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Friday, December 31, 2010

A Love Letter to Me.

I am not certain what an ideal love letter is or how many people actually take time to write one to themselves! As we wind up 2010 however what greater way to reflect and review the great year that was through, one of these…here goes!!

31st December 2010.

My darling Kate,

Its been ages since I wrote you a love letter, better late than never though! As you prepare to start a new year, I must let you know how much I love and treasure you. I am very proud of all the accomplishments however large or small you have managed in this year and before. I may not say this nearly enough but you mean a lot to me!

2010 was a remarkable year for you. The greatest lesson you probably learnt is that time is an arrow that flies with unerring precision. You must take each day as your first and last-do your thing to the best of your abilities such that if you are given a second chance you would do absolutely nothing differently. You are a beautiful, intelligent and capable lady (and am not just saying that because you have my genes J)and any man(or woman)who makes you feel any less than that is questionable. I am glad you realize this but as a young lady I must always constantly remind you of the same. Relationships more so in regard to the men folk are meant to be enjoyed not endured-so feel free to ditch the brother if he is not treating you right. You deserve to love and be loved in return. And to be happy. Whatever stage your relation with anyone is at, there must be mutual respect. If that is lacking-I can tell you for free that relationship is not worth a dime and your time!

You must learn to accept the reality of being someone with strengths and weakness-who will have some good days and some not-so-good days. It is how we react when we fail that is often remembered. Always believe there is light at the end of the tunnel and you will have a better chance of continuing to move forward when faced with obstacles. Sometimes you will also lose the things you hold most dear to perceive the frailty of life-no need in being bitter, perhaps this is life’s way of maintaining balance.

As you start a new chapter in life’s journey, I wish you God’s blessings, great success, good health and strength to achieve all your heart’s desires. Needless to say,2010 was a marvelous year, you were reminded of the value of self love, self acceptance and self pride. I am glad that you love yourself with all your flaws and perfections constantly acknowledging your achievements and failures without being vain or conceited.

Here’s to a greater year ahead!

Lots of Love

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gains for Kenyan Women in the New Constitution.

J  Kenyan women are able to pass on citizenship to their children regardless of whether or not they are married to Kenyans. Article 14(1).
J  Parties to a marriage are entitled to equal rights at the time of marriage, during the marriage, and at its dissolution. Article 45(3).
J  The new constitution assures that parental responsibility shall be shared between parents regardless of marital status. Article 53(1) (e).
J  The newly promulgated constitution provides for the enactment of legislation for the protection of matrimonial property with special interest on the matrimonial home, during and upon the termination of the marriage. Article 68(c) (iii).
J  The Kenyan Constitution maintains a one third requirement for either gender in elective bodies giving women of Kenya at least 1/3 minimum in elective public bodies. Article 81(b).
J  The Constitution ensures that gender equality is maintained in political parties providing a basic requirement for political parties as amongst others to respect and promote gender equality. Article 91(f).
J  The Constitution of Kenya provides that Parliament shall formulate laws to promote the representation of women, persons of disabilities, ethnic and other minorities and marginalized communities in Parliamnet.Article 100.
J  Women and men will have the right to equal treatment and opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres without discrimination. Article 27(3).
J  The new Kenyan Constitution accords the right to health including reproductive health to all. Article 43(1) (a).
J  The values and principle of the Public Service Commission under the Constitution accords adequate and equal opportunities for appointment, training and advancement for women and men at all levels within the Public Service Commission. Article 232(i).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

20 Beautiful Things-That Are True About You.

You are something-and someone-very special. You really are. No one else in this entire world is exactly like you, and there are so many beautiful things about you…

You’re a one-of-a-kind treasure, uniquely here in this space and time. You are here to shine in your own wonderful way, sharing your smile in the best way you can, and remembering all the while that a little light somewhere makes a brighter light everywhere. You can-and you do-make a wonderful contribution to this world.

You have qualities within you that many people would love to have, and those who really and truly know you…are so glad that they do. You have a big heart and a good and sensitive soul. You are gifted with thoughts and ways of seeing things that only special people know. You know that life doesn’t always play by the rules, but that in the long run, everything will work out.

