The country’s Public Service is set to undergo a tremendous transformation following the graduation of 61 Fellows after a yearlong training. The Fellows graduated from the Public Service Emerging Leaders Fellowship (PSELF) Programme, a joint initiative of the Public Service Commission of Kenya, Emerging Public Leaders, and Emerging Leaders Foundation-Africa.  The graduation of the second cohort of the programme was graced by Felix K. Koskei, the Chief of Staff and Head of the Public Service, at a colourful event at Safari Park on Friday, 22 March 2024. 

The event was also attended by other government officials, including the Government Spokesman Isaac Mwaura, Chairman of the Public Service Commission Ambassador Anthony Muchiri and other commissioners, The Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi, Zainab Bangura, and ELF-Africa Executive Director Caren Wakoli among others. 

Mr Koskei commended the young graduates noting that knowledge transfer is critical, saying President William Ruto is keen on a transformed public service. 

“The President is desirous of a public service that is highly performing, young, agile, effective, and citizen-centric,” Koskei stated.   

At the same time, Caren Wakoli, the Executive Director of Emerging Leaders, challenged the graduates to give back to society. She argued that the knowledge and skills acquired during the programme are enough to drive an agenda of change in the country. 

“As a graduate, we are commissioning you to go back to your ministries and give back. Go back and give back. Kenya and Africa are hungry for souls on fire to serve and to serve sincerely and to lead change. You are the change that is well informed about public service,” she stated. 

During the training, the Fellows interacted with Ambassador Francis Muthauira, former Heads of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and Dr Sally Kosgei, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, and experts from the Commonwealth Secretariat like Prof Luis Franceshi and Dr Roger Koranteng. 

Commending the training, Chairperson of the Public Service Commission Ambassador Muchiri remarked that the Government was keen to continue with the programme. “Training is equally very important…we are happy that the Government is trying to add some money into the training budget. All of us are here today because of continuous training. It is also what will define you in the future,” he said.  

Zainab, on her part, urged the Fellows to be resilient and not give up. “In your journey (to be leaders), you will fall down many times. Don’t stay on the ground. Fall on your back so that you can look at the sky, then you will understand that the sky is your limit,” she challenged the young women and men.  

Secretary of Youth Raymond Ochieng briefly shared his experience as a public servant with the graduates: “Opportunities as young people in the public service are not a right. Being young is a space and an opportunity to prove yourself. The moment you have good ideas packaged and presented well; you will go far.” 

The aim of PSELF is to have a transparent and ethical service that is anchored on the needs of the citizens to improve service delivery. The goal is to have a high-achieving public servant who will prudently use Government resources. The graduates in the second cohort were drawn from 25 ministries, departments and agencies and came from 46 counties. 

How family unity helped PSELF Fellow bag the Global Peace Award 

On December 21st last year, Eliud Karani was honoured and received the Global Peace Award, a prestigious recognition for his efforts in saving a family from breaking up.  

Karani, a civil servant in the State Department of Social Protection and Senior Citizen Affairs, is a cohort Two Fellow at the Public Service Emerging Leaders Fellowship Programme (PSELF). 

PSELF is jointly implemented by Emerging Leaders Foundation-Africa, Emerging Public Leaders, the Chandler Institute of Governance, and the Public Service Commission. 

With the help of some religious leaders, Karani helped unify a family that was on the verge of breaking up because one of the partners was HIV positive while the other was negative. 

Such couples often face serious sexual and social challenges, and in this case, it threatened to tear them apart even though they have two small children. 

 “My heart went out to the two children, and I vowed to do everything possible to help keep the family united,” he said. 

During one of the PSELF sessions, Karani recalled one of the facilitators urging them to “find their little thing, then go about the business of doing it.” 

This famous quote from the founder of the Green Belt Movement and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai inspired him to make fighting for peace in this family become his ‘little thing’. 

Through his untiring effort that saw the family remain united, Eliud showed the role that mediation can play. It’s a feat he attributes to lessons from conflict resolution at Chandler Institute. Chandler Institute is one of the partners who prepare the curriculum for the training of the Fellows. 

“Managing conflict is one of the free courses offered by the Institute,” he says. 

Karani, who is one of the three presidents of Cohort Two, says PSELF training has earned him respect from his superiors in the department. Through the training, he has developed Citizen-centric services. 

“I can put in extra hours at work if it will help someone who is seeking our services,” he says. 

This has helped him register over 2,000 senior citizens in his sub-county. He has also learned the importance of integrity and value-based leadership in his service. 

Fueling creativity and imagination through art 

There is something about putting a brush on canvas that can bring one’s energy and emotion to the surface. 

Art therapy, be it painting, sculpting, or drawing, has the unique ability to help one express himself or herself better than words would have done. 

This is what spurred Rehema Njoroge to start SmArtie Me that is founded on Creative Therapies and Intellectual Mapping. The organisation works with children to spark intellectual and creative development. The intensity, concentration, and random mix of colours help the young ones be in touch with themselves. 

Rehema, a Fellow of Emerging Leaders Foundation-Africa’s African Biblical and Leadership Initiative, saw a need in the society and responded to it. She realised that children were spending too much time indoors on televisions and computer games. She saw an opportunity to help the children pour out their thoughts and feelings into art. In a week, she hosts about ten children at her family’s residence in Thika, especially on weekends. 

They also engage in modelling, playing with pebbles, mind games, Rubik’s cubes, and paintings. Art therapy can also help adults step into their creative thinking, as students from NLA University College in Norway found out. The students who were in the country to explore the country’s history and culture as part of their intercultural studies course improved their moods and boosted creativity as their brushes encountered pottery. 

“Everyone is creative and there is nothing like bad painting,” Rehema assured the eager students as they mixed their colours on their pallets. 

As they got to work, even those who were hesitant at first could be seen engrossed with concentration on their painting. True to Regina’s words, with patience, the students produced some amazing paintings. 

At home in ELF-Africa, away from home 

All Ikpang Ekpenyong Idongesit wanted was to spread his wings in his career and have a different experience beyond the city of Abuja in Nigeria. An indigene of Akwa-Ibom state, he wanted something more than the opulence and the great taste of luxury that Nigerians in Abuja are known and loathed for.   

Teaching was good for him, but he wanted to work with young people at a different level. He started seeking opportunities for scholarships, internships, and fellowships then, he found Princeton in Africa.  

He applied in October 2022 to Princeton in Africa, and they responded positively. They sent him a list of possible organizations that met his areas of interest, and among them was Emerging Leaders Foundation-Africa.   

“I did my research on the organizations and thought ELF-Africa came close to what I really wanted to do – work with young people,” he says.  

He had an online interview with ELF-Africa and was later informed by Princeton in Africa that he had been selected. Then came the big switch to Kenya for the next 12 months.  

“I knew I was on the verge of something new and was therefore not scared,” he recalls.   

Upon arrival, he joined the Public Service Emerging Leaders Fellowship Programme, which targets young public servants.  Under the PSELF program, he works as a Programme Associate assisting with the activities of the programme, such as training sessions, ELF-Africa events, and administrative support. He also helps coordinate seamless transition between different sessions during the training. 

If he was nervous, his first impression of the ELF-Africa office helped calm him down. “The office had an African touch to it, complete with pictures of Pan-African nationalists, which I found very impressive,” he said.  

Within no time, he found himself immersed in the Public Service Emerging Leaders Fellowship, a programme the organisation ELF-Africa is involved in together with other partners, including the Public Service Commission in Kenya.  

He found ELF-Africa staff getting ready for the Youth Day of Service (YDOS) in different parts of the country. Though he had been in the country for hardly a week, he was incorporated into the team that was going to Rongai in Kajiado County.  

“I got the chance to meet the staff outside the office, met alumni of the different programmes and even planted trees at a nearby hospital,” he adds.   

Soon after the YDOS, Idongesit was involved with the training for the public servants, where he got the chance to rub shoulders with past and present high-profile career civil servants like former Head of Public Service Dr Sally Kosgey, among others.   

I was allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.