Commitment

“Commitment is an internal drive in a person. It’s a gauge on your internal compass and ability to stay true to your North.”

Commitment is the state or quality of being dedicated to a particular cause or activity. This is according to Oxford Dictionary for which I have taken the liberty to choose the most ideal in this circumstance. In our own experiences and encounters with individuals in the journey of life I am confident we’ve had our commitment tested or at the least been urged to commit to something. On the same note, there are moments that we’ve been sidetracked and failed to commit to something we promised to commitment to thus leading to betrayal of an individual, a cause or failing to achieve the intended results. That’s the cost of not committing to something when we know quite well we should commit to it.

I happened to have been introduced to Bikozulu’s blogs this year by my sister. At the moment, I enjoyed reading his blogs because they were stories that we encounter in our daily lives. I could relate and by so doing I had at least a lesson to learn. If not I had a smile on my face and that was good enough. Today in the course of my daily schedule, the routine notification on Tuesdays came and there was a piece from Biko. Having had a strained morning trying to stay on top of things I decided to take a breather and his piece was the let out. Reading through the piece as he recounted his journey from losing a job in 2009 to the current 10 years of blogging, I couldn’t be more proud of his work commitment and dedication. From start he didn’t know that he would have such level of following, get to write two books within this timeframe or even be able to cater for his bills from blogging. In hindsight, this is now a possibility courtesy of his commitment and dedication. I felt challenged and at the same time encouraged to keep going. Not because I intend to get to achieve the same results as his but because I feel we need to nurture a culture of continuous learning, social responsibility and a growth mindset. That’s my drive behind blogging as I try to look into the experiences we have in our lives which have lessons for us but often missed.

I am convinced that with commitment we can do much but rather than looking at commitment as a way to satisfy an external demand or force; I believe it’s an internal drive to stay the cause. Often times we have people start projects, initiatives and quit along the way. By so doing, they let their dream wilt never to see the light of day. At the start of anything, we need to find a reason beyond the immediate need to do and use that as our landing whenever we feel the urge/push to let go. If we can get to this, we have a chance to keep going and hopefully realize our aspirations. At worst we’ll fail but having tried and gave our best at it. This reminds me of a reflection I had at the start of the year looking at the work we’ve been doing with Ryculture Health and Social Innovation which I am dedicated to like a first born. In retrospect, I realized that there had been a couple of youth-led initiatives that were founded during campus years but unfortunately they never survived a year or two post-graduation. In assessing the trend, I realized that the reasons behind these were lack of mentorship/guidance post graduation, adulting takes a toll on individuals and when people secure jobs, the start up is dropped like a hot potato. This is almost definite as most times these initiatives don’t have the financial resources to sustain the founder thus letting go is an easy option. With this we established the YouTH Voices programme which is aimed at offering young people a platform to share best practices from their work, offer them mentorship and guidance, expose them to networks and support platforms like incubators and inform policy from these to fuel an entire ecosystem. There’s nothing as fulfilling to know that these may be the solutions an individual is hoping for to nurture their idea. On this account, we’ll be having our inaugural YouTH Voices Summit on 3rd and 4th December 2020 virtually on Zoom.

I’m convinced that there isn’t anything easy about all that we do and contend with in life. This doesn’t give us a reason to quit but the grounding that there is need to put in extra work and push on to the end. With commitment and dedication to what we do, our chances of success are heightened, let’s not bow out early.

“Commitment is what transforms a promise, resolution, aspiration or vision to reality.”

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

“Man is a make believe animal; he is never so truly himself as when he is acting a part.” – William Hazlitt

Tomorrow is a special day. It’s a day that we transition into a new and the last month of the year 2020. The day being 1st December and if you can tell, it’ll be World AIDS Day. The theme for this year is: “Global Solidarity: Shared Responsibility.” Probably you are acting yourself why I’d consider it a special day yet it’s all about HIV/AIDS. To me it means more than that and that’s why I consider it a special day.

