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Right of reply on UKIP and Europe

I would very much appreciate the right of reply to Derek Clark of UKIP. Mr Clark, in his original letter, stated that NATO and not the EEC had kept the peace in Europe. My response stated that it was the EEC, later the European Union, that through its institutions, co-operation and integration had developed to provide a forum where trade disputes could be minimalized and agreements reached.

NATO was a military alliance formed to deter aggression from the Warsaw Pact.It was, and remains, a condition of entry to the EU that human rights, including democracy, are established. This was not the case with NATO. Turkey was a military dictatorship.

If Mr Clark believes that “the victory over Nazi Germany was achieved by democracies” he has a very tenuous knowledge of history.

The Soviet Union was not a democracy. If Mr Clark does not understand how the EU has a higher GDP per capita than the US despite having unemployment blackspots, may I suggest a basic course in economics.

It is also significant that none of the countries in economic difficulty had a majority that wished to leave the EU. Mr Clark also fails to justify his earlier claim that the EU is uncompetitive.The Global Competitive Report disagrees with him.

I did not ridicule Norway.

I called Mr Clark’s attempt to suggest that the UK could leave the EU and adopt the Norway model grotesque. It is Norway has the largest Sovereign Fund in the world, obtained by astute management of its oil and gas revenues. The export of which accounts for nearly 70 per cent of its exports to the EU. The UK does not have this option.

In order for Norway to access European markets it has to implement all social and employment legislation, product regulations, trade agreements and make a financial contribution without any vote, input or veto.

The policies are, however, legally enforceable. How would a similar situation enhance accountability in the UK?

I suspect that Mr Clark would rather just leave the EU and return to the independence of the past.

The argument is not about “deluging us with negative comments about our abilities”, it is about dealing with reality and not a romanticised view of the past. The UK’s industrial base is diminished, net oil and gas exports have practically disappeared and the banking and financial sector ridiculed. The world is moving towards larger trade blocks.

Why does UKIP think the UK can be the exception and how much influence will the UK have on its own? I am proud of most of our history and our contribution to freedom and democracy, but Mr Clark and UKIP are both naïve and deluded if they believe their policies can re-invent a totally independent UK in the image of the past.

A referendum on Europe?

Bring it on!

Mandera County Representatives 15 Million Trip to Israel

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This week’s trip of Mandera Members of County Assembly to the tune of 15 millions of public coffers to Israel, though tragic brings to the fore, the misuse of public assets and abuse of public office in Mandera County. The trip was organised as said by the autonomous Members of County Assembly and Said to be on its 16th trip out of the county, and the will everyone of them collecting Ksh 200,000 in allowances, in total according to an insider 25 million was consumed by the MCA since July 2013. Public officials should be reminded that public service and funds is a public trust that must not be abused.
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The questions are: who authorised this massive and expensive trips and is there any evaluations from previous ones of what lesson was learned? Why was the MCA of these large numbers dispatched from the county, where are the technocrats who are suppose to learn and implement county Government policies? And, is it normal or necessary for such an number of mega trips in six months? In morally conscience county’s, all those connected with this such mega scandal trips take their own cross to answer, the criticism of there actions. But ours is a county where anything goes; where the deployment of government assets is of nobody’s concern.
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On many occasions, the county executives themselves have made different private trips, both within and outside Mandera County, in the name of Residential trainig to sea side resorts, mandera County security issue been discussed in Kwale County fore instance?.
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The tragedy of our existence is that we are too complacent to caution County government functionaries and Elected bodies when they abuse public assets. Unfortunately, the National Assembly members and Senate that should check the excesses of the County executive functionaries is concerned more with what will benefit its members and themselves. Though the Senator Billow Kerrow condemned the 15 million Israel Trip and reportedly ordered an investigation into the alleged trips approval by the current county economic advisor, it remains to be seen what the outcome will be. There had been similar probes in the past, but nothing concrete came out of them and i doubt if citizen of mandera County like me will never know the truth.

