My Co-driver

I have already experienced what yesterday had in store for me. The only thing on my table currently is an opportunity. A large opportunity which is anonymous. Am I too blind to see it? Tomorrow is still a mystery, it’s a journey to an unknown destination. Much has been said by others about this journey and I only have a sketchy route. I don’t know how rough the road is but from tittle-tattle, the road is like a roller-coaster with unexpected and unidentified bumps. I am not only supposed to keep time to my destination but also watch out for pot-holes, bumps and creatures crossing. More so, it’s sunny and dusty in some areas, rainy and misty in others.

I expect anything on the way nonetheless, after all I have heard a lot on this journey.

The vehicle am travelling in is faulty; no gas points on the way and therefore, I’m expected to carry relevant tools and some extra gas with me. A number of road users are drunkards and others carelessly driving which puts me at risk, a huge risk. I expect anything on the way nonetheless, after all I have heard a lot on this journey.

Being in such a dilemma can be tough. As a result of this, I get a co-driver who will help me, reason with me, share with me not only the long trip but their opinion, one who will keep me company through the entire journey.

All through this journey with a co-driver to keep me company, time and the road am travelling through are huge factors.  I have to be at my destination in good time and I have to keep in my mind all the other factors.

The co-driver has a lot of expectations which may differ from mine, opinions which will soon face a check of reality on this journey. I am therefore, expected to make decisions with the vague mapping in mind. I will have to live with their personality (personality clash, different reactions and interpretation are possible outcomes) and not the aspirations which are idealistic in nature.

It’s said that many cooks spoil the broth (cliché, right) and in this sense, I wish to have to survive with only one co-driver to avoid spoiling my broth.

In as much as I think the journey will be tough because of our different personalities, I am psyched and full of hope that my co-driver will lend a hand when there will be difficulties. There will be times when our minds crush during the numerous consultations that we will have on the way but all along there won’t lack some cooperation, healthy inter-dependency not a rubber-stamping competition.

Everything constant, I do not expect the perfect co-driver but I expect to get one who is reasonable, without any discrimination.  There is a number of qualified co-rivers who stand a chance. The exception to the above rule, however, is time. Whoever comes first, stands a great chance. The only test they have to fulfill is the ‘a reasonable man’s test”

The uniqueness in this journey is that the core driver and I are both inexperienced. This aspect makes things difficult as it leaves me with generality and not specialty in choosing the core-driver.

Who is my co-driver?

……..to be continued

Submitted by:
Ahmed Maalim- Manager, Governance & Advocacy

Failed Public Policies: A Result of Historical Marginalization

In traditional African set-up, children and women were relegated to herding and kitchen duties, while serious decisions concerning the family and community were a preserve of men, older men for that matter. One was considered a child until marriage and even then, the number of children (especially male children) and livestock, determined how much say you had in the affairs of the community. This highly patriarchal and institutionalized marginalization seems to have permeated every sector of society even to date, little wonder that women and youth, despite forming the largest constituencies in Africa, still lag behind in inclusion at the decision-making table.

While I could go ahead and give a historical account of failed policies in Kenya from independence, starting with the famous sessional paper No.10 of 1964, which effectively locked out most parts of this country from development, and even point out at the most recent Vision 2030 and Big Four Agenda. I will not belabor obvious points any further, a clear partner arises from the examples stated, the government, with total disregard for the populace, but only out of “the goodness of their hearts”, come up with well written policies, which are not implementable in our contexts. The projects are hurriedly conceived and implemented without going through the full cycle of project implementation, thereby creating loopholes for itchy fingers.

An ideal policy should not fail unless there are unavoidable circumstances like unforeseen disasters.

An ideal policy should not fail unless there are unavoidable circumstances like unforeseen disasters. The only way to explain the failure of most policies in our country is under-representation, lack of key stakeholders and lack of proper public participation. Young people are historically and frequently absent from development of national policies and programs that impact them; except as a potential source for data collection. In retrospect, other actors in the agenda-setting stage of the policy-making process like interest groups, influence policy directions to favor their interests which sometimes are not at par with public good. In other words, if the interests and thoughts of particular groups of people in the society are not addressed or accorded the necessary attention, the policy or program at hand is likely to sail.

