Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Thomas Rogers Muyunga Mukasa gives insight into poverty elimination and how this can be done in Africa

Dictionary entries are arranged alphabetically. But for the desolation in Africa one can also say: After Africa comes poverty.

A friend of mine last night invited me to a debate in which many said they had the answers to why,even today, the biggest export from Africa is media-ridden poverty! The words thrown around, left, right, center by one side were: theocracy, dictatorship, democracy, totalitarianism, third world, development, savages, heathens, ignorant, elections, arbitrary arrests, genocides, regime un-changes. One other side threw words like: centralism, constitutionalism, elections, tolerance, welfare, elderly support, expression, conservation, re-use, recycle, beware of vicarious tendencies, safety and empowerment. A form of leadership that encourages stewardship will be of advantage to Africa. By stewardship all the people are empowered to take on roles to improve on their communities. Leaders are created in various spheres and not only at government level. I looked at the Ghanians, Nigerians, South Africans, East Africans and few other Africans among the many faces of people from other parts of the world. I sat next to three persons from Bhutan and Nepal. I felt so happy,I was invited here.

The people of Africa were lumped into a common nomenclature e.g. Bantu, Luo, Kush, Berber, Arabs, Caucasian to name but a few. The 'Bantu' collective followed a common term in their language e.g., 'ntu' root of various words from the tribes in South Africa, Ethiopia, East-Africa, Central Africa to Nigeria for the 'Bantu.'They also have a common term for the multitude lakes in their region,' nyanja'. May be a better collective would be the 'Banyanja.' It carries with it a linkage to a resource that gives them image. They may even be motivated to conserve lakes. By extension they could also conserve other resources. Another collective was  'Hamites' for the tribes known to move about following their cattle which in turn followed pasture. Their forms of governance were dismissed. Perhaps one should look into 'Bantucracy' or 'hamitcracy' that enabled a tolerance over border lines among the tribes. This was a key point more than who is voted into power on expiration of a term. Africa managed to feed its almost a billion population without ever having to get food from outside the continent. It traded with Phoenicians who brought banana plantains, sorghum, millet and maize (corn). These did well in Africa, By 1000AD they were staple.

Then came a form of an immensely extractive trade that took so much out of Africa from around 1400-1900: Wanton pillage; Young/able-bodied human resource (in form of slaves); destruction of African Kingdoms and chieftainships; making bargains that extracted valuable minerals out of Africa without value-for-resources-taken returns;  and then came a series of climatic blows, The Sahara desert on one northern end of Africa; Kalahari and Gobi on another; rift valleys; change in rainfall patterns and pestilences. The pestilences were in form of tsetse flies, mosquitoes and plant viruses. These led to the deaths of large populations.By 1895, Africa was subjected to systems and mechanisms that progressively made it a pauper! Centers of economic power and control were no longer in the hands of Africans. On the large assembly-line that is development, Africans were trained to be obedient to anything that reversed their own development. They fueled development in other places such as Great Britain or Europe or Asia. In the process they were draining their own continent but promoting a legacy of pauperism/poverty. This is what was passed on to the next generations gun, stock and barrel. Systems that continue to make Africans paupers are in place even today.

One can say from 1400 to end of 20th Century, Africans needed to be trained and empowered to engage in development that commensurated with that of those people who came to trade with or evangelize or conquer the 'savages.' On that negotiation table and in that small print, there should have been the spirit to commit to train, empower and establish structures ( built and non-built). It was possible to do all this in Africa and indeed it was done. Large cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria were built around the same time good European or American or Singaporean mega-cities were built. Guess what happened! They were mostly reserved for others and not indigenous Africans. These were put in Kibbutz or Bantustans! But that will be a subject of another day.

After four hours, I left the place knowing we are looking for answers in the wrong places. We need to measure how much destruction was caused to Africa from say, 1300-1900. Poverty in Africa is caused by extraction and leakages that need to be stopped. Newer forms of negotiation need to be put in place. trade with other parts of the world is of advantage to Africa but needs to involve Africans and the negotiators need to allow to take on a stewardship role. Poverty in Africa is historical and a legacy! It is a rogue wave hitting the present day generational shores!  If we can know this, then can we begin to identify where we need to put barriers and stop leakages.

Bananas, oranges, apples-boa recipe! Thomas Rogers Muyunga Mukasa learning the American ways.

