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Educated Leaders and Do They Matter? Point Blank with Asian Weekly 14th April 2017

Educated Leaders and Do They Matter?

Robert Mugabe Courtesy AfriclandPost

President Robert Mugabe, Courtesy AfriclandPost

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power” by Abraham Lincoln

A man, who wants his family’s survival, will do anything, his grades will not matter, his qualifications will not count and his skills will not work always.

But a man, who wants his power to grow, will do anything, his grades will not matter, his qualifications will not count and his skills will always work because he knows how to do it.

There has been a study by Timothy Besley, Jose G Montalvo and Marta Reynal-Querol that used data on more than one thousand political leaders between 1875 and 2004 to investigate whether having more educated leaders affects economic growth rates. In regards to African countries they found that ‘a transition from a graduate leader to a graduate leader has no effect while a transition from a graduate to a non-graduate has a large negative and significant effect.’

Africa has been the focus of the world for economic purposes including everything from energy, resources, human capital and the role of democracy. However Africa is struggling to keep up with Western standards and while the recent Tanzanian President John Magufuli is chartering a new way of doing things, the rest of the continent is lagging behind in western standards. Maybe Africa needs to look inwards and because of its diverse culture and traditions, it needs to set its own standards and goals. However basic education should be a must no matter what.

When the Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko shared his KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) exams results there was major uproar. Surely, a poor result in class will not result in any better score in running the County? Perhaps politics were at play because soon after the opposition’s candidate Governor Hassan Joho’s KCSE results were also under question. There is hope in Africa though, because according to an Internet poll, the world’s most educated president is none other than Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. Yes he was a teacher in the beginning of his career, has a qualification in Economics, is a lawyer, masters from University of London’s external programme’s and has a BA from Fort Hare University in South Africa.

While the basics of your education need to be covered and if not high scorer the average is quite ok too. According to the super power, United States of America, a great president needs to have a compelling vision, wherewithal to implement this vision, focus on a few major goals at a time and understand the process and implications of decision-making. These are as per Michael Siegel, who has written the book- The President as Leader.

But what about experience, surely this should count too?

According to Gautam Mukunda of the Harvard Business Review, “if you choose an insider who you know can do the job well, most of the time that person won’t perform any differently from any other top candidate with lots of experience, I call them “filtered leaders”, they might be good, but not brilliant.” He goes on to say that it is the unfiltered leaders, the outsiders without lots of experience who perform the very best.

While Senator Mike Sonko may not be highly qualified, he drew inspiration and connected immediately with the people of Nairobi and won the hearts of the Nation. A great example of an unfiltered leader is the US President Abraham Lincoln, but you have to remember says Gautam “you can choose leaders who are likely to lead you to big wins or big losses, or you can choose leaders who will definitely be good at their job but almost certainly won’t be great.”

Thus, a good leader needs qualifications but a great leader needs to be an excellent communicator and negotiator. What is the point of having a leader in a powerful position who looks at either ‘hands’ for advise, he or she should be capable of taking the decision or choice with all ears, eyes and opinion open. Life is the biggest teacher and experience adds to the wisdom, degrees and qualifications only pile up in the brain’s cupboard as trophies, rarely to be used to make any real difference, honestly.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Happiness Is Inside All of Us, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 24th March, 2017

 

Happiness Is Inside All Of Us

World-Happiness-Day-Quotes-2017

Some people chase success, some people chase money, very few people chase happiness. That is because they think it will come from success and money. While there is no denying that money buys you things you like, places you want to go to, certain experiences, happiness has no price tag. You have to earn your happiness.

The Dalai Lama says, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” That is kind, but I like how Abraham Lincoln also sums it up, by saying “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

Yes, it is up to you and you only to be happy.

The International Day of Happiness started in 2013 to recognize that happiness is an important requirement of our lives.

While this year the Smurfs (famous cartoons) rallied on their three goals to attaining happiness, which are end poverty, reduce inequality and protect our planet, there was an index to show which country fared on this rank of happiness.

