Friday, December 04, 2009

Identity Theft; Buyer Beware

The runaway success of the M-PESA money transfer product of Safaricom has brought to Kenya what has hitherto been a story only heard of in the developed economies. That of theft of identity. Right now con men and women have decided to go a notch higher and have abandoned their infamous but highly successful fraud call telling you that you have won 300,000 shillings in some fictitious tambua ushinde promotion. (even though you never participated) Right now, they simply steal your identity. Most victims are being called and asked to give away their information like PIN number, frequently called numbers, and even M-PESA balance. How it works is that these guys most times stand over your shoulder when you are either depositing or registering and note the number, ID etc of either you or the person you are sending to. They then call you up pretending to be calling from Safaricom. Of course when someone calls you by your full names, gives you the exact time you made a transaction plus your national ID, you are bound to trust him when he tells you that he needs your PIN to be able to fix an issue with your transaction. When you do that he simply swaps off your simcard and takes over your phone and therefore your account.

And they are becoming more and more aggressive and heartless. Last Monday I got a call from one such fraudster who told me that a relative of mine had been involved in an accident near Nakuru and needed urgent help. He said that he needed airtime urgently to make calls. He wanted it quickly since he was on his way to the hospital with the said relative. The man was not giving me time to ask questions. only saying 'wewe unanisumbua na maswali na mtu wenu amepata ajali mbaya'. The rain only started beating his plan with me when I failed to place the name of the person in question and again when he said they were in the same private vehicle from Eldoret. They were only the two of them, yet he could not describe the said patient!

Bottom line things are bad, fraudsters are sharper, and you just need to learn to fly without perching

Monday, November 30, 2009

Heart Wrenching

My good nephew the King sent me a number of pictures two weeks ago. I have struggled to keep my eyes open any time time I look at them. There were only a few I could and decided to share them with you. I must warn though that they are not for the faint hearted however sharing them is the only good way to make known to the world the true state of affairs in Sudan.

Its clear that that the north controlled government of Sudan is hell bent upon trying to annihilate the poor south. My teacher for history told us in form one about two decades ago that annihilation was a folly. History has shown that it never works and has never worked. Hitler did bizare things to the non-aryans in the last century. But he never came close to succeeding in stoping the estropiƩs leave alone the jews.

These photos further remind us that people haven't learnt from history and that they still believe that their life is better off if they were alone in this world. Contrary to this fact we all know that human is social and if you were left alone with all the music, with all the gold with all the land, forests, oil and the like they would simply not make any sense until someone else was available to either buy them or share them with you. For us Kenyans, we must prevent this from happening to us.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Of Safaricom and Revisions

The current rally of the Safaricom shares has reminded me of the adage that all men are equal by their greed. Over the past one year I have been consoling and encouraging and sometimes dissuading many of my friends who had taken loans to buy the stock. They have been paying the loan begrudgingly and some have actually defaulted. In fact am told equity which was one of the most bullish in the run up to Safaricom IPO are facing the highest percentage of non-performing loans in this category.

Most of these friends promised themselves that the moment the share price only but covered their outstanding loans, they would cut their losses, sell, repay in full and take a 'boltish' flight. There were many other options for investment than Safaricom.

Well fate had it, the price started moving north inch by inch. Each day, my friends revised their sell by level. It moved from 3.50 to 4 bob with reasons that the interest must be covered. Then the limit was moved to 4.40, when the price hit 4.20 early this week, they conveniently revised their target to 5 bob and said should it ever touch the IPO price, they would surely sell. Well it did yesterday and all of a sudden the options had to be revised all over again. They are back to the proverbial drawing board and now the discussions are if and when the share price will ever hit 10 bob since at 10 bob, loans are fully covered, down payments for dream houses can be made, and the range rover can finally land!

But the other questions am being asked is what I feel about the 'greed' of the MPs from Rift Valley regarding the Mau. Well my thoughts are that Mr. Ruto and his friends have behaved as expected of any Kenyan politician. Any (Kenyan) politician who hasn't used this opportunity to gain some mileage in the Rift Valley is not worth his salt. What of Raila, will this affect his career? Well I don't know, the man always makes mind boggling blunders every time in his career and from each one of them he somehow comes out stronger. Every body saw the end of him when he merged his party with Nyayo. At the end of the day you can never tell what he has up his sleeves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What About Kenya's Needs Jameni?

Last evening after watching two Kenyan men one Mr. Wathika and one Mr. Kutuny give their divergent views about the constitution and what they wanted of Kenya, I was grimly made acutely aware of what has gone wrong with our country. I was in fact reminded of how our one time progressive youth group was brought to its knees and eventual death some years back. The group had been founded by a brilliant young catholic Priest from England. Even though it was based on Catholic faith, he had actually taken into consideration all the issues that affected the youth including vocation, training,Sports and Culture, self employment, jobs , reproductive health and even horning of leadership skills. The group was to say the least what any young person would need especially in the difficult years of adolescence and post adolescence.

However for some strange reason, the young priest was suddenly recalled to England and was given higher responsibilities meaning he wasn't able to manage the group anymore. He had groomed a few people to lead us when he was gone but that was the beginning of the end. Almost everyone started scrambling for the resources that the group owned. Everyone wanted to be a leader, a trainer or even a facilitator of the many workshops that it held. (Even people who could hardly express themselves in English!) The issue was that no one was giving, everyone aimed at gaining. Every single person was focused on what they could get from the group and not what they could give. inevitably the movement collapsed.

What of Kenya? Every time you watch the news or listen to people its all about what these people must get. What those people have already gotten and how those others are unfair in distribution etc. What we should be asking is distribution of what? No one seems to be caring about Kenya and thats why they all talk of what they want OF Kenya and not what they want FOR Kenya.

Away from Kenyans and their demands, November sure does have great tidings for me. Somehow most people close to me were born in or closely around this month. starting from King Mswati, Higher Power, The Kilo Watt Man, Hawi and even my last born. Happy Birthday to you all and Happy November too!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

..two steps back

That the it has taken Kenyans a real long time to write a constitution would not be news. In fact whole careers have been made and others destroyed because of the one thing called Katiba. Finally it has been apearing though that we are finaly having a general consensus on the supreme law of the land. However yesterday I was appalled to note that as part of the new law there were proposals to divide Kenya into regions. Well nothing wrong really about having regions instead of provinces. What shocked me was the criteria used. I saw the proposal is that those of us in Ugenya and those Migori will be in one region while those in Kuria (who are closeset to migori will be with those in Kisii district in one region! The whole of western province will also be one region in spite of its size and population. Its like taking two major steps back in terms of trying to get unity of purpose in this nation. Why would you divide the country on tribe basis if you wanted to unite it jameni?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Its KCPE Time

Today is when more than 750K children will be sitting for their first ever national exam. The rehearsals were done yesterday and when I had gone to buy my daughter her clip board, I found they were out of stock. Its the one time that parents go out of their way to make life as easy as possible for the candidates. Even if they are from Kavunyalalo primary school where kids learn under a tree, am sure the stones on which they sit would have to be made more bearable.

Actually nothing much has changed since I sat my own version exactly 20 years ago. they still shade the choices, carry with them 3 pencils (for 5 exams!) an eraser and a set. Bofa set has remained the most affordable brand but the quality has taken a thorough beating!

However cheating has gone a notch higher with kids employing all sorts of tricks. Maybe its coz they have seen from their parents and leaders the importance of short-cuts and quick wins. Its all about saving time.

And talking of saving time, last weekend I learnt that time was scarce even for courtship in the eastlands part of the city. vis

boy to girl: 'mazee yenyewe mimi nimekunice sikufichi na we pia use? useme. unanipa au hunipi? coz sitaki kukuwastia time ya? yako na mimi pia usiniwastia time ya? yangu'

But on the western part of the city also known in local lingo as 'kwa ma sources' (kwa wadosi aperently is old) vibe goes thus:

Boy to girl: I sooo wish you yaani, si we hook up and catch pints?

There you go no time for the long deliciously flowery letters we used to write themdays. Time is money!

But seriously, how on earth are those kids of Kavunyalalo who learn under trees against the wind and other elements supposed to compete with the ones in Makini?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Frog Hoping Out into the Sun...

In my tongue they say that you can never meet a frog hoping out of the pond and into the open unless things are very bad whence he comes. In fact it was common when I was growing up in Masiro to take to your heels if you met a warty toad or frog hoping in a hurry to what seems like nowhere. There could be a snake! Problem was when it was in the open, it made an easy meal for a hawk up in the air.

And I thought of the same yesterday when the ever blissful Wako came out for the first time in my memory of him to defend himself against accusations of sleeping on the job and also deliberatively aiding the people of power and influence to perpetuate impunity. Many people say Wako is a brilliant lawyer which explains why his tirade yesterday against the mighty America was like a the frog hoping hurriedly to nowhere.

Some people have argued that you can eat, dine and be merry even if you didn't have a USA visa. After all like Isaac Ruto said Wako's office is not in New York. But thats not the point. The point is that its very difficult to perform your duties as a senior govt official without this Visa given that the moment you lose it, you also most likely lose Visas to most European countries. And since most of our governance is based on foreign support which basically implies foreign trips and so on. It means you cant travel for these overseas meetings which means your assistants who may not be decision makers have to represent you etc etc. That basicaly translates to you not performing the duties you were hired for.

My thinking is that denying an official visa is a way of firing the official on behalf of the President! And thats why Wako came out like a frog.

On another note, I couldn't help but notice that so far the US has already forced out 2 people they have always had problems with. A. ringera, and M. Ali. Wako is probably next because I don't see Kibaki backing him. The man will most likely not comment but Wako will also probably not get access to him which is his silent way of telling you to take a walk! Kibaki is the kind of sonko who cant bear firing anyone even if you were stepping on his toes but he will just silently ignore you or avoid eye contact!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Failing...To Succeed

Just after reading cracked's article on people who made their failure a personal success, I got home to news that one Ngangalito, the young man who stole the fame during the last tusker project fame show had actually got success and will be running his own show on the dynamic Citizen TV.

Its quite a shocker I must say. I disliked the boy from day one. I was fearing that he would do a Hemedi once again and I kept on wondering what EABL was trying to achieve with such non-talent's in the premier show. However as the days wore on, I started seeing the other side of Nganga. One trait that endeared him to everyone I guess was his never say die attitude. He took all criticism in his stride and added a warm smile to every apearance. Nganga probably knew what none of the contestants knew. That the show was not really about talent. Such shows are about viewaship since they are just another mega advertisement. Neither EABL nor Citizen will care if you choked as you sung as long as people are watching and drinking!

So much about Nganga and his Italians. Yesterday, I was rather taken aback watching one truly talented Usain Bolt jokinngly touch our president on the shoulders as his senior ministers looked on like kids. I felt bad. It didnt help that he was towering over the old man and patting his shoulders like those of a small boy who has been given candy.But we already agreed that you never look a gift horse (goat) in the mouth. So that too will pass.

Such gifts would not have been necessary if we were more proactive in managing our internal affairs. The Excellency would have protected our sovereignty by not standing in line to receive donations from a 23 year old '3rd Worlder'. But that would only have been posible if we shuned shortcuts to reaches.

Shotcuts like the ones used by teachers and students to get ahead and pass the national exams. All because they fear to fail in life while they should just be referring to Ngangalito above on how to succeed in spite of failure!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Villains and Psychos

A long lost Congolese journalist and Academic friend of mine has remembered me by way of an email. And that was very comforting and good of him after all these years of teaching at a UK varsity. The only discomforting thing is that he only remembered me as part of a large list of email recipients of a lewd forward. So I dont know whether to smile or frown.

And the forward is rather bizarre. It shows several worm eye-view pictures of the renown mutwashi dancer and musician Tshala Muana. My friend was criticising the singer for her appearance during the show.

The pictures reveal a very stylish Tshala, clad in a long flowing dress but not wearing any panties. And that was my friends bone of contention. He was angry that the musician was not showing good picture and of the DR Congo and was instead showing her 'goods' to the public. And I wondered who between Tshala Muana and the photojournalist who took the pictures has a problem. The musician could have decided to wear less undergarments due to her size (elle est un peu bien enveloppƩe) and vigorous dance to reduce on sweat for all I know! But looking at the angle from which the pictures were taken it was impossible to miss an upskirt on the dancer given she was on a raised platform. Am even wondering had the journalist obtained pictures of her undergarments, would it have been less worrisome? it still would have pointed to a sick person , going out of his way to catch details of the musician which were not for public consumption.

It just reminds me of similar pictures I have seen of other prominent personalities like Martha Karua, Amani and even Pasaris. All of them just showed me evidence of irresponsible and really very very sick journalists!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Of Face Book and Its Alienations

In the days when a TV was a possession to behold, I used to curse a friend of mine who would promptly turn off the box when I went visiting. I used to think he didn't like me enjoying the moving pictures playing on it. One time I braved it and complained to him but he said that the TV prevented him from connecting with his guests. It was his practice to switch it off when he had friends since he valued a one to one conversation more and did not like any third party interruptions. He also never liked the direction of his causerie dictated by the events displayed on the magic box.

But that was then. Today am just finding out that unlike my friend, a ubiquitous facility called Facebook is quickly alienating me from my friends and even relatives. Just the other day, I discovered that I had not met our close family friend for almost 3 months when in my mind I thought we have been with her at least every other day. Because of Facebook, I have been able to know everything that was going on in her life and so I hadn't made time to pay her a visit or even call. Her status always updates when she goes to church, misses out on water, buys a new water tank for storage or when looking for a new house-help! So when I met her and insisted I had been a 'good' friend you should have seen her shock. For a definition of a good friend is not one who keeps up with you only on a website!

But I like the site. Even though I never update my own status (it has to do with my soldier cousin's comment about the site) I normally find it quite interesting. Facebook has made me know most of my friends based on what they update in their status. One of them is a smooth operator and always has sweet words for the fairer gender. Another is a funny man who always sees the ticklish side of life. While another will all the time praise the gods of inebriation.

I have also seen who among them are born leaders. The ones who always updates the others when he meets a long lost acquaintance. Another complains and blames everyone but himself about corruption and mismanagement of public affairs. While a yet another shows split personally syndrome. Wanting to mask her stories while at the same time reveling the juicy details of them. Its also good entertainment especially on the phone when waiting for someone who cant keep time or whiling away the moments.

On another note, today marks the start of KCSE 2009 exam. The one opportunity for young men and women all over the country to determine whether they will move from Mathare to Muthaiga or from Muthaiga to Mathare. Whether they will brew changaa to survive or charge people an arm and a leg to do life saving surgeries. In Kenya, nothing provides a life changing chance than the dreaded national exam called KCSE. No wonder there are so many cases of cheating!

To all candidates, its a big success wish to you all from Odegle.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Heads in the Sand or Plain Charlatan?

This week the media has been on the case of young people with stories of sex and related subjects. Predictably each media house has gone out to find what they would think was the juiciest of the underage sex stories to tell. (Are these houses managed by one person?)

So one came up with the story of a study which found out that young people have started engaging in sex at a very tender age and most of them are procuring abortion. The reporter said that in his time underage sex was unthinkable yet now things are 'shagalabagala'. Well that is what I too heard in the '80s and '90s when I was growing up. Our parents and adults always told us their days were saintly days! Never mind that this reporter appeared to be no older than 23.

Another media house went to the air with the story of young people buying and trying out sex enhancing drugs. They even had hidden cameras and managed to get viagra and other sex enhancement drugs from a street vendor. She was shocked that these drugs were so available to young people. She even wondered how come the youth knew about them. Well this is someone who works for a TV station that advertises Zoom in national free viewing TV in broad daylight. Zoom and many other such drugs are actually available over the counter in of all places supermarkets!!! In my view you do not need a hidden camera to find out that people both old and young buy them all the time. And again remembering my own youth, I started hearing about a drug called 'kukumanga' (sp) when I was in class five. I wonder why anyone would be surprised that kids know about these things.

But a third TV was not be left out of the 'competition' on kid sex stories. They went to bed with the one about brothels and strip joints which they said are surprisingly available in Nairobi. O boy! Is that really news? stories of karumaindo and riva rodi are almost as old as Nairobi itself. And Strip joints? They have full color A3 size posters all over the streets of Nairobi!

But maybe its not only Kenyan media. A friend sent me a youtube link with a story told by this American journalist about underage prostitution in the Kenyan coastal towns. Where kids as young as 13 are being paid by rich old men from Europe to engage mostly in unprotected sex. I would have been shocked had I not also been sent a website hosted in the US of A calling itself child models website. In reality it was full of pedophile fodder. Kids some barely 3 years pictured naked or with the subject of the photo being their panties or lower torso. Someone has to be acutely sick to in the first place host such a site, update it and even collect money from subscribers. What even of the subscribers themselves! Does that even begin to compare with the 13 year olds of the Kenyan coast?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Picking your Poison

In my current calling (where I earn my daily ugali) I have been facing a number of options on the people whom I work with. The options range from the funny to the absurd.

Take Mr. T for instance. The man is what you need for your ego in this trying Kenya especially when the good Lord decides to hold back rain for a year. He looks at me as the leadership masterpiece with unmatched intelligence, foresight and strength. He praises my fashion sense (I can assure you this is my weakest link though) and will ask me where I bought those shoes so that he too can buy. In our meeting he nodes in approval when I talk and quotes what I said ages ago some that even I have forgotten! Downside? Mr. T's assignments are always at best 1 week late! However he always has very fitting explanation for any such delay or any flip up.

What of Miss Y? O boy! For starters I find her beauty kinda intimidating especially since am happily married and also her boss (probably she knows it) when am talking she is always restless showing body signs to suggest am talking trash or too much. She fights everyone at every opportunity. Any time I have any significantly urgent and delicate task to be done at whatever hour (even night) I would quickly but nervously dial her number and give it to her. Naturally if it was after hours she would take me through a long litany of gripe which she refers to as a 'piece of her mind' after which I would thank her and disconnect the phone. After an hour or two she would send me an update sms and an email detailing the job done to my satisfaction.

