Thursday, April 7, 2016

Democracy is alive and well

 Over the last 24 hours the people of Scotland all five million of them voted 6 to 4 to stay in the United Kingdom. It was an extraordinary outpouring of nationalism against pragmatism. Family divided against family. The Scottish National Party head by Alex Salmond led the charge, Speaking with sincerity and enthusiasm he outlined the reasons why Scotland would be better on its own . Much of it related to the feeling the Scots have that being a long way from Westminster means that they have been forgotten by successive government. All way voting Labour they resented the Power of Th Conservative Government under David Cameron. What struck me however 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. 
Vacant and not possessed.

            A short walk around Nyali, a suburb of Mombasa, Kenya soon confronts the visitor with an enormous number of tall multi-storied apartment blocks. They stand like stark sentinels reaching for the sky. During the day no one is seen to come in or out and at night they are in darkness, not a light is visible at any window. Not one is occupied and yet another and another is being built.
            At a time when the economy is in down fall and the banks are struggling to stay afloat, where has the money come from? It requires no Professor of economics to work that out. Yet no city official, no city police step forwards to confront the obvious felony.
            Meanwhile the city is overrun with beggars and street children, and ordinary people are unable to afford a roof over their heads. Surely the solution is obvious. Take over the empty buildings and house the homeless. Two problems solved in one swoop.

            Has anyone the courage to do what is needed to be done? The silence is deafening.

            It should not come as a surprise that Kenya a country riven with corruption could not have avoided the accusation of doping of its top long distance runners arguable the best in the world. In a sport where large sums of money can be made, the temptation to take Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED) must be irresistible. The drug testing laboratories must be under enormous pressure to massage the results particular those of the top performers who are able to give substantial back handers to the testers.
            That it has taken so many years to come to light may reflect the incompetence of the International Association of Athletics’ Federation (IAAF). The new President, Sebastian Coe has accepted a poisoned chalice. He comes as a white knight bent on cleaning up the mess but is he street-wise enough to untangle the web of lies and deception which has grown over the years under the leadership of the previous bosses, one of whom Lamine Diack is under investigation by the French police.
            Recently President Uhuru has been quoted as saying that he backs the efforts of the Kenya National Sports Council to clean up their act. Does his support mean anything or will it just push under the carpet any evidence that could smear Kenya’s reputation? With the spectre of Rio looming like a cobra over the sport and with the recent revelations from Russia, the 2016 Olympic games promises to be more than a sporting event.

                                                                                                February 12th  2016
            I am a feminist an unashamed supporter of a woman’s right to be treated as equivalent and equal to men.  I can see no physical, psychological or intellectual reason why that is in doubt. On the contrary the evidence from all societies is that given equal opportunity, women are as good if not better than their male equivalent at every level of business, commerce or professions.
            It is often cited that the biological difference between men and women creates an unavoidable barrier to this, but the evidence does not support that view. Many women choose not to engage in the competitive world and therefore there are fewer women in these pursuits but that does not mean that they, given their wish are not equal. There is growing evidence that what holds women back is not their ability but the opposition of men many of whom feel threatened by a woman in a position of power and responsibility.  They use the myth of inferiority to justify their choice of male colleagues or assistants.

            In many cases women are compounding the problem by not applying for the more prestigious posts but accepting the more menial roles. In so doing they perpetuate the myth.
            That is the feeling I have as once again I sit in the dark experiencing another power outage. The constant drumming of the generators is a reminder of the appalling state of energy production here in Kenya where a monopoly controls its production. Since 7 am this morning the power has been out. It is now 10 pm, 15 hours without electricity. Nobody complains, nobody rises up in outrage, no one objects and demands a better service. There is a placid acceptance of the unacceptable. Why are the people so pathetic, why so long-suffering?
            It’s a fatal weakness in the ordinary man, which allows the government to ride rough shod over him knowing that he will accept everything without lifting a finger to complain.
            What would happen in other countries? There would be a public outcry. Crowds would assemble and march to the company headquarters demanding a better service. Government would intervene and engage with the company. An enquiry would be set up to look for the reasons and to correct it. Heads would roll. Management would be required to answer and present plans to avoid it in the future.

            Why doesn’t that happen here?