Wednesday, December 31, 2008

' 08 is going happy new year 2009

The sages of coast (wahenga) are the ones who told us that if a kid cried for a razor, you had to hand it gladly to him but the sages of England retorted that fire was be a good toy (read servant) but a terrible master.

The year 2008 was the year that most African leaders learnt the hard part. the same people who made their careers crying about democracy and its close relatives got to know that democracy was indeed a very good servant but that the shoe did hurt real bad when it was on the other foot. Everywhere from our own infamous fraud president Kibaki, to Mbeki down south , to mugabe, name it. Everywhere the men are realizing that democracy is a curse and hell is bent on snatching the cookie jar when the bitings are crunchiest! I thought I would easily forget these sad happenings at the beginning of the year. But all our media stations are falling over themselves with sad and gory reminders of those dark days.

Whats more, Ghana, the country of our would be savior is replaying our script word for word in another election. The world watches and waits. the world that reacts only after people are dead. Even in that country of eminent African Kofi, democracy is proving to be a red hot rod!

But the year also showed us that a man whose name is both Muslim and Kenyan (luo in fact) could beat the odds and become the president of the free world. For this matter, I salute Americans for showing the world why they are the only superpower.

The pictures that I would however like to remember are those of Usain Bolt (a name suspiciously close to Husein again! )bolting ahead of everyone with the ease of Sunday morning. Also those of our harambee stars moving ahead in the Africa championship. But the absolute best was that of the non-smiling Pamela Jelimo tearing away ahead of a crowded pack on her way to become not only a millionaire in dollar terms but also a living legend.

In the coming year , I hope not to see any more pictures of the IDP camp, nor kenyans demonstrating coz of hunger, oil vendors hoarding the commodity, nor the stock market going any direction other than up. I wish my friends here a brilliant enlightening 2009 full of forgiveness love and acceptance.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Its a Merry Xmass again

This 23rd of December has ushered in a feeling of holiday, of celebration and cheer. At this time the Kenyan spirit goes on the overdrive, becomes forgiving , joyful and generous. This xmass will go down as one of the most difficult yet in the country's history. I saw yesterday that even the malls are not as packed with funfair as the yesteryears when we were experiencing a boom. The media houses have also done well to highlight the plight of those who urgently need our help. especially the IDPs. In fact me thinks that such exposes are some of the reasons why media houses are having problems with the MPs. No one wants to be reminded of his torn underwear when he has a smart suit on. No one wants to be reminded of the louse in his hair when he has just colored his hair. Like Kodhek told me many years ago, people will always hate you if you make them soul search and feel guilty. But showing IDPs every day keeps on reminding us all that we have critical unfinished business.

I was especially touched when I read that the IDPs themselves had organized themselves to donate food to some abducted children. Its the highest point of generosity and human triumph.

This xmass period of giving also reminds me of an old woman in Kisumu's Nyalenda whom we used to visit and support with our youth group. She was listed as one of the very needy people in the church parish and every Sunday there was a ration of food and drink for her upkeep. Every so often we used to visit her, clean her house, sing and pray with her and so on. She was very needy and did not have close relatives. However when she died and we went to arrange for her burial, we were shocked to find close to 10,000 shillings in 100 /= notes, stacked away under her mattress! Many people were actually annoyed and called her mean, greedy and many other uncharitable names. However I learnt from the lady one vital lesson. that material gifts were all very good but that's not all that one needs. Probably the lady showed the poor side in order to attract attention and get company every so often. This Xmass may just be a time for that. yes inflation has eroded our power to give material support to those who need us but our time or ear for them may just be much more valuable.

I wish you all a merry xmass celebration in whichever way you want to have it and a happy new peaceful and booming year 2009.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

shocks of my time

Three events in these recent days have left me bewildered. one is when a certain smart man, dodged presidential security detail to seat himself right behind the president in a national ceremony. He then heckled the head of state during a state function. In my culture, you don't interrupt even your own dad when he is talking to guests or before guests unless you are suicidal or insane! But indeed desperate times call for desperate actions, the man must have been pushed to the wall.

The second event was when the two principals (president and prime minister ) took a walk down the streets of Nairobi and were met with blank, derisive stares from wananchi. They say, the most difficult thing for a politician is to be ignored. people ignored the two. Only wondering why they had bothered to disturb the town's life by stopping traffic

Then there was the journalist who could not stand the international pariah president Bush, whose reckless belligerence thankfully led to us have the first ever black president elected in the US of A. I am trying to imagine what went through the head of that guy as he hurled the shoes at Bush. And you cannot say it was a spur of the moment since he quickly got another shoe. It means it was premeditated and he had probably removed his shoes prior to the action. It all shows that arabs cannot be stopped. last time they turned an airplane into a bomb now they showed the world that even a pair of shoes can be turned into a deadly arsenal!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Media bill: Where do bloggers stand

The protests against the media bill and the rhetoric of the MPs are indeed a deja vue. In fact am not entirely interested. Like the wicked sages say, men always make their beds to lie on them. The same people who made all the bad laws against multi party in the 80s were the very same people who suffered in subsequent years due to trained authoritarianism.