We need to take a cue from civilised countries which do not deploy public funds. it sad and hypocritical of the County Assembly members to misuse funds meant for a county of people dying of hunger and destitution, and to using for misplaced priority trips abroad.The rampant abuse of public assets in Mandera County must stop. It underpins the obscene cost of governance and the arrogance of public officials.
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To start with, whoever authorised this trip must give us full accounts of why this trip is necessary and why now. It must be emphasised that Mandera County and kenya as a whole is no more centralized dictatorship where arbitrariness rules. Hence, there must be a proper accounting for the use of all public funds by public functionaries who hold these assets in trust for the people. There are rules and regulations guiding the deployment of public assets in the country. These rules must be strictly adhered to.
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I know the County assembly have autonomy to oversee the county executives, but they themselves are not above the law and must be scrutinize, therefore, the legislators, the senate should do their job of checkmating the excesses of the County executive arm of government. Civil society groups and religoius leaders, youth leaders and labour leaders should mobilise members against this type of recklessness by elected public officers. Public funds must be used strictly for county development.

A New Brand of Consciousness

Sean Dagan Woods
At times, it might seem like things will always carry on in roughly the same way as they are now; business as usual. But then something arises and expresses deeper changes that have been building beneath the surface.

One such occasion was 23 October, when Russell Brand appeared on Newsnight and articulated a widely shared disenchantment with the current political and economic system.

Brand’s immediate rejection of the logic of his interviewer, Jeremy Paxman, gave an insight into how the cultural foundations of our society – the sense of what is true, what is of value, and what is possible – are changing, and with them the systems they uphold.

“I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm, which is quite narrow and only serves a few people,” said Brand, “I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity.”

Challenged to define the alternatives, Brand said it wasn’t his job to conjure up a “global Utopia” there and then but that there are brilliant thinkers and organisations out there, and that crucially, we can all do it together. Regular readers of Positive News will be no strangers to the evidence for this; there is an abundance of it within the articles we publish.

But most importantly, Brand was calling for a “revolution of consciousness,” as he wrote at the time, to underpin any social change.

When the US and Russia reached agreement in September on a UN resolution over Syria’s chemical weapons and averted a military strike, there was vast pressure from a public who – although horrified by the Syrian chemical weapons attack – knew that the old rhetoric of more violence was no longer viable.

Again cynicism and militarism were undermined when, on 24 November, after decades of dispute and tension, Iran and six world powers reached a historic agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Of course, these situations are complex, and the world’s troubles remain vast and in many cases they are worsening. But a world overly defined by fear, conflict, individualism and materialism – as too often described by much of the media – is perhaps one that increasingly people don’t recognise. It’s too limited in its expression of reality; of what it is to be human, of our connections to others, of the diversity of lives we live, of our inner and outer experiences, and of the possibilities we know in our hearts.

Brand has also said: “What’s important, and what’s defining, are the things we all share: love, unity, togetherness. As long as we have cultural narratives that eschew these ideas, that suppress these ideas in favour of negative human traits, we are all existing in opposition to one another.”

The successful diplomacy that has occurred regarding Syria and Iran, and the voices arising for alternative ways of structuring our societies, are signs that the narrative is changing. So at times when we might only despair at what we see happening in the world, take confidence in the knowledge that there are deeper seeds of change edging always towards their spring.

This editorial appeared in the winter 2013 print edition of Positive News. To receive a copy, please become a member

IGAD Appointed Ambassador Mohamed Abdi Affey as its Special Envoy to Somalia

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) today announced that Ambassador Mohamed Abdi Affey as its Special Envoy to Somalia.

H.E. Ambassador Affey is a veteran parliamentarian and politician who was Kenya’s ambassador to Somalia in 2003, facilitated the Mbagathi Somalia peace process and led the Kenyan delegation that participated the inauguration of the Somali Government of president Abdulkassim Salat Hassan.