The constitution of Kenya entrenches public participation at all levels of government planning. There however exists a gap on how to legislate and implement public participation with different agencies having their own version of it, for more effectiveness parliament must pass the public participation Act. The constitution also has several affirmative action clauses for youth, women and persons with disabilities. And whereas the political parties Act calls for the establishment of youth leagues in all parties, most these are not well structured and are poorly funded. Young people are also victims of unfair nomination rules and processes which bar them from ascending to elective positions, there is need to amend the 2013 elections Act to provide for a specified number of slots for the youth. Young people should also be included in the political party’s leadership structure.

For a policy to contribute to sustainable, inclusive and equitable development in local and global contexts, it has to meet standards for quality dimensions such as utility, feasibility, propriety, accuracy, and policy accountability. In this regard, the need to include youth and young people in policy processes raises a primary challenge for worldwide policy makers and those who commission and use policies. The pool of skilled policy experts is shallow and demands for exceed supply. It is therefore a clarion call to all government and non-governmental stakeholders to focus on training and capacity building of young and upcoming policy experts who can speak for and represent young people in public and private institutions. This action will in turn advocate for the inclusion of the voices of young people in the policy making process.

Nevertheless, in as much as political parties and other institutions need to open up to the youths, they too, should be more proactive by moving from the fringes of political parties as mere supporters and into institutions and organs that are capable of influencing policy formulation and discourse. Only then can they be engaged in high-level decision-making processes at the national level and beyond. Affirmative action policies will not come easy, young people must strategically approach every election as an opportunity to infiltrate the system.

Submitted By:

Miriam Beatrice, ABLI 2019.

7 non-negotiable leadership habits every leader must have

Leadership is defined differently by different people depending on different scenarios. To some, leadership is having top positions in work places while others relate leadership to politics. Fact is, leadership is wide and applies to almost everywhere in our daily lives. Some of us associate leadership with top management. While they may be highly skilled and good at their jobs, that doesn’t make them leaders. During a session at Emerging Leaders Foundation on leadership, the speaker defined effective leadership as transformational. Such leadership creates visions, inspires people and helps a team to effectively achieve that vision. Effective leaders create a picture of their visions in ways that everyone can understand. After a successful mentorship program at ELF and interacting with different leaders there, I can confidently call my self a leader.

  1. I’m more proactive than before

I have learnt to take responsibility of everything happening in my life. Every responsible leader must take time to plan and put measures on how their team works to prevent problems from happening. This means identifying all areas of risk and implementing measures that will prevent or reduce the impact of problems. Being proactive means planning accordingly. In return, it increases productivity and creates a cheerful work environment.

  1. I prioritize

As a leader, I must put first things first. Things that matter the most should never be at the mercy of things that matter. Leaders must be guided by principles. This will help in organizing and executing the most important priorities and not just be guided by the organization’s agendas.

  1. I have a mission and vision in life

We all have goals of what we would like to achieve in future. When we were young there’s who we wanted to be when we grow up. Are we where we’ve always wanted to be? If not, what happened? Could it be that our steps took us to the wrong places? Most likely yes. That was me before I partook in the mentorship program. I did everything blindly including starting businesses that couldn’t last two weeks. Having a mission and vision means having a clear image on the direction you want to take.

  1. I think win – win

This is a habit of mutual benefit. It means working with others to achieve the desired results. Win-win constantly seeks for mutual benefit in every engagement. However, most of us base our win on competitions (win-lose). This means if I get a bigger share of something you get less and vice versa. If I win you lose and if I lose you win and if it’s not a win for us, we both lose. Have we thought of us all winning? As leaders we must embrace a win-win habit. Win-win leaders are emphatic, considerate, brave and sensitive.

  1. I seek first to understand then to be understood

How may times do we listen to reply than we listen to understand? If you all can agree, it happens almost all the time. By doing so we end up missing important aspects. Effective communication is very essential in life. Therefore, as leaders we should seek to understand first before we share feedback.

  1. Synergy

“Synergy is better than my way, our way” Dr. Stephen R. Covey. This is a combination teamwork, cooperation and open-mindedness as a way of finding solutions to problems.  It is working together to achieve the set goals. Combined effort is greater than individual effort. To achieve this kind of leadership as modern and effective leaders, we should work together in mutually enhancing ways to accomplish both organizational and personal goals.

