The war against corruption is an Illusion

Vices are as old as humanity and they have grown in complexity. Public resources have been lost in the hands of a few well-connected individuals under the guise of ‘development’. Joe Biden, former US Vice President once said, “Corruption is a cancer that eats away the citizen’s faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity.”

The chain of corruption is long and has its extension to many in one way or the other. This leaves us with the question: Is corruption behavioral or an in-built systemic problem? The war corruption was publicly declared in 2003, with high investments on it. The nation looked like it was coming to a close of the vice but to haven’t crossed an inch.

Most billionaires in Kenya are not made through inventions or growth of ideas but from monopoly paved by the political system. Evidently, majority of them have had interactions with the government in one way or the other meaning that their wealth may have been gotten through shoddy dealings.  In the last 7 years, billionaires and millionaires have either doubled or tripled their wealth. This can be attributed to their relations with the government and dealing with influential persons in different capacities. For instance, take a look at some of the beneficiaries in NYS 1 and 2 and the 2014 Ministry of Health scandal, individuals who had no track record of wealth in each of these cases were created overnight.

The methods of corruption used or means of transaction have mutated to the extent where corrupt individuals do not have to exchange money. To some extent, profiteers of corruption have resorted to rewards such as properties, favors and merchandise. The primary institution bestowed with the responsibility of fighting corruption has also mutated and changed names with the intention of giving it more life and making it stronger and powerful. Currently, it is called Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission meaning it is an independent commission created by an Act of Parliament. The provision under Article 249 of the Constitution sets grounds with the intention to define not only the institution but also the holders of the institution and their relations to other offices created under the Constitution. This provision sets out the objects, authority and funding of the commission. The intention of having an independent commission is to create the ideal situation by ensuring that there is separation of powers to minimize interference from any other state organ in order to protect the sovereignty of the people. Therefore, commissions, including EACC are not part of the executive. The president appoints the commissioners as the head of state and not as the head government.

The fight against corruption is selective and seems to be targeting certain groups of people and political opponents.

It is my supposition that there is no deficiency in laws enacted to curb the vice of corruption. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act No. 22 of 2011 under section 13 (2) (c) gives the commission powers to investigate and arrest suspects for prosecution by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP).

Over and above that, the Anti-Corruption and Economics Crimes Act No. 3 of 2003 has an interesting provision under section 58 which talks to the presumption of corruption. This provision states: If a person is accused of an offence under Part V an element of which is that an act was done corruptly and the accused person is proved to have done that act the person shall be presumed to have done that act corruptly unless the contrary is proved.

My understanding of this provision is that it does not purport to curtail the presumption of innocence as ensconced in Article 50(2) (a) of the Constitution. However, this provision shifts the burden of proof to the accused person when prosecuting matters related to the Anti-Corruption and Economics Crimes Act No. 3 of 2003. An interesting perspective is to note whether this is the case of graft cases here in Kenya. In corruption cases prosecuted in countries like some states in USA and in China, this principle is important as an evidential burden is put on the accused person the moment the prosecuting authority is able to bring evidence showing loss of public funds.

Given the peculiar nature of economic crimes against the government, it is my opinion that when and if anyone in public office or a duty bearer is implicated in corruption, the burden of proof must shift automatically to him and he/she should be given an opportunity to account for every coin in his docket or department.  If he/she is unable to make an account of public funds under his/her department, then punitive measures such as fines and jail terms are introduced in order to deter fellow minded corrupt office holders. Additionally, I propose that anyone taking up public office is to sign an agreement that states: Incase of any loss of finances as a result of corruption, the office holder shall be personally liable for the loss and therefore the government can recover all the property stolen.

The current measures put in place to combat corruption are not sufficient as a result of various challenges. There is lack of institutional inclusivity in leadership as these positions are occupied by a few interconnected businessmen and women. Consequently, the leaders have conflicts of interest that chain them into a situation where they must make decisions that do not advance public interest but rather advance their own personal interests. Arguably, in order for institutions such as EACC or other independent offices to fight corruption, the status quo must be disrupted. As it is currently, the institutions are used by political leaders to fight, silence political opponents and pave way for their friends. Today the fight against corruption seems to be selective by targeting certain groups of people or political opponents. The fight against corruption is a manipulative and cajoling one and therefore the moment one joins to support the government of the day and not antagonizing the government one is deemed not corrupt. Politics plays a great role in determining the success of the fight against corruption.

Secondly, lack of knowledge and the dire social-economic situations in the country has chained and locked the citizenry from participating and determining the actions of politicians. Lack of knowledge is attributable to the neglection of civic education by CSOs and the peddling of wrong and misleading information by politicians. Today, the public relies on politicians for information. Unfortunately, politicians disseminate information based on their interests. To put this into perspective, they will peddle information as a currency to spread propaganda against their opponent. Politicians misinterpret information and manipulate the citizens by playing victims and defenders of their tribes. Ultimately, the citizens end up electing corrupt leaders into office having played the tribal card. Economically, the citizenry is impoverished and is in search of food.  Politicians continue to impoverish the lives of Kenyans and taking away the future of Kenyans by continued theft from public coffers and dishing out hand-outs to the citizens, creating a sense of dependency. Kenyans must be vigilant and resist the instant gratification of the moment and think of a sustainable future for its generation.

In conclusion, corruption can be fought when the citizenry is informed and is able to carry out social accountability through the ballot. The ballot, however, has to be freed from the mentality of tribalism and instant gratification from the hand-outs propagated by the political class. Furthermore, institutions such as the National Police Service or EACC should be independent and autonomous from political centers. The independence of these offices is protected through law should include financial independence and independence in appointments to office.


Submitted by:
Ahmed Maalim- Programs Manager

What if I embraced myself earlier on?

What if I believed?

What if I stepped out boldly, unafraid, and just launched out?

What if I stopped falling into a comparison trap?

What if I embraced myself?

I do not know about you, but I have asked myself such questions. As a young girl, I have felt not good enough and trapped in the prison of self-doubt. Guess what happened? Self-esteem hit the bottom sea; fear choked my every being; self-doubt curled my heart and mind into shambles. I admired to be another. I felt others were always better than myself. Even after knowing how I am shaped differently, I still hid in the cocoon of, ‘They are always better than me.’

My story has an influence, I should own it, embrace it, and share it proudly, it might inspire someone

Well, this year something happened.

After vehemently praying for a spirit of boldness, I resolved to BE ME and unapologetically explore opportunities and dive in with a committed and intentional heart. I was convinced and convicted of taking charge of my life, take it by its horns, in faith, and keep moving forward. Do you know what? We do not become by feeling sorry about ourselves. We become by taking responsibility for every minute of our lives and making it count. I am glad I chose this path. I have made my youthful life count by joining ELF’s program African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI). Here, Emerging Leaders are discovered and trained to be responsible changemakers in their personal lives and in the society.

As an emerging leader, I am uniquely designed to effect and affect my spheres. Since God has specially crafted me to fulfill certain purposes, I can only realize them when I get to know myself. Self-awareness is a doorway to unraveling all that I am intended to be in this life. Through this lesson, I understood my personality, embraced it and right now, I am more aware of myself and actuating ME in my passion and work. I am different amazingly. Notably, I have intentionally decided to embrace people and not disregard them because of our differing personalities. We are molded differently and the best we can do is accommodate and learn from our amazing divergent personalities.

I love stories, more-so analogies that make a write up interesting and easy to understand. Well, thinking through my life story, sharing it, and retelling it to a close buddy is relieving. I am more grateful for every season of my life, something I couldn’t even think of a while back. The beautiful, the not so good to mention, the highs and lows moments, they all make your story beautiful. This has enabled me to look back, reflect on past life happenings and reminded me of how my journey Iis this far. My story has an influence, I should own it, embrace it, and share it proudly, it might inspire someone. That makes an Impactful leader!

Every lesson has made sense. Writing letters to self has reminded me of my passion, my strengths, the bold girl from the village who is fearless and against all odds has scaled heights in the most unlikely environments. “How could that be princess? Through the difficulties, you have conquered. You have made it over time because God’s wall has continuously shielded you from storms. Keep conquering, won’t you?” I wrote to my 12-year-old-self.

These reflections have kept my heart tuned to whom I have always been. Reminded me of how much potential I have and how much I’m yet to achieve.



Submitted by:

Susan Ndiangui-ABLI 2020

How Emerging Leaders Foundation is Fighting the Pandemic

I do not know how you have been coping with Covid-19, but here at ELF, it has been a roller-coaster of thoughts, emotions, and events. We have moved from hoping that this is just a passing cloud, to realising that the virus is here to stay. We have shifted from believing that we can postpone all our programs to “post-COVID” to realising that NOW is the only time we have.

