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Showing posts from 2011

Africa's "Our Person" syndrome

The other day, a senior journalist (I have no idea which organisation ranks journalists though) remarked that United States President , Barack Obama, like his predecessor, George Bush Jnr, had not done much for Africa.

Apparently, Obama, born of an African father of Kenyan origin, making him "our person" . As our person, Obama was supposed to have Africa's agenda somewhere close to his heart, giving it almost as much priority as that of the US.

Africa is yet to come to the reality that Obama is a US citizen, voted in by the good people of US to mind about their concerns. If it involves screwing Africa, so be it.

A Tale of 2 Bakeries

Let me start by apologising - what a cliché, again, I apologise - for not joining in the "holiday mood" - what a cliché - and posting a feel good post on Christmas, or even after taking much liberty to include this as as my tarting paragraph, falling short by not taking this opportune moment to bid you something to do with the various holidays and festivities.

The holidays are a great time for promotions. Spending is greater than the rest of the year with few people saving for the occasion and a many others opting to spend their January salary in the last few days of December. As a few have learnt, the last few days of December can be game changers for an entire year.

Businesses are also out to cash in on the "festive mood" - seems I won't be running out of clichés - by offering various discounts and offers to woo customers  from their competitors. However, when a bakery at "AA" near Mukuru kwa Njenga started offering a free cup of juice to those mad…

The Desperate Quest for the Faithful Guy

I came across this tweet yesterday evening - "The higher a man's IQ , the more sexually faithful he tends to be." I laughed hard,and shed a few tears, not tears of joy, but tears of pity at the many ladies who were retweeting it, weeping for their desperation.

The statement ranks in truth to the other popular statement that refers to all men as dogs - lying and cheating bastards.

Both statements are what should be referred to as fallacies, defined by Wikipedia as  "incorrect argumentation in reasoning resulting in a misconception or presumption. By accident or design, fallacies may exploit emotional triggers in the listener or interlocutor (appeal to emotion), or take advantage of social relationships between people (e.g. argument from authority). Fallacious arguments are often structured using rhetorical patterns that obscure any logical argument."

Notice above where it says "fallacies may exploit emotional triggers"?

 Men are animals - this I a…

South Korea: Guest Post by Bitange Ndemo

This is the first guest post on this blog since I started blogging in June 2007. The post is by Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Kenya's Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications.

Ndemo recently was on a visit to South Korea. He narrates his experience in South Korea, a country that was considered far less developed than Kenya in the 1960s and 1970s. At the moment, South Korea is a developed country and amongst the world's top 10 exporters. The country is also a top importer. This post was first published on the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANET) mailing list.

I arrived in Korea yesterday for a Global e-Government conference.  ITU
ranks Korea as number one in ICT diffusion.  From the airport you see
people walk through with an e-passport using biometrics.  The New Incheon
airport is 70 Kms west of Seoul, the capital and largest city of South
Korea with some 11 million inhabitants. It is one of the largest and
busiest airports in the world actually the world'…

Kenyan products: The art of punishing your consumer

Peanut butter used to taste so good, but you could not afford it on the pocket money that you got back in school. A few years later, you have your first real job and your first "disposable" income. You buy your first real tub of peanut butter , probably the first in your life. You feel proud that Dominion peanut butter is manufactured in Ruiru, a town that you visited in your campus days to withdraw your pocket money , it was the nearest bank ATM to your campus. This was before Equity bank became a mainstream bank and decided to open an ATM in your campus, and before M-Pesa meant that you could withdraw your pocket money next to the kibanda  where you had your one meal of the day.

The peanut butter though is a far cry form the peanut butter you remember. It does not taste that good, and turns into some sort of stone barely before you are a third way through the jar. The stone is not a kind that you learned about in your Geography classes though.

Dejectedly, you decide not …

Mutheu and the half-weave

She is a beautiful girl, that I shall not deny you the liberty of knowing. She is also slim, almost pencil thin, and tall, and  light. The time may be just ripe for her to hit the circuit, not that one, the modelling circuit. Her name was and still is Mutheu, though have not heard from her in months.

I would be lying to you if I told you that her mother had raised a family of girls, for that would be an understatement. A more accurate statement would be calling her a mother of models, for she would pride her homestead in having the highest number of beauties per family. The girls numbered about three or four , in a single parent family, with no brothers.

