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Showing posts from 2015

2015 Tanzania Elections Infographic

The above infographic is made from information collected from official Facebook and Twitter pages of the 2 presidential candidates.

Additionally, information from Google Trends which represents relative interest in terms of Google Searches has been added, based on 30 day and 7 day interest in the 2 candidates.

Google Trends does not show the total number of searches. Google explains "The numbers that appear show total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time." Thus a decrease in numbers for the 2 candidates means popularity is decreasing compared to other searches ie, people are making more searches for other terms, not necessarily that fewer people are searching for the two.

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?

To ensure emergency hospital admissions for all, Kenya needs to pay hospitals

Last week, we were confronted with the story of a patient who spent 18 hours in an ambulance, waiting for medical care. The road accident victim,  who needed Intensive Care Unit admission, found our national referral hospital - Kenyatta National Hospital, did not have any vacant ICU slot. It is said other private hospitals refused to admit the patient, though only one hospital got mentioned in the incident.

Though one may be forgiven to think that this was just a single occurrence - the feeling is that the situation occurs quite often, and that the case here only happened to stand out by making it to the newspapers.

Kenyans are outraged. They feel that hospitals, especially private ones, that refuse to admit patients before a payment deposit is made, are being greedy. They feel that such hospitals should not be driven by pursuit of money, and instead, should offer treatment first, then pursue money later. They feel that a hospital insisting on a deposit for treatment is breaking the H…

Slut shaming: We all need to stop punishing women's sexuality

Do your parents know you have sex?
Do your friends know you have sex?

For most of us, the first answer would be no. Coming to the second question, the answer will likely vary, depending on your gender.

For a man, having sex is a source of pride and esteem. In fact, to our friends, the more people we have sex with, irrespective of how good or bad it is, it is something to toot your horn about.

When it comes to ladies - the situation is a little different. For some, your friends are okay with you having sex with a regular boyfriend, but will probably judge you for having sex with partners that aren’t your boyfriend.

To some ladies, sex outside marriage remains unthinkable to their parents, who consider such a thing taboo. The same parents, however, tend to be okay with their sons having sex, or even having a string of girlfriends. Such behaviour in male children is likely to be viewed as virile, but their female siblings are expected to remain "chaste".

The irony of being proud of a…

How Kenya imports its IT innovation

Whenever people mention Kenya as being an innovate country,  or Africa’s most innovative country,  they will often go ahead to list examples. M-Pesa and Ushahidi. One would be mistaken to think that all these years,  nothing much has happened in Kenya,  besides the two. That,  however is the challenge of cliche presentations,  which pick up punchlines from other presentations on the Internet. Until those who first listed M-Pesa and Ushahidi as Kenyan innovations add a few others to their lists - we may have to settle for these two being descriptive enough.

Now, I was here to talk about innovation in Kenya. I’ll be talking about much more than M-Pesa and Ushahidi.

I happened to be hanging out with a few hardened and debugged developers yesterday, as Ushahidi launched what has been the result of 3 years of effort,  a revamped,  much more robust platform.

I got into a discussion with these developers. M-Pesa was founded in Kenya by researchers from the United Kingdom. The product was mod…

A Kenyan in Addis Ababa (Part 3) - Going Out

This post continues from Part 1 and Part 2
For shopping, Merkato is a much better option compared to Churchill Avenue. Addis residents call it the biggest open air market in Africa. Contrastingly, a more fitting description would be a collection of malls, a much larger version of Eastleigh, but a less congested and cleaner one. The malls each have stalls which deal in a variety of items,  from paintings and other artefacts, to leather goods,  to imported hardware from China.

If looking to shop for textiles,  then Shromeda is where you should be headed to. Buying textiles around the Central Business District might see you paying as much as 10 times what they cost. Note the distinction between various textiles - there’s handmade scarves and machine woven ones, same to fabrics. There’s also pure cotton fabrics and synthetic ones. If unsure,  ask the merchant before you buy,  most will point out the difference.

Besides Merkato, a visit to the Holy Trinity Cathedral at Arat Kilo is highly a…

A Kenyan in Addis Ababa (Part 2) - The "University Girls"

This post continues from Part 1. 

The residents of Addis are friendly too. On my first day, I did meet a guard at a hotel, who later offered to show me around. Among the places he suggested, was this place where some “University girls” were holding some "dancing ceremony". He added, that Ethiopians being Orthodox Christians, were about to go on a sex, alcohol and meat fast, hence the importance of this “ceremony.”
I had some suspicion that I was being sold to sex, but my guide insisted that this was not a sex sale. Just dancing University girls. We did end up in some nondescript compound, and into a house. There was sort of a sitting area, with a radio system, low benches and tables, and grass sprinkled around the floor. Grass sprinkled around the floor is an Ethiopian tradition that indicates you are welcome to a place.