I must say, it has not been easy. You see, speaking about adapting to change and the benefits therein is one thing, but it is totally different when you must change and adapt so quickly. In all this, I dare say, this virus has brought out the best in us, we now know the importance of ACT NOW, and across the world, we have seen how movements have been built and continue to be sustained amidst the pandemic, humanity realises that we cannot suspend democracy, justice, and equality even though the rain falls!

Our joy is that young people have continued to defy the odds, they have led their communities from the front, as essential workers in hospitals and factories, and as community health workers. At ELF, we see our young people continue with the work of keeping their local governments accountable, participating in policy processes, through creative ways enabled by technology.

I have particularly been pleased by Susan Wairimu (@Suzy Wa Wairimu on Facebook), a single mother who dedicates her time to providing sanitary pads to poor and vulnerable girls in her community in Ngong, who would otherwise not afford the pads. She harnesses the power of her social network through social media to crowdfund for the sanitary pads and personally delivers them door to door. I highlight this story because it embodies what we stand for as an organization, that our communities are our responsibility, and that each of us can and should play an active role in making it SUSTAINABLE, despite the odds being against us. Suzy is not alone, to all the young people, making sacrifices to see members of their society live DIGNIFIED lives, we salute and celebrate you.

All our programs are now taking place online, thanks to our dedicated team of staff who have put in extra hours and have stepped up when called upon, to me, they are my heroes. To Caren, Ahmed, Cheboi, Irene, Kipkalya, Marvin, Andrew, and Kim, thank you for your resilience.

We are also grateful to our partners and funders who continue to believe in us and walk with us. We believe that our best weapon against this pandemic and the next is values-based leaders, who will put service to the people above self-interest, who will prioritize investing in structures and systems and not tokenism. Leaders who will value the next generation over the next election.

To realize the above, we will continue to discover leaders and train them, we will connect them with mentors and send them back to their communities to cause revolutionary impact. Our communities are getting better, one Emerged leader at a time.


Submitted by:

Jim IndiaELF Communications Officer

Leadership in the African society

Leadership is the deed of imposing authority or influence within a group. African society viewed a leader as a servant and not a dictator.  An African leader was expected to offer service to their follower, may it be a clan, family, tribe, or community. They were probably guiding their society towards a course. Moreover, they were supposed to have a goal that selflessly steered the community in a positive direction.

In most traditional African settings, leadership was granted based on age, wealth, and reputation. Most leaders were senior as old age was associated with wisdom. Having experience in life made them knowledgeable, enabling them to offer guidance and manage the community. Consequently, they were able to settle disputes. For instance, the Ameru community had a council of elders who were responsible for the governance of the society.

A leader ought to be selected based on their morals and ethics. A leader who deviates from this should be stripped off his leadership position.

Values majorly contributed to how leadership was conducted. That is, a leader had to shadow specific values with respect to their role. Values differed from one society to the other. In the traditional African society, values were forced on people to determine what’s right or acceptable. If one did not conform to these formulated values, they would be reprimanded. This in turn created desirable virtues such as honesty and integrity and deviance to them was non-negotiable. Additionally, continuous adherence to these values in a society leads to an ethical and disciplined community. Those who were competent in following the outlined values were praised while those who decided otherwise were shamed. It was also used to vet people who could become heads in the society.

African societies did not also shy away from religion. Religious values held a moral sense of justice and truth. This is because the society believed in a God that was omnipresent, all-powerful, and all-knowing. They also believed in eternal souls in the context that good and bad souls continued to communicate with the living even after one died. In respect to this, they interpreted God’s message on who would become a leader as well as who would be stripped off his or her leadership positions. It made aspiring leaders and those in leadership roles to dutifully adhere to religious values. Moreover, community members would abide by good behavior with fear of being exposed by diviners and sorcerers.

Leadership was developed at the family level as it the basis of the political hierarchy. Mostly, a father headed the family, and then there was a village elder, a clan head, and consequently a paramount leader. It was difficult for a man to head a community if they had not a family before. Failure to lead the family in the right direction also meant that he would fail at community leadership. Still, at the family level, hereditary leadership was groomed.  From a young age, a person who was in line to be the next supreme ruler was natured and taught how he or she would handle the responsibilities that come with the title.

Conclusively leadership in traditional African societies was either hereditary or ascribed. This should not be the practice in modern-day leadership as there are many people who are more than competent to be leaders and outdo their predecessors. Our genders should not be used to judge the capability of one being a leader, leadership belongs to all of us, we should incorporate everyone in equal measure. If one is ethical enough and has a good moral record, they should be given a chance at leadership.

