Tuesday, September 25, 2007

back to scene

exactly one month after the car incident, i went back to the home through which we escaped. i wanted to just go and see it again and probably also know the owner and thank him. it is in a very posh part of lower kabete just off lower kabete road and i was made to understand belongs to a mr. muriithi. this neighborhood also houses strong people like MJ of safaricom, several embassies and the like. the groundsman told me they knew about the incident since they had seen our 'nyayo' around the home. this area is normally guarded 24 /7 through armed response units. however the grounds man went on the say that his 'boss' was carjacked just the other day right at his lighted and guarded gate. however his story was different since the car ran out of petrol when they were at gathiga. so they dumped him there and carjacked another poor soul again at the latter's gate.

but the man went on to say that this particular area is a thug corridor. those who rob on the lower kabete side use it to cross to the loresho side and vice versa. gun battles are an almost weekly occurrence here. that ran chills down my spine. one thing you don't want to find yourself in is a gun battle between thugs and police.

away from such sad stories to depressing ones. yesterday, i was at the standard investment bank after quite a while. the last time i was here, i could hardly find anyone to attend to me. every one was so busy and pre-ocupied. yesterday, all those idle tellers were all too eager to attend to me. the banking hall was virtually empty and the investment advicers were just lazying about. everyone here was blaming elections for their predicament. i asked them to advice the old man to call a snap election. after all according to him elections is only one day. then we can go on with our lives.

but the elections have some bad things as well. after the president and his trade minister lied to the western voters that sugar quota was extended by 4 more years, it was revealed that in fact the government had not even sent a formal request to comesa as yet!

maybe another cause of the depression of prices is the many recently rich young kenyans who are liquidating their shares to run for elective positions. in Kenya, politics is the apex of the need hierarchy and once you make some money you normally run for a parliamentary seat.

lakini, the truth is that this time is a perfect time to acquire as much shares as you can. things will look up next year when sanity returns to home.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

pre-election business

some business will do quite well this time of the year. yesterday, several school children were given 5 exercise books each. the children were expressly told at school to tell their parents that those books were bought for them by the president! i wonder why presidents buy school books in the second week of third term. however some children are even cleverer than the president and told their parents that the books are from the free primary education program. the program is a Kenya government initiative and not the presidents sponsorship. talk of sharp kids!

Anyway book vendors will love it if this will be the way back to power. other business that will do well include sugar business since the man announced that the quota against duty free sugar will be extended by 4 more years. that news will be very sweet to MSC share holders. i dont know whether it will be good to the farmers who normally have to wait for 18 months to be given their meager earnings. but graphic designers will soon be going to town with posters , t-shirts and the like as will be hooligans defacing the posters of rivals. election time is boom time. even taxis and other luxury vehicles will enjoy. taxis will even be even happier with the return of the alcoblow.

talking of taxis, i saw that in dubai, they have tried to solve the public transport crisis using taxis. i stood 1 hour in a queue waiting for a taxi! i have never seen such a thing. even though the taxis were well kept, professionally driven and even have GPS installed, they simply don't solve the public transport crisis. in fact they worsen it by introducing traffic jams. and so Dubai which now proudly has the worlds tallest man made physical structure, is working on the only known solution to public transport - the metro. by the way did you know you could buy Kenya in Dubai? then u could be president without having to declare a party of national unity. but i digress.

kengen will report a reduction in profit in the neighborhoods of 35%. i think thats massive for a company which has literally no competition and a huge demand for its products. mtu amelala kazini!

other ways to make money this electioneering period is to compose songs in praise of the contestants or follow them up and provide a back up crowd. campaigns are anxious moments and one can almost pay to be given that assurance that he is going to win. Otherwise if you want to quit your job to become the CEO of a state corporation or a PS, then the time to lick boots is now!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

technology is talent

the sweet chinese lady takes my digital foto, removes the memory card and puts it in the family foto lab, edits the picture, adds background, frame, captions, brightness, removes red eye etc. then prints. takes about 5-10 minutes. perfect thats the same amount of time taken by an emiratee to caricature me! free hand plus add a few funny things in the background. i wonder how long it would take our own Gathara to do the same

but AMD probably took longer time to research and come up with the worlds first true quod core processor. the gaming experience including FIFA 2006 is perfect. the chip is for high end servers, so if you are still not at the mind range level then you must wait to grow up first. whats more, it doubles your server performance without necessarily requiring more power (electricity) even your data center size remains pretty much the same.

ou etes vous intel?

shows galore

ever heard of smart city? as in you can 'browse' or to use a similar term , tour the whole of the city in 3-D from the comfort of your chair! works in the same way as touring a planned house the way arthitects do it. you will be able to see, in correct dimensions and scale, all the parts of the city and that way plan your shortest route from point A-B.

more shows, the new OLED TV (organic light emiting diode display ) on show plus the on demand TV image procesing. your camera processes images immediately! this TV is connected to your other applicances eg phone via bluetooth and you can even 'TV' call your wife (or significant other)and see her on TV as you talk.

on the other end, oracle poineering Fusion middleware with its state of the art identity management.

shock: these technologies are not only used by big cooporates, but also by the dubai police service! to add salt, police patrol vehicles are top of the range, BMWs etc. and to brag a little from my hotel, am taken around by a lexus. my first time in a new model lexus stretch and am back left!

Monday, September 10, 2007


am currently representing my company and the country (grin!) in this years global conference on emerging technologies ( yes thats the league where i play (wider grin))

to say the least its amazing. fast quick lesson: kenya is doing well so far, but we need to fix just two things for further quick gains

1. infrastructure (namely roads first)
2. security . Its bliss being in a rich country and not having to worry that any of your possesions will be lost and knowing that you wont be mugged, or robbed, or even conned!

shock on me! i meet very many kenyans working as expatriates here mostly in hospitality industry. ( i know bad press would call them life gaurds, cooks, waiters or even sex workers. stupid press!) am reliably told they are making loads of money and most drive at least BMWs or are chauffeur driven.

quick embarassment: these guys have made an artificial island in the shape of a palm tree, in the violent waters of the ocean. the island has about 500,000 extremely high networth individuals as its tenants who include David Beckam. back at home we cant even tame a seasonal ndhoya (river Nzoia)

economy shock! i go to this mall touted as the second largest in the world. first shop, i see a beautiful blazer, price tag? 9135 in their country or about 180,000 kenya shillings. ils sont fous ces gens!

Friday, September 07, 2007

of TV and shocks on me

sometimes people really shock me, nay TV really shocks me. And just yesterday, TV showed me the ever green Julie Gichuru confront the minister for finance with the tough question on the Kroll report. the man who has won my respect over time denied on camera that he knew anything about it. shock! julie then said but its all over, the man said well am not the author. we know that. so what? he went on : "i didn't receive it . i didn't even commission it" so? it was commissioned by your government sir! the fact that it was commissioned before you became minister for finance doesn't make a difference. he then said he hadn't even seen it. good old Julie had the report in her hand and promptly handed it over to the cornered minister. he declined to even take a look! he said he wants to receive it officially, from the KACC.

But Julie was wasting her breath since the same TV said that the MPs had 'horse traded' and got 333 million golden handshake in place of forgiving all past economic criminals. thats all economic crimes commited before 2004 were all forgiven! that means, goldenberg, anglo leasing, ndungu land report , etc were all trashed.

but TV was not done with me, more shocks awaited me. the PS for transport a mr. Ikiara, said on camera that "....only 30 Kenyans were dying every week in road accidents ..." that is a senior government official! yet we all know that these deaths can be avoided. michuki showed us that in 2003-2004. Kenyans don't have to put their lives at risk each time they get out to look for the daily bread.

then TV went on to say that 11 kenyans were killed as they went to rob a bank in TZ. TV mentioned that they were innocent robbers

further TV also said that Jirongo, the man who almost took kenya to Zimbabwe some time back will become our president since Mudavadi was not nominated ODM candidate. there were more shocks that TV gave me yesterday, but again i remember it always does that!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

business lessons from thugland/cops

My primary school football hero Bakari used to tell us one thing, if you miss the ball , never miss the man. he used this belief with lots of success. but when i came of age i thought it was rather cruel so i decided to change the second part to '...never miss the lesson'.

there were many lessons to be learnt from first, the thugs and second the cops.

1. Know your customer: the thugs did a good job profiling me, they asked about my place of work, level of education, number of kids etc. that way they would easily tell what to expect and how to treat me

2. train your customers: there were several things i did not know. they first of all asked me whether i knew what a gun was and how it was used. they then went on to teach me that if i cooperated and they got what they wanted , no one would be hurt.

3. efficiency: i still marvel at the efficiency with which these guys bundled us into the car. it was so fast and neat. even when i got the car , i marveled at how they had removed the stereo without damaging the ignition, EFI system, lamps etc. only the dome lights and central locking were affected. and they also left the wires neatly cut and folded

4. leadership and order: the other two thugs obediently followed their leader. and there was a clear pecking order as well. the leader, the deputy and the third who seemed like a "mtu wa mkono". i also saw utmost order and respect at the police station

5. core business: these thugs stuck to the goal of robbery. they never tried funny things that others do these days such as sodomy and rape. they also never hit any one of us at all. they never stole the lights or the wheels

6. bureaucracy never works: i suspect the police would have been more efficient had they abandoned the process of saying that boundaries must be respected and that they cannot do someones elses job. also the time we spent waiting for the duty officer was too much. it gave the thugs enough time to escape had they wanted.

7. Always deliver on your promise: those guys promised not to harm me and they didn't. they also promised to dump my car that very day and they did!

in other news, Mumias and EABL have both declared handsome bonuses. MSC may have wanted to cover up the reduced profitability but still it was a good show. they effectively reduced the initial cost of the share. but remember you don't benefit until after the register is closed. if you sell now you lose out on the bonus and dividend.

what lessons do we learn from these two? that kenyan firms will be looking at greater expansion as opposed to dividend payout. kengen has 2 billion issued shares. and they are at 30 /= that means most firms with less than a billion shares may decide to go on a split, bonus issue spree until they have at least 1 billion shares issued.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

adventures of economic boom

about a week ago Friday, i experienced what would put the reality TV programs to shame. It just started after i decided it was time to benefit from the kibaki economy and acquire an image boosting state of the art automobile with superior road handling, performance, comfort et al (ok am pushing that a little...) Well, so i come home after spending a few more Kenyan shillings and while am waiting for the gate to be oppened, what do i hear? a metallic tap on the drivers window, before i can breathe i hear another on the left and am being asked if i know what those tools are for. i nod and mumble yes to both questions and i can also see our guard being man handled. before i know it, i have been bundled in the back seat next to the watchie and the car is zooming on the rough stretch that went to our estate. interestingly, i had passed two armed policemen about 50 meters from where i was robbed of the car, and now again the thugs have driven past them without even a flinch. they are warning me against pressing any button or screaming or doing anything related to raising alarms. the watchie has been asked how many they are, whether there are alarms etc. i am trying not to do anything to offend these enterprising young men of kibaki administration. they are simply reaping the benefits of improved economic environment. we turn onto tarmac, drive a few metres then onto another rough road, they are going fast. in fact they are simply demonstrating to me how good this machine is. i got value for my money! after a long, rough drive where my thoughts have gone from my lovely kids, to my wife , my funeral and the pain of seeing this new car take such a beating, we stop and they declare that they have nothing to do with the watchie. its me they want. they have already asked about my marital status, number of kids, job description,level of education, salary and allowances,when do we get paid,the cost of car and mode of acquisition

At the bush where we have stopped, my pockets have been emptied.my ATM cards taken and i have been forced to jot down my PIN number at gun point. then one of the young men has given me a torch and asked me to look for more money in the car and hand over to them. no more. but now they look at my fingers and order me to remove the wedding ring with my wife's name on it. these guys can easily see gold. so the leader tells me he is now going to withdraw the money , the other two thugs guard us in the coffee plantation. meanwhile they are communicating with each other thanks to safaricom; confirming if everything is alright and the money has been withdrawn.

