Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Govt. spokesman too clever by half

Government spokesman, one hapless Dr. Alfred Mutua, must surely be holding the most thankless of jobs in the country, albeit well paying. I do not know what his job description entails but why a supposedly learned fellow would go out of his way to spew nonsense in defense of political party shenanigans is beyond me.

The PNU has recently been alleged to be engaging in questionable misuse of the administration police, obviously with government complicity, to carry out mischievous pranks that amount to electoral fraud. After clips were aired on television attesting to these deceitful acts, the good doctor came out with guns firing aimlessly and declared that nothing was amiss. That;

  • The KTN was displaying shoddy journalism because they should have contacted defense minister J. Michuki first for clarification or the AP Commandant or Mutua himself before going on air with the story.
  • That the relocation of the policemen was normal practice, like in previous elections, to provide security at the poll stations.
  • That privately owned buses were hired to ferry the ‘hundreds of thousands’ of policemen because the units did not have enough buses for the job. That the buses were more comfortable for the ‘more than a thousand kilometer, journey.

First, Michuki and the Commandant are at the centre of the allegations. What would one expect them to say other than deny, deny, deny? And the last time the old snake was rattled, a media house nearly burnt down. I guess once bitten, twice shy. As for Mutua, he’d have to get the facts from Michuki and the Commandant anyway. Although he just cannot skip a moment to speak even when he doesn’t have the ‘facts’.

Secondly, if the suspicious night relocation is normal practice, why did it not raise eyebrows the previous times when so much more was at stake for the incumbents? May be because they did not have a Mutua to make a bad situation worse. And why is there no movement reported from the NYS, GSU camps?

Third, it is all well to ferry policemen around in comfort. But how many? What figure is ‘hundreds of thousands’? The officially stated ratio of policeman to civilian in Kenya is 1:1000, which puts the force number to about 40,000. Who are the other ‘hundreds of thousands’ and what would they all be doing in Nairobi? Even if one were to be generous to Mutua and grant him the lower end of his figure, say 100,000, he would require 1600 (62-seater) buses to ferry them. To where? If, as he says, the journeys are 1000km from Nairobi, these folks will be disembarking outside the Kenya border!

Shouldn’t a government spokesman have all his facts right before attempting to spin them for advantage? These old wives tales just don’t sell

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Raising the stupidity index.

Listening to the utterances of politicians during this electioneering period can be quite a stressful expenditure of energy. Their foolish pronouncements suggest that it is futile to have great expectations from the 10th parliament.

Sample these…

RAILA TO PASTORALISTS ON LOSS OF LIVESTOCK DURING DROUGHT: “…we shall introduce an insurance scheme to compensate you for each animal lost…”
(To be run by the government? Without premium payments?)

KALONZO ON HIS PLEDGE TO ERADICATE POVERTY: “…we shall introduce food coupons for the poor…”
(Coupons to Uchumi supermarket? Cereals board warehouses?)

NJENGA KARUME ON WHY KIBAKI CANNOT LOSE THE ELECTION: “…remember I am the minister for defense…”
(Yes, we shall remember!)

PATTNI ON ERADICATING POVERTY: “…the government should reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. We shall pay allowances to the unemployed until they secure jobs…”
(Using Goldenberg money?)

RAILA CRITISIZING KIBAKI FOR CREATING DISTRICTS HAPHAZARDLY: “…we are going to make each constituency a district…”
(Matching Kibaki hummer for hammer?)

NYACHAE TO THE SDA ON THE RAILA-NAFLEM MoU: “…you cannot claim to be neutral when we are threatened with a Muslim incursion if Raila takes power…”
(Stupidity of an old man)

KALONZO ON IMPROVING THE ECONOMY: “…we shall make Kenya a 24hour working economy…”
(By opening government offices for 24 hours and employing more civil servants? By taking over private businesses and opening the doors round the clock?)

RAILA ON TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN NAIROBI: “…I am a qualified engineer. We shall build flyovers to crisscross the city centre…”
(And Kibaki is a qualified economist)

MUTULA KILONZO ON WHY KALONZO WILL NOT STEP DOWN: “…his photograph will be on the ballot. He is the most beautiful…”
(So Raila was right about the beauty contest opinion polls?)

