Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shillingi ya Kenya

the other day, a friend who works abroad and remits loads of money to help his extended family and friends back home (he actually runs the family remotely) asked me what magic the government had performed in the last few weeks to make the shilingi ya Kenya to rally so hard. i gave just two suggestions one being the Hellios deal and the other the telkom deal. i even suggested to him that if he thought things were bad then he should wait for the mother of all IPOs plus the aftermath. since all expectations is that the thing will be massively subscribed by foreigners. i doubt if they will want their money back when they fail to get their allocations. meaning their money will be floating around waiting for the secondary market. if that happens and the CBK holds its ground then the shilling may become ever much stronger.

the poor guy is crestfallen coz that means he digs deeper. but today on reading the business daily, it appears that my answer to the guy was rather simplistic. there may be many other issues in the cards. i have argued before that since we are a net importer of goods and services including education (imported even from Uganda) we are better off with a strong currency. but again thinking of those many kenyans in diaspora and the kenyan farmers, as well as tourism industry, one cant help but hope for the good (bad) old days when the shilling was approaching 100 to the dollar.

but what is happening to fuel? how come its not respecting our currency?

however for me sometimes, i forget about the issues business and just go to issues purely aesthetic. i think there is something soul lifting about having a strong currency or is it just me?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

..the leaders we deserve

Now the nomination ghost has been laid to rest and those who won(lost) have their names of the priced paper. but in most places some question beg for answers. does PNU, the president , its leaders and all those supporters really , truly and professionally and honestly believe that Langata constituency would be served better by either Livondo who cannot read even a simple written sentence, or Waruinge whom everyone knows is guilty of senseless murders, car jacking, violent rapes, extortion and the like better than Raila Odinga? or is it just hatred? are they only out to show for a fact that hatred is the strongest force in Kenya. stronger far than even love? That they would rather the devil reins than have Raila back in parliament or as president?

What of in westlands? that the architect of the goldenberg, which to date is one of the largest known financial scams in the country, will better serve the interest of the people?

The people of Kieni showed the way loud and clear. when they rejected Murungaru who had stained the name of the president so badly as well as stain their (Kieni people) own name. they were loud in walking the talk. by rejecting Murungaru even though he was close to the president, the Kieni electorate showed much more teeth that the obscenely paid KACC officials.

Ugenya people wanted to give the same lesson. they opted to reject Ondiek who misused CDF so. and also Orengo who has taken the people for a ride for so many years. the man only comes to campaign two weeks to the elections. after which he disappears completely. nothing happens in between. and indeed he will be beaten fair and square!

Am sorely disappointed that those funny characters got the nod of top party officials including the should be gentleman Kibaki. Am hoping that The langata people would do us proud and defeat hatred come the 27th elections

am hoping that the same maturity will be replayed in all places and that people who become politicians will learn to respect Kenyans once and for all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I have been struggling to find a suitable headline for this post since last Friday. that would explain why its coming almost 4 days late.

the things that were done by the so called political parties in the past 3 days to me have neither description nor a name. from Ugenya where 29 year old Steve Mwanga who won by a near landslide even though his name was mysteriously missing from the ballot paper and was later 'disqualified' to Kuria where Chacha Mwita was denied the certificate, got it then lost it again in a span of 24 hours the thing was unspeakable and am not disappointed, am angry.

Dan shikanda was robbed in broad daylight in makadara as was Amin walji in westlands, Barak Muluka in khwisero and so on. the 'nominations' were difficult to conduct first because it was being done by amateurs we understand but then why on earth did they set the final day as the day for it? that in itself was a sign of intent to rig. PNU used the services of the experienced and organized ECK but after the verdict was out, they shamelessly altered the results without a tinge of guilt and handed the losers the priced certs. and the council member one Mr. Nyamweya had the audacity to threaten Safina which had offered the aggrieved parties some sort of lifeline.

but anyway why am i foaming in the mouth? Mr Moi had one time said that KANU iko na wenyewe. which meant that democracy was as strange in that party as an igloo in kenya. the truth be told, we hardly have any political parties in kenya and the events of the weekend rightly point so. to start with, the voters should remember that they were not required to have a membership card. meaning that they did not have a say. anyone was welcome to walk in and vote as long as you were a kenyan above 18. so it means that we dont have a choice really. either put up, shut up or step! these parties have their owners.

