art in the everyday

Deconstructing Xenophobia


Going by what has been happening in South Africa in most current times, many may be led to believe that xenophobia, popularly known as “the fear of foreigners”, is the root of all evils meted out by some South Africans against outsiders especially of African origin.

In fact most at the moment are feeling that xenophobia is a really deplorable attitude. Whether I agree or disagree is a matter left for you to determine in the analysis that follows.

I will begin by asking the following critical questions: At what point or when is xenophobia a despicable attitude? When it involves and African ‘hating on’/ intensely fearing another African? Or when it involves an African hating on another race? Or when it involves a person hating on another person from another country? Or when it involves a person hating on another person from another community, village, clan, family? Incidentally for no apparent reason or with a reason?

The answer is, whether one is xenophobic with or without a reason, that attitude in human terms is forgivable. But to follow through that fear or hate with violence, interestingly, is what is evil about xenophobia. But fearing alone is not.

Hence from the above example, there are, apparently, ‘good’ xenophobes and bad ones; ‘hard’ and soft ones; high(er) and low degree, and so on.

But a xenophobe is but a xenophobe and violence is not xenophobia. Eventually Xenophobia does not ’cause’ violence. Before I proceed to prove that claim,we need to deconstruct another term often used as an excuse to mistreat others. It is the term ‘foreigner’.

Who is a foreigner? A kenyan versus an unfamiliar Ugandan? A zimbawean Vs a South African? A person Vs another person they are not quite familiar with? Yet if that is true, are you therefore warranted to ‘attack’? No. But most, unfortunately, do that.

In clear terms, being foreign is not the issue. Mistreating a foreigner is. In addition, any reason for misbehaving towards foreigners is questionable.

Hence my refutation of violence in the name of xenophobia properly begins here: First we need to remember that xenophobia is but an active fear of foreigners in their various categories(as we have seen above), whether in low or high degree,

Consequently, I disassociate xenophobia with violence, with murder- evil, because to reason thus is downright fallacious:

“He/she is a foreigner. Therefore, I must hurt him or her.”

“He/she is a foreigner. Therefore I just don’t like him/her.”

Also, “I don’t like him/her because he/she is better than me” strictly does not follow.

Also, “I hate him just because I hate him” is extremely pathetic thinking.

However, to reason that “I hate him/her because they have offended me” is somewhat acceptable. But even then, where is self-control?

Eventually, why some South Africans are committing acts of aggression against those they consider foreigners, the conclusion reached from my analysis is, I know not what. We may recourse to theology next time since pure reason has failed us.

WHEN THE KENYA-SOMALIA WALL IS DE-CONSTRUCTED…


Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta and the first Lady Madam Margaret at the Great Wall of China. Courtesy www.nomad.sleepout.com

Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta and the first Lady Madam Margaret at the Great Wall of China. Courtesy http://www.nomad.sleepout.com

In constructing a wall between Kenya and Somalia, the Government meant well: to keep all Alshabaab outside Kenya. This, the majority of Kenyans seem to welcome.

However, as I will soon demonstrate, the wall may and maybe will not serve the purpose. We will therefore come to see why we may need no wall in any area of our lives.

Yet before I proceed, with the polemic against walls of whatever kind, we need to know what a ‘wall’ essentially is. A wall is a fortified barrier, put up either for good or bad purpose(s).

In the case of the Kenya Government, the wall is arguably put up for the good of all Kenyans—security. And it appears the wall is one of the most ‘tangible'(solid) security measures ever implemented by a human being.

But, as we have already seen, whether the wall will ‘work’ is another matter altogether. To find out whether the wall between Kenya and Somalia is a worthwhile measure against the touchy issue of insecurity, we will recourse to ‘deconstruction’. That is a radical analysis of the wall and its purposes.

Hence when keenly examined, the wall in question or whatever other ‘wall’ we bring into consideration, defeats the purpose, and it undermines itself to the point of being useless; meaningless in other words.

But I am not saying, that the project has to stall. No. The project has to continue in so far as the people have put their faith in it. Yet whether we have a wall or not, the world, especially Kenya will never be safe(r) in the strict sense of the term.