KOIGI WAMWERE ON WHY THE GOVERNMENT DID NOT INTERVENE IN THE KURESOI CLASHES: “…Raila told the president to act but not to send the police there. The president could not therefore act because the army only acts on external aggression…”
(Kibaki takes orders from Raila?!)

KALONZO ON REVENUE COLLECTION: “…we shall reduce the PAYE tax bracket by excluding those earning less than Ksh 30,000 per month…”
(And increase the rate on those earning more than Ksh 30,000?)

These ‘leaders’ must surely think their audience to be foolish.

Friday, December 21, 2007

How Lucy is slapping Kibaki out of Statehouse.

[Guest post by NWW]

The other day I googled LUCY KIBAKI and this is what the world has to say about her.

WIKIPEDIA – Lucy Muthoni Kibaki is the controversial wife of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.

BBC NEWS - The BBC’s Gray Phombeah charts the transformation of Lucy Kibaki from adored first lady to object of ridicule.

BBC NEWS – The wife of President Mwai Kibaki burst into newspaper offices to protest at its portrayal of a row she had with a neighbor.

TIMES ONLINE - Blundering MC is slapped by the president’s wife – Kenya’s first lady.

KENYA DEMOCRATIC PROJECT – Arrest Lucy Kibaki before it’s too late!

WASHINGTON POST - In rural churches and urban back-room offices, the first lady of Kenya, Lucy Kibaki, was teased for being a pushy political wife.

YOU TUBE – Lucy, you have brought Mzee’s government down.

She has also earned herself spot in the ODD NEWS section of

There’s one more rather interesting story from - why Nigerians should be interested in the tragic-comical story of Mrs. Lucy Kibaki. Apparently they have also had some first lady woes not so unlike ours.

The Telegraph UK depicts his Excellency President Mwai Kibaki as a hapless president stuck in the middle as two wives go to war.

Oh! And the very last article is from Statehouse about the first lady being involved in some Philanthropic activities.

I grew up during the Moi era and I thought I’ve seen it all. Corruption, inflation, hunger, tribal clashes, name it. Kenyans saw it during the 24 year Moi rule. Except of course a first lady. And so my first unfortunate experience of a first lady and indeed for many Kenyans is one Mrs. Lucy Kibaki. When I think of a first lady I think of my Mum. Now my mum is not one to breath fire and brimstone like we witnessed a few years ago when Lucy stormed the Nation Center. Or slap full grown men in the face – or indeed slap anyone at all! She had other ways of imparting discipline and I’m pleased to report that my siblings and I are all grown up and well disciplined.

Each of us has a reason for voting in a presidential candidate come December 27th 2007. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not read anybody’s manifesto or believed in their promises and miracles. And while I’m not in the streets singing yote yawezekana bila Lucy, mine is simply to kick disgrace out and to hopefully inject some decorum into statehouse. Nobody can be sure whether Ida Odinga fits the bill but I don’t think Kenya can possibly be third time unlucky. It just doesn’t work that way. And even if she comes in with some Drama of her own, it will not in my estimation be anywhere near what Lucy has subjected us to. Ida’s slate is still clean. I can hardly wait for her presence of grace Statehouse and public functions. And that is why I’ll vote for Raila Amollo Odinga despite the fact that I hail from Lucy’s Mukurwe-ini constituency in Nyeri District. Mine is one measly vote. How many more votes has Lucy’s behavior lost the president?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Who is underpaid again?

(A guest post by Naomi)

This is a product of Kiganjo. He’s a trained, certified and armed Kenyan policeman. He is the guy who protects you and will sprint to your rescue should you come across some bad guys and call for help. He should also be agile enough to squeeze himself through nooks and crannies for his own safety in case of shootouts which have become all too common in modern Kenya. Weight gain and weight loss is a matter of personal choice but for occupations such as his, I think there should be a ceiling on how much weight they can carry around. If such a rule actually came about it would be implemented by………..the police maybe? Ministry of labour? Defence?

It’s common knowledge that this guy is seriously underpaid. At least officially. Let’s analyze his pay. Lets assume he has a gross salary of Kshs.15,000/-. After Sacco deductions, loans, PAYE, NHIF, NSSF etc etc, he ends up with a Net pay of Kshs.4,000/-

He could be anywhere around 50 years of age. So he most likely has several mouths to feed. Say a wife and 3 children, a concubine here and another one there. Food and expenses for his family at the barest possible minimum could take up all of his Kshs.4,000/- net salary. If by some good luck his wife is working, then her income can cater for the children’s school fees and the occasional visit to the neighborhood clinic in case of illness in the family. We have said nothing of the extended family or the ailing old man back home.

But the policeman we see here is not living on bare minimums. To acquire a belly that size, the guy eats stuffs himself with three square meals per day and a snack every other hour or so. From the look of things he eats some roast meat and guzzles many liters of beer on most if not all evenings, none of which come cheap. I can bet my little finger he does not spend his evenings drinking cheap traditional liquor. That right there is a serious beer belly. Considering the price of Kenyan beer, he must be spending a minimum average of Kshs.1,000/- every single day. Probably more. And yet he takes home 3K per month? Only in Kenya.

Gender parity in handouts?

I am beginning to doubt whether there are enough women of substance in Kenya to agitate for gender parity in leadership positions. Substance being the stern stuff that political ambition is made of. Going by their Monday ‘trooping of colors’ at the US envoys residence with begging bowls in hands, their candidature in this year’s elections may just end up being feeble symbolism.

Somebody, most probably a man, duped them that the envoy would be funding their campaigns. And so they made a beeline to his residence armed with tales of misery to fortify their case for charity. Among them was the supposedly experienced Julia Ojiambo, prospective vice-president of Kenya. When no dollars were forthcoming from big brother, they started pouring out to him the trials and tribulations they were encountering on the campaign trail. Perhaps the good envoy has broad shoulders to cry on but the poor women must surely know that he does not have powers to nullify the polls on account of the rough treatment meted out to them. I hope they did not leave without a good ‘diplomatic’ dinner because that may well be the last time they go limping on the hallowed grounds of that residence.

Is it not vain to expect that an increase of women numbers in parliament will change in any helpful way how Kenyan politics is played? If they seem clueless on how to finance their entry to political careers, what creativity are they likely to bring to management of public affairs? Politics is not for the meek and if they are finding mobilization of masses a tearful venture, they might as well cheer the men candidates along and wait for the token nominations to parliament. At least in a nominated capacity there is no pressure to perform and they’ll be well positioned to attend stately dinners. With misadventures like this one coupled with constant whining and crying, there are no signs that their gender imparts on them any nobler motivation for high office. So far, they are not demonstrating why ‘vote for women’ will bring change.

If they cannot stand the heat, they should stay out of the kitchen….oops!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Raila’s oratory dismal

For a man working overtime to convince the Kenyan electorate that he’s the ‘people’s president’ for real change, Raila’s public speaking is increasingly getting dull and uninspiring. Opinion polls may be deluding him to take it for granted that he will be the next president and therefore sees no need to polish his act. That is unfortunate because I believe that persuasive oratory should be among the key tools for an agent of change aspiring to sway to his side a progressively enlightened and skeptical populace; more so, in a political field plagued with dishonest players spewing forth strange policies that they neither understand nor believe in.

That Raila has a poor grasp of the Kiswahili language is no excuse for him to resort to his droning formal speeches, written most probably by Anyang Nyongo. The way he labors through them belies his ownership of the content and puts him in an impossible position to display his passion for the issues at hand. No wonder sections of his entourage shamelessly doze through his performance while most of his weary audiences patiently wait for his abridged comical version in Kiswahili. Fortunately, he seems to have a well organized network of cheer leaders who serve to raise decibels with every faltering pause in his speech. To his credit though, his buffoonery on the podium has lessened in recent times, but I suspect that even he himself does not flatter himself about the effectiveness of his oratory. Maybe that is one reason why he is endlessly addressing crowds with no rest for reflection, resulting in clichés and pretentious rhetoric.