What am more concerned about though is where this places us bloggers. I have read of bloggers in china and other places being detained without trial. Does it mean that after the bill becomes law, I will be required to seek editing by government before I publish my thoughts here? Or that before you comment on a particular company , you find out who the owners are and so on?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tailor made

This world never ceases to amaze me, just when the puritants and catholics were putting up their bravest fights yet to stop human clonning and organ germination , one 33 year old Le Trung was creating for himself a custom made girlfriend. and i mean literally!

The super chick is made to be able to read for her boyfriend, clean, and even do accounts. She even speaks two languages! Awuoro

Thursday, December 04, 2008

MPs and Tax: We are Missing the Point

Of late the Kenyan MPs have found themselves in a very awkward receiving end. The media is replete with calls for them to show leadership and pay taxes. now those two words are not words that the MPs are used to seeing in one sentence without a negating word between them. even the proponents of the grand opposition are again missing the oportunity on this one and instead leaving it to one Muthamia to bask in the media glare and glory.

Kenyans are very unhappy in the wake of high fuel cost , high food prices, reducing wealth in the Stock exchange and so on. All these problems when some of the most well paid people in society adamantly refuse to pay their taxes. But i have always argued here and elsewhere that we are missing the point. I argued that the clamour for MPs to reduce their salaries was misplaced and I also hold that asking them to pay taxes is misplaced.

Lets start with the salaries. at 800,000 the MPs do not even earn what senior managers in blue chip companies earn in this country. They cannot even start to talk about the perks. But why is it that we allow leaders of our publicly listed blue chips to earn so much money yet we do not raise a finger? Why do we agree that they could take home so much money? It is because they are equaly expected to give as much in terms of performance. So by demanding that they lower the perks we are actually puting the horse before the cart. The real issue here is performance and what we should be doing is insist on them to deliver on their KPIs. If the MPs helped strengthen our economy, better our national unity, increased our collective pride, it would not matter to me how much they earned. Just like no one bothers what the blue chip chiefs earn as long as the wealth is created for shareholders

secondly on the taxes: After being close to 3 aspirants in last years election, I understood why they MPs are under preasure not to part with even a single cent. The whole exercise was extremely costly. since am a scientist, I believe that nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could. So when these guys use so much money, its only clear that the money will be expected back. be it loans, or savings or even donations. the same favor would be expected. further the MPs are expected to maintain a certain societal status. For that matter they will jalously gaurd what they have. Our solution therefore would be to control the expenditure during campaigns and have the MPs declare their source of funds. One other way of doing it is to restrict the campaign period to maybe 3 months.

Additionaly, the MPs may accept to pay the taxes after all but pass on the favor back the other kenyans. how would they do that? by increasing their allowances to cover the tax deductible so that the net remains 800,000 as before. What will stop them?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Kujivunia kuwa mkenya

Are you having really big problems feeling proud to be Kenyan? I agree with you and I feel you. but I also may be having just the required remedy for your situation. why not take a deserved free drive to Kericho. Yes you can since Shell has now reduced the cost of fuel by a whopping 15 /= (15!) meaning the third rate petrol vendors will have to reduce it by 20 at least in order to compete.

Secondly the road has been fixed beautifully all the way from Naivasha to Kericho. Indeed when the books are written about Kenyan governments, the grand coalition govt will be feted for doing a brilliant job on the roads. The last time I used the stretch between Gilgil to Kericho, I fell sick from the fatigue and frustration from motorists, dust and if not dust then mud. This time the ride was supa and I had time to look up and enjoy the great scenery. This country is indeed beautiful. The rolling hills, the wide plains, the brown, the gray and the green complement each other so beautifully like a wide canvas painting.

This time we were going to Kericho to witness the wedding of my long time friend Ngetich.( people still wed in spite of the world economic downturn! surely love is the most defiant of all emotions) The ceremony that was to start at 10:30 at the scenic Rays place in Kericho was delayed till after 1 in the afternoon but it was all good and we were happy that the man lived upto our expectation of him. Ever since I knew him, Ngetich has never kept time and we used to joke during the committee meetings that he would be late for the wedding and he was. I hope he will also be late when he is called to heaven. Beautiful ceremony full of color, song , dance and mursik! And the heavens held their peace and never poured like they do every day in this sweet town.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Urenga School update

This is an update on the last posting bragging rights and action plan. I have finalised the fund raising and submitted to safaricom foundation. I wish to sincerely thank all of you for the great encouragement and especially No Spin and Florence for the contribution. I am not only forever indebted to you but also tutored by your kindness, generosity and trust.

Here is the full list of contributions: