Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Economic Recovery

An interesting discussion ensued the other day. Who should be leading the economic recovery and who will benefit immediately? Should the stimulation be left entirely to the government and its operatives or should the business community take an active role in the same? Should it be bloggers or the media to renew confidence in the Kenyan economy? And who stands to benefit the most from the kind of boom we enjoyed shortly in the middle of this decade? The boom which resulted in ponzi schemes, speculation, manipulation and eventual collapse of the dreams of many? I hold that while the government maintains its oversight role, its upon all of us and especially the business and investor community to renew confidence in the economy and revive. Its upon the business community and trained economists to stir debate on the best stimulus to take us back to that free and enjoyable ride. Bloggers also need to keep alive the dialogue and lessons learnt be kept at heart for continued prosperity and achievement of the Kenyan dream. Finally I think that Kenya is more beautiful when all of us are enjoying and only sadists (who are actually sick) can claim to enjoy their wealth when everyone else is crying.

on another note, its clear that our staple maize is actually abundantly available in the Rift Valley and Western Provinces. The farmers are reportedly holding the commodity until the govt agrees to buy it at 'better' prices. An argument almost the same as that of the teachers. What I wonder is why the farmers would like to sell their grain to serikali in the first place. Why cant they form a cooperative to mill the grain and sell the floor. that way they can get better prices and also the whole value.

And I was reminded that the teachers strike may abort after all since the government did not care when, during the doctors strike, it watched hundreds of Kenyans die as the doctors stayed away. I thought that was a different govt which was heartless and insane until I was told that the forest could be been replaced but not the monkeys!

Monday, January 26, 2009

From an Italian Magazine (Dweb)

I have recently received an email from an Italian publication to answer some questions about Africa. These were my quick answers but i know i left out many other things:

I will try to answer your questions now:

- What does pan-africanism mean nowadays? Does it still have any meaning for young african bloggers, the so-called "Cheetah Generation"? If right, are there any new issues and targets? What's about new media and strategies on it?

Pan- Africanism is a very old term used by our founding fathers during the fight for emancipation in the 1960s. I have not heard this term being used today by young people and even young bloggers. There is however a lot of interaction among Africans in Africa at various levels.

- How is the cheetah generation is changing way of doing information in africa?

What you call the cheetah generation are basically not focused on only Africa as the sphere of influence. Young people in Africa realize that they are citizens of the world and are going out to make a mark in every sphere of life. The blogshere has helped in bringing people closer together and getting to know what goes on in various parts of the world

- What don't we (western) know about africa?
May be we should ask whether you in the west know anything at all about africa?
1. Africa is a continent just like Europe or South America and the rest. Its not one country
2. Africa is home to very many races of people with a very varied cultural heritage as well as traditions. We have nilotes, cushites, Bantus and even Caucasians.
3. The societal groupings in Africa popularly referred to as tribes by the west are actually nations with very elaborate political and leadership structures albeit at an non-official level. They also have varied value systems, history and heritage
4. Africa is much more developed than you guys think
5. Africans are hard working and smart

- what should we know about your country?
1. The current President or USA traces his routes to my country (smiles)
2. Our athletes are the best in the World in the long distance races
3. Our country has 42 nations (wrongly called tribes)
4.We have managed to unite all these nations under one president, one Prime Minister, one government
5. The first African Woman to win nobel peace prize is from my country
6. Our M-PESA mobile money transfer service, available in our country is the first and only one of its kind it the true sense in the World.
7.Many other things

- What do you think about african coverage on western media? Which newspaper and magazine do you prefer and why? What should be changed about it?
I dont have a preference when it comes to western media but they show us that they are very ignorant about what happens up here in Africa. Most of the time when I see their coverages even of my own country, I wonder whether they are talking about the same place I know. Western media focus so much on the negative things. pain, disease, hunger and despair. That is hardly representative of Africa. While I acknowledge that we have challenges like any other nation in the world, its not true that we are all about pain and despair

- How the internet connection does work in small villages? How do the african blogosphere get through to people?

internet in the villages is done via mobile phone service. Safaricom and Zain which are the leading mobile phone service providers have availed EDGE and 3G technologies to enable people use internet in the villages

If you want, you could send me an e-mail to answer these question otherwise I can call you.

