Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

There’s Money to Pay Teachers Only That Jubilee Regime Prefers to ‘Eat’ and Waste

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The “can’t pay, won’t pay” mantra by the Uhuruto regime in response to the Judiciary’s verdict that teachers should be paid more is contemptuous and dangerous. It rubbishes those who take care of our poor children in public schools every day, and also depicts a regime that is fully committed to the return of the imperial presidency that caused this country so much pain and damage over the years. So much so, that eliminating this sort of presidency was the major reason for the demands for a new constitution. Contemptuous because there are funds to pay teachers the extra Sh17…
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We Must Stop Xenophobic Attacks on Refugees to Avoid More Conflicts, War

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For the last year, Western media and officials have persisted in using the term “migrants” to describe the mass of people escaping war and repression in Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, and Afghanistan. But in the last few days these same media and officials have reverted, rightly so, to using the term refugees instead. Technically, “migrant” is the broader term, which the International Organisation of Migration encourages. But that definition allows for prevarication and inaction. And in this most recent refugee exodus, using “migrant” rather than refugee implies racism and xenophobia. For in the 1990s, the mass of people escaping the Yugoslavian…
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Lessons from Malaysia and Why People Always Choose Protests Despite Brutality

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As Malaysian Prime Minister from 1981-2003, Dr Mahathir Mohammed was not exactly known for supporting human rights. He concentrated power in his office, weakened the judiciary, used ethnic divide and rule tactics and deployed the notorious Internal Security Act to detain critics without trial and intimidate dissenters. He was also a leader of the “Asian values” campaign in the 1990s that tried to denigrate the universality of human rights, claiming Asians had their own value system that negated universal human rights — much like the selfish “African values” campaign started by some African autocrats. The campaign failed as proponents were…
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Why we should focus on marketing Kenyan products to rest of the world

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The Kazakh people often remind me of Kenyans from the rural areas. Coming from a nomadic pastoralist background, they are warm, hospitable and have a deep relationship with tea, which they call “chai” in Russian. Chai is served all the time, and as often as possible. People drink it black with no sugar, black with sugar, or with lots of milk. I spent a few days back in Kazakhstan recently, in more relaxed and informal settings than during my previous visit in January — when temperatures were averaging -35 degrees Celsius in Astana, the capital. This time — the end…
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The rich do not care about the poor, and that is the society we are creating

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It is perplexing that in all the political wrangles in Kenya, there is scarce debate or ideas — from Cord or Jubilee — on how to fix the enormous income inequality gap, which surely sets the stage for social upheaval, dangerous populism or revolution. We have one of the highest gaps between the rich and poor in the world — joining South Africa, Brazil, USA and Nigeria. The recent estimates on global population growth should give us even more reason to worry. We have had good economic growth since 2003. But for the majority, this growth has not been felt.…
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Africa’s Development Must Not Come at the Expense of its Environment

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I was recently in a discussion with a group of young Chinese students studying in America and a couple of things stood out for me. When I asked them what they liked most about living in the US, they said it was the freshness of the air! I was astounded! As it turns out, China’s transformation into a leading industrial and economic power has come at a huge cost to the environment in most parts of the country. The students talked with horror about the smog in Beijing—in very similar ways to how we talk about traffic in Nairobi—and how…
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