In Loving Memory of Yasin 'Chicharito' Varvani (left)

To some heroes are those who jump in to save a situation no one else would have dared tried. To others it is those who never seek to take credit for their actions. But to me a hero is someone who takes on a challenge they lack the skill and know how to execute but yet when tossed into the challenge work so hard they beat everyone else to it. Embracing ones environment and forging paths no one knew existed. Jumping halfway into a dream and turning it into a reality. The audacity of hope. Not all stars are in the sky, some are beneath the earth. For the most precious of things are hidden from the normal mans eye. 

2012 was the year the dream all began. Three African Students, in a lost city with a dream to rediscover and redefine a 'lost' continent. What can I say. It was a dream like every other. Sweet, beautiful and enticing till you wake up and realize “Oh Shoot! I still have to make it come true". At his point I know you are asking yourself “Is he trying blow his own trumpet?” or “Is this the part where he talks of the hustle of turning this dream to reality?”. Don’t bother, what is understood doesn’t need to be talked about.

After a series of tryouts with some successes and failures but most importantly an encyclopedia of lessons, we set the stage for something big. I mean very big. An African event bring together Africans from EuroAsia and showcasing our culture and Heritage to the world. I remember vividly after our meeting during which the idea was initiated, my friend Ulopa as we call him said “Dude! I didn’t know what successful people meant when they said your dreams aren’t big enough until they scared you. This dream scared me in my dream. I just hope we are able to put the work in and pull a this one off”. 

7th of March 2014 was meant to be the big day. In fact, it was the big day. The day Africa is thrust into the limelight by a kid who grew up in Lamu taking notes on the floor, another kid who grew up in the busy city of Nairobi looking forward to the “American Dream” but never got live it and another who was taught by the aforementioned that the “cool kids” are geeks and not the socialites. What a lesson to teach someone in their first years in uni right? Coupled with all the misfits who characterized our organization, Afrinitiative, we knew we needed another misfit if we had to pull this off. After all who said bringing 2000+ students, displacing 4+ ambassadors and several deans of universities and business guru's to listen to college students talk about Africa in a society where they were still astonished blacks existed, would be easy. 

Yasin (middle) Celebrating Victory in Uni Country World Cup with teammates
Then we came across him. A misfit in his thoughts and a genius in his actions. Although he was an extrovert, public speaking was something he had never done and he considered all those who did it as very courageous and talented. While there were many who could boast of having such skills, he had something a lot of them didn’t. He spoke our language, he embraced our thoughts, he dared to dream. In the words of another fallen hero “these are the crazy ones”. He was a misfit.

We asked him to be the event host. He laughed in a very sarcastic manner as he often did and said “You guys are crazy”. yes Indeed, we are thats why we need you the the boy from Lamo who sounded confident in his abilities. For the next couple of months, we worked day and night. As my job description was training the show host and co-host, I worked very closely with him. Anyone East African friends would know that Swahili is their 1st, 2nd and 3rd language. At times during rehearsals, he would say to me “I have better idea. Since this event is promoting Africa’s culture and Heritage, why don’t we just do this thing in Swahili”. We didn’t just work together, we became good friends.

Yasin mourning for the victims of the Garissa UniversityAttacks
Then the big day came. Hearts were racing, temperatures rising, nerves breaking. Silence was in the room but there was love and ambition in the air. What can I say, the event was a great success. After the show, the Zambian ambassador called him and the rest of us to the side and said “You make Africa Proud”. Hearing those words sent relaxing but yet perplexing chill down our spines. But to me what was even more amazing was  I was standing next to someone who took on a baton he didn’t have to and ran to the finish line. 

While we sat there reminiscing at the stunt we had just pulled off, he turned to me and said “Thanks for believing in me but most importantly making me believe in me”. Struck by words I never expected and in lost for words I simply said “No worries bro”. About a year later we lost him to cancer but not before he went on to inspire many other students. Africa and the world was within his reach. I never had the chance to say the right words to him. So just incase you are reading this too from Heaven YASIN VARVANI, its I who should be thanking you. Thank you for trusting in a shared vision. Not just from me, but from the Afrinitiative and the entire Africa. Thank you for proving that it doesn’t matter where we come from but as long as we walk together, the future is no longer a destination but the ground on which we stand. A beautiful soul gone too soon in the flesh but remain in our hearts forever. 

More than fifty years after independence, Africa is still not free. This beckons the question of "Why fight for independence when we cant live up to it, why is Africa not yet free?" In other words, the African Puzzle. Independence and growth as defined by society is ones position compared to that of another. Is Africa poor because we use mud houses while Europe and other parts of the world build skyscrapers? Is Africa not free because we have leaders who have been in power for ages while in other nations they stay for just two terms of office? I have chosen to define freedom and growth as a state of mind. Have you ever asked yourself, what makes us African? Have you ever asked yourself, why do we always blame others for our misfortunes? Why does the African continent lack originality and why are we perceived by the world as a people completely different from how we see ourselves??

Self Identity, the knowledge of who we are and who we want to be is a great factor when considering gaining freedom and growth. We can never be free and grow if within our minds, we don't have an image of what makes us free and if we don't believe we are great and meant to grow. Mohamed Ali was great not because he was the most talented but because, every time he stepped into the ring, he said to himself "I am the greatest" and that self image/identity is was propelled him to greatness. Inferiority complex is the best way to describe how a majority of Africans feel about themselves. What ever happens to us, we most often feel like we are being marginalized. We should learn to accept criticism for the greatest in history were always despised.  

It is high time each and everyone of us redefined the way we view ourselves and Africa. The American Dream might seem far-fetched but it works. Not because it is real but because the Americans believe in it and always work towards it. It is not magic. Just as you would never be good at any subject in school if you believe you can't pass it, you will never attain anything in life if you don't believe in it and work towards it. But most of all, we need to have a complete self image. Knowing who you are is the best way of achieving what you want. It lays your strengths and weaknesses before you and gives you a clearer path. 

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that no matter how great or simple your ideas are, if you don't know how to brand them and make the world see them, then its an idea, a concept or a line of thought gone down the drain. We need to rebrand Africa the way we want the world to see it. The mud houses we live in is part of our identity, its who we are. We just have to make the world see it as a way of life rather than a financial condition. When you come up with an idea, let it solve the problem of you immediate surrounding. The world would always adopt it if it is great. When Steve Jobs invented the Macintosh, he aimed to solve and existing problem in the United States of America. But since the idea was great, the world adopted it. American products, from Google to Facebook sell to us the American way of life. It is time to brand and create the African way of life.

Originality! Originality! Originality!. Just as it is a custom in Africa for parents to call our names three times when there is something of great importance, I chose to do same with originality. The only thing that can make us different in a world of constant evolution is originality. All nations have gone through separate challenges. Every nation, people and culture are shaped by the experiences they share over the years. For us it has been slavery, colonialism and though had to say, in a midst of vast fertile lands, we still experience famine. 

The west dealt with the abolition  of the slave trade by sending some of the slaves back home and others to different parts of the world. They dealt with colonialism by creating organizations which gave us "on paper" freedom while captivating our minds. It is in our position as Africans, to take up individual challenges to not not only free our minds but become our own people, become who we are born to be. The only way we could achieve this is through originality.

Africa is a jig-saw puzzle of 54 pieces. Just like every great jig-saw puzzle, it is up to the player to put the pieces together, but unlike any puzzle, there are 1.111 billion players. We just have to figure out how to put the pieces together. We need to create a new self identity. By not only redefining our image on the world stage but by also being original. We need to revisit our roots. As my role model, Mahatma Gandhi once said  and I quote, "Be the change you want to see in the world". 

The past couple of weeks have been heart breaking and jaw dropping all around the world as the news of xenophobic attacks in South Africa proved that black history is dying and the struggles of all African heroes who fought for the liberation and unity of Africa is going down the drain. Xenophobia, which I consider a cousin to racism, is the dislike of citizens from another country or region. However, a lot of people around are looking at this from the point of a physical struggle but which is not the case. Xenophobia is an ideological struggle, which dates back years if not centuries. 

Dating back to the apartheid, South Africans have always lived with the ideology of, "they are not Africans" and that, "being a part of the Great African Continent is just a geographical miss happening". Reading Conversation With
Myself (Pg80) by Nelson Mandela , I stumbled on this very interesting conversation between Mandela and Richard Stengel. During which, Stengel asked a question. It didn't make much sense at first sight, but if the dots were to be connected backwards, they would connect perfectly with the xenophobia attacks. The question went thus and I quote 

"STENGEL: But the story where the chief [Albert Luthuli] asked you why you hadn't consulted him about, about the formation of MK, was that on this trip or was that when you returned from Africa?"