Not the boa constrictor, no! but a combination of a fruit cocktail that tastes and goes down well for many people. In case one did not know it, the three are readily available and cheaper to purchase. They grow almost in all parts of the world. The three are easily shipped to remote places where they are not grown because of climate.

You want a heavy breakfast? Do not miss a bowl of the three; one banana, one apple and an orange ( most probably a tangarine). Cut the apple into very small pieces, the size of a thumb-nail ( no joking! Well, atleast the size one can bite into). Place them into a bowl. Peel the tangarine and split it until all the small pieces are in the bowl, as small single fruits. Mix the apple with apples. Then peel the banana and cut it into small pieces into the bowl with the apples and oranges. The mixture now is made up of bananas, oranges and apples. With a small soup spoon scoop and enjoy while at the same time you munch through your other breakfast meal.

That would go down well after a three hour activity of cleaning, shoving, picking up garbage and dusting a room the size of a small church. That was how I spent the first half of this Saturday in New England. How did this place get to be called New England? Thanks +New England Revolution  I managed to get to know some history to this very important region in the world. Which brings me to another point. A friendly Professor from Washington University gave me a piece of advice: 'In America, get to learn how they teach their children to study in school. Even if it means to begin again!' Scrupulous approach to living and leading a life in USA.

Imagine this: Shakespeare's Macbeth, Tempest, Julius Ceaser, The Merchant of Venice.....James Joyce's Dubliners... Jane Austen' Persuasion..T.S Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral... Marx/Engel's The Communist Manifesto and Locke's First and Second Treatise of Government..Laqueur's Making SEX...Lummis' Radical Democracy....Young's Throwing like a girl and other essays in feminist philosophy and Social theory. Then science, Amercan history and Mathematics. That means not sleeping, frequenting the library and looking ahead! The alternative? Look for a familiar community, get into any job. Labour diligently, live and share a small apartment, sleep in rounds, pool rent/utilities, share a car and contribute towards fuel/maitenance and wait until a miracle to citizenship! Rational and not as tiresome! Am off to reading! Read and lead!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Role of Community leaders in influencing health-care attendances

Thanks to +Lionel Green and +WGBH Archives two popular Massachusetts FM radios. The influenzea virus that is said to cause flu among people has got a vaccine against it. People were skeptical in getting the shot. But, with the Mayor of Boston rallying behind the call many people are showing up at clinics for the free shots. One female private practitioner doctor had over 20 children vaccinated within 1 hour of opening up her clinic. This remeinded me of one African Kingdom called Buganda. There, the King was involved in child vaccination campaigns and the target was reached within very few days. The people had earlier failed to turn bring their children for vaccination. Now, there is a lesson! If only tolerance activities were taken up by leaders too, society would critically think before engaging in grotesque abuses of those less fortunate. For more information on Buganda Kingdom one can visit +charles-peter mayiga !

Thursday, 10 January 2013


1.       How many communities are empowered to identify people living with HIV with an unconditional positive regard?  Skills-set: Community mobilisation, Testing and less stigmatizing practices.
2.       What measures are in place to reduce on the numbers of infections? Skills-set: Know your Epidemic; Know your MARPs and prevention systems.
3.       What number of men, women and children died of AIDS in your vicinity? Skills-set: Know your community; Identified/empowered community Adherence support health workers and bereaved family support mechanism.
4.       How many community engagements has your organisation provided to highlight needs for less costly ARVs and other medications for treating OI’s? Skills-set: Know your Pharmaceutics, know your leaders and have civil engagement plans.
5.       How many opportunities to denounce corruption and embezzlement of Global Funds or other funds tagged for HIV Prevention and care has your organisation been involved in? Skills-set:  Have a strategic plan of your organisation in place; share your plans; join platforms that empower your communities to be transparent and; demand for accountability.
6.       How much does your organisation know about Global Fund plans for your community? Skills-set; Demand for transparency on ear-marked funding: linkage with international organisations providing information on funding getting into given countries and sticking to planned activities.
7.       How is your community using the knowledge that treatment with ARV’s is a prevention strategy? Skills-set: Empowered elite PLHIV; Empowered Adherence support persons and; empowered adherence community support safety nets.
8.       How many positive pregnant women are empowered to access HIV Prevention services for themselves and the expected babies? Skills-set: Male involvement in health issues of partners, Pre/Ante/post-Natal Delivery personnel/ Traditional Birth Attendants-TBA’s- involved in rolling out anti-HIV services and communities empowered to support expectant mothers.
9.       The year 2013 marks two years before 2015 when the World will have achieved the three Zero’s. Skills-set: Set up anti-discrimination spaces, set up anti stigmatization spaces and set up a prevention chain involving leaders in a community.
10.   Have bi-annual performance indicator plans in place: Skills-set: Generate plans with all ten points in mind; share plans with other organisations given a monitoring role and be frank with challenges and failures.

Thomas Rogers Muyunga Mukasa is a community educator and trainer of community based peer counsellors and educators


You are passionate, like I am, about HIV.  You may be employed in a health-related Service Sector or your organisation-planned services (say, providing protective consumables, literature, attending meetings).

What did you as a leader do to address the needs and gaps in terms of interventions? What changes do you notice?

The International AIDS Society would be interested to see stories of resilience, negotiating life and interventions. This is an opportunity and will occur during the next 7th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogens, Treatment and Prevention due in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 30th June-03 July 2013. Check:

1. How many people have you been reaching? How have your own efforts brought about change in persons demanding/attendances in your services?
2. What are their age groups?
3. What are the different demands by age, sex country of origin?
3a. What are the demands for those PLHIV?
4. How has the availability of ARVs helped them to continue in their daily life?
4a.How has your not being around affected adherence?
5. What constitutes the daily life activities of PLHIV?
5 a. What constitutes the sum of your organisation’s activities targeting your beneficiaries?
6. How regularly do they meet?

Try to compile something along that and then an abstract can be developed out of this.

Education Should Add To The Critical Employment Potential Of Countries: Of College graduates, 'Formal And 'Informal' Sectors

College education adds to the critical employment potential of countries, so this should an opportunity for education to create an entrepreneurial culture among graduates. 

Thanks +The Boston Globe of Sunday January 6th 2013. As a man recently from Africa, I have met graduates on the Streets of Lagos, Cape Town, Kampala, Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam, Addis-Ababa and Brazzaville. I have also met non-graduates in various categories. These were functionally engaged in businesses termed as 'informal-sector'. They were the City backbone and had the best places for cheaper food, transport and businesses spaces. Many employed graduates. That is in Africa.

Education provides skills and gives many opportunities to get into the formal sector. Here they enjoy job security, salaries, trappings and means to improve on themselves further. They pursue their goals with confidence and command respect in society. Education gives one the possibility to earn sums of money commensurate to their levels of learning and skills.

The labour market: What is that? Careers? Buildings with offices? Larger storeyed buildings with big notices calling on applicants to fill in short and long term job contracts?

In Africa one meet graduates making life changing decisions such as taking up jobs in; artisanry, masonry, construction, manufacturing, sales, indigenous herb pharmaceuticals, transport, running video-music kiosks, second-hand trade, teaching, music, dance and drama and modelling. One is also seeing many staying at their parents' homes. 

In USA, we see many graduates taking up jobs as; waiters, waitresses, sales-persons, manufacturing, construction, internet-based businesses,car detailing and call center operatives even when they may be BA English Major or Chemical Engineers with Summa Cum Laude. There is a lesson to learn here. There is need to equip all students with entrepreneur skills so that they can adjust to the changes of life as well transition prevail within the existing market.

A quick look into who constitute this change and what degrees they carry reveals that science and liberal liberal Arts graduates need entrepreneur skills alike.

In Africa and other parts of the world, some advice is called for to craft these degrees to have a business/entrepreneurial component attached to them:

1. Governments have long promised loans to students but the loans are long coming.
2. Students should use their time at Universities to 'sandwich' into shorter certificate courses which teach targeted skills.
3. Cooperatives and Communities where members come together to engage in say, agricultural production should be promoted.
4. The idea of training young people (whether graduates or not) in job-related skills and Technical skills should also be a priority and an addition to all Degrees.
5. The Rural-City migration is following a pattern of social amenities which are better. Governments should make rural communities equally amenable. Jobs will follow this.

Thomas Rogers Muyunga Mukasa on our relation with the universe:

How we lead our lives depends so much on where we are living, how we are depending on others, how we are depending on our selves, how we live and use the environment and who our creator is!