We must always remember that ‘man’ is ‘his’ own enemy. This means that a person can be his\or her own source of destruction. Also, a person can and is always destroyed by another person. That is true no matter how negligible the damage, the impact, the destruction. Hence no wall between ‘man’ and ‘man’ will ever work. Yet if ever it works, it is mostly to our own detriment. Illustratively, the people on either side of the wall may not survive the alienation, physical or mental or intellectual.

Incidentally, for our own good, we must realize that no war has ever been physical. The fact that we may see people engaged in a physical fight will not falsify my claim at whatever level . In fact the exchange of the fists(for example) is only a demonstration of the real fight—the fight between minds, ideologies, viewpoints , biases, and so on. Hence the only real war that ever takes place is the war of minds. Might doesn’t make right. Alternatively put, two wrongs do not make a right.

And if we have to continue with our argument against wall, it will go like this: the wall will never and has never been known to lock out an enemy since the beginning of humanity. Consult the (in)famous Berlin Wall and many others. When many such barriers were destroyed, and some rendered useless, they served to show all that when a person gets tired of the wall, they must find a way to get around it, or even demolish it, since they were the ones who erected it; in the first place.

Yet again, we may think we have locked out our mortal enemies when in reality we have locked them in. What will happen?

Meanwhile, what is an ‘Alshabaab’? For our own good once more, it could be anyone with a malicious intention. Let us not forget that and not put total faith in a wall— in fact a physical one, no matter how well it may be guarded.

.By Moses Omusolo

DEVOLUTION RADICALLY APPRAISED: THE SCORECARD IS LAMENTABLE


#DevConKE

#DevConKE

On Tuesday morning, incidentally the same day the Second Devolution Conference was planned to start, an article was published in a certain paper featuring a prominent politician praising devolution for all it is worth. But I take exception to the idea that devolution has changed lives because, among the things the assertion implies is that a politician has changed lives, especially only in a better way. What about it(devolution) having worsened life? This is to say that devolution cannot and has not been purely good or purely bad. If anything, devolution is and had been good for those who have been favored by it especially because they had something to gain by supporting or implementing it. It is and had been bad for all those who had a lot to lose either by not supporting or implementing the system of governance. Otherwise, what is or might be making people’s lives better has never ceased and will never cease to be people’s volition- the will to work to meet their needs and wants .

To put it in much the same words, people are working and will be working purely out of necessity.

Also, considering that some counties are doing comparatively poorly, it is unacceptable to claim that devolution is wholly good but only partly so. Because the ever-limited resources can never be divided in any proper way. Yet if we are to ask ourselves what has, if it can, been devolved? Both good and evil is the apt answer. Because there are people who saw or see devolution as an opportunity to perpetuate evil such as corruption and embezzlement . There also those who saw and see the system as an avenue to perpetuate good, for example justice and equality. Still there are those who can be said to be neither here nor there in the spectrum. Hence allowing evil and good to continue and thrive indefinitely in the system.

Therefore this is what we must do: to never be committed to careless and useless talk while neglecting action that yields wholly positive results. Governors and other leaders must come out of the conference loaded with solutions to what any Mwananchi will consider as essentially important and necessary. Else there will be no valid reason to claim that devolution is bettering the populace.

THE DEVOLUTION CONFERENCE DE-CONSTRUCTED: UNECESSARY BECAUSE FRUITLESS


From Left: Hon.Isaac Ruto, Hon. Raila Odinga, Hon Kidero( Nairobi Governor).

From Left: Hon.Isaac Ruto, Hon. Raila Odinga, Hon Kidero( Nairobi Governor).

For all intents and purposes, the Second Devolution Conference kicked off today at Tom Mboya Labour college in Kisumu County, with countless expecting the best from it. The best of our Governors to be exact.

Indeed, it is good to expect the best from any endeavor. But the best doesn’t always materialize from any of our undertakings. True or false?

But I have irrefutable confidence that the Devolution Conference or conferences for that matter are not among the best platforms to discuss matters to do with governance and effective devolution. Therefore, as I will show shortly, the conference, without fear of censure, is a meaningless undertaking.

This I will show through radical analysis of the event and its intentions. In other words, I am going to deconstruct this over-emphasized Devolution Conference over literal servant leadership.

First and foremost, who are the organizers of the pocket-denting conference? Are they the Wananchi (nowadays ‘Wenyenchi’)? No. Government? Yes. Governors? Yes. The High and Mighty? Yes. The Poor? No.