Looking at it from this perspective, I wouldn’t blame the South Africans for their reactions. An ideology is never changed over night. I would blame their leadership system for ignoring to revert this ideology in their nation. 

Notwithstanding, there is a second twist to this story. It is the part where the South Africans carrying out these attacks have proven their low knowledge of African History. If and only if they could take a minute to sit down and look back in time, they wouldn't undermine the heroic role many African leaders and states played towards the liberation of African. We though vary in degree are by no means exclusive. South Africans were accommodated in different nations for safety and given jobs to fend for their families. For many who strike today against their fellow brothers are alive because of those they kill. 

Ideological battles are the biggest plaguing the African continent right now. The only difference is, that in South Africa was given a name. From immigrants being tortured in North Africa to the future leaders of our great continent being killed in attacks in the East, to religious battles in Central Africa to the loss of lives and separation of families in the South, Africa is at war with itself. I weep, not for the present generation but the heroes who sacrificed a lot for the present generation. Again and again I weep, not for the present generation but because the only history we will ever write for ourselves, is the history where we turned our backs against ourselves to shake hands with those who put us in this very situation.

If I were a South African, I would live up to the tittle of "A Rainbow Nation" and be a symbol of peace. If I were a South African, I would never honor all the fallen heroes from Muammar Gaddafi to Robert Mugabe who made a decision to tilt destiny in our favor. But since I am only an African, I continue to weep and wait for the day the Rainbow Nation will truly become the rainbow amidst Africa's rain. Everyone is to be blamed. The system is to be blame for not killing this ideology of segregation, the attackers are to be blamed for ignoring our History and the African media must be blamed for little sensitization.

Change is usually defined as the act of making something different or using a different approach to a specific situation. In the recent years change has probably been used more times in political campaigns than ever before. Its face value gets the votes and its intrinsic value either ruins or develops a society. From the United States of America’s 2008 presidential elections to that of Nigeria in 2015, politicians have implored this word as a reflection of the new era they intend to create. That has left me pondering, what do they actually mean by “CHANGE”. This article is going to look at change from two different perspectives. These two perspectives are two opposite lanes on the highway of foreign policy, a shift from physical captivity to mental and diplomatic anarchy.

The “On Paper” end of human slavery in the United States by the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st 1963 was a stepping to something bigger. Something that the targeted slaves would go through years of study and volumes of books and actually still sign. It was the beginning of foreign policy. A set of laws and limitations that promote change but yet still give change.  Its very first child has taken away millions of lives and promoted spending while millions die each day of hunger and lack of shelter. A child so expensive to educate and each day that passes, something has to be ameliorated to make it better. No doubt it was named DEMO-CRACY. Really wander and ponder when this whole “DEMO” will be over the full version released. Democracy was given to third world countries as a condition to restore what actually belongs to us. At a time when very few people in those parts of the world knew what it was and its promoters understood it inside out. We went into a deal which enhanced CHANGE but then left CHANGE.

The other elements of foreign policy sound more like its grand children. From the IMF and The World Bank to the United Nations and the International Court of Justice are all good concepts with two main objectives, to promote CHANGE and leave behind some CHANGE. Ever wondered why all Heroes (leaders of 3rd world countries who took the bull by the horn) began perishing for unjustified causes? The answer is simple. They began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They understood what the whole system was meant to do. From Libya to Burkina Faso, Iraq to Syria, the system has been tailored to creating CHANGE and leaving some CHANGE.

Wonder where all this is leading to, well let me break it down for you. The two perspectives of change here are those of the powerful nations and the developing nations. The former has a very high face value but the latter has an invalid intrinsic value and a result of that of the former. The wars and ousting of leaders in developing countries creates a vacuum for exploitation by the west. This exploitation, often done in billions of dollars boosts the western economy and oil the wheels of positive growth and technological advancements in those countries. Meanwhile somewhere in the 3rd world country, Change (the left overs from the exploitation process) is being used to promote a system created by the same people who exploit these countries thereby creating another vacuum for investment with funds gotten from exploitation. The next leaders come and promise Change. The borrow investment funds from the same people whole exploited us. And then, at that point, just that point when the 3rd world countries are about to make it out of the rat race, we bay back the loans and all they are left with is CHANGE.


With the recent economic melt-down like the instability in the Euro zone, and uncertainty in the housing sector in America, some are left pondering whether political decisions affect the growth and development of businesses negatively or positively? The problem here is, with the advent of democracy, business and politics have become two inseparable variables.

The relationship that exists between business and politics affects the economy as a whole because the “Fortune 500” companies have become the source of income for those vying for political post. In return, when these people get into power, they sway political decisions in the direction of their money banks. This turns to make growth difficult for medium and small scale industries who account for high unemployment rates of Americans. As a result, unemployment rates begin to increase. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Are political decisions helping the economy and is the relationship with business and politics unfavourable or favourable? 

Usually political decisions are supposed to be geared towards creating a healthy environment for businesses to grow. This is when they can create more jobs and prevent any further economic melt-down.This would only happen if big businesses do not have a stake in future political decision. A fair political atmosphere and a “no-strings-attached” relationship should exist between business and politics.

So, do the relationships that exist between business and politics influence the growth and development of businesses? Is there a need to re-define the boundaries between business and politics and re-evaluate political decisions geared towards businesses?  I will address all these in my research paper and come up with comprehensive solutions.   
The relationship between business and politics in the American society can be traced from way back during the post war periods. It started during the progressive era and is continuing with the new deal. The progressive era was an era of social activism and political reforms in the America. The progressive era had very positive impacts such as increase in democracy, efficient governments and corporate regulations. The new deal included a series of economic programs which were enacted during the term of office of President Franklin Roosevelt with the aim of pulling America out of the great depression of the 1920’s. This was the peak of the relationship between business and politics in the American society. Political decisions had to be geared towards reviving the economy at all cost either directly or indirectly. But even after the American economy had recovered from the great depression, the strong and consolidated relationship between business and politics did not stop. This later on started having set backs on American Democracy, businesses and the economy as a whole.

The first effect of this relationship has been on democracy. It would be unrealistic to say that American democracy is the best in the world. In recent times, the relationship between the big businesses and political decisions is so slim that they can’t even be differentiated. Democracy if often referred to as “Government for the people by the people” but this has never been the case. It has been “government by those who sponsor for those who sponsor”. The fortune 500 companies sponsor political campaigns in return for favours should their candidates win. Therefore most political decisions are geared to favour the big guns of the economy. Most of these companies succeed to persuade the government to ameliorate foreign and domestic trade policies in order to give them an upper hand in the market. This negative impact can be blamed on the promulgation of capitalism with the advent of democracy. The pursuit of individual happiness has killed the perception of unity and common growth. It is thus clear that this relationship is ruining the value of and credibility in democracy.
The second effect is on businesses themselves. This set back results from the role businesses play in the destruction of democracy. As earlier said, most fortune 50 companies spend huge sums of money to help sponsor the campaigns of politicians. Should this politician win, it will be to the advantage of the companies who will receive political favors in return. The question here is, what happens to these companies should the candidate loose? The answer is obvious. They lose a large sum of money, the get into bigger debts, the lay off workers because of lack of finances to pay them, and the circle continues. With reference to our case study, the United States of America, it is barely recovering from a financial crisis but still had the most expensive presidential elections. Where did this money come from? It was provided by companies. Was it for free? NO, it definitely wasn't for free.
All of these minor effects drive us towards the main effect, the effect on the economy at large. People are forced to support a political party because their company gains favours from it. And at times if you don’t you indirectly get a tough time at work especially when it comes to getting a promotion. When a company loses large amounts of money during political campaigns, it lays off workers and the unemployment rates increase. The government needs more money to help revive the economy so they increase taxes and also increase national debt. When the big companies gain trade laws in their favor, this is usually to the disadvantage of small and medium size firms who account for the highest rate of employment in the American economy. This in general doesn't give a good perspective of whether an economic crisis will ever be avoided even though most economist like to base their perceptions on what they can calculate and see but they most often than not forget the unseen, the influence of politics in business and vice versa.

But notwithstanding, just like every problem on the surface of the earth, there are always possible solutions to resolve the problem and hand and avert the setbacks.
The first step will be to re structure the tax system such that it is fair to all.  First, the tax system lacks transparency and accountability. Second, accomplishing social policy through tax expenditures tends to award the most help to those who need it least.

The second possible solution will be to restructure the measures of democracy. Granted, democracy brings peace and stability. When looked at in the mirror, democracy doesn't feed the people. Democracy was just a rule set by power gamblers to settle their differences amicably. Every year, Nothing less than 2 billion dollars is spent across the globe in the name of democracy. If such huge funds are not needed to run campaigns, then businesses would not have the opportunity to compel political leaders into swaying decisions in their favour.   

