Storymoja Festival Ghana 2016

Storymoja-Festival-Ghana

Storymoja Ghana is a newly registered legal partnership between Ghana and Kenya. The key representatives/directors are Afetsi Awoonor (Ghana) and Muthoni Garland (Storymoja Kenya).

Storymoja Kenya is here to share its experience as it has run seven annual festivals, and now attracts about 6000 people to the festival in Nairobi.

To find out more about this year’s festival in Ghana come by our site and check out our 2016 programme.

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Technology Destroys our Environment

A controversy exists concerning the role of technology in the development, progress and connection of human beings to the living environment. In the recent times, the world has witnessed significant developments of technology with different implications for human beings and their connection to the environment. Although developments in technology, such as, agricultural and medical techniques, have improved the progress of humanity to the point of perfection, I strongly believe that these advancements in technology have enslaved us, decreasing our connection to the biotic environment, disrupting the biotic mechanism and propagating climate change.

Developments in technology have the effect of altering the biotic mechanism and decreasing the connection of people with the living environment. Ecology depicts nature as a biotic pyramid in which energy flows through a circuit and there is a clear connection and balance between living organisms in the biotic environment . A complete biotic mechanism entails a flow of energy from the soil, to plants, to the animals, to the environment and then back to the soil through death and decay. However, some energy is lost during decay, some is absorbed to the environment and some is stored in soil, plants and animals. Nevertheless, the biotic mechanism is perceived as a sustained and stable system.

Although evolutionary changes tend to disrupt the biotic mechanism, through increasing the complexity of the flow mechanism and lengthening the circuit, such changes tend to be slow and local. The problem arises with the major developments in technology, invention of tools and techniques that magnify and amplify the changes observed in nature. The invention of new tools and techniques causes changes to occur violently, rapidly and at a bigger scope. For instance, new technology allows for domestication of new animals from different lands and displacement of the wild one’s from their habitats to new habitats.

Similarly, technological developments allow man to destroy some species as pests and diseases while extinguishing others.  Leopold opines that developments in agricultural science is all about a struggle “between the emergence of new pests and emergence of new techniques to control them”. In addition, technological developments in agriculture tend to disrupt the flow of energy and the ability for the soil to receive, store and release energy through fostering erosion. It is therefore clear that the development of technology decreases the connection of human beings to the living environment as it propagates violence, destruction and dearth of the environment.

Technological development also decreases the connection of people with the biotic environment because it propagates and fosters climate change leading to the destruction of other species in the ecosystem. According to Leopold, developments in industry, through development of dams and pollution inhibit the flow of water thus disrupting the circulation of energy. The disruptions of the biotic pyramid for purpose of human population are usually catastrophic and have significant consequences of violence. Human beings continue to increase the concentration of greenhouses gases in the atmosphere through industrialization.  Although the greenhouse effect is necessary for the sustenance of life, the problem arises due to the human-induced greenhouse effect. The human activities occurring since the emergence of the industrial revolution have led to a significant increase in greenhouse gases in the biotic environment.

The current technological developments fostered by industrialization and current human behaviors have magnified and enhanced the greenhouse effect thus causing an imbalance. Technological advancement cause climate change to occur at an unprecedented rate and making it impossible for existing species to adapt easily and quickly. Therefore, developments in technology fostered by industrialization has played a significant role in fostering historical emissions of greenhouse gases and causing devastating outcomes that are catastrophic to both human beings and other occupants of the living environment.

A Good Career Mentorship Program

Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” – John C. Crosby

Mentoring is an important factor that determines satisfaction, commitment and mobility in a givem career. Research indicates that individuals who received mentorship at one point or another during their career journey tend to have greater career satisfaction, commitment and mobility. Career mentorship ensures that students gain the right information, knowledge and understanding of the various career choices and the impact of their decisions on career development.

Research also suggests that well-supported and mentored students have high prospects of entering and advancing in their dream career. Access to mentorship enables them to evaluate their skills, abilities, aptitudes and talents and link them to the available career opportunities.

