Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Who has more power in Africa, the person casting the vote or the one counting the vote?



Lately, I have become obsessed with the oncoming elections, which could happen between August and December next year.(2012)

It could be because during the last elections we were stuck at my mothers house in Kitale as i had traveled with one of my closest friends called Wairimu, and there was no way we could go towards Eldoret as her Kikuyu community was beng targeted. My daughter is also called Wambui. That complicated things, and nearing the next elections takes me back to 2007.

I'm I worried? Yes.

Because I fear that we may, as a voting population not learned the lesson. We still have displaced people living in camps, and some living across the border in Uganda, in search for the peace that our country failed to provide them.

There are those that have nothing to loose, they may have lost it all anyway in 2007. There are those that really do not care, they may fly them and their children to another country for the duration of the elections. Then there are those ordinary Kenyans who have everything to loose and are just hoping that the elections are free, fair, and mostly peaceful.

Whatever happens, who is more powerful? The person casting the vote, or the one counting the votes?

It is this question that I hope our government can honestly answer.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bite of the mango- Mariatu Kamara, A Review




This past weekend was a quiet one for me.

I had a lot to think about and organise, exams to prepare for, and a book, highly recommended and owned by my friend Kirigo Ng'arua. Bite of the Mango.

Bite of the mango is a true story about an 11 year old girl called Mariatu Kamara from Sierra Leone, who grew up in a normal village of about 200 people. Her story is paints a picture of life before the rebels struck and after. From the eyes of a child.

Mariatu writes the book in simple child-like English and in her own voice. I sort of felt that she was right there narrating it to me. She grew up with her Aunt and Uncle because of her mother's drunken habits. She lived a happy simple life, typical of most African village life, where all the older people were respected as parents, and all the younger ones lived like siblings. They cooked, ate and slept as if they were one family.

The girls got married when they were very young, about 13 years old, and many of them, despite having gone through initiation (FGM) did not understand the meaning of the word marriage, apart from that you got a husband, cooked and cleaned for him.

Mariatu got raped at 11 years, by a neighbour, just before the rebels struck and even then, she did not understand what rape was. She knew a bad thing had happened to her. But she did not understand, for instance why the doctors told her she was pregnant. She was too young to understand the intricacies of sexual relations and how that results into a girl being with child.

I cried many times as she exposed her life and innocence during the war, and how her dreams, several times, would have saved her and her family if only they listened to her.

The morning the rebels struck, she lost her arms, after two young boys told her they must cut her off her hands so she would never vote, and so that she can show the president, even though she had no idea who a president was.

When she got the baby and was living in a displaced peoples camp, she was interviewed on by foreign journalists and caught the attention of good Samaritans in England and Canada. She eventually left the country and settled in Canada with a family that took her in. Prosthetic hands were fitted for her.

Her story made me angry, at Africa, at African leaders, at Africans.

Mariatu's story is similar to millions who have been through civil war, a sad tale of Africa's innocent children going through what they know nothing about.

My problem, however, was how the 'good samaritan' aspect of the story was written. As it is in most of Africa, the west and beyond have always been made to be the saviors of poor, malnourished African children.

Dont get me wrong, It's great news that Mariatu finally lived in Canada, a country where things worked and poverty wasn't a daily life experience. She had food on her table, went to school, and prosthetic hands, which she probably would never have found in her country, Sierra Leone.

But such are the stories that will forever etch Africa's position as a dark continent. Where we ran to the West for answers that we must find ourselves. In so doing, we continue to elevate their status, and lower Africa's status even deeper.

I believe that a poor man and a rich man can never sit on the same table. If as a continent we intend have to receive any respect from a regular Canadian citizen on the streets of Toronto,who saw and heard Mariatu's story we must learn to create a new story.

We must not lie, but we should begin to write stories about our happy times and successful issues. The stories of the West and the East include many tragedies such as the world war's, the holocaust, but more succesful stories are the stronger perception of these countries.

Many Africans have been lucky to have a great education, with great jobs and an enjoyable, wealthy life. Several African countries have great stories about young people who fell in love in a coffee farm, and went ahead to buy it and eventually became billionaires. There are stories about simple African life where we dance by the bonfire's laugh and sing during celebrations.... where are those stories?

Where are our story tellers?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Is Kenya's famine a man made problem?




I just read this article from a man a highly respect and who's opinion and take on African matters is thought provoking.

Mr. Fengler is the World Bank's Lead Economist for Kenya. His take is that the famine in Kenya is man made, and requires a man made soluiton. His arguments are rich, do drop by his blog

Of Inflation, monetary policies and the IMF

An online discussion with business journalists on twitter this morning regarding the IMF’s role in the Kenyan economy resulted into a heated discourse with the Star’s James Mbugua saying “Why is the IMF more concerned with Inflation than growth? They’ve messed us up”. He went on to say “Everything that Central bank has been doing has IMF written all over it.”

For those not in Kenya- the shilling has weakened to a 17 year low against the almighty dollar- due to a combined number of reasons, mostly blamed on erratic international crude prices and a strengthening dollar, and the issue of speculation has not also be ruled out.

Now a weak shilling has a ripple effect- there are those that benefit, especially exporters, in our case, horticulture, coffee and the tourism industry, fall under the winners. But the losers are more. Being an oil import dependent economy- the price per liter of fuel has been on the increase in recent months. This has had a domino effect on manufacturers who rely on fuel for transportation and energy when electricity fails. And talking of electricity- the fuel costs generally push up the bills that arrive in your post office box every month.

Now with that in mind; there are monetary policies which basically have 3 instruments that Central bank can use to bring about price stability in the economy. When there’s a high dollar demand, the shilling weakens; The CBK can buy securities in exchange for money stock ( To increase liquidity in the market)-or vise versa, hence creating an equilibrium. There are other more complex instruments, such as the interbank over-night lending rates. It’s a short term financing tool with punitive interest rates, leaving the central bank as a lender of last resort. This article by the Business daily explains this as well as updates us on the latest on this.
So how does the IMF come in?

Because it is in times like these that the expertise and much needed dollar injection can offer some stability to the shilling while the economic expertise can advice Kenya on successful ways of handling the crisis. Many feel that the IMF hasn’t acted in the interests of ordinary Kenyans as an ailing population.

