|Photo Courtesy: Saatchi Art|
Wednesday, 6 December 2017
I will Fight for You
I will fight with my soul
Fight my mind
My flesh, blood and the marrow in my bones
I will Fight
To the last of my breath
Even when I fall
I will fight
Fight with my zeal
Fight each and every relay of order roaring through the network of nerves in my being
I will fight
Fight with my heart
That so easily changes sides and so fondly masks regret
Saving it for my struggle
Saving it to implode on my efforts
Bury them in guilt
Disguising them by shame
Serving a master of deceit and hollow fame
A puppet to amplify my flaws
But I will Fight
No matter the situation
Amidst any indignation
In every formidable quo
I will Fight…
WILL FIGHT FOR YOU
ALL, for you…
Saturday, 2 December 2017
|Photo Courtesy: Asenti|
I sipped down the last of my toast with coffee as I glared over the innovation tips painted on everywhere there was the excuse of having space on the walls. Their varying colors made sure to keep my attention long enough to finish them. Or was it the coffee…I loved it either way. The space buzzed with the sound of people networking and tummies rejoicing. At the entrance was a desk filled with company brands advertising their services and the Asenti team sorting out the still inflowing participants and guests. Behind them was a four sided wall structure with glass windows that let in additional light seemingly from the skyline on the roof.
The podium stood on its right surrounded with neatly clothed chairs of alternating blue and white. On the left of the staff desk was my favorite attraction in the village: an orange BMW motorbike that combined both the dimensions of laid-back and sports bike all in one frame. The semi-rusty nature of its tire rims suggested it was a classic. I admitted to myself of the desire to restore it and ride; and also wondered how they managed to fit it in the lift.
The bike stood right on the edge of the four corner wall and on the left of it was the advertising stalls. The floor windows opened up the well occupied side of the room as the sales people tried on making their stalls better than next. Behind the wall structure was the serving counter; my favorite place in the room and not because they serve Uganda’s tasty wonders with a touch of nutritional western diet. Moving round the room was like making revolutions around the four cornered wall.
The MC picked up the mic and called us back to our seats. After an African few minutes, we were all in our seats fumbling about as the speakers found their way to the podium. The MC/moderator was a female for this session and faired in introducing the theme Building a Global Business Brand & creating a Social Impact. Even though throughout this theme most of the speakers merely used their enterprises as examples for the session, they schooled everyone on the importance of social impact of any enterprise. As the moderator simply put it, “Don’t just innovate to succeed, innovate to take everyone around with you.”
The first speaker on the table was Ms. Melanie Cheary from the African News Agency (ANA). She explained how her company is the wholesaler of African news to all other news outlets in the world i.e CNN, BBC, Aljazeera, you name it. She further passionately emphasized on the stories of the small scale entrepreneurs who help their communities through their businesses. These stories is why they made an announcement that snapped the drowsiness off everyone’s face.
|Ms. Melanie Cheary during one of her session|
Their news agency was opening a new section in their website that will feature any small scale entrepreneurs with social impacting enterprises and ideas, so that each of them can get a world-wide exposure for their businesses. And the best part of it all, anyone can get a chance to hold the torch. Even you. How you ask? Just follow the instructions below to stand a chance at the spotlight:
- Describe who you are,
- What your business is,
- What inspires you
- What your vision is,
- What are your challenges and,
- What your strategy is.
When you’re done, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and stand your chance to get the break you’ve always needed. You can also check their website and other African entrepreneur success stories out at their site: African News Agency.
The next speaker was Mr. Julius Mugisha, Business Manager of Nakasero Hospital Uganda. I loved his talk because the level of success he brought to his hospital was a living example of what I aspire to see in my organizations back home.
|Mr. Julius during his talk|
Before I proceed, here are the two major lessons I learnt from the methods of Nakasero Hospital under Julius:
- Be Clever; you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but be resourceful. If there’s someone who can do a better job than you can, employ their skills. It’s much more quality assuring and time efficient.
- Be genuine; if you have people under or around you, sincerely care for them. They determine the success of you at a larger scale. For as they say, “If you want to achieve your goals quickly, then do them alone. But if you want to fulfill them at a long lasting and grander scale, then do them with others.” (my favorite)
Among the things Julius and his team were able to achieve for this hospital was that it was one of the most recognized facilities in Uganda. And they didn’t even advertise it to the people. And the biggest secret to it all was that they genuinely cared for the staff that worked for them. I met with him after the session and he explained to me his simple rule, when the staff feel cared for, they automatically repay the care to the customers and clients. This is why the local slogan around Nakasero area was, “if you haven’t gone to Nakasero, you haven’t gone to hospital”, he said in his cool collected manner, and the rare confessions of “I love my job!” I added, in thought.
