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aaarrrggg!! I’m turning 30 in a few weeks and i’m flipping out.

Its not that I’m regretting what I’ve done with my life or feeling like I haven’t accomplished enough. Its that I’m beginning to feel the pressure of time. I’m hit with this overwhelming realization that I don’t have all the time in the world and I can’t possibly accomplish all the whimsical, fanciful dreams that I’ve had. I have to whittle them down to the most intriguing ones and then go for those with gusto.

I was a lucky child to be told I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m now hit with the realization that I can’t be everything I’ve wanted to be. My chances of being an economist passed because I didn’t take macro and micro economics. I didn’t take those because I didn’t take calculus before that, I didn’t take calculus because I hadn’t taken pre-calculus…. Not just my wanting to be something is enough. Some doors have closed for good. But not all of them

I read somewhere once that the ideal plan for life is to spend the first 30 years of life preparing to fulfill your life’s calling(for example through pursuing education, apprenticeships etc). Then the next 30 years from 30-60 should be spent fulfilling that calling, and the last 30 from 60-90 teaching others by sharing what you would have done differently had you known what you know now.

Perhaps I was drawn to this plan because it fit my own life’s trajectory. On the eve of my 30th birthday i’m about to finish my last degree and I hope to join the workforce. I’ve been a professional student for the last 26 years and am lucky enough to have figured out my life’s calling (Just need a financial windfall to pull it off to the magnitude that I’ve imagined it!)

Hopefully i’ll spend the next 30 years being productive (hmmm hopefully reproductive too!) and accomplishing whatever parts of the calling I can whith the resources God avails me.

And honestly, I can’t think to retirement yet. Perhaps the transition from the second 30 to the 3rd 30 year segment will engender another flip out.

Hmmm. I just figured out what it is about turning 30. Its the transition that is scary.

I have to move from saying “when I grow up I want to…” and finally start being and doing those things. I’m no longer going to have the excuse of being a student. I’m truly an adult now. O.K. lets not rush things, I have a couple of weeks still 🙂

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So the lady who writes African Expat Wives club was fretting over negative comments left on her very insightful blog. I urge you to check out the story over there. One of the more telling posts includes the lines; “Living in East Africa today is not unlike a British 1950’s middle class existence for many expatriates”. and “Moving to Africa fast tracked my husband and I from renting a tiny flat in London to living comfortably in a three bedroom house with a four wheel drive, sizeable garden, a dog and reliable house help within one year” just to give you a taste.

Anyway, I posted a comment on her blog that I wanted to share. This is what I said:

The thing is, your blog reminds us Kenyans of how far we have to go before we eliminate the disparities in wealth and the racial segregation that those disparities manifest in Kenya.

Do I think you’re racist? No. But it shouldn’t matter. You should still keep blogging.

I do get put off by how unaware you seem of the ways that your lifestyle is a reflection of the problems that Kenyans have been trying to get over since the first White man landed on our soil (heck, we weren’t even Kenyan then, but how we all became Kenyans is a long story that I hope they taught in British schools).

I’m idealistic and I’d like to think that for all the lavish lifestyles that expats enjoy in Kenya they have a keen awareness of their privileged location in an exploitative international economic and political system. Your blog reminds us Kenyangs that you (expats) are all not driven by that awareness and few of you have a deep desire to subvert the system that has you at the top of the heap.

Question is; what should my reaction be? To post abusive comments on your blog? NO, thats just petty and mean.

My reaction needs to be to learn as much about, and understand your perspective so that when its time to turn the heap in favour of equitable distribution, I am able to treat you in a manner that respects your dignity.

Kenyans committed to change and social equity can either demonize expats for their lavishness, or be committed to every human being’s dignity; both the expat and her housegirl. That is a much more difficult and complicated task.

So blog on. No insults from me here. Dissapointment? Yes.

But if some day you decide to live for more than being at the top of the heap, meander on over to my blog or drop me an email and I can share some ideas for things you can do to help that will not overwhelm your delicate constitution. (this is in response to her understandable claim about down and dirty work in the slums that, “we are not all cut out for that kind of work”)

And I don’t say any of this meanly. Its just that I firmly believe that privilege brings with it responsibility to pay it forward and to undermine the very system that put you on top at the expense of others. I should know, I’m a Kenyan living most often in the U.S. but also in Kenya for parts of the year.
Be well and blog on!

Since I’ve veered into blogging about my day to day life why not share my angst about dissertating.I’ve spent the last two years picking my nose and not getting this darned dissertation out of the way. But thats not the worst thing. Not only did I not write much, but instead of having fun not writing, I spent the two years feeling guilty for not writing.

What a waste!

Now I’m in the two month stretch home and I just cant’ get myself to write. I have spend all day today staring at the computer feeling like crap about myself for not writing. And not writing.

I hate writing! I don’t understand people who do it passionately. Just like people who love to exercise with a passion. What wierdos! And how can I become like them? 🙂

I wish I could close my eyes and the thing would just write itself. I used to have a life before this whole Ph.D. thing. I used to like myself and be excited about life. Now all my plans for the future are punctuated by this looming weight on my shoulders. I WANT MY LIFE BACK! Just make this thing go away! (sob sob sob)

O.k. now back to not writing and convincing myself that I’m still a good human being despite my failure to be productive today.

