Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009:THE YEAR THAT WAS

I am sitting at Java, Yaya Centre, enjoying a hot mug of Lemon Ginger and honey, and a little spoil of mushroom chips, I am wondering If I really should be eating chips when I have engaged my mind lately with getting to work out in 2010.

It’s the 30th of December 2009 and I am supposed to be in Kitale, the little town in the Rift Valley where I grew up; to Usher in the new year with family; but I am not at the farm, I just got back to Nairobi this morning: It feels like the new year already, It feels like I am about to leap into a new phase of life, exploring new heights, that usually I would have ignored. ..Yes, I am not talking about it.

Anyway, 2009 has been breathtaking. Just when I felt like I knew almost all a 30 year old woman has to know, a whole new world opened up, with all its uncertainties, it became the year I actually truly began to mature, gracefully at that! I have learned to love life, live it to the fullest, and to appreciate that happiness is priceless.

Being young was a dance that I loved.

I tried to relive that in 2009, wasn’t always easy! But I happily broke the rules. ( That’s an on going agenda. I learnt to throw caution to the wind, and learnt to laugh and just be, in the presence of many awesome people, some that are movers and shakers, and some, that have to beg on Mombasa Road everyday to get a bite before nightfall.
In 2009, I learnt to be fearless. I broke the ranks, spoke to those I never thought I would,I strengthened my friendships, and I learned to forgive, and I opened my heart and mind to a whole new world, and It has been beautiful.
2009 will go down in History as one that I was proud to be in. and in 2010, I promise to take more risks! I just re read Think Big ( Ben Carson) and there’s no way I am thinking smaller! T challenged me to give my best in whatever I do, surely, that’s not too much to ask!
I made a resolution this year: I will read more! And I just got me a Robert Greene…( wink wink..)
Thanks for reading my little thoughts this year, and I hope in 2010 you will still be with me herein my blog journey!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What a good spa and a pink phone have in common




Just got back from the Illuvial Pink Nokia Launch, sitting infront of my TV wondering if I should be catching up on my beauty sleep after a day of stock market reviews and quite an interesting chat with Seni Adetu, Group Manging Director of East Africa Breweries, which comes on this weekend on East Africa Business Report.

Anyway. 18:00 hrs, and a bit glammed up later I found my way to 101 Manyani East, the Aromatics spa. I've got good memeories of a hot stone massage there, and was looking forward to being at the spa again. There's something about a relaxing place that keeps you wanting to go back, even though hot stones were not to feature this time around.

The illuvial Pink, is where Nairobi's Socialites, Media Beauties, and (some)Celebrities were tonight. A cosmopolitan cocktail served as the welcome drink and the very feminine ambience in Fushia's and black got the mood going. Homeboys were on the decks and Ms Kui Kalinga Ndavi (who I dont like very much after she adorns 'the most amazing Tanzanite ring I was really eyeing a couple of months back) excuse the deviation!!

So, the Illuvial Pink were unveiled by a very elegant Dorothy Ooko,as the likes of Pinky Ghelani, Misiko Andere, Laura Walubengo, Christabel Odada of Samantha Bridal and Mina Sally of Forever 18 and your's truly talked phones.

We had an interesting discussion with Christabel & Mina about how marketing dynamics have changed from talking to the masses, to bringing your target market right where you are, and speaking to them, in the chic, pink, light language that they would like to be spoken to; and how products today will have to develop with the tastes of the consumer. We no longer operate in a one size fits all market, and whether it's the Nokia 6303 with a really great ad, or the 5530 Xpress Music or the Nokia 6700 classic, It's got to appeal to the buyer in the most personal way possible.

The Illuvial trio hits the markets next week, and it will be interesting to see how the ladies take that up..

Alrighty! Bedtime now!

Let's catch up when you have watched East Africa Business Report this weekend..or if I have another eventful weekend! (I plan to:-)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Of Tea pots and old maids

I turned 30 this year, I didn’t know whether to celebrate it or just take it as another feather in my (wisdom) cap. I didn’t throw a party, actually never had a party on my birthday after my 21st, when my first love Musya threw me the most amazing surprise party ever, with Black forest cake and family and all- back then it was a big thing, I wasn’t expecting it, and he always treated me extra special, so I knew he would buy me a gift or so, but that party is probably the only birthday of mine that I will never forget.

Its 9 years later, and one would think I should be quite at ease with that. I have no worries talking about my age, and I love doing the guess game, and darn if you if you say anything older than 25:-)

I have never been 30 years old before:-). And I am not the kind of person that plans much. I prefer some of my issues handled by experts, so they do the planning. My future finances are in order, I have policies that will take care of my child’s education, I have a life cover, a savings scheme and I am told however much I don’t like to look at my account after payday after those cuts, that one day when I am a bit older, I will be a relaxed human being with little worries about mine and my daughters future.

So I am whining?

Yes, because despite the fact that several things in my life have taken quite an overwhelming direction, which I profusely thanks God for, I still wonder when I transitioned from girl to lady and then sometimes woman. I’m I quickly crossing over the threshold of youth? Have I achieved all that I would have wanted to achieve by this age? Did I even know what I would have wanted to achieve by this age?

I recently noticed that my skin products are not working anymore; I always used Neutrogena for oily skin, now it dries me up, and I am told that happens when you hit 30. I didn’t mind moving over to Normal skin, and it works just fine, but I don’t want to read in between the lines. Pun Intended.

The other day my daughter asked me if I have a boyfriend, I answered the question, and she asked if I was going to get married. I laughed and said, yes, I hope to. You see a couple of friends have got married recently, and she sees their pictures, and we talk about them, and my two cents worth is that she wants to see me in a white (not!) gown.period.

So what does the number 30 mean for me? In many ways it is a celebration. It’s been the toughest year in my life. I have cried myself to sleep several nights, but I have woken up a stronger woman in the morning. I have learned to be independent, but even more loving than I thought I ever would be.

30 has been the best for me in many ways. I have made invaluable friends; I have fallen in and out of love and gotten my heart broken and I have learned to find the beauty and beast within.

I still search and long for many things…however content I may seem sometimes, I have began to like my tea, black.

Tea pots and old maids have began my latest fixation.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

That word "commitment"


My after work life has become rather predictable lately, other people would probably call it boring, but since I am the author of this blog, it shall stay as I say.

Predictable.

Great, so we are on the same page.

I leave work between 1730hrs and 1800 hrs. If it’s not a Tuesday, when I go for my Mizizi class, then I go home, do my 20 minute jog, some extra minutes of simple exercises, play with Imani, that’s my 3 yr old daughter, make dinner, which we have early, at around 1930hrs before she goes to bed at 2000hrs.

That’s when my “me time” begins. If it’s Monday it’s desperate housewives on Series, then Quest means business on CNN, then off to bed, to read, write, think, regret, make plans, dream, sleep, or count the sheep in my mind as I search for sleep. Other times, mostly Friday’s I catch up with a friend over a drink, usually quite predictable one too, it would be either Lizz, Monique, Shep, K.A, Wanja, or my Bestest boy-mate, Kent.

Tonight; Tuesday, my Mizizi class ended late and I found my daughter asleep. I got the last of quarter of Quest, before my hero Christiane Amanpour did her thing. Today, for some strange reason I switched to Aljazeera, and the first picture I see is that of a black child, a boy about 3 years old with no eyeballs. I stayed on and listened to the narration by a film maker in the Sudan who was following the life of children at an orphanage, There was him, the boy who got fitted with plastic or glass eyeballs as the main story, with little knick knacks of daily life at the home.

The filmmaker followed the story of the boy who was born with good eye sight, but got ill and doctors took out his eyeballs, one after the other, but as he grew, it began to affect the formation of the bone structure between his head and the eye balls, and as days went by, the film maker slowly got drawn in to this orphaned child, and it became increasingly difficult for her to cover the story.

At the same time, Kadmallah, a few weeks old baby girl was brought in, dehydrated, and the nannies tried to keep her going, she stayed at the orphanage a for a day, on the second night she was taken to hospital, the next day she died.

I cried.

I could not stop feeling a deep pain inside my heart for this child whose only need was a good hospital that could put her on a drip early enough.

We have failed as a continent to provide healthcare to the poorest of the poor, and now innocent children, who could be the ones shaping our future are left to dry out in cold hospital beds…too days too late.

The Film maker could no longer separate the story, from behind the camera, with this boy whose future was in the woods. She is now in the process of adopting the baby boy.

