Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Juba Diary


2Oth Dec 2010

Morning hours: I broke the law. Good Lord, its going to be a bumpy one!

2.00pm: departed Nairobi to Juba via Jetlink express, landed at Juba International Airport at 3.45. Hot. Its 33 degrees Celsius.

4.00pm: picked up by a driver sent by the team that’s been on the ground one week earlier.

Interesting ride; I love taxi drivers! They are such a great source of the most amazing stories. My driver was a Ugandan who came to Juba 4 years ago. He has a wife and kids back home in Entebbe; he is a happy man, he provides well for his family, even built them a home so they don’t have to worry about rent. He sends home money every month for upkeep. I bully him a little, and ask him if he has a second wife in Juba, he laughs and says its too expensive to have a wife or a girlfriend in Juba…then he adds “ but on and off I call someone, it costs me 100” I ask, Sudan pounds? He says “if it was Sudan pounds I would have married another wife. “Its 100 dollars a night, women here are rich”

That alone was my first introduction to Juba, one of the most expensive towns in Eastern Africa.

4.30pm: Arrive at Juba bridge hotel, before check in I asked to look at the rooms, which fall is 3 categories, A, B and C, in that order. A, costs 300 dollars a night, B costs 250 dollars and C is from 200 dollars. I decide to wait for my colleagues, Evelyn, Bosire and Kinja who are still in town.

5.00pm: still waiting at the reception; disappointed at the costs of the rooms. But the staff is friendly, and I begin to warm up to them.

5.30: tired of sitting at the lounge, my patience has been stretched, though the air conditioning kept me inside. I ask for a place to have a drink as I wait for the crew. I ask for a drink that cost me 6 pounds, that’s about 150 shillings, not too bad. The hotel is on the banks of the River Nile, it’s beautiful, there are children playing in the water, laughing and chasing each other around.

I get bitter sweet memories. It’s the 20th of December, 5 days to Christmas, and I will be reporting for a couple of days from here ahead of the referendum on the 9th of January. Its exciting, I love the stories I will find here, I am looking forward, but the Christmas bug still bites, there are other places I’d like to be, one of those places is home, with my baby girl, the other, is a far away land…

6.00pm: Dealt with my demons.


Productive day! Interviews with key personalities, lunch at the hotel, and sun downer by the River Nile.

22nd DEC

Team is up and down as we try to complete accreditation for coverage of the referendum on January 9th. I speak to a few more locals; they are so optimistic about a peaceful referendum, and also desperate to prove not just to teh world but to themselves that they are not a failed state (region)

23rd DEC.

More Interviews, more meetings, and our 25 year old Sudanese driver is the finest! I tell him my mother will only need 10 cows if he wants to marry me, he says" but how will i take 10 cows to Kenya?" if I cant take them, then I cant marry you"

We return to the hotel, begin to work on our scripts, engage with social media, blog...and wait for 24th when we return back home.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Niko na Safaricom

Safaricom just launched this new ad, which i think is absolutely amazing.

But that's not why I pasted this video in my blog.

Just a day after the ad aired on TV, the online platform is filled with comments of how Safaricom "copy pasted" a Quantas Air ad which carries the same concept.

Just wondering, do we have to be so pessimistic? I would say that's the same reason why we keep putting everything Kenyan waaay below standards, and if it's too good, we could'nt have done it, we must have copied.

We can be such whiners! Nktest.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kenya's growth- but what about trickle down economics?

Interesting day: and when I got back to work boldly wearing my WEF ( World Economic Forum) tag, I got a tweet from my boss saying: “ Ati CEO round table?”

We laughed about it, but I’m sure that’s perhaps a question that I have and will have to answer in the course of the evening (until you get to read this post- at least)

At 8.30 this morning I made my way to Crown Plaza in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area, where Africa practice's Godfrey Chesang had invited me to.

It isn’t everyday that the country’s top CEO’s and government officials otherwise known as policy makers are in one room, and accessible for questions and open discussions about the path that Kenya is taking towards economic stability,

The CEO round-table is organized by the World Economic Forum, and this time round the theme was: Assessing Kenya’s Competitiveness, which was derived from the Global Competitiveness report. Kenya was ranked 106th in the Global Competitiveness Index 2010-2011, while Rwanda was ranked 80th. The focus of the report was on Infrastructure, Institutions, macro economic environment, health and primary education, financial market development, business sophistication, innovation among others.

The Prime Ministers opening speech, which touched on success stories from Kenya (of course with great PR for the government,) and not to be too harsh, the government has made commendable steps; but that is just the beginning. To piggy back on that, one Dr. Nyoro put it, that sometimes; we need to take time to celebrate the positive steps the government has taken. (He was however quick to point out that he is not a government apologist.

Raila Odinga talked about reforms that have enabled business thrive, and a case in point is the Narok county council which has up to now doubled its new business licenses within Narok County. This, he said is just one of the many steps the government has taken towards improving the business climate for entrepreneurs in the country.

He also spoke about challenges; where corruption stuck out as a sore thumb. Mugo Kibati, CEO of vision 2030 added that what we need is a mindset change.

From the lively debate created by the Premier’s presentation it was clear that corruption was an issue that needed to be tackled from both sides, and not just the top down approach as we have seen in recent weeks. It is one thing to blame the man on the driver’s seat, while the passengers could actually be the culprits as well. One Beatrice Waka, talked about the lethargy and lack of professionalism in the public sector, where public officers act as if they are doing (citizens) a favor by doing what is in fact their work.

After the presentations, the microphone was taken to the floor, and one of the major topics that I picked on, and would like to elaborate on here, is; with the growth rate at 4.5%, targeted to reach 10% in 2030, and inflation levels just above 3%, what next? Is this about Big Business and what happens to trickle down economics?
One of the questions I get, and usually anticipate as a business journalist especially when I cover events to do with the Macro Economic growth of the country, people as me “ so what?” what does this mean for me, if the cost of bread is higher than it was 4 years ago?

So, is this about trickle down economics?

