Monthly Archives: February 2011

Letter to Luis Moreno Ocampo

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Dear Mr. Ocampo, I hope this finds you well.

I am writing this letter regarding the matter of Kenya’s 6 most wanted criminals by the ICC. I would love to say that I’m writing on behalf of all Kenyans but alas, I wouldn’t want to presume. I feel that a letter is necessary because things seem to be getting worse and not better. I was concerned when I saw the 6 alleged murderers and rapists working very hard to avoid prosecution. I was concerned, but not enough to write to you. However, many weeks after your announcement, I am positively worried and losing sleep about it. I am worried sick that your once strong resolve to prosecute these alleged criminals to the fullest extent of international law – in accordance with the treaty that Kenya willingly signed – is weakening.

Sir, Kenyans have endured decades of impunity. Did you know, for example, that the last president was in power for over to two decades? There are those that call him a dictator while others loved him. What cannot be denied is that he put the country through what is colloquially termed as “hell”. All of this to say, Kenyans have unfortunately grown accustomed to impunity and a part and parcel of life.

That being said, this has simply gone too far! The Kenyan government has spent – and is planning to spend – obscene amounts of money to push their agenda against the ICC and in the defense of some of the accused. This, despite the fact that the ICC offers legal counsel to the accused at no cost to them. The government is using the country’s coffers to defend people who are accused of some of the worst crimes against humanity while their victims languish endlessly in IDP camps. In essence, the Kenyan government is using tax payer funds to pay for the defense of people accused of crimes against those very tax payers! It’s immoral, unfair, insulting, unjust and unethical, but they don’t care.

Dear Mr. Ocampo, please don’t abandon Kenya. If you hear nothing else I just said, hear this: Kenya NEEDS you. Kenyans need someone to stand up for them; someone who cannot be victimized by the local police or anyone else in the country for that matter; someone who cannot be bought. They need someone who isn’t easily swayed by politics. They need someone to remind their “leaders” and citizens that integrity matters. Sir, please push through with the process; do not be swayed by pressure from this or any other government. Do not let their whining get to you, do not let their cries of unfairness sway you to their side. Do not allow them to use you to get away with these crimes, if found guilty.

However, if you do feel yourself swayed by their arguments – because you are human after all – take a good long look at the victims of these crimes. Let their horror stories of rape, hunger, tears, insecurity, death, abandonment and fear move you to standing your ground. Let the Kenyan governments own decision to have the ICC pursue these cases remind you that you are within your mandate. Let the everyday, hard working Kenyan inspire you forward, for hard work and innovation will mean nothing should the country fall back into chaos. Keep in mind that Kenya is facing another presidential election next year. If they get away with this now, Kenya will never know peace because it will be clear that there will be no consequences for such brutal acts. Finally, remember too that should you allow them to wiggle their way out of this situation, they will be taking your credibility down with them. They will, in essence, be announcing that you too are for sale. That cannot be!

The accused are simply that: accused. Whether or not they’re guilty is for the ICC to decide; do your due diligence and let their attorneys do theirs and then may the chips fall where they may.

Dear Mr. Ocampo, Kenyans need to be reassured that the ICC can and does stand for justice for all; Kenyans need to see a justice system that actually works. I realize that I had not intended to speak on behalf of Kenyans, but it turns out that I did, for better or worse.

Sir, please do not abandon Kenya.

Sincerely,

Mia

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Happy long-long-after-Valentines Day

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“We attract who we ARE not who we WANT”.

This has been one of my guiding phrases. I love it because it focuses the conundrum of love on you and not ‘those others’. Here’s the thought process: all your partners – former and current – have only one thing in common: you! You are the common denominator so if you are always attracting or attracted to a particular kind of person, then it’s up to you to explore if there is something in you that is similar to those characteristics that always appear in your love life.

I wouldn’t say that love is something you go out to find but I do think you must be ready for it; your heart needs to be fertile enough to receive it when and/if it shows up. That can’t happen if conditions are only perfect for the wrong kind of people; those who neglect, abuse, ignore, insult or take you for granted. If you’re needy, pushy, closed-off, bossy, boring….whatever it is, you need to know it. It’s not the end of the world if you’re those things, but my policy is “it’s best to know”. Furthermore, if you keep doing the same thing when it comes to love, then it stands to reason that you’ll keep getting the same results. Now is as good a time as any to try something different. Tweak something, change something and see if that changes your love patterns.

Now that the hullabaloo surrounding Valentine’s Day is past, I hope you will take the time to assess your love life. Think of it as taking your car (heart) for maintenance before a long road trip (your love life). There’s nothing to be ashamed or judgmental about and who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised. You may find that you’re always attracted to smart intelligent partners because you are a smart, intelligent person. You may also find gems of information, for example you’re attracted to unavailable partners because you yourself have an entire security system, complete with guard dogs, around your heart. While this may not feel like a gem, it actually is since it points you to a specific aspect of who are and gives you the opportunity to change it, or not.

