Ann Time – Traditional Kenyan Time, An Anomoly, and The Art of Saangapi Clocks

Clocks clocks – Off to negotiate a salary today, and our Nyanya Ann is coming in at 9 to do the laundry since she will be attending a wedding tomorrow.   At 9:15 I am concerned for her because she has not arrived and I call my trusty friend Eunice because to call Ann would be fruitless… we do not speak any of the same languages!

So Eunice agrees to call Ann and find out what is happening.  A few minutes later my mobile buzzes and it is Eunice… laughing again.  The last time this same scenario played out, I had apparently told Ann to put grandmothers in my stew!

Yes, another culture miscommunication, one I should have been ready for because I had read warnings about it with regard to business meetings.  You see, in traditional Kenyan time, two things are vastly important.  First, there is not such thing as time.  A meeting is scheduled at 1 pm but perhaps they show up at 2 pm (or 3 or 4 even).   The other important thing of note is that traditional Kenyan time begins at my 6 am with hour 1.   That makes my 7 am hour 2, 8 am is hour 3…. something like that.

All I know is Ann told me 9 and I thought she obviously meant NINE!  As in the morning, as in MY world and MY time.   Come to find out she planned on being at our house at 3 pm my time.   So perhaps from hereonout, I will call this Ann time.  Check out the Saangapi clocks for amazing handcrafted artwork.

THE PLATTER OF TWO – POLITICS IN AN ELECTION YEAR; OBSERVATIONS OF AN AMERICAN LIVING IN EAST AFRICA

See the silver platter?  Two choices offered – a red and a blue….and I am respectfully disinclined to acquiesce.

What if we stopped believing the story that there are only two viable options for President in this country?  What if We The People pulled up the bootstraps of our reserve and common sense, and respectfully declined to acquiesce?

We The People, the electorate, seem held captive by our own processes which we presumably set up to govern our lives while still preserving some basic freedoms and civility.  What We The People have done to ourselves is a crime of self-aggrandized proportions.  Look it up.  I’m tired of writing to a 5th or 12th grade reading level.  Catch me in a mistake.  I make many.  DO something.

I am observing the presidential political process from a differing vantage point, and what I see helps me understand why I, a civilly conscious adult female, well-educated and plugged in to the “box” and system, feel so absolutely disenfranchised.  I have spent my life doing it “right”.

I and others just like me, white landowners if you will (Ok, I’m a female but you get the reference, don’t you?), have not only ignorantly allowed this end result, we probably created it.   I consider our educational system to be a driving force in mollifying the masses to acquiesce, to succumb to what it told us was the proper execution of our responsibility as a citizenry, i.e.:

I choose from the two candidates which I am served.   I play the platform and party game.  I align myself with the opinions and ideas they present that I “feel” most strongly about, and talk myself into not caring that their views on the other stuff don’t matter as much.  I go to conventions and tell people that the Republicans are conservative with money and will guide us in a fiscally responsible manner, or that the Democrats are compassionate to people and causes and will make sure we take care of the masses, I vote in primaries (an interesting process in itself to ensure that no viable candidate rises outside of the bi-partisan system; because I am registered “independent” I am not allowed to vote in primaries….they can tell me “The People” I can’t vote?), and then I vote again once those two men are chosen.  A woman will soon break that glass ceiling and energize the people to keep aligning with one of the two parties offered (I had a dream once that it was a female Clinton, but I could not tell which because they both looked alike), but eventually they will run out of emotional pulls to draw the people, and like in Orwell’s 1984, will create more crises to keep the people in just enough fear to never break ranks.

Somehow, we are gonna wake up and realize that all this arguing about parties and platforms matters not one whit because it has NOTHING to do with governing morally or ethically or effectively.  It is the “flattery of knaves” in Edmund Burke’s language.  More on Burke later.

At least there are still some electorate with genuine passion for their beliefs.  I have such respect for that genuine character that the stance on the issue becomes sort of a non sequitur.   We can work with that genuine nature, though if Facebook is any indication these days, it is just a perpetuation of the same veil that keeps us all not thinking for ourselves because we are moved solely by passion….