There was no surprise that Norway was the happiest country in the world, especially since it has almost no poverty, great equality and excellent climate protection. The poor Americans dropped one place to 14th, they are getting sadder, but luckily for them the UK was 19th. While Syria and Yemen were at the bottom, the interesting thing were the main components used to calculate the rankings; how people rate social support, personal freedom, corruption and generosity. While the UAE was the happiest country in the Arab world, the shocking winner in East Africa was Somalia.

Somalia is ranked 5th while our very own Kenya is 13th in Africa according to the Gallup World Poll. It is interesting to note that in their calculation which they call Afrobarometer, “while poor infrastructure and lack of service delivery may contribute to lived poverty and depressed happiness, it may also undermine Africa’s democracy project. A case in point is South Africa’s relatively new democracy. The latest Afrobarometer survey conducted there suggests that 64% of South African respondents thought that democracy was preferable to any other kind of government, a similarly high percentage (62%) stated they would be ‘very willing’ or ‘willing’ to give up regular elections to live under a non-elected government capable of ensuring law and order and service delivery.”

Somalia has been a war torn country and perhaps they are rising to the top of happiness because they value the support system of happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance. With their newly elected President Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo the expectations of moving forward and creating history are high, especially since the country is finally trying to put together its first fully functioning central government in a quarter-century. By the way even Pakistan and Bangladesh ranked higher and happier than India.

Kenya is not happy because of a long list of old issues and some new ones that are manifesting to become dangerous signs to disaster.

While there is progress in investment, there is almost no progress in fighting corruption. While there is progress in community security, there is very little for law and order. Those in charge of our security need to be secure in their lives, better working conditions, remunerations and goals to achieve. Our failing national doctors and the entire clogged system is crippling the nation’s health. The ever growing pains of teachers who are meant to shape tomorrow’s leaders are busy still fixing their state of affairs. If we do not get a grip on these key issues amongst others then we are setting up a whole new generation of failure and even the oil discoveries will not float us out of the dirty crap.

The mind, the will, the heart, all need to change to be honest, compassionate and happy. There is just no other way to achieve a better ranking not for the sake of an index but for the real truth, progress and happiness.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Dancing Drought and Doctors Strike, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 17th February 2017

twitter-troll-250

Stop! Wait! Don’t! Before you drink that cup of tea or order out some food, remember that over 2 million Kenyans are facing starvation up in North Eastern Kenya. Yes it is not just some other area of the country, but a part of the Nation and you should contribute or participate in resolving the solution. If a desert like Israel can raise its crops then we have got to learn how to come up with a longer lasting solution for the sake of the future of our people.

President Uhuru Kenyatta did the right thing by calling this situation a National Emergency. However a lot more needs to be done for we all know we never had or never will have control over weather but we can create an enabling fruitful environment?

Unfortunately his dancing dab on Twitter, one of the most widely used social media channels in Kenya to spread news hijacked his headline. He was probably caught in a moment of being cool with the FBI Dancing Crew and the whole dancing dab went viral and was quickly called #DabOfShame

To amplify this craziness, Twitter is a perfect target for trolls, where several dubious accounts are created and they abuse mostly celebrities and politicians or can be the cause of blowing up a small incident into worldwide phenomenon. In a recent update, the Twitter creators have come up with 3 new tools to battle with these trolls and abusers and especially abusive tweets that can become personal attacks.

The personal attacks in the world of Doctors Strike in our country sadly are still on. The doctors have been on strike since 5th December, 2016 and several patients are lingering and of course dying at the expense of this stand off, but doctors say they have no choice but to force the Government to implement the 2013 agreement which was supposed to increase their remunerations and definitely working conditions. The #DabOfShame churned up huge emotions and is calling for the Government to provide the immediate solution to end the strike.

Does this all end up as a big PR fiasco for the President? Why has the 2013 agreement not been implemented so far, especially now that this is the Election Year and will this make any difference? Kenya has faced several severe droughts throughout its history, should there not be a better way to deal with it, like prevention is better than cure? Or are Kenyans reacting and exaggerating to a dancing President as an opportunity rather than fixing the other issues?

