The Clinical-greeting

“I wrote this reflection in 2013, as a freshly minted physiotherapy student at the University of the Western Cape. I am going through similar processes today in Medicine. It’s beautiful to see the parallels. I am glad I started blogging early. Recorded reflections are a gift that keeps on giving.”


I have realized that when I feel uncomfortable around a patient that has a little to do about the patient, most of the time it’s usually me who is uncomfortable about my skill and techniques. One of the reasons that make me uncomfortable around patients is because I do not know how to plan and structure my patient’s interaction.

In the past time I have spent at ‘Astra Special School’ I realized that the first words that come out of my mouth set the tone of the whole interaction.  When you say “Hello, Eighta Buddy, Molo, Good morning so and so” whatever greeting you choose to use will set the standard and the quality of the information you will get out of the child. As you my notice these greetings differ, some are formal, informal, cold and distant, more professional, too personal and some are friendly but unprofessional.

I can not really say there is a right and a wrong a of greeting a patient as we spend time with patients and interact with them we begin to get the feel of how we should approach the patient next time we see them. Some patients would prefer a professional to be a professional, that a physiotherapist just does what he is paid to do and quickly finish so he can continue with his life, usually such patients require a professional physiotherapy approach.

Other kids who come to physiotherapy department see the whole opportunity of receiving physiotherapy as an opportunity to have fun and play games, this is not particularly wrong of children because this is how we have presented physiotherapy to children  as a time to play with a professional.

However I have noticed to be a bit problematic with this approach it that now a physiotherapist is always expected to live up to the standard of always making therapeutic sessions fun and playful even when it’s not necessary, should you say now to such a patient good morning today we are going to stretch your hip joints because I notice a decrease in ROM then you have a problem, because now the greeting is no longer “hello buddy”

Greeting does not have to be as complicated than it needs to be, but it’s very important, it makes people feel valued and appreciated, eye contact is also very important when greeting and interacting with a patient it a polite way of showing them that this moment is all about them and you care what they have to say.


This Pandemic Will Lead to a Social Revolution

The most misleading cliche about the coronavirus is that it treats us all the same. It doesn’t, neither medically nor economically, socially or psychologically. In particular, Covid-19 exacerbates preexisting conditions of inequality wherever it arrives. Before long, this will cause social turmoil, up to and including uprisings and revolution.

In every epidemic, some die, others become ill and recover, and the luckiest live through infection without symptoms. In today’s pandemic, we are seeing this play out before our eyes. Although the initial epidemiological data show that Covid-19 is more severe in older people, men and those with pre-existing conditions such as heart and lung disease, not everyone with severe disease has these risk factors. And not everyone at risk has the same symptoms, prognosis or outcome.

The immediate effect of Covid-19 is to dampen most forms of unrest, as both democratic and authoritarian governments force their populations into lockdowns, which keep people from taking to the streets or gathering in groups. But behind the doors of quarantined households, in the lengthening lines of soup kitchens, in prisons and slums and refugee camps wherever people were hungry, sick and worried even before the outbreak tragedy and trauma are building up. One way or another, these pressures will erupt.

The coronavirus has put a magnifying glass on inequality both between people and within countries. In South Africa there’s been a move by some of the very wealthy to “self-isolate” on their beach estates or swanky yachts, whilst the majority of our citizens are crammed in skwatta-camps . This situation is not unique to South Africa but a norm wherever SARS-CoV-2 shows up.

The International Labor Organization has warned that the current pandemic will destroy 195 million jobs worldwide, and drastically cut the income of another 1.25 billion people. Most of them who were already poor. As their suffering worsens, so do other scourges, from alcoholism and drug addiction to domestic violence and child abuse, leaving whole populations permanently traumatized.

In past epidemics, death and survival were attributed to providence or fortune. But with Corona virus this will not be the case simply because the less priviladged, the less money you make, the less likely you are to be able to work remotely.

It is no secrete that the coronavirus is coursing fastest through neighborhoods that are cramped, stressful and bleak. In this context, it would be naive to think that, once this medical emergency is over, either individual countries or the world can carry on as before. 

Anger and bitterness will find new outlets. Early harbingers that announce the new social revolt include millions of Brazilians banging pots and pans from their windows to protest against their government, or Lebanese prisoners rioting in their overcrowded jails.

In time, these passions could become new populist or radical movements, intent on sweeping aside whatever status qou they define as the enemy. The great pandemic of 2020 therefore demands that we think harder and more boldly but still pragmatically about the underlying problems we confront, including inequality. It’s a wake-up call to all who hope not just to survive the coronavirus, but to survive in a world worth living in.


