FRANCESCHI: Academics who dont moonlight make more money long-term

Last week’s piece, “Kenyan universities do hardly any research” began with a drawing on justice and equality, and today, this same drawing will end the discussion.

In modern times, justice and equality have been viewed by social systems from two opposing angles.

On the one hand, the twentieth-century Marxist-Leninist systems understood equality as the path to justice. The premise “all men are equal” was misapplied and abused from a purely materialistic communitarian standpoint.

It led to the disenfranchisement of human inventiveness and initiative. The idea may have been noble, but it steered society onto the path of envy, mistrust and hatred.

Sticking out of the crowd became dangerous. The impossibility of enjoying the fruits of one’s labour failed to incentivise industriousness, the search for perfection, the idea of work well done and the eagerness to walk the extra mile.

Social duty and loyalty to the State were simply insufficient to achieve the desired results.

On the other hand, the Capitalist system understood it the other way around, justice as the path to equality. Here too the premise “all men are equal” was misapplied and abused from a practical, consumerist and individualistic standpoint, thus disenfranchising the poor, the ignorant, the handicapped, the not-so-clever or those not shrewd enough.

Taxation was supposed to redress inequality, but it never happened as expected. Many injustices and the deepening of a selfish and egocentric society led to the widening of the already huge financial and sentimental rift between the rich and the poor.

While one system demolished innovation, the other isolated it from the vast majority. While the Communist system produced the boxes and gave each person one box, the Capitalist system told everyone to work hard and make their own boxes.
The Communist system also said that anyone who had an extra box should give it to someone else so that everyone in society would have one equal box. For them, this was justice.

The Capitalist system said that if you were a short person, and you wanted to watch the game, you would need to work twice as hard to get the extra box; nobody would give it to you for free.

Modern societies looked down upon the principle of subsidiarity. Yet, a huge part of the solution was enshrined in this principle. Last week’s drawing was a drawing on subsidiarity.

Subsidiarity says that the State should not do or take over whatever the citizenry can achieve with their own hands. The State should only manage and support what the citizenry cannot achieve by themselves.

Subsidiarity is also an essential principle if we are to foster research in our universities. Like in society, some experts have a very communist vision of how our universities should function.

They seek absolute equality. They treat our scholars like Harvard treats theirs. Other people have a very capitalistic view and they advocate for free market forces which will make a natural selection of who is good and who isn’t.

‘INBREEDING AND GENETIC PATRONAGE’

A good friend of mine, himself an outstanding scholar at a public university in Nairobi, said that lack of research had “nothing” to do with more than one job or moonlighting. For him, the main reason is that we get the wrong people into the university through inbreeding and genetic patronage, which ensures no creativity; people simply employ relatives and friends. He suggests that all dons should be vetted like the police.

Another writer utterly clashed with this approach. He said money was the root cause, period. Harvard’s endowment at US$36.4 billion is bigger than most publicly listed corporations. Many universities in the US and Europe also get large research grants from their governments.

A third academic argues that the problem is rooted in, and maintained by, a circle of sycophants who will shield each other’s faults. He adds that just like in politics, our safety is guaranteed for as long as long “our own man” is the chair of the department or faculty. This is how deep-seated bigotry in leadership has transformed universities into political havens.

Social problems are always rooted in a combination of factors. I believe our lack of research is a social problem. It is complex, and this is why I wanted to continue this discussion for another week.

The lack of research in some of our universities starts as tribal, then degenerates into intellectual and completes the cycle as financial.

THE FIRST TEN YEARS

Equality is flouted when the hiring criterion is subjective and tribal: this person is good but he or she belongs to the wrong tribe.

Justice is offended when a person without due intellectual demeanour and standards is hired and then retained in a university.

According to Dominic Burbidge, an Oxford PhD graduate, research fellow at Strathmore and currently doing post doctoral studies at Princeton University, academics in Kenya also do not realise that if they invested the first ten years of their career into research alongside having only one full-time job, they would also be financially far better off in the long-term.

Burbidge says that foreign universities are crying out for Africa-based academics with two papers published in highly rated peer-reviewed journals, both for prospective appointments and collaborative research projects. Looking across the whole of Kenya, he says, “I’ve not yet found someone who fulfils that research requirement”.