The value of career mentorship is so huge that everybody seems to be interested in the field. Today, there are so many organizations purporting to offer mentorship and guidance to students. A cursory click on the internet with keywords such as career, mentorship, guidance, psychometric tests, mentor, among others, will provide you with several sites claiming to offer mentorship and guidance for young people. Unfortunately, it is not possible to evaluate the accuracy, credibility and reliability of the career information provided on these sites.

Education institutions continue to receive criticism for their failure to equip students adequately for the career and the job market. The current curriculum used by the education institutions emphasizes on academic achievement and passing of exams, while failing to equip the students with skills to excel in their careers and the job market. Consequently, we have many graduates lacking a fit between education achievement and career success.

Due to increasing demand for career-centered education, many secondary schools, colleges, higher learning institutions have come up with career mentorship programmes to bridge the existing career information gaps and somehow address the growing problem of unemployment. Unfortunately, the career teachers tasked with the responsibility of running these mentorship programmes do not have the adequate training, expertise, resources and materials to deliver effective mentorship.

As the number of career mentorship programs continue to grow and expand at a rapid and exponential rate, a major issue that arises is the compromise between quality and quantity. The implication is that there are more institutions and organization offering mentorship and reporting significant involvement with the youth, yet the quality of their impact and outcome is still questionable.

This leads us to the pertinent question of what constitutes an effective career guidance and mentorship programme for students in our schools.

One of the most important aspects of a good career intervention initiative is the stability of the mentorship programme. A stable mentoring program relates to an intervention with strong infrastructure, systems and processes that produce a positive and sustainable impact.

Storymoja Careerpedia, is a unique and interactive careers information and mentorship engagement platform. Careerpedia deliver career guidance and mentorship programmes for students in secondary and post-secondary institutions.

Careerpedia lays emphasis on three elements of stability critical to the design of good career mentorship and guidance for schools. These include screening, training, and support.

Screening of the mentors’ remains one of the most important elements of design that make an effective mentorship intervention. Storymoja Careerpedia carefully screens the various mentors to ensure that they are suitable to be included on the Careerpedia Mentorship Network to offer career guidance, and advice for students. We conduct interviews with each mentor to get their perspectives about careers, their understanding of the areas of career specialization, their perception of market trends and dynamics and their overall view about work and life. We examine their characteristics including their passion, and ability to build trust among youth, and their commitment to assist young people along their career journey. This screening exercise enables us to understand our mentors, categorize them and align them with the mentee to create a bigger impact in their career journey.

Training for the individuals participating in the mentoring relationship also ensures the stability of the mentorship programme. Storymoja Careerpedia is a stable intervention in the sense that it seeks to offer a holistic career intervention. The focus is on ensuring a well-supported student with ability to make informed subject and career choices. Therefore, we endeavor to deliver capacity-building workshops for career teachers, mentors, parents and guardians. The target audience for these training workshops is the people considered critical sources of information and who have significant influence on a student’s career decisions. We believe that these trainings and workshops would create a common understanding of the mentorship intervention, define the role of the mentor and mentee and scale the impact of the intervention.

Finally, stability of the mentorship programme stems from the ability of the designers to incorporate systems, processes and structures that offer support to the intervention. Storymoja careerpedia is a stable programme because of its systems, structures and processes. Storymoja careerpedia has championed the development of exciting and interactive products, namely careerpedia encyclopedia and workbooks that serve as reference resource materials for students.

The Careerpedia encyclopedia is a friendly careers information resource detailing over 120 descriptions of both traditional and emerging careers in the Kenyan labor market. It contains interviews by practicing professionals, essays by career professionals, subject combinations, accreditation, remuneration and a directory of institutions offering the various courses and programs in the specific career fields.

The ‘Discover Your Career’ workbook is a step-by-step career cycle guide for students designed as a useful tool for self-discovery. The workbook guides students in discovering the link between education and careers. It assists learners to evaluate their interests, skills, values, gifts and talents, and match them with relevant career options.

