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.

Traits of a Leader.

The 2nd session of ELF Cohort 5 kicked off on the 25th of August, 2018 at Metta Nairobi. I was looking forward to this session having spent the last one week reading ‘The Seven Habits of Highly effective people” by Stephen Covey. I knew we would all dive deep into leadership and so I was eager and ready to learn.

Our first speaker was full of zeal and inspiration and I took as much as I could during her talk. Here are my best three take home messages.

  1. Leaders have clarity

It is very important to have a clear vision and a route map for your destination. That way, as a leader, you will not be sidetracked by the bumps on the leadership journey. As Marcus Buckingham said “Above all else, leaders must never forget the truth that of all the human universals – our need for security, for community, for clarity, for authority, and for respect, our need for clarity is the most likely to engender in us confidence, persistence, resilience, and creativity.”

Therefore, let us strive to have personal mission statements that will guide us in the leadership journey.

  1. Leaders give back to the community

There is a book I love and that I reread every year. It is called “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom. It is about an old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lessons. My favorite quote in the book is “All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here. Death ends a life, not a relationship”. This should inspire leaders to give back to the community because people never forget what you did for them even after you are gone.

  1. Leaders take care of the company they keep

It is said that you are the average of the five people that you spend most of your time with. This is because energy is contagious and it is very important to be cognizant of this fact. As harsh as this sounds, leaders are usually judged by the type of people they associate with. Hence the saying, show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.

There you have it leaders. The lessons were many and might not be conclusively discussed here. But above everything else, be a leader that reads. We can always learn more and great leaders know that the best knowledge is waiting inside a book. As Barrack Obama, the 44th president of United States of America said, “Reading is important. If you know how to read, then the whole world opens up to you.”

Gladys Maina listening through the session.

 

Written By Gladys Maina

Cohort 5 Mentee

 

 

Recap of Gender & Leadership Session.

25 of us (Mentees) kicked off our 2nd ELF session with a lot of zeal, power and energy.

“Leadership and taking initiative are two things that go hand in hand, while all leaders are born, good leaders are made.” Those are the words from Dada Power – Stella as she welcomed us to the session.

My take home:

Leadership is about value proposition. It is all about making an impact and empowering

someone/touching a life. Leaders have the following characteristics: they have

followers, they don’t remain static, they are made, they must initiate, they must have clarity,

they must have a balance, they must give back to their communities and they are shaped by circumstances. Why is leadership important? Human beings tend to be led. That

is the reason you hear the phrase – ‘you are a sum total of your leader’. The whole purpose of

leadership is accountability. As a leader, if you want results, participate.

Leaders have to be accessible, available and valuable. They bow out and are not edged out.

They negotiate and define their purpose. They learn from other people mistakes. As a leader

you must be vulnerable to be ready to learn. One must know that self-sufficiency is not a

virtue at all. There are 4 styles of leadership: Authoritative, autocratic, democratic and

transformational. Be aware of them and when to apply them because all of them borrow from

each other. Leaders must inspire and give hope.

Summary of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

“We crawl before we walk. Fix yourself first before having a meaningful impact.”

. Habit 1 – Be proactive: Effective people are response-able. They take responsibility

of their lives. They focus on their circle of influence rather than circles of concern.

. Habit 2 – Begin with the end in mind: Effective people know that the most important

work is always ahead of them, never behind them. They focus their time and energy

on things that can be controlled.

. Habit 3 – Put First Things First: Effective leadership is putting first things first.

Effective management is discipline, carrying it out. Effective people execute on most

important priorities. Habit 1 + Habit 2 = Habit 3

. Habit 4 – Think Win-Win: Learn to work effectively and efficiently with others to

achieve optimal results. Think win – win is not a quick fix. It is a character based

code for human interaction and collaboration.

. Habit 5 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood: Most people do not listen

with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply. Effective people do

the opposite and communicate effectively.

. Habit 6 – Synergy: Effective people understand that ‘synergy is better than my way

or your way. It is our way’. Don’t mistake uniformity for unity and sameness for

oneness.

. Habit 7 – Sharpen the saw: Effective people understand that they must never become

too busy sawing to take time to sharpen the saw. Renewal is the principle – and the

process – that empowers us to move on an upward spiral growth and change of

continuous improvement.

