Part 2 of the interview with Aya Chebbi is finally here! Aya is the first ever African Union Youth Envoy and is the youngest person in the Chairperson's cabinet. She has travelled the world as a scholar, mentor, blogger, pan-Africanist, and feminist. She has received many accolades to her name, including being named amongst the world's 2018 top 100 most influential young people in government alongside heavy hitters like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview her. Without further ado, here it is, the second part of the interview (you can read the first part here).
In 2018, Aya Chebbi was named as the first ever African Union (AU) Youth Envoy to the AU Commission. She is the youngest person in the Chairperson's Cabinet. The start of her journey on this path can be pointed back to the Tunisian revolution when she quickly rose to prominence as a voice for democracy. Her blog, Proudly Tunisian, was published across numerous platforms such as Al Jazeera and OpenDemocracy. She has accomplished a whole lot since then, travelling the world as a scholar, mentor, speaker, volunteer, and pan-African feminist. Here she is, in her own words.
Girl's Generation, GG in short, also known as SNSD (Sonyeo Sidae, stylised as 소녀시대 in the Korean alphabet) is a South Korean girl group that has been active since 2007. The group quickly gained the title 'Nation's Girl Group' but their journey has not been without its ups and downs. Yesterday was GG's 11th anniversary and I celebrated by talking a walk down memory lane. Here are 5 things I've learnt from Girl's Generation.
The road to success is a long and winded one.
GG started out at a time when boy groups were the norm and yet they managed to carve a name out for themselves. It didn't come in an instant though, they released their first song in 2007 - Into The New World - but the song that rose them through the charts was Gee which they released in 2009. And even before their debut, the various members were trainees for several years as is the norm in the South Korean entertainment industry. Some can even train for 10+ years before they get a chance to debut! And, because of this training system, the people seeking to be in the entertainment industry practically start out when they are wee children so that they can debut by the time they are getting into late teenagehood or thereabout. I remember watching a GG documentary of the Into The New World era: they would practise that one song for hours and hours on end until every single thing was perfect. At that time, they were opening for Super Junior. People hardly knew who GG were; they had close to no fans. And yet, slowly, through the years, their popularity soared up to the point where they were being put in Korean textbooks as one of Korea's attractions!
Not everyone's going to like you, and you're going to need to be okay with that.
Given what I've led with, you'd think that GG was liked by everyone, and, well, relatively so, but they received their fair share of hate. There's this phenomenon called K-Netz, and they're basically Koreans on the internets who seem to specialize in hate. There's also this other phenomenon called sasaeng, which is an obsessive fan on steroids (figuratively). K-Netz and sasaengs can get very wild. Very, very wild. K-Netz have called for the death penalty for Korean celebrities simply because the celebrity did something the K-Netz didn't like. Sasaengs have directly caused the physical harm of celebrities and other people in the vicinity. Let's just say that things get ugly. But back to GG. GG has had it's fair share of hate. When they started out, Hyoyeon got labelled ugly for her nose. Yuri was attacked for her tan. The girls had to constantly watch their weight otherwise any misstep and they were done for. Then Jessica left and people took it out on Taeyeon who is the group's leader. The poor girl got depression so bad. In fact, she was recently attacked for mourning her friend's death who also happened to be suffering from depression and who ended up committing suicide due to depression. GG as a collective went through a period of time where they tried changing themselves to suit everyone else but as they grew, they grew into themselves and became more and more comfortable with themselves and slowly stopped changing themselves for everyone else's pleasure. Liberation.
Sometimes you're going to have to step out of your comfort zone.
A sizeable amount of entertainers state that they are, as a matter of fact, introverts. Then how are they entertainers? Such is the performer's paradox. GG also has introverts in its midst. Taeyeon is perhaps the most introverted amongst them, yet she has a budding singing career. How? She simply steps out of her comfort zone whenever she has to and steps back into it after she's done. Did you also know that Beyoncé states that she's an introvert? That boggles my mind. What is this life?
You're going to make mistakes.
The most recent mistake by GG was by Tiffany when she put the Imperial Japanese flag on her Instagram on South Korea's Independence Day. Japan's Imperial flag is considered the 'Confederate flag of the East', so you get the idea. And to put it up on Independence Day, oof! Tiffany's defense was that she had simply mistaken the flags and she had meant to put Japan's flag because she was in Tokyo and the the rising sun flag came up after she typed Tokyo and she didn't know any better because it wasn't taboo in Japan or anywhere else in the world plus she's American...she didn't know, in short. She apologized, but it was a really big scandal. HUGE scandal. In her defense, Japan's imperialism isn't discussed outside of East Asia mostly. The rising sun flag of Japan is in display in lots of places and people just think it's just another symbol of Japan, which it is, but they have no idea that it actually stands for war, destruction and hate. The point is, you're going to make mistakes. Apologize and make it right, otherwise you're just an asshole. The world doesn't need any more assholes, there's already plenty of those.
