Sunday, June 10, 2012

NEKWA's Message

At the Madaraka Day Celebration on the South Common yesterday, the President of NEKWA (the New England Kenyan Welfare Association) spoke.

One of her major themes was that the group needed to rely on its members to be great.  She told them, "We had an event in Worcester, and the Mayor of the City came.  Lieutenant Governor Murray was there, too.  Now, we're having an event in Lowell, and the Mayor is here to celebrate with us.  We are being taken seriously, so it's up to us to live up to it. We need to strive to become a great organization that reflects credit upon the Kenyan community here in New England."

I thought that was a fantastic message.  A lot of times, when interest groups of any sort get together, they talk about what they can get, and sometimes grumble about something they didn't (such as a group that recently complained about having to pay for a police detail from its own pocket, or another that didn't like the decor at an event and groused about it through back channels).

So it was refreshing to basically hear a group's leader talking to her people with the opposite sort of message.  She started with the idea that they were already getting recognition from people in positions of power, and then exhorted the members to live up to the billing.  One particular thing they're interested in -- and which dovetails quite nicely with one of the key initiatives coming from the Mayor's Office -- is breathing some more life into the relationship between Lowell and Nairobi.

But anyway, back to the message:  It was reminiscent of the famous JFK line about asking what you can do rather than finding out what you can get.  It's that type of thinking that helps foster strong civic organizations in strong communities.  

No comments: