Is my work stressful? Or its my past?

Brand New Year, Brand new things, brand new targets and everything has to be new. My thoughts too need to be disconnected from 2016 and forge ahead.

Today I decided to clean my desk because yesterday the owner of the company passed by to say hi. I got the heads up from the manager that my workstation looked untidy and I didn’t have time to arrange. So I dumped everything into the drawer.

I stretched my hand further end of the second drawer and grabbed my badge. I haven’t used it for a while, and it was of paramount importance that I have it on especially after the reminder in the morning meeting. So he came, greeted all of us then headed straight into managers office. Then he left after half an hour. Life was back to normal.

Now back to my desk which looked neat from the face. I pulled out the drawer that had been stuffed up with paper, notebooks and forms from 2016 and before. I wanted a fresh start. I went through each paper one after another to make sure I didn’t trash relevant documents.

I noticed one consistent thing I have been doing through 2016 that I was unaware of. I had written meaningless stuff on any plain surface I found on my desk. As I go through more papers in I realized I had religiously done this consistently regardless of the importance the document.


At one time, I wrote clients proposal form, and I almost scribbled on the back of a cheque leaf. What is wrong with me? Why do I keep writing things that do not make sense?The last writings of this nature I recall were back in primary school. I wrote on the top surface of the wooden desks, and no one would understand what was written on the desk. So many words written from all directions in different colors. Some were hoary writings, and I feel it was not only my problem, but there were others like me.

When is Your work not Your life?

The Canadian Centre for Occupational health views work/life balance from two fronts.

  • You have all the time in the world yet you accomplish nothing. Schedules conflict and you end up underachieving despite your potential.
  • When you feel overstretched, overworked and overwhelmed by multiple roles that are too demanding.

When you face any of the above two scenarios, then it is said to be a work/life balance issue. It is interesting that scholars use work/life and not work-life or the balance between work and life.

It has become rather difficult to distinguish between the life of individuals and their work.

If one aspect of the above is affected, then the other is consequently affected. Achieving a good work/life balance is paramount in making you optimal, productive and remain healthy both emotionally as well as mentally. 

The world is connected and almost everyone is online. Just check around you, if someone isn’t talking to you, then they are online talking to someone else. Technology has driven us physically further apart and virtually closer and connected.

Do not be scared to be offline

Sometimes this is the only way to be rejuvenated. Do not be a slave to your mobile phone. You never want to be off because you think an opportunity might pass you. It never works that way.

If you by any chance forget to carry your cell phone don’t beat yourself hard. You should learn to maneuver through the day without the help of your cell phone. I understand that this sounds medieval buy its the truth. Being offline brings a whole new perspective.

Mobile phones drive us apart physically but bring us together virtually

In the mid 90’s Africa had no cell phones. I couldn’t confirm my full names from my mother because she was miles away and I needed to be enrolled in school. There was no time to get her advice on this and people in my life started fixing things for me. I fixed my birthday later and in life.

My current names are not the names I was given at my birth. I learned to make my choices because my mother was never there and I feel I am a better person for not consulting too much when I was younger.

There is a thin line between your job and your life. It is therefore paramount that you make your job as your life since sometimes its the one that matters how you live.

Welcome to 2017. Like us on facebook and Twitter.

Hello folks! Happy new year and thank you for stopping by. As we continue to focus on the future, I am elated to have been able to see the end of 2016. What have you done? Here are the achievements I have made in 2016:

1. I did not kill the website. Previously, I never renewed the domains I used which means u had to loose audience. This year I managed to stay put and the blog is alive. That is a milestone.

2. I moved from a free theme to premium one. You must have noted the difference in December. It cost me to have it which means I am investing. I maintained my hosting guy though I thought his service in 2015 was poor.

3. I graduated from college and now I am focusing wholly on the blog beside my day job. This blog doesn’t pay so I have to feed myself and my family.

4. I introduced my friend to blogging and I gave him space on this blog but he quit after a month. I am glad I convinced him to joined n me which he did with enthusiasm then everything faded away. I wasn’t paying him to write.

The best thing that happened to me and the blog in 2016 is the life of the blog still ON

Despite tremendous growth in page views over the last one year, there is need to keep going. Do you think you can write? Drop me an email. I will be more than glad to give you pay for that if you give me good pieces. 2017 I will be hiring ghost writers. Be on the look out.

As we head towards the elections, I would urge all of us to act sober and vote wisely. That would be a milestone if we do not kill each other. It okay if your candidate looses. They won’t be the first to lost.

After all, there is no personal benefit you gain apart from soothing you ego. If he wins that’s fine, trump won but many didn’t vote for him. And if your candidate looses, he won’t be the first. Hillary Clinton lost what she thought was her opportune moment to be the leader of the free world.

Interacting with Naima showed me how Fortunate I was

via Daily Prompt: Fortune

My friend Naima decided to go to Uganda for her A levels. This time was immediately after high school. We had been such close friends over the time we were in high school. We shared our plans and ambitions about school and life after school. There was one challenge, though, She had faced a myriad of difficulties ever since she joined high school. A total rebel who despised her parents and always wanted to have her way.

She was naturally hardworking messed up girl, and at times I avoided her. I realized that she needed me because I was quite resourceful in class. Everyone knew that she was troubled and she was using hard drugs. So most students avoided her, and she always came to me. I could not send her away.

She was naturally hardworking messed up girl, and at times I avoided her. I realized that she needed me because I was quite resourceful in class. Everyone knew that she was troubled and she was using hard drugs. So most students avoided her, and she always came to me. I could not send her away.

In our junior year, I remember sliding my hand gently into her pocket just to poke her. I grabbed her handkerchief and ran our of the class. She aggressively pursued me with a grim face. I got scared and stopped to hand back her handkerchief. She was completely upset by my behavior.

I told her I was sorry and I stretched my hand towards her as if to give up the folded handkerchief then I unfolded it.Without any knowledge of the contents in the hankie, three rolls of what seemed to be homemade cigarettes dropped to the ground.

I froze there for a minute trying to figure out what was happening. She quickly collected her belongings and turned away from me. She could not fight me since it was against school rules. Drugs and its equivalents were strictly prohibited,

In the county, it was normal to see young people high on drugs, but I could not remember any single day I ever saw a female amongst them. This was my first time to see a girl with a cigarette-like rolls that I believed was weed. She had been a subject of murmurs in school, but I never thought it was true. I schooled with young boys who were outright drug abusers, but I had never met female one. Even pastors are caught up in this menace of drug abuse.

I immediately knew that she was going through a difficult a time. She needed someone to talk to, but there was none. Not even the teachers cared what happened to students behind the scenes. She came to me later to apologize that I saw whatever I saw.

I told her I should be the one apologizing for intruding into her privacy. She asked me if I could be her friend the remaining time we were in school and not tell anyone of her struggles. She later opened up to me. Men had abused her for three years.

She was consuming drugs, hard drugs. She told me she gets the drugs from the people she interacts hangs out with. Not at school but in the neighborhood. I was too young, too inexperienced to help. The best I did was to listen to her, laugh with her and just understand her.

She wondered why I had never tasted alcohol. I told her I come from a Christian background and alcohol was a no go zone. I asked her if she wanted to quit and she said she was trying. I tolf her to cut off ties with the boys who spoiled her.

She told me she was working on it. Honestly, I do not know if she ever quit or not because she always acted the same way. Sometimes she looked okay; sometimes she looked moody and dizzy in class. I could not understand her at times. I would just leave until she finds strength to share. She would find me in the library reading then we would start talking again.

Naima lived with her stepmother who never liked her and her dad who was never there. Sometimes she would fight with her mother, and the result would be spending the night out of the house with the boys.

Her father was not aware of what happened. She never bothered to tell her dad. It would worsen the situation. Moreover, her father would, in most cases, side with his wife. It was logical since Naima was rebellious.

I sometimes consider that as the reason why she resorted to being high on drugs perhaps to forget the tribulations of living in a place where she was not welcomed.

I think she would be much better if her mother were there to help her. However, again I look at myself, and I wonder how fortunate am I. My mom is alive; my dad is alive, and I have never lived with neither of them.

I used to live at my grandmoms, then at my uncles then another uncle and then my life goes on. When I joined elementary school, I did not even know my full names. I fixed my birthday, my second and third names. All because I met the right people who made sure I made the right choices.

Where is Naima now?

She is fine. She quit drugs and we kept contact. She did her advanced levels in Uganda and qualified to study law at Makerere. She never went to Makerere because she could not raise the fees.

I was fortunate to meet friends for life foundation who took me through undergraduate and graduate education.We occasionally chat on social media, but we are not as close as we used to be then.

Polls Don’t Decide an Election, Kenyan Voters Do.

The whole of 2007,  I worked as an interviewer with the then Steadman. My friend David introduced after he was introduced by another schoolmate who was leaving to join armed forces. This was the year that succeeded my high school, and I wasn’t sure whether I would go to college. Steadman offered me an opportunity to collect data from the field on their behalf, and I obliged. It was a rare opportunity since people complained of the polls saying they have never been interviewed. I had a chance to be on the other side.