Welcoming the newly appointed envoy, The Executive Secretary of IGAD, Ambassador Mahboub Maalim, emphasized the critical significance of Ambassador Affey’s role in consolidating the peace in Somalia and wished him well in this important assignment.

Tribalism is the opium of the Society

Tribalism

Tribalism – the Good

Russell Erwin sent me a link to this article called “Racism in Asatru” by Wayland Skallagrimsson. It’s a long piece that does a good job of addressing the problems in the Asatru community. Skallagrimsson calls his middle way “tribalism” and explains it like this:

The answer the Tribalists have to the question of “Who can practice Asatru?” is: “Anyone who makes a sufficient effort to understand and adopt the culture of the ancient heathens.” This gives Asatru rigorous enough standards to make sure our practice is like that of the ancients, and is well understood, for to fully adopt another culture requires MUCH study … It also keeps us from the untenable argument that “other races” are somehow so intellectually inferior to the Norse and Germanic that they cannot attain this understanding.

This has been the practice of the Jews for centuries. Judaism accepts converts, but conversion is a long and difficult process designed to insure the convert doesn’t just adopt Jewish beliefs and practices but truly becomes a Jew. The practice has helped maintain Jewish religious and cultural identity in the face of near-constant oppression for 2500 years….(John Beckett 2013)

With a tribal approach, religious groups can set their own obligations of membership and anyone who wants to take them on is free to do so. High barriers to membership are a good predictor of retention – they weed out those who aren’t serious or who are unwilling or unable to do the work. If you want to be part of the tribe, then take on the whole tribal culture, not just the parts you find interesting.

Tribalism – the Bad

In this sense, tribalism is a good thing. But tribalism can also be a bad thing. Strong affinity towards one’s tribe can and frequently does lead to suspicion and hostility toward other tribes – particularly when tribes are competing over limited resources. Evolution has equipped us to be binary thinkers, and if “us” is good then “them” must be bad. Perhaps we can all just get along when times are good, but when things get rough, “them” are the first people to get blamed. Read the comments section of any political article and you’ll find conservatives blaming liberals for all our problems and liberals blaming conservatives. Here in Texas any problem that can’t be blamed on Obama is blamed on “illegal immigrants.” In Greece, where the economy is in ruins, the unfortunately-named Golden Dawn is blaming “world Zionism” and offering free food to “Greeks only.”

I’ve long argued we’d all be better off if we’d stop thinking in terms of “us” and “them.” Ultimately humans are one species and we share one planet with all other species – we are related to all other living things. There is enough for all of us and if we focused our attention on making sure everyone has enough instead of on how we can grab as much as we can for ourselves, we’d all be better off.

I still think that’s the ideal situation. The older I get, though, the less convinced I am that humanity is mature enough as a species to ever make it a reality.

Our Need For Strong Tribes

I’m a strong proponent of non-violent conflict resolution. But I’m not a pacifist. Threaten me and mine and I’ll respond as violently as necessary (to date, “as necessary” has been “not very” – I pray that continues). I respect those who are committed to die rather than do violence themselves, but I’m not one of them.

Likewise, while I’d prefer our expressions of tribalism be limited to cultural diversity with no us/them conflict involved, humans have always needed strong tribes to stand against rivals. I do not see this need going away any time soon. For every Bill Gates or Warren Buffett who gives away billions and calls for higher taxes on themselves, there are dozens if not hundreds obsessed with putting every last dollar in their own pockets and insuring it stays within their own tribes. In times of plenty and growth, this isn’t particularly important. But this is not the future we ordered.

As much as I’d like to see a tidal wave of progressive candidates and measures, I’m not counting on it. Call me cynical, but if such a movement began to manifest I suspect the Tribe of the Rich and Powerful would simply co-opt it. Almost two years ago I wrote a series on the Occupy Wall Street movement (the first one is here). In my final post, I recommended two political reforms, but suggested that real change will come only when human hearts and minds change first.

