What is Happening with Kenya’s Vision 2030?

I have always felt that Vision 2030 was like many Kenyan ideas, good on paper. And that is it. Because we know with the corruption levels in this country, it would never materialise into anything sustainable. The other day I saw a billboard on Vision 2030 and decided to see what had happened and the status of projects.

Back when I used to work, I had a job where we had to read on Vision 2030 often and link what we were doing to it and so I am familiar with the ideas, pillars – whatever you want to call them.

Like many organisations paid for by taxes that don’t seem to do anything much (I am looking at you Privatisation Commission and Numerical Machining Complex), but still gets financing every single year, the Vision 2030 is still alive y’all.

What have they achieved you ask?

Let me give you a few examples

Action plan: 404,800 hectares will be put under irrigation by 2017 especially in the Arid and Semi Arid area in Turkana and Tana Delta.

Currently: Stalled and in ruins

Action plan: A state-of-the-art BPO Park will be constructed at Athi River Export Processing Zone. The aim is to provide superior telecommunications infrastructure, easy access to international transport facilities, and affordable and readily available energy which are critical for a competitive BPO industry.

Currently: Closed

Action plan: Construction of one pilot wholesale hub in Maragua to serve as a model for the private sector.

Currently: Still a pipe dream

I am not writing this to be a debbie downer. Is there an action plan that has been implemented? Yes.

For example Implement the National Electronic Single Window System that allows parties in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry-point to fulfill all imports, exports and transit-related regulatory requirements has been and continues to be implemented by KRA.

I do not see why Vision 2030 still needs to exist as a separate entity is all I am saying. Look at these tenders. Are they necessary? No they are not.

I Donated my Wedding Dress

If you’ve been following on Instagram, I was looking for ideas on what to do with my wedding dress and the result of the poll that I posted was that I should donate it.

Anyway a couple of people don’t understand how I am not attached to this dress. I don’t see the point. It can’t fit me, I don’t plan to ever wear it again and I’m not into the romanticism that I’ll give it to my hypothetical daughter (which to me is big nonsense).

Anyway, after googling, I found a center that runs a bridal shop in Ngando. I chatted with them on Facebook and yesterday I went and donated it.

The center is called Tazama Nia and the shop is called Celebration Bridals. On Ngong Rd if you are coming from Karen side, after the Kenol petrol station, make the next left and then at the next junction make the next right and after about 900 meters you’ll see a sign for Fountain Secondary and it’s that right turn. They are on Google maps in any case.

They also accept bridesmaids dresses and wedding suits for men in case you are looking to donate those.

According to the lady at the shop the donations are primarily from abroad since the whole idea was by a foreigner and that I was the first Kenyan to donate a dress. That made me glad.

(According to her, Kenyans are determined to be buried in their wedding dresses that’s why they hold onto them, which is a valid point but please!)

I thought I’d be sentimental about the whole thing but I was not. I hope the dress finds a good home.

They also make jewelry

Things About Kenyan Real Estate Design I Find Ridiculous

Office blocks with no parking – This is very fresh in my head because I had a doctor’s appointment and the guard at the gate told me the parking spots are only for tenants of the building. How do the people who approve plans approve such nonsense?

Open plan kitchen – In my opinion, this works perhaps for single people houses. But mostly, people are adopting open plan kitchens from designs from countries where they don’t have live in help (the design is mostly for when the parents want to be able to see the kids as they are in the kitchen). Which in most cases doesn’t translate well here.

Four burner kitchen space – This gets on my nerves so much. Why have a kitchen (in a house with more than one room) where a six burner stove can’t fit?? Make it make sense. Even with a four burner, the gas cylinder ends up hanging awkwardly in the space.

Apartment blocks with 1.5 parking spaces – I know it is greed (the desire to have more apartments in a space) BUT COME ON!

Stairs that aren’t even – I don’t understand why some building have steps that are uneven.

Unnecessarily huge houses – We get it, you stole have money. Another angle to look at it is humongous houses in small plots. Which I don’t understand. The house doesn’t leave any space for outdoor or plants like… why? So that you can say you have a big house? I mean, I guess.