Friends are just family you choose.
GG is a tight-knit family. They're always there for each other. Even now, when they're in different countries, they still make time for each other. They get together when they miss each other and even during member's birthdays whenever they can. When one of them comes up with a project, the rest of them throw their weight behind her and support her fully. Get you friends like those.
Heart attacks. Often deadly, they can be loud or they can be silent. But how would you know if you are having a heart attack? In the movies or on TV generally, they show heart attacks to be very dramatic; the person clutches their chest in pain and they often fall to the ground. However, in real life, heart attacks are often not as dramatic. In fact, you can have a heart attack without knowing it. This is what makes heart attacks so deadly because if you know you’re having a heart attack then you’ll seek treatment for it and if you get to the hospital in time, you could be saved. Therefore, it is important that we all be able to spot the symptoms of a heart attack. But this, in itself, is another problem. The classic heart attack symptoms – chest pain, with pain radiating to the arms, back, upper abdomen and jaw – are often found in males, i.e. females are more likely to have atypical symptoms such as shortness of breath, weakness, and fatigue. Due to the atypical nature of heart attack symptoms in women, women are less likely to seek treatment for heart attacks than men, and even when they do, their symptoms are often dismissed. Different studies have also shown that women receive worse care after heart attacks than men. In fact, heart disease causes more deaths among women than all cancers combined, making it the No. 1 killer of women worldwide! With this stunning revelation, I decided to seek out women who have had heart attacks to ask them what their symptoms were and their whole experience of it. I talked with Sarah Larlar Fisher, Harley, Chassity Bynum, Tracie, Kai Moche, Lisabeth Cascio Esposito, Dorie Davis, and Leanne Simpson.
Sarah: I had a heart attack in Nov 2014 & emergency angioplasty procedure (LAD 70-90% - severe stenosis - stents fitted). My symptoms began (I think) two weeks earlier - shortness of breath, nausea, back and jaw pain, chest discomfort, mild flu like symptoms. I rang emergency, but the doctor told me over phone that I was too young for a heart attack – I was 43 – and later that day I was admitted to hospital. I spent a week in the cardiac unit, and then 16 weeks at cardio rehab (weekly sessions at local hospital).
RC: What made you suspect it was a heart attack? I mean, those symptoms could be anything really, which is what prevents most people from seeking emergency treatment. What would say was the 'AHA' moment?
Sarah: My husband is a trained first aider - he recognised my symptoms and literally saved my life. An ECG was done at my doctor’s and then I went straight to the emergency room by ambulance.
RC: Oh wow. That's really lucky. I think I should take a course in basic first aid then. Do you think everyone should be required to learn basic first aid?
Sarah: I think it should be mandatory.
Harley: Two days prior to my heart attack on April 5th I had from ear to ear lower jaw excruciating pain that lasted for just seconds and went completely away. Two days later I was having heart palpitations all day that I just figured was stress and I took a Xanax and laid down. Two hours later the palpitations were still going strong and when I stood up I was instantly dizzy and nauseous. I immediately thought to look up the signs of a heart attack for a woman. As soon as I saw the jaw pain I thought better safe than sorry. I was at first going to lay back down but went to ER instead. Sure enough, it was a mild stress heart attack. Cath lab the next day, no stents, no blockages, no coronary heart disease. Two weeks later, I was having irregular heartbeats, I went to the doctor and wore a heart monitor. I was having more than double the heartbeats in an hour than normal. Now I’m on two medicines to control rapid heartbeat and skips.
RC: When you went to the ER, did you just announce that you thought you were having a heart attack or what did you do?
Harley: I said I think I am having a heart attack, told them my symptoms and they immediately took me back. My husband is also a heart attack survivor. He had five stents put in.
RC: What were his symptoms?
Harley: Left arm pain, nausea, light-headedness, typical chest pain and sweating.
Chassity: I acquired peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), a disease of the heart that can develop in some women in the third trimester of pregnancy. I was 33 when I had my heart attack, just days after giving birth. I had shortness of breath and a numbness in my left arm. It felt like an elephant literally was sitting on my chest. Imagine that! I’m blessed that my hubby of 15 years called 911 because he saved my life. When they got to our home they informed him that I was having a heart attack.