The family owned and ran a couple of popular salons, and she therefore grew up to be an expert in matters of the hair. This I had told you in another post, where I said that Mutheu was the only girl that knew how to look hot in weaves - those wig-like contraptions that Kenyan women have taken as a license to have pathetic hair days a…

The Kenya Police Force

An expert, more precisely, a group of experts, was hired to come up with recommendations on how the Kenya Police Force would redeem a bad public image and be more effective to the citizenry. Amongst the recommendations were better housing for the police, better working terms, better training and a better brand. Whoever who is in charge of implementing the recommendations was quick to implement them, rather quick to implement the easiest, branding. The "Kenya Police Force" was deemed to ring the wrong bell in terms of the police force and use of force. The Kenya Police Service would be way better.

However, this did not yield much. While the Police Force has been more visible through a spokesperson, the Administration Police (AP) was caught the other day breaking down an illegal procession. The AP chaps figured that the best way to break such a demonstration was to repeatedly clobber an elderly woman using a 1 meter wooden baton. It was even more ironical that the protest was…

Bonoko: The irony of comic relief off the poor

It was shared on Facebook, then reshared, and shared, spreading so fast. It was hilarious, very funny. It soon made it to radio shows, where it was replayed as guys laughed it off. It was so funny that it made it to TV scripts, and to DJ mixes in the club.

Bonoko is the the name given to what started as a radio clip of a young man narrating the killing of his pal. According to the clip, the victim was relieving himself (urinating) against a wall, when he spotted City Council of Nairobi askaris  moving in to arrest him for the same purpose.

It is against Nairobi Council laws to relive yourself in non designated areas. Offenders are rounded up by askaris  and should later be arraigned before a court to be fined for the act. However, most of the time, the askaris offer to accept a lower bribe instead, usually from Kes 500.

Security Guards: Low on Intelligence

Lately, I have had no less than 2 run ins with various security guards, in which an opportunity to provide intelligence turned out to be a pointer on its startling absence. In the same period, I have had a run in with only one matatu conductor, but circumstances were a bit different here. So do we conclude that matatu conductors are brighter than security guards, be they from KK tasked with the American embassy, or any other guard?

Do not get me wrong on security guards, or watchmen, or "solja" as sometimes we prefer to call them. These guys are still of great importance when it comes to finding out where the hell on Parklands Road that Centre Point is. At such times, Google Maps tends to think that being on Parklands Roads, you must be looking for some Centre in Germany.

While your watchman might have an idea on what is down the road, these guys are usually clueless as to what is where in the building that they are employed to guard manage.

Covering the Internet Governance Forum

At times I get tired of blogging, given that I spend most of the week covering events and trying to write something about the same events. The past week was no exception, with the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)coming to Nairobi. The Internet Governance Forum is a gathering of the world's Internet Policy makers, guys who decide to what limits the Internet can be used and offer guidance about the same. The IGF in Nairobi was the sixth annual event of it's kind, and the biggest ever, attracting over 2,000 participants, about 800 of them foreign. The participants ranged from small fish to big fish, like the father of the Internet, Dr. Vint Cerf, and a few other key players in Gloabl ICT firms like Facebook and Microsoft.

The Ministry of Information and the Kenya IGF needs several pats on their back for pulling the IGF off. See , they brought key Internet players in the country, and managed to impress them that the country was way ahead when it came to the Internet, or at least N…

African gods: President's and CEOs

Every Sunday, African streets are thronged with people gong to church, dressed in their best outfits, coincidentally referred to as Sunday Bests. Even children are not left out in the madness as they are decked in colourful outfits and dressed as miniature adults. Those who do not go to church are frowned upon, and seen as wrong doers and society evil bringers. Africa really puts its trust in God, however, this is mostly limited to a single day in the week.

For other days of the week, Africa prefers to have its other gods, its presidents. In several African countries, the president is an ageing man. His age is not the only thing that is greater than that of most of the population, the number of years that he has been in power is also greater than the age of majority of the population.

The last such president we had in Kenya went by the name of Daniel Toroitich arap Moi. This was a god who you could not speak ill about, for a long time. News bulletins on radio and television began wit…

Samsung launches Chatter application in Kenya

Kenyans who like speaking as speakers adress social events and functions now have a reason to smile, or more precisely to chatter away even more. This is after the launch of the Samsung Chatter application in Kenya. The product was launched by Samsung Kenya deputy Managing Director, Robert Ngeru, on Tuesday evening at Mercury lounge at the ABC Place, along Waiyaki way.

Fareed Khimani was also present at the event, however, for a different launch of the Samsung Galaxy 2 in the country. The lounge was overflowing with invited guests comprising of members of the media, various mobile phone retailers, other industry executives and bewildered bloggers who retreated to a dark corner. The lounge was overflowing to a point that the waiters and waitress were simply overwhelmed by the orders.

