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COVID-19 and what it means for African Millennials: The concept of the 7th Generation

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Kevin Mutiso

My grandmother passed away during the COVID-19 Pandemic. It was Easter Sunday. She was our matriarch. If it were normal times, we would have had a huge function in her honor. But these were not normal times and she had to be buried within two days and only 15 people could attend. The silver lining, however, was that this small function necessitated the most intimate and important memories of my life and family.

During our meal, my father and uncles, her sons- she only had boys, began to reminisce. They shared some emotional stories and some hilarious ones, some so funny that for a brief moment we forgot we had come to bury our matriarch. One story, however, captured my imagination. It was the story of how my grandmother made decisions after her husband, my grandfather had passed away in 1969. She was not as educated as he was, and she was a woman with five young sons. Her vision was to ensure that her children would go to university and prosper in their adulthood. She, therefore, made very critical decisions about her children and they lived in one of the strictest households that have ever been described to me.

She was also the sole breadwinner and had to feed all five mouths and a worker who would look after these five sons when she worked during the day. She was everything from a prison warder, a bar owner, farm owner, and eventually a small-scale commodities trader, as she would consolidate maize harvests in the village and hire a truck to sell to clients in arid areas in Kenya. She was industrious, hardworking, and very strategic. On this sad afternoon, I understood the concept of the 7th Generation.

The 7th generation is a concept from a Native American tribe known as the Iroquois (pronounced i – ruh – kwoy). When the Iroquois council of elders had to make a difficult and critical decision, they would invoke the concept of the 7th generation. This concept states that the current members of the council would represent an imagined member of their family seven generations into the future and would make decisions based on how it would impact that imagined member of the family.

My grandmother’s decisions freed me from poverty and gave me the privilege of pursuing entrepreneurship and in FinTech. Her decisions allowed me to travel the world in pursuit of knowledge and capital. She would laugh about my exploits and she would always give glory to God even when, like now, we are struggling as the economic impacts of the COVID 19 Pandemic make our economic endeavors uncertain.

I started to think about my own critical decisions – who my imagined family member, seven generations, from me would look like and what would the world be like? Seven generations from me are 90 years into the future. The year is 2110 and Independent Kenya is 147 years old. I started to think about all the data that was out there about me, what would they say about me and my generation, would we be the like the Lost Generation who, according to Wikipedia, are described as the social generation cohort that came of age during World War I. “Lost” in this context refers to the “disoriented, wandering, directionless” spirit of the many war’s survivors in the early post-war period. Or would we be like the baby boomers who are considered the most successful generation of all time?

The COVID 19 Pandemic has changed the world forever and anyone who claims to be able to predict what will happen in the future is lying. However, we know some things now as fact. Some of the jobs and businesses that had to shut down will never come back and at the same time many businesses will thrive. We also know that there is an opportunity to shape our future in ways that were until this point unimaginable.

I would like to make a case for the Kenyan and African millennials to consider a name change. The African millennial is similar to their counterparts in western countries in many ways, but their context is extremely unique.

This generation grew up in a New Africa. An Africa that was now run by a second or third cohort of African leaders. The independence struggle was something they read in history books and were taught in class. In this Africa, indigenous Africans were getting wealthy. Many who had moved from the village to the city, became wealthy and could now afford cars, nice houses, and other fancy things. What seemed to be the sure route to this kind of success, was education. A university degree in many African families is a sign of prestige. As a result, many African families aspired to take their children to university and the number of Kenyan university degree holders moved from a few hundred in the 1960s to over 500,000 today.

In addition to this, a cultural change was happening as a result of advances in technology. Radios became almost ubiquitous in urban households by the late 1980s and TVs by the mid-2000s. This African millennial was being exposed to urban western culture through musical genres like hip hop, sitcoms, magazines, and western sports culture. As a result, this African millennial shares several cultural touchpoints with their western counterpart and a good example of this is the cult-like following of Premier League teams like Manchester United and Chelsea here in Kenya.

This generation has networks of relatives across the world due to the huge “brain drain” that happened in the 1980s and 1990s as a result of the massive emigration of educated Africans to different parts of the world seeking a better life for their families. This generation was raised by the post-colonial generation. The post-colonial generation were children of the pre-independence generation who fought for our freedom.