“The witness” on Aljazeera got me asking myself questions on what I, as an individual can contribute to creating a better tomorrow for someone else. That someone could be the person you have employed. The house help, the gardener, the maid, the driver, your parents up country; we keep asking the government to do something about everything, but we can and should also do something.

I would like to ask you for a commitment to better your country.
If you can forego something this coming month, and assist your employee get medical care, you will have done one thing in making your country a better place.
NHIF is a just a phone call away.

For ONLY Ksh 1920 (25 USD) per year, you will have made medical care available to someone who badly needs it. If you would rather encourage the person to save, then do it, as long as an individual earns more than 1000 shillings (12 USD) per month, encourage them to give Ksh 160 ( 2 USD) per month to the hospital fund, to cover them and their dependants, this includes bed, drugs, maternity and even surgery(check here)

Make the choice to make Africa a better continent; it has to begin with someone.

That someone is you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

MY COPPER BELT DIARY (Compiled in Nairobi :-)

DAY 2- NDOLA

9.00 am, had an interview with the PS in the CopperBelt Province, after that I met the fastest Chinese man on the planet, we went to his smelter after getting assistance from the PS.

Was great fun talking to both gentlemen about how the Zambian Government has taken on attracting investors via incentives..and one stop shop for investors, much like Susan Kikwai's Kenya Investment Authority, but perhaps one that works faster.

My Point: Between the time Kenya Airways wrote a request letter to set up shop in Ndola, and the first flight, was 3 months. we say doing Business in Africa is diffcult, lets also paint the true picture, that some governments are working faster tha others at it, and realise the importance of ease of doing business.

Kenya apparently dropped in it's ease according to the World Bank and IFC report for 2010, I hope we can learn from the likes of Zambia just how much we can encourage much needed foreign capital inflows into our economy.

This and other shoots with investors and players in the Zambian economy, with the 29 degree heat, and no sunscreen got us a well packaged story. ( shows on East Africa Business Report this week)

Work went well, so did after work :-)

Just a pointer, Lusaka is just the place to be; Stayed at the Taj, had a great salad for dinner, went out to Raphsody's and later to 101, if you do drop by Zambia, now you know where to go!

Oh! I did learn a word or two. Mukuba means copper in Pemba -common language in Z.

xxx

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Copper Belt Diary

Right now..under intense pressure, it's a bit slow, i must deliver for jobo..and some things are not working as I had planned!

Anyway, Kenya Airways landed in Ndola, the copper belt of Zambia, and I was on the inaugural flight.

The launch was quite succesful, from start to finish of this plan took 60 days. KQ gave the Zambian govt the plan, and in three months, Ndola becomes Kenya airways 44th Route. commendable to the Zambian Govt! Now that's why red tape must go..hope other govts learn from this one!

While here I will be looking at the impact of this on trade relations, opportunities here for investors, speak with some (Kenyans - East Africans) here on ease of doing business, barriers to entry, etc..

Catch up on CNBC Africa this week!

Ok..day Number one done. Will drop a line tomorrow. Lets hope it will be a faster day!

Cheers peoples!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Conversations about tomorrow

I recently an old book from a street vendor I like to buy from at the corner of Alliance Francais in Nairobi.

The title caught my eye, besides the Larry King’s profile picture back in the day with full black (brunette) hair and skin that could have known botox.

Future Talk: Conversations about tomorrow with Today's most Provocative personalities.


The book was published about 10 years ago, and the powerful conversations got me going. Last night I read Larry's interview with Microsoft’s Bill Gates. It was done online and they talked about the future of the Internet.

What I love most about Larry King is his ability to converse on TV as if it is a discussion over coffee, without the glare and jitters that come with camera's lights and showbiz countdowns.

I wished I was a fly on the wall as Bill Gates typed his responses to Larry’s pretty normal questions; they usually are what you and I would probably be thinking of, without having to sound too smart.

Some of the questions were:

“What will happen to the post office when Internet becomes a craze, will they close?”

“How about catalogues?”

“What will happen to the pencil?”

“How about television, what will change?”

What moved me the most about this interview is the intelligibility with which Bill Gates gave his responses, and how precise most of those predictions are, now about 10 years later.

On the query about Television, Gates said "There will be plenty of Flat screen TV's hanging from the walls in homes, offices, malls, and every other place. But TV will not die.

I digress.

I am now in a country that's over excited and salivating over the prospects of fiber Optic cable. I have for the first time in my life (and I happen to be 30 now) experienced fast internet via the Seacom cable, and got to watch live TV after loading for less than 19 seconds, that's revolutionary.

Now imagine this, and all the forecasts that our experts seem to have.

Not too long ago, on the news, an ICT guru talked about opportunities for investment within East Africa as the internet opens up becomes cheaper and more reliable, and one of the things he said was, Television is going to revolutionize, and everyone will be watching TV from the Internet.

I disagree. TV is a culture; it’s about family gathering in the living room over a cuppa tea, I don’t see my family watching Desperate Houswives from a PC, or a MAC, however large, at least not in my lifetime.

My point though:

I must say that the absence of fact and over speculation are some of the things that discredit us. It may have been a personal opinion, but my take away from this book is the powerful convictions of the personalities interviewed.

The day Africa will become great, is the day we stop being a master of all trades. Our leaders are experts at multi-tasking, moving from one sector to the other, without sharpening a particular skill.

How do we become masters of our trade if we don not stay long enough to master the tricks of the trade?

I backtrack to what a note I wrote about last week, addressed to the President.

Get the best man for the job.

In this case, the expert is the Top performer, the one passionate about his work, and most importantly the one who has precise predictions about tomorrow.

Africa needs to find these people.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mr. President, Attached please find my Curriculum Vitae.

I am not applying for Public office, at least not now; I am kinda loving the private sector right now. But there seems to be some vacancies; or potential vacancies, how about you hold onto mine for a bit?

When Major General Hussein Ali was taken off his powerful commissioner of police job, the former Top Cop was handed the position of Post Master General, There was quite some ruffling of feathers within the country, I mean, from Police Commissioner to Post Master General. That’s quite the career shift.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, I mean how many pharmacists are now doing marketing?

Now, about Post Master General , For those who do not know what this means, once upon a time, there was a company fondly known as Posta, back in the day when letters were letters, and when I was a stamp collector during my hobby years. The Postal Corporation of Kenya was one of the Giants of this economy, with postal money transfers (then called postal orders), way before western Union set in and before the internet killed love letters.

I do not know if there is any training school for Post Master Generals, but this shuffling of Cabinet Ministers, not just in Kenya, but across Africa is our Achilles heel.

If we can appoint former accountants, economists (CFA preferred) as Finance Ministers, why can’t qualifications be the lens through which such appointments are made?

How many of our cabinet ministers actually have a background in administration and leadership? Should this not be a pre qualification for any Ministry?

We say our continent is rotting under bad leadership, surely if we do not get the basics right, how on earth are we getting out of this sack?

If the Private Sector has an opening, they select the best man for the job. Why then can’t we ran our countries like a business? After all, we are a business, in business to make a profit in one way or another?

One more time, Mr. President, attached please find my CV.

Friday, September 4, 2009

GIVE ME A PLAN

A couple of weeks ago I attended Mindspeak,The Business Club a once a month Saturday morning ritual that I have become addicted to. It's usually a great networking event, and James Murua made a good note here

Caroline Mutoko was speaking on her rise to the Queen of Radio (even if she did not say so herself.) It was an inspiring morning, one that opened up my mind to fresh ideas and new thinking, in an extremely competitive market, especially in my field of work.

She spoke about the vital role that in between semester jobs and holiday internships play in forming a diligent worker out of a person.

From a clerk in an Asian’s store she learnt to be thrifty and frugal with her monies, whereas in school she learnt theories in Math’s & economics that she applies in her every day work. But what caught me the most was her views in terms of idea generation.

If you live and work in Kenya, and happen to hang around a crowd, any crowd, there's is often talk of new business ventures, ideas of how to go about making money, and it is amazing how much of an entrepreneurial spirit is in the Kenyan population.

We are full of ideas. A friend of mine who runs one of the most successful media houses in the country told me once of how proposals hit his desk every morning, great ideas that hold immense potential, and every other new proposal outfoxes the other.

So, how do we, as young people make any impact, if very other young person thinks just as greatly as we do?

"Give me a plan"

That's my take out from MindSpeak that morning.

Ideas are great, but, give me a plan.

Dictionary explanation: An idea is a specific thought or concept that arises in the mind of a person as a result of thinking. It is a mental picture.

Ideas are unproven.