The Fund- as it is known in other quarters has been blamed for concentrating more on the issue of inflation, which some say is just a symptom, other than the actual problem. At a press briefing with Antoinette Sayeh the IMF Chief for Africa, at the IMF Annual meetings in Washington, I asked her about the IMF’s focus areas in relation to inflation and growth-and her concern was that Inflation is not a problem in isolation and must be addressed as a matter of urgency. She says that the Central bank must be wary of fiscal and monetary policies that are overly loose (meaning the government has a larger role in promoting economic well being) and should focus on tight monitory conditions. Economists who support a tight fiscal policy say that a government acts best when it acts least; ideally this promotes low taxes and spending and ideally limit government involvement to the setting of prevailing interest rates.

So are we too deep in? Is CBK already being overly loose? Can the free fall of the shilling be left to the mercies of the markets? Will IMF’s injection of dollars through an Extended Credit facility stem the capital outflow and introduce stability to a shilling that has hit a 17 year low?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The free falling shilling

The first time President mwai Kibaki talked about the free fall of the shilling was at the opening bell of the NSE when Brish American commenced trading on the NSE about two weeks ago.

The IPo was undersubscribed, and one reason for that, stock-brokers say is a shilling that won't hold stready as well as Inflation which has robbed Kenyans of disposable income, and the stock exchange is the last of their priorities.

The president talked about a dollar demand that was insatiable, and called on the IMF to quicken the process of the Extended credit facility that Kenya had signed up for earlier this year.

let me break that down: The Extended Credit Facility (ECF) is an IMF facility which provides financial assistance to low income countries with protraced balance of payments. This means that the import- export balance is off tangent, and it usually results in a weak local currency among other economic challenges.

So when Kibaki asked for the a hastening of the ECF, he was basically asking for an injection of dollars into Kenya. Sometimes it can also catalyse additional foreign aid.

So where did all the dollars go?

The problem with the ECF route is the signal it sends. Kibaki's is a distress call. When there's such high demand for dollars , it means there's not enough coming in, usually through proper routes such as investment. But by saying this, Kibaki is admitting, albeit indirectly, that no one's bringing in investment.

That, and that perhaps a Central Bank that has been sleeping on the job. The same monetary policies that have been praised for stabilizing the local unit in the past, is the very same one that is now on the spotlight for letting it weaken. Is it rigidity to work with the times, or a loose abandon in the sense that markets will create a path for the shilling to settle.

Some say that by Christmas the shilling may be at 100 shillings.

Is there a ceiling to this free fall?

IMF cuts Africa's growth projections




The slow down in the US and Europe may be responsible for a slower economic growth for Sub- saharan Africa.

Some African countries are already reeling from the effects of these, that are visible through weaker currencies and reduced investor participation.

In 2008, as the economic crisis sunk several economies, Kenya was one of the economies that remained resilient, hinging its survival on thin intergration levels with the developed world.

But that was then, the second phase of may not leave Africa unscathed. the IMF has cut down its growth projection of Africa to 5.2% from 5.5% projected in April.

so what are the implications of this?

With its track record and strong critics about the IMF's role in Africa's development,Some may dismiss this - but unfortunately investors and the world's super powers who dictate the global economy listen to these financial institutions. If the growth rate is cut, investors read this as a signal to reduced returns.

It is true, that the world is a global village, just ask an apple farmer who now sells one apple at 30 shillings, up from 20 shillings last week.His profit is not 10 shillings per fruit. Ask him why.

It's a jobless world!


WASHINGTON DC, 20TH SEPTEMBER

Unemployment and how to counter a problem that's been described as an economic time bomb is a key area of discussion at the IMF and World Bank Spring meetings in Washinton DC.

Let me put this into perspective first.

We've seen Obama's recent shaky moments as he battles with empowering Americans after an economic crisis that stripped the worlds number one state to its bare minimum. And now US unemployment figures remains at about 9%. That is a crisis.

In Kenya, that figure (unemployment) is at 36%. Inflation is at 16.67%, and today, the shilling is at an 17 year low of 96 shillings to the greenback. That is a proper definition of the word disaster.

But we walk and talk as if its business as usual as politics and blinders (in the name of price controls and price caps) balm mass appeal.
We need to wake up to the realities of what this means for our economy.

Where are all the jobs? what is really happening?

Reduced capital flows. The developed world is in trouble. Idealy, they're usually quite intersted in investing in African economies, but when thigns are thick back home, you consolidate your investments to what you can clearly see. Things have changed, and Sub-Saharan Africa has been caught in the middle of an economic fireball. No one's got extra disposable income to throw at risky markets. So there's no dollars in the economy and the little that's available is being chased to the 96 shillings level.

Inflation: Sometimes, we don't really comprehend the extent to which these figures trickle down to a regular citizen. Look at it this way. If you have 100 shillings today, 16 shillings out of it is sucked in by Inflation. It does not exist in real terms, what you actually have in your pocket is about 84 shillings.

So imagine how this impacts your employer? Soon, we will see some companies lay off some employees to cover for loses caused by Inflation. In essence, economists agree that Inflation is the number one cause to unemployment.


There's more challenges; like international forces such as high fuel prices. But there's also a large priority issue, as well as a civil society is simply not playing it's role. It is in times like these that the Civil society must tell us what price control will actually do to this economy. In a situation like ours where there's no opposition, we need a strong civil service, and clearly this doesn't exist.

So what will these discussions at the Spring meetings entail?

How will governments be challenged to create jobs?

Are there policies in place that will help encourage growth and create jobs?

The International trade Union says that the IMF gave completely wrong advice to countries to start on fiscal cuts ( meaning budget cuts: that is, more thrifty spending by governments). ITU believes that these cuts saved the jobs of the millionaires- but the big call now is to create jobs for teachers, nurses and construction workers who are the the beating heart of the real economy.

In Kenya, there were no budget cuts, if anything it was an inflated budget. But even more government spending did not create any new jobs. But no one seems to want to address these issues, or is it that no one wants to ask the right questions?

Monday, September 19, 2011

IMF FOR DUMMIES

I'm at the IMF annual meetings in Washington DC, where the Global economy -where world economic outlook, poverty eradication and economic development are among the key issues on the agenda.

I was here last spring and I wish someone shared this with me before I came here in April.

