fun = sustainability

Dear Diary,

You guessed it right… Am still in Caux. 10 days down and 11 more to go!

I am very excited today. I guess it’s a carry over of great moments from yesterday. I had the opportunity to do photography for the conference working with my team mate Liubou under the watchful eye of Award winning photographer and poet Yousef Khanfar. The first 30 minutes were quite a turn off for me as I tried to adjust myself to the workings of a borrowed camera (thanks to Maha)! But trust me, after 12 hours of photography punctuated with disappointments, loads of encouragement and over 500 clicks, I had 19 photos worthy of space on the front page of a magazine!

So today the day started pretty slow. As usual we had reflection moments, followed with some housekeeping business. Then came the most exciting part of the day; when we get to maximize the skills learnt. It’s been fun and exciting engaging in practical activities that help in stretching our skills, discovering our weaknesses and maximizing our strengths. Must say, our team leaders have been quite helpful in harnessing our skills.

My team has been working on a short promotional documentary on the ‘Hub’ – considered to be the heart of the ongoing conference (Learning to Live in a Multi-cultural World). This is where new ideas are born and given life through sharing of goals, anticipated challenges and possible opportunities for support – either material or financial. Working on the project has been a massive learning experience especially getting the ‘right’ shots bearing in mind we are working with experienced filmmakers. Many a times, my artistry nearly suffered inferiority complex because these experienced folk wear their art (and hearts) on their sleeves.  Sincerely, I was really impressed by my team leader’s patience as I did several dry runs for a single shot, with a thousand and one mistakes. Guess it’s part of the learning coz am not sure am that patient.

The three other teams have also been working on their projects. They should all be ready by end of the week. Am looking forward to a competition of sorts with every filmmaker and his team trying to outdo the other!

The other super interesting part of the day was a session conducted by Daniel May – a tech guru from Australia. He has a great wealth of knowledge in use of social media for influence that he shared without holding back. His presentation was relevant, timely and well punctuated with real life experiences. According to him, “the next revolution will not be youths demonstrating in the streets but rather the fast flow of information through the web and other digital media.”

There was no better way to end my day than to speak with my family on skype! Tomorrow is another day to tell stories through the lens. Its becoming an enchanting affair by the day.

Kim.

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This is my sincere plea…

Kenya is counting down days to the referendum. Emotions are running high and campaigns growing hotter by the day. Many are shifting camp from the

Your vote counts!

GREENS to the REDS and vice versa while others are reaffirming their commitments to their camps. Whether politically, socially, legally or spiritually correct, everyone seems to have an opinion on this proposed draft constitution.

I write to you, dear children, because you know what is right and wrong. You have no will power to decide either green or red but have the ability to watch, pray and hope that the decision makers will have you in mind as they cast their ballot!

I write to you, fathers and mothers, because you have lived your life. You have run the race irrespective of whether you finished or not, fought the fight, whether you won or not. It’s time for the youth to fight. Help write a great history for future genrations. Generations that you brought into this world.

I write to you young men and women because you count in the making of history in this country Kenya. You represent a majority of the decision makers come this August 4th. You have been used, misused, abused and later accused. It’s time for change. And only you can make the change you want to see. You need to make a choice that will improve your lives for the better in future. Think not of yourselves now, but your generations to come. It’s the best gift we (though I wont be able to vote) can give to ourselves and our children.

I write to you men of the cloth for you are the voice of reason and messengers from the Father. How I pray that you seek to unite than divide your flock. You have a great responsibility in helping heal wounds that will be created before, during and after 4th August. The last time you fell. This time around you cant afford to fall. But even if you fall, you must take responsibility!

I write to you members of the August House. You are one funny lot! Many are the times you have taken us for a ride. I bet you recognize Wanjiku’s discomfort and displeasure at you moves. And I ask myself, could you be different? Well, how I pray that you lead the country into the right direction as God expects of you. You represent Wanjiku and not yourselves; that’s one great point yo always seem to forget whenever you go up there. Listen to what I (mwananchi) have to say. Don’t push what you want to say!

I write to you who will not vote! You just missed your opportunity to write history in the making of a new nation. Pray is the best you can do. And hope that peace prevails.

But even as Kenya prepares to hold its second referendum under Kibaki’s

reminding us of what has been and in the future what is to be seen...

watch, the greatest hope is that it will act as a platform to unite us rather than divide us. We made a commitment that ‘NEVER AGAIN’ shall we allow ourselves to be divided by our tribal, cultural or even religious inclinations.

Let’s stand the test of time.

Peace!

Dear Friend,

I write to you from my new base in Switzerland. I miss you. So much. But you are also missing the experience here. 🙂

It’s only five days since I arrived but it feels like I have been here for some months now. I am excited about the warm and smiling friends I meet here and the bright weather (although yesterday it was lil dull with showers in the evening). And of course a great re-union with friends from Harambee Africa and the All Africa Conference in Nakuru Kenya. I am sooo excited! How I wish you were here with me. Oh and by the way, did I mention that I touched snow for the first time in my life? Wow! It was a great experience. I bet its an awesome time for all the first time experiences I am having including traveling out of Africa and being at Caux.

The biggest question I have been asking myself for the last few days, do we sleep because it is time to sleep or because it is dark? And I bet to me it’s a culture shock to be in Swiss where unlike in Kenya (and most other parts of the world) the sun sets at 10Pm. In my world, (Kenya) the sun retires to bed at 7.00Pm. Funny isn’t it? Or weird? Yeah. But it’s all lovely anyway.

I must confess. I did no research on where Switzerland is, what it has or anything about it. Although from my little knowledge, I know it’s a hub for white chocolate (already had a share of it) and great watches (seen alot on the adverts). Grandpa also told me it’s the most expensive country. Which I approve!

With 29 more days to go, I hope to learn a lot and share a lot too. Am worried though of life after Caux. After the lovely encounters with friends and visionaries, after all the fun and flair, what next? That’s my greatest worry. But am not scared. I will cross that river when I get to it.

That’s all for now lovely buddy! Talk to you later.

Mbish or Kim as they call me here.

Ten big lies that Kenyans tell themselves to escape reality

I came across this article that really tickled my fancy on how Kenyan we can get! I hope it is a wake up call for us to write a new story for the decade that just  started in 2010….

OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, Kenyans seem to have developed an almost pathological ability to lie to themselves. Today, everywhere you turn, somebody is buck-passing. Nobody wants to take responsibility any more. Psychologists probably explain it best as a desperate mechanism to cope with the harsh realities of life, but this doesn’t make it less bizarre and surreal. Doubt me? Consider these 10 common lies.

One, that the government has to help us with our personal problems. How many times have you seen on TV a Mama Mboga whose kiosk has been demolished, or somebody who, somehow, has sired 16 children saying, “naomba serikali itusaidie…”?

Fact is, there is no animal known as government that has bottomless pockets to solve people’s individual problems. Government is there to formulate policy and construct basic infrastructure with tax money. Anyone who wants to benefit from your tax money is a parasite.

THE SECOND LIE IS THAT KENYA IS a rich country whose wealth is looted by its leaders. Ha ha ha! Kenya is actually extremely poor. With nearly 40 million people, according to the CIA’s factbook, the country has a Gross National Product of just $31 billion. Contrast that to Singapore, with a population of about 4.7 million and a GDP of $155 billion. Kenyans should be thinking of baking a bigger cake, not how to share crumbs!

The third lie? That Kenyans are decent, hardworking people, but their leaders are bad. Go tell it to the birds. People get the leaders they deserve. And on that hard-working bit, it is only true for a very small part of the population, mostly women.

If you go to the rural areas, you will find most shopping centres clogged with .drunk men as early as 9 am. Without women, this country would be as poor as Sierra Leone! Lie number four is that a new Constitution will solve all our problems. Fat chance. We have laws against murder and arson, but did that stop the atrocities of early 2008 and the mayhem wreaked by Mungiki?

Fact is, a Constitution is as good as its implementation, otherwise it is just a piece of paper with ink stains. Countries like Britain don’t even have a written one. We need to rediscover our moral direction more than we need a Constitution. Lie number five is that foreigners, especially diplomats like US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger love us very much.