Food Security For Families Without RefrigeratorS

The original Willows Cellar, seen here in the 1930s, is still used today for aging Rumiano’s Dry Jack cheese.
The original Willows Cellar, seen here in the 1930s, is still used today for aging Rumiano’s Dry Jack cheese.

Recently I have been interested in learning how to preserve different sorts of foods without needing to use a fridge. I learnt alot about canning, using olive oil and salt as a preservative. I don’t really need to learn all this to be honest except from just a shire interest and a curious mind.

My patients do. I have been recently been working in a Paediatric ward where Ive encountered a lot of babies how are sick due to malnourishment and or infectious diseases. While its true that Medicine work and they do no doubt. But food plays a huge role in how these drugs work.

Poverty is a serious problem in my country and it always hurt me to see the conditions that people live under. I am not rich to a point of being out of touch with other people’s lived experiences, In Fact I used to think I was poor until I saw real poverty staring me in the face through my patients eyes.

Having a refrigerator plays an important role in being food secured, Its either my patients don’t have freezers or they cant afford the electric bill to keep it on. I wanted to learn about preserving food to prevent food spoilage not to tell my patients how to do things, but to understand explore the options available outside the cocoon of my privileges.

It was after processing milk while making yogurt that ‘wealth actually comes from the Lord.’ I had done all the things that needed to be done to make yogurt out of milk but I could control the type of lactobacilli that would grow on my milk, I had to go sleep and wait to see the following day.

When I woke up to see my milk which was now seven liters of pure yogurt I knew that I didn’t do that. I did what I could but the Lord made the rest, He made the milk to grow the right bacteria, I made the bacteria, and He made the brains that thought that bacterias can turn milk into yogurt. Wealth is not guaranteed, while there are certains things we can do to set ourselves up for success, but true riches come from God.


Healing through Storytelling: Helping Young Doctors Become More Resilient

I recently had a conversation with some of the medical students in my team that I was rotating in  Internal Medicine with and I asked an unusual question.  “Has any of you ever judged your Senior-Physician for not trying hard enough to save a patient’s life?” Then I looked around the room. But like every time I’d ask such uncomfortable questions, there would be no takers,I can’t say I was surprised.

In my experience, engaging in an honest exchange of thoughts and sharing feelings about the emotional dimensions that come with the job is usually tacitly ignored in the medical culture. I used this unfair and uncomfortable question to ignite a reflective process and using stories to help us as young doctors to better handle the emotional and psychological toll of caring for suffering patients. 

In some situations I would usually start the process by ” Eishh! I had this patient”  steel myself and launch into my story…

I believe it is crucial that we provide safe spaces for healthcare professionals to reflect on and how they process their own mental suffering. It is through this process that  we will be fully available to do the hard work of caring for patients and and making good decision in the moments when it is really needed.

One way to address the emotional trauma that comes with being in the medical field is through storytelling, the use of stories to process the challenging experience of being a doctor increases empathy, enhances wellness and resilience, and promotes a more humanistic health care culture. By p­­­­rovidin­­­­­g a safe space for telling stories and listening to each other about our pain and personal conflicts, we are able restore ourselves and be better prepared for that next encounter.


The monk who set himself in flames in protest

Did they tell you of the monk who set himself in flames in 63?

Did you ask why the doers of the deeds did so?

They say he sat still in lotus as flames roasted his flesh to medium rare. His mental control gripped his body to not flinch as flames scorched.

Some say his blackened skin finally managed to shed light to the world.

I say the flames he sparked where more powerful than the ones that burned him.


Why you should spend less time working and more time doing your hobbies.

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As the demands of our work and other life’s commitments became more and more we increasingly feel pressed for time, when this happens we make up for it by giving up on things that matter to us but we are not getting paid to do. Having time to do your hobbies is increasingly being seen as something that is enjoyed by the unemployed or the lazy.

This may sound trivial but it is as important as our deadlines and commitments are. When people don’t have time for hobbies, our families and our colleagues pay a price. Hobbies can make workers substantially better at their jobs. I know this from personal experience. I’ve always loved cooking food from stretch, making pasta from flour and eggs, roasting and brewing my own coffee beans. But just like everyone else everywhere, I can fall into the trap of feeling that I have no time to do these things.

As both a medical student and entrepreneur I have enough on my plate to keep me busy around the clock. I can easily fall into the trap of the “72-hour workweek,” which takes into account time people spend connected to work on our phones outside of official working hours.

