Category: Sustainability

Slavery, War and the Environment

I’d never like to be politician, leave alone get involved in politics but the other day I found myself thinking; ‘How would life have been for me if I was born during the age of slave trade?’ Given my stature and demeanor, I would have probably survived any onslaught for many reasons. First I stand 5’7″ tall which MC Hammer’s calls “shoulder-height” (listen to his rap “can’t touch this”). This means that the length of my bones are optimal for excellent muscle development, in short translated to mean that I am of the stronger variety :-). Secondly, I have uncanny survival instincts translated to mean that I am not planning to DIE anytime soon! Not from a big mouth anyway! I would silently obey the shackles to my feet and tread diligently the straight and narrow that lead to eternal slavery.

These two traits alone would surely ensure that I make it past the “selection process” if you like, and assuming that I make it across the seas without dying from seasickness, malaria or plague, I would make an excellent slave, revered by his peers as the epitome of loyalty and hard work. In fact, I think many “masters” would scramble for me (swishing my black hair). I will probably not waste the chance of getting married to Potiphar’s wife or Lupita for that matter, if the Bible stories and movies are anything to go by.

I will live happily every after….. or not, based a set of choices I make and how well these choices resonate with my earthly masters. Well, to be quite honest, slave-life must have been a bit tougher,and not a simplistic as I want to make it. I unravel it as though it was in the 21st century of high-speed internet, twitter and selfies tagged #slavetings but truthfully, it is nothing to laugh about.

War on the other hand is as old as human society. I like it when people put it beyond themselves to be savage. War begins in one’s mind with a conflict of self, the idea that you have two opposing views at war within yourself. In the Bible Paul annotates by saying that “Those things that I wish to do, I do not, but those things that I wish not to do, that, I do”. War can escalate to “words” which we may be more familiar with where two or more people have a brief or not-so-brief vehement exchange.

Pregnancy is not a male thing but let’s not go to war about it, explore the world, your country – Makagutu, Eric, De Yuppie, Pechee & other cyclist

Cyclists particularly have a knack for this exemplary behavior where we’ll shout at the top of our voices, profanity or otherwise, to drive some sense into anybody who may be flouting the rules of the shared spaces. You can see this in action with a number of activists as well, whether local and global, agitating for ideological, political, environmental, social or even economical revolution.

Then, we have ideological war as we understand it today. Countries, states, regions, religions, etc. pitted against each other in bloody battles that never seem to end. Heavy machinery is employed.

Prior to the agrarian revolution wars accounted for the industry of swords, chariots, bows and arrows, etc. But by the time we got to the Vietnam, the sophistication of guns, missiles, tanks, bombs, land mines, jets, chemicals or anything that could inflict death, DECISIVELY, took over. The prime objective? Expunging societies, nations, people, ideologies and cultures. War in itself allocates more power to the powerful and extirpates the weak… a corroboration of “survival of the fittest” theory. Only that this time it’s instigated.

This is where in line with Mordecai Ogada’s famed words “calling class to order”, comes in. One of the greatest wars we continue to face in world today, certainly in Africa, is depravity of mind. Our minds have been so distilled by western way of life, that we no longer believe in our own ideals, we don’t even KNOW our own ideals. For instance, look at francophone countries under the puppet strings of France who provides them with a currency (CFA) that they manage through their central bank in terms of stabalizing the region. They flock their markets with French products and even endorse presidents in the name of LOVE. What’s that? Then again if you come from a country that was colonized, read your name again and tell me where your cultural identity lies. In a foreign name? For heaven’s sake them missionaries “took away” our God almighty in the name of idol worship!!!

What this means is that we no longer enjoy the independence of knowing who we are, being who we are and even capable of living authentic lives. We have our lives strung around western-generated goals that are lofty, unattainable in ways and then we have to depend on their “expertise” to reach them whether through education, donor aid, training and affirmation. Yet, we have always had the answers. Who’s agenda are we running then?

Some conservationists of our time that I know who are thinking different (right to left: Salehe from TZ; Karim – Kenya; Mercy – Kenya; Louisa – Kenya; Vincent – Kenya, Josef Garvi – Niger, Sareme – Ethiopia; Razingrim – Burkina Faso;

Conservation in Africa is broadly based on western ideology of building agrarian societies, which catapulted colonizers to build empires beyond their boundaries by “discovering” Africa. Africa gained but also blatantly suffered a good deal from civilization as nature, cultures, society and people were pushed aside for their lack of knowledge “vegetation climax” theories and “optimal stocking rates” have been asserted in the management of natural resources.