It was about 5 PM,  and the hosts seemed not to be expecting any visitors at this time. My guide disappeared down some corridor into the back to call them. In…

A Kenyan in Addis Ababa (Part 1)

Ever woken up in Nairobi, or anywhere else in Kenya, and felt that you should have woken up in Addis Ababa? Thankfully, you can do something about it, if you are a Kenyan .

Not many Kenyans know that you can travel to Ethiopia in a whim - you do not need a visa. To top that, travelling to Ethiopia is quite cheap - it can cost as low as KSh. 19,000 for a return flight, if you book early, and about KSh. 27,000 normally. Of course the low prices are on Ethiopian Airlines - who have about 4 daily flights between Nairobi and Addis Ababa.

On my inaugural flight to Addis (well,  I have transited through Bole airport before), I happened to meet someone who was travelling on a Kenya Airways flight to the same city, and who their flight had been delayed by 2 hours. Thankfully, my flights on Ethiopian left in time and arrived early.

If flying any of the two, unlike South African Airways, be warned that you will not be allowed to use your phone in flight - even if you just want to listen to music…

Here are the "goodies" that President Obama brought to Kenya

The United States President, Barack Obama,  made the first tour to Kenya by a sitting US President. During the trip,  there was a consistent theme in the media about Obama bringing “goodies”, though much focus was placed on his motorcade and other theatrics.

State House has released some details on the goodies that Obama brought. A good number of them are not the tangible goodies we may expect, such as new,  black roads,  or new,  gleaming railways. There’s however some aspect of that.
It is a mixed bag of goodies, some heavily skewed towards US interests, but a good number are to our interests. They especially focus on the space of human development that is often ignored in the pursuit of physical development in this region. Thus,  there is a theme in human rights,  and especially those of women and girls,  and an overall objective towards increasing the value and quality of people in Kenya,  and in Africa.
Some  of the agreements involve several African countries. While Obama only v…

You can help 17 year old Linet achieve her vision. Here is how to

Linet Muthoni is 17 years old. She is a high school student and sits for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams at the end of this year.

Like every other 17 year old,  Linet is looking forward to a bright future where she can play her role in making Kenya a better country. She however needs your help to make her dreams come true, and for her to literally see her future.

You see, Linet has had a medical history of acute allergies in both her eyes.

The allergies have been so severe that she started wearing glasses at the tender age of 9 years. In a quest to lead cure these allergies, Linet has been to more than her fair share of doctors and hospitals.

The rise of the "influencer" and the death of the blog as we knew it

We had a blackout last night. With the rains here, it was only a matter of time before the blackouts came for this particular area of Mombasa Road. We don't even bother with finding out what causes the blackouts - but in case you are interested, this one here was caused by a fallen concrete pole.

Wooden poles have the habit of rotting and falling over when it rains if they are not replaced in time. Concrete poles suffer from rotten installation, or from a fast changing Nairobi where roads and whole neighbourhoods are dug up for road and building construction.

But that's not why I am writing this story.

Press Release: Twitter introduces “While you were away” feature on your timeline

Nairobi, Kenya:  January 23nd, 2015: Twitter, has unveiled a new feature that will enable its users have a recap of what they may have missed while they were away.
With the “While you were away” feature, Twitter users will be able to see a recap of some the top Tweets they may probably have missed from the key accounts they follow while they were on the go.
To fill in some of those gaps, Twitter is surfacing a few of the best Tweets users probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise, determined by engagement and other factors. If a user checks in on Twitter now for a quick snapshot of what’s happening, they will see this recap more often; if they spend a lot of time on Twitter already, they will see it less.   
The goal of this feature is to help users keep up with their world, no matter how much time they spend on Twitter. Recaps, marked with a “While you were away” heading, will begin to appear for all Twitter for iOS users today, and on our Android app and twitter.com soon.
Recently, Twitter …

The bitter story of the downfall of Mumias Sugar company

Have you heard the bitter story of Mumias Sugar?

Regarded by many as Kenya's most successful sugar miller, Mumias Sugar Company was a disaster waiting to happen.

Many pointed out how Mumias Sugar Company was a fortress in the wreck that is Kenya's sugar industry, only unaware that it was just a matter of time. As the old wise men said, "Ukiona cha mwenzako cha nyolewa, tia chako maji".

The proverb means that if you see your neighbour's head getting shaved, your head will soon be undergoing the same - you'd therefore better wet your head for a smoother shave, otherwise you will be forced to undergo a painful, dry, shave.

But what ails Kenya's sugar industry?

The Kenya sugar industry is under legal siege. The typical Kenyan issue of coming up with laws to tackle a problem is evident here.

Many of Kenya's sugar factories are owned by the government, and have slowly declined under mismanagement and corruption. The appointing of political cronies and trib…