See, a plan means a start to finish, it embodies all aspects of a business or programme proposal, or whatever it is you seek to achieve.

For Instance, if one wants to go to war, he first has the idea, but it's got to degenerate into tangible strategies, all rounded, researched and buffered against potential risks. And that's exactly what differentiates a winner from a loser.

What’s your going to war strategy? What's your competition like? What are your risks? How do you manage those risks? As we all endeavor to make richer people out of ourselves, Lets cross over the threshold of thought and begin to work towards a plan, that's the first step.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Not Another Christmas

Fireplaces and the unforgettable scent of dry Cyprus
Laughter and stories of days long gone
And Pilau cooked from the olden fireplace outside
Are just but some memories I have of Christmas
Memories: because last, and the year before
You were not there to collect acorns with me and spray paint them in golden hues to place atop the Fireplace,
As the warmth of Christmas soaks in
With Jim Reeves playing in the backdrop of togetherness

I want new memories that I can sing about and sink into
The season's slowly coming,

but... Not another Christmas without you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Giving up is not an option

Mid Morning today I read a tweeter update from Bankelele about “Diaspora’s giving up on Kenya”.

I read it, and I felt terrible about about what it means for us as a country.

I posted to him a smaller & edited version a response to his blog..


It begins:

In the Media, Bad News is great news.

I hope you realize this aspect of reporting as you and other Kenyan’s in the Diaspora make decisions about home.

It is always a crowd puller to report about 1000 people dying from post poll violence than it when 37 charter flights resume their flights to Kenya.

Don't allow yourself to be a victim of Mis-directed reporting, one that doesn’t care about a continent that is still represented by a thin black child holding out his hands to relief food.

The grim images on TV are true, so much so that they became a label of what Kenya is about, but that can and will change if someone stops talking and starts acting. That someone is us. Someone who has a platform to inspire Kenyans towards change, in tiny little ways that may not seem tangible, but someone’s got to do something, and running away is not an option if we can learn to be passionate about our country.The media has a role to play..but that's a story for another day.

Guys; if you don’t have hope about your mother-land. Who will?

I may seem like a dreamer with massive blinders on, so as not to see what's going wrong. I know There’s plenty going wrong. I live in Nairobi.. from Corruption, to multiple institutional challenges, poverty, political upheaval… and so much more.

But we can do something about it. That’s my take and I am sticking with it.

There must be a reason why our telecoms sector is among fastest growing in SSA.There must be a reason why our stock exchange is still attractive, There must be a reason why tourist are trickling back in, there must be a reason why the name Kenya still has a ring to it....

What our country needs is reverse brain drain, Diaspora Kenyans with international exposure who are BRAVE enough to want a better country. Not those who have warmed up to Western Bliss and forgotten where they came from. We need Kenyan's who will find motivation even as weapons from Somalia trickle in through our porous boundaries, We need Angry Kenyans who are tired of a dirty city....We need an overhaul in our thinking; and we need to stop talking and start acting..even in the littlest ways possible.


One of the biggest challenges is the gap between the Rich and the poor. If Kenya had more people meeting their basic human rights, then there would be less people to fight for greedy politicians, less hungry Kenyans to receive bread in exchange for a voter’s card, less infant deaths because they can receive healthcare, and less crime, because they have their basic human rights.

In my own small way I am ready to make a difference. We, Kenyans allow so much to happen, when we as individuals and families can educate & support even our employees to have a better life. We owe to ourselves to make a difference.

I was at Church this weekend, and we asked this: What are the dreams of your house girl?

Does she have a medical cover?
Does she have a savings account?
And one of the little ways Kenyans can encourage a saving culture with our home staff, and encourage them to get medical cover (NHIF) 160 Ksh per month. We will have gone along way in bridging the gap between poverty & wealth.

Every Sunday my Nanny goes to Kibera to spend with her extended family, and at Christmas, she travels to Kakamega to be with her Child and her Mum.
What do you think her child wants to be when she grows up? Perhaps a maid; so she can wear pretty clothes and live in the city, get a meal from a fridge and microwave it, use a real toilet that flushes, and Even watch TV (make that DSTV) while comfortably sitting on a sofa set.)

I began to ask myself, how many of us can afford to pay our house girls better, get them a medical cover, or even assist in taking their child to a better school, especially if they are up country? This is not the Government’s responsibility. Your employee is your responsibility.

By giving your girl a chance to healthcare, however simple, and teaching them to save, we are in fact giving them a lifeline.

We, Ordinary Kenyan's have a role to play as well.

But you have to make that decision first. You need to realize your place in the Kenya you want, and work backwards from there.

Giving up is not an option.

I hope you, your missus, and your readers can begin to look at Kenya as a country you owe hope to.

That’s all I am asking, don’t give up on us…. just yet.

Monday, August 10, 2009

THE MISCOMMUNICATION OF NEW MEDIA


Photo:courtesy of misingmama.com

I would perhaps be the worst person to write a headline like this. What with my broadcast media background and where new media has placed entrepreneurs keen on exploring the possibilities that digitalization comes with.

But I am writing from a very personal perspective, about things that mean much to me now, and how much the digital age has erased the little romanticism still lingering on the corners of this earth. I am on one of the corners, the biggest one perhaps and hold so much value to flowers, cards, letters & even postcards, yet I am in the cast in the middle of SMS, email, twitter & Facebook.

Is long distance relationship the same as online dating?

Online dating is the route through which one finds someone on a social relationship site. Several times, it’s intercontinental, and Communication here is based on in-boxing within the site, and when either Party is comfortable, then they move on to email, then to personal cell numbers & eventually a meet up, and a “relocate” if they are agreeable to leave one’s country to Join the other. It happens. I have proof that it does, however much of a debate it could draw.

So how about long distance dating? Is it still called online dating, based on the pure fact that only new media bridges the gap.

For partners that been together for a while, perhaps online dating would be a bit over emphatic, but if it’s a new couple, recently met, I battle with the right way to describe it.

I’m I in a state of miscommunication?

Friday, August 7, 2009

ARE WE SUCH A SORRY LOT?

I think It's a Kenyan thing.

We like to say sorry about everything.

I wonder, because I hear it everyday.

Is it the way we are socialized? Does it reflect our personality traits. Are we so attuned to being the first to apologize about everything and anything?

"Sorry" here,by the way means a totally different thing from " I am sorry" especially in reference to Partners (spouse or other)...here we harldy say sorry:-).

You dont think you say sorry enough? Ask a Non Kenyan, you will be shocked! Sorry subsitutes for everything.

You only need to look up the word sorry to relize just how badly we use it.

It's not World Sorry Day, and I am not saying sorry today.

Even when I should..checking synonyms now...

Mad Love,

TC

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dear Ms Clinton


Ma'am,

Now you know why Kenyan ladies have a reputation for looking good :-)!

Your hair looked lovely too. Welcome to Kenya. (But the traffic jam we got here...another story for another day)

I listened to your speech today, intently.

You asked Africans to get to the basics of Responsible Governance.

But, here, you know there is no such thing as a Responsible Government.

You see, Responsibility comes with Maturity, but look here, we only a 45 year old Nation, and still growing. Pardon the Pun, I have been told by my dear friend Vuzi I am the product of over colonization.

You say Greed & corruption are the common currency.

You know by now about the book “It’s our time to eat”, the people we put in power have 5 years to get rich quick. But comparing this with currency is actually a tad of an over emphasis. Some of us actually work for a living. The Majority of us at least, that majority here means about 95% of the population.

Tough talking or not, we have made great strides in pushing our economies forward.

But we also know that we need to get it right from the Top of the Political Pyramid.

The Private sector has fought the good fight, and there is no other reason why Africa is still posting growth when the US & Other developed markets are stunting.

The US is over 200 years old, your government had time to grow and mature into a country that’s learnt from its mistakes. I am not saying we are right by being corrupt, greedy, irresponsible, warlike, rapists who care nothing about women.
The issues are deeper, and we are learning as we go along. Cut us some slack.

To my fellow Africans :

This is probably the most incoherent blog I have ever posted, but, I am just saying. Man, why do we have to be told what we already know anyway? Why do we clap in joy when Patronizing sentences are said to us? We know what our country needs? Where is our pride?

( Honestly, I feel like our Top Three need to read the “48 laws of Power”)

This is the voice of a Proud African Child, who does not like being told to “Shut up & eat your food”.

Friday, July 31, 2009

WHAT BIKINI'S & FIBER OPTICS HAVE IN COMMON



I live in Africa, Kenya, home to the most beautiful coastline in the world.