While scientific advances have an important role to play in studying socio-ecological societies, they are not the be-all and end-all when it comes to the management of natural resources in our society today. Local people have the mind and knowledge to live rewarding lives within their societies. They know how to coerce the land to produce food and fodder, store water in natural crevices which they retrieve during the drought, they know which roots to eat when there are no leaves on a tree, and even know where to go until the drought season blows over.

We are mentally enslaved if we think that our educated arrogance can serve the local cows with eternal fodder through our systems of mathematical antagonism. We are rude to think that western ways are better than our eastern and southern experience. We start bloody battles by pitting community against another, neighbor against neighbor by empowering the powerful to rule over the poor with endless greed. We totally ignore the peril of the people and put ourselves before others. More than anything, we totally ignore the fact that our actions will severely persist on our environment now, and for almost always.

Slavery and war have one thing in common, they steal minds of society either through displacement or removal. They also tend to assert one man’s ideology over another. “My way or the highway” kind-of-thinking! Don’t let them give you a number and take away your name.

There is no solace in living the life of another man.

This is your world, be the change!!

When I Die…may it not be of Viagra

Let me just start by saying that when I die, may it not be from A Viagra overdose man! It’s most embarrassing to say the least.

COVID19 times be difficult times man. You gotta be impressive and keep your performance STELLAR in every aspect yet you still have to deal with curfews, social distancing and delayed queues. So imagine, you’re stuck up on a queue, at a pharmacy (which is an essential service) and you are far behind the queue trying to get the antidote for the double dose of Viagra you took in the hopes of acing it. Two at the price of one? You obviously picked up the wrong item. You are obviously content with the social distancing guidelines for they work to your advantage while trying to keep your sweaty, vein-riddled, pain face straight. You are not nearly resentful enough of those people queuing for Laxatives and painkillers. You spot a number of idle teenagers who are there “just-because”.

There is no decency in death. That form of lifelessness one takes as you cease to breath, cold icy flesh replacing warm congenial senses, glazy and many-a-time deformed looks defining a thousand expressions that once made the face, nothing matters, pauper and prince are at par, the last dying wish you may imagine would be to live one more day: but that ends at that A WISH! Death is not an outcome that any of us wish for but when it shows face, you have to toe-the-line and follow the men in white across the blue divide, where destiny awaits.

Well, when this happens to me? I would like to urge you who is left behind, who read this blog, who claims to be family, friend, whoever you be, waste no time, CREMATE MY REMAINS. In 24 hours is good timing but it you don’t make that cut, 48 hours, do it! Dust to dust and what better way to incorporate it through ashes? Find me the shortest way to the soil and don’t make drama on my name. Play quiet or loud music if you must. Drink and drown your sorrows, at your own expense. Talk about me – good and bad – but please, don’t make drama!! I know I am onto a livid topic but hang on with me for a moment as I tell you why.

I come from a melodramatic society when it come to celebrations including birth, marriage and death. Burial in my context and experience is a social, environmental and economically upheaval. It has a lot of misgiving and lacks objectivity in many ways. Primarily, it is a feast ill-prepared and ill-targeted, resources consumed in copious quantities (normally unprecedented), glamour as people dress up the dead in divinity – a display that would shock a corpse to life if they knew. Then people start taking the piss, often in sarcastic undertones directed to your loved ones who are still living. Many times this happens on the backdrop of a-people living with perpetual hunger, indecency, homelessness and parochial piety that incessantly chip away on the impetuous strokes of paint they use to patch their lives. Nobody helps, nobody responds, nobody to cares – then you die.

You know Viagra seldom kills but it has its own history of harvest. Roughly 500 men died of using Viagra in the first year of use. So. take my advice, if you find yourself stuck behind a COVID19 queue and you’ve taken a double dose of Viagra and in need of an antidote, make a bee-line for the pharmacist’s counter. Besides being dilated in prominent area, people may only presume that you have COVID19 anyway because you will be perspirating heavily, hyperventilating, vomiting and perhaps looking weak, which are the exact symptoms of the pandemic. No questions asked. Please do not die because if you do, we’ll have to make up all sorts of stories about why you are dead and dilated inside your trousers. And that’s NO GOOD!

But, we’ll show up one day of your DEATH, to cement some solidarity by sinking you far below the surface as if you were a seed hoping to grow. We’ll all arrive in style and take turns to “pay last respects” even though we never respected you in the first place.