Union strikes, weather disasters happen in every other Nation and yes more than often a Head of State is not caught dancing, but surely we are not privy to the hard fought negotiations or rescue operations going on behind closed doors by him to resolve these issues. We are only seeing what comes our way and perhaps just maybe his PR team should be sensitive to the mood of the Nation. He was not dancing at a party, he was receiving guests and showing his hospitality. Therefore in that moment of context it was not out of order.

What is more important is just like the people of South Korea came out in large numbers to hold their President accountable for a valid allegation- corruption, we need to come out in large numbers to support the Drought rescue and Doctors strike. Thankfully there are a couple of bodies and individuals doing these efforts, but they need more support, so instead of wasting time trolling over #DabOfShame let’s push the agenda forward for no more drought and better lives for doctors so we give patients better care.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Time for United Olympics, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 3rd February 2017

Time for United Olympics

ancient-olympics

Imagine once upon a time, a simple muddy ground, coliseum and games to prove strength and valour. This is as close to the Olympics that were held in Greece in honour of the God Zeus.

Modern Olympics started off when in 1894 the International Olympic Committee was founded in 1894 and the first games happened in 1896 in Athens comprising of 14 participating countries and over 200 athletes.

Fast-forward to the most recent Summer Olympics held in Rio where over 11,000 athletes participated from over 200 countries includes a team from the Refugees. This Billion Dollars event was in the news for various reasons including Zika Virus, over budget finances, delays in infrastructure and mostly athletes doping problems.

But the Olympics is the event of a lifetime for any athlete, ask Usain Bolt who became the only athlete in the history to achieve up to 9 Gold Medals from his 3 Olympics performances. Thus, this event means everything to an athlete, whether he or she comes from Addis Ababa, London or Nairobi.

There are several key ingredients that are required to make a great athlete. These include grit, a great coach and support from the home country’s Government for expenses. Then he or she is unstoppable. You can have a hardworking athlete, almost the fittest and fastest person on the track or their field, but if the coach does not create an enabling environment and strict regime, it is all for nothing. This synergy is like magic, the coach is not the athlete, but he or she has to bring out the athlete in the athlete and of course the competitor in the athlete, otherwise why else try? There are goals to achieve, records to break and medals to win. Finally if these two are ready but the championships are marred with corruption, facilities are dwindling in the state of lack of interest and officials eat expenses away on personal splendors, then they may as well fund their own way to the event of their own lifetime and not wait on handouts.

The Olympics generates Billions of Dollars in worldwide sponsorships from corporates, multi-nationals and others for this Television and now Social Media extravagance. Everything is at stake, from the water bottle, running shoes, ropes, poles, boards, buses, hats, you name it, everything is selling and every inch is covered with a brand that is looking to increase sales in the country hosting the event. Then what about the athletes? Where is their share? An Olympic medal does not feed or run a home, put children through school unless your country is well set up to take care of you especially like the USA.

Recently Kenyan athlete Sally Kipyego attained American citizenship and the media is buzz whether she will represent the Trumpland in the upcoming competitions or remain loyal to Kenya? Kenya allows dual citizenship and under the International Association of Athletics Federations she can compete as an American citizen.

According to the Olympic Charter notes that “the Olympics are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries.

If we take the example of former Kenyan now Dutch runner Lornah Kiplagat, she has been successful in her career. Putting the sport first maybe difficult to accept especially when many athletes from developing nations are not coming from the same opportunities as the others. Thus, does this mean they are less patriotic? No, an athlete is only loyal to his sport, just like an artist is loyal to his craft.

In order for the countries to retain their talent, they must invest in their very own people, facilities and of course create the best possible environment for success. A country like Finland has earned over 300 medals since 1908, they may have the state of art facilities, but their talent pool differs from the competitions. You cannot have a complete Dream Team like the American Olympic team unless you take up the commitment, investment and sacrifice to make that the ultimate goal.

Whatever sport the country is talented in, for example athletics in the case of Kenya, the most innovation; investment and transparency must be made to uphold the values and talent growth. However, let this be the backbone of sports and it should trickle down to various other opportunities, for example basketball, hockey and more.

 

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Doctors Digging Deep, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 20th January 2017

Doctors Digging Deep, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 20th January 2017

Doctors Digging Deep

Around last year in September the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin set a new precedent in the US Medical Schools. The students decided to read their own new version of the “Hippocratic Oath”.

