Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Being back home, and the Referendum

It feels great to be back home after two years spent in Wenzhou, China.
Seems like nothing much has changed around here since I left. I’m just glad culture shock isn’t such a big deal after you’ve gone through it more than once. Yeah, right, I know….it’s China – which in some circles is still considered “developing” – but if you’ve been there recently, you’d know just how far ahead of the game China is. My favourite city, Shanghai, literally gives New York a run for its money.

Strangest thing I had happen to me this week was that I had to make a call to a Chinese teacher to sort some stuff out at school. I guess in the course of that conversation I must have dropped a few Chinese words or two. In any case, soon as I was done with the call, a Kenyan right next to me broke out in fluent Chinese (tongue-in-cheek) asking me whether I spoke Chinese. I’d have to meet, it was the most random place I ever expected to have a conversation in Chinese, but it shows me that perhaps there are more of us out there than I usually assume, and mayhaps it was a good decision to go to China.

Anyways, the gist of my entry is about the referendum that’s sets Kenyans abuzz with such euphoria lately. That people are so excited about something this meagre is partly confusing and a little embarrassing to me personally. Let me qualify my statement with the fact that recently a companion described me as being very “dismissive”.
A bit harsh of a classification I think (but I guess I’ll accept that characterization nonetheless).

Lord knows this country needs a good constitution and people have been neglected in the past. In that same vein of thought, a Good constitution would safeguard all the rights of the citizen, correct?
(At this point, Batman’s nemesis – the Joker – would poignantly ask “Then why so sad?”)

I’m not focusing on what the constitution says, good as it may be; rather, I’m focusing on the actors who are meant to implement the constitution’s requirements. As was commonly said in times past, “80% of the previous constitution was good; 20% was bad”
What we witnessed, however, was blatant snubbing of even the good part of that very same constitution. Bottom line is that without changing the “actors” or their “mindsets”, things are still bound to go down the same road no matter what constitution we choose.

In a related event, people have been complaining of our educational system, 8-4-4, claiming that it demands too much of our students, saddles them with too much technical knowledge. I would think the same of this referendum; for people to expect the common man to browse through tonnes of legal lingo (in their own free time for no fee), and come to the right decision is expecting too much. To help us out, they could at least have whittled the thing down to the 20% which is actually CONTENTIOUS.

And here is the reason why I am embarrassed – our legislators are actually paid tonnes of money to work out such matters. And ideally, this is boring work, which we pay them to do, so that we don’t have to deal with it (We salute a long list of professionals who we pay to deal with our mundane tasks, so that we don’t have to: Lawyers, Accountants, Auditors, Historians, Anthropologists, Geologists, etc)
Far be it from the MPs to even attempt to understand what they are doing, but they drum up a whole circus of festivities, trying to excite the common man about things mundane, and gain political mileage at the same time. And, adding insult to injury, they peddle their confusion to the gullible masses, so that as the Lord would say,
“…they take away the keys to knowledge; themselves not entering, and hindering those who wish to enter (the kingdom)…”

Most embarrassing of all is how they even got the church embroiled in this whole mess. I’m Catholic and fully pro-life, but the stupidity contained in the Church’s arguments leaves me shocked. As a future medical professional who’s done his bit on philosophy and ethics of care-giving, and reading the same constitution, I don’t know where they came up with the idea that the new constitution allows for anyone in an allied medical field (even physiotherapy or even Morgue attendants) to prescribe an abortion.

I’m embarrassed as a Christian, a future medic and as a human being that such lies are being peddled by “respectable” religious personalities. If they know they are lying, God will deal with them. If they are honestly ignorant, it only further proves the point that they are dabbling in matters for which they are not properly equipped; it obviously isn’t their calling.

So I’ll just sit out this little referendum, and hope people keep their heads despite everything. The proof is in the pudding for me – the implementation.
Shame on you legislators for failing your country yet again; for stirring up emotions where none were required at all; for gross dereliction of duty and for misleading your people yet again.

May God and this great land of Kenya forgive you for your failure.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Early one morning...

I was walking through one of the dorm kitchens early this morning and I came across the beautiful moth. Gone are the days when it was assumed that butterflies relegated their "cousins" to the ugly heap.

This particular beauty (hoping I got my classification right) should be a (Male) Luna Moth - Actias luna. Since these guys only last about one week in their adult life, I figure he's probably not got much time left. But even with finite and fragile aspects of life, God's creativity shines forth.

He actually freaked out one of my friends, but he's harmless. No mouth parts on him apparently, all his feeding was done when he was younger. Hence, despite the 4.5 inch wing span, short of flying at you, there really is nothing harmful he can really do to you.

For more info on other interesting moth species, you can follow the link below:
World's weirdest moths,

...and for a twist of something that's beautiful but deadly, check out the Asp Caterpillar

(Pics courtesy of Neha Drivya)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lessons from the World Cup!

This has got to be the most arduous balancing act I've ever had to pull off to enjoy a World Cup. For the whole schedule to so perfectly coincide with my exam period here in Medical school means every moment spent watching a game has to be weighed against the missed studying time.

All things considered, it's been an enjoyable experience. Seems like karma's been putting things right with this World Cup (England-Germany disputed match of '66, France-Ireland qualification debacle, Italian win through questionable means in 2006...);

The exit of some big names early on in the tournament is proving something to most people (one point especially that my Mum always emphasized) - the fundamentals are very important, and no team, no matter how great it is can get by unless it is DISCIPLINED. There's no discounting the odd bad luck that may befall a team (preview Ghana vs. Uruguay), but lack of Discipline is a guaranteed faux pas. The dissension among the ranks in the English and French teams proves this.

Striking at the World Cup? The team that had the dubious distinction of pulling that move off in 2006 was Angola, and didn't the world breath a sigh of relief when that team didn't progress any further.
If I were to wax philosophical, I would say,
And over all these skills put on DISCIPLINE, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
I say this with particularly heavy-hearted emphasis on my own country Kenya's football aspirations. Plagued by chaos stemming from a Top-Down lack of recognition of what it takes to make a great team, we've always been disappointed in international competition. Not for lack of talent, nor opportunity, but a basic failure to inculcate discipline into our own ranks.

I think it is very telling that Nigeria would go so far as to suspend their National team from international competition for 2 years of basic rebuilding. Granted, not everyone might be able to pull this off, nor would it bode well for FIFA's planning if every country under the sun were just to up and take a 'sabbatical'...
...but, for my country's sake, maybe that's just what we need; breathing room to step back and gain a sense that the ultimate prize here is not individual fame and fortune, but the respect and honour that it brings to your Mother-Country. I can't think of a time when people are more united as when they cheer for the same team. All differences put aside, all hopes and prayers raised towards one end. That's the way I'd like to see my national team unite the country.

...And, having just watched the Ghana-Uruguay match, I would love it if we also had the chance to carry the continent's aspirations.
Unfortunately, lesson number 2, short and pithy as it is, comes from that same game,
Sometimes it's the lucky team that prevails
Contrary to pundit previews, Ghana was the better of the two teams today (hands down!!!). I guess the question then is whether you'd rather be "Good" or "Lucky"?

Anyhow, back to the old studies. Enjoy your World Cup, whichever team you support (GERMANY)

God Bless