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Here are the important lessons life has taught me over 30 years

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NJOKI CHEGE

By NJOKI CHEGE
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I turn 30 on Monday and I don’t know why people around me are making such a big deal out of it. I was bound to turn 30 at some point. It feels great to be here; I finally have a vague idea why I was put on this earth, I have completed school (almost) and I have practiced journalism for nearly 10 years.

You know you are getting old when younger ones seek your advice, so I decided the best way to celebrate my last column in my 20s is by dispensing some advice here for my younger sisters and brothers.

You don’t have time. Quit wasting your youth on things, people and stuff that will not matter in five years. Procrastination is the thief of time. If you live your life postponing things, waiting for the perfect time to do it perfectly, you are in for a nasty surprise. Leverage on the power of now. Just do it!

Be comfortable with yourself. Friends and family are great, but over the years I have had to figure out life mostly by myself. You’ve got to be comfortable with solitude, to be okay being by yourself, with your thoughts and your God. In your fleeting youth, you must learn to enjoy your own company, to live with yourself, by yourself and for yourself.

Friends –  good friends – are the anchor of life. For a long time, I thought I was a self-sufficient trooper who did not need others… until I learnt the joy of knowing that there are people out there who truly care for me and my well-being. That said, you don’t have to try too hard to impress people just to be part of the herd. Good friends are hard to come by, but when they show up, you will not have to bend over backwards to belong.

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Run your race. Comparison is the thief of joy. There will always be someone smarter than you, younger than you, more talented than you are and so on. Part of growing up is witnessing your peers do better than you, and that is okay. Don’t waste your youth comparing your life to that of others; have your pace, use your key and learn to be happy for your friends when they succeed. Jealousy, my young friends, is a path you do not want to take.

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Personal integrity, cliché as it may sound, will guarantee you a good night’s sleep. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Keep your word, without making too many promises. An old friend once told me that as a journalist, the only thing you have that nobody can take away from you is your integrity. This doesn’t just apply to journalism; even in life. If you say you will do something at 7am, you better do it no later than 7:01am. That way, people will trust you and give you responsibilities.

Take care of yourself. Eat healthy. Exercise often, and try to enjoy the exercise. About drinking and partying, be moderate. Speaking as someone who has never imbibed alcohol, I can tell you for sure that there are fewer things more liberating that being in control of yourself, your actions, your time and of your Saturday mornings. Once in a while, instead of wasting an entire Saturday nursing a hangover, I encourage you to take a run instead; the clarity of mind you will achieve afterwards will be mind-blowing.

Build your small library in a corner of your house or your room and let that be your little treasure trove of great books by your favourite authors on your favourite topics; your small repository that you can retreat once in a while to consult when need be. You can afford to live this life without many things but you cannot afford to live a life of ignorance. Pick your reading interest, stick to it religiously and you will realise nothing beats the joy of knowing stuff, of figuring out the world and of learning how to think for yourself.

Love, elusive as it may be, is God’s greatest gift. Whether it is in the form of a mother and son, father and children or even between two people coming together as one, love should be nurtured, cultivated and protected at all costs. So if you are blessed enough to find that love in your youth, love hard and without fear, because everyone loves to be loved.

There you go, youngins; eight lessons drawn from 30 years of experience.

Ms Chege is the director of the Innovation Centre at Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications; [email protected]

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Our wizards saw the Brave New World, but none saw coronavirus

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By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO

Last year in December, Nation Media Group held its first Kusi Ideas Festival in Kigali. The festival tried to peer ahead the next 60 years in Africa.

There were many Brave New World ideas about how that future might look like, and also the perils that progress almost always brings. Needless to say, no one saw Covid-19 coming.

A futurist curtain-raiser in The EastAfrican, titled Africa in 2079, came close to outlining a mirror universe to the one Covid-19 is bequeathing us.

Between London, Zimbabwe, and the corners of Africa where Econet’s fibre optic network reaches, Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of Econet Wireless and former chair of the board of AGRA wrote:

“I recently invested in a tech start-up that has created an Uber-like platform for tractors, enabling farmers to link up with a central database and order a tractor via SMS…freeing the farmer from the drudgery of the hoe. This service is particularly valued by women farmers, enabling them to circumvent social norms that might otherwise hamper their ability to hire a tractor.” From wherever we are hiding from the virus, unable to roam the farm, Uber farming could be the new way a lot of our food is produced.

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From Tanzania, Aidan Eyakuze, who is executive director of Twaweza East Africa and has been confined in-country as an elegant prisoner for nearly two years because of his love of inconvenient data, painted an intoxicating but strange utopian-dystopian picture of Africa at the end the century.

