Friday, December 28, 2012

An Open Letter to Prof Makau Mutua, keep your predictions to yourself.

Dear Prof. Makau Mutua,

“I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be.” ― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Prof, you and J.D Salinger clearly share no beliefs. And maybe you shouldn’t.

But I feel that you would be the man with an evil laugh pushing the thousands of little children off the cliff.

Let me explain.

Your tweet on the 23rd of Dec 2012,in Buffalo, New York

"@makaumutua I predict a military coup in Kenya after the March 2013 elections if those indicted for crimes against humanity are elected."

5 years ago, today, I was in my mother’s house in Kitale, watching Television as the country began to break into tension. Our thoughts began to turn into dreadful fears of what could happen. The KICC, the heartbeat of election reporting was abuzz; with many crying foul over vote rigging, delays in reporting, and all sorts of accusations and counter accusations were on live TV. At home, we all stayed in my mother’s living room flicking through the TV channels, watching quietly, afraid to think of the impossible.

Two days later, the 'Breaking News' began flying. Fires were reported everywhere, road blocks manned by machete carrying people, while others were being hacked to death. The Kikuyu, Luo and Kalenjin false superiorities began to tear the country down. It was a terrible time. But of course, you, Prof, were not here; it perhaps was a chilly winter, perhaps in London, or were you in New York? Catching the latest from CNN or the BBC?

You see, my daughter is called Wambui, named after her paternal grandmother, and I am called Chebet, translated as Daughter of the Sun, in Kalenjin, my mother’s language. The two tribes were not allowed in the same place in that period of December 2007. But I managed; we got a flight from Eldoret and flew back to Nairobi where it was safe for her. Many people didn't make it. Many didn't have a flight out of Eldoret as an option. Many died, others were displaced. Most were traumatized for life in their own country.

We, Kenyans, do not want to go through that again.

We hurt, Kenya hurt, and all we have left, is a benign feeling of hope. We are holding to it so strong, and we hope that the blood bath will remain a thing of the past. You see, Professor,When you are at the brink of despair, you don’t need someone to push you off the cliff, you need someone to hold your hand and tell you to hang in there, make things better, love our neighbours, preach peace, and begin to build bridges.

On Christmas day, Just a few days after your tweet about a possible Military Coup in 2013, you said,"
walk up to a complete stranger today and tell him, or her, that you love them. Then hug them."

Prof, If that is not the epitome of doublespeak, then I, a lifetime student of Journalism have no idea what double speak means.

Your 25th December tweet about hugging a stranger shows a side of you that believes in the ability of human kind to be good, in a strange Marxist kind of way. The human beings I talk about here are those that did or could once again take part in PEV. Back to Karl Marx: You do remember his argument that man was inherently good, especially if given the right social environment all that good would shine through and illuminate the world with righteousness?

The ICC will do it's work, at least for the sake of all Kenyans we hope that those behind the PEV in 2007-2008 will be brought to book. But we, ordinary Kenyans can do little between now and March 2013 when we cast the ballot.

Now with your doublespeak, part of me wondered why such an influential, Hague appointed, Harvard trained, Buffalo Dean would predict a collapse of the Kenyan government. Military occupations rarely are peaceful, sir. If indeed the Jubilee team creates space for a coup, wouldn't it be prudent that you give us a proper analysis of what informs your statements?

We are a resilient people, we are hopeful that it will be peaceful. That does not in any sense mean that we refuse to see the unsolved matters. IDP's are still in camps, ethnicity is still bubbling underneath; but there are some great positives done since 2007. We still have hope.

Have you lost all hope, Professor?

Perhaps you have been away too long?

Perhaps you have forgotten what it means to be hopeful?

Many of us are clutching onto that hope, and spreading it as far as we can, you call it burying our heads in the sand, but you are in faraway New York, and will not be here if a Military coup happens in 2013.

Professor, as you drive your Hague agenda, ( and many Kenyans are) be careful of your callous and careless language. Please remember that 38 million Kenyans call this country home. They want it to be peaceful, because they live here.

So please, keep your predictions to yourself.