Whatever we do in this world, there will always be people involved, including business. When you create an environment where the employees, team members, colleagues, friends, family; where anyone can admit they don’t know something, where its ok to fail at first try, where they can make mistakes; where they feel safe, then the level of commitment, blood and sweat genuine-ness you will get from them will not only have an awesome effect on you, but also on the others around them (i.e customers, other people etc). This is why The Seven Seas, Virgin, Apple, this is why they are great companies today. But you have to care for them first. Never forget.
Finally, the last speaker for this session was Ms. Nathalie Roy, East African Manager—Mentoring for Africa Germany. As her title suggests, her Germany based company, Enpact, is offering the priceless and invaluable gem of mentoring to young and potential entrepreneurs at an affordable price. Entrepreneurs fill a compatibility form that would match his/her requirements and preferences to the best mentor, who is a successful entrepreneur in the same field of interest.
|Ms. Nathalie talking on mentor-ship|
The mentors are personally and financially driven, with strict penalties for not pulling through and whose destiny is tied to yours until the end of the program so it’s a full proof deal for your money. Furthermore, you get the chance to mingle with other mentors of other entrepreneurs and even get to meet up with the whole family of Enpact in person, aside from the guaranteed one on one meetup with your esteemed mentor. I know, I liked the sound of it the more I listened too.
Be sure to give them a look-see at this non-profit organization’s social media handles: Facebook @Enpact and Instagram @enpact_startups.
But as with life, not everyone can afford this priceless noble service to the humans in entrepreneurship, so here are some of the tips she gave anyone looking to find a good and compatible mentor:
Passion; find someone with drive and interest in what they are doing. You cannot risk having a mentor who is in that field of business because he/she heard it has money in it.
- Grit; As one of my mentors puts it, “It demonstrates the power of passion and courage to get what we need.” Find someone who has held his enterprise of a dream with both hands and/or has weathered a few storms as well. These are the people who are ready to find a light in an infinite tunnel of darkness in what they pursue. Good people.
- Role model; if you are in any field, let alone business, you should have someone to look up to and emulate. They are the ultimate guideline on who you want to be and what you want to achieve. Because they already did.
- Someone you actually like; positive emotions are relative to mentor and role model. You can take god qualities from less favorable people in your book but to emulate, the word ‘negative’ should not have any room in there.
After she was done, I quickly confirmed on my program the afternoon session by Melany Cheary from ANA. The reason for this is how she shifted her body as much as she could to face the other speakers to either side of her as each spoke. It is a sign of giving assurance and attention to someone when you shift your posture, legs and/or feet to them, so I knew she was genuinely interested in what they had to say. Consciously or not, postures speak words the mouth can’t, and she said all the right words in my book; proper self-awareness. My afternoon was set.
The line was already getting stretchy when I joined. It was beside a couple of the advert stalls. The round hand-sized waist high rail bars running beside separated us from two of them and as the line casually dragged along, I found myself glancing at the brochures on display. I wasn’t the only one. A lady from the stall caught me. Naturally, she started to explain to me what services they offered and how reasonably affordable they were. I knew things were weird when she mentioned Endoscopy and I meekly asked,
“Isn’t this the Hospital the speaker, Julius, was talking of?”
She smiled in acceptance and amusement as she looked at me with her face lit with glee and delight and said,
“He is the one standing in line in front of you.”
Honestly, I was slightly embarrassed and felt kind of dumb. But as fast as he introduced himself did we dive into the vast and humanely noble oceans of genuineness and care. His principles reminded me of a man I considered as one of my heroes in this generation, Simon Sinek, and I made sure I told him. Gladly enough, he’d never heard of that name before in his life; a brilliant sign that there are still great people in the world doing great things. What a great man that man.
He received his plate and went on his way. I did so as well and revisited where I had coffee that morning. It was just close to the entrance opposite the staff desk. Also had a good view of the BMW so, what more could I ask for. Little did I know that at that lunch was I to make one of the more important friendships in that event.
Saturday, 25 November 2017
|Photo Courtesy: odessy|
Of late there has been A-lot of buzz in the gender world about gender equity, equality, women empowerment and what role feminism plays in all of them. If you are like me, what comes into mind every time someone declares herself a feminist is basically, someone who empowers herself and other women, so that they could take down the societal norms of discrimination and injustice done to them in this man’s world. I see nothing but good intentions here.
The buzz however, arises because people have begun claiming that the boy child is now being neglected. And this is having the same effect as the previous conditions the girl child faced before empowerment – before feminism. I am not going to open that can of worms today. Instead, I am going to focus on the source of it all.
It is apparent that I am not a woman, nor have I any plans of becoming one anytime forever. So it is only but fitting that someone with intimate understanding of what being woman means, take you to through what I believe, is the most accurate depiction of what we, as a society, are facing, in relation to all the buzz and definitions going around regarding this issue. Below is part of a speech a British woman gave out concerning this subject:
“Liberal values have placed the pursuit of individualistic whims and desires as its paramount; nurturing a dangerous mindset among men that they are free to treat women, as their desires dictate. Resulting into epidemic levels of harassment, violence, abuse and rape of women within western societies. Sexual freedom has spurred a culture of promiscuity, aspiring rates of teenage pregnancies, abortions, STDs, single mothers and adultery, resulting in the breakdown of marriages and families.
The western concept of gender equality has also brought its own sets of problems. Firstly, placing the role of Breadwinner over homemaker devalued motherhood. And then, what was in theory, to produce the habitual woman, in reality, produced the do-it-all superwoman; who continue to shoulder the burden of household responsibilities, but now also had to suffer the strains of financially maintaining the family. Moreover, it failed to stem the tide of abuse against women and deliver the respect that was promised. Because western feminists fail to realize, that the greatest enemy of women’s rights was the Capitalist System.
The capitalist system has made a business of constructing and normalizing a culture, where women’s bodies are the product, and men’s desires the client; in advertising, entertainment and sex industries; cheapening her status, contributing to discrimination and abuse of women and harming the cooperation of men and women in the society. This toxic ideology, whose moral compass is defined by the dollar sign, has and always will place protecting profits, over protecting women’s dignity and rights.
It has encouraged the beauty, fashion, diet and cosmetic surgery industries, to prey on the insecurity of women regarding their appearance, constantly bombarding young girls with unrealistic images of what constitutes beauty, crippling the self-esteem of those who are unable to match this template; leading many to view their bodies as the passport to success and causing society to value the worth of women upon their looks, rather than their minds and skills.
Capitalism has exploited the language of liberation, empowerment and choice, to exploit women. So while living under the shadow of this system, women will always face an uphill and eternal battle to secure respect, break glass ceilings, and fight discrimination and abuse.”
Epic, I know. In short, feminism has never been the problem. It is the result of the capitalistic system—a child of it almost. Because where ever exists feminism, there most always is a norm of societal downplay of women’s right. And in this case, capitalism is the main sponsor. But it doesn’t stop there.
What I did not tell you about this speech is why it was made. Statistics collected for Britain and the US showed a staggering increase of the number of people converting to Islam, majority being women. This is surely dumbfounding because everything about Islam to women is oppressive; their dressing, abuse, restrictions. I mean come on. Right?
Below is the beginning of that speech. This is what she had to say about that:
“In the UK, around 5,000 people convert to Islam each year, the majority women; mostly young and well educated. In the US, of the 20,000 that convert each year, 75% are women. Over the last 2 decades, there has been a huge rise in women turning back to Islam, East and West, embracing its beliefs, dress, practices and lifestyle. Rejecting social liberalism and adopting Islam as a social and political framework for society. And poll after poll of the Muslim World, show increasing number of women wishing to live under the Islamic sharia laws.”
I have to admit, I was a bit shocked at this claim. With the current ISIS phenomena and media coverage on how oppressed Muslims, especially women are, I had to check this one for myself. Lo and behold, it was crystal truth, and more. Have a look-see for yourself: Fact-tank.
So why is this happening?
“Firstly, they have understood that practices such as forced marriages, honor killings and the seclusion of women from society are from cultural traditions, and not Islam. Secondly, they have recognized that the governments of the Muslim World do not represent Islamic rule, where the monarchies, secular democracies, military dictatorships or theocracies; they’re non-Islamic autocratic states, who have failed dismally, to protect the rights, dignity and security of their women; turning a blind eye to abuses, persecuting women wearing hijab, imprisoning rape victims, striping women of economic and political rights, and proving totally inept in providing adequate access to education and basic needs.
