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honestly, I have no good reason for not having have kept this blog up. I love my community here.
Its just that life has been taking over.
I now have two full time jobs and a baby and a hubby. I’m exhausted, overwhelmed, overstretched.
And I keep running into people asking ‘how do you do it all?’
Can I scream that out loud to everyone. To all those women out there who might be tempted to take on the madness of what i’m doing. DON’T!
Its not sustainable in the long run.
The problem is that I don’t know what to drop.
I can’t quit being a mom, though I feel constantly guilty for not spending enough time with baby Barak.
I can’t quit my day job. It pays the bills and honestly, I love it.
And I can’t quit project A after spending the last five years getting it off the ground and on the verge of going big. And it feeds my soul with joy and wonder.
I feel stuck.
very very stuck.
And I’m not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel which is more scary.
Thats my honest authentic truth at the moment.
i’m still waiting to exhale.
Had no time to make baby Barak a costume for halloween but this bat costume purchased from another mom for a measly $5 was a hit!
I”m so sick and tired of everyone finding mud to fling at Obama. At once he is doing too much and changing everything too fast, and for others he is not doing enough to undo Bush damage. And about all those saying the Nobel Prize is premature: WTF?!!
1. There have been other sitting presidents to be awarded the prize
2. Start your own prize so you can give it to who you see fit
3. Obama has already accomplished much in terms of changing the general direction of U.S.policy!
Heck, at this rate i might even consider taking on U.S. citizenship for how much I love the man.
O.k. so its been forever since i’ve blogged. I’ve been debating whether to abandon the venture alltogether or keep going. You can see the decision i’ve made
I love my blogthren and its a good release.
what have i been up to?
Peanut is now almost 9 months old!
I’m back at work this semester and paying the unspoken price of going on maternity leave for 8 months. Project A is going fantastically and Mzee still comes home to me at night
I’ve also developed a healthy addiction to harlequin romance novels!
These things are porn for girls. The well sculpted male specimen, the lusty protagonist, the romance, the sex…..
Its all contributing to a happy Mzee is all I can say
While I admire people who act out of moral or religious conviction, I’m dumbfounded by the Pope flying all the way to Africa to tell us to stop using condoms!!
I wonder if we’re going to see a spike in HIV rates as a result of his urging.
The graduate school chapter of my life is finally over.
I got to walk at graduation and get ‘hooded’ and with that short ceremony, the last 7 years have been solemnized.
I did it!!!!!!!
So i’m starting to look for options for childcare for our next trip home and getting quite stumped. Are the only options available to have someone come and look after your child in your home?
Does anyone know of any daycare centers that will accept a baby a few months old for a few hours a day?
And lets not even get into how guilty I feel for looking to leave the little guy with someone else even for those few hours.
I’m getting bigger by the day!
I can’t believe its 31 weeks already!!
9 more to go!
I’m finally back from an intense five weeks in Kenya. I hardly blogged while there as I had a long list of things to do for project A and barely had any down time.
Sometimes blogging is a bit like taking pictures. It requires that you stop and disengage from whats going on so you can report on it. Instead I decided to focus on being present for every moment and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.
In the meanwhile i’m trying to get caught up and preparing for the new semester teaching full time. I’m excited as I get to teach a seminar on the political economy of developing countries!
The pregnancy is going well even though my evening sickness (morning sickness is a joke!) is still with me and the doc seems to think i’ll probably have to deal with it for the rest of the pregnancy. I’m at 19 weeks today but still not really showing though my clothes don’t fit at the waist anymore. I can now feel the little munckin moving around in there which is absolutely incredible. Next week we find out the sex though i’m convinced we’re having a girl.
I’ve been here a bit over a week now and i’m living it up.
I found the perfect apartment a short walk from both Yaya and Prestige, got my transport situation sorted, and have basically started up my life from where I left in January.
Keeping busy with project A which is at times frustrating, exciting, exhausting, and so so much fun! The Kenyan work/volunteer ethic can be really challenging when you’re coming from a land of workaholics. That said, I know if I relax into it, I too appreciate the slower pace of things.
Its really good to be back and to notice all the small changes around the city. Someone has been on top of this road repair thing which is good to see. And in general systems seem to be working faster than they have in the past. Except of course the ID issuing. I’ve been waiting for a new ID for over 3 years!!
I had also forgotten how slow the internet connection can be though. I”m yet to purchase the either the Safcom or celtel wireless card. Peeps out here whats your recommendation? Safcom or Celtel for internet connectivity?
I can’t wait for the undersea cable to get here! and to see how Telkom’s Orange and Econet change the market.
All said, its WONDERFUL to be back and i’m counting down the years till I relocate here permanently!!
o.k. off to find a wireless card so I don’t have to type up disjointed posts at the cybercafe.
Watching live births on you tube is an absolutely horrible idea when you’re pregnant. I do so much better with my head in the sand! I mean I know what happens at the end but damn. OOOUUUCH!!!!!!!!
Would I be a bad mother for wanting a c-section?
Also, am I a bad mother for invading the child’s privacy so early and posting a picture of the ultrasound? oh well!
Little peanut (really should be tadpole) at 7 weeks 3 days and 1.16 centimeters. And yes, thats apparently a hole in the head!
So I’m back in my old stomping grounds waiting to defend my dissertation on Friday. Its actually really nice to be back and to have the extra time to visit my old haunts. I’m realizing now that I did have a really good time here and that I loved it here. At the time I was too wrapped up in the pain of grad school to appreciate it all, but now I can.
I rank this city second to my current digs in terms of places I would live in the U.S. That of course is a difficult decision for me because New York City now drops down to a close third.
In other news, my hormone tests came back encouragingly. My HCG doubled in two days just like it was supposed to. My cramping has all but disappeared and the spotting has decreased. I have an ultrasound next week to see if there is a heartbeat as there should be in the seventh week. Thats the big thing i’m holding my breath for. My head is in the sand until then.
In the meanwhile, I’m taking time off and enjoying my solitude and re-living experiences from one of the most intense periods of my life.
If you could tell with full certainty that the child you are carrying would be born with serious deformities would you have an abortion?
My pregnancy is too young so this is not a situation i’m facing but its my greatest fear about this whole process. Its been my fear about pregnancy for years. I find sometimes that airing your fears makes them not so terrible so I’m glad to have this blog.
I would be racked with guilt either way. If I ended the pregnancy I would feel so guilty for ending a life. On the other hand, going through would guarantee that the child would never be independent and I would feel guilty for giving the child such a life sentence.
What would you do?
Spring is upon us here and the weather is fantastic. The sun is shining and the blooms are blooming and the air is filled with the scent of jasmine.
You’d think that would make me happy but instead, as happens every year, the warm weather is spinning me into misery.
See when the weather gets nice here it reminds me of home and how much I miss being there. It strange that I can tolerate, even enjoy being here when the weather is gloomy and rainy and cold. As soon as it warms up, it triggers this part of my memory associated with being in Kenya and leaves me pining.
And it doesn’t help that I’ve spent the last couple of days listening to Kenyan music.
I’m wrestling with the fact that i’m supposed to bloom where i’m planted. I know it makes no sense to allow myself to be miserable here and not enjoying what life has to offer here. Its a waste not to live in the moment. But the warmer and nicer the weather gets, the more homesick I get.
BY JUDIE KABERIA
ACTING TOGETHER FOR KENYA
AGREEMENT ON THE PRINCIPLES OF PARTNERSHIP OF THE COALITION GOVERNMENT
The crisis triggered by the 2007 disputed presidential elections has brought to the surface deep-seated and long-standing divisions within Kenyan society. If left unaddressed, these divisions threaten the very existence of Kenya as a unified country. The Kenyan people are now looking to their leaders to ensure that their country will not be lost.
Given the current situation, neither side can realistically govern the country without the other. There must be real power-sharing to move the country forward and begin the healing and reconciliation process.
With this agreement, we are stepping forwarding together, as political leaders, to overcome the current crisis and to set the country on a new path. As partners in a coalition government, we commit ourselves to work together in good faith as true partners, through constant consultation and willingness to compromise.
This agreement is designed to create an environment conducive to such a partnership and to build mutual trust and confidence. It is not about creating positions that reward individuals. It seeks to enable Kenya’s political leaders to look beyond partisan considerations with a view to promoting the greater interests of the nation as a whole. It provides the means to implement a coherent and far-reaching reform agenda, to address the fundamental root causes of recurrent conflict, and to create a better, more secure, more prosperous Kenya for all.
To resolve the political crisis, and in the spirit of coalition and partnership, we have agreed to enact the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008, whose provisions have been agreed upon in their entirety by the parties hereto and a draft copy thereof is appended hereto.
Its key points are:
• There will be a Prime Minister of the Government of Kenya, with authority to coordinate and supervise the execution of the functions and affairs of the Government of Kenya.
• The Prime Minister will be an elected member of the National Assembly and the parliamentary leader of the largest party in the National Assembly, or of a coalition, if the largest party does not command a majority.
• Each member of the coalition shall nominate one person from the National Assembly to be appointed a Deputy Prime Minister.
• The Cabinet will consist of the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the two Deputy Prime Ministers and the other Ministers. The removal of any Minister of the coalition will be subject to consultation and concurrence in writing by the leaders.
• The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers can only be removed if the National Assembly passes a motion of no confidence with a majority vote.