But Mr. D is the guy who when around would stammer every word and fidget and basically fail to say anything coherent. Its impossible for him to do anything unless you expressly tell him to and direct him how to do it and so on.

Really to succeed how do you pick your poison?

On another note i was deeply encouraged by Geoffrey Owiti Oyoo winning Churchill's Top Comic competition. The young man from a fairly humble Kibera background 'walked' away (he said he couldn't drive) with a new Isuzu D-Max)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Know Birthday, Will Travel

A friend of mine has been denied a simple US visit visa for what I find to be the feeblest of reasons. That he did not know the birth day of the sister he was to visit! I don't know whether its derisory or woeful. And in either case who is to be laughed at or pitied. The drift is that after I heard the story, I did a quick and dirty 'survey' on my friends and discovered that a majority of them did not have such information either. In fact they dint even know their own parents birthdays. Birth years, yes but not the day! Am told in the first world things are so good that they don't have grounds for divorce so such mundane issues like not remembering your significant other's birthday can cost you a marriage and send your kids into full lives of stress and related abuse.

But I would understand them, its probably just a cultural thing. In Kenya celebrating the date of birth is quite a new affair and again its mostly done for kids below 5. The fetes normally fade in significance as years advance. However even the birthdays I have attended never even looked like such. Picture this one where we went to celebrate the first born's first year. There was bbq (nyama choma, kawaida yao), crates upon crates of tusker, pisner and even my favorite WC. There was mukwangala and even mugithi the dance that gives neighbors and friends the moral right to hold each others wives at the waist. I wondered how that was a kids birthday celebration. I even wondered if it would be remembered at a random questioning eg at the embassy!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Kenyan Humour

I met Njeri the other day after almost 11 years since our college years together. Well thats no news. Former college mates meet up all the time. The news actually is that Njeri was a scientist who studied wildlife and related issues. She was very passionate about her course and was an excellent colleague. When I met her, I thought I would be meeting a passionate campaigner for wildlife now that we are losing them at break neck speed.

But no, Njeri today is a high riding humor writer. She invited me to her humor blog which has increased my menu of top Kenyan online content where I get that deserved 'tea' break and get a good laugh or a firm node to my self.

Looking at her style, content, enthusiasm, it almost impossible that this would be the same hard nosed scientist who found time only between her studies and researches to visit a few friends. And that is amazing. its difficult to tell whether it the misplacement of students into courses or rather the fact that 844 was meant to make us an all rounder. with bawas (sorry powers) to read and to do all that appertains to the degree. Artistic expression and Science some say are like blood and water flowing in the same body. But from our education, the two were placed as far apart as the twin poles of mother earth. so next time you are thinking of punching the boss in the nose, you may just want to punch Kenyan Humor for a good comic relief!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Lately I have I have become afraid, very afraid. But I should be because only 24 hours after a wilson airport based plane fell and burst into flames only 50 metres from my wifes feat, another fell just about 500 metres from our house! Am more afraid given the fact that I havent heard any policy statement or concern or anything related coming from those with the powers to do what appertains to governance.

But if that was going to make me fear then TV was waiting for me at home to do a closing, coz I saw something close to a horor movie of cows some dead others half alive being dragged on the dry ground and burried in shallow graves. But again those were cows of a higher social standing because their collegues never even got a decent burial. They were just covered in dust! I wonder if cows have feelings like of the fear of impending death. I saw some who were still alive but too invalid to even stand watching in horror as their friends and family were dragged along and burried. I felt afraid on their behalf.

I was even more afraid when I saw one mans job being secured with hundreds of thousands of acres of prime forest land. I feared what will become of us at this rate. Yet that was not worse. What was worse was the fact that similar trade offs are happening right next to me where I get my daily bread. I fear because Ringera's white hair and even Kibaki's stoop and slow walk lied to me that graft was an old evil. However those who are perfecting it are almost 10 years my junior and are still as quick as a dik dik!
I do know fear

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Been-To!

"Good Afternoon sir", "Welcome"
"May I help with your luggage sir"
"thats good now"
"If you may come this way sir",
(opening the back left door of the new Mercedes S class, black leather seats, woody interior finishes et al)
"Welcome sir" (closes the door goes to the drivers seat)
"There is water under the arm rest on the left. you can take a choice of still or sparkling water according to your liking sir. On your left are todays newspapers if you would like to catch up. And right in front of you are some chocos and sweets for your indulgence sir".
"Is the temperature alright? should I adjust it upwards or down? Would you like the radio or the some cool music or should I just turn it off. Do please let me know if am going too fast or too slow ..."

Phew! Well how is that for British hospitality and customer service. But that was what greeted me on my very first trip to Europe the land of many a history (o yea now am an official been-to with unallianable rights to twang and do all that appertains to having visited a first world!)

But I soon learnt that Britain is the most economically stratified society I have been to and there is deliberate discrimination based on your financial status. When I remarked to my hosts on the treatment I was given by the taxi driver, they told me that it depended on how the taxi company was briefed before sending someone to pick me. Had they been told of higher seniority, they would have sent a bigger more luxurious car (more luxurious!!!. Mercs are a dream car in Kenya!)

I actually did see it when I insisted on using the tube once or twice and saw the difference. There was also a train which was higher in class than the tube and of course the train itself had 3 classes. first class for the likes of yours truly (the hosts were hell bent on spoiling me I guess) then standard class and finally the unnamed class for those the society doesn't even care to provide a name to but at least still get transport.

It was nice to see the rural Europe both in Germany and Britain and see how the local folk actually tough it out. But what interested me most was the old Britain with its imperial buildings so full of history. I visited the national gallery and read about those who taught us every little meanness we know today (ok those who colonized us)and kinda understood why its difficult to compare the first economies to ours. Those guys have had eons to make and correct their mistakes. So I have decided to be more lenient to the likes of Ruto who chose to play politics when our people are dying of hunger, thirst and darkness. After all we have been a nation for less than half a century! (excuses lift the soul dont they)

But one funny culture shock for me was the customer service I got from this very beautiful lady who was helping me shop a few gifts for my family. She said she understood the predicament of men when it came to getting reasonable gifts for the wife and kids. She took her time almost a hour walking with me up and down the huge store and showing me options and so on. finally she took me to the cashiers and helped me pack my luggage before seeing me out. I felt 'Kenyan' and told myself she needed to be tipped. Boy! you should have seen the disappointment on her face! she said she was only too happy to help since it was her job.

By the way how on earth do they manage to keep a country that clean!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Of Sweeps and Stabborn Dirt

My good friend who lives and works in a first world (or is it fast world) reckons after the noise generated by the ringera appointment that all of us in this country have got it all wrong and that Ringera is hardly the problem. the problem he believes is with all of us. that Ringera is just a sacrificial lamb when the corruption situation is already cancerous. he says the Kenyan population is corrupt to the bone and will require a miracle to fix. My friend is Kenyan born , brought up and worked under this sun. so he probably is talking from experience, may both as a victim and villain of the vice.

But I disagree. My friend's argument is like the one of the floor sweeps in a company i used to work for before. they would say that once they mop, you must not step on the floor! or rather when they were mopping you had to stay out. which i found baffling since the floor is bound to get dirty. their work was to clean it. Just like Ringera. He was employed to clean the mess and its foolhardy to come round and say the floor was bound to get dirty even if he did clean it. that should not stop him!

That same argument was used when one old Moi was taking the country to the dogs. people said, Moi was good but only his friends were bad and so that made the nation poor. but one pastor told me that in order to know someone, you just need to look at his friends.

But what is posible when citizens are honest and not corrupt? My friend says the roads are clean, transport works, water runs in the taps, Light is available as God ordained it and basically life works. And why cant we be honest then?

But on a sweeter note, England, a team i love to hate made it yesterday to the Worlds greatest show on earth (FIFA World Cup) in style. It was difficult for me to tell whether it was the former Kenya colonisers who were good or the croations who were playing like Kenya's Harambee stars. But I enjoyed the game

Friday, August 21, 2009

Why do some people almost always get the job they want?

When we finished school and started looking for placements (or career pegion holes as my friend used to call them), my cousin and I wrote and posted several letters some unanimous and others in response to adverts. Most if not all of them went unanswered and unacknowledged. After the 100th letter my cousin gave up and vowed not to waste any more money on 'those proud guys'. I too used to get angry since it was rather expensive to even post a single letter.

I only began to understand the issues behind the silence after I visited a recruitment agent who was doing Resume reviews for free (he was a rotaractor). The man took me through my review with the ruthlessness of a nyapara. At the end of the grueling session, my CV was reduced to a mere essay of a primary school kid. I had to do the work all over again. I hated him for being so rough and 'cruel' yet I now look back and love him for being so right. The CV is the marketing tool of a potential employee and its what helps you get that priced interview.

I wouldn't have got my job if I hadn't first got the interview! With hundreds of CVs to whittle down to a shortlist, a recruiter will spend absolutely no more than 30 seconds looking at each individual CV in the first instance. No wonder my CV was finding its way into the dustbin in the initial stages.