However, we can borrow some of these values when selecting leaders. A leader ought to be selected based on their morals and ethics. A leader who deviates from this should be stripped off his leadership position. Similarly, modern-day leaders shouldn’t shy away from religion and stand by their values. They should not be intimidated by happenings in the society, instead, they should fully live by their morals and lead in rightful ways without influence.

Senior members in the current generation should be mentors to the rising leaders so that they can also have a chance at leadership. Value-based mentorship will always pay off dearly if well structured. Consequently, senior members should offer guidance as well to help regulate the manners of the young generation. As much as we would like to see young people ascending to power, we should not forget to draw wisdom from experienced members of the society. Nonetheless, our generation should aim at preserving the positive aspects of African leadership for us to have a heightened crop of competent and morally upright leaders.


Submitted By:

Stephen Kimathi- Assistant Programs Officer, Leadership Development and Mentorship Program.

Is it the best or the worst of times? Make the choice.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . . .”  

This opening statement from “A Tale of 2 Cities” by Charles John Huffam Dickens hints at the novel’s central tension between love and family, on one hand, oppression and hatred on the other. It paints an almost similar picture of what is happening now. 

In this trying season, your actions will help define your strength as a young leader.

The world changed in March 2020. We transformed from the best of times to the worst of times without warning. The #Covid19 pandemic is entirely incomprehensible despite expectations of such happening from earlier predictions. We will be able to tell the coming generations of this season. We will speak of the pain and the harm. We will talk of the wisdom and honour that this season has taught us 

Tim Leberecht, the author of Business Romantic, says ‘Everybody is weighing in, has smart things to say, agendas to push, products to market, good deeds to promote, feelings to share, videos to post that add to the cacophony (discord) of a species that simply cannot shut up, even when it’s told to do so. It is much easier to express our humanity than to be human these days.” This reminds me of the ‘Paradox of our Age’ where it talks abouthaving more conveniences but less time; more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgement; more experts, yet more problemsmore medicinal products, but less wellness.  

I have never seen so much volatility in my life. And—yet—I have never witnessed such an opportunity for heroism, leadership, and exceptionalism, especially for young leaders. These truly are the worst of times and the best of times. If we are open enough, this will be the season to shine. We are all in this together and we must work to finding a solution together – each person contributing their skill and expertise in a different way to get through this. 

As a young leader, how do you navigate this transition period with courage, grace, and unusual optimism? This is a question where there are no answers but only choices and you must choose where you lie. For example, you have to choose between despair and hope; between self-reliance and working together with the community; between arrogance and humility in responding to directives; whether to hoard or to share; whether to focus on lack or find gratitude for what we have; whether to focus on problems or solutions. 

I suggest 5 key things 

  1. As a young leader, you should become a Hope Merchant – If you are not lifting people, you are pulling them down. The finest leaders are extreme optimists and heroic enthusiasts. When things fall apart, they maintain their grace, concentrate on the upside, and continue to radiate the energy that causes their followers to perform at their absolute best. (A job of a wartime leader is to protect the hope of their followers.) 
  2. Remember it’s ok to not feel ok – We are humans, fear and anxiety in messy periods are normal. Honour the emotions and they will pass through you. Sometimes it feels like society says you should be always happy, and that showing your sadness is a sign of weakness. We all have good and bad days. It would be inhuman if you didn’t feel the stress of the deep volatility, in some way or another.  
  3. Practice “deliberate kindness” – Whether it’s sewing masks for healthcare workers, tutoring students who are learning from home, or buying groceries for your elderly neighbours, identify the ways you feel comfortable and can help out to improve the situation in your area. This will help people around you while also helping you with any feelings of hopelessness. 
  4. Use the news as a tool versus a drug – Find out the latest facts on this very fluid situation and pivot, as necessary. The constant exposure to coverage of this situation can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety.  
  5. Don’t suffer from Normalcy Bias  Instead, stand strong and prepared to thrive through this. 

In this trying season, your actions will help define your strength as a young leader. I believe that what will see you through is having the right tools – information, courage, cooperation, faith – and using them to the fullest. While we exercise social distancing protocols, our people still need to hear from us, and we still need to hear from them. 

No matter what channels we use, young leaders have the most power to engage, the power to inspire our generations, and the power to create hope. Hope matters, hope is a choice, hope can be learned, hope can be shared with others. 

It might not stop the virus, but it can help stop anxiety, panic, and promote kindness and community-mindedness while displaying the best of our humanity, in some small way perhaps we can play a part in helping turn the worst of times into the best of times. 