So what name should we give ourselves? By invoking the 7th generation concept, and as a representative of an imagined member of my family 90 years from today, I would like to propose the name Generation Hope.

Generation Hope because we should be remembered in history for being the generation that was optimistic about the future and did not let major setbacks like COVID-19 knock them out, but instead spurred them to think outside the box to ensure that the next normal was a better place for everyone.

The concept of the 7th generation makes decision making slightly more difficult because some of the solutions will be some of the toughest to implement, and some initiatives will take sacrifices just like my grandmother had to make for me and my family.

In addition to proposing a name, I would like to propose a goal for Generation Hope within my context. We should have many goals, but I am an entrepreneur and I want to represent the entrepreneur in my family 90 years from today. For them to be successful they will need a more efficient market for them to trade their goods or services. An efficient market has two characteristics; stability, and fairness. The rules should not be skewed to one player, and one should be able to plan their business far into the future.

In that regard, I would like to propose three simple metrics to gauge our progress. Economists use GDP per capita to compare the living standards of a person in a country and the Gini coefficient that measures the wage gap between the richest and the poorest earners in a country. The Gini coefficient is a number always between 0 and 1. If the number is 0, then everyone in the country earns the same amount of money and is known as perfect equality and if the number is 1, only one person earns everything and is known as perfect inequality.

Kenya’s GDP per capita as of 2019 was KES 170,000 (USD 1,700), which technically means that the average Kenyan has a standard of living equivalent to KES 14,166 (USD 141) per month and Kenya’s Gini coefficient is 0.42. For comparison’s sake, The USA’s GDP per capita is slightly over KES 6 million (USD 60,000) and the average American has a living standard of about KES 540,000 (USD 5,400) per month and USA’s Gini coefficient is 0.39. Kenya’s Gini co-efficient is ok but could be better and we should aspire to be closer to Sweden’s which is 0.27.

However, our GDP per capita is too low. We need to move it up to at least KES 1.2 million (USD 12,000) so that the average standard of living is KES 100,000 (USD 1,000) per month. China’s GDP per capita was KES 100,000 (USD 1,000) in the year 2000. Today it is over KES 1 million (USD 10,000). So this is not a monumental task, it has been done before.

We need a third metric. Unfortunately, I have not found a third metric that takes into consideration what the other two fail to capture; emotional, spiritual and mental wellbeing. If you have ideas, let us start sharing them. This metric should help us re-imagine our society for the better forever. This metric shall be part of Generation Hope’s legacy.

Also Read: These two Africans are helping businesses and individuals spend less time doing expenses with Xpensi

As Generation Hope enters its most economically productive years and as we move into higher levels within our areas of expertise, may we do our part and ensure that by 2040 we improve our GDP per capita to over 1.2 million shillings (USD 12,000) and improve our Gini coefficient to 0.25. May we set the example for future generations and teach them how to invoke the concept of the 7th generation when making the critical and important decisions of their time.

The last conversation I had with my grandmother was in late February this year when she had come for a check-up with her doctors. She was staying with my parents. My daughter and I went to pay them a visit. It was a warm day, so she was basking in the sun. I joined her. I said hello and she acknowledged my presence. She did not ask how I did or ask me when I was going to get married as she usually did. This time she said, “Kevin, vumilia!” Which translated from Swahili means, “Kevin, persevere.” She then added how hard it had been for her when my grandfather had passed, she said, “Imagine being a single mother of 5 boys, one few months old in those days?” “Vumilia, itakuwasawa!” “Persevere, it shall be alright!”

It shall not be easy, but if you are between the age of 25 and 40 in 2020, you are part of Generation Hope. As you make those critical decisions about your life and those of your children, invoke the concept of the 7th generation and make the best decision for that imagined member of your family and remember that whatever you do, it will move the average standard of living of your fellow Kenyan to KES 100,000 (USD 1,000) a month. It will be difficult but as my grandmother proved: “We gon be alright!”

If you are part of Generation Hope, I urge you to do two things; firstly share this article with someone in a leadership position and let them know that you are willing to help solve some of the challenges because you will be a leader soon.