I believe that the real winners never give up on hope.

I do not write this as a journalist, I write it as a mother and a Kenyan who is hopeful that 2013's election will be a feather in the Kenyan cap, after all we have had successful elections since 1963, one bad one, will not rain on our parade.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nao Fomadores, why you must read this post..

I have had a long day. I'm getting used to the grueling hours here, but I am also loving them. I just got back from dinner with Sammy, my cameraman at a place called Mimmo's about 2 blocks away from our home away from home, Hotel Africa.

It's a lovely warm night, a tad windy, but beautiful.

It's very safe in the City here, at least in the area we are in, we get to walk to and from the restaurant every night, now they even say hello, instead of their usual Portuguese greetings.

Tonight I Gifted myself with Vinho de tinto, dry. That's Red wine in Portuguese. We have worked hard,and enjoyed every minute of it, alongside my prego and chips, I enjoyed a chat with our waitress, who, interestingly learned to speak English all on her own. I miss my daughter.

I can't wait to get back home and hear her one million stories about school and friends. I also miss my blackberry.And my car. I miss someone who shall remain nameless at this point.

Earlier tonight, I was to have a live crossing on our news bulletin though we didn't get around to doing it. I'd like to share it with you.

RAMAH: Terryanne is Mozambique funding it's own Agricultural investments through taxes, or is it likely to take the external funding system and take the same road that Malawi took?

TERRRYANNE; Ramah, Malawi's case is a sad story of an ambitious self sustenance plan that run on an unsustainable funding programme, and worse still, without good bargaining power. For Mozambique,however, it is a different story.

To answer the first part of your question, Mozambique is not funding it's investments through taxes.

To put into context, the country went through civil War that lasted 20 years and ended in 1992' s you can imagine what that did to education and the growth of a skilled labour force, as a result the tax base remains very little.

Mozambique is a paradox of sorts, on one hand it is home to millions of poor people, while on the other hand it has just discovered that it is on the cusp of a game changing space, and it could be among the worlds top energy producers.

The challenge now is in striking a reasonable balance and encouraging inclusive growth. An interesting observation is how the government is taking advantage of not only the new funding streams but the positive investor sentiment to diversify funding to sectors such as Agriculture and Infrastructure.

Mozambique is coming to the investors table as a partner, not a beggar seeking donor funds.

Mine, and the General hope is that the growth will be inclusive and trickle down to ordinary Mozambicans. In other news,Nao Fomadores..(no smoking) well, irrelevant, but now you know. Obrigada! Xx, see you soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Samora Mâchél...

It feels like its been forever since I posted something.

Well, now I have something to say. About places and people and what distance does to you.

I'm in Mozambique, the country of Samora Mâchél, the man I fell in love with when I was a little girl. So, imagine how it feels to step on where he probably stepped and to listen to stories from those that adored him almost as much as I did and those that shook hands with him or even saw him on TV. Vivid memories that have now become mine too.

I love Maputo, there's something about this city that I'm yet to put my finger on. It is an old city, several of the buildings were built in the hey days, there's a lot of renovation and new buildings coming up, there's some amazing food, and there's Laurentina, a local beer that I will have to taste. Or perhaps it is that person ...never mind.

The days here have been laborious, I've been up at 6 am every morning and wrapping at One am, promptly. Editing and sending packages for our business news on CCTV Africa.

I have been called a workaholic, ask those that have dared to love me.

It isn't something I am proud of, but when I sink to work that I Enjoy doing, I sink. Deep. And nothing else exists. I will not fight with that anymore. So, I have also fallen in love with the local language, Portuguese.

I have learnt a few words, and i think it is sexier than French and Spanish combined. When God made languages, he made Portuguese, just like when he made Men he put them in Africa, and when he made women he put them in Russia. (that's not original, An African man once told me that)

Anyway, it's been exciting, a number of packages in anticipation of the Mozambique investment forum which kicks off tomorrow.

About clears my mind. It has, it will. For now. Obrigado muito. Come back again. Xx

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The 4 Capitals that entreprenuers must have.

I had to share this on my blog.

Personal capital, Intellectual Capital, Social capital, Financial Capital and why you need them all.

Can I be bold enough to add Erotic Capital? I have just got the book " Honey Money;The Power of Erotic Capital" and I can tell you a few reasons why it makes a lot of sense.

I found a review on the Guardian about the very controversial book bySenior Economics lecturer at London Busines School Catherine Hakimm Check the Book Review, Honey Money, The power of erotic capital

I shall talk about that here this week, for now, head over to where all entreprenuers should be checking ever so often. The link is below

The 4 Capitals That Matter for Entrepreneurs, Employees, & Interns

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

LAMU TAMU, A Love Story.

I'm typing this post from Lamu House. A place that is reminiscent of a film whose title i cannot remember, but it was in a little spanish village. Homely, intensely romantic, simply furnished in Safari and a variety of African decor and amazing food.

Infront of me is the sea, waves crushing softly, I am barefoot because Steve Biko says it is like Zen to be barefoot in Lamu. I notice a few other barefoot people walking across the little street that separates the Lamu House patio restaurant.

There's a plane taking off not too off in the visible Manda Island, perhaps the dash 8 belonging to Fly540 that takes us back home tomorrow.

I hope I have managed to make you sufficiently jealous.


I wasn't made for the sea.

I just had a boat ride.

It is a big deal because it was a rough ride. I hate deep waters. Deep means anything beyond 4 feet deep. Meaning my head must be above the water when i stand in it. I am 5ft 1.

Finally, I understand what raging waters really means. I have just made a thousand promises to myself that this would be the last boat ride before someone creates an amphibian vehicle that's cheap and can fly all across the beautiful islands here.

I made it though, screaming and clutching at men I have absolutely no claims on.Poor Jamal, that's our guide who's hands I crushed as hung on to dear life and managed to calm my screams to bare whimpers.

In retrospect though, it wasn't that bad, especially now that I am on a a chair and not in Jamal's, (Jay)1000cc speed boat headed to Pate Island.

I digress.

Lamu, is like going back into history, simply, beautifully, flawlessly. Dreamy even. Unforgetable.

I love how the Coast so easily resonates with falling in love.

And have in many ways fallen in love with this old town; The soft waves, chirping birds and trotting donkeys Of Lamu Old Town, and the young boys riding bmx bicycles. I have also fallen in love with The Coconut chicken curry made for us by the soft spoken chef at Lamu House,the narrow streets and a the only tuk tuk ambulance. Even Jamal. The Museum staff here, led by Salim Bunu, Curator of the Fort Museum have guided us through the feature story that has taken us through three Major Coastal cities this past week.

Lamu tamu, they say. That's Swahili for "sweet Lamu"

We're on the patio, and are on our portable edit suite sending a video clip for tomorrow's news via Wifi , I am reminded, that life in its simplicity, is at it's best.

Pictures are in my instagram account, please follow me?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why Social Media is the Ultimate Ice Breaker

Yesterday I was reading a conversation on twitter (kenentrepreneur  and someone else I cant really remember now) and they talked about how Social media is too young to have experts. And in a sense I do agree.

Social media, especially for brands, organisations and celebrities in our space (meaning in Africa) is still trying to find it's proper footing. While several people associate it with a twitter handle and a facebook page, it is way above that, it is in my opinion, what email was to secretaries in the mid 80's. Neither here nor there, butdefiantely cheaper, faster, and without the walk to post office, or to the next post office when they ran out of stamps.

But there are a few people who seem to be getting it right. Last week I had breakfast with Mark Kaigwa, amazing young man who talked me through how things work, what to do, and what not to do. I also set up a coffee date with Marvin Tumbo, he who runs the TNA online strategy(Uhuru Kenyatta). They're both the "go to men' in the social media space, and then more than ever i began to look at how Brands are handling that space, just to see very litte engagement in the local space.

We mostly have brands with twitter, facebook and linkedIn pages. very few of those engage and create conversations. Most of them are a customer care centre or product placement platform. But social media is so much more than that, for me, it is a place to build a relationship, that can easily translate into so much more for your brand.

Here's an interesting article about Social media.

Why Social Media is the Ultimate Ice Breaker

Monday, July 30, 2012

Leadership, Caroline Mutoko and why I'm happy about KTDC

I am fascinated by leadership.

I constantly ask myself what it is about leaders that make them stand out, or how they manage to be the ones charting out the path for others to follow. How do they convince others that their plan, strategy and ideas are what others should believe in, and take them up as if it were their own, with such passion and infectious energy?

When I heard that Caroline Mutoko had been appointed the chair of the Kenya Tourism Development Corporation, my leadership alert perked.

Caroline Mutoko is a leader. No doubt. We have seen her in action, on the streets, on Radio, and when recently watched her on CNN's African voices, I wondered, how one person can garner so much leadership essentials, and how she manages to not only run a high level career, maintain a genuine patriotism for a country whose leaders she constantly contests, and still be a doting mother.

Now, Tourism is topmost in the Kenyan agenda. Ms Mutoko displays through her steel hand a constant thrust for excellence. People who have worked with her speak of her unwavering resolve in pushing boundaries. We need such leadership at government level.

I hope Ms Mutoko takes up the position.

If (when) she does, I will be among those cheering her on, hoping that her infectious vitality will be felt in the not so much known KTDC. I hope, also that she will be part of the leadership that will examine and rewrite Kenya's tourism strategy, as we are, without a doubt still playing way below our league. I hope she will steer KTDC into the ICT century, to take advantage of the online world and to create new conversations about Kenya.

I hope Caroline will help create a visible brand out of the organisation that facilitates the growth of investment in Kenya's tourism Industry; it is the cradle that births the millions of dollars that come in every year to our economy.

I hope Caroline will lead a team that shares in her sense for determination and tenacity as we have seen her do in other matters.

My fear though, is that this is a Public Institution, and it may swallow her the way I think it has done to MIT’s Fiery Mugo Kibati, of Vision 2030. I digress.

Nonetheless, I have learned that every organisation requires a leader that is constantly seeking sustained excellence, one who will transform it from good to great. By appointing her, the government has stamped her leadership status. I know, that these are the leaders we need to take Kenya to the next level.

I wish Caroline the very best.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I celebrate Kenya

I started a discussion on twitter this afternoon, tagged #Icelebratekenya interesting what tweets came out of it.

I think I should be part of the Brand Kenya team. I could do it for free (I lie) but you get me, right? No, I don't want to go to the Olympics, I don't even like crowded places. Thanks. I digress.

Timing is everything.Given the Kenyan team's departure to London, there is this profound patriotic spirit that is now hovering around.

Most other times, we are such a fragmented nation, torn apart by not only tribe, but also by economic disparity and a growing techonology gap, where the rate of urbanisation is leaving most of rural Kenya in the last century.

But, today, and in the next few weeks, Brand Kenya should have maximized on this grand spirit, that may not be here for another few years.

So, this afternoon, we tried to celebrate those things that make us Kenyan. Here are a few tweets.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dear Ian, 10 years, but always in my heart.

Gal this is Ian,

Wanjohi gave me your address jana and told me that i have to talk to you. Don’t know what but all in all how have you been?
I am just from job hungry and worn out and the only thing that is ringing in my head is kitchen then bed.
Hope to hear from you soon.

This was a letter written to me on 6th March 2002, from a young man i was seriously growing a crush on. His name was Ian, and he had the most beautiful eyes.

This was an email he wrote to me when a mutual friend (Wanjohi) made fun of how much he thought I liked Ian.

I did, and after this email, were more emails and phone calls to his home in Sigona, or he to my aunt's house in Buruburu where I lived then; way back when landlines ruled the world.

We were both students at the Alliance Francaise, but he was way ahead of me, and was already pretty fluent in French, he had even taken up a part time job teaching French in a school in Westlands.

We would have several lunches together at a restaurant next to the Alliance Francaise, he always made me laugh, even with my little crush, I was most comfortable around him.