Tracey: I experienced a heart attack nearly two years ago. Felt like terrible heartburn running up my left arm and in my back and belly. I worked out three times that day to shake the feeling. 14 hours later, I went to Target to get aspirin and tums and shared my symptoms with the pharmacist who advised me to immediately go to ER. Thank God for him. ER confirmed I was having a heart attack and it was a whirlwind from there. I had experienced a coronary artery dissection. We do not know what caused my artery to tear. I have a stent but no plaque in my arteries and no form of heart disease.
Kai: I actually did not have the typical symptoms because I had SCAD, spontaneous coronary artery dissection. SCAD is not well understood and is still being researched. I was working out and I experienced nausea and heartburn. My son got me to the hospital in time. However, according to the EKG and X-Ray, I was fine. The doctors were getting ready to release me but another doctor requested blood work and my blood work showed my Troponin levels were higher than normal which meant I had had a heart attack. When the doctors realized I had had a heart attack although I did not have a family history of heart disease or health risk factors, a cardiac catheterization was done and the surgeon saw that two arteries had dissected. My left anterior descending (LAD) artery was the worst of the two. My arteries looked as if a pair of scissors had taken to them. When I woke up in the ICU, I didn’t know what had happened and I was confused because I am a physically fit woman and I have always watched and weighed my food etc. Anyway, I am beyond grateful to be here, almost 5 years later on June 29th.
Lisabeth: I also have SCAD pain in the chest. I have had 5 heart attacks, 4 stents, triple bypass all within these past 6 months.
Dorie: I was having a heart attack for 2 weeks. I first noticed shortness of breath going upstairs and fatigue. I was having trouble sleeping. I had extreme neck pain that I thought was because I had pulled a muscle as I was still teaching step aerobics 2 days per week during that time as well. I went home early on Friday feeling awful just thinking I was coming down with a cold. Saturday night was bad and by Sunday morning my fiancé insisted taking me to urgent care as I was going to wait till Monday to see a doctor. He took me to the emergency instead for some reason and I told them I was not feeling well. They put me on an EKG and from there they could not undress me fast enough and before I knew it, I was on a bed being wheeled to OR. I was told I was 100% blocked and two stents later and couple of days in ICU was sent home with now 7 different meds that should prevent me from having another heart attack. I cannot stress enough to listen to your body. I was told with my condition that 90% usually do not make it. So grateful I was in that 10% and that all the step classes and soccer helped keep me alive as I was relatively healthy. Heredity and stress were the culprits for my heart attack.
Leanne: I have had stress (environmental and physical) related high blood pressure since 2007 when I was diagnosed with PIH – pregnancy-induced hypertension. My blood pressure was 209/190. An emergency was first induced when my first son was born. May 16/17th 10pm – 4.38am, I had my first known heart attack. Working with a cardiologist, we moved to determine if that was really my first. I had been doing pilates and yoga that night (I had been feeling too sick for Zumba, as I have issues with PCOS and endometriosis and I was having my period). Halfway through my workout, I felt super dizzy, a dizziness and light-headedness I couldn’t shake with my normal methods. So I did my cooldown and stood up a little bit and paced. Then I felt like a horse had kicked me in the chest. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t catch my breath. Then I felt a squeezing sensation (like Braxton-Hicks contraction of the uterus, but in my heart instead). It happened over and over and over again and hurt worse and worse. Then I screamed out when I caught my breath. Now I am recovering. I have a weird new heart rate to get used to. I’m starting to do my workouts again, slowly easing into them. But when my heart hurts and I can feel the burning I cool down and stop. I’m hoping to get back to my Zumba classes soon as we are moving to a new location and that’s my job. I monitor my BP everyday and it’s been back to 120/80 which is amazing.
RC: Did you take yourself to the hospital or did someone else take you?
Leanne: Someone else. I didn’t know what to do. As far as I was concerned, I was perfectly healthy and an athlete.
RC: Did PCOS and/or endometriosis play any role in your heart attack?
Leanne: It’s possible. I found out that the heart attack had to do with bradycardia (hypotension) problems and not my normal ventricular tachycardia or hypertension. So it may very well have to do with the fact I was menstruating with my endometriosis and PCOS.
