RETURN TO EDEN: ‘Agrihoods’ Provide Suburban Living Built Around Community Farms – Not Golf Courses

Would love to see a development like this in Nairobi, we have way too many golf course developments going on.

RIELPOLITIK

Source – collective-evolution.com

– California’s first farm-to-table new home community just opened. Called “The Cannery,” it’s a residential project designed and put together by The New Home Company. Designed with a seven acre urban farm near the center of downtown Davis, this 100 acre project is considered to be the very first agrihood built on what used to be industrial land.

The community is also home to 547 houses, all of which are energy efficient; each one is solar-powered and comes equipped with electrical car power outlets.

This is great, initiatives like these need to start happening all over the world, and the fact that somebody has now done it shows the rest of the developed world that it’s possible. Instead of building normal residential communities, why not create something sustainable?

Earthships, tiny homes, weatherproof greenhouses, organic farming and more all seem to be part of a larger…

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Book Review: The emancipation of Robert Sadler

This is an amazing book about a man born in 1911 in South Carolina. He was sold into slavery not once but twice, by his own father at the age of 5. This despite the fact that the emancipation proclamation had already been issued many years earlier (about 1862).

The book takes us through his experiences in slavery from the age of 5 till 14 when he escaped. Then on to his life as a free man. He struggles with freedom and at one point even decides to go back, finding the free world too difficult and unfamiliar to navigate. He eventually becomes a preacher and lives a life of great faith, helping others.

What I found so captivating about the book is how it tells the story of Robert and God throughout. The reader is able to see how, through people and events in his life, God was slowly drawing him, showing him he cared. And how these events eventually lead to Robert becoming a man of great faith.

The book is very well written and easy to read, I could barely put it down. This despite the fact that I was reading it for the second time. I first read it about 20 years ago, a borrowed copy from a friend. I was reminded of it after watching the movie Amazing Grace, which tells the story of how William Wilberforce struggled over many years to get the bill outlawing slavery passed in the British parliament. I googled the title online and was pleasantly surprised to find it available on Amazon.

It has some underlying analogies to real life, in areas where we have become so accustomed or enslaved to certain ways of living and thinking. Change is difficult and we find ourselves wanting to go back to what is familiar, even though it is not beneficial to us and we need to go forward to better things. Think about an employee trying to become an entrepreneur. Or the Israelites on their way to the promised land, who frequently complained about the new challenges they were encountering and wished to go back to Egypt, to the familiar. Freedom has a price.

All in all the book is a great read!

Kenya doctors strike: My view

Today (17 Feb 2017) is day 75 of the ongoing doctors strike that has caused mayhem and raised temperatures everywhere. I thought I’d give my 2 cents worth.

My first instinct is to support the doctors because the public health sector is in serious need of overhaul.  The doctors have complained of understaffed and under equipped hospitals leading them to simply ‘preside over death’ in their own words. In some cases basic supplies like gloves are not available, endangering the doctors and patients lives. Medicines are not available so patients have prescriptions they cannot fill, or they have to go to private pharmacies which they may not afford.

The doctors are demanding a pay increase which they say the government promised in their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in 2013. This increase has been reported to be as high as 300%  in the media. The government has offered a 40% increase and insists no CBA was ever signed and therefore this is not a legal document. The increment has been refused by the doctors. Resulting in a stalemate with the public caught in between. Are the doctors greedy or is the government unreasonable?

The negotiating process is made more complicated by the fact of devolution which has been implemented starting 2013 in accordance with the new constitution voted in 2010. So who are the negotiating parties? Doctors and county governments? Or doctors and the national government?

This strike has made me look up all kinds of articles on unions, governance, civil society,politics and power. There is no government (or any employer) that will just give its people some kind of benefit without them demanding it. Thus the necessity of the existence of unions and civil society organizations. Power cannot go unchecked otherwise it will go to all sorts of extremes. As the famous saying goes, power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. That’s why the executive always has to have checks on it’s power, mostly in form of the judiciary. But if the judiciary is compromised, it absconds this duty and starts behaving like an arm of the executive, enforcing its power against the hapless citizens.

When Judge Hellen of the labour court carried out her threat to jail the leaders of the doctors union, this is what it looked like to me. Fortunately enough everyone was horrified at this event which made its way into the international media. Ministry of Health officials relented, the decision was appealed at the Supreme court level and the union officials were released 2 days later. As it stands now the matter is in the Supreme court docket.

In retrospect I don’t fault her decision. She was acting in accordance with standard procedure that has been followed in these cases. We have seen this in cases of teachers union strikes and the ongoing lecturers strike. The governments MO is to take a hard stance, after a while salaries will not be paid, the strikers feel the pinch and eventually relent and go back to work with no or very little concession from the government.

