21 February 2015

SPEAKING IN MANY TONGUES | Guest post for International Mother Language Day

"An advocate for the inclusion of mother language, not only in education, but other important areas of development, Kola Tubosun shares his thoughts on mother tongue and the prospects in development, for International Mother Language Day." - Editor's note

Guest Writer: Kola Tubosun

Let me start from where we all agree: language is important, and so is education. Where the disagreement usually comes is when we insist that mother tongue education is the most important education of all. The ability to speak is a crucial aspect of our humanity. Not just speech, by the way, but language. Those unable to utter speech have found other ways to communicate through sign languages. But let’s talk about speech -- our ability to vocally communicate our deepest thoughts. Along with our ability to stand erect (monkeys have that, after all), it is the only thing separating us from animals. Whether one be an Eskimo in the north pole, an aborigine in Australia, a native American in North Dakota, or an Igbo man in Enugu, one thing that we all share is our ability to vocally respond to our environment with dexterity, creativity, and originality; the ability to speak in ways never before conceived by any other person. The ability to speak in one’s mother tongue only intensifies the peculiarity of that experience.

6 February 2015

NOT BEYOND US: MY PERSONAL STORY | Guest Post for World Cancer Day

"A deeply moving survivor's story that shows cancer is truly #NotBeyondUs and that hope, in Akoth's own words, is essential to the will to live." - Editor's note.

Guest Writer: Akoth Otieno

I held my hand under the tap and let a stream of water run on it. I was struggling not to look at myself in the mirror because I was yet to make peace with the woman I was becoming. Underneath the pretty scarf on my head lay a bald no one knew existed. None of my classmates knew about the chemotherapy. I did not know I could get to a point where I literally have to count the number of seconds to my next fake bathroom break so I could cry my frustrations away. I did not know how I was to get past the next hour. I did not know whether I would make it past the day. But I was yet to learn what it meant to surrender. I was yet to learn to fight, yet to know that pain demanded to be felt and that the only way we could soak in joy is if we accepted our pains and learnt to live with them. I was yet to know that my pain could be used to someone’s gain. I was yet to learn that my story was not mine and that I needed more emotional support than I thought.

WE CANNOT STOP; THE STRUGGLE MUST CONTINUE | Guest Post for Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation Day

"Many myths have characterized the justification of female genital mutilation. In this expository article, Barbara walks us through history guiding us to see the consequences of these myths entrenched in improbable reasons and challenges us to rise to the call to end female genital mutilation. " - Editor's note

Guest Writer: Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende

The term Female genital mutilation (FGM) encompasses all procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons and with no health benefits to women and girls. This harmful practice is concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East and with less frequency in other countries around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are over 25 million women and girls who have undergone FGM. This practice is legally prohibited in many countries, and it has been designated a violation of the human rights of girls and women. The health consequences of FGM include bleeding to death, frequent urinary tract infections, loss of sexual pleasure, infertility, complications during childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths. The overall quality of life for women and girls is often compromised due to FGM.