Archive for September 2015

The Spirit of Global Citizen Festival, New York, September 26, 2015: The Challenge for Kenyans   Leave a comment

In a spectacular rendition of the public announcement of the renewed commitment to end extreme global poverty, the United Nations sponsored an event that has left many of us breathless. The renewed commitment is spelled out in terms of the 17 goals that set new benchmarks in the fight against extreme global poverty. This represents a sequel to the 8 goals articulated in the Millennium Development Goals, 2000.

{The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the eight international development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. All 189 United Nations member states at the time (there are 193 currently), and at least 23 international organizations, committed to help achieve the following Millennium Development Goals by 2015:
1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. To achieve universal primary education
3. To promote gender equality
4. To reduce child mortality
5. To improve maternal health
6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7. To ensure environmental sustainability[1]
8. To develop a global partnership for development}

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
{On 25 September 2015, the 193 countries of the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Development Agenda titled Transforming our world’ ‘
This included the following goals:
1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development}

We should use these benchmarks to gauge the extent to which our individual actions as well as those of our national and local governments contribute towards the realization of the lofty goals of SDGs.
Prof. Ronald S. Edari, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA


Posted September 28, 2015 by edari1 in Political Issues

Remembering Prof. Ali Mazrui   Leave a comment

In a private message someone once asked me whether I knew Prof. Ali Mazrui, and I responded by saying: yes, he was my elder brother. The person actually believed me, but I corrected him by narrating the following brief story.

In the 1960s, some of us undergraduate political hot heads in Canadian universities were quite exasperated when we read “controversial” articles in the magazine “Transition” published in Uganda under the editorship of none other than Prof. Mazrui. Two articles authored by Prof. Mazrui: “Kwame Nkrumah: The Leninist Czar” and “Tanzaphilia”, touched off a storm of controversy among African intellectuals across the globe.

During this period, I was deeply involved in both student politics at the University of Waterloo, and the left student movements of the 1960s. I graduated from Waterloo in 1966 and proceeded to Northwestern University to pursue graduate studies. It was at Northwestern University in 1968 where I met Prof. Mazrui personally in a world conference on “violence” as a means of effecting change in society. Prof. Mazrui was one of the scholars who delivered major papers that set the stage for discussions. I played a small role as a student discussant for a paper which I cannot even remember now. At the time, I was preparing to travel to Kenya to conduct my PhD thesis research on “Ethnic Relations and National Integration”.

After graduating from Northwestern University in 1971, I became an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, in 1972. During my promotion from “assistant” to “associate” professor in 1978, Prof. Mazrui, who was a Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, wrote a powerful letter of endorsement for my “promotion with tenure”. These letters of support carry a heavy weight in the deliberations of the “Executive Committees” of each department in the United States academic system. In effect, your intellectual peers stake out their academic reputations and accomplishments in extending letters of support to you.

My next encounter with Prof. Mazrui was in 1979 in the “Fifth Congress of Pan African Studies” in the then Zaire. Prof. Mazrui was one of the “special rapporteurs” of the conference proceedings that were published in Paris, France. My contribution was the following paper: “Dependent Development and Urbanization in Kenya.” In V.Y. Mudimbe, ed. Africa’s Dependence and the Remedies. Paris, France: Berger-Levrault, 1980. Pp. 168-183.

In the 1980s, Prof. Mazrui was invited from time to time at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, to give special lectures on development and African politics. During these occasions, I engaged in private discussions with Prof. Mazrui on a variety of topics ranging from his own work to his personal experiences with African leaders and scholars. This is when I came to appreciate even more the depth of Prof. Mazrui’s intimate knowledge of African politics and his analytical savvy in laying bare the logic at work in the thinking of African leaders. Beyond this, we shared some lighter moments of jokes about “Pwani” (Kenya Coast), and our own unique roots in Muslim culture and the Coast.

We all miss you Professor Mazrui, and we shall try even harder to follow your giant footsteps in the march towards the dawn of a new day in Africa.

Mwalimu Edari

Posted September 5, 2015 by edari1 in Land Tenure Issues

Devolution as an Antidote for Tribalism?   Leave a comment

Every tribal grouping has a right of self-determination, advocating for their own socioeconomic development and protection of their natural resources and cultural heritage. That is the gospel that under girds many of the fundamental laws enshrined in the new Kenya constitution. A devolved system of power at the county level, has in effect formalized what amounts to “tribal areas” that are constituted as political entities. In such a universe, political players compete with their own tribesmen and therefore the question of “tribalism” does not arise.

Now Here Comes the “Glitch”
Not all of our tribal areas are blessed with favorable natural endowment. Arid and semi-arid areas like Ukambani and North Eastern region, are places where people constantly struggle against the tyranny of mother nature. Without an infusion of revenues and other resources from the central government, such places would be condemned to a chronic state of privation and underdevelopment.

Given the heavily tribalized politics of Kenya, would the central government disburse funds for development out of noble and lofty principles? Certainly not. The neglect of these areas and the marginalization of such areas as the Coast has been the order of the day since Kenya became independent. Without an aggressive counter-hegemonic tribal political mobilization and agitation, no resources have been forthcoming under the stewardship of the tribal moguls such as Mzee Kenyatta, Moi, Kibaki and UhuRuto .

It is in the national political contestations that we find the loudest noises regarding “tribalism”. That is understandable since we are talking of the control of the enormous resources of the central government and the power to decide who gets what. No political leader in Kenya can assume the leadership of the central government without the solid backing of their tribal base and the capacity to make deals with other major tribal political players. It is equally true that an effective opposition to a ruling tribal oligarchy can only be mounted by marshalling the solid support of the tribal groupings that are not in power.

When Will All This End?
Tribal politics will begin to recede when socioeconomic development brings about new forms social differentiation and class formation. The latter is simply a reflection of the capitalist path to development that Kenya embarked on since the country became independent.

Bless you all
Mwalimu Edari

Posted September 3, 2015 by edari1 in Land Tenure Issues