Hence the follow-up question: Who are going to really benefit? All? No. The select few? Definitely yes.

Who will be attending in large numbers to discuss the most important issues? As usual, the ones we have elected and the other elites. So the common Mwananchi will still be left behind somehow, no matter what else is done to make up for the oversight.

I am also not so sure whether all representatives of the people in government will be attending such a crucial event.This makes the whole exercise almost pointless-of course it will become pointless with time.

Another palatable observation is that the leaders we have sent to that conference will not all be going back to the grassroots to implement the radical resolutions, failing society once more.

The representatives, I am sure, are just going to be enjoying themselves in the strictest sense rather than merely employing themselves in productive discussions—the kind that will yield noble solutions to the problems at hand. Failing the electorate once more.

While we are talking about balancing Devolution, the Conference is set to toughen one of the most common hard nuts to crack in this country: regional imbalance. As “all roads” will be leading to Kisumu, essential resources will also be moving to Kisumu. Hence Kisumu will soon, if not in the distant future, be better than most Counties.

To avoid these accusations, the Governors and the elite must just behave themselves in and out of the conference and come and give us back value for our money. Otherwise, they will have squandered public resources, one of the main reasons they should no continue serving us.

That is the Devolution Conference for you— radically analyzed for the benefit of the Mwananchi and all those who care.

THE DAADAB AFFAIR DE-CONSTRUCTED: GOVERNMENT SOLUTION UNTENABLE


Northern Kenya DaDaaB refugee camp. COURTESY KTN

Northern Kenya DaDaaB refugee camp. COURTESY KTN

The Government resolution to forcibly repatriate Daadab refugees and to close down the camp is uncalled for because it is purely detrimental.

Yet nobody can deny that our country has been arguably insecure since the 1998 bomblast. Hence it cannot be denied that our country needs to be, if not as secure as it used to be, it has to be more than secure. Hence the need for radical measures.

But what is ‘radical’ should not be futile, detrimental even. It has, on the contrary, to be strictly ethical, lawful and positively transformative. So it follows that the State resolution to close down the largest refugee camp in the world on account of its link to unlawful activities, especially terror, positively portrays the traditional benevolent, responsible, democratic, courageous country in nothing other than bad light.

Kenya will have offended her own people and the world at large because of ill-treating, manhandling, abandoning and disappointing the landless, the orphans, the widows and widowers, the hungry, the sick, the helpless, the poor of the poor—in a word, the refugees(who happen to have sought asylum from all of Africa, if not the world).

All this will be done in the flimsy name of rooting out our most recent arch enemies the Alshabaab, and their sympathizers. Indeed, the Alshabaab are, not only our sworn enemies, but also of the world because they are exterminating terrorists. For instance, because of the Alshabaab, our dear country has has lost (and will be losing) immensely both in property and in human life. A fact that warrants the terror group to be annihilated.

But the methods? So far, of course apart from sending our troops to counteract lawlessness in the war-torn Somalia, are highly questionable. One of them being to close down and forcibly evacuate the people we as a country are morally and legally bound to protect and empower until their dignity is restored. What then has changed?

Of course there is insecurity— the kind enough to call for desperate measures to bring the country to safety—in fact total safety(which is highly utopian). But according the poet Milton, Paradise was lost. So we will only manage high(er) degrees of safety and peace, but not the kind that was found in ‘Paradise’.

Yet all the above has not been a clear(er) picture of the consequences associated with the State’s decision to end what is now a refugees’ strong tower; in fact now a ‘home’ since majority of the victims of circumstance have been living there for almost or more than twenty years, enjoying almost all the rights and privileges of a full Kenyan citizen. I will recourse to deconstruction.

When deconstructed or radically analyzed, the Government position is hopeless in so far as I will show it to be baseless. Hence a Government which will not be a refuge to the vulnerable just because it doesn’t want to is inevitably a cruel one.

Moreover, to seek to please the enemy(Alshabaab) is cowardly, to say the least. Closing down the Daadab camp as a last ditch attempt to defeat terrorists is reactionary rather than ‘proactionary’ on the part of our Government; blaming and victimizing the homeless and the powerless at that reflects badly on our National Intelligence Service and consequently the State.

Refusing to listen to alternative courses of action is to stoop lower than the already evil Alshabaab; acting belatedly in the case of an a national emergency and catastrophe is a sure sign of a banana republic—all the refugees had better go back to an unsafe Somalia(as the Government expects) and die with dignity as opposed to dying in a comparatively safer country that is Kenya; assuming that all refugees are evil Somalis and therefore deserve to be forcibly repatriated is to reason direly illogically in a situation that clearly demands clear-headedness, open-mindedneses, and rational empathy.

What more can be said? Nothing apart from reiterating that our Government has to address the ‘Alshabaab Affair’ with dignified means. The die is cast.

THE DIGITAL FILM INDUSTRY


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On Saturday 18th April, quite a number of film enthusiast turned out for the launch of Africa Digital Marketing Institute College.   The launch started off with the MC ( non-other than Larry Madowo) making an introduction of himself and clearly giving the audience the program  of the day. After adding a few jokes, He blatted “Coming on stage is  EA Cables manager,  Former director Vision 2030 secretariat, former Pan Africa insurance C.E.O and with a masters from MIT… Mr Mugo Kibati.”

MR. MUGO KIBATI

MR. MUGO KIBATI

Mr. Mugo energetically jumps on stage. He feels it urgent to point out that lapsset [http://www.lapsset.go.ke], Konza city [http://www.konzacity.go.ke/] and SGR [http://krc.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/SGR-Brochure.pdf] are all initiatives under the Vision 2030 that rolled out in 2013. Our journey towards transforming Kenya still goes on. Thanks for ADMI(Africa digital marketing institute) for organizing this event today since the development of film is critical to the economy. It should be more local and our own in terms of content.

“The gap on the supply side of local films is huge.” When Nairobi half-life came out two years ago, Kenyans turned up in numbers to watch. Currently it is safe to say that there has not been a movie that has reached that height.

“We must also have stakeholders able to produce quality films and also to ensure we have enough supply.” Said Mr. Mugo. He pointed out that the role of the government is merely to offer the platform for the services to take place. The mentality of people viewing the government as someone over there with a suit and tie holding a briefcase with huge sums of money inside should change. “Try taking to it” he concluded. He also noted that one should clearly explain and show the value of what they are to produce to the person in the government for them to take your idea seriously by quote “When you have an idea don’t take/pitch it half baked… people get tired.  ”

Since Vision 2030 was all about creating the right environment for Kenyans and investors. I decided to talk to one of the organizers Edward Olumola, the business development manager at ADMI.

The college started back in 2012 mainly majoring in Film training. When it started, it was called Jamhuri Film and TV academy or JFTA. This was due to the vast growth in the film and TV area. Re-branding took place about a month ago. This came due to the fact that they saw the need for new programs with the new digital media. “The mass communication that is being offered currently considers the digital migration.” Said Mr Edward. Though he admitted that there needs to be more sensitization of the public when it comes to film. If only there was such a tender then ‘we’ would be rich.

By Neville Mugambi

How to Leverage IP Sustainably


Intellectual property background concept

What is the process of monetizing an intellectual property(IP)? Yet at first, what is an IP? Sherwood Partners, Inc., one of the premier business advisory firms in the US has defined an intellectual property as “…the combination of human thought process and know-how in a unique way to form… proprietary technology…” . The Kenya Intellectual Property Institute has defined IP as “the creations of the human mind”.

As such continues Sherwood Partners, IP “is worth protecting and safeguarding in the same way as any other valuable corporate asset” in oder for it “to confer some form of advantage to the owners”.

But where does IP monetizing begin? Or where does the processes of leveraging an “intangible asset” start? The journey ideally kicks off from the requirement to assess/analyze IP, strategize/innovate , establish IP, leverage IP and monetize IP.

In other words, Tech Insights recommend beginning with the technology and market assessment of the IP, where a detailed technical and market intelligence that serve to guide investment processes throughout the IP life-cycle is carried out.

Then the formulation of an IP strategy: the building of an IP Strategy that is suitable for the company’s goals, priorities and products. Determining the types of IP to focus on and provide the framework for the programs and processes that need to be implemented.

The next step has to do with establishing an IP position, which is the proactive management of the IP portfolio with quality assessment, acquisition and selective focus on patent development.