  1. I continuously renew myself both professionally and personally

This habit is commonly referred to as sharpening the saw. Do you sharpen your saw? How do you balance between work and your personal life? A friend once shared on how they collapsed due to work burn out. Constantly seek to renew physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

 

As I wind up, just remember that everyday is a new opportunity to make a change. The 7 habits listed above are from my own experience and can have a long-lasting impact on both personal and interpersonal growth.

 

Submitted By:

Shalom Musyoka, Cohort 8. 

Ongoza campaign

Leadership is pegged on the ability to influence individuals, families, organizations, communities and even nations. Everything, we believe, rises and falls on leadership. That is why at ELF we are obsessed with adding tools to the toolbox of young emerging leaders to prepare them for sustainable development of their societies.

Since 2012 to date, we have passionately been churning out values-based leaders across the country, deploying them in their spheres of influence to cause impact.

We are looking to raise 105 million during the Ongoza campaign to enable us scale up our program and shape the future of Kenya.

Milestones: 

In our 7 years of existence, 461 young people have directly been trained and mentored, but here is our key milestone; 108 initiatives have been started across the country. These include; businesses, CBO’s, NGO’s, community empowerment projects, pressure groups etc., which have led to societal transformation, job creation and sustainable livelihoods for hundreds of young people.

Our purpose is to build agency within every youth who comes into our program, to capacitate them to look at their environment and become solution providers; It is worth noting that 98% of our alumni are currently employed, running their own initiatives or involved in volunteerism.

42% of the average 65% alumni who join the program while not involved in anything, have started their own businesses and initiatives. 34% have been employed while another 21% are currently volunteering in different organizations.

Our Case: 

Kenya is very youthful country. The median age is 19 years, and about 80% of the population is below 35 years. To a large extent, this youthful population will determine the shape of the country’s future.

According to a survey by the Aga Khan University; 50% of the youth believe it doesn’t matter how one makes money as long as one does not end up in jail. 47% admire those who make money through hook and crook, 30% believe corruption is profitable, 73% fear to stand up for what is right for fear of retribution, while 35% of the youth would readily take or give a bribe.

That is the bad news, but here is the good news; in our 7 years of existence, and 461 directly trained, we have reached 8,000 youths. Each of our fellows is assigned a mentor who walks with them in their journey of leadership. 84% of our alumni have organized or participated in community service initiatives, taking responsibility of their communities. 61% of our alumni who joined the program while employed, took up new leadership roles during or after the program. Our program has the potential of scalability, as 78% of our alumni are currently mentoring at least 5 other young people. And of those who go through the program, 98% recommend others to join the program.

Building the Future: 

We foresee a future where young people everywhere take charge of their society, starting their own initiatives, being responsible and sustainably responding to the challenges around them. We see youth taking over leadership and leading with values, young people who can be trusted to keep their promise, who approach leadership as a service to the people, young people who embrace team work, are proud of their African identity and believe that only the best is good enough for Africa. In short, we dream of dignified societies with values-based leaders.

How:

Our model is based on the theory that an individual is best fit to drive social change in their community only after self-discovery, which in turn enables them to connect with others for impact.

Discover: – to lead others, you must first discover and master yourself. We guide participants through sessions of self-awareness.; life mapping and story telling where they get to share narratives from their personal life journeys. This process enables the young leaders to know their purpose in life.

Connect: – establishing a connection with people is the first step to having influence in many communities. We impart our young leaders with communication, debating and personal branding skills for a good first impression. We also help the leaders to connect to fellow leaders, creating a critical mass of change makers.

Impact: – leadership is about results. We guide our mentees to develop individual and collective agency i.e. the ability to take purposeful initiative, each of them becomes a solution in their societies.

We have tested the above theory for the last 7 years and seen it work, as shown in the data previously shared. We believe that with enough resources, we will scale up our program to all the 8 regions of Kenya and reach 7500 youths in 2020. In 10 years, we should have impacted 1,000,000 youths, in the process we will effectively shape the future of Kenya with young people who are rooted in values and are responsible enough to start their own initiatives.

We are asking for 105 million to scale up our program to the 8 regions of Kenya, where we will recruit 200 young emerging leaders and train them in two cohorts of 100.

