Monday, April 28, 2008

...whispering lights soft kissing mature trees in the dark...

cool, gentle renditions of great Kenyan and African music of old spiced with some western blues, great smiles and gentle manner, whispering lights, open skies, lighted trees, toad and frog calls from the gentle streams, roasted meat on swords, downed by a choice of great wines and spirits...How does that sound for a break from political squabbles? Well thats what Safari Park offered at the beginning of a great dinner the other day. It was hard to think that just next door hundreds of drivers could be stuck in the traffic on the busy and mad Thika Road. in this day and age its hard to meet so many smiles in one sitting. and patience, for that, i give a big thumbs up to the waiters.

But my best was yet to come. the safari cats as fresh as ever gave an over one hour pulsating energetic show which was so well oiled, i kept on wondering how they were able to change costumes that first. By the way do they do beauty auditions before they recruit dancers? the skins looking shiny and flawless. the young men were so energetic i felt jealous! what with they well defined six park, the agile jumps. it was just amazing. but no one had warned me so i never carried a camera to capture the moment. that show really made me proud to be Kenyan. Dances from many Kenyan tribes some of which fought each other in January were replayed on stage though a little modernized with great costumes. Then came the acrobats performing stunts to fast paced Congolese music. at most points i held my breath coz i kept on thinking they would hurt themselves.

But that show was going on when more stockbrokers were facing the hammer. who was the blogger who predicted that these guys would soon start going down like a house of cards? We may need to lynch that blogger for doom saying. however the upside to all this is that what he/she also predicted that banks would take over and bring in the much needed capital, professionalism and corporate ownership has also come true.

And with Safaricom in the bag, investors will be looking to taking up one of the largest 'small man bank' in the country only two years after another one , equity went 'live' co-operative bank has already announced their price so up your sleeves suitors. if this is anything to go by, you can also start readying for CIC insurance.

finally things are looking up!

Friday, April 25, 2008

National Healing

finally The president and the Prime minister have embarked on a heal the nation tour. I know there are many thorny issues to iron out. but all in all i wish them every success and every wisdom. I hope they will find back that energy with which they criss crossed the nation seeking out voters. I hope they will be as energetic and enthusiastic and that they will give us a new reason to see each other as one people. All the best our dear Principals!

...prayers of my kids ...

...Lord help those mungiki who are angry so that they cannot be angry ...
...Lord help those children who are just outside
...and father bless those people who were crying so that they are quiet
... saint Mary ... pray for us
...saint John ... pray for us
...saint Dad ... Pray for us
...saint mum ... pray for us
...saint aunty ...pray for us

So you see am already a saint way before my death!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

global warning

Something is escaping the attention of kenyan bloggers, journalists and analysts. something grand and threatening. and no its not the IDP whose plight still hangs in the balance ( by the way are IDP only IDP if they are kikuyu? ) and it also isnt the permanent secretary choices that made some headlines today. it is the looming hunger the world over.

a number of things have collectively conspired to threaten over 100 million people in all the continents with imminent starvation. From flood situations to biofuel farming in United states. conflicts in africa, drought in the horn , belligerence and sheer madness in Zimbabwe. land conflicts in kenya ( as well as the decision by farmers to move to passion farming instead of the staple maize - show me the money!) diseases in wheat and rice production and so on.

the situation is grim and in some countries in the far east, governments have started freezing food exports to build up reserves for their own people. (like moses did in Egypt of old)

However Kenyans may not build up reserves for two reasons 1. They know for a fact that yellow maize will come from the US (tough luck this time) and 2. They will wait for last minute when the hunger is already biting and people are eating dead dogs.

and talking of last minute, a friend called me in desperation when he saw the Dyer and Blair queue at amazon motors on loita street. The winding line was to say the least shocking. He wanted me to find a quick solution for him! well the only solution was to come early, 3 weeks before. those queues are everywhere including our own banks and i already had so many people sending the same sos that trying to help them all would mean forming a very long queue. I actually saw the situation at amazon motors yester night. the beloved kenyans were very patiently waiting for their turn though.

Monday, April 21, 2008

birds of the same kenya flock together

Last Friday, i saw a cop in a sunda (trouser worn around the tummy instead of the waist) at the museum hill round about. it brought back very nostalgic memories. back in the day when i was in forth form in high school, we went on strike in our second term to demand that the school introduces long trousers instead of the shorts also known at the time as paper bags. many great men had passed through this school and they all had used those paper bags but what drove our quest that time was the fact that most schools around us had introduced the new trouser based uniform, even those schools we considered 'below' us. in short we wanted to fit in! when the new uniform was eventually adopted, most of my classmates came in the high waist trouser called sunda popularized at that time by kanda bongo man and arlus mabele ; great zairean musicians at the time. However my mum went and bought for me a 'decent' Raymonds' long trouser fitted at the waist. even though i didn't want to hurt my loving mum , I always felt out of place.