Mombasa.

Once in a while I take a break, go on holiday to the white sandy beaches of Mombasa, and usually, I pack my bikini’s, to enjoy the pleasures of sun, sand & sunscreen.
The past week though, was slightly different.

I went off to Mombasa without my swimsuit.

Thursday morning, I missed my 6.30 am flight to Mombasa.

Usually, when it comes to work, I am a stickler for time, and I don’t take anything less from my team. Sometimes though, it goes terribly wrong, Murphy’s Law, and this was one of those days.

The SEACOM fiber optic cable was finally landing and a number of journalists were taken down to Mombasa to experience first hand, the joys of fast internet.

And I missed my flight.

Flattery gets you everywhere!

Even though I had been told the next KQ 606 was full, I got a confirmation for the 10 o’clock flight, and when KTN’ s Larry Madowo joined me at the waiting Lounge, the anxiety I had took a quick exit, and we began to chat about everything, from his new 2’00pm show on financial markets, to his Nokia 5800 that made my old blackberry hang it’s head in shame, to college life and getting into business reporting, it was quite a great conversation.

Fast forward to landing in steamy Mombasa, meeting Solomon of Hill& Knowlton, and having a super Swahili Lunch at a real coastal restaurant near the fort Jesus Museum.
Larry & I had missed the morning Press briefing, yet we both had to prepare a news package before end of day (and I still think my report was better Larry;-)..Anyway, I couldn’t wait to go online and experience fiber.

I have one problem with the Internet, and that’s the first problem I needed to address. So, I went to CNN and clicked on “watch CNN Live”. It took 19 seconds to load the whole site as well as getting Live TV streaming in. usually it takes about 5 minutes…That was exciting!

I got to speak with Jean Pierre du leu of SEACOM, on the experience of laying fiber in Africa, and it was an exciting story, of coming from the days of Africa one, to actually completing a process that saw East & southern Africa feel the true fiber touch.

When doing my research during the week, I came across a sentence that stuck in mind: “ fiber of today is like the sea trading routes of the past, a sign of economic activity and a subsequent boom”. If we look back to how the developed countries grew, in different waves, the opening up of the trading routes was a major economic junction, and when the internet came in, another huge wave took over, and the rest, as they say, is history.

So, what does fiber really mean to Africa?

It means access to real time information. That cut across all barriers: across markets, across time, across language, and across developed and developing countries.
It is countless opportunities. There is a strong entrepreneurial sentiment in Kenya today; every young person wants to start their own businesses. With faster & cheaper bandwidth, every young Kenyan keen on growing ICT wise must find out what businesses scored large when fiber landed in the developed countries, find opportunities and make the best out of them.

ICT is quickly moving towards convergence. One stop shops that offer flexibility and convenience to customers. Cost cutting is also becoming centre line to most companies,who opt to outsource, here's how strategies such as the Sameer Business Park serve as an indicator of what we are likely to see in the market.

Last mile providers such as ISP’s will grow in ways we are yet to fully understand. The demand for broadband is growing. You only need to look at what ISP's like Access Kenya lay fiber across town, and realise that they are looking right into the future.

I believe cheaper broadband we will see cyber cafĂ©’s turning into ISP’s.

I asked David Bunei of Cisco a couple of questions on fiber, and I got the best education ever about fiber optics during the journey between the SEACOM site and the Moi International Airport Mombasa.

I was on tweeter throughout the launch and I got several questions on when Fiber will reach Nairobi.

Depending on contractual agreements with satellite owners, ISP’s can advise their bandwidth providers to switch from satellite to fiber.

A couple of ISP’s and other Telco’s have already bought into SEACOM, with Safaricom currently being the biggest customer, so, we are likely to see that first & fast.

Terrestrial fiber optic cables are already being laid across East Africa and with EASSY launching in June 2010, and TEAMS making the final rounds, it’s an exciting time.

I know better than to expect magic within the ICT space, but it surely is an opportunity for growth.

Friday, July 17, 2009

JOURNEY FROM THE SERENGETI

It's Wildebeest migration season..I am not going this year..but here is my experience from last year's Migration:



I had watched it on TV for eons, the millions of wildebeest crossing over to the Maasai Mara after depleting the magnificent Serengeti of all its green grass. The untouched pastures of the Maasai Mara lures the gnu’s into making the champagne colored plains in the heart of the African Bush one of the most spectacular wildlife locations in the world, this time of year, and I was one of the many who came from all over the world to witness this great migration, thanks to being the director for our tourism programme, Destination Kenya.

The plane was scheduled to leave JKIA at 1100hrs, and we were uneasy, the airline had just received a big hit, a crush in Somalia, where Ali, an old friend of mine was co pilot also perished. So when we were told we had been placed into another plane, there was a collective sigh of relief.

1300hrs, we board the plane at Wilson Airport, the captains smooth voice tells us Keekorok will be the first stop, and in my mind I play out my scanty filming schedule, and rethink the skeleton scripts I wrote based on research only and all I could wish for was to be able to do a Recce before, in production speak this means going ahead and planning with the location in mind…but that has not been the case (or can’t make much cents sense at this point in time, so hell, my goose is cooked. Producing a documentary or film about a place you have never been to is not one of the easiest things on earth, but armed with my laptop, contacts, presenter and cameraman, and the hope of Msengeti, the lodge manager on the other side.

we board the plane and sit with Adam of sekenani camp, and for the half an hour we are in the plane I pick up bits and pieces of what’s going to make my great script for Destination Kenya. Nini( Presenter) and Kelly (Cameraman) are all heated up about deep sea diving, bungee jumping and other extreme sports, as my tummy coils at the thought of my free falling mid air, accidents happen, that’s my excuse, so I pretend am listening as I try to work out this whole Mara filming, and I keep my fingers crossed as I hope the two days we have there will pay off.

About half an hour later , we land at Keekorok airstrip , the team is excited, and I see Francis Msengeti, the new lodge manager of Sarova Mara. He just moved here from Shaba, which in my own experience translates as the land of the Gods. Msengeti comes off as a very serious fellow, and when I first met him with another team of journalists a few months earlier in Isiolo, his ‘do not mess’ looks put us in our place; Giggly journalists, as we had been referred to in the recent Adam magazine by the lithe Biko. Anyway, When Joan of Sarova told me he would be the one with us in the Mara, I knew we were in good hands.

The CNBC placard was waving by the time we touched down, and before long we were on our way to the lodge, coming face to face with a lion that lay in the middle of the road, and the job began, Nini miked up for a quick piece to camera, as Kelly began filming. A very encouraging start , and my mind was now racing with words and structure for my now shaping up script.





The Maasai welcome at the Sarova beats any 5 star I have I have experienced in the few countries I have been too, the ethnic touch of song and dance, coupled with the high jump and deep throaty sounds of the Maasai men at the entrance, the very essence of the Maasai Mara invites us into this lodge that will be our base for this excursion, Msengeti has made us feel very welcome already, and as we make our way into the beautiful tented camps, I wonder when I can bring my daughter here, or even if I would afford it, and am told when the season is low, with good planning practically any Kenyan can experience the splendor of the Mara, that’s plan number 1 when am done filming this thing….




After a sumptuous continental buffet, I sit with Msengeti to plan the two days we are here, and the schedule he has in his hand puts my heart to rest, will be tight, but really smooth.I am glad to see the lodge brimming with tourists. It is full house, I am told, bookings are tight too, and looks like this will be the trend for coming months. I flash back to January this year, when I went to do a post analysis of the post poll crisis on beach tourism, it was a dreadful revelation. White sands has closed one wing, had a handful of tourists who were leaving in a week…but here, only 8 months later, the Sarova Mara is operating at about 90%, and deep inside I smile…slowly things are happening in this industry that supports over 2 million people directly and indirectly.

5.30 pm…Sundowner CocktailWe meet at the reception to go count the sun down, it could be every girls secret fantasy, should that special someone propose as we enjoy a Manhattan cocktail…I am a hopeless romantic, soon it feels as if we are driving into the sunset, the bonfire and table for 2 makes for perfect filming, and my mind goes on hyper mode, links, PTC’s as we watch the sun go down…this sundowner is one of the most beautiful setups, and am glad am working, this is no place for a single woman!

