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Cunning Nairobi Hawkers

Have you ever wondered how easy it is to de-fraud the public? Do you think that you need to be a politician to defraud the public? It is quite easy to defraud the public, and secondly, politicians work very hard and in fact most of their income is handed to them on a silver platter, been the gate keepers of Government contracts. Whether politicans defraud the public shall be left to another day. As for how easy it is to defraud the public, Jeffrey Acher, in one of his novels, illustrates a couple of guys who send in a classified Ad to the dailies reading "Deadline near. Send your money quickly." According to Archer, the guys received money. Whether it was just a piece of imagination or an actual occurence we leave it to the author.

Yesterday, I happened to take a Kenya Bus Services Management bus, yes , one of the buses responsible for intoducing a large hole on half of my pin striped suit with their crude seats. I boarded the bus travelling from Teleposta towers, previous headquarters of Telkom to their new headquarters of the even stranger Telkom-Orange based at Telkom Plaza. As I wasted time waiting for the bus to get full , some hawkers boarded the bus to peddle thier wares. It was a waste of time because the strange frenchman who I had a scheduled interview with at Orange would later decide that his schedule had better meetings than a scheduled one with some small time journalist.

The hawkers, are not your ordinary hawker. This hawkers have choreographed voices to start with. The mostly male hawkers, have a deep crooning baritone voice that makes you believe that you are part of a perfromance which you would perform better by buying from them. It takes talent too, to be a hawker.

This hawkers were selling airtime. You would think anyone who needs airtime already purchased it on the ground. Wrong!.The hawkers announced that they were selling special airtime vouchers that increased the chances of one winning the ongoing "Masonko na Safaricom" promotion. This sepcial cards had a different design from the normal ones and would receive higher consideration when selecting the promotion winners.

My fellow passengers, on a Kibera bound bus purchased the airtimes in droves. Kibera, fellow readers (yeah, am a reader of this blog!) is a slum once touted to be the biggest in Africa and attracted tourists from far and wide including Barrack Obama and Chris Rock. That was until a census held an year ago showed that the actual popualtion was a tenth of the estimated million. Maybe that's why it took an year to get the results released, they had to verify Kibera's population!. And so the Kibera destined passengers purchased the airtime in high dominions of Ksh. 100, maybe hoping that their probability of winning was almost 1 (in mathematics, a probability of 1 is equivalent to 100%).

Well, those keen enough should notice that Safaricom is busy undertaking a promotion to wound up its 10 year party (More on this on the next issue of CIO East Africa magazine). As part of the fanfare, Safaricom has decided to re-brand and re-design its cards and this day happened to be day 1 of the new cards. The hawkers must have sang all the way to their M-PESA accounts.

Meanwhile, I hope the reason the Orange CEO decided that I should waste 2 hours but not see him was because he was engrossed in a meeting with one of this hawkers on how to sell to the market!

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