It was all about the Kenyan desire to be uniform. to do what other Kenyans are doing. sort of crowd mentality. thats why when people are 'investing' in pyramids, all Kenyans do it. when people are getting saved, ditto. thats also why if you open a kiosk on street X today, you will wake up tomorrow and find 100 more lined next you selling the same things as you. I even saw it when it was time for every Kenyan worth his salt to buy a silver Mitsubishi saloon car. they were so many you would have thought they were being given free. even when it was the vogue to sport shiny alloy rims, or watch full seasons of pirated 24 and Prison Break series. i always wonder what happens that the killer fad just dies out on its own like that. like when all nairobi women would put on trousers that exposed their thongs. I wonder whether it was the pressure to prove that they were compliant with the thong fad or the low waist trouser fad.

And if I thought that the crowd thing was only with individuals. i was dead wrong, i was at gaucho restaurant in westi the other day and i discovered that they are very much trying to ape carnivore's meat experience. its really a failed imitation. carnivore is ahead with their unique service. you can see the meat being roasted on swords before carvers walk around with pride serving you till you drop the little white flag. well at gaucho, the meat is roasted elsewhere and you have a little card on the table which you flip to the green side to signal you want meat and red to stop the servers. i saw the same kind of thing at panari sky center but when it comes to 'meating' carnivore still does it for me.

However its not only 'meating' that is being copied, bankelele reports on KCB having already 'xeroxed' equity bank's pay day loan product. just the way barclays aped their roll out in remote and the hitherto 'risky' areas such as jua kali joints, universities and so on. it only tells us that even corporates are truly Kenyan not only young schools boys!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

looking back

I have been looking back at the very first blog entries i made some time in 2006 and am just amazed at them. i am not even beginning to believe i did that! Its called being inspired by the past. I have also noted that the comments were really uplifting. the ego boost has been amazing.

A number of bloggers and comments have positively shaped my thinking and even investments for which am really glad. And i had an investor tip of the day which also look tight maybe its time to revive all that :-)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Can Mpesa do a 'safaricom'

If i recall well, safaricom was an experiment by Telkom Kenya to provide cellular phone services. the offices were tiny and the service was exclusive. everyone probably knows the story though so no need bothering with it. fast forward, 2008, mpesa which is supposed to be safaricom's product for mobile money transfer seems to be suggesting to its 'mum' that it already has the balls to go it alone. if the queues at mpesa joints , the partnerships with major players and the adverts are anything to go by, am seeing that this product may soon just become a company on its own and move away from home. already postapay which is also a very good service is feeling the pinch given the convenience that comes with mpesa. but on top of it is the additional benefits of paying bills from the comfort of your bed, bar, office or even car. (even in a wedding actually) that, besides being safer than carrying an atm card in case you are mugged. more benefits of mpesa were clear during the january violence when safaricom's priced airtime was hard to come by and some people actually sold them for double their value. those with mpesa simply bought airtime conveniently from the phone. i am told some banks are also not very comfortable with the service since its bound to take away all those small savers and employers of casual workers. I think when considering safaricom IPO, mpesa will be one major thing to help you make up your mind.

other good stories are on the revelation of the cabinet. i am happy with the selections apart from mwakwere. we have too many problems and we needed someone with a will for this key ministry be it from PNU or ODM. mwakwere should have been put in the deputy mayors position (ministry of nairobi) which was comically given to mutula kilonzo. the other guy i find misplaced is michuki. hate him or love him, i think that old man is a performer. in just 2 months in roads ministry, we were already seeing a difference.

from ministers and deputy mayors to a sad story of mungiki reigning terror on nairobians. ati revenging the killing of the mungiki first lady. actually i never knew mungiki also felt pain. i was surprised to see them shed tears when that woman was killed. so thugs also cry?

from pain to fun, the project fame finally launched yesterday. it made me proud that 'we' Kenyans were able to broadcast 'live' to East Africa. the show looked sweet and beautiful. is it true that Tanzanians cannot speak English even if their fame depended on it or was that thing i saw stage managed?

still on entertainment and infotainment, the new CNBC Africa has become my stable channel but the best shows come late at night when they have this news comedy where they make fun of highly placed people. its just priceless!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

God of small mercies

Its a time when its becoming increasingly difficult to accept being an African in Africa. With two grand corrupt men refusing to let go of power whether their people want it or not. one zimbabwean man refusing to even announce the results and another hated Kenya holding on after stealing the vote. the fact that in both cases thousands of their country men are suffering untold miseries does not move either of them an inch. what matters is the here and now! My heart goes to those poor people