You can call me if you need any more information

Friday, January 23, 2009


Am actually struggling with the acceptance of certain things am witnessing in my country. Am not understanding. Is it really true that non of our 38 million Kenyans has a solution to the perennial food and water problem in our country? Is it true that there is no inventor, entrepreneur, scientist, sociologist, seer, philosopher or geologist out there who can provide direction or a lasting solution? Is it true that we have inculcated the vision of thin, pale and wasted country men, women and children eating wild fruit and nuts and drinking brown water such that it doesn't bother us any more? Is it true that we are not bothered by such images or of news of our young people dying of hunger?

Really is it true that we cannot harness rain water, or redirect rivers to farmlands or areas of constant drought? Is there no sociologist out there with the training, talent or passion to socialize us out of attachment to subdividing land also called ancestral and focusing on viable land leasing for agriculture. Is there some funny law in Kenya or some funny international treaty that prohibits us from pumping waters from lake victoria, turkana, naivasha etc to dry lands of mwingi, turkana and wajir? Is it true that we cannot hold a fund raising or harambee to help invest in these initiatives. Are we truly prisoners of corruption to an extent that we cannot be trusted with moneys meant for common good? is it true that we dont understand what common good means? Are genetically modified crops truly more dangerous than famine , hunger and death by malnutrition like certain NGOs tell us? Must we eat ugali made out of maize floor? is it true that we, 38 million + Kenyans are unable to feed ourselves, that white people have an eternal responsibility for our livelihood and that they must provide us food when our rains fail? who will confirm to me that we indeed need constant rain for our agriculture to succeed?

am struggling, really struggling ...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Great inauguration, great moments , great hope. Congratulations Mr. President.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Leadership: Not an End in Itself

I have often said to my friends colleagues and even those who feel they don't like me much that leadership is not an end in itself. ok to put it more succinctly, leadership positions are not an end but a means to an end. You do not lead for the fun or the sake of leading. You are supposed to assume that position to enable you to show the others the way and the nirvana that they may not be able to see.

You are supposed to in that position be able to motivate them to cross the valley or climb the mountain that seems insurmountable. You should be available to lead. There is absolutely no need getting in positions of influence or authority and then sitting back and assuming that your job is done.

This however is what I keep on meeting from time to time. Most of the time in our society, we have to postpone our meetings because certain leaders were unable to attend and there was no quorum. At times meetings must start late since the main leaders were late.

Last Saturday during a graduation ceremony at Tangaza college, Professor Maviri , VC of CUEA defined justice in a very interesting way. That for instance if you are a leader, and you called a meeting, doing justice would be to attend the meeting on time and if you were not able to be on time due to traffic or anything at all, that you may forward your apology and when you finally arrived you would apologize again. I think I can expand that further by saying that justice would also mean providing leadership in the first place.

Why pray do people who have absolutely no clue where to take even themselves insist on staying on?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Time for the boy child

I have heard a number of murmurs at my place of work that too many of our new hires joining our team are young women. Some people are concerned that someone is having a soft sport for the sisters. In fact some departments are made mostly of women. However my observation has been that these women increasingly are performing quite well in the interviews. Since there is no other way to decide who joins the team, they are getting the jobs. Further more they have the papers required to land the job. Whats more, they are going on to perform quite well. Ok lets allow for the few days when am normally at a loss trying to figure out whether am dealing with the same colleague of yesterday. They always become a complete stranger to me from time to time.

It is not only in the work place where women are showing more aggressiveness and more promise. In our kids' school parents, teacher and children's meetings, its always the girls who make comments, ask questions or offer prayers at the end of the sessions. the Headmaster has been trying to encourage the boys to come up and also make comments but at that point, the boys heads are normally either bowed or they are pretending to be looking elsewhere. What is even interesting is that of the top 20 positions in class, 60% are often taken up by girls.

This situation is more pronounced in central province where even at the national exam level, girls are now scoring higher than boys. The only provinces where boys are still doing better than girls are Nyanza, North Eastern and Coast. Curiously those are also the last 3 provinces in terms of wealth distribution.

Recently we had kids in our estate organize a party. To start with , the organizers were all girls and when it came to the point of entertainment, the boys gave up their earlier decision to give us a number or a gig.

Maybe the crusaders for the girl child of yesteryears over did themselves. It may be time to start campaigning vigorously for the boy child as well. After all we need each other!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A tale of two Salary Negotiations

Who is the winner in the teachers salary saga? Has the govt won or has KUPPET or the teachers. First things first, am a great crusader of better remunerations for teachers. The development of any nation, culture or creed depends entirely on its teaching fraternity and so teachers to me are the most important people. Further, I believe in teachers since they made me what I am and believed in me at a time when few could.

