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Communication

How My First Therapeutic Massage Experience Inspired My Home-Based Business in 2023

Massage-refreshed writer

I recently had a first in a long time. I remember the first time I flirted with nostalgia because it was an experience to behold. One that became part of my boyhood and young adult narrations in high school dormitories on the slopes of Mt Kenya. I must have narrated that first flirting experience to my close friends as a way of opening up my vulnerabilities. 

Joining a boarding high school at 14 and coming from a humble background, it took one year to summon the courage to flirt. The bittersweet experience occurred during a music fest at a nearby girls-only school. Guilt out of the brand of pentecostalism that I grew up in – HIV and AIDs was a rumor then – that frowned at, and warned of, flirting among teenagers. The sweet smile from the girl, however, broke the bitter barriers.  

Although my boys were always sharing stories of successful flirting, the fear of rejection that persisted had seen me lose countless opportunities with girls. The first flirting experience happened involuntarily, it was a reflex action directed at, according to me, the most beautiful girl my eyes had seen yet. An approval from her meant heaven. I can still perceive my heartbeat rate then, it was double the normal, I believe.     

Apart from flirting, my recent first in the year 2022 has been therapeutic massage. The experience that has summoned my courage to glance at my previous firsts. Some, like my first coital experience, may never be narrated anymore – unless moments like this occur. 

My perception of massage came from the initial internet sensationalized happy-ending-type massage services. So, when I began volunteering at my local church, the expanding network led me to a lovely middle-age couple who were setting up a therapeutic massage service in the neighborhood. 

With accumulated skills in therapeutic massage’s art and science, the couple had decided to retire relatively young to their own practice. Being my mentors coupled with my want for adventure, the 60-minute free offer valued at US$ 17 was irresistible. Besides, I wanted to find out whether it was worth the time and the money.

Loose clothing outfit, lying on my stomach, I let go. Being entirely under the massage therapist’s expert arms, did not help my mind wandering. I did not want anything, but time and the 17 bucks, between me and the therapy. Actually, the 60-minute appeared far less and – yes – it was undervalued. Perhaps the converted home garage helps reduce utilities, including rent, expenditure.

Human body is an awesome edifice, joined by piston-ring-like crevices in the most unexpected surfaces. Mere words are insufficient for the bittersweet experience. But if you insist, take your combination, in no particular order, from: healing, renewal, discovery, pain, relief, tension, ohh, ahh, eeh, iii, ooo, uuu, relaxation, deep, and so on. 

Since then, I have had no reservation referring to therapeutic massage to – literally – everyone. Today as I head for my second session, it has dawned on me that 17-bucks-an-hour is possible in my neighborhood. I have stopped seeking to replace my home garbage collector for the, hitherto, exorbitant 17-bucks-a-month. If therapeutic massage can, my home-based communication business will – Isn’t communication integral to existence?                        

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Communication

Will Smith and the Slap that Entertained the World and Left Him in Tears

Image: Google.com

The global entertainment scene will remember for a long time the 2022 Oscar awards when an earnest man got into trouble in pursuit of his solemn duty of protecting his family.

The Oscar awards imposed a 10-year ban on Smith. His wife pleaded for family healing and promised to make it public in due course.

While you cannot pursue your right of self-expression by interfering with those of another person, a few issues characteristic of the dilemma of the chicken and the egg stand out.

Smith’s reaction to his own action points to a spontaneous action as opposed to any deep-seated hatred for the veteran comedian. If he is to be believed he obviously needs help. So far there is no reason why not to believe him.

What about the sentiments that generated the slap? Was it the first time that the veteran comic was expressing similar or comparable sentiments in public? If so, he must have learned his lesson otherwise it’s time for him to retire from his art.

The veteran comic reaction so far has indicated nothing about what he thinks about the sentiments. He is ‘processing the event and will address them appropriately.’

Legal commentators have pointed to the complexity of any of the parties in building a solid legal case: in the absence of concrete evidence how much do you award for psychological damages such as distress?

Public opinion is divided right through the middle, with Smith’s supporters pointing to his solemn duty of protecting his family.

The value, if any, of Will Smith’s slap is, therefore, in the entertainment value that is provided.

In Africa, the attention that the slap brought to the 2022 Oscar awards is reminiscent of the 2014 awards when Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave was a winner. 

Such attention is good for a body that has withered storms to preserve a culture through generations. It has also in the process helped the world to crawl towards the creation of tolerant peoples and societies.

However, the direct victims have remained unattended. A proper diagnosis would involve Will Smith and Chris Rock individually and together and would address fundamental issues as opposed to the symptoms.

The viral clip that circulated online showed Will Smith expertly delivering a perfect slap across the face of Chris Rock. The latter seems to soak it well accompanied it with a comic relief: ‘Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me!’

The laughter generated almost immediately dissonated with Will Smith’s outburst: ‘keep my wife out of your fucking mouth!’ 

And with that the 2022 Oscar award currency gained value. Laughter was replaced with tears, with Will Smith – who was also receiving his first Oscar in his elaborate career – tearfully apologizing to Rock.

The police explained that, in the absence of anyone pursuing the matter, their hands were tied. Smith and Rock and, by extension their families, went home in tears. 

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Communication

Why Africa Needs Stronger Opposition: Kenya’s 2022 General Election

Dr. William Ruto. Google.com

When President Barack Obama failed to have Hillary Clinton succeed him, he led a spirited opposition to his successor’s regime.

What the president failed to achieve while in office, he did it while in opposition.

Years after his enthusiasm played a pivotal role in President Biden’s victory, President Obama seems to have finally retired in peace.

The death of opposition politics in Africa is disappointing and costly to the poor nations.

Unlike in the United States, political parties in Africa move where the money is, not where the need is.

For his entire second term, for example, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta who is concluding his constitutional term limit later this year has run the country without active opposition.

In what could pass as a democratic dictatorship, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s handshake with the official opposition leader saw the pair run the country as a team.

The President disrobed his deputy while at the same time holding the hand of his erstwhile foe.

This way, President Uhuru Kenyatta transformed the limited president’s power to a completely new level.

While the president has a portfolio of awe-inspiring projects to brag about, such as in transport and communication, the people lost the voice of the opposition.

Natural justice bestows power to organized opposition to check the public system’s excesses. Without such opposition, public resources are jeopardized.

The epitome of freedom is the right to oppose or support without fear of retribution.

However, with the examples of Somalia and Libya, when the opposition itself is divided it may fail to liberate the people.

Unlike in President Obama’s case then, President Uhuru Kenyatta cannot afford to lose.

First, if he loses, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s influence after his presidency will fizzle out within days.

Unlike President Obama, opposition politics is too expensive for Uhuru Kenyatta’s business sense.

In any case, while Kenyatta’s background is in business, Obama was a community organizer. These backgrounds count their costs differently.

Secondly, if President Kenyatta’s candidate loses he will lead a fragmented opposition made up of a loose election-focused coalition of parties called Azimio.

A fragmented opposition will lead to a repeat of what is happening today, where the opposition conspires with the public system.

Thirdly and perhaps interesting, in the event that the president’s candidate wins, Kenya is likely to get the best opposition since independence in 1963.

While the first real opposition experienced in the early 1990s came with bloodshed, this time it will come with bottom-up ideology.

Led by the current Deputy President William Ruto, the bottom-up aims at providing incentives to the majority poor.

William Ruto’s shrewdness is evident in his cross-cutting demographic and ethnic appeal.

Even if he loses the election, Dr. William Ruto’s charisma coupled with the supporter’s base will be a major challenge to any system in power.

However, William Ruto’s rise to power is riddled with controversy. As a fresh graduate, he was a protégé of an autocratic regime president.

His first and most infamous political project was called YK92.

Although their task was to mobilize young voters, they were accused of acting as conduits of cleaning paper money that the then government printed to raise campaign funds.

While the effects of printed money have transcended generations, Ruto came out a wealthy man.

Although the public is not privy to William Ruto’s real estate portfolio, random media stories paint him as the richest among his peers.

Although he claims to be rags to riches, William Ruto is a product of ethnic patronage that was endemic in his time.

