Monday, February 23, 2009

Africans in the Diaspora - Return Home ?!?!

Here is a very compelling piece by Mr. Kilemi Mwiria the Assistant Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology and MP for Tigania West, Kenya

We do not need ‘dream team’ to tap Kenyan talent abroad

Often when I encounter Africans living in Europe and America, I get rather disappointed by their complaining about how terrible things are back home. If you challenge them to come home and make things better some say they are not wanted. Others tell us to make Kenya more attractive in terms of competitive salaries, improved governance and provision of relevant infrastructure as a condition for their return.

Some have a point. African governments have done little to attract our best talents back home. We have even failed to take advantage of external initiatives, which support repatriation of African talents by not offering any incentives to potential returnees. But we seem happy with donors paying exceptionally high salaries to a few returning professionals as with "The dream team" during the Kanu days and expensive consultants in government ministries.

There are Kenyans who would give up high profile jobs with international organisations and top private enterprises in the West if we can match what they earn out there. These Kenyans effectively compete with people from all over the world and get recruited for their competence in societies where merit overrides all other considerations, including whether or not your parent is the boss of the recruiting firm. This category has no visa problem; instead they are offered many incentives such as paid holidays to Africa in order to retain them.

One reason advanced for not tapping such talent is disruption of the public pay structure where new recruits may earn more than their supervisors. Yet, it is never a problem to pay foreign consultants the same or higher salaries than more qualified Kenyans. In any case, there are Kenyans who earn salaries higher than the average top western executive, including MPs, Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission employees and some heads of parastatals.

There cannot be more than a thousand Kenyans out there who would require to be remunerated at the same level, so I think we can afford it. If well managed they will be more than worth their pay and we shall get much better value than we do from many political appointees who are best in retirement.

But there are also Kenyan managers who are threatened by the qualifications, experience, work ethic, attitudes and innovative ways of new entrants and often remind them that "this is Africa where we do it this way", thus discouraging many.

Positive values

I believe that we should offer interested Kenyans in the Diaspora at least the barest minimum pay to make them feel wanted. Given their experience with more efficient bureaucracies they can add much value to our Civil Service and parastatals such as universities. We should also go for the thousands of skilled and semi-skilled workers -teachers, engineers, doctors, etc. There is much to learn from Kenyan electricians, plumbers, carpenters and masons based in the West because of their exposure. With the construction boom, there is enough work for them in Kenya.

In addition to job related skills, Kenyans abroad will bring positive values related to honesty, time management, respect for the rule of law and integrity.

Some overseas based Kenyans will not return for lack of relevant certificates and financial resources for decent living or business or because they cannot find a job. A few such cases have come back only to head back overseas when they find age mates they left behind well settled and because they cannot stomach association with failure when crossing seas has always been associated with great success by those left behind. But there are also the selfish and pompous types who exaggerate their superiority by virtue of having lived in the West.

As we search for overseas-based Kenyan talent, we should recognise and reward top Kenyan professionals who have opted to stay home while ignoring better opportunities abroad. They have chosen patriotism in order to make Kenya a better place for all of us.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Naija Police in Action - U've Gotta See This

Captions please...

Kenya in sixth spot in the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series Rankings

Kenya on Saturday moved up to the sixth spot in the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series rankings at the end of the New Zealand International Sevens at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.

After an inspired run on the opening day, Kenya edged out Wales 10-7 to reach their only third main cup semi final in the Serie’s 10-year history.

Kenya was outclassed 26-0 by the eventual NZ Sevens winners, England, but collected 12 points from the tournament.

On departure, Kenya had budgeted for 18 points in the two tournaments in New Zealand and USA and are well ahead of schedule going into San Diego.

The talking point of the two-day tournament which was marked by several surprise wins was Kenya’s 22-17 upset of the top seeds and Series leaders South Africa in a Pool A match on Friday.

Rugby fans from USA, among them former players Fred Absaloms, Ernest Waweru and Leslie Mango, said Kenya’s performance only whetted the appetites of their fans in the USA when San Diego hosts the fourth tournament on February 14 and 15 at PETCO Park.

Big day

In an interview with IRB Sevens Radio, captain Humphrey Kayange put the win over South Africa in perspective.

