Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ways to solve conflicts in Kenya


My interests for further study about people living in Kenya, were arousing after I
summarized an article, issued in Africa news about armed conflicts among several Kenyan communities. As reported by the media and other sources, several areas in Kenya are torn by violence. For instance, in an article entitled “Nairobi Slum Population Sliding Toward Desperation”, the author described the situation of the inhabitants of Nairobi as follows: “Kibera, a populated Nairobi slum of 700 000 inhabitants, was completely paralyzed by violence. Tens of thousands of poor and vulnerable people were confined in that place marked by plunder, sudden violence, and strife between supporters of political rivals and criminal gangs” (“Bowen,” 2008, para. 1). This scene of violence aggravated the fragile economic and social situation of the people. According the author stated previously, “the greatest part of the population is deprived of income and food” (Bowen, 2008, para. 6). From the point of view of Mittulah (2003), slums do not mostly generate urban unrest, despite of violence, criminality and victimization, commonly found in those areas. This situation is the result of a lack of a well-defined policy from the competent authorities. Another went further by stating the following: “Kenya needs a cleaner, more democratic, more rule-abiding government; it needs to eliminate the licenses and regulations that create opportunities for bribery; it needs to apply the law equally to all citizens” (Applebaum, 2008, para. 6).

Located at eastwards of the African continent, the Republic of Kenya whose area is estimated at 582, 646 sq. km, has a population of 37.9 million of inhabitants, divided into six major ethnic groups. Those ethnicities include Kikuyu (22%), Luyia (14%), Luo (14%), Kalenjin (11%), Kamba (11%), Kisii (6%), and Meru (5%). About 80% of the population is Christian; the remaining percentage belongs either to Muslim (10%) or to traditional African religions (9%), or slightly to other religious congregations (1%) (U.S. Department of State, 2008). The population growth rate was estimated at 2.758% in 2008. During the same year, the birth rate was 37.89‰, whereas the death rate was 10.3‰. Furthermore, the total fertility was estimated at 4.7 babies born per woman in 2008. The number of people aged 15 and over, who can read and write, represents 85.1% of the population. However, the school life expectancy is 10 years (The World Factbook, 2009). The official language is English, whereas Swahili is the national language. Besides those languages, there are over 40 other languages from some linguistic groups such as Bantu, Nilotic, and Cushitic (U.S. Department of State, 2008).

Kenya conquered its independence in 1963, after being under British protectorate since 1895. After the death of his first president, Jomo Kenyatta, in 1978, Daniel Arap Moi ruled over the country; everything went relatively smoothly, until Moi was almost victim of a putsch. After the aborted putsch, the president and his political party (Kenyan African National Union) formed a coalition with politicians and businessmen who belonged for most of them to the president’s ethnicity (Kalenjin) which is one of the greatest ethnic groups in the country. People who belonged to this tribe, derived from 10 ethnic groups and four tens of smaller communities. Moi used ethnicity as an instrument of governing. When he was asked to share the power with people from other major ethnical groups in Rift Valley area, following the cold war, the president rather excluded them from his cabinet. Many observers assumed that this course of action implemented by the official leader of the country played a key role in spurring the climate of intertribal violence since 1992 in Rift Valley; those series of violence have cost many people their life, and have forced the survivors to displace. Natural resources, particularly land, are the underlying cause of those conflicts which set a huge drawback on Kenyan economy (Beurden, 2000).

In my paper, I plan to propose two courses of action that need to be implemented to resolve conflicts in Kenya. Those actions must aim at reforming the political system as well as at improving the socio-economic condition of the population.

Reforming Kenyan political system through education is an important step in the attempt to bring up conflicts among ethnic groups. From its accession to independence, Kenya has been governed by leaders who used ethnic groups as a powerful tool of maintaining the power. They detest multiparty democracy, whereas they are obsessing about staying for a lifetime at the office. Such mentality needs to change. However, it will not change overnight, since it is deep-rooted in the society; in fact, it can progressively be improved. Democracy should be the system of government to be promoted in Kenya. Every citizen would have to learn his or her rights and duties in the society. Furthermore, leaders of other countries with strong democracy should work jointly with Kenyan government until he assimilates the concept of democracy. Most importantly, the youth of the country should be the main target group to teach the basic principles of democracy, for they will also have to rule over the country in the years to come; moreover, as young people, they are less reluctant to change than the adults. Another aspect that needs to be emphasized is the cult of patriotism and nationalism. From their early age, every Kenyan citizen should know that they belong to one country; thus they have to work together to make life looks better. And no matter their ethnic difference, they are one nation.