Then there is leveraging IP to retain(defend) business, a process TechInsights describe as defending market share, minimizing the potential for third party patent assertion, protecting and strengthening the business with prior art and non-infringement analysis to address patent assertion.

Finally, though not always the case, the monetization of IP comes in. Here, patent assertion through licensing and patent selling; and cash injection for renewing the life-cycle of innovation is undertaken.

The process can simply be simplified as—according to TechInsights—analyze IP, strategize, build, defend, and monetize.

But how to monetize IP still? More clearly, a legally protected IP can be commercialized through third party licensing, cost reduction, trademark licensing, patent donations, as well as mergers and acquisitions, usually facilitated by mass patent aggregators, IP brokers, and litigation-centric organizations.

Meaning that joining such organizations can be very advantageous to an IP owner. Otherwise, according to TechInsights, “products risk being devalued, commoditized, or even directly copied without ongoing technical innovation and the strategic protection of that innovation with IPR.”

Indeed the key to sustainable competitive advantage is through consistent and proactive use of innovation and associated Intellectual Property Rights( IPR) for business advantage over a long period of time, TechInsights help us conclude.

By Moses Omusolo

How IP is a Boon to Innovation


Without intellectual property protection, it has been observed in many quarters that innovation cannot pay off handsomely, in the long run.

In other words, in order to better and longer enjoy the fruits of our intellectual labors, we need intellectual property rights, which, according to such bodies as the Kenya Intellectual Property Institute (KIPI), are laws protecting “the creations of the human mind”.

Such laws have led to the formulation of definite and strict criteria for protecting intellectual property (IP): is it an invention? How do we know? How do we protect it? How do we monetize the same? The same questions apply strictly to other ‘elements’ of an IP such as copyright, utility models, industrial designs, trade and service marks, plant breeders rights, trade secrets, geographical indications rights, topography of integrated circuits rights, and so on.

The rights or proctections available for a work of imagination, incidentally, become active upon publication or making available to the public of such a work. In the case of patents, utility models, industrial designs, trade marks, plant breeders rights, the laws take effect the moment such IPs are registered and certified.

But it is hugely important for innovators and inventors to clearly distinguish between various IP rights—in most cases before they even attempt at invention and innovation. Otherwise they run the risk of seeking protection for what is not patentable or copyrightable— normally without formal redress. So a brief discussion of rights applicable to each type of IP is necessary and is undertaken below:

To begin with, ‘patent’ laws apply, on condition that an invention is new (novel), involves an “inventive step”, is an industrially applicable product or process, to control who makes, uses, sells, offers to sell, and/or imports the patented invention, as well as offer the patentee an opportunity to seek remedy against infringement.

Much more clearly, what is patentable in Kenya is an invention which is a solution to a specific problem in the field of technology in the form of a product (such as a vaccine, drug, keyboard, mouse) and/or process/method detailing a sequence of steps that complete a task or accomplish a result (for example a process of making tea).

It therefore follows that discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical methods; schemes, rules and methods of doing business (though some countries allow), performing purely mental acts, playing games; methods of treatment of humans/animals by surgery or therapy (though some countries allow); ideas do not qualify for patent protection here in Kenya. Otherwise, the period of protection is normally 20 years, subject to annual fees.

For ‘utility models’—innovations that give some advantage, saving or technical effect, or improvements that may not qualify for patent— protection is available for 10 years, not renewable. An excellent example of a utility model is a combined toothbrush and a tongue cleaner.

What is protected under ‘industrial designs’ includes and is limited to special appearance of products (articles) in terms of shape, configuration, pattern, ornamentation; what makes an article attractive and appealing. Also whether it adds to the commercial value of a product and increases its marketability. The requirements call to mind such things as display stands, perfume bottles, ceiling boards, among others.

Moreover, as we shall shortly discover, even a solution to a specific problem especially in the field of technology, proposed by an employee for use by an enterprise, relating to activities of the enterprise but which has not been used by that enterprise before, can qualify for protection; upon request for a ‘technovation’ certificate.

The ‘trademarks’ law covers “distinctive signs used to identify goods or services, and to distinguish goods or services of one enterprise from those of others”(Trade Marks Act CAP 506). As a result, words, devices, combinations of letters with devices, three-dimensional images, slogans and numerals can conditionally qualify for protection.

