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.


The last Friday was heavy with anticipation. Lots of things were happening on the weekend and when my good nephew called me to find out how I would schedule the weekend, I decided to outsource the decision to him. He decided that the star's game would be a must watch since we would be beating Tunisia, then the Kenyans also had to be watched taking the Hong Kong series as well as the cross country. All that was then to be celebrated with Osogo Winyo live that evening!

The day started well as anticipated. It was cool and even had drizzles. but then at the time of the game I went to do job rounds instead of the match. The coca cola stadium was really packed judging from the cars outside. But had duty called so I just passed by. Then after I got called for a fund raiser at garden square which ended kinda late. By which time I already understood that Kenya had gone down 2-1 at home. I also missed the rugby match and the other one but decided that the last leg of Saturday would not go unchallenged so I went to osogo winyos concert. I had never seen the guy but had heard so much of him so I was excited. The place was already packed but I managed to get a seat. curiously most patrons today were rather young with hanging jeans, funny canvas shoes and strange tops. They were in such a mood. a number had rugby shirts on. I thought one of us were in the wrong place. osogo=ohangla=elderly peoples music! disappointingly, it was Musa Juma who started with rhumba and he hogged the stage for almost 4 hours. towards the end of those he was actually being booed by the young crowd who were shouting 'Osogo!' Well finally his team started setting up the stage but he was no where to be seen. The crowd shouted louder then he finally appeared. He did not look the part. In fact had he come for one of those Kenyan reality tv shows, I would have told him to try another career other than music even before he opened his mouth. He is very short and was even putting on a funny kaunda suit and sports shoes!

But when he really did open his mouth, he brought the house down! The young people poured onto the dance floor in ecstasy, every one was up as Osogo went through the numbers. and I realized one why people love heroes. somehow they bring out the hero in us since at that point several people tried to join him on stage to show us how well they could dance or just to to be seen with him. others converted their mobile phones into cameras. For sure I will never judge a book by the way he is dressed! Another thing I realized was why young people love the guy. Somehow his kind of modern ohangla is novel. its faster, vigorous and has many different sounds. In fact its quite close to the original ohangla sound mostly found in Ugenya and Siaya. I got tired after a short while and went back to the seat to watch the young show us how 'our' music should be danced.

But soberly though, our harambee stars team did me proud. They went down alright but they played quite well judging from the replays. What we need now is patience with the coach, put our management in order and wait for results. Even the rugby sevens has come a long way.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Of Education and Social Responsibility

I was watching 'Making of a Nation' program on NTV the other day. This time they focused a lot on the development of education in Kenya and one man called Carey Francis was richly featured. Carey Francis was the legendary maths teacher who also penned several text books that were used in East Africa for a long time in the early years of our nation. Also featured prominently was Alliance High School where Mr. Francis was teaching.

It was a very good program. Quite uplifting and also humbling. One thing that I found quite humbling was that at one time, Kenya had about 1600 students finishing form four and seeking places in high school. That was a crisis at the time!

On the other side though, I could not help but wonder what the real success of Alliance has been. Yes the commentator went on mentioning the who is who in Kenya as having been educated at Alliance. The few names I could remember were Kanyotu, Amos Wako, Njonjo, Festus Olang etc. For each big name dropped by the commentator, I could not find any great achievement or contribution to the Kenyan republic apart from corruption and planting seeds of tribalism in our nation. And it got me worried. That these big names came from such a prestigious institution, went on to study at Makerere and then came back to destroy our nation through mismanagement, sleaze and tribalism. It made me ask myself the same question Kodhek my good friend used to bother me with. What is the real raison d'etre of a school. Is it supposed to only make you a good scientist or doctor or nurse or leader? Or should the school also shape you into a socially and morally responsible adult? Shouldn't there be a difference that when you are trained in a certain institution, that you have certain enduring principles, qualities and temperament other than the school leaving certificate and alumni membership? And when the school has an alumni, shouldn't members have a way of striking you off the register and disowning you for soiling the name of the institution? From the list that was being read by the commentator last Sunday, it was as if one of the traits taught at Alliance was corruption, tribalism and social mediocrity.

Be that as it may. When is the rain planning to fall on our beloved country? It has become unbearably hot, food is scarce, taps are dry and dust threatens to cover us on the streets. Aren't there some good lawyers out there somewhere to sue someone for sleeping on the job and not sending the rain on time? You can even throw in breach of contract

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I have been thinking lately about defining success. What qaulisfies one as successful. In the short of it it should just be said that success is the attainment of ones goals and aspirations. thats simple and some 19th century prime minister said once that success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

My thinking in my student days was that success was like calculus where they say dy/dx and for this case the dy/dx need to be positive. By that I thought that you could not talk of success if your situation remained largely the same. Or if it came down. So if you were 100/= rich and became 1000 richer you would be more successful that Bill gates this year ( he lost 40 % of his wealth though is still a multi billionaire!)

Lately though I have been thinkning that for one to be thougt of as successful, he must do at least better than his parents. If your dad was a high school teacher, at least try and become a mid level college lecturer. If he bought one car maybe you could do with two or a higher capacity one etc. So for me I think that if Uhuru Kenyatta does not become the Lincoln of Kenya and doesnt unite the country, heal the wounds inflicted by his dad or even return all that stolen land , he would have failed as a politician even if he gets to succeed Kibaki.

But the other day I was being told of the school fees paid at St. Austins Turi or at Pembroke or even Brookhouse school. Others are hillcrest and so on. and I asked my friend ; where will those guys work? Will they compete for the same job with Mr. Odhianja Biru who went to Okolo Kudho mixed secondary school? If they competed for the same job and both were employed as accountants in a leading bank in Kenya, who among them will have counted as successful. Seriously if you are going to invest 300,000 shillings a term for a kid who then goes on to compete with another who invested 10,000 shillings a year then you cant talk of him being successful.

Last week I celebrated the win of one Edith Kimani at the conclusion of the KTN show The Presenter until I learnt that she was schooled at Hilcrest, I immediately pitied her. To me getting a job as a presenter in KTN is not a good return on investment of schooling at hilcrest.

Thats another reason why I seldom celebrate the likes of Starehe boys centre, Allinace, Mangu etc when they top the countrys exam. What else should they do apart from topping? They take the best kids in the country and they get allocated the best resources as the top most secondary schools in the nation hence the term national schools.

On another note, am thinking seriously that our collective failure in Kenya is not that we havent been able to democratise our institutions but rather that we have been unable to create a nation. Its sad that we still refer to each other as if they were aliens or strangers. The major thing to do is make ourselves a people after all we have too many common enemies namely lack of water (which is worsening by the decade), lack of forest cover, lack of visionary leaders, poverty diseases, coruption, traffic chaos etc.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


What is in a name, what is in a place really? have been hearing so much of a heavenly place called olepolos. Every Ouma, Wanyonyi and Rajwayi who have visited the place has indicated to me that am not worth my salt if i hadn't. Well I have never felt bad not being worth my salt for not visiting olepolos but this last week, a friend of mine offered together with his wife to treat me to lunch at the the place. It was a spontaneous and wild idea but it sounded the best in the month. So we set off to the south of the city. Passed through ongata rongai, and kiserian. and i saw for the first time the place which in the late '90s was the place to buy land if you were a Kenyan man whose balls had filled his palm. I don't know the criteria women used to buy land there. But somehow everyone I knew was talking of settling in Kiserian.

I thought olepolos would be near there but we still had quite a drive, nice hills, beautiful open lands basically bare and uninhabited save for a few huts here and there. My friend said the land belonged to maasai but the dotted settlements and farm lands belonged to bright Kikuyu men (I wonder why not women). We passed some beautiful looking young people trekking, they were a sharp contrast to the area and my friend offered that they most probably were university students on an excursion or sponsored walk. This guy is sharp and had an explanation for everything we met upto why they were the way they were.

After a few more twists and turns we got to a place with more thorn shrubs than the mara. But the soil was black clay like my neighborhood in Nairobi. The friends wife said that Karen used to look like that. In fact she offered that Karen which people these days struggle to get to was actually maasai land before they were driven out by white men and a few bright, you guessed it Kikuyu men. Two more winds and we turn into olepolos. Am getting excited that finally I would be worth my salt. As we drive in am getting a feeling of lost since there are just a few shades and lots of smoke. what is surprising is that several 'strong' cars with powerful plates in colors of power are parked around. I ask my two 'guides' if they think there is a function. No its just normal traffic at olepolos. In the middle of nowhere there are many people roasting meat here drinking and chatting merrily. There is actually nothing much and thats what makes the place outstanding. Nothingness, openness, bare land with no confines, no buildings just open skies and unforgiving heat.

We ordered lamb and chicken which took about an hour to be ready while we had a good chat and laugh and drank lots of novida. its actually not bad after all. However the chicken and meat were disappointing, it wasn't roasted that well but when I saw everyone around me enjoying the feast, I played along. funny thing people were still streaming in even at 5PM some with their kids!

Way back we decide to go see Titus Naikuni's house on the way to isinya. The guys house is actually an attraction. My friend said Naikuni stays there and travels all this way everyday to go to work at KQ headquarters in Nairobi. the house is to say the least a masterpiece. we saw it from afar but it was clear that a lot of thought, money and man hours went into putting it up. It actually looks like an hotel or an institution. (kuna watu na viatu! )

He is in a very big compound and a lot of free open land all around him. I was reminded again that Karen used to be like that before John Keen subdivided it and sold it off. Apparently John Keen owned most of Karen if not all.

After that we pushed the road-master hard to get to Nairobi before dusk and then counted myself as a been-to.

As a by the way though ,on passing, am I the only one disturbed that all the catholic bishops, archbishops and even a cardinal who are great close friends of our president are not advising him or even telling him that rejecting your family and child in public is not only shameful but also sinful. I know in the catholic teaching having a child outside marriage is considered adulterous and sinful but what is the difference between what Kibaki did on Tuesday and abortion? Catholics reject abortion, right?