So, here's IMF for dummies ( 1st Edition)





The IMF, also known as the “Fund,” was conceived at a United Nations conference convened in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, in July 1944. The 44 governments represented at that conference sought to build a framework for economic cooperation that would avoid a repetition of the vicious circle of competitive devaluations that had contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Original aims: Article I of the Articles of Agreement sets out the IMF’s main goals:

■promoting international monetary cooperation;
■facilitating the expansion and balanced growth of international trade;
■promoting exchange stability;
■assisting in the establishment of a multilateral system of payments; and
■making resources available (with adequate safeguards) to members experiencing balance of payments difficulties

Here's a further breakdown

Surveillance: To maintain stability and prevent crises in the international monetary system, the IMF reviews country policies, as well as national, regional, and global economic and financial developments through a formal system known as surveillance. Under the surveillance framework, the IMF provides advice to its 187 member countries, encouraging policies that foster economic stability, reduce vulnerability to economic and financial crises, and raise living standards.

Financial assistance: IMF financing provides member countries the breathing room they need to correct balance of payments problems. A policy program supported by IMF financing is designed by the national authorities in close cooperation with the IMF, and continued financial support is conditioned on effective implementation of this program.

SDRs: The IMF issues an international reserve asset known as Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) that can supplement the official reserves of member countries. Members can also voluntarily exchange SDRs for currencies among themselves

Technical assistance: The IMF provides technical assistance and training to help member countries strengthen their capacity to design and implement effective policies. Technical assistance is offered in several areas, including tax policy and administration, expenditure management, monetary and exchange rate policies, banking and financial system supervision and regulation, legislative frameworks, and statistics

Resources: The IMF’s resources are provided by its member countries, primarily through payment of quotas, which broadly reflect each country’s economic size.

Governance and organization: The IMF is accountable to the governments of its member countries. At the top of its organizational structure is the Board of Governors, which consists of one Governor and one Alternate Governor from each member country.

Source: IMF

IMF ANNUAL MEETINGS - Is the IMF good for Africa

WASHINGTON DC , 18th September 2011



The IMF annual meetings kick off this week.

It's bound to be an exciting time to see how the IMF is responding to global matters, but most importantly for me, how the IMF is responding to the cyclical challenges of poverty, unemployment, rising commodity prices and a weakening currency for many Africans states.

In Kenya, there are different schools of thought regarding the IMF's precense and actions in the country.

On one side we have the sceptics:

After Kenya’s ‘Golden years’ that’s the first ten years after Kenya’s independence, when the growth was impressive, education enrollement doubled, came the 'lost decade' then a number of Kenyans developed hardlines over what they refer to as the worst social experiments. This happened when the IMF and the world bank proposed the structural Adjustment programmes (SAP'S), which gave priority TO spending areas that critics say locked out key social developement sectors such as education and health.

As a result, literacy fell as the government reduced government spending in schools and other social programmes. A paper written about the SAP's says- These structural adjustment programmes have had numerous effects on the economy, such as inflationary pressures, the marginalization of the poor in the distribution of educational and health benefits and a reduction in employment (Ikiara 1990, Mwega and Ndulu 1994, World Bank-UNOP1993,Swamy 1994

The SAP programme was abolished after strong views that the results of the structural adjustment programme was not a success and that it could have been a major cause for poverty on the African continent. In 1999, the IMF replaced it with PRGP- Poverty reduction growth facilty paper, as the new pre-condition for loan and debt relief.

So have this worked for Africa- what are they anyway?

These are some of the key aspects I intend to focus on as the conference kicks off.

what are your thoughts though? Is the IMF good for Africa?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I got a postcard from Reddy Kilowatt


Dear Reddy,

When I got home for lunch today, I found this postcard in my bedroom- addressed to me, your employer. Plain, white and black, but it was really good to hear from you. Especially in the form of a post card!

The last time I received a postcard was from Norway,no, he traveled to Paris and sent me another one from there. Beautiful cards that spoke volumes of the cities he who shall remain nameless traveled to.

Postcards always get me nostlagic, but guess what, many times, Postcards usually carry good news- and when you're arrived, for some reason, I wasn't sure it was going to be good news. There's been no good news from you in such a long time- so the excitement and show off session that usually follows the receipt of a regular postcard (usually complete with a stamp from a foreign country) was really not there.

But Reddy, that's not why I'm writing to you.

Despite the fact that you told me you'd be busy on some power lines that affect me supply on Thursday, I'm actually a bit touched by your concern, more so, your new way of showing this concern. It works for me. I like postcards, I like the fact that the notice came to my doorstep, and you did not assume I read the dailies on the days that you post notices of power disruption.

Today I choose not to wonder how the printing of all these postcards will cost you, or how long you can maintain this new way of building our relationship, but I choose to say that you have managed to catch my attention, in a way that no representative of a public company has in a long time.

You called me your employer today- i also hope that since we know that our relationship now henceforth can be based on the respect that defines this relationship we have.

Thanks Reddy, I would like to receive another postcard from you sometime, but hopefully one that will not be about a disruption, but one about electricity rates coming down.

Once again, I loved the postcard!

Regards, Boss Lady.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Country homes and a tooth fairy



Why do you work?

Whenever I ask myself that question; I find myself skirting around.

First, I work because I am expected to have a job. I am expected to have a job so that I become independent, have an income and provide a comfortable life first for my daughter, myself and my family.

Several times, it’s a struggle. We work to pay the bills, and that becomes what life is all about. But is life really all about this?

Every once in a while, those that can afford go on holiday either in the country or abroad travel, that’s when they take their time to enjoy the hard earned money. But many times, event those that can afford it are too deeply engrossed in trying to make more money that they never really enjoy it.

So what is life really about?

This weekend I traveled with a group of friends who believe that life is what happens when self actualization happens. That happens when you stop living only to pay the bills, and begin to live to enjoy even the little money that you can spare in order to smell the flowers.

Is it about financial discipline?

Yes, but it is also about lifestyle decisions that you know will positively impact your happiness.

It doesn’t have to be a trip to Paris, or a weekend in Diani. It could be an afternoon at the arboretum, a picnic with your children at the Ngong Hills, Breakfast at Java, or a country home in a place that warms your heart. Just find one thing that takes your heart and mind away from work, and enjoy the little mercies of life.

So perhaps life is what happens when you’re happy.


And in other news:

Imani has officially joined the Mapengo club. Her tooth is safely under the pillow as we wait for the tooth fairy to come tonight and exchange it for a coin.

Have a great week!



Thursday, September 1, 2011

The voice of the wind

voice of the wind



It isn't as if the wind cannot speak
Sometimes in a whisper
Barely grazing the bouganvelia 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 bouganvelia 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 savour the beauty,
and this stirring within
That comes with the wind, the sea, the birds, the creepers, the bouganvelia
I shall hide under my thoughts

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two is not too many: Look I can do two push-ups!