Hence if a trademark is protected, the following advantages accrue to the owner: product identity is preserved, a trader’s business (goodwill) is protected. Protection of the consumer against likelihood of confusion and deception, prevention of free riding, particularly in relation to quality —for example SONY/SQNY, as well as promotion of orderly marketing to the eventual effect of market efficiency.

All the above being facilitated by the trademark owner’s exclusive right to use the mark in relation to the goods or services, and prevent third parties from using identical or resembling trade mark.

Action for breach of confidence in relation to formulas, patterns, processes, methods, compilations, customer lists are covered under the ‘trade secrets/confidential information’ law.

The Ultimate Forum


A talk at the sci(school of computing and informatics)

A talk at the sci(school of computing and informatics)

Getting inspired as a student to view the course that you are currently doing as a potential career subject is becoming something of the blues. the attitude that most undergraduate students have nowadays is tilted(as i can put it) to the pessimistic side due to the high unemployment rates being experienced in the current. With regard to inspiration or rather motivation, the school of computing and information at Chiromo is collaborating with the Code for development laboratory to inspire youths around their ecosystem.

The “program” or procedure to get to know when to get inspired starts with the simple journey of you following a Facebook page from the school of computing, twitter page or by following the famous tech savvy graduate “prof Nandaa” https://twitter.com/profnandaa.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”>

Just checked in at @Deveint for weekly #TGIF, let’s see how it goes. @MurayaKamau @crushcafeteria @samsoftK

— Anthony Nandaa (@ProfNandaa) April 10, 2015

The hash-tag is #PowerForum. after following these related social media channels, book your Wednesday afternoon to navigate your way to Chiromo campus for one of their talks.

one of the Lecturer theaters set up.

one of the Lecturer theaters set up.

I managed to attend the last two #PowerForums this year and meet a couple of leaders/Who is who in the tech space in Kenya. I also got to see the bigger picture that these talks aren’t just meant for computer geeks but also guys trying to run enterprises.

There is a bit of a downer though. you might never really get to know who will be giving the talks since you need to get an Eventbrite ticket to get those details. Simply following the action on twitter or Facebook will not do any good.  Taking advantage of the opportunity with the guest speaker is quite easy at this forum though you need to carry your own business card… just in case. Thirdly getting the directions for riverside drive… and the lecturer theater is many a times a nightmare to the attendees unless of-course you are a university of Nairobi alumni.

 

By Neville Mugambi.

HCD 12

With Humanity at the Center of Design, Anything Never Goes


Human Centered Design (HCD) is arguably a concept triggered by the famous work of Christopher Alexander, Notes on the Synthesis of Form (1964). His entire work, as he noted at the  beginning, is  “… about the process of design: the process of inventing things which display new physical order, organization, form, in response to function.”

And the fact that the  author discusses clearly the process by which a form is adapted to the context of human needs and demands that has called it into being, is what gives the book a rather wide degree of acceptance.

Originated by IDEO, a nonprofit itself dedicated to applying human-centered design to alleviate poverty, Human Centered Design, according to their handbook, is “a process and a set of techniques used to create new solutions for the world.

Whether the  “solutions” be products, services, environments, organizations, and modes of interaction, the authors add:”The reason this process is called ‘human-centered’ is because it starts with the people we are designing for. ”

Yet going about HCD entails looking at design in terms of the “Three Lenses of Human Centered Design “: Desirability (What do people desire?), Feasibility (what is technically and organizationally feasible?) and Viability (what can be financially viable?).

In detail, the designers of the HCD toolkit explain that the Desirability lens calls for examining the needs,dreams, and behaviors of the people we want to affect with our solutions, while listening to and understanding what they want.

And “once we have identified a range of what is Desirable, we begin to view our solutions through the lenses of Feasibility and Viability” (HCD Toolkit, 10).  But eventually, the solutions that emerge at the end of the Human-Centered Design should hit the overlap of the three lenses(that point where the solution is deemed desirable, feasible and viable).

Ultimately, such a desirable, feasible,and viable  idea must have been obtained in phases of ” Hear”, “Create”, before you finally “Deliver” (HCD Toolkit, 11).