Skip to main content

Rather than positivity, Kenya needs to face its problems

Traffic between Thika and Nairobi as a result of Highway Bumps and reliance on the road 
as the sole link between the two towns. Arguing the traffic is better than in Lagos or
encouraging people to use the road earlier doesn't solve the problem


A fierce debate springs up every now and then on development in Kenya, or in other developing countries. There are two schools of thought - those who argue that a lot needs to be done and what is there is barely much, and those who feel a lot of progress has been made.

Those who focus on the progress will point out that at least Kenya (or another country) is better than its neighbouring or other countries in its status when it comes to some aspect such as roads, or education. While this is true, it however presents a lot of danger as we will discuss shortly.
Another point of those who focus on progress is encouraging individual responsibility rather than criticism. This may appear as a very positive contribution to solving the problem, but like a mirage it is merely an illusion. While a person may find that waking up at 4 AM to beat traffic works for them, it is a solution that can only work as long as it is restricted to a few people attempting it.

If just a quarter of road users woke up at 4 AM to beat traffic - then the trick would stop working. In addition, if this was a viable strategy, then there would be no need for governments to invest in functional public transport. They would simply encourage people to wake up earlier and earlier.

Tokyo, the world’s largest city with a population of 9 million in its core and 37 million in total if you include its suburbs is one perfect example that challenges the idea of individual responsibility. The average commute time in Tokyo is just 40 minutes, with most citizens taking between 20 minutes to 1 and a half hours to reach their workplaces.

In contrast, Nairobi, a city of less than 4.5 million in total has its residents often clocking an hour to more than 2 hours in traffic, even for short distances.

Tokyo’s secret is not waking up early, but heavy government investment in a functional rail network and other public transport infrastructure.

Similarly, arguing that at least Nairobi is better than Lagos doesn’t present a solution. When you are sick and visit a hospital, they do not ask you to return home untreated on the basis that you are at least better off than the dead. Rather, they strive to ensure the best outcome for you.

As I had earlier mentioned, the danger of looking at the positive side of things is that it encourages their not being fixed. Take the case of electric cars - for years, car manufacturers were convinced that low powered cars that did less than 100 kilometers per charge was the best the world could do. Yet, Tesla has proven electric cars can be very powerful and last more than 500 kilometres for every charge.

Thus, a lot of progress is achieved by wanting to outdo oneself. A country that feels it is doing well stops employing teachers, social officers, nurses, doctors and policemen even when it faces an unemployment crisis and poor access to services offered by such professionals. This is the dilemma many developing countries find themselves in.

As in the case of Tesla and Tokyo, solving problems is not accomplished by having a positive mindset around the current situation.

Instead, the best solutions are achieved by an overwhelming desire to conquer the problem while not having to make sacrifices. That’s how genius solutions are unlocked.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Nairobi's Top 4 Texas Brisket Places Reviewed and Ranked

What's the best place to have Brisket in Nairobi? What's even brisket?  Brisket is one of the toughest cuts in a cow, from around the belly. It is so tough that it has to be smoked for about 16 hours to tenderise. But that there, is the catch.  16 hours later, it is the most flavourful and softest cut you will ever have. So full of flavour and so soft you can pick it apart with your fingers.  However, due to the long cooking time involved, only a few places offer brisket in Nairobi.  The best so far is Texas Brisket which is located within Kikuyu Railway station.  They do the meat for a proper 16 hours, and will usually have a fatty or non-fatty portion. The fatty portions are more tasty. A 500 gram serving goes for KSh. 900 and a 1 KG order comes with a serving of free fries. Their brisket has a well smoked exterior coupled with a very juicy interior and is served on a bed of roast vegetables.  Texas Brisket is also the most affordable. If going there past noon on

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

Addis Ababa's Light Rail system runs through the middle of a street. The electrified light rail is still under construction, though mostly done 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 plac

Beers in Kenya: A sober opinion

Note: This is a dated post and has since been mostly passed by events. SAB Miller beers including Castle and Peroni are no longer widely available in Kenya after their exist. Sirville Brewery was bought out by Brew Bistro before being permanently shut in a tax dispute. Kenya is a land of milk, honey, beaches and taxes. I have penned, or is typed, a newer post here .  Peroni - One of the best beers in Kenya. Did a taste of canned and bottled Italian, and bottled Tanzanian I like the tangy flavour and body in Tanzanian Peroni. The can is close. Heineken drinkers will like the Italian one.  I have had a short beer swigging stint in my life. It has however been long enough for me to share my opinion 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 one free, extra hangover for every hangover you get

5 Kenyan Holiday Destinations in Turkana and Rift Valley

Much local holiday travel in Kenya involves going to the Coast. If not the Coast, most holidayers end up in Nanyuki or Naivasha. But what if you wanted to go somewhere else, what are the alternatives?  An interesting itinerary would be Lake Turkana, through the Kerio Valley and Kerio Escarpment. This is a trip doable both by public transport or as a self-drive. Given the distance, it takes at least 2 days by road - though it's manageable in one day if you have 2 drivers.  However, it would be more fun if you explored different destinations on your way up and back, which I'll highlight below.  1. Iten - Kerio Valley and Kerio Escarpment The Kerio Valley is a breathtaking valley within the Rift Valley, with the Elgeyo/ Kerio Escarpment forming one boundary of the Rift Valley and the Tugen Hills forming the other. The Tugen Hills are within the Rift Valley and one of the oldest features on the planet. The Kerio River flows in between falling over the esca

Counterfeit alcohol hits Nairobi

Counterfeit The Famous Grouse    bought at a shop along Nairobi's Dubois road, note the packaging. Dishonest dealers in Kenya are now repackaging various alcohols and selling them off to unsuspecting buyers. The scam appears to target a broad range of popular spirits, including Smirnoff Vodka and The Famous Grouse Whiskey. Various residents have reported that the drinks are sold in shops in down-town Nairobi and cheap clubs. Popular drinks are either substituted with similar looking forms of alcohol or blended with them. Vodka is substituted with chang'aa , a local moonshine drink while brandies are used to dilute, or wholly sold off as more expensive whiskies. There is suspicion that some of the alcohol used in this drinks is diluted industrial alcohol. Industrial alcohol is normally cleared, with tricks such as food colouring and perfume deployed to have the counterfeit alcohol look like the genuine one. The syndicate appears to be recycling bottles which are colle