So, what should you do if you suspect you're having a heart attack? Doctors all agree on the better safe than sorry approach, i.e. get checked out anyway. You'd better get checked out and it turns out to not be a heart attack than you not get checked out and it turns out it was a heart attack. Call an ambulance if you can and get to the hospital as soon as possible. Aspirin is an appropriate treatment for a suspected heart attack because it is an anticoagulant i.e. it clears clots, so you can take an aspirin if you suspect you're having a heart attack. If you do take an aspirin, tell the doctors/emergency response team. If you can't take aspirin, for example due to allergies or gastrointestinal bleeding, DON'T take the aspirin. If you have nitroglycerin (prescription only), take it. DON'T take someone else's nitroglycerin as that could put you in more danger. If you're with a person who collapses, begin CPR. If you don't have CPR training, just do chest compressions.
It is also important to know the risk factors. High blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, lack of exercise, obesity, high blood cholesterol, poor diet, and excessive alcohol intake are amongst the risk factors for heart attacks. However, as we've seen, some heart attacks can be due to genetics and even stress. Others, like SCAD, affect even the healthiest of individuals (especially young women), a phenomenon that has really confused medics. The risk factors that you can control, it is advisable you take control of them and make the appropriate lifestyle changes.
All in all, heart attacks can be fatal, but creating awareness improves the recovery rates and prognosis by simple things such as ensuring people know the symptoms, that they can get to the hospital in time, and that they are not dismissed.
Emergency numbers in Kenya:
Kenya Police Hotlines
999, 112, 911
Fire and Ambulance Services
020-2222181/ 020-2222182/ 020-2344599
Kenyatta National Hospital
Use these numbers to call:
020 2726300 -11
Kenyatta National Hospital
Disaster management command center: 020 2115953
Labour ward: 020 271151
Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi
3rd Parklands Avenue, Limuru Road, Nairobi, Kenya
Phone: +254 (0) 20 366 2000
The Mathare Hospital
Embu - Nairobi Hwy, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254-202337694 Mobile: +254-721336017
Kenya Red Cross
South C, RedCross Road, Off Popo Road
P.O. Box. 40712, 00100
Tel: +254 02 3950000
Cell (1): +254 703 037000
Cell (2): +254 722 206958
Cell (3): +254 733 333041
Toll Free HOTLINE: 1199
St. John's Ambulance
N.B. St. John's Ambulance offers free evacuations for all emergency and disasters like road crash, fire, collapsed building, and terror attacks and for life-threatening emergency medical conditions e.g. in case of unconsciousness, blocked airway (choking), difficulty breathing and severe bleeding.
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In light of President Trump deciding to pull of of the Paris Agreement because he 'represents the citizens of Pittsburg and not the citizens of Paris', the world has been abuzz, with many people, including the citizens of Pittsburg, condemning the ill-informed and science-averse president. To understand why Trump's decision is catastrophic to the world, we need to understand what the Paris Agreement is and the role each country has to play.
The Paris Agreement, also known as the Paris Climate Accord and the Paris Climate Agreement, is a pact by the U.N to bring countries together to fight against global warming and climate change. The countries that sign the agreement agree to limit the century's global average temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius. Scientists agree that if we pass this 2 degrees Celsius threshold, the effects will be catastrophic and irreversible, i.e. oceans will rise, there will be excessive flooding and extensive droughts, people will die of heat waves and other conditions arising from high temperatures, food security will be highly compromised, and so on and so forth. The deal was signed in December 12, 2015, in Paris, France. Only 2 other U.N member countries in the world didn't sign it then, i.e. Nicaragua and Syria. It is important to note that Nicaragua didn't sign because to them, the deal was too soft on rich countries that emit the most greenhouse gases thus contributing the most towards global warming. Nicaragua also felt that a voluntary deal wouldn't accomplish much. Syria wasn't able to sign because it was, and still is, embroiled in war.
The Paris Agreement is important because, even though it is non-binding, it is the first agreement to bring the countries of the world together to fight against global warming and climate change. Under the agreement, every country has an individual plan to tackle its greenhouse emissions. Developed countries also pledge an amount of money to the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries adapt and mitigate practices to fight global warming and climate change. The reason why developed countries are the only ones taxed with pledging money to the Green Climate Fund is because even though developed countries contribute most of the greenhouse emissions, developing countries - countries that have very little to do with greenhouse emissions in comparison - will be the ones that are worst hit by the effects of global warming and climate change. As a matter of fact, the top 10 largest emitters, all of which are developed countries, account for 67.6% of the world total greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.S agreeing to this deal was monumental because the U.S as a country is the biggest carbon polluter in all history. While climate change deniers and Trump supporters cite Nicaragua and Syria as also not being part of the agreement, they fail to note that Nicaragua is only responsible for 0.03% of global emissions and has tons of eco-friendly policies, and Syria was responsible for 0.19% of global emissions by the time the war begun.