Pillars – This is continuation from above… what in the colonial hangover mess is the obsession with outside pillars? I think Kenyans feel it symbolizes wealth or something but really all is does is show how out of date one is.

Roofs – is there a word for the houses with unnecessary roofs? Is it a design thing? Doesn’t it cost more to do those weird triangle things?

Darkness – What is the issue with not wanting windows? Are Kenyan builders allergic to windows?? Even if we are talking about safety, there is a way to achieve light without sacrificing safety.

Wardrobes – what sense does it make to not have wardrobes in a bedroom? Is this a new thing? Why is it a thing that is happening now?

Balconies – OK we have heard all the talk about people hanging their clothes on balconies. But we must realise that this is a design flaw, right? Architects draw apartments from countries that have washing machines and dryers in their houses and therefore the balcony serves the purpose it is supposed to in those houses. In Kenya, where washer/dryer is not yet a thing, people will have to make do with what they have, hence why hanging clothes is common practice.

And lastly, DSQs that can’t even fit a wardrobe and single bed.

(FYI this list isn’t exhaustive)

Let me finish off by saying that we have to build/draw practical houses and not copy houses from other people/countries who have different needs/services available to them. I know capitalism is rampant but also, there is a lack of ideas and imagination.

A Culture of Obedience

Sometimes when an overwhelming number of people believe, say or do something that I find questionable, I always ask why. And then I form theories around why they are doing/saying as they are.

I was having a conversation about how kids can be picky about what they eat and meanwhile back in the day, we ate what was on the table. I then listened to the Food Psych podcast episode where the guest, Lindley Ashline said that for them growing up, eating what was given was an act of obedience – that you ate what your parents provided because they worked hard for it.

And in thinking about this episode, I thought about how obedience affects how we live our life especially in relation to our parents. Let me explain:

  • When you hear someone has undertaken a certain degree because their parents said so, that is obedience.
  • When you get married because of parent’s pressure, that is obedience.
  • When you get kids because of parent’s pressure, that is obedience.
  • When parents blackmail their kids to do things, that is them demanding obedience.

The obedience you most likely exhibited when you were a child.

And because they gave us life (??) and food and whatnot, we feel compelled to obey them. In actuality, obedience is conflated with love, you obey therefore you love (not usually the case but let me not get into that). Parents usually and often don’t expect us to say no*.

I have to question: does our education system further enforce the culture of obedience? In school, the teacher is always right, even when they are wrong. Having a difference of opinion, a disobedience let’s say, is seen as immoral pretty much. A cycle. It becomes such that you basically obey anything an older person says under the guise of them knowing more (better???) than you. Your life becomes about obedience, the things you do as obedience.

To what end? When does life become about you?

I could write about how there is the expectation of women to obey, but really, that is a whole other story.

And I wonder, how does a life of disobedience look like?

*if your parents don’t expect you to say no, good for you. This post isn’t about that.

Ask Ciiku: Where I saw this on a daily newspaper


I was reading the paper this past Saturday and came across this which I posted on my IG stories:

This type of thinking is the reason people suffer in silence. This type of thinking is why you hear that people have left their homes and haven’t told anyone.

What does this person mean by “bear the sacrifice that comes with the union“. Is that sacrifice eternal unhappiness?

Also, how did the letter insinuate that the mother probes too much? If anything the mother says “My daughter keeps telling me…” If a mother is not someone a daughter can come to when she feels unhappy then who else?

Face the fact that your beloved daughter chose to marry this man, she may not be happy – and she may be facing so much in her relationship right now, but she chose him” – This makes marriage sound like a death sentence. You can infer from this advice that the person is saying that no matter what happens in a marriage you made a decision and you are BOUND TO IT FOREVER.

This response is irresponsible in my opinion. I really hope the mother who wrote this letter does not take anything said here and actually does the opposite. I hope she is there for her daughter. That she provides a space where the daughter can come to when she makes the decision to leave her marriage. That she tells her daughter that she can leave the marriage. That she continues to listen to her daughter. 

Songs as Protest

The history of songs as protest in Kenya is as old as time.

There is much that has been said, even documented via a project by Ketebul on the same – I wish they would put the music on the streaming sites. Anyway, the point is, artists for eons have used their art to protest injustice in different ways. In Kenya specifically, even during the time of the tyrant, Moi, music was released that directly criticized the government of the day.

