KCK’s sons of coincidences enter politics

Slide1The sons of coincidences?  It depends, credibly, on how well you know them. Or about them. They were born and raised in Kenya, resided in Korea for a decade and more, fell for foreign girls, begot sons—pointies, I guess.

They both served in Kenya Community in Korea chairpersons. If your guess is as good as mine, their political expedition was either incubated or beaten into shape by the realities of Korea’s politico-economic domains embedded in its near miraculous economic growth dynamics. Oh, the duo love suits— the Caraceni style gentlemen.

The morning is somberly chilly. But of course. It is July in Enkare Nyrobi, Nairobi’s original name in Maasai vernacular. At the table is Raphael Omala. Peers still call him Raph. He sips his last mouthful of milk tea with an expression of finality on his face. You can tell by his smile that the man is contented by the taste of Kericho Gold. I guess the love for tea exposes his heritage

On his left hand, the day’s meet-the-people diary rests between the index finger and the thumb. It’s been several weeks of crisscrossing Nairobi’s western lands (Westlands). A strategic routine. Raph knows quite well that a few more souls need some convincing to ponder on his leadership dogma and vision.

He rises on his feet before glancing at the diary one more time. Just then, his phone vibrates aggressively almost tipping off the table where his tea mug sits empty as if to appeal for a “saucer”. Raph picks the call. “Mkubwa!” It is the campaign volunteer lead on the other end. “Time to hit the road”. The first son of coincidence and the founding chair of KCK, is running to be Westland’s Member of Parliament (MP). Elections are on August 8. The last time we checked. No Kidding.

About 270 kilometers away in Meruland Patrick Ntonja glimpses at the mirror for the second time.  The red necktie is now perfectly in its place. Just like all his formal suits, the creamy-kakhish suit he is in today fits well in his miraba minne body frame. The thin stripes on the suit makes Daktari a towering figure—a look of a fitting groundbreaker leader. Do not be mistaken, nonetheless. This is one of the humblest sons of Meru you’ll ever meet..

Daktari, as his contemporaries call him, scans at the last text message he received: “Polite reminder…television interview on Baite TV still on.” Brother Doc, as I fondly refer to him, was the second chairperson of KCK and my ‘boss’ at the time. His conviction for a better Igembe North has seen him stop by the market places, churches and homes of the locals for they too need to hear and consider the call to arise. Come morning after, on August 9th,  this son of coincidence hopes to be in the August House.

We celebrate Raph and Daktari because they represent the bold and the brave of a generation rising to the occasion. In my persuaded opinion, these two sons of Kenya characterize the coming of age. The duo, I am convinced, grasps a unique ‘diasporic worldview’ on matters leadership and confidence to localize their experience from the East. They have dared to take a leap into the so-called murkiness of politics with an optimism of a rising sun. In Africa, the sunrise licks away the gloominess of the fog. We hear them say, “servant leadership is no longer a wishful thinking”. I wish them well.

But we must support them. With ‘dime’ or cheer, lets send them forth at least for their boldness. That is how the would-be legislators will arise. This, I must add for the sake of beloved motherland.  If we must use social media, ‘politically speaking’, remember that respect is earned. Patriotism is an honor. Tolerance is noble. Someones tribe is sacred and cannot be wished away. Hurling negative, vitriolic or bashing posts and comments online is a distasteful ‘digital diarrhea’. Forgive my language. The country must move on in the morning after the elections.

To Raph and Daktari, we care more, because you are brothers with whom we ate from the same bowl, or toasted a glass together. We keep our anticipation high riding on the hope that a decade in diaspora, especially in South Korea, was a time long enough to acquire a development model our motherland has been waiting.

The road ahead is of course tough. As young vibrant people, we don’t promise heaven because we’ve never set our feet therein, yet. Resilient is a virtue we must embrace.

I close with a line or two from Desiderata, my all-time favorite poem: Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

On August 9th, whether you make it to the August House or not, remember that you’ve charted the way. The candle of transformative surge has been lit. And for that we are inspired. Your success is our desire.

NB: *Paragraphs 2-5 based on the writer’s imagination.

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The writer, Benson Kamary, is the immediate former chair of KCK.

Outgoing KCK Executive Appreciates Kenyans

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Dear Kenyans in Korea and friends of Kenya,

The outgoing KCK Executive board wishes to thank you for your trust and support during its term.

From February 2015, we worked together and made strides in a number of things, which we can all celebrate as part of our achievement.

We would like emphasize that KCK is a family and we all have been building it in one way or another. Although we may not have been perfect, we assure you that we tried our best to deliver our team’s manifesto and also to expand/realize the ideas of the previous teams.

We will forever remain humbled and grateful for your confidence and cooperation.

Below is a list of what our team helped to achieve Read the rest of this entry »

I Remember the Philippines

33725_431899352722_5292772_nI remember the Philippines. I have been there, not once but twice. I could return to the islands tomorrow should an opportunity avail itself. The Philippines with its collection of 7,107 islands is spectacularly beautiful. My travels from Mindanao in the south to Luzon in the north, was enlivening. The memories remain vivid as if I were there yesterday.