My daughter, Imani was this morning looking though my handbag and got out some baby wipes.

She says, " Mom, who are these for? You're not a baby?"

So I explained that it is better to have one big pack that lasts longer, as most wipes come in small packages. I touch dirty things all the time, and its important to keep my hands clean.

But if you think this blog is about wet tissues you're wrong.

Its about babies. Two babies, a boy and a girl that my daughter thinks we need to add to our family.

That of course was the discussion that followed the baby wipes- why can't we have babies then? So I told her she will have a baby sister or brother someday. She goes ahead to ask why can't we have both, so that she can have both; a brother, and a sister. I explain that 2 more babies may be too many, to which she quickly said; Mum, two is not too many, look I can do two push-ups, which she did immediately and said; See mom, finished!

I laughed...hope this brightens your day somewhat. Kids say the Darnest things.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Proverbs 31 woman is not an Employee :-)



Happy Monday!

Today's blog is inspired by a conversation I had with a close friend of mine of what we, as women ask God for when we're praying for a good man and an enjoyable life. Do we ask for too much from God? This was in regards to both material wealth and in our relationships? More jewellery ( Pearls & Gold) more shoes, a bigger and better wardrobe? And, in wanting these things, does it mean we are not content with what we have?

This, I think is fodder for deep discussions- we keep wanting more, yet, many times, we can live with what we have. As we chatted, I made reference to the Proverbial and seemingly impossibly impressive woman of Proverbs 31; I have come to know this woman through a book a friend bought me on my birthday in May this year.




So I'd like to share this extraordinary woman with you. I strive to be like her, many of us do, but every time I read this amazing book, I wonder if ever I will be like her in this corporate world.

Here's some excerpts from Proverbs 31:

She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
works joyfully

She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
goes extra mile to get choicest goods

She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
disciplined

She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
enterprising, prudent with money

She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
energetic

She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
good steward

She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.


So for the heck of it..let me know what you think. Is the proverbs 31 woman an employee? Can today's corporate woman be a Proverbs 31 woman?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Growing up...



I don't like growing up.

I doubt it’s the anxiety of the wrinkles that come with it, perhaps the responsibility or just the fact that my daughter thinks I'm not that young. She's 5. The math between 5 and 32 is huge for a girl that young. Yes, I'm making excuses too.

Last saturday we spent a full day together. As we drove around, she asked me why I sold our other car. She was hoping we could have two cars. But we don't need two cars, and we can't afford it anyway. I tried to explain.

She said, "when I grow up I will have 2 cars" I asked her why,

she said "Because when you're really old, you will need one, so one for me, and one for you."

That threw me off quite a bit. She's growing up, and I love her opinions and admire her thought process. She's a child, and she loves to grow up.

Over dinner, she and this young (odiero) boy, about 8 years old, began to smile and make faces at each other. I told her she could say hello. She said she was shy, but she had an idea.

" Mum you could go say hi to him first so I can hear his voice".

I laughed so hard…someday I must compile her words and give her when she turns 18.(note to self)

Well, I have been thinking lots about what has been my blog-name for a long time, and it just didn’t make any sense to me anymore.

So…I've grown up, and I hope this makes more sense to you too. If you’ve stayed with me here, or you drop by once in a while, you know that I’m passionate about business news reporting, about my high heeled shoes, my daughter and about Africa;

So come with me in my journey through Inflation, Stilettos, Pacifiers and An African dream.

Beyond Bottled Water




Last month I was invited by Multi-choice to attend the CNN awards in Johannesburg, something that got me quite excited. One because CNN was looking for a speaker on Social Media in East Africa, and gave me the chance to do it, Second because of the sessions we were to attend sounded exciting, with a great line up of African speakers such as Moeletsi Mbeki, (political analyst and economist) a brother to former South Africa president Thabo Mbeki; award winning Journalists and others who share my passion for Africa, Third, because its Johannesburg, a place that brings back good memories for me.

It was the sessions about Africa’s future that I enjoyed most. Most Significant for me was Mr. Mbeki’s presentation of what he aptly described as Africa’s Leadership (yes crossed through). Because in many ways; Africa is in dire need of good leadership.

Allow me to digress, I know that Africa is not a country, and I’m among the first to angrily jolt if someone asks “How is Africa”. But, for once, I let my preconceptions rest, and allow those that more experienced in Africa’s matters talk of what they see as the Africa of tomorrow. We have similar challenges, most countries in Sub Saharan Africa at least, and that allows for easy grouping, hence: “The problem with Africa.”

I am not answering any questions. I don’t know the answers. I am questioning the systems. What happens when good leaders are elected into Parliament? They Change. It’s a historical fact, driven by money, power and greed.

So let’s not argue about it.

At one of the sessions hosted by Coca-cola, a lady who worked as a policy advisor at the UN for 9 years asked, “ How is my grandmother deep in a Zimbabwean village able to buy herself a bottle of Coca-cola yet she cannot buy a mosquito net”. In Kenyan currency, that would be the price of 5 plastic 500 ml bottles. 250 shillings is round about the cost of a mosquito net. It’s slightly higher if it is medicated.

Her question raised even more questions in my mind. Is it a question of a lack of priorities? Would we rather die from malaria or has Coca-Cola’s marketing strategy created a need that has become bigger in our priorities than basic necessities in malaria prone Africa? Or have African governments failed in guiding our basic priorities?

A few days ago I had lunch with a friend. The still water bottle was a Keringet blue one, a clear upgrade from the regular clear plastic one. He asked me about our water drinking culture. He asked, “is it that Kenyans have become more aware of clean drinking water?” we discussed that for a while, and he raised an important point- we’d rather drink bottled water, have a dispenser in our houses and offices, because we lost faith in the City Council water we pay for, and we settle for a different option, but not necessarily a solution.

When our roads are bad, we buy 4 by 4 cars. When electricity supply is on and off, we buy generators. We’re so good at finding alternatives, and have given up on demanding for our rights. The upside though, is that opportunities arise where the government fails, though half the time, these opportunities are exhausted by those that have the money and power to avert the situations. Many times, these are the same politicians.

The leaders have failed us, but as the voting population, someday, we’re going to have to raise our voices beyond the bottled water, beyond Generators, beyond alternatives. We’ve got a constitution that places a lot of power in the people. Let us learn how to make Kenya work for us, not the other way round. The biggest problem may be the leadership, but we, ordinary Africans also have a role to play.