My only prayer is that the public interest remains well represented so that at the end of this saga we don’t have well paid doctors going back to work in hospitals that are still not equipped to deliver the services required.

I must state that in this period my son fell sick at some point and being the middle class insured Kenyan that I am I was able to take him to a private hospital where he was promptly treated. So the people suffering in this whole scenario are poor Kenyans who compose a big section of the population. I pray for their sake,and mine also, that the resulting consensus provides a solution that will bring a much needed overhaul to the public health sector that will bring relief to all Kenyans.


Day 88 – 2nd March 2017

A scheduled update was given today in the Supreme court following the last mention on 15th February. Still no consensus has been arrived at. The faith based organisations are now involved in the mediating effort (taking over from the KNHCR and LSK) through an inter religious body known as the Inter Religious Council of Kenya. The presiding Judge Martha caused laughter when she expressed her relief at the involvement of the church, saying this is a matter that requires divine intervention.

The parties have asked for 2 more days to enable them reach a consensus and a mention date has been set for next Tuesday (7th March). Once again there was an emphasis on the unresolved issues being salary and training for the doctors. Where is the public’s interest in all this?

See local media coverage on this here.


Day 93 – 7th March 2017

Still no deal.There is a sense of exhaustion with the never ending process now. I did not see live coverage of the court proceedings as has happened before.

The inter religious council that was acting as mediator reported that the deal was 98% done and only one or two issues needed to be agreed on. Interestingly, this is the same thing the previous mediators had said. So they’re are some sticky issues that are apparently proving to be quite….sticky.

The government presents the issue to be all about the money but the doctors insist that its about more than that. The government has become increasingly hostile, accusing the doctors of taking them for fools. They have fired some doctors and threatened to replace them with foreigners.

I’m so disheartened to see how the negotiations have degenerated into power and ego plays, though I suppose that’s to be expected. What about the issue at hand, the health sector that needs reviving? There is of course a more over arching issue at hand which is what is more and more being described as a crisis of capitalism, described in this article here more eloquently than I ever could.

It reminds me of the famous illustration of wise King Solomon arbitrating between 2 women to decide who the child belonged to. He ordered that the child be killed so that the real mother could be revealed.

King Solomon

My fellow Kenyans, the child belongs to all of us and we need him/her to stay alive and grow for all our benefit. Let us come together and chart the best way forward for the good of all.


14 March 2017

Today is day 100 of the strike and it looks like there is a deal. Finally. The speculation is that the government’s hand was forced since the president is due to give a state of the nation address tomorrow.

of single women and childhood sweethearts

Once upon a time, when I was about 12 or 13 years old, there was a boy in my school who liked me very much. So much in fact, that he wrote me a poem and had someone deliver it to me, I don’t remember who it was now. What resulted was a gaggle of excited and giggling school girls gathered around me as I read it. Then someone grabbed it from me and read it out loud to the whole group. That was an exciting day in our primary school life. I didn’t know what to make of it. The girls discussed in excited high pitched voices the implications of this act, what should or should not be done, would I get in trouble?? Oh please Lord don’t let me get in trouble with the teachers! Some girls were of the mind to forward the whole perplexing issue to a teacher to deal with and I was horrified! Luckily such a thing never ensued and I was free to continue my hitherto unremarkable life in peace.

From that day forward I was never quite sure how to behave around him. He was a really nice boy though. We would be coy around each other. Sometimes he and his friends would chase me and my friends down the school corridors, since that is what 12 year old boys do to show how much they like a girl 🙂

Ultimately nothing much came of that incident, and by the next year we were all off to different high schools and I never saw him until we were in university. He had a girlfriend and I had a boyfriend (I think). But we would occasionally run into each other and hang out, especially in our first year when we were still getting familiar with the new environment. We were very comfortable together because we knew each other from our childhood. As the years passed he moved to another campus, we stopped running into each other or hanging out, so nothing came of this meeting either.

Fast forward about 10 years later and there was a school reunion. I was very excited to go and catch up with everyone, see how they had changed or not, and find out what they were up to. He also came and so, for a third time we met. I was single, he was single. And he looked quite interested in me. He hung around me the whole evening, bought me drinks, kept me entertained. I was a bit hesitant however and maybe he read my reluctance because he never called me after that night. I was a single mother now, and having come out of a harrowing relationship I was not about to jump into another. His lifestyle from what I saw and heard was a bit on the fast lane and I did not want to be the one trying to keep up with him. I had already tried and failed with my ex.