I’m not interested in taking down the Tribe of the Rich and Powerful. I’m interested in making them irrelevant.

We frequently talk about “tribes” when what we really mean are interest groups. But in order to be successful, tribes must create bonds that inspire individuals to put the good of the tribe ahead of their own desires. What can create such bonds in our modern hyper-individualistic society? Football fans display some of the strongest us/them behavior in the world, but it’s hard to see a Packers fan making a serious sacrifice for another cheesehead (I’m sure that happens occasionally, but I’d be shocked if it was a regular occurrence).

Creating strong bonds at a tribal level requires religion. Not the religion of belief and doctrine, but the religion of myth and ritual, of shared stories and common practices. Religion presents constant opportunities to demonstrate commitment to the tribe, which creates confidence that if I help you now, you’ll help someone later, and someone else will help me when I’m in need. This is particularly true for religions for which hospitality and reciprocity are core values, as they are for many modern Pagan religions.

Good religion also teaches values that can make the Tribe of the Rich and Powerful irrelevant, to our smaller tribes if not to the general public. Values like the sacredness of the Earth, honoring our ancestors and committing to becoming good ancestors ourselves, honoring the god and embodying their virtues, and perhaps most importantly, understanding the meaning of “enough.” Becket John 2013

Good religion can also keep preaching the interrelatedness of all life and help our tribes focus on taking care of our own instead of on attacking “the other.”

If our weak and slow ancestors hadn’t banded together in tribes, lions and tigers and bears would have wiped them out and we wouldn’t be here. But they did, and so we are. This era of decline will not be easy for any of us, and it will be nearly impossible for those who insist on going it alone. With strong tribes we can not only survive, we can succeed.

“AFRICAN SOCIALISM AND ITS APPLICATION TO PLANNING IN KENYA” – Then…and now?

The following excerpts are taken from the government’s Sessional Paper Number 10, published in 1965 and co-authored by Mwai Kibaki.

Statement by the President:
Since attainment of our Independence just over eighteen months ago, the Government has been deciding the measures that will ensure rapid economic development and social progress for all our citizens…
All along the Government has been guided in its approach to developmental matters by the declarations contained in the KANU Manifesto. In this we declared that our country would develop on the basis of the concepts and philosophy of Democratic African Socialism. We rejected both Western Capitalism and Eastern Communism and chose for ourselves a policy of positive nonalignment.
Our entire approach has been dominated by a desire to ensure Africanization of the economy and the public service. Our task remains to try and achieve these two goals without doing harm to the economy itself and within the declared aims of our society.
To the nation I have but one message. When all is said done we must settle down to the job of building the Kenya nation. To do this, we need political stability and an atmosphere of confidence and faith at home. We cannot establish these if we continue with debates on theories and doubts about the aims of our society. Let this paper be used from now as the unifying voice of our people and let us all settle down to build our nation. Let all the people of our country roll up their sleeves in a spirit of self-help to create the true fruits of UHURU. THIS IS WHAT WE MEAN BY HARAMBEE.

Jomo Kenyatta

AFRICAN SOCIALISM AND ITS APPLICATION TO PLANNING IN KENYA

The ultimate objectives of all societies are remarkably similar and have a universal character suggesting that present conflicts need not be enduring. These objectives typically include:
i)political equality;
ii) social justice;
iii) human dignity including freedom of conscience;
iv) freedom from want, disease, and exploitations
v) equal opportunies; and
vi) high and growing per capita incomes, equitably distributed.
Different societies attach different weights and priorities to these objectives, but it is largely in the political and economic means adopted for achieving these ends that societies differ. These differences in means are, however, of paramount importance because ultimate objectives are never fully attained. Every time one target is attained a new one becomes necessary. Indeed, we forever live in transition.
The system adopted in Kenya is African Socialism.