It was beautiful and the rest fell into place, starting with waking at at 5.00 am the next morning for an early morning game drive, this time driving into the sunrise, experiencing the morning in a Maasai manyatta in sekenani , drinking warm milk right from the cow, and freezing as the Maasai morans stare down at me and Nini, asking questions about our hair, mascara, lip gloss, picture this 10 men staring at you for one hour flat, no it’s not flattering, it’s scary!James Ole Tira, walks with a funny limp and I always wanted to ask him why, and decided against , he was a lovely man, a Maasai chief as well as our guide for this trip, we set up his main interview with the backdrop of the hills, he told us stories about the Maasai and how they stick to their culture in fluent English, even if he has never been to school. Kisio, the driver, kept dropping little gems of information as we moved from one place to another during the game drive. And I quickly caught on the lingo, “ tuna tafuta wa juu” when looking for the leopard..or “ kichwa yuko wapi” when asking about the Lion.



I have been on several trips to National parks but I had never seen so many animals! From the 10 different species of the antelope, to the Zebra, wildebeest, elephant, and birds: I loved the lilac crested roller!It was smooth; the programme went better than I had dreamed of. From the tented camps…fishing, mini golf, bush dinner, Boma dinner, salt lick dinner, view deck dinner, pool side breakfast, garden breakfast , buffet lunch, and when we were done, we sipped our beer and listened to Komora & Krensa at the fire place in the bar…cracking jokes about sex , journalists & and hoteliers.

The wildebeest refused to cross the river. The Baks himself was there that weekend, and the ODM wildebeest said, bilaz. They live in the Serengeti, they hadn’t heard about the coalition. We camped for hours on end by the river, as the lead Zebra sniffed at the water and turned back, did you know that the whole pack of wildebeest is led by a zebra, Jah knows why, but that’s a fact!So we extended our stay by a day, thanks to Msengeti, but still the frigging animals stayed on the other side of the Mara River. But we got to experience the hot air balloon, filmed a lot especially the millions of wildebeest that refused to cross the river!



When I knew I had enough material for the prog, we gave up watching the river watchers, and settled for a game of poker by the pool at Sarova. Nini is too good at it, so is Kelly, we even managed to convince Msengeti to join us for a bit, and the thugs beat me at poker, thank heavens it wasn’t strip poker!



It was day three and our last evening at the Sarova Mara, and we wanted to have a good wrap, and we did! Let’s just say, it ended very well. It comprised many things, including staying up till 3.00 am watching Sin City, which in my books, is one of the best movies ever made, but it would have been so much better if I had a hand in mine…two is company.

Just a few of my favourites:

Maratimbo
sekenani
sarova hotels
Mara Safari Club fairmont
bundu adventures

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"NICK BEGGINGS"... MY TWO CENTS ON THE STATE OF AFRICAN AGRICULTURE



Back in the day when I was in a boarding primary school, at about ten years old, there were always children known for "begging". Many times they got shunned by the other kids. It was worse for those who were known for begging food. We coined a term called Nick Begging’s,and no one would ask you for food if you said that before you started eating. With time, and continuous shunning, many of them stopped begging.

That becomes the basis for my post today on the state of African Agriculture and the need for us to learn to be Proud.

In the early 80's several African countries were fully sufficient in terms of food security, and even exporting to other countries.

Kenya & Zimbabwe are countries that now, 2 decades later, are on the brink of a famished economy.

Where did we go wrong?

This afternoon I had an Interview with Dr Namamga Ngogi, the President of AGRA (Alliance for a green revolution) , snd it triggered my thoughts on why this continent with a rich and beautiful heritage remain s a beggar, who seems to be content with his situation.

I am extremely passionate about African Agriculture because I believe in the sustainability it offers. But how can we call ourselves an Agricultural economy when the very backbone of this country goes by one meal a day?

What happened to the "breadbasket" of the East African Region?

We ignored the very details that provide wealth.
We ignored the need to replenish the very soil that feeds us.
We ignored the essence of value addition
We ignored the fact that we needed to move on from Rudimentary to commercial Agriculture.

It is our Problem; we turned our continent to be a beggar.

A beggar does not choose. He cannot come to the decision table at his own terms; he eats the crumbs from under the table and say's "Thank you"

It is up to us to fix it.

The G8 summit "created time" to address the Global food crisis, and attempted to strike the intricate balance between food aid and investments into countries worst hit by the crisis, and maybe something positive may come out of these commitments.

The G8 leaders have been made to feel that it is only human to assist an ailing country, but I believe that Africa needs to begin being told "Nick Begging’s".
Ben Hecht, a winning writer once said " I know that a man who shows me his wealth is like the beggar who shows me his poverty; they are both looking for alms from me, the rich man for the alms of my envy, the poor man for the alms of my guilt.

The quote was not in reference to Africa, but I hope this quote makes you begin to question the state of affairs, as Africans wait in the aisles for falling crumbs.

The G8 will have to tackle the challenge of Food Aid Vs Investment into Agriculture. Aid may be necessary in short term. But we must also realise that wealthy countries do not owe it to us to feed us.

African leaders created talk shop, and we still live in it. Declaration after declaration after declaration, and Kenya is now giving 8% of its annual budget to a sector that contributes 25% of its GDP. Where are our priorities? Let's learn from Malawi, a country that got tired of begging and looked within itself to turn the sector around. The government committed itself to assisting the small scale farmers with inputs, fertilizer, education and a constant effort towards Agri- business.

Should the same be played out in Kenya, 70% of Kenya's 40 million people will receive a life line, I like to call that sustainability.

But there seems to be commitment issues spread out across Africa.

Africa, Where is our Pride?

Are our leaders too greedy to think about those that put them in power? Or do they not have the capacity to give the fishing rod to its electorate? Are our leaders beyond accountability?

We know the answers to these questions that shame the African continent every day. I hope, that our shame will bite at us until we are bold enough to say Enough is Enough.

I will not take you through what we, as a continent must do to get our act together, because we know what should be done.

But until pride becomes part of our DNA, we will forever live in Poverty, and as it has been said before; Poverty is a bag with a hole at the bottom.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

BASTILLE DAY & FLAT BATTERIES



Just the other week I got an invite form the French Embassy to attend Bastille day (14th of July).I had no idea what that was, so, in true tech fashion, I googled it: here.

I love the French, they have this accent that always gives me the giggles.
That's not a problem.

So when the Invite came, It was adressed to " Your's Truly and Partner".
That's a problem.

I had initially wanted to invite C.S two weeks ago when i got the invite call: but, can't, won't happen.
That's problem Number 1.

so Kent, my colleague, agreed to be my partner today.
That's problem number 2.

We left the office at 12.00 noon, and Kent refused to drive so I took it to drive my "partner" to this luncheon at the French Ambassador's residence in Kibera or Kabarnet road, whichever suits you better.
Kent, in his "manly" traits, asked me to put the head lights on as we drove down 8 floors.
That's Problem Number 3.

Anyway, we had a safe drive through nutty Nairobi traffic, but got there in good time. It was quite the party! Nairobi's Big Hitters were all there: DJ CK, Jeff Koinange, Eddy Njoroge, Kwame Ahadzi of Bank of Africa,and many more.

So, once we got through the ( clearing throat here) French Military guys at the gate, embassy officials led by the elegant Ambassador Ms Barbier were on cue to say hi to everyone coming in, In French.

Now Kent Ngibuini Njuru..Aka my partner, does not Speak French.
That's problem number 4.


So, as I said my hello's..in staggering French, (Great thing is, Kent thinks I speak better than Sarkozy) Kent is behind me, trying to repeat every word coming out of the French. Bonju bonju..cava, yes, cava... and I am in stitches. Shortly we are at the bar..and Kent asks me rather quietly " How do you respond to a French greeting?"

We had a great laugh, said hello to a couple of other guests, listened to Miss Barbier's short and sweet speech on "Fete Nationale" 'had a great lunch, Champagne, and made our way back to work.

At least that was the plan.

when we got to the car the lights were on..and the battery, soon we found out, flat. I have no jumper cables.

The 12 drivers I asked at the parking had no jumper cables, neither did the cops parked near the end of Kabarnet Road. A couple parked near us are about to leave, then the gentleman says
" You now, when you parked, and you were leaving, I saw your lights on, and I dont know why I did not tell you that"

...aaa..very helpful Thank you. He did not have jumper cables as well.

I managed. But my feet and black shoes at this time are a sweet dusty colour,I looked like I had been weeding the whole morning in Kiambu.

Anyway we got back to work, polished and smart,(or camouflaged)

Moral of the Story?

A partner is a partner. Kent is not it.
Leave the head lights on? Better buy a manual car that can be pushed & A jumper cable can save your sorry behind on the dusty Kabarnet road on the 14th of July.