Then the phone call came, from Wanja, telling me Ian was involved in a road accident and had died on the spot. I was outside the Alliance Francaise, hoping, as usual that we'd bump into each other and have a good laugh.

That was 10 years ago.

I cannot remember the date that he died, but this and last week, I have thought loads about where he would be today, the young ambitious, handsome man that he was. Would he be a daddy now, with handsome little boys that took after him? Would he be a business man? A top shot in some big multinational?

I always knew he would make it big, that we would grow old and be great friends, or maybe more even. But God had other plans. Perhaps, as they say, he is in a better place.

As these thoughts dominate my mind, I have thought about my friends and family, people that have made such a great impact in my life by just being there, and now, more than ever, I will remember to show them I love them, because life, as we know it, is too short, that is what memories of you remind me.

So, Dear Ian, sometimes I still hope I’ll bump into you on the streets around the French Cultural centre, or that the phone call about your accident was a dream; that I will wake up one day and someone will tell me that they found you somewhere.

But; my take out from that experience is that I will show the one’s that I love, how much they mean to me, before they’re gone…

Love you long time.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Just to see you again

I want to see you again

To feel my heart beating again
quicken with latent, sensual response
That a woman only feels for her man

That smile, sneer, smirk...

shimmering anticipation
splintering excitement

As your gaze burns into mine

shadowy darkness
silken warmth

utterly, irrevocably male
I'd love to see you again
Then smile at the memory

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just a Brand

I started listening to Radio! Yeah that’s big, I have never owned a radio, or an iPod, or any gadgets in that pool, but I’m driving a friend’s car and, unlike mine, which survives on original cd’s of my favorite musicians, his car can receive several radio channels. So I listen to Capital in the morning (Chris Foot) and in the evening (Maqbul and Cess), and occasionally, the weekend football show on Kiss and Classic.

So, I have also been subjected to advertising. Subjected, because I feel like creative people have picked the lazy path and are dishing (with great colorful presentations) I think, thoughtless advertising that is nothing close to what I believe the basics of advertising are.

I’m not a creative. I am not in advertising. But I know a bad advert when I see or hear one. I once worked as a client service assistant at Express Advertising, but even that does not make me an expert.

Take the Toss advert for instance, a girl who sounds pretty excited talking about how the paparazzi has been following her around town, because she looks so fresh ( or whatever word they used). It could be a futuristic advert, looking forward to the days when paparazzi will follow around nameless good looking girls in bright clothes, possibly driving a Bugatti Veyron all over town in Manolos. Kenyans are not fascinated by celebrities, yet.

Then there’s the Minute Maid “pulpy ad”. Who uses the word ‘pulpy’ when buying juice, of whatever kind? Sigh. It's hard to believe that it is actually a coca-cola product.

There are so many such ad’s, just turn your radio on.

The reason an ad like ‘ Marangi’ or the Safaricom one that sounds like a prayer, or the Tusker one that had thousands of Kenyans sing as if they wrote the national anthem, were so successful, and memorable is because they were believable. I felt like part of the brand, even though beer tastes like soaked wood.

Right now, I love the CBA Bank ad that says, "remember to remember, do what you can to remember, ask your wife, sing in the shower, remember to open an account", ..etc..Love it, because it’s real, and it’s funny.

Some say it’s about budgets. The bigger the budget; the better the ad. I say; you have another think coming. Look at this Durex ad, it is one of my favorites.

What do you think the budget for that was?

Creativity cannot be boxed in budgets. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

So, Dear Creatives, you do a good job,mostly. But I feel that you are also working with clients who do not understand the value of their brands, otherwise they would demand better. I know about the late nights and the last minute rushes. I also know that that’s part of the JD. Just give us something to remember!

Then there's also the problem of little or no competition,an almost monopolistic advertising sector, and clients who insisit on what they want, no matter what. You can never really win, can you? then again , it is just a brand....

Dear's a treat for you, since we're talking advertising

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lost in translation?