However God has not lost his humor side and just last week and this one, we have been treated to the comical results of two music reality show auditions. I love listening to music especially good music. but in those two auditions, it was not the good music i found entertaining. it was the unbelievable confidence that most young and not so young ambitions showed on the TV screens these past days. most simply thought that to be an 'idol' or fame all you have to do is ape the black American artists or accents. words like 'men, i wanaa be and am gonna' were spoken the most number of times per square kilometer in kenyan history. well i dont know whether that made me proud or sad. lakini everything was just so hilarious and the judges didnt help matters either. the mix is great fun. all in all thousands kenyan youth turned up but only 14 got chosen

the staged show however normally disappoints me on one issue , that the songs are mostly western. only a few kenyan songs are sung. like in the last competition, i was looking forward to Tony nyadundo's hit song 'isanda gi hera' after all oliver's song was part of the repertoire so why not also have some local hits?

in the fame audition, there were these two old men from nyeri who had tried their luck in mombasa with no success. they then went straight to nyeri (nyuba ini) to try again their shot at the old 'nadina' song. i almost died laughing.

but that was not the only break i had from the kibaki greed. the other day my friend took me to their 'local joint'. this time not for booze but for lunch. its a popular kiosk where people eat 'african dish'. boy! it was struggle all the way . first to get to the water dripping from a bucket that served as the hand wash tap, then get space in the bench next to one of the tables and then to get to be served, the waiters shout and order people while passing with plates dripping with hot oily soup. i was in morbid fear of the hot delicacies pouring on me any time. space was a luxury and it was their discretion who they serve first.

'weee! , mchele mododo hapa, matumbo ya ugali, chapo mbili supu' etc. those are the waiters orders to the cooks who we could see constantly wiping sweat from their brow. even in these hard times, there are people doing brisk business. my guy was rather pleased with himself and at the end he asked me how i found the place

and it was also the same week when my colleague bought a new Mercedes e-class and drove it straight to Nairobi university. why ? i asked later. to avenge the pain he suffered when he was in second year in the same university some 8 years before. his girlfriend had dumped him for a dude who was spinning a Peugeot 504. he vowed then to make sure in his life he bought a stronger car and also went to Nairobi uni to take someone else's girlfriend. just to show might (its all about power) I asked the colleague how he felt after showcasing his latest toy to those young and clueless girls on the campus and he said he felt really uplifted. the guy who had taken his girlfriend back then had really deflated his ego! does it mean girls only fall in love for the cars? i dont know, i have never been a Nairobi university girl before

but some other guys are looking for a different kind of break. some are coming to our bank to ask for huge loans to buy shares and no, they are not buying safaricom shares. they want to buy other counters at the NSE!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

of peace and greed

so the reports are on that the talks have collapsed. ODM have thrown in the towel and said that they will not talk until kibaki understands the accord. I simply don't get it. is it that Kibaki normally has his eyes closed when signing agreements or is he just mean? he argued very strongly to dishonor the gentleman's agreement 5 years ago. people agreed with him that we were not aware of the contents. however this time the situation is different. the agreement was in the press. we all read it and understood. the old man is coming back claiming that he did not know about the details of the accord!

so again we risk what happened in January or worse. already there are reports of chaos in some parts of nairobi as well as tension in kisumu and eldoret. Kibaki insists on holding on to what he stole whether we all die or not.

and these chaos will come at a worse time, when people are lining up to take up their positions in safaricom IPO. what that will mean to us is for any one to guess

Monday, April 07, 2008

...grand expectations ...grand disappointments!

I have borrowed the title of a book i read in my youth. great expectations. it suggested that great expectations always led to great disappointments. and it seems rather clear why that should happen. since to every action there must be an equal opposite reaction force. However i never expected the grand disappointment of yesterday. i expected the cabinet to be named. i expected kibaki to for one time in his life, respect the wishes of the majority kenyan people and do the right thing. i expected him to honor what they agreed on with Raila odinga. i was wrong. 5 years after lying to kenyans over the mou, supported by former reformists, religious leaders and all the former 'men of good will' , Kibaki was at it again. even after messing our lives by stealing the vote. its really salt unto injury.

And i am left to wonder. whats worse that a country can have? an obtuse president or an indecisive one? leaders, managers and CEOs are often paid to decide. thats all. they get heavy paychecks just to make decision of where people should be going. kibaki has been failing in that particular objective of his job day in day out. the man still sits in state house as the head of more than 34 million kenyans not because he performed his job well but only because of the tribalism of our nation.

last week i was upbeat. and i was not alone, even the stock market jumped for joy. the kenyan shilling grew stronger. we looked forward to sunday. only for the man to do what he does best. go back on his word. its so sad. but why? why must all this happen. the animal called portfolio balance is not scientific. it cant be measured. its so grey and amorphous. why cant we just go back to elections? back to make a firm decision. of course after seeing off the other obtuse old man called kivuitu, kihara mutu and their kith.

we cannot go on like this. its already quite heart rending to see people of all ages hurdled like chicken in IDP camps in their own country. children who cannot be registered for exams since their parents are fighting. fighting for what? killing their neighbors, wives, husbands friends for what , for whom? nothing. and at that time some old men and woman somewhere hold on to power like a drowning man to a straw!

on another note though, i have been asked severally how far up safaricom will go on the first day of trading. and whether i can guarantee that if you put 100K you can get 300K by 1st of june. Well i dont know.

