Friday, 31st July 2009
- Men Under Attack – with Oyunga Pala – a discussion on the changing role of men in our society
The discussion started with a presentation by Oyunga of several scenarios that today’s man finds himself in; married men; those in a committed relationship in a relationship, those who are single and unattached. He outlined the expectations that these men have of themselves, expectations placed on them by their society on a socio-economic, cultural and certainly the expectations of what a real man is, as far as women are concerned. For instance, if a man did not provide for his family or his woman, he was NOT perceived to be a real man.
If he did not perform in the bedroom, again, he was not a real man.
In short felt that these expectations from several fronts created role confusion for the men.
Chris gave his experienced based on his identity formation from the background of being an only boy in a single parent household.
This gave rise to an animated discussion where some men did aver that they did, indeed, feel under attack for their women folk because they never ever seemed to measure to the ever-shifting standards that their women placed on them.
Some of the women felt that men overrated their sexual prowess where as the men felt that the women are the ones who set the standards anyway.
It was noted that there was need for the men to have a base that would keep them centred and grounded in the face of the shifting sands that were the expectation that others have of them. It was also observed that this was a conversation that would obviously not have a resolution in the allotted 90 minutes and the one thing is to keep talking and have open forums such as the event at SHFK.
- Ten steps to outstanding Customer Service from Kenya’s leading management consultant- Sunny Bindra
Author and columnist, Sunny Bindra, presented this event. The style was conversational and the steps were easy to understand and more so, easy to adapt. These steps, he explained, were as outlined in more detail in his book, Crown Your Customer, which is published by Storymoja.
He also talked about his book and his experience and motivation for writing it. One of the highlights of his talk was that he wanted to write a book that would be read by anyone and not a select academic few. That the wider the readership, the more his goal had been achieved. The book is written in everyday language and it implores customers make their point when dissatisfied with a service. Whatever the stumbling blocks may be for registering one’s complaints, one should not give up. Customers should communicate their complaints to those accountable in an organisation.
He reiterated we should view purchase of books as an investment rather than as a cost.
One of the most effective yet simplest tools for outstanding customer service is smiling. Smiling puts customers at ease, makes them feel valued and therefore, more likely to spend their money at an establishment.
Smiling, Sunny Bindra says, is not necessarily a natural endowment of everyone but can be learned, as skill, by everyone.
The experience of this talk was delightful. When I asked some of the participants what they thought of the event, it was unanimous that those steps were easily applicable not only in one’s business life, but also in every other aspect of a person’s life. And that it was an enlightening session for all.
- Sudanese writers discuss the challenge of narrating stories of their homeland long associated with ethnic strife, genocide and religious conflict- Father Omollo & Joseph Ngala
This was a discussion presented by author, interpreter, politician and diplomat all rolled into one; Honourable Minister Mohamed Haroun Kafi. It was an eye-opener because for most participants- none of whom was Sudanese-the Sudan question is mainly the Arab North and the Christian south.
What is not often heard or talked about is the issue of the Nubians in who are from the Nubian mountains in North West Sudan. They are Moslem though they are not Arabs. They are Dankes. In the agreement between the Southern Sudan and the government based in Khartoum signed in Kenya, the Nubians and the people of the Western Nile Region were not considered. The assumption, he asserts is that they will go with the Arab north.
He says that the Nubians feel like they were guns for hire, since the liberation movement has turned out to be for southern Sudan and not the whole region. Southern Sudan had the right for self-determination entrenched in the 2004 Nairobi Agreement and a referendum is scheduled for 2011. Should they decide to secede, the question so and so asks, what, then, will happen to the Nubians, who clearly do not want to be clustered together with the Arab north? The Arab north does not also want to let go of the western region, which includes Darfur, Which is rich not only in oil and other minerals.
Would that mean another revolution?
He, therefore, decided to opt for the pen rather than the gun to speak for his people in Africa and beyond. It is more far reaching.
- Editors of, ‘Unga’, ‘Surviving Idi Amin’, ‘Queer Kenya’ and ‘My Side of the Street’ discuss the challenges, and fascinating stories in Storymoja’s Testimonial Writing Series- Suhaila Cross
This event was characterised by each of the editors giving an overview of the subject of their topics and their experiences while collecting and collating the information. Storymoja would publish all the books presented.
It also involved excerpt reading of the material collated and collected form interviews and/or personal experiences.