You understand that you and your actions are capable of turning anything around-and that joys once lost can always be found. There is a resolve and inner reserve of strength in you that few ever get to see. You have so many treasures within-those you’re only beginning to discover, and all the ones you’re already aware of.

Never forget what a treasure you are. That special person in the mirror may not always get to hear all the compliments you so sweetly deserve, but you are so worthy of such an abundance of friendship, joy and love.

Written by Douglas Pagels

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Of Gays, lesbians and bisexual Youths in Africa.

 I have always had a liberal approach to this rather sensitive topic. My justification being that if I am not in that relationship what does my view really matter? Why the double standards yet almost all of us will not utter a word when your straight friend cheats on his or her partner, or acts in a manner that does not sit well with us? Why do we feel inclined to share our opinions and views when the parties involved happen to be of the same sex and yet the reverse may not always be true?

Some have concluded that because it is not religiously “ok”, they have the inherent right to condemn this practice and deal with the victims the best way they know how. This will often take form of casting out demons, reciting long prayers and giving lengthy sermons to the “sinner”. In some African communities, they will not be allowed to associate with other members of society until and unless they have satisfied that they are “clean” and free from “sin”.

Others are of the view that this is unnatural and artificial: a trait that is learnt (often from the western culture) and hence can be unlearnt as well. It is interesting to note however that what makes some people gay is really not yet know but mental health and other experts agree that sexual preference is not a conscious choice that a person can change. As researchers learn more, we are discovering that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, may influence a person's sexuality. Most experts today believe that a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive, and biological factors shape a person's sexual orientation. There may be different reasons for different people. But unlike a century ago, we no longer blame poor parenting or regard a person's sexuality as a "character flaw."

Depending on where you’re from, they may be a rational however politically “right” or “wrong” on what people feel about gay, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. There is also a lot of misconception on this class of people and Andrew Roffman, L.C.S.W.; Virginia Hooper and Staff of the NYU Child Study Center shed some light on the same in the list below as they attempt to separate myth from fact.

Myth: Homosexuality is a mental disorder.
Fact: Mental health professionals agree that homosexuality is not a mental disorder or an emotional problem; Gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) youth do, however, face greater risks as a result of social stigma, isolation, and poor self-stem.
Myth: Kids are young and can still choose to be either gay or straight.
Fact: According to mental health professionals, sexual orientation is not a choice; regardless of age, a person does not choose to be gay or straight.
Myth: Poor parenting causes homosexuality, particularly a domineering mother or a passive father.
Fact: Parenting does not affect a child's sexual orientation, and it's no one's "fault;" parents can, however, positively or negatively influence a GLB child's self-esteem.
Myth: A therapist or religious counselor can make a GLB youth straight.
Fact: Researchers believe that therapy cannot change a person's sexual orientation; it can, however, promote coping skills and help kids resolve questions surrounding their sexual orientation.
Myth: If a kid has a "crush" on someone of the same sex, it's a sure sign he is gay.
Fact: Many kids, gay or not, experience same-sex attractions, and sexual experimentation is a normal part of adolescence. Only time and patience can reveal a person's true sexual orientation.
Myth: If a kid is exposed to other GLB people and/or information, she has a greater risk of "being recruited."
Fact: Positive role models and accurate information can lighten the burden of shame and isolation for a questioning youth, making the adjustment process easier. No one can influence another person to become GLB.
Myth: GLB parents pose a risk of influencing their children to become homosexual.
Fact: No research indicates a parent's sexual orientation determines that of his or her child. GLB youth are as likely to have heterosexual parents as not.
In a continent where often one’s success is equated to the size of your family and number of wives (polygamy), the gay community is heavily shunned upon. It is not surprising that almost all African countries have not legalized the practice with the exception of South Africa. In Mombasa, Kenya police stopped a gay wedding on 12 February 2010 and arrested several suspected homosexuals, an almost similar script was repeated in Malawi early this year. Most African leaders have very uncouth methods of dealing with the marginalized community. It is very ironic yet these are the same leaders vehemently declaring equality of rights (in regard to other marginalized communities) and will throw in International Statutes to demonstrate their seriousness.