In the phrase “African Socialism,” the word “African” is not introduced to describe a continent to which a foreign ideology is to be transplanted. It is meant to convey the African roots of a system that is itself African in its characteristics. African Socialism is a term describing an African political and economic system that is positively African not being imported from any country or being a blueprint of any foreign ideology. The principal conditions the system must satisfy are:
i)it must draw on the best of African traditions;
ii) it must be adaptable to new and rapidly changing circumstances; and
iii) it must not rest for its success on a satellite relationship with any other country or group of countries.
There are two African traditions which form an essential basis for African Socialism – political democracy and mutual social responsibility. Political democracy implies that each member of society is equal in his political rights and that no individual or group will be permitted to exert undue influence on the policies of the State. The State, therefore, can never become the tool of special interests, catering to the desires of a minority at the expense of the needs of the majority. The State will represent all of the people and will do so impartially and without prejudice.
Political democracy in the African traditional sense provided a genuine hedge against the exercise of disproportionate political power by economic power groups. In African society a man was born politically free and equal and his voice and counsel were heard and respected regardless of the economic wealth he possessed. When this is translated into our modern state it means that to participate in political matters and party activities as an equal, the individual must prove nothing beyond age and citizenship and need take no oath beyond allegiance to country.
Political democracy in the African tradition would not, therefore, countenance a party of the elite, stern tests or discriminatory criteria for party membership, degrees of party membership, or first and second class citizens.
Mutual social responsibility is an extension of the African family spirit to the nation as a whole, with the hope that ultimately the same spirit can be extended to ever larger areas. It implies a mutual responsibility by society and its members to do with very best for each other with the full knowledge and understanding that if society prospers its members will share in that prosperity and that society cannot prosper without the full co-operation of its members. The State has an obligation to ensure equal opportunities to all its citizens, eliminate exploitation and discrimination, and provide needed social services such as education, medical care and social security.

Drawing on this background African Socialism expects the members of the modern State to contribute willingly and without stint to the development of the nation. Society in turn will reward these efforts and at the same time will take measures against those who refuse to participate in the nation’s efforts to grow. Sending needed capital abroad, allowing land to lie idle and undeveloped, misusing the nation’s limited resources, and conspicuous consumption when the nation needs savings are examples of anti-social behavior that African Socialism will not countenance.

Marxian socialism and laissez-faire capitalism are both theoretical economic organizations designed to ensure the use of resources for the benefit of society. Both settled on the ownership of property as the critical factor in the economic organization and advocated rigid systems based in the one case on State ownership and in the other on private ownership. But ownership is not an absolute, indivisible right subject only to complete control or none. Practical systems have demonstrated that the resources of society are best guided into proper uses by a range of sensitive controls each specifically designed for the task to be performed.
Marx’s criticism of the society of his time and place was a valid one. Political equality and democracy did not exist in Europe and Great Britain before the middle of the nineteenth century, when Marx was writing. The enclosure movement and the industrial revolution had created a landless proletariat that was ruthlessly exploited by those with economic power who had much the same absolute rights as those of the feudal lords. Sharp class distinctions had been commonplace for centuries; the close association of political and economic power was traditional; and the general welfare was identified with the welfare of the few. The Industrial Revolution brought out the worst elements of the situation – hours of work were dawn to dusk; few safety precautions existed; there was no job security or protection against injuries, illness and old age; children started work as early as the age of four; and no established avenues of political appeal existed. The situation was one of government by the few, sharp class distinctions, unfettered property rights, subsistence living standards for the masses, and exploitation of a large and growing proletariat.
Valid as Marx’s description was, it bears little similarity to Kenya today. Under colonialism Kenyans did not have political equality or equal economic opportunities, and their property rights were not always respected. Even so, African traditions have no parallel to the European feudal society, its class distinctions, its unrestricted property rights, and its acceptance of exploitation. The historical setting that inspired Marx has no counterpart in independent Kenya.

