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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Obama’s Granny Graduates with an Honorary Degree

For many Kenyans yearning for the all-important higher education that quite usually defines their future, they always have to work their butts off, quite literally. And with an education system that is bleeding profusely and on its last legs, hence needing maximum reforms – just like many other sectors in the East Africa’s biggest economy – enrolling for further studies and continuing with the brain-expanding activity always proves to be a punishing ordeal and a Herculean task for many who don’t have the financial muscle marveled at by politicians and fraudulent businessmen.

It thus came as a big and unpleasant surprise for many educationally-hustling Kenyans who saw Mama Sarah Obama, Obama’s grandmother being conferred with a honorary Doctorate of Letters from a university in Kisumu (the main economic nerve city where K’ogelo is located), apparently for engaging in charitable activities like feeding the less fortunate.

Whether she needed this accolade is a question that can only be addressed by Prof Dan Kaseje, the acting chancellor of The Great Lakes University of Kisumu (GLUK), the institution which awarded the ever-smiling 87-year-old octogenarian with the honours.

And as the University chancellor pronounced, “and by my authority and that of the entire university, I give you the power to read and do all that appertain to this degree,” the newly crowned queen of higher education sat comfortably donning her new academic regalia for the elite (lest she commit a fashion faux pas) as she perceptibly enjoyed the everyone’s attention, albeit wondering what the chancellor was busy saying in a language that she knows only her grandson could speak. She however dared not to ask for a translation. Never mind she has never sat inside a classroom, a lecture hall notwithstanding.

However, this “gesture” extended to the GLUK alumnus, by the GLUK senate did not go down well with some Kenyans who felt like the degrees were being dished out to undeserving individuals just because they have tribal and or political connections with powerful individuals. Some said it was such an insult to Kenya’s education system, others opined that it was an ill-timed, ill-conceived and ill-executed April fools day prank, others felt it was waste to even think of considering her for the award, while some even went to the extent of claiming they should also “get paid” with a honorary degree for helping children who pee on themselves in nursery schools.

Others saluted Dr Sarah Obama and felt she deserved the honour which now means she can be among the cream of the crop of Kenyans allowed to visit Dubai (the UAE introduced new regulations requiring entrants from Kenya to have university degrees.)

Dr Sarah’s grandson, Barack is yet to submit his comment. But one thing that is for sure, he must be winking somewhere or nodding at her grandma’s pedestal achievement.

And just a day after acquiring an honorary doctorate, Sarah in her recently acquired self-styled  sufficiently philanthropic modus operandi threw a party at her home in K'ogelo Siaya to celebrate this fete.

Two healthy bulls, four yummy goats and three fatty sheep were crushed, gnawed and gnashed by the unforgiving munching machines of visitors who went to congratulate the Doctor on her new achievement. After deboning these unlucky animals and sending them to the god of animal souls, the bones were thrown to the scavenging dogs who effectively finished the equation in the way they know best.

The last time such a hierarchy of responsibility and activity of feasts graced the home of the 88-year-old was when her grandson earned the right to step foot and hang his tuxedo jacket in the Oval Office.

Whether Dr Mama Sarah Obama will use her newly-earned status to enroll for active education, rely on academic elitism (hardly possible at her age) and do all that appertains to being awarded such an honour is a question for another day.

And just running through my usual reading on the Internet, I stumbled across these words said by Dr. Sarah Obama’s grandson Barack “I probably wont read Sarah Palin’s Book.” Reasons are only too clear.

So what if Sarah Palin’s book was to be given to Dr Sarah? What would she say? “I just cant read a word in this book!!”

Or can she?

Another Award 

And just to follow up on Mama Sarah Obama's story, she has now received another award from Moi University, arguably Kenya's 3rd most prestigious higher education institution. The Doctor received a special shield of recognition for her efforts in assisting needy children and widows.

Next University please...

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!