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Pst Susan deserves a medal for giving the country light relief

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GABRIEL OGUDA

By GABRIEL OGUDA
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There’s a video doing the rounds, portraying a woman of God delivering an explosive sermon about a taboo subject.

The high point in Pastor Susan Munene’s message is her animated body movements and spellbinding facial expression.

They say the easiest way to trend on Kenyan social media is to package your content in the form of sexual allure.

Skimpily dressed models and music videos with vulgar content have often attracted the ire of the public, and particularly the Kenya Film and Classification Board, for going against our national morality.

However, instead of the public calling for a ban on this trending sermon on sex, we have created memes and joined in the mass hysteria that greeted its timely release.

We would have expected those inside that church to cover their faces in shame, or leave the hall in disapproval once the lady pastor spoke, but that’s the opposite of what happened.

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You could tell they stayed put because they were coming across something fresh.

In this era where modern-day clergy are preoccupied with the prosperity gospel, competing on who has the most bling and cars, you’d expect all religious sermons to focus on how to finance the flashy lifestyles of these men and women of God.

Rarely do you find clergy discussing the building blocks of a happy and fulfilling life, and whenever you find one, they would most likely avoid the subject of sex.

We have all heard this common chorus that the church is supposed to be holy ground, where sex is considered a touchy subject and any discussion around it confined to the four fortified walls of the marriage counselling room.

A woman speaking about sex openly in church, therefore, is not only considered sinful but also lacking in basic etiquette and the common decency required of her moral standing in civilised society.

In such an atmosphere, it would surprise no one had the congregation walked away in protest or booed her off the holy pulpit, but no one was filmed leaving their seats, a clear message that the sermon not only pricked their collective conscience but also offered an alternative approach to discussing an otherwise taboo topic.

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The sermon was delivered in a way we all can relate to, and offers a chance to laugh at ourselves for the things we do under the cover of darkness but choose not to discuss in the light.

As reality checks go, that video gave us a chance to take a look at ourselves in the mirror and begin a national discussion on how we can remedy our collective hypocrisy.

We live in a country that receives depressing news at every turn.

Our media are awash with stories of fatal acts of domestic violence, worrying suicide rates, and depressing scenes from natural calamities.

Our economic situation isn’t in the best of days, the result of which has led us to having short fuses and sensitive nerve endings that get frayed at the slightest of irks.

A security guard takes her time to open the estate gate and before you know it, she’s on the ground getting assaulted for doing her job to the book.

A military wife makes a routine visit to her husband’s home and the next update you get is that her lifeless body and that of her innocent children were discovered in an abandoned graveyard halfway across the world.

The economy is tough and Kenyans are struggling to survive. The genuine smiles have significantly reduced and depressing frowns taken over our national mood.

We are so overwhelmed with our economic problems, anything to make us laugh is highly welcome.

Pst Susan should be given a medal for making an attempt at reversing our current national mood.

She not only set the pace for an open discussion about sex, but has also contributed to our Gross National Happiness index while at it.

When the next Global Happiness index is released and Kenya finds itself jumping several places up the rankings, we should look back at that video and thank Pst Susan for single-handedly putting us on the world map for the right reasons. Whoever said heroes don’t wear capes had people like her in mind.

We need more Kenyans coming up with creative content that can relieve us of this burdensome economic pain we are currently going through.

Anyone who can make us laugh at ourselves, without breaking the boundaries of decency, should be given incentives to continue supplying us with fresh content.

Pst Susan should be given a medal for daring to venture into a taboo subject that many a clergy fear to touch.

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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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