His prominence during YK92 can be attributed to his ethnic kinship to the then-president. People like him who belonged to the wrong tribes could not access the resources availed to him.

William Ruto is famous for right-wing political mobilization, Ph.D. in Botany, and background in Christian evangelism. He is a deft man who knows how to maneuver his way into privilege.

President Uhuru must have realized this when he chose William Ruto as his running mate two times.

However, President Uhuru only loses when he has to. His loss in 2002 enabled him to found a relatively stronger opposition that championed constitutional reforms.

His 2007 stepping down for President Mwai Kibaki enabled him to inherit Kibaki’s constituency, which he used to win in 2012 and 2017.

This time around, if the opposition is to survive, Uhuru Kenyatta may not have the luxury of losing.

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Communication

Unboxing President Putin: the Emerging Details of Ukraine’s Invasion

Courtesy image: “I am on my way to help Ukraine”

In President Putin’s actions this week, it is either that humanity is regressing or he is a specimen out of World War I and II time-space.

The President must have been disappointed by the response he got from his adversaries when he attacked Ukraine this week.

Clearly, Ukraine was just an excuse for a greater war project. The President is not even able to justify his surprise attack.

The President must have prepared for an all-out global war. If it were not, we would not be talking of Ukrainian civilians taking up arms to defend their government; they would have been whipped to submission in a matter of hours.

The President, assuming he is the one encapsulated in World War time-space, will likely find out that humanity has made leaps on all fronts.

Whereas the President would believe that he is a liberator, all global – political, economic, and social -indices indicate otherwise.

At home, Russia’s enterprises, given the global political ramifications of the President’s actions, are likely to find it hard to compete.

At the global scene, given the interconnectedness, the President will likely face public backlash. His legacy will be irreparably tainted.

Mr. President, FYI, the evolved humanity, as demonstrated by the pandemic experience, has an inbuilt demand for accountability and is global in span.

It would be difficult, even for the President’s traditional supporters, to support him this time.

The President’s curriculum vitae, especially his achievements in the KGB, are impressive.

His story, however, appears to be that of a person stuck in time and space.

Is it not amazing how, for example, people get stuck in the good old days to the exclusion of the glorious present or the hope of tomorrow?

Apparently, President Putin is attempting to relive the good old days in a fast-evolving global village.

Can mental illness affect a powerful President? During the reign of President Donald Trump, this issue was widely discussed. The answer is yes because presidents are human.

Narcissism, for example, an apparently harmless condition in which an individual thinks highly of himself to the exclusion of others, ends up hurting many people – family, friends, and associates – who transact with the victim.

A narcissist may, for example, be convinced of a call to liberate others from all sorts of real or perceived threats.

In President Donald Trump’s case, for example, some believed that his ego needed too much pampering for a person of his stature.

In the case of President Putin, the fear is that he believes that he is responsible for the fall of the greater Russia.

The President has not, apparently, forgiven himself for not preventing the fall of the USSR. Russians could probably love him for that. The world has, however, moved.

Whereas open system societies have mechanisms of checking leaders with extreme views, Russia, under President Putin, is not as open.

President Putin’s Russia criteria for selecting friends are, furthermore, unclear.

The President has, however, shunned relations with the West, preferring to retain much of the cold war rhetoric.

Putin’s African friends – themselves grappling with myriads of social, economic, and political challenges – will find it hard to support Putin’s priorities at a time when the pandemic is easing.

Supporting the Ukrainian people is the best that the world can do. It is said that the way a society treats its most vulnerable people demonstrates the kind of a society it is.

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Communication

What It Means By Once You Go, Black, There Can Be Turning Back

Kanye West: Google.com

The fact that Kim Kardashian is walking out of Ye’s life – and choosing a non-black person – negates the truth in the saying that ‘once you go, black, you ain’t turning back.’

With a person like Elon Musk gracing the launch of his latest music album, Kanye West’s charisma is in no doubt. West, who has since adopted a new name, Ye, is the global entertainment news.

At one time, President Barack Obama referred to him as a jackass. Lately, Ye is in a process of separating from his equally famous wife, Kim Kardashian.

If you were in high school before the internet became a basic right, you can remember the rumors that swirled around dormitories on weekends.

One such rumor, that eventually found its way to the internet, was that Ye, Kanye West at that time, sacrificed his mom in exchange for fame and wealth!

Today, the internet has enabled people to know that celebrities are ordinary mortals. If everything can be bought by sacrificing others, no one needs a day job.

Yet, if Ye gained anything from the alleged sacrifice, it must be the torment he is currently undergoing.

Ye’s psychological state has been termed as bi-polar. One of the wide range of psychological conditions that qualify as mental illness.

This is Ye, who wants back his former wife, Kim Kardashian, who has since moved on.

During the high school tales which were gleaned from torn copies of older international tabloids, one of the myths – as told by my high school dorm mate, juvenile at the time – was that once a lady fell in love with a black, especially an American black, nothing would make her turn her back on the man.

The icon of the American black male at that time was the legendary Chicago Bulls basketballer, Michael Jordan.

Michael Jackson, who had taken over the hip-hop industry by storm and a subject of intense gossip regarding his spirituality, had become a god of sorts.

Therefore, with the apparent departure of Kim Kardashian from Ye’s life, once you go, black, there can be a turning back.

However, while the context of this myth is debatable, it highlights the black community’s desire to develop generations of males that take care of their female counterparts, for there no to be no turning back of the female partners.

The separation of Kim Kardshian and Ye, the mental condition notwithstanding, exposes the challenges of the black family.

We are talking of two very rich and very famous people who have sired four children together.

Try to figure out what could be happening on the other end of the spectrum where you find very unremarkable and the very poor.

The context of the saying that once you go, black, ain’t turning back, in the context of our juvenile discussion in the high school dorm, was basically wrong.

In our juvenile wisdom, in those high school days, the sexual prowess – of the muscular, rich celebrity stereotyped black male – was the key to ain’t turning back.

As a result, we have a horde of males that look at females as sexual objects to please and to play with. While there is no problem with this, it comes with the risk of neglecting the full potential of female partners.

In any case, Kim Kardashian – known for her leaked porn video back in the days – would not have survived sexual starvation quietly for that long. In marriage, sex is something, not everything.

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Communication

The Place of Talk-Therapy in a Bustling World

Talk therapy

Good stories are rare and when they come by, they are like a fresh breeze on a sunny day along the beach. 

To the layman, Mafia is synonymous with organized crime and evokes the rule of the jungle. However, this perception is likely not to change if you watch the Sopranos.

David Chase’s Sopranos is a good story well told and presents important themes such as cultural identity, family, interpersonal relations, power, and talk therapy.

Chase’s ability to weave talk therapy in a Mafia narrative was ingenious and managed to extricate the story from being perceived as an extension of Mario Puzo’s Godfather.

But what exactly is talk therapy and why would a mafioso need it? That is the point – that no one is ‘strong’ enough to make do without talk (therapy).

It is a fact that human beings are born helpless and dependent. The need to be loved, cared for, and validated – initially from the mother and the immediate family – therefore becomes a primary need and continues throughout a lifetime.

Whereas the layman’s perception is that the Mafioso are to be feared and even eradicated, the Soprano evokes a need to appreciate a culture that has stood the test of time. The fact that the Mafioso are as vulnerable as everyone else is an important insight into the role and power of culture. 

If talk therapy has been important to the ‘ruthless’ Mafioso’s culture, who do you think you are that you can bottle up and still survive?

Talk therapy provides a vent for implosions such as suicides, separation and divorce, loneliness, and other forms of self-harm. It is a continuation of the innate need for love, care, and validation.

Just like a parent’s affirmation is to a child learning to walk, so is a spouse’s affirmation after a day’s toil, or even after a sex round. In other words, talk therapy is for everyone and those that know how to use it can wield much inner power.

The Mafia, for example, is depicted in Soprano as a closed culture with the insiders expected to play by rigid rules that revolve around trust. In return, members benefit from social and economic support.

The closed nature of the Mafioso culture is so sensitive that obtaining talk therapy from an outsider is frowned upon and a weakness sign. So much for the therapy itself, and for the fact that the talking may expose the insiders’ secrets.

The Soprano offers a glimpse at a Mafioso’s embrace of talk therapy and the therapist’s struggle to come to terms with the fact that a client seeks to validate conflicts arising out of a criminal lifestyle.

Are not all human beings struggling with the same? It is easy to avoid confronting the elephant in the room. In other words, it is easy to ignore (or rationalize) the problem in the hope that it will evaporate rather than deal with it.

By the time the therapist decides to terminate the therapy, the criminal is strong enough to put up with the bustles of his life. Consequently, the Soprano provides valuable insight on the role of talk therapy in a bustling world.

PS: This article is not an endorsement of the Sopranos



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Communication

What If? Taking a Spiritual Walk as the Crow flies

Google Images

If the lockdowns have not fired your walking instincts, you need a pep talk. Walking is associated with improved mental and physical well-being (Wati, p.37).

During my last birthday, I chose to take a spiritual walk along the village crow’s path. For the entire 20 kilometers (12 miles), the spiritual connection was as effective as it was humbling.

The walking route runs through the motorists on the highway, roadside vendors, store owners, motorbike taxis, farmers in their gardens, sex workers on the prowl, and blue color workers and artisans working or walking to and from work. I probably missed the white color type, but the most profound encounter was with myself.

My tendency to secretly pass judgment on others and exclude myself in the judgments was, as I came to discover, striking.

To the highway motorist – especially those who drove black smoke billowing engines – I passed a judgment on their carbon footprint; to the roadside vendors sitting beside the polluted roads, they should mind their health; to the store owners, it was those polythene packaging bags they released to the environment.

To the farmers, it was the effects of their pesticides on the environment; to the sex workers, it was their morals; and to the artisans and blue color workers, it was the sustainability of their work model. The fact that I did not encounter the white color worker saved them from my judgment. However, what about myself?

To begin with, my athletic shoe, a Nike Air, had a plastic component in the sole. That aside, as a Pentecostal Christian, the walking provided an opportunity to wrestle with my spirituality.

What about the hypocrisy of my transactional relationship with God? It occurred to me, for example, that I had been offering God prayers as a bribe to get his blessings. I had been reading the bible in search of the verse(s) that promised me what I wanted to hear. The way I pick my friends and enemies gives them no chance to appeal.

The walk, on this day of my birth, eventually took the ‘what if’ form. What if the motorists choose to ride efficient machines despite the inconvenience? What if the roadside vendor puts on protective gear against dust?

What if the store owners adopt environmentally friendly packaging? What if farmers adopt organic farming? What if sex workers chose house making? What if artisans joined and took advantage of business information systems for wider markets?

What if I chose to offer my prayers to express my love for God despite the expected blessings? What if I read the bible to know and adopt God’s character? What if I allow people into my circle unconditionally?



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Communication

How to build your remote working efficiency

Google images

With the ravaging pandemic, many people have found refuge in remote working. The lockdowns and the safety considerations have driven up the demand for remote working. The reality of the virtual world has received a considerable boost. With the enhanced adoption of remote working come the added risks. The demeanors that characterize the physical world are more pronounced in the virtual world and made worse by the ability of anonymity. People are capable of saying anything behind their Smartphones.

Take remote working for example. Online-based contracts are more likely to be misrepresented than in the physical environment. The potentially transient nature of online business transactions lends itself to what could be expensive litigations that are conducted in the physical world. In simple language, if you enter into an online business arrangement and you are defrauded you can only seek remedy in a physical court where you end up spending on lawyers. The sheer hustle of the physical court process is enough to discourage victims from seeking a remedy.

Anyone who has consistently worked remotely for a considerable time would likely admit suffering some form of fraud from the transactions at some point or the other. The most common form of deceits online is failure to receive payments for services rendered. It is a common practice online for people to seek the procurement of services with no intention of paying. In the physical world, nonpayment is shunned upon but the inability to be anonymous in the physical world could be a greater deterrent.

There is no shortcut to avoiding being scammed other than familiarizing yourself with the virtual environment. The virtual world could be wide but not actually as deep as it would want us to believe. On the surface, you encounter an outer layer of ‘free and universal access.’ This may give you the notion that, despite the costs of the device coupled with broadband or Wi-Fi costs, internet access is ‘free.’ Maybe free may mean universality of availability but even that only a fraction of internet users can stream services like Netflix and so on. Furthermore, in some countries, the internet is a restricted service that is closely monitored by authorities.

So, when your online invoice is ignored for an exceedingly long period or dishonored completely, you may be tempted to give up on online-based transactions. However, once you begin to observe a certain trend, you become wiser and more productive online. You may find, for example, that majority of online frauds seem to have a sense of urgency. The initiators seem to have figured it out so well that they demand transactions almost immediately after the hurried virtual introductions. On the other hand, you may find that genuine online transactions may take a while to take shape with initial negotiations emphasizing building of familiarity and trust.

I once got a local person who needed my services so much that he suggested that we postpone the drawing up of a written agreement. I reasoned that since the deal was indeed urgent and in any case, from the chemistry that we had struck on the online chat, I was assured of longer term prospects. The initial chats and emails were just spontaneous and optimistic exchanges promising long-term benefits together. I did the first task and the second and the third and continued doing more for a couple of months. When I decided to raise the issue, I did so by raising an invoice and attaching the evidence of the services rendered. That was the last substantive exchange we had with him. I considered going to court for the hundreds of dollars expected from him, but the thought of the processes of procuring a lawyer and presenting my ignorance at a court of law was enough of a deterrent.

Genuine online transactions cannot be based on quick profits and exceptional ROI. Rather, they require time, caution, and perseverance. You will also benefit from developing a thick skin. If you are the litigious type, you may run out of steam fast upon finding yourself chasing shadows. This could affect your overall online efficiency. Taking time to build meaningful relations with enough self-disclosure among the participants. As a matter of fact, one of the most important aspects of online efficiency is the establishment of an online footprint. People and organizations with an established online footprint are less likely to be fraud. Frauds are usually fads.    



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Communication

Important Reflections Post 2020: How to Adjust Successfully to Change Brought About By the Pandemic.

As 2021 dawns, a reflection of the changes that have been forced on humanity by the 2020 pandemic is inevitable.

Forsell, et al (2012) poses some basic questions about (innate tendency for) resistance to change: for example, do people typically recognize their own resistance to change? If it is possible to recognize one’s own resistance to change, can resistance be corrected through one’s own reflections or is outside influence and support required? How do individuals value their own resistance?

He argues that much research is required before theories of (resistance to) change are fully developed.

Nevertheless, looking at Kurt Lewin’s (1890 – 1947) theory of change (comprising 3 stages of change management, viz, unfreezing → changing → refreezing) it is possible to evaluate the implications of change that came along in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.  

The uncertainty created by the pandemic in 2020 is, without doubt, a representative of Lewin’s unfreezing stage. This stage involves breaking down the existing status quo before building up a new way of operating.

One of the most important tasks during unfreezing stage is the development of a compelling message showing why the existing way of doing things cannot continue. This has been ongoing through framed messages pointing to rapid spread of the pandemic, loss of lives and livelihoods, and suchlike. These have been designed to demonstrate that things have to change in a way that everyone can understand.

The change stage began when people began to resolve the uncertainty and look for new ways to do things (masking, remote working, social distancing, lockdowns e.t.c.). People started to believe and act in ways that support the new direction.

Ordinarily transition from unfreeze to change is a process that takes time to embrace. A successful adjustment to the new direction and proactive participation in the change demands an understanding of potential benefits.

Not everyone will fall in line just because the change is necessary and will benefit the individual or the company. Accordingly, this is a common assumption and a pitfall that should be avoided. It is no wonder that governments are having challenges drumming these changes to the populace.

Unfortunately, as happens in times of change, some people were, or will, genuinely be harmed by change, particularly those who benefit strongly from the status quo. Others may take a long time to recognize the benefits that change brings. Successful change management is, therefore, dependent on two important variables of time and communication.

The refreezing stage will take shape when people have embraced new ways of life. The outward signs of the refreeze are stability, consistency, and so on. The refreeze stage also needs to help people internalize and incorporate changes.