Surviving Idi Amin with David Kaiza
This is a narrative of the Ugandans view of their country after the tyrannical reign of Idi Amin. For instance, the Asian question in post-Amin Uganda The writer narrates the impact of the Indians expulsion by Idi Amin. One of the contributors, while travelling around the world, narrates how Uganda was still only identified with Idi Amin.
One of the legacies of Idi Amin that Ugandans have to contend with is that Ugandans suffered big time in sending away the Indians. Because they, then went on to establish successful industries in the countries they now settled.
A taxi driver in South America; in a conversation with one of the contributors of the book expressed this sentiment. And indeed in the revived economy under Yoweri Museveni, the argument is raised at whether it is as a result of indigenous Ugandans’ efforts or those of the Indians who have since come back.
The editor strives to assert that there is more to Uganda than Idi Amin.
Queer Kenya – Edited by Angus Parkinson
This is a collection of Kenyan stories by Kenyan born and Kenyan based queers about everything it is about the dailyness of their lives, the good, the bad, the weird the indifferent. It is an endeavour to stake their claim as rightful citizens.
It is also about highlighting what being queer here means distinct from, say, in the west, where the very word gay takes on a whole new meaning.
What came out was that there really is nothing peculiar about queers: that their passions, needs, desires, doubts and fears are really no different from those of any other Kenyan. The spotlights that on them make them seem distinct. When one guy writes about another guy that he sees on the matatu and what goes through his mind as result of the instant attraction that he feels, is easily identifiable with any other person regardless of their sexual orientation.
Look out for this book mid next year from the Storymoja stable.
Unga with Chris Wanjala
Food and food security issues is a major news item in Kenya today.
This was not a treatise about how we should conserve food or plant hardy food or be generous. From the excerpt that Chris Wanjala read, it made for what will certainly be a food story with an exciting twist.
For instance, in some certain cultures certain people in the community ate specific parts of a slaughtered animal. Not surprisingly the men kept for themselves the most succulent pieces. Women would eat this or that. The same would go for men and children. ON e time, a story goes, there was famine in a certain community and because the animals were thin, a mother decided to sacrifice her share of a meal that was only given to expectant mothers in order to feed her starving son.
There was a misconception that he may get pregnant. Little did he realise that it was given to pregnant women simply because of its nutritional value.
My Side of the Street with Chris Lyimo
This is a soon to be a Storymoja published book written by Chris Lyimo. It is a narrative of his journey from active alcoholism to a fulfilling sobriety.
He states that it isn’t simply a journal of drinking and then stopping. It is one of showing the distinct aspects of life that spawn active alcoholism and indeed that active alcoholism aggravates. This includes parent- child relationships; sibling relationships; issues of money and property; emotional and spiritual development; abuse issues; sexuality; identity.
Interestingly, one participant indicated that there was a common theme of isolation, in one way or another, which ran through all the stories.
And there was also consensus that there was need for these kinds of testimonial stories to be told.
Saturday, 1st August 2009
- An honest exploration of Sexuality, and our sexual culture. Only for those twenty-five and over – Valentine Njoroge and Gitau Njoroge
This was a most lively event and all ages were represented. The relationship status of those present was as varied as the participants themselves.
The discussion was candid with both serious and humorous overtones.
Topics such as:
Whose primary responsibility to ensure that the couple use a condom?
Why blame the man for getting upset when a girl he’d taken out to dinner, agrees to accompany him to his place but declines to have sex. The question men were asking was “why did you come in the first place?” Reasons such as going back home or hostel at a late hour being impractical or unsafe are lost on most of the guys.
There was an interesting contribution for a couple of participants who were in long-term relationships. A man and a woman. The man (married for 32 years) said if his wife made overtures in order to improve their sexual relationship, he would certainly be suspicious of her intentions. The way forward he felt was for his wife to talk about it in way of introduction rather than springing it as a surprise. A woman participant, also in a long-term relationship, shared that she would not even know where to start. However, the main thing was that the relationship has deepened to a level of intimacy that was beyond just sex.
- Asunta Wagura’s amazing story of how she has dealt with the harrowing stigma of living with HIV. About ‘coming out’, writing her weekly column diary, having a baby and more! –with Kingwa Kamencu
When I got to this event, Asunta was not there. The group at this event was much smaller and, therefore, more intimate in their sharing. I found the discussion at a stage where the HIV-AIDS stigma still hinders open discussion about it. Especially talking about HIV-AIDS to our children or discussing it with our spouses and partners in general. The group also shared about the challenges that women face in discussing with their male partners the risks of contracting HIV-AIDS in a given relationship and the way forward.