I look forward to hearing from you. I truly hope you had a fantastic Valentines day but I hope even more, that the future of your love life is much more fantastic than just one day.

Shame on CNN

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  While the rest of the world sees Egypt’s current situation as a testament to dictatorship and the power behind several thousand motivated citizens, CNN seems to have missed the memo.

To hear them tell it, Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak is nothing but a weakling easily pushed out by college-age students and a few days of demonstrations. I mean, surely, it should take more than that to topple the great Mubarak! Listening to conversations between Anderson Cooper and some random person whose name I didn’t catch, had I been Mubarak I would have made the decision to stay in power. Irresponsible journalism is what it is.

Mubarak’s decision to leave office early would have (and should have) been seen as a smart decision made for the benefit of his citizens and his country. He has been in power for 30 years after all and there isn’t much he can accomplish in the last few remaining months. It’s an embarrassment for him to continue to stay in power while the whole world watches his own citizens loudly and publicly reject him. However, news “reporting” like the one I listened to last night on CNN makes this final step very difficult. While governments, including the United States, are urging the elderly (and publicly humiliated) Mubarak to step down, these journalists are spending their time mocking the idea of his stepping down from power! Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to avoid that kind of mockery?

It’s unlikely that Mubarak made the decision to stay in power due to CNN’s poor coverage – they’re not that powerful. However, that’s beside the point: journalism is worthless if it isn’t impartial and done with integrity. There’s a reason CNN and other media are valued; because of the sometimes misguided notion that they are the truth tellers, the people we can always turn to for unbiased reporting of situations. It is not for CNN to mock Mubarak or anyone else for that matter. It’s their job to report on the crisis, it’s ours to develop opinions about the crisis. We don’t need CNN to tell us how they feel about it because we don’t care; if you want to share an opinion, get a talk show! We also don’t need CNN to tell us how to feel about any of this either. We’re very capable of developing our own opinions, thank you very much!

Finally, while for CNN this may be just another exciting journalistic experience, for the rest of the world it is the end of a dictatorship and the hope for a better future for Egyptians. In addition, it sets the tone for many countries especially in Africa and the Middle East. While to CNN this may be a movie to be watched and mocked, it has real life implications for majority of the rest of the world. It would be good for CNN to remember that and cover these events with the seriousness they deserve.

PS: A few hours after this post, President Mubarak stepped down and is no longer president of Egypt. I hope and pray that this is truly a new beginning for all citizens of Egypt. Congratulations to them (and to him for quitting before things got bloodier for the Egyptian people. He may have been unwilling but at least he didn’t drag it out, African-dictator style causing lots and lots of needless deaths) May God bless Egytians and their nation as they move forward to the next phase of their lives.

The Work in Relationships

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“People are in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime” goes one of my favorite quotes. Here’s another: “Friendship is optional; people are allowed to opt in or out of a friendship, and so are you.” Actually, that second one is my personal (and original) mantra.

 What about the lifetime friend who somehow turns into a seasonal friend? What about the lifetime marriage that turns into a less-than-a-lifetime marriage? What do you do when your best friend inexplicably turns cold or your boss from hell also happens to be the guy who signs the very paycheck that puts food on your table? When your children disappoint you or your parents drive you up the freaking wall for the umpteenth time? What do you do? What are you willing to do?

In my opinion, few things can hurt as the realization that a relationship with someone you love and/or respect has reached an end. It’s harder to deal with it when it happens for no reason at all; not one that you can see anyway. The first response is to take a step back and depending on the relationship, your next instinct may be to walk away, or in some cases, RUN away! Pride may also kick into high gear at this point.

We’re often told that marriage is hard work and not for the faint of heart. What we’re not told is that in actual fact, ALL relationships that matter to us are our business. It’s our job to nurture them, protect them, fix them if broken, and improve them. Here’s a thought: if a relationship is not working, the first place we should evaluate is our role in its failure before looking at the other party. Depending on the kind of relationship it is – friendship, marriage, work related etc – we may also need to put in extra work because it’s not possible for it to be a 50/50 split in its maintenance at all times. A pregnant friend may not be able to put in as much work or effort in your relationship for a season. That means you’d have to pick up the slack. A grieving friend may not have the effort to meet you half way. You’d need to meet them more than half way. Your over-protective parents may need to be loved exactly as they are, since you’ll never have other parents. In that case, you would need to do the work necessary to both keep your sanity and respect/honor them.

My challenge this week is to assess my failing or failed relationships, make the decisions that need to be made, see what, if any, work I need to do to rejuvenate them and then move forward, with or without them. This means that I’ll have to be willing to see some uncomfortable truths about myself e.g the energy and work invested in them or the lack thereof. I’d like to think I’m a good friend/partner/employee but alas, maybe not always and maybe not to everyone.