Monday, July 18, 2011

To the Shredder


When I decided to go back to school last year in May, I had no doubt in my mind, that this was the right thing to do. I may be among the lucky few who managed to convince my bosses throughout my career that with only a college diploma in Broadcast Journalism and no University degree I could do the job. With no great paper backing I pushed even harder than most people. I read more, I prepared myself better, I presented myself better , dressed better, because without the papers, what i had was my experience and my confidence. But that was a battle i needed to get on with. Quickly.


So, I enrolled in USIU- Africa for an undergraduate in International Business Administration.The first shocker was the orientation week. everyone was fresh out of school, and all withstanding, I wasn't your regular freshman. It was interesting, and difficult. I had cleared my secondary school about 13 years earlier, got into French school, did some Acting classes, finally ended up in a media school and completed my school. I was headed for a great career as a filmmaker.

But that was then. I didn't become a film maker. I became a TV Business news reporter, not as sexy as my original dream; but perhaps just as exciting.

Through the years, I have learned, networked, and grown into someone my mother, my daughter and my family is proud of. I have also learned, that a good education is everything if I want to go where I want to go.

Fast Forward to the USIU library in June 2010. Just a few days before my first end of Semester exams, an I was studying for a class called FYE; ( First Year Experience)and for the fun of it, I decided to take an exercise the text book had. It said "write down 10 things you don't like about your life now and after write 10 things you'd like to do".

This morning I found that paper, that reminded me of where I was then. It was difficult, I couldn't pull it together. One year later, I had managed to deal with the 10 things I didn't like, a step at a time. It was amazing to see how much progress my career, my relationships, my personal growth has taken since then.

I tore it to pieces.

It reminded me that I need to exert my energies and finish my college, and to excel in my education.


I am now writing another one, so that next year, same time, I can review and perhaps move forward, and appreciate life little's mercies.

Sometimes we forget to take our time and see how far we've come, and create the path that we want to follow.

I hope you will carve your own path, and sometime next year, we can review, and smile.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dear Diary


Ok, how about a quick update anyway on what I've been upto.

Three weeks ago, I was going through my time-line on twitter, and my long time friend Mercy Murugi of the Togetherness Supreme film & Kibera Film school had posted a tweet about a family that had to eat a cat because they couldn't find food.

She wanted to do something and asked on twitter if anyone was willing to join her.She is a giver at heart. I remember her from way back buying food for street families, some of whom actually became her friends. I caught on to her dream.

I would never describe myself as a philanthropist, perhaps due to the nature of my work, but this story ate me up inside. I was in a position to be an agent of change, and I had to do it.

Together we began a call to get food for Ndaragwa IDP's. We gave the project one week, it was an urgent issue, and time lines had to be short.

Within one week, Mercy, Peter Nduati,CEO, Resolution Health, Magana Kenyatta (twitter friend)Vyona Ooro, a friend and Myself managed to convince a couple of people to support our call.

The next Sunday, we were on our way to Ndaragwa. We had raised over 170,000 shillings, bought food, and sanitary pads for the women.

It was a humbling experience. I cried, a lot.

The man who fed his family on a cat is a hunter. His trap was empty for three days, on the fourth day, he found a cat trapped, he killed it and took it home. They cooked and ate it. His other option was to kill his last born child, and eat him. he told us this on camera. I couldn't listen to his whole story. I went to my car and cried. I was angry, Someone in this government needs to resign.

As we drove back with Vyonna, I thought about sustainability.

If we want to raise money to buy food every weekend, its easy, we can do it without much effort.But what they need more is something that will last, like a fishing rod, and not necessarily the food.

I wondered what I could do to help. What we could all do to offer something sustainable.I wondred if Uhuru Kenyatta's ESP programme would allocate a fish pond for commercial purposes on the 9 acre piece of land the 400 families bought from their IDP allocations.

I wondered if the little nursery classroom could have proper seats, space and books, and toys that the children can enjoy.This is my personal dream, which I will follow to the grave. Next week we will start collecting toys, old and new, books, old and new, clothes, shoes, pencils, pens, book shelves,and a few other tangible things that will last.

What challenged me the most about these people was their spirit of hope.They will not seat back, cry and beg be helped. They have just bought 59 acres of land in Nyandarua, and are raising money to pay it off. 1.3 Million shillings balance which the area MP has promised to help raise.

This is a community that witnessed the brutality of ethnicity, and are still paying for the sins of other people.

If you can, in any way offer support, from mentoring, toys, books, shoes...let me know.

Together we can do this.

Finding my Mojo...




Its been a while! I've missed dropping by here, then again i really have no excuse for not stopping by. or not.

My blog has become my happy home.

I have learned that unless I am inspired, happy and settled, I cannot find the words or the time to come up with something to write, good or bad.

Lately, there's been too much to handle and I didn't manage it well.instead I let myself get frustrated with things that I shouldn't have paid any attention to.

I turned a year older two weeks ago, but I couldn't do my usual growing up post.

I hate that point in life.

I appreciate that one cannot smile unless you know how it feels for tears to sting your eyes. But sometimes, when you let that sting moment last too long, like I did, then it burns you inside, and with that, the very things that define who you are begin to wear out, and you begin to question the direction your life is taking, a defeatist approach of killing the mosquito with a hammer, instead of dealing with the problem.

I dealt with it eventually.

I learned that happiness does come from within, and however much you attempt to cover up with a smile( and I'm great at it)you will never let your star shine.

I learned that life throws our way challenges that should make us stronger, and that's where the focus should be.

I have learned that dwelling on the bad makes you a sad person,life is too short, laughter is a healer.

I have learned that prayer works. My prayers are short, and they work. God Listens.

I have also learned that I need my creative juices continuously flowing for me to actually do my work.

I have learned that if something is worth doing, then its worth doing well.

I've learned that I've got a strong support system, friends that would take the bullet for me, and a mentor that teaches me that values are everything, and that thick skin will take you far.

I've got my Mojo back, the bang will follow shortly.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is there such a thing as perfect timing?

Is it ever too soon? For anything?

Do we ever know when the time is right?

Is there such a thing as the right time?

I am speaking to myself.....

But if you do ask yourself these questions...as I have today.

Then let me know what you did..cos right now, i don't care about perfect timing, I just care about now.

Dear America

I always wanted to say that :-)

Anyway, I have learned a few things about Americans while here in DC.

Its been a beautiful experience.