Under Obama's administration, the country vowed to cut its emissions by 26%-28% below its 2005 levels by the year 2025. It also pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund. The E.P.A - Environmental Protection Agency - also rolled out stricter regulations for companies and corporations. The administration also classified carbon dioxide as a pollutant in the U.S.
On the other hand, the Trump administration has pledged to 'bring back coal mining jobs' in collusion with top U.S coal boss Robert Murray. Murray is happy with Trump's decision and met with Trump to discuss how the administration will declassify carbon dioxide as a pollutant in the U.S. Murray stated, "We do not have a climate change or global warming problem, we have an energy cost problem." The bringing back of coal jobs was a Trump campaign promise. In fact, in February, Murray met with Trump when the president signed repeal of the Stream Protection rule, an Obama-era legislation that prevented coal companies from dumping mining debris in streams. Murray said of the anti-dumping legislation, "It is an unlawful and destructive attempt to destroy our nation's underground coalmines and put our nation's coal miners out of work." Murray has also presented Trump with a plan that will overturn many of the protections brought under Obama by the E.P.A. On top of that, Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, a known climate change denier, as head of the E.P.A. Pruitt, in turn, stacked the E.P.A with other climate change deniers. The situation is so inflammatory that scientists had to publish an entire study, despite the fact that similar studies had already been done, to refute Pruitt on climate change.
Furthermore, Trump and his administration continue to argue that bringing back coal jobs is how they will solve the unemployment situation in the U.S even though research has proven, along with countries using clean energy, that renewable energy is where the jobs are at. And to make the entire situation even more ridiculous, even big corporations, including energy coporations such as Exonn Mobil and Shell, are in favour of the Paris agreement. These corporations took to various media outlets to urge Trump to not back out of the agreement and instead follow through with it and focus on bringing the dawn of clean energy to the U.S.
Many speculate that the reason that Trump has all these problematic policies in place is because he wants to erase Obama's legacy. But whatever the reason, the fact remains that the U.S backing out of the climate deal could seriously weaken global efforts to avoid drastic climate change. This is because while the rest of the world is moving forward, the biggest polluter in history plans to further increase its emissions, and this will put the entire world in the danger zone and increase the chances of global temperatures crossing that 2 degrees Celsius threshold. Axios' Jonathan Swan wrote, "It sends a combative signal to the rest of the world that America doesn't prioritize climate change and threatens to unravel the ambition of the entire deal." The U.S is expected to face a series of diplomatic consequences facing Trump's decision. Kenyans who keep asking me why I'm concerned with Trump's policies should remember that in all this, it is developing countries that will suffer the most.
As of now, the U.S hasn't formally backed out of the deal. To do so, the Trump administration can either request a formal withdrawal, a process that takes 4 years, or it could withdraw from the U.N Framework Convention on Climate Change altogether. The only good news is that, despite Trump's non-environmental-friendly policies, numerous U.S. citizens, cities, states, and corporations are coming forward and vowing to uphold the Paris Agreement. In fact, as soon as Trump made his Pittsburg claim, the mayor of Pittsburg, Bill Peduto, came forward and stated that Pittsburg has a plan to power itself 100% with renewable energy and that the city is in no way in league with Trump. In fact, representatives of American cities, states and companies are preparing to submit a plan to the U.N pledging to meet U.S's greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris Agreement. On Tuesday, Hawaii became the first state to pass law committing to the Paris Agreement.
"Your purchase helps empower the poor women of Kenya," I read the line out loud over and over again. I was reading from an Instagram page that I had come across. In the interest of privacy, I will not name the page. I will, however, give a description of the page. The page was a business page, and it was being run by what appeared to be a foreign white male. The business was one of selling accessories, supposedly made by 'poor Kenyan women', and it was created for the purpose of saving said women from poverty. Now, I'm not going to deny that there is poverty in Kenya because that would be lying to myself, but I'm also not going to say that this kind of thing is particularly helpful in alleviating that poverty as that too would be a lie. Because I'm not one to assume anything, I got to talking with the owner of the page so as to learn more about this business of his.
The first thing I noticed when I went through the pictures on the page was the depiction of Africa i.e. the usual Africa is a poor, diseased continent. And those were only about 5% of the pictures, with a picture or two thrown in to show the women at work making the accessories. The rest of the pictures were of white people flaunting the accessories they had bought from the business. The motto of the page is simple, you buy an accessory, you get featured on the page. Something about this didn't seem right, and I did ask about it, but it turns out that the business is exactly as it is at surface level, white saviour complex and all. They actually do have good intentions, but as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with those, and here's why.
First and foremost, the page portrays Kenyans, and Africans at large, as an 'exotic breed'. This mindset is an example of the objectification and commodification that mostly happens to non-Westerners, especially people of colour, and it erases the personhood of the person made out to be 'exotic'.
Secondly, the page was perpetuating the myth that Africa is a poor continent while in reality, Africa is the richest continent in terms of natural resources; but due to colonialism and neo-colonialism, those resources benefit everyone but Africans. And even though the heart of the person running the business was in a good place, it still has negative consequences on the portrayal of Africa and Africans. This is not to say that how we're perceived is more important than our welfare, but our welfare is directly linked to how we're perceived. The reason behind this is because investors will not invest in lands with poor people, which is mostly all that Africa is portrayed to be. Furthermore, due to this perception, our brands are looked upon with scorn. To make matters worse, this page is not the only one perpetuating this stereotype, there are many more, so you can imagine the collective effect. Aside from keeping away investors and not giving our products a fair shake in the global markets, this perception also justifies neo-colonialism because it makes it seem like we can't take care of ourselves and that we desperately need a saviour, and neo-colonialists are happy to be that saviour.
Thirdly, if the business is meant to help the poor women of Kenya, why not let these poor women run the business themselves? There are literally so many free classes and workshops that teach entrepreneurship and online marketing. Internet connection in Kenya is becoming more and more accessible. The idea of making the accessories came from the women, it is the women that make the accessories, why not let them take charge of marketing and the profits too? If they can't do that right now because of one reason or another, why not help them attain that independence? Why not make it a partnership or a symbiotic relationship as opposed to the one-sided deal that it is in place as of now?
Fourthly, the business model was not sustainable at all. The marketing was being done in such a way that the business cashed in from other people's guilt. What happens when all the guilt has been exhausted? Guilting your way into profits does not make a sustainable business model.
Fifthly, most of the customers only cared about the internet fame, which is the opposite effect that the business hoped to have. The business meant for people to care about making a difference in the world, but their 'buy to get featured strategy' didn't quite work out that way. It is a good marketing strategy, and it gets the sales up, but it doesn't make people care about making a positive change in the world.
I did explain all this as best as I could to the owner of the page, and I included some links that I thought would be helpful in expounding the matter at hand, and they did hear me out. As for if there has been a change, I cannot definitively say that there has been one.
Hi everyone! As we enjoy our end-of-year celebrations and religious celebrations such as Kwanzaa, Hannukah and Christmas, let's remember to support each other. Anyone needing any online counselling or other form of mental health suport can feel free to email us for help.
I recently came across the dead horse theory and I just couldn't resist sharing it. Say you're riding a horse. Sadly, the horse dies. Common sense dictates that you dismount it, does it not? Sadly, this is not what happens. Thus the dead horse theory. The tribal wisdom of the plain Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount it. However, throughout history, and still happening now, we see business, education and government take more advanced strategies such as:
1. Buying a stronger whip. This approach is wildly popular amongst Kenyan school administrators.
2.Changing riders. If a plan isn't working, why re-strategize when you can just axe the person in charge and get a replacement?
3.Threatening the horse with termination. If your business is failing, just threaten to fire your employees! That'll do the trick!
4.Appointing a committee to study the horse. How many fruitful committees have we had in Kenya?
5.Arranging to visit other countries to see how others ride dead horses. (Kenyan MCAs eh, Kenyan MCAs ah!)
6.Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included. This is also know as being 'innovative'.
7.Re-classifying the dead horse as 'living impaired'. Another innovative technique.
8.Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse. They're often cheaper and come with better (personal) deals.
9.Harnessing several dead horses together to increase the speed.
10.Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's performance. University students know all too well what happens to research funds.
11.Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance. I mean, why not?
12.Declaring that the dead horse doesn't have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower over head, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
13.Re-writing the expected performance requirements for all horses.
14.Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position of hiring another horse.
All this, and we still ask why violence, misogyny, discrimination, corruption, stealing and lack of professionalism still exists!
I was looking through my Instagram feed one day last week when I came across an account by GRABBITS. It was love at first sight. There were all these posts there about collecting trash on the beach and reducing one's waste footprint. What I loved most about it was that it was fun and playful but also purposeful, goal-oriented and driven. It was then that I decided to contact them (GRABBITS) to learn more about what they do and if it would be okay if I did a feature article about them for TEG. They replied quickly, with Toby J. Brown, the founder of GRABBITS.org contacting me with helpful information.
In Toby's own words, "#GRABBITS is a social media game that offers monthly sustainable prizes for people cleaning up their communities and reducing their waste footprint (think #IceBucketChallenge but for confronting plastic pollution). Its main function is to encourage, enable and inspire people to take action without prompting, anytime anywhere. We also have an image toolkit on our website for anyone to take on the challenges in their communities and get local businesses/organizations to offer their own local giveaways. We hope people will take our logos/images to make their own creative footprint on the project, it's very much built by the community for the community! We've only been operating for less than a year but have seen engagement in over 80 different countries around the world on Instagram and are trying to boost engagement across Facebook and Twitter!"
GRABBITS is on Instagram as @justgrabbits and their page already boasts of over 8500 followers. Their slogan, 'grab it, snap it, bin it, tag it', encourages followers to do their part in keeping the environment clean by picking up litter around their communities. Littering is a big problem in most parts of the world and not only does it affect us humans, but also all other animals. For instance, plastic has been found in the stomachs of birds, whales, turtles, camels, deer, fish and even zooplankton; a problem with fatal results. GRABBITS realizes that even though picking up trash is not the upstream solution, it is necessary and arguably the most effective way to mitigate the fallout of unsustainable packaging design harming our biosphere.
So what exactly is their modus operandi? Well, first off, there's the daily challenges. These run from Monday to Monday and are open to everyone (all their programs are). There's Scenic Bits Sunday where you grab it, snap it and bin it. Then there's Mirrored Monster Monday for trash monsters made out of rubbish. Next comes Trash Free Tuesday where you share your community cleaning with the organization. Then comes Catch of the Day Wednesday where the aim is to share catches from and around the waterways. After that there's Thoughtful Thursday where you have throwbacks that make you stop and think. Next up comes Four for Friday where you grab four bits and tag four friends and lastly, Selfless Selfie Day Saturday, in which you take a selfie while doing pick-up. Looking at these challenges, they are very youthful, which is probably why they've had big hits and are getting even bigger. Aside from the daily challenges, there's also the any day challenges called Helping handful where you pickup a handful of trash while you're on your way, any time, any day and Find it, fill it where you find a discarded bag/glove/helmet, generally something that be used to carry other things, and you fill it with bits that you collect.
Unlike other giveaways that lean heavily on competition, GRABBITS leans more towards cooperation. Sharing their message across social media platforms and getting others in your community to join in a pickup or getting local businesses involved for your own giveaways are the kind of things that will catch their attention most. Their challenges are by the community and for the community, as clearly stated on the website.
To Toby, GRABBITS has been a vehicle for him to personally connect individuals with non-profit organizations in their area, with the most notable example being in Southern California where when people started finding bio filters washing up, he reached out and connected them to the CoastKeepers in their area. The CoastKeepers conducted an inspection and as a result issued a Staff Enforcement Letter and are holding the facility accountable at $10,000 a day for every day they don't fix the discharges into the Pacific Ocean, which makes one less source of plastic pollution into the ocean!
A subset of GRABBITS is a Facebook group called W.A.S.T.E. Bytes works to connect community leaders around the world with information, discussions, videos, images, and anything that relates to waste and sustainability. As Toby put it, "I'm hoping we can start sharing successful policy measures and anything that can facilitate change around the globe. I created this because picking up will only ever be consumers mitigating the fallout of unsustainable design, blame and accountability is wrongly offset onto them. The real long term solutions come upstream from incentive schemes on all packaging materials to ensure their capture and reprocessing as well as extended producer responsibility of products that are not sustainably designed. Can you imagine if a cigarette butt was worth 10 cents? Do you think we'd find them everywhere if that were the case?"
I could tell from my exchange with Toby that he is very passionate about his cause. What's even more impressive is how far GRABBITS has come, given that it has been a lone whale project of his. He plans to have the game instruction manual translated into as many languages as possible and is very thankful to all those who've shown support and commitment to the cause. I encourage all of us to head on by to www.grabbits.org to learn more about the organisation and to take part the many different challenges. GRABBITS is also open to those who would like to drop some zero waste knowledge or to share their art made from recycled trash. Just tag #GRABBITS on your posts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world," Mahatma Gandhi famously said.
Change is constant. Some even say that it's the only constant in life. Change is not an event, change is a process. One would be forgiven to think that because change happens ever so often it is easily accepted. As history has shown, most people are very resistant of change. Take a look at the dark ages, the women's rights movement, the gay and queer pride movement, civil rights movements, slavery, racism, white privilege and so many other examples, I cannot possibly include them all here. So many lives have been lost resisting change, which leads one to wonder; if change is such an integral part of life, why do we resist it so?
I remember when the doctor told me that I was lactose intolerant. I knew what that meant. It meant that I had to stop taking all products related to dairy. No milk, no yoghurt, no cheese, no butter, no ghee, no whipped cream...nothing dairy at all. Did I stop? No. Even though I experienced bloating and stomach discomfort and skin breakouts, I didn't stop. I loved milk and I didn't want to give that up. I had milk in my morning cup of tea and I had maziwa mala (fermented milk) with my ugali (boiled cornmeal) at night, as most Kenyans do. Every Kenyan can tell you that mala does make ugali go down sweeter, as does meat (at least the ones without lactose intolerance can). My point is that change is hard. Most of us lack the patience to go along with long processes, and change is a long process. Physics knows this as the law of inertia: things in motion tend to stay in motion and things at rest tend to stay at rest. According to psychology, the root cause of why most people resist change because they of fear of the unknown. Generally speaking, everyone wants change but no one wants to change. Just like everyone wants to go to heaven(insert any other popular after-death destination that resonates with your faith or lack thereof) but no one wants to die.
Rick Godwin said that one reason people resist change is that they focus on what they have to give up rather than what they have to gain. I was focusing on what I had to give up (milk) instead of what I had to gain (no bloating, no stomach discomfort, no skin breakouts). I didn't want to go looking for milk substitutes because I didn't know if I'd find any that would warm my heart the way milk did and I really wasn't willing to find out. Here's the thing though: it was okay for me to not want to give up dairy. I was well within the Bill of human rights and freedoms. But you know what isn't right? Me forcing other people to drink milk because I love milk or me forcing other people to not drink milk because I can't drink milk. My right to raise my hand ends where the other person begins. And that is what most people fail to acknowledge.
It doesn't matter what colour you are or how much money you have or where you were born or even what your religious beliefs are, each and every person is entitled to their rights and freedoms. Every single person
deserves to eat, drink, learn, sleep, love, have access to health care...you get where I'm going with this. It doesn't matter what faith you subscribe to, bullying someone because they do not fit into your little box is wrong. Using your faith as a means of persecution is wrong. YOUR RIGHT TO RAISE YOUR HAND ENDS WHERE THE OTHER PERSON BEGINS, so don't go around bullying people and citing your freedom of expression. Please, do us all a favour and read your holy book extensively, especially the part where it says to love EVERYONE.
Bullying is not a manifestation of love. This also applies to atheists, even though they have no 'holy book'. This applies to everyone. Every single person out there treating someone differently just because they do not fit into the little boxes we have created in our heads. I am talking about that skinny person bullying a fat person just because they're not skinny. I am talking about that fat person bullying a skinny person just because 'plus size is the new in-thing'. I am talking about that person bullying someone with mental illness. I am talking about
that person bullying another person because they are of different religions. I am talking about that Christian bullying an atheist. I am talking about that atheist bullying a Christian. I am talking about that straight person bullying that LGBTQ person. I am talking about that LGBTQ person bullying that straight person. I am talking about that cis-person bullying that trans-person. I am talking about that trans-person bullying that cis-person. I am talking about that non-POC bullying a POC. I am talking about a POC bullying a non-POC. I am talking to that male person bullying that female person. I ma talking to that female person bullying that male person. Feel free to add any category that I have not mentioned. There's way to much animosity going on in the world simply because we are all stuck in our ways and we are intimidated by change. It's high time we learn to accommodate each other. It's high time for positive action.
So take some time out of your social construct. Have a deep and meaningful conversation with someone outside your social construct. Ask yourself how it really feels to be them. Have you ever thought of the challenges they go through? Learn something new from every person you meet. Be kind, play nice. Buy something from that small business owner in your neighbourhood. Go to a library and read a book. Read the Bill of Human Rights and Freedoms while you're at it. Discover you're life's purpose. Start seeing everyone as a human being with thoughts and feelings. Do something good for someone else. Help out wherever you can. Rest adequately. Break your routine every now and then. Be the change you wish to see in the world.