Secondly, stand up and be proud to be part of Generation Hope; The generation that came out of COVID 19 stronger and made their world a better place than they found it.

Written by Kevin Mutiso: African, Kenyan, Father, Friend, Entrepreneur.

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Africa speaks

Kamala Harris, Madam Vice President

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Kamala Harris, the current Vice President of the United States of America (Source: Wikipedia)

The story of the Vice President of America today is one that we can say is as a result of strong legislation and a long standing and deeply rooted culture of the United States of America, as well as her democracy, which has evolved over the years.

The eventual passage of the 19th amendment, over a 100 years ago, enabled an all-inclusive voting rights which made possible the feat which we all celebrate today – a Woman occupying the office of the Vice President of the United States. This goes beyond a pass mark in our ‘democratic’ institutions, one we have always hoped for, or a nod at inclusion and diversity. What we see here is a new dawn in America’s politics.

Kamala Harris, the current Vice President of the United States of America is a multicultural  woman; with black, Jamaican, and Indian descent. Her story is one of possibilities and a spirited passion for the American democracy. Her political triumph pinpoints a significant landmark in her successful career even as she keeps making history.

Childhood Background

Harris’s Mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, had arrived in the United States from India in 1958 as a 19-year-old; who through grit and hardwork went on to become a biologist cancer researcher. Her father, Donald Harris, who came from Jamaica was a lecturer at Stanford University.

Vice President Kamala Harris was born in 1964, She had a normal childhood till she was 7 with her younger sister Maya when her parents unfortunately separated. She continued her educational studies not withstanding  and attended Howard University, a historically black university in the capital city of Washington, D.C.

Harris proceeds to California  for her furtherance in education in Law, by attending the law school at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law through its Legal Education Opportunity Program. While at UC Hastings, during her stay in the law school she served as president of its chapter of the Black Law Students Association. She graduated in 1989 thereafter she joined the Alameda County District Attorney’s office where she specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases.

Notable Milestones

In the year 2002, Harris showed interest  in running for District Attorney of San Francisco against two other contenders. Harris went on to win the keenly contested race with 56% of the vote, becoming the first black elected a  District Attorney of San Francisco.

Going forward to 2010, Harris was elected as the Attorney General (AG) of the State of California! Therefore, becoming the first female and first African American to hold the post. She went on to write a book titled; Smart on Crime, this book was considered a model for dealing with the problem of criminal recidivism in the United States and the world in general.

In the year 2014, a new chapter in Harris’s life was opened, as she got married to Attorney Douglas Emhoff. Harris was then chosen to be recruited for the U.S. Senate for a seat that belonged to a woman retiring.

2016 marked another triumphant run in the record book of groundbreaking accolades. Kamala Harris, this time won the senatorial election by a landslide based on her situating policies calling for criminal- justice and immigration reforms, increase of minimum wage, and protection of women’s reproductive rights. As the pattern has been from her law school days, she became the first Indian American in the U.S. Senate.

Harris went in to announce she was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 which Joe Biden clinched. But In August 2020, Biden chose her as his running mate for the presidential election, thus the first black woman to appear on a major party’s national ticket. Heading on to the November 2020 elections, she became the first woman to ever be elected Vice President of the United States. And by January 20, 2021 she was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States.

In Conclusion

Kamala Harris  is a role model in diverse ways as most of her notable milestones were stated above.  Very inspiring to women around the world irrespective of race, ethnicity or country, she has a model of international repute, though of black and Indian descent.

However, despite what might seem as remarkable progress in our collective journeys towards gender equality and inclusion, women are still starkly underrepresented in leadership positions, most especially in the  top echelons of power. This gap is not just a United States problem, but a global issue. Nevertheless, every win counts! As in the resounding words of Neil Armstrong, “this is one small step for man, and a great leap for mankind.”

We have successfully overcome the setback of relegating women to the kitchen. We have seen that a woman can get to the zenith of her career if she so wishes with hard work and perseverance.

Kamala categorically stated in her victory speech “But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”

A historical new era is born in the United States of America with high hopes and aspirations for endless possibilities.

Article by: Remi Duyile

 

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A Global Entanglement: Involving The Displacement Of Migrants Exacerbated During Crisis

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Dr KIM LAMONT-MBAWULI

The world is experiencing unprecedented existential crisis. We living in a moment of global entanglement comprised of escalations and accelerations such as accelerated mobility both of goods, ideas and information and people. As a result COVID-19 virus resulted in a global crisis. According to Dr Eric Makoni, the traveller or globe trotter is always on the move has defined by the moment of global entanglement. Of which the intensification thereof has resulted in the escalated movement of the virus.

Unfortunately, there are skewed power relations there is easier movement for some than others. Regrettably the darker side of modernity are those that are exposed to a low socioeconomic status such as migrants. The precariat move is driven by hunger, poverty, wars, unemployment and natural disasters from one area in search of greener pastures.

According, to Boaventura de Sousa Santos the large Majority of the world’s population is not the subject of human rights. They are rather the object of human rights and discourses. On the other hand, various laws that govern mobility of the poor, have frequently resulted in their confinement and poverty. In some instances, it has rendered them permanent wanderers, refugees, and immigrants.

MIGRATION

According to Tapiwa Diamond, migration involves the movement of people from place to place either internally within one country or sometimes from country to country. Migration has an effect on human capital on both individual and household level. It is deeply embedded in rational policy calculations, entrenched political position, impassioned public debate and the subject of emotive narratives and personal stories. It is inherently political it is the human costs of conflict and perilous journeys in search of safety. There is a plethora of compelling factors that
push people to migrate, with a clear dream of something better, something more attractive, a mirage of a better and safer future. If considered carefully it means that the migrant journeys are path unknown for a better tomorrow.

FORCIBLY DISPLACED

Forced displacement (also referred to as forced migration) is the involuntary or compelled movement of people away from their home or region. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) defines
‘forced displacement’ more narrowly as: displaced “as a consequence of persecution, conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations”.

Subsequently, resulting in acquired vulnerabilities that are specific to them, including catastrophic losses of assets or trauma. It perpetuates the vicious circle wherein there is a lack of economic opportunities, and it traps them in poverty. These vulnerabilities set them apart from other poor people in the communities where they live, broad-based poverty reduction efforts may not suffice to relieve their plight and special interventions are needed. To sustain host communities, development actors should help manage the shock caused by an inflow of forcibly
displaced persons. The arrival of large numbers of people in specific locales creates both risks and opportunities. In most situations, it transforms the environment for designing and implementing poverty reduction programs. In some exceptional cases, it creates new dynamics for the entire country and national development strategies have to be adjusted accordingly. In addition to this pandemics like COVID 19 have exacerbated crisis situation for migrants

According to the IOM there are 272 million international migrants worldwide are more vulnerable than others because of personal, social, situational and structural factors. Persons displaced internally and across borders are particularly at risk.

IMPACT ON MOBILITY

With measures introduced by governments to ‘flatten the curve’ of infections, the COVID-19 pandemic is already greatly impacting mobility and migration. Travel restrictions were passed to contain the virus, including by prohibiting entry of residents from other countries, and some countries have closed their borders entirely. Labour migration has been temporarily suspended in some countries while, in others, migration processing and assistance to asylum seekers are being slowed down. These mobility restrictions and concerns over exposing refugees to
the novel Coronavirus have forced the International Organization for Migration and the United High Commissioner for Refugees to temporarily suspend refugees’ resettlement travels.

Refugees often settle into host communities which are among the poorest in their countries or in remote or border areas, where residents are already struggling to obtain jobs and adequate public services. While some migrants may be healthier than their receiving community, others have health vulnerabilities which can be due to; socioeconomic status; being in crowded or otherwise suboptimal environments; restriction to eligibility or access to services, including health services as a result of the  migration status; or cultural-linguistic barriers or access to health information.

IMPACT ON MIGRANT CHILDREN

According UNICEF analysis based on United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, migrant and displaced children are among the most vulnerable populations on the globe. In 2019, around 33 million children were living outside of their country of birth, including many who were forcibly displaced across borders. At the end of 2018, a total of over 31 million children were living in forced displacement in their own country or abroad due to violence and conflict. This includes some 13 million child refugees, around 1 million asylum-seeking children, and an estimated  17 million children displaced within their own countries.

