Monday, September 29, 2014


It is tempting to believe from the news presented daily on TV and in the newspapers that nothing good ever happens. The powers that be seem to believe that we don’t want to hear good things. The truth is we do. This story is a heart-warming account of people caring.  

Only a few days ago I heard about an amazing project, a twinning between a small village in southwest England and a village in Kenya. It came about by chance when in 1999 a British family went on on holiday and visited the small village in Kenya and saw the parlous state of the school. 

They returned home and encouraged the local council and a group of friends to form a support group, which soon became a registered charity.

Within a short while they had revisited the village and helped to rebuild the school, building three classrooms, toilets etc.  Following that, links were established between the churches and other schools. Then they provided funds for the electricity, water and other essential. Later they sent two containers filled with books, clothes, tools and much more. Over the years they have been able to assist a number of children into further education Time went by and they lost contact meanwhile free schooling was introduced and the school was inundated with new pupils and couldn’t cope.

Recently while visiting friends in England, a local Kenyan businessman heard about the group and contacted them. He found out that they had collected more funds but were having difficulty in getting them to the school in Kenya. He was invited to speak about his life in Kenya and agreed to help funnel monies to the school. Last week he drove to the village, visited the school and met the Head mistress. She was overwhelmed when he explained why he was there and promptly arranged to pay the outstanding utility bills and help with other unpaid accounts. It was a miracle she said.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Scottish Referendum

 Over the last 24 hours the people of Scotland, over  five million of them voted 6 to 4 to stay within the United Kingdom. It was an extraordinary outpouring reflecting a conflict between nationalism and pragmatism. Family was divided against family. The Scottish National Party headed by Alex Salmond led the charge. Speaking with sincerity and enthusiasm he outlined the reasons why he believed Scotland would be better off on its own . Many of the reasons were  related to the feeling the Scots have, that being a long way from Westminster means that they have been forgotten by successive governments. Always voting Labour they resented the power of the Conservative Government under David Cameron. 

But when the result was announced Salmond was the first to gracefully accept defeat. His speech was a model of maturity and integrity. What struck me as I watched the drama unfold was not the result which I believe is a sensible one (provided the UK Government honours its pledges to the Scottish people )but the manner in which this highly contentious subject was handled. The people came to the polling stations in their millions, peacefully, happily jostling with those who voted the opposite way, There was  no rancour , no anger, no cries of foul. They showed themselves to be a peace-loving caring and tolerant people. Tolerant to the views of others in a way that the rest of the world could emulate. Compare that with the fighting and slanging that goes on in most other countries after an election. 
    I hope the leaders of those countries will learn that peaceful voting and acceptance of the decision is the only way to unify a country and is the hallmark of a civilised society.   
                                                                                                                                 19th September 2014

Kenya is Burning

Kenya is Burning

            Less that a week ago mindless destruction broke out at the top of First Avenue in Nyali when the police and fundis (workmen) armed with axes and hammers descended upon the makeshift structures, cafes, shops and homes built illegally on the roadside. Within hours they had flattened them to the ground leaving a chaotic pile of bent corrugated roofs, wooden posts broken tables and chairs. These small businesses were the only means the people had to eke out a living in a street occupied by some of the most wealthy in the town, a street where top of the range Mercedes and Toyotas speed by, their owners seemingly oblivious to the plight of these unfortunates. In the following days, dazed and confused and having nowhere to go they camped out under the nearby trees with their cooking pots, charcoal burners and meagre belongings.
            Three days later in the early hours, the local residents were awakened by the sound of loud reports, cracking and bursting, as flames consumed a nearby wooden Makuti restaurant with shops and cafes undoubtedly the work of embittered arsonists. The fire service was called and arrived 20 minutes later by which time the flames were totally out of control reaching 20 -30 metres into a sky lit up as if in day time. Helplessly the fireman could do little but watch the devastation as the whole structure came crushing to the ground. The windows of a nearby block of apartments were too hot to touch an indication of the severity of the blaze.
            This morning as I write this account, the area is quiet. Some local people dazed and confused by the events of the last few days stand by helplessly. Yet in the smoking ruins, others can be seen beginning to clear up the chaos, to douse any still burning debris and to salvage what they can and begin again, a resolute and defiant people unbowed by disaster.
            Yes the buildings were illegal; yes they had no right to be built on the roadside but what were the people to do? They were struggling to survive, to earn a pittance in a country that has forgotten them; high unemployment, no welfare service, a failing medical and education service unless you are rich, has created a divided society where the gap between the rich and the poor is obscene.

            To paraphrase a well-known saying, Hell has no fury like a people ignored.