This morning I saw a twitter update about a Korean Air Ad, promoting its new 3 times a week flight to Nairobi, which would otherwise be great news, as Kenya embraces the East as tourist and investor numbers from the traditional western markets begin to decline following not only the European financial crisis, but internal issues such as the post-election violence in 2007-2008, as well as continued tension between Alshabaab and the Kenyan government.

But it wasn’t good news. I searched the website, and found this

This advert became the object of banter among Kenyans most of today. Known on twitter as #KOT, or Kenyans on twitter; the response ranged from rage,analysis, to hilarious bits about everything Korean.

These were some of my tweets

'However much we try to be analytical about the word primitive, if I referred to you as such you would be offended."

My first thought was that it wasn’t meant to actually mean primitive.According to the oxford dictionary, when used as an adjective

ancient, original

archaic, basic, earliest, early, elementary, essential, first, fundamental, old, primal, primary, primeval, primordial, pristine, substratal, underivative, underived, underlying, undeveloped, unevolved

As a noun, Primitive is defined as:

1a person belonging to a preliterate, non-industrial society: reports of travellers and missionaries described contemporary primitives
2a pre-Renaissance painter or one who imitates the pre-Renaissance style.

Allow me to digress, during my first visit to China, our tour guide, who was a graduate of the English Language told us about Chinglish; (Chinese-English) a word used to describe the common translation of Mandarin to English; which is almost always a literal translation. Several times, especially when ‘Google Translate’ is used, the sentence construction is wrong and there's quite a bit of grammatival errors.

I believe that Korean Air had no intentions of abusing the Kenyan people in what they referred to as 'primitive energy'.

I would like to however meet a Korean, to explain what the translation of "Primitive energy" means in Korean. I wouldnt be shocked if it read something like: Pure Energy, basic or unadulterated by the modern world.

Hence my blog title; Lost in Translation

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The big fat Greek Wedding

I just got back from Thessaloniki, Greece, one of my closest friends, Lizz Njagah was getting married to the love of her life, Alexandros Konstantaras, I was their maid of honor, and my girl Imani was a flower girl. (that's us behind the couple) :-)

It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever attended. Small, simple, full of love (and amazing Greek food, drinks and dancing)

Our friendship has grown over the years, we have seen each other grow, in our careers and life in general. What I have always admired about Lizz is her energy about life, her passion about acting, She never stopped pursuing it, even when many people asked her to find a "real job". She is currently on MNET's Tinsel playing Tare and has acted in several theatre productions and is now firmly entering the world of film, having recently filmed The reun of Lazarus in Greece, with her husband Alex, as well as Pearl of Africa, whose preview was shown at Cannes this year.

Time flies! It seems like yesterday when she called to say she'd met someone at Jitu films who asked her out for coffee.

The rest as they say is history.

Keep up with Lizz on her website as well as Tinsel on Mnet.

Here's wishing Lizz and Alex Konstataras a wonderful life together!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A few lessons I've picked along the way

In 1998, I packed my bags and left our home in Kitale to pursue a course in acting. I was 18, I thought I'd be back home to wait for university admission after my course. I didn’t return. I found my dream.

I stayed in Nairobi, as an actress in a theatre travelling troupe. Our first play was The Government Inspector, and I played his daughter, Marya. I also had my first stage kiss then. I was 19, and I stayed with relatives until I was 22, and when I completed my diploma in Broadcast Journalism, I trooped off to KBC to find work. I wasn’t turned away, I knew I wouldn’t be turned away, I had done my groundwork during several internships there, and my work ethic spoke for itself.

Fast forward to today, 12 years later, and I like to think, eons wiser. I've worked in a few places, made and broken friends and relations, grown networks and learnt a few things about what opens doors.

1. Your work ethic will speak for you. I'm a hard worker. Years later and perhaps I now I can manage to step aside and make time to smell the flowers, I put 100% into what I do. I learned to deliver beyond expectations very early on in my career, because that's what makes you exemplary.

2. Build your networks. I learnt that i should not be forgettable, much later on in my career, I wish I knew earlier. There's a big difference between an authority asking who you are, and another who calls out your name. In this business, you need the latter. Carry your business card, read about possible talking points, whether you're off to a cocktail party or lunch with a team from a top financial advisory. I stopped job hunting because I have people that believe me in me.

