Archive for October 25th, 2009

Necofakenya Sponsors School Garden Exchange Visit…

In late September the staff of Necofakenya took students from  Michinda Primary School For Boys in Elburgon to spend a day with students at a school in Kisumu for children with hearing impairments and physical disabilities. Like Michinda, the Kisumu students have a school garden project, and the Michinda boys learned how students with disabilities participate in garden project activities. Afterwards, all students were treated to a boat ride and fishing lessons on Lake Victoria, and then enjoyed a fish lunch. The purpose of these visits was “to provide students with opportunities to meet children from other ethnic communities and to broaden their horizons of knowledge through intercultural dialogue and interact with youth from different social-cultural backgrounds.” These goals are achieved by students sharing their knowledge and experience in school gardens and celebrating the benefits of their gardens by eating together; by  learning that disability is not inability; and  by integrating sports in fostering interactions. In another exchange visit, students from Kiambiriria and Mukinyai Primary Schools in Molo visited  Michinda to learn about their school garden activities, including their chicken project supported by FKSW. They watched a video and ate lunch together after which they were entertained and played a rousing game of tug-of-war. For students who may not have many opportunities to visit other communities and meet students who share the same interests, these exchange days are most memorable!

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Necofakenya director’s speech given during the Swahili soiree in Lorane, Oregon..

The Director of Necofakenya  was invited by their partners; Friends of Kenya School and Wild life, (FKSW), from Eugene ,Oregon as a special guest during the Swahili Soiree, FKSW’s first ever celebration and fund raiser. He was there to talk about the situation in Africa and the ways in which FKSW and Necofakenya work together to address the challenges.

 

“I thank the organizers of this event for according me the opportunity to participate and to share our experiences. Before talking about our work, I wish to briefly explain what the African person is. He is a product of many historical injustices including slavery,  colonialism, an education system that despised our traditional knowledge systems, religion that demonized African culture, including food culture,  and post colonial mismanagement, conflicts and turmoil. The resultant product is a disoriented and disorganized people vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation.”

“To many ordinary people in Africa, including Kenya, gaining independence from colonialists and making the transition to African leadership only marked the change of  “The Master” from white domination and exploitation to black leaders doing the same or worse.  The colonialist introduced political and governance systems that ignored local communities’ leadership and governance systems and structures. Post independent African leaders adapted and  continued the colonialists approach to leadership and governance and after independence their allegiance has been to the colonial masters and their own greed, thereby denying citizens the opportunity to define themselves and their priorities. Many of these leaders were sons and daughters of collaborators to colonial rulers (chiefs, religious, etc.) and had access to education. To these leaders, independence meant ascent to the coveted position of Bwana Kubwa (Big Man) and amassing wealth.”

“In Kenya for example, the colonial constitution meant to “tame the servant” still rules and guides the country after over 40 years of independence. For ease in governing, the leadership controlled people’s access to information and perfected the divide and rule (on ethnic lines) policy that denied people knowledge of their rights, responsibilities and what to expect of their government and leaders. Representatives of Western governments and remnants of colonial families have been comfortable with the status quo and the message to the outside world has been Kenya is a haven of peace amid turmoil in rest of Africa. In the period after independence more Kenyans and Africa generally gained access to education and interacted with outside world and gradually the clamor for more democratization and equitable distribution of resources gained momentum. Civil society movements grew and people became more knowledgeable on their rights and responsibility and demanded more accountability of their leaders. Unfortunately this almost sudden realization of themselves, how much they have been exploited and considering they are young and inexperienced in democratic governance have been overwhelming. Hence the disorganization and confusion during electioneering and the rich ruling elite continue clinging to power. These are the teething problems and price of long-abused society eventually emancipating itself.” 

 “Partnership between Network for Ecofarming in Africa (NecofaKenya) and Friends of Kenya Schools and Wildlife (FKSW) aims at empowering communities to rediscover themselves and their rich social, cultural and ecological heritage and to reclaim their confidence, dignity and pride. This approach emphasizes to the target community that they are responsible of their own development and destiny. It respects people’s cultural heritage and integrates science with indigenous knowledge. It is site specific and unique in each situation. We don’t believe in “copy” and “paste” prescriptions or the notion that what works in one part of the world must work in another. Every situation should be analyzed and options for intervention assessed and decided on with the target. The initiative is holistic in approach recognizing that in addressing education we need to think about food and nutrition for students and family etc. It is slow process that calls for patience and does not involve “quick fix” solutions.”

 “My appeal to you good people of America: Please don’t just donate your money, get involved!  If you come to Kenya or anywhere near East Africa, please make a point of visiting us and our projects to ascertain that your donations are utilized for intended purpose.”