Wanted: Parttime CMO

An innovative startup within Kenya’s banking compliance technology space is looking to hire a parttime Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to head up their Sales and Marketing unit.

The CMO will report directly to the CEO and will be responsible for the following deliverables:

Meeting enterprise fintech sales targets within Kenya

Developing a lead pipeline and sales process

Determining marketing strategies, channels and sales operations for the company in its desired markets

Interfacing with the technology team to ensure clients and products are kept ahead of the technology curve.

The desired candidate should possess the following skills and requirements:

Demonstrable ability in closing enterprise technology sales in East Africa

An undergraduate degree in either commerce, computer science or IT-related fields. Further certification within marketing would be an added advantage.

Experience in either financial technology sales or banking technology sales

A general understanding of banking systems and processes

An understanding of regulatory and compliance requirements would be an added advantage

An unhealthy disregard for the status quo and the big boys such as Oracle and SAS.

Applicants should send their cv’s to david.marete@ujuzicompliance.com by the 1st of September 2016. The cv’s should be accompanied by a go-to-market strategy containing action points for immediate execution within their first hundred days.

The Return of the King (James)

The human psyche is hard-wired for the legend of lost kings roaming in forgotten nothingness and then returning to reclaim their throne from a big bad wolf and establishing law, order and justice. It is the stuff of myth and legend. It is meaning, it is the cosmos… It is the story of lost humanity seeking salvation and receiving redemption. That legendary, mythical, meaningful, je ne sais quoi is the central allure of the Bible, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the animation classic The Lion King among other cultural greats.

In one modern example of this drama we have LeBron James looking to reclaim his status as the undisputed king of basketball. The plot-twist is that the big bad wolf, arch-rival and nemesis in this case is one diminutive (by NBA standards) Stephen Curry who has stormed into the NBA and broken an un-written rule that the NBA is supposed to be a physical game. Steph Curry pranced onto the NBA big-stage wearing Under-Armour sneakers and shooting 3-pointers like tomorrow was never going to come. This coupled up with his legendary ball-handling skills had fans arriving for Golden-State-Warriors-games hours early just to watch Steph practise, not even play.

At a deeper level, Steph Curry’s meteoric rise represents a dilemma that basketball and sports in general face in this new era of ADHD audiences. With youngsters spending more time on their phones, Nintendo wii’s and playstations than out climbing trees or playing with a ball (whatever type it may be), drawing kids onto the basketball court is ever more necessary to get children interested in the game. The attendant marketing and influence of NBA was at risk of being gobbled up by digital games and Snapchat. Now a child watching 6-foot 8′ LeBron dominating opponents on the court will despair of ever attaining that size or skillset. On the other hand, Steph weighs in at a much more attainable 6-foot 3′ but has a skill set that can be acquired and makes a big difference on the court. On that basis that same despairing child is more likely to get out and play the game. As a result he is likely to follow the NBA and in this manner, the NBA maintains its influence and relevance to the next generation.

That being said, in the basketball universe you can tell a person’s age by which great player they favour. The oldest I know prefer Michael Jordan, he of the Chicago Bulls 23 vest and whose shoe brand still outweighs many clothing lines. MJ is Obama’s favourite as can be evidenced by his Medal of Freedom award. After MJ came Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers who flamed out into the night like a comet from the Kuiper belt. Then came LeBron James of Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers. My generation of ball-players know him as King James despite his scant 2 NBA rings. Stephen Curry is the newest contender for king of the ring. By competing for this title Steph is preventing King James from getting his 4-5 rings and thereby interrupting an ongoing coronation.

So those are the stakes being played for in the coming finals matchup between Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. That being said, what you will read below is my take on how it might play out this season. Before we begin it must be noted that the GSW are a team that has been built from the ground-up for shooting from the 3-point perimeter and beyond. The traditional basketball mindset considers this a revolutionary change in philosophy and perspective. And it is, because it totally opens up the floor and makes defense much much harder. The amount of space that needs to be covered requires a much higher expenditure of energy. Towards the end of a game heavy on 3-points players just get exhausted. This is exactly what happened in last year’s final series; after one game LeBron simply collapsed on the floor. This year we may just see the tables being flipped. As has been said by an astute observer before, range can mean everything. Teams not dynamic enough to adapt to this form of play will be caught ‘flat-footed’ like French knights marching into a hail of longbow arrows at Agincourt. The results resound down through history.

 

When Miami Heat vs. Toronto Raptors was at 3-2 in Toronto’s favour, it was statistically improbable for Heat to win the series. The level and intensity of playoff basketball makes it very hard for a team to both claw back to 3-3 and then go on to win 3-4. So by forcing game 7 on the Raptors Dwayne Wade was kind of sending some brotherly love King James’ way. Or might this be wishful thinking?