Growing up in a rural village in Siaya County, most of the knowledge I got about HIV/AIDS was either from the radios, school during science classes or once in a while during family discussions which were not often. When people talked about HIV/AIDS, the HIV part was often neglected and the focus was shifted to the AIDS i.e. symptomatic phase of the disease and then at that physical appearance and manifestations were considered signs of infection. If you can relate, you’ll talk of weight loss, sunken eyes among others. Anybody who happened to be sick looking was considered positive and most often shunned even though not told off outright. There was some level of common human decency even though I later got to know that not all those with HIV/AIDS are sick looking. The sick looking are the exception and most likely these are people not on medication.

If you’ve been following on my articles you already know that I am medical practitioner (pharmacist to be specific). In my training and practice I had a chance to work at HIV/AIDS clinics and as usual having had that societal perception of the positive people you’d most likely expect to see the same when you get to the hospital. It was totally the opposite. There is this day I got the hospital and went for clinical rotations on the opposite side of the hospital before getting back to start my duty at the clinic. Past the gate I met this pretty lady. She was stunning to a point I didn’t hesitate extending my greetings and being in my best behavior with a white coat I had an extra point. (It’s not unprofessional, she wasn’t in the hospital setting but outside so there’s not doctor-patient relationship here.) We had a brief chat and exchanged contacts to catch up later and later we did catch up.

Going to my work station I was super ready to discharge my duties with a smile having had a great encounter to start the day and number to add to it. How lucky could one be? The day moved on well until around mid-day when on getting back from the store to get extra packs of medicines I’d meet my pretty lady. The prospective that she was. Deflation I say. I did my best to stay professional not to alert any of the other persons in the station. It went well and luckily enough she was “positively positive” so she wasn’t bothered at all. I attended to her and promised to see her in the evening. There’s never been a date as enlightening as that. I wasn’t sure of the next steps in the whole relationship but I had two main answers from the date:

  • Not every person living with HIV/AIDS will look sickly. Some will be healthier than those living positively, you better be safe than sorry.
  • Positive living isn’t a sin or a crime. It’s okay to be sick and accept the fact that it’s your situation. Acceptance helps ensure you take care of yourself and that’s a win in the fight against eradication of HIV/AIDS.

We talk once in a while and I’m glad I made a friend on that day.

Recently as I was doing my internship I had an experience with a youth support group where I was enlightened of the challenges of disclosing an individuals’ HIV status especially when one is positive. You can find the account of this here.

It’s up to us to take precaution and look out for each other. We can defeat this epidemic if only we become responsible. Let’s do that.

Storytelling

“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller is sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.” – Steve Jobs

Stories broaden our minds, engage, provoke, inspire and connect us. That’s the ultimate power of a story and whoever carries the story reaps the proceeds. I am not your favorite storyteller as you’d think of or wish for but I do have stories nonetheless. I harbor love for stories and this is the reason as to why most often I’ll be listening to, watching or reading something. I think it’s also partly attributed to my love for learning which I am glad I have the ability to nurture. Have you ever listened to a story that transformed your life? Have you bought a product because of the story you heard about the company? Have you liked someone because of what others said about them? The list is endless and the common factor is the story behind it.

I am a fun of David Rubenstein Show on Bloomberg Tv, a collection of interviews with C-suit executives, government officials and the greatest influencers in the world to understand how they succeed at what they do and to inspire generations. Today as I write this, I had a moment to watch the Top Story Show on NTV that reminded me of an interview that David Rubenstein did of Warren Buffet. Through the interview, Buffet describes making a great investment decision to writing a story. In writing a story you know what you want to write about, how you want to write about it, what’s expected of the consumer of that content and ultimately it’s impact. As an investor writing a story, you need to look at these particular features in the investment decision.