I asked the PM about feedback analysis. Africa knows its problems. Year in, year out, we keep talking about alleviating poverty, empowering the bottom end of the pyramid, etc; reports after reports are done, task force after task force, but the same topics are still the main highlight of economic fora not just in Kenya, but across Sub- Saharan Africa, and frankly, its tiring. So I asked the premier if reports, or meetings like this actually trickle down to government boardrooms, and if anything is done to them.

He didn’t really answer my question. Raila talked about the National Economic & Social council, and how the task force meets constantly to review the growth and advise the government on the same. With the recommendations given by several great minds and best practice as seen in country’s like Rwanda( one Cow per Home) and the Malawi Miracle, when do we stop being a talk shop and actually walk the talk? Im sure this is a question I will ask again.

And I will not tire.

Part of the forum included discussions, where we focused on Kenya’s comparative advantages, weaknesses, a projection of what Kenya will look like in 2030 as well as sectors that will drive Kenya’s growth, and on the flip side, factors that may curtail that growth. Microsoft’s Louis Otieno raised the issue about Energy, specifically over dependence on oil and with that comes the opportunity of exploring and investing in alternative energy.

Geo politics was another issue. Kenya is a corridor not just for the regional economies, but for Western giants who invest in countries across East Africa, and it emerged here that the business minds are concerned about the political stability of neighboring countries, and how, going forward this may impact growth. It raised the question of Kenya’s stand and participation in regional peace.

Infrastructure, specifically roads and air transport was a major issue across the different discussion groups, and my take is that the roads are like the trade winds of the past, opening up different regions to not only trade, but development that comes with urbanizing the rural areas.

These are just some of the highlights of the event that made my day very satisfying; my only hope is that the great ideas generated from the round-table will be converted into tangible results.

On my way out I spoke with Kencall’s Nicholas Nesbit, where we spoke about asking the right questions, even if they are not answered. My stay at crown plaza ended with the agreement that sometimes, one has to ask the hard questions, even if it is just to make a statement.

Monday, October 25, 2010


...when walking anywhere around Nairobi, at any time, any day, anywhere; On the streets, in the office, in the club: you are bound to notice ladies spotting these sandak shoes from Bata.

Apart from the black high wasted pencil skirts and shiny blouses that have become everyday sightings in Nairobi, these sandals have reached tipping point. The last time we had a "Kenya uniform" was back in the day when it was hip to have a Boho look, the long crumpled-ish skirts that every young lady either had, or wished they had.

what's in a trend?

A friend says ladies in Nairobi stick to trends as if their lives depended on it! I agree. Trends drive Nairobi's fashion space.

Much as I believe in being classic other than trendy, its easy to get sucked into trends, especially when it's about shoes! The gladiators heels are still in, the gladiator sandals still rock, but i wonder what happened to kitten heels and blockies!!

Bata's reached its tipping point since the Safari Boot, and yes, I've got my grey pair and I need some for my little diva..

Thursday, September 30, 2010


I want to begin with a confession. I am quite a big critic of western media, and more than once, on this blog and on other platforms, I have said, and been quoted as saying, that Africa is often portrayed in the wrong light by western media; that Africa is not a continent represented by a thin black child reaching out his hand for food, his ribs pushing through his thin skin, eyes bulging out of sockets , and hunger pangs that could only have been in Sudan when Kevin Carter took this famous photograph during the famine, the vulture at the back of the photograph was waiting for the child to die.

I have never thought that this is an image I would ever use to describe a situation in my country, one which is supposed to be a bread basket of the East African economy.

But events of this past weekend was more than a jab of reality.

Citizen TV broke the news of a family in Central Turkana that had resorted to killing their dog and having it as a meal. If you are not a Kenyan, and you are from a country that eats dogs as a meal, you may not feel the emotion that brought me to tears when I saw that story. In most of Kenya ( if not all) eating a dog can be considered a taboo, you’d rather die hungry, with your dog, and we never even look at it and see food.

For a mother to slaughter the only dog the family had, roast it, and feed her family, and store the remains for another day, can only be described as the highest disregard for humanity.

Central Turkana has a poverty rate of 95% according to the area MP, Ekwe Ethuro that, does not come as a surprise, it is one of the driest areas in the country, where nothing grows. There is no ready food for families that have learned to live on one portion of food for several days.

It isn’t that there is no food to feed them. The government’s food reserves are piled to the roof with maize meant to feed the hungry, but it did come out clearly that some people have been sleeping on the job. It does not matter which parties could not agree at the expense of human beings. There is a chain of who does what, where and when, but I totally place the blame on the area member of Parliament. How can he sleep well when his constituents still die of starvation? How can w stand proud as Kenyans, In today’s Kenya, after we proudly raised our flag at the highest point of Uhuru park to celebrate what we described as a new Kenya?

Where was Ekwe Ethuro when the government recently donated food to the Pakistani flood victims? Or is PR for the Kenyan brand so important that it forgot it’s very own dying voters?

Ekwe Ethuro, and those that are to blame for letting Kenyans live as if they are slaves in their own country and leaders like these are the reason pictures like this will keep being the identity that Africa has. While the rest of us are celebrating a new Kenya under the new constitution, these people are putting new wine in old wine skins..and the cracks are beginning to show.

Where are the young professionals from Turkana?
Where were you when this was happening?
Has Turkana no voice?

Apart from the media that’s dotted in parts of the vast desert? What if the media did not capture that story?

What is the work of the leaders from Turkana? I say feed your people, else, resign and let someone who can do the job do it. It is an embarrassment, not only to the people of Kenya but for the rest of humanity.

I am sickened, disgusted and totally vexed by the lack of priorities our so called leaders have, but , my dear reader, we have another chance in 2012, remember we will vote in the leaders we deserve, let’s separate the boys from the men, and lets truly, be part of creating a better Kenya, I never want to use this picture, ever again.

Monday, September 13, 2010

One Month Later

So I changed jobs last month, and I love it! Its a different ball game, but with a bigger group, an amazing team, and I am glad to be part of a team that has changed the face of broadcasting locally.

I've been asked quite a bit lately why I moved from an International to a local channel, and I always say, when changing jobs, careers, each time, it's important to be selfish. Every employer is pretty clear what they want from you before they hire you, they've got expectations, and are more often than not sure of how much value they can realise from you.

So, how do you realise your own dreams as an employee? What value is your employer to you? what can they add to your professional growth? How can I get the most value out of my employment?

Its important to realise when you have achieved your goals at one employer, and you know when you should move on, either that, or begin to cosy up to complacency.I reached my goals; and achieved most of what I set out to, and hte time came for me to cross over the fences, and build new dreams.

Such is the spice of life, a chance to re invent oneself.

That in a nutshell is motivation.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meet Jason Runo.

Jason Runo is my Brother from another mother:-) and a friend I love from the deepest part of my heart.

He is what I call a true citizen of the world.I worked with Jason during our News Anchoring days at KBC, we moved on to other pastures, he travelled the world, ( still does) and has now created a home for his experiences, using the most amazing phototgraphy, i remember a recent afternoon trip a top the most beautiful hill near olepolos, we took some pics, which I will post as soon as I can access my facebook:-)

Until then...Experience Jason Runo.

Photography is a language of the eye...Jason has mastered that language.I hope you love his site as much as I do.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Salsa, a return to The Intercontinental and a Life Coach

Tuesday evening I had a perfect chance to take some lessons from my salsa class to the dance floor.

It wasn't the plan for the evening, but a friend from El Salvador was in town and a couple of us joined him for dinner at the Italian restaurant at the Intercontinental. Now that's a place I had almost sworn never to return :-).I ranted about it here But Tuesday's experience was one of those that made me re think the other experience, which I was totally vexed about.

The security detail was on point, and with so much going on in Nairobi this week, the hotel was a flurry of events, but the staff were impressive this time round. From the security at the entrance, to the guys up front at the Lobby, and the waiters in La Prugna were up to scratch. I had lasagna, it was well done, (though C.S makes a better one -( I may be biased though!:-)And we also had to settle for South African Rose as the Chile one we ordered wasn't available.

After dinner we got into the Safari bar..and requested for Salsa, my feet retraced the steps I learned in Muziki Tele

Wednesday, I had coffee with David Bernard Stevens and it was refreshing to hear about his Life Coaching projects with women in Kibera, and how the women are learning to elevate their self esteem first, as the initial step in being agents of change; we also talked about his plans for rolling that out in even bigger scales. it almost felt like a class in itself, and it did challenge me to become a leader of myself first, before attempting to lead anyone else.

PS: Is oxtail soup rightly called " Supu ya mkia wa ng'ombe?" that made part of a discussion later that evening over dinner with a friend at Blancos.. which has pretty good African food!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

LET'S IPO HARAMBEE STARS...(Note to self..But who am I to say?)

Harambee Stars is close to my heart.

Very Close.

If you have kept up with this blog you know by know that I am (originally) a country girl, who grew up on the farm, with cows, chickens, goats and transistor radio.

We also went to the local Kitale stadium every once in a while with my cousins Mike, Ian and Carol to watch football. Many times AFC leopards and Gor Mahia rocked, but when Harambee Stars came to Kitale, we would have to arrive at the stadium hours earlier, to get good seats at the front of the stadium.

These are memories that get me nostalgic every time the National team plays.

But that was then. In recent years though, the few times I have made my way to Kasarani Staduim and Nyayo stadium to watch them play against other countries, always leaves me with anxiety.

I remember the days of Ghost Mulee, when I had this tugging at my heart that the team would go places. I am a dreamer, I believe so much in people, to a fault. Whenever the stars play I get these goose bumps. Normally, I feel very deeply about performance, any performance. But more still, about a players dreams. In their world, its all about competition, and about winning, so it is in everybody’s world, but imagine playing to loose every single time, what keeps you on the pitch?

It is such thoughts that tug at my heart, because these boys believe in themselves, they have a drive that’s untouchable, yet so very palpable, it’s the kind of hope that can take you places.Yet for Harambee stars, it hasn't.

There’s leadership, and then there’s leadership, literally, in Kenyan football, and that has failed. Completely. It is way beyond time to rethink a strategy for our National football team.

With the World cup flame dying out, and 2014 around the corner, why not rethink the direction we want Kenyan football to take? If it is a basic right for every Kenyan to have a job, why not create an environment that favours football and create jobs for the talent in this country? We can see that talent through the same lens we view Macdonald Mariga (Intermilan) and Dennis Oliech (Auxerre) Musa Otieno (Sanlam Santos, SA) among others.

Harambee stars first entered Africa Cup of Nations in 1974, they have never made it to the finals, and of course never made it to any world Cup, and have generally been very unsuccessful in International matches. The country (team) has been banned by FIFA more than once, in regards to issues of government interference and other irregularities.

Can that house be put in order?

I think so. I am not the absolute authority on football (what would I know?) but I think it is way beyond time the National team is run like a proper business.

Because it is a business. Management has done a shoddy job at maintaining the National team, where everyone’s hopes now is to be spotted by an international team and be whisked into European bliss, then return home with Chrystlers and Hummers.

For a football crazed country, I think someone should start toying about IPO’ing Harambee Stars. And that of course means a complete change of management and a clear strategy. It is only with public ownership structure and accountability measures that Kenyan football can work.

Being a Kenyan that has watched the stars from way back in the day, I’m more than willing to place my bets on it. I will make the queue and be a shareholder. Then our boys can stop dreaming and start living.

Monday, July 26, 2010

As Michael Joseph bows out....

I remember my very first interview with Michael Joseph in June 2007 at the Laico Regency, Safaricom was then announcing it's full year as well as talking on the possibility of an IPO, which was of course not being run by Vodaphone but by the Government of Kenya. I was jittery as I had just joined CNBC Africa and began by doing some pretty high profile interviews with people I was only used to watching on TV. He was my 4th Interviewee after Richard Branson, Central Bank Governor Njuguna Ndung'u and the then Finance Minister Amos Kimunya. But still I had butterflies, the Interview though went well, and he declined to comment much on the IPO. Since then I have interviewed him a couple more times, and his passion about Safaricom is unquestionable.

During my different interactions with Safaricoms and news around it, Michael strikes me as one of those types that had it mapped out right from day one, strategy wise, but kept going back to it and altered it as the market grew. He and his team also has an eye for the best talent, and better still; know how to keep them there.