The way things have been going, Raptors will likely be swept by the Cavs in 4 games. Looking at the quarterly scoreline of Game 2 of Cavs vs Raptors shows that Cavs were able to impose their will on the Raptors. In quarter 1 they got the gas out the Raptors tank. In quarter 2 they built a solid lead. And then in quarters 3 and 4 they practised defense while matching basket for basket, for the most part. As a King James fan it is tempting to think that after the magnitude of the Game 1 win the Cavs toyed with them. So much so that Kyle Lowry had to leave the bench mid-game and go ‘decompress.’ The heat was on and the pressure was just too much. Now in terms of defense, Toronto are rated 4th overall while the Cavs are rated 5th. Golden State Warriors feature in defensive rankings except as the hardest team to make 3’s against. That is to say that GSW are winning their games on the other end of the court, offensively.

Let us return to our first observation, that the level and intensity of playoff basketball makes it harder for a team to win a series once it is down 3-2. By the same logic, it should be harder to win the championship through four 5-game or 6-game series(es). Cavs have been executing flawless victories against all their playoff opponents so far. Remember when GSW won the last final it was because they had tired out a benchless Cavs. Something had to give then and if GSW don’t sweep OKC fast something will have to give this time too.

Meanwhile in the Western Conference, Game 3 of GSW vs. OKC this coming Sunday night is gonna be lit like a rocket. OKC will be nursing a grudge because of Game 2’s scoreline. GSW on the other will be trying their damnedest to impose the natural order of things. It can only be a tussle of wills and skills, and it will likely be a tiring one. As noted by one astute commentator, the only thing that can beat GSW right now is the schedule. When Bucks beat GSW it was a prior double-overtime game which caused 2 injuries. As a by the way, Western Conference teams are generally better than Eastern Conference teams.

So what is different this time?

  1. The Cavs will be rested while GSW will have been tested.
  2. Cavs are shooting as well as GSW from the perimeter. Their current form has broken records for 3-point shooting in the playoffs.
  3. King James is out of the driver’s seat and is now playing as an offensive forward. It takes the offensive load off him while allowing the Cavs to both shoot and drive which makes them a much harder proposition to defend against.

Homo Oeconomicus – Being a Thing

This will arguably be the most conceited post from me yet. (I’m sorry!!) But it has elements of truth in it.

We will be remembered for 2 things, the problems we solve and the problems we create. Perhaps this is why we are so cherished by our parents. We create such headaches for them as little tykes that they come to cherish us. Think about it; no sleep, constant wailing, a rather insistent appetite and complete dependence. We sure created enough problems for them in order for us to become dear to them J

Off course this principle of problem-solving translates into the workplace. Do you create or solve problems for your boss or clients? Or rather, what problems do you create and solve for your bosses and clients? I used to daydream about the day I would sit at an interview table and tell guys “I am this thing that churns out sick code at 120 lines of code per hour. I have X thousands of delivered source-code instructions under my belt. This code machine also smiles and likes a bit of music after hours. But its core functionality is to code.”

So that aside, everyone has their skill, talent, gifting. Some are musicians, artists, leaders, engineers, designers, financiers and so forth. For some people, they can sell ice to an eskimo. The question they have to answer therefore is what will they sell? Some choose to sell Dante’s Inferno! Some are political operatives, do they go left, right or balance the middle?

The point here is, the sooner you come to the realisation of exactly what your competitive advantage is, the better for all of us. Some realise this gifting after marriage, while others realise it before marriage. For some who realise it before marriage they become eligible. They operate from their area of strength and the market recognises this in them, rewarding them accordingly.

So anyway, the main slant of this article is about eligibility and its effect on certain areas of life. This is not to claim eligibility in any way by the way. Eligibility can also be a pure function of scarcity. (Sad but true in this day of the boy child.)

That being said, society has a rather mistaken view that being an eligible bachelor is fun. It is not. It means that you are different in certain, shall we say, fundamental ways. You become a thing in the one area where you would prefer to be human. You run the risk of getting your wants and needs developed on the run rather than pre-packaged. It sometimes makes you wonder what a given person-of-the-opposite-gender’s motive is in certain contexts. It makes you approach many interactions from the point of view of “I hope we can have a normal interaction.” Being a thing is not easy, but from experience on both sides of the tracks it’s better to have such problems than problems stemming from ineligibility. The problem is more pronounced if you want to do right by the people in your life. In short, eligibility changes the dating game fundamentally.

At the heart of the matter is that eligibility can change the way people around you behave. What this dynamic does is to change who he/she is to suit his/her understanding of who you are and what you want. As a result it strait-jackets your interactions together into certain very well defined pathways. Breaking out of these scripts and pathways becomes an art form. This creates a superficial and unnatural relationship in which best points are fronted while bad points are hidden. The basic premises of compatibility and inter-personal understanding may not be dealt with at all! As a result the foundation of the relationship starts off ‘broken’ so the pieces remain to be picked up after the nuptials. That is when the real work in the relationship begins. Sometimes men wonder why she changed after the wedding. What happened is that she changed before the wedding and no longer needs to keep up pretences!