In the last six years, I personally have been waiting for a Kenyan musician to release a protest song that that has the mainstream impact that Nchi ya kitu kidogo had (rewatching this video makes me realise how much Kenya has stagnated as a country. Also, thinking of KJ now?? …… WOW!).

As I mentioned in my review of Dela and MDQ‘s albums, they both had protest songs but Dela did not release hers as a single and MDQ did not gain as much traction as I am  referring to.

It seemed that between the government paying musicians to perform for them and others focused on being part of the Safaricom countrywide tours, we would not get a protest song with mainstream traction.

Until now.

To be honest they were the last people I expected to release what could be considered a protest song. The message in the song: we should search ourselves, all these things are happening but what are we doing?

Usingizi gani tumelala – tutajua hatujui

In some aspects, it can be seen as ambiguous (and really this was my first thought when I listened to it) and some of its message may be lost for some as they talk about Instagram captions and twitter feuds and still, the fact is that this song is something that as Kenyans, we needed.

I could sit here and criticise this song for not coming out and clearly assigning blame to politicians and perhaps the lack of context in understanding on the politics of power and why people vote along tribal lines, or even focusing on twitter feuds with no nuance of the work that the platform has achieved, the power of social media for change but the truth is that, there is a message is there.

And maybe THIS is the start we needed for mainstream art and artists to contextually criticise government and amp the citizens to  demand for change through their art.

Kweli, tutajua hatujui

 

Ask Ciiku: I have internalised fatphobia

Hi Ciiku.

I’m a fattie, and I love the work you do for body positivity. I like to think I’m body positive myself- except for *myself*. I can’t stand my body. I hate my flabs and tummy and how round my face has become. I cannot look in the mirror and call myself a beautiful person. I feel hideous. I hate that I put in so much work into unlearning beauty standards, but it never works to help me, only others. The thoughts still plague me. My relationship with food is also horrible. I feel like it is something that condemns me to fatness. At the same time, I’m a binge-eater when I’m sad, so this only worsens what I feel about myself. Most of all, I’m seeking a relationship, and I feel like I am unwantable in my fatness, and so I can only ever be in a happy relationship while thin. I have been unlearning beauty standards at least 3 years now, and most days I’m fine, but over the past 2 months or so, I have spiraled and cannot seem to get myself out. How do I channel my body positivity inwards? I feel like a ‘body posi fraud’. How to form a healthy relationship with food? I am spiraling and don’t know how to stop myself

Anon

Dear Anon,

Something you typed made me pause:  “My relationship with food is also horrible. I feel like it’s something that condemns me to fatness.” Words mean things you and “condemns me to fatness” shows me that you associate fatness with something bad, a punishment that you shouldn’t be experiencing. You say you are able to see how body positivity helps other fat people but it seems you believe that fatness is a punishment, suffering and shouldn’t be something that happens to you, you hate your body, can’t stand it. That is a lot to carry.

I am curious as to your understanding of the body positivity movement. Especially in relation to you saying that you hate your flabs and tummy and how your face has become round. I must ask, how do you use these identifiers of fatness on yourself and say you are hideous yet you say you are unlearning beauty standards? How then are you able to love it on other people if you don’t love it on yourself? Body positivity has to start from oneself, when you are able to love your self, your body, then are you able to extend that same love to others. There is beauty in every body, no matter the size and if you that is part of your value system then you are indeed body positive and if not, you aren’t. Self acceptance and self love are key to being body positive.

Some questions for you: What does loving your body look like? Why do you associate thinness with happiness? When did you first realise that you hate your body? What precipitates those thoughts? What would happen if you lost weight then you gained it back? How do you think you would deal with that? What is a good body? What type of body deserves good things?  Do you spend time with your body? Have you explored why you have such a negative association with fatness?

Internalised fatphobia manifests in different ways, in not seeing yourself as worthy – which is what you are talking about. It shows itself in seeing yourself as the good fattie because you work out, watch what you eat “unlike other fat people” and also in seeing yourself as better because you aren’t “that fat” – example being those who are size 18 seeing themselves as better than those who are say size 28. All these indicate that there is still some unlearning and unpacking that needs to be done.