Why ELF?

So far, we have received credible commendations, mentions and rewards from the following;

  • In July of 2018, President Barrack Obama mentioned the work of ELF to the whole world. Stating that we are part of Africa’s new stories, dutifully taking part in the work of ending poverty and promoting human dignity.
  • We also received the Diversity and Inclusion Award for “Youth in Leadership”, commending our work in ensuring that young people are equipped for leadership and dedicating ourselves to fostering the inclusion of young people in all spaces in society.
  • Recently, the Voice Achievers Award awarded us with, OUTSTANDING AFRICAN IMPACT AWARD WINNER OF THE YEAR 2019, for “your tremendous contribution to impacting the lives of young people in Kenya by providing them with adequate trainings and skills to become future leaders of today and tomorrow. You have excelled in your various engagements within the country which includes promoting human capacity, engaging in business enterprise and charity works thereby giving positive representation of Kenya to the rest of the world.”
  • During a recent expo by My Leader Kenya dubbed “Vijana na Biashara” we merged winner in the category of organizations that are empowering lives of the youth.

How can you take part in the Ongoza Campaign? 

You can make this possible by:

  1. Attending the gala dinner (Register Here)
  2. Or picking any of our sponsorship packages (Sponsorship package) .

Act now to secure the future;

 

 

no human is limited

In 2013, Eliud Kipchoge won his first world championships at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships 5000m Junior race and later the Senior 5000m. These could pass as any other wins on the track but with the benefit of hindsight, sixteen years later, a story of determination and persistence can be told.

 It’s a story of a man who a year later at the 2004 Olympics in Athens,Greece – coincidentally the land of Marathoners, won a bronze medal. Kipchoge, who I choose to hail today as King Choge, didn’t win a gold medal again until the 2016 Rio Olympics marathon. 

This is a story of conquering barriers and disbelief. From a track event to running marathons, Kipchoge chose to challenge himself and set a higher target. The failure to win gold again in the 5 kilometer races, to him turned out to be a push to face the 42 kilometer challenge which he went to win 12 of the 13 world marathon majors that he has entered.

His only marathon loss was when the world record was broken by Wilson Kipsang in the 2013 Berlin Marathon. He has not only gone on to win each of the three Berlin Marathons that he entered thereafter, but set the world record on the same course.

When referred to as the G.O.A.T – Greatest Of All Time-, these stories are an inspiration that it can be done. There are no impossibilities. When you fail once, rise up and move on. Run each race, chin up with your eyes on the prize.

The highlight of his story might be the #Ineos159 Challenge, a race to break the two hour barrier in marathons. Amidst doubts of human possibility, enduring the pressure from within and without, an elated Kipchoge did it with the world cheering him on.

It’s an inspiration worth emulating. Embracing hurdles where others see barriers. When you dutifully trump those hurdles, you’ll have achieved beyond the limits.

Generations will read about this, books written and stories will be told but what will stand out is this quote: “I don’t know where the limits are, but I would like to go there” –  Because no human is limited.

 

Submitted by;

Babu Burugu (ABLI Nairobi Cohort 1)

ELF Team Commissioning a Lifestyle of Integrity (CLI)

Today marks one week since our final class on Commissioning a Lifestyle of Integrity(CLI) as the Emerging Leaders Foundation team. It was one of the best courses  ever taken as a team as the commitment and zeal that each member had was so genuine. In case we missed out on any class, we always had to ask for a makeup class. It was pretty much like a school in session, pursuing a ‘degree in integrity’.

We learned that lies don’t become truth, wrongs don’t become right, evils don’t become good, even if they’ve become acceptable to the majority.

Read more

PAZA SAUTI

“Can we link up online?” and “What’s your handle?” are questions we get one too many times.

The advent of social media not only revolutionized access to information, but also created platforms for self-expression by users. In today’s world, half a day off social media means missing out on real-time updates, and having to play catch up. Twitter is always ablaze and WhatsApp has become a staple for households especially in Kenya. The Visual Capitalist recently shared analytics on an internet minute: 481,000 tweets sent, 38M messages on WhatsApp, 3.7M queries searches on Google, and $862,823 spent online, not to mention Netflixing fans and Instagram scrolls. What’s more, the future is predicted to have higher projections. No doubt, social media remains a fundamental tool for product outreach in every sector and community.