One of the tenets of male spouse-searching is this concept of ‘growing together’. Past 27 either certain particular dynamics kick in or the girls just want to see the material expression of your dreams. It’s just that much harder to grow together. Either way you are at checkmate bro.

My understanding of growing together means that you can be a boy with her and the girl in her is capable of relating to that side of you. Most importantly you as the dude are simultaneously and privately working on the man who will provide for her and her family, your family together. You should kind of be like the duck that appears smooth and unruffled above water while paddling furiously beneath the water. Don’t get me wrong on this, a man plays a crucial socio-economic function in his family. Emotional support and all that stuff IMO lasts only briefly. At the end of the day the man has to bring home the bread and the bacon! Absent this a family becomes dysfunctional in rather unpleasant ways.

For this reason, cot-napping or cradle-snatching increasingly becomes a viable option. A girl at 24 years feels absolutely no pressure to settle down. As a matter of fact, if the two of you settle down at that age you as the man will be denying her the chance to see the world on her own terms and come to appreciate certain things for herself. More specifically this is the opportunity for her to learn what’s what, who’s who and what is up for herself. By the time she begins to feel the urge to merge, my friend, you are the finished product. Voila! An additional advantage is that by the time you are both ready, you have sufficient relational history to make a serious decision on whether to proceed or not.

Many people think that once you are through with campus then the next goal is to settle down and start a family. A lot of things in me scream out that this assumption is wrong. The other day I was in a deli picking at a plate of fries. At the table next to me some 2 campus students, girls, were discussing an assignment that their lecturer had given them. They were supposed to describe their philosophy of life in an essay. They didn’t know where to start. So I intruded in on the conversation and told them to relax. They would know in the next 5 years or so. It has been said in some quarters that at 25 you know what you want and then at 30 you know what you don’t want. So this is why I think that settling down immediately after campus may not be the wisest of things to do.

This has been especially true for me. Over the course of those 5 years I have learnt to operate from different angles of society. But I much prefer my current niche to mainstream alternatives. Granted it could force me to cot-nap and cradle-snatch, but at least I know my wife would respect me and would not be second guessing my thoughts and actions. This is not to say that I would not value her opinions. On the contrary, they are likely to be fresher, more lively, richer in spirit than those of mtu amekula chumvi kama mimi J It can be easier to be cynical than otherwise.

Yeah so there you have it folks, the tragedy of the commons in present day Nairobi!

Dimensions

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Early in the year I was trying to work out a problem which I have been experiencing in a project I have been involved in. Off course in typical human fashion I decided to try and figure it out for myself before handing it over to God. So I got to thinking about final and lasting outcomes. You know, the kind of outcomes that come with God’s stamp of authority. Sealed and approved so to speak. So there were several possible outcomes for each of the participants involved which I plotted into some kind of 2-d matrix.

Good                     Bad

Participant 1

Participant 2

Participant 3

Participant 4

Me

 

As you can see, there are very many possible table outcomes and each has its own implications for each and every player. Thinking about each possible table outcome quickly became tedious. I felt as though each table outcome was a dimension in itself. Off course it might be a lot simpler to reduce everything to first causes and consider the likelihoods of good and bad outcomes for each player based on a priori knowledge. But sometimes you get to a point where you are splitting hairs and any analytical edge you get is a boon.

Which brings us back to our verse in the above text. As the heavens are above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Remember that this was Isaiah, he of the famed words, “Come let us reason together.” He was the first prophet in Israel’s age of reason.

I wish to take the license of interpreting “ways” as “dimensions”. A dimension is defined by the minimum number of references required to identify a point in it. So for example on a line you could state the line at point 5. A line is one dimensional. A graph is 2D hence you get x is 5 and y is 5. Then there is the z-axis of depth which gives rise to 3D items. Every tangible object in this world is 3d. This we already know.

Progression from here is what makes for interesting hypothesis. The 4th dimension is said to be time; which is where things get interesting. For example, you like a particular joke by Trevor Noah. (Interesting comedian by the way, check him out.) You will reference it as a particular youtube video at minute 5 and 30 seconds. That is the dimension of time. In this manner life could be said to be consciousness existing within the dimension of time. (So assuming that life is consciousness, why would anyone want to get high???) That is quite literally wasting life. Anyway be that as it may, I suspect a lot of the appeal of facebook, youtube, vine etc is their ability to freeze time (from a strictly logical perspective that is).

Someone described eternity as being similar to watching a presidential procession from various viewpoints. You could be out on the corner, or round the corner, or you could be watching from a chopper in the sky. The same thing is happening, but the different viewpoints give very very different experiences of the same drama. One person will be seeing outriders approaching while, another is seeing the president in front of him/her waving at the crowd, while yet another person is watching the receding number plates of the last cars in the convoy. Remember that this is only one dimension, the dimension of time.