Friday, April 04, 2008

so be it

Ok so the cabinet has been agreed on. 20 ODM 20 PNU. many people are calling this a shocker but this is where we differ. i have always said that we in Kenya often fail to get the point. the point is not really the size of the cabinet, their salary and so on. what matters to me is the delivery. to say the least i dont have a problem with the size. maybe the type, like when they talked of ministry of nairobi, i found that funny. but if we have 50 cabinet posts which we need i would not have a problem at all. just like if we had 100 ministers and they all delivered on what we required and made all of us prosperous why would it bother me.

Like someone said one time, people do not grow by lowering costs or controlling them. people grow by creating opportunities and wealth. its like i used to wonder back in college why it was so difficult to get to medical school yet health workers are what Kenyans need most. most lecturers argued that they did not want to dilute the profession. and they thought that that funny thought could hold water. so they chose instead to churn thousands of history and English literature graduates who were of no use to the country than getting more engineers, medical personnel , chemists, pharmacists and the like. its all so misguided. i heard the same argument upon my graduation. that they did not want too many M.Sc students in Science in order to control 'quality'

just as when people claimed that the president had too much powers and so the powers needed to be trimmed. i disagreed. the issue was not the president having too much power, it is actually that the people have too little power. instead of lowering the prezo lets grow the people. Let the people be able to decide on their lives, be able to criticize the prezo etc. empower people so that they dont sell their land without a plan on how they intend to live their lives thereafter. empower them to refuse to die in the name of someone else and so on.

But i have another reason to be happy with the decision. Even if bloated, it will calm nerves now, the market is rearing to go. safaricom IPO is already seeing an avalanche. the signs are good. the only thing we were waiting for was for the government to start functioning. roads to be built, hospitals and schools to be in place and staffed. security to be assured and so on.

another good news is that Zimbabwe have lived up to their claim to be more mature than Kenya. the judiciary did not fraudulently swear in mugabe. mugabe did not claim victory. simba makoni (his Kalonzo) did not take the VP position and its reported in some media that mugabe wants out but his hardliners are still playing hard ball wanting the poor old man to go for a re-run. are they genuinely convinced he will win or they just want to embarrass him as a repayment for his past wrongs?

it sure must be lonely at the top!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

its a brave (greedy) new world

Its really a brave new world. with few inhibitions, only justifications. this brave world is what makes some driver hold up a whole line of vehicles which may include an ambulance with a patient near his death because the driver is waiting for a parking slot. its this world that allows one to squeeze through the traffic and disobey all the laws of nature and state to get to where he wants.
this new world is good. its what made science to stand out and save lives through transplants, compassion abortions, euthanasia and the like. This brave near world made kings irrelevant with people choosing to succeed in their own names as opposed to doing everything in the name of the king or queen of England, Babito, Baganda or any other king. But this new world has taken off without others who still are willing to die defending what their leaders (or what they perceive them to be) believe in or eat.

I love the new world for one, that everyone knows what he/she wants and gets it. not like the old where women were not supposed to eat chicken, or pegion or quail. the world has released the flavors of those delicacies to everyone for some that food went straight to the hip and tummy. but still there were free to choose. in this world, no one is afraid of getting rich. no need to feel guilty for throwing a tone of half eaten burgers even if million others starve in the next city. this new world is the one that has created billionaires in dollar terms. great sportsmen and women earning a dream a month.

the new world has questioned old order. creeds and pacts. its what has made people shun the slow methodical traditional catholic worship for the fast paced wealth focused Pentecostals which promise instant answers from God. promising that God works just like the stock market. invest now reap tomorrow. the more you put the merrier. and those who approached God like they approached a slot machine went to court to sue the evangelists, bishops, prophets etc of God. could they do it if they weren't brave? That even God is expected to deliver at the promised time lest he faces court cases.

Brave new world has seen a skinny man born of Kenyan dad and white woman in America dare the status quo and declare that he has all the answers to the problems in the greatest nation on earth.

this is the world where my little kid dares to ask me whether i will buy her the Safaricom IPO for her birthday and also why i haven't considered getting her a blackberry. This happening while other people wait for their MPs to decide whether or not to invest in their future.

Its a funny new world too. for others agree to kill innocent Americans and themselves with a belief that that will win them 70 virgins in heaven. I thought a man cannot manage one virgin!