Let’s be blunt here. Diplomats are sent here by their governments to represent their own interests. They don’t love Kenya any more than they love Bhutan or Haiti. This to them is just a work-station. Nobody loves Kenya as Kenyans do, or should. This is your home, and only you can change it for the better. Start working on it.

The sixth lie is that Kenyans are a Godly, peace-loving people. OK, maybe we go to churches and mosques, but that doesn’t make us more God-fearing than the Russians or the Chinese. Which God-loving people wake up one day and start hacking each other with pangas (machetes)?

The seventh lie? That to jumpstart Kenya we need free education, free healthcare…. Let’s all get this clear: There’s nothing like a free lunch. When you are a poor country with no infrastructure and you spend the little you have on NGO-driven freebies, you’ll remain just that — poor. Free things should only be for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, such as the old and disabled.

Lie number eight — that it is poverty that leads to crime and acts of stupidity — has become popular of late. People burn while looting a fuel truck, or steal from the corpses of road accident victims and all you hear is the “poverty” excuse.

NOW, IF POVERTY WAS THE ROOT OF all evil, how come there are some really good people like national rugby coach Ben Ayimba from places like Kibera? Lie number nine? That a Kenyan ‘Obama’ will swoop down to save this country and lead us to everlasting prosperity.

The messianic narrative may make you sleep better, but it won’t happen. Look at China, the greatest economic miracle on earth. It has taken the sacrifice of an entire generation to pull millions out of poverty. One ‘Obama’ cannot do the job alone. Lie number ten. That your ethnic community is more hardworking, more honest than the others. If that were so, how come you — as a person and as a community — are still as poor as you are?

By DAGI KIMANI, dkimani@nation.co.ke

Mr Kimani writes for The EastAfrican.

ROARING LAMB

This semester in campus I took a course that integrates all that I have learnt in Media studies together with Christianity as a way of preparing me for the corporate world. One of the books that we read as a class was Bob Briner’s Roaring Lamb. It was a great eye opener. The expectation at the end of class was to write a reflection on how we feel we would be Roaring Lambs as we prepare to go out in the corporate world.

As a determined and upcoming young African leader, who is eager for a changed society, and is ready to explore change in my own life as part of bringing integrity and positive changes in society,

APPRECIATING the opportunities available to serve within my community

RECOGNIZING the need for a veracious source of leadership with emphasis among the youths who have been used, misused, abused and later accused by those in power and authority,

AWARE of the challenges posed especially when trying to influence positive change in a society where ‘Anything goes’, and

EMULATING Christ who was the greatest servant leader that ever existed in history,

I commit myself to use any available medium to influence positive change in my society. Through my faith and knowledge gained while undertaking my degree in campus, coupled with my strong interpersonal skills and seasoned with a fearless attitude and passion for service, I hope to stir other people’s hearts into living for the sake of others, condemn corruption and other vices in the society and to make a conscious decision to support change based on honor and responsibility. This I hope to do through motivational sessions, blog posts and leadership forums that seek to create a platform to air challenges and seek to respond to them. Strictly speaking, I would love to celebrate virtuous leaders guided by the need for accountability and honesty rather than grumble over leaders whose sole inspiration is in greed for wealth and power amassed through corruption and shoddy dealings. We have enough for everyone’s needs but not enough for anyone’s greed in this world.

My heart has been inspired and strength excited chiefly by three people in the media industry who have used their learnt skills, values inculcated and faith they subscribe to and greatly influenced through their respective media. First is Johnson Mwakazi working with the Royal Media as a news anchor in Citizen television. As much as he has been gossiped and criticized by both friend and foe, he has managed to stand the test of time in his faith. He has been ridiculed and jeered at but still rejoices in the fact that whoever he is serving is greater than all who rant about him. Second is Njeri Kihangah, a former Daystar student who served in the DCF- Athi River and who is currently a writer in the Nation media group, Zuqka magazine. She has greatly influenced an increase in Christian content within her area of operation. She has been sent to places of compromise to do stories and has always proved strong, the test of her faith. Last is David Makali, author of Media Law and Practice and editor of Expression Today (ET) magazine; a watchdog for the media houses. While growing in his career as a writer, he was lured with brown envelopes, threatened with death and even jailed for the sake of precision. In all, he stood by the truth being guided by his faith. Even with great challenges ahead, these people have stood to testify of God’s faithfulness.

I challenge myself and indeed my generation whom I am passionate about that, when good people who live according to principle and character, act wisely and courageously, then the course of history can be set on the correct path. The history that we know about leadership not only in Kenya but the world over, is where people go to office to gain affluence rather than to influence; they are concerned more about their rights than God’s will, benefits than mission to accomplish, success than obedience, external security than internal security and pleasing people than pleasing God. This is ceases to be a calling. I know that God does not call the qualified but qualifies those that He has called. I also know that this great vision will not come from speeches given from the top of my mind but the convictions and commitment that comes from the depth of my heart.

Oh God, help me!

Mbindyo; A great Youth Leader

My unedited profiled as captured by Mr. Ken Sawe as part of a class project in Daystar University.

When I first joined Daystar about three years ago, I knew very well that this was a great institution of higher learning. Great men and women had passed through the gates of Daystar and become successful in various fields from politics for the likes of Hon. Samuel Poghisio, the late Hon. Lorna Laboso to great media personalities like Lilian Muli, Rama Nyang, Larry Madowo, Johnstone Mwakazi just to mention a few. Comedians in the name of Eric Omondi have also graced this great institution. Abednego Mbindyo Kimanthi is not in the list above but to be honest, this young man is poised for great things in the near future.
It’s Tuesday 2nd November 2009 and we are in for the feature writing class as usual. I immediately notice students talking to Mbindyo in low tones about something although I was not quite sure since he had been away for the last two weeks. I was still in a state of suspense when madam Wamunyu asked Mbindyo to tell the class where he had been all this time. I gladly set up myself to hear what this young gentleman had to say about his absence.
He stood up confident as usual and talked for another thirty minutes everyone paying close attention to this great young man. Why do I say great? At only twenty two Mbindyo has transversed our continent attending various seminars on issues facing the youth and met who is who in Africa. He is not only a youth leader but also a servant leader, in fact he was awarded the servant leadership award in Daystar for his determination, hard work and sacrifices he has made. It was only during his speech in class that it dawned on me that he had been away in Addis Ababa Ethiopia for the 5th Harambee Africa Leadership training, according to Mbindyo, Harambee Africa is a leadership training program designed to guide young people towards ethical living and improved leadership in Africa. It is a program of Initiatives of Change (IofC), a network of people committed to the transformation of society based on change in individuals starting with themselves. He was there for two weeks and met youth representatives from all over Africa and was able to share ideas on how today’s youth can be empowered. This conference is just one among many and therefore decided to dig deep and know who Abednego Mbindyo Kimanthi is.

I got an opportunity to get a short interview and in a nutshell I found out that Mbindyo is true son of the African soil, a national youth leader with an authority in matters of Leadership and group dynamics especially among the youth. Born 22 years ago, the young man who aspired to be a doctor at a tender age, now finds passion in engaging with the community around him in life-changing initiatives. He is currently undertaking his first degree in Communications at Daystar University, Nairobi.

Mbindyo has had an opportunity to serve in different capacities of leadership. He had the honor of chairing the spiritual arm of Daystar University [Daystar Christian Fellowship], a peer educator’s forum and put into place a peace initiative, all of which are actively involved at the University’s community life. He has also been consulted in formulating the Daystar University HIV/AIDS & Drugs policy. He was honored with the Servant Leadership Award of Daystar University 2008 in recognition for his unwavering service and commitment in leadership to the Daystar family.

Outside the University setting, Mbindyo chaired the Resource Mobilization committee and later Events Coordination committee at his home church, AIC Jericho. He was also part of a team that developed a literature review and proposal on the National High school students strike under the auspices of Preserving Human Dignity [PHD]. He was part of Chops, a mentoring program under PHD for form four leavers hosted in Daystar University.

