Thursday, 30 April 2009

Draft Speech for Kenya's 33 Years of Indepenedence

By the end of this year, we will be celebrating 33 years of independence. Although they may be not closed to the more than 200 years of independence that America has, they are still a lot of years in which we have achieved much, been the hardworking Kenyans we are. We may not have as many minerals as the South Africans, or a high population awash in oil as the Nigerians, yet we have managed to make large strides in this continent.

Within 33 years, we have more than doubled our population to exceed the 33 million mark. Had it not been the “educated” town people who started this contraceptive talk, we would have done more in this field. Nevertheless, 33 million is still a remarkable effort.

The 33 millions are too many that providing them with adequate food requires a Herculean effort. No wonder about 33 % of more than the 33 million Kenyans are estimated to be suffering from hunger at the moment. We wish that we could be at apposition to help such people, but we are morally bound to buy maize from our national coffers and sell it to South Sudan at a hefty mark up. We are morally bound because South Sudan have been at war for many decades, and have not enjoyed the peace that we have enjoyed for 33 years. We therefore have to lessen their suffering by selling to them maize so that they can recover from the effect of war on a full stomach.

Having a population of more than 33 million hardworking Kenyans, needless to say, results in our economy been the biggest in Southern, Central and Eastern Africa and Western Indian Ocean. The Romans say that Rome was not built in a day. We therefore safely assume that Rome cannot be destroyed in a day. In connection to that, we expect the economy to take care of itself, and continue been the biggest economy in Central, southern & Eastern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean without us putting much effort into it.

At this point in time, it would be important to point out that managing a country of more than 33 million souls is a task more complicated than rocket science. We have managed to have 3 loving presidents, who happen to be so blessed that there families are blessed to be the largest land owners in the country, their order coincidentally following the same succession order. Within the 33 years of independence, leadership has become so complicated that the only way that we can rule over more than 33 million Kenyans is by having 2 opposing teams making up the government, and doing away with the opposition. This is a stroke of genius, since the government is able to make and check it decisions. To support such a population and government, we require no less than 43 cabinet officials. To reach such an important number of ministers, we needed to split ministries and then allocate them to opposing ministers. This achieves our set purpose of having the government make and check its decisions. A good example of this is the ministries of public health and medical services. To obtain the difference between the 2 terms, please contact the respective ministers.

This issue of the power spills over from the executive to the legislature. We have 222 MPs who provide services to more than 33 million Kenyans. For better provision of services to the Kenyans, we should increase the number to 333. This would go hand in hand with the many districts that have grown from slightly higher than 50 to more to more than 150. These 2 measures aid in taking services closer to the people, as well as providing elusive employment to the 33 million Kenyans. The 33 million Kenyans have also ensured that their MPs are professionals, by queuing to vote in candidates that are in the right party to parliament. MPs who abandon the right party, or make the critical mistake of been in a political party not well suited for the area are voted out. This is because the 33 million Kenyans belong to the popular 42 tribes, and the tribal temperature of one area is not usually suited to some parties. Therefore people like Raphael Tuju should cease from confusing development and political parties. For 33 million Kenyans, it is critical that you be in the correct party out of the more than 33 registered parties. Development comes automatically with been in the correct party.

As I pointed out, getting employment for 33 millions Kenyans is a tall order. For our economy to remain the biggest in Central, Southern & Eastern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean, we require a small working population mostly consisting of wise aging people. This is due to the fact that wisdom , which is required for the well being of our economy, comes with age. The minority working population, been old, is automatically wise enough to feed the majority and jobless youth.

The so called vigilante groups and mungiki are not a result of unemployment. As grown democracies have shown, having such organization is vital when you have more than 33 years of independence. Ask the Italians and the USA, they have had their fare share of such groups with the Mafia. The USA might have tamed the mafia to some extent, but the Italians have vacant positions in its judiciary which the have been unable to fill(The South Americans object to me referring to USA nationals as Americans, and hasten to remind me that the America continent runs From Canada to Chile) Put simply, very few Italians fancy prosecution of the mafia as a living, seeing it more as a self signed death warrant. Given that the problem in Kenya is not that big, we see no need for panic.

