Friday, December 6, 2013

A tribute to Nelson Mandela - a fighter against injustice who happened to become President

Today, the world continues to mourn the loss of one of the greatest men to walk the Earth - Nelson Mandela (died 05 December 2013).

The best time to evaluate a man is after his death, as he can no longer make worldly mistakes that may undo his positive image.

As Calvin Coolidge once said, "No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave". This is benefitting for Nelson Mandela. He went through temptations to test his courage, to test his strength of character, hoping to discover his breaking point - his price tag. But, they never succeeded in finding his price. "Every man has a price, but some are far more expensive than others". In Mandela's case, it has been difficult to find his price. As Arch. Bishop Tutu puts it, "he was always perfect". He made mistakes, as he is human, but his impact on people's lives makes his mistakes look like a drop of water in a bucket full.

He stood for what he believed in and fought for it, by any means necessary. At the height of the struggle to dismantle apartheid, he was different things to different people. He was a freedom fighter for some, a rebel for others, and a terrorist for some. However, he did not allow the noise of the market to distract him. He knew what he wanted and constantly reminded himself about his mission - his life's purpose.

Mandela dreamt of equality. However, equality is an elusive dream. There will always be inequality as we are all created different. What we humans should aim for is to reduce the inequality gap. The inequality gap has led us humans into all sorts of problems, manifesting itself in discrimination. Yes, the real crime is DISCRIMINATION. We face discrimination everyday - based on race, gender, social status, nationality, physical abilities and many others.

Mandela, and people like him, has given us hope. They have contributed in their own way to reduce the inequality distance by dismantling the apartheid (racial discrimination). It's now up to us to keep the momentum and address the other inequalities that we face in our daily lives.

Africa as a continent, and we Africans should take this as an opportunity to unite and stop our own discrimination. As a first step, why should Africans need visas to travel in African countries?

Let us not allow the dream to die with the man.

My heartfelt sympathy to the Mandela family and those whose lives he touched and continue to inspire.

May his soul and the souls of those before him who fought against injustice rest in peace.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Exploring the Impact of the Internet of Things - IEEE - The Institute

Exploring the Impact of the Internet of Things

A new IEEE group is taking on the quest to connect everything

 7 October 2013

Image: iStockphoto
The “next big thing” is the Internet of Things, a world of networked devices equipped with sensors and radio-frequency identification aimed at interconnecting all things electronic to make them more intelligent and programmable. About 50 billion machines and devices could be linked by 2020, according to Cisco Systems, a leader in the IoT movement. Such smart devices are already being used, for example, to check soil moisture in vineyards, control the carbon emission of factories, alert drivers to traffic jams, and monitor patients’ blood pressure—all without human intervention. But people will have a major role to play as they generate and use the data coming from these myriad devices.

Exploring the Impact of the Internet of Things - IEEE - The Institute

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Back to school (Wednesday 14 August)

The 2013 / 2014 school year has started and they're back!

No more late night movies during the week,
No more waking up late,
No more late breakfasts,

stuff staying longer in the fridge these days :-)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Common sense tips on strengthening relationships

Common sense tips on strengthening relationships (in marriage and in friendship)

Relationships need to be nurtured. Often, we take for granted that relationship is like a beautiful flower. If left unattended, it will wither and die. We often admire its beauty but fail to realise that the beauty needs to be be maintained if it has to remain to be admired.

There are simple things that we take for granted, simple words that we say or fail to say that can either nurture or starve relationships. When you care about someone, you need to pay attention to what you to that person and how it is said. The deeper someone cares about you the more significant is the impact of the spoken words.

Some simple (two and three letter) words and how much they can mean when said with sincerity.

Commitment: "I love you"

These three words are very powerful. When you love someone, do not hesitate to tell them that you love them. In fact, do not be afraid to tell the world! There are no words so uplifting as these words when spoken to someone who really cares about you. It is a reaffirmation of commitment to that person. It can only lead to stronger bonds and deeper commitment in a relationship. Say them as often as you can.

Caring: "I am sorry"

There are times when you may hurt someone who loves you without you comprehending why they should feel hurt. It is very important to observe how that person reacts to the incident, bearing in mind that it is not what happened that is important, but the way the person reacted to it; the way the person feels about it. If you realise that the person is hurt, even though you may feel that it is unjustified, it is important to acknowledge the hurt and say the magic words - "I am sorry". Letting someone know that you genuinely care about how they feel about something is a very positive thing in strengthening relationships. Do not be shy or reluctant to say that you're truly sorry. The benefits far outweigh the negative consequences. Say them whenever necessary.