The formation of the Careerpedia Clubs in secondary schools is yet another innovative model for supporting the mentorship programme. We also encourage and support students to develop their individual career portfolios to guide them in their career journey. Lastly, we constantly recruit and expand the mentorship network, including equipping them with mentoring skills through our ‘know how to mentor’ workbooks and workshops and align them to the needs of the students to ensure individualized assistance during their career journey.

The bottom-line to designing an effective mentorship intervention program is focusing on the target audience and ensuring the provision of stable programmes. Screening of the mentors, training the mentors and offering support are just some of the elements that adds value to a mentorship programme, ensures its stability and creates a positive impact in the career journey of students. Get more information about our holistic career intervention.

By Gregory Omondi, Marketing and Communication Officer (gregory@storymojaafrica.co.ke)

14 Year-Old Inspires Young Writers

“I want to study archeology and write history books when I am older”, says Joseph Bokea, our young and inspiring writer.

Bokea is a quiet, intuitive and inspiring young writer. Unlike many young people, Bokea is only 14 years old and he already knows the career he wants to pursue in life. Despite his young age, the boy already knows what he wants to pursue in his higher education, and what he wants to focus on for the rest of his life: studying, reading and writing history books!

I had the opportunity to listen to the young writer articulating his passion for books during a ‘Young Nation’ writing workshop held at Storymoja offices on 15th April 2016.  Muthoni Garland and Joseph Bokea facilitated the writing workshop.

When asked to share his writing experience, Bokea smiles, composes himself and you already know that he is going to give an interesting speech on the importance of instilling an early reading culture for our children when they are still young.

He says, “I started reading two big books when I was seven years old! At the age of eight, I started writing my first book, but the manuscript got lost along the way since I was writing by hand. At the age of eleven, I had this interesting and inspiring dream while sleeping. When I woke up, I began to write my first manuscript that culminated into my first book, ‘Magic’. Magic is a fiction-fantasy book. Now I am working on a second book, which is a sequel to the first one”.

What? Did you hear that? He is already working on his second book!

I was as impressed and flabbergasted as you are. This is just a 14-year-old child. Yet he oozes with such charisma, confidence and passion when speaking about his writing experience.

Despite my advancing age, I sat there speechless listening keenly to learn from the junior achiever who is taking up the writing space with a lot of gusto and desire. It took me twenty something years to ever complete my first manuscript. Yet, this young man was already writing at the age of eight and publishing when he was 11 years old.

Bokea did teach me the importance of identifying my voice and genre early on in my writing career. When asked why he chose to write a book about magic, he said, “I mostly read fantasy books. Such books are mainly about some forms of magic, speculation, and science fiction. Magic is a fiction-fantasy book because it came from my experience of reading fiction books and was inspired by a dream.”

Bokea understands his genre very well and delivers just what is necessary for his audience. He wants to write about fantasy-fiction so he reads books about fantasy-fiction. Fantastic! Isn’t it? In fact, research has it that fantasy fiction is the fastest growing genre for young people and teenagers. Currently, teen fiction focusing on vampire series, magic and romance are doing very well across the world, especially in the west. This implies that our young Bokea has a big opportunity ahead of him presented by the huge, growing and untapped teenage market for fantasy fiction books. With clear focus, the boy has a chance of reaping huge returns from his passion for writing and desire to transform it into a career.

One of the young writers attending the writing workshop was so thrilled with the achievement Bokea made at a young age. He wanted to know how Bokea did it. He enquired, “Did your parents encourage you to write about magic? I am asking because most parents want us to write stories that they can relate with.”

This was a very interesting observation and question coming from a young writer of less than 14 years old. It raises pertinent issues concerning the role and influence of parents on children during their childhood. Parents tend to dictate what their children can and cannot do during their young age. They would choose what you eat, what you wear, what you watch and even what you read and write. In fact, some parents would not allow the children to explore their creativity and writing styles just because they do not align with their values and beliefs. This is what kills creativity at a very tender age, as children are discouraged from exploring their imaginations.