Over the years I have learnt that it really does help to drop your pride and seek the help of a professional to write your CV. Some professionals are quite expensive but then again the higher the investment the higher the return. When you want the best, you should be ready to spend.

some of these services are available in the web and you can get your CV reviewed and professionaly rewritten at a small cost. Whats more, you can even get several situational cover letters professionaly done by people who have the talent, training and experience to sell your most valuable brand-You.
Check this out CV Centre

Monday, August 17, 2009

Of Gift Horses

I have just been remembering the somewhat surprising hospitality of the first landlady whose house I ever rented. Actually it wasnt her house, it was a small would be servant quarter for which I paid a whooping 4000 bob a month. The lady was very generous and would invite me to spend some time with her sons. At that time my life was only starting and I had neither a TV nor a tape player. My life was actually very boring.

During those invites sometimes my land lady would cook for her sons and me. I would be given very generous portions of whichever dish she made and all that was good. The only downside to it was that she was a painfully poor cook and I found her chapatis imposible to even chew. They were thick, tasteless and hard and often times I wondered if they were truly cooked. I dreaded the days she would invite me for dinner because I was brought up to understand that it was a bad to look a prize horse in the mouth. Somehow her sons enjoyed her pathetic meals so much that they would ask for a second helping. I kept on wondering how I would tell her without hurting her good heart that she need to up her game. I wished I could get some good cooking recipes somewhere and give her as a present. Only fear was that there was no knowing how she would take it.

I was myself not really a star and could not show her by my example of how good i was with my favorite chicken recipes

So we continued to 'enjoy' the largly impossible cooking. downing every mouthful with a large helping of good laughter and warm atmosphere. If it were today then I would offer her many of the free recipes available and help her put flavor to her good neihborliness.

But Seriously, how do you look a gift horse in the mouth?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Conflicts of interest

Right at the time when one Raila Odinga Amolo was being given ultimatum on the Mau and indeed being threatened that his support from the Rift Valley is gone due to his quest to reforest the largest water reservoir, one good government spokesman was telling Kenyans that the government plans to make our lives better by cutting down trees and clearing 'bushes' to make the city in the sun really a city in the sun. we surely have a government of conflicts! It plants and destroys in equal measure.

But am intrigued by a post by one Mr. Gathara, asking if we indeed require a new constitution. am intrigued because i answered this same question in another forum almost 8 years ago. the priest who was taking us through the session almost excommunicated me from the great catholic church. but i have always held that a constitution to Kenyans is as good as picket fence to a wild bull on heat. People break the current laws with impunity so what will be different?

Friday, August 07, 2009

This Census Thing

I keep on wondering how it is done elsewhere. Doesn't this national census thing stink and look colonial or is it just me? Is it not easier to just make sure every birth and death is registered? then have this data centrally in some good database? Every time i see the census advert, i shudder at the prospect of thugs masquerading as enumerators to terrorize the people. the situation as it is is so bad. thugs will just have a field day. And doesn't anyone else feel like cattle or sheep after being counted and the door marked?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Its an overdose , again

It could only be me, but the Kenyan media especially TV are fond of overdosing us with programs. just a few years ago, every station worth its salt had to air latin american soaps with voice overs , beautiful people, nice houses and flowers and very poor acting. We were overdosed until we became sick then in came the oga movies. the story was the same. husband snatching and witchcraft, prayer and big money all going together. then fast followed 'local' production of home made movies and series and now i feel really overdosed with reality competitions, mara top this , best in that etc all at the same time. Does anyone ever do market surveys?

And as i relax at home for a well deserved vacation (not yet rich enough to go the mara) I cant help but watch live coverage of the EAC investor conference at the KICC. they started with 'light' entertainment. They cant be missed. if you were in Kenyan anywhere in the '80s the traditional dances and songs have remained largely the same with no value addition whatsoever. even mwana wa mberi (sp) was sung and danced to, then the pokomo dancers , kuria dancers and mamalaka choir. same script only younger performers. I saw these things when i was young i grew through them and now when am older than the performers they are the same. one thing i dread at being a politician is being bored with mediocre entertainment. But pray, what do our visitors think when they see the same entertainment year in year out?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What(er) Problem!

If there is one thing I dread it is feeling helpless or knowing that am in a situation where I have little or no control. But since last week am finding myself in this particular situation due to acute shortage of water where I stay. What makes it more severe is the fact that I have very little or no control over how the water distribution or lack of it is done. Just last month, I went to the NWS offices to pay my bill and discovered that for the past 1 year I have been paying someone else's bill. The staff corrected the anomaly but did not offer even a simple sorry. This is what makes me angry. That am being served by people who are either hopelessly incompetent or sinfully corrupt. Worse is that I have no idea what to do about the situation.

Indeed every time any one shows me the water levels at ndakaini dam and tells me that if God doesn't send rain in the next 6 months things would get worse, I feel like smashing the telly (hasira hasara) It makes me feel very very desperate and helpless. That the CEO is there on TV telling me that in his old age, training and experience he knows no other way to get water to his customers other than from ndakaini which must be filled by the Almighty God. Where do they get water in Dubai, or Saudi Arabia, or even South Africa with no rivers nor ndakainis?

But when I was feeling helpless like that, my good friend Denis was already getting a solution to all the governmental failures. Denis tells me that he plans to create his own micro government and provide everything they have failed to provide to his family. How will he do it? Already started by acquiring 1 acre plot in Ngong hills (from someone who grabbed it from the forest!) He will then put up a wind mill so that his power will come whether it rains on not. He will also drill a bore hole so that Ndakaini doesn't control his life. Finally he plans to buy all the idle land around his home so that he can control development. His 'country' will have proper roads, trees grown and waste properly disposed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ni Mambo ya Siasa

A lot has been said about Obama's sudden disgust with Kenyans and their governance. Many people who love to hate themselves have hailed his bitter criticism and 'snub' of the country of his fathers birth and said he is right through and through. Some are hoping that he will provide to us the missing leadership that we ravenously yearn for.

Lets start by saying that Obama was actually right on most counts. its true that corruption, tribalism, nepotism and all the isms or capitalism have trully conspired to bring our great nation to its knees. But really thats not the issue. The real issue as i see it is that Obama just proved what i had secretly feared , that the man is as a politician as Kibaki and Raila. Its not lost to anyone that Obama never mentioned anything negative about his fathers country deep into the campaigns of last year. it was all praise and good will to the fatherland. to me it was a play into the political or cultural psyche of the american people. From the movies and stories and even music that comes from that land of opportunity, its clear that those people are obsessed with human triumph stories. stories of people who beat all the odds to emerge victorious. Obama's tight attachment to Kenya at that time was strategic to make Americans want to be part of his great achievement as an orphan of a poor african goat herder who beat all odds to assume the hieghest office in the land. yet on reading his story, one realises that thats very far from truth. he in fact was of the few silver spoon kids who went to some of the best schools in America and elsewhere. Harvard in fact is not a 2 bob college. very far from goat herding.

So why the change now? I would think that Kenya is no longer strategic. We are now a liability. This change is no different from the change of Raila or Kibaki after they assumed the coveted offices.

and like Gumo used to say, na hiyo yote ni mambo ya siasa!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


We have blogged several times about our president and most times about the negative things that we hope he could change. But this past day, his returning 8 fuel guzzlers to the dealers because they were irregularly acquired is out of this world. That single action made me proud to be a Kenyan. I hope there will be a follow up disciplinary action on the people who wanted to con comfort the emperor!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Great waste of our time dear shepherds!

Each time i see our men and women of the pulpit call a press conference or invite the media to cover their blame of the political leaders for the problems we have, i simply switch off or change channels. Indeed each time i see these people am acutely reminded of everything that has gone wrong with our society. These men and women are the strongest reminder of the collective failure of our people to create a nation. They remind me everyday of my anger and hopelessness that even though almost each of the mainstream churches has celebrated a century of mission work in the country, they have failed to make our people see themselves as one and that our individual and collective difference in language, tradition and culture threaten us so much that we can never trust one another.

Yet every time its convenient, they come together and incite us to action. which action they know for sure that they are not ready to help us see to the end.

But my disdain of these people did not come yesterday, it did not even come last year when they burried their heads in the sand if not openly supporting their tribesmen and proding them to further negative action. it did not even come in 2007 when certain bishops openly took partisan or should we say tribal positions on every single issue.

my frustration started in 1997 when i first realised that all was lose talk. that at the bottom of it they teach us to love our neighbours but in reality they mean our selves and those who speak a language we understand.

These days they keep on blaming the politicians for not giving direction and not uniting the country. today they really do blame Raila and Kibaki for all the failures and they call all MPs to resign and seek fresh mandate. They conveniently forget that they have had longer time to unite the country, they have longer reach since they represent the most devine power. they even dont have our mandate but they have our unquestioning loyalty and faith. But how have they used all these opportunities? more than 100 years. they have failed on one single supreme law of the Lord they serve and vicar. that of loving the Lord with all your heart sould and mind and loving your neighbour as you love yourself.

The men of the pulpit have never approached me for my signature to complain about the govt. but for sure should any one of them bother, i will do them a great favor and tear into pieces even the papers which alread have other such wasted signatures.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Of Ministers and University

A new bill is in the offing to force the president of the republic to appoint only men and woman of higher learning to the head ministries. A number of people are happy with this proposition but am just wondering, how will that work if there is no equal provision for the head of government and HOS to also have the degree?

Further when I read this news item, my mind was quickly taken back to my village and I remembered my good cousin Otieno. A simple young man of very modest education. Otieno only sat for class 8 after which he had to go to town (Nairobi) to look for work to help his siblings. Today Otieno who is much younger than me has already put up his own home, is married with 3 children and has a very stable family. Every time he comes home, teachers and local 'highly' educated individuals troupe to him for odd side jobs for a quick buck.

Then I also thought of Charity Ngilu who without a degree is quite a successful personality very principled and focused. in '97 she helped 15 men and women to see parliament some for the very first time in their lives. When she opted out of the party it died a natural death. There probably are many other examples but the bottom line is this: there are some life lessons that you don't get from the university and secondly university gives you a shortcut to knowledge but some street lessons are by far priceless and I hold that requiring a degree for ministers is not a very wise idea.

Further more in most professions mine included, industry certifications count for much more than a degree. For instance a person with CCNE or OCM certification is highly valued and their degree status will not even be considered. That's what I thought when I saw that one minister may be dropped even though he has CPA (K)!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Age of Convinience

The age we are in is often referred to as the information age and rightly so since today information is all you need to move anywhere. but information has become so much availble that it is nolonger really an age of information. Another thing that is more important in this age is convenience. I think we are currently living in an age of convinience. people want what they want but conviniently. Take phones for instance. who wants to keep on looking for keys to press to click and so on? People want touch phones with sensitive screens and shortcuts. And it doesn't matter the kind of phones the conveniences must be there.

Luckily all sorts of phones which are preferred by the majority are available with all these conveniences be they nokia touch phones or sumsung touch phones. What would you say to additional convinience of getting all this in all the colors you prefer, networks that you prefer and also in convinient monthly payments? When you add the free gifts that go with this purchase you get the absolute convininence on a variety of touch phones

Monday, June 15, 2009

The more they change ...

They say that the more things change the more they remain the same. But this statement may be exaggerated or maybe meant only for those who never look for the change or see the change. I have been reading a lot of comments about UKs budget proposal last week. I have also heard those comments or watched them. For starters the media stations were almost predictable in their reactions. KTN and group were almost expected to punch large holes into the thing. They did not disappoint. Another station Kiss Fm which has successfully converted into a book of lamentations also did us proud and went the pessimist way. they are these days good at telling us all the bad things that are happening in our country and why we can never be any better. am tired. just tired. Nation media as is charasteristic was middle ground and reserved but it was citizen which was full of optimism. In fact citizen has introduced a new refreshing segment for the weekend which talks a lot about wealth creation and who owns Kenya. its a very uplifting segment.

But what do i like about the UK budget? mostly the CDF. every time I think about it. CDF is a master piece and a silencer to those who always blames marginalization for the lack of development. granted it aint enough but like it is said in the bible, those who cant budget with 10 bob can also not budget with 100 bob. They are the people who always see the glass as half empty all the time as opposed to half full. in fact in Kenya there is a third group who say that the glass is too big else it could be full!

its all about making the most with what you have and so probably the whiners will whine for kingdom come and the optimists will prosper even in times of peril.

On another note, my catholic church is of late getting very high media attention for its dogma on celibacy and priesthood. they say priests need to marry so that they become sexually responsible. that argument makes me sick because it reduces the institution of marriage to a mere sexual union. there is more to marriage than sex and any one who gets married to have sex has lost the plot by a long shot and will not be faithful even if he were married!!!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Beating the Slump

What is the one thing you would urgently and willingly pay for during these hard economic times? For me that would be some decent piece of information on how to go against the tide and make some good money. But what if that information was available to you for free?! What if you had an information repository that gave you fast and reliable Wholesale news and even iced it with real good tips on Wholesale sources some tips of which are as hidden to the naked eye as a needle in a hay stack?!

Well it would be just the information you would want to grab and own. And with the fiber optic cable being launched this month by our good old president, the opportunities will be amazing. With super fast internet access and real time access to vast overseas markets for e-commerce, e-support (or is it i-support). ideas on Drop ship are for sure priceless.

Like they say success is made up of some good quality education but also the kind of gut feel know how that only matures with age which calls for time. But time is what you don't have especially if you must survive the slowest economic growth since the mad days of wars, coups and counter coups. That experience from traders and business people from all the five continents on Wholesale sources would be truly invaluable. Now imagine all this is all but a click away!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What they Say and What They do

Yesterday I got a long mail forward about the risks of employing a 'housie' (or maid, house help, mboch, domestic servant etc) The story told of a girl from meru who almost killed her employer in the process of robbing her of all the household valuables. It even had an ID and photo attached. Indeed recently I have been hearing a lot of stories about these very much needed workers doing all manner of wrong things and my good friend tells me of how he used to buy extra soap every week due to this pilferage. We have always avoided having an extra help in the house and have tried to do most things ourselves but sometimes it becomes just too difficult especially with the traffic jams of Nairobi. These days the earliest you can get home is 1930hrs and the earliest you must leave the house is 0600. This means that the housie is as necessary as your own job and also that they have all the time in their hands to do all that they want in your house. You basically rely on one simple thing only: their integrity.

Integrity is a word I have blogged about several times. When I saw the mail about the meru girl, I wondered why she was being sacrificed that much. I was sad because it was the same time, the PM was being cleared of maize scandal, Uhuru was going on clean about the 'error' which her has since repeated. But why am I going on about politicians now? closer home at the place I work, I was getting sad stories of senior managers who cannot keep their hands clean and who spend all their time and skill trying to outwit the company and thereby do the same as the meru mboch, kill the company in the process of robbing it of all its valuable things. one friend confessed to me how jalous she was of a former school mate. a mere 27 year old who she was telling me was already driving a range rover sport and owning his own apartment in Kileleshwa all because of 'connections with the right people in the right places!'

When will the rain stop beating us as Kenyans? why must we continue this way and who is benefiting? There is a popular saying in kenya: Where you work is where you eat. and people have taken it literally to mean you have a carte blanche to steal from anyone and anywhere as long as you are not caught.

Away from things corruption. Yesterday I saw the news about the group of Kenyan Luo elders visiting Southern Sudan to be in touch with their brothers and sisters who remained behind and I was strangely reminded of the unity thing. the strongest unifying factor is often a common threat or even common hater. M7's careless outburst about the luo may just give a good reason for the now diverse community to unite. all the way from DRC, to TZ to uganda, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia. Now that is one unity M7 may not really want to encourage.

But what are people saying about the Kenyan diasporians coming back to Kenya and wanting dual citizenship due to the economic downturn? They can never tough it out anywhere. They escaped to the west when things were thick in Kenya and even insulted Kenya and her governance. Now things are thick yonder and they are scampering back to relative safety!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Duty Calls

I got the now blog famous award called honest Scrap from Fanua a diasporian. And so i have to brag and do all that appertains to this degree sorry award.

1. For one I always find myself in the group of some of the most marginalized or discriminated Kenyans. Picture this: I hardly get a shoe that fits right, nor a trouser nor a suit. in fact during the Mater Heart Run last Saturday, I found out that Safaricom the shirt sponsors , had again forgotten to make a shirt that could fit me. I forced myself inside the almost 2-sizes-too-small shirt for the run. I think its time to start a maendeleo ya watu wakubwa organization.

2. Secondly I normally get that almost all my hosts cook beef for me or some beef based food. while I don't eat the stuff. Most times even in company events i get that among the snacks on the table are beef samosas, beef sausages, beef kebabs, nyama choma etc. They then claim there was a large variety of snacks!

3. Everywhere i go people always think am their tribesman. in college i even had a Kikuyu name, even at work some guys thought i was kiuk some , kamba others luhya and some even a coastal. when i went to Zimbabwe they thought i was a shona while when in down south they swore i was a Zulu. However i trust my parents.

4. Am actually a deep person and gain my strength in silence and meditation.

5. I hate Kenyan politics yet I hold two arguably political (elective) offices. I must be a walking contradiction! but the truth is i got myself into these offices by some sort of chance.

6. most people think am a great sportsman coz of my athletic build. i never help them to find out.

7. I met tribalism in its ugly sense for the first time during my first year at university. Before then I had lived in blissful ignorance in Kisumu for over 19 years. I struggled with it and it actually took me time to re-evaluate myself and accept that it wasn't me who had the problem but the tribalists who insisted on knowing my second name before having any form of engagement with me. somehow that never included asking me for my assignments!

Friday, May 15, 2009

What Others Say

This is a belated but Museveni of Uganda (ama is it ujanda) said that the jaluos will not be able to get any fish from Nam Lolwe but they could take the rocky island of migingo. But what my friends are saying is that the good old rebel was very categorical. He never said Kenyans wont be allowed to fish, he said Luos meaning the luhyas from Sio Port and other areas around the lake are welcome to continue enjoying the fleshy nile perch.

Some even say that M7 has every right to be angry with the jaluos in fact thats why he helped our own Emilio to kill those pesky citizens after the election fracas. Don't you remember him killing the jaluo president of southern Sudan Col Garang? Why, he also has first hand experience with another troublesome jaluo from Northern Ujanda. Whats more their nation of the republic of Uganda was founded by another jaluo called Obote who by his estimation plundered the country. But in another article, its reported that M7 has even bigger issues with these descendants of Sudan. And he says that it took the Ankole (meaning his ancestors) to stop the grand march of the luo. M7 asserts that anyone whose name starts with O is a luo. by extension it means nearly the whole of western Africa is luo.

But while M7 was saying that, our national chairman for maendeleo ya wanaume (someone cares for us :-)) came out to condemn the statue in front of the Nairobi high court. he says its unfair to men since its a sculpture of a young boy carrying fish (o dear fish again) and peeing in broad day light. He said that it was violation of our rights. To show that the law strips you naked and washes you clean! A woman accompanying him said it was a sinful sight. When did a picture of a naked baby boy become sinful? But others are saying that our chairman showed ignorance on national TV. He did not know the meaning of the sculpture which actually is that of the god of justice.

But that god, others say did not provide justice to Mrs. Njoya whose husband was shot dead by an aristocrat in the latters ranch. What was he doing there in the dead of the night? He was poaching. Poaching is a polite word for stealing wild animals. Only that this time the wild animals belonged to the aristocrat who keeps them for game meat and tourism. Others are saying that Njoya was doing an equivalent of cattle rustling. The young man got 8 months for his efforts, Njoya who is dead for ever will tell no tales. Though his wife was disturbingly quiet and some are saying she was promised life long financial support by the aristocrat.

Support is what one Prime minister needed to clear his and his family's names from the maize scandal. By the way in luo culture, Raila's sin of stealing maize is very bad. (raila okwalo oduma (or raila okwalo kuon))!!! sounds terrible especially when your people are starving. But he had to get support after helping another present day aristocrat a Mr. Uhuru to escape the noose!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Of city bylaws and church charges

I learn new things everyday but I wasnt a bit prepared for what I got to learn this past weekend.

That there is a city council by-law that prohibits fixing a clogged sewage system. you have to report it to city council and even though they take a month to get fuel for their car to come and inspect so that they can assign a technician to fix it, you must not try and fix it yourself. You have to put up with the threat of diseases, foul smell and everything between for that long.

That all roads and by ways belong to the council and you must not try to level them, or fill the portholes or do anything equivalent or close to making the roads passable.

That you must not plant a tree or flower on any place outside of your compound unless with express authority from the city council.

That if the grass outside of your home is grown or if the bushes are dangerously thick and could harbor car-jackers. That you mustn't touch it. (my cousin tells me in the US of A you can be arrested for not mowing your lawn :-) )

That You cant dig a flood trench or repair a clogged one unless you are a charity organization authorized by the city engineer.

That getting the city engineer in his office requires loads of prayers, good luck charms and precision timings all rolled into one!

But on another note, the new Catholic Cardinal Njue has taken church fund raising to a new level. They started by charging faithfuls to use the basilica toilets (though we actually raised funds to construct them) and I made all the noise I could about how inane this idea was. But now they are actually charging the faithfuls to pack in the yard. So its as if you have to pay gate fees to attend mass!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Real Human Body Exhibition!

Right about the time our principals were arguing about who could pack where at parliament and who had the constitutional power to take 2 spoonfuls of sugar, Gunther von Hagen , a 'mad' scientist and artist fondly called Dr. Death in Germany was mounting what is now billed as the most highly attended exhibition in the world. A unique out of this world exhibition of real human body parts stiffened and shaped into various life forms. its simply put, making art with cadavers. Using a process called plastination, Dr. Hagen basically replaces human body fluids and fatty tissues with active plastics to preserve body tissues in their real forms and also get to shape them however he wills. The bodies are donated to him by er hmm their owners!

More images of this bizare exhibition are also available here. I wish he would hold one in Kenya but the Milwaukee Public Museum has meanwhile advised those interested in attending the expose to book in advance otherwise tickets are not gauranteed.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Under one Roof

You need it , we got it. A major retail chain in the country normaly boasts that way and the other day a guy asked whether you can actually buy a dream job there since hey you need it! Yet its true that they really do stock quite a bit and in one advert they even show how you can get a sweetheart there. Meaning you would have a great shoping experienec. But sometimes you never know what you need until you are told. Sometimes you may just want to shop around and find out what you are really missing.

Am thinking of new technologies for instance. How would you know the apple iphone accessories available to you unless someone actually told you or unless you saw what you were missing? Like they say, if indeed it were true to get everything under one roof life would become just more fun and more adorable. I often enjoy visiting such sites to be able not only to get what am looking for but also know what else would spice my experience be it ring tones, chargers, wallets or iphone accessories. And while at it, I like just staying on a little longer to learn the new sweet things available. It also helps sometimes to visit the online community of other consumers and get to learn about their experiences and preferences.

Peer review always works and helps you quickly decide on things quickly like what iphone accessories fit your lifestyle Or the games that engage your brain and so on.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Kenyan Public Universities: Something got to be done!

Recently when I was in Eldoret, I took time to go and pay a courtesy call to my former campus of Chepkoilel which I had left 10 years before vowing never to ever return to it again. This time I wanted to probably relive the beautiful moments and also thank it for the trouble that strengthened me and made me a better man. I hoped I would see some of the lecture theaters and also attend the famous evening prayers if only for memories sake. The front of the office block where Margret Kamar, then principal of the campus sat is pretty much the same but equity bank has a branch just next to her office and beyond I noticed that the passages have been built and students are only allowed to use the paved walkways. The lawn where we used to bask is out of bounds. Just before i could turn and go back, I noticed the old campus photographer who was called Msafiri. He remembered me quite well. He should have since he took pictures of me for four years! He was rather unchanged and even this time he had clients to whom he introduced me proudly and told them I had been there 10 years before.They proceeded to the front lobby where Msafiri took their picture as he had done to thousands who had passed here. Surprisingly the cost had remained largely the same at 30 bob but msafiri told me these days he uses the digital cameras so there were no negatives. I bid my goodbyes and turned to go but just then my cousin who had cleared here a year before called and told me it would not be right to leave before I bade good bye to his fiance who was a fourth year student of education. The lady came and took me to her room insisting that since I was the first major in-law (lol) she had met, I had to take tea. So I got my chance to visit golden 'box' one more time.

Block F which used to be the senior girls hostel used to be a very posh hostel compared to the rest. This time it surprised me. It looked more like an emerging slum. The room meant to house 2 girls is now housing 4 and they are cooking in their rooms. Each with her own electric stove! I also learnt as i sat there that they were also selling eggs in the room. Customers kept on coming one after another. I wondered loud how they were able to read with all that disturbance and now that the room was so crowded. But they told me reading was only possible in the library or lecture halls. I remembered that I was never a library person. I never liked the absolute seriousness that was always in the library. Chepkoilel was meant to be a teachers college for about 1000 students. Well now the campus of Moi University is housing close to 7000 according to my hostesses. No wonder they had to squeeze 4 girls in a room meant for two. Am told some rooms for the first years and second years house 6 roomates. Meaning that accommodation at Moi Girls high School in Eldoret is better than at campus! Whats more, getting a seat in the lecture halls is a dream and you have to take the lecture on your feat. standing for over 2 hours!

And the other day, I went to visit my brother at chiromo campus! A sorrier state. first the regular students take up the rooms then sublet them to in service students who often come during holidays. They then share one small cubicle of about 5 x 6, the 4 of them. Secondly most of the students are married. or something like that. meaning they stay together girl and boy. Now since they have rented out their rooms, 2 couples are sharing one cubicle. 1 couple on the 2 X 6 bed and the other couple on the floor. to make matters worse, they are all cooking in the rooms! When I went there, I found most girls seem pregnant.

What I wonder is, are we as Kenyans losing the meaning of everything? Yes I appreciate the need to have more people go through university. But should it be for its own sake. The simple truth which does not require a commission of inquiry is that the colleges are overcrowded. We either stop further admission or we build more lecture halls, hostels and even play grounds. secondly, the loan given to the students is simply not enough and thats why they endanger their lives cooking in the rooms, waste time going to market to buy veges, renting out rooms etc. About the coupling and pregnancies, i will leave that to sociologists to advice but something really needs to be done!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Occupational Hazards

A cruel rumor has started in our office. I call it cruel since I find it interfering with everyones job but also because it is dragging my priceless name into murk. The rumor suggests that a lady who recently got opportunities for growth was in a big way favored because of some inappropriate liaison with me. But that is a gentle way to put it , the rumor mongers are saying that she is sleeping with me! The funny part is that when I heard the rumor, I believed it myself. All the reasons and proof fit like a straitjacket! I was simply dumbfounded. In fact if it wasn't me involved, I would have sworn it was true! Its sad but this is not the first time anyway. Another case also came up when I got some favors and a manager suggested that her PA was uncharacteristically active in fronting my cause. She concluded that it was because we knew each other in biblical terms as well. These things disappoint me since it shows a lot of disrespect for women. That people believe that women can never climb the corporate ladder conventionally other than on their backs. And also that a man and woman sitting together cannot discus anything other than procreation. In campus I was likewise linked to a many women in the same breath. ( I dint discourage all of the rumors since it was also a little flattering to be linked to some drop dead beauties lol) However a lot of it could easily be explained. Firstly in campus people never slept if they had a major exam or assignment with lots of marks. They would move from room to room until they got the best paper to 'dub and compile' the winning assignment. Our room was one such stops. (But you see I didn't even say it). The other reason was that my roommate was the chairman of Catholic Students Association. So the room was a mini Vatican. Many people would come just to talk to the chairman or to see how he lived. He was such a good man too. And finally I was also directing people on drama and choir. In fact talking of drama, one time in Kisumu our drama practices almost caused a divorce! And the bad part was that I was totally unaware that the said husband was looking for me for hugging his wife. Said he: "dirama manadi mokwakonago dhako?!" (what drama that makes him hug my wife!) Its all about occupational hazards I guess

Talking of occupations and hazards, every one seems to be focused on Marende today and wondering how he will make the delicate balancing act. Me thinks there is nothing delicate here. Marende will need to just apply the law. Kibaki remains the HoG. He can appoint Kalonzo to HBC chair. Raila should just accept that he was once again hoodwinked by Kibaki. Honestly how many times can you allow one man to play around with your mind? And after you are conned why should you shout to others including the House Speaker to help you recover your lost ground. ODM should by now have learnt that they need better negotiation skills and more shrewd leaders. After all you cant hate the player, if you are also playing the game!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Economic Meltdown: Not for Kenya Real Estate?

Am just back home from an impromptu scan of real property for sale and letting in the Lower Kabete area of Nairobi. This is a plush area neighboring the real lower kabete where I once lived. I had promised myself that if I worked hard enough, saved well enough and the stock market kept its promise, I would reward myself with a plot in this area and put up a dream house amongst the whos of Nairobi. Michael Joseph and his long serving CFO would be some of my neighbors whose wives would be coming occasionally for salt or a few chit chats with my own.

The landscape has started to change markedly with most houses that stood on 1 acre plots being pulled down to give way for community living made of town houses. I went to couple of these and what I saw left me dumbfounded. Generally the houses are quite beautiful and spacious. only thing is that the gardens are pretty small and even though the units are sitting on a half acre each, the area left for afternoon lazy reading in open air is pretty confined. Secondly most constructors have not respected the eco system at all and area basically turning the area into another concrete jungle though this time with more beautiful concrete than say Kileleshwa or umoja. secondly the construction is done even on top of streams or very close to stream. Price guide? introductory price of 50 million for most. 50 mi? yes fifty million Kenyan Money. The persons who are selling somehow refused to judge me from my cover and even started negotiating with me and telling me the area was prime and the houses would appreciate further.

But but. I mean err. I thought there was economic melt down globally and so property prices were depressed. In fact in US people are now able to buy houses they never dreamed of. No correction. Economic melt down only affected hao wazungu. In fact I was being told that those very plots were going for about 6 million shillings early last year but were now only available at 24 million. 24 mil? yes 24 million per acre and since they are mostly foreign owned (in fact even these ones had strange looking specimen) no one was selling. So its 24 million and unavailable.

On the other side of the city , Southlands the houses which were about 7 million last two years are heading towards 15 million. something doesn't seem right and my smart friend has suggested to me that the pirates money is finding its way into Kenyas prime estates and if we don't watch out, Kenya will soon be a Somali state and all our poor souls will be sent to the Kiberas of this world. Now he warns that Mungiki governance is a walk in the park compared to what the war lords of Somali would be able to subject us to!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Getting Your Way in a New City

My friend told me the other day of the horror story of how he traveled abroad and went into this restaurant. He ordered what appeared as the most exotic and tasty meal but when the dish came it was to say the least inedible! He was totaly not prepared for the taste. Which reminds me of when I accompanied a friend into an Indian restaurant and was totaly at a loss on what to order. Its the same way that the prospect of travel normally excites me as much as it scares me . Thinking of meeting new people. Seeing new things getting to know new ways of doing things. However it often starts to get scary when i get to the finer details. Since travel is often for a short time and in these days quite expensive, I often get scared of the prospect of missing out on the fun because I did not choose the best restaurants get the best hotel or did not get the best entertainment. Even my own security really bothers me.

Even in a restaurant I always ask the waiters or whoever it is to recommend a dish. in a big city it can be more tricky but these days for instance you can get to know what others recommend as the best Indian restaurants London even before you plan your trip. You can even review the best and affordable hostels London and even cinemas London . Which actually does save you quite a bit of trouble trying to source the best and safest places in this grand city and its all trustworthy given that it has been reviewed by millions of people like you with varied tastes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Of relativity and small memories

I was reminded of my birthday again as always by my kids who this time instead of asking me to give them a treat on my big day decided to instead throw me a surprise birthday bash. Everything went on surprisingly well and they managed to do their shopping, bake the cake and even craft some beautiful hand made cards for me. There was even entertainment in the form of poems, songs and dances prepared! However the funny part came when the age old happy birthday song was being sung and I had to mention my age. The part that goes, " old are you now" the last born volunteered instead and shouted 100! but his sister whom he follows corrected him, not hundred, 1 million! My wife and I burst out laughing and the visibly confused young people looked at us in disappointment and disapproval. The older kids told them it should be much less. That in fact they should divide the 100 by 3! the boy was very disappointed. How could dad have such few years. He said I had to have 100 years since I can change the light bulbs while standing perfectly on the floor. As in I don't even have to use a ladder or a stool! Second justification is that I always carry their bike with one hand and many other small proofs of my age. Its all about relativity I guess. But due to relativity again I was impressed at their organizational skills relative to their ages and even the idea of a surprise for 1 the million year old dad. no one betrayed their conspiracy, not even the young ones who I thought were always on my side!

But this year I got quite a number of birthday wishes from all over the world some from long lost friends. I thought I had suddenly become a celeb of sorts or that the stars had finally aligned in my favor. But my witty and up-town nephew blew my bubble and informed me that facebook was to thank for all those friends remembering my big day. Another great thing from innovation of the internet.

On another note; my thoughts go to those many families who lost their beloved ones in the senseless and chilling murder in Karatina yesterday. The sadder part is that their killers will never be brought to book and that the danger of their spreading to other parts of the country is growing ever more real given we indeed have an ineffective PM and a moribund President.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A moment With an MP

My friend has indicated to me that he will be in the running for parliamentary office come 2012 and he has told me (not requested) that I will support him in deed and spirit. (he doesn't come from my constituency). He doesn't have to be persuaded or dissuaded since politics runs in their family.

However for me any minute political ambitions I could have hitherto nursed evaporated last week when I went to see my MP and Minister for Lands. Because of the project in Urenga that I have been working on, the man has constantly sought to meet me and sent a number of people informally to me. I felt flattered to be sought by such a strong man. The other day when I passed by home, the school committee chairman insisted that we would use the opportunity to see the MP since he had also come the previous night. I was told the minister woke early and so we had to go by 9AM. However because of late breakfast and some other 'unavoidable' circumstances, we got to his home at about 11AM. I was surprised to find out that it was only 1KM or less from my home.

Getting to the home, I almost turned. The home was packed with villages of all shapes sizes and shades! old women, old men, young men and women. some sitting others standing. some in small groups and some alone staring pensively at some white house beyond the gate. I later learned that this was a new home and the minister still stayed in the old home. The chairman encouraged me to go ahead and enter the home. some helpful young man who I leter learned was the usher directed us where to pack.

The minister was still asleep and we were told he had come home in the early hours of the morning. The chairman told me the crowd would be dispensed of in a twinkle of an eye. The MP would see all of them and it would be very fast. I was told most of the crowd was people of 'gonya'. 'Gonya' is the term locals use to indicate to you to give them money either for being your relative, or your dads friend or the person who saw you when you were born or who came to visit you when your dad was working in Kisumu or because they told you that you are driving a nice car any other reason that is taxable. Its a sort of a relationship tax. For an MP every constituent is entitled to 'gonya'. I was told Orengo always has wards of new crisp 50 bob notes that he uses for that purpose.

I soon got tired of waiting and wanted to leave but a whisper went round that the MP was in the shower and would soon come. Soon there was another whisper that he was taking breakfast. Luckily the chairman knew the usher and told him who I was and what I was doing for the village. We were immediately taken to a waiting room next to the 'office' of the MP. We would be the second in once he came. We waited there and talked. Soon the man came and we went in. He looked apprehensive at first on seeing me but after while he oppened up and said he wanted us to work together. He even explained that he had stayed up late in Bondo the previous night and only got home at about 4AM. He was also scheduled to go to Sabatia to attend the burial of the sister of the Deputy Prime minister. However before that he had to see each of all those constituents in his compound! With that I stood to go after exchanging contacts and agreeing to call each other to make plans.