Joyeuses fĂȘtes!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

BACK IN THE HAIR DAYS

This blog is inspired by Angela Angwenyi's Mohawk.

I couldn't find a recent picture of her on the net, but if you saw her MCeeing at the Kalasha Awards, she was spotting a rare mohawk that only the brave can pull..and yes, I broke my recent promise that I would never go to Black Diamond ever again..Never Say Never aye?

I Had a fab time last night with Lizz (my eternal partner in crime & life, and love) and K.A , who happens to be a good friend of Angela's at Black diamond.

So, Lizz is back on Makutano Junction and was going back on set this morning, she wondered wether she should have had her hair done into a Mohawk, of whatever kind. I have tried it once myself...but lets just say, I wasnt convinced that it looked good enough on me. It looks great on Ms Angweni, and Grace Msalame also spots a killer one as well ( as seen on TV) at least I get to use that line..hehehhe)

Anyway, Here's a fab Mohawk.




That chit chat with Lizz over free (Karaoke) cocktails, took me back eons ago when I ahd a curly kit in high school..(no laughs plese, I am sensitive)..back then curly kit was the in thing. I may have grown up in Kitale and took my first eldoret express bus to Naoribi in February of 1998..but I did wear a good curly kit, and Kakamega high is my witness, I looked good! ( No I wasnt in Kakamega high..but we liked the boys in that school..and they LOVED us:-)

My cousin Mike once had the "Ray Parker". (self titled hair do, taken after the musician)Your hair was bigger /longer, at the front and the back.then the rest was flatter out, it looked like the barbers power supply got cut off mid way through the shave..if you are a child of the 70's you know what I am talking about!:-)




It wasnt just a family thing, but My sis Jeptoo had a "Slope" when she first went to high school, and boy did it look cool..slope was a hair style that was short all over apart froma bit at the front, which you used hair spray or gel to let it jut out and stand firm at the front. Cleopatra, a girl I met in high school went a step farther and dyed it .( in fom one) The colour did not last long though, we were in a Catholic school, you can only get away with so much.

(no pics available...aaarghh!!!)

Back in the day there was the afro, That's making a comeback with a bang..I like! Nappy hair though is not my thing, I think it looks great on other women, just not on me.Valerie Kimani looked super in it here.




I like the shaggy hair, looks like chopped dreadlocks, or unkempt hair, sort of like what Valerie Kimani now spots & my other bestest friend Wairimu Ricci spots these days..and many other hot Kenyan women. Lauryn Hill, who also shares my birthday:-),made this cropped look a must have.




It's amazing how versatile Kenyan women are, and I cant stop loving y'all for being the most fabulous women ever! This one's for you!

Meanwhile, I am planning on spotting a Bob Rihanna style..am not bold enough to go exotic..after all I am a Business Reporter at the end of the day:-) ...That's where I hide.









Monday, June 29, 2009

OF CAPPUCINO & CONTACT LENSES





If you have kept up with me here in my blog journey, you know this already: I have a very short attention span with things that are constant.

I know that this can easily be confused with inconsistency especially in blogosphere where brand building is not just an option, but THE mantra. I love to see things from a different angle. I have changed the look and feel of this blog countless times, because I am looking for something I am yet to find.

I get tired of status-quo, at home, at work, with my food, my look ...everything. I even get tired of seeing myself in the mirror; looking the same way, everyday. Being on leave (or off duty this past week) gave me lots of time to re think, re focus, realize my potential in every way I could think of. I even got contact lenses:-). Hazel ones; that gave me a new reason to stare at myself in the mirror, I am told that can be classified as vanity, but I am a woman, it is expected under the feminine dynamics pie chart.Oh..and i drank cappucino, even if I swear by Mocha.

Well, I think my blog will remain as is...for now :-) ( little tongue out.)

This past Saturday, I went for Aly Khan Satchu's “Mindspeak” (here) at Westgate, (and forgot to wear my contacts!!) where Graham Gilmour, CEO The Business Phone,(website here) was speaker.

I try to take a break at least once every six months to re-charge, I hate feeing counter productive, usually it gives me great satisfaction to put my heart into my work, I love giving 120% to whatever I do, and feel extremely wasted when I don’t do that. So Saturday morning, I woke up and was looking forward to the monthly event: It was in many ways a turn around for me

The 30 min session by Graham Gilmour almost got me shooting off my seat into a corner office over looking the Himalayas.....ok, that's over stating it, but it was a chance to look at what we make out of life:

We are all in the business of selling, ourselves, products, service…if you make money, then you are selling something:

Here's a few pointers that I'd like to share which I picked out from Grhams presentation:

Third party story:
Use the third person to sell. “When I sold this Prada bag to Caroline Mutoko, she ordered for 5 more in different designs"(example is pure fiction) but I hope you get me drift.

Never Pre Judge a contact:
Graham once sold (owned the company actually) luxury boats in Australia and almost missed a 17% commission on 2 luxury boats when a young "ginger haired" boy walked in to enquire on the super boats.His employees were out having a beer, he stayed on to listen to this "kid" Ginger bought two boats; he had just won the lottery.

Recognize an opportunity when you see one.
Always look for opportunities where everyone sees gloom:I met Graham afterwards and asked this: When entrepreneurs are starting off, should they do what they love to do or, like him find an opportunity? Graham looked for opportunities and put his all in it. He sold houses, ran a hotel that was bankrupt, and now sells the Business Phone.(www.businessphone.com)

Debt is good. (Personal debt)
Gets us into trouble, but it makes you wake up in the morning with a target in mind.

Set targets
Know what you want, a great home, great car, great family: then work backwards from there.

Do your research well:
For Instance, now that Fiber is landing in Kenya, look out for what business models made it big when fiber optic hit other continents. Countless Oportunities.

You don’t get a second chance at first impressions:
This is self explanatory. A friend came in this afternoon off to meet a potential new employer; I asked her if she was going home to change. First Impressions happens once. Take advantage of it. This is from how you dress to how to make your pitch.

Surround yourself with successful people:
You are who you hang out with & the more you communicate with people, the more opportunities you find. Period.

Ultimate confidence:
Faith, Courage & enthusiasm. These are three things you must carry with you every single day. Someone has to like you to listen to you, to buy from you, to work with you. Believe in yourself, you will either sell, or starve. You make that choice.

This may seem a writing targeted to entrepreneurs, which I am not currently, but made me re think the amount of energy we give whatever it is we work for, or work at. It made a lot of sense for me that morning, as it does now, and it will for a long time. We are who we want to be, it’s up to us to chart that way forward, whether employed or an employee, put your best foot forward, it is the first step to success.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I DON'T HAVE TO BE HONEST ABOUT THIS..BUT I HAVE:-)

1. I can not fall asleep unless I talk to someone, and it’s got to be one that’s preferably not in my house.

2. My favorite place to be is in a quiet room alone, with soft music playing in the background.

3. I've never really wanted to be a town girl but if you cant beat em’, join em!

4. When I was a kid, I believed I was adopted because I over heard grown ups gossiping (justifying) my thumb sucking ;-(

5. My family is the biggest reality I will ever have, pure, un-pretentious and loving

6. When I was young I used to pray “ Dear God, when I grow up I want to be a mermaid, sometimes I still think I am still growing.:-)

7. I once tricked a tall boy called Macharia Kigotho in standard 4, he had made jokes about me, and I asked him to sit down for God knows why( he was so tall I couldn’t achieve my intentions), I slapped him hard across the cheek and ran off…he later tried to hire John Mungo to beat me, but my brother Ruto was a school bully, so John couldn’t do nadda!!!

8. I like to mix perfumes sometimes, and yes I picked that up from a Nigerian friend…the only perfume I will not mix is euphoria

9. This year I’m taking time to love…to be loved, and to rediscover my love for music, and people of some gender as well.

10. I have a perpetual crush on Gaetano Kagwa. I faithfully watch studio 53 to “catch up” (Got over Tevin Campbell)

11. When I was in form 1, my aka (in my high school books was Terri Campbell.

12. I tear up at everything including that Omo advert where the little girl throws a birthday party for her mum.

13. I grew up in Kitale, had Ugali of grade 2 every single day of my life, hated to go to the tinga, loved “high jump” and for some strange reason we managed to roast locusts and actually ate them….now I shiver at the thought…but I can still smell the roast locust, never smelt anything like it.


14. I seriously wanted to be a lawyer, such folly, even a teacher. Then I settled for something just as vocal

15. I’m crap at lying…. But am a fast learner

16. I love to sleep when it rains, am a hopeless romantic, I still believe in flowers& chocolate and white picket fences.