Another complex twist to this story is the fact that providing security for more than 33 million Kenyans is quite hard.. We first have to allocate a sizeable chunk of the police a national priority of guarding MPs(who diligently sacrifice themselves to serve the 33 million Kenyans) where each MP has at least 2 police officers assigned to them. Of course Ministers, the VP, PM and President require a bigger number. More police officers will guard VIPs and other chief government officers while the rest will guard government buildings and other important private buildings like banks, cash transit vehicles, factories etc. the remaining officers will then be assigned to recording crime and catching up with deadly criminals such as prostitutes, drunkards and chaotic slum residents and students. Provision of security and solving other crimes will be done on a random basis, depending of the workload of the officers. As we keep reminding you, provision of services to more than 33 million Kenyans in not a piece of cake.

Fellow Kenyans, having just said slightly more than 1,000 words, you can add your contribution to reach the targeted 33 million words. That way, each Kenyans can have their fair share of our achievements.

May you all live to be more than 33 years old.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Shitting Allowances, Sitting Allowances & Committees

This country seems to have a lot of problem with shitting allowances. A lot of our problems may be as a direct result of these shitting allowances.

 

Starting with the Prime minister, he was at it last week complaining about the absence of shitting allowances. He was quite angry at the lack of a shitting allowance at the podium, together with lack of an ample walking allowance. Apparently, he wanted to be provided with a shitting allowance like the president who has ample shitting allowance at the back of the podium. He was so angry that he started addressing the residents about the "kamkeka" and "bila choo". He forgot that the residents he was addressing did not have any shitting allowance, or any other allowances such as food.

 

As we wonder why the provincial administration did not provide the Prime Minister with a shitting allowance, let us question ourselves why the prime minister was in dire need of such an allowance. Let us form a commission of inquiry, and give them hefty sitting allowances to investigate the PMs dire need. We seriously need to investigate what our dear PM had for lunch, or breakfast, such that when he arrived for the meeting, the first thing he noticed was the lack of the shitting allowance. We may also task the committee with finding out why the PM was longing for a carpet. Maybe the PM thought that he was at his native Kibera  constituency  and he was afraid of stepping on human excreta, abundant in some sections of the constituency due to a toilet shortage.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

 

As we said, the committee will earn high allowances just like other committees in the country do. My local town council has an excellent track record of the various committees that it has formed, and the much allowances that they have earned. But that is just a drop in the ocean, compared to the many committees that we have formed since independence o investigate our various wrong doings and preventable disasters. The committees are meant to be an avenue to use up the sitting allowances that are allocated in our budgets. One of our national pastimes is the creation of such committees. We should form a committee to investigate the various committees that have existed since the white man gave us independence which has enabled us to exercise our committee forming rights.

While at  it, we should also form another committee to investigate why Kenyans are very talented in looting public coffers. Our talent is so massive that we might never run out of people to replace our politicians who we call evil. We are good at calling our politicians synonyms of the devil, but go on to wonder why that friend of yours who is the town council or public hospital clerk is not reaping from helping people around the contracts at a fee. Given the chance, you would make sure that you earn more than your daily cut from your employer through irregular means. It seems that we will need foreigners or foreign means to tame our massive national looting talent. The Chinese might do, given that they dispatch people who exercise such talents to the next world.

It is the same talent that the first president of our beloved country exercised in the name of reaping the fruits of our fight-for-freedom. It did not bother the guy that those who actually fought our way to freedom did not have a piece of land, nor enough financial capital. This did not stop us from naming him one of our best heroes, if not the best. Watching TV the other day, I heard someone saying that the reasons that our country has got many problems is because of the curse left by the disgruntled freedom fighters. We should also form another committee to investigate those claims, and remember to pay them hefty sitting allowances for their spectacular job.

Hope that you have a great week, and that the PM will observe his diet before visiting areas that suffer from inadequate shitting allowances.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                     

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Thursday, 16 April 2009

Structures supporting Idleness of a Regular KU Student

As I promised earlier, here is the follow up to the article on the idle life of a university student. I have a lot of time to do it, still been an idle student, and given that am on a forced holiday after Kenyatta University was indefinitely closed.