Without refreezing, you are caught in a transition trap – not sure how things should be done, so nothing ever is done to full capacity and, hence, unable to tackle the next change initiative effectively.

The refreezing process should ideally include the celebration of the success of the change to help people to find closure, bask in the gratitude of enduring a painful time, and helps them believe that future change will be successful.




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Communication

Disruption Strategies, Digital Tech, and Opportunities.

Are there common strategies for disruption?
What are the implications of Digital Technologies (DT)?

The year 2020, for many businesses, is disruptive in a variety of ways. Throughout history, societies have evolved strategies for coping with disruption ranging from basic, agrarian-supported, to modern, digital-supported, strategies.

Face masks, for example, represent an integration of agrarian and modern strategies. Stitching and sewing is an old technology, which has been used to block the interpersonal transmission of air-borne viruses.   

The historical trend in the adoption of disruption strategies displays some common and fluidal features.

1. Agility

Agility implies the ability to respond to situations that are constantly changing. Unpredictability is high at the initial stages of disruption. Agile individuals and organizations can thrive in an environment characteristic of a high level of unpredictability.   

2. Organization

The agile networks develop new organizations. Eventually, once planning is activated, a logical framework develops to help deliver the desired outcomes. The nodes of a logical framework comprise of individuals or groups of people delivering products or services.  

3. Innovation

These are the new methods/ technologies developed to deliver the desired outcomes. Innovations compete in the market place and represent solutions based on skills, knowledge, and technologies. Modern market places offer incentives for innovators such as self-preservation, profit, and recognition.

4. Adaptation

Disruption may bring a new-normal requiring a shift from the old. The ability to adapt provides a better foundation for a new takeoff.

The Role and Inevitability of Digital Technologies

Accelerated global market shifts and the digital economy have, with digital technologies, become a reality.

The digital economy is growing and evolving fast and has made much easier access to global capital, talent, and other resources.

Emerging markets companies have become global competitors for established firms from developed countries.

Digital transformation has come to represent a multilevel technology-based change that includes the exploitation of digital technologies to improve existing processes and their efficiency, and the exploration of digital innovation, which can potentially transform the business model.

Digital technologies have changed customers and the markets both of whom are the central targets of any business.

To succeed in digital transformation business organizational structures have to be reorganized from hierarchical, decision-making, toward a network, team-based, flexible agile structure (Stonehouse G.H. and Konina N.Y., 2019).

The changes in customers are bringing a radical transformation in business. Consumers have changed their lifestyles and improved their information about products and market situations.

Markets have also radically changed. The current process of value creation in many industries is changing and becoming more and more connected with key IT technologies—mobility, cloud computing, business intelligence, and social media.

There are deep changes in the business environment connected with technology and globalization. Technology changes have permitted lower transaction costs, transformed customers, and markets.

Many sectors of the economy including technology, telecommunications, and finances are in process of digital transformation. Twin forces of information technology and globalization influence business models.

Many firms have met the new competitive challenge of aggressive technology firms from emerging countries, especially from China.

The market has become fast, convenient, and simple – which is what customers want. Mobile phone transactions have become a popular trend because of convenience.

With new digital technologies, transaction speed can be enhanced dramatically, reaching more people with radically reduced costs and faster turnaround.

Technology is becoming now a driver of revenue and enabler of new business models. For example, if the Smartphone revolution had not happened, numerous aspects of culture, politics, and the economy would look wildly different than they do today.

The emergence of new cloud-based businesses is connected with the use of mobile phones to reach new clients; many fast-growing companies grew on basis of geolocation.

Famous new digital transnational corporations such as Uber and Airbnb are, no wonder, based on digital platforms.

Further Reading

Stonehouse, G. H., and Konina N. Y.; Management Challenges in the Age of Digital Disruption; Atlantis Press SARL, 2020.


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Communication

5 Rules to Safe Internet Use at Home (for Business and Leisure)

Is there a universal approach to internet security at home? What are the security issues faced by home-based business enterprises?

Families, businesses, and governments approach internet use differently. There are, on one end, those who ban usage and, on the other end, there are the liberals. Then there are those in-between.

Hurwitz & Manne, 2018, observe that technological liberalism values reliance on a minimal set of autonomy-respecting rules to facilitate voluntary, welfare-enhancing transactions between individuals, and that; technological advance can enhance liberty, while also undermining the legal rules and institutions necessary for the efficient interactions in a liberal society.

So, that said, there is no universal approach to internet security issues. There are, however, some basic approaches to internet use that would safeguard your family and business.

Read the user manual

Internet products are packaged alongside their user manuals. The most common internet products you will make use of at home are browsers and apps. Browsers, like Google, Mozilla Firefox, Brave e.t.c., help you to surf the net. They can crawl the internet and deliver your internet search results.

Apps, or Software Applications, can be proprietary or generic. Internet merchants, to promote their products and services, use proprietary apps. We have proprietary social media apps, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn e.t.c., and business apps like Amazon.

Generic apps like QuickBooks, Zoom, Dropbox, Microsoft Office 365, e.t.c., are available for use by anyone capable of harnessing them to suit their business.

Each app comes with a user manual that defines the terms of use and the necessary safeguards. Some have features to protect underage persons or to ensure safety when using them. In any case, be familiar with their usage recommendations by the developers.

Take advantage of internet tools

The Internet may [actually] refer to one of three things: 1) The computers and network that make up the Internet; 2) resources available from computers connected to the network; 3) tools used to retrieve the resources or communicate on the Internet, Bradshaw, et al (2006).

The scope of this article allows for only a couple of basics. Either, internet tools could be broadly categorized as free and open-source (FOSS), or closed (proprietary). Small businesses could harness FOSS to leapfrog using minimum resources.  

Be proactive in social media/ internet usage in-(the)-house

It is advisable to monitor what everyone is doing online to encourage responsible online habits. Most security lapses occur out of avoidable mistakes such as opening an anonymous email or link. Letting the other users know about security risks mitigation will help avoid hacking and associated privacy risks. In the case of minors who are using technology at home, you could make use of features available from vendors such as children protection By Google. Check the user manual when installing your apps. You could also suggest useful sites and social groups, which in-house users could benefit from to shield them from the temptation to join morally corrupt ones. The idea is to provide credible alternatives.

Mentor on the use of social media/ internet

Help your in-house users to learn the ropes of internet usage by providing leadership. A family WhatsApp group could help in interacting remotely and gauging the perceptions. This could provide a channel of sharing online experiences to help younger members explore the internet safely and productively.

Be on Look-out for Internet Addiction Disorder

According to Healthline, you may be experiencing an internet addiction if you spend long periods online for non-work-related activities, such as browsing the web or playing video games, and notice symptoms such as sudden changes in mood, intensive worry about what’s happening online when you’re not there, not being able to control how much time you’re spending online, increasing your time online to achieve a certain feeling or mood, withdrawal symptoms (irritability, physical aches, depression) when not reaching the desired amount of time online, and; continued online behavior and consumption despite conflict with loved ones or consequences at work or school.




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Communication

Important Homeschooling Concepts

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Learning and (personal) development, being lifelong endeavors, happens in both structured (school) and unstructured (home) environment. All human activities are indeed instruments of learning.

Research, however, shows controlled, structured learning environments are more effective in the acquisition of targeted behavior. For homeschooling, therefore, structuring activities enhance learning and the effectiveness of your homeschooling.  

Learning Goals

Determining the homeschooling activities begins by setting the learning goal. If you say, for example, you want to develop respect for humanity, you may consider inviting a neighbor from a different race, caste, or tribe to an inter-family event and affording your children the opportunity to relate with them in your presence.

What we Do, we Know

The largely writing-based, highly structured, institutional-based, modern education tends to relegate non-writing activities to extra-curricular. Writing, a discovery of around the 11th century, did not stop humanity from evolving methods and technologies. Neither should we.

Variety

The antidote to monotony, which breeds tired and exhausted minds, is a variety of (surprise) activities. Go for, where the actual activities cannot be performed, simulations. Use of visuals also rank higher than theoretical discourses.   