So what change will the ‘people’s president’ bring when connecting to the people is clearly such a daunting task? The past three presidents fell in the same category of poor orators and indeed many of the dubious ‘changes’ they brought about were attributed to wicked judgment of their advisers, the mysterious ‘people around the president’. These are the people on whom the task of interpreting presidential speeches fell on. Is Raila not treading the same path? Can the citizens draw inspiration from him or shall we have to look elsewhere like, say, Barrack Obama (remember Raila’s sheepish grinning as he displayed photos taken with Obama)? Or do we need to study the life and times of Mahathir Mohamed, PM of Malaysia (whom Raila recently declared as his hero)?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

KTN crew attends crude target practice.

Have the KTN management and crews ever heard of the phrase ‘safety first’? Probably not.

I watched in amazement last night as two TV crew members on tour in northern Kenya engaged in some shooting practice as they recorded how easy it was to acquire firearms illegally in those parts. Having made their point, I think it was foolish of them to go ahead and test the ill-gotten assault rifle (I’m assuming, of course, that KTN does not conduct in-house training for such activity). It was naïve for the two employees to presume that just because their young contact shepherds animals with an AK-47 at hand he was qualified to ‘train’ them. Or that the weapon was in good working order.

The KTN crew seems to have forgotten what their junior high school teacher taught in physics; forces, action and reaction. The way they used their shoulders to support the rifle butt before firing was wrong and unsafe. The recoil force of firing easily sprains ligaments and joints. I’d be surprised if the two can say that the experience was not painful.

Watching the ease with which movie actors, including children, handle firearms deludes many people to think that they too can do it. People are on record having blown off their limbs after clumsily handling firearms. Without training or supervision, one would be exposed to serious harm in case the weapon misfires.

Our journalists are increasingly getting over enthusiastic in their out broadcasts as they scrape together news items, routinely over looking their own safety. A few days back they even filmed themselves going through murky rituals in order to get into a sorcerer’s dark abode.

Do broadcasting houses carry out risk assessments of the tasks to which they delegate their staff? It is cheap to dismiss some things as hazards of the job but quite expensive to handle the aftermath of a mission gone awry. Think safety!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Where is mediator Kalonzo?

Kalonzo Musyoka often trumpets his mediation skills as being among his many outstanding qualifications for presidency. He cites involvement in the settlement of a peace agreement between the SPLM/Sudan government and cessation of inter-clan war in Somali among his achievements. Well, give the man his fifteen minutes of success, seeing that the Somali seem to erupt at whim depending on mood swings in the clans while the Sudan agreement is presently on the verge of collapsing.

Are Kalonzo’s skills only useful, however short-lived, at the international level? Has he heard of Mt. Elgon or Kuresoi? Unlike the Somali and Sudanese, these are people with whom he shares a border and whose votes he is seeking to become the next president of Kenya. He is often heard to declare that “my government will” put an end to these conflicts. Is it therefore to his benefit for the killings to go on until he becomes president so that he can take credit for stopping them? Or is his mediation skill only manifest when he is in high ranking government position?

It appears that his position in government accorded him only a ceremonial role in the Sudan peace talks after the real job had been accomplished by, among others, retired army chief Lazarus Sumbeiywo. The same for Somali. He could not bring his imaginary skills to the ODM, resorting instead to throwing lowly ethnic epithets and eventually the parting of ways with “my brother Raila”.

Kalonzo is busy strutting around the country in search of votes. What or who is stopping him from getting the warring sides in Molo and Elgon around a peace table? Probably the man has no mediation skill at all! IF the man makes it to statehouse, will the people of Kuresoi and Mt. Elgon know peace? Not with his evident spineless disposition.

Friday, November 30, 2007

High season for bungling doctors.

The number of bungling doctors around us seems to be on the rise. Granted, theirs may not be the only profession with careless or incompetent practitioners. They attract the limelight probably because their ineptness could very quickly lead to the death of person or lifelong incapacitation.

In the news yesterday, one such bungler had her practicing license revoked for mishandling a patient and thereby causing him brain damage. The young man had been brought in for a nasal surgery following an accident in his school playing fields. The doctor had administered to him inappropriate anesthesia.

The previous day, another careless incident by medics was in the news, this time involving the administration of a wrong combination of vaccines on another youngster. The young boy, Brian Kimutai, has been in a coma for several months with more than a million shillings already having been expended in bills.