Improving the socio-economic conditions of all citizens is another important step to be taken in the process of solving conflicts in Kenya. In this case, some actions must be implemented in the short term, others in mid and long terms. In the short term, the government must elaborate a plan of development that takes into account the aspirations of all social categories. This plan must include education for the population, health care, food, energy and water supplies, and job creation etc. Job creation is an important factor the success of the plan. People must be able to afford money to buy the services provided by the government. Moreover, by being busy working, people will unlikely be involved in conflicts, because they will not have any time to waste. The authorities may also organize competitions (sports) among the different communities in order to make them become familiar with each other. This can foster mutual understanding between communities.

In the mid and long terms, the authorities should give some incentives to the population in order to control the fertility rate. For example, women could be given the opportunity to get involved in careers, so that they may give birth to fewer children. In every society where women are busy working outside of home, their total fertility rate (the number on children a woman will have during her childbearing years), tend to decrease. By controlling the size of the population, the government will find more resources to devote to the well-being of the current population. This course of action can also help government set aside money for implementing some projects such as school construction, and the building of health centers. One of the greatest problems of the poor countries is their incapacity to correlate the growth of their population with the available resources. This is also one of the major reasons of riot in those areas. As president Kennedy (1961) pointed out in his inaugural address: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

To sump up, conflict in Kenyan communities is a big issue. Politics catalyze this situation. Besides politics, poverty also plays an important role. To fix this problem, Kenyan leaders must be conscious of the scope of crisis. They also need to make proof of patriotism and nationalism in order to set a good plan, designated to satisfy the basic needs of the poor population. Overall, the reform of politics through the promotion of a new form of government as well as the improvement of the living conditions of the population are fundamental for curtailing conflicts in this region.

Appelbaum, A. (22, Jan.2002). Rot in Kenya’s politics. Washington post. Retrieved on February 28, 2009, from: http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.27394/pub_detail.asp

Beurden, J.V., (2000). Kenya: Small scale conflicts could have major
repercussions. Searching for peace in Africa. Retrieved on March 2, 2009, from: http://www.conflict-prevention.net/page.php?id=40&formid=73&action=show&surveyid=58

Bowen, S. (2009, Jan. 09). Nairobi slum population toward desperation. News Room. Retrieved on February 19, 2009, from:http://www.imc-la.com/content/article/detail/1574

Houreld, K. ( 2008, August, 24). In Kenya slum, sun and sewage equals progress. USA Today. Retrieved on February 19, 2009, from: http: www.usatoday.com/news/world/20

Kennedy, J. F., (20, Janv. 1961). Inaugural Address. American Rhetoric Top 100 speeches. Retrieved on February 19, 2009, from: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/jfkinaugural.htm

Mckinley, T. (2001, Dec. 7). Kenya’s slum war. BBC News. Retrieved on February 19, 2009, from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1697809.stm

Mittulah,W. (2003). Understanding slums: case studies for the global report 2003. ULC. Retrieved on February 19, 2009, from: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dpu-projects/Global_Report/cities/nairobi.htm

Salopek, P. (2008, July 2). Violent cult patrol Kenya slums. Cult News. Retrieved on February 19, 2009, from: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003770727_kenya02.html
Tattersall, N. (2008, Jan. 17). Kenya’s slum residents angered by police brutality. Reuters. Retrieved on Feb.19, 2009, from: http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL17863342
The world Factbook. (2009, Feb. 24). Kenya. CIA.gov, Retrieved on March 2, 2009, from:

U.S. Department of State (2008). Kenya. State.gov, Retrieved on March 2, 2009,
from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2962.htm

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Dreadful Experience, But at the end...

I have been in Carbondale just for two months. During this short period, I have made a lot of experience. In this paper, I would like to share one of them.

Coming from a tropical country, I am not accustomed with cold weather. Although my friend from Haiti advised me to wear clothes which can prevent me from catching cold, I did not pay to much attention to what he said. One day, after coming out of the streets, I did not feel well. I felt like coughing with difficulties, and then I said: “I am done”. As the time was passing, I felt worse. So, I could not even eat anything. Then I was freaked out inside of me. I wondered myself, what will happen to me. Fortunately, my parents taught me how to deal with this kind of situation when I was in my country. Thus, I took the necessary steps to fix that problem once for all. First, I anointed my chest with oil I brought in the U.S. from Haiti. That oil derived from a medicinal plant named Ricinus communis (the picture of that plant is displayed on the top of the text). Next, I put on warm clothes. Third, I went to bed and covered myself from the top to the bottom with a very thick sheet. I did so, in other to increase the temperature of my body. At the same time, I avoided drinking cold beverages as well as taking cold shower. Hopefully, I recovered my health.

I drew two lessons from that experience: firstly, it is important to be prudent in life; secondly, whenever the opportunity to learn something new arises, seize it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Call a halt to Facebook

Today, many people of all categories are using Facebook (a social networking website), to stay in contact with their friends, their family members, or to establish new relationships. Since its foundation in 2004, its members have been increasing. More than 175 million people are holding membership in Facebook, about 5 million new users per week (Hempel, 2009). Although this network has become very popular nowadays, I think someone should avoid holding membership in it, for the following reasons: it makes people waste their time, it makes whosoever snoops around their privacy, and it fosters encounters of dangerous kinds, particularly for teenagers.

The proponents of Facebook argued that there is nothing wrong with it, since it is a way that allows people to connect to each other. However, Facebook is a potential danger for the productivity at the workplace. Undoubtedly, Facebook is a thief of time. For instance, there is a so-called “25 Things about Me” that people joining this network generally write. In addition to that, they may send videos, photos of some special occasion. Suddath (2009), estimated the number of individuals who sent those notes, at 5 million during this week. According to the author, if each person spends 10 minutes involving in those stuffs, overall 800,000 hours of work time productivity is lost. It is probably for this reason, some countries such as Syria and Iran blocked the access to this network.

Another issue about Facebook includes the privacy snooping. Some people tend to deliver unconsciously some sensible secrets about their life, when they become Facebook members. The fact is that people are likely to tell everything about themselves while they are online; they do not even figure out if they are betraying themselves by so doing. Most of the times, they put themselves in an uncomfortable position. For instance, Popkin ( 2009) made this important remark in “Random things about Facebook”: a certain employee who would receive an invitation from his boss to bind friendship on Facebook, is faced with the dilemma of accepting or rejecting the offer. If he accepts, he mortgages his chance of keeping the job, for his employer may eventually stumble upon something wrong about him. If he turns him down, he may be fired immediately for offending his or her employer.

Teenagers usually make encounters of dangerous kinds in cyberspace. If adults are prone to tell almost everything about themselves in Facebook, how much more likely will teenagers be to do it? They are so suspicious that some of them are concerned because many parents are also using Facebook. This is the declaration of a young student: “It is really weird that nonstudents and parents use Facebook”, said Emma Gaines (Davis, 2009). She continues by saying: “It makes me really uncomfortable that my older aunt has Facebook, because she says that she likes to check up on her teenage nieces and nephews and takes our pictures for her own use. That is creepy”. Peers easily influence young people. Today’s society is glutted with crimes, and young people commit most of them. Moreover, a large amount of adolescents begin dating early, becoming addicted to cocaine, holding illegal weapons, because of bad influence. The fact of the matter is that parents should be careful about their children’s frequentations. Unfortunately, a network such as Facebook is designed to make void their attempts to really control their offspring’s relationships.

To sum up, in spite of the claim that people make about the advantages of Facebook, it actually takes more from the society than it brings. Its drawback mainly targets work productivity, people’s privacy, and adolescents’ accord with their parents. So, all these reasons demonstrate how deleterious Facebook is for the moral standard of the society.

Davis, A. (2009, Jan. 3). Friended by mom and dad on Facebook Students worry about parental snooping, devise ways to protect privacy. ABC Nwes. Retrieved on February 19, 2009, from: http://abcnews.go.com/OnCampus/story?id=6555853&page
Hempel, J. (2009, Feb. 17). How Facebook is taking over our lives. Fortune, cnnmoney.com. Retrieved on February 17, 2009, from: http://tinyurl.com/ab5aua
Popkin, H. (2, Feb. 2009). 26 random things about Facebook. MSNBC.com. Retrieved on February 17, 2009, from: http://tinyurl.com/bwwrka
Saddath, C. (2009, Feb.5). 25 things I didn’t want to know about you. Time Magazine online. Retrieved on February 17, 2009, from: http://tinyurl.com/d3okh7

Monday, February 23, 2009

Abortion: a means of controlling overpopulation

In the “overpopulation growing at a furious rate” article, written by Magaret L. Usdansky, in July 18, 1994 USA Today issue, concerns are expressed about overpopulation and its drawbacks on the environment. It is such a crucial issue, that it drew the attention of St-Aime Ricot who expressed his concerns. According to the author, controlling the population growth is possible, but some countries or religions will fight it.

The worldwide population is mushrooming nowadays. To avoid our planet’s being collapsed, population must be controlled. The main way to control overpopulation is through birth control, of which several methods are used. But, out of all these methods, abortion is the key.
First of all, abortion is one of the best methods to control overpopulation, because a lot of teenagers become pregnant both in developed countries and in underdeveloped countries. These adolescents are still at school; then they do not do anything. In this case, their parents must necessarily meet their needs. So, it is irresponsible to let these adolescents have a baby. Abortion must be the tool to refrain from this problem.
Another reason that justifies the use of abortion as a means of control of overpopulation is its innocent target. Just a fetus, not an individual is aborted; in this case their person who initiates the process cannot be held as criminal. For the well being of our planet, people must be aware of the harmful effects of overpopulation on the environment as well as on the natural resources that sustain life on the earth.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Anxious at the beginning, but excited at the end!

During my undergraduate study, I felt interested in pursuing my study for getting a master’s degree. Since I did not want to study anymore in my home country, I desired to study in the United States. Two years after my undergraduate study, I heard about the Fulbright Scholarship program. This program is a scholarship granted by the American government to the citizens of about 150 countries throughout the world. It is designed to foster cultural and educational exchanges among U.S. citizens and those of other countries.
In fact, this scholarship was the best way to help me start my graduate study in the U.S. But how will it get? I had to compete. First, I applied online. Next, I brought some additional files to the U.S. embassy in my home country. Then, I was scheduled to take the Institutional TOEFL as the Fulbright selection process. In the meantime, I was anxious, because 200 people were competing for this scholarship. However, only 12 or 16 people out of those candidates, should be selected as recipients. Anyway, I went to take the exam. As it was my first TOEFL exam, I did not understand all the instructions. And as a result, I made a mistake that could jeopardize my chance of being selected for an interview. So, I was very scared. Surprisingly, I was among the 60 candidates who were selected for an interview. What a relief! Thus, I prepared myself for the interview, for I regained confidence. When the d-day arrived, I headed to the U.S. embassy, filled with confidence of convincing the selection committee. Interestingly, I gave impressive answers to all the questions it asked me. Thus, four days after the interview, I received an email that notified me of my final selection for the award. Then, I was excited. As I was dreaming of studying in U.S., right now, my dream comes true.
In short, dreaming and trying are important to succeed in life, for where there is a will, there is a way.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Woman I would like to marry

