My Turban and I

Today I wore a headwrap;
A colleague asks me,
Why are you wearing a headscarf,
And yet your hair is so neatly done?
Why are you covering it ?
Because I want to, I said.
Because I can.
Because wearing a headwrap,
Is fashion too.
It’s my Tuesday morning style, is that okay ?
It’s not about bad hair or good hair.
Where do we get these notions from ?
Can’t one just wrap her head ?
Ah, the life of a woman.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
If I shave, I’m making a statement,
If I straighten, I’m making a statement,
If I leave it in Afro, I’m making a statement,
If I put it in dreads,
Or plait it in braids,
Or have it in corn rows, I’m making a statement.
Well, no, not always,
Sometimes, yes, sure,
But sometimes I do whatever it is because I can.
No need to make assumptions,
And don’t worry about it,
Or about me,
My head and I are okay,
My hair and I, we’re actually just fine.
And the red, it wasn’t to make a statement either.
Later I took it off,
To make a statement,
That I was now ready,
To take off my headwrap,
My headscarf,
My turban,
Because I could,
Because I wanted to.
That’s all.

#IWD2020

Submitted by:
Elishibah Msengeti Poriot
Manager, Leadership Development and Mentorship 

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. 

The Devil in My Life

As a young person, I have been fighting an elephant for a better part of my life. I have also struggled with delay and avoidance of things that really matter. ‘I will do it later’ is what I always tell myself and move on. Procrastination is like a ‘chase me’ game, one that will take you down. It has a major impact on our productivity and success. Have you ever procrastinated until you started wondering if your village-mates are on your case? I have procrastinated on very important matters, from acting on my goals to applying for jobs among others. This has practically caused a lot of damage in my life. It has left me jobless, broke, lost weight and emotionally unstable. I know most of you can resonate with me.

Last year, I got a wake-up call and decided to do my research on procrastination. I needed to understand what it is and how it can be avoided. I’m going to briefly take you through procrastination and share practical actions to take against it.

The truth is, the present self cannot be motivated by future rewards and so we must find ways to move the future rewards into the present.

Studies have shown that we have two selves. The present self and the future self. The future self can set goals and envision how the future will look like. However, it is the work of the present self to act on the goals. Let’s say you are planning a summer vacation this year. You’d want a bikini body, right? That means you’ve to start working on it right away. Well, that’s what your future self wants. So how will you attain that? Your present self will have to consistently exercise and diet. Since the benefits of exercising are far away (weeks or months away) the present self will continue asking for all kinds of junk foods. This is because our present self is conditioned to value immediate rewards than long term. The truth is, the present self cannot be motivated by future rewards and so we must find ways to move the future rewards into the present.

I decided to come up with ways to help myself fight the elephant in the room by.

  1. Habit Stacking

I love listening to music and I can choose it over exercising. I thought to myself, how about listening to music while exercising? Sounds like a deal, right? I can comfortably exercise and listen to my music as well.

  1. Rewarding Myself

I have developed a habit of rewarding myself after doing an activity that I procrastinate about. Let’s say I’m supposed to do an article and I also have a very interesting movie to watch. The movie acts as a motivation and a reward after accomplishing my task. After I’m done with my article, I can comfortably watch my movie without feeling guilty.

  1. Having Immediate Consequences for Procrastination

Create ways that will make you pay for procrastination sooner enough. For example, if you procrastinate about going to the gym, make sure you pay your subscription for the whole month such that if you fail to go your money will be wasted. There are also other forms of punishment, try what works for you. The idea is to have a consequence that happens if the planned action is not performed.

  1. Breaking the Task into Small Bits

If a have a two-thousand-word article to write, I divide it into small bits and choose to do like two fifty words after every 3 hours. Whatever it is, breaking it into small bits is more achievable and easier to face. Once you start finishing becomes easy and the same momentum will carry you unto the next one.

If we want to stop procrastinating, we must train our present self to get started and trust that motivation and momentum will come as we go on. The difficult part of starting a task is actually starting it. Once it’s started everything else flows. The other thing is prioritizing. Most of the time we procrastinate because we do not have a clear list of what to do. Making a list of the most important things according to how important they are works better. Regardless of the method you follow, make sure you get started. With determination and consistency, this devil will be kicked out pretty soon.

Submitted By:

Shalom Musyoka, Cohort 8. 

 

an introverts struggle to be an extrovert

Before I joined the Emerging Leaders Foundation, I had spent a lot of time on the internet looking for platforms that dealt with youth empowerment. I then came across ELF. It took me close to two years contemplating whether I should join or not. Finally, I made the decision.