In this matter, I think both KUPPET which represents post primary school teachers and KNUT which represents all teachers have won. I have a feeling that its our good govt which did not do their homework well.

For one, KUPPET is not a rival of KNUT but a subset of the latter this is because the two don't represent the same interests. So by choosing to finally recognize and register KUPPET, the minister did not make any gains against KNUT. Secondly, KUPPET could have accepted the deal just to get the much sort after registration,(they have waited 10 years!) after which they may come back for battle royale!

Am persuaded that if KNUT stays put as far as the strike is concerned, our govt which only understands the language of force will have to play ball.

And now comes the confusing part. Now that KUPPET signed the deal, what happens to teachers who are not members? does it mean they will not benefit from the pay rise, will the govt base its payroll on teacher Unions and not on experience, training and place of work? Will it mean, if you join KUPPET you get a raise? What happens when you quit the union after that?

What will happen to teachers who are members of both KNUT and KUPPET? will they or will they not get the raise? and since the raise was meant for all teachers, how will they determine who goes on strike and doesn't get the raise?

and on other matters making headlines further a flied, Have you ever noticed that every general election in Kenya is often closely followed by a mega scandal? my hypothesis: The money is meant to payoff sponsors of the expensive campaigns. Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sorry Pictures from Kenya

What do we learn from pictures such as these one at a time when leaders for whome we killed our neighbors, friends, sons and daughters are selling our food reserves to foreigners?

Corruption Kills!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A night of Orutu

The beat, she kicks
the strum, she twists
the song she turns
she flies

he beats she kicks
he strums she twists
he sings she turns
the shoe, the heel!
the skirt, the flaps,
the arms , so bare, they wave
the waist so light, so flighty

the pace is up,
the song is hot, the trance is on!


Ok I run out of words to describe what went down yesterday at the kings restaurant. the masters of Orutu music , Kenge Kenge were at it. Their infectious music brought this young delicately dressed girl to the dance floor. Initially I didn't think she was even meant to dance to such kind of music she looked rather exotic but when she started all others stopped to shamelessly stare at her. She fused in like the goddess of the music and the musicians loved her, giving her each beat, each strum of the orutu , the flute, the horn, the drums. Her partner stared on with half a smile on his lips. He looked a little worried like someone who had spilled grain at a place with many roosters against the better advice of the wahenga and yes the vultures at the restaurant looked at this little bird with raw lust , she was like part of the music. The guy couldn't take it anymore and pulled his sweet heart away!

Kenge Kenge has remained my favourite group for this type of music. In fact for me they are the leading luo traditional music group. Their style is unique and authentic. The lyrics are poetic and deep with many clever lines (also called pakruok in Luo) Yesterday though I heard a number they have done in English in praise of Obama. It was lovely rendition of luo beats and tune with lyrics in English!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Time to up the game

A society where I hold some decision making portfolio is intending to make some small investment. Consequently I was tasked with the responsibility of sourcing suppliers and bringing them to the fold. We are pressed for time. I got 3 seemingly good quotes after which I called the vendors for a discussion. One of them seemed quite good and I asked them to consider reducing their cost in order to let us get on with the contract. The guy told me that it would be ideal to let the price stand as it was, he however proposed to mobilize a small marketing fee. When I asked what he was talking about, he indicated that 10% of the cost would be that marketing fee payable to me in cash!

I was disgusted. First that this guy was not stressing the value of their product to me. He did not want to give us value. Secondly that he was thinking I was so cheap as to betray my society in the first place.

The experience made me angry and I suggested that we black list that company all together. We must never do any business with them ever again. But more it made me realize just what makes ours a pipe dream. That people are always thinking of shortcuts and bribes instead of delivery. As Kenyans I think we really need to up our game. The small economic boom between 2003 and 2006 showed me clearly that life is more enjoyable when things are working and everyone of us has something. Its boring and distressful when you are the only one who is capable. When you have so many people cursing you. It may look attractive but its not at all fulfilling. Greed and meanness don't make people happy.

