Monday, 24 May 2010

Eastleigh, the Shopping District of Nairobi

It reached a point where I was getting envious, envious of the Nairobi beggars , the ones who are disabled, mostly amputees. I was not envious of their begging, but more of their begging while dressed in pretty cool garments, more so designer jeans. You see, you cannot beg in designer jeans and expect people to listen to your plight when they are dressed in garments that are almost wearing thin.

So after been approached by several beggars who I felt were better dressed than I was, I decided that it was time to upgrade my wardrobe. The first place to look was my dirt-cheap stockist in downtown Nairobi, but I found that when it came to jeans, the stock reminded me of some jeans that I once saw when I was in primary school, popularly known as Savco.

Remembering a story I had been told about Eastleigh having a large enough stock of textiles sold at a subsidized price(apparently)by pirates, I decided to pay the place a visit. The place, might be thse source of the billions of dollars in hard foreign currency that the Government of Kenya cannot account for.

Eastleigh is less than 20 minutes from the city centre on Matatu route 9, one of the fancy matatu routes characterised by colourful matatus with loud music, lights at night and probably in-flighttravel video. I got myself a back seat which I realized is not the best of seats. The reason that the back seat is not the best of seats was evident as I alighted the matatu with an upturned stomach. The upturned stomach had nothing to do with the strong perfumes characteristic of Somalis, but was a direct result of the number of speed bumps on a approximately 2Km stretch of road between Kariokor on Ring Road Ngara and First Avenue Eastleigh, otherwise known as General Waruinge Street.

General Waruinge street habours about 3 high schools, 2 primary schools, a clinic and a maternity hospital. The street , best of all, proudly boasts of not less than 11 standard sized speed-bumps, probably making it the road with the highest density of bumps in Kenya. Apparently, such drastic measures had to be taken to guarantee the safety of school children crossing the street given the driving skills of Kenyan drivers, which are nothing to write about here.

Ignoring the tummy turning bumps, Eastleigh also boasts of high human density with more than 10 malls around or off Eastleigh First Avenue. First Avenue itself is a street which was once tarmacked , but now reduced to potholes filled with either mud or murky water. Worse of all, the road has remained at 2 lanes despite the growth of the area, and thus there is always a traffic jam and it can take almost half an hour to an hour to navigate up/down First Avenue.

The Malls capitalize on available real estate, and have not spared the road, road reserve and are built next to each other. Even before you get to the malls, the street is filled up with hawkers who have lined their wares along the side of the road, such that if a bus is passing by, the wares have to be dragged out of the road to give space. From these hawkers, you can get new mens jeans for only Kshs. 300 ($4).

The front shops of most malls deal with electronics, with a wide array of phones, television sets at bargain prices. However, I was more interested in the garments. The malls, as I came to find out, are somehow organised either into sections dealing with several items like handbags, jeans or shirts or into whole malls dealing with particular items like beddings or jeans.

When it comes to graments, jeans in the malls will retail averagely at kshs. 500 - 700, with top of the range one going as from kshs. 900. At the same time, one will realize that range of items stocked in the malls is of a wider range than what is stocked at shops at the city centre or downtown Nairobi. In fact, some of the so called "designer" stockists in the city centre stock a selection of items that you can find at Eastleigh, and also charge almost double or more for the same items. In fact, you are better off shopping for textiles including ladies' handbags and men's wallets at Eastleigh than in town. The range of items is wider and prices are fairer. From what I saw, most of the shops in the City Centre seem to be sourcing their stock from Eastleigh rather than importing them, as they claim.

Ventilation in the malls is poor , with some of them been quite stuffy. some of the staircases also seem to be unplanned , especially been steep and metallic. As for the buildings, they look solidly built and we hope they are. Security in the area is good, but you still have to be wary of pick pockets as is the norm in crowded places. Some of the shop attendants do not understand Kiswahili and speak halting English. As for their nationality, that shall remain disputed, but the voter registration queues were empty despite it been a weekend.

Eastleigh can do well if the developers in the area took account of pedestrians and motorists. First of all, there is need for wider pavements and drainage. The streets will also need to be wider and tarmacked, otherwise the malls my suffocate themselves or find themselves disadvantaged if an alternative shopping area with better amenities was developed.

If you can stand the people and the poor drainage/ventilation, Eastleigh will offer a wide variety of your shopping needs at bargain prices.

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Bible. Why you should read your Bible.

After reading what The Candid Tin man had to say about the Bible on his blog, I felt a disappointed man. In my opinion, the candid Tin man had committed the same errors of omission and commission that have plagued the Bible for centuries.

In the beginning, the Roman Catholic church was the dominant church worldwide, and the bible existed in Latin language which common folk like me and you did not understand. Latin was a dead language used by the priests of the roman Catholic church and perhaps a few scholars.

The Roman Catholic church aimed at controlling the public's opinion , as the church still does today, and especially their opinion of what was God's word. Therefore, back then, if you needed to understand God's word, you had to consult the Roman Catholic Priests to read the Bible for youa nd then tell you what it said. How well they did this and their intentions remained questionable, with accusations directed at the Roman Catholic Church for mistranslating The Bible to exploit the masses.

This led to several attempts to translate the Bible from Latin to English in order for the masses to read and understand it for themselves. This was met with a lot of resistance by King Henry VIII in England and the Pope. In fact, any translations of the Bible were banned. William Tyndale, an English Scholar fluent in many languages and who is refereed to as one of the fathers of the modern English language with many of his phrases still in use, was the first to print an English translation of the New Testament. These were banned and confiscated as they were attributed to containing "errors", which they did not.

Tyndale was sought after by the King and was later burned at the stake for his efforts. Later, King Henry VIII fell out with the Pope when The Pope opposed the King divorcing his wife and marrying his mistress. In response, King Henry VIII broke ranks with the Roman Catholic Church and started The Church of England which he was head. In addition, King Henry funded the translation of the Bible to get back at the Pope. This are now what is known as The Anglican Church and the King Henry's Bible(Really, The King's Bible).

After translation of the Bible into English, the mistranslations and misinterpretations did not come to an end. Lucky for the clergy, most of the masses have never loved reading and will not. The masses would rather you read for them and tell them what is in the Bible. In addition, people are too busy to read such a large book as the Bible in whole.

Meanwhile, the clergy have always had their agendas. There are the views that they want perceived whereas other churches promote certain notions. For example, we have the latter day "Goodwill churches" who mainly preach on the promotion of wealth and use the Bible as an authority to support their claims.

As for the main church, over time, they have come up with a set of morals, a set of what is good and bad, heaven and hell. They have then ensured that the masses follow their doctrines and again, used the Bible as a base for their authority.

The Bible was not written to serve the purposes of man, and therefore, anyone using the The Bible to serve their purposes will always find the Bible falls short in several areas. The clergy have always found scriptures in the Bible that promote "Bad" Ideologies. From Men of God sleeping with concubines and marrying many wives to the drinking of wine in the new testament.

To avoid the "Bad Scriptures" the church has resorted to reading selected parts of the Bible and often building their messages on a few verses of the Bible.

The Bible, like a well written Encyclopaedia, has several repetitions, with several books been re-written from several views including Exodus been re-written 4 times, the books of kings been re-told in the Chronicles and the 4 Gospels.

For one to have some understanding of The Bible and God's Words, one should get a copy of the Bible in a language they can easily understand (leave out the complex English translations if you do not understand them) and read the Bible from beginning to end, at a pace they understand. We should no longer allow anyone to read the Bible for you. As for the church, they might consider reading the Bible as a whole themselves and interpret what is in the Bible rather than their own doctrines.

At the same time, it still remains out of order for the Clergy to have lesbians, gays and child molesters among their ranks. Aren't these some of the reasons Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed?

Read your Bible Today.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Why I plan to Enroll in a School that teaches me how to spend money

So yesterday it was raining, and rain it did. Matter of fact, it rained so hard that some people believed that the rain was more than just a matter of cats and dogs. Even cats and dogs were scared of venturing out in this rain that reportedly led to the loss of many shoes (and those sandals that girls in Nairobi call shoes)

As it happens in Nairobi, rain is one of the few things that outdoes the presidential motorcade when it comes to bringing Nairobi traffic to a stand still. Despite having universities in every province and every city and soon in every top 10 community, we are yet to conduct research on what drops of water have to do with vehicles moving on a road.

As such, with traffic coming to a stand still, matatus are caught up and therefore the matatu stages become void of matatus and full of passenegers wanting to get home away from the rain. some of them even take the initiative to walk out of town and meet the matatus. At the same time, matatus increase the fare for reasons best known to them.

As I was in a matatu to town, having paid 25% on top of my normal fare, and having been driven on top of pavements and on the raoadside, the matatu decided to drop us out of town and give us the 25% we had paid on top. Someone then pointed out the problem with matatu crew is that they are always greedy and will never be satisfied.

They will always exploit increased demand to charge you higher fares to your destination. As if that is not enough, they will drive outside the road into trenches and any other available rugged space so that they can make more trips. Mind you, most old matatus do not have shock absorbers, or have gears that rattle the whole matatu when shifted, so you absorb all the shock from the rugged road as a passenger. Despite all this, on finding a sizeable group of passengers a few kilometers off town, the matatu will either "sell" you (transfer you to another vehicle) or drop you off and refund some fare, which may not be enough as they usually reimburse off peak fares.

And no mater how many times they do the above, they still never get rich or enough money. Comparatively, if Airlines were matatu, the would have charged double and tripple fares after flights were grounded for a week as Iceland naturally exported volcanic ash to the European continent. Furthermore, passengers from Amsterdam to Florida or San Francisco would have been dropped off at New York so that the planes could cash in on the New York passengers waiting to make the trans-Atlantic crossing.

This reminded me of this guy back at home who operates a distributorship spanning a vast portion of Eastern Kenya. The guy is always up and opening his wholesale shop at 6.00 a.m. and closing down at 7.00 p.m. For most of the year, he and his wife will be found at the shop. In my opinion, he makes a lot of money that he never spends.

As for the honest hardworking* (*-pending investigation for mass fraud and intimidation) fellows who make it to the Top 100 list on Forbes, they always make announcements on how they plan to increase their wealth other than a few like Bill Gates who actually says how he will spend it.

In short, we never make enough money, or money is not enough. What we therefore need to do is not learn how to make money, but how to spend it.

They need to teach me in school how to spend my little money so that it appears as a large sum. They need to teach me how to use my little money to get more money out of it, and not how to make more money.

Who knows of such a school?