As we saw earlier, a degree course takes 8 semesters to complete, and in KU it takes 4 years to complete 8 semesters, or lets put it at 3 and a half years.  For those who join a private university, it will take 2.5 years to complete the same 8 semesters. This is despite a KU semester been 4 weeks short of a standard 14 week semester.  This difference is brought about by the arrangement of the KU calendar. This calendar is arranged as shown below:

First Regular Semester – 3 months

School Based Session (as Regular students are on a one month holiday) - 1 month           

Second Regular Semester- 3 months

School Based Session (Regular students on 5 month long holiday)- 1 month

Trimester (For those regular students who can afford; Regular student still on holiday)- 3 months

School Based Session (Regular students still on holiday)-1 month

 

So as you see above, the university calendar is conveniently arranged to make sure that a regular student is quite idle. Now a question is why the professors behind the management of the university would like to make sure an active youth remains that idle.

Let us look at the students who make up the university.

1.       The Regular student is the original student, that the university was started with them in mind, and have existed there as long as the university. This students have bout 2/3 of their fee footed by the government and foot the rest, and are eligible for Higher Education Loans Board(HELB) Loans. The regular students are selected into the university by the Joint Admission Board(JAB) and their admission is pegged on bed spaces available in the campus hostels(plus other facilities)

2.       School Based Students- after several years of operation of the university, the Ministry of Education in conjunction with the university came up with a way of upgrading School teachers who had diplomas to degrees through the program known as school based. The School Based program is mainly run such that learning is mostly done at home, with a few weeks on campus for follow up, Continuous Assessment Tests and Exams. They foot their fee by themselves, and pay a higher sum than regular students.

3.       Parallel  Students- These program was started after the number of qualifying students(qualifying been those that got above C in their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) been cut off by the pegging of admission to bed spaces became considerably high. Also, the JAB selection was competitive, thus the lower grade a student scored, the lesser  the chance of that student qualifying for a course that they actually wanted to do. The JAB selection resulted into many students doing courses they did not like in the first place. The parallel students were incorporated as sort of day scholars, hence their admission was not pegged on bed spaces, rather on the number the university facilities could support. Since these students were not government sponsored, they had to foot their entire fee. Their fee also happened to be a little higher than that of the regular students.

4.       Open Learning Students- This is a re-implementation of the school based program, but targeting other professionals other than teachers. The fees structuring and academic structure is done in the same way as that of the school based.

As seen from above, it is financially attractive for the university to run the non-regular programs. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in the university structuring its academic calendar in favor of these programs.

These has been done to such an extent that the not financially attractive regular semesters are 4 weeks short of a regular 14 week semester, in order to create space for the school based sessions.  

Another dimension of this is the way a parallel student is admitted. The regular student joins the university during the first regular semester. The parallel student can join the university during the first regular semester, the second regular semester or even the trimester. This is ok, but it presents one problem. 

Some units are broken down into components.  Example of such a unit is Calculus, which starts at Calculus 1, Calculus 2, etc.  Suppose a student is supposed take Calculus 1 up to Calculus 4. Each unit is offered in one and only one of the two regular semesters.  Therefore Calculus 1 and 3 will be offered in semester one while calculus 2 and 4 in semester two.  A regular students and a parallel student reporting in semester one will take the units in the order Calculus 1- Calculus 2- Calculus 3- Calculus 4. A parallel student reporting in the second regular semester will do them in the order Calculus 2- Calculus 1 – Calculus 4 – calculus 3. This is because the student will be taking the second semester of an year before the first semester of the same year, therefore resulting in this strange anomaly.

As we hope the university students and lecturers are able to complete its coursework in the 10 week semesters, lets also hope that they are able to offer quality education for the school based and open learning students who too, given that it’s the same set of lecturers who handle all this students.

The university meanwhile tells us that it continues to offer quality (and perhaps affordable) education. This, it tells us, is the focus of the university, not the millions that they stand to make from non regular students.  And guys, that is why the regular university student is quite idle. The government is also showing quite a lot of interest in abolishing the parallel student program, and absorbing all its students into the regular scheme. 

 

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Monday, 13 April 2009

The Idle Life of a Regular Kenyatta University Student.

My education life was quite an active one, till I completed the 8.4. part of 8.4.4. I went to good primary schools, with tuition in class 6-8 and boarding in class 7 & 8. My life in primary was quite full, esp with tuition in class 7 & 8.I passed KCPE and was admitted to a good National School in Nairobi. My High School life was divided into 3 months holiday and 9 months schooling per year, except for 4th form where i spend I had a 1 month holiday between January and November. I was therefore well occupied for the first 12 years of my education.

