Some questions

It’s a long weekend this side of the ocean. Yesterday we had state funeral for the ex president, monday will be May Day celebrations and Tuesday Idd. If you ask me, work weeks should be this short. I get to run, ride, walk, read and just be lazy. But these are not the questions.

First question: should we judge the moral flaws of the past with the standards of today? Many a person have been cancelled for the thoughts or opinion held when that was current in their time? Or should we expect our icons to have held the correct views through the ages?

Question 2: how will the war in Ukraine end? NATO is arming Ukraine but not doing any actual fighting. What, to Russians was reported as police action (if the media is to be believed) has now been going on for 2 months with loss of lives on both sides and destruction of property in Ukraine. The effects of this absurdity are being felt all over & acutely in my neck of woods. Is there a way for Putin to save face, end this war?

Question 3: are you aware the war in Syria has been raging for more than 6 years? That there is a war in Ethiopia? Or Yemenis are dying in conflict not of their own making?

Bonus question: to cremate or to bury the dead.

Kibaki, our third president is dead

And while most mediaoutlets are on about how he was the greatest after sliced bread and thermos flask, i am not boarding this train. If there was ever a man who had been given an opportunity to be great and squandered it, here lies on such man.

So, on the positive side, during his tenure, there was increased government spending that enabled the private sector, in many sectors of the economy, to prosper. The economy was on a positive trajectory in his first term but by the end of the second term, it was on a downward trajectory from where, following the mismanagement by the Hague duo, it hasn’t recovered.

He squandered the opportunity to steer the country away from nepotism by forming an inclusive government following the mandate he had been given by the people, instead, he filled the government with cronies and his Makerere associates.

He squandered an opportunity to address theft of public funds from the top by making it impossible for his anticorruption tzar to work. Instead he rewarded those who had been accused of wrongdoing.

By stealing elections and swearing himself in at night, he precipidated a breakdown in law and order leading to violence that exceeded previous clashes that were said to have government support in Moi error era of government terror.

He squandered an opportunity to see the rebirth of the nation, in his first term, through the birthing of a new constitution, instead, we recall the extra judicial murder of Dr. Mbai and many others whose deaths were not solved and will never be solved.

I will come back here to continue to remind ourselves of the failures of his regime.

On Musk and twitter

Over the last few days, since Elon Musk first bought majority shares and then offered to buy twitter, there has been quite a storm on the Web on the issue. Among the issues raised is what it means to free speech, and then of course, it is seen as one of the ills of capitalism.

On the second issue, we can all agree that extreme economic disparities that exist today in our societies is inimical to democracy. A society where so few are so rich or so many so poor cannot be democratic. Stopping Musk from buying twitter doesn’t help with the issue of distribution of wealth.

The matter gets more interesting on the issue ot free speech. There are voices that say one man should not have the control of such a platform and so forth. That this would lead to restrictions on free speech. From what Musk has proposed such as transparency in algorithms among others, I don’t see how this is going to be a problem. That he will give free reign to right wingers is to me not a big problem. One can always curate what they don’t want to hear.

Still on the matter of an individual owning such a platform, most mainstream media is owned and controlled by a very small number of individuals or corporations that have made it possible for them to manufacture consent. So really, as long as twitter allows anyone with a cellphone to post their bytes, does it matter who owns it?

But maybe I am missing something critical on this matter given I am not a twitter user.

Of witches

And witch burning. And of course the good book.

Civilised people, Christians of today, no longer burn witches. The text that encourages burning of witches still stands. So I got wondering whether the Europeans burned all the witches or if the demons stopped having commerce with men and women? It is strange that more women were banned at the stake in Europe than men, when the papal bull condemning witches and setting the stage for the inquisition said the demons had commerce with both men and women?

In all of ancient Africa, as far as I can tell, no single person was burned as a witch. It is only after the missionaries arrived dis witches arrive on the scene and it is only after they left have witches been burned in some places in Africa. And these missionaries and others had the temerity to call my ancestors backward!

This is not all. These good people, living in an age where sex was suppressed, believed devils interfered with copulation and conception by being the go between between sperms and ova. And this was believed by among others Thomas Aquinas, that great church father. However, St. Bonaventura goes a step farther to inform us this was only possible with the permission of god.

One still wonders how a religion that included and still includes such credulity could have conquered so much of the world? What does it say of human intelligence or lack of it? They even believe their god was tempted by the devil! Credulity knows no bounds. But then again, what do I know?

But if our civilised fellows no longer believe in demons and ghosts, they have replaced them with aliens and other extraterrestrial beings. Same old demons but in new clothes. Man, however educated, is still credulous.

And as I close on witches, remember that Tyndall was burned at the stake for being too clever for his own good- translating the bible to English!

Have a witches free day, will you!

profiles in courage

by John F Kennedy.

I have for the last 7 years since I wrote this post been meaning to read this book to see if I was wrong in my conclusions then. I am persuaded I was right then in my conclusions as I still am now that whilst men and women have committed great acts of courage, these were only possible if they stood to benefit. Don’t be hasty to think of benefit only in terms of public recognition- no- the greatest beneficiary of our actions is the self, that one master you cannot go against. In times of great turmoil or crisis, it is that master that must be served.

Many might not have read this book by JFK, but I recommend it highly. Not because of the profiles, which are great by the way, but on its lessons on government. And why, for democracy to continue to work, we must all participate in politics. It is also the eye opener in why many or most of us are frustrated by the decisions the politicians make. We have elected them to be our representatives and expect that their votes will represent our will. JFK reminds us that we have also entrusted them to act impartially, with integrity in the hope that they will be led at al times by public good, however you define it.

As I wrote many moons ago asking what happened to the US of A of men such as Robert G Ingersoll, Lewis and others, I can add to the list such men us E Ross, Calhoun, Houston, Taft, Adams and others- who, my friends living in the Uneducated States of A know much more than I can ever know. It appears, to us, who watch from afar, that party obedience trumps everything else and that we see very few men and women who dare challenge the party. But then, yours truly, is not a politician.

In my neck of woods, such profile maybe hard to build in our present climate. However, there have been men and women who have defied the government of the day and suffered dearly or lost limb and life in defense of their principles- but they have been few and far between-. We remember Waangari Maathai (Prof) for her fight to save our forests for which she paid a personal price. Or those few men of courage who stood firmly with Oginga Odinga when in 1966 he formed Kenya People’s Union- the first Azimio Party- after resigning his office as Vice President. Of note is Bildad Kaggia who for this defiance was detained by then president in HomaBay (I think) for several months. Since then, we have only been electing scoundrels to the no longer August House. We have elected representatives who will sacrifice everything to remain in office. But maybe I am wrong and I expect too much of politicians.

So, again, as I did then, 7 years ago, I ask again today- is selflessness possible?

fuck work

Last week I was reading this post about work and whether work, really is the solution. The authors argue that the age old maxim from the good book about work (he who doesn’t work shouldn’t eat) may actually no longer hold.

From where I sit, I think this is a first world problem. In many places on the continent and other cities in the global south, there is an employment crisis. Those in employable age bracket have no work and struggle to make a living and would be the last to say fuck work.

What do you think of this question posed in the article?

How do you make a living without a job – can you receive income without working for it? Is it possible, to begin with and then, the hard part, is it ethical? If you were raised to believe that work is the index of your value to society – as most of us were – would it feel like cheating to get something for nothing?