The reason as to why I am writing about this is because I have come to acknowledge that the story that is shared about an entity carries weight. If optimized it either sells or destroys them. In investment decisions like Buffet makes, it’s about convincing individuals to put their money with you to invest and therefore he has to make it stick while at the same time selling a narrative that plays to the benefit of your investors. Being an influential personality, he can sell his identity as an investor to reap returns and align market trends. In line with this, I took time to rethink the African narrative. Often times we talk about poverty, suffering and desperation of the African people. In contrast, having traversed some of remote places in the continent, I am amazed by the calm and level of contentment that’s commonplace in most rural communities. There’s poverty but it’s in comparison to a standard that doesn’t belong to the people being assessed. From analysis, I’ve realized that this narrative sells and keeps financing coming to Africa but denying the African people a chance to work meaningfully to advance and thrive. We accept mediocrity because it’s been a common narrative that we are poor.

I recently read an article by a young person seeking support from a donor organization and the core of his appeal was that he is from Africa which definitely points to poverty. What image does this send out? How does this play on your personal development? Do you believe you are incapable of making meaningful advances as a person with your community? We have gave others control over our lives for so long and it’s time we start claiming it because we can do better. Shape your story, tell it as you perceive it not from the perspective of a donor you hope to come around for you and look at the ultimately value of that story. Be authentic and honest.

“Marketing is the art of telling a story that moves people to act.” – Bernadette Jiwa

Self Made

“There’s no such thing as self-made person. Someone else believed, encouraged and invested in you. Be grateful and be that someone for others.” – Marcan D’Angel

Everyone desires a sense of autonomy, control and supremacy in leading their lives the best way they can. On the same account, we are more likely to claim credit for our successes as our own achievements which often than not is to an extent pegged on contributions of others. I am not trying to downplay the fact that in order to achieve greatness, there is some ambition, commitment and hardwork involved. This is the augmented by the goodwill of those we relate with in life. That’s what we call social capital and it’s been considered a critical determinant of personal development. This is why I believe this narrative of being self made doesn’t hold and we need to consider our achievements as privileges with a responsibility to contribute in the development of others.

Today as I was strolling the streets of YouTube University I happened to come by a video by Barry Schwartz on “Why Justice isn’t Enough” which in a way made it clear that our pursuit of justice might never work out. Justice as equity provides for two things: People get what they deserve and People deserve what they get. Often times this isn’t the case and it’s influenced by various underlying determinants which downplay meritocracy in some form. In most cases it’s due to shortage of opportunities and scarcity of resources while other times it is the subjective human hand that comes to play. Whichever way your stakes play out, there is a human component and whether successful or not it’s not an outcome of your individual work.

Through the week, I was honored to be trained on Public-Private Collaborations (PPCs) alongside a team from the frontier counties with an aim of stimulating PPCs for the development of these counties with a focus on health. On the sidelines I had a chat with my former boss and mentor and through the discussion, I got to reflect on the coincidental turn of events that when I was graduating to campus I happened to be employed to work under her. Through that opportunity, I have had a moment to move from one level to another, collaborating with others, learning and hopefully in the end realize my aspirations. I am not more deserving of the opportunities than others but it is luck playing out in my favor, personal commitment and the support of those in my circles. They’ve always opened the door for me and that’s the level of privilege I’ve had. Mine is to acknowledge and pay it forward knowing I’m in debt to humanity to extend a hand.

With that said, I’m open to support individuals and organizations in project identification through needs assessment, business development, planning and guidance through the implementation phase. The value of knowledge is in applying it and I’m keen to start putting my skills to use.

“While many people are proud of being self-made, it only explains all the flaws.” – Ron Brackin

There’s Always a Woman

“There’s always one woman to save you from another and as that woman saves you, she makes ready to destroy.” – Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell

There’s always a woman. That’s the basis of life. How fascinating can it be? Well, I’ve been brooding over this subject for a while but then I didn’t have the best context for it until now that I’ve been finishing on a series that I’ve been taking up for leisure in a big way, Power. In retrospect, I acknowledge that art is a reflection of what we experience in our very societies and for that matter it’s a clear depiction maybe not as accurate but borrows greatly either on what we experience or what we wish for.