Gay, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender is not a topic you will find openly discussed in many parts of Africa. This would be a discussion best left under the rug and many will be comfortable burying their heads in the sand. The problem with this approach is that the “problem” will not vanish but will create a further ripple effect if left un-addressed.

In September 2010, 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge days after he had been secretly filmed during an intimate encounter with another man that was broadcast over the Internet. Within the same three weeks, Seth Walsh, 13, of Tehachapi California; Billy Lucas, 15, of Greensburg, Indiana; and Asher Brown, 13, of Houston, Texas, all turned to suicide to escape the taunting, bullying and other abuse they faced because of their sexual orientation.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, nearly 9 out of 10 gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual middle and high school students suffered physical or verbal harassment in 2009, ranging from taunts to outright beatings.

I wonder what the African statistics would look like if we don’t act now!

You may not particularly be fond of GLBT persons but the fact still remains, they also have rights and freedoms-whether or not your government has already told you this-we cannot go about victimizing them for a choice that may never affect you! Just because you are uncomfortable with what they do is not good reason enough for you to violate, mistreat, assault and harm them in any way whatsoever.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How to Stay Young and Happy Always

 1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight, and height. Let the doctors worry about them.. That is why you pay them. 

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down. (Keep this in mind if you are one of those grouches!)

  3. Keep learning: Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain get idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And the devil's name is Alzheimer's!

4. Enjoy the simple things

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and lots of time with him or her!

6. The tears happen: Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourself. LIVE while you are alive.

7 Surround yourself with what you love: Whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.    

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Missing Voice.

In a crowd, the market place or even in the bus stop, you’ll almost always hear a husky male voice grumble a thing or two, the market woman enticing you with her freshly harvested vegetables and fruits, noisy children playing nearby…..hormonal teenage boys heckling at passers by, often young lasses…..but  alas, there is a voice missing!!

The voice of a young woman.

So where is she? What is she up to? And more so why can’t we hear her mellow voice in the background? Doesn’t she have adventures, experiences, views and opinions to share? Or is she so self absolved or insecure of her looks and appearance that she now shy’s away from the spot light? I wonder.

A general observation will prove that a lot of clamor is being made by Governments, Ngos, and Civil Society for the benefit of children and women the world over. This is indeed a great thing as they form part of the vulnerable category of persons, but why are we silent on the young woman’s plights?

The fact that she is neither a “child” nor a “woman” and lays in between the two makes her look and feel misplaced and unsure of both her identity and her place in society. We think of her as the husband snatcher, the slut and other un-saintly things, so we chose to ignore and stereotype her. A local activist described the said young women as difficult and hard heads (vichwa ngumu) who aren’t willing to change. How true the statement is, is a debate for another day!

Despite the fact that the young women are rarely heard does not mean that they do not need or want a cheering squard.The young woman is probably silent because she has no mentors to mould her and steer her into success and stardom. It is fact that she has big dreams and aspirations, goals and visions that could wow anybody. She is probably pondering over how to push her agenda forward without stepping on anybodies toes and still get to the finish line with not a hair misplaced!

It is evident that not many people are interested in what this class is all about. It is therefore up to fellow young women to act as each other’s supporters and be our own loudest cheerleaders. We must stick together and offer others support, feedback and yes…even positive criticism. That even if our voice is not heard out there, a fellow sister somewhere hears it within her, and that keeps her going.

So ladies, because we might not have anyone speak for us (we’ll probably do a better job articulating our own issues) we must rise to the challenge and speak our hearts out….speak in that untidy classroom, in the boardroom, in that long conference and let people start hearing your beautiful voice.

Identify mentors who can mould you and shape you, so that when the time is right you will step up to positions that are rightfully yours. If talking in public is indeed an issue, start practicing at home with family members and friends you trust, in front of the mirror etc and Walla…..one day we might just be watching you deliver a speech on CNN……