It was an incredible journey I must say. The pay was better than my previous job, so I was happy to work for them. Steadman, now Ipsos Synovate, had already become a household name in research and market analysis here in Kenya. Every politician wanted to know what the people thought of them. There was a general feeling that polls swayed votes and possibly, I think, these polls had an effect on the aftermath of the election.

How were samples selected for an interview? No idea but this is how we handled the interviews. We did interviews per household in most cases. On rear occasions, we could target individuals in the families. The work was tiresome with strict rules. It was worse where we had to do structured sampling to interview particular persons with attributes such as gender, age group, and education level. Sometimes I spent the whole day to do only four or five questionnaires.

The number of questions in the survey was dictated by the volume of information needed. Most political polls were accompanied by market studies on particular products with election-related issues embedded in the polls. Here is what you do not know about this job. Much of what we did in the field was never announce to the media. Only political related sections of the questionnaires were published. The other data was directed to the relevant company that sponsored the event. There was no single day we did polls purely without a product embedded in the questionnaires.

The major interviews that I did revolve around market survey such as which media house was dominant! Products that are consumed every day and the other was on mobile phone networks among others. The exercise took two to three days to cover the entire region. Day one I could go to one location, day two to another location soon as colleague also did the same. The locations were predetermined from the head office, and we did not have control where we went to collect data.

This is the time I got to know various places in remote Kwale County where I also met people living lives that you would not want to be associated with. I went to villages that were a couple of miles behind. I remember one village where there was no single toilet in the entire village. If you ask them, they say, we use the nearby bushes.

Exit Poll

After a successful stint with Steadman, it was time to go back home and also consider our choices. It was the usual festive season. You know December holidays and stuff. We were all Kenyans with a constitutional duty to take part in the electoral process. It is a democratic right. Much of what I had in my mind was generous support people had for Raila and the desire and expectation of the populous after that. However, there was another opportunity that showed up; an exit poll for Infotrack this time.

Source: Unknown

The representative from Nairobi called me and asked if I could be available the next day, which was voting day, to do a survey at a remote polling station in Kwale. I readily accepted since I was free. It was a unique type of a study. It was engaging, intense and feedback was required every one hour through a mobile phone. This survey had nothing to do with a market or the market competition and dominance. It was purely what the people had voted. It was like people were voting again after leaving the polling station.

It was highly structured. I had ten questionnaires to fill the whole day. I was required to spend the night in the surrounding area so as to be at the polling station at 6 am, present myself to the presiding officer before stationing myself just outside the gate. The place was remote just like the village I described in the typical morning in a coastal suburb. I had a badge ready prepared for me from Nairobi, and a letter from relevant authorities addressed to electoral commission allowing me to carry out the survey. In case I had challenges, I was a phone call away from my bosses.

I was required to interview the first voter who stepped out of the polling station regardless of the gender and age. After that, I was to interview every fifth citizen. If the first vote was male, then the second respondent was to be a female who should be the fifth vote. After I finish with one, I start counting again. The fifth I was to do a preliminary interview to determine whether they were eligible or not. Now the age came in. It was a tedious exercise.

Before this day, I spent the evening with friends discussing the possibilities of the outcome. One thing was sure. Raila was going to floor Kibaki. The basis of this thinking among my friends was the recent poll results that indicated Raila as a favourite. I was with George, who profoundly thought Raila was going to win one question. What if Raila loses? You can be so sure that he will win. He looked at me and said in a loud voice, “Kenyans are not stupid. This is a definite pass for Raila. Kibaki is heading home” My next question to him was, have you ever had anywhere in Africa a sitting president leaving office before his term? He obviously got emotional and left.

Back to the remote area. I diligently did my work. I initially thought this was easy work. I thought I would be done by 11 a.m. I had done eight questionnaires by 4 p.m. I had two more, and I was tired. The area I went was predominantly Kamba infested. However, out of 10 polls with three candidates on the ballot box, nine questionnaires favoured Raila and only one vote forKalonzo. No one voted Kibaki despite being the sitting president.

My question to you is, “why are you so sure that if you support a particular candidate, everyone is supporting them?” Here are some things I have learned. Constitutionally, a president can only be in office for two terms. I have never seen anyone unseat a sitting president in Africa. We would write history if we sent Uhuru home in 2017. What makes you so sure that he will win? Polls. Raila lost in 2007, and we started destroying our property and life. We cannot afford that this time. Always leave room for the unexpected, be sober and act wisely at all times.

Oooh! Moreover, that marked the end of my interviewer career at Steadman and Infotrack because what happened early 2008 is down in history as the worst election ever witnessed in the country. I lost my job because there was no business anymore.

 

Typical Morning in a Coastal Suburb

It is early morning here. Mwadhini just announced the Morning Prayer. He has been my timekeeper for years since my precious time high school. He would faithfully wake me up every morning and remind me that there is a lot to be accomplished.

I hear, from a distance, a cock trying to keep up with the pace of the city. Here the mosques have rendered chicken redundant or just condemned them to the accustomed evening parties.

It’s the same time that the train hoots as it slowly and melodically drags itself downtown.

So much has changed in my life. Since I moved from the village where the cocoo was dominant in the mornings, the morning matatus hoots and loud mouthed matatu touts have taken over. Touts have evolved into full-fledged herbivores always chewing the cud; Muguka and Veve.

Who moved matatu pickup point next to residential areas? The environment is unbearable and dangerous for children. Its common to find saying such as “kusoma kwingi uoga wa maisha” meaning “too much education is fear of facing life”

too much education is fear of facing life

In the village, the birds would sing sweet melodies before embarking on their daily hassles of keeping the kids busy and crop cross-pollination. I miss beautiful songs from the confines of their homes in the heat of the day

What I see in my city nowadays is a purely blended concoction of noise chaos. It gets worse as the shadows become shorter. Human beings have become more violent and less tolerant as the years go by.

Tao tao tao! Salasini tao!” (town,  town, town, thirty shillings to town). They violently try to attract the attention of the multitude of travelers and non-travelers. The jobless youth turned Con artists prey on the unnoticing passengers by creating fictitious crowds and unnecessary commotion just to swindle real travelers of their valuables.

The traffic officer is overwhelmed by the lawless matatu operators. He is divided between controlling traffic and helping a woman who just lost her wallet. No one really cares about anyone here a contrast of the village.

Children play evolved from soaking themselves in muddy water to well-arranged predefined playing rooms. Play is encourage even for working population since it tends to improve productivity. The interaction between children has been minimized all in the quest to have children who behave in a particular manner.

Times are tough forcing women into unthinkable hassles of feeding there families. Some say it is because men have failed in their God-given responsibility. Others blame the political class for doing nothing to cub skyrocketing food prices. In kenya corruption is enshrined in to the social fabric such that its almost morally okay to be corrupt although most people dispute.

 

Tolerance is a Virtue. Elections shouldn’t divide Kenya.

Not everyone can be you, and we are all unique in our ways. Some say there is no perfect being. Somehow we have our imperfections and the strengths of other complete us.

With our weaknesses together we are stronger than we think. The synergy created when we are together is much more powerful than our individual strengths combined.

As we head into the election year, full blown campaign period as some of us present ourselves as leaders, it is imperatively important that we understand the need to be objective.

The journey of building a cohesive nation went over a difficult hurdle sometime in the last decade. It is almost a decade since we turned against each other. Now is that time that we need to reflect on those moments again and be wise.

  1. Stop being myopic and consider a broader perspective. What benefits does the politician bring to the country?

In the last general elections, Kenyans overwhelmingly voted for the current ruling coalition. There was a lot of hope in the eyes of hundreds of thousands of school going children.

The country was on the brink of a breakthrough with the digital government promising laptops. As much as this seems a far-fetched idea of what they ought to have achieved, there is need to evaluate whether there has been an improvement in the quality of education

2. Corrupt leaders won’t take us anywhere. As you work to clear your debt, they put your children’s children in debt.

Towards the end of 2015, there reports of widespread epidemic striking the Kilifi and Tana River counties as well as some parts of Kwale county. In the reign of the devolved governance system, people shouldn’t be dying of hunger.

It is clear that there has been lapse somewhere. A county government being accused of multimillion corruption scandals while the population is dying for lack of food. Not that these population didn’t do their part. They did. They tilled the land, the planted crops hoping to make a harvest. Unfortunately, the drought did a lot of damage, and they had to seek help.

3. Land is not the only asset you can have. The best asset is your brain and ability to work and feed your family day in day out.

Am toiling now to build my space online. I working to buy land on the online space. The internet will be massive. Think about that!

4. Our media is biased. Listen partly to them but let them not decide for you.

Did you know that in developed world media takes a stand who to support? Now you know. The New York Times editorial board publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton for the presidency in the United States. She lost to Donald Trump. That you know.

What lesson do you get from America decides 2016?