It is estimated that 3.7 million children live in refugee camps or collective centres. Further to this COVID-19 threatens to bring even more uncertainty and harm to their lives. A UNICEF study titled, “Steps Up COVID-19 Preparedness, Prevention, and Response Measures” demonstrated that almost 4 in 10 children and young people on the move do not have access to facilities to properly wash themselves in countries like Somalia, Ethiopia and the Sudan. Notwithstanding the fact that half of those respondents were aged between 14–24 years in a UNICEF poll and
self-identified as migrants and refugees and further indicated that they did not see a doctor when needed.

This has become a harsh reality for many children around the world. Children in situations like these may face the added risk of being detained by immigration authorities, potentially exposing them to violence, abuse or exploitation. Migrant and displaced children across contexts are at risk of missing out on accurate public health information, due to language barriers or simply being cut off from communication networks. Undocumented children living in foreign countries may fear contact with public authorities. Meanwhile, misinformation on the spread of COVID-19 has exacerbated the xenophobia and discrimination that migrant and displaced children and their families face.

IMPACT ON HEALTH

The lack of or inappropriate health insurance, often coupled to insufficient financial resources, may negatively impact migrants. Undocumented migrants can find it more difficult to access care, as outside activity needs to be registered with authorities or they may be reluctant to enter medical facilities for fear of being reported if no appropriate firewalls exist regarding data sharing with the immigration and law enforcement authorities.

  • Crowded living environments may also affect the implementation of preventive measures such as social distancing.
  • This is for instance the case for undocumented migrants in administrative detention, refugees in camps or migrant workers in highly populated migrant camps.

VACCINE ROLL OUT AND MIGRANTS

COVID-19 vaccine distribution has begun, and U.S. refugee, immigrant, and migrant (RIM) populations, who are dis-proportionately affected by COVID-19, face well-known barriers to vaccination. If not addressed, these barriers likely will result in a lost opportunity to save lives. The recent report from the National Academies Press, Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine (Framework), offers specific and helpful recommendations for conducting an equitable vaccine campaign, although implementation thereof remains.

Migrants in SA particularly undocumented are concerned about not being vaccinate. The vaccine is being rolled out to health workers. What’s required when you receive the shot; is to show that you have got an ID. For those who are
undocumented the documentation process make it difficult to obtain a vaccination. Albeit it has been explicitly stated that all adults, regardless of their documentation will receive the vaccine– irrespective of nationality or residence status – would receive the vaccine during the roll-out because “it is in the best interests of all that as many of us receive the vaccine as possible”.

However, Migrants have said that there is a lack of clarity in terms of how the vaccine roll out will be undertaken because of the systemic Xenophobia or uneasiness when providing health care to non-citizens. In a recent study, published in Plos one, in December on healthcare providers and migrants accessing medical services in Gauteng, respondents/Participants in the study reported that they had witnessed discrimination and differential treatment when it came to migrants.

In Conclusion

In this age of global entanglement, Covid has made us realise inter alia the following;

1) we are not invincible.

2) we need each other as human beings.

3) we need to respect the natural environment all the people in it.

4) when fully understand the spirit of Ubuntu and solidarity that another world is possible – and it must be realised.

This new world must be predicated on common humanity, respect of the spirit-world, respect for the (non-human world), and the centering of knowledge’s marginalised by global capitalism. After all, there is only one earth
that we all live in.

 

A U T H O R  S H O R T  B I O

Dr Kim Lamont-Mbawuli is the CEO of Simanye Clinic, Head of Litigation at Ebi Okeng Attorneys Inc, Chief Legal Officer at Alternative Energy and Chairperson for Pan African Network for Investment and Development. During the period between 2007 to 2012 she completed her Honours in Human Biology, MSc in Medicine (Med) and PhD (Med). In 2015, she completed an MPhil in Intellectual Property Law. In 2019 she graduated with her LLB at Unisa, she completed her Practical legal training with LEAD and was Admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa. She is an Attorney at Law/General Practitioner.

