Skip to main content

African gods: President's and CEOs

Businesses in Kenya were penalized for failing
to have such a framed portrait of then President
Daniel Moi. Today, this has been replaced by
portraits of CEOs .
(image credits. http://www.taifalangu.com )
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 with a recap of where he had been , what he did and his visionary thoughts.


Moi also happened to be a down-to-earth person, matter-of-fact, he was so down to earth that he decided not to build any roads, as this would result in them no longer being earthen. He would also make random stops all over the country with his many car motorcade , step out onto the earth to address his loving citizens. School children would line up with miniature flags to wave him by, whereas women - our own mothers- would dance and sing for him. As such, teachers and the ad-hoc women group would receive wads of  money in envelopes.

As for the motorcade, in the early 1990s, there were few vehicles in Kenya. It was at this time that I happened to be in Nyahururu and I remember a day when all vehicles on the 130 kilometre road had been held back, for several hours, at both towns. The reason was that president Moi was travelling in between the two towns. By the time he arrived in Nyahururu, he was tagged by what looked like more than a hundred vehicles, as a result of the hold back to allow his safe travel. But that is presidential motorcades for you.

To top it up, all businesses and public institutions were required to hang a framed portrait of the president  in a visible place.

This however changed in 2002 when Moi finally handed over power. If you think Africans were oppressed by his virtual presence, you could not be more wrong. Moi was just fulfilling a need for a human need of god.

This has been reinforced lately from my interactions with a few firms, in my capacity as a business writer. See your focus as a writer, is to write a great story for your reader.

In the past one week, I have received calls from public relations staff at various firms. One CEO was not happy that a story I did did not have his photo, while I included those of a "competing firm". Another CEO was sad that I had irreparably damaged his reputation by referring to him by his previous post, and not as the CEO.

Both CEOs felt that the story was dead in the water. It dawned on me that I was totally wrong in thinking that businesses made more business by informing potential users of their solutions, and of the benefits of such solutions to potential users.

No, potential customers buy the products after looking at a blown up image of the CEO, knowing his age, his hobbies and how many billions he has raked. The larger the image of the CEO, the more interest it stirs up in potential buyers.

However it fails to dawn on me why the same firms do not grace those big ass  billboards at the sides of the road with images of their CEOs.

A succesful CEO, in addition to having several portraits of themselves around the firm, should be like Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe. Like Mugabe, no firm employee should use the CEOs toilet, or  comment on the CEOs age. Such employees should lose their jobs - such behaviour shows their lack of commitment to the CEO and in extension to the company.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Beers in Kenya: A sober opinion

I have had a short beer swigging stint in my life. It has however been long enough for me to share my opinions of Kenyan beer. Interestingly, over the course of sharing such opinions with other drunkards connoisseurs,  I have found that we all have different views as to what beer is the best, which one makes you too drunk, or which one gives a free,  extra hangover for every hangover you get from it.
For starters, like everyone else, I discovered that beer isn’t as sweet as it looks like in those adverts that show golden barley swaying in breezes,  happy men smiling and toasting chilled, foaming glasses of beer as a deep voice does some narration in the background.
Beer is bitter! Now, it turns out beer is intentionally made bitter. See,  beer shares the same ingredients as bread. The major difference is that bread isn't fermented. Bread is sweet, so why isn't beer sweet?

Why Kenyans love Kigali (Part 2)

See part 1 of why Kenyans Love Kigali, which this articl is a continuation.

In my previous post on why Kenyans love Kigali, or Rwanda for that matter, I had mentioned on the security of the city. The post however widely dealt with the feel and appearance of the city, and a little bit of the country.

Both of my visits to Kigali have been through the airport, though you may opt for a more adventurous journey by road. Getting to Kigali then required a Kenyan passport, but no visa. Now, all you need to go through both Uganda and Rwandan borders are a National Identity Card.

For travel by air, Rwandair is a cheaper option for Kenyans as compared to our national flag carrier, Kenya Airways. Ironically, most other Africans get to Kigali via Kenya Airways, thought most Kenyans will opt for the cheaper Rwandair. The flights are comfortable and the service on board the 1 hour 15 minutes flight is great.

Depending on the weather, your landing can be quite full of turbulence in Kigali. The airpor…

Why we loved Mixcrate and Where to next?

There are two types of music listeners: those who listen by artist or by album, and those who listen by top hits. The second lot of us do not care much about what other music made it to an album besides the top 2 hits.

Mixcrate served the second lot of us very well. You could search for a song title or an artist, and you would have dozens of DJ mixes to choose from which contained more than the one hit you searched for.

Listening to music on Mixcrate also meant that once you settled into a mix, you had uninterrupted music for the next one hour.

A Kenyan's view on visiting Stockholm, Sweden

My directing editor at CIO East Africa, Harry Hare, seems unconvinced with my criteria for judging how much a country is developed. It is based on your view of the cities at night from the air. The more the yellow of street lights and other lighting, and the easier you can map the city at night from lighting, the more developed it is. That certainly holds true for Stockholm, and much of Sweden's neighbour as I could see (Poland).

Well, I have a new development index. Food. Yes, a country with more variety in what they place in the plate in front of you, and more variety in what it tastes. There's lots to pick from the menu on Sweden, starting from a variety of seafood from their neighbouring sea, to mouth watering Italian Lasagne, to choice steaks and sausages, to their herbivore salads, which the Swedes seem to more than love.

They don't come cheap though. In the old town (Gamla Stan), we ventured into a home restaurant. We did order the mouth watering Lasagne above, and …

Why can't Kenyan banks voluntary lower their lending rates?

In one of those episodes where history is doomed to repeat itself, September 2016 saw Kenya implement interest rate caps, which had been done away with in 1991.

Many Kenyans rejoiced, mistakenly thinking that it would result in easy and affordable loans. The result, however, was a distorted market. It is safe to claim that most Kenyans have never borrowed from a bank. Cheaper loans weren’t going to see them rushing to borrow from banks.

Capped interest rates also saw banks become more careful with whom they lend to. Many small businesses will naturally fail - business is hard, for those who have attempted their hands at one. It therefore makes no sense for a bank to lend to many of these businesses - you simply won’t get your money back.

The other thing with this country is that it’s very hard to tell who will repay a loan and who will not. Those who have lent to their friends and family can attest to this. There are also fewer ways to make those who have borrowed repay loans. Given b…