Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Of this and that and the other

I've not been here in ages, sorry but life sort of caught up with me and I just managed to wriggle out of it's grasp for these few minutes to tell you what's up. I've been doing a lot of writing, unfortunately most of it's been done in my head. I can't seem to stop thinking about things, which reminds of a Robbie Williams song with the line "contemplating thinking about thinking". Yup, I've been doing that. I've been thinking about the Goldstone report and I will be telling you what I think about it soon. I Was watching Faultlines on Al Jazeera the other day and they had a special on Honduras, it's amazing how much injustice goes on out there and yet the powers that be stand by and watch.

The Listening post is doing a feature on Obama's Nobel and how it was reported in the media, what do you guys think about it? Afghanistan is in trouble, they have to organise a run off election before winter sets in, I wish them the best. Karzai attempted to pull a fast one even with all the world's cameras pointed at him and he nearly got away with it.Pakistan on the other hand is in danger of devolving, can you believe the chaps have nuclear weapons? The whole world seems to be comfortable with the idea of wiping out the Al Qaeda and make theTaliban powerless but I'm not sure it's going to be accomplished.

Back home, I've heard things about a homosexuality bill that makes us look like barbarians and apparently no leader on the continent deserves the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Prize.

Will fill you in tomorrow on other happenings. Later peeps

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Workzine Issue 6

I had to write the editor's word for the latest issue of the workzine and I found myself doing several versions. I feel that they're engaging but then again I know people don't like reading such stuff so I just thought I would throw this one here since I have license to torment you with my meandering mind.

We're back again! It seems way too soon but as the old adage goes, time flies... I have just come to a certain realisation; the world is run by the middle and lower classes. Forget the idea that the ruling elite call all the shots, if the middle and lower classes all over the world woke up one morning and decided to sit down until say for example they received higher wages, the world would come to a standstill. I realise too that I am not the first to see this; all those who have led civil society movements in the past have instinctively known this. Ghandi, MLK, Su Kyi and all the others have embraced this knowledge. This knowledge however is beginning to make its way into our daily lives; perhaps the time will come when it becomes a natural part of us, the idea that each and every one of us matters will be held above many others. A certain lady, Elinor Ostrom, has just won the Nobel Memorial Prize for economics; she shares it with an Oliver E. Williamson but it is the first time a woman has won this prize since it was awarded forty years ago. She accepted the accolade with humility saying that while it was good to win the damn thing, she knew she was only the beginning. Perhaps one of you will aspire to this award.

Interestingly their work (done separately) challenges traditional beliefs regarding resource management, conflict resolution and the theory of firms and markets. It is a load of boring stuff for those not interested in the business of economics which leads me to something that's been bothering me for a while. How do you manage to keep your world small? How do you not give a damn about what happens elsewhere in the world? At the end of the day everything is tied together, you might think such things shouldn't matter to you but any analysis of world events and history will show you that everything's connected. I have become obsessed with the world and I fear that I might burn out or end up sad, bitter and lonely but I know that I will never stop wanting to know more. The beeb's motto is "Never Stop Asking" and I guess I will always be doing it till I drop dead.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Faith, Hope and Charity or Pay It Forward: The Elevator Pitch

Abid was introducing the idea of the Workzine to bloggers last BHH and he was asked for an elevator pitch of the entire concept. An elevator pitch? I asked myself, then it dawned on me that it simply meant that you had to sum up the idea in the time it takes to ride an elevator to say 11th floor of Worker's house. If you can't pull it off then, you might as well proceed to the roof and take a dive. So I thought I would give it a shot and introduce The Pay It Forward Foundation Uganda before we get to the 10th floor.

Then I got thinking: Since when did our culture evolve to this point, when all the time another person has for your thoughts is an elevator ride? Obviously I wandered into debate concerning capitalism and socialism and many other places. I realised that I could not do it, I'm too wordy to sum up an entire concept thus. So I debated on how to introduce our idea of The Foundation and I came across a simple truth. I have the ability to take that which I wish from any religion in the world. So I decided to sample these religions and introduce this concept to you. I choose to go with a Judeo-Christian theme, complemented by the religion of submission, Islam and what I consider the true religion of Peace, Buddhism. My choices are simply because I have intimate knowledge of Christianity and I have chosen to discover these others. I have come to preach people, stop the elevator!

Romans 13:8-10 (Duties towards One Another)

Be under obligation to no one – the only obligation you have is to love one another. Whoever does this has obeyed the Law. The commandments "Do not commit adultery; do not commit murder; do not steal; do not desire what belongs to someone else"-all these and any others besides, are summed up in the one command, "Love your neighbour as you love yourself." If you love someone, you will never do them wrong; to love, then, is to obey the whole Law.

This is perhaps one of the most important messages in the bible. Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome, explains his understanding of Christ's message. I have read the bible and even though it is full of hatred, anger, death and destruction, it still contains a message of peace. Jesus may have proclaimed that there was no other path to paradise than through him and however much I may disagree with that I cannot fault his teachings on peace, love and kindness. In today's world, there are many who profess a belief in these teachings but act otherwise. I do not have the moral authority to condemn anyone for I too have sinned, but I have a belief that if you hold these words to be the living word of God, then you must follow them with all your heart. The call truly is simple; it is not beyond anyone's means or ability. You cannot say I am not rich enough or I do not have enough because all you're asked to do is to love your neighbour as yourself. It is a simple call to love one another genuinely, one that has been interpreted in many ways with life's hardships forcing us to ask who our neighbours truly are. Some have interpreted it to mean that a neighbour is one who shares your belief and helps you when in need and all others do not qualify but life in its randomness will provide for you no matter your beliefs for the tree gives of its fruit to all men alike. God, in his infinite mercy did not judge you unworthy of his blessings and sent you his only son. It is perhaps only right that we live our lives by Christ's example and message.

The Quran S. 2:62 Al Hilali & Khan

Verily those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

Paramount to all religions is the message of faith. That you must first and foremost believe. The religion of submission to God's will, Islam has one fundamental difference from Christianity. While the latter requires only belief in Jesus Christ (and perhaps by extension his teachings) as the son of God to enter paradise, Islam requires in addition to belief in Allah, a belief in the Last Day of judgement and acts of righteous good deeds. I am not yet well versed with the Quran but I know that among Islam's five pillars is Zakat, the charitable giving that all able Muslims are called upon to perform. In Islam, every act of kindness performed is an affirmation of faith and brings you that much closer to paradise. It is the sacred duty of every Muslim and perhaps non Muslim to help those who are in need. Sura 99 states:

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

  1. When the earth is shaken with its (final) earthquake.
  2. And when the earth throws out its burdens,
  3. And man will say: "What is the matter with it?"
  4. That day it will declare its information (about all what happened over it of good and evil).
  5. Because your Lord has inspired it.
  6. That Day mankind will proceed in scattered groups that they may be shown their deeds.
  7. So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it.
  8. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight on an atom (or a small ant) shall see it.

The Teachings of The Buddha

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. – Dalai Lama

Buddhism is not a religion per se but it can be interpreted as such. It is in my opinion the true religion of peace. At its core is the simple message that life in all its beauty, wonder and splendour is suffering. There is so much of it that nature will dish out of its own volition that we should hold all life, especially human, as sacred. We are simply called upon to try to the best of our ability to make it better for all others, and if we fail to do so, we should at least "Do No Harm", an oath that we require our physicians to take before practising. Buddhism holds the values of kindness and compassion above all others in this life. Belief in a deity does not matter, what matters most is that you are truly kind and compassionate.

The Torah

The beginning and end of Torah is performing acts of loving kindness. – The Talmud

Everything Else

Even if we profess a different faith other than the above or none at all, there are a few simple truths that life teaches us. The most important of these has been learned over millennia. Our ancestors knew it from the very beginning, from the moment the first of us became aware, it was obvious that life's journey could not be undertaken alone. We knew from the very beginning that "people need people". So we learned to live together in communities and have evolved thus far. Sometimes, actually most times it seems that we have lost something essential to our nature because we have managed to make the world seem like a very mean place when that shouldn't be the case. Those of us who believe that human beings are inherently wicked and selfish are sorely mistaken. The idea that it is a "dog eat dog" world serves nothing less than to doubt the true nature of God and God's promises to us, for we are made in his image, our bodies are his temple and should be treated as such.

So, with the above in mind, at least for some of us, we have ganged up together to start "The Pay It Forward Foundation Uganda". We seek to make the world a kinder place and believe that such a dream starts with us. We hope that you will join us or at the very least be a little kinder to those whose lives you touch every day.

Let me conclude this sermon with some of my favourite bits of the bible, the teachings about love as written in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.

Love never gives up; and its faith, hope and patience never fail.

You may now restart the elevator, I am done preaching. May peace and the love of God, the all Merciful, be with you all.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Keira Phoebe Eirênê Wanyenze Kanyana Nagimesi

So I went to visit the Nagimesi family the other day and I am happy to report that both mother and child are doing well. She has been named: Keira because it's a cool name and that Knightly chick is hot! Phoebe after her grandmother (funky family this, I think my granny's name was some archaic catholic name); Eirênê, (ee re nee) after a Greek goddess of the same name who personified peace and was an inspiration for several ancient artists, writers and poets; Wanyenze (apparently Gisu names have no meaning); Kanyana, which has something to do with a calf; Nagimesi, the Gisu guys at it again.

Someone once famously asked what was in a name, his logic being that a rose by any other would smell just as sweet. The truth is that human beings are fascinated with names and this fascination permeates every aspect of our lives. I met a guy over the weekend whose first few sentences included the fact that he was the son of a prominent member of the ruling elite. If only he had been named after some form of pond life, the arrogance! Names have the ability to inspire us to achieve great things as in the case of the Kennedys whose name is synonymous with American politics, fame, glory and a healthy dose of sleaze. After the recent death of Ted Kennedy, most Americans wondered who would fill his shoes and keep the name going, I don't envy that person. For my part, it was decreed that I would be called a "wise protector" because of "God's love" but my friends have conspired to name me after wildlife for one reason or another. I carry my given names with pride but for myself, I will always be my mother's son. So what does your name mean?