Wednesday 20 July 2022

The UK: Why Kemi Badenoch is not the poster child

The lady runs to lead

Kemi Badenoch’s elimination from the contest to lead the Tory Party and hence become the Prime Minister must have been a great disappointment for her, though it would have been well received in some quarters.

Kemi Badenoch, née Adegoke, is someone I have encountered since the mid-2000s when she appeared to camp in the comment sections of a blog run by Jeremy Weate and controversial does not begin to describe the views and opinions she shared.

Now, if Kemi Badenoch had been successful in her quest to lead the Tory Party, it would have presented the first time that an ethnic minority led the United Kingdom if we are to discount Benjamin Disraeli’s Jewish heritage when he was Prime Minister in the 19th Century.

Everything but representing

In her case, besides the issue of her identity, race and heritage, there is little about her that is common to the apparent identity constituency people might think she represents. We are consequently products of influences, circumstances and situations more than of the ethnic minorities we are, and it is essential that we begin to disabuse the view that ethnic minorities represent a monolithic or homogenous political leaning.

Beyond Kemi Badenoch, the issue is simple. Much as having an ethnic minority ahead might present inspiration and possibility to the youth aspiring to be significant members of communities and society, we need to ensure we are choosing the right examples demonstrative of embracing common humanity with all its diversity.

That is not essentially codified in having similar backgrounds as I would be the first to say that from a reflective and policy standpoint, Kemi Badenoch and I are so radically different and divergent as it might be as the east is far away from the west.

Equipping us to become roles

Yet, we have work to do. Our parents before us and similarly, many of us have been pioneers or first movers in various areas of endeavour. We did not see people like us in our roles or ahead, rather, we, from what was imbued in us through education, opportunity, possibly privilege and influence, forged ahead to become recognised and respected in the things that we do.

In some way, we had role models that did not look like us or come from our kind of background. Quite as we might want to have visible role models and high achievers that might give our children a sense of what is possible, those scenarios might well not be as packaged or presented for them to see as they grow up.

It is then incumbent on us to give our children the tools and the wherewithal to be able to walk into places where they might be the first and only, the confidence to be able to hold their own, the assertiveness to be able to speak with a strong voice and the mien not to be caught out in a victim syndrome when situations, opportunities, or encounters turn sour.

Choosing the right examples

Sadly, I have seen too many academically high achieving ethnic minority people unable to realise their full potential because they are lacking in confidence or have been emasculated by a system and institutionalised settings that suggest they do not belong, where, by merit, they are more than capable, if given the opportunity.

I doubt the likes of Kemi Badenoch making political progress of the sort she aspired to would open doors for anyone like her, even as it might be uncharitable to suggest that she having gained opportunity is kicking the ladder away for those like her. Even one might be inclined to feel she is trying too hard to endear herself to the radical rather than a broader embrace of inclusivity.

Indeed, we can do with exemplary and amazing achievement amongst ethnic minorities, if we cannot agree, my view is Kemi Badenoch is not that example, her controversial track record highlighted in The Independent would suggest we deserve better. [The Independent: 10 of Kemi Badenoch's biggest controversies as she is knocked out of Tory leadership contest]

Tuesday 5 July 2022

Coronavirus streets between continents - LXVIII

It is still here

One statistic that rarely makes the news these days is the number of COVID-19 infections anywhere, back home in the UK, through countries that one does transit and now in South Africa where I will be for a month. When I left the UK last week, the rate of infections was rising, and the government website provides figures of 116,312 new cases in the 7 days to the 26th of June 2022.

Every indication would suggest this dreadful virus is not beyond us, even for the fully vaccinated and boosted, the risk remains and so precautions are necessary which I barely see anyone adhere to. On my flight from Manchester to Amsterdam, there were a handful of face mask wearers. Apart from when I needed a sip of water, I had my face mask on the whole time.

Carefree and without

On the Amsterdam to Cape Town leg of about 11 hours, whilst it was advised we don face masks, it was neither enforced nor announced. Left to their devices, a majority chose not to wear a face mask for the entire flight, in my case, I was not ready to take the risk except for the times I had drinks and meals.

I was first to disembark the plane in Cape Town and first through health checks and passport control, and until during the Ebola virus times, there was no one standing around with a temperature gun, life has returned to uneasy normalcy that is as daring and it could be foolhardy.

On one Uber ride the driver half remonstrated that face masks were optional, we did not need to wear face masks, I would rather not have the option of getting infected in the remotest way, so I keep my face mask on and more times than not, I am the strange looking one because I have my face covered and everyone else is happily without.

No courting danger

Seeing that I have just come through a bout of flu after my arrival in Cape Town that took me out of effective ability to do much for myself, talk less of anyone else, much that I desired to attend church on Sunday, I was not up to it. The face mask is a temporary inconvenience and I have more than enough in supply to last months.

In my view, we still need to be careful, people who have had COVID-19 though mild in their symptoms have not had the kind of recovery that represents a complete eradication of the effects of the virus, I would rather err on the side of caution than walk bare-chested into the lion’s den of a raging pandemic. We have to learn to live with COVID-19, but smartly too.

Saturday 2 July 2022

Thought Picnic: On strength to my bones

Changes bringing changes

Generally, I would think I am strong and doing my best to keep healthy. It is however likely that with the change of environments from Manchester to Cape Town even though winter in Cape Town would pass for a mild summer at home I became slightly indisposed.

Irritation in the throat and a bit of a cough, before you knew it, I was completely sapped of energy of verve. Walking around our apartment, I was shuffling my feet rather than properly lifting them off the floor; not a good feeling at all.

A nurse without equal

I sicken too easily, and recovery can be brisk, once I have taken a good rest and slept the apparent fatigue off. I must commend Brian for his care, I guess he is worried sick seeing me literally incapacitated and he has seen this quite a few times too.

He rustles up a ginger, honey and lemon drink which is quite helpful and if he can persuade me to take a vitamin, it might well be strength to my bones. I hate popping pills apart from the ones I have been prescribed and for the aches and pains, Paracetamol with codeine gets to the root of the problem. I am perking up and feeling stronger, I won’t be doing any domestic chores today.

I put it down to change and the need to acclimatise taking comfort from stepping out onto the balcony to view Table Mountain and the beaches of Camps Bay, in one sweeping turn of the head. We love Cape Town, and this is where we meet to love.