The Hippocratic Oath is over 2000 years old and is from the Greek Hippocrates, considered “the father of medicine”.

However these American students felt it is outdated and decided to make their own values.

The Kenya Association of Physicians use the Hippocratic Oath, which goes as follows:

“ I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”

I draw your attention to:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

In the recent buzz it has been said that we should limit the use of foreign doctors and their facilities into our country or seek medical care worldwide.

To the doctors, I ask, is not sharing knowledge and spreading this newfound care your duty?

To the hospitals, I ask, is not providing the best care and most affordable treatments, your duty?

To the governments, I ask, is not giving the best of quality of life to your citizens, your duty?

When our national hospital’s doctors and nurses are on strike over poor working conditions and ridiculously poor wages, how do you expect a nation’s health to prosper? We need the support of the private practitioners, whether they are local or international.

The best medical care system in the world is considered to be in Cuba where they have no private practitioners and the Government has full responsibility. Thus, you either have one way, or both but be fair.

There is no doubt that just like the Education industry, the hospitality industry is a great income earner and can be easily corrupted through negligence, too much red tape, unaffordable treatments and the list goes on. The hospitals can give themselves international certificates but how committed are they to provide affordable and meaningful care?

Yes price makes a big difference, that is why medical tourism still thrives and foreign doctors keep jetting into the country to sort out complicated cases. In any business to keep your human resources you need to give them attractive packages. The obvious remain remuneration, working benefits but also working conditions and most of all a culture led by the top down will make the difference in loyalty to serve one’s citizens.

Yes we should continue to import and why not export specialists because more minds are better than none. But this only possible if we are willing to improve for the long term and not short change the patients and cash them out. The human value must come above all and this for both the doctor and patient. A doctor, who cannot put his kids through decent schools, will also have to recalculate his commitment to his profession. While he or she may want to be the united states of humanity you can not expect a local born and educated doctor to be paid a useless remuneration, while an expat doctor gets the shine and dine?

It all comes down to culture; if our hospitals want to be the best then they have to be willing to be the best too. Practice a transparent, knowledgeable, affordable, equal pay, equal opportunity playground only then can we create a healthy environment for the patient, the doctor and the industry as a whole.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Our Land, Our Nation, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 9th December, 2016

Our Land, Our Nation

“Oh God of all creation

Bless this our land and nation”

Our National Anthem begins with the above two lines. Indeed this God fearing nation believes in blessings, it is no wonder that several religions, communities and cultures exist in harmony.

Kenya gained full independence from the British Government on 1st June 1963 and we celebrate our “Republic” holiday on 12th December 1963. This day signifies freedom, strength, progress, diversity, opportunity and the future that lies ahead. We are turning 53 and entering the wisdom era where we have millions of grandchildren and while we still have stories to tell about our Freedom fight, it is now time to start telling stories about our new legacy.

This modern nation is facing challenges just like any other, no exception. But we are determined to stay ahead and keep moving forward, to learn from others mistakes and create our own trail blaze of achievements. Our national holidays especially during the last 20 years have become more patriotic and more so since the Jubilee Government due to the acceptance of embracing our identity and showing it off. We wear our flag on our jacket or the colours that symbolize our country on more merchandise than ever before. We still stand up to the National Anthem before every film with pride and at every event too. While this rule is biting the Indian nationals and the debate continues on how to increase patriotism, we stand firm. We may not have a cricket team, or space programme, or military deployment, or the Royals, but we have simple principles that keep us hopeful, happy and hardworking.

National holidays are necessary in many ways, firstly of course, a time off for those in employment but also a chance to gather over lunch or dinner to celebrate a well-deserved holiday. Whether this holiday is being saluted for its nature, in this case our independence day is hard to tell. Like the Americans make a patriotic deal over Thanksgiving we probably have not reached that hype. Perhaps we do not need to show off at that magnitude. Maybe a day will come when we will hold “Freedom Concerts” to remind ourselves of where we have come from and celebrate our precious Republic. What is clear is that all our National holidays hold a dignified place and are celebrated respectfully.