 

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Open Letter to President Joe Biden

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President Joe Biden © The U.S WhiteHouse 

The Legacy Premier Foundation joins the rest of the world in saluting and congratulating you and the amiable Vice President – Madam Kamala Harris, on your outstanding triumph in being elected the 46th President and Vice President of the United State of America. It was an all-round resounding victory that showcased your fruitful political career over the years. It was also incredible to know about your magnanimity in clinching the presidential seat. How beautiful It is to see one who gives so much get rewarded! You are an icon as you have consistently expressed your genuine thoughts, and the electorate has regarded this honorary virtue.

Reiterating the words of Fashina, et al.(2018), their study revealed evidence of a long relationship among economic growth, foreign aid, human capital and other growth determinants namely; real domestic investment, foreign direct investment and trade openness. It is also evident in the study that among other factors considered responsible for economic growth, foreign direct investment and trade openness appeared the most viable for explaining growth attainment in Nigeria as there were more statistically significant factors. On this account, we would trust that you will keep on offering the truly necessary help; support and aid for Africa-oriented programs. Currently, we need a great deal of help in the advancement of Africa development.

Going down memory lane, since the escalation of World War II, there has been a significant development in Africa’s general foreign exchange. The development contrasts well to that of other continents, for example, Latin America. The estimation of imports, notwithstanding, has exceeded exports bringing about an unfavourable lopsided exchange for most African nations. One way to overturn this is through foreign aid and grants.

Over the years, there has been a huge surge in African commodities by and large, and this can be credited to the increment in the demand for essential commodities during World War II and in the prompt post-war refurbishment period. Thus, the fulfilment of independence by most African nations, particularly in the mid-1960s was trailed by an offer for economic development that is fortified by the export-expansion drive.

Another wholesome reason for the rather slow growth in African exports is the perseverance of the present circumstance that has been essential for the explanation of the economies of numerous African countries.

To salvage this, the African Union has launched the operational phase of the Africa Continental Trade Area (AfCFTA), which could become the world’s largest trade area, going by number of participating nations, once it’s fully operational. Nigeria is on the verge of developing a national AfCFTA strategy. In Nigeria today, we have the road, maritime and air transport options well utilised, but the railways would have an edge over the others when the trading bloc starts operations because of its relatively lower costs. Nigeria therefore is positioning itself to take very good advantage of these policies to come.

After years of talks, the end goal is to determine one marketplace for goods and services across the 54 African countries, allowing the free movement of business travelers and investments, and making a continental union to streamline trade; which thereby attracts long-term investment.

There is also the “African Growth and Opportunity Act,” (AGOA) which has been the foundation of U.S. monetary commitment in the last twenty years, with the nations of Sub-Saharan Africa and has assisted with expanding two-path exchange between the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa.

AGOA builds on existing US trade programs by expanding the (duty-free) benefits previously available only under the country’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) program. Duty-free access to the U.S. market under the combined AGOA/GSP program stands at approximately 6,500 product tariff lines, including the tariff lines that were added by the AGOA legislation. Notably, these newly added “AGOA products” include items such as apparel and footwear, wine, certain motor vehicle components, a variety of agricultural products, chemicals, steel and many others.

In conclusion, we see that the agreement will expire by 2025, but we want to see to it that this applaudable act is extended further to help bolster economic development in the whole of the Africa continent.

For this, we humbly request for aids and policies targeted towards trade openness, laxity on stringent policies against migration and support on democratic practice that will enhance human capital and socioeconomic development on the continent. We also offer you our wholehearted partnership in your future works, and we expect your tenure achievement to be all-encompassing and all-reaching.

This wouldn’t just imbue more credibility to your governance, it will be a far-reaching policy towards igniting hope in the heart of the African populace.

We look forward to meaningful collaborations through our organization, Legacy Premier Foundation – a global intergenerational non-profit organization committed to empowering and developing underserved communities through human capital and socio-economic empowerment.

We remain open to a meet and greet opportunity with your team.

God bless the President
God Bless Madam Vice President
God bless the United States of America

Signed: Dr Remi Duyile, Legacy Premier Foundation Management

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