As Kenyans recover from the aftermath of the election, what to write that may relieve the tension and yet seem relevant to the well-being of the country? There is no easy answer. By a bizarre coincidence, however, only a day before the election, my attention had been drawn to a piece in the Los Angeles Times, datelined 7 August, under the banner headline ‘China has conquered Kenya: Inside Beijing`s new strategy to win African hearts and minds’, which I found intriguing. It was described as ‘the second in a series of reports on a massive program of Chinese investment ... reshaping Africa’. The first, three days earlier, had featured another Chinese project: the new 470 mile electrified cross-border rail network linking Ethiopia and Djibouti.
From 12th to 14th August this year, Kenya’s Asian Foundation organised Stawisha Maisha – Support Lives - the first exhibition of its kind dedicated to philanthropy, an activity in which the South Asian community has always been actively engaged. I was invited by the Foundation’s chairman, Dr Chandu Sheth, to join him for a breakfast meeting to discuss my possible participation. So it was that I agreed to moderate a panel discussion about the merits and demerits of the philanthropic agenda. In a follow-up meeting at the office of the Asian Foundation, in Westlands, Nairobi, I was also primed to narrate a 20 minute documentary film on South Asian philanthropy.