee administration . It also came a day after he met the chief of the Independent Electoral Commission, Raila said Waiguru and Hassan have to