ELF Cohort 5 elections:

Eventually, the time we had been waiting for eventually reached – to elect our ELF Cohort 5

officials i.e. the President, Deputy President and the Secretary. Being an aspirant of the

Deputy President seat, I was prepared for it with my massive campaign strategies. We were

given 10 minutes to do the last campaigns before pitching our manifestos in 2 and a half

minutes.

The Election Process:

The exercise was conducted in a free, fair and credible manner which was very impressive and the following were declared winners:

  1. Mr. Dennis Leiyan – President.
  2. Ms. Catherine Njeri Gathuru – Deputy President.
  3. Ms. Faith Wachira – Secretary

Lessons Learnt:

This was the first time I lost an election and I learnt that sometimes you have to lose to win, I also learnt that, failure is greatness waiting to happen. The more you dream at work, the

more you raise your standards, the more you say ‘I want to play world-class’…you are going

to get blooded/discouraged. The more you innovate, the more you are going to get stumbled.

Even in your personal life, the more you dream, the more you reach, the more you dare, the

more you are going to get hurt. That is just the price of ambition. The secret is to turn your

PAIN into POWER, turn your SUFFERING into STRENGTH and FAILURES into

FORTUNES. We don’t grow when things are easy. E.g. when things are falling apart, that’s

the chance to learn empathy; when someone has wronged you, you can blame the wrong doer

or learn forgiveness; when someone has lied to you, you can learn boundaries etc.

 

Edward Kipkalya

Emerging Leaders Foundation Cohort 5 Mentee

 

 

 

 

What does Leadership mean to you? By Victor Odhiambo – Garden of Hope Foundation

I started developing my leadership skills when I was in Primary school. The “Bell Ringer” position meant a great deal to me. The entire school would look up to me on what time they can go for their lunch break, games etc. I remember one day I decided to delay ringing the lunch time bell by 10 minutes, you don’t want to know what happened to me.

 

I was later promoted to assistant school captain and later Captain of the school soccer team. My defining moment came when I was eventually elected for a position I was eyeing for “Head boy” or school captain. From my perspective I knew I had achieved so much, from the bottom of my heart there were other people who were better, and others who could do more. I was in position of “influence” but because of selfish interest I could not give others an opportunity. I would later realize that I was voted as the Head boy because I was popular among the students, but not because of the values I held as leader.

 

Carly Fiorina an American business woman and former Chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard defines Leadership as “Unlocking the potential of others” This to me is giving people an opportunity to lead, while you as the leader takes the back sit and leading from behind. It does not necessary mean not taking control or being in charge, but looking at the skills and talents everyone in your team has and giving them an opportunity to unlock those skills and talents.

 

I was recently conducting a leadership session with young people from Kibera slum. One of the common questions I ask them when I do this is “Which leaders do you admire the most?” ‘Which leader would best solve a conflict? Which leader communicates best?

 

A common trend I noticed among them was that they chose the most vocal people in the society, they would relate more with leaders who are in forefront during protests, those who came from their tribe and sometimes those who are wealthy.

 

When I asked them their definition of leadership, I again noticed some common words like “Being in charge” “Power” “Strict” etc. While these specific words are not necessarily wrong, I realized my definition of leadership or view of leadership affects the person I will vote for or the people I look up-to as leaders. If my definition is “leadership is being in charge’ I will most likely respond more to people who are always in charge, sometime even if they come out as dictators.

 

Our definition of leadership affects us as individuals and the society as large, this begs the question “Could the current leaders we have in Kenya be a reflection of our individual definition of leadership?”