The public transport system is amazing, but someone needs to build the Americans faster escalators. Don't get me wrong, they work just great, especially in the subway, but these Americans can't just stand in one place and wait for the escalators to reach the destination, they are always running up and down the escalators!

Relax, Dear Americans, unless the escalators is part of your work out..take a break, stop...for a minute or two..or take the stairs....

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Washington DC Diary


Sunday, 10th April 2011
Touchdown doles international airport in dc, destination: George Washington university inn

The time difference between Nairobi and Washington dc is 7 hours. Got to the hotel at about 10.00am, but there were no rooms available until 3pm, lucky me, there was a South African journalist on the shuttle to the hotel. He suggested we take a walk around Washington, and like 2 tourists we did the rounds, Lincoln Park, around white house, and a kite festival at the Lincoln Park.


And then Monday came, the excitement! Here’s a brief diary:


Monday 10.00am
Press conference: global economic outlook
Global projections 4.5%
Developing countries & emerging economies 6.5%


Tuesday, 10.00am
Global financial analysis
Technical hitches

2.00pm -John Lipsky
Before the crisis

Talks centered on the role of the IMF, World Bank, donor countries. Lipsky said a closed economy is not the answer, globalization is inevitable

The way to go is sustained rapid growth, globalization. Also touched on the role of emerging markers, and confidence in these economies seen through securities held by that developed countries in emerging economies offer to international investors in their local currency, the take up is impressive, also a sign that other currencies other than the dollar, etc are now becoming strong. The IMF is also changing; the fund has needed to think in crisis prevention and not just crisis support. Conditionality was a sticky issue especially for low income economies, but IMF says if countries can be encouraged to carry out reforms that will benefit the economy, then conditionalities are here to stay.

Wednesday
Mark plant-IMF Africa department.

It was interesting discussions around the relationship between African countries and the IMF. Africa is not a country. The diversification is immense and each country is treated in its own respect, and it is time the world started viewing it as such. I had a one on one later with mark plant



Thursday

Editing, filming links and press conferences by World Bank and the IMF.
Jobs, inflation, hunger, and unbalanced growth across global economies are similar challenges in Developing countries including those in Sub-Saharan Africa to grow at 6.5% in 2011-2012. Political stability and sustained growth programs are key to tangible growth, which should trickle down to the citizens of every country. Kenya has received millions of dollars to be pumped into growth oriented projects under the vision 2030.

Friday:
Focus on the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Greece featured heavily. We're thinking of going for a reggae evening in Georgetown. Can’t wait! And a gentleman asks me aside and in faltering English asks me "Pretty woman, the movie, is about you?" how's that for a fine week!

Tomorrow and Sunday we meet African ministers of finance. Sunday, the communiqué is released. I plan for more interviews, on and off the record.

So far, I love Washington dc....oh the evenings are not documented..;-)

...HAS THE CHURCH REALLY READ THE BIBLE?

Written on the 9th of April on my way to Washington DC for the IMF spring meetings


Im writing this at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa while waiting to board my flight to Washington DC for the IMF annual springs Meeting. Im excited. Its my first visit to the US and it does feel good that im not going as a student or one in search of the American dream. Im going for work, in times like this, Im glad i am a journalist.

In 2010, while still at CNBC, over a media lunch with the IMF team that was in town from Washington, I managed to squeeze an interview with IMF Chief Dominic Strauss Khan, one that happened too fast for my own good. I had been scheduled to Interview Africa's head of the IMF, who was in and out of tight meetings that afternoon, but when I was seated next to the man himself, I spoke to him, and his media people, and a few minutes later,the Interview was arranged at his Serena Hotel suite.

That's how im part of the group of 35 journalists from across the world invited to DC for a joirnalism fellowship as well as covering this event. Im humbled, my sisters think i' am m very lucky, and the lady who gave me a visa says God must love me very much( a few miracles happened ). All in all, I am excited.

But that's not what this blog is about.

On the plane i had the standard newspaper that kept me busy, from stories of the last 3 of the Ocampo six, with the highlight of Uhuru's Queens Counsel defence team, Joseph Kony's atrocities as told through the child soldiers who are now students in Gulu secondary school.

But it was the editorial pages that had me glued. Specifically Barak Muluka's article on the high powered events that Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto held weeks before their appearances at the International Criminal Court, for Crimes against humanity following the 2007 post election violence that saw over 1000 people dead and over 500,000 people displaced.

Muluka spoke with the voice of a Kenyan who has not forgotten what this really is all about. As thousands prayed and showed support for Ruto and Uhuru, the church played a key role in praying for the Ocampo six, but not one preacher mentioned the IDP's. No one did, even once pray for the IDP's who, 3 years later still live in tented camps around the country.

Has the Church really read the bible? Is the Question Barak Muluka asks.

This article made me angry, at the misplaced priorities of our government.

Hundreds of millions have been spent to try and get deferral from the ICC, and more millions to take 40 MP's to support the Ocampo six.

Support is a good thing, especially when, as the lawmakers say, everyone is innocent until proven otherwise.

But now, more than ever, is when we should turn our attention to the very people that bore the brunt of what has taken the six to the hague.

Is our memory so short?

I will never forget the TV scrolls that 29th of December, when the chaos started and TV stations began reporting on the chaos as they began. I cried, we all cried as we saw our country get ripped apart by ethnicity, and innocent people who probably did not even vote lost their lives or their family members, property and confidence in the institutions that are supposed to protect them.

Tomorrow is the homecoming party. i will not be there to see it, but I would like to know what Ruto and Uhuru would say about the IDP's.

2012 is an election year, and if i had anything to do with it, I would not hold an election until the IDP's are resettled.

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Me, my Wife and her Guru" teaser - Jitu Films Kenyan Movie





Sunday Evening I was at Capri 7 for movie night! Lizz Njagah and Alex constantaras, my dearest friends were having a premiere for their movie. Me, My Wife and her Gur. Intersting! if you're a Kenyan, it sort or reminds you of a recent scenario within the media circles, even though there is a sweet disclaimer at the end credits.

I hope you get to watch it! This was the teaser on Youtube.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

THE CHIPS ACT




I don't usually do this: It is not an original post.

I got this forward from a friend, I've unsuccessfully tried to find the originator through twitter, because this must be the most hilarious post I've read in a while.

Kenyan's will understand this act pretty well.

Let me explain for those that don't, such as my friend Bazanye from Uganda.