• The composition of the coalition government will at all times take into account the principle of portfolio balance and will reflect their relative parliamentary strength.
• The coalition will be dissolved if the Tenth Parliament is dissolved; or if the parties agree in writing; or if one coalition partner withdraws from the coalition.
• The National Accord and Reconciliation Act shall be entrenched in the Constitution.
Having agreed on the critical issues above, we will now take this process to Parliament. It will be convened at the earliest moment to enact these agreements. This will be in the form of an Act of Parliament and the necessary amendment to the Constitution.
We believe by these steps we can together in the spirit of partnership bring peace and prosperity back to the people of Kenya who so richly deserve it.
Agreed this date 28 February 2008
Hon. Raila Odinga H.E. President Mwai Kibaki
Orange Democratic Movement Government/Party of National Unity
H.E. Kofi A. Annan H.E. President Jakaya Kikwete
Chairman of the Panel President of the United Republic of
of Eminent African Personalities Tanzania
and Chairman of the African Union
The National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008
There is a crisis in this country. The Parties have come together in recognition of this crisis, and agree that a political solution is required.
Given the disputed elections and the divisions in the Parliament and the country, neither side is able to govern without the other. There needs to be real power sharing to move the country forward.
A coalition must be a partnership with commitment on both sides to govern together and push through a reform agenda for the benefit of all Kenyans.
Description of the Act:
An Act of Parliament to provide for the settlement of the disputes arising from the presidential elections of 2007, formation of a Coalition Government and Establishment of the Offices of Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers and Ministers of the Government of Kenya, their functions and various matters connected with and incidental to the foregoing.
1. This Act may be cited as the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008.
2. This Act shall come into force upon its publication in the Kenya Gazette which shall not be later than 14 days from the date of Assent.
3. (1) There shall be a Prime Minister of the Government of Kenya and two Deputy Prime Ministers who shall be appointed by the President in accordance with this section.
(2) The person to be appointed as Prime Minister shall be an elected member of the National Assembly who is the parliamentary leader of -
(a) the political party that has the largest number of members in the National Assembly; or
(b) a coalition of political parties in the event that the leader of the political party that has the largest number of members of the National Assembly does not command the majority in the National Assembly.
(3) Each member of the coalition shall nominate one person from the elected members of the National Assembly to be appointed a Deputy Prime Minister.
4.(1) The Prime Minister:
a) shall have authority to coordinate and supervise the execution of the functions and affairs of the Government of Kenya including those of Ministries;
b) may assign any of the coordination responsibilities of his office to the Deputy Prime Ministers, as well as one of them to deputise for him;
c) shall perform such other duties as may be assigned to him by the President or under any written law.
(2) In the formation of the coalition government, the persons to be appointed as Ministers and Assistant Ministers from the political parties that are partners in the coalition other than the President’s party, shall be nominated by the parliamentary leader of the party in the coalition. Thereafter there shall be full consultation with the President on the appointment of all Ministers.
(3) The composition of the coalition government shall at all times reflect the relative parliamentary strengths of the respective parties and shall at all times take into account the principle of portfolio balance.
(4) The office of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister shall become vacant only if -
(a) the holder of the office dies, resigns or ceases to be a member of the National
Assembly otherwise than by reason of the dissolution of Parliament; or
(b) the National Assembly passes a resolution which is supported by a majority of
all the members of the National Assembly excluding the ex-officio members and of which not less than seven days notice has been given declaring that the National Assembly has no confidence in the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister, as the case may be; or
(c) the coalition is dissolved.
(5) The removal of any Minister nominated by a parliamentary party of the coalition shall be made only after prior consultation and concurrence in writing with the leader of that party.
5. The Cabinet shall consist of the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the two Deputy Prime Ministers and the other Ministers.
6. The coalition shall stand dissolved if:
(a) the Tenth Parliament is dissolved; or
(b) the coalition parties agree in writing; or
(c) one coalition partner withdraws from the coalition by a resolution of the highest decision-making organ of that party in writing.
7. The prime minister and deputy prime ministers shall be entitled to such salaries, allowances, benefits, privileges and emoluments as may be approved by Parliament from time to time.
8. This Act shall cease to apply upon dissolution of the tenth Parliament, if the coalition is dissolved, or a new constitution is enacted, whichever is earlier
There is a hearty debate going on in the West about whether the word ‘tribe’ should be used at all when referring to whats going on in Kenya. Some say the term is a loaded one with degrading insinuations of uncivilized barbarians. Others argue that Africans themselves use the term and it doesn’t matter what word you use, Kenyans are still killing each other based on perceptions of their, and each other’s identity. Still some find comfort in the term.
