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CULTURE SWAP

What makes us, us? What makes us who we are? Now that’s the million dollar question…which, of course, is easy to answer. What makes us who we are is everything that surrounds us: from the friends we hang out with to the family we cherish, from the school life we dread to the work life we casually step into, from the childhood experience we had to the trials of adult life we get to experiment with…. But that’s not the topic at hand, we are here to speak about Culture Swap.

Let’s start with something that’s a bit obvious before we get to the juicy part…shall we?

There’s a lot to look forward to when it comes to weddings, well… apart from the “I do” part and the cuisines and drinks. There is this excitement that comes up when the bride is welcomed by a group of women who sing traditional wedding songs to welcome the beautiful bride to her occasion…and the whole fiesta entices other women to join in.

But who has noticed the words are becoming more unfamiliar, there’s more humming and dancing to the song than there is to the actual singing of the song? Okay, maybe it’s me… but what of the introduction of modern music in weddings? Don’t get me wrong, I love modern weddings, but the truth is we are losing our cultural heritage that our ancestors had cherished.

Let’s not go too far, there is a “new tribe” The Nairobians who are born in Nairobi but have little/no clue of their mother tongue (native language), prefer white collar jobs than blue and most likely than not, have little clue of their traditional cuisines.

We need to dig a bit deeper into the past… most work done by our ancestors were blue collared…think of the blacksmith, farmer, hunter, herbalist, warrior, and the likes…and they were known for their skills and hard work. But look at us now, rushing for the next big company to be part of their labor force, ashamed and maybe clueless of the juakali industries. Yet ironically, that’s where the money is at.

Shall we take a stride into memory lane? Name 5 best restaurants that you wouldn’t mind killing your budget for…now, how are their Menu? Any African cuisine in there? I bet 80% of the list have exotic or non-native food. Hold up! We all know the reason behind all this is the fact that restaurants are meant to break the normalcy of what we eat (African dishes) at home.

But the fact remains, there are a few African Restaurants as compared to fast food and exotic restaurants, and most importantly there are less choices in the African Cuisine Menu. Why isn’t there githeri samosa or Fish BBQ pizza or Matoke pie? Why aren’t we integrating African Cuisine into the modern art of cooking?

….am I way off…..or do you agree with it?   For some I bet, I’ve given them a business idea, which will only cost you to follow us on our page and comment if you think this is all crazy and messed up.

There is a lot that we can talk about, but this is supposed to be a food for thought kind of thing… but ask yourself this one question, are you Kenyan by blood or by culture.

ROLE AMNESIA

Maybe I’ll be in a calm and peaceful state as I write this because we’ve all failed. Yes! Don’t blame the person who did the crime only. Look at their environment and see if there was a probability of a different outcome if someone did something differently.

Apparently, this is not the topic at hand…my job is to give intel of the change or omission of roles within the society. In the first case, how many people have noticed that women have all of a sudden began to take their sons to be circumcised? Right…whose role was that supposed to be for? Okay then, what of single mums, aren’t male relatives meant to guide and train their sons for them to have a father figure in their lives?

Secondly, how many mothers out there go to the kitchen and train their kids to cook, train their kids in terms of household chores? How many women out there advice their kids in terms of moral conduct, relationships, dangers of sponsors, marriage and the likes. This is no attack, this is a call for awareness. That if we don’t change how we raise our kids as parents then our children will be lost to the world.

Maybe I’m being too harsh….But look at the outcomes that are happening right now… the killing of our children by rich older men either by homicide, STI’s or depression caused by deprived lifestyles and statuses. Our children are killing each other and themselves either due to depression or heartache? Our children are destroyed by drugs, excessive and uncontrollable intake of alcohol, unprotected sex, unnecessary or addictive gambling, and other gruesome acts.

Now we may not be able to control our children’s acts, but we can try and avoid some of the situations they get into. Why not talk about it, why not share your experience with your kids and get to see their views without cutting them short. Why not prepare them by giving them future predictions or forecasts of the consequences to their actions.

What of us as siblings? Do we just cover-up for our brothers and sisters or do we give them advice on what they are doing? Are we truly our brothers and sisters keeper if we don’t ensure that our blood doesn’t go to the wrong path?

Do we all have blame when it comes to tragedies that happen to our youth? Could we have done something to dismiss or make the situation less tragic than it already was?

There is a lot of debate that can come out of this…and if you are a parent and you agree or disagree with this, share your views….get to advice other younger parents and give openers to what is expected.

THE BUCKET LIST CHALLENGE

Have you thought about it? The cringing years of retirement doing absolutely nothing but sitting outside the farm or in the house as you wait for dividends or NSSF, going down memory lane of the good old times and the crazy moments of being legally aged. Now your young self, right now, must be thinking, “There is no way I’ll be a couch potato.” But what if that’s what reality has planned for you?