So how did our young Bokea convince his parents to let him write about magic? Guess what! He did not convince them. He did not have to. He says, “I refused my parents to read my book until it was published. They did not know what I was writing. Only my elder brother knew about the book, but only after I had finished my first draft.”

It is clear that children are scared about explaining to their parents what they are thinking. They are afraid to share their imaginations and creativity with their parents for fear of punishment or rebuke. In fact, they fear to write and share their books with their parents because of the themes that they want to explore that are contradictory to what their parents want.

So how do young people deal with such challenges? One way is to go the Bokea way. Do not let them know what you are writing. Nevertheless, children need support and guidance along their writing journey. Choosing to go alone may be challenging and difficult especially when they meet with an obstacle in their writing.

Muthoni Garland, founder of Storymoja and facilitator of the young writing workshop shares her insights. She tells the young writers, “You are children of your generation. Our world is different from the world our parents and grandparents. Read as many books as possible. When you read books, be it creative, fantasy fiction or magic, you will be able to awaken and strengthen your creative muscle.”

That is quite a loaded advice from a writer with many titles under her name and who enjoys acclaim both locally and internationally.

While supporting Muthoni’s idea, Bokea’s father chipped in, “We had no problem with our son’s writing. We chose to let Bokea express himself in the best way that he could. Magic was his best way of self-expression. We can learn several lessons from his achievement. The first lesson is that children should always write what they find interesting. Secondly, children should write a story for themselves without caring what their parents, relatives or teachers will think about them.”

That was powerful. It could never have been said any better. As the session came to close, I had learnt quite a lot from these young children and aspiring writers. When given a chance to speak about what makes a good book, Bokea said confidently, “It should have a good plot, character development and grammar. More importantly, the writer must exercise patience and perseverance, especially, when it gets boring and you feel that you do not want to wake up and write. Just keep trying and find innovative ways to keep you going. For me, I like listening to music when writing and it inspires me.”

One child asked, “What about fame? What has happened since you published your first book?”

All that Bokea could say was, “I have received a lot of publicity. Nevertheless, I don’t like it because people recognize me. I prefer to be alone and to write my works alone.”

By Gregory Omondi, Marketing and Communication Officer (gregory@storymojaafrica.co.ke)

To Be, Not to Be, What to Be

It was sometime around 2nd term, form three, when we had a career talk at school. I do not remember what was said that day but this one memory of it has remained HD clear. It was the first time I came to the realization that I did not know what I wanted to do with my life after high school.

I recall how we were all packed in this little hall on a hot afternoon. This one girl, she was not in my class but same stream, called Suzy stood up and with all the confidence in the world said, “I’m going to be an ambassador! What do I need to study in college to be one?”

I was so impressed. How could she possibly have all her ducks in a row like that when all I could think about was the up-coming holidays?  Besides, how does one even begin to figure out what they want to be? I mean sure, we all have those grandiose world greatest something aspirations. If every dream of mine could come true then I’d have to be the cat with nine lives.  I wanted to an astronomer, I wanted to be a neurologist and I wanted to be a chef. I went through career options like a celebrity’s year on the red carpet. Never wearing the same ‘look’ twice.

For a while, there I was hypnotized by glitz and glam of the Hollywood life, but as I grew older, it grew out of that fantasy. Without my fantasy, I was desolate. What will I do with my life? What’s out there for me?

There are two kinds of people in this world. The Suzies. They have always known what they wanted to be and then there is me, we kind stumble through life figuring out the rules as we go along.  I honestly don’t know if Suzy ended up pursuing a career in international relations or not. Connecting on with high school and primary friends on Facebook, there have been plenty of surprises.  Engineers who became DJs and troublemakers who became teachers…really, it is stranger than fiction.

If I could back in time, I would take all the time I used to worry, fret, and focus on exploring my interests, talents and hobbies.  It’s a fast-moving world and any morning you could wake up with the sun on the west.  There have been many success stories some of them were born with talent, some of them were at the right time and place, and some of them were late bloomers, realizing their career as late as fifty but one consistent ingredient is always to do what you love.

By Florence Onyango