The act of picking up a girl you meet, mostly in a club is called Chips Fungaing which is literally translated to mean, 'Take away Chips'. A common habit for club goers in Kenya is to pass by a chicken and Chips take-away shop, whatever the time, hence the term.



so here's the act:

The provisions of the CHIPS ACT are as follows:

1. Section 2(1) provides that a chips shall always appear in a club looking fresh. Sweaty mamas wakae home.

2. A chips shall never ask for payment after a night of sec.........luded fun in a secluded place. Chipsing is free. Asking for credit, fare back home shall be taken as asking for payment and will result in disciplinary action.

3. Chips should never come to the club with mummy, daddy or girlfriend issues. Clubs are happy places - shida zako wacha home.

4. Chips should never leave stuff at a man's place so as to get an excuse to come back later. Any stuff left shall be properly disposed by the man and he shall not be liable for any loss whatsoever.

5. Chips should remember the way they use to the dude's residence because on the day after, no chips should expect to be seen off the stage. In fact if possible, don't wake the man up,..........just leave
quietly.

6. In relation to sub section 5, a chips should never ever steal or borrow anything from the man's crib. This offence is tantamount to treason and is punishable. It should further be noted that going with the man's jacket or pullover just coz its cold shall be deemed as stealing.

7. A chips shall practice full disclosure before she's fungwad. Full disclosure includes disclosing whether her hair or teeth are fake, whether she has a medical condition, or whether the club's neon lights makes her look hotter than she really is.

8. Chips shall leave other pals after meeting with the dude. Bringing an extra mama will be taken to mean that the man is being propositioned for a 3-some.

9. No chips shall disclose any secrets that the man might tell her when he's tipsy. Neither shall she disclose to other people where the man lives. It is a serious offence for a chips to warn other chips that the man is a serial chipser.

10. No chips shall come to the club at "that time of the month" and if she does she should disclose this in good time. Failure to disclose this before proceeding to the man's residence, the said chips shall reimburse
the man full costs e.g cab fare, cost of drinks, Opportunity cost (i.e the cost of incurred by foregoing/ missing out on the other available chips).

11. We live in a dangerous world. Chips shall accept to be eaten with sauce. Not vinegar or mustard but sauce. Always remember, kuna chips imekarangwa na transformer oil.

12. Chips shall accept the fact that they are CHIPS. Any insisting on otherwise is an offence. The only exception to this provision is when the man expressly, in writing or orally, tells the chips otherwise or a certain period has passes and the chips is still lungulain the dude. However, this period shall be set by the senate in consultation with parliament. In that case, the chips will be required to make an offer for change in status quo and the man shall accept. Only then shall the chips become the legal wife of the man.

After passing this act, Parliament adjourned. Next bill will deal with SAUSAGE FUNGA, all member are requestedc to arreive on time to deal; with the important bill. \however all agreed that the most important bill had passed and teh Act put in place (The Chips Act)

Cheers guys

Reuben ( I believe this must be the originator)

Have a rib cracking day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mummy 101

Which mum wouldn't want to receive something like that from their 4 year old who is just learning to write?


This weekend saw lots of Baby-Mummy and more family time in Kisumu. My nephews and nieces also had quite the fab time, with my daughter asking my sister the host, if she could see the cows two minutes after we were welcomed into the house. My sister does not keep cattle, but Imani thought we were at my mum's in Kitale, gave us a bit of a laugh there, something that carried on throughout that weekend. I'm still trying to make her understand why Kisumu is not Kitale and why Kitale is not close to Nairobi etc. I guess distance is still a very complicated issue to a 4 year old.

Complicated.

Saturday afternoon the kids stayed in to write, colour and play. They are at the level where they're just learning sentences and how to write stuff.

The older boys wrote sentences from a book they had, and( I must digress)my nephew Kipkoskei has the most beautiful handwriting for a 6 year old!

Anyway, they start to read out loud each others sentences, and Kip picks up Imani's. I was in the next room so i could hear quite well without having them know that i was listening in.

It said 'Imani is in Love'

After getting over the shock of what I'd just heard and attempting to compose myself for the best approach, I went into the room and I asked her if I could see what she's been up to,She handed it to me with a very cheeky smile.

I read it loud and asked her is she is in love...she giggled and ran off.

I still don't have an answer, and she wont tell. She is 4 years old, how do I ask her if she knows what being in love means? Or should I really?

Who will pick you up at the airport?



That's a question i got from my 5 year old nephew last evening who sat next to me on the flight back to Nairobi after a great weekend in Kisumu, with my sisters and their families.

They; (My nephew, his mum and younger sister) were getting picked up by their dad.

I told him I'd packed our car at the airport, and it would be more convenient for us, but i do know that it it was issues deeper than the availability of long term parking that he was asking of.

I duly reminded my daughter that we had parked at the airport and offered her a new topic to avoid further discussion.

Sometimes a family unit is Father, Mother Child. Sometimes is Mother and Child. Sometimes its a father and Child.

Sometimes its a phase. Sometimes its permanent.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

One Nation. One people. # February 28th



For a Kenyan to write and actually believe what is now the title of this blog is a difficult thing.

We are not one people, and if one people makes one Nation, then perhaps, in many ways we are not One Nation.

2007 was the eye opener year for many Kenyans, who were, like me, dreamers.I am one of the most optimistic people you will find, perhaps that may also mean that i have such strong hope, almost to a naivety, for things, such a loving husband and a house atop a hill, with picket fences and acres of rose bushes.

My poetry may speak louder of my dreamy nature, but this was crushed after 2007, when i went home for Christmas holidays, after voting in Nairobi, then traveled up country to be with my mother and the rest of the family. it was supposed to be a wonderful Christmas. It was, bu the days that followed the announcement of the presidential results were made in hell.

I remember TV scrolls of people killed in different parts of the country. it was as if some high voltage energy was passing through different towns, and tribal killings began, by the time January came, over 1000 people had been killed, perhaps many more.

After that, Kenya has been a divided country. A coalition government was formed, and even that has been a difficult union.

so one day on twitter, i see a hash-tag '#FEb28th, lets sing the National Anthem.'
I was curious.

I followed different tweets about it, and the dreamer in me was reborn.

Once again i wanted to believe in my country again.

I wanted to see how many Kenyans out there wanted to feel the same, to feel united even as our political class continues bickering over various issues.

On February 28th, 2011, at 1300hrs,It happened, and Kenyans (in Nairobi according to local press) joined hands and prayed through our symbol of National Unity. The National Anthem.They sang it loud and clear,i could feel that those that sangit, believed it.

