POLITICS

DECONSTRUCTING XENOPHOBIA


South African Miners during a demonstration some time last year (courtesy rt.com)
South African Miners during a demonstration some time last year (courtesy rt.com)

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.

POLITICS

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

POLITICS

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.

POLITICS

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.

TECH

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

ECONOMICS, LOCAL

How to Think about Kenya, Thanks to ‘Socio-economic Atlas’


About a week ago, the Devolution and Planning ministry(Headed by Cabinet secretary Ms Anne Waiguru) released what could be seen as the most comprehensive knowledge material in the history of the nation.

Even though the ‘Socio-economic Atlas of Kenya’ appears to be saying the obvious, that’s not the real reason for which it was prepared. The atlas was essentially designed to jar the citizens into thinking, critically.

Indeed, what the grand atlas says or shows is not nearly as important as to what it does not say or even illustrate. That is to say that the real and full meaning of the data can only be attained through pure ratiocination. We have to go beyond the surface, so to speak, to apprehend the realities presented by the data in the atlas in question.

Hence when I deconstructed the atlas, I gathered what I wanted to share. The main message is how to think about Kenya or Kenyans for that matter.

It is comforting to note that more than 20 million in Kenya live above the poverty line. That translates to about 55 per cent of the total population. Hence Kenya is a country where the other half is not only poor but also lives below the poverty line.

Further, if the average wealth gap between the rich and the poor is 76.2 per cent, then Kenya is a country where the poor make only a 23.8 per cent contribution to the economy. This is also to imply that the poor do not work hard. Do not believe it!

The poor work harder than the rich among us. One Jesse Jackson put it better: ” Contrary to … stereotypes, most poor people are not lazy. They work the hardest and the longest on the nastiest jobs. They sweep our streets; they raise other people’s children. They work in the hospitals, they mop the floors, and they change the beds. They empty our bedpans… you must not [forget] them!”

Again, when it is said that only 7 counties out of the 47 do not have a majority ethnic community that exceeds 50 per cent or more (possibly because of ‘negative ethnicity’), do not believe it! The seven counties are the only ones where opportunities abound. This statistic also deserves to be interpreted that way: the atlas reveals that Nairobi and Mombasa are among those that do not have a dominant ethnic community exceeding 50 per cent. Their population densities are 4,429 people per square kilometre for Nairobi and 4, 206 for Mombasa.

Also, it does not take rocket science to conclude that Kenya is a country where it is very hard to cross the poverty line. If, the atlas shows, the wealthy spend on average more than double (152 per cent) of what the poor allocate to meet basic needs, then the latter, according to the same atlas, would have to double their material or so means just to reach the poverty line. But to rise far above it? All effort is required. Yet knows what ‘all effort ‘ means and how do we measure it? Hence do not also believe that the wealthy over-spend what is rightfully theirs.

Moreover, we must never think about Kenya this way: that low birth and fertility rates is synonymous with more wealth. Rather, low birth as well as fertility rates should not be taken to mean that those factors are the real contributors to the high quality of life reported in counties such as Nairobi, Nyeri, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Meru, and Uasin Ngishu.

The population densities of some of those counties are as follows: Nairobi (4, 429 people per square kilometre), Kiambu (630 persons). Yet their birth rates are shockingly lower: Murang’a and Kirinyaga record the lowest rates at 23.5 and 26.8 live births per 1,000 people. In addition, fertility rates are remarkably lower in the same counties.

Hence if anyone told us that the counties’ economic status is pegged on the low number of people birthed every day, we should not believe it! There are more people from outside, so to speak, who contribute enormously to the economies of the said counties.

All in all, the Social-Economic Atlas is one of the best tools available to think about our nation and the people in it. Kudos to the brains behind it!

By Moses Omusolo works at Code-4-development Laba(C4DLab)