Never Underestimate The Power Of A Story; Your Story! By Jim India

One of my earliest childhood memories which has colossally molded my progress this far, is me in class three.
So, I had just moved schools from the village to the city, I could only speak my mother tongue and some rumors of what to me sounded like Swahili. I get into a class of forty pupils, all polished and with well-ordered handwritings, it is important that I mention about the handwriting because I am reliably informed by my class teacher then, that my scribbles could only be described as orthodox, I used to write across the page in a single ruled book! My worst fear was the Reading and Kusoma exam, I genuinely couldn’t read. Back in the village the teacher took the time to translate the test from English to dholuo to aid in our comprehension, in this controlled exam setting dear reader please note that I was number one all through my two years in my village school.
I was the envy of many and most parents used me as an example of the kind friends their children should have- I was the S.I unit for my age mates. My mother was a proud of mom of a bright and promising short boy with an abnormally large head that seemed to have a depression at the center, kids really made fun me and as if that was not enough, I had and still do have unusually tiny eyes for a ‘black king’ like me. Could this be the reason my eyes close when I laugh?
One day the older kids in the village school (Ayaro Primary) scared the heaven out me (I’m not the kind to use words like hell, my Sunday school upbringing does not allow me) they told me that they had noticed that my eyes had gotten smaller with time and there is a possibility that come the following day I would go blind, poor me! Who was I to question the wisdom of the old? After all they had crammed the “times table” and knew the answer to 9*9.
That afternoon as we routinely left school to go grab a plate or cup of whatever we could find home, I wept bitterly for my eyes. On my bare feet, ‘I love my school’ back pack behind me with my two books and my falling shorts held on my waist with my left hand as the right-hand wipes mucus off my face. The longest and most excruciating walk I ever made, I had anticipated that when I get home my mother would have a solution as she always did, my mama inquired of the source of my pain and when I had brought her up to speed with my current predicament and made her fully aware that she should embrace herself to raise a blind son, her rejoinder stunned me but also comforted me, she told me, just like Jesus, to rub mud on my eyes then go wash my face thoroughly with a lot of water and that if I do this my eyesight will be restored. True to her words I have not lost my eyesight close to twenty years later, then y’all wonder why my mother is my hero?
Anyway, back in my city school (Mathare is still part of the city right?) there was Big Bernard, Small Bernard and myself. Big Bernard was…. well, big, funny, strong, a talented footballer and always had five shillings for kaimati during break time which he would share with his many close friends. Small Bernard was, small, hardly showered or brushed his teeth, had no talent that I can mention other than the githeri eating skills he displayed during lunch breaks, coincidentally though he also had many friends who identified with him, most notably was a skinny boy named Edjigidio Macharia – yes that was his name, and he was a different kid, he made his five shillings for Kaimati like most boys his age in the slum, picking nails inside the dirty Nairobi River and selling them, a risky habit but one that he thrived in and he had his once white shirt now turned brown as a mark of his conquests.
The two Bernard’s controlled my class, you had to be loyal to one camp, but not me, I wanted my own crew, but I wasn’t brainy or talented as a matter of fact there was nothing desirable about me at the time, I had a torn short as my uniform with two wide patches at the back that if it were not for my sweater which I tied round my waist, would have revealed dry and not oiled at all tiny buttocks of a seven year old bouncing boy. I was also only fluent in dholuo insults (for all have sinned and fallen short-lest you judge me), so clearly I wasn’t going to fit in any of the two popular camps and neither was I going to have my own crew, such a sad and lonely life! The only person who could hang out with me was my fellow mshamba Geofrey (we are still best of friends to date), we made a resolution to be good at something-anything, provided we attracted all the attention to ourselves. Geofrey went ahead to mastered the art of break dancing and football, I stumbled upon public speaking, music and drama. And we were good at what we did, by the time we were doing our KCPE in that school Geoffrey was the class prefect and I had been the head boy. I was also the scouts’ leader and I had held several other leadership posts before that.
One incident at age seven changed my entire life. A desire to influence, to be followed. A refusal to fit into the crowd but to rather stand out. A journey of self-discovery, to know what I was good at, to accept that it’s okay to be good at something that is not considered cool, but to be so good at it that everyone desires it. It was a selfish ambition, but it’s one that I don’t regret ever having.
It is important for me to provide this context so that you can understand why Emerging Leaders Foundation is important to me, you need to understand where I’m coming from to understand where I’m going.
When I first engaged in the self-identity class on the first ABLI training, I was awestruck, I couldn’t believe that God had allowed me to go through so much and that it all added up to form my personality and lead me to my destiny. Sometimes we feel the need to adopt our current status and forget our past, we feel ashamed of where we have come from, and we fail to appreciate what all our experiences have taught us, and the values they have formed in us.
So own your story, however regular or unique it is, however hilarious or boring it is, own it! It’s your story, your experience, it’s part of who you are and the world needs to hear it. You are the only one who understands it, the only one who has gone through it all and made it out triumphantly. Our stories are still being formed, meaning the telling never stops.
I’m 24yrs and I know I haven’t even scratched the surface of my story. If losing my eyesight made me cry seventeen years ago, its making me laugh now, even as something else makes me shed tears now, I’m patient with my growth process, but I’m determined to tell my story at every opportunity to show that growth is inevitable, but mostly I tell my story to connect with you and for you to connect with me, and out of this network we are able to change the world and cause impact one day at a time.
Now that you know mine, tell me your story.