Temper

The fact that people enjoy activities that conform to their natural gifts/ talents also implies that some less enjoyed but desirable learning activities could be overlooked. Tempering the activities will enhance all-round learning.

Adapt the Arc

The learning curve, initially picks smoothly before peaking and leveling. You, therefore, cannot introduce complex task before mastering a simple task. Complex tasks are made of a series of mastered simple tasks performed within a logical framework.

Word of Mouth

The concept of homeschooling is as old as humanity. The oral culture, at a time when writing was an unknown technology, preserved for centuries, manuscripts of the Bible, and the Quran. This is the modern equivalent of dining table stories by respected members of the family.

Motivate

Rewards produce external motivation for the acquisition or reinforcement of new behavior. The nature and scope of rewards should be proportionate to the complexity of tasks performed. Apply positive and negative rewards accordingly.

Align

National and international trends determine the needs of the knowledge and skills market. It is important that you align your homeschooling strategy appropriately. Alignment of homeschooling goals, as opposed to methods, with the national curriculum, is therefore strategic.

Short-term Evaluation

Your aim is, with as minimum disruption as possible, to structure hitherto unstructured home environment for learning purposes. Your methods of evaluation must, therefore, be tacit and targeted. You, for example, may together watch the racist tinged, George Floyd clip, and look out for reactions.  

Long-Term Evaluation

Observable behavior changes could be harnessed for social or economic benefits. Participating in social groups for advocacy against social problems, or making birthday cakes for a fee could open alternative career paths.

Have Fun

A dull learning process, because of too many rules and regulations, obstructs the acquisition of positive behavior. Since people tend to choose the forbidden, rigidity will breed rebellion and undesired deviation. Let people laugh at their mistakes and give them an opportunity for a second attempt.  




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Communication

Felicien Kabuga: International Justice on the Cross

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Although eastern Africa is a host to the world’s most severe conflicts, the Rwanda genocide, with close to a million deaths within a hundred days, was a showstopper.

The execution of the war crime is delivered with rudimentary, machete, technology, tribal or ethnic cultural indoctrination, and designed to inflict maximum (sensory and emotional) anguish to the victim.

The victims, ‘them-now,’-‘next-season-you’, keep trading places. No one could blame the other for the situation. The international justice system is the only hope for the most vulnerable poor of all gender and across all ages.

Besides hosting, and bearing the brunt of, the Alshabab terror group, eastern Africa has also witnessed brutal civil conflict in South Sudan, over and above, endemic politically inspired conflicts in Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Felicien Kabuga is a specimen of east African politicians. They, initially, delve into public life with seemingly altruistic intentions. Then somewhere along the road, they begin to eat their people.

The game plan begins with mobilizing masses along with issues of concern. In Rwanda, for example, the issue had been the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana.

Once the politicians have used the masses to ascend to positions of influence, the next stage of the game plan is eliminating any voice of dissent. Executions and forced disappearances are common.

The stage, with the resultant fear at this point, is set for economic looting. The spillover effects trickle to all political and social sectors. And the cycle replicates with precision.   

In the 1970s, President Idi Amin of Uganda, faced with a cash crunch, asked the governor of Uganda’s Central Bank (the Bank of Uganda), “why is there no money in the country?” without caring to listen to the winding response, Amin blurted, “…then print more money!”

Recently, South Sudan, which, following a protracted rebellion, gained autonomy from Sudan in 2011, had a devastating fall out among the political elite over the sharing of the crude oil export loot.

In 2008, Kenyan politicians, smarting from a recently successfully mobilized masses for the removal of a then decades old authoritarianism of President Daniel Toroitich, could not agree on subsequent election results.

Within a couple of days, over one thousand people, most of them attempting to free to perceived friendly zones, were hacked to death with machetes.

For the abundance of, among other natural resources, gold in DRC, it is sold in regular stores alongside other fast-moving consumer goods such as coffee, tea leaves, beans, salt, and sugar. Theirs, although they just managed an election that brought a new president, is a story of poverty amidst plenty.

There is no need to mention Somalia was devoid of a functional government for decades, has seen the growth of an international terror network base led by the infamous Alshabab.

Burundi had to rely on international pressure to get a president who was stuck in the office against constitutional limits.

In Tanzanian, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi, founded by the Nelson Mandela of eastern Africa, Dr. Julius Nyerere, and the base for the increasingly authoritarian president John Maghufuli, has made headlines by defying the World Health Organization’s (WHO) protocol for the management of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The next step in the game plan of the eastern Africa politician builds a financial chest to sustain the network for the preservation of the loot. Offshore accounts and property are set in tax havens and the developed world of Europe, Asia, and or America.

Felicien Kabuga – on the run for more than a couple of decades and who, after fleeing Rwanda through Kenya, was traced in Germany and arrested in France – is, therefore, a homeboy.

In eastern Africa where Felicien comes from, there is nothing strange about a war crime. The elite are the perpetrators, the jury, and the judges.

If the international Justice system, activated for Rwanda in 1994 and Kenya after 2008, fails, once again, to deliver the sense of justice to the victims of the ruthless massacre in the hinterlands of eastern Africa, the cycle is inevitable.




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Communication

Disciplines of Working from Home for Everyone

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The best resources at your disposal are two-fold: you, the self, and time. The self is subject to attitudes or perceptions that may or may not be conducive to self-productivity, and well-being. Wake-up and sleep time are vital and integral parts of well-being and productivity.

When you work outside your residence or house, your residence or house acts as the support base. Both the support and the work base are integral and vital. You, like happens oftentimes, bring both bases together in geographical space when you work from home.

In essence, therefore, everyone, directly or indirectly, works from home and therefore needs home working disciplines.

Embrace

Embrace your environment. There is nothing like the ideal, work, environment. Some best (business) deals come from unlikely, time and place, spaces.

Embrace the business of life. You may not be directly buying or selling anything but that would be a good dichotomy to start with. Your ethics have to be clear to you.

Order

To begin with, you need to create order. Organizations, in conventional work environments, make use of rules and regulations to create order in their work places.

Home working, similarly, and to ensure consistency and sustainability, requires some, sense of, rules and regulations – written or otherwise.

The rules and regulations could be defined by tasks-to-accomplish or amount of time-to-spend on tasks e.g. 2 tasks per day or 2 hours per day e.t.c.   

Interruption

Anticipate and develop a strategy of dealing, or coping with, interruptions. In conventional environments, interruptions could be from a nosy boss, gossipy colleague, conflicts arising out of office politics and so on.

Interruptions at home are likely from members of your beloved family, neighbors, utilities’ agents, door-to-door sales agents, political campaigns, and so on.

You therefore need a strategy to help you keep your eyes on the ball while adequately evaluating any inevitable interruption.   

Task

Task creation is driven by the need. Begin by asking a basic question and then proceeding: What do I need (to buy or sell)? Why? When? Where? How?  

A simple task like making call or texting could be done over your mobile phone. A complex task may, however, need a detailed analysis and consultation.

Multitasks

Avoid, or minimize, multitasking as much as possible within any space. It is likely that some tasks may suffer greatly from interruption, or in favor of others. Go for team instead of multitasking.

Team

Every team member should have at least a task. If you are a work-alone, you could, to minimize multitasking, depend on external processes done or performed by others. Ideally, each task should be handled by the best skill or expertise at the disposal.

Organize

Organizations create order for the team. It makes it possible for the development of job descriptions to all team members. Organizations could be informal or formal.

At household level you, for instance, may informally request your spouse to babysit, do some errand, or research. At another level, you may need government license or a professional trade contracted formally.  

Vision

Vision helps inspire tasks and sets in motion actions. Day-to-day tasks are important in achieving longer-term weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual, and legacy vision(s).




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Communication

What to Expect of the Post COVID-19 Dispensation and the Implications Thereof

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The world post-COVID-19 is gradually evolving. Societies across the world have had to look inwards at a time when globalization was dictating otherwise.

A stroll through the streets of the internet, during these times, will reveal several observations. The most obvious is humankind’s intrinsic impulse for self-preservation.  

Social measures such as self-isolation, facemasks, hygiene, and sanitation have been identified as important tools for the fight.