Hypothetically time could also have 3 dimensions, like height, depth and width. Extending this thinking, a lateral transfer of time would be the equivalent of seeing the same event through somebody else’s eyes. There is a sense in which time and space are interchangeable. For example the phrase “but Philip was found at Azotus” is a kind of lateral transfer of time and space. Moves on the z-axis of time would be akin to past and future. Retrogression on the z-axis would be to re-experience an event in the past. Progression of the z-axis would be to have precognition of events, much like prophets, seers and these ‘waganga hodari’ who cure wasiwasi. Perhaps the y-axis would be to experience an event or concept through the eyes of a group of people. I will not claim to understand this. These are just theories.

The physics required for this kind of ‘lateral transfer’ which Philip experienced is interesting. They say that time is a function of proximity with a body with gravity. So for example we here on earth are travelling at x kph experiencing a normal day. A satelite above us is traveling at possibly twice or three times the speed of x just to stay stationary above a given point in order to experience the same day. By the same token, a speck of gas or unmeltable gas right next to the sun has time completely slowed down for it. It remains at day x of the year all through its existence unless it finds a way of orbiting around the sun. However its rate of change of time is a lot slower than a speck of gas on earth orbiting the sun.

Bringing these principles down to ordinary human existence, including Darwinian selection, human survival and standard interpersonal conflict, it is relatively easy to use space to one’s advantage. It is standard military doctrine to choose your battlefields wisely. Any halfwit general learns that in history 101. Do not take cavalry to fight in a swamp. You do not place archers on a plain if a hill can be found. The Battle of Tours was won because of choice of terrain. Cannae I believe was also won by Hannibal based on his choice of terrain.

The most stunning victories however use time as a weapon. For starters the choice of time for conflict is also interesting. Certain times will be favourable while others will not. For example, the reason that media houses capitulated over the digital switchover is because time was on the government’s side. The govt didn’t need to do anything while the media had bills and salaries to pay, monthly. Think Mandela’s 27 years on Robben Island. Think of the Duke of Wellington holing up in Portugal for winter. Think of the Vietcong losing heavily in battles of attrition but ultimately winning the war of public opinion. In Game of Thrones, Tywin Lannister lost every battle against Robb Stark then won the war. In the Godfather, Don Corleone lays low like an envelope while bringing Michael back from Sicily. The most stunning victories use time as a weapon.

Gary Kasparov, the chess Grand Master is a firm believer of preferring “time” (in the form of preserving options and using time as a weapon) over “material” (in the form of particular chess pieces) not only in the game of chess, but in the game of life as well. The thing about time is that it plays on the nature of the combatants. The use of time therefore becomes some kind of jujitsu play. It uses the opponent’s mass/strength/nature/momentum against himself.

But enough about conflict. Quantum theory tells us that the universes, and all that are in them exist in terms of 10 strings, with each string being a different dimension. Some theories postulate that there are 33 strings. So imagine that, we here meddle in the 4th dimension with our Vine videos and Youtube clips. God is operating a minimum of 6 dimensions higher than us.

Isaiah 55 is also the portion of scripture which tells us that God’s word does not return to Him void. If we take this scripture and match it up against John 1:1, then when Jesus was telling the disciples “I go back to my Father,” it was the full loop happening in real time. One interesting aspect to this is that whenever a lineage was identified as being the line through which the Messiah would appear, there was warfare against this line. Remember Athaliah and Josiah, the Israelites in Egypt around Moses birth, Herod’s activity during Jesus birth. For example, why didn’t Shem’s lineage take up leadership immediately after the flood? Jesus, the Word, arrived. Then He accomplished His purpose and then returned to the Father. He snuck in deep behind enemy lines, saw and conquered! This thought never ceases to amaze me.

His ways are way way above our ways.

 

Spousal Relationships in the Books of Samuel

                                                And unto David were sons born in Hebron…

Nowadays with everyone around me married or in a serious relationship, one cannot help but become attuned to the nuances of spousal relationships in life. So the above verse shall form the text of a basic study on the life of the biblical David viewed through the prism of relationships. Certainly different portions of scripture could have been chosen but you must permit some level of blogtistic latitude here.

The biblical David, hereinafter referred to as our protagonist, was (initially) a shepherd. As a matter of fact, in our protagonist’s final piece of poetry in II Samuel he identifies himself as the sheepcote who God allowed to rule over His people, Israel. Something that is interesting about the above verse is that the sons were born in Hebron. Was it that they had agreed not to have children until things were safe, or that other children had been born but not necessarily sons? The human species is biologically made such that during times of stress such as during war, more girls are born than boys… But we digress. Let us look at his spousal relationships.