It is these regimes that have been the main cause of misery for women in the Muslim world, NOT Islam.”
The rest of the speech you know.
I must acknowledge that this puts some of you in a weird positon, but hope that what you’ve read will keep you reading this last section.
Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) is considered the most important individual to ever preach Islam in the creed of Islam. He is the pivot of this religion. There is a saying among the Muslims that,
‘Every successful man needs a Khadijah (ra)’.
She was the first wife of the Prophet. She was also the first person to embrace Islam.
The first person to die for Islam was a woman; Sumayyah bint Khayyat.
The greatest scholar of Islam was a woman; Aisha bint Abubakar (ra)
The person who loved the Prophet the most and would accompany him to give da’awah (sermons) to the people, and was always there for him when the people offended him, was a woman; Faatimah bint Muhammad.
One of the greatest fighters in Islamic history was guess what, a woman! Khaula bint al-Azwar. She fought on horseback, disabled many enemies and even spurred the men to push forward during the conquests of Islam. So don’t you dare say that Islam is oppressing women because as much as it might suck being disarmed and disabled by a woman, every instance arrives to the evidence that women were the forefront of this religion.
And they still can be.
My opinion and advice to everyone reading this is that, we would never have to need feminism or the karma of the boy child argument if it wasn’t for the system of capitalism. Blame everything on that and if you can, be smart about it and step away.
My advice to the Muslims, especially sisters, today’s feminism is an endless hurdle to define yourselves. Empower yourselves to destroy the cultural epidemics that flaw this religion to the world and re-establish yourselves to your rightfully deserved thrones on this kingdom of Islam. Because you, my dear sizs, are half of this society. The pious among you are better than the best things of this world and the best among every man in this world, is the best to You. What a man can do, the history of Islam has proven that a woman has done better.
But be feminists of your religion.Because only then can you be strong enough to help empower the rest of humanity.
And Allah knows best.
Thursday, 23 November 2017
|Photo Courtesy: ASENTI|
We were ready. The voices of matatu conductors from the road below echoed through the second floor corridor of our bed and breakfast hotel. I fastened my cuff lings as I and two other Kenyan delegates made for our breakfast in the small dining room downstairs, next to the flight of stairs on the back side of the hotel. The view of the hilly capital as we descended dissolved every inch of tiredness we carried from our journey there. It was breath-taking under the misty morning sun.
|Photo Courtesy: getty images|
Mathew, the hotel tenant, subtly explained to us that because of our early morning arrival, the hotel had not made any breakfast for us. Regardless, he offered to take us to a local café and even paid for the food as well. Good man that man. We decided on a delicacy served at breakfast called katogoo. It was a plate of white rice laced with beef soup and a scoop of sukuma, a few pieces of cooked cassava on the side complimented with small pieces of sweet potato all covered in groundnut stew and, finished off with a piece or two of boiled meat and a mug of milk, brewed with a pinch of tea leaves and turmeric powder. And we haven’t said anything about lunch -- I had a feeling I was going to like this country.
|A typical plate of Katogo. Ps, the sukuma and groundnut stew was the "Katogo Special" package. Photo Courtesy: naturemeetscultures..wordpress|
We had an intriguing chat about healthy foods and why you should drink hot tea instead of cold water when thirsty with one of the locals who joined us afterwards. I know, and oddly enough, he wasn’t a fan of their delicacies. He had sliced chapatti and beans.
The venue for this summit was a mere 5 minute walk from our hotel. We met a Senegalese delegate along the way who turned out to be on the same floor of the hotel we were. As we shared formalities, I couldn’t shake how much the roadway resembled the outskirts of Nairobi. Its sides was red alluvial soil littered with broken pieces of asphalt from the road. On one side was this bordering alluvial red-stained wall with a neatly trimmed waist high hedge matching its length that harbored a grand Catholic Church. Yes, it reminded of Nairobi, a less chilly one.
After getting lost in the complex the venue was in, we found our way like pros with a little mentoring from the staff to the Village. Innovation Village was grand in its simplicity. That is when it hit me; I was in another country, attending an Africa-wide summit and had just eaten a lunch that is breakfast material in this airspace… Concisely, this was one of those “I just can’t” moments.
We registered and got our badges and programs. DELEGATE, it said.
I was happy. I was proud.
I was happy. I was proud.