I remember last Friday.  Typhoon Haiyan, I don’t know why it is named after a bird (petrel), hit the Philippines so badly. Its brunt has claimed over 1, 400 lives this far. Many have been left hungry, homeless and shocked.  It is distressing to see the images of Tacloban, Bohol, Iloilo and Cebu, places I felt at home once. As I flip through CNN, BBC and Aljazeera picture galleries and raw video clips, my eyes wet in disbelief. The images weigh down the heart, and heavily so. Every sight of the dead, a traumatized toddler or a shaken grandmother is a contrast of what I saw during my trips not so long ago. I remember the Pinoys (Filipinos) I met. A people of warm embrace – full of life, wittiness and tranquility. Even those who seemingly struggled to make ends meet portrayed an enduring spirit not seen in many cultures. They shared generously with visitors, always entertaining. On the days of their festivals their songs often stirred deep emotions – stunning. Many Pinoys pray religiously. It’s a way of life.

I remember Bohol. The last place I savored during my first trip. White sand beaches stretching wide to reflect a conspicuous sunset every evening.  It is in Bohol that I rode a tricycle uphill to glimpse scenic ‘sprouts’ of chocolate hills – brown and yummy to the eyes. Where I stood, a wooden beam extended vertically about 2 meters from the ground. On each Read the rest of this entry »

Why the world should back Kenya’s mission in Somalia

Published in The Seoul Times Oct. 27, 2011; and The Korea Times Nov. 4th, 2011

Prior to the 2010 G20 Seoul Summit, I was privileged to be a delegate of the Y-20 Summit, a university students’ version of the larger G-20. In one of my submissions as a representative of Africa, I robustly raised the issue of security in the Horn of Africa. The submission was taken rather reluctantly by fellow ‘world leaders’ as many of them were acutely engrossed in the economic recovery strategies following a global economic crisis. In overall though, the young minds adequately deliberated terrorism as a key global concern.

The issue of insecurity and instability in the Horn of Africa, Somalia in particular, remains sensitive, complex and its impact real. It is a problem that can no longer be wished away neither can it be approached with panic. Kenya, arguably Somalia’s most significant neighbor, is currently in an offensive military action against Alshabaab, a militia group inside Somalia and often linked to al-Qaida. Apparently, a question of whether or not the Kenya’s military action within Somalia is justified has floated across local and international media channels. By all means, that is a genuine query to ask.

Some analysts have been quick to point out that Kenya has had interest, economic or political, to invade Somali with instances of her high alerts issued between 2006 and 2010. The recent incursion is seen, therefore, as an execution of the said interest rather than a response to the recent tourists’ abductions by what Kenya authorities believe was conducted by the Alshabaab. This school of thought however raises a Read the rest of this entry »

Korea can still attract more foreign investors

Also Published in the Korea Times (Oct. 14, 2011), The Seoul Times (Oct 13. 2011) and Joongang Daily (Oct. 17, 2011)
 

The current global economic turbulence offers Korea another opportunity to test its economic resilience in time of trouble. In 2008 the country’s quick recovery from a global financial crisis and robust reaction to the aftermath of the recent US credit rating downgrade has been extraordinary.  Historically, Korea has been termed as an economic and developmental model to many nations owing to the short span of time it overcame poverty and desolation of war to  emerge as one of the economic tigers in Asia.

But even with such a noteworthy report card, Korea’s real economic strength and potential still remain feebly known to the world. This can be attributed to the fact that Korea has been a closed society for decades compared to such countries as Japan or China. Though there have been significant effort to market Korea to the world market through such committees as the Presidential Council on National Competitiveness and Presidential Council on Nation Branding, more can be done to make Korea more attractive particularly to foreign investors. Read the rest of this entry »

Wangari Maathai: Audacious Woman of Her Time

Also published in The Seoul Times, Oct. 4, 2011 and The Korea Times, Oct 2, 2011

Sometime in January, 1999, I came face to face with quite a frightening sight in Nairobi. I was just about to cross the road when a speeding anti-riot police truck swerved past followed by a jeep full of policemen with wooden clubs. Panic raged high prompting women to grab their children and flee. Some shops were shut instantaneously. Were it not for my school uniform, a distinctive red shirt and blue pair of shorts, I would not have been allowed into a matatu, public transport van, heading East. I was a high school sophomore.

Inside the van grape vine was churning from every other tongue but the theme was, “Wangari was in the forest planting trees”. You see, I knew Wangari Maathai from my Boy Scout training on environmental conservation, but it took me longer to comprehend why one can be clobbered for planting trees. The television’s chilling images later in the evening and newspaper pictures the following morning are still fresh in my memory – unsettling.

This woman never quit. Sooner than later Wangari Maathai was back in the forest or Uhuru park either attempting to plant trees or dodging tear gas from the authorities. Today Uhuru Park is scenic and Karura Forest where she was beaten by hired guards as the police watched is mostly saved from the hands of land grabbers.

The woman was also unbowed; a fitting title she gave to her biography Read the rest of this entry »

IAAF false start rule rips athletes of their true being

Also published in The Korea Times, Joongang Daily and The Seoul Times (Sept. 2, 2011)

IAAF false start rule rips athletes of their true being 

“An athlete, after assuming a full and final set position, shall not commence his start until after receiving the report of the gun. If, in the judgment of the starter or recallers, he does so any earlier, it shall be deemed a false start. Except in combined events, any athlete responsible for a false start shall be disqualified”, thus says the IAAF rule number 162.7.

It is the above tenet that has seen big names on track including Christine Ohuruogu, Olympic champion, and Dwain Chambers, former European champion, bowing out of their races here in Daegu. Eight athletes were forced to eat a humble pie by the end of the second day of the world’s biggest athletics championships. But it was the expulsion of the 100 meter world record holder Usain Bolt that instigated a near uproar across the gigantic stadium. Where I was seated, few meters away from a group of Jamaican fans, I heard “tough words” of despondency. Some threw their hands up; others had their heads between their knees – dejected Read the rest of this entry »

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