Ahinoam and Maacah

The names of these two ladies stand in stark contrast to one another. Ahinoam means ‘brother of pleasantness’. Ahinoam was a Jezreelitess making her a descendant of Judah. This would make Ahinoam arguably one of the wives closer to David in terms of psychological makeup by virtue of tribal customs. Even today Jezreel is a rather fertile valley in the territory of the tribe of Judah. This is also backed up by the story of Naboth. Ahinoam’s son was Amnon and we all know how that story went. If you don’t you should get acquainted with your Bible!

Maacah means ‘depression.’ Maacah is also the name given to a place in Syria and indeed she was of royal Syrian descent. Her father was the king of Geshur. If she lived up to her name then David was a man of varied tastes because these two may have been polar opposites in terms of personality. 🙂 However it cannot be denied that some of the most beautiful women have this sad look about them. Proof of this theory is the fact that Amnon had the hots for Maacah’s daughter, Absalom’s sister. This resulted in his own death. (I think Rehoboam also married Absalom’s daughter.) I will wager that by virtue of the fact that Maacah married David this early in his career, either David performed a military service for her father (what was the motivation?) or the political prospects of the kingdom of Geshur were not that bright in the middle eastern context of its day. This is only conjecture so don’t take it too seriously.

Abigail

The name Abigail means ‘father of joy’. Her story reads a bit like fiction. Around the time of the meeting between David and Abigail, David had been helping to protect the flocks of her husband from roaming bands of thieves presumably in the winter. It is possible that they lived close to the border and were therefore exposed to raiding incursions in this way. The custom was that as a result of such services, when harvest time came round the defence team was permitted to collect some form of payment usually in the form of agricultural produce, whether livestock or grains and the like. However, in this instance when David sent his men to ‘collect’, Abigail’s husband (Nabal) sent a rather stern message to the effect that the services had been freely offered and therefore did not require payment. This so incensed our main protagonist that he determined to do the ‘collection’ himself together with deadly consequences for Nabal. Abigail was warned about this and went to meet him herself.

They say that a gentle word turns away wrath, and that is exactly what Abigail used, besides of course much material and culinary provenance. However one Joel Osteen sermon put it this way. David was tired of running from Saul, tired of being hunted, tired of the whole business. His frustrations had reached boiling point and he was determined to let it be known in the land that he had military clout. Abigail’s basically told him “Look, we know that God has promised you the kingdom, and yes things are not going well for you. But you need not turn on your own people to prove this point. Trust the Lord and he will bring you to your rightful place again.”  Shortly thereafter Nabal died of natural causes and Abigail joined David in the wilderness together with five of her handmaids.

Something that ties Ahinoam, Maacah and Abigail together is that they experienced both Ziklag and Hebron. They had been through thick and thin together. They understood military men and their wives experientially.

Michal

Michal was the second daughter of Saul, the king of Israel. She had been betrothed to David at the cost of 200 Philistine heads. Marriage into the royal family had immediate effects on one’s prospects in life militarily and socio-economically. A couple of things about Saul:

  1. Saul asked Abner, “Whose son is this youth?” Might Saul have expected to know David’s father, and why did he expect this?
  2. Saul’s military government was not a meritocracy. This is belied by Saul’s question to his fellow Benjamites “Will David make your sons captains over hundreds and captains over thousands?”
  3. It is possible that he suffered from an inferiority complex. This is told by his statement to Samuel when he was being anointed “Am I not the least in my father’s family, which is the smallest tribe in Israel?”

The implications of this could be that the death of Goliath had some psychological effect on the nation of Israel. It was an injecton of basic anthropology and ‘self-evident truths’, into the stream of Hebrew political discourse. Michal was not stupid and understood this. Taken to the extreme logical conclusion, this theory would state that she understood the factors at play in the family’s ‘dynastic business’ and set about procuring that benefit for the family. However chances are that we are being too harsh on her because Michal is the only recorded instance in the Bible where someone loved romantically. The manner in which her story played out is perhaps biblical proof that romantic love is not enough to sustain a relationship.

Eventually, when rubber hit the road in David’s life, Saul started hunting him down and married Michal off to someone called Phalti. Before David assumed the throne of Jerusalem he asked for his wife back. It is recorded that Phalti wept for part of the distance. Be that as it may, at some point David and Michal differed seriously and as a result Michal died childless. I suspect that Michal’s concept of David was entirely royal – crowns, thrones, ceremony and pomp. David himself was about worship and war, governance and Philistines, sheep and pastures. Somewhere in the middle those worlds could have met, but their perceptions were totally different. As a result, when these perceptions did clash there was friction. Unfortunately the friction turned out to be about the only non-negotiable thing in our protagonist’s life which was worship (one thing have I desired).

Bathsheba

At the time of the meeting between our protagonist and Bathsheba, she was the wife of one of David’s elite fighting men. His name was Uriah and he was a Hittite. One of my close friends finds this an endorsement of the meritocracy of our protagonist’s administration. But to cut back to our theme, David and Bathsheba’s relationship was initially adulterous. The Bible gives clues that Bathsheba may have been the grand-daughter of Ahithophel. This might have made her considerably younger than many of David’s wives. She was also therefore from the tribe of Judah. Ahithophel was unfortunately a type of Judas, the anti-Christ. A later record of him in the Bible states that if one asked for counsel from him it was as though he had asked for counsel at the mouth of God. During the Absalom-led civil war, he understood the political tactic of “energising the base” which is so in vogue nowadays. He used it to drastic effect.

By virtue of Bathsheba’s relation to Ahithophel, it is my hypothesis that Bathsheba grew up understanding the issues and cultures related to governance and the aristocracy. Additionally, her first husband having been one of David’s elite fighters, she understood the privations of military life. This should not be taken lightly. Evidence of this is given by how Hushai’s counsel was received by Absalom’s court. Military men can be qualitatively different. Fortunately for her, and as a result of her youth, this understanding may have come without necessarily having had too many of the trials that a lady like Ahinoam or Abigail would have experienced. Given the partial tendency for intelligence to be hereditary, it is also possible that Bathsheba was also an exceptionally intelligent lady, a rare boon. (Proof of this is backed up by the fact that Solomon became exceptionally wise. Much as his wisdom was God-given, the raw material for handling and harnessing it was already there.)

Pastor John Ng’ang’a opines that the Bathsheba debacle was the result of our protagonist’s fallout with Michal. Bathsheba’s youth, understanding of military life, aristocracy and governance as well as her intelligence proved to be too heady a mix for our protagonist.

 

On the balance, I would opine that Abigail was our protagonist’s most important wife. Of the various persons and ladies who spoke into our protagnist’s life, she probably kept his purpose and potential front and center for him. Further I think this is vindicated by the fact that her son in Chronicles is called Daniel. This is the first mention of the name Daniel in the Bible. Daniel means “God is Judge” or “God will be my Judge.” Did she or David feel the need to defend themselves against accusations? However it must be noted that her son is not mentioned later on in the stories of succession to the throne. Was this a result of court intrigues or early death? Whatever the case, I find the fact that one of Israel’s greatest prophets was named Daniel an endorsement of their union.

Whatever the case, the path to Hebron and Jerusalem zigzags through Ziklag. #StayWoke

Pills, Tribe and Leadership

I will admit to some weakness. At some point in my youth I was a complete wuss as far as dating is concerned. (My friends and I have heated arguments about the duration of this stage, and whether it is really over J) Naturally my first point of reference was Google. In the process I came across hierarchical stratifications of males both in the wild and in controlled environments. The dating philosophies related to these stratifications are thoroughly flawed but the stratifications themselves hold little nuggets of truths.

So this shall be our focus today, the world of men as depicted by these stratifications. Before we delve too deep, it must be noted that the original study which was the basis of the below categorisations, was done on animals in captivity. Animals in captivity behave very differently from animals in the wild. Let’s get right into it.

Many social groupings can be categorised into the following segments:

Alpha – these are your typical king of the ring, found at the top of a social pyramid. Alphas are culturally stereotyped as barrel-chested, charismatic and brilliant; head and shoulders above the rest both literally and figuratively. More often than not they are depicted as multitalented with excellent pro-visionary and artistic skills. These chaps have the rest of the clan following behind them in lockstep, single-file with martial discipline.

Sigma – Kings without kingdoms, sigmas go through a separate development path away from the rest. Once they get beyond a certain developmental (or is it survival?) threshold, evolution takes place and pack thinking falls by the way side. They normally possess raw talent but prefer to operate outside the hierarchy. It is worth noting in passing that the life cycle of male lions requires at least 1 or 2 years of solitary existence away from any pride before they can claim leadership of a pride.

Beta – These are almost alphas. They are high up in the hierarchy but subordinate to alphas. They are often lieutenants to alphas and are often being groomed to take over after the alpha leaves.

Other categorisations exist but they fall outside the scope of our focus today.

By definition a leader is an alpha, a sigma or a beta (when alpha leaders have been culled or are under development). Some leaders have the luxury of developing organically, while others are thrust into leadership roles. The process is immaterial. The outcome is the same. As a result of being thrust into leadership roles, leaders must deal with issues of real and perceived value. They are forced to face facts and manage real situations. A leader by definition must structure order out of chaos. If you read any analysis of a presidency, the sense of lurching from crisis to crisis is very real.

Normally in these cases, what you know defines how you play the game. Information asymmetry is sometimes crucial to this process. The possession of information oftentimes separates the few from the many. In feudal societies dukes ran the world. The term ‘duke’ is derived from the Latin word ducere which means to educate. Dukes were in many cases blood brothers and relatives of the ruling king. These guys saw the big picture and knew the score. Everyone else was just paddling along.

We could choose to use the possession of information, and its resultant thinking patterns, to classify people into 2 groups; blue pill thinkers and red pill thinkers. Blue-pill-thinkers know the rules, work with the rules, play by the rules and believe in the rules. In most cases they are protected by the rules. A classic case of rigid blue-pill thinking (despite strong evidence to the contrary) is Sansa Stark before her education by Ramsey Snow and Lord Baelish. Red pill thinkers get exposed to the flaws and the cracks in the rules, whether advertently or inadvertently. As a result of this exposure, they begin to question the causes, effects and application of these rules as well as the motives of the various actors. As The Matrix accurately put it, each pill has irreversible effects.

Many alphas are red pill thinkers who deliberately perpetuate blue pill thinking among their followers for the maintenance of order within the pack. They will shield their charges from certain facts because some people just cannot handle the truth. This is part of what it means to structure order out of chaos. An example of this kind of thinking within a corporate context is the Gervais Theory of organisations. Somebody commented that it described his career spanning 20+ years. Most sadly this explanation was coming at the tail end of the individual’s 20+ years!

Perhaps another way of illustrating this stratification is the understanding of tribal arithmetic. The 2008 and 2013 elections opened my eyes to tribal thinking. So one place that I found to be a veritable treasure trove on this was quite surprisingly the Bible. So I tried to run it through the history of Israel. In truth, if you read through Judges, all tribes judged Israel at one point or other. The children of Israel forgot that their security was Jehovah Elohim for any consistent stretch of time. So this is what came up.

The tribe of Ephraim were alphas and without a doubt the bad boys of Israel. Ephraim was the son of the last patriarch, Joseph, and an elite Egyptian priest’s daughter. Ephraim was born into royalty in Egypt. Manasseh, his brother, was his trusted sidekick while Dan may have been his trusted lieutenant. With a political following this effortlessly developed, Ephraim oftentimes lorded it over the other tribes. It is my suspicion that this was the reason they used to ask Judges from other tribes, “Why didn’t you call us to the battle?” When the 10 tribes split from Judah Jeroboam set up his headquarters in Ephraim.

One of the tribes I find most fascinating is Naphtali. Naphtali was the lastborn son of Leah’s handmaid. In terms of patriarchal love, he started out from very low in the hierarchy. This apparently did not bother him and he flourished to become the free spirit of Israel. He bordered the northern ‘frontier territories’ and was a skilled warrior performing military feats during the times of the Judges. Naphtali played a key role in the reign of Solomon and greatly assisted his various construction projects. He appears in my mind’s eye as an artistically gifted, dreadlocked hunk.

Benjamin was blessed by Jacob with the words “Shall raven as a wolf…” He was Jacob’s lastborn, a brother of Joseph and the son of Rachel. As such his status and identity among the 12 tribes’ hierarchy was not in question. So he was not out to jockey for position. It is possible that the truth was more important to him than it was for the other tribes. The fact that the prophets Jeremiah and Paul were both Benjamites is (in my understanding) a direct consequence of this fact.

Immediately after Joshua’s death, the tribe of Judah led Israel for a while. Thereafter the title of Judge circulated among the tribes in succession. My take is that during this time Judah was your typical sigma. Their ‘turning alpha’ was precipitated by the national crisis of the Philistines. That was the whole point of the Philistines anyway, but more has been said of that elsewhere.

An interesting aside is that Judah had a bond with Benjamin stemming from Judah’s pledging his life for Benjamin when Pharaoh’s representative (Joseph) was testing them in Egypt. Additionally, the two were neighbours. When Judah co-opted Manasseh, Ephraim’s blood-brother and confederate, Ephraim’s tribal alliance was crippled.

Normally a leader will be perceived to be wrong in one way or other. The thing about leadership is that everyone has an opinion. Or as Alliser Thorne in Game of Thrones phrases it so well, a leader has the right to be “second-guessed” by every single one of his charges, even though the ultimate responsibility for outcomes lies with him. By this token, ‘there comes a time’ when a leader’s followers must choose whether they want to continue following or whether they want to chart their own course. The alpha will at this point need to make a choice as to whether they want to play the political game and strike compromises with the wants of their charges or whether he will stick by their ‘non-negotiables’ and go it alone. This in some cases boils down to their rating on the ‘need-to-lead’ scale vis-a-vis the compromises being asked for. Examples of this happening include Israel asking Samuel for a king, Israel under Jeroboam asking “What part have we in Judah?“, the Conservatives rioting against Margaret Thatcher and the Lord Jesus Christ asking his followers, “Will ye also go away?

In some cases this is how a sigma forms. In many cases a beta makes a play for alpha, fails and is summarily dismissed from the pack. Whatever the case or cause, one defining characteristic of sigmas is that they represent a legitimate alternative narrative which counters the prevailing trend. Examples of this state include Mike Corleone prior to the Sollozzo debacle in The Godfather and Cross deLena prior to the Virginio Ballazzo incident in The Last Don, Maximus in Gladiator, Merry and Pippin at the tail end of LOTR when retaking the Shire.

This ‘alternative narrative’ often poses an instinctive and existential threat to an alpha and their widely propagated blue-pill thinking. It could destroy the foundation upon which the alpha’s superstructure is built. A sigma need not necessarily replicate himself in order to spread. But his beliefs can. How else would one explain the phrase in the Bible “and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.” Examples of this happening include Elijah at Carmel, Socrates, Sir Thomas the Archbishop of Canterbury, Che Guevara and PLO Lumumba.

Anyway, so much for analysis, live your life.

Of Suitcases, Airports and Progress

During a recent weekend, I had a personal experience with these innocuous little things called suitcases. Out of the blues two friends were flying out. So we spent a portion of the weekend looking for a suitcase with one friend and packing it, while we spent a Saturday evening discussing the implications of another suitcase. This second suitcase belonged to an exceptional leader whose shoes will be hard to fill.

Whatever the case (no pun intended), that Sunday evening I and two other friends found ourselves at JKIA bidding a close friend farewell. His name is Benjamin and he is a veritable genius. We were classmates in high school and he appeared in the newspaper when KCSE results came out. I on the other hand… am happy to write about these things. But we digress.

Airports have always held a certain fascination for me. They have quite a sensory load, from the distant rumble of large planes preparing for take-off to the smart uniforms of pretty airline crew, to the wings and swagger of pilots which says, “This, right here is my territory bruh.” Let the reader understand.

Perhaps one of the draws of an airport is the emotional undercurrents at play. This being Africa, one is not exactly treated to the full-on displays of emotion. However strongly we may bear our feelings, we wear them under our sleeves, not on them. However, if you look closely enough, you will come across the following types of people.

You may come across a beautiful but disconsolate young lady, arms folded in front of her refusing to hear the assurances of her boyfriend to Skype every day and come back ASAP. Despite all her arguments about the alternatives, he has still decided to go. Accompanying us to see Ben off was a lady called Njambi whose boyfriend is currently studying in South Africa. She picked out this young lady first and totally identified with her.

You might also see an impressive young man in his early twenties alone, with nothing but a small bag in tow. He comes across as a one man army on a mission of world domination. His face is set in a disturbed yet determined frown as if he totally means to go, to see and to conquer. I wondered whether a son of mine could be like that, God-willing. And would his being alone be due to his own stoicism, boredom about airports or adolescent embarrassment about his parents? I had much rather the first.

When we joined the queue, there was an older couple ahead of us standing together quietly. In Ben’s words “words are superfluous” in that moment. Once upon a time, a lady friend called Rosslyn told me how her dad had been helping a friend of his campaign. He had therefore been away from home for a week. The relationship between Rosslyn’s dad and Rosslyn’s mum was so stellar that  at some point during the campaigns Rosslyn’s mum summoned Rosslyn’s dad home for the simple reason that she had missed him. For some strange reason, the older couple ahead of us on the queue reminded me of that story.

One of the unique things about our African airports is the clan send-off. This happens when an entire extended family goes to see off the person flying out. It can be a rather heart-warming sight. This particular one was complete with wide-eyed cousins, possessive matrons and an overbearing uncle zealously queuing the lad’s trolley straight into my calves. At some point before joining the queue there had been prayers for the lad. These prayers normally sound like this, “Lord we know that Timothy’s plane has been made and will be flown by human hands! We ask for your journey mercies Lord. Almighty God your Word tells us that wherever we set foot upon we shall possess! Lord we ask that Timothy may possess that which you have prepared for him where he is going.” Such prayers are good.

One of the saddest sights of an airport is that of a young couple with a weaning baby who instinctively understands what is happening and wants nothing to do with it. The poor little thing proceeds to express its disagreement at the top of its lungs, much to the dismay of other travellers and the consternation of its family.

It would be hard for the leaving parent to get the baby to understand that the leaving is just as difficult for the parent. But the leaving must be done anyway. Sometimes parents need to go to certain places and do certain things in order to come back bigger, better on behalf of the ones they love. One of the painful things to observe in life is that of a young adult coming to the troubling realisation that the cards which life has handed them were not exactly stellar. The extreme expression of this realisation occurs in the form of a child testing a parent’s authority. The underlying subtext to this rebelliousness is the question, “You surely could have set me up better, couldn’t you?” It is said that fatherhood is the greatest test of masculinity. It is likely that part of this test boils down to this particular question.

So to those of us who have to leave in order to come back, I say go. Go with the (tacit) blessing of your friends, your family and your community. Raise high the various flags which you represent. But do return and that right soon.

(This article was meant to be posted in November 2013.)