It was sang in public places around the city. I sang it in the office, as I was on duty, and for the first time in a long time, i began to think of my lost patriotism.

February 28th came and went, and the cynics had their say, but for me, it was the beginning of many beginnings.

I want to be proud of Kenya again. I want to be proud of what is Kenyan and stop poking jokes at patriotism.

It means Kenya airways will be my first flight of choice,even though they have their challenges. It also means i will drink Kenyan coffee and dump Nescafe. I will drink Kenyan tea and dump my twinnings. It means i will support local entrepreneurs and challenge young people to grow up in a country they love. I will influence whoever i can to begin to change their perceptions about our beautiful country.

In beautiful, I am not talking about the wild safari's, i am talking about its people.
The wonderful, amazing Kenyan people who i interact with on a day to day basis, the amazing entrepreneurship culture that is likely to shape the economy of this country.

I will revive my "kenyanness" and will be proud of it.

Feb 28th should be everyday, if we are to be one People, One nation.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

THE RICH AND THE REST: The Kenyan Story.


Aiming high!


A recent title of the Economist publication read “The Rich and the Rest’.

Before we get prejudicial as most of us do, I do not buy the economist on a weekly basis, sometimes almost never, I’d love to, but it’s an expensive habit to maintain. My former boss got me hooked though and once in a while, I will attempt to steal a copy, or go online to their website which has also now been squeezed to subscribers who can access it once they’ve paid for the 'Premium articles'. But this time, I painfully bought a copy, only because of its title; 'The Rich and the Rest.

The special report on this edition focused on what they referred to as ‘The few’ then stratified into other sections such as 'More Millionaires than Australians’. The world’s water coolers – where the influential people meet and talk, ‘The Global campus- The best universities now have worldwide reach.'

As I buried my head in the pages, Kenya’s rich (elite) made little flashes in my mind, and I began to wonder how really the rich become rich. Who are they and what do they do?

In this country, today, The richest are those that were born rich. Their wealth is a legacy they inherited from their parents and carried through mainly real estate development, farming and banking. Most of these rich are from politically connected families. The most famous are the Moi’s, the Kenyatta’s and a few others from the rich boys club. These families went to school in the U.K, (hardly America). They speak with a real English accent. They play Polo and Golf (Before bankers took the board room to the course). Their main stay was the old model Range Rovers (4.6 Hse) and once in a while the Land Rover. They lived in Lavington & Muthaiga (and moved to Runda and Karen while renting out their ‘too close to town’ mansions. Right now, if they are not in Parliament, they’re watching over their businesses, selling land and sipping tea at the Karen Country Club, Kentmere Country club and Limuru Country Club. Some will go to Cedars, the Lebanese restaurant for a quiet drink in the evenings. Their money is called ‘Old Money’ Their Children begin to drive after they turn 18. Usually a car (read Mercedes) is the birthday gift.

Then there are the relatives of the ‘Old money people’. They sometimes went to the same type of schools, they benefited mostly from being connected to the rich and famous. They got good jobs in government and nice homes and big tracts of land both in Nairobi and some far away places. Their kids went to International schools such as Brookhouse, Braeburn, St. Andrews Turi and Saint Mary’s. For University some of them went to London, most went to the United States. Some were taken up into top universities, even Ivy League as above. Most are still out of the country, doing well in great jobs abroad. Most of them hang out in Karen, in the comfort of homely pubs and restaurants like the Talisman. They like Tusker and single Malt whiskey. Their Children have Ipads.

Then there are those whose parents were hard workers. Their parents were born in poor homes (or not so rich), but were smart, very bright in school and got scholarships to study abroad. Some married white women, while some returned to marry their village sweethearts and soon whisked them into Luxury. They got very well paying jobs in the growing private sector. They got club memberships and were soon playing golf and driving Range Rovers. Some became Ambassadors and Permanent Secretaries, began to travel with their families, who now went to international schools. They know their wine and love international cuisine. They have no English/ American accent because they were either traveling around too much, or if they were left in Nairobi, they went to Kianda School and Strathmore. They’re proper; too proper sometimes. They were well brought up and understand their parents’ background. Some will live to work as hard as their parents, while some will get lost in wealth and turn into the black sheep of the family, ever struggling to be a real part of the “proper family’. Their Children own their own apartments or homes, or servicing a mortgage in an up class residential area. They drive big cars; BMW X5, Mercedes S class, and the modest ones drive BMW’s. Most of Nairobi’s bachelorettes would love to be married to these ones. They are top executives in the private sector. Their children have blackberry’s.


Then there are the “rags to riches’ category of Kenya’s rich. They were not born in Nairobi. They’re young, they drive range rovers (Sport and Vogue) live in Lavington and Kileleshwa, some of them live in Runda, (and will be heard saying so loudly in the club scene). Some of them started of selling cars, imported from Japan, when Kenya’s middle-class began to rise. Or bought land which turned into prime property, or built flats and apartments (from a loan at the banks) that became the most sought after commodity in the 90’s. Theirs is a story of being in the right place at the right time. They work smart. Some of them don’t speak proper English (and most have heavy accents). They did not study abroad, and perhaps not even got to University. They are comfortable eating Nyama Choma at the Hood, Le Jardin and Dagorreti Corner. Their children live good lives, go to great schools and have flashy Nokia phones. But their parents are keen on parenting them in humility.

Then there’s you and me. Upwardly mobile and trying to get there;

We’ve got a job and a side ‘hustle.’

Mostly renting, but some are servicing a mortgage in Kileleshwa, Ngong Road or Kilimani,or Mombasa road, eyeing a mortgage or dating a rich man to marry.( who already has his own house). The Upper end young men drive BMW’s,Nissan X-trails, Premio's or the Mark-X (not from the showroom). The ladies drive Rav 4’s or BMW 3 series old model, or imported Japanese models like spacio's or Alex. The men date younger one’s who drive a Vitz, an IST or a celica. They have management positions in the private sector, are very well read and know a lot of current global and local news. They love sport and hang out with their boys. They drink Heineken or white cap. Some drink Jack Daniels and swear they have no love for beer. The ladies drink brandy, sometimes wine. They stock a bottle or two of wine at home.The young men claim they play golf (loudly so). They hang out in Westlands, Brew Bistro and Slims.Some try too hard to 'fit' into the rich boys club.Some have a Twang after being in the US for their Undergraduate.

There’s the rich and the rest…many of us are ‘ the rest’


P.S: There are also the Asians and the Karen Cowboys, they need a separate blog!