….until a refreshing comment from a young woman surfaces, and I feel a breath of fresh air in the stale environment…and I think to myself, “That really is a good and proper answer.”  She isn’t even talking politics, but addressing one of those Big 5 issues in a social context, one that arises every single election:  abortion.  Yup.  The one that never goes away.  In this case, teen abortion.  The one that keeps us all running to either the Hatfield’s side or the McCoy’s side of the fence, and stomping our feet with our impassioned beliefs on all sorts of stuff that will never EVER be proven to anyone’s satisfaction one way or another because it is a very personal and private journey….. anyway, here is her refreshing breath of air ……

“I just heard someone say that abortion is the solution to teen pregnancy.  I disagree.  Not being reckless as teenagers, safe sex, and continued funding into planned parenthood might help a little, but talking like we need to ‘cure teen pregnancy’ is ignorant.”

I have chosen to leave the agency name without capital letters as she wrote it, because that agency name is the cusp of the passion argument and it has nothing to do with the point she clearly makes…so I don’t care and I hope you don’t either.

“I’m allowed to have opinions on this!”

She is allowed, because she was a teen mom, and is still a mom, who chose to grow up and raise her daughter. 

“I understand certain situations where abortion seems like the bet [sic] course of action, however, simply killing the baby because you don’t feel that you are old enough, responsible enough, or that you just don’t have the desire is sociopathy.  If you don’t want a baby, don’t get pregnant, and if you do, grow up.  Either raise your baby, or give him to someone more capable.  Abortion shouldn’t be used like a band aid.”

Now, anyone brave enough to have read this far, (and balanced enough not to allow passionate anger to take them on a spin-off issue) may see  the amazing nugget in her whole approach.  It has NOTHING to do with parties or platforms and beliefs….

…it has EVERYTHING to do with our humanity and our collective ‘sociopathy’ apparent in our band aid mentality on the abortion issue she sees.  Sociopathy, my new favorite word because it melds nicely with politics these days!  I’ll define this one for you:   A noun used in psychiatric circles, reasonably means the state of mind of a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

“Either raise your baby, or give him to someone more capable.  Abortion shouldn’t be used like a band aid.”

Bold and italicized for your convenience.    And therein folks lies the future if you will grab a hold, stated in the crystal clearest of terms by a young mother who knows her stuff, has the authority to back it up and the mettle to call it out.

It is time to interject some ethical and yes, even moral, common sense and responsibility.  And let me be clear, I am not saying it is time to interject a particular religion’s moral fray, or to get caught up in the religious nonsense surrounding issues that we seem to be cutting our teeth on these days (and cutting one another up with as well).  This is not a comment on whether to abort, when to abort, how to abort, if to abort, or whose right it is to decide to abort, so don’t even go there or you will miss the point… again.

It is about using something as a band aid for the convenience of the individual or society, and whether that convenience is any kind of ethical or moral choice to make, regardless of your blue suit or red suit.

If that kind of nail-the-real-issue-on-the-head comes from the younger generation, then I propose to you two things:  First, we are going to be ok.  How she got there, whether her parents taught her correctly or gave her fuel to do it all differently does not even matter as much as the fact that she got there.  We probably just need to stop ranting about issues and political parties as we’ve been trained, and instead have the mettle to grab our bootstraps and support and raise our kiddos with the ability to think past their government-infused education designed to preserve the system (I know I know, for another day, people – I love almost every teacher I have met.  It ain’t them …it is bigger….called apathy of the masses).

Second, it is time to recognize that We The People sadly have given our system the power to tell us there are only two reasonable candidates in a presidential election, and that we have to pick one based on a conscripted issue like abortion.  Yes, conscripted.   Look it up.  Here’s a resource to do so:  www.dictionary.com .   Proper word choice?

The “Two candidates” rule is only a rule if We The People say it is a rule.  Isn’t that right in a Republic?  Oh wait, we think we are a Democracy?  Hum.  Do we even know what we are?  Did we become a corporation some time ago?  Does it even matter?

Systems may take time to change, but they can change.  One must first recognize that it is broken, and then one must have the mettle to stand up and call the meeting to order.  If you want to bring duct tape, then fine, but just get there.

