Thursday, February 11, 2010

Acrobatic Performance by China's Hunan Province National Art Troupe

I got a rare chance to experience Chinese culture at same time celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year also known to them as Spring Festival yesterday 10/02/2010 at the K.I.C.C. Ball room.
The 14 of February will mark the most important festival for the Chinese people as they usher in 'The year of the Tiger'. In my case, it will be business as usual (read valentine and the mandatory mass attendance!). However, the Chinese will get to celebrate both as the Chinese ambassador to Kenya put it 'it will be a an ideal moment for the young men in China to celebrate their new year at same time for those with girlfriends to propose.'
You will be living in Mars if you have not noticed the many Chinese in town. We have three categories in my opinion. The workers assisting us in building our highways, the businessmen and we have the tourists. In fact huge hotels in town such as The New-Stanley have a Chinese Restaurant i.e. Tai-Chi restaurant. It is also a common occurrence to see Chinese Tourists taking snaps in front of Nairobi's Landmarks areas such as KICC and City's view site in community.
So the Embassy of the people's Republic of China did put up a very successful performance which was attended by among other the government officials led by the PS in Ministry of Culture, Diplomatic community (I did see the Japanese envoy and other whom I did not recognize), the Chinese community working in Kenya and many Kenyan's wishing to know the ways of our 'friends, partners, brothers'.
The thing I took notice is that China really views Africa as a strategic partner. The ying-Yang sign with one part China and the other Africa caught my attention and the well choreographed acrobatic performance that at times left me breathless. Plus, folk songs from Mao's birth place!
The national Troupe took the peoples hearts with short Swahili composition which shows that they had seriously planned for this occasion.
In sum I clearly enjoyed my evening thanks to the Chinese and look forward to the year of the Tiger!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Copenhagen Climate Conference: Which way forward?

Heinrich Boll Stiftung foundation held is it first public forum for this year on 21/01/10 at the Laico Regency. Unlike most of it’s previous public engagements which normally revolve around gender themes. Heinrich Boll Foundation this time wanted to engage the public on the number one global issue which is climate change. Coming head over heels of COP 15 it did bring a lot of stakeholders to the meeting and new faces to this public discourse.

The panelists for this discourse were;
• Dr. Alfred Omenya-Consultant & Lecturer at UoN (Architecture)
• Hon. David Koech-Chair, Parliamentary Network on Renewable Energy & Climate Change (PANERECC) & Chair, Parliamentary Select Committee on Education, Science & Technology
• Mithika Mwenda- Coordinator, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)
• Suresh Patel-Businessman & Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) representative on KEPSA Environment sector board
All the above speakers were delegates of COP 15 and can be considered authorities on the issue at hand.

Dr. Alfred Omenya’s presentation was very insightful and had clear grasp of issues of climate change and the politics behind climate change. I got to learn that Africa had a common negotiating platform that it had agreed on to the run-up of COP 15. This platform is Algiers negotiating platform/Africa’s common position.
This was negotiated by all African Environment Ministers in: The African Ministerial Conference on Environment which was held in Algiers and reported their deliberations back to the African Union heads of states. This was to be adopted by all African heads of states as the negotiating platform in COP15.

Hon. David Koech informed us of the meetings that were held to the run-up of COP 15.
One of this was the summit held in Nairobi tot the run-up of COP 15. This had ‘one Africa, one voice, one position’ as its clarion call. This brought about African’s to speak in one voice. What was note worth was that parliamentarians, civic society and activist were in the same bandwagon!
However, Hon. Koech was of the view that recently developing countries such as India, China & Brazil were the main obstacles of a comprehensive agreement in Copenhagen. Also, oil producing countries were a stumbling block and poor negotiating skills used by the African delegation to COP 15.

Coming back to Kenya Hon Koech had the following sentiments:
i. Environmental conservation should be mainstreamed in our constitution e.g. as is the case in Nigeria which has a National Environmental & Climate Change Commission.
ii. Have legislations on climate change.
iii. Recruit more members as champions of climate change.
iv. Focus on alternative sources of energy such as wind (key), geothermal and solar energy (as is the case in Denmark).
v. Encourage and improve negotiations
vi. Keep momentum on fight on climate change and get citizens planting trees.

Mr. Suresh Patel gave the business side of climate change. He advocated for Kenyan’s to start green industries and for business to adopt green practices in their places of work.

Mr. Mithika Mwenda gave a hawkish presentation of us against them i.e. the developing countries against developed countries and some of the policies that g77 was adopting in the run-up to the Mexico and German conferences.

Mega slumming

The book launch and public debate on the future of Africa’s shantytowns was held on Wednesday 20th January 2010, 6pm at the Nairobi National Museum.

This book launch was like no other I have attended. Well, most book launches tend to have a guest of honor who gives a brief description of the author and the book at hand. Then we have the publishers who are also present who engage in a review of their book and the all important unveiling of the book by the guest of honor. This is usually followed by signing of books by the author for those who purchase their copies of the launched book.
However, Megaslumming which was authored by Adam Parsons in collaboration with share the worlds resources, a UK based think tank, was unveiled at the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). I know you will ask why the Museums of all places but the National Museum after its renovation thanks to the EU offers space for events, may they be company events/launches or exhibitions. I understand at pretty competitive rates and the atmosphere there is great unless you have watched to many movies like The Night at the Museum!

The book launch was marked by a panel discussion which compromised of:

• Rasna Warah-Author and journalist
• Rajesh Makwana-Moderator and director of share the world’s resources
• Djemba-Young resident from Kibera
• Adam Parsons-Author of Megaslumming

This panelist did not disappoint and game their own views as to why we have slums in Kenya just like any other place in the world. How they arose, why they decided to focus on Kibera and life and times in the slums. This views as you can see from the panelist present were cross cutting views i.e. we have views from the top all the way to the bottom.

The panel discussion was followed by a public debate. The book launch had managed to bring quite a crowd. This crowd compromised of some of the best brains in Nairobi, academics. Such were; persons working for the UN, young people who maybe idealists and seek answers to present day problems. This young people are interested in finding solutions to extreme poverty (MDG 1) and how we can make life better for people who reside in the slums.
The author, Mr. Adam did give a background on how he engaged in the journey of writing this book and was at one point put to task why he choose Kibera of all the slums in the world. As opposed to the slums found in India, Brazil and San Francisco.
The author did reveal he is on a journey of documenting life in some of these places.

Megaslumming is written as an introduction to global justice issues and vividly describes life in Nairobi’s most notorious slum, Kibera and raises serious questions about the current direction of world ‘development’.
You can download the book for free or purchase a copy. So for anyone interested in this can visit: