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December 14, 2018

How to look at art: We need politicians that are creative

Individuality by Didney Kairu, 23, acrylic on canvas painting
Individuality by Didney Kairu, 23, acrylic on canvas painting

People need politicians that are creative. Making laws and policies, politicians can solve people’s problems. However, in our rapidly changing and increasingly complex world, solutions must be creative to be effective. Yet, many politicians lack the complex thinking that creative people display. Short of fresh ideas, they get out of touch with the public. Appearing clueless, incompetent and corrupt, they cling to bureaucracy. Moreover, fearing creativity, they try to stamp it out in others. 

Creativity — the ability to generate new ideas — can be learned. Art education in schools is one of the best ways to foster creativity in the young. Through various art practices, children learn to experiment and innovate. In Kenyan schools, art education in almost non-existent. This is despite the ‘Creative Arts’ subject being compulsory in the primary school curriculum. 

Some head teachers told me that their local politicians discourage them — either in ignorance or a deliberate strategy — not to teach the arts. The absence or weak art education results in young people growing up less creative: less able to think independently outside conventions and bring positive change to their lives.

Politicians can create a better future for us, but only if they are creative. Creativity is one of the major criterions we should apply to our leaders. But we also should ask ourselves how creative WE are. Because, ‘people get the governments they deserve’. 

Take this short questionnaire. Score yourself on a scale of 0 to 10. If you score more than 125, consider yourself creative, if less — read my ‘How do we learn creativity?’ article at 


‘How Creative Am I?’ questionnaire: 

1. I see creativity as positive force that improves our lives and society. I am committed to creativity.

2. I am curious and enjoy exploring new ideas and opportunities and doing things in new ways.

3. I am flexible and enjoy thinking independently, challenging the status quo and conventions.

4. I enjoy solving problems.

5. I am able to see a problem before anyone else.

6. I can connect knowledge across various disciplines and generate new ideas and solutions.

7. I can recognise ‘good ideas’ generated by others.

8. I think ‘what can be?’ instead of ‘what is?’

9. I can think visually: I am observant, and I can visualise (see images in my mind).

10. I can think divergently: I can generate multiple solutions to a problem.

11. I can evaluate ideas to select the most effective one; I am comfortable with making decisions.

12. I can communicate ideas in the ways that may inspire others to action.

13. I can implement ideas: I am organised and can form partnerships.

14. I understand that creativity can be learned, and how creativity can be learned.

15. I do not fear failure and taking well-evaluated risks. I am a ‘do it’ rather than ‘don’t do it’ person.

16. I am ambitious, forever raising my performance bar, and I’m driven to realise my potential.

17. I have a strong sense of self-efficacy (I believe I can succeed in tasks).

18. I am self-motivated and self-sufficient (needing no outside help or motivation).

19. I am resilient (quick to recover after a ‘failure’).

20. I am motivated by work, get emotionally involved in work, and take pride in work well done.

21. I am a leader: I have a vision and enjoy leading people for change.

22. I am an entrepreneur: I am willing to try turning ideas into business.

23. I am a polymath: I have a broad range of interests.

24. I have a good balance between logic and imagination.

25. I am not a bureaucrat: I am not overly concerned with procedure at the expense of efficiency and common sense.

Poll of the day