but in Nyanza, true to their nature, the voters took kajwang's song literally and refused to sleep. they showed that '...mapambano bado yako' they refused to be used to rubber stamp those chaos in the name of nominations and insisted that the genuine winners must be re-instated. the party HQs have relented but may be as they say alea jecta est.

am sad for Mwanga. he was a beacon of hope in ugenya whose politics have been ruined by one man and his brother in law for miaka nenda miaka rudi. the man has done a lot for the people, with the people and through the people despite his youth. but my good old friend Kodhek once told me that you cannot stop a young person whose will is strong and is on his way to success. there must still be hope for Ugenya, Mwanga and others like him.

however every cloud has a silver lining and the events proved one Kalembe Ndile right that you dont need a degree to succeed in life (or maybe life in kenya) all you need is a party called TIP to rescue powerful losers and weak winners

Monday, November 19, 2007


Seeing Kenneth Njindo Matiba last week presenting his papers almost evoked tears in my eyes. the man who in his years was an organizational, business and political masterpiece was a crying shame as he struggled to get his way to the ECK. and he could not read the pledge let alone sign his papers. yet 15 years after he was literally rigged out of victory by a combined force of Mwai Kibaki and Moi, the man says he feels much better. actually Matiba always says he is much better every time he comes on TV. Kibaki was tactfully sent out by Moi at that time to make sure Matiba never won the election, the remaining votes were stolen, Oginga was confined after FORD split and the rest was history.

yet some bloggers are now blaming ODM for matiba's re-emergence. but probably the man is simply bitter, that the man who made him this poor and sick is comfortably back at the helm with Kibaki the other man who denied him the win. When one sees Matiba in this state and reads about his battle with auctioneers, one cant help but remember moi in his peak as the devil incarnate. But siasa is funny. politicians quickly forgive and forget when it suits them and now even those who suffered with Matiba like Koigi wa wamwere are singing praises of Moi and insulting the other second liberation hero Raila Odinga. Wamwere's case was a sad one that led to his mother striping naked at Uhuru park to secure his release. yet now Moi enjoys all the state resources as the pseudo-president at the expense of heros like Matiba

in fact his situation is a true mockery of the honor our heros pledge. and even Dedan Kimathis statue in town is nothing. or is it that heros are only once they die?

to me the surprise appearance of Matiba was a call to reflection of the collective conscience of the people of Kenya and a strong reminder that ours is a guilty nation that has persistently ignored her true heros and rewarded collaborators and tyrants of yesteryears from as far back as independence.

Friday, November 16, 2007

24 hour business

Nakumatt has extended their 24 hour chain of supermarkets to nakumatt downtown. now 4 stores including eldoret household, ukay and prestige will be open 24 hours every day. and that concept has seen uchumi too extend their open hours to 10PM from 7:30 at least at the sarit. tuskys has also done the same. this is a relief given the stress of traffic during day hours. the only fear now is security which is a big pain everywhere in kenya and nairobi in particular. however it wont be so new since these mega stores are only joining the likes of kenchic fastfoods (actually dancing chicken) on the 24 hour economy. other sectors which have been making money in these are matatus especially the jogoo road bound, kahawa west and langata routes not to mention entertainment joints like f1&2. those that never say sleep!

but one area that cries for this concept is the port of Mombasa, its sad that with all that congestion and delays which cost traders and other importers billions of shilling in missed opportunities as well as storage costs, the port gates still close at 5PM and only open at 8. one time, my consignment was stopped at the gate ostensibly because the clock had struck 5 and the gate keeper bolted! turning the busy port to be open 24 hours daily would also greatly increase the number of jobs available and probably this would be the best place for Kalonzo to start implementing his 24hour economy.

and so be it, wonders of elections never cease, the other day i went to town and could hardly believe my eyes. the hawkers are not pledging their votes for nothing. the guys are back in swarms bigger far than locusts. every parking space, every pavement, even road spaces have been 'chalked' up by the traders. and as before they are selling anything you can imagine. 'you need it? we got it' the shopkeepers who pay an arm and a leg for the ground floor shops are crying foul. but the common mwananchi is happy since these guys dont have to pay tax, nor rent nor elec nor water. so their goods are dirt cheap so to speak.

