Showing posts from 2010

Christmas Christmas...what does it mean today?

What does Christmas mean today? I wonder.
Last evening, we were having the end of year staff dinner, and we got discussing what Christmas means and what it meant. We managed to get several issues to point to what made Christmas something different for us when growing up, but we never quite figured what it means today.For Christians, Christmas represents the time that redemption started by Jesus coming to earth to be born as a human and live in the human life. It is one of the most celebrated holidays in the Christians calendar while it represents a holiday for many people in Africa as organizations take a break as it is towards the end of the year.
In the past there was something ecstatic about Christmas and the kids knew that was the time when some of the goodies that don’t come every day would come. It was compulsory to get new clothes during Christmas, but today this is neither here nor there, new clothes can be bought any season of the year. There were special meals for the season n…

Kenyans for Kenya- where are we?

By Sophie Ngugi
Kenya has been in the international news for various reasons, mostly some crisis or the other.Kenya was dominating the news between December 2007 and February 2008, for reasons that we will not forget in the near future.We were in the worst violence to rock the country since independence popularly now known as Post Elections Violence (PEV). Fast forward, August 2010 and were in the news again, this time it was progressive news; we had peacefully voted to overhaul a constitution! We can talk about this event forever, the great example that Kenya set to the entire world. This reminds me of a story I was once told. There was this woman who had tried for long to get a child. Assuming the story is set in the African setting, it is well understood how childlessness is frowned upon, and the women is blamed for it hence it becomes easy to empathise with this woman who was scorned and looked down upon. It would therefore be well understood the excitement of this woman who had wa…

(Young) women urged to take up politics

Artcle published by Daily Nation on November 3, 2010
Women should not wait to be invited to the political table. They have to pull up a chair and take a seat, two women’s leaders asserted on Tuesday.
Sophie Ngugi and Maria Okong’o said the new Constitution has given birth to a new Kenya and offered women the opportunity to become political actors like never before.
Ms Ngugi, executive director of the Young Women’s Leadership Institute and Ms Okong’o a programme manager with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), delivered this message at the National Young Women’s Forum at Ufungamano House, Nairobi. FES is a German political foundation that promotes democracy in Kenya.
Said Ms Ngugi: “There is affirmative action in the Constitution,” referring to the clause that guarantees women at least one-third of all elected or appointed posts in government.
Proactive roles
“But we need young wom…

Slow dance....the dance wont last

This is a poem is claimed to have been written by a teenager with cancer, a terminally ill young girl in a New York Hospital. Regardless of the original source, it speaks to me, a challenge of living the moment that we so often forget.

S L O W D A N C E:

byDavic L. Weatherford

Have you ever watched kids
on a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain
slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down
Don’t dance so fast

Time is short
The music won’t last

Do you run through each day
On the fly

When you ask “How are you?”
Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done,
do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores
running through your head?

You’d better slow down
Don’t dance so fast

Time is short
The music won’t last

Ever told your child,
We’ll do it tomorrow?

And in your haste,
not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die

‘Cause you never had time
To call and say “Hi”?

You’d better slow down
Don’t dance so fast

Time is sho…

National Young Women's forum- Kenya freshi...niko set

By Sophie Ngugi Executive Director Young Women’s Leadership Institute
During the national women’s forum held on 28th October 2010 at Ufungamano House

Why the forum? Why young women?

The people are learning that you cannot leave decisions only to leaders. Local groups have to create the political will for change, rather than waiting for others to do things for them. That is where positive, and sustainable, change begins. (Wangari Maathai)

Today we gather here in a platform that is rare but crucial, young women who are ready, willing and capable to map out our future and the direction of our nation. The objectives of the forum are:
- To celebrate sisterhood and the gains of women in the New Constitution ;
- To reflect on the constitution journey and her-story in the journey;
- To strategize on way forward in defending the gains in new constitution for young women.

Many times the spaces we have as young women do not allow us to celebrate and s…

Less Travelled

In the last few weeks, I have not blogged, time not on my side. In between experiencing some scaring shockers, I realized there is one thing that makes a winner and a loser, the courage to be different, courage to do things differently. My former principal in high school always told us, 'it doesn't matter what happens to you but rather how you handle what happens to you'. I have been able to jump hurdles I didn't expect to, and be optimistic and share optimism when it was difficult to do so, and wondered how!!!!

By God's Grace.