Economic measures such as cash transfers and food donations also gained currency.

Technology has been harnessed to, where possible, enable cashless transactions, virtual meetings, and remote working.

Whereas these measures have united humankind than had been possible pre-COVID 19, the political front that has brought more controversy.

China, the alleged original epicenter for the novel Coronavirus, did a better job at managing the tide.

The immediate reaction of the Chinese was to point an accusing finger at the foreigners, particularly African, for harboring the virus among them.  

Donald Trump, the United States president, whose government had been accused of slack at the initial period of the virus, suspended all legal immigration.

Donald has also threatened to bill the China government for damages associated with Coronavirus.

When ‘democratic’ governments deploy autocratic approaches, such as curtailing freedoms of movement, there have been reports of human rights abuses such as police brutality.   

Lock-downs, viewed as anti-democratic and anti-freedom, may have been delayed and hence the subsequent spread of the virus.

COVID-19 is turning out to be a transitional period. It is intervening between two dispensations that are going to mark a shift from pre-COVID_19 to post-COVID-19.

If we draw a parallel with comparable occurrences of the past, like the two world wars or the 9/11, we are facing fundamental shift in political, social, and economic dispensation.

The world wars brought the the two superpowers, the cold war, and the rise and rise of the west(ern) hegemony.

A closer look will reveal that the birth of modern computer-based technology is, in search of military supremacy, intertwined with the cold war.

The post 9/11 has been characterized by suspicion between social classes, the haves and have-nots and even religious faiths.

Developed nations have tended to close their borders from immigrants from less developed.

The rise of, sometimes militant, nationalism across the globe culminating in the Arab Spring, Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump.

We have seen the rise of transnational crime, with increased cases of piracy, human trafficking, and the slave trade.

We have seen within societies, for example, the development of social segregation like gated communities, seen as expressions of social segregation.

In the immediate aftermath of COVID-19 we have seen, perhaps for the very first time since the bible’s tower of Babel, a world united for a common cause.

The world waited in breath for the rise of a world leader with conspiracy theories insinuating that this was a precursor for the replacement of the United States as the superpower by China.

So, what does the world post-COVID-19 portend?

The increase in the number of diseases is seen as an environmental issue. It is nature’s response to cumulative abuse by humanity.

It is possible that, having realized how vulnerable life could be, humanity will pay more attention to environmental concerns.

It would be prudent to expect political communication to shift from purely social-economic rhetoric to issues relating to the environmental implications of human actions.

Already, prior to COVID_19, we had seen increased emphasis on clean and renewable energy, remote working, smart cities, and increased emphasis on environment conservation. This is likely to gain momentum.

People are, furthermore, more likely to be not only more sensitive about social and human-animal interaction, but also about human-environment interaction.




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Communication

Fake News and Conspiracy Theories In the Face of COVID 19

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Navigating the internet is a breathtaking experience. What with the screaming headlines, expert columns, miracle cuisines, and conspiracies. The sample headlines are a cocktail to toast to: ‘Best Food to Heal COVID 19,’ Israel Invents Vaccine for Coronavirus,’ ‘China Admits to Manufacturing COVID 19 to Spite US Over 5G,’ ‘Italy Warns of Infected Face masks from China,’ ‘Tea leaves for Healing Coronavirus,’ e.t.c. The list is endless.  

The danger of fake news to the average consumer of internet news is, not the bewildering velocity and enormity but, in the ability, or lack thereof, to discern the fake from the real. The effects, needless to say, can be profound. The impact of fake news has long pervaded, with research indicating that fake news contributes to worsening disease outbreaks. The advent and growth of the internet brought a new dimension to fake news. While to the experienced eye, it is easier to skip the clicks, many internet users end up swallowing line, hook, and sinker.

Of the estimated 2.4 billion users of the internet, nearly two-thirds receive breaking news from social media, which include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram. Whereas social media channels account for over forty percent of fake news, mainstream media has not provided the authority and credible alternative. Traditional media, going by the standards set by their social media handles, has acted catch-up. Indeed the mainstream media-run social media handles are driven by the sort of sensationalism characteristic of grapevine and gossip pieces that serve to increase the traffic through click-baiting.    

There is a famous Turkish saying that the candle of someone who lies almost always burns just to midnight. After his candle goes out, nobody gives him any light. He remains without light.

It would serve fake news propagators well if the audiences are empowered to avoid falling prey to the click baits. This, considering the aggressiveness, enormity, and velocity of fake news is, however, easier said than done. A better approach would empower advertisers so that they could have greater control of determining where their ads are served. The latter would enable advertisers to reward purveyors of truth by advertising on their platforms.

The advertiser empowerment model runs contrary to the audience-driven model. The latter seeks to drive ads to higher traffic sites while the former seeks to empower credible sites and in the process empowering credibility. This has the potential to increase the potency of credible news and saving lives. News firms that seek the audience-driven approach seek to flood their sites with clickable headlines and links while the advertiser empowerment model seeks to give more control to the advertiser regarding where the ad is to be served.

In a free market, however, the forces of demand and supply reign supreme. The best alternative then would be a model that involves of empowerment of audiences by making them able to discern fake news from credible news. Social Media companies have designed verification systems where verified accounts are assigned to credible sources. Perhaps the verification model can be extended to other platforms to enhance the visibility and utility of credible sources.  



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Communication

In the Battlefield: Corona Virus and Crisis Communication

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Outbreaks and pandemics, like Coronavirus, disrupt routine and are characterized by the element of suddenness. From the Black Death, described as terrifying and indiscriminate and devastating, to HIV, pandemics in the world has never ceased to overwhelm. They, if you consider the alleged human-animal interaction in the case of Coronavirus, always attack from blind spots that people tend to have ignored or taken for granted.

The Coronavirus, reported epicenter in China’s Wuhan province, grabbed the early 2020 global headlines and disrupted global political, social and economic networks. China, mentioned as an alternative to the United States hegemony and known for her keen attention to image management, had to deal with the worst crisis since the political Tiananmen Square.

Factors such as politics, economics, and social, have played an important role during the crisis. In China, where the Coronavirus erupted, huge financial and technological investment played a pivotal role in managing the tide. In Africa, regarded for inadequate financial and tech resources, a heavier focus has been on the mobilization of political and social networks.

To be out of the woods, pandemics come with an appetite for relevant data and information. Like in all crisis conditions, diagnosis templates have to be assembled, by Adhoc and multi-sectoral teams, administered and evaluated. The ability to bring together and inspire a multi-faceted pool of expertise emerges. What China did, for example, was to leverage on property and capital outlay together with soft skills such as data gathering and analysis.

Eliminating new cases, being the ultimate objective, requires the strategic scaling up of knowledge provision. When, as often happens, competing political, economic and social interests are not compatible devastation may occur. The major challenge, that places extra demands on information the processing chain, arises when the communication dilemma is inadequately addressed.

Crisis communication demands a systematic approach in an unsystematic setting. No entity, due to the suddenness of crises, can claim expertise. Everyone, in the prevailing circumstances, has an ‘expert’ opinion. The resulting communiqués are characterized by chaos. For crisis communication to be effective, systematization – within time and resource constraints – becomes a priority. Crisis communication sets out to bring order by establishing credibility and defining rules of communication fair play.     

During outbreaks, owing to limited information, communities are vulnerable to panic which may exacerbate the situation. Information packages should, therefore, take cognizance of the potential impact of disseminated information in militating against unnecessary panicking. Crisis communication is skewed towards the provision of knowledge, over and above, information. Knowledge empowers people to make sound decisions to reduce negative exposure. Crisis communication is ongoing and dynamic to reflect the lifecycle of the crisis.


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Communication

Your Mental Health: The Importance of Understanding the Cycles of Life

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There are issues of life that human beings struggle to come to terms with and that consequently leads to an appreciation of the finiteness of human capacity. From childhood, issues like whether God exists, and if he exists, where he came from are not easy on the human mind. Most parents will attest that children’s inquisitive questions, such as when a child asks where people come from, point to human beings’ innate curiosity to understand the essence of existence. The finiteness of human capacity is evident from the fact that as much as human capacity has broken hitherto unimaginable new grounds, the best of scientists have yet to create a biological being, the closest could being cloning.

It is also clearly evident that, as difficult as it is to come to terms with the finiteness of human capacity, the ability of human beings to learn from, and use, observable patterns of events to predict future events has been a useful tool for planning. The understanding, for example, of the laws of probability has helped the growth of the stock market trading as it helps observe trends over time and use them to predict likely outcomes into the future, the same way adopting the life cycle theory can empower your journey of life, smoothening the valleys and powering you through life’s challenges.

Most writers of the life cycle recognize the phases, or variations, of conception, birth, growth, maturity, mid-life, old age and death. In the case of products and projects, we can identify concept & design, pre-testing, and production. We can also have a variation such as introduction, innovation, early adoption, late adoption, growth, maturity, saturation, and phase-off or obsolescence. It is, whatever the phases a life cycle could consist, a tool that helps in anticipating what to expect on the next phase, of life or product, and, consequently, plan for it.

Yet – as evidenced by the extent of endemic mental health problems, ranging from symptomatic stress and depression to schizophrenia and lunacy – the human inability to deal with existential challenges seems to continue unabated. The limited threshold of the human capacity to deal with mental health problems despite progressive breakthroughs in expressions of human mental capacity, evidenced by the global 2020 suicide rates, point to a problem that leaves no one immune and, therefore, cannot be simply wished away.

The understanding of the life cycle theory could, if put in the context of mental health, help enhance individuals’ threshold of coping with existential challenges competently. Look at it this way: if you are in business long enough you can learn that your business has peak season and low season. During the peak, unlike the low, season the business is booming and everything is smooth. A competent business person will not close his business during the low season because he or she knows that a peak season will, in due course, appear. In the same way, faced with life challenges, individuals with an understanding of the life cycle can evaluate the prevailing circumstances in light of the larger life circumstance.

If you look at suicide, for example, as an indication of the inability to cope with prevailing circumstances, the individual with a proper appreciation of the life cycle would take heart in knowing that eventually, bad times pave way for better times. The same is true for individuals’ at their peak periods having illusions that the good times will last forever, whereas the truth is that those peak periods are inevitably followed by low seasons. The ability to smoothen the peaks and the valleys make for competency in the journey of life. Take heart.



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Communication

A Common Sense Formula for Happiness: A Babble

This article had been intended to be a poem but it ended up being a prescriptive, hard to read, babble.

Although everyone desires happiness only a few are able to be happy. Attempts to study happiness have gained the interest of only a handful of researchers. The seemingly lack of enough research on the subject can be attributed to the nature of happiness, which lacks a universally applicable criterion to be used as a measure. The best way to look at happiness lies in putting a context to it. This is because of the relative nature of happiness. There are a number of fluid and contextual issues that will help us to understand happiness. We look at four of them.

The first contextual issue is social context. People are social beings that are in constant interaction for one reason or the other. The most basic social setting is the family. Outside of the family, we have friends, neighbors, and colleagues. We also have larger social contexts like the groups and organizations we identify with or communities we reside in. Happiness will be achieved if these interactions proceed without hiccups such as conflicts or some sort of misunderstandings. Being a member of a conflicting social setting increases anxiety and reduces the chances of obtaining happiness.

The second contextual issue is your state of mind. The human mind is continuously being bombarded by numerous stimuli. Happiness will be achieved when the ability to select and process incoming stimuli is not hampered in any way. This is easier said but not always easy to achieve. The demands of life may mean that a lot of incoming stimuli may be meaningless, missed or improperly decoded. Also, people have different thresholds for handling stimuli. People with lower thresholds of dealing with incoming stimuli are likely to find it difficult in achieving happiness.

The third contextual issue in understanding happiness is the physical context. Abstract and concrete objects that surround you affect your happiness. Visiting new places and seeing new objects may create memories that may influence happiness. Working in an air-conditioned office, listening to music, reading books and consuming various media will influence your moods which in turn will influence your productivity, and consequently, of your wellbeing. This may lead to happiness.

The fourth contextual issue in understanding happiness is the economic context. This has to do with the ability to obtain what you desire when you desire. In cases where the economic environment is dysfunctional conflicts are likely to occur as people scramble for survival.

Therefore happiness is not an event but a process that involves understanding the environment within which happiness is being looked at. Happiness, consequently, cannot be looked at as an episodic occurrence but as a long term trend. Visiting a sick person, condoling the bereaved, buying lunch to the homeless, taking your partner out for dinner, and all manner of episodic events, may make them happy for a day but may not sustain the happiness. The understanding of this will help families, groups, and organizations to be able to create conducive environments where people can truly be happy.                                                                                                            



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Communication

Milestones and Fond Memories: My Happiest Memory

I had just finished my Advanced Level (A-Level) examinations and one of my wishes was to obtain a  government scholarship to pursue journalism at the local university. A previous application had been turned down due to a lack of A-Level qualifications and I was hopeful of a second attempt. Two A-Level principal passes and a subsidiary were the minimum requirements for the government scholarship. The results were due the morning of Monday, October 10, 2022, and the anxiety was high. I had kept myself busy volunteering at the local administrator’s office offering copywriting and transcription services. On the particular morning that the results were due, I had just arrived at the administrator’s office waiting for the secretary to provide me with the day’s tasks. A huge government-registered double-cabin pick-up, a Toyota Tacoma, pulled up in the parking lot overlooking the office that we had occupied.

“Who is that big shot?” I asked the secretary, unable to hold my curiosity any further. Since most Local Administrator’s visitors came riding bicycles or motorcycles, a double cabin Toyota Tacoma looked out of place or meant a big event for the day. “This is the governor,” the secretary replied without taking her eyes off the now-approaching VIP. I glanced at the outline of my reflection from my idle smartphone screen and adjusted my shirt’s collar, in an attempt to impress the Governor, who by then stood in front of the secretary, beside me. “You got a new hand, huh,” my heart skipped as the governor addressed the secretary while looking at me, his baritone voice booming across the office, attracting the administrator who had settled at his back office, who appeared from his office door. The Governor’s gaze remained with me, making me fidget in my seat, wondering at his immense interest in me. I touched the shirt’s collar as if to ensure that it was still in place. 

“What is your specialty?” the Governor asked, looking directly into my eyes. “I just completed my A-Level and I am hoping for a government scholarship for a journalism course at the university,” I replied, trying my best to make a good impression. “You must be one of the people I am looking for,” I wondered why the governor seemed impressed. The local administrator came to my aid, “I will let you have him if you assure me that you are going to have him in that government scholarship.” “Of course,” the Governor replied assuredly. Before I could utter a word, the local Administrator invited the governor and me inside his office where we slumped into the visitors’ seats. He opened one of his desk drawers and handed me an envelope. “These are your A-Level results,” he said as he handed me an envelope. I anxiously tore the envelope and glanced at the results: two principal passes and a subsidiary. I jumped out of my seat with joy as I handed the results to the Governor. I have never been so happy in my life.                

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Communication

Kampala, the Drivers City in Uganda

Kampala Downtown

Kampala, a 24-hour bustle and hustle city with a warm tropical climate, could borrow from the good old days in the countryside villages. Those are the days, in the now rapidly urbanizing villages when the footpath was a date venue, with lovers cuddling in the sunset with eyes wide open for the prying neighbor. I stepped out with a backpack on the dusty paths of much of the urban and suburban Kampala metro. You feel that the footpaths have become busy driveways and roads for the pedestrian majority. If you cannot afford paid club membership, forget about taking an evening stroll or jogging around the neighborhood.

The good old village path glittered to the lovers in the human social connection it afforded users and the relative privacy afforded by the dimming sunset rays. Kampala metropolitan city is a city of cars and mechanical connection through hooting engines, with sunset hidden behind the canopy of houses that block the ray’s access. At the base of the series of hills that form the metropolitan poor scramble for space while the few hilltops provide panoramic views of the gyrating countryside. With the diminished dating site for the average hill base resident, street dating opportunities have sprouted. These consist of twilight girls hunting the deprived alpha male. 