after what seems like eons, the guy is back and we start off again to God knows where. twists, turns, high speed, reversing. hills, gulleys, mounds, rough road, smooth road...! we stop again and they are now removing my original kenwood stereo. they have no screw driver. funny thugs. by this time both the guard and myself have been bundled in the boot of the car. after some struggle they ask me for a screw driver which i helpfully give to them. they then remove my stereo and we are on again. back to tarmac and we drive for eons. we are meanwhile in the boot with the old man. i never knew my six-foot-two figure could fit in the boot but the gun just showed me it was possible. actually the boot ride was rather comfortable. the car must have very good suspension. again we stop. am thinking this must be somewhere in nyeri of thika. since we have been driving for nearly two hours at top speed and the car has been handling the ride well. two of them step out. there is one of them who keeps on being bullied by the other two. he is not allowed to be near them and they keep ordering him about. i can pick a few words of the thug tongue. we lie in the boot for like donkey years. each time i try to turn, i hear warning that i will be shot!

well then all of a sudden the boot opens rudely and we are told to get out. "Walk that way straight on and you will reach the road" they offer. "and mzee, we dont really want your car, we will give it back to you. dont look for it too much. we will leave it at Limuru golf club"

we start off and realize we are in deep inside a forest with very tall trees. we are thanking the Lord all along for our lives. we dont know where we are going or where we are. straight on. we get a gate secured with a padlock. so we go round and climb the fence. further on we meet another fence and climb only to end up at a fast flowing river. after much struggle and search we get a make shift bridge and use it across. finally we end up at another tall fence this time unsurmountable. we trace our steps again and get another fence , lower than the other. we have been walking for about 45 minutes. we climb this fence and land into a home. Hell! the curse of Murphy. from the pan unto the fire. 4 ferocious dogs come charging. their loud backs alone have turned me into jelly. they are very big. but the guard tells me that the dogs wont attack if we slouch and remain still. i couldn't believe that but upon doing like the guard said. the dogs stop at their 'paws' but continue backing like their life depends on it. finally the watchie in the home comes slowly and asks who we are, we tell the guy our story but he doesn't believe us. he goes back and presses the alarm. before long, the patrol has come. we tell our story again and they take us to the police.

The police station is empty. do we knock shout or what? we wait and finally one officer comes and asks us our problem. we tell our story. the guy takes about 1 hour recording the incidence. but he says he cannot 'circulate' the car because he is not the duty officer. that thing can only be done by the duty officer who is out at the moment we must wait for him. its now going to 6AM. the guy aint coming. the car hasn't been circulated and i can imagine that if the thugs wanted to take the car to tanzania, they must be in namanga by now. the guards who had been good samaritans to us declare that their limit of their kindness has arrived and they can no longer wait with us. they had wanted to take us home once we report the crime. so they leave us at the station where we wait for one more hour and the duty officer is still not arrived yet. finally i decide to get 911 to take me home so that i can tell my family whats up and come back later (by the way 911 is very handy in case of trouble) just at that time the duty officer comes and starts asking me the questions all over again. after listening to our story, he declares that the area where we were car jacked in not in his jurisdiction and so he cannot take any action! am speechless. i stare at the man blankly but he intones that i must go to the police station near my place of residence where the crime took place and report. i don't reply and i just stare blankly at him like a fool. he then tells me he will just help anyway and he then talks onto the radio to the other policemen to tell them about he robbery. after that am told to come later for the police abstract.
after just an hour, i go to my friends house near the station, we get a call that my car is at the traffic headquarters. i go there and they even give me the description of the thugs who took my car. the police tells me even where to get my stereo. where it will be sold etc. but they want chai for the chief who found the car in park road. another chai is needed for the police who went for it. and a third chai for the wazee who are going to sit after work! well thats after paying for towing. i thought i told these guys that i was robbed of the money i had plus some from two banks?

anyway am happy to be re-united with my car and all i want is get home and rest. its now 12 midday. retrieving the car from the police took about 4 hours. bureaucracy. no sooner do i get into the car than i realize that i am very very hungry!