African Socialism must be politically democratic, socially responsible, adaptable and independent. The system itself is based on the further idea that the nation’s productive assets must be used in the interest of society and its members.
There is some conflict of opinion with regard to the traditional attitude towards rights to land. Some allege that land was essentially communally or tribally owned; others claim that individual rights were the distinguishing feature; still others suggest that ownership did not really exist in any modern context in many African tribes. Undoubtedly these traditions differed substantially from one tribe to another. In every case, however, and in sharp contrast to the European tradition, ownership was not an absolute indivisible bundle of rights. The ultimate right of disposal outside the tribe was essentially tribal and in this land was tribally owned. It must be remembered, however, that the political arrangements within the tribe were such that every mature member of the tribe would have a say in such a decision. Short of this right, others were assigned or allocated to clans, families, and individuals, including the right to transfer and reclaim property within the clan. Rights to use land were, in effect, assigned in perpetuity to various groups within the tribe, subject always to the condition that resources must be properly used and their benefits appropriately distributed.
The rights normally associated in Europe with ownership as such scarcely mattered.

The sharp class divisions that once existed in Europe have no place in African Socialism and no parallel in African society. No class problem arose in the traditional African society and none exists today among Africans. The class problem in Africa, therefore, is largely one of prevention, in particular:
i)to eliminate the risk of foreign economic domination; and
ii) to plan development so as to prevent the emergence of antagonistic classes.
In addition, Kenya has he special problem of eliminating classes that have arisen largely on the basis of race.

The concept of political equality in Africa rules out in principle the use of economic power as a political base. The vigorous implementation of traditional political democracy in the modern setting will eliminate, therefore, one of the critical factors promoting class divisions. The policy of African Socialism to control by various means how productive resources are used eliminates the second of the factors supporting a class system. Without its two supporting allies, the concentration of economic power cannot be the threat it once was.

Mandera cry over roads

The Star
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Mandera town taxi operators want the county government to improve the roads.

Speaking to the Star yesterday, Taxi Owners Association Equity Branch chairman Hussein Abdullahi said they are ready to obey the new by-laws on condition that the roads are car-friendly.

“We are ready to pay the new parking fee in town but led us see the money improve our roads,” he said. The Mandera county assembly increased parking fee from Sh300 to Sh500.

Hussein said they renew driving licences in Garissa, Wajir or Nairobi because there is no Kenya Revenue Authority office in Mandera. He said the cost of fuel is also high in the town.

Mandera Central and Mandera North sub-counties lead in high divorse rates

The star  “Divorce Rate Blamed for Child Neglect”

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HIGH divorce rate has been blamed on cases of child neglect within two sub-counties in Mandera county. Subcounty’s children’s officer Joseph Kibuthia Mburu said Mandera Central and Mandera North sub-counties lead in high divorse rates.

“We have a high rate of divorce in these two sub-counties because once a man divorces his wife, she is left with children while the husband marries another wife,” he said. Mburu was speaking to the Star on the phone from Elwak town in Mandera county.

He said more than 57 per cent of cases received in his office are related to child neglect. Mburu said elders continue to preside over divorse cases especially where a child is affected. “Some cases that should be taken to the law courts are handled so casually under a tree by the elders. Offenders are only fined a goat or two,”he said.

“You’ve Made a Wager of Our Future”: Somali Youth Activist Pleads to U.N. Summit for Climate Action

Somali youth climate activist Marian Osman addressed the main plenary at the U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. “There’s a Somali proverb that goes: a mere finger can’t obscure the sun,” Osman said. “You cannot hide the truth by deception; as any one of the thousands whom are in need in Somalia and the Philippines this week could tell you, no amount of political stalling can hide the fact that a climate crisis is here.” Earlier this month, a deadly cyclone slammed the Puntland region of Somalia, wreaking havoc on an already vulnerable population.