Going to bed is an active decision of weighing pros and cons because there’s always the temptation to do something sedentary and mindless, We usually spend our downtime doing sedentary things such as watching TV or being on social media.

However, choosing to spend that downtime on our hobbies relax our minds with good brain chemistry that relaxes our minds and allows us to think clearer. Many of us suffer from brain exhaustion and burnout no because we are overworked but because we do not know how to rest, like good quality rest.  Learning to rest well has a lot to do with doing hobbies we enjoy instead of scrolling through our ‘Timeline’ and clicking ‘likes’ and ‘comments’.

A creative hobby pulls you out of the chemical cauldron of mental fatigue. Whether you’re a musician, artist, writer, or cook, you often start with a blank canvas in your mind. You simply think: What will I create that will evoke the emotion I’m going for? it is in this state of mind where we give ourselves the mental space, to focus on our feelings, and reawaken our creativity. It is as if rational thought and emotions involve different parts of the brain and for the floodgates of creativity to open, both must be in play.

When I take a break from work to roast coffee beans, I reconnect with that perspective. I keep thinking about how someone enjoying the cup of coffee will respond to the different textures and notes of the fatty acids from the beans. I do all I can to bring out the best from the beans by playing special attention to the smell, the texture and coarseness of every cup. Then, when I resume with my studies or work project, I take that same mentality with me. I can tell that my brain was craving that kind of satisfaction. And when I face that work project again, I bring confidence with me.

Being in Medicine is extremely rewarding in many ways but I do not have to tell you that it comes with its stresses too. What we do outside of work can often attribute to our success at work. Maintaining a healthy level of stress has many positive benefits but there is a thin line between healthy and negative stress which we all cross from time to time.



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The grandiose delusions of Churchill won the war

This statue was on display in Norwich, but not for long as you can imagine. I am borderline certain it caused a lot of quarrel and turned a lot of heads as the Brits saw their wartime leader in a straitjacket. As an African  blogger, I can stick my neck out and defend the statue, and write what I like, as Steve Biko would put it.

The problem facing many mental health campaigners is that there is a huge stigma attached to mental health disorders which have plagued us since Victorian times. The use of the straitjacket is pertinent since to many people mental health problems have connotations of the loony asylum.

Picturing someone of the stature of Churchill in a straitjacket isn’t designed to denigrate him. It is intended to demonstrate that everyone can suffer from mental illness and that it should not be considered something unmentionable, embarrassing or shameful.

No one would express anything other than sympathy for people suffering from a physical illness, yet psychiatric illnesses are taboo.

Anton Storr in his book believes that Britain wouldn’t have won its wars had it not been lead by a man who suffered from bipolar disorder with delusions of grandiose, he could never have been able to inspire the nation when all the odds were against it, a leader of sober judgement might well have concluded that Britain was doomed.

Winston Churchill referred to his periods of depression as the ‘Black Dog’. “Black Dog” was Churchill’s name for his depression and as is true with all metaphors, it speaks volumes.The nickname implies both familiarity and an attempt at mastery, because while that dog may sink its teeth into a  person every now and then, it is still, only a dog, it can be cajoled sometimes and locked up other times, and sometimes leashed on Prozac.




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Does Higher Education Still Prepare Young-people for Jobs?

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We often hear employers and business leaders lament the unfortunate gap between what new graduates have learned at university and what they are actually expected to know in order to do their jobs well. This is particularly alarming in light of the large and still growing number of unemployed youth.

While education is free for students in South Africa, it is not cheap, there is a clear premium on education the returns of investments are very lucrative for those who choose the right kinds of skills for the future. However, the value added by a university degree decreases as the number of graduates increases.

At the same time, as university qualifications become more common, recruiters and employers will increasingly demand them, regardless of whether they are actually required for a specific job. So, while tertiary degrees may still lead to higher-paying jobs, the same employers handing out these jobs are hurting themselves and young people by limiting their candidate pool to university graduates. In an age of ubiquitous disruption and unpredictable job evolution, it is hard to argue that the knowledge acquisition historically associated with a university degree is still relevant.

There are several data-driven arguments that question the actual, rather than the perceived, value of a university degree. A number of  meta-analytic reviews have long-established that the correlation between education level and job performance is weak. In fact, the research shows that intelligence scores are a much better indicator of job potential. If we were to pick between a candidate with a university degree and a candidate with a higher intelligence score, we could expect the latter to outperform the former in most jobs, particularly when those jobs require constant thinking and learning. Academic marks are indicative of how much a candidate has studied, but their performance on an intelligence test reflects their actual ability to learn, reason, and think logically.