The day before, news from across the border in Tanzania, had it that two young men had unnecessary surgeries performed on them after doctors in the hospital got the men’s names mixed up. In the ensuing cross operations, a brain surgery was performed on one who required knee surgery and vice versa! One of them now faces serious paralysis.

These may very well be just a tip of the iceberg as much more unprofessional clumsiness goes unreported. But times have changed and the days when doctors went about their duties unquestionably are long gone. Our lives are at stake and it is not late to become skilled at obtaining proper medical care and therefore be wiser medical consumers.

Medical practice is not as magical and revered as it once was. Get smart about your medical needs;

  • Ask questions and be observant. Ask “why?” Do not agree to procedures that do not make sense to you.
  • Learn the basics about tests and (especially) surgical procedures. Consider the risks and benefits of a procedure. Are there options? Get second opinions if you have doubts about proposed surgery.
  • Share in decisions about medication. Know why you need each drug before putting it in your mouth or applying it on your skin.
  • Find the right doctor/specialist and know their qualifications, training and experience.

Of course we would prefer not to get ill in the first place. So take good care of yourself but when you do fall ill make the effort to work in partnership with your doctor. Playing an active role in your medical care should be able to steer you clear of quacks.

A lot of helpful information can be fount at such sites as

A Cardinal or a burden?

Upon his arrival at Nairobi from the Vatican, newly appointed cardinal Njue said that his elevation was not only an honor to the country but also a burden that Kenyans must shoulder. A dubious honor I think and most certainly a burden.

This man is a politician in speech and body language. Typical of a politician, his gaffes begun on the day news of his appointment came through. Using a most inappropriate comparison, he declared that the news was like a bomb blast. And then, typical of political buffoonery, went ahead to weep as “I surrender myself” to the Vatican’s decision, “the most difficult time of my life”. With a war-like mindset he did not waste time to declare that “Kenya would plunge into tribal conflicts and wars” if it adopted a federal system of government.

That the appointment now makes him an ‘advisor’ to the pope seems comical to me. Methinks he is more in need of papal advice than the other way round. How will he manage to shepherd his flock with a partisan political bent? He could not even resist from firing an anti-Raila salvo while at the Vatican in the name of ‘defending his faith’ from some innocuous MoU. The limelight is just too intoxicating and he just must bask in it even for the least of edifying reasons.

“…my appointment is an honor for me, the country, the region and the world”… count me out. This is a burden.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gender parity by all means?

If the basis of agitation for gender parity in parliament is that women make up 52% of our population, then I think that goal is unlikely to be met. There’s excitement all round that for the first time in our history, more than 100 women have bee nominated to stand for parliamentary seats. There is also whispered agreement that this development is merely symbolic and valuable only for the psychological boost it gives to the fight against marginalization of women. Even the gender activists themselves are being quoted putting the expected success rate at no more than 20%.

Is there anyone who believes that any of the candidates is likely to be voted to parliament only because of their gender? No. Is there any of them who will be able to marshal all the women voters in her constituency to her side? No. It is neither feasible nor desirable. The elections are not about men versus women. It can never be. There will never be an issue that will unite either gender as one and pit it against the other.

To campaign for the attainment of gender parity is futile. Let all women who want to ‘fight’ for the seats do so without hindrance or favors on account of their gender. It is the leadership aptitude that matters, not waist matters to gain latitude.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Puzzling mix-up as missing pilot’s ordeal ends.

There’s relief all round that after eight days in the forests of Mt. Kenya, the KWS crash pilot has been ‘found’ and is presently recuperating at a Nairobi hospital with only a few broken bones.

Contrary to the anonymous comments on my earlier post about this unfortunate accident, my intention was not to discredit our armed forces and the rescue mission. Just a little cold water to stir them out of their lackluster action. As anonymous rightly pointed out, this was a man’s life at stake here. And to me, seven days is a rather long time for a properly trained force to come back empty handed from a rescue mission in a non-combat situation. Rough terrain? Are these not the same jungles in which they undertake some of their training? Ineptitude is ineptitude even if you decide to call it bad weather or rough terrain. Any wonder that the British army had to be called in to assist? And thanks to some slow thinking, a Safaricom team was finally asked to join the search mission, several days after they made it known that they had picked up signals from the lost major’s cell phone.