3. Be Knowledgeble. Read, a lot. Get to know what's happening in the US, in Egypt, In Syria, news of global importance are a great place to open conversations and to make an impression. You never know who'll be paying attention. I have been called to speak at places because someone heard me saying we are getting this ICT euphoria wrong somewhere, we need innovators, but we also need the missing link that is funding, we need to stop creating for fun and fame, and start competing with Silicon Valley made apps.

4. Work towards personal growth If I lost everything today, my job, my house, my car, and my watches, (that’s the one thing that bursts my pockets.) I have a plan. I will start from scratch and will rebuild in not so long a time. I may sell second hand clothes; I may sell cakes, or create leather handbags for sale. I have learned to be confident in my passion for things outside my career that can still hold me up if all else fall apart.

5. Have a mentor. When you're 33 going on 40, have a six year old child, a vision board that looks like Victoria Beckam’s life today, you need someone to push you towards your dreams. It's easy to get lost in the current, but you need to focus on where you want to be tomorrow. Today already happened, look out for tomorrow and do something different.

6. Set your goals. I read somewhere that resolutions don't create success, habit does. I have a long list of goals that I look at least once a day. I have written them down and I have reminders that keep me on toes. I have 2 mentors. (And I forcefully recruited one today).

I keep learning every day, but the most important thing is to keep amazing people around you. People that will challenge you to be better, that will laugh and cry with you, but who know the value of tough love. You cannot win when you are alone. I have learned that I am nothing without my friends and my family and my God.

And this is just the beginning.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

18 minutes for Africa

When I first listened to Chimamanda Adichie's talk 'The danger of a single story' I was a young business journalist working for CNBC Africa, and this new found patriotism for the continent had flooded my mind and all I wanted was a better Africa, in perception, and also in tangible terms.

For 18 minutes I was engrossed in her thoughts of how Africa's perception has been shaped through time. Right then I knew that this is the space I wanted to be in. A place where Africans can passionately speak about their continent,what they are doing to make it a better place, despite the world seeing it as a dark and hopeless continent, as the Economist one called it.

So when I bumped into my friend Suraj Sudhakar of the Acumen fund just a day before Ted Talk held its audition for African Speakers in Nairobi, I knew that I wanted to bed there. To be re-energized by other believers of a successful Africa. TEDtalks are Ideas worth sharing. In their own terms, they say, Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.

The Nairobi auditions were in search for a participant for the TEDtalks 2013. It intends to showcase, The Young, The wise, The Undiscovered. These talks (auditions) however were 6 minutes each, unlike the well 18 minute talk.

For 6 minutes I listened to a talk about vultures, transfixed at a topic I would ordinarily flip past. I soaked in the passionate story telling and after that talk I vowed to buy my daughter a book about vultures.

For 6 minutes, I listened to undercover Journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas tell us about Africa Investigates and his desire to uncover corruption on the Afrivcan continent, he passionately puts his life on the line, for a continent that he believes will change. A number of those he has uncovered through his Television features have been arrested.

For 6 minutes, I listened to Lorna Irungu tell us about the 3 lessons that she learned after being diagnosed with lupus and having undergone a number of kidney transplants.

For 6 minutes, I learned about the bees that make it possible to have chocolate, built for pollination, and how they do it, for those minutes, I laughed and smiled, and took in the passion with which the story was told.

For 6 minutes, I listened to Eric Wainana telling about finding an edge, in life, at work, in whatever it is you put your mind to.

For 6 minutes, and another 6 minutes, and more 6 minutes after that, I regained an even bigger pride for Africa.

If these people, who are not just beaming of great oratory skills have such passion and belief in what they are doing to make a better Africa, then the continent will change.

There's farmers finding Agri-solutions through an online platform called I-cow. There's Maasai herdsmen now happy that Lions will not invade their cattle boma 's because of a flashing light a 12 year old invented.

There's Su Kahumbu who's hoping Agriculture can be