Matters relating to standards of beauty are fed to us, in my opinion, before gender roles. If your whole life you have been told that your body isn’t beautiful, is a mistake that needs to be corrected through diet, exercise, surgery etc, that you are not worthy, you are lazy, you are indisciplined. If your whole life has been a series of negative association, then you are bound to internalise this and hate yourself as you hate your body. There are days when I do not like how I look, years of being fed this does that to you, but I do not hate my body, I will not hate my body, myself, if I gain weight and I have no desire to be thin. I do not think my happiness is tied to thinness or in changing my body. That has taken years of work and I think you need to work on it.

Regarding your question, some key aids that I have found to be useful are following body positive and fat acceptance people either on twitter (Simone Mariposa for one) or watching their videos, reading articles – for example those by Your Fat Friend , spending time with your body – understanding it, listening to it, touching it. Finding another coping mechanism for when you feel sad outside of binge eating can also help, something that gives you comfort. I might not be the one to help with this one since my thoughts on what “healthy relationship with food” means, what message it sends, might be seen as radical. Perhaps speaking to a counselor can be of assistance.

Finally, sometimes we think that finding someone who will love us must mean that we are worthy to be loved, no matter how they treat us.  I think seeking a relationship when you have not yet learned to love yourself or when you think you do not deserve happiness or when you carry feelings of not being wanted MAY attract people who will take advantage of how you feel. What needs to be the focus is loving yourself which in turn leads to seeking out healthy relationships.

All bodies are beautiful. All bodies are worthy. All bodies are good. This isn’t an empty platitude. It is a fact that you have to accept and begin the journey to loving your body.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I have never had a real relationship

Hi Ciiku,

I’m turning 28 soon and I never had a real relationship. By this I mean anything past four months, never really went on dates or spent a lot of time with anyone. I have a hard time making friends too and often spend a lot of time by myself. Lately, this feels lonely and I have no clue how to be more sociable or if this is something I even want. I feel like as I get older this will become tougher. What would you advise?

Loner.

Dear Loner,

I have to ask, are you comfortable by yourself? What does a real relationship look like to you? Do you go out with your friends? Do you have friends? Do you spend time trying to figure out what you want? Why do you feel like a relationship is something you need to have experienced? What has changed recently to make you feel this way? When did you last have sex? Is sex important to you?

Off the bat I am going to say that making friends doesn’t get harder as you grow older. And I say this with a lot of conviction not only as someone who keeps making new friends as I age but also as someone who believes that the people who peddle that story are holding onto friendships from their youth that don’t serve any purpose.

People make difference choices on how they live their lives and to be honest, most end up doing what seems to be the same thing because that is the template we are socialised to believe makes sense or the template of how a well lived life looks like. And if you have not done what a majority of people have done, it seems like you are not doing something “right.”

Please note I am not saying that you don’t need romantic relationships or friendships. Companionship has been scientifically proven to be a human need but what I believe to be more important is knowing yourself and therefore knowing what you want in terms of companionship. What does it look like? Who are the people you want in your life? What values do they espouse? That kind of thing.

Do you want to make friends? If so, then make the plans to do so. Do you want to be in a relationship? Same same. And I know this isn’t easy especially for someone who knows themselves in a world that doesn’t encourage self development (or encourages en masse self help led, development).

But do I think it’s possible? Yes. Friendship might be easier to do I think.

Finally, I think one of the greatest disservice we do to ourselves is keep people in our lives just because. You know what I mean? Like, being in a relationship with someone just because they gave you attention. Being friends with someone just because you’ve known them since high school. I wish we would be more intentional with our relationships. I hope you do too Loner.

💓💓💓

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I was abused by a woman

Hi…

So I’ll just get into it – I was emotionally and psychologically abused by someone very prominent in the KE Twittersphere – and she’s a woman. I will not come forward because I know I will not be believed and I have no way to prove it – I deleted all communication we had ever had and blocked her from ever contacting me. I need Twitter for work so I can’t delete the app but I get physically ill when I see her posts – I sweat and shake ,one bad day I threw up. I have tried to look for help online but a lot of the articles I find are about men being the abuser. What do you do when yours is a woman?

