Nov 26, 2011

How well have you utilized what you have?

First let me point out that complaining is a pedestrian term and it shouldn’t inspire you, this is rather calling it like I see it. The best way to kick it off is perhaps by saluting you for having sailed through your higher education successfully if you have. In this country where only a few are endowed with what you have, my congratulations can only be in order.

For the sake of arguing, let me refer to you as the cream of the nation but you need not to be carried away. Society may care less of what you have but what you know. In other words your degree or diploma is as good as its utility at your place of work. If you have a clue of what I mean, proceed to the next paragraph.

The job market these days seek for very high qualifications. Advanced university degrees have left first degree holders with no chance of joining the professional working class. As a result, society is no longer in fancy of mare first degrees, let alone diplomas. Desperation to have degrees is at its peak. Universities are smiling all the way to the bank owing to the number of desperate cases pushing it hard just to obtain that glossy paper.

Somebody once said that the biggest problem with a rat race is that even if you win, you are still a rat. Put it better if you can. I hate getting into the politics of performance but the professional reputation of many sectors in Kenya really sucks despite being controlled by “advanced degree holders.” By the way did you watch the striking dons last month? That was the caliber of our advanced degree holders laid bare. Their students of bad grammar, silly arguments and trouble in the streets are only chips off their old blocks.

I may sound mischievous but I am not so misguided. Take our forty gang cabinet as a sample. The few professors and doctors among them are the top performers right? I am told some of them are Harvard schooled.

It would have been encouraging if these advanced degrees added value to our nation and not reduced it to a bourgeois third world state it is. Did you know that over ninety five percent of top entrepreneurs in the world are not even degree holders? In my humble opinion, this advanced degree rat race situation will only perfect egoism.

Of particular interest is the tendency of my young graduate friends who have been caught up in this mess. Some of these kids are hardly into their first professional jobs but they are already rushing against each other into master’s degree classes. This degree has become fashionable rather than necessary. You can tell by how they vibe about it, no sense of plan whatsoever.

How will a master’s degree add value to a twenty six years old hack probably not even registered to any professional body? The rush to nowhere may be characteristic of my generation but we may soon have a country full of good for nothing advanced degree holders. 


Nov 21, 2011

The dwindling practice of PR in Kenya

The Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK) marked its fortieth anniversary this year. Despite the professional body having existed for all these years, the practice of PR in Kenya is still not taken as seriously as it should. There is lack of common understanding of the role of PR in both the public and private sector

Most organizations seem to think of PR as a mare media relations function which by the way is just a tool in PR. Some understand the role of PR but they don’t know how to utilize it well. For example organizations that measure PR success in terms of output rather than impact do not understand PR. Unlike marketing, PR cannot be measured quantitatively. There are others who even misguidedly think of PR as sophism, a practice intended to make things look all clean at any cost.

It’s due to this reason that perhaps many organizations would rather have PR as a small office under the marketing department despite its importance. Those practicing under these conditions often do not have any autonomy weather financial or professional.

A recent study commissioned by PRSK shows how the practice of PR in Kenya is held in mediocrity. The study dubbed The Practice of Public Relations in Kenya was conducted by Kentice Tikolo a renowned PR practitioner in June 2011. It shows that while most PR practitioners are well educated, 43% of them do not have industry related qualifications. This means that quite a chunk of practitioners in PR firms practice what they clearly don’t know. This would be outrageous to any professional body that cares and by now it should have raised an alarm to PRSK.

The study further shows that close to 30% of practitioners do not belong to any professional body. They are essentially not guided by any professional ethics. The rest are subscribed to numerous professional bodies among them PRSK. This is not good for the profession and this trend may make it easier for the practice to go to the dogs.

The study also shows that institutions that train PR in Kenya are not well equipped. PR trainers in most institutions have low qualifications yet they are hired to train due to their experience. PRSK in its fortieth year of existence needs to quickly step in and save PR from being undervalued and misconceived.

Not every former journalist can practice PR. The two professions are similar in many ways but not quite the same. If PR has to be taken seriously, PRSK should organize itself as a professional body and make firm decisions. It should review its membership and only accredit credible members. A specialized course for any PR trained person seeking membership will be ideal. At the same time, we should only have one professional body locally, in this case PRSK. This is all a PR student can ask for.

By Duke Mwancha in honor and memory of the late Dr. Peter Oriare, a top PR don in Kenya and member of  PRSK.

Nov 12, 2011

Its time to restore stability in Somalia

There is every sign that the Al Shabaab will finally be defeated.  Kenya’s Linda nchi operation team has already made inroads in Somalia. Its core agenda may be to protect Kenyans but with enough support from AMISOM and other groups of interest, the move may go a long way in restoring order in Somalia as well.
What Somalia needs now more than ever is stability. In this century when nations are seeking progress for their citizens, Somalia should not be left behind. The hunt for Al Shabaab therefore wouldn’t have come at a better time.
The country almost entirely relies on aid and has for long been made ungovernable by constant reprisals from militias. Its time that the international community directed its efforts towards helping Somalia get back on its feet.
Several states have pronounced support for Kenya’s efforts albeit from the peripheries. Well that’s encouraging but if Somalia has to be delivered from anarchy, developed states have to take lead not just to defeat the militia but also to eradicate poverty.
Plans should be underway to help Somalia establish an economically empowered and democratic government by 2013. Its refugees in Dadaab should then go back home and develop their country from scratch just like Southern Sudan is doing.
This is achievable if the international community stays away from the game of wait and see. After all stability in Somalia should be in the interest of every nation if the war against terrorism and piracy has to be worn.