We try to fight such concepts by buying land, and farming and keeping any domestic animals that seem profitable at the time. But what if that’s not your thing? What if Nairobi life is the only life for you?

We never seem to plan those moments, because they look far and depressing to some people, and yet when it hit us…we have the money and the time but there’s no work to keep our minds pre-occupied. In no time, we fall into some kind of depression, or what people call ‘mid-life crises’. Now I’m no expert on how people handle this without a plan. But I do know a thing or two.

The reason why this is a crucial talk is because it affects even the people around you, I’m talking about the depression you get when you realize that your “future succession plan” was a bust, the doubt of your love life and life partner, the boredom of the same old routine with the same people, the fear of the unknown (future), and worst of all the rise/increase of impulsive decision making.

One minute your wife/husband is the best thing that has happened to you, the next, you despise them, and you ‘feel the love’ no more. And you make a stupid impulse move of cheating/divorcing, then later regretting the whole move.

I honestly believe that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Think about it… some of these symptoms are amplified by having a lot of free time to think about how lame your life is, when it’s farfetched from the truth, or worse of, looking into other people’s life’s and comparing their success to yours. Jeeez…your success is different in terms of its extent, timeline and nature. Avoid such nonsense and appreciate how far you’ve gone for the last 3-5 years.

So what do people do in their midlife crisis? There’s a lot that you can do, why not try something new! Make a Bucket List of what you would like to do that’s within your capacity. If it’s volunteering, being a lecturer, traveling, doing a hobby you love doing and don’t forget to share this with YOUR PARTNER and FAMILY. You’re not alone in this, and once you acknowledge that you feel like your life sucks and you haven’t accomplished anything significant. Then it’s one step closer to getting your life back to normal.

Finally, don’t act irrationally or emotionally with no clarity of the truth or with negative/positive emotions that blind the truth. If you feel you’re falling short of something even in business when profits aren’t booming as they used to or your relationship isn’t heated as it used to…the FIX IT! Don’t get into a new business that you have no/little experience and leave something you’ve been doing for more than years… there’s always room for innovation.

But hey…. I would love to hear your voice on this interesting topic…keep me updated.

New Year Resolutions Or Maybe Not

The twenty first century upwardly mobile man or woman may be categorised into two; New Year New Me optimist or New Year Resolutions for who cynic. I am not here to tell you who you are, because you already know, neither am I here to outline for you the resolutions you need to make or steer clear of  nor reveal to you some profound truth about life. If I knew that truth, I would be somewhere in the Swiss Alps skiing away blissfully not waking up in the middle of the night with a panic attack because this article was not handed in on time.

We started off wrong, let me try and salvage the situation by making sure you read to the very end, my pay check depends on positive stats. Happy New Year lovely human, hope the New Year has stirred some renewed hope in you. After all, to me all we live on is hope for without it, every hurdle would be that much more insurmountable and every idea would be too intimidating to give it a shot. So if nothing else, this year hold on to hope.

 So what were we writing about again? Business, New Year resolutions, okay, sorry I digressed. As I tried to figure out which side of the divide I wanted to be in the New Year, the optimist or the cynic, mulling over my dilemma was interrupted with more urgent matters like handing in annual reports and presenting New Year departmental plans. As you have guessed, our financial year is aligned to the calendar year.

Why would I look back at the financial year and write roadmaps for the various business departments but was unwilling to do the same with the most important asset, me? It definitely is not an earth shattering discovery not by a long shot but it had me deep in thought. Deep enough for me to want to share with you, whichever side of the divide you lie.

Would you walk into your boss’ office and tell him, “You know what boss, this year we do not have a marketing plan, we are winging it.” I guess not. Then why do you walk into a New Year without a plan for yourself? I choose New Year resolutions because this is the one time that most people take time off for reflection and introspection. This does not in way however mean that you cannot carry out this exercise any other time of the year. Better yet, this should be an on-going exercise where you review your plans periodically to track performance just as you would with your marketing plans.

A simple yet effective tool to use in setting up your resolution is the good old acronym S.M.A.R.T. 

Specific

Make sure your resolutions are broken down to a point that a kindergarten child can explain them back to you.

Example:

Goal 1- I want to increase my income this year

Instead say

I want to increase my monthly income from Kshs. 150, 000 to Kshs. 180, 000 this year.

Measurable

Can you quantify your goal? If yes, good job, if not, you need to go back to the drawing board.

Carrying on with our goal:

I want to increase my monthly income from Kshs. 150, 000 to Kshs. 180, 000 this year. This signifies a 20% increase in my income.