Join me in assessing your own relationships. If your marriage is on the rocks or you can’t stand your boss then make an honest assessment of the situation. What kind of work are you willing to put into your particular relationships? Remember that sometimes, it’s better to be happy than to be right so you may need to compromise. You may need to forgive or ask for forgiveness, even when you feel they should apologize first. You may end up having an uncomfortable conversation or two – or God forbid, more – with certain people and some of those relationships may be beyond salvaging and you may need to let them go.

Be advised that sometimes, talking to other friends about your current situation may not be helpful, so take every piece of advice with a grain of salt. Of course, sometimes it’s easier to tell a stranger who cares so feel free to share with me and ask questions; you know I’ll definitely reply.

I challenge all of us to roll up our sleeves and do the work necessary to maintain our relationships. In case you haven’t heard, relationships make life worth living; they make the world go round…or maybe that was love? Either way, here’s to stronger, better, healthier relationships!

Three cheers!

Ode to Friendship

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Have you ever had someone do something so great for you, unexpectedly? It could have been a stranger (like the security guy who quite randomly and unexpectedly gave me a free pass to the viewing deck at the Rockefeller Center in NYC), or an acquaintance or even a friend. They may have given you good advice, time, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a monetary gift, maybe they even connected you to the right people for your career….the list is endless. The point is, if you’re like me, they gave you exactly what you needed at that time. Did you thank them? Do you remember them or were their actions forgotten shortly thereafter? Do you try to be like them to others?

Well, recently certain people showed up in a big way for me. This post is about them. This post is about saying “thank you” to unexpected friends at an unexpected time. This post is to inspire you to think of those that have shown up for you, to thank them in your own way, to remember them as often as possible, and to be one of them as often as you can. Here are a few of them who made a positive impact to my life these last couple of weeks.

C, my friend and hairdresser sure didn’t think he’d be earning his stripes as a therapist when he agreed to do my hair. Try to imagine what it must feel like to be washing a client’s hair while she cries, applying hair stuff while she cries and putting her under the drier while she cries! I imagine it must have been quite uncomfortable, and yet he hang in there with me. Eventually, I was able to share the cause of the tears. He in turn gave me very good solid advice that quite literally saved my sanity. It also strengthened our friendship and trust.

Maggy unexpectedly stopped by my house. Maggy told me that she hadn’t planned on coming over on that particular day but felt she needed to. I wasn’t expecting her either. That visit brought us much closer and she ended up giving me advice on both a professional and a personal matter. On that day, she brought me friendship and clarity on an issue that was threatening my peace of mind. Maggy also removed intimidation about certain things that were overwhelming me. Tell me God didn’t arrange that. Actually, don’t because I won’t believe you.

M is a man I’ve known practically my whole life. We met quite randomly on that day; I was going to the store to get some soda and french fries (my latest addiction:) ) and bumped into him. He is responsible for a recent (and lasting) burst of optimism and enthusiasm regarding a certain major decision in my life. He is also responsible for my latest life motto: ACTION NOW! I doubt it was his intention to inspire me forward on that particular day in that particular way – we were just hanging out after all – but God knew that I needed him and so he came. It’s quite a nice feeling to have a friend re-enter your life, but when they bring with them what he brings with him, it’s definitely an added bonus.

My mum! Yes, I was surprised by this one since we’ve had a challenging time these last twelve months or so. I didn’t realize how much a certain person/situation was stressing me out until I told her about it. Talking to her allowed me to vent and gave me access to tried and true advice, which stopped me from making a radical decision that may have turned out to be a mistake. I needed what she gave me, and God knew she’d be the best person to give it. In addition, it brought us closer than we’ve been these last twelve months.

MPrissy is a friend I’ve know for years. I won’t say much about her because I simply don’t have the space. Let me say it this way: she’s the friend to whome I recently wrote “Oh my God, I really  am FAT…so depressing…” and she wrote back “…inbox me…” because she knew that this wasn’t normal talk for me; these are not words that typically leave my mouth. Simply put, she gets me. When I need a friend who gets me, I get her (get it? hahaha). Seriously though, I’m the lucky one here.

This list should be much longer because so many people have added to my life. I also accept that this list is unfair because it only focuses on the last couple of weeks, and even then I know I’m leaving some people out. My word count doesn’t allow me to name them all here but, what I do hope it allows me to do is point out the many ways we can be a blessing to someone else. It’s quite humbling to be the recipient of so much goodness so in turn, we should strive to add goodness to someone else’s life. We should be the friends we wish we had, or in my case, we already have.

I hope this inspires you forward. Of course, I also hope you come back often and share your experiences in the comments section. Remember, 2011 is the year to say YES to life and as evidenced by today’s post, to say YES to friendship.