The booming sex trade in the lodges that dot streets and satellite towns is a courtesy of the death of the village path human connection. Given the diminished human social connections, commercial sex workers provide intercourse opportunities for pent-up (sexual) energy. Village paths on the other hand provided emotional-based social connection opportunities that served to preserve pent-up energy for better use in the garden for the farmers or fishermen and so on. Through the rehabilitation of public parks such as Uhuru park and city park and the integration of walking paths for the public transport corridors, the Kenya government must have realized the importance of providing the hill base residents with enough opportunities for daily interaction. 

Village path (Google images)

A friend explained the challenges that her young primary school daughter experiences when walking from home to a school in the neighborhood but on the opposite side of the busy Kampala Entebbe road. In the morning, she has to accompany her every day to see her cross the road. If not, the daughter has to walk for four kilometers (about two and a half miles) to the nearest pedestrian bridge in Kajjansi despite the half-kilometer distance between her home and school. By contrast village paths, like the footbridges, provided faster avenues for human social connection amidst the cacophony of singing birds. 

The fixation with fixing motorways and glorifying driving is not only killing the dating scene but also human spirituality. Prayer, for example, requires the undivided human senses which are impossible in Kampala’s bustle and hustle. Street preachers cut a figure of lonely crusaders with no one sparing thought at their drowning voices. The churches are running empty with reports of pastors and priests paying congregants to show up for Sunday services or to serve in the choir and so on. Besides, the increasing number of Christian divorce rates point to a couples’ mismatch occasioned by the diminished footpaths. A futuristic city like Kampala with a majority under 35 years requires more footpaths and public places.                       

Categories
Communication

In Africa Pablo Escobar Gets a Free Pass, Anytime.

2022 Kenyan Campaign posters

African democracies are delicate structures that bend towards money and self-aggrandizement instead of vision and public service. Look at Kenya, for example, government-ignited defections have, within less than a month post general election, turned around an opposition-dominated legislature into a government-dominated one. The reigning government is popular with supporters who are enthusiastic about forgoing fuel and food subsidies because they believe in the leaders they elected.

Governments, especially populist-led, are never known to be people-friendly because governments are money-hungry. The more populist a government, the higher the need for money and hence the more the likelihood of punitive taxes. You will remember that Pablo Escobar used drug money to fund a successful attempt at Colombia’s senate to primarily protect himself. Once in power, however, public scrutiny’s reality could jolt populist leaders into the realization that some things are easier said than done.

Take for example the popular bottom-up economic model that brought the current Kenyan president to power. The country’s history is littered with bottom-up socio-political experiments in various shades and all have proven to be a mirage. Immediately after the 1963 independence, the immediate post-colonial independence government was split between those in favor of devolved units, then called Majimbo in local parlance, and those in favor of a stronger central government. 

The emerging stronger central government system that Kenya ultimately adopted after independence is credited for making the country Africa’s economic powerhouse without entirely compromising the bottom. In Africa, Kenya ranks among the developed economies with a World Bank classification of low-middle income countries. Nairobi is an international hub with a direct flight connection to New York through Kenya Airways. Kenyan professionals such as teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, and so on have better working environments and remuneration compared with their east African counterparts.

The current 2010 Constitution was a culmination of a two-decade-long stab at the bottom-up. Unlike the post-independence effort, the 2010 effort was successful. The ensuing jubilation, looking at the electioneering rhetoric that preceded the August 9th, 2022 general election, seems all dead. Watching the events unfold from the east African diaspora was a realization of the Kenyan dilemma: ‘rich government, poor people.’ 

When Nairobians visit other east African cities, they possess self-importance eerie that seems to say, ‘I come from a richer government than you.’ However, things on the ground could be different. Whereas the Nairobi government is richer than its east African counterparts, more Kenyans suffer hunger, deprivation, or segregation. It does not matter that the Kenyan is likely better educated because that has nothing to do with a social-economic lifeline. Kenyan politicians’ disdain for education is well known for their knack for buying degrees and diplomas from neighboring countries to enable them to qualify for elective positions.

In Nairobi, half of the population resides in slums, the majority built on road reserves and untitled land. The result of post-independence central government-led efforts at fighting ignorance and building capitalist-inspired economic foundations that led to rapid urbanization. The 1980s political upheavals provided an excuse for political power consolidation along the lines of a powerful central government. Government operatives were afforded political power to fight political battles rather than social battles to support public welfare. The resultant political intolerance broke down bottom-up in favor of political patronage. 

If the 2010 constitution that came from the need to return power to the people (bottom) has failed so far in doing so, the current bottom-up rhetoric is – to borrow from Kenya’s Chief Justice – hot air. But maybe it is the public perception of bottom-up that is out of touch with the ground. The 2010 constitution, for example, attempted to curb self-aggrandizing public servants by insisting on wealth declaration. However, Kenyan politicians and the electorate are always available to the highest bidder. Any Pablo Escobar is sure of a pass in African politics.                                 

Categories
Communication

youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers…

Categories
Communication

Community Resource Centers’ Potential on Youth Empowerment

Kenyan Comedian-turning-politician Felix Odiwour a.k.a. Jalang’o / Google images

In Nairobi, the discovery of 21 dead human bodies in a river occurring simultaneously with diplomats’ terror warning put the residents between global and local terrorism.

In what has become like an annual ritual, the Nairobi-based western diplomats, led by France and the U.S. this time, sounded terror warnings for their citizens who reside in Kenya.

The same week local police announced the discovery of 21 dead human bodies dumped in River Yala.

It was the founder of the Christian faith who said: ‘O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh Matthew 12:34 (KJV).’

The almost immediate high profile arrest of a wanted locally-born terrorist who had hidden in the Democratic Republic of Congo and an explosion of a public service vehicle plying a northern Kenya route is being linked to the diplomats’ terror warnings.

A young university lad was identified as the wanted terrorist who was arrested, while one of few identified from among the 21 dead bodies discovered in river Yala was a young police officer.

Jesus, concerned of the predictability of the evil-inclined humanity, challenged, ‘how can ye, being evil, speak good things?’ He posed.

The human soul, which Jesus referred to as ‘the heart,’ feeds on words: ‘… out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things (verse 35).’

The viper effect, used by Jesus to describe the predatory nature of humanity, implies human motivations’ self-centeredness. The centeredness led to Jesus’ death when one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, sought to profit.

Global and local terror, as offsprings of humanity’s self-centeredness, exemplify humanity’s existential and development struggles.

Nairobi’s Regional Significance

As a regional hub, Nairobi’s social, political, economic, and technological indices are implied in the 177 million East African residents.

With such a magnitude of aspirations and of inspirations, Nairobi’s roaming wild and domestic terrorists are disconcerting. 

Comedian’s Suggestion

Community programs to provide social vents could benefit from empirical inputs. Despite, for example, a decade of the youngest ever executives – in the form of President Uhuru Kenya and Deputy President William Ruto – Kenya’s sports and the arts scene is still unremarkable.

A comedian’s recommendation that could have been missed by many provides a ray of hope to the developing world youth unemployment.

Speaking on Nation TV, Felix Odiwour a.k.a Jalang’o, comedian turned politician, suggested the adoption of community resource centers.

Ideal community resource centers – chosen, implemented, and run by the community – run on empirical information.

Emphasis on empirical data ensures that the vested interests of the minority do not choke the resource center. The initial research helps to develop credible benchmarks for future evaluation.

When run by the community, the scalability and flexibility of a resource center make it a powerful tool.

In East Africa, for example, tackling the skills gap and mismatch could be the present major problem. However, other social variables are taking prominence.

Like many others, the arrested terrorist associated with the recent Nairobi diplomats’ terror alert turned out to be a young, bright university lad, while one – of few identified – 21 dead bodies was of a policeman.

A community resource center’s flexibility and scalability will allow the adoption of such new variables and develop rapid research programs for strategy development.

Since resource centers are ideally resident-owned and approved, they provide a platform for the prioritization of the community’s ‘self-centeredness’.

The resource center derives legitimacy from the community and serves as an ideal platform to respond to Jesus’ challenge to the humanity of providing for the ‘… abundance of the heart, from which ‘… [community’s] mouth speaketh.’