So I when I heard recently that he is leaving on the 1st of November, I began to envision what the company would be like without him. He has been what many refer to as a visionary leader, with impeccable integrity. Those that work for the company or know him personally would know better, but what I can say , as an outsider who has spoken and interviewed economists, stakeholders, stockbrokers and shareholders almost every week in the last 3 years in my job as a business reporter, there is something about how MJ lead the company that is above impressive.

I remember watching him recently On Citizen TV as he defended his company over proposed regulations by CCK which would hurt them as the market leader; it felt as if he was dealing with a personal attack.

But, his was a strategy that held on.

This week I have been reading this months HBR and I couldn't stop making references to CEO's and MD's that I know who have great strategies and manage to deliver them.I could almost write MJ across the bullet points as I indulged the writers opinions( KCB's Martin Oduour Otieno, Equity's James Mwangi and Even President Paul Kagame could fall in this category)

It's one thing to have a great strategy and it is another to deliver it. Michael Joseph is one of those who managed both successfully. Top Exec's create the strategy, but those below them carry it out. If the team shares in the goals and believes in the strategy, it will be carried out to the T; then that's what you can call a great company, and if Safaricom's financial results over the past decade is anything to go by, then I would say he mastered the art of the steering the team in line with his strategy; (Mobitelea not with standing)

Safaricom's products, services may not be what every Kenyan is happy with and the share price not what shareholders anticipated, but the company is the most profitable company is East Africa, the biggest taxpayer in the country, as well as the company that has the biggest number of shareholders across East Africa.

Safaricom is Michael Joseph's baby, and my two cents is that he has been a great parent. It will be interesting to see how the company fights it out for what has been a marginally declining market share in the past two years, which now stands at 78%.

He has left a legacy, and is surely a great example of how great leadership works.( I wonder if he will be sipping martini's and playing golf from Nov 2nd!;-)...That's my ultimate goal when i'm done working smart!

We will miss him at the top, but we will be watching Bob Collymore as he steers one of EA's best ran companies.

In other news...When our wings are strong enough to fly...then lets let them fly...mine's on that path;But I will still be here.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Alfred Cherogony Cherutich, is the name of my father, my hero.

Not just because he is my father, but because of the Journey he traveled through life. From one of the poorest households in a village called Kiptum, Osen, in Baringo District, he managed to study at Alliance High School, began a quest to open a school in his village, rose to be a curator at the National Museums of Kenya at a pretty young age, where he met my lovely mother and convinced her to marry him.

He was a man of many stories, though we didn’t spend much of our formation years together. In 1983 he was involved in a road accident that left him with a Spinal Injury, he couldn’t walk after that and spent 7 years at the Nairobi Spinal Injury Hospital, where we could come once every holiday to visit.

We loved it then, coming to Nairobi to see him, and immensely enjoyed being with our cousins who gave us the whole city touch. But we missed him at home, and though we were young, the 5 of us siblings thought and talked about him loads, we prayed for him always and hoped for the best.

He came home in 1990, then I was in standard 5, in a boarding school called Kitale Primary School.(Kitale Academy).I rememeber that weekend he came, I went with May, who was my best friend (sister almost) to see him at the Mt. Elgon Hospital. It was unbelievable and the joy was palpable.

A few days later he was home. And from then on the 'Sunday Out' days were a treasure to behold. The school holidays were spent making up for the lost time when we didn’t have him home with us. He loved telling stories, and we, the kids, loved to hear them. He told us stories of his up bringing, his struggles, he was a real hustler that man. He was a man who stood for integrity, his outlook on life was amazing even if he was confined to a wheel chair and bed rest.

He taught me to write. He would dictate poetry and prose, and when he would finish I would read them out; he taught me to pronounce words properly, to speak confidently, and to recite. My Poems, my love for writing and my desire for learning are a constant reminder that I am my fathers daughter.

So does my stubbornness. During my teenage years we fought a lot, and more than once he threatened to send me to live in our farm, at a place called Moi’s bridge, where there was only a little hut and the caretaker’s family. We fought about everything, but my grades were always good, he made sure to that.

He taught me to fight, and he taught me to win. And I’m reminded when I win my battles that I am my father’s daughter.

I read Bob Geldof’s autobiography when I was 14. He had a signed copy and I read it from cover to cover, then we would sit and talk about the Boom Town Rats, the Beatles, Memphis and dreams. His Dreams, My dreams. And now, when I sit in history class and I can tell the story of Alexander the Great like I lived in that era, I am reminded, that I am my fathers Daughter.

I was to post this on Fathers’ day in Memory of his years in My Life, I didn’t get around to, but Dad, if you were here, right now, you’d be proud.

I have failed, but I picked myself up and have risen stronger. I have fought, and won many of the fights life spins my way. When your life on earth was over, I refused to see you dead, and you will forever be alive in my eyes, in my heart, and in my dreams. I will hold on to my dreams, just like you did, it reminds me that I am your daughter.

I love you Dad.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


It isn't as if the wind cannot speak
Sometimes in a whisper
Barely grazing the bougainvillea purple on the porch
sometimes in a breeze
Still the creepers on the front door of our holiday cottage sway to its voice
Creepers still can speak, but only to the foliage underneath
And this evening, while I sit by the poolside
In this warm African sunset
The wind howls
As the sea comes back home
stories, trapped in the crushing waves
Swish, swash, on the wearing down corals beneath our love nest
white sand on this Watamu shores
The soft leaves of the bottle brush graze the back of my neck
caressing my barely there tan
The birds, they chirp the evening away
they too,
have stories to tell
Memories, some sweet, some hot & raunchy, some...they will never tell
And most, I will never know....
my heart longs to hear the tales
of the wind
from far away lands
of the sea, swishing, swaying
going and coming back home
of the creepers on the front door
and the bougainvillea on the porch
of the artsy driftwood so delicately placed above the bed
of the sea shells hanging by the bathroom door
of the canvas painting on the of white arabic walls
I long to hear the stories they can tell
But until then
I shall savor the beauty,
and this stirring within
That comes with the wind, the sea, the birds, the creepers, the bougainvillea......
I shall hide under my thoughts........

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Falling Stars: Ranting about the Intercontinental Hotel

Some of my better memories include Jazz and Karaoke at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi, about 3-4 yrs ago when the Hotel perhaps had the best Jazz players in town. There was salsa as well, though I didn’t do the salsa nights much. More recently though, some journalists were invited for their "Chefs table" a grand event where we got to sample the best of the hotel, we got a tour of the presidential suite and got served in the Kitchen, the experience was beautiful. Karl Hala & Daniel ebo did a pretty good job at it. First Class.

But, as they say, the best time to sample a hotel is when you go in as a regular guest. The Intercontinental Hotel failed the test, terribly. We got to the hotel at 9.00pm and within a couple of hours spent at the pool bar, all the stars dropped, (not sure if it's a 3 or 4 star), but I would only give it one star.

A colleague had been staying at the hotel this week during a certain conference, and it was his last night in town. The team took him out to a pub after work, and because he had to watch the Fulham - ATL match, he suggested we move on to the Intercontinental, watch football and bond over drinks.

The boys left in one car, and Rachel, our editor came with me. We drove into the Hotel, hoping to find a parking spot near the entrance, where I used to park before. The Security guard dragged a No parking sign in front of us, and that road block spike thingy across the road, and proceeded to walk away, as if we did not exist.

Not a word, not even, "You cannot find parking here ma'am, please try elsewhere" or even a hand motion to direct me to leave. It was as if we did not exist.

I reversed and drove out into the parking lot that’s inside the building, found a good spot and walked down into the hotel. The security guys at the back entrance were pretty cool, they said hello as we passed through security and we made a joke saying they should take the security guys at the front through the same school they trained in.

Kelly, Kent and our colleague from Joburg were already at the pool bar, as we went through the Lobby, a security man called to us, in the corridor, “excuse me madams”. I said, “Thanks, we know where we are going”.

“Excuse me madams, can you please stop first, where are you going?

“No, thanks I said we know where we are going. To the pool bar”

The man now created a mini spectacle following us (while still calling us to stop) as we headed towards the pool. We finally did stop and I asked him why wanted to know where we were going, and I offered to say that we were not lost. By this time I was angry and asked him if he asks everyone who walks in where they are going, surely, the security who let us in, in the first place must have believed we had something to do at the hotel?

The boys noticed there was an issue and came to our “rescue” just to have the security guy try to explain why he was stopping us.

Is it that two grown working women cannot buy themselves a drink at the bar (even though the boys were already seated at the bar). I am still yet to understand if the security guys undergo any training at all, thing is, if he was trained and thought we were there as night girls he should have watched us for a while and then make a decision after that, and approach us, politely.

I wonder how many decent women in Nairobi go through this embarrassing scenario.
Perhaps the Intercontinental should put up a sign that says “Residents only” at every entrance.

I hope to God no one I know ever ends up staying at the Intercontinental!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My heart loves the Mambo.


The year is 1998. I have just completed my form four exams and I am pretty excited.

I have a wish list, something I had since I was a little child. A guitar, a dance, a song and a poem.

My life revolves around these things.

I had no big dreams of being a musician or a popular artist; I just wanted to learn how to flirt with the strings. I took up guitar lessons at Church in the evenings, and perfected my singing. I loved every minute it. I didn’t get around to getting a guitar, there were far more pressing proprieties for my parents to attend to, and slowly, that dream drifted away.

A couple months later I came to Nairobi; shortly I was acting at the phoenix players, pretty small roles (I don’t consider myself much of an actress though). I played as a Chorus girl in Christmas Musicals and my first single acting role was a French maid in a play that had big names like Joy Mboya, it was directed by James Falkland. And that, ladies and gents was my first brush with the rich and famous!

In many ways Phoenix opened up a whole new world to me, and I began feeding my dreams . I wrote poetry and signed up with Kwani’s open mic events as well as Mbalamwezi players, with whom I did my most memorable experience with Poetry and Dance.

Fast track to almost 8 years later.

I am a mum, an employee, a friend, a girlfriend and a student.

That’s what my life revolves around now, and I am sure the same applies to most parents.

I ask myself though if that’s the turn that life’s supposed to take. Not that it’s a bad thing, it is lots of fun and I immensely enjoy it. I have comfortably immersed myself into responsibilities, budgets, and play days, and It has become my life.

So what happened to the dreams I had when I was younger? Shall I let them remain as dreams, and shelve them completely, and move on to what my life has become today?

I am a fleet footed, and I get restless quite often. I have grown though to prioritize my life, and to hold my feet firmly on the ground when I should. Though, Naturally, My feet are in a constant flight in search of something new, something exciting, and this time round, it’s on a search to find that girl I could clearly describe back in 1998.

I started my salsa class yesterday, and as stepped back and forth in my beginner steps, I reconciled with my dreams again, and in my heart I began to sense a satisfaction I haven’t felt in a long time.

It was as if my heart was dancing in tune with my feet, I smiled, I laughed, I missed my step and stepped on the Tutor’s feet more than once, but I saw sneak peaks of that girl I knew, and I am loving the beginning of this journey;

I’m finally making time to smell the flowers.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lessons from a White African

After a beautiful Friday night, I woke up at 9.00am (with lots of trouble!) to catch up with AlyKhan Satchu’s Mindspeak monthly event at Westgate. Ushahidi creator, Erik Hersman (who I have followed on twitter and blogosphere for a while; was the man with the Mic and top on my agenda was to know more about Ushahidi, their newest kid on the block ; Ihub, and just the person behind his better known blog name “white African”

( I think Erik ironically is more African than most of us!: will tell you why in a bit)

Eric did a great presentation and introduced us to his world, and while we know of all the success stories with the Ushahidi model being taken as far as Haiti; I mostly enjoyed how he openly shared some of the failures they face and how they go around it:

He also said something I think most entrepreneurs need to engage in their day to day: Eric follows the 80:20 rule, where 80% of his time is spent on normal work: daily routine) and the other 20 % working on edgy stuff, projects that have a high likely hood of failing: That way you expose yourself to an environment that forces you to learn more, I sort of feel that this is kind of stuff “doers” are made of.