I am soon going to blog, share my aha moments in the last few months....but as I prepare for my final exams to finish the first part of my MA, I am reflecting on this poem by Robert Frost:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps …

Pomp and colour: Promulgation for Kenya constitution

When the news started indicating that it will be pomp and colour at the promulgation of our New constitution, I didn’t realise just how much! I was set to watch the proceedings live from my house and the coverage in all the local TV stations was not disappointing. The venue of the great event, Uhuru Park has great historical significance. Uhuru is a Kiswahili means ‘independence’ and it has significance to the Kenya’s independence since the first flag was hoisted at the Uhuru gardens not very far from this park and hence the name has great significance. The Uhuru Park evokes memories of liberation; it is the park that the first African woman, Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai fought for a long while against the former president Moi’s regime who wanted to elect a skyscraper. It is at Uhuru Park, that the transition in 2002 was done when the current president took over power in what was seen as Kenya’s second liberation. It is in this park that today, 27th August 2010, by 0800hrs Kenyans …


The words of Desiderata always speak to me, all so powerful

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be
greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career
however humble;
it is a real possession in the
changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you
to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in …

The baby is born- Kenya’s New constitution

I realized one might not need to have held a new born baby to know the joy of a mother on safely delivering a baby. I felt that joy. It was 5th day of August 2010, I was sitting in the coach following news closely despite a doctor’s advice to take rest, but this was not the time to miss the happenings in Kenya. I was wishing I can scream and shout aloud, WE HAVE A NEW CONSTITTION, but flu had put me down and I could only shout in my heart. I could not believe that it was finally here, the joy can not be described in words. I had been so passionate about the proposed constitution, that for me this was just a climax and my ill health didn’t deter my joy.

The constitution making process in Kenya has a long history. The previous constitution of Kenya was made at Lancaster house upon the Kenyan independence in 1963, and now was another moment to get a new homemade constitution. The first referendum was marred by a lot of politicking with the proposed constitution getting edited a long way t…

It is good for Wanjiku, it is good for Kenya

It is said of any Constitution that “if it is appropriate for women, it is appropriate for the Nation”. I could not have put it better – And so, granted your cheerful endorsement, I now stand with you to say, that the draft Constitution “is appropriate and good for our Nation”.

These were the words of Hon Mutula Kilonzo (Minister for justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs) while endorsing the proposed constitution during the Women’s National Conference which was held at Bomas of Kenya on 30th April 2010.
The constitution debate has been rife in Kenya creating discord, emotional out bursts while many feel at long last here is a beacon of hope for Kenyans. Today I woke up thinking, ‘seven days to go then what? The debate on the proposed constitution has taken many twists and turns with each side pulling and hoping that it carries the day. On my part I am optimistic that come August 5, we will have a new constitution, and I have my reasons for supporting this.
While the d…

Together we walk in sisterhood

I remember that day in October 2007 quite vividly. She held my hands tightly, and her voice became a whisper. I could see her face turn colour, and I felt chills down my spine and felt this was bad news. It seemed like eternity before s finally hang up, and her first words were barely comprehensible, “there is a curfew”.

I remember looking at Justa helplessly as I tried to have the words sink in. Here I was barely a month into my work in Southern Sudan, and the idea of a curfew just spelled doom for me. I had never in my lifetime experienced a curfew. I used to hear stories from my mother about the curfews during the Kenyan colonial period but had never quite been able to comprehend what that meant. It was impossible for me to figure out how one can be restricted in movement yet here we were. Justa had received a call from her husband in Kenya wondering if we were ok ‘now that there was curfew’ in Juba. That was news. None of us was conversant with the Arabic language. The announcemen…

It shall pass

One of my favourite phrases is “This too shall come to pass”. It is one of the phrases that console me and challenge too, since if something very good is happening then I need to enjoy it in full knowing it will come to pass. On the other hand if going through difficult periods am happy to know if it will be forever. I sought to look at the history behind the phrase and the most common one is this story. (

‘Once a king called upon all of his wise men and asked them,” Is there a mantra or suggestion which works in every situation, in every circumstance, in every place and in every time. In every joy, every sorrow, every defeat and every victory? One answer for all questions? Something which can help me when none of you is available to advise me? Tell me is there any mantra?”

All the wise men were puzzled by the King’s question. They thought and thought. After a lengthy discussion, an old man suggested something which appealed to all of them. …

Quiet moments when I shut out the world, and live!

As I was reading a book by one of my favourite authors, Paulo Coelho’s like a flowing river one paragraph really struck me. As he is describing quiet moments spent in some village, ‘I never think about who I am, I have no questions and no answers, I live entirely in the present moment………at the moment am not interested in what is going on in Iraq or Afghanistan; like anyone else..’(page 2-3) How often do we take the quiet times from the very busy lives?

A few weeks ago I felt in a bad space, and amidst moments of feeling fatigued running up and down busy as a bee, feelings of betrayal and uncertainty I felt that my body was literally without any fuel to run another day. This was a warning bell and this time I went to a quiet retreat centre for a weekend and what a lovely, refreshing time!! The centre offers an ideal quiet place, without a phone or laptop, I set out for this refuelling experience and I wished I could have more! It ended too quickly. I had forgotten the power of quiet mo…