By 2025, 1.85 billion people in the world will be living in water scarcity. Countries will be going to war for water. But some people don't have to wait until 2025 to experience this reality of water scarcity; lack of water is a reality that Beth Koigi knows all too well.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have no doubt seen the hashtag #Repeal162 all over social media and heard about it in the news. If you go to church (or any other religious building like mosque or synagogue etc), you must have heard the pastor (religious leader) talk about the "gay agenda" and how this is a sign of the end times. But let's pump the brakes. What really is #Repeal162?
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, heart attacks are shown to be very dramatic; the person clutches their chest in pain and falls 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 know how to spot 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 Michelle, Sarah Larlar Fisher, Harley, Chassity Bynum, Tracie, Kai Moche, Lisabeth Cascio Esposito, Dorie Davis, Leanne Simpson, and Kendel Christoff.
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!