As a young leader, is it the best or the worst of times? The choice is yours. 


Submitted By:

Edward Kipkalya- Programs Officer, Governance


“People who don’t eat avocado have a special place in hell.” That is how her speech started in a public speaking class. She hit below the belt because I am not a consumer of avocado. With all the stories I have heard growing up about hell, believe me, it is the last place I want to go, leave alone having a special place there as insinuated by the speaker. 

Each new day comes with its own experiences and pressures. Learn how to identify and shun negative pressures in life. 

The two-minutes speech pressured me into wanting to learn how to eat avocado. I understand that they are yummy and nutritious to the body and has numerous functions; Some use it as a fruit or food additive, face masks, hair oil, etc. Despite all this, it has just never appealed to me. I almost succumbed to the pressure, but then thought ‘It’s never that serious’, it is just a speech. 

Pressure, ‘Peer’ or not, can influence us positively or negatively. Some pressures, we impose on ourselves after an experience, watching a movie, or reading a book. 

After reading the book titled “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, I came across the quote “The poor and the middle-class work for money. The rich have money work for them” I wanted the latter. I wanted money to work for me. I pressured myself into learning Financial Management, investing to gain knowledge in that field. In this journey, I have gathered some insights I would like to share with you. 

  1. “It is not about how much money you make. It is not about how much you save. It is about how much money you invest” ~Tim Denning 
  2. Make saving a habit. When you receive an income, save then spend what is left. That is being intentional in saving, just like tithing 10% of your income 
  3. Always budget for your income – Start with what you cannot do without, and if you cannot afford something, you rather wait than get into a debt 
  4. If you are in debt, create a plan to clear your debt, and be committed until you are debt-free 
  5. Have an emergency fund – Put aside funds for emergencies. Ideally, your emergency fund should be able to take care of you for at least 6 months in case your income stops 
  6. Create a retirement plan – You need to think of your retirement in terms of; where you want to live, and how much you will need to live a comfortable life, then start saving towards that. It is never too late to start saving for your retirement 

Recently, I was privileged to attend a zoom session on Financial Management facilitated by Ann Nakhumicha where I learned how to, and the importance of reviewing your Financial plan every six months. As shared by the facilitator, below are questions you need to ask yourself in the review and act accordingly. 

  1. What steps did you take to push you closer to my goal? 
  2. What things happened that put you further from your goals? 
  3. What money mistakes have you made in the last month? 
  4. Why did you make those mistakes?
  5. Are your financial goals still realistic?
  6. Is your emergency fund fully-funded? 
  7. Are you saving enough to retire comfortably? 
  8. Are you meeting my short-term goals in terms of savings and needs? 
  9. Are you on track with my savings for my children? 
  10. What steps can you take to ensure you have a better month? 

This can be a full plate for you if you do not have a Financial plan or never thought strategically about your finances, but the good news is that when you know better you do better. There is always a starting point and with intentionality, you can achieve whatever it is you have set your mind to. 

What kind of pressure have you succumbed to? What pressure did you triumph over? Each new day comes with its own experiences and pressures. Learn how to identify and shun negative pressures in life.  Appreciate and embrace positive pressures, which help you set new goals, propel you to achieve milestones in life, and empower you to better someone else’s life. 



Submitted by:
Stella Cheboi– Programs officer, Leadership Development 


Covid-19 has disrupted a lot of activities across the world, but we should take the disruptions as a reason to pause and just be us. The world has not come to a standstill, it is moving, and with a lot of changes and new challenges.

As the proverbial saying goes, every dark cloud has a silver lining, so must we search for the silver lining in this dark cloud that has been brought about by the pandemic. One precious opportunity the current period has provided to people who are working from home is time. A true measure of time as money will come at the end of this pandemic when the rising question will be ‘Did I make good use of the time I had?’  The answer to the question will bring a whole difference between people who made the value of the ‘silver lining’ and those who in turn saw dark clouds and spent the entire period mourning.

One of the most amazing things that the Emerging Leaders Foundation has done during these times is hosting guests for live tweet chats. For me, it has created a free and great learning platform. As one of the guests, Dr. Funso Somorin once tweeted in one of the interactive tweet sessions, ‘The best time to learn is now…. learn new things to survive. The currency of living in learning. If you want to live through this crisis, you have to learn through it.’ There is a great lesson for young people in that.