The presentation was followed by a Q& A session which turned into a very engaging conversation; with topics ranging from regulation; incubation & pre-incubation for startups, seed capital; VC and Private Equity;and even touched on media and it’s pre-occupation with politics other than a focus on development stories. It was interesting to note that it was felt that International media is doing a better job in telling good stories from the IT world; while the local media seems pre occupied with politicking.

As a journalist I tried to defend; But also gave the attendants my two cents on how to get media publicity. It’s a thin line between free marketing/ publicity and Journalism. I would be caught dead reporting on a product launch, but I may probably call the same person to comment on an area of expertise; say development of mobile applications: and my take is that entrepreneurs have to position themselves as providers of content other than product developers. If I begin to respect your name as an expert, I am sure my audience will appreciate it. Be confident in your expertise, and use that to propel yourself as a brand.

Today’s world runs on relationships; make an effort to network, meet the “right” people, identify journalists that cover your kind of stories and interest them in what you are doing. And it is a two way traffic; as white African put it; journalists may also see you as a resource if they are looking for someone in your industry, info on different subjects etc;

White African notably dressed in a TED Tee shirt talked about something I have wanted to really blog about; I have but, a full page of rant on why we need Africans who are proud enough to be Africans.

A proud, confident person usually works, performs better than one who has tucks his tail between his legs, we need a mindset change and in my words I say “we need a to raise a new culture, a culture of proud Africanism. Then we will begin to think bigger; look at the bigger picture; and begin to work with each other.

One lady raised an issue about interconnecting with tech hubs from the UK, Denmark etc; and White Africans cultured response was that “we first need Ihubs in Africa to be networked. Ghana, Rwanda, & other African countries, raise ourselves up as Africans, and then after that we can begin to look at the Ihubs abroad.

Now that’s a Proud African.

We are usually, too quick to look abroad, finding funding abroad, when right next door in Uganda for instance, or Tanzania we could partner with like minds and make the most out of what we have. It's culture Africa has never had, and it goes back a long way. That will have to change if Africa wants to be a respected voice.

The rest of my day was spent at a Kids Easter party with Imani, left her to play and went window shopping, bought a ring which I wore on my right hand, when I got back, she look at it and said “ mum did you get married?”

That’s all folks! See you on twitter? (TerryanneCNBC)

I later set up an interview with "White African"

Friday, March 26, 2010

Just a share of your dreams

Friday is here, and while you speak of milk, honey and scoops of tiramissu
I am afraid that the weekend may walk to slow
when I have learnt to make my weekdays busy
busy enough to forget what tugs at my heart

It's not picket fences & giggling voices
or painted countryside houses with lillies and poison Ivy
It's deep & dark, and many times scary
dreams, that I have learnt to tuck away

Dreams, of nightly escapades
frothy Fridays @ the Brew Bistro and tequila at Havanna
barbequed lambchops spiced with love & laughter
and stories that are forever etched in my memory
I have forgot; and cannot retrace my steps

I lost a dream,
But I see it coming
I feel it coming
I know it's coming
But I fear

Give me just a share of your dreams

To trace me back to my dream of yesteryears

Maybe then, I will arise and embrace these new dreams, as my heart rises to the beat.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


It’s been a while, damn! And consistency hasn’t been my greatest asset lately. I’ve now got a throbbing headache after my (not so much fun) weekend trip to the Coast to cover the landing of the Eassy Cable. It wasn’t as great, and as organized as the SEACOM cable. which I blogged about here.

Different strategies work for different people, but after Seacom, lets just say easy was quite the landing, Phogisio says "EASSY wasnt so easy!"

Unlike Seacoms' social media savvy launch ( They had a blog, a welldone website, had Live streaming TV from 3 landing sites, and a tweeter team ( only KTN’s Larry Madowo & I were live tweeting the EASSY event for fun) that was the exciting part.

It was a well attended event though; Sec General of the ITU Hamadoun TourĂ©, Kenya’s Minister for Info; Hon Samuel Phoghisio, CCK Director General, MTN was well represented; so were other stakeholders within the consortium. The biggest shareholder WIOCC handled the launch. It wasn’t the most organized launch I have been to. But the cable did land, and that’s good news; the rest are details:-I

While in Mombasa though, internet fever got the better of me, and I spent a whole lot of time on twitter & Facebook, keeping up to date info on the landing, the French boys ( those that keep the pirates at Bay) landed in a sweet Navy ship!

Twitter, of course is my latest online buddy. I keep tabs of who does what, where, and whatever catches my eye.

Makmende did!

Who the heck is Makmende?

Here are a few responses from the Internet:

Ken Karuri: He ain’t a person, he is THE person. He is like the love child of Jack Bauer, n Chuck Norris, fed on Rambo's diet, trained by van dam , Bruce lee".....

Twitter: When the snake tempted Makmende to eat the fruit, Makmende ate the snake:

Twitter: Makmende Turned a Toyota Vitz into a car.

Twitter: Makmende doesn’t need his vitamin pills, he swallows Orange ( Telkom Kenya) simcards.

Makmende is actually from a music video; A local rock band ( Just a Band) created their music video (ha he) around a character called Makmende, who they call ( your super hero’s Super hero)

What amazes me is the buzz around Makmende. Everyone’s talking about it; from Twitter to Facebook and other internet outlets.

It is like an epidemic that can’t stop spreading.

Took me back to a book I recently bought by Malcom Gladwell called “The Tipping Point”- How little things can make a big difference: Where it talks about marketing & branding strategies that are made as a viral and spread like an epidemic. Makmende (Just a band) mastered the art of the Tipping Point whether consciously or subconsciously., and it has spread like wildfire in the social networks. The video on you tube currently has 16, 503 viewers today 15.07 Kenyan time.( even though it is a brand new video)

Branding Strategists have a lesson to learn here:

Makmende identified the “connectors” and the viral is on the prowl on…it will be interesting to see how far this goes:

till then,

Makmende’s got me covered! :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Somersault & Dry Cereal

Imani is about to turn 4, in a few weeks time , and she does make my day! Everyday!

Just the other day I remember getting her out of the hospital clothes as we left the maternity ward 4 days after she was born.

