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!