I heard waiting for ‘dead man’s shoes’ for the first time recently from a 93-year-old English friend. I thought I had mastered the Queen’s language so superbly as to tell stories in English. Little did I know there were some more nuggets of phrases out there that have now come in handy to describe the Kenyan job market.
For those still in the dark, I am referring to the recent appointment of a 91-year-old man to manage funds meant to improve the welfare of the youth in the country. This is no news at all if we had our eyes peeled on recent State appointments.
There have been a few octogenarians past their ‘sell-by’ date recycled for good measure. Claiming experience as an excuse for their appointments is not justified if that experience only meant someone warming up a chair for 40-50 years with no tangible results on the ground.
It is hard to believe that there are no competent and honest young people to fill leadership posts in the public service.
As a disclaimer, there is absolutely nothing wrong with appointing pensioners (going by anti-discrimination laws). But there is just something tasteless, selfish and arcane about it. It is just not right because one gets this sense it is ‘reverse discrimination’ against the youth.
It is not right because it leaves us stuck in the mud, doing things the old way, when we should embrace the energetic, creative and digital ways the young work in tune with the current fast-paced global market systems.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk of SpaceX, PayPal and Tesla cars and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) are only three examples of young visionaries who brought seismic changes to how the world did business and functioned through ground-breaking technological discoveries. Microsoft’s Bill Gates had, of course, set the pace for many of the younger generation of men and women innovators in technology. The future of any country is now dependent on it.
Kenya was among the first countries to embrace technology. Its M-Pesa mobile money invention continues to marvel the world. Kenyan youth have played a pivotal role in the development of technology in this country. Many apps have been created by them in support of community projects.
The world is now even engaging Kenyan tech-savvy youth to help in creating the futuristic world dependent on Artificial Intelligence (AI), for instance, to be used in driverless cars.
These are our best young brains showing Kenya and the world that they are ready for change and willing to be part of the futuristic and technologically advanced communities. How can they all be corrupt?
Corruption in Kenya has been our hobby since millennials were even thought of. We have stolen public funds as if it was going extinct like our rhinos. If the youth are corrupt, they must have learnt the ignominious ‘trade’ from their seniors. An apple doesn’t fall far from its tree.
Had we punished and curbed corruption when it first reared its head, we wouldn’t be in this state of paranoia. It is just simply not fair to blame the young for something they only inherited by default.
Like many other African countries, Kenya is comfortable to be considered a ‘country for old men’. That is why any young person in the continent with creative and modern views is tortured into silence so as not to undermine the status quo for the ageing leaders. Who would forget the trials and tribulations Bobby Wine continues to experience in Uganda?
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia has now proven that Africa is, indeed, ripe for young, brave and visionary leaders. He has already hit the ground running by bringing historical changes to Ethiopia.
Mr Ahmed has helped to break the glass ceiling for women in his country, one of the most conservative and gendered. Rather than go for tribal appointments preferred by most of his predecessors, he went for an inclusive government because he understands the pitfalls of tribalism in the modern diverse world.
President Uhuru Kenyatta started on the same positive note by showing support for the youth. He proclaimed himself the “Digital President” in the last election campaign. He recently even got voted as Global Youth Ambassador. His dismissal now of the youth is baffling. Isn’t he giving them hope with one hand and taking it away with the other through their exclusion from the job market?
Kenyan youth should take their rightful place in society by cementing their quota on the leadership platform. A scheme worth considering, I believe, to prepare Kenyan youth for their future. It rightfully belongs to them.
Asking the youth to wait to fill into the dead man’s shoes in appointments while old people are being recycled with abandon is anathema to the progress of a country. Ninety years is a long, painful wait.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.