however the crafty wahindi have known how to beat the election madness. they are giving the traders their goods for free then these guys pay in the evening or when they want more goods. the downside however is that the city that one John Gakuo struggled to beautify and keep clean is now turning to a city in the garbage just as before.

but it really doesn't matter, these guys have just about 2 months to make their hay while the campaign sun shines as they will be ruthless bundled out of town after casting their valuable votes.

million dollar question of the month: Why is it that neither South African businesses nor managers ever make it in Kenya?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

value systems and insult systems

My first job in Nairobi 'jimbo' was as a computer teacher at graffins college sometimes in the late nineties. at that time, computer teachers were very much respected people, i was teaching some very simple things really like Microsoft word, excel etc. i was still quite young but my students were bit older people some from some tough offices. i remember one particular woman who took some rather uncomfortable though quite flattering liking for me. she would have some odd excuses to remain behind after class and have me hold her hand while she tried to use the mouse. it was my job to also teach the students how to hold and move the mouse anyway. well when we got rather close with this woman she started talking to me a lot about her family, her village and so on. at one point she said she wanted me to visit her people back in tigania . the only thing she feared was that i may not have been circumcised and if that were true then her dad would not have me spend the night with the other boys. i would be asked to sleep in the same hut with the goats since by their standards i was a kid. she said a lot of sorrys for saying that , which really puzzled me. it didn't matter to me whether or not someone called me a kid on the account of a loose skin. in fact by our value system, the only thing that bothered me was the prospect of being seen with this seemingly old woman. how would i introduce her to anyone who knew me. by the value systems of the place where i was born and brought up, its abominable for a young man to consort with such an old woman. i was even mortified that she had such suggestions. but to her all that mattered was my uncut status!

that was strange for me since i was a fresh college graduate and was meeting that thinking for the first time. back in college i had met many people but all that mattered was who was able to show the others how to work out calculus , Ordinary differential equations, molarity, probability and statistics and so on. the fairer sex treated all the young men the same and the man with the toughest tongue and sweetest style won the day.

be that as it may, the statement of the lady just reminded me of the time the white men came to Africa and hurled all sorts of insults. chief among them was the claim that Africans were pagans, primitive and uncultured. did that insult matter to Africans? not at all. why because, Christianity was not yet accepted in Africa so 'pagan insult' was as foreign as was Christianity western education was also lacking but there were other forms of education . thirdly most African things were very procedural, methodical and thus very cultural. after all culture is just a way of doing things. that our culture was different to theirs did not warrant an insult.

what am pointing here is that insults only work if value systems are shared. for instance, in my village i would feel really hurt if someone called me a thief, liar, coward,thug or a fool. but it will mean nothing to me to be called kihii, uncut, etc. in this country, i have traveled wide and i have met people who only need to mutilate their organs in order to be accepted in their communities. it doesn't matter whether they are rapists, murderers, rogues or just plain saints. all that matters is the genital mutilation for both men and women.

back to the woman from tigania, i never got to go to Tigania, she feared for me but it never mattered to me that i never went. i also never got to do any damage to my body in order to go after all i was already more than two decades old in this state and a proud father of two!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

a nice week on november

this past week i have spent some considerable amount of time with a large American dude. What do those guys feed on back there. anyway, the guy is generally a gentle giant and was quite a company. in the short time is i have probably heard the most number of 'thank you' , 'sorry to bother you' ,'appreciated','awesome','amazing' , 'extra ordinary' and other soul lifting words in any one sitting in my life. but one other thing that made me jivunia kuwa mkenya was how the gentle giant appreciated the cup of coffee or tea each time he took one. and went on and on about just how nice the drink felt. at one point i had to take a special cup of tea just to try and get that feeling he was getting but to me it was the same old tea.

elsewhere, MSC price has dropped a massive 67% to 14 or has it? many people both in the office and elsewhere have been asking me whether its not time to sell. my simple answer has been that this is not time to sell anything. its actually a great time to buy anything. why? since for many reasons, people are selling. those who don't have confident in ODM government prospects as well as those who want to liquidate their shares to fund elections, manage inflation etc.
However on the other hand MSC is at the point of investing. any company which is in the process of expansion offers the best buy decision. you are meant to sell when a company is maturing and ripe. secondly, the price of MSC hasnt dipped, what has happened is that investors have treated the bonus as a split. so in real terms the price is still 14 x 3 = 42

another good news is that PNU has finally bitten the bullet and embraced majimbo after all. reminds me of my kids.
and now that all parties will embrace majimbo i think am spoilt for choice.