Appreciation: "Thank you"

These two words are very powerful in expressing your appreciation of someone who cares about you. Whenever someone gives, no matter how small, remember that that person is making a sacrifice. When people make sacrifices they expect to be rewarded. The best reward is to appreciate their effort. So, never forget to say thank you no matter how small the effort may seem in your eyes.

Editor's note: These tips are coming from a non-expert in the field of psychology, human sociology or the behavioural sciences. They are purely based on observations and experiences.

Purpose of Life - Life Purpose and Life Intentions

Life Purpose and Life Intentions
Ideas on How to Find What the Purpose of Life is For You

What is the purpose of life for you? Finding and clarifying your life purpose and core life intentions can help you to move with greater focus and clarity every day of your life. Especially in these challenging times, setting clear intentions and developing and refining our life purpose can make it much easier to navigate stormy waters.
There are many ways to both find and develop your life purpose and intentions. Below are a number of useful resources to help you on this path of discovery. This information is provided to inspire you to be all that you can be and to lead an ever richer, fuller life.
A great way to start exploring your life purpose and intentions is to stop for a moment and ask yourself these two key questions:
What is most important to me in my life? 
What are my deepest values and beliefs?
Give yourself time to explore these important questions and notice what touches and inspires you most deeply. Write down any answers or thoughts that come to you as you ponder these questions. Then use what you've written as a basis upon which to craft your life purpose and intentions. Consider also inviting divine guidance and your own inner wisdom to help you with this.

Read the rest of the article here -->


Editor's note: My life's purpose is to achieve happiness through the happiness of others.

There is no greater feeling of self-fulfilment than to make others happy.

Happiness is selflessness - giving without expecting anything in return.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Segway test drive at WFP's warehouse

WFP's warehousing complex in Dodoma, Tanzania, boasts of storage facilities extending close to 1km. The Segway makes it easier for the warehouse staff to shuttle back and forth between storage tents during loading and unloading operations in the warehouses.

I took my first test drive on this exciting two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered electric vehicle. It is indeed a green and fun way of getting around in the heat and getting stuff done.

The Customer Service Equation: Aim for customer delight!

The Customer Service equation

If you are in the customer service business, then you should be aware of these three equations:

  1. Customer frustration  : Service Delivery < Customer Expectation
  2. Customer satisfaction: Service Delivery = Customer Expectation
  3. Customer delight       : Service Delivery > Customer Expectation

  • Customers get frustrated when you promise more than what you can deliver. So, do not over-promise.
  • Customers are generally satisfied when you deliver what you had promised. But, you are only doing what is expected of you - nothing exciting.
  • However, customers are delighted when you deliver beyond what they were expecting.

Aim for Customer delight!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day Papa!

Some Father's Day wishes...


Have a wonderful father's day Papa. I wish you all the best

  • Participative
  • Amazing
  • Pleasing
  • Active

Happy Father's Day Dad
A wonderful poem written by the heart and soul
We love you we say as the plants just sway
Papa I want you to know you make my day


  • Papa we love you
  • Amazing
  • Perfectionist
  • Affectionate

I hope you have an amazing time today!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Moving up - the boys getting older...

Congratulations to our boys!

Razzaq graduates from Elementary School to Middle School.

Bella has graduated from Middle School to High School.

Some more photos here

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Inspirational leadership: Caring is contagious

    I find this quote from Richard Branson very inspirational and I cannot resist the urge to comment and share it on my blog.

    It is one of the best comments on employer / employee relationship that I've come across, that cuts across public, private and the not-for-profit / NGO sectors.

    If you treat your staff well, they will treat your customers well. It's as simple as that.

    Your customers could be paying customers / receivers of service (in the private sector), citizens (in the public sector) and beneficiaries (in the NGO / humanitarian world). It doesn't matter who your customers are, but if you want your staff to care about them, you have to care about your staff. If you treat them right and you make them feel appreciated and cared for, they will pass it on to the people that they serve.

    Caring is contagious!

    Human Development Index in 2013 Report shows major gains since 2000 in most countries of South | UNDP

    14 March 2013 (UNDP)

    Additional updated indices in 2013 Human Development Report measure gender equity, extreme poverty, and HDI inequalities  

    Mexico City — Norway, Australia and the United States lead the rankings of 187 countries and territories in the latest Human Development Index (HDI), while conflict-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo and drought-stricken Niger have the lowest scores in the HDI’s measurement of national achievement in health, education and income, published today in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2013 Human Development Report.

    Yet Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, despite their continuing development challenges, are among the countries that made the greatest strides in HDI improvement since 2000, the Report shows. The new HDI figures show consistent human development improvement in most countries.

    “Over the past decades, countries across the world have been converging towards higher levels of human development, as shown by the Human Development Index,” says the 2013 Report. “All groups and regions have seen notable improvement in all HDI components, with faster progress in low and medium HDI countries. On this basis, the world is becoming less unequal.”

    Fourteen countries recorded impressive HDI gains of more than 2 percent annually since 2000—in order of improvement, they are: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Angola, Timor-Leste, Myanmar, Tanzania, Liberia, Burundi, Mali, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Niger. Most are low-HDI African countries, with many emerging from long periods of armed conflict. Yet all have made significant recent progress in school attendance, life expectancy and per capita income growth, the data shows. 

    Read the full article here -->
    Human Development Index in 2013 Report shows major gains since 2000 in most countries of South | UNDP

    Friday, March 8, 2013

    International Women's Day 2013


    Russia Today - IWD
    This video was kindly provided byRussia Today
    IWD 100 years
    International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
    Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.
    In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
    n 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named a Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women's Day was the result.
    Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women's Day (IWD) was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on 25 March, the tragic 'Triangle Fire' in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women's Day events. 1911 also saw women's 'Bread and Roses' campaign.
    On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Wommen's Day ever since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women's solidarity.
    On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for "bread and peace" in response to the death over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. Opposed by political leaders the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women's strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.
    1918 - 1999
    Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women's rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as 'International Women's Year' by the United Nations. Women's organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women's advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.
    2000 and beyond
    IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
    The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
    However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.
    GoogleAnnually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.
    Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on 8 March search engine and media giant Google some years even changes its logo on its global search pages. Year on year IWD is certainly increasing in status. The United States even designates the whole month of March as 'Women's History Month'.
    So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.

    International Women's Day 2013

    Friday, February 22, 2013

    Coursera and edX add universities and hope to expand global reach | Inside Higher Ed

    Coursera and edX add universities and hope to expand global reach | Inside Higher Ed

    I see great potential here for developing countries to achieve the high level of education required to compete in today's global market, but at a fraction of the cost of sitting in world-class university classrooms.

    Friday, February 8, 2013

    Immigration entry / exit forms now a thing of the past in Abidjan airport

    I just travelled through Abidjan airport and I noticed an interesting development. You no longer need to fill in entry / exit forms at Immigration. They simply scan your passport, scan your fingers and take your photo - the usual stuff. What else do you need?

    I just popped over in Accra and the usual forms...

    I'm amazed at why these forms are needed when all the information that's required are already available on the passport. The only additional information (on the form) is the purpose of visit and accommodation details. What relevance is this info anyway? Who's going to check if the hotel you indicated is the one that you're staying at? Most times they simply want you to enter an address, and that's it. No real interest in checking. So, what's the point?

    The people who suffer the most are the illiterate travellers who are subjected to the inconvenience of finding someone to complete their forms. I see no real positive value in this old-fashioned practice, especially in a continent with high levels of illiteracy. May be someone can educate me here...

    Sunday, February 3, 2013

    10 Observations on Technology in Africa from Eric Schmidt of GoogleICT Works | ICT Works

    After a week of business meetings in the cities of sub-Saharan Africa, Eric Schmidt posted a detailed list of observations. As he used to run Google and is still on their board, I’ll give him a bit more credit than others who might want to opine after a week’s exposure to the continent’s dynamism.
    Eric starts with 3 positive major trends:
    1. the despotic leadership in Africa from the 1970s and 1980 is in decline, replaced by younger and more democratic leaders
    2. a huge youth demographic boom is underway, with a majority of the population of 25, or even under 20
    3. mobile phones are everywhere, and the Internet in Africa will be primarily a mobile one
    And then he lists 10 observations that many of us already see, but its great to have validation from a global business leader:

    10 Observations on Technology in Africa from Eric Schmidt of GoogleICT Works | ICT Works

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