The summit had already began. The theme for that morning was on Re-thinking Innovation in Africa and on speaker was Dr. Ian Clarke, founder of the Clarke Group. Even though we missed half of his talk, his contributions across the whole session showed just how much he believes in helping others grow and, having strong moral values in terms of trust and transparency in any organization.
|Dr. Clarke (far right)|
Here are the key nuggets of gold I was able to mine from his talk:
Ø Build on your values; walk the talk, which is what being passionate means. Your word should have weight, responsibilities and consequences.
Ø Always sell who you are; people buy into your ideas not because they might be great, but the one selling them is, and how much he/she believes in them. Do this and you will get followers, support and investors. (my favorite)
Ø Your success is a measure of your successes and failures, not the sum of your successes; be patient and don’t be afraid to fall. Everyone falls, but the ones who stay down are the failures.
Ø Think of your ideas as of now; never let your ideas fade away. Write them down, work on them, share with others.
The next speaker was Mr. Anthony Tafadzwa Munyaradzi, CEO of Taffie Communications in Zimbabwe. The one thing I loved about his wisdom was how he gave the basis of innovation required in every individual.
|Anthony Tafadzwa during his talk|
Opening with this point, here are his core inspirations I resonated:
Ø For you to be an innovator, you need to have a solid identity; be comfortable under your own skin. Know your element, and then own it. Figure you out first- others will always be there to emulate. You won’t. (my favorite)
Ø Critical thinking is what stands between success and quitting; things always get hard. The difference between the one who overcomes them and the one who quits is finding that gap they can thrive in. But you must think it up first.
Ø The world is changing, so change with it; technology is advancing with every dawn of day. Make sure anything you do today is technology proactive.
Ø If you don’t like where you are, move; you are not a tree :-P
Kate Kibara, Founder and CEO of Kate Organics was the next on stage. One would not know the value she carries with her until she begins to speak. And I can well say, man did she speak.
|Kate Kibara delivering her wisdom|
Here’s a recap of her wisdoms:
Ø Lack of capital; everyone starts with nothing. So wherever you are, it’s not a valid excuse. Make do with what you have, and the rest will come. (my favorite)
Ø Mentor-ship; having a mentor is like taking a shortcut to success. Find someone you want to emulate and seek their advice as often as you can
Ø If you fall, think your way back up; not all ideas are viable, but all the viable ones are ideas. Never stop thinking of a way through your hurdles.
Ø Adapt and change with your environment; always consider the space you operate on as it always determines what works.
Ø Think of ways to move your ideas forward; without action, ideas will always be mere thoughts and dreams.
Ø If you want to succeed in business, plan to fail; always have something to fall back to so that you can give yourself another chance to get back up.
After Mrs. Kate’s piece, we broke for a-tea/coffee with egg on bread toast and sausage slices-break. I honestly did not anticipate this in the program since katogoo had done its job and did it well.
As we stood in line, the ostentatious vibe of the place slowly sunk in. The serving counter was made of re-designed wooden damp-brown crates that flattered the re-used sofa sponged-wooden couch beside and the wooden framed-glass-top tables all round. Behind it was this off-white wall that endorsed light diagonal strokes of brown paint and random deep brown chunks of wood displaced casually. A wooden guitar stood head height and a few frames of abstract art of African women and guitars hanged either side. By the serving counter was a pillar, on which suspended two pictures of a lit city street that entailed romantic pre-historic buildings reflected perfectly on a still body of water beside, amidst the painted silent night. One was colored, the other black and white. The whole theme was sealed off by this set of clear bulbs hanging from the wooden ceiling above, emitting a sunset orange light from its glowing sun-yellow balls of light at their bulging bottoms, which dosed the place with savor and a relaxing almost scent of wood and brown.
I was excited.
I was glad.
And most importantly, I couldn’t wait for what was to come next.
I was warming up tea for my midnight snack when I remembered a friend I had in high school. I have no intentions of complaining when I say my first years were tough for me mentally. I was shy, introverted and couldn’t express my thoughts in words—that’s classic wierdo anywhere in the world. But here came this guy who knew what I meant every time I mumbled nonsensical words, shared with me his time, his Life, and even joined me in living my fantasies without carrying a care in the world about whatever others said.
Ali Dhidha, you stood with me when no one else knew I had fallen. You understood me when no one else knew I was talking. Once upon a time we lived in a world only the two of us knew existed. And now that I can share my mind with this world, wherever you are, I thank you for sharing your life with me. For just a moment you made me feel like I belonged…like I could breathe under all the pressures. I am grateful. And every word write today is a testament to that. Allah bless you in every way, Ameen.
Your bro from them days,