Over time, I’ve been accustomed to two different narratives: One being of men looking at the progress they’ve made in their lives. At some point you’ll hear a man lamenting that their lives are stuck for the fact that maybe they haven’t found the one to settle down with or delighting at the fact that one has a stability by the virtue of being married and having a family of their own. I am not sure how this comes to be but in general, it so happens that having a lady in ones life gives meaning to a mans life. There’s a sense of stability that it brings. I remember last weekend I happened to go home with a group of friends and during some conversation, we got our prime advise to get a woman one who is keen on settling down to marry and raise children. Key being that regardless of how much we achieve in this lifetime, without family there’s nothing. I’m still thinking this through and hoping I get a clear perspective on its validity. In case you have an idea of how to, please let me know on the comments section.

Second case is on the fact that often times there happens to be some form of jealousy and bad blood between ladies and their mother in laws. The genesis of which I don’t understand and unfortunately it’s one thing that keeps being propagated generation after another. Why would jealousy be a driving force behind a strained relationship where there need not be any? Men have to make a choice or play tactically in managing both relationships of which as always either party will always feel shortchanged but life moves on.

Finally, in strained relationships regardless of the nature most often a woman will be blamed. If a man falls short on some of his expectations in a family setting, suspicion of another woman being in the picture comes in whether true or false. On the same note, when a man gets married and gives more time to the wife leaving his buddies behind on occasion, the wife becomes the cause of the strain.

Generally, there is always a woman at any one point. From the point we were born, there was one and until we die they will always be. It’s always the circumstances that change and the relations in place. If a man stays up past his bed time rest assured there is a woman. (It’s not yet my bed time:-‘() For the cases highlighted, we’ve got to understand that they are either complicit or not. Best thing is to acknowledge their omnipresence and appreciate that as we live our lives.

Oh! And just an advise to the men, strive to ensure the ladies in your life don’t have so much confidence in any man that offers services to you at home. Chances are you’ll pay for unnecessary services or you’ll pay through the nose.

“There’s always a woman involved.”

Don’t let your pain, hurt and disappointments define you

“Pain is a part of living, embrace it. Let the disappointments, hurt and pain shape the person you become regardless of rather than because of them.”

Life is a journey and there are no two lives that are exactly the same. It’s said that even if two people went through an identical process, their experiences can never be the same. If it so happens, then one of them isn’t honest. The question is then on how to ensure we get to experience everything in life as it comes. I think the answer is to stay open to it, make peace with the probability of being disappointed but hope not to be. Acknowledge that the world is not kind but strive to be kind. It’s easier that way. This is a matter that has been bugging me for the past couple of days and that’s why I felt it necessary to write about it.

About a month ago, I had an experience of being advised against doing certain things regardless of the overall overview of it being the right thing to do. Through further probing, the justification was that the individual is an ungrateful person and whatever it is you do, it will never be good enough to them. This kept me thinking it over day after day and reimagining how I would have gone about it. Luckily, I recently had an almost identical case except for this case the individual on the receiving end had a tendency to reciprocate in one way or the other. Even if not in a big way, they acknowledge and appreciate the kindness. This is an ideal and all that we would wish for. I personally wish everyone was like this but I acknowledge and appreciate our diversity including the inability to have people who have the same mannerisms. That’s the key.

Looking at the two different scenarios, I presumed that in a way I had found the basis of all this and probably I could get to hack the dilemma I was facing. I think most of the advises that we receive from others are based on their experiences and by having us play by those rules and stay closed, they deny us a chance to live and experience life on our own account. If you believe people are mean and therefore you keep to yourself you might never see the good in them. This is a lost opportunity to manifest your kindness and share your experiences with the world. Additionally, once you get acquainted to the world you’ll be better poised to make informed, realistic and sound decisions which may never happen without that hindsight. If you just go by what you are told, you’ll never lead your life on your terms which I believe we all deserve.

In one way or the other we’ll get hurt or disappointed in certain cases by the very people we least expected to hurt us. When it happens, let’s acknowledge that there are so many people in the world and they are the minority. There are others who will do better and be the version you wish for. However, if you don’t get to go further and learn on these you’ll deny others a chance to manifest their greatness. Let go and let live because we can. When I came to this conclusion I presumed I had found what I was looking for but then I have further reading and thinking to do.

“Experience life, live gracefully and let the worries of the world be of the world.”

