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Daily Nation : January 28th 2014
4 IN THE NEWS Young Nigerians say no to hats They are the traditional markers in Nigeria of both ethnic and social identity — and even royalty — but for Raphael Akindele and young men like him, hats are sometimes quite literally a pain. “I just don’t feel smart and comfortable wearing a hat on a ‘buba and sokoto’,” said the 21-year-old, referring to the traditional long robe and trousers worn by many Nigerian men. Nigerias most famous hat wearer is President Goodluck Jonathan, who is rarely seen without his black Fedora, which is widely worn by men in Nigeria’s oil-rich southeast. It might be thought that any image-conscious young man would be able to find one to suit his own style. But Ismail Aminu, a 24-year-old student in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, said simply: “I get headaches whenever I put on caps for long. “I use them occasionally or during religious or traditional ceremonies because I see them as a burden on my head. (AFP) “Caps in this part of Nigeria are heavy because they are mostly knitted and starched. Using caps among the youths is gradually becoming a thing of the past.” (AFP) Highrise farms no longer a dream Imagine stepping out of your highrise apartment into a sunny, plant-lined corridor, biting into an apple grown in the orchard on the fourth floor as you bid “good morning” to the farmer off to milk his cows on the fifth. You take the lift to your office, passing the rice paddy and one of the many gardens housed in the glass edifice that not only heats and cools itself, but also captures rainwater and recirculates domestic waste as plant food. No, this is not the setting for a futuristic movie about humans colonising a new planet. It is the design of Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut for a 132-floor “urban farm” — the answer, he believes, to a healthier, happier future for the estimated six billion people who will live in cities by 2050. “The city of tomorrow will be dense, green and connected. The goal is to bring agriculture and nature back into the urban core so that by 2050... we have green, sustainable cities where humans live in balance with their environment.” said Callebut. (AFP) CLAYCOURT clay muganda At the rate we are going, the government will soon be forced to brand quail as the national bird and use it to market Kenya abroad CLAYCOURT BOYS ARE ALWAYS EXPECTED TO GRIN AND BEAR IT EVEN WHEN THEY ARE HURTING INSIDE The other day there was a small story in the media asking parents not to ignore the boy — that young gentleman whose problems nobody wants to solve. This boy, this young man is supposed to be strong, nay, stoic, and is not supposed to cry. He is supposed to respect women — his mother, sister, aunt, grandmother — without getting respected in return. But because he is strong, he is supposed to grin and bear it. After all, boys do not shed tears because that is a sign of weakness. This boy is privileged, I gather, so he is not supposed to fail his examinations even when he has to wake up in the morning, take the cattle out of the pen, probably milk others, then go to school. When he gets back home, he has to take them to the watering hole and ensure they are safe in the pen later in the day. When does the young man rest, or study, or to talk to men, or get taught by his mother on the importance of respecting women? When he is in the city, he is probably in a better position. He is overprotected by his mother and turned DAILY NATION Tuesday January 28, 2014 into a strong mama’s boy who listens to radio adverts that bark at men and “threaten” men with serious consequences because they supposedly sold family property without their wives’ express permission. Was he ever taught the art of communication, and does such an advert teach him or his sister anything? Oh boy, you should be afraid, very afraid. But wait, you are a man — and you are supposed to grin and bear it. When will the quail madness finally come to an end? F or a person who probably first saw the now exalted bird on a plate as a meal — an over-priced, exotic dish only fit for, and afforded by the status-hungry middling class whose appetite for attention is insatiable —he did a wonderful job in depicting a 50-year old nation that is still looking for its identity. You can laugh it off as humour, or whatever a little bird might have told you, but an article by Philip Mwaniki in Zuqka last Friday said a lot about the collective mindset of a euphoric nation that has latched on to quails, and is using them to tell the story of its overall well-being and various achievements. The innocent little bird and its eggs, Mwaniki explained, has given Kenyans extraordinary powers they hitherto lacked and enabled them to not only overcome local hurdles, but become world champions in different fields. Mwaniki — who did not grow up in parts of the country where quail is called aluru, a bird whose eggs children play with instead of marbles — is totally innocent of any exaggerations. He was just drawing his assertions from quail breeders who hail the health, and of course economic benefits, of the birds and their spotted eggs whose prices have come crashing down because “the market is saturated.” Saturated market What market is saturated? There are Kenyans who find it odd that people actually spend money on quails yet where they live, the birds — like githeri — is not even considered a meal, but an appetiser. I mean areas where children tell you that they are yet to eat just after they have had platefuls of githeri. Places where, when children run out of marbles to play with and also feel like having a snack while waiting for the main meal, they just stroll out of the homestead and within a short time come back with enough quails and their eggs to cure all the diseases in middleclass Kenya! Going by media reports, quail eggs are so precious that nobody can fault you if you exchanged your parents, siblings and extended family members — throw in a Probox, their weaves and other beauty products — for just a dozen, which you can consume plus the shells in order to enjoy all their benefits and acquire all the powers to overcome any problem under the sun. If media reports about how the saturated market has killed the dreams of many are to be believed (even though some newspapers have been using photographs of guinea fowls), quails are the reason Kenya will achieve Vision 2030 in a few months. Breeding them is more than a craze. It is some sort of a pandemic, a diseasewhich, well, can only be cured by eating quail eggs. In fact, the falling prices of quails and their eggs will prevent Kenya from achieving Vision 2030 goals unless a parental authority or any entity saves the calamitous situation, those goals will not be achieved soon. How did Kenyans get to the level where they believe that all their problems can be solved by some small bird that has lived among them for centuries? It is easy to argue that decades of poor governance, and subsequently lack of sustainable poverty eradication or income generating schemes and policies, coupled with a peculiar work ethic, have somehow turned Kenyans into ignoramuses who are easily taken in by get-rich-quick schemes. Collective despondency But saying so would not be so right, and addressing the problems resulting from poor governance alone would not suffice because Kenyans’ collective despondency Above: Quail eggs are touted as a cure all. Below: Quails are known as aluru in parts of Kenya. runs deeper than their unshaken belief in drinking and driving, and offering bribes, and gloating about their actions. Trying to only solve these poor governance-related issues is akin to dressing a rotten wound just to keep off flies. Kenyans’ problem should be delved into by social economists, industrial psychologists and neuro-philosophers — yes, they exist — so that the virus that infects their collective psyche and causes the “monkey see, monkey do” mentality can be eradicated. Some years ago, there was the GNLD craze where every other person was selling the South African products which apart from turning people in to zillionaires, were supposed to change the way Kenyans grow fat, lose weight, wash their clothes and clean their houses. Then there was the aloe vera disease that saw people remove food crops from their farms to accommodate these wild plants — in a country where people starve year in year out, and food security is still a dream. Of course, there were the pyramid schemes, which instead of turning people in to trillionaires caused so much heartache and poverty — even deaths — that tax payers’ money had to be spent on some task force whose findings are gathering dust somewhere. Now, there is the quail madness: Kenya needs to make it the national bird and Brand Kenya and Kenya Tourism Board should market Kenya as the country with the Allure of Aluru.
January 27th 2014
January 29th 2014