On our way back I couldn't help but ask the chairman what all those people would be seeking. He told me that the needs were varied. Some people would come to tell the minister to help them with school fees, or with paying dowry, or burying their father in law. Or that their house was leaking and needed a new roof or that their son got lost in Nairobi and they wanted fare to go get them. or that their neighbor who had borrowed their chicken when they had guests had declined to pay and so the minister needed to step in! At the end each person would get at least 50 shillings and also a meal of ugali with meat. The meals I was told were a daily thing even when the MP wasn't home!

I was dumb founded. What about his own privacy! When does he get to talk to his wife, kids, mother, brothers cousins , unties, etc!!! and when does he even get to take a walk around the home to enjoy the otherwise fresh breeze and the beautifully rolling land full of greenery? When does he get to sit under the shadows of the beautiful mangoe trees and put his legs up on a reed-made stool sipping busaa and catching up on the wars of the president and Prime Minister on Lolwe FM???!!!

If that is the life of an MP, obed!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Of Moving and Conviniences

Its often said that a rolling stone gathers no moss. Meaning in the converse that a stationary stone does gather moss. Maybe thats why when you are living in a house you tend to gather quite a bit of stuff which you dont realise until you attempt to move house. I realised this the time I was moving from the 10 by 10 servants quarter I rented in South C to a more specious house in Lower Kabete. I had thought all along that my greatest possession was my bed and mattress so I just got a taxi driver, dismantled the bed and set off to move! It was a serious miscalculation.

I find moving house very tiring , tedious and risky. Lots of things can go wrong. Delicate items can break, a number of things can be misplaced and so on. But thank God for his constant mercies and thank innovation for making life bearable. The internet has offered such easy services as finding a moving company at the click of a button. It makes the tiresome task a cinch and even if you are in a situation like mine where your stuff may not be so much as to require an elaborate plan. That by a click of a button you can get free removal quotes source a man and van to move you.

The second time I was moving from Lower Kabete, I had to be more careful. There were kids involved and they had many little things which while to me would have been better thrown away, were to to them very important and had to be taken very good care of. Additionaly I had to make sure I too never lost those small valuable gifts, souvenirs and so on. I had this time to just employ the services of a removal company to take the headache. plan the move, pack the stuff transfer, unpack and position them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Silver Lining,

A lot of good work seems to be happening in spite of the constant quarrels in the government of coalition. Driving to Western Kenya last week made me see sense. The road to Nakuru to start with is nywee all the way and Nakuru itself now has dual carriage from around lanet. the road is well lit with beautiful flowers planted in between the carriages. The road is good all the way past Kabarak, Eldama ravine, maji mazuri and onward to the Eldoret. There is a small section on Eldoret road which is very bad but the engineers are on site and its actually being fixed. However while the road constructors have done their part, the people who should manage it are probably sleeping on the job since the overloaded trucks have actually'dug' furrows on the road due to the load and you have to be careful when driving. Eldoret is as beautiful as it was when I was a student here though it has become more packed and populated. Very many cars and getting parking is as hard as in Nairobi. The hotels are of low standard though. Looking at people here, they seem very content and food is not one of their worries. They also look very healthy. Onward to Kitale, only about 20 kms of the road are kinda bad the rest is mteremko till the agricultural town of Kitale. Happy people. Small sweet town. It was my first time here. Actually when you are in kitale, its hard to imagine that some parts of Kenya are without rain or food.

The road from Kitale to Kimilili is very good. Even the one to Bungoma. Bungoma to mumias and mayoni are ish ish but mumias to mayoni itself is sweetly smooth. After mayoni it was rough road till my home but thank God for small mercies. Having 'one of us' in the government has made the road be nicely graded and leveled making the driving experience very good. From home I went to Kisii through Kisumu. Of all that almost a distance of 200Kms, only about 20Km needs work. The rest is very good. Kisumu Nairobi Road is now quite good and the drive is heavenly. I thought they could have made it a little wider though. there are too many large trucks on this highway so you have to go slowly on most parts.

Generally the road network has very good improvement and areas which are bad are being worked on. Something to smile about the coalition after all.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Of Weddings and Exploitation

Yesterday I got a rant-call while driving to Kisii. A friend of mine wanted to ventilate on what she said was blatant abuse of friendship by a mutual friend of ours from back in the day. The issue here was that our friend is finally getting 'hitched' as she put it and to do that she had invited her friends from college days to contribute generously towards realizing a dream fairy tale and celebrity wedding.

1. The chick in question wants all her designer wedding props and accessories bought in the US of A (nothing wrong with that)
2. Her bridal team should be chauffeured in a state of the art stretch mercs (nothing wrong at all)
3. The flowers should be the best of cuts arranged by leading celebrity florists in Nairobi(still very good)
4. Catering to be done by a five star hotel's outside catering dept (perfect)
5. There may be rain so the giant marquee to be hired and seats nicely decorated

Well the rain starts beating the whole arrangement when you consider that the budget is running into close to a million rare Kenyan shillings and our friend and her groom have between them about 250,000 only. The rest of the budget must be shouldred by the committee. Second contentious agenda item; These people have been working for more than 10 years and they are in some quite good employments!

My friend ( the 'ranter') is angry and was wondering why Kenyans keep on wanting to depend on donors? Secondly, why do they want us to believe they are capable when indeed they aren't? And why do they want other people to shoulder their responsibility? And who said a wedding was an emergency that requires a harammbee? If they wanted such a fairy tale wedding why didnt they save for it for those past 10 years they have been in gainful employment? Or why cant they take a non secured loan from those banks hawking loans to get their dream??? Why her and her friends???

Well the rant-call lasted me the drive from Ahero to almost Oyugis a distance close to 80KMs. Somehow I surprised myself listening and driving. maybe coz I was otherwise bored on the road alone. But I only had a simple question: Why do people (Kenyans) allow themselves to be exploited and never lift a finger. Only choosing to rant to someone else. Why couldn't my friend (the ranter) tell her friend that she couldn't contribute to their wedding? I have a friend who never takes part in such committees and she says it plain and simple: "I will bring you a present but I wont give you money to get married. Its your responsibility and if you cant afford a wedding, please consider putting off the marriage coz marriage is more expensive than a wedding"

I gave my friend that option but she said it would look bad as such matters were sensitive. It was better to accept the exploitation!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Good Martha; Now Apologize.

The big news today is that one Martha Karua has resigned. there are analysts going over themselves trying to explain to us the significance of the resignation and what it portends to Kibaki side of ruins. My thinking is that after resigning, Karua has to do the next noble thing; apologize for two reasons:

1. contributing to the still birth of the second liberation and making us miss a new constitution in 2003. she was one of the very vocal supporters of the constitution she now wants changed.

2. For contributing immensely towards daylight robbery of an election in 2007.

And I put it to Martha that her resignation has nothing to do with us or the country, its all about her and a deal gone sour. Martha must have thought that by helping Kibaki go around the constitutional change and also working very hard to help Kibaki remain in power even after losing that she was inheriting the support and goodwill of Kibakis friends. she should have learnt from Raila himself. Moi told him KANU had its owners.The lady should have known that the succession has its owners.

However if she doesn't come out and apologize to all of us for bringing our country to near collapse for the sake of one man's desire to continue martgaging Kenya then her so called resignation is as strong as the shadow of the cockrel who had been starved to death.

Monday, March 30, 2009

KU Strike

I read somewhere that when former UN secretary general came to Kenya in 2008 to try and resolve the PEV crisis, he was genuinely sorry for Raila Odinga as he clearly could see that the man was hurting after his election victory was stolen, however his feelings for Raila were neutralized by the violence , death and destruction in most parts of the Rift Valley. He was reportedly saddened by the plight of the displaced people, the children burnt in churches and many other unimaginable acts. In short The violence meted by Raila's supporters mainly in Rift Valley sanctified Kibaki's heartless robbery of the 2007 election.

Last night when I heard of KU's strike, I felt like getting some good prime time to give those kids a lesson or two on life ,responsibility and how to manage conflicts. I wanted to tell them that their disagreements with their administration have nothing to do with innocent Kenyans using the busy Thika road to and from work. I wanted to tell them that no employer was interested in people who fought each time they disagreed with others. I was angry! But this evening I have seen very disturbing footage of the response of policemen on the riot and how they beat the defenseless students with abandon. the students were already seated in submission but the men in uniform went on hitting them with clubs like millet! The screams for mercy from the poor young men and women cut through my heart like a razor. The were then frog matched in two rows into a waiting lorry. In fact this team was not rioting, they were hiding in the womens hostel. (most probably from their other colleagues)

This picture immediately sanctified the actions of the students. Its now difficult for me to condemn them. They sinned yes. But was this the best response. In fact what I know is that in a university, the people who strike are often less than 10% of the population. Its therefore very wrong to let the whole population suffer such miseries for the belligerence of a few.

On another note, I have always asked myself why Universities must be headed by academicians. These people are in the best, book worms, research experts and basically people with little or no social skills. In fact back in college we used to see how they used to even struggle with such mundane issues as handling relationships and emotions and enough girls and their boy friends were penalized for turning down advances from lecturers or uplifted for playing ball. I used to see that as an example of poor social and people skills. Mainly due to too much isolation to focus on academics.

I therefore concluded that the administration of the institutions would be best left to industry professionals. who understand a thing or two about market dynamics, human and social trends and plain business management.