For a period of time, I’ve always felt like a failure simply because I had not discovered who I am. I am an introvert who has been struggling to become an extrovert since I always thought that to be successful in life you must be talkative. I was wrong. After going through the personality session at ELF, I changed that mentality. I accepted that I’m actually the best version of myself.

For close to 20 years I’ve always associated intelligence with high grades. But guess what? As much as it is true, an average performer can even be more intelligent and of a higher IQ. I’ll tell you why. The moment you realize who you are and make a decision towards being the best version of you, you realize that even if you’ve made mistakes in the past you can still work towards success and become the best there has ever been. I had an inner awakening after realizing that I am actually intelligent and that my personality is still okay and acceptable, there’s is this inner urge that arose from within. The desire to make a difference. A new amount of energy to work towards realization of my dreams and give back to the community.

I understood that it is normal to make mistakes and learn from them. Your past experiences can actually influence your current self and others in a positive way. I chose to let the past be and decided to work towards making the future bright. Getting to listen to other people’s stories and telling my own story was very empowering. I became aware of my passion. Yes! That’s how powerful the life mapping session was. Now I’m able to do something for the community to avoid a repetition of my story.

I met amazing souls who by the end of the day had become acquaintances. Friends who
empowered me a lot by sharing insights on their career growth as well as what they’ve been able
to do for the community. People I can work with to make this country a better place.

To cut the long story short, Emerging Leaders Foundation is the place to be. The positive impact
they make on their trainees is tremendous. They empower the heart broken, those that had given
up on life, those who gave up on working hard because of failures, and those aspiring to be better
versions of themselves.

 

Submitted by:

Shalom Musyoka.

I almost Resigned, but….

“When I joined the African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI) Program, my leadership was in a deep quagmire. I was almost relinquishing my position as the lead pastor of my organisation because we never had consensus in any agenda. All I had was contention after another. When I came to ABLI, I learned how to understand the temperaments of my fellows, to have better business communications skills, to be an innovative entrepreneur, and to lead with compassion. The authenticity of this leadership program is a beacon of hope to those who are struggling in their leadership position. The capacity that it has built in me has raised my inner jolts of strength to walk tall and to believe in the endless possibilities of changing the world than I initially had. From this program I am fully persuaded that I have been properly enlightened to begin pursuing my vision as a responsible citizen.”

Jared today leads a growing congregation at Crossroad Fellowship Ministries in Kisumu, they recently celebrated 8 years of God’s faithfulness.

He is also a budding entrepreneur and committed change champion. Besides ABLI, he is also part of Tunaweza team in Migori, which is a governance and accountability caucus.

 

Submitted by;

Jared Okello.

RUN YOUR RACE, CLAIM YOUR SPACE.

We say we need space, but all we find is empty places as we don’t know what we are in a quest for. Expressively we start seeking the inner peace of discovering ourselves, and before we know it, we are more lost. In that chaos, that’s when we ironically understand who we are. For me, I got lost in the march of 2019, and I think that’s when the occasion of my storms skyrocketed. An unexpected event led to my knowledge of the Emerging Leaders Foundation and the first new page of the rest of my life begun.

Many phases many places may dazzle me, but new faces always put a smile on my face no matter the day and time. Today it was a Monday morning the mother of refreshment cocktails of opportunities, and the faces I saw screamed changes. We began with a fun introduction, in that you had to describe the person next to you and that was an excellent kick-off to team building.

Ever been asked to make a decision that requires your feelings and also logic thinking, and you just gazed unsure of your next move? Well, that’s because self-awareness of your emotional quotient and intelligent quotient hasn’t been made simpler to you. Emotional intelligence deals with self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management. With this in mind, one can understand that mind plus heart equal result, so the next time you are faced with a situation that requires logical thinking don’t put your emotions to it. Some studies suggests doing some personality tests helps one in self awareness and also decision making, in doing so you won’t justify your decisions rationally. We also participated in a storytelling art that aid one to open up to the environment around them. Honestly, it’s a scaring thing to do, allowing yourself to be vulnerable among strangers. What you don’t know is that that’s the safest space in the entire Milky way. On day one what a better way to top the cherry-like having a steamy creamy cup of tea with a bite snack.

Highly effective people have a particular rhythm that guides them in building up character. The freedom of choice inclines towards self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will all of which are either stimulus or response. Besides, these habits are the building blocks of our leadership life as new levels bring about new devils. Having the courage to allow transformation shows the acceptance of being void of capacity and competent to thirst for knowledge. Consistency is key to communication as opportunity favors the prepared, you getting my flow by now.

Ever wondered what people say about you when you not in a room? Keep in mind your name is your brand because how you package yourself is what defines you. Always delivering is a promise of saying I did it once, I can do it again.

**brain teaser read about the elevators pitch**

Gender also shows the critical hierarchy of leadership as there is no real social revolution without the liberation of women. Therefore, one ought to be diverse in culture, socialization, religion, and his/her perception as they are deadly weapons to gender inequality and empowerment. This is almost my third day, and by now some electric current of change is causing my crimson blood and the people I met on day one have found a way to my home. You know the famous saying a home is where the heart is?

The currency of life is learning as the day you stop learning; you start decaying. To be a leader is a reader and a writer as documentation is an art. With the current millennial era knowing how to harness the power of social media and using the right channels strengthens your audience. Aside from social media, public speaking should also be practiced as one has to be one on one at the forefront of change. In conclusion run in your lane as nobody is like you and everyone is destined to bear different fruits.

 

Submitted by;

Faith Nyasuguta

IMPACT STORY: HILLARY OMUONO

Hillary Omuono joined Emerging Leaders Foundation in 2017, he was part of a group of students whom we had recruited in the run-up to the elections to become ambassadors of good governance.

Today, Omuono runs an organization called G-SETI which donates school uniforms and geometrical sets to school going children besides offering mentorship and counselling to them. He chose to work with Primary School children, arguing that a lot of attention and focus has been given to High Schools and Colleges at the detriment of the little ones.

What started as a Facebook post out of a need he had identified in one of the local primary schools he had visited, has today translated into more than 500 pupils receiving geometrical sets and visits to over 50 schools.

He says that, “ELF introduced me to my true north and allowed me to think as a solution provider. I can no-longer wait for someone else to come and solve the challenges around me, I must be pro-active at all times.”

While talking to the Standard Newspaper he said, “G-SETI has opened doors for me and given me exposure that I wouldn’t have if I decided to hole myself in books. I have traveled and networked with different personalities.”

Hillary Omuono embodies the quality of our alumni; we are polishing young African women and men to become PIONEERS of their own destinies, SERVE their communities and be committed to VALUES in all their endeavors.

Youth at the Center of Social Change in Kenya.

You can’t start a fire without a spark! Whenever society is faced with the greatest of threats, it has the tendency to constantly turn to the youth. The energy in pursuit, purity of purpose, clarity of vision and passion in articulation of issues is recipe for successful revolutions.

The last decade has arguably been the worst time for the youth of Kenya, we’ve been leathered from every side, our dreams shattered, the promise of education bleak, the availability of jobs almost nil, the factors of production held in the hands of a few greedy men.

But then I’m reminded that, “the best thing you can learn from the worst times of our life is that it always gets better. It may take a month, a year, a decade, but it will get better if you leave yourself open to it.”

In the last election something happened that went unnoticed or rather wasn’t properly celebrated. First, we got more youth into the different elective positions, but perhaps most interesting is the fact that we had more youth who ran as independent candidates and even a greater number who ran on alternative political parties apart from the two big coalitions at the time.

Sometimes we need reminding about who we are and what we can become, a little pride,a little determination and a true sense of commitment can spur us to demand better for ourselves and our communities. The youth who vied inspired the rest of us, the fact that they did campaigns focused on their manifestos speaks volumes. these young people knocked on doors, sat under trees, engaged youth and women groups, they challenged the common way of financing campaigns by asking the people to support their campaigns. They walked on foot and freely interacted with the electorate. There were no big rallies, with loud music and “chini kwa chini” dance, no big cars with tinted windows.

Perhaps if we do our politics differently by ensuring that we do not give handouts to voters and that every Kenyan is invested in the campaign process from start to end, then we could have a different story to tell successive generations, a story that is devoid of violence, theft and bribery, but one that is full of hope and progress.

I am glad that this change is being championed by my generation and I invite each of you to join the bandwagon, change inevitable.

 

Written by Jim India,

Communication Officer at Emerging Leaders Foundation.

 

 

 

GOVERNANCE & PAN-AFRICANISM RECAP

“Young people are experts of their own experience. No one knows being youth today than the youth themselves”

It has been exactly a week since I graduated from my university. With all this excitement, I couldn’t get a better gift from ELF than this session. As I went through the session, I could clearly see it as a great gift to me. The session inspired me, challenged me and more so shaped my mental focus and strength for the life journey ahead. To summarize in one word, the session was – excellent!

The experience of going through a session, finding out that you have not really done and that you need to hit the reset button in your life in order to progressively move forward was an eye opener to me.

With the theme of Governance and Pan-Africanism, we started off with a training on “Letter to Self”

“Self–awareness is being conscious of who you are and who you are not”

We were encouraged to always learn to go an extra mile and that the self is the basis of your leadership journey. Before we started to write letters to self, we learnt about the basics of character (5Cs);

  1. Consciousness – Everything comes from consciousness
  2. Consumption – Our environments shape us to be who we are. This is the reason why President’s kids become Presidents
  3. Choices – Choices are the basis of our own lives
  4. Cheer yourself up – Learn to be your own cheer leader
  5. Correct yourself – If you don’t learn to correct yourself, someone else will

 

On Pan-Africanism;

  1. As a nation, we need to have a true conversation with ourselves.
  2. Pan-Africanism should start in our families.
  3. Pan-Africanism is about identity at a higher level. This connection should not only

bind us but liberate us.

  1. The love for our continent fuels Pan-Africanism.
  2. The future of any nation is dependent on the young generation. It cannot depend on us

if we cannot show interest/be involved in current issues.

  1. Africa is not interested in people who can die for it but those who can live for it.
  2. The importance of knowledge and information is that;

 It makes you a better person

 It is worth the sacrifice

 It helps you to write more, know more and read more

 It helps you in making intellectual conversations

 It creates value in you. When you create value in you, people notice it.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”-

Ralph W. Emerson

The afternoon session was led by Mr. Maliba. He started out with the above statement. We

had some basics on youth engagement. He informed us that youth engagement happens when

young people have sustained connections everywhere in their life. The determinants of

engagement include;

  1. Social and economic environment
  2. The physical environment, and
  3. The person’s individual characteristics and behavior

The spheres of youth engagement include;

  1. Self-engagement: Emotional, psychological, or physical well-being
  2. Families: Home, recreation, decision-making, food and nutrition, culture.
  3. Community: Peers, faith, communities, school, and other community settings
  4. Society: Mass media, industry and the economy, social service, their neighbor and

politics

Engagement is a cognitive process i.e. when the brain becomes stimulated by external

stimuli, in this case relating to politics, elaboration occurs. To engage effectively, young

people must understand where we are, get their context and global context right. The steps for

effective engagement includes;

  1. Seek to be included from the beginning – Be part of all steps
  2. Have a clear purpose and plan – It will bring the right people along
  3. Identify and secure resources i.e.

 Human resources: coordination, training, supervision and mentorship.

 Financial resources: power, requires energy a lot of it.

 Partnership resources: leverage resources, piggyback on existing streams

  1. Find role play clearly valued in dignity and be empowered because power responds to

power, speak power, be knowledgeable, be informed and know your stuff. Create a

feedback and learning loop that will allow continuous program modification based on

youth input sound boarding.

  1. Structural support and training –Support vs. Empowerment.

Lastly, Mr. Maliba finished the session with a discussion on the tools of engagement. In

summary, here is what he said,

a) Canvasing: Face to face is still king. People can be mean on phone or email; they

are likely to have empathy in one –to-one engagement.

b) Social media and technology: All of us are well versed with it but its use is still a

challenge.

c) Relationships: Be relational. This doesn’t mean that you are sucked up.

d) Protest: Like war, protest is never an end in itself. Protest in dignity is more

important than living in indignity.

In conclusion, all we can do is study the lives of people who seem to have found their

answers to questions of what ultimately human life is about as against those who have not.

Everything great is just as difficult to realize as it is rare to find.

Edward Kipkalya

Emerging Leaders Foundation Cohort 5 Mentee

Emerging Leaders

Here is a beautiful poem from one of the leaders we trained from Matungulu Girls, there is no better way to kick-off our weekend.

Emerging Leaders.

Amazing I would say,
What was done in a day,
Light was brought not just a ray,
Allow me to express if I may.

A group,
Not just any troop,
Impacting Change,
Going beyond the range.

Empowering leaders,
Making futures brighter,
Connecting not just inspiring,
Strong leaders emerging.

Training the best,
Who’ll stand out from the rest,
To cause that difference,
Taking advantage of every chance.

 

By Perpetual Wangari.