Since I’m going through a very Mamdani phase right now I thought i’d share something he wrote that is very germane to the ongoing discussion. Its from his essay on Identity in a collection edited by Nadia Tazi:
He distinguishes between ethnicity as a cultural identity and ethnicity as a political identity. When it reflects cultural identity, ethnicity is based on a shared culture and it is consensual. When it is a political identity, the legal and administrative organs of the state enforce it. “After making a distinction between ethnic groups, between those considered indigenous and those not, those organs [of the state] proceed to discriminate between them; those considered indigenous are granted rights considered customary, such as the right to use land, but those considered not indigenous—no matter how long they may have been resident in the land—are denied these same rights”
I think those who, like Gukira, find comfort in the term are refering to ethnicity or tribe as cultural identity, the source of story. Unfortunately, there is the other side of ethnic identity. The side we saw in Kenya last and this month. Where those who are from a different region, be they Luos in Tigoni or Kikuyus in Rift Valley, are violently sent packing for they are not ‘indigenous’
Ethnic politics is an unavoidable fact of Kenyan political life.
Until that stops being a fact I think one of the best things for democracy in the country are internal critiques of the leadership that happen within the ethnic group. I could go on a long rant about that but my view of the importance of internal critiques is informed by Mahmood Mamdani’s very astute observation that because the nature of colonial rule was ethnic, the nature of anti-colonial revolt was also ethnic based and that set the stage for current ethnic politics. (i’ll do another post on this one of these days)
anyway, from Seasons and Reasons I became aware of this incredible song by Kikuyu singer John De Mathew titled uguo niguo kuri.
From what I could gidge it sounds like its a critique of the Kikuyu elite from the perspective of the Kikuyu peasantry. Its an amazing indictment of the Kikuyu elite! And even more incredible that it came even before the elections and not as a reaction to them!! As the singer says, his is not a song, its a prophesy.
At this time of crisis it is easy to think of kiuks as one unified group with no internal friction but they really are not. There are stark class differences that come out in this song.
Some of the verses that sent my spine tingling included:
-That those kiuks who swore an oath to fight for independence were duped because look at who were those left ‘eating’? Not those who fought.
Also scary is the allusion to Michuki and how those who sold out Kimathi are cursed.
He makes the point that all J.M. was fighting for was to allocate land to poor peasants.
And that had Mboya not been murdered Luos and Kiuks would have no annimosity between each other.
unfortunately, the comments about the video on youtube reflect the disappointing reality of how Kenyans deal with ethnicity.
Question is, are there any Kikuyu leaders who have a progressive message for Kikuyus preaching an end to arrogance?
by the way, I hate that myth that Kikuyus are more hardworking than anyone else. It really fails to recognize the real and material ways that, since the colonial days, Kikuyus have had access to more and better opportunities. As a country we need to focus on making sure that all Kenyans have access to the same opportunities. Only then can the myth of one community being more hardworking and others being lazy be busted.
I found this on Pambazuka which is a fantastic source of progressive African news. I’m not sure if its a work of fiction or a real suicide note. I hope its not a real suicide note…
I write this letter as my final mortal action upon this earth.
I have determined to collect email addresses of the prominent people
that I know and my friends and send it to them from an anonymous
email address for two reasons.
First, to spare them the distress of knowing beforehand what I am
doing, therefore saving them from culpability, and second, because my
identity is now and in future irrelevant — it could be any of those
men around the country who feel like I do.
As you might guess from my style of writing, I am a well-educated
man. I am a graduate of Nairobi and Strathmore universities.
I have been privileged to be educated around the world.
I have worked in Berlin, Stockholm, London, New York and many other
places. I speak six languages fluently.
Even with all these achievements, I have no more reason to live. If
you will want to look for me as you read this, go to City Mortuary
where I have determined to fester among the anonymous people there.
I will explain why in this letter, and like Pavlov, I shall retire.
This is my only protest.
Mr Kibaki, I indict you.
You stole the election that I stood for six hours to participate in.
By your actions, my life irrevocably changed. History will now forget
the great achievement and legacy that you were poised to make and it
shall remember that for your self-righteousness, people lost lives,
property, and most of all, hope. On the blood of my people, I indict
Mr Odinga, my chosen president, on the blood and tears of my people,
I indict you.
Because of your bitterness, justified though it is, my life
irrevocably changes. My greatest achievements, my family, died in
your name. My son, my heir, named after my great ancestors, went up
in smoke before he could say my name, or his great name. Koitalet.
My twin daughters, Wanjiru and Sanaipei, were found by my burnt house
in Eldoret, having bled out of their wounds. My wife died with the
seed of six men inside her, demented and finally catatonic. This
happened in your name, Sir. Because you have to get justice. Because
my wife was from the wrong community. Because you must get what is
You will read this and feel nothing. You will rationalise it as
accepted collateral damage. Some must die in the pursuit of justice,