17. I have an addiction to something I cannot talk about…no it’s not illegal..and it’s not in the form of white powder.

18. I remember a scene in primary school when I had a newspaper to read to a teacher in standard one so I could be pushed up to standard two with Anne Tonje, then my parents refused, and I cried for a whole week ( I still cry) I would’a been a year older (teheheh)

19. I have a sixth sense, and I don’t believe in it.( see where it got me;-) )

20. My mom tried to understand why I did not bring (male) friends home (all my sister siblings did)

21. Then when I was older, she tried to understand when I would stop bringing them home:-)(still tries)

22. I am superstitious, very. I believe that two similar bad things cannot happen to two people who are close, if you get hit by a car. I can stop worrying about being hit by a car (perhaps I will get hit, but by a cow or so)

23. I make a really damn good fish meal.

24. I once went to visit family friends in Kisumu, and after showering, the lantern was so low I couldn’t see my clothes, I ended up wearing all of them inside out, and glided through to the sitting room with all the relaz, my aunt was dying in embarrassment and did not even say a word, until I looked down to see the threading on my top was all loose and out..!

25.My dream is to give my daughter a beautiful life, full of love , and perhaps one day, give her a play mate:-) (can be done I think)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Grains of Masala...: TALKING GLASS

Grains of Masala...: TALKING GLASS

KARAOKE TUESDAY



I had a date with Lizz yesterday.

We planned for it early and made sure it was just the two of us ( Girl talk). I had a really terrible day at work and just wanted to be in a Noisy palce and really looked forward to it. So after work, I went home, had dinner, put Baby to bed and was getting ready to leave for Tamasha when a certain contact of mine had some information i badly needed. So I detoured to Serena for what I thought would be 30 mins. It wasnt, it took two hours.

Lizz was breathing fire and brimstone by the time I got to Tamasha, and we had a little brawl at the parking lot over why I kept her waiting, why I did not call to say i would be late, how I made her sit in the bar- alone..for two hours (and She is not my Boyfriend!) she actually used those words:-)

Anyway she is my best friend and I knew I had messed up, so I promised to make up for it.

Shortly we were back at the bar, laughing and catching up on our Jobs and plans going forward, love life, and the adventures of life etc.

Once upon a real dream, we used to Sing, Lizz, Wanja, Purity and I, the group was called "His Voice" and we managed to cause a little stir within the Holy sectors back in the day.

We sang acapella and moved the audience usually much more thatn we thought. Shortly after that we discovered new interests, went to college and slowly parted ways, but still remained the best of friends.

Tamsha was fun, Sanaipei Tande was hosting, and unlike Angela Angwenyi @ Black Diamond, Sana does not make it the MC's Karaoke night, she let's the patrons do what they came here to do, SING. We joked about it and concluded that, while Sana had released some great singles & Videos, she has little to proove in terms of "I can sing" but Ms Angwenyi just loves the mic! Just Bitching, But we dont go to Black D anymore.

For some strange reason all Kikuyu mean sing that "Coward of the country" song.with that intonation of SDA choirs of them days..sorry dudes, I love you so much;-), while Lunjes do a Po Po PO..reggae time "No woman No Cry" Bob Marley re mix..It's so much fun !!!

HERE'S MY RECOMENDED KARAOKE DIARY:

TUESDAY: TAMASHA & BLACK DIAMOND
THURSDAY: PITCH & BUTCH
SATURDAY: LAMBADA

Intercont stopped their Tuesday karaoke, but if not the above and definately nt recommedned by me: tropez, Tuesday, there's Sherlocks (Prestige) (not sure when)

Have fun, expand your lungs, make a fool of yourself or get a standing ovation, there's something for everyone.

Monday, June 15, 2009

TALKING GLASS

I don’t like my tea served in a clear Crystal glass, if you share my opinion, we’re on the same page.

The glass makes the drink.

The other day I met up with a good friend, Carlos at Bacchus, that’s the relatively new club next to Havana in Westland’s, touted as an upscale bourgeois lounge, judging by the number of high net Nairobi Socialites, as well as several who aim to “get there” someone I know calls it the “ Waiting to exhale syndrome”

Anyway, I asked for a dry white, Carlos asked for a whisky, (JB, Coke and Ice) which was served in the wrong glass. This here is a whisky glass.



For a place like Bacchus, it was a bit disappointing. It is not a phenomena restricted to Bacchus, but lets do the ‘talking glasses’ class.

Red wines are best when poured into and sipped out of a wine glass with adequate room. A distinctly oval or egg-shaped bowl that narrows slightly at the top, like this:




White wine, my favourite, and just learned from Carlos that the more a wine ages, the sweeter it gets. Anyway, your white wine needs this fine glass:





If you enjoy your brandy, like I do once in a while, you want to make sure you savor the fullness of a great Martel (or whatever your choice). Whether as an after dinner drink, or over gossip at the local bar, this is your glass:



I am sure we are good on cocktails? If not, check out my earlier blog; ‘how to make a bloody Mary!’

Let’s toast to that!

Friday, June 12, 2009

HUSTLE YAKO NI GANI


I must admit, I am not a sheng person. But Don’t judge me, I am not snobbish.

I have a perfect (and real) explanation.

I was born and bred in Kitale, where the closest to making literary alterations was a strong inclination to the Bukusu dialect, and examples of such words are nipeeko, unaendanga shule, kiketi (chair) and others.

And when to my utter shock and dismay (I had to use these words) the Eldoret express bus arrived in Nairobi, I experienced culture shock, ok to overstate it a little.
I lived in Buru then, with my Aunt and her family, and then the sheng began. "Njumu zako ni fresh"and me wondering what vegetables we could be talking about, in Kitale, we would say Viatu. Period.

Fast forward to several years later when I said bye to my 20's

I listen to Ghetto Radio in the mornings, By Choice.

It was a coincidence at first, but I am not a fan of several fm stations, I like good music and no talk, but of course that never happens.

Slowly I started to follow the channel, and in traffic, "the Hustle", which is a segment that brings on young people from the "hood" or mtaani as they say, share with the ghetto youth what they are doing to uplift their living standards. I have never experienced such a strong conviction on the impact this show has on the young people who listen to the show.

It’s about 3 minutes long, and goes something like this

ROBO:(Ghetto Radio): “ Vipi Kama, hustle yako ni gain?”
KAMA: (Hustler) :“ Mimi hukinda majale pale shauri”
ROBO : ‘ ulionaje uanze hii bizna
KAMA : Maze nilikuwa na kaa pale jobless corner, kuchana veve, na kuspend the whole day kulaze around, nikaanza kujiuliza, is this all that life has to offer, sa kutoka hapo, nikaanza kutafuta doe, juu nilikuwa nataka kuanza kuuza majale ya camera kutoka gikosh, nikaanza kuosha magari kwa kibanda ya beste yangu, na pole pole nikasave doe kidogo, nika buy majale stylish za ma smatta pole pole, bizna ika grow, na sasa niko na stall mpaka mtish na pia hapa shauri.
ROBO : challenges gani wo u face kwa hii hustle yako?
KAMA: wateja ku lost sana na pia bei ya mngaro pale gikosh, lakini after budget naona, biashara labda itakuwa better.
ROBO: Hi hustle yako inakubali u save doe?
KAMA: kuna times biz huwa low, kusave ni ngumu, lakini ma time zingine mi husave especially kubuild na kuongeza stock.
ROBO: advice gain unaeza wa gei vijana wa mtaa ju ya Ku hustle?
KAMA: Kile mi husema ni, vijana, we can get out of our situations, tuwache kuchagua majob, put your mind on something and make hiyo decision to better your own life, hope yangu ni, wasee waji respect na waji give credit, tuko na talent kibao, we can do it.

There is nothing more powerful than a voice of reason that has been in the same situation as the listener on Ghetto Radio, I applaud the show, and I hope, in the wildest ways that this show will transform the lives of Ghetto Youth. Such initiatives should receive the utmost support.

Ghetto radio team, you are the light at the end of the tunnel for Nairobi’s youth, keep your head up!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

SO WE HAVE A CRISIS, THAT'S HISTORY, MOVE ON!!!!


This morning I was at Serena at 7.00 am to listen to perhaps one of the best economic orators I have ever listened to, the Group CEO of African Alliance, Tony de Castro.

What makes him such as interesting man to listen to is little tidbits of knowledge so humorously said that you can only concentrate through out the presentation. No fancy projectors with numbers and other impressive details, just him and the crowd, nice and easy.