Stirring up patriotism comes not from the Government, because that would mean being Communist, or from dancing all over, because that would mean being Liberal. We have to seek the balance and I believe we have it, just enough of promotion and pomp. The intellectuals will argue, like Mark Twain:

“Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”

But to borrow a line from a brother from another land, “In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.” ― Barack Obama. So it is up to you, what you feel and where. There are several generations here and their roots are from the United Kingdom or India, but over the years their respect to the Republic of Kenya is honorable. How you use the national holiday matters. Do something for the nation, plant trees, clean the community area, hold a party for the estate’s elderly or anything that makes a difference as a citizen of your nation.

Do it for the people, do it for the Nation.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Let’s Go Red, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 25th November, 2016

Let’s Go Red

hiv-aids

This World Aids Day the theme is “HIVNOTRETRO” so let’s revisit this viral disease that has consumed the lives of millions.

Some facts from the World Health Organization:

Infection results in the progressive deterioration of the immune system, breaking down the body’s ability to fend off some infections and other diseases. AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome) refers to the most advanced stages of HIV infection, defined by the occurrence of any of more than 20 opportunistic infections or related cancers.

HIV can be transmitted through:

Unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal) or oral sex with an infected person;

Transfusions of contaminated blood;

The sharing of contaminated needles, syringes or other sharp instruments;

The transmission between a mother and her baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Globally, an estimated 36.7 million (34.0–39.8 million) people were living with HIV in 2015, and 1.8 million (1.5–2.0 million) of these were children.

From the UNAIDS most recent report of 2016:

The latest UNAIDS data, covering 160 countries, demonstrate both the enormous

gains already made and what can be achieved in the coming years through a

Fast-Track approach. In just the last two years the number of people living with

HIV on antiretroviral therapy has increased by about a third, reaching 17.0 million people—2 million more than the 15 million by 2015 target set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011. Since the first global treatment target was set in 2003, annual AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 43%. In the world’s most affected region, eastern and southern Africa, the number of people on treatment has more than doubled since 2010, reaching nearly 10.3 million people. AIDS related deaths in the region have decreased by 36% since 2010.

Let’s come closer to home, and these are the facts:

The theme here is “Getting to Zero HIV Infections- Engage Prevent Celebrate #JijueJipange”

Kenya has the joint fourth-largest HIV epidemic in the world (alongside Mozambique and Uganda), in terms of the number of people living with HIV, which was 1.6 million people in 2013. Roughly 58,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in the same year although this dropped by 32% between 2009 and 2013.1 There are now 1.1 million children orphaned by AIDS.

The first case of HIV in Kenya was detected in 1984, and by the mid-1990s it was one of the major causes of mortality in the country putting huge demands on the healthcare system as well as the economy. HIV prevalence peaked at 10.5% in 1996, and had fallen to 6% by 2013 mainly due to the rapid scaling up of antiretroviral treatment (ART).

Let’s talk about AIDS.

In Kenya unfortunately the highest prevalence is between married couples. How come? If we take a typical married couple then here are some harsh facts:

  • Most have a child out of wedlock
  • A traditional wedding expenses prevents a proper union
  • Modern wedding phenomenon also does not help
  • Multiple partners are part of this “marriage”

The above are just some obvious signs of broken relationships and worse health statuses. At the core religion plays a crucial role it is up to the Papacy to say whether condoms are allowed or not. In the recent Zika virus crisis Pope Francis said that the use of condoms was ok, while the Church is known to be one of the largest caregivers to HIV patients, it mostly rebuffs comments on using condoms to prevent HIV.

Thus, as Kenyans it comes down to the culture. We have to come out of our shells and discuss serious topics and take responsibility. Going into a marriage when you do not know your HIV status is like signing up for a death sentence for life. This goes for all communities and should be seen as taking personal health seriously. There is nothing wrong in looking up your spouse’s health status, just like when the woman is ready to conceive and the gynecologist asks about the family medical history, so why not about sexual diseases? It is your right as both man and woman to know. There are no hidden facts that quite a few marriages are already having affairs so why would you want to poison your family with a disease you are bringing home because you cannot control your desires. Marriage is a partnership for better or for worse, but does not let that worse be the end of a life.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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