Kindness is no Substitute for Responsibility

“Being responsible for ones own wellbeing is an act of selfcare, don’t sabotage your chance to be kind to yourself.”

If you’ve been a constant reader of this blog then I believe you can confirm that over time I’ve been a proponent of social responsibility, kindness and compassion. I do this because I believe it is important for all of us to treat each other and ourselves with kindness. With kindness, we have a chance to enjoy and celebrate the goodness of humanity. I doubt there’s anything better than that. However, I have come to realize that people take other peoples kindness, concern and care for granted. This is the reason as to why I have decided to pen this piece today. I know we need to be kind to each other but it should not be to a point that you don’t give others a chance to be responsible for their own wellbeing. In certain cases it’s the individuals not taking responsibility for their lives and you come in to support. I am not for that.

In the recent past, I have come to appreciate the fact that not getting everything you wish for handed down to you is a form of empowerment. By not being given what you want, you get to evaluate whether it is an essential in your life, decide whether to invest in it and once you get it, you’ll most definitely take the best care of it. Why do I say this? I recently had a chat with someone I really love, care about and respect but I had to shut their request down. When one person needs something, they know the value of having it and the problem it will solve for them. This makes it a necessity. It therefore goes without saying that they should be willing and ready to invest in it but may lack the means. If it so happens that the very person have a clear demarcation on what they can put their money in purchasing but not the very thing they are asking you for then it shows it’s not a need but a mere want. Living in a world where the only constant is scarcity of resources, you may as well not put your resources into serving that need. It’s healthy and the responsible thing to do. Letting people take charge and lead their lives within their means, buying what they need without making you feel guilty for not servicing their wants. I’m learning to master this art day by day.

As an individual, you also need to get to evaluate what you consider essential for you so that you invest in obtaining it without expecting others to do the same for you. It gives you power to live on your own terms unapologetically. Take control of your life and learn to say “No” when on the giving end once in a while. If they can’t invest in what they need then it’s not essential. Sit back and relax.

Dear Employer

“Being an employer is a gift to your employees. Exploit it’s privileges and responsibilities to the fullest.”

Employment is a contract between an employer and an employee to be responsibility for each other. It’s about fulfilling the needs of each other and doing so the best way possible while nurturing the relationship altogether. Unfortunately, most often people don’t nurture the relationships and this is worrying for I believe it’s not possible to have a meaningful relationship without breaking the tension. I’m fortunate to work with employers who are committed to my growth as much as I try to deliver value to them in the work I do. Most importantly, I’m keen on fostering a meaningful and beneficial relationship altogether for the both of us.

I recently did an interview with a great company, one I am glad to know and have had a stint of engagement with. It’s not everyday you do interviews and at the same time it’s not a guarantee that you get the job but the experience you leave the interview room with either makes you love the company or hate it. Mine was the former and that’s why I am delighted to pen this piece. Interviews are opportunities for us to reflect on our skills, align them with the job expectations and gain clarity on what possibilities lie ahead of us. It may be in the same company or another but you’ll have had a moment to refocus your professional and personal story the best way that suits your career aspirations. I don’t think this is a light matter at all. With this said, I realized that there are things interviewers need to know and I’ll get to them.

Dear Employer,

  • When we come to interview with you there is a pull, help us crystalize it by shaping the conversation around your company and the job description. Unless you provoke us to think about it critically and put it to words, we may never know.
  • Please let us see and understand the our potential working with you in the long term. Nobody wants to be static in a particular position so let us see the chance. This doesn’t have to be aligned to the individual aspirations but even in your company vision that may make one want to create the envision future with you. Make it worthwhile to bank on you other than just being a paycheck.
  • We don’t have to get the job. You can reject us or we can decline your offer but in either case, we can be friends and have a great relationship without necessarily working together.
  • We are your best marketing bet to the outside world, take advantage of it to pitch your company because unless we get to know what you do from you, we may never get to know it well enough. This is not only in making interviewees know what you do by explaining it but also demonstrating your work in behavior, examples and warmth. If one leaves your office feeling subjugated, it may be the worst marketing decision you ever make. If one leaves happy and excited about what you do, they have a chance to talk well about you and it’s a win. Make it count always.
  • I know you may never see our value unless we get to be employed but just have in mind that we bring you uncensored market intelligence on who your brand to the outside world and have a chance at shaping it with you. Ask brilliant questions that let you in on who you are in the public and how we can help shape that narrative for the better.
  • You may assume we are at your mercy but in reality, we both need each other. Without either of us, we may not get to accomplish our missions. Let’s enjoy the journey together.