TT

Dear TT,

I am so sorry you were assaulted. I am also very sorry that you keep seeing your abuser online and have this visceral reaction to her and her tweets. I hope you find peace and justice TT.

Men are socialized to believe that they cannot be a victim and many people believe this therefore I understand your hesitance in coming forward. Furthermore, emotional and psychological abuse is not treated with the same seriousness as physical abuse. I understand the hesitance. Women can be and are abusers and although there is less documentation (especially in Kenya) about resources, I believe that help is possible.

I suggest that if possible you should get professional counselling for this. (please see this list on my site for some suggestions). You will need to find a non-religious, non-patriarchal counsellor who is empathetic to abuse against men and this might mean some trial and error. But I think it is imperative that you find someone who works for you and your situation.
I don’t know how possible it is to completely not have to see this person’s tweets in your timeline but it might need you to completely curate your follower and following list and I am not sure if this somehow affects your work. But if possible, it is something you should spend time doing. Is there someone you can talk to about this? Someone who can listen to you, someone who will not doubt you and will love and empathize with you? Please reach out to someone who knows you and talk to them. I hope you have someone you can trust enough to talk to.

I feel as though my answers may not be as helpful as finding professional help would be. So please consider that urgently.

Best to you,

Ciiku

 

Ask Ciiku: I am confused about my marriage

Hi Ciiku

In a few weeks time, my husband and I will be celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary, and much as it should be exciting, it’s not. Hubby and I met when we were quite young and still in uni and we had a lot in common including friends and interests, in many ways we still do. Over time I took it upon myself to work on myself and how I understand the world, this had been something we did together, we read together, shared ideas and grew together. In my quest to grow I studied feminism among other things and found a community of people who supported me and helped. When I broached the subject with hubby, he would shrug it off and go on about some obscure white philosophers. I didn’t care much since I thought he would eventually see things my way but in this whole time he has stayed the same.

He hangs out with the same guys from uni and high school, he has become complacent and I feel he is stuck. You honestly can’t believe what it feels like to have a #notallmen person as a partner even after repeated talks about patriarchy and it’s effects. It’s soul draining. I feel ignored and I feel resentment welling up slowly.

Here is the issue, over the past two years, I met a colleague with whom I feel a strong emotional and intellectual connection. We discuss almost everything, except my marriage, and he is good listener and willing to learn. We have no sexual tension and it makes it a great blessing. In the recent weeks I have felt a change in my relationship with my friend, I am not sexually attracted to him but I have considered what it would be like to have him. I know the bond I have to hubby but I also know that it would be only once. I actually don’t think it would have to be my friend for fear of ruining something good, I just want an experience out of this tepid relationship. I love my husband and despite his shortcomings, he is a very good person, he loves me, undeniably. We have tried talking and even talked about counselling but we are in this situation. I’m confused.

Tee

Dear Tee,

What a dilemma you find yourself in. You and your husband are drifting apart, you have a close friend with whom you say there is no sexual tension but you are considering a one time thing with him or even a stranger.

I have a couple of questions: What does it mean for your marriage that you and your husband seem to be drifting apart? Is your marriage sexually monogamous? If it is what does wanting an experience outside of this “tepid relationship” mean? Is there an issue with the sex in your marriage? Have you spoken to your husband about all this? Including the wanting the experience outside of the marriage? What realisation have you come to that you are trying to ignore? What do you want at the end of the day? Do you know?

People over the years develop as human beings and I get wanting to understand more about the world and acquiring the tools you need to survive in this world. In my opinion, everyone should continously endeavour to grow and develop as human beings. This is a personal process and ideally we hope that people we are in intimate relationships in will join us on the journey. Sometimes that doesn’t happen and then you drift apart. As with your case.

Love is more than feelings. I feel I need to reiterate that there is more to staying together with someone outside of love. Also, even though someone is good, this does not always mean that they are good for you. You have admitted to feeling like your soul is being drained and that you are resenting your husband. Saying you are considering counselling indicates that you are trying to work something out. And I think you should. If possible you might also consider therapy by yourself as well to figure out what it is that you want.

Above all else, remain true to yourself.

Ciiku