After sitting for my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education(KCSE) in November 2004, I had to wait for results till March 2005. I was well above the B+ university cut off. Previously in early 2004, we had chosen universities and courses we would like to attend by filling the Joint Admissions Board forms. After the results were out in early 2005, we had to wait till August 2005 for the 2004 KCSE lot to change their university and course selection, for those who had it made it above the cut off.

From there, we had to wait till 2006 September to report to Kenyatta University(KU) for those who were admitted there through the Joint Admission Boards. The 2004 KCSE lot that reported earliest was that that reported to Jomo Kenyatta University in April 2009. Others reported as late as January 2007 to some universities.

So there you have it, I reported to campus exactly 2 years after completing my KCSE. After reporting to KU,I found that I has a 10 week semester, and was supposed to attend 2 semesters per academic year. This equates to 20 weeks per academic year. A physical year is mapped onto 1 KU academic year. The academic year consists of:
2 regular semesters(each 3 months)
1 trimester(3 months)
3 school based sessions(1 month each)
For a regular student sponsored by the government, they normally take the first option of 2 regular semesters. The trimester is not sponsored by the government, hence a regular student taking studies in this trimester would be charged as a parallel student(about 5 times what the student pays in a regular semester). A parallel student will pays much more than a government sponsored regular student, and may take the 2 regular semesters + the trimester if they are able to pay for them.

Therefore, in a 52 week year, a KU student will spend 20 weeks in school and 32 weeks on holiday. Most students take at least 4 years in study. Most students at KU take 7 units per semester. Each unit is allocated about 3 hours in a week. In a 168 hour week, the student will spend 21 hours in class, ie if a lecturer attends all his/her classes. the number of lecturers that teach for the 3 hours in a week is a story for another day.

In short, after doing my KCSE, I spend 2 years idling at home. by the time I complete my 3rd year in September, I will have spend 60 weeks in school and 96 weeks at home, and will be left with 20 more school weeks. For the 60 weeks that I was in campus, 1260 hours were spend in class, and 8820 hours divided between study(really?) and idling.

In short, for about 3000 regular 3rd year KU students, since doing their KCSE, they have spend 1260 hours attempting to go through their 8.4.4. and 26,292 on holiday or awaiting to join campus. These students are a part of the more than 17,000 students that went on riot on Sunday 29th March 2009.

In my next article, I shall look at the University structure that has resulted into an idle Kenyatta University student

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Events Surrounding March 2009 KU Riots

Following the much publicized Kenyatta University riots of Wednesday 18th March and Sunday 22nd March 2009, below are my own versions of the happenings leading to and during the riots. I have omitted several occurrences that i did not witness in first or second party. the happenings below are NOT eye witness reports, and are INADMISSIBLE legally. you can help by filling in the missing gaps, by commenting below the note.

The time frames are approximate in nature, and are issued more as checkpoints than as exact time.

Please also note that these are events, rather than causes or results of any action.

First Week of March
KUSA(Kenyatta University Student's Union) Elections

About March 16th 2009
KUSA officials meet the administration to vouch for extension of the Registration Deadline. Several students had paid after the deadline and were denied registration which was to begin on 27th March. Negotiations unsuccessful, with what transpired during the negotiations been unclear.

Tuesday 17th March 2009.
The Administration releases a circular stating that Registration Deadlines will not be extended.
KUSA releases a circular urging all students to meet outside their offices at 8.00 a.m. the following morning and march to the administration offices, where they would pressure the administration to extend the deadline.

Wednesday 18th March 2009
10: 00 a.m.
Thousands of students march to the administration blocks, and demand to be addressed by the Vice Chancellor. An official is send to address them. What the official said remains unclear, but the official is beaten up, and a few windows in the administration block broken.
Some students rush to the Eastern kitchen and loot it, while the others run to the main gate, block Thika Road and engage in stone throwing.
About 11.00 a.m.
The riot is already contained and confined to inside the school compound, but around the gate area.
1.30 p.m.
Police and students still engaged in missile throwing (teargas vs. stones) at the gate area.
A circular ordering all students to vacate the campus by 2.15 p.m. is issued. Students begin vacating the school. Damage caused by the strike is
· mostly structural damage on the gate
· destruction and looting of a coca cola vending machine at the gate
· destruction of flower vases around the gate area
· windows in administration block
· looting of food in the eastern mess.

Wednesday 18th March - Friday 27th March 2009
Campus closed to all students.
Students denied entry to hostels to retrieve any property
some KUSA officials, especially the top executives are suspended from their positions.
Suspended KUSA officials plus other students suspended from campus without hearings
Students Fined Ksh. 1000 for damages
Exams pushed by a day from earlier scheduled dates
most students complain about the above measures, and schedule a strike on Monday 29th March 2009, vowing not to sit for the exams until
suspended students are reinstated
a favorable exam schedule is set
reduction of the fine, since most students claim they did not take part in the strike

Senate meeting held on Friday 20th fail to agree on key issues such as suspension of students including Key KUSA officials. Rumors indicate that a special senate was held on Tuesday 24th, passing key resolutions like reopening of the university, student fine and student suspension. there is no provision of a special senate in the Kenyatta University Act. What remains unclear is who suspended the KUSA students, given that the senate includes KUSA members during suspension of students.

Sunday 22nd March 2009
the university puts a up a notice signed by the vice Chancellor. The notice says that:
the university was closed down to prevent further destruction of school property
there is no school uniform(just a proposed dress code) amongst other things

the University calls in members of the University Christian Union, a few past KUSA leaders and provides them with University Security Guards, who accompany them to a scheduled press conference at 680 hotel . the conference fails to take place after it is thwarted by KUSA leaders.

Friday 27th March 2009
1st year students report back. A yellow A4 form is offered to all students that pay the fine, and who were not suspended. the students are supposed to show the yellow form + proof of payment of the fine upon request, anywhere on the university. the form is supposed to be carried to the exam room too. the form binds the student to:
maintain peace at all times, while within the campus
not to take part in demonstrations against the campus amongst other requirements.

Saturday 28th March 2009
3rd and 4th years report back. they are issued with the same yellow A4 form with same requirements.
rumors of an imminent strike now rampant amongst students.

Sunday 29th March 2009.
8.00 a.m.
2nd years begin reporting back. they are issued with the same yellow A4 form with same requirements.
10.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m.
Several students begin leaving the university's main campus with their belongings. this prompts most students to panic, and the too start vacating with their property.
3.00 p.m.
The Vice Chancellor signs a circular that assures students of "adequate security arrangements" amidst "rumors been circulated of a strike on Facebook and via mobile". the circular confirms that exams will take place as scheduled, for those who want to do the exams.
4.00 p.m
most students are now taking their property out of campus.
7.30 p.m.
rioting begins at Ruiru campus. Thika road temporarily blocked. several hostels e.g. Chania and Athi on fire, looting of campus property.
8.00 p.m.
riots begin atthe main campus, almost immediately accompanied by police presence. riots characterized by a general confusion, bonfires. looting of arts complex and computer lab, shooting and tear gas. riots began at main gate and at k.m. area outside Nyayo hostels. Safaricom networks jams.
9.00 p.m.
student centre and KUSA offices already on fire. police engage students in running battles
9.30 p.m.
Kilimambogo hostel heavily reeking of petrol. students call for police to help secure the hostel. Police come in and violently evict everyone inside the hostel
11.30 p.m.
Tear Gas canisters thrown into some rooms in Nyayo 1 set the rooms on fire

cocnlusion
Monday 30th March 2009
12.01 a.m.
Heavy rains lead to a ceasefire in the riots involving both police and students.
circulars requiring all students required to vacate campus by 7.00 a.m.issued
9.30 a.m.
The top floor of Nyayo 3 hostel set on fire. remaining students forcefully evicted from campus.

In total., the following buildings were set on fire during the Sunday riots:
Chania Hostels(Ruiru Campus)
Student Centre
KUSA(MAKU,CU) office building
Computer Centre
Harambee Hall
Nyayo 3(partially)

Casualties Include
2 dead(1 student, 1 unknown) total number remains unconfirmed
several injuries including
1 student's face burned by exploding canister
1 student with soft tissue injury
1 student shot in the chest
1 student with broken legs after jumping from the 1st floor of Ngong hostel
several students with broken hands
Nyayo 1 (few isolated rooms)

Disclaimer: The author was a Kenyatta University Student at the time of the strike.