Another good solution to the problem stated above will be to reduce the level of bureaucracy in the system. That is decentralization as opposed to centralization.  The connection between the two is often difficult to explain, but somehow they are closely linked.Politics comes into a business and business comes into politics when decisions are made based on personal emotions and perceptions of the issue at hand. Since the system is too centralized there comes a point in time when either business or politics has to out play the other to be victorious.

The most appropriate approach to the issue at hand will be a review of the tax system. The tax system should be such that the more you earn the more tax you pay. It might be like that on paper but since the tax system is not transparent enough, this never happens since those who earn more and pay less use it to sponsor political aspirants. Should they pay as much as they earn, they would not have enough excess to help sponsor politicians. Furthermore, when the higher earning citizens get better tax breaks, they are able to overpower the middle and lower class and this is thus not good for the economy as a whole. It is not good because it limits the emergence and growth of a strong middle class which is the back bone of the economy. In the same regard, the middle income earners pay more tax but get lesser social benefits.

A new report by the Corporation for Enterprise Development and the Annie E. Casey Foundation demonstrates, the $400 billion federal asset-building budget -- subsidies to buy homes, save for education or plan for retirement -- is upside down. Rather than ameliorate rising income inequality, it reinforces it. Low-income households who do not earn enough to itemize deductions don't get the benefit. A middle-class household earning $50,000 a year "receives less than $500 in benefits" from tax breaks for mortgages, property taxes and investment income, the report found. "By contrast, taxpayers bringing in more than $1 million enjoy $95,820 in annual support through mortgage and property tax deductions and investment tax breaks.

The solution to the problem therefore lies at the door step of policy makers who do not need to overlook the matter at hand. Policy makers have to put the interest of their people and the world at large before any of their personal needs.

            The world as it is now is a global village where rapid interaction has become the order of the day and  interdependency the inevitable rock on which the world stands. And even though the world has all these to itself, there is more to this than just the superficial. Someone once said '' The strength of one's mind is not to see the world as it is but the world as it isn't'' and at this point in time, the world isn't safe. What the world needs right now is peace & unity and understanding. When all these happen the world would know nothing but prosperity.
              Peace and unity should be the greatest concern of the leaders of today. What profits a man if he should gain the world and then loose his own soul. Hope's residence is care and love and,we could have hope only if we  make peace with each other and unite as one family on the table of  brotherhood. Peace is the most priceless instrument on the surface of the earth and anybody who finds peace has found a reason to live.
             Furthermore, the world needs understanding. Both of humans and the environment. People think differently and have different perceptions and approaches to different issues in life and should not be blamed for their ideology. What it takes one person to succeed would make another to fail. Same as what would make the west to grow would cause other parts of the world to shrink and this shouldn't be misunderstood. The time has come when we must wake up to the reality of things or else we would all have a sad end. Everything has an elastic limit so does nature. The faster our leaders of today wake to this dawning reality, the better for everyone.Rather than spend time wasting innocent lives,it is time to divert all energy and resources to saving the planet.
             In a nut shell at the break of dawn after all these have been done, the everyone would wake up in a world filled with prosperity,free form pollution and longer life spans for all.
        Is democracy really the way foward for the world?In literal terms, democracy is usually defined as a government for the people and by the people. But when lookıng at it in real time situation, democracy is an ideology designed by the rich and high and mıghty to have reason to stay rich and let the poor wıther.
       To begin with,democracy is not in clear terms by the people because more often than not,ıt does not reflect the ıdeologies of the people if not there would be no wars and no rıots. People under the democratic umbrella vote the the lots of promıses made during campaigns whıch hardly ever fufılled.
       Democracy from another poınt of vıew is a clear waste of tıme and resources. An average democratıc electıon process wıll cost nothıng less than 1mıllıon USD yet there are mıllıons of people around the world lıvıng on less than a dollar per day. If looked at closely, countries around the world wıthout democracy have a faster growth rate than countrıes with democracy. Rıght now the world ıs going through one of the bıggest economıc crısıs of all times and this is the point in time when resources have to be deviated into serving the right purpose. As much as i am not a fan of dictatorship i am of the opinion that, an economy run on 80% of socıalısm and 20% of capitalism (democracy) is the way forward for the world.