About a year later he got married. We would still chat sometimes online, and one day he mentioned to me that I had always been ‘the one’ except that I had never been interested. I was shocked. I didn’t know he still had that sentiment about me. After a while we fell out of touch and I haven’t spoken to him in years.

I’m still not married. As a single gal wondering why you’re still single, you occasionally go through your old files, such as this one. Was this my chance that I missed totally? Am I now doomed to a life of singleness after missing ‘the one’ for me? This question really used to bother me because I thought I had missed it. But I came to realize this was not true, and God still has ‘the one’ for me. When you find the one for you there’s no hesitation or second thoughts. I’ve been loving this sermon by Pastor Toure on finding your soulmate, it reaffirms my belief.

Do you have an old relationship you have regrets over? Let me know in the comments.

of married men edging out single men

So I have this single guy who’s my neighbour. We chat occasionally when we run into each other in the hood and he’s a pretty nice guy. I’m not like into him or anything but hey, he’s single, so he’s a prospect right?  He’s always polite to me and we’re both about the same age. He keeps to himself but is cordial to everyone which means he’s a pretty good candidate for my ideal number 3 type guy (see my earlier post here).

Well anyway, last year we were having the annual neighbourhood bash which involves alot of wine and all other types of alcohol, nyama choma and a great dj till late in the night. I hear it may have gone on till morning but I left at a decent hour of around 1 am I think. Its the ideal bash in light of the menace that is alcoblow these days. And of course to prevent drunk driving. At the end of the evening you’re at minimum staggering distance from your house, and as a bonus you don’t have to use any dodgy public bathrooms.

The dj was great, I kid you not. He gauged the crowd correctly and was playing jams from my college days. And being well lubricated with quite a bit of red wine, white whine, whisky and whatever else was on offer, quite a number of us were on the dancefloor getting a proper workout. This my neighbour, I’ll call him John, had joined us by late evening and the next thing I knew we were dancing together and had become a sort of an item, just me and him. They must have been playing our song, I just wish I could remember which one it was lol.

After 1, 2 and maybe even 3 songs  we were still going strong. I was starting to have thoughts in my  head that went something like: Wow, me and this guy seem to have a vibe going on here. Does he like me? Do I like him? What does this all mean? Maybe today will be that day that moves us from mere aquaintances to the next level…..

Meanwhile the dancing was going on and neither of us looked like we were about to leave the dance floor. And if we did we would have left together and sat somewhere together right? And had an amazing conversation, gazing into one another’s eyes, seeing each other in a new light that we hadn’t before, opening up to one another, the beginning of a great relationship right? Right?? Wrong! Because when the next song begins here comes this guy I don’t even know and he grabs me and pulls me over to his side and proceeds to make me his partner as it were. In the spirit of the neighbourhood party, I begrudgingly give him this dance. And in my head I’m wondering, is he a neighbour, an invited guest, who the hell is this guy? I look anxiously over my shoulder to check out if John is still around, but no, he’s disappeared into the night, retiring for the day. Whaaat? Nooooo! Meanwhile I have to dance out the song with this stranger. A few of the ladies come and join us and we do a group dance. The song ends and I bid the neighbourhood party adieu, and retire with some disappointment to my house.

Folks, this is not the end of the story. Over the next few days I notice this lady neighbour of mine has suddenly become very hostile towards me. When she sees me she is cold as ice, turns the other way and will not say hi. I dare not even try and say hi because I don’t know what on earth is going on. She’s not even someone that I’m so friendly with so I’m racking my brain thinking what I could have done wrong. Did I say something uncharitable about her and she overheard? Did I borrow some dish of hers that I’m yet to return?

In time I eventually get to find out what I believe the issue is. It turns out that the stranger on the dance floor, you know the guy who grabbed me that night? Is actually her husband. I overhear someone refer to him as baba so and so and I am like whaat? That’s her husband?? And all mysteries of hostility are resolved. I would be totally pissed off if I was her too. In fact I now remember that she was one of the ladies who came to join us on the dance floor that evening. And of course I can see why now. If your husband has grabbed some neighbourhood woman and is totally getting down with her on the dance floor, you probably need to get into that mix.

I started thinking about this incident when I wrote my last post on married men because I wondered, what on earth was this guy’s aim? Did he not see the vibe I had going on with this other guy? Who at least is single, hallooo?? Then he proceeds to spoil for us, all for what?? Now I shall never know what may have been that night. For the record this is almost a year later that I’m writing this. Yes, John is still my neighbour, and no, there are no developments between us. Truthfully speaking there is another different guy who I would much rather get together with. But for now, that is neither here nor there. For now, what we have is a married guy who is still very much on team mafisi and needs to get off the team NOW!