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By 2079, he foresaw the “vast majority of Africans earn their living through multiple micro-tasking (MMTs) ever since every ”job” was unbundled into its component tasks…leaving only those unbundled micro-tasks needing social intelligence, creativity or dexterity to be done by people. All ”taskers” are always-on private contractors who bid relentlessly for the privilege of tasking.

Incomes are kept low by the relative scarcity of tasks requiring the human touch.

“The unrelenting competition for tasks is both stressful and socially divisive — you are competing against everyone all the time…even marriages have renewable term limits, ‘in case someone better comes along.’” With work-from-home regimes, the former has come 78 years earlier.

Indeed, even for the latter, more people now probably think being cooped up with the same man or woman in the house “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part,” is a very archaic model.

Between Italy and Kenya, the Society for International Development’s Arthur Muliro, peered into a what a truly borderless Africa might look. Among others, his gaze settled on, of all places, Libya.

“Libya…was now welcoming other Africans and allowing them to settle. The peace deal that had come after a decade of civil war was holding and there was new optimism, in part boosted by the arrival and expansion of new migrant groups who had settled there and were helping rebuild their adopted country.”

On a close re-reading, turns out Aidan hinted that Turkey, which jumped in the Libyan fray as the coronavirus made its way out of Wuhan, might have something to do with it.

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Stadiums progress welcome – Daily Nation

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By EDITORIAL

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Last week, the Sports ministry’s top officials, led by Chief Administrative Secretary Hassan Noor Hassan and Principal Secretary Joe Okudo traversed the country to access the ongoing construction of stadiums.

President Uhuru Kenyatta also made an impromptu tour of the Nyayo National Stadium to ensure that all is well besides giving Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed full support. That has made sure that renovation works resume at all the stadiums — including Kasarani, Nyayo, Kipchoge Keino, Kamariny and Wote — and that everything is running on schedule.

Upon completion of some of these arenas, the country will have positioned itself to host major world events, especially in football, athletics and basketball. The ministry must, therefore, ensure that, while it has given contractors an ultimatum to finish their work, it also insists on quality delivery.

But there are concerns about work at county stadiums, especially in Mombasa, where those who redesigned the arena have done away with the internationally approved running track.

The new stadium has been designed for football only hence won’t host any track and field events. The four lane track will only be for warm up and this has raised eyebrows.

Mombasa County Chief Sports Officer Innocent Mugabe said Bububu grounds in Likoni and Kenya Ports Authority’s Mbaraki Sports Club will be upgraded for sports use. Mombasa being at low altitude, it is suitable for staging major World Athletics events, having staged the 2007 World Cross Country Championships.

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Kenya is bidding to host the 2025 World Championships in Athletics and Mombasa can easily be the venue with a good stadium in place. There is still time to build a county stadium.

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Ensure reopening of schools runs smoothly

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By EDITORIAL

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When Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha announced a fortnight ago the postponement of school reopening to January next year, he gave an exception. Universities, teacher training colleges and technical training institutions were directed to be ready to reopen in September.

Consequently, they were asked to put in place safety measures prescribed by the Health ministry, including reorganising classrooms and hostels to ensure social distancing. Just a month to the planned reopening, are those institutions really prepared?

In the past few days, Prof Magoha has convened meetings with the heads of the institutions to plan for the reopening and visiting the colleges to assess their preparedness. Preliminary reports from these engagements indicate that just a few institutions are ready.

POOR STATE

At the university level, so far, only Strathmore has been declared ready for reopening. Ensure reopening of schools runs smoothly

For teachers’ colleges, three — Murang’a, Kibabii and Kericho — have met the threshold. Assessment is ongoing for the technical training institutions.

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But the broad observation is that most of the institutions are not ready. Though not surprising, most of them are ordinarily in poor state and Covid-19 has just exposed them. Beyond the situation, long-term actions are required to revamp and revitalise them.

Reopening the colleges in September will be the starting point for relaxing restrictions in the education sector. The reason for beginning with colleges is that they have mature students who understand the health protocols and can, therefore, take care of themselves and minimise infections. Their experience would then inform plans for reopening primary and secondary schools.

REPEAT CLASSES

Closure of schools and colleges has dealt a huge blow to education. Learners in schools have lost a whole year and have to repeat classes next year. This comes with high social, economic and psychological. Indeed, this is the first time in history that schools are being closed for a year.

The last time the education sector suffered most was in 1982, when, following an abortive coup, the University of Nairobi and then-Kenyatta University College were closed for nine months. That created a major backlog and that took five years to clear. This is the reason steps should be taken at the earliest opportunity to mitigate the damage.

The challenge, therefore, is for the colleges to work on those health protocols to prepare for reopening. All other sectors, such as transport and tourism, are reopening and, therefore, colleges have no reason to lag behind. We ask the management of the institutions to expedite the required processes and get ready for reopening in September as directed.

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