I am offended to my core when I hear that my vote would be “wasted” if I voted for a candidate other than the two presented on the silver platter before me.  In the business world, this kind of nepotistic self-preservation produces corporate business ‘dry rot.’  My intellect cringes and I am sad to be counted in a group that is so sightless…and by that, I mean every single one of us.  I don’t want to participate in that anymore, especially when a young mother gives me such a breath of fresh air.  I have been sightless, accepting for a time that I had to be a realist and pick the lesser evil of the two.  This is the age of information (and disinformation- get educated to be able to tell the difference) and its dissemination, and while We The People have misused that bourgeoning “power of the press” to spout emotionally inflammatory opinions with zero support through comment widgets at online news forums, we also can use it to spout some wisdom and clarity.

Read some Edmund Burke, an Irish political philosopher (1729-1797).  I won’t tell you upon which side of the fence history sets him, but he has been credited, most likely in error, for that famous quote that goes something like this:  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”   After today, I have this theory that his more-than-literate and brilliant niece or nephew said it and he thought it hit the nail on the head.

What I really like that is attributable to him is this on the flattery of knaves:

“When the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of legislators; the instruments, not the guides, of the people.”

Maybe that is what I feel all the time… flattery and zero substance.  The passion surrounding a candidate acts like a veil in the media so that it is difficult to discern whether or not there is substance.   The end result?  Burke again:  “Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion, is safe.”

And We The People apparently like the whole thing because we are rubber stamping it so it continues.  Talk about the living Hunger Games! 

Why is it that those most suited to lead my country are the ones not on the platter of two?   And why do we honestly think that a single man called President is the one who has all that power, when a congress of 535 (look it up!) seems to hold that guy hostage on a regular basis unless that guy connects with big enough business to affect the pockets of the 535?  And do not get me started on theorizing about the star chamber (small letters on purpose).   Look it up.  And talk about dry rot in the ranks….. How can those 535 members, many of whom seem to be “career” politicians with little to no touchstone to the commoner’s lifestyle (grandiose you think?), represent what that common majority thinks, wants, experiences or feels?  How can you understand the commoner when you live in a glass and marble house?  I am living in the midst of a Kenyan “slum” in my glass house and “I can have an opinion on this.”

Does anyone consider these questions EVER?   If I had a secure income, lifetime health insurance, and immunity from a variety of things, drivers to take me places, underground garages so that I never have to get in my car with wet, muddy feet, I think I would be so pacified into a place of mediocrity, that I would be clueless as to the struggle.  And folks, that lulling is on BOTH sides of the chamber.  The first balance of justice in this conversation of one. 

I am watching the process from the outside for the first time….really outside!  Living in Kenya and realizing just how amazing our American system of government “should” be moves me to throw my hat in the fray.

I am disinclined to acquiesce, and do NOT tell me I am powerless, or that my vote doesn’t count.  It damn well counts.  So does yours.  It counts because Devorah said what she said and because little Adiya is here to smile.  It counts if we make it count.  And now for your viewing pleasure, an openly clear emotional pull: 

I am more at peace today because I understand what has bothered me so much in politics in my adult life.  She has given me a handle on why I feel so disenfranchised after working so diligently all my life to be a good, upstanding American citizen and human participant.   She has also given me great hope for our future and its leaders as they poise themselves on the cusp of being handed the baton.

~2012 Greatzane Cynthia L. Hampton

My personal note to my niece:

Deb, I am so inordinately impressed and proud of you, and I think everyone should know just exactly what kind of diamond you are becoming… you and those around you with the same kind of passion and ability to call it out.  We have been so fractured that I don’t think you know just how impressed I am with the woman you are.  It is time to put the anger and frustration into meaningful work to make things better.  It is, after all, your destiny.

And more on a side note, maybe part of the problem is that we are so busy making sure we give our children all the fish they could possibly want (future on a silver platter) that we have neglected to teach them how to fish, or even to enjoy the amazing journey of it.  See what you can do about that.

~Oh Favorite Aunt Cyn

Winter in Nairobi II

The colors of Winter in Nairobi never cease to catch my attention. Even the sunburn is color in winter here.

Stand By Me…

Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around The World from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

When the night has come and the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we see
No, I won’t be afraid, oh, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

So darling, darling, stand by me, oh, stand by me
Oh, stand, stand by me, stand by me
If the sky that we look upon should tumble and fall
Or the mountain should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no, I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darling, darling, stand by me
Darling, darling, stand by me
Whenever you’re in trouble
Won’t you stand by me, oh, stand by me


We just thought some people might need an uplift. This is the version of “Stand By Me” played around the world!