Park Light Collection, Curated by Ibua Publishing

Review by Rogers Wanambwa

The book is an anthology of different stories from around Africa. Weaved with a meticulous attention to detail, it shines a bright touch on the different lives led by the story tellers, bringing to life their individual and unique stories.

From the Zimbabwean collapse into a financial ruin, to the xenophobia in South Africa, to a light story from Nigeria about a girl learning the different emotions of life, the book bravely talks about it all.

A captivating read.

Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics by Nanjala Nyabola

By Rogers Wanambwa

Social media has become a major factor in our lives. From a daily tweet about one’s life to more complex and serious conversations about the future and present state of our nations, we find our talking space on social media.

But this was not always so and Nanjala Nyabola, a Kenyan political analyst delves into how social media is defining the political space, especially in an African context and whether what happens on these digital spaces really reflect on the ground (in real life) in this book, “Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics.”

“Social media has allowed people to publicly grieve for the ongoing military sieges in Syria, Yemen and other countries, with images of starving children arguably shaming the international community into intervening,” the books says about how people use social media to express their feelings about the goings-on in other lands.

But more so when it comes to freedom of speech, the book adds that, “Digital technology is allowing relative freedom of speech in societies where such freedoms are resisted.

Furthermore, it is allowing people to be angry – vocally, visibly and virulently – in a way which traditional media is unable to capture or articulate. Some of the most powerful moments of the last ten years – from the Black Lives Matter movement, to the cataloguing of deaths of migrants and refugees on the high seas of the Mediterranean and the South China Sea – start on these platforms.”

A good read when you want to know the correlation between what’s happening on social media and what’s really going on on the ground and in the political arena, especially since we are just a few months away from a national election ourselves.

Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

By Rogers Wanambwa

Following the recent events that have happened in the just concluded NRM primaries, I found that alot of the information people get is always distorted in some form or other. I wondered why this happens in almost everything in life and so I looked into it further and that’s where this book was recommended to me by an acquaintance to really dive into why.

To explain the way information gets distorted and why, Nassim Taleb gives us quite a number of explanations like this one below:

“A journalist is trained in methods to express himself rather than to plumb the depth of things—the selection process favors the most communicative, not necessarily the most knowledgeable. My medical doctor friends claim that many medical journalists do not understand anything about medicine and biology, often making mistakes of a very basic nature. I cannot confirm such statements, being myself a mere amateur (though at times a voracious reader) in medical research, but I have noticed that they almost always misunderstand the probabilities used in medical research announcements. The most common one concerns the interpretation of evidence. They most commonly get mixed up between absence of evidence and evidence of absence. How? Say I test some chemotherapy, for instance Fluorouracil, for upper respiratory tract cancer, and find that it is better than a placebo, but only marginally so; that (in addition to other modalities) it improves survival from 21 per 100 to 24 per 100. Given my sample size, I may not be confident that the additional 3% survival points come from the medicine; it could be merely attributable to randomness. I would write a paper outlining my results and saying that there is no evidence of improved survival (as yet) from such medicine, and that further research would be needed. A medical journalist would pick it up and claim that a one Professor N. N. Taleb found evidence that Fluorouracil *does not help*, which is entirely opposite to my intentions. Some naive doctor in Smalltown, even more uncomfortable with probabilities than the most untrained journalist, would pick it up and build a mental block against the medication, even when some researcher finally finds fresh evidence that such medicine confers a clear survival advantage.”

It is a book for those that want to get to the bottom of things. Those that are not simply satisfied with the usual narrative.

This review first appeared here.

Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever“Negotiation and the Gender Divide”

By Rogers Wanambwa

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been having some conversations with three female friends about their work environment and it appeared they were not contented with some issues ranging from pay to the amount of workload they are taking on(more specifically being given).

Apparently, they are not happy with what’s taking place and when I suggested that they take this up with their employers, they all flat out refused.

This made me curious to know why and I ended up finding this book that talks about reasons why and how such women can muster the courage to speak up for themselves.

“Can women learn to recognize more hidden opportunities in their cir-cumstances—and can the world learn to accept women who ask? Can women overcome their anxiety and f i nd effective ways to negotiate— and can people stop taking a harder line when they negotiate withwomen? Luckily, the answer to all of these questions is yes.” When I saw these questions, I knew I had found the right book.

Many women face a similar situation and the book “Women Don’t Ask” tries to find out how big of a problem this is.

“Take the following example. Suppose that at age 22 an equally qualif i ed man and woman receive job offers for $25,000 a year. The man negotiates and gets his offer raised to $30,000. The woman does not negotiate and accepts the job for $25,000. Even if each of them receives identical 3 percent raises every year throughout their careers (which is unlikely, given their different propensity to negotiate and other research showing that women’s achievements tend to be under-valued), by the time they reach age 60 the gap between their salaries will have widened to more than $15,000 a year, with the man earning $92,243 and the woman only $76,870. While that may not seem like an enormous spread, remember that the man will have been making more all along, with his extra earnings over the 38 years totaling $361,171. If the man had simply banked the difference every year in a savings account earning 3 percent interest, by age 60 he would have $568,834 more than the woman—enough to underwrite a comfortable retirement nest egg, purchase a second home, or pay for the college educationof afewchildren.This isanenormous “returnoninvestment” for a one-time negotiation,” says the book.

This book is important for women and consequently men to read and understand where this deficiency in self assertion in women comes from, how big of a problem it is for humanity and businesses and how it can be overcame.

Suffice to say, after reading it, I recommended it to the three women mentioned earlier.

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