In public forums, it was stressed the need to be straight in using the terms associated with HIV-AIDS. Being candid, it was decided is actually empowering in the long run.
For instance, one participant shared how in a public baraza the chief was talking about the virus is transmitted when a couple has an affair. The participant pointed out to the chief that he should actually mention the word sex rather than use ‘affair’ because this word could be misconstrued to mean something else by somebody. It would be misleading.
The audience was also unanimous that the forum was helpful in providing a conversational setting where they could share openly.
Sunday, 2nd August 2009
- FIDA and affected women discuss their experiences and the legal and social implications of Domestic Violence- Lorna Irungu, Wayua Muli, Dr Ssuna and a Counsellor from Amani Counselling Centre
This was an interactive discussion facilitated by Lorna Irungu, a ‘victim/survivor’ of domestic violence and Wayua Muli, editor of True Love Magazine.
The panel included a psychiatrist, a counsellor, and a representative of FIDA.
The main focus was the way forward for victims of domestic violence. Contributions were for those who had been or were in abusive relationships and how they fell trapped in those relationships for various reasons. E.g. the women in physically abusive relationships would not leave because of the children or for economic reasons; others did not know what to do.
The psychiatrist’s focus was on parenting. He said abusers usually acquire the habit for their upbringing. So parenting is crucial to forming wholesome children who will be adults with integrity. He stressed especially that fathers ought to affirm their daughters so that they do not need to seek the same from other men later, and who would take advantage and abuse them.
FIDA, were seeking tougher punishment for abusers. My personal take in this, as a contribution, was that treatment should be sought for both the perpetrators and victims of domestic violence: that punishment should only come in as a last resort.
- Men Under Attack – Oyunga Pala – discussion on the changing role of men in our society
This discussion on this day centred on what women wanted from their man and vice versa. Again the responses were as varied as the participants present.
He must be a provider. He must be faithful and trustworthy.
I want him to support me and to have my back no matter what.
The guys wanted acknowledgement, loyalty, and understanding.
When it came to sex, faithfulness was unanimous. What was not, however, is who should take the lead in the bedroom. The consensus at the end was that both parties in the relationship were equally responsible for what they wanted to make of their sex lives.
MY PERSPECTIVE OF SHFK 2009
Volunteering at the SHFK may have been one way to ensure free entry. Though I already had complimentary tickets because of being on a panel.
But, I also wanted to have some sort of justification of why I wanted to be there ALL 3 days. What if I got bored? It was anything but. In fact I was so excited many many days before the festival and I told someone that I needed nappies if I wasn’t careful
However, I discovered that organising an event and being in the back scene was anything but glamorous. There is a lot of hard work that goes into organising an event of this magnitude. And passion. I already seen that, at times, just organising a one year old child’s birthday party has been known to cause marital strife. Now this? Must have been something else given that I was a Chris-come-lately.
And then the magenta T-shirts. Initially, they were pink, but we were gently but firmly, repeatedly reminded by Muthoni that they were magenta. They were a source of pride at times and at times, ahem ahem, you just couldn’t hide. Especially at one time I was asked, simply because I was in a pink, sorry, magenta T-Shirt; task the folk dancers on stage to stop performing because an event in a nearby tent was still going on. Now these guys were biiig, many and loud. And they did not want to stop because as far they were concerned. They were going as per the programme. They were slotted to perform at that time. Anyway, the t-shirt, my charm and also because artists are great like that they agreed to stop. I didn’t push it because the request was actually to tone the sound down.
Oh, I even had the privilege of taking the Nigerian High Commissioner round. Now, this made find out exactly what was going on in every tent that I would not have otherwise gone into. And that feeling of usefulness was awesome. Now, I get why the PM’s bodyguards behave the way they do.
I presented an event with the Oyunga Pala and it was just amazing being in the presence of a celeb who acts so kawa .In fact that is the sense I got form all the creative celebs I met at the festival. They were all so human or is it normal and more than that, they seemed so at home at the festival.
The main thing I got for myself is that the creative community is great to be around and I am so so so convinced that they are the next agents of change. And next is HERE and NOW. I am biased, prejudiced, totally subjective in my opinion and bila any apologies about that observation.
It was indeed a privilege to be at SHFK 2009.