Grateful as we are that the pilot has been found alive, his colleagues continued to soil their bungling image by issuing strange contradictory statements upon the injured man’s arrival in Nairobi. One spokesman says the pilot found and walked his way to a forest station from where the rescuers picked him. The KWS director says the pilot was found at the crash scene! Who is down playing whose efforts and why?

Are these men getting appropriate training???

Best wishes to the retired but upbeat Major who says he’s hoping to be back in the skies as soon as he leaves hospital. A lesson on determination and tenacity. Although I think two drops from the skies in three years is not stuff for anyone’s CV.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mystery of missing pilot and chopper continues...

A week after a KWS pilot and his chopper were reported missing, neither has been traced, even after Safaricom confirmed having tracked his cell phone signals to some forest around the Mt. Kenya area. This raises the very likely possibility that the team on the rescue operation is either ill equipped or grossly inept for the mission. The unfolding hopelessness depicted in the updates from KWS spokesman darkens the cloud of mystery surrounding the whole episode.

Q. Why was the chopper being flown by a KWS pilot and not one from the owners KPLC?

Q. The sole passenger aboard, Minister Kuti, who was dropped in Isiolo has not been reported to have said a word since the incident. Is he in shock or just busy with his campaign schedule? Is no one in a hurry to ask him shed some light on any anomalies he may have noted with the chopper or the pilot on the flight?

Q. Was the pilot in communication with any ground control during the flight to and from Isiolo?

Q. Was the chopper fitted with locator equipment, which by now must surely be a mandatory industry standard? Or is this one of those shady contraptions purchased over the years by parastatals for ambiguous projects?

Do any of our armed forces have a professional rescue mission unit? The motley crews of rescuers seen on TV footage as they embarked on the mountain reconnoiter, armed with machine guns did not exude confidence and I do not want to imagine them in a combat situation. I also hope the missing Major has had some survival training to see him through the ordeal. When he comes out of the forest, he might want to find out who has ‘poured money to finish him’. Not long ago, while surveying the aberdares forest, he dropped from the skies with several CEO’s on board his chopper. Fortunately no one was injured.

Cross-border sorcerer to assist in polls?

These are indeed desperate times for local politicians. So soon after the short-lived Dick Morris debacle, we now see on national TV news of the impending arrival of a Tanzanian sorcerer to assist aspirants clinch victory in the December polls. Mercifully, the sly expert did not declare which campaign team was sponsoring his upcoming visit in which a mammoth serpent is among his accompanying assistants.

It has been ‘alleged’ for a long time that witchcraft has been among the whispered rules of engagement in the political arena. Rules that a court proclaimed repugnant and so disqualified one Musikari Kombo from electioneering a few years back for bringing them into play. The supposed witchdoctor never gave evidence, perhaps due to professional sanctions that guarantee ‘doctor’/client confidentiality. Presumably these ethics do not apply across the border or times have changed dramatically. Now, practitioners of the dark arts give interviews, publicize their itinerary and advertise on national TV with devious demonstrations of their skills. He does not quote his fee for the categories of aspirants he’ll be servicing but judging from the eager look in his eye and the manifestly large kitties in the polls, his Kenya harvest will be bumper.

Apparently, Dick and his ilk have to wait a little longer before their spin expertise become a vital part in the local game. Sorcery is not about to be discarded any time soon by our leaders and it is now even gaining acceptance by national TV stations as just another art form to be beamed into peoples’ homes at prime time. That citizens have a right to information is not in doubt. But methinks the screening of such bizarre arts is of dubious ethical value.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Trials of Brother Kajairo

Politics has beckoned and KJ, Kajairo and Mdomo Baggy have answered the call. Branding themselves as ‘Young Kenyans for Raila’, the three have been popular artistes in the nascent Kenyan entertainment industry that has just begun to show sparkling signs of growth. At some point I thought this was another industry stunt, akin to that of KISS FM in the previous election when the trio’s colleague, Nyambane, clowned around the city with his pilau party.

