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.

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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!

 

of single women and the twilight saga

Ugh. As in disgusted at myself. I got caught up in watching these movies again. It came on TV last night and before I knew it I had watched the whole thing. This is my one vice left over from my romance novel reading days. Watching chick flicks.

But the twilight saga is on a whole other realm. I think it’s all the blood lust and love or die theme. These vampires don’t sleep, don’t die, life is one whole dragging existence. The only thing left to live for is love. In fact it says so on one of the movie posters, something to the effect if you can live forever, what do you live for? And the answer is….  love. This gets the women every time. I remember the first time I saw the trailer for the movie (see it here)I was like yet another teenage movie, with wolves and vampires no less, God help us all.

Then one day about 3 years ago,sitting innocently and bored on my couch, it came on TV and I was transfixed and could not for the life of me change the channel. It was the new moon movie, same one they showed again last night. I was swept up in the whole story and the next thing I knew I was out at the video store looking for all the other installments. It so bothered me that I went online to check the reviews, was I crazy? Then I saw the comments by all these women in their 30s and beyond and I was consoled. The one I most related to was a movie critic who says she succumbed to the palpable chemistry between the leads and remembered my own girlish fantasies with something of a head spinning rush. Yeah.

The fervor of the love is such that it’s almost religious. Consider Edward’s declarations to Bella: you are my life now, I no longer have the strength to stay away from you etc. (These btw are from the first twilight movie which I promptly had to rewatch after watching new moon awoke the beast within). I’m not surprised to learn that the author, Stephanie Meyers, is a staunch Christian. A Mormon I think.

It brings to mind for God so loved the world…..that famous verse. In fact in the bible God is described as love. As in God is love. And since he created us by breathing his life into us, then love is the very essence of our being. Children thrive on love. You cannot bring up a child in isolation giving them only the material things of life and no love. That is how you create a monster. Women however seem much more connected to this essence than men. Men are commanded to love their wives. Women are commanded to honour their husbands. Maybe that’s why we’re into all these love stories. Or maybe that’s my excuse lol.

At any rate in our search for love sometimes we get fed a lot of crap which we need to learn how to sift through and get to the real thing. One of the memorable quotes from the first movie is after they first get together: and so the lion fell in love with the lamb, what a stupid little lamb, what a sick masochistic lion. Poetic and apt but certainly not wise. It has less to do with love and points to everything wrong that’s fed to poor teenage girls in romantic novels about what relationships are all about. I’m a fully grown woman and still in recovery from all the wrong ideologies I got from these books.Maybe I’ll write about that one day.

of single women and married men

So I was watching this movie on TV the other day about a guy who loses his job and has to stay home and take care of the kids while his wife brings home the bacon. He goes through all the expected misadventures trying to take care of his 3 small kids, starting off with a how hard can it be? attitude and finding out that actually it’s super hard!

But one scene I found particularly interesting was where he’s out and about shopping and this woman tries to hit on him, giving him her number and telling him coyly that he can call her anytime if he needs help with the kids because she knows how tough it can be. Mind you this is a woman who seems to know his family and wife and situation and all. So probably a neighbour or friend or something. And as he walks away in seemingly innocent bemusement at her unexpected overture she says slyly to her friend who is reminding her that he is married that hey, so were we once.

Being a single woman of marriageable age for many years, I roll my eyes at such scenes that stereotype the single woman and especially heaven forbid if you’re a single mother (like myself) or a divorcee. They are painted as desperate Jezebel types lying in wait for these wonderful men who are already taken up and they will not let them live in peace until they have them! Well, my experience has been quite the opposite. In fact, many married men are quite happy to chase single women all day long, some of them even posing as single men if possible. There are 3 types of married men imho:

  1. The total team mafisi type. This guy does not seem to be aware that he is married. His head turns with every pretty girl who passes by and he will bring out all his mafisi moves and lines with no hesitation. This is the kind of guy who will ask you for your phone number in front of his wife! The poor woman is doomed to a life of humiliation and has learned to bear it with a stoic oh well boys will be boys kind of attitude to help carry her through life. Every time I meet one of these kind I send a silent prayer upward that I never end up in that situation.
  2. The super saintly type. This is the guy who actually buys into all the stereotypes of the single woman jezebel and therefore keeps a safe and far distance from her lest she should get her claws into him. This is all great for the wife but seeing as I’m writing from the single woman’s perspective, it doesn’t feel good to be treated like some kind of mad woman,  bad woman in the famous words of Bruno Mars. Of course this is a step up from the womanising guy, but this kind of guy is also likely to be the super conservative type and have a women should be seen and not heard type of attitude. So we keep on going to….
  3. The third type. This is the ideal type of guy. He’s sober, no wandering eyes, good to his woman, and has no issues relating with other women also. He keeps a reasonable distance from them of course, as is expected of a respectably married man. But he doesn’t take off running at the sight of the single devil woman. I’m not quite sure this one exists, but he’s on my prayer list! As I also work towards being the ideal woman (as the relationship experts never fail to remind us).

On the married guy who’s still on team mafisi I have a couple of juicy stories that would have you rofl. But that’s for another day…..