When I die, keep the casket CLOSED. I would rather everybody remembers me as a memory of who I was, what I stood for, OR not rather than my lifeless body. Don’t forget me too fast though, otherwise I may have to visit you in dreams.

Open casket funerals are anyway the reserve of those who die from Viagra overdose, for forthright reasons. Unless you reshape the casket, which would look suspect, you also end up with an open casket burial, if you don’t qualify for closed-partially. Get ahead of the queue!!

To speak to a man you’ve gotta speak a man’s language

Pollution Nairobi River Flowing Down the Fourteen Falls

Stuff got me thinking lately; are there times that you travel across the world and wish that the people   spoke your language? Or better still, are there times when people travelled to your world and you wished that they could speak your language?

Don’t get me wrong but let me start by mentioning our dear blood-mates them Chinese. These guys are renown for all the right and wrong reason alike. On one hand they are providing our frail, unsuspecting 3rd world governments with reverberant “aid” that will come back to bite our progeny in the backside. On the other hand they are a dominant producer of American goods, including i-phones. Yet the reference “made in China” sends spinal shivers and goose bumps at the scam of the earth cheap-for-nothing goods. These brothers are known to ingest anything known and unknown, mobile and stationery, alive or dead on the planet! Quite honestly, I find them to have some of the most intolerant habits anywhere I meet them around the world. My intention though is not throwing out the baby with the bath water.

I was having a casual chat with friends in Ouagadougou recently when the intolerance of the short-small-eyed race bludgeoned and took over a very neat conversation. Their pervasive nature and unbridled desire to survive have led them to occupy the most remote areas of the planet, putting them in direct competition with the omnipresent God. I bet you will find these guys at the bottom of the sea, with the newly discovered shark species, if they are not the shark itself. Downside of it though is this, most Chinese I have met never seem to take the time to learn anything about the local people leave alone the local language but they rather transfer a China town in the “smallest” way to these spaces and “colonize”. In fact they only learn enough local language to help you learn their own. This is deplorable!

“First seek to understand then be understood”, is the first principle of “how to make friends and influence people”. Language constitutes many things including words, cultural nuances, way of life, points of view just but to mention a few. One book that exemplifies the simplicity and complexity of language is “The Four Languages of Love”, what you said and what he/she heard. Primarily though, language is an absolute important first step of communication.

Imagine with me for a minute, you have a team of the most exquisite experts on earth, trained in all sorts of skills including engineering, medicine, education, teaching, you name it; and you have to push towards a common goal. How hard would that task be if you didn’t speak the same language? And yes, throw in google translate to juggernaut the task further. In fact, whatever you set yourself to do would be insurmountable!! In the Bible, the last time human beings tried to unite to reach a goal, God scattered them by diffusing their language. He just made them yap in so many different kinds of gab that they could no longer push towards a common goal. That feat was thwarted!

In conservation it is certain that you will work with people of different languages and cultures. In my pursuit of this ever elusive dream of environmental sustainability, I have been privileged to work with different languages speakers other than the ones I have full command of. I have learnt the value of acceptance and being accepted. I have known that in order to understand the ailment of a-people, you have to listen in their language. In order for them to understand you, you have to speak their language.

Conservation many-a-times feels far removed from facets of society. It is almost left as a pursuit of the affluent in society and in many cases crowded with western influence of dominant and sectarian tendencies. The society is impoverished by lack of engagement the conservationists as they exert wholescale alien thinking with total disregard of local and indigenous knowledge. Both extremes provide constrained solutions with very little gains to progress.

In the society today as it has been from beginning of time, human endeavor has depended on natural resources, which has provided society with great gusto to grow and develop from height to height. It is the trees of the tropical forests that have provided the unique lamination boards on the floors and roofs for centuries while keeping the fire burning in the village kitchens. It is the water of the rivers that turn turbines to provide electricity that keep out cities lit and fills the calabashes of the playful children as they walk home to fill their water tanks. It is the lungs of the forests that immaculately breath in carbon dioxide and produces oxygen to support life on earth. It is the intricate cycles and seasons that we know little of, those processes that engulf the day and hide by night, that make each day bearable or less so than the other.

Despite the enormity of the task given to natural resources, we are still unable to unilaterally spur actions towards its protections. Natural resources can only be conserved at a local level by local people which is you and me. We therefore must understand the impacts and what effective conservation means. How the decision you make today about what to eat, what to wear, what to drive or what you buy impacts your life, and that of a million others. However, do you speak environmentalese?

Let me think about it for a moment!