Kenyans obsessed with universities to a high degree

Kenyans, just like Singaporeans, love universities degrees to death. Today, as part of the country's new constituition implementation, Kenya's parliament found itselt debating whether it should be a requirement for Kenyans vying to be Members of Parliament have a university degree.

Meanwhile, across the oceans, AllthingsD reports that Christopher Stone is returning back to university, precisely to the "University of California's Berkeley's Haas School of Business to advise Master in Business Administration students on matters such as entrepreneurship and innovation". As I mentioned, Stone has been to university before,as a student, to Northeastern University and University of Massachusetts, Boston. On both ocassions, Stone was kind enough to drop out of university without ever completing his studies.

Miss Kerigo : Why so serious?

Today was a holiday, Eid Mubarak, in honour of our Muslim segment of Kenyans. Notice how the Kibaki government never announces random holidays  - this one was announced almost a month in advance. The previous Moi one was a show stopper, throwing employers' plans into disarray as he announced National holidays by the roadside amidst 'traditional dancers' who would later receive wads of cash in envelopes. Imagine some foreigner planning a business meeting in Kenya weeks in advance only for it to fall in a last minute holiday.

Back to the holiday, it is a day when one wakes up at 8 Am , only to go back to sleep for an additional 2 hours, oh the bliss. So after doing the above today morning, I woke up, and noticed that my memory, amongst other body organs, was up.

See I have a short memory, I rarely remember anything that did not happen in the last 24 hours, nor anything scheduled and planned to happen in the future. Today was quite exceptional when I woke up and remembered my…

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Hakuna Matata, karibu Afrika - Yet another tourist will be welcomed to this exotic paradise for a get away , but where we will work hard and assist them to have a close-to-home as possible experience. But hey, that was not meant to be the opening sentence for this post.

The title of the post comes from the popular Larry Madowo, known for his business reporting especially in shows like PM Live.  We were at some of those events that journalists, reporters and bloggers keep attending: - some product launch here , some announcement there. It was at one of those launches that someone was mentioning watching something on Afternoon Live. I asked whether they meant PM Live,  I rarely watch TV and had not heard of Aftrenoon Live. 


Apparently Afternoon Live is a business program aired by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) as a response to NTV's PM Live. That's when I asked if the Kenyan Media would ever stick to originality, rather than copying each other.  Larry replied that it w…

Bata Hush Puppies: Made to leak

When one buys a pair of shoes for Ksh 6,000 (yes, about 60 US Dollars), their sanity should be called into question. This is especially so if  a shoe that costs anywhere from 6 to 3 times the cost of other respectable pairs of shoes is incapable of keeping water out of it's innards.

I am one such insane person, who was lured into Bata by the promise that the price was a fair cost to pay for the quality. A 10% discount at the newly opened Bata shop at Sarit was even more convincing and that evening, I took home my first pair of Bata shoes since my lower primary school days.

Four months later, I happened to finally get caught up in Nairobi rush-hour rain. This is the type of rain that pounds the city conveniently around 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., at about the same time that you also plan to rush home. The rain while quite sensitive of Nairobi's need of a reliable piped water supply  and reliable hydroelectricity, is usually quite insensitive of it's timing. This time round, it did no…

African businesses: Not a child's place

This post has been updated from the original post with additional content and verifications. Updated content is in blue. 

The other day, no, the other month, I was lucky enough to attend Pivot 25. I remember that before the award ceremony at Pivot 25, I was chatting with John Waibochi,  Isis Nyongo and Moses Kemibaro. The event was taking place at the Ole Sereni Hotel which is along Mombasa road. It was here that I learned that Parkside Towers, one of Mombasa road's imposing structures and probably Victoria Furnitures (according to rumours) which is opposite Parkside Towers , all belong to the family that owns Tile & Carpet Centre. In addition , the Indian brothers own other real estate. This are rumoured to include an upcoming structure behind Victoria Furnitures.

Well, the Tile & Carpet Centre brothers are Kenyans, but of Indian decent, commonly refered to in Kenya as Wahindi. Waibochi said that he went to college with the brothers, and wonders what differentiated them fr…

Quick flight from Nairobi to Mombasa

Kenya's Coast is quite beautiful and pleasing, as I have described in a previous post. The coast makes it a great area for business retreats, especially if you are having them at the South Coast, away from Mombasa. It's the ultimate business and pleasure combination.