University degrees are also confounded with social class, while many universities in South Africa do select students on meritocratic grounds, even merit-based selection is conflated with variables that decrease the diversity of admitted applicants. Affluent  families with more money can afford to pay for better schools, tutors, extracurriculars, and other privileges that increase their child’s likelihood of accessing an elite higher education. This, in turn, affects the entire trajectory of that child’s future, including their future career prospects providing a clear advantage to some and a clear disadvantage to others.

Having said that, universities could substantially increase the value of their graduates if they spent more time teaching their students critical soft skills. Recruiters and employers are unlikely to be impressed by candidates unless they can demonstrate a certain degree of people-skills. This is perhaps one of the biggest differences between what universities and employers look for in applicants. While employers want candidates with higher levels of EQ, resilience, empathy, and integrity, those are rarely attributes that universities nurture.

As the impact of Artificial Intelligence and disruptive technology grows, candidates who can perform tasks that machines cannot are becoming more valuable and that underscores the growing importance of soft skills, which are hard for machines to emulate.

In short,I believe that the job market calls for a paradigm change. More and more students are spending more and more money on higher education, and their main goal is largely pragmatic: to boost their employability and be a valuable contributor to the economy. Even if the value attached to a university degree is beneficial to those who obtain it, companies can help change the narrative by putting less weight on “higher education” as a measure of intellectual competence and job potential, and instead, approach hiring with more open-mindedness.


The Innovations Closing Africa’s Electric Power Gap

Image result for african energy crisesWhen you fly over Africa you realist how dark the continent is, and this is not because of her people, its simply because Africa is not powered.Humanity has never before had such resources, knowledge, and technology at its disposal yet it is a long way from translating those advances into decent lives for all the world’s people. We believe that innovation by businesses large and small can play a central role in closing that gap and solving the world’s challenges. Africa’s shortage of electric power is one of the greatest such challenges, and the push to electrify the continent provides inspiring examples of entrepreneurial solutions.

A few numbers show just how far Africa has to go in power generation. Electricity con­sumption per person in large African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria is less than one-tenth that of Brazil or China. In poorer countries such as Mali, a typical household uses less electricity in a year than a Londoner uses to boil a kettle each day. And nearly 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity altogether with the result that whole communities literally live half their lives in the dark.

The power gap imposes high economic costs, electricity is the life-blood of any  economy, it is the key to getting businesses to work, whether you’re in the agricultural sector, or mining sector. When we talk of foreign capital investment, one of the most deterring factors for foreign to invest in Africa is the energy crises it faces.

While I understand why investors might see energy in Africa as reason to avoid Africa, I do strongly believe that the lack of energy in Africa is an opportunity rather than a threat that which bold innovative investors can use to help close the power gap.

Expanding Africa’s power grid is very important, it’s not the only part of the solution. A new breed of African innovators is harnessing the  advances in solar power and battery storage, to leapfrog the continent’s gaps in electric power generation. One example is Kenya-based M-Kopa, which provides solar-powered electricity generation and storage solutions to households that lack access to the grid

The time to expand the  use digital technologies in Africa has come. The time to decarbonized, decentralized energy in Africa has come, fortunately this cannot be done by governments neither should it. It is only the muscle of businesses that can switch on the plug for Africa.



paradigm switch instead of shift

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Like a multi-compacted Swiss knife, so should your character be.


This pliability is important in maneuvering  unfamiliar terrains. I was recently having a conversation with one of the computer science professors about paradigm switch: thee ability to switch ones paradigm as opposed to shifting or changing it.

His American accent gave him away that he is observing from the birds-eye-view of an outsider. He was talking about some of the observations he noticed from his students who come from the rural parts of South Africa, and how their socially navigate these spaces with all they encompass.

Most of the time students from rural areas feel that they are too rural for these places and when they go back home they feel too urban for their homesteads. This is how the social re-engineering of being able to switch instead of changing your paradigm.

Paradigm switching requires a much greater sense of self-awareness to be able to successfully navigate your way in both the rural and urban spaces. The danger of shifting (moving from one to the other) is the parts of your identity and you might loos in the process.

paradigm switching, allows you to benefit from both worlds, without renegading   the other. I can do a Mochaccino and croissants with you with the same craftiness I can do maas with maize with a gogo back home. I am like a Swiss knife, when a situation requires a screwdriver I can easily open the right compartment of my social skills as per requirement. In situations that require a pair of scissors, I open my social scissors, cut and move on.

A Swiss knife is not a screw-driver, its not a pair of scissors,its a Swiss knife! don`t let its ability to switch around confuse you.