When talking about learning, it involves creating new norms. There are so many things we have always wanted to know, do, check out or try, but we always never had time for them. It could be that tummy you have always wanted to get rid of; it could that book you always wanted to start reading, or a novel you wanted to try writing. There are lots of things that we have constantly put in our to-do lists or new year resolutions that we have also constantly failed to achieve. Why don’t you give it a try now that we have money – I mean time.

I chose to explore the world of literature further during this time. I have enjoyed loads of talks and gained new information on the same.  As it comes out, there are so many emerging ideas in the literary world that I never came across in a literature class. Afro-futurism is one of the issues that I constantly brushed over and never took time to dig deep and get a better understanding of the same. The majority of young people never really care to self-educate themselves. Instead, they show satisfaction with the ‘little’ content they studied while in school. They lack curiosity and the hunger to explore further. With Covid-19 with us already, it is time to explore, to learn, and equip our minds.

Youth must also use this time to equip themselves. Stella Cheboi – one of the trainers and mentors at ELF- in one of her tweets stated, ‘Personal development is one area young people forget to invest. You should invest in skills that will give you an upper hand to opportunities that will come in post-Covid-19.’ True to her words, there are new norms that will emerge as a result of the pandemic and there will be new ideas needed. Some of us have already lost jobs and might need a new skill to survive altogether. At our places of work, we have learned how we can technologically do things, and the world will want people who are computer savvies –we have learned how not to waste time on things that took us longer, trying to meet one-on-one or make things happen manually. We will be on a new level, on a new normal, and that calls for us to learn so that we are equipped.


Submitted by:

Andrea Otieno- Founder, Pasha Resource Centre.

Ultimately, We Just Want to Make it Alive.

After 15 years of being away from home in pursuit of an education, I stood at “garage” formerly Kenya Bus station in Eastleigh, ready and still waiting for the ‘lorry’ which was the main means of transport from Nairobi to Moyale. From stories I had heard, the journey from Nairobi to Moyale town would take at least 2 days. To overcome the boredom, I had carried with me some novels to read on the way, snacks, and a valuable treasure back then -mp3 music player. As we sat waiting for our means of transport, one of the travel agents approached our area to assure us of our safe travel. As this news was being delivered to us, I had been sitting in the waiting lobby for 6 hours, next to a squirmy child who had an undiagnosed stomach-ache that couldn’t give us peaceful moments. I could not read or listen to my music as the waiting room was small and for fear of missing my journey I could not step out.

Drop your maturity hat, play online games, share jokes online, keep track of that group conversation, like, share, consume creativity… just do anything that keeps you sane.

Relief came in when the lorry’s engine was started, our only means of transport home. As the driver stepped on the gas, the noise inflicted pressure on my cochlear. The child adjacent to me didn’t just cry — he let loose desperate, primal screams that could not be extinguished with hugs or sweet Juice. His anguish was so extreme that fellow passengers zoomed right past anger and straight to incredulous pity. As we went past Thika town, I decided to lend out a hand to the mother and held the crying boy. He was gazing at the sky and started pointing at the clouds.

The boy’s mother was embarrassed and anguished with pain. Her face looked pale, tired; her eyes full of tears. An elderly lady seated across kept on encouraging her, but she could take any of that. “Don’t worry about it,” she said. “When you travel with babies, or with other passengers your only goal is to arrive.” I asked her to elaborate. She responded, “Well, traveling with kids is a whole different thing than traveling in a vehicle with grown-ups only,” she said. “Forget about napping, reading a book, or listening to music.It felt she was directing that to me, as I was adjacent to the mother holding a novel that I had tried to read severally but in vain. I tried to listen to music but due to the noise around, it wasn’t an option as well.  “For the mother, her primary job is to keep the baby safe and comfortable. Other travellers care about their safe travel and getting to the other side in one piece. They understand none of the mother’s struggles.”

Since then, I have kept this simple yet profound concept in mind in most of my travels. I always take with me key necessities and even though it may not be as fun as it was, the mantra has helped me keep my priorities in check.

After the outbreak of Covid-19, I read articles and listened to shows encouraging people to avoid coronavirus by staying at home and learning new things. At this point, the old lady’s advice came screaming back to mind. Today’s flight or journey (equated situation created by covid-19), has been very much delayed: not by hours, but months. Travel conditions are —to put it mildly— suboptimal. Each of us should have in mind one goal; to arrive on the other side in one piece.

With our reality changing, we also need to change the metrics by which we judge our success. If Satisfaction=Experience–Expectations, and much of the experience is out of our control, this is the time to make sure our expectations are realistic and achievable.