Mbindyo has had a profound contribution to the society through different initiatives that he has been involved in including Peace and Conflict Transformation Programs, HIV/AIDS awareness and support, Blood Donation drives, Peer Education and Hunger campaigns just to mention a few. He has maximized his potential in drama and music to reach out and impact lives.

Mbindyo has served as a board member at the sole Character Building institution in Kenya – Coalition for Character Building and Community Development – from its inception to early 2009. Currently, he is a member of the Music for Peace Africa [MP-A] Board as a youth representative. He also had an opportunity to work as a Marketing Assistant for Azizi Life; a poverty eradication project under Food for the Hungry International [FH], Rwanda office. Mbindyo represented Kenya in the 1st Gathering of Forgiveness Conference held in Rwanda as a Peace Ambassador in February 2009. As a determined young African leader, who is eager for a changed society, he was at the 5th Harambee Africa Leadership forum in Ethiopia where together with like- minded individuals, they formulated a vision for the Africa they want to see.

Mbindyo is a motivational speaker and trainer in Character Building, and Effective Youth Leadership. He is a role model and mentor to many young people in Africa. This young man is not only a role model to the youth in Kenya but also a mentor to many. At first I thought Mbindyo is this huge, proud and arrogant young man who knows everything. It was only after we became close that I realized that this young man was so humble, diligent and full of confidence.

In Daystar Nairobi campus Mbindyo is full of praise from his colleagues. According to Marcella Onsomu and Lilian Wamalwa, fourth year communication students had these to say about Mbindyo. Marcella described him as an industrious leader, hardworking and always willing to assist. Lilian on her part described Mbindyo in one word, a servant of the people.

I believe Mbindyo is a role model to many and a mentor to the youths of Kenya and Africa in general. I personally know Mbindyo and in my view this young man is poised for great things in the near future.
In conclusion Mbindyo has bone or two to pick with the Kenyan leaders .He strongly believes that Kenyans has the last chance to save their future through the Harmonized Draft constitution. His only concern is why the need for the office of President and Prime Minister. He believes it does not make sense and is actually a replication of responsibilities. But all in all, he believes it’s a great document that would receive his backing. He throws a word of caution though that Kenyans need to recognize that we cannot get a perfect constitution that suits everyone’s wish and desire, we have to make compromises and meet at the centre. On matters of youth leadership Mbindyo had these to say“ I think the 2007 election sparked recognition that the youth have a stake in the society. Gone are the days when they would entirely depend on the ‘mheshimiwa’ to come and give solutions to their problems. Many have been awakened and I believe will make the right choices. As we speak, the youth are taking leadership roles in the political scene and even in other orbs. The only challenge is that the old still want to cling on to power and secondly, the young just want positions and not leadership opportunities. They are more concerned with what they will achieve and not what they will give/offer. Let’s all open our eyes to the realities of this century.’’

I have put my case forward and am ready to put a bet on this guy. Abednego Mbindyo Kimanthi is poised for great things and it’s only a matter of time before we get another great man coming out of the gates of Daystar University. Let’s all watch this space.

By Ken Sawe

( http://latmag.ning.com/profiles/blogs/mbindyoa-great-youth-leader)

Leadership is not…

In the last article, I tried to demystify what Leadership is. This time round, I explore the opposite. Leadership is not:-

  1. Being bossy and domineering. It is not about Leaders being served by other people. Otherwise, it becomes misuse of authority.
  2. Selfishness and greed. Note that the world has enough for everyone’s need but for anyone’s greed!
  3. Position that one holds. It means that in case that position is withdrawn, you cease to exist.
  4. Management. Management deals with logistics, systems and targets while leadership deals with achieving set visions.
  5. Event. Neither is it ceremonial. It does not come to action only when there are activities or occasions to be attended to.
  6. Genetic. It is not automatic that if your parent was great leader you will be. We have great leaders whose parents or children were a failure.
  7. Education. Having a PhD, few MA’s and several degrees to your name does not automatically make you a leader but rather educated.
  8. Speeches that come from the top of our minds but the convictions and commitment that comes from the depth of our heart.
  9. Doing things to or for others or else it becomes exploitation or paternalism respectively. Seek to do things though people.
  10. Who you know or what you have. It is who you are!

Go thee into the world and Lead!