I think their decision to play politics is impulsive and retrogressive to Kenya’s artistic development. These young men had just begun to position themselves as models to other youth seeking to free themselves from dependency to crystallize their latent capabilities. To abandon this role suggests that perhaps they themselves were ignorant of their own potential to climb to a higher peak. To walk out on their fans is reckless. The ‘celebrity’ status has gotten to their heads and they are deluding themselves if they expect to transfer their stage charms to the political arena for leadership positions.

What is luring these young Kenyans to political leadership? To acquire fuel-guzzling road runners, saunter around with bodyguards, sleep at exclusive residential addresses? I most certainly hope not. It is nice to be young, but what advantage does it give one to manage the varied needs of a constituency? Unlike with fans at a show, interpersonal relationships here are of a complex design. It is one thing to charm crowds and ask them to “raise your hands and say yeah!” It is quite another to deal with the multiplicity of community wishes.

One can empathize with the frustrated feeling that the current parliamentarians have often let society down with their inability to solve or alleviate the extant hardships. But are political leaders the only ones obligated to do so? Celebrities elsewhere in the world are involved in mobilization of masses and funds, setting up projects and facilities for society and disadvantaged groups. And they do so much more successfully probably because of non-interference and involvement of parochial politicians. However, they are able to achieve this because they themselves first attain success in their careers. This is what these three should be working at.

KJ, Kajairo and Mdomo Baggy are not anywhere that can remotely be described as the peak of their careers. They are popular but they are yet to be successful. As artistes, they too have the capacity to mobilize for the implementation of whatever projects in their blueprints and still walk with their heads high, dignified and honorable. They do not have to go regaling the masses with political buffoonery and spewing unhelpful platitudes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

And Nakumatt said,"let there be light in Meru"!

It sounds strange that Meru town got its first street lights installed only last week, courtesy of Nakumatt Holdings. It is reported that Meru town residents were gripped with excitement and took quite some time marveling at the bright lights lining the town’s main highway. Minister Mwiraria was of course not to be left behind, profusely thanking Nakumatt and passionately appealing them to extend the lighting project right to the edges of the town.

Make no doubt about it, Mwiraria and his counterparts will be mounting PNU podiums in the next few weeks praising the taa ya maendeleo brought about by the government’s CDF program. But now we know that while they were engaged in the national duty of negotiating lease contracts with faceless vampires of no known abode, some socially responsible (or fast-footed enterprising) citizens were modernizing their village town for them. And Nakumatt, having agreed to extend the project, has probably given them a straw to clutch on during their vote seeking charades where they’ll ask for the next five years for kazi iendelee.

Are the Meru town residents now debating whether it is their waheshimiwa who bring them maendeleo or Nakumatt Holdings? In the meantime, a few of them could be visualizing the prospects of a stall or two for their beloved qat twigs outside the expansive Nakumatt shopping mall once completed.

Waheshimiwa is there any chance of installing Mr. Thiagarajan Ramamurthy (Nakumatt Operations Director) a Meru elder? He’s certainly done much more for the locals than the councils of haggard elders we recall imploring Kibaki to return Mwiraria to the cabinet!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Kenyan Insurance for California fires?

The marshalling of resources to fight the California bush fires and the massive evacuation operations was truly an educative demonstration in disaster management. It may not surprise anyone that no one from our myriad local ‘disaster management’ outfits took a flight to the US for close-up practical lessons. They most likely gathered crucial skills from the comfort of their sitting rooms or local pubs or wherever the CNN footage was beamed across the world. Do we have foresighted technocrats in the fire fighting departments, police, military, St. John’s, Red Cross et al, with the capacity to set up exchange/training programs with the battle hardened organizations out there? Or shall we remain content with sending appeals out there for assistance whenever disaster strikes our lands?

One of the most striking announcements during the California disaster was that insurance companies were already setting up desks at the evacuation centers to begin processing the victims’ compensation for home rebuilding! And I thought, haai, we are truly living in the third world. Insurance companies re-building razed houses? Thousands of them?

It reminded me of a household cover I took a while back with a local insurance company. When my cell-phone (also covered) was snatched from me by robbers right at my door in an enclosed compound the company refused to compensate. That is when the notorious fine lines were fished out from some policy document I’d never been shown before. That they only compensated phones damaged accidentally, like if it fell on the floor to pieces…in the house. Proving that would of course require an investigation report from their appointed detective - skilled enough to differentiate between an accidentally dropped phone from one carelessly tossed about. Well, they refused to pay and I bought a cheaper gadget the following week and life went on.