Getting to the coast can be in several ways, overnight bus to the coast, a 5 to 6 hour bus ride, or better yet a 40 minute flight. The flight is quite cost effective , and best of you all, enables you to fly in just in time for your business and fly out early enough to catch up with business for the following day. 
This week saw me jetting down to the coast for 2 days on a Kenya Airways flight. Kenya Airways operate in the old busy Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The Airport is currently seeing the construction of a fourth terminal as passengers numbers have outstripped it's capacity. The airport is expected to handle more traffic as more institutions set up in Nairobi and with the increase of flights betwe…

Transforming Kenya: It starts with you

Marcus Olang put up several updates yesterday , on Twitter. The messages were that we needed to have a culture of trust as citizens before we expected our government to be trust worthy. Double standards: we cannot keep swindling each other and make lots of noise when someone in the government swindles the country. 
Among other "enemies" of Kenya Marcus talked about include negative ethnicity , poverty, disease and injustice. 
He also made a comment that made me feel good, that a single person can make a change, a single person can start change. He said that a pebble can start an avalanche. I compared the ideology to Tunisia, a single person setting himself on fire began a revolution.

The State Luncheon

Have you ever imagined yourself invited to a state luncheon? What food do they serve their? Where will you be seated in relation to the host, the state, or rather the head of state? Wait, how do you even receive the invitation - is it by post, by courier or do they call you to collect it at a state office? How does the invitation look like?

On Monday, all this questions were not lingering in my mind. After all, would the president be that insane to invite me to a state luncheon? Well, maybe in my line as a journalist, I just might as a nondescript stakeholder in the process - the people who need to make the information public.  However, not any time soon - I had not received an invite to any such event.

I took the KBS bus as I had many times before, and as I would do again on Wednesday. As usual, I paid the usual fare, and the driver made the usual illegal turn into a one way street. As usual, or almost as usual, was dropped off next to Equity Bank's technical headquarters. What w…

BAKE Meetup July Edition

She left to talk to a group of people, could not tell if it was male or female, but probably male. This means that I was boring @NightNas (what a Twitter Handle?) - I mean, I was in the middle of telling a story which should have been exciting. I blame it on @mwirigi , see, @NightNas had earlier been sandwiched between me and @julietwambui . @NightNas was the prettiest girl in the room, @julietwambui was receiving a lot of male attention , a guy would leave to be quickly replaced by another. I had spotted the two together, with no male presence  on the couch. It did not matter that I was just from bidding @bankelele and others a good night and was leaving when I spotted the two and could not resist the invitation to join them.


As I was saying earlier, I had been successful in joining and boring the two until @mwirigi called @julietwambui to join him on the couch he was seated on. A few minutes later, he called me into a conversation that I could not remember, and it is at this moment w…

Broadcast & Film Africa: Kenyan perception on Local content

I recently undertook a survey amongst my friends and subscribers to the Skunkworks and Kictanet mailing lists as to their perceptions on local content. Amongst the survey questions, were their feelings on marketing of content and additional remarks.

Below are the responses of the 40 survey respondents.

A big thanks to all those who took part.

Medicines in Kenya: Cure or Poison?

Many of us do not like medicines or visiting health centres, not that we have a choice. When one is sick, they have to visit a health centre. It's at the health centres that one is given medicines, drugs that are expected to cure the ailment.

Prevention, we are told, is better than cure. For this reason, some of us will visit the health centres for preventive drugs - maybe we are a malaria prone area and are trying to limit our exposure to it.

Looking at the health sector in Kenya, it is far from reaching the health for all status. The country , like many of it's neighbours, faces an acute shortage of doctors. The number has steadily been rising over the years as the government tries to train more doctors to bridge the shortfall. However, bridging the shortfall has been made difficult by many countries that are ready to pay a premium for Kenyan Doctors, hence luring them away from the country.

Mombasa road to get Footbridges as accidents kill one

Metroscope Engineering has been contracted to conduct surveys across the Nairobi - Mlolongo stretch of the Mombasa Highway. The survey started on Wednesday 15th and till Friday 15th and was carried at various spots including Bellevue/South B, Parkside Towers/Ole Sereni , General Motors/Enterprise Road, Imara Daima amongst others. It is not known who has commissioned the survey though at the time. This though is likely to be the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) which has taken a more active role in improvement, maintenance and construction of urban roads in the country. In Nairobi, the City Council of Nairobi (CCN) is also supposed to be in charge of roads though has been playing a lesser role over time. Other agencies in charge of roads in the country include the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KERA) while the Kenya Roads Board (KRB) plays a wider role in highways. KURA, KERA KRB all fall under the national government while CCN is under local authority.