I’m glad there are amazing companies out there with fantastic people doing amazing work and keen on taking bets on others. I’m honored to have interacted with such people in this lifetime.

“Interviews are opportunities for us to reflect on our skills, align them with the job expectations and gain clarity on what possibilities lie ahead of us.”

The Toothless Dog

“Toothless dogs can’t bite.”

I’m sure in one way or the other we’ve all been acquainted with the phrase, “The dog is all bark and no bite.” I don’t want dogs to bite people though. I just thought of this scourge of antimicrobial resistance in that line and felt the urge to simplify the concept for all the best way I can because we need it. In case you’ve never heard of antimicrobial resistance in your life, then this is your chance to learn and share the lesson with someone in your circle. Don’t break the chain.

I’ll presume you at one point have been or have seen someone with a wound that never heals. Regardless of being treated with different medicines, there are these wounds that never heal. Once the patient is referred to further tests, cultures may show that they are infected with an organism that is resistant to all the drugs that have been used. This then means that they’ll have to use alternative drugs which are active against the microbe, failure to which the patient risks having the foot cut or even dying from the wound. Such a terrible outcome. So how does this antimicrobial resistance come along? Today you got home from work with a flu and as always your go to treatment is that pack of antibiotics you were given last time when you had a chest problem. It then manifests in the form of the microorganisms causing the disease not being killed and building defenses against your drug of choice. The next time you fall ill, you fail to respond to it and by so doing your condition worse.

Other situations including using antibiotics in agricultural practices e.g. injecting animals i.e. cows, goats, sheep, camels etc. with antibiotics or even spraying your plants in the farm with antibiotics. This promotes the presence of antimicrobials in the environment. As always when we are under attack, we build defenses to guard us against future attacks. This is what microbes do to the antibiotics that you have been exposed to over time. At a later stage, the conditions that used to be treated with ease cannot be treated anymore using the same medicines if available. Some people don’t get lucky and die in the process and it’s not fair. We end up having toothless dogs for antibiotics as they give us a false assurance of being cured but in real sense the drug isn’t attacking the microbes it should kill or suppress their growth.

To protect ourselves from antimicrobial resistance (AMR), there is need to take responsibility as a people on what we should do and that’s the critical call over this World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW). How do you get involved?

  • Don’t use antibiotics when you don’t need them. A common cold “homa” isn’t treated with an antibiotic. That’s irrational use of antimicrobials.
  • Don’t overuse antibiotics on plants and animals in your agricultural practices. This increases the risk of antimicrobials developing resistance.
  • Complete your dose of antimicrobials when prescribed and dispensed to you by your doctor. It’s important because it ensures you have adequate drug levels in the body to act against the infection.
  • Don’t throw away any antimicrobials loosely into the environment in case they are not used. Return any unused and expired drugs to the pharmacy store for disposal.

Play your part in controlling and preventing antimicrobial resistance because you can.

On Being Tired

“Time outs are just fine.”

Some days we are not ourselves. Not because we don’t want to or because we cannot be but because we are too tired even to be. I’ve been keen on keeping my writing streak all along until today that I feel terribly tired, hoping to get some rest and be up for the new week in style. Rocking it till it plays on by the rules, that’s the goal.

So I today, I had a story to tell but because I’m too tired to get the right words, I feel I’d rather just let you know that when you are tired, it’s okay to take a break and let be. Tomorrow will come and when it does you’ll have another chance. Don’t die today striving to create a future you know nothing about.

Thank you for reading and have yourselves a great week ahead. Let’s meet tomorrow for the next post.