Perhaps Dominic is referring to his specific area of research. In any case, he has hit the nail on the head. The key is to spend ten years of no moonlighting and no multiple full-time jobs, ten years of financial sacrifice and focused academic growth. Universities have largely been turning a blind eye and are being too complacent on this.

If academics stay focused, work hard, publish and influence policy-making, then governments and universities will have no choice but to offer greater support to them. It is a combined effort.

UNJUST TO STUDENTS

Universities have to apply the rules and be more demanding.  Lecturers need to stay focused, shun moonlighting and be ready to sacrifice their financial growth during this productive period, where they grow on the inside.

I am writing this from Cornell University in Ithaca. I have spent a few days at several prestigious law schools in New York, Washington, Chicago and Austin.

Apart from the work that brought me here, I have observed and exchanged experiences that could help to foster knowledge exchange and improve the quality of our local research. Serious scholars do not moonlight.

Those ten years of dedicated and focused scholarly work will yield fruit and push the government and universities to give greater support to research. If you are not sure about this, just don’t join academia. That would be unjust towards the country, the institution and students.

In Kenya we have the brains, we have the talent, and we can recreate Harvard, Cornell, Stanford and MIT. It is a matter of time, but for this to happen we need to organise ourselves and dedicate those first ten years of academic life to hard and focused academic work, without expecting immediate financial results.

Otherwise, we would be crying for equality while forgetting about justice. We would be crying for an extra box without really wanting to watch the game.

Dr Franceschi is the dean of Strathmore Law School. Lfranceschi@strathmore.edu, Twitter: @lgfranceschi

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Life harshest realities

Life’s harshest realities are that time moves forward, and good things often come to an end. Summer turns to fall, childhood turns to old age, love turns to loss. It is often hard to accept that our daily lives will not always be routine, that they will be rocked by earthquakes that leave fissures on our hearts. We spend so much time planning what our futures ought to look like, that we forget to take these into account.

In my short twenty-one years on this planet, I have experience a multitude of earthquakes, literal and figurative. Luckily, living in Nakuru county has taught me how to navigate life on the fault line.

Heartbreak is a funny thing. It hits you like a sickness, makes you sweat and shake. It takes away your appetite and makes it hard to breathe, yet there is no over the counter product that can take it away. No prescription scrawled in messy doctor’s handwriting can fix it.

I’ve had my heart broken twice. Sadly, it never gets easier. You could have your heart broken a thousand times and it still wouldn’t get easier. It’s simple, losing someone who you thought would stick around forever, or at least for a while, hurts. It just hurts.

First you question whether or not it actually happened. You pinch yourself, splash some cold water on your face, anything to try and wake you up from the nightmare you must be having. You lie on your bed and stare at the ceiling, replaying what happened right down to every minute detail, just trying to find some error, some sign that it couldn’t have happened.

Then it hits you. It may be an hour later, a day later, a week later, but it hits you like a tidal wave. And this is when you must decide whether you sink or swim.

When you sit back and assess your options, sinking will seem like the easiest choice. But only swimming will bring you forward.

The first step in swimming is to accept what has happened. You cannot wallow in the what ifs or why’s. You cannot try to go back and figure out where it all went wrong. And most importantly you cannot question yourself. Do not sit around and wonder why this had to happen to you, do not wonder what you could’ve change about your self to avoid this, do not let yourself hold the responsibility for someone else’s feelings. You cannot control people’s feelings. You cannot make someone stay if they’re already gone. You cannot go back and change the past. But what you can do is change how you let it affect you. This is the hand you’ve been dealt, now choose how you play it.

It sounds cliche, but time really does heal all. Eventually, you will wake up one morning and your heart won’t ache so badly. You’ll get out of bed and realize that breathing isn’t so difficult anymore. As the days go on you will only get better, and one day you will be able to look back on the memories and smile. You’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come.

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How to pick a good fight

People who stay or work together for extended periods cannot avoid some friction and even levels of fighting from time to time.

Yes, there will be times of harmony, peace and coexistence, as is only to be expected.

Yet the converse is also inevitable. There will be conflict, disagreement and even negative and sometimes confrontational engagement.

Such is the nature of society, throughout history, everywhere.

We fight for good reasons and for bad reasons, too. We fight for the greater good of everyone and even for petty and selfish reasons.

Whatever the drivers, we all fight at one time or the other. Since you will fight at one time or the other, the big question is, “How do you fight?”

I have had more than my fair share of fights with different opponents, in my tour of duty and in life generally.

They have taught me many lessons. You could be a fair and sober fighter. You focus on the goal for the fight. You are willing to cede space, time. You make concessions without comprising the greater reason for the fight.

Alternatively, you could be an egoistic fighter. You are out to hurt, and humiliate others. You are the kind that must win at all costs, even if the greater cause is lost.

You enjoy pyrrhic victories, which is to a victory that inflicts a devastating toll.

You therefore win the battle but lose the war.

OFFICE WARLORD

In all this, it is good to remember that fights do not last forever. People will outlive fights. Some relationships also outlive fights, too.

When entering into a fight, therefore, know why you are getting into it. You should clearly know what the ultimate goal is and what good the fight will do everybody.

A good fight is fought with a minimum of emotional outpouring and low venom. It is common to hear people swearing how they are going to make a fight nasty. This may include bringing in unnecessary issues. We all have testimonies of such incidents.

Ego driven

When you examine some lost fights critically, you will see that they were lost even before they began. The reason is simple — they were ego driven. They did not focus on greater issues or goals.

If you must fight, do not allow yourself to be drawn into it simply because of your ego. If you fight because of your ego, you risk becoming a warlord.

This is particularly if you occupy a senior position. You even risk fighting for petty causes such as honorifics and precedence. How do people address you?

Where do you sit? Who was introduced first? Who shook hands with whom before shaking with the other? Did someone acknowledge what you said or not? You will become a bundle of nerves.

If you must fight, remember that you will take some body blows. Indeed, you may not always win. Yet victory is elusive.

It sometimes arrives when you least expect it, dressed up in least expected guises. It may take you time to realise that you actually won. This is because you did not clearly define what you were fighting for.

TOMORROW’S ALLY

You did not, therefore, even realise when the moment to stop fighting came. This is dangerous, for you could end up carrying the fight to the wrong opponents.

You must know who the opponent is and why. Don’t go around suspecting everybody to be in the enemy camp and drawing them into your fights with others.

Remember, too, that some of the opponents today might be your allies tomorrow.

Today’s fight is not, therefore, necessarily the last fight. Go for your opponent with some level of decorum.

It does not do you much good to win today’s fight and lose future allies because of the ugly manner in which you fought a previous fight.

Fights are part of the greater game that is our lives. We live in times when even fighting has rules. People are watching you and making judgement on the fairness of your methods.

Are you hitting below the belt? Are you abusing your position? Remember audience sympathy is always with the underdog. How will you be judged?

Do it with decorum. You never know whom you will need tomorrow.

Daily Nation Sources

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Beautiful things aren’t perfect

It seems strange to write this in a culture obsessed with perfection. But what is stranger perhaps, is that perfection is as much a construction as most other things; a dynamic idea that lives in the collective imagination of a people. Whether it’s bodies or art or rhetoric, or anything you can think of, we collectively negotiate and are in conversation essentially about a standard by which to determine things. And the height of this standard is perfect. But think of anything that you love, anything or anyone you think is beautiful – a painting, a book, a person – is it perfect? Are they perfect? Notwithstanding personal religious beliefs, my answer is always no.

Beauty itself has a standard, a standard that is wrought with biases and prejudice and cultural specifications and implications. Despite knowing that our understanding of beauty is limited not only because of our humanity, but because of the diverse ways in which we are socialized, we still have this yearning for reaching this standard of perfection in the things and the people we consider beautiful. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to others? Why do we claim to want something futile and unattainable?

Perhaps if you believe as I do that there is a Creator and the Creator is perfect, and so our soul might have a predisposition to seek out perfection. But even within these theological constructs, it would be misguided to look for that perfection in ordinary beings, that I might encounter in a Supreme Being. After all, the world is fallen and if we take that for granted, then everything contains something good and beautiful. But also something tainted with the consequence of imperfection in a fallen world.

I often wonder how many people go to bed at night feeling so inadequate about who they are – from the features on their face, to the curves on their bodies; from head to spirit to soul to toe. I wonder about this because I find that all of us are so critical of ourselves, and not in way that is particularly beneficial. If you take perhaps half a day to listen to how you talk about yourself, you will realize that it’s incredibly suffocating much of the time. You are suffocating yourself in your expectations of perfection.

And of course these endless critiques are not limited to the person we see in the mirror. We transfer them to those around us, and we are often harsher than necessary. It makes sense. How can you be kind to others when you are not kind to yourself? We inflict upon each other these near impossible standards and expectations, and we are all founding wanting because of it. Ironically, it demonstrates further how we are creatures of imperfection.

Perhaps then it is in the brokenness of the things that make up our lives, that we ought to really search for beauty. Perhaps that is the only way to really find it, and to find often. Moreover, I am not sure a single perfect thing exists on this earth; I think that our constructions deceive us and limit us even more than we are already, in this state of being. I think it is better to still find beauty in the cruel, shameful, and ugly parts of life. I think that sort of beauty is resilient and mysterious and spectacular; and above all, honest. I think that sort of beauty lasts forever.

Beautiful things aren’t perfect.

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My Parents’s Love turned me wild

My parents have always been, and I pray will always be, wildly supportive of my ambitions and dreams. They’ve supplied me with all the tools I’ll ever need to bring my goals to fruition: they never said “no” to anything that would teach me, academically or in a life sense. I went to a great school; I had the best holiday experiences. I was always encouraged and rarely inhibited.

I really cannot, and should not, complain. Now I could be the drama queen that I am and say that being showered with their love has set me up for disappointment. I could say that the positive reinforcement I’ve received my whole life has led me down a narcissistic path, but I don’t think I can put that all on my parents and my upbringing. But that is classic me, I guess, going as far as taking credit for even the “nurture” aspect of my narcissism.

It’s not as if my parents have fed me endless compliments and financial aid and are willing to support me forever. They realize that I’m less than a year out of college and it can be a tough and challenging adjustment. Even aside from my crippling nostalgia and desire to live in the past, they still urge me to work for the future. The other day I was on the phone with my parents (we have family phone calls, sue me) and I told them that enough was enough and I was ready to be successful.

My mom responded with: “success doesn’t come overnight,” but that doesn’t sound like anything I would ever say so it’s kind of tough to take it to heart. If success were based on passion, then sure, I’d be successful. I know what I want, and I think about it nonstop. And I am getting there, just slowly. Actually, slowly would be generous. I’m moving at a glacial pace. A glacial pace but pre global warming, back when those glaciers really stood their ground.

I hope I haven’t painted a picture of a lazy guy who lacks ambition and drive, because that is not the case. I do work hard and I do put in the effort. I got the grades . I guess what I’m saying is that I thought it would be easier. Call me naïve, call me sheltered, but I genuinely thought I’d be somewhere by now. The biggest lesson that I’ve learned since graduating from high school is that I’m expendable. Here I am thinking that someone is going to hunt me down and pick me up, because hey, I was told that I was special. The years of being told that I was smart and funny helped me to build up this elaborate story of me in my mind.

In my vision of how my future would pan out, I was going to get “discovered” and taken under the wing of some hot shot comedian or producer, and ushered into the world where I knew I belonged. And I still get lost in that vision all the time; it’s my safe haven and it’s hard to give up. Of course, I know I have to, because as long as I feel safe I know I won’t push myself to my very limits and that is what I need to do. I don’t have a damn clue what that means, obviously, but maybe I’ll figure that out on my own. The future belongs to me, and I need take ownership of it.

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Being A Senior in Campus

Being a senior in college has put a lot into perspective for me. I’m getting ready to enter the real world. I’m gaining more knowledge about life. I’m working to achieve my goals and towards a future career. I’m a responsible young adult with the whole world at my fingertips! And I am lying to myself. I just feel old and wake up everyday wishing to be a young again.

Now you may say “that’s ridiculous! You’re the ripe ‘old’ age of 21!” This is true. At this age, we are in the prime of our lives. Most people my age are in college and many are living away from home. This means they are pictured to society as adults yet can make the decision to eat rice for dinner every night because “Why not? No one is around to tell me no. I’m an adult!”

Yet there are some occurrences going on that make me realize I’m really not a kid anymore and this is a little more than unsettling. I’m not talking about credit card bills that need to be paid. I’m not talking about the fact that I’ll never be the youngest at school again (actually, this is probably a good thing.) I’m talking about the fact that I, and many other people my age, are entering adulthood and turns out, it wasn’t really what we expected. Are we ready to get hit with this thesis paper sized dose of reality? Nope.

I think this all starts out if you go away to college. You think, “Yeah, I am out of the house! I can do whatever I want! No one is here to tell me no!” Don’t be ashamed to admit you thought this, I can admit that I definitely did. This idea lasted a whole two weeks until I ate all the food in my room and was already sick .

Then I got a cold (because who in college isn’t plagued with a nasty-never-getting-rid-of-cough) and called my mom approximately 17 times a day for a week because I didn’t know what medicine to take and if I could mix cough syrup and decongestions. I’d like to think of myself as responsible, but let’s all face it, sometimes, we just don’t know how to take care of ourselves.

As college goes on and you get older, another milestone approaches. The biggest of all birthday celebrations. The one you have been waiting for. The 21st birthday. This marks the start of your real adult life. You can do anything. You can go anywhere. You can… empty out your bank account in less time than you were at the bar(HELB disbursements)

I turned 21 pretty recently and I quickly learned that as fun as it is, no one ever tells you how expensive this life will be. Maybe they don’t want to put a damper on your night. Maybe they don’t want to tell you that it, for the most part, is the end of fun birthday ages. What is there to do now? Nothing, except pretend your 22nd birthday is your 21st again. Happy year anniversary of your 21st birthday! What is there to look forward too after this? 30?!

Now, when I say “I feel old” it’s not because I actually think I’m old. 21 years of life is not a long time.

When all the freshers can go out on a Monday and you’re like “What?! How?! Don’t you people have work to do?!” you feel old. This past year I’ve realized that there is a huge difference between the age of 18 and the age of 21. And that difference is simply being an adult.

When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to grow up. I couldn’t wait to be able to drive, have my own home, and get a real job. Now all I want is to be young again and have no responsibilities, no work to do, no deadlines to meet, and no worries. Even if I can’t transform back into my 10 year old self, I’ll take being a fresher and starting college again, the whole world being at my pre-fresher 15 fingertips. We are all in such a rush to be get older but once we get to that point, we are stuck being adults for the rest of our lives.

Childhood (and freshman year of college) goes fast, and getting older isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The only thing we can do is make the most of it, and work to be the best possible adult version of ourselves we can be. Even if you don’t have it all together like you thought you might at this age, at least you can realize one thing: 21 really isn’t old after all.

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Makes those ordinary moments, extraordinary – The most ordinary things can be made extraordinary, just by doing them with the right people.

Gives that extra push you need – A true friend is someone who will inspire you to be who you always knew you could be. Anyone who helps you make your half-hearted attempts more whole-hearted through kindness, commitment and teamwork, is a keeper.

Tells you the truth – Being honest might not always get you a lot of friends, but it will always get you the right ones. Too often many of us prefer gentle lies to hard truths. But in the end, it’s better to be hurt by the truth than comforted by a lie. True friends always tell each other the truth.

Always talk things out with you – So many problems in the world would disappear if we talked to each other instead of about each other. That is why it is important to always communicate clearly with those close to you, even if it is uncomfortable and uneasy.

They walk the talk – Whenever you can characterize people by their actions, you never have to worry or be fooled by their words. True friends don’t just talk the talk, they walk it out.

When you stumble or fall they encourage you – And you should return the favor whenever you are able too. We all have enough critics in life. Be an encourager. Be a blessing. Be a true friend. Take time to care. Let your words heal and not wound.

Actually wants to be there for you – True friendship is never burdened. What true friends do for each other is done because they care and because they want to do them. Period!

Believes in you – How amazingly far you are willing to go when someone believes in you.

There for you in good and bad times – The people that stick by you at your worst, deserves to enjoy being with you at your best. The best thing about the toughest days of your life is that you get to see who your true friends really are. Those worthy of being a “true friend” are those that help you through hard times, and laugh with you after the hard times passes.

Makes time for you – When you are important to another person they will always find a way to make time for you – no excuses, no lies and never too busy.

They understand you – It is so much easier to judge people than to understand them; understanding takes extra kindness and patience. That “extra” is always worth it.

They never get in the way of other important parts of your life – Healthy relationships never require you to sacrifice your happiness, your other important relationships, your dreams, or your dignity.

Makes you feel comfortable in your own skin – True friends makes you and everyone they come across feel perfectly OK and comfortable with being exactly who they are.

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