Every human being is created with a strong desire to involve in a relationship where love is received and given. Thus, each person longs for meeting a special mate who is able to fill him or her with lasting bliss. However, the choice of a future partner is not an easy matter, for it calls for wisdom, patience, and confidence to God. By the way, as every single person, I dream of finding someone to share my life with. Knowing beforehand, the responsibilities that will be laid upon me when I marry a woman, I am willing to choose a person regarding her inner qualities. All the character traits I need in my future wife are summarized in this great quality: the fear of God. All of the other qualities will be reliant upon it. Why do I give the fear of God, priority on all? It is because I need a wise wife, for the Bible said that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge i.e. wisdom (proverbs 1:7). Because my wife will be wise, additionally, she will be virtuous. Thus, my heart will safely trust her. Furthermore, she will not be quarrelsome; on the contrary, kind words will always proceed from her mouth.
Apart from her inner qualities, I would like my future wife to be attractive. By attractiveness, I mean, even she becomes mother, she must be always well-groomed. In this case, she will arouse my desire to be close to her. In addition to this, she must be conscious of her responsibilities as mother. The success of her children’s education must constitute her main goal. So, if it is necessary, she must be ready to sacrifice everything to the education of our offspring. Above all, I expect my future partner to be someone who devotes her life for a right cause.
In short, finding a trustworthy woman to share my existence, is a big challenge for me. There are so many pitfalls in marriage today, that I feel perplexed to engage myself with a young lady. Despite of the large amount of broken marriages throughout the world, marrying someone is a worthwhile choice. Therefore, help me pray so that I may find a suitable partner. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Take a stand against abortion

In the “Abortion: when do rights begin?” article, published in the Capitalism Magazine, Andrew Lewis wrote: The mother is free to remove the fetus from her womb though the fetus’ rights begin prior to his birth. However, the fetus’ rights become effective when he becomes a baby. Thus the concept of rights is applicable only to the mother as a real individual, not for the fetus who is a would-be individual. Moreover he argued that someone who has a valuable reason for aborting, does not commit any crime since abortion is included among the political rights of humanity. There is no reason to force a couple to enter parenthood if either person does not want to, he pointed out. Assigning rights to a fetus is a destructive and deceptive conception of rights, concluded the author.

Abortion has been a controversial issue since ancient times. Some people believe that this practice is convenient, whereas others assume that it is an immoral act or even worse, a crime. I believe abortion is wrong for many reasons. Those reasons include the violation of children’s rights, its ethical immorality, and its drawback on humanitarian progress.
Abortion is a violation of children’s rights, because life is a gift that every human being has received; thus it is not fair to deprive anyone of this precious gift. Those who abusively claimed that a fetus has no rights, promote oppression in the society. Generally, people who are stronger tend to deny the rights of the feeble. This attitude was commonplace throughout the world while some powerful nations were dominating other nations through slavery. The colonists considered the slaves as their personal estate; in this case, they could take advantage of these oppressed people. Similarly, as a helpless and innocent human being, the fetus is treated spitefully by his torturers. Unfortunately, no one is ready to raise his voice on behalf of those voiceless creatures who are victim of human cruelty.
Ethical immorality is another reason that makes abortion wrong. In every society where the moral standard is present, murder is unlawful no matter its form or motive. The proponents of abortion argued that a fetus is not an individual, because he still needs his mother’s womb to survive. However they ignored all individuals are constituted of cells. They also ignored the definition of cell which stands for the basic structure and functional unit in people and all living things. What does this definition imply? A cell is a human being or a living creature in miniature. If a cell is considered as the starting point of life, then a fetus can be considered as its middle, for a fetus may contain thousands of millions of cells. Moreover the proponents of abortion take a selfish and ungrateful stand by stating that since the fetus is nourished by his mother through the umbilical cord, he is not a person. Nevertheless, those who hold such opinion have short memories because they forget that they also were in need of the tender care of a mother from the very beginning of the existence.
Finally, abortion sets a huge drawback on humanitarian progress. Today’s society is facing numerous problems related to health, environment and food shortages. For instance, various diseases such as AIDS, cancer remain until now incurable. Maybe those potential individuals who are being killed before they come on the earth could fix some of the problems we are facing nowadays. Obviously, if Thomas Edison was victim of abortion, maybe humanity would never taste the benefit of electricity. This may be applied for Luc Montagnier, who discovered the HIV virus, and Louis Pasteur, who solved some problems related to health through the development of the first vaccines. In fact, the benefactors of humanity are countless. Interestingly, all of them without exception passed by fetus stage.
Because life is an inalienable gift granted to all living creatures, it must be respected and protected. On the other side, as reasoning creatures, humans are called to set a good example to the other living beings. Then our society should be a safe place instead of a jungle. In conclusion, abortion is wrong for all the reasons listed above and more.

Lewis, A. (2000, Feb. 14). Abortion: when do rights begin? Capitalism Magazine.Retrieved on February 2, 2009, from http://www.capmag.com/article.asp