Attainable

The number one cause of failure to achieve resolutions and by extension give up on setting them altogether is, setting unattainable goals. Goals that promise a false start even before you start.

Now we have to ask ourselves, is our goal attainable?

I want to increase my monthly income from Kshs. 150, 000 to Kshs. 180, 000 this year. This signifies a 20% increase in my income.

We need to ask ourselves, a few key questions:

  • Am I in control of how much I earn; employment or self-employment?
  • What are the steps am taking to attain this goal?

In instance one: Employed

I want to increase my monthly income from Kshs. 150, 000 to Kshs. 180, 000 this year. This signifies a 20% increase in my income.

  • I will achieve this goal because, we are due for a raise and the company promised a 20% increase to those who fund higher degrees for themselves in line with their job descriptions. I graduated in December with an MBA in Marketing.

 

 

In instance two: Self-employed

I want to move my monthly income from Kshs. 150, 000 to Kshs. 180, 000 this year. This signifies a 20% increase in my income.

  • I will achieve this goal because I just got a new government tender that guarantees an additional Kshs. 30, 000 after factoring in my expenses.

Realistic

Your goals need to be backed by logic and reason. Yes, you are rearing to go but take a step back and ask yourself, is this sensible?

We can say our example is sensible enough especially having shown their attainability.

I want to move my monthly income from Kshs. 150, 000 to Kshs. 180, 000 this year. This signifies a 20% increase in my income.

Time Bound

Do not leave your resolutions open ended as far as time is concerned. That is sure suicide, well, at least as far as your resolutions are concerned. Not having timelines, nullifies the whole point of setting resolutions.

As we conclude on our example:

In instance one: Employed

I want to increase my monthly income from Kshs. 150, 000 to Kshs. 180, 000 this year. This signifies a 20% increase in my income. This will take effect in the second quarter of the year since my review is set for the last month of the first quarter of the year.

  • I will achieve this because, we are due for a raise and the company promised a 20% increase to those who fund higher degrees for themselves in line with their job descriptions. I graduated in December with an MBA in Marketing.

In instance two: Self-employed

I want to move my monthly income from Kshs. 150, 000 to Kshs. 180, 000 this year. This signifies a 20% increase in my income.

  • I will achieve this because I just got a new government tender that guarantees an additional Kshs. 30, 000 after factoring in my expenses. This will take effect in the second half of the year since government payments take a period of 90 days after supply.

Go on, set plans for yourself, if you would not dare wing it with your business; why then wing it with your personal, professional and financial life.

Happy New Year, whenever your year starts.

The Big Scary F Word; Feminism

When I was in High School, I was mopping our house as part of house work. One gentleman came to drop a package at our place and saw me bent down mopping. The gentleman gave me one scornful look and as he left our place, he remarked that I was very stupid for doing work that should be done by women. I think it was that moment, even if I might not have known it, that I chose to be a feminist.

Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi quipped that a feminist is a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. I like to agree more with a trivial old quote that says “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human.”

Despite the traction that the feminism agenda has gained, it still continues to be trivialized and almost to a large extent, exclusively linked to “Man-Hating” and me thinks this fallibility should be taken responsible of by both genders.

Traditionally, men are brought up thinking they are better than women. My nephew, in standard four, was once very mad at coming out number 2 in his class. Despite that being a very enviable position, it didn’t augur well with him that he had lost to a girl and it took a long talk, and a few ice cream cones to prove to him that women are just as smart as men(Perhaps even smarter, but that is an argument for the neuroscientists).

Some women have also been conditioned to think that men will forever be better than them and they have no option but to submit to whatever the man wants; which is a basis for a lot of problems.

To paraphrase Chimamanda, “Men are taught to compete with each other (in academia), while women are taught to compete with each other for the attention of the man.

In our day and age, it’s almost a wonder how such glass ceilings have not been shattered.

However, all hope is not lost. The works of artists like Beyonce, Lena Dunham and Taylor Swift have acted as a fulcrum to balance both genders.

British actress Emma Watson, in latent collaboration with Yousafazai Malala, have championed the #HeForShe campaign; which was an effort to get the men involved in the Feminism Debate.

Credit needs to be given to the campaign as more and more men got involved and it created a paradigm shift.

Men began to realize that Feminism is not synonymous with manhating; that feminists are not on a witch-hunt to take away their collective sense of “Manhood.”

Women also began to realize that being a feminist does not mean you hate men; that to be an empowered woman does not come about by humiliating a man.

Inevitably, we cannot run away from the fact that both genders will have their differences as predetermined by Biology, Environment, and Culture etc. But in the end, in terms of Social Class, Economic Sustenance and Political Identity, Men are just as equal as Women.

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