Kenya, a developing and young nation with a median age of 19 grapples with a myriad of governance challenges. Top on the list of them all are mismanagement of public funds and poor leadership that have robbed a majority of young people, opportunities to make true their dreams. In identifying possible solutions to these challenges, citizen responsibility is key in reclaiming the country’s resources and opportunities. The youth, who form over 60% of the population have a key role in ensuring effective management of public resources, through the available avenues. Digital advocacy is one of the tools with the potential to not only put public officers to account but also enhance citizen participation in governance processes.

So how can we leverage on these platforms to build impact around good governance? At ELF, we firmly believe that young people have all it takes to harness the power of social media and transform their communities. We can drive social campaigns to empower others, eradicate drug abuse, call out ineffective leaders, share and teach best practices, market youth skills, put an end to impunity and inspire action. The impact of digital advocacy efforts as proved by previous campaigns such as #FeesMustFall, #MyDressMyChoice, #SomeoneTellCNN cannot be ignored. The revolutionary Arab Spring in 2010-2012 in which Middle East countries successfully opposed oppressive government regimes, largely owes its success to social media.

The ‘axeleretaz’ initiative is a game changer; an enabler of progress. 10 youth drawn from Makueni, Nairobi, Kakamega, Mombasa, and Nakuru are part of the first phase to be inducted through digital advocacy. They are community advocates in the areas of budget processes, reproductive health, active youth participation in political processes, mobile journalism and civic engagement.

The team is on a mission to not only highlight governance gaps as experienced in their communities, but also contribute to their solutions. Through research and consultations with stakeholders, the axeleretaz will share community stories of best practices on citizen responsibility; policy processes and governance.

We trust that you are taking note of the governance gaps in your community, and while at it, you and your peers are working on ways of solving the challenges to achieve the change you desire. Join the Axeleretaz Movement (@axeleretaz) in highlighting the same online and together, let us be the voice and accelerators of the change we so much need.
#AxelerateKE @axeleretaz

 

By Stella Nderitu,

Programmes Officer, Governance

Don’t Agonize, Organize.

The title of this article is a widely used slogan and is credited to the Afro-American woman civil rights activist Florence Rae Kennedy, its popularity stems from two realities; on the one had we cringe at the pain, suffering and indignities afflicted on us, while on the other hand we are challenged as to what we can do in response.

Agonizing is a much-taken path by the youth since its easy to complain, to talk ourselves into believing that nothing we do can bring about any change, and most times we wait for the “right moment” (whatever that means). Constantly procrastinating action and rationalizing it with the fear of timing – news flash; the right time is NOW, if you choose to make it one.

Proper and collective organization is the key to the 75% of youth in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa turning their potential power into REAL power that will end historical political and economic marginalization. There is a lot of talk that the political class should hand over power/ include young people in government, but truth be told, power is hardly ever given on a silver plater, leaders have to EMERGE and EVOLVE over the period of organizing, and it is these leaders who then champion for the beginning an era of youth participation.

In Kericho county for example, a group of young people has started the journey of organizing themselves to engage fellow young people better and to participate in the governance processes of the county. What started in 2017 as a group of fifteen youths identified, trained and sent out by Emerging Leaders Foundation to start meaningful engagement with the county government and move from noise to voice, has now grown into a formidable youth working group. As of last month, the group had brought together representatives from 27 of the 30 wards.

The purpose of the newly formed Kericho Youth Leadership Network is to be the umbrella organization for all youth groups/organizations in the county for effective driving of the youth agenda, enhance youth participation in governance processes and foster attitude change through capacity building and opportunity tapping for the youth of Kericho. In other words, the vijana of Kericho want to mobilize around issues, they are tired of being on the periphery and being turned in mere spectators and cheer leaders in their own territory, they have realized something which I hope resonates with young people across the country; that yes, we can! (Tunaweza) That we are the captains of our ships; masters of our destinies and for change to occur we must desire it, we must trigger it and we must sacrifice for it.

Three key lessons from the youth of Kericho;

  1. Collective action is stronger than individual action – mobilization, clarity and strategy.
  2. We need serious organization to get things done – commitment, effectivity and inclusivity.
  3. Alternative to elected leadership is unelected leadership – leaders without titles.

Agonizing never got people anywhere, it only maintained the status quo. Our aspirations will be met depending on how well and fast we ORGANIZE!

 

CHANGE IS HERE

The ‘A’ team. There is a desire to belong, but few can. To a clique? Certainly not, but the struggle to be part of something greater than the persona of self, a movement, mission of purpose, to create, impact and continuously do so. Isn’t this what we strive for? Be part of? Yet choose not to! “How?” you ask. You first think of your-self before our-self, you think of your milestones rather than of our milestones. You dream of being part, however the validity of your dream is dependent on your actions. With such witty thoughts, how do you be part of a mission that requires selflessness, resilience, commitment and conviction?
The year 2018, the philosophy of team work has never sunk so deep. Joining Emerging Leaders foundation, that “ahh” feeling with an end to end smile of satisfaction crossing your face, knowing change is here with us, knowing the toil and effort required and saying yes to be part of the change and more encouraging, the fact that you are not one or two but that you are a community, a multitude of change agents. The ninth wonder that should be included is how the Elf staff synchronize their work, the synergistic transfer of energy to where needed most such as that employed by all-wheel drive (AWD) in Subaru vehicles (it’s okay to google). It’s seamless and delivers quality results. Keep up you are my inspiration.
I celebrate cohort 5 2018 at ELF. You are the life changing experience of my 2018. You are creative, intelligent, persistent, resilient, compassionate, concerned, dependable, reliable, committed persons determined to improve yourself so as to improve their space of influence and community. Driven by Ubuntu, service through leadership and excellence in what we do, you are an inspiration of a team. Whatever you do, wherever you will go and to whom you will interact with keep being the inspiration.

 

Written By;
Lore Kouko – ELF Alumni (Cohort 5)

90% of Life is About Showing Up!

There is an old saying most often attributed to Woody Allen that “90% of life is showing up.” Actually, it turns out that the number is somewhere between 75 and 90, depending on the recollection of the person reciting the quote, but either way, the balance of life is about following up. Allen’s point is a good one. Just get involved, make the call, or introduce yourself. The results will astonish you.

My colleague always reminds us that we are the finest humans to ever walk the face of the earth; our great grandparents were not as smart and did not have as many opportunities as we do today. We have evolved into the ideal humans that our ancestors could not even dream about, in fact, should some of our ancestors rise from the dead today, they would go bonkers over what they would see. What sets us apart from other animals, is that we are story telling animals with the ability to organize ourselves.

In view of the foregoing, young people do not have the luxury of feeling hopeless or powerless today, across the country the chorus is the same “my governor hasn’t done …. Things cannot be done”. There is a feeling of indignation to a point where the youth even seem to think that voting will never change much.

But think about this; what hope or power did our fore fathers have when they were fighting the colonialist, the odds were against them, they did not have the numbers and neither did they have weaponry to face the oppressor. Yet against all odds a few men and women organised themselves and showed up for battle, thanks to them today we are a sovereign nation.

Better still let’s bring it closer and think about the second liberation; when young politicians and members of the civil society were demanding for political inclusion through the repeal of section 2A of the constitution, what power did they have? They were lone voices, strange voices demanding the unthinkable. But they dared to dream of a different society, the looked beyond themselves and reached out to a higher purpose, and look at us today? We have 63 political parties and across the country we can freely assemble to express our political beliefs.

Had these women and men given up or chose to dwell on what was not impossible, I doubt I would have even had the freedom to write this article, but because they dared to think and organise differently, we are where we are.

Fellow young people the onus is on us, things will only get better if we think and act differently, we must organise around issues and build teams in every county and sub-county to engage strategically with duty bearers, we must be willing to sustain the murmur long enough. Nobody understands youth issues like the youth themselves, hence we are best placed to do youth advocacy. Society always turns to young people in its hour of need, can we be counted on; because truth is, things are messed up all around us.

To the youth of Kilifi, who are the inspiration of this post; thank you for showing up for the Tunaweza training, we have built your capacity and we believe that you guys have assembled the best team to start meaningful engagement with your county officials. Don’t tire! And never loose sight of the antelope because of a dashing squirrel. 

 

 

Written by Jim India

Communication Officer

Emerging Leaders Foundation