Now she even asks me if I know what "nocturnal" means; and if She will grow into a big girl, and if she will be a mommy someday, and when she does, whose mummy will I be?

Time flies!

She is her second year of Nursery School and just won a prize for being the most creative student in her class for 2009. ( The term before she won " Best Story Teller" ( Don't ask me where she gets that from:-)

But it was a beautiful ceremony, with laughter and tears, and lots of pictures, which we will laugh over when she is older.

Imani is central to my life, and the more I think about it, the more I realise that almost every move that I make, however quick the decision may be, how I decide it, and when, usually depends on how it will affect/impact her.

That includes everything from making dinner, taking a walk after work, watching TV, my going back to school, (where and what time classes will be) Taking an evening out, shopping...etc..and even she insists if I am wearing my hot pink shoes ( which I adore), it doesnt match with my little black dress..she has the most amazing words" Mum, you need a pink dress to go with with your Pink shoes!"

A few weeks ago I asked her to go for a walk with me after work, and she was watching a nursery rhyme DVD, the conversation was something like this:

Mum: Imani will you go for walk with me?

Imani: No, I am watching my DVD.

Mum: You haven't missed me today? come, we will run together

Imani: Ok mum, why dont you go change, and when you are ready, come get me in the leaving room, then we can go.

( Pardon me, but for a minute there I was tongue tied. She is growing up (fast), and has a mind of her own! and I love the confidence!

Now she loves Somersaults & dry cereal; I wonder what it will be in another few weeks! ( I hope it will be veggies - tough luck!)

Perharps this is a note I hope she will one day read. She is my Joy, the reason I live, the reason I work (smart), and the core of my happiness.

I love you baby!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Its been a couple of Intersting days..tres' busy at work, by the time I get home, I can hardly put my thoughts together..hence my hiatus from Grains of Masala.

I recently got a couple of comments as well on why I'm posting "work" ie some of my work interviews instead of "Blogging". I suppose though that if it is a journal of my my day to day stuf.( and it is) then I'd like that to share that as well.

Last night I met up with an old friend, part of the talk included friends you need, friends you dont need and the sweetness of freedom...But that's a story for another day.

Until then; Muchos Gracias!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Here's what I am upto in the evenings...

If the Kenyan markets interest you..Press here

Have a fab evening!

Friday, February 12, 2010

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! ..No E - Gifts Please!

This is one of the few times I miss being Traditional!

My facebook wall is full of Teddy bears that I can't cuddle and Belgian Chocolate that I can't taste, and beautiful flowers that cant place on my dressing table.

I'm told traditional also means I cant ask for what I want, But I guess that means I can say what I dont want.

Anyway, how about you enjoy your's!


Thursday, February 4, 2010


Oh! cant wait to wrap this one.

It's an interesting mix of Real estate in kenya, and whether the sector is finally levelling off.

Also, An East African Angle to how Toyota Corp's recall in the US impacts perception and growth of East Africa's most common vehicle brand.

I also speak Kuria Muchiru ( PWC Country Senior Partner on their recent CEO survey where 90% of CEO's are optimistic for growth within the next 3 years.

As usual, Great Market insights from our team of experts.

All you need to know about Investing in East Africa.

More from East Africa Business Report

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


You are probably wondering who Michael karanja on!

I know exactly how Arthur Guinness' signature looks.

For the record, I don’t drink the stout, but creative geniuses made those adverts so emotionaly drwaing that they made me find the story behind the brand.

So, imagine how I felt when I found out that the signature on the Tusker Malt Lager is of a Kenyan! Michael Karanja, a Kenyan! (I just had to stress!) He is the Master Brewer of the brand.

That’s how my evening began at the re launch of the new look Tusker Malt lager yesterday.

Checked in with my bad boy Kent ( bad..will explain later)and joined a table of journalists.

I got to chat with Chris Kirubi who is among the big shareholders of EABL, he holds 16.28% of centum investments as of March 09, (centum puts a considerable amount of it’s weight into EABL via it's bottlers), and Seni Adetu, EABL's Group MD who is keen to leave a leave a legacy and he wants to take the company to the next level. It will be interesting to see how he steers the giant brewer. The chat also touched on the sales of Tusker Malt as well the role consistency plays in this consumer driven business.

Tusker ( The Patriotic drink:-) rocks in Kenya, but Tusker Malt grew at 6.6% over the past year in Uganda, but with the focus on investment into brand image, it would be interesting to see how the brand fares in Kenya after the launch.

George Lutta, the man who speaks, breathes and lives advertising was at the party, (MD Media Initiative) and I made a mental note to ensure we are introduced. Maqbul of Capital FM did the honors, and Lutta is a man who knows his game! Oh! And He watches Media & Money on CNBC Africa as well as East Africa Business Report. Had an interesting chat there on which media should target for sales: Lutta says the “current rule of three”: Telecommunications, Beverages and Public health.

He says” When people need to meet up, they “call” when they meet up they “drink” and after the drink sometimes, they need “ Public health”. (Read “Durex, Trust, Femiplan etc).

The usual suspects: The Stars Dickson Migiro, whose head I would like to bite off, James Murua and James Mbugua, I remember a discussion about “hoochies or socialites?” which I will not delve into right now, or ever, though Blackstar’s Wanjiru Mbugua thought Dickson Migiro sings with Kayamba Africa! Cheers to that!

Events like these present great networking opportunities and a relaxed environment where one can begin to build strategic relationships, apart from picking up gems of knowledge from the brains that be.

Oh! And of course the 6 pack Tusker Malt gift hamper, which I forgot to collect!

Bad Boy Kent decided we try Jazz @ Pitch & Butch, seemed the whole Tusker Malt Invitees had pitched tent htere after the event, which went on and on..I would say, for a Tuesday Night, it wasnt soo bad, but for a Wednesday Morning...Kent sits right opposite me in the office, and we did meet ALL our deadlines.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Yes there is! In countries where corruption is rife, you give in to corruption because you know you will get whatever it is you want, but here in Kenya, you could pay for it and pray for dear life that you get it.

That’s inefficient corruption.

These are the kind of insights that get me out of bed every last Saturday morning of the month.

But the Topic was not on Inefficient corruption:-).

Woflgang Fengler, who is the Lead Economist for the World Bank in Kenya was the main man at Aly Khan Satchu’s, :Mindspeak.The Business Club", this past Saturday. After quite a party on Friday Evening, I made it just in time for the short and sweet look at Kenya’s Economic Outlook for 2010.

It felt like I was in a Mini Davos, engaging with critical minds on the shape that the Kenyan economy is likely to take in 2010. ( I dare dream!)

Fengler’s presentation was great, straight to the point and very well researched. Being an economist for the World Bank is no mean feat.

It is a common notion that Agriculture is the backbone of the Kenyan economy, contributing 25 % of GDP and employing over 70% of the population. But the Service sector, according to Fengler contributes much higher to the GDP. This point raised quite some reaction from the audience, with some asking about the sustainability of the Services sector, being one that is somewhat intangible and averse to shocks both internally and externally, based on the nature of the sector itself.

That of course led to other questions about Vision 2030 and its focal areas. Fengler projected that Agriculture and Tourism may reduce their contribution to the economy, as urbanization drives the populace from the farms. Concerted efforts and good strategies by the government can however drive the sectors forward.

Interesting observations: One young man asked if Piracy was included in the economic outlook for 2010. We laughed about it, but it is not funny how much Piracy is entrenched into the economy, just talk a walk down river road, or please do try finding an original DVD in your house. Original does not mean one that has an ink stained stamp” Original.” This form of economic contributors falls under “others”.

Other topics raised at the Silverbird theatre included lessons learnt from the Global financial crisis, Capitalism, free markets, Investment, Innovation, and other economic issues.

Tell me, isn’t this what was being talked about in Davos?

Friday, January 29, 2010


It’s 12.00am, and I can’t sleep, had a tres’ busy day interviewing international retailers on setting up shop in East Africa, and finding how consumer power drives growth even in what is described as a slow economy.

So, I am tired, very.

I hoped I’d knock off @ 8.30, but when I couldn’t sleep, I put on a borrowed Cashmere Mafia DVD and warmed up on the couch, with a box of chocolate nut truffles, from clicks, my favorite.
But I haven’t been chocolaty for a while, and the truffles, a gift from my colleague Sue, have been untouched for a while, but today, I pulled them off the shelf, and finished just one truffle.

Just One.

One of the episodes on Cashmere Mafia was one about Women climbing up the corporate ladder. On the Cover was the image of a woman about to eat, fork in hand, and a man, on the plate ( shrunk to fit) holding on to dear life.It described how women were throwing men off traditional corporate executive positions.

Here, We live in a different world. Where the CEO’s, COO’s CFO’s and MD positions are a reserve of the men and very few women taking on Executive positions in the Corporate world.

I zeroed in to Nairobi, and the hundreds of interviews I have done since my career began a couple of years ago. The women in Top Management probably do not complete the fingers in my hands if I was hand counting.

We could say that maybe this is Africa.

Earlier today, I was going through Harvard Business Review's "Worlds Top 100 Best performing CEO’s":, and in the Top 10, there was only one woman, the CEO of Ebay.

I am not a feminist, and I am sometimes the last to notice issues on gender balance, but for some reason, a combination of Cashmere Mafia, HBR and a another book, Nice girls don’t get the corner office got me thinking.

It isn’t that women are not qualified, or have no gut for the job. It isn’t the stereotype that women work better in softer jobs. We have the same education, and are socialized in the very same way, so old maid stories don’t augur well into today’s metropolitan minds.

I must admit, there is a drive about ambitious people that captures me, it is their unassuming confidence, and a passion for their work that is so infectious you want to be like them.

I have seen this in men and women alike, but I have found men more self driven to achieve.

I have been lucky and humbled to be in the presence of people who manage top organizations in this country and beyond.

I will Focus on Business leaders and Corporates:

Before and after my interviews, I often try to find out more than the ordinary questions I prepare for; usually a small chat to get settled in; and what I have seen is a sense of pride in what they do, they believe in themselves so much you have no choice but to believe them.

They are great conversationalists, and they know their subject like the back of their hand. They are proud of their work and they give it their all. They wake up early and they sleep late. They work over time without caring if they are getting paid for it. They set a target with colleagues, and when they get home, they set a higher target for themselves.

They work smart. They Play hard.

Ladies, let’s drop the giggles and begin to move on to the corner office.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January is for Laughs!

Been a busy month!

My Daughter, Imani is now in Nursery 2, a promotion that has made her change the name of her school to Nursery two. That's the most beautiful part of the year for me, coming home to do homework and take a walk , me love love love being a mommy!

She drops the most ingenious thoughts this girl of mine. One time I come home from work. Some background info first: I keep some dried roses in the toilet, I am quite keen on my flowers becuase I dry them myself and pick on what essential oils to drop in..anyway, I knock on teh door and I get no hug, she says .." Mum, do you know your flowers jumped into the toilet!"

That's one. A few weeks ago I woke her up in the morning, the conversation went like this:

" Wakey wakey...there's a bit of homework you did not finish up"

She starts making roaring sounds.I wonder what she is upto, so I ask,

" Mani are you ok?"

" Mum, I am a Lion"

" Great! Now wake up quickly like a good lion so we get ready for school"

" But Mum, Lions don't do homework, they just dance!"

That's what Madagascar has taught my girl.LOL..she does make me laugh.

But Haiti, The Ethiopian Airline's crush, the consitution, and an economy that's still not on it's feet do worry me, a tad more than they should. What's my Moral Obligation to these issues? What can I do to make 2010 better for me and others around me?

I will take it one step at a time, my first step would be to give my best to my work, my family and myself.

I am now preparing my weekly programme..and I love getting excited about it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

HERE'S TO 2010

I made it 2010!

It was a wonderful transition into this year with friends and family.

I just got over the celebratory mood and when I checked in back to Nairobi on the 4th, I got a rude welcome with a mugging incident, so much for Welcome to 2010!

So what's my 2010 going to look like?

I dont know, but it's going to be bigger and better.

I plan to be happier, and made only 2 resolutions.

1. To give my best in all I do.
2. To read more

I hopefully will blog more as well!

Cheers and all the best regards for the new year!