Completion of the survey is expe…

Dar mpaka moro (part 2)

This post has been continued from Dar mpaka moro (part 1)

Exchange Rates: 1 Tsh = 0.58 Kshs , 1 Ksh =17.2 Tshs (note to divide rather than multiply fractions/decimals)

Arusha is the capital of the East African Community, and might be referred to as Tanzania's third most significant city. Arusha also marks the end of Tanzania's dry region, quite small compared to Kenya's expansive Northern and Eastern regions.

You will also notice the presence of Traffic lights at major junctions and round abouts, a difference from Kenya's preferred police controlled junctions. However, motorists will at time jump the lights. Be warned though that Traffic Police might be present and will not hesitate to fine you. Overlapping , a common aspect of road behaviour in Kenya is taken seriously in Tanzania, it may land you a Ksh. 10,000 fine and/or a jail term.

Our bus did not stop over at Arusha, which though is quite a large town. Arusha is on the slopes of Mount Meru, one of Tanzania's m…

Dar mpaka moro (part 1)

Briefly about Dar
Dar es salaam is an expansive city on the Indian Ocean coast. The city has a peninsula (for the geographically challenged, its a piece of land that juts into the ocean) and a few large islands which are protected marine parks. The Tanzanian government and the people appear to be appreciative about Nature and protect it well. There is also the famous resort of Zanzibar which is tow hours away. In comparison, Mombasa appears restricted by the islands and the Likoni channel which have restricted northward development of the city. Dar es salaam is on the mainland, and even appears to have a larger harbor. You are likely to spot more ships near Dar es salaam, probably due to the harbor and distance from the pirate stricken shores of Somalia.

Dar es salaam, once the capital of Tanzania is quite distant from many areas in Eastern Africa. Dodoma is now the country's capital, but Dar remains the financial and social capital.

Nairobi to Dar by Road
Catching a bus from Nairob…

No hurry in Africa

They must be kidding, or maybe they contracted jungle fever. I do not understand it. There is no hurry in Africa. What Africa are they talking about? Maybe they are right, no one in Africa is in a hurry to handover power.

He was sited next to me. At the time, I was quite excited of the Huawei IDEOS phone, my first experience to own and play with the Android mobile phone operating system. I was seated just behind the drivers compartment and the engine of the Nissan 14 seater matatu, playing Angry Birds on my phone. On my left, he sandwiched me, a paper bag on his lap, next to the window, while she sat on left, next to the door. To have more space , I had lifted my feet and stepped on the top of the engine.

We alighted from the matatu in a hurry, it had stopped on the road, just on the entrance to the bus station, yet the entrance and most of the bus station was clear. They  could have dropped us off inside the bus station, but that was the past. My main concern was to cross the road  i…

God is not mocked

"God is not mocked", this were words told by a black man, time and time again. I had them in the 4 years I spend in High School. I don't think that I ever thought about them. Maybe one of the other 1100 students in the institution though of the words that Geoffrey William Griffin kept saying.

Recently, though , the words have come time and again, as I read about world happenings, happenings that mostly involve scientific creations that have gone wrong. It is occasionally in the news, well learned scientists come up with a fail proof invention, then it fails. At times it takes us years to understand how it could have failed. At such times, i wonder, is God showing us that no matter how much we harness nature, we can never overpower it?

The Titanic is one such case, the story of an unsinkable ship. Or maybe we should blame it on the marketers. Why? well, guys in the technology industry will tell you that marketers have the ability to distort facts. They over sell the produ…

The Girl Next Door

It was about 8 O' clock, and the matatu had one passenger seated next to the divers seat, and the conductor who was seated in the matatu, probably tired or masquerading as a passenger in a bid to make the matatu not look empty. Outside , was a girl leaning along the chips shop, furiously blushing as a man about my age talked to her. I sat on the second row from the driver's seat and the engine, I have never liked seating behind the engine.

I missed her age by almost 10 years. You cannot blame me, she was dressed in a flowing jeans skirt that went down to her ankles, and though I can not remember the top, it was either a jacket or sweater. Not the manner you would expect a 17- 18 year old to be in. In addition, her handbag was not the the large type that was common with ladies in their early twenties. It was just the right size that a handbag should be. Probably a lady coming from work, it skipped me that it was Labour Day, the workers holiday. I was anxious to get home, to get…