I think that maybe…

Having had one of those weeks where my to-do list seemed like a wealthy spinster’s shopping receipt (don’t I wish), I’m glad to be finally singing, “I made it! I made it!”

More than anything, this week has brought to my attention the extent to which mitigation has plagued our society. What do I mean by mitigation? I mean this: “I think that maybe it would be a bit better if we…” Think, maybe, a bit. All these words denote uncertainty. Yet many of us are preconditioned by the cultures from which we hail to use them even when we are sure so that we don’t step on another person’s toes.

We are told everyday to change this. We are told to speak out, to tell it like it is, to call a spade a spade. And we are warned that if we don’t shun mitigation, it will cripple our success, like the calcium that collects on an eagle’s beak and talons and prevents it from soaring.

While I would love to do this, to break out of my shell, I wonder if it isn’t better to remain in my cocoon. After all, my “culture” is actually more polite. Should I downgrade the importance of being polite? Are we not taught that no matter what, our dealings with humanity are more important than even our professional success?

Stepping out for many of us is difficult because being withdrawn or timid is all we’ve ever known. Many times, people don’t understand why I hesitate to do something, or why I give myself a pep talk before doing something that is not a big deal. Sometimes it’s even painful for me to watch, and I can imagine how irritating it must be for another observer when they know what I mean to say yet continue to sugarcoat it until I don’t put my point across.

After a considerable amount of soul-searching, I have decided that I will continue to work towards saying exactly what I mean, and that fearlessly. However, I’ll be careful with my tone. Tone is the difference between why in school we saw some prefects as mean and others as strict. Yes, there is a difference. Therefore, as much as I want to be polite, I don’t want to fade into the background. I want to be soft-spoken without being unimportant.

Although that seems like a small task for most people, it is a tall order for a good number of us this side of the Sahara. There is a thin line between confidence and bragging. There is a blurred line between respecting someone and concurring with them. Kethi Kilonzo is the perfect example. The fact that she stepped down for her mother was respectful. However, is our society demanding from us respect without reminding us to use logical reasoning to decide what is truly better for ourselves and for the same society which polices us? Personally, I think that many times we can respect someone without necessarily letting them have their way.

I started the journey towards minimising mitigation years ago after reading the book “Outliers”. It is hard. Sometimes, for me, it is downright impossible. I’m still at it though. Slowly but surely, I’ll find my way round these ropes. Mgaagaa na upwa hali wali mkavu.

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Vul’indlela wemamgobhozi

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Vul’indlela wemamgobhozi. Make way; we’re coming through. Afrika. It just sounds right. Don’t you think-perfect melody to the ear?

Well, I make a fuss about Africa and the resources that we have and the things that we can achieve. I am excited for Africa. Looking at Kenya, I cannot help thinking we are about to take over the world. I look at my friends and how good they are at what they do, and I cannot help but beam with pride.

Technology has made great strides in the (proudly) dark continent. Off the top of my head, I would attribute our successes to the fact that more and more of us are accessing various forms of  technology and this at a young age. In countries like Kenya, primary education, though plagued by numerous imperfections, has become more accessible, empowering the youth. Also, probably thanks to this awareness, technology has become more practicable. For instance, you find that many communities have developed systems steered at enhancing their economic activities such as fishing and farming. Oftentimes these technological alternatives contribute not only to economic empowerment but to environmental conservation.

I met David (not his real name) at a conference last year. He was excited about sharing his power saving jiko project with the rest of us. It was a cool system that minimized the use of charcoal, the negative health effects to the respiratory system from the normal stove, and made it more affordable for members of his community to keep the poultry they reared warm through the night. He declined to let us know how much he earned from setting up this stove for people, but said the fact that he had his own house already and was looking to build a permanent one should give us a hint. He was a charming man, who showed no insecurities when we asked him what would happen to his career when all homes had the stove. He said that there was a lot that an innovative mind could help out with in his home in Western Kenya, and he has already started working on a village lighting project. See? We’re coming through- from the grassroots up.

I hope that we continue to share our stories. An idea shared is an idea gained. With text messages and Facebook and blogs and Twitter and e-mails, we can cause a revolution (picture the mood in the last scene of Step Up revolution).

When Julie Gichuru spoke at TedxNairobi, she insisted that it’s myopic to blame our lack of development on our leadership. I think it’s true. I think that true power lies in how obsessed the youth are willing to become with perfecting their passions. We, as those interested in technology should play our role, if for nothing else but Mama Afrika’s sake.

Afrika. It just sounds right. Don’t you think-perfect melody to the ear?

Credit:

I got the picture from a website whose url I don’t have access to right now.

A big big deal

life is good
life is great
life is unbelievable
life is hard, life is cruel
life is so beautiful
ooh yeah ooh yeah – LFO

How scary it must be to achieve nothing in life!

Being as I am at an age where genuine joy for a wedding couple is yet to be replaced by jealousy,  my greater concerns in life, rather than marriage, pertain the successes (or, heaven forbid, failures) of my undergraduate career.

I don’t know if I’m alone on this one, but I have discovered that we live in a cut throat world where not succeeding has suddenly become synonymous with failing. Everyday I bump into stories of 15 year-olds and 12 year-olds who are full on determining where the earth shall lay its head at night already. It’s awesome, you know. Take, at a smaller scale, Kenya for example. The techs develop m-pesa. M-pesa accelerates the economy. The people have a higher purchasing power. We can afford even the luxury of art. We pay to watch Owira and those of his ilk. They can take their kids to school… Nothing but wonderful proceeds from new developments in technology or business or art, and it’s all linked.

However, it does scare me a little to think that school may come and go without my becoming a game changer in my field. I mean, what if I end up normal, boring? I watch kids on tedxTeen making it happen in their worlds, and I’m glad, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder with concern about what happens if I don’t make it.

Really, though, what’s making it? Does it matter if I’m a big deal? I vote no. It matters that I’m happy, and that I do my best. It matters that I give back to my society. It doesn’t matter if my breakthrough delays, or if it doesn’t come at all.

All that matters in the end is that I’m a big big deal to me.