“It’s a very big day for us. Started well, went bad in the second game and the boys really raised it in the last game and look where it took us,” he said

“It’s a big victory for us, there were three teams that we hadn’t beaten and South Africa was one of them so it’s a milestone, something we’ve reached, achieved on this tour.”

Coach Benjamin Ayimba admitted having harsh words for the players after narrowly losing 14-19 to Scotland in a Pool A match.

Early pressure in the quarter-final against Wales saw Allan Onyango’s claim for a try denied in the second minute because the ball was held up. From the resultant scrumdown, Collins Injera stole on the blindside to score.

His brother, Kayange pounced on a lucky bounce to race over for the second try. Although Aled Thomas scored and converted a try for Wales, Kenya held on to win before crumbling 0-26 to England in the semis.

A dashing run by Isoa Damudamu which ended in a try saw England complete a remarkable comeback to beat hosts New Zealand 19-17 for their first ever NZI Sevens title.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Badagary Historical Resort

Marlon Jackson is involved in a controversial development to turn a former slave port into a luxury resort that will house a Jackson Five museum, five-star hotel and slavery memorial.

A museum for the Jackson Five is to be built in Nigeria, American developers have announced, as part of a $3.4bn (£2.4bn) luxury resort including concert halls, golf courses, casinos – and a memorial for Africa's former slave trade.

The Badagry Historical Resort, located near Badagry's former slave port, will include a multimillion pound memorial, slave history theme park, five-star hotel and Jackson Five museum. The project is supported in part by Marlon Jackson, one of Michael Jackson's brothers.

"The Jackson family had been looking for a place to site their memorabilia collection," explained Gary Loster, chief executive of the Motherland Group, to the BBC. "We visited the site of the slave port in Badagry and Marlon turned to me and said: 'Let's put it here, this is right.'"

The development will cater to the country's growing tourism industry, particularly African-American tourists who wish to trace their Nigerian roots. Visitors will be able to explore the site of the former transatlantic slave trade, honour the hundreds of thousands who died in what were horrific human rights abuses, and then head off for a round of golf or a massage, before gawping at animatronic versions of the siblings who sang ABC and I Want You Back.

By promising to attract 1.4 million visitors in the first year, the Motherland Group has pledged to "enhance the quality of life for millions of people across Nigeria", according to promotional materials. They hope to create more than 150,000 jobs by the end of their fifth year.

"It's such an emotional place, and I think we all felt that it was the right place to have the Jackson family memorial," Loster said.

The developers' plans, which include a lifesize replica of a slave ship, holograms of the Jackson Five and robot versions of 18th-century African musicians, are not without their opponents.

"It is not appropriate from a cultural or historical point of view," Nigerian historian Toyin Falola told the BBC. "Moneymaking and historical memory are allies in the extension of capitalism. You cry with one eye and wipe it off with a cold beer, leaving the other eye open for gambling."

But Loster, Jackson and the other developers have dismissed these criticisms. "We know the problems facing us," Loster said. "We have visited Nigeria several times."


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Monday, February 09, 2009

South African male choir scoop Grammy

South African male choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo have won their third Grammy Award at a Los Angeles ceremony.

They scooped best Traditional World Music Album for their LP Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu. They have also picked up Grammys in 1987 and 2005.

But another South African group - the Soweto Gospel Choir - lost out in their bid to win three Grammys in a row.

They had been nominated for best Contemporary World Music Album, which was instead won by Global Drum Project.

Global Drum Project is a group of four drummers, including Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead and Nigerian talking drum master Sikiru Adepoju.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo were founded in 1964 by lead singer Joseph Shabalala.

The acapella group came to international attention in the late 1980s after working with Paul Simon on his celebrated Graceland album.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


We've all heard of Chinatown even in Nigeria. Well, here's an introduction to Nigeriatown in China.

In this issue of the magazine [New Yorker], Evan Osnos writes about African merchants living in China. Here, Osnos narrates an audio slide show about the economic, social, and religious life of African migrants in Guangzhou.

Click here
to get the full story

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Suggested Reading

"Confessions of an Economic Hitman" by John Perkins.

It is eye opening