So where are we, As African's in regards to the Global crisis? We have been affected no less, in the export market, commodities etc. But this creates space for us to rethink the way we do business, and make the best of this crisis (or in Obama speak not to waste a good crisis.)

2.5 trillion dollars is a lot of money to throw at the crisis, and as expected, stability checks in for the Americans. This does not mean the crisis is over. It’s like a shot of Morphine, whose effects only last a short while.

The underlying currents are still at play, and that is the greatest challenge.

We need to think Long term solutions. Think ahead. Think of tomorrow's generation.

One interesting example Tony had was this, as African parents, we understand the importance of a good education, even the most illiterate old fellow deep in the village knows that a good education is the way out of poverty.

But what happens after that: our Children get good degrees, either from abroad or top schools in the country, and then begin to hustle for a job, and end up finding jobs abroad and build other nations other than theirs. While in other markets, immediately after their first degree, a choice of jobs awaits, a mortgage plan (some that give 110% –to furnish a house, buy a car and begin life)

The latter creates a cycle that feeds itself, and this is what Africa needs to seriously study. Not necessarily one that offers a 110% mortgage scheme, but one that values every player within the cycle; From the Mortgage giver, to the construction company etc. This creates jobs and in turn creates sustainability, and the cycle grows on.

One other issue that ticked me was about our mindset: if tomorrow someone comes to you with this great idea of creating the largest housing company in Africa; it is African to laugh him off. And if he does go ahead and set it up, we say: he must be well connected. We need to get rid of this kind of thinking and move on. It is a lack of belief in our ability to succeed.

We need to think big, but mostly ensure our ideas degenerate into tangible projects.

We, Kenyans, are entrepreneurs by birth, it’s in our genes, we need to scale it up to another level, forget the government, forget the naysayer, look at the Big private sector players and think like them It’s takes a thought followed very closely by an action.

Google Nike for instance, the rest is history.

Let’s be brave enough to believe in ourselves

Thursday, May 14, 2009

THE DANES DON’T WEAR SHOES...This Story is actually about Aid in Africa..Believe me.










Of course they do, silly!


But that’s my excuse for not buying a single pair of shoes while I was there. But I did get some leggy treatment. I bought a pair of grey leggings, the cold made me do that.

But this blog is not about shoes.

I went to Copenhagen for work. I am a business reporter and this time round I played the role of camera person as well, oh, the joys of working for TV. Ask a stranger to press the record button, count yourself down ,say take one, spell out your script, then wait for another stranger to record yet another piece to camera.

I managed, and packaged a 5 minute feature on the report of the Africa Commission, which runs on this weekend's East Africa Business Report on CNBC Africa

Just today I was reading a piece on the business daily written by Rwandan president Paul Kagame, titled ‘Africa must find its own road to prosperity. Question is: do we as a continent need foreign aid? The president says “no one should assume they know what is good for us better than we do so ourselves’

The Aid debate rages on, and I what I think is that aid is like a drug. Addictive. The more you have it, the more you want, and slowly priorities and the mindset take on a new thinking, and you begin to askask why work hard to achieve something when you can get it for free? Governments like the Congo have learnt to survive on gifts, better known as Dead Aid. Dambisa Moyo's book, Dead Aid stirred a cord in many of us who always wondered why “development partners” would rather give millions to feed the hungry other than spend less than half of that on sustainable development.

That’s one reason that made the African Commission of great interest to me, is that I was thinking; yet another development partner, setting up yet another commission to eradicate poverty in Africa.

But they got it right in a couple of ways. They engaged the Africans that are in the know. From young Africans through the African Youth panel, to Business leaders and the president of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete all served as a resource to advice the Danes on the best way to maximize the impact of aid.

Let’s get to the basics, the SME sector is the backbone of the Sub Saharan economy, and empowering this sector, is in fact building the economy by creating jobs and offering sustainability, something the aid culture in Africa has lacked in the past.

With a guarantee fund from AFDB, SME’s will be able to access funds to start up or expand their businesses. This now means that after the funds are gone; these private business owners will confidently carry on, and cement their position as the building blocks of our economies.

Other initiatives of the African commission include provision of energy in partnership with AFDB, helping to improve Africa’s competitive edge, ensuring higher education and research is available to Africa’s Youth.

This 200 mill Kroner fund is focused primarily on Africa’s young, who make up more than 60 % of the population. Another tick from me, as African governments have forgotten that their young exist.
When all is said and done, we, as Africans need to chart the way forward for our economies my take is that yes, we do need development partners, but only those who are ready to work in the way we say is best.

Those that want it their way, should hit the highway..oh and in Nairobi, it’s really smooth now to the airport

Friday, May 8, 2009

MY COPENHAGEN DIARY


Three days now, and I have not learnt a word of Danish, thy are interesting people the Danes, but they never get too close, and that's not a bad thing,really :-).

I am here for work, and when I got the invite from the African commission I was excited.
I had never been to a Shenghen country before and the history and architecture of Denmark is all that I knew from back in the day.

The first step was to find the embassy and get a visa in two days. It worked.
The Danish Foreign Ministry was our host so that was easy, though the Runda based embassy kept us for hours waiting for the visa appointment.

It wasn't first class treatment, but guess that's not important is it?

Even the aiport, security doubt you, or are trained to doubt you. I met some that spoke with a heavy Luhya accent.

usually it's funny, not this time though.

" can you please tell me your testination matam?"
" Denmark" I say

" where does the blane first lant?" he says

"The plane lands in Amsterdam and we get into a connecting flight to Copenhagen"

Then he turns to explain to some three girls who were all peeering into my passport,.

I lean close

" So you ask tose questions and pe keen on what the passencher is saying"

The security guy was training young girls at 8:OOpm, keeping us waiting forever to get through to the boarding lounge!

Anyway, that happened, but soon we ( other Jornalists- Henry Omondi from Nation & Robert Muchiri (formely BBC now freelance) were at the lounge waiting to take off.

Foward to Copenhagen.

The aiport security boys are GORGEOUS!!!!

We arrived at 8.00 am , and were met by Sigrid our chaperone while here, beautiful and the most patient person i have ever met.Even when we (especially Elias from Ethiopia) almost drive her nuts, she maintained her cool and carried on extra proffesionally.

There were 7 journalists from Africa: Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa, and I happened to be the only lady.

I must say I felt quite a bit spoilt.

As I was doubling up as camera person it was quite an experience, and every once in a while the guys would help me out with the tripod, (Thanks Guy, you are the sweetest!) Guy Oliver is the South African Journalist (British (too) , agnostic, cutey:-), and very very cool guy who I already miss as he left early this morning for Frankfurt.

We hit it off quite well with most of the guys. We talked quite alot, Guy and I, he is well read and so informed, makes the best company! we had interesting chats about the contradiction that life is, (oh and he uses such British words like yea, cognisant in clear spoken english etc).

He is also responsible for making me look at Christinity in a way I have tried to avoid.

Elias is the Editor in Chief of an Ethiopian magazine and he knows everything about everything, history, politics etc, when I grow up I want to be like him.( Apart from landing in Jail for asking too many questions, typical journalist!)

So we covered the press conference of the African Commission (will write that in another blog)and experienced Denmark, from Walking in the drizzle, (they walk too much these Danes)To the bicycles, to the jogging and taking walks with their little babies, to the sun setting at 9:30pm.

Today(Friday) was some Danish holiday, so we took a walk to the shopping area in langeline, famous for American soldier boys( and I missed to see them!!!!!)Shopped a little (just to proove that we are here:- ) expensive!!!,

We are sleeping early now, we leave at three am, it's freezing cold but i put the heater on in my room so am off (to my room;-) to find some warmth.

Oh and internet is free at the Business centre. ( Copenhagen Strand hotel, nice & simple)

xxx

Monday, May 4, 2009

SAFARICOM DOES IT AGAIN


Hello M-pesa, goodbye banking halls!!!

I remember my very first account was with Equity bank, I had done an ad and was getting a cheque of 25,000 bob, and my was i excited!
Kahara (old friend of mine)introduced me to Equity Building Society and for over one hour I stood with Mama Mboga's queueing to open my account with 500 bob.

Just thinking of how far financial innovation has come.

Now the Mama mboga's can take out a loan and wont have to put their veggies aside and take the queue to pay up.

Cutting edge solutions like these are changing the way we do business, SME's will not have to battle with taking a bike from deep in the village to a banking hall at the nearest town.

A step in the right direction, looking to see how Zap will measure up.