Further as I have argued here and as a comment in other blog posts of fellow bloggers, I hold that getting rid of sleaze in our country is not a function of the political leaders alone. whats more these politicians come from among us. we beget them. so its normally naive for us to believe that just because one is elected president, MP or anything related he should suddenly become a saint and be better than any one of us.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Wanted: Good Subjects

At one point in a place I worked before, we had just about 11 managers out of a total workforce of 27. Translating to about 1.45 workers per manager a ratio of almost 1:1. It was absurd really but no one seemed to be able to notice. We just knew that we were not performing as a team. We were made to understand that we weren't working hard enough, nor smart enough.We attended many trainings, team building sessions and motivational seminars to no success. It took a new head of the team to actually restructure the whole thing and reduce the number of positions of absolute responsibility and increase the number of workers.

I have been thinking of this scenario a lot lately and it reminds me of the statistician's belief that a society however small is a non-biased representation of a wider population. It points to a fact that in our nation, we have too many leaders or too many people aim at being leaders. This is what leads us to having very few citizens or followers. It points out really why each of our leadership positions are fought for so ferociously. Even our sports associations cannot agree to have leaders and followers. everyone of them would want to be the chairman, secretary, director etc. Who will be led then?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


In the '80s when Gor KÓgalo and the AFC leopard met in a football match be it local league or cup, our own daily estate tournaments would stop and we would surround one small radio belonging to a friendly dad of my friend to listen to Mambo Mbotela, Musa Juma or Opondo grossly exaggerate the clash (you see the media started incitement long before PNU and ODM came along). At the end of the 90 minutes of Soccer, radios would either be smashed (Gor lost) or it would be a feast day as everybody you met would suddenly become recklessly generous (Gor won). It would be song and dance. Every little boy in our estate team had a name similar to one Gor Mahia player. I fondly referred to myself as Sammy Onyango Jogoo! The man could have sued me if he ever saw me playing.

Then, Gor won a triple including Mandela cup, Moi Golden Cup and Premier League to send us into a feeling of invincibility. But after that the standards started going down like a great mudslide. Both Gor and AFC leopards, fondly called Ingwe among fans but locally referred to as 'ogwang' (a derogative term for wild cat), started going down the league as if they were being paid to do so.

Like the script of a great curse story, the two giants pulled each other down until the former powerhouse AFC dropped out of premier league. No one was talking about them anymore and even Gor fans could not get the same excitement when they had matches. I have not been hearing about the great team of JJ Masiga, Muhamud Abbas (We hated the invincible goalie with a passion except when he was playing for harammbee stars), Murila, Ambrose Ayoyi and many other heroes of yore.

Lakini there are Kenyans who never say die. A few Kenyans refused to give up on the great outfit and stuck with them when the going was thickest. This year that great team has been readmitted into the Kenyan Premier league and I would like to toast their great achievement but more I would like to raise my glass to those men who refused to bow their heads and agreed to die and rise with the leopard like the great phoneix. A relaunch party has been organized for the 7th Jan 09 at charter hall Nairobi. Its a party which is a must attend since its a great sign of human triumph!

Monday, January 05, 2009


In the last one or so months since minister Michuki gave a certain directive about it, a number of things have been said about the Mobile money transfer M-PESA. In fact one Bankelele, a seasoned blogger gave it quite a generous thought and a detailed posting addressing several issues. From where am sitting, the fight for and against M-PESA reminds me of the early years when having a mobile phone in Kenya was a high end privilege. This was happening when most countries were moving fast in that direction and even smaller economies had already rolled out the service. Our government of the day still had very good reasons as to why mobile phones were not good for us. Chief among them was internal security.

What I know for sure is mobile money transfer or MMT as its known globaly is the next frontier for the telecommunications industry. What with fast shrinking revenues due to better, cheaper technology enabling more players to enter the business. Value added services are the way to go and one of the most attractive is currently MMT. its not lost to anyone that there are quite a number of safaricom subscribers who are still hooked to the network solely because of M-PESA. the convinience of this serice cannot be feted enough. Other innovations will come eg convergences of payTV, internet, mobile and so on which are already being practiced in much of Europe. In time, most people will want to do every type of communication via their mobile phone.Just wait until people are able to listen to whole sermons or take whole university degree courses via phone at prepaid rates!

Like Bankelele has stated clearly , I agree the stakes are quite high and some businesses will have to close down like a dry well. But its safer to embrace a stronger enemy (read threat) than wish it away or fight it. A company I once worked for made fortunes selling typewriters, ribbons, duplicating machines and so on. they were initially reluctant to start selling PCs and could try to disuade their customers from looking that direction even outlining several reasons why the PC would be dangerous to their business including ease with which information could be manipulated. They never went far.

MMT is an idea whose time has come globally and fighting it is like planting the wind all you reap is a whirlwind!