I am praying that the current situation is one of the passing waves or travel delays or swept bridge by floods. No one can easily tell about the anxiety caused by job losses for others or severe unpredictable situations and unsettled minds. All you will hear is, read/write a book, reclaim your beach body and do something extraordinary.

As you hope to cross over, your main job is to maintain sanity, stay healthy, and where you can, offer kindness to your fellow humans. (No, this doesn’t mean you have to hold someone else’s baby like me in the lorry for the rest of the journey it means sharing food stuff or cash and checking up on your neighbours.) For parents like the lady whose child terrorized us in the lorry, your children may force you to watch cartoon network and animations over and over.

Given the current norm, this is absolutely the wrong time to take on unreasonably ambitious goals. When you’re trying to hang onto a job or keep an organization or company afloat, while home schooling your kids, arranging ways to continue with advocacy, supporting the less fortunate in the community and bathing only occasionally, you are already operating at a very high level.

I know you often open the fridge at 2am and find it empty, get disappointed that snacks you had budgeted for two weeks, don’t last a day. You are continuously finding yourself have dinner late in the night, working at night and gazing, continuously browsing, and switching from twitter to Facebook to Instagram, WhatsApp status and the new darling Tiktok. Forget the motivational nonsense and over consumption of daily updates on the number of infections and deaths. Drop your maturity hat, play online games, share jokes online, keep track of that group conversation, like, share, consume creativity… just do anything that keeps you sane.

Dear Kenyans and Africans, I know you’ve heard or watched the news from Italy, France and USA. And just so we are clear, Italy is not Somalia, France is not Southern Sudan and USA is not DR Congo- the first two are countries in Europe while the latter is the famous America. These are developed countries whose health sector was and is still rocked and almost crumbling under covid-19, not forgetting that they are among the G8 countries – highly industrialized nations. If Covid-19 has managed to destabilize G8 countries with proper established health system, what about African countries like Kenya? Our politicians and prominent businessmen and women are always flying out of the country for treatment abroad.

By now, everyone remembers CS Kagwe famous statement, “If we continue to behave normally, this disease will treat us abnormally.” To me this means that things may get worse if we are not cautious. In the meantime, help yourself by turning on the self-preservation mode. Use what you have sparingly, limit your movement, treat everyone as a covid-19 carrier.

The undeniable superheroes out here clearing our ways or mending broken bridges right now are not your prophets performing miracles, not preachers, not your favourite avengers character or those handsome men you are always fancying on soap operas. They are under-paid doctors, nurses, other workers in the hospitals, the workers getting food to the shelves, community champions who are collecting food stuff, and creating awareness about the disease.

To cross over we must help our heroes and heroines by staying home and caring for ourselves and those around us. We can do our best within the controllable elements of the experience. This is the time when you secure your mask before your child’s. Sleep eight hours, stretch, meditate, take a walk, and observe the guidelines including social distancing. If you’ve got that covered, look for ways to brighten someone else’s day.

Please don’t beat yourself up for not using the ‘lockdown’ to “live your best life” or start a real estate business in your pyjamas.

Back to my story, when we finally reached Moyale barrier, no one among us cared how we looked, what we went through or anything else, all we cared for was that we arrived safely, having maintained our cool.


Submitted by:

Ahmed Maalim-  Manager, Governance and Advocacy


This pandemic is not just a health crisis, rather, it is a revelation of the failure in governance. The leadership of this country is finally on the spotlight, the one time that it matters most. To come out of this havoc alive, we will need rational governance responses, and it is for that reason that Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) must remain vigilant, if this government is not checked now, there is a likelihood that it will turn into the worst catastrophe of our time, worse than COVID-19.

CSOs must guard against the possibility of the political class taking advantage of the pandemic to further balkanize the country or even to form partisan political outfits.

The Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS) recently released a white paper titled, “Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 through democracy, human rights, and governance (DRG) assistance” in which they identified 6 critical issues with regards democracy, human rights and governance. I will consider three of them that directly relate to the Kenyan context.

  1. Preventing the abuse or concentration of power: CSOs must prevent this government from using the pandemic to settle scores with individuals or groups which are seen to be anti-government. Recently we have witnessed scapegoating by government, when it laid the blame squarely on youth (a marginalized group) for the spread of the virus in the country. Further, we must stand against the spread of fake news, internet censorship and overreach by security agencies in the implementation of government directives. Civil society must also ensure transparency and oversight over emergency measures so that they are inclusive and adhere to democratic principles.
  2. Reducing opportunities for corruption: The Kenyan government has recently mobilized resources towards the tackling of the pandemic, from tax payers money, to grants from the World Bank and other agencies, CSOs must keep a keen eye on the utilization of the resources, pandemics have a way of creating opportunities for theft and mismanagement. Truth is that our financial systems are flawed, and healthcare has been a siphoning ground for a lot of grand corruption in Kenya. Vigilance might be the only way that the much-needed socioeconomic cushioning is realized by all Kenyans during these trying times. Our situation is made worse by the fact that our elections are only 2 years away, with every election, comes an insatiable appetite for public money by the political elite. We must safeguard against this risk.
  3. Reinforcing good and inclusive governance: Persons with disability, youth, women, and other minority groups continue to face the risk of illness, violence, and loss of livelihood. They must be protected with targeted messaging and emergency care packages. CSOs must guard against the possibility of the political class taking advantage of the pandemic to further balkanize the country or even to form partisan political outfits. Civic education must continue to target youths, women and PWDs with an aim of increasing their representation in political spaces and building their capacity to respond to such a crisis.

The 2015 film, Mad Max: Fury Road perhaps offers an example of where civil society organizations find themselves today and what they must do; in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, max, a drifter and survivor, unwillingly joins Imperator Furiosa, a rebel warrior, in a quest to overthrow a tyrant who controls the land’s water supply. The secret to the success of the mission was in collaboration. In these turbulent times, CSOs can no longer work in silos, this is the time for new and more effective partnerships in tackling the above challenges. Even as the donor community shift focus towards averting the health crisis and reconstructing the economy, they must remain alive to the fact that the success of their interventions rests on effective, accountable, and democratic governance systems in individual countries.


Submitted by:
Jim India- Policy, Research and Communications officer

Spreading Love amidst Covid-19 Pandemic

I lost my struggle to sleep earlier than expected last night. I had worked for thirteen hours straight. Though it may sound as if it was a bad thing, something good came off it. I awoke without the alarm, no struggle with the loud tune or snoozing. I could not envision a better way to start a new week than this. The morning birthed energy and brought hope for life’s renewal. Did you feel the same energy this morning? Each day has its own style of making an entrance. People wake up to it bearing different emotions. In life we have a couple of basic emotions that humans feel, and they are all valid, since they give you a sign of what is happening to you.

No matter the emotions you bear waking up; be it enthusiasm and positivity, hostility, dampened mood, defeat or aggressiveness; there are things that can cheer you up and beautify your day. One of them is your attitude. In Franklin Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, he states that ‘Between a stimulus and a response, there is a freedom to choose how you will react to what is happening to you or what you are going through’. This means that we have the power to create our own realities.

When someone genuinely compliments you, learn to accept that compliment and soak in it.

Self-love and affirmation are other ways you can create positivity around you. This can turn sad emotions to happy ones. When is the last time you stood infront of a mirror and admired everything about you? Have you ever had a self-talk in the mirror and affirmed that you are beautiful, gorgeous, a performer, energetic, infectious smile or that you are the most brilliant being you have ever met? Self-affirmation gives you a boost of confidence as you start your day.

Affirming others and giving honest compliments are best way to inject life and energy into another being. It brings out the vibrance, renews energy and widens smiles. I am blessed to be with my younger sister during this Covid-19 period. As a hard worker she is, she wakes up before the alarm to clean the house, enjoys cooking and is easy with every other task around the house. These simple words “I do appreciate your service to us, the food is delicious, and the house is sparkling clean, you are the best!” makes her smile widely and gives her a sparkle in her eyes. This shows how powerful a compliment is to human beings.

When someone genuinely compliments you, learn to accept that compliment and soak in it. Allow yourself to feel great about it. And when you see something worth affirming or complimenting, go ahead and offer it. It may change someone’s life for the better, and they may carry it for life.

Now that majority of the population are working from home, you rarely see your colleagues, classmates, friends or family. This does not mean that we affirm or complement them less. On the contrary, this is the time people need it most. Think of someone from your circle of influence. Recall one genuine and amazing thing they are good at, then call or text them (a call would be great!) Remind them of that gift they have, tell them what you truly miss about them, what you admire most about them. Knowing that someone cares, remembers them or misses them will lift their spirit and brighten their day.

We all want to bring a smile to someone’s face, right? So, lets dive in and make this day special for the people we care about.


Submitted by:
Stella Cheboi-Programs officer, Leadership Development