What will happen when my house burns down? Before even their clever detectives are called in, some insurance agent in a tie (even in the Mombasa heat) will have reminded you of the fine-print exclusion clauses. Arson, riot act, natural calamity, God’s act, electrical fault….. Do this people compensate anyone for anything? Except when they rush to the media to display cheques in payment for a matatu smash up.

They may well argue that tenants cannot be compensated for razed rental houses, but do they compensate the owner? If not, why not? If so, why not adjust premium payments to include the tenant’s exposure to the potential calamity? Surely this cannot be beyond actuarial mathematics.

And then this years salary survey places Insurance company executives among the top five most highly paid professionals in the country!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Raila dictates to the Pentagon.

Finally, Ngilu has stopped her dithering (for the season) and found herself a seat in the ODM’s Pentagon, courtesy of Raila’s apparent forcefulness which has many times been given as an example of his dictatorial streak. Bizarrely, the man waved and danced along gleefully upon his entry into the meeting hall as the women belted out the infamous “tawala Kenya, tawala”.

The unimaginatively named Pentagon still appears at present to be an ‘exclusive’ club with no known structure or purpose. Other than of course, to hand its members constituency nomination tickets in a clearly undemocratic manner. Ngilu has therefore just gone through two successive back doors – no club fees to pay (1million) and no lobbying of party delegates for support.

The MoU with Ngilu probably sets out that in return for an ODM wave back to parliament, she’ll take the war of attrition to one Kalonzo Musyoka’s backyard. A tall order which Raila believes she’ll deliver on because “we were in government together”. Woe unto you agwambo should she succeed, for come January/February she’ll be throwing her infamous ‘tantrums’ demanding the vice-presidency. Should she fail, she’ll be vilifying you for your dictatorial streak as being behind any such debacle.

For now, Raila is not showing any signs of introducing inventive ways for preparing his party or the country to move to higher ground. Most certainly, recycling leaders whose usefulness lies in the romantic past is dubious.

Does agwambo believe in institution building and strengthening? Never mind that the pentagon itself is amorphous, were the other four privy to the Ngilu elevation? Not likely. What happened to the famed Raila tact? Could he not announce that “WE, the pentagon have agreed to incorporate” Ngilu?

We cannot hope to advance positively by relying only on his forcefulness to drive the country anywhere he deems fit.

And the Cardinal wept...

The immediate reactions of John Njue upon his appointment as Cardinal are baffling.

“My transfer to Nairobi and subsequent elevation are difficult decisions but I have accepted them”

“I never expected all these”

“The news was like a bombshell”

“Since the news came, it has been the toughest time of my life but I have surrendered myself”

He termed the events a mixture of emotions. And he wept.

For a man earmarked for such an important office to be engaging in such poor self-effacing antics is demeaning. After taking over from Ndingi a’Nzeki as Archbishop of Nairobi, where did he think he’s priesthood journey that started in 1973 was headed to? Nyeri? Did the priest probably feel that ministering to souls outside of Nyeri would be “the toughest time of my life” and that he could only “surrender” himself? Are these not the markings of an ethnic chauvinist?

And no sooner had his tears dried than he threw himself smack in the middle of partisan politics declaring that “Majimbo is a recipe for chaos”. Of course this is the prevailing wisdom amongst the many PNU supporters presently in Nyeri. Probably the Holy Father could just not resist one last shout for the home boys before taking up his seat in Nairobi. But surely, was he unable to make an original or helpful statement regarding federalism? Would it hurt him to be quiet until such a time that he’d gathered his personal philosophy to merge rationally with the requirements of his elevated calling? Perhaps he’s not yet aware what those requirements are.

Ndingi couldn’t get past Archbishop, certainly not because he’d been forgotten. Who could ignore his noise? The man was unnecessarily talkative, commenting on all and anything, picking spats in all directions and turning himself into a celeb. He’s still at it even in his retirement. We’ll never know in our lifetime why Vatican skipped the man but my guess is that they did not quite take him seriously.