NO TO OIL FOR LAND!
February 2008
Merti Range Users Association

The following memorandum was prepared by members of the Merti Range
Users Association in northern Isiolo, Kenya. It expresses their
concern about concessions recently granted to a Chinese company to
prospect for oil in the rangelands. It illustrates the potential
threats of this kind of external investment on the ecosystem and
local livelihoods, and the lack of transparency in the negotiations.

Memorandum submitted by the Merti Range Users Association of Isiolo,
Kenya, in relation to a Chinese company undertaking oil prospecting
activities in the area

To: Hon. Kiraitu Murungi, Minister for Energy
Hon. Mohamed Abdi Kuti, MP Isiolo North
The Director, NEMA
The District Commissioner, Isiolo District
All Councillors, Isiolo County Council

Whereas Rangeland Users Association is an institutional framework
developed for the purpose of the welfare of the pastoralist people
living in Merti division of Isiolo district;

Recognizing that pastoralism is the mainstay of the economy of the
area and thus the majority of the population are therefore members of
the association;

Further noting that a Chinese company is now said to engage in
undertaking oil prospecting activities in the heartland of the
rangeland on which the pastoralists raise their livestock and manage
the environment, its fauna and flora;

Apprehensive that the said prospecting activities will lead to
massive environmental destruction, thereby destabilizing an already
fragile ecosystem that is constantly pressurized by the vagaries of
ever-changing climatic conditions;

Further noting that the said Chinese company is undertaking these
activities in total exclusion of the local people and its leadership;

Realizing that this oil prospecting activity will ultimately lead to
not only destroying the existing ecosystem, its economy and the
people depending on it but have serious long-term negative effects on
the environment on which we derive our livelihood;

And having further realized that the said Chinese company is not
willing to engage the local population, its leadership and
institutions on any of the issues,

We therefore submit the following:

1. That an urgent immediate action be taken by the elected leadership
to engage the relevant government organ/department to ensure the
above-raised concerns are addressed in the following manner.
2. That the Chinese company is practising unethical labour procedure
in total contravention of international labour conventions, Kenyan
labour laws and rules of natural justice. This they do by engaging
persons without any signed papers, not informing them of their
renumerations, working long extensive hours without commensurate
overtime payments, tight social restrictions bordering on enslavement
and human rights abuse. This is all supposedly happening in your own
country and village. This must be urgently redressed and corrected.
3. That any further employment opportunities must be given to the
local people unless such expertise cannot be sourced locally.
4. All sourcing of goods and services must also be given to the local
people as propriety.
5. That the oil company should pay for the havoc they will cause to
the local economy in view of the destruction their activities are
going to occasion to the environment, economy and infrastructure in
the area such as roads.
6. That the process of granting concessions and rights by the
government must involve the local pastoralist communities whose
livelihood depends wholly on this land and the natural resources
found thereon.
7. That these are grave matters touching on lives and livelihoods and
should be addressed with the urgency they deserve.

*Signed for and on behalf of 68 elders representing all the
localities of Merti division, Diba Golicha Galma, Chairman, Range
Users Association, Merti.

**Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at
http://www.pambazuka.org

When I was in Kenya over Dec/January this year I bought what I think might be Nonini’s latest CD; Mwisho wa mawazo which is amazing, fantastic, awesome, and genius.

Usually when you buy a cd you resign yourself to the fact that there will be at most three amazing tracks and the rest will be o.k. if you’re lucky. Not with this cd where each of the songs on the CD is a pleasant surprise. My absolute favorites: Love To Party (Featuring Ngoni),

Being the nerd I am, I was driving home yesterday blaring the music fantasizing about teaching a class on the politics of the lyrics of genge music. Wouldn’t it be awesome if one of the local Kenyan universities would let me teach such a class?!

Highlights would include Nonini’s Ngoma Yako which deals with problems with intellectual property, joblessness, gender relations, lack of opportunity, and overall many of the conditions that have been understood to foment the emergence of Mungiki and other such groups. Other tunes to study would include Kumekucha (Featuring Professor J & Q-Chilla) and its discussion of regional co-operation, and social change with intensifying globalization.

Another giddy purchase in January was Mashifta’s “Mashifta classics”: This cd is an inspired Kenyan hybrid of digable planets and The roots. Particularly the Roots’ things fall apart cd. Mashifta classics is a treasure trove starting with the hit “majambazi” which is so rich in analysis of the youth’s perspective of our ‘system ya majambazi’. Others from this amazing cd include V2 Zinazofanza Uende!? with its disillusionment with current socio/politico/economic Kenyan situation and its offering for Kenyan youth, and magazeti maradio matv with its harsh criticism of our media.

O.k. I’m getting carried away so I’ll stop.

Oh, and yeah, what other CDs should I explore for my dream class?

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister-Designate, Mr Raila Odinga (left), follow action at the 40th Kenya Open Golf tournament at Karen Country Club, on Sunday March 9th.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Kenya……

what was all this for?

so you could play golf together?

(Top pick from today’s Standard online. bottom pics lifted from Joseph Karoki’s amazing blog)

nuff sed!

I’m fed up and utterly disgusted!

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.