and belatedly, if you are a member of any sacco then you may want to consider participating in the private placement of CIC insurance company. the firm is being sold at quite a good discount.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

in flight entertainement

the nice kenwood stereo that was thuged in thugland hasn't been replaced to date, the downside of that has been that riding in the car has been really drab and i have received both formal and informal complaints from my pre-teen daughters about it. the innocence of childhood hasn't helped matters since they wonder how come i am not acting well yet i have an ATM card. all i have to do is rush to anyone of them and draw the cash then buy new stereo. however maybe due to age, am becoming rather conservative and i have been looking for an original 3-in-one kenwood stereo from my cars vendor. the local dealers told me that would cost me a tidy sum of 60K if they are to import it for me, after that i would pay the government of national unity their VAT and car would be back with its entertainment

"but again the upside of the absence has been that i nolonger have to listen to bursted, or mwalimu kingangi or nyambane, maybe i miss the waumini choirs and the golden mix of simba fm sisi ni wewe! but in the mornings and evening, another form of entertainment has taken the place of the radio. my two nursery school kids have filled this void so well, am having second thoughts about the stereo. the entertainment is quite varied, spontaneous and never repeated. today it started with a billboard with bata's safari boot.

the boy exclaimed; "my shoe! look at my shoe"
the sister corrected, "its not your shoe"
"its mine, look at even the laces"
the sister stood her ground; "its not your shoe, it cant fit you, its too big"
"al tell dad that you are saying thats not my shoe"
"and i will tell mum that you said am in 'nyonyo class'
if you tell her, i will tell dad that you did not finish your food!"
"dont talk to me am not your friend and i will not bakisha for you my break!"

"am not talking to you me am looking at Kibaki in that big picture"
"its not kibaki its the president"
"no raila is the people's president even see its written over there"

Shock these kids can read billboards at this age! i need a refund from my teachers i was not able to read till i was well into primary school!

"stop talking to me!!!"

at this point mum who is the co-driver wants to intervene since its becoming too hot. she wants to separate the waring parties, so she suggests i stop the car and we get one kid transfered to the front seat. i respond that our car is not ready for majimbo , those guys will resolve their differences amicably in a round table! mum is says its not majimbo but 'utenganishaji', i say the change of name wont fool us, its still majimbo , the pre-teens are quite bothered, and am forced to relent. but before i can even hit the indicator to signal intention to stop, an excited scream from the rear jimbo "Mr Marangi! look at mr marangi" and the two former warlords start reciting the marangi advert rather animatedly. so no need to introduce majimbo and we proceed. at the round about another chorus;

"our car. dad that guy is driving our car!"

others burst out laughing but inside am happy that peace has been restored. there has been an IPPG kind of thing and the hitherto potentially dangerous scenario has cooled off

You see kids are like politicians, there are no permanent enemies and no permanent friends. but at this point we have reached the school and i must let off the 'car theater. i hate it since now i must go back to boredom and all those negative thoughts like the fact that rent-paying-time has arrived a reminder that 8 odd years into gainful employment am yet to get my own digz and that when i get from work, i have to park this road master in front of someone else's house!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

generational gaps

there was this time, i got a visit by my young sister-in-law. just before going away, she asked to be taken out (for a dance) and her sister gave us the approval. so we set out with her in great anticipation. just the two of us. I didn't know what kind of dance she would like so, i acted like a good gentleman and asked her about her favorite music. she said she liked local music. that was good , i knew just where i would get great local music and a great crowd too! so we drove straight there and went ahead to have a great evening or so i thought. however after she went is when her sister told me how bored my sister-in-law had been than night. asking how come, she said "it was because you took her to dance to very old music and in any case its not what she had told you". but but, the music we were dancing to by the likes of dola kabarry, musa juma are the newest, in fact they are hot from the pan! but no, the issue was that i did not understand what the girl had meant by local. local musicians to her meant nonini, jua kali, nameless and such like characters! so i learnt my vital lesson that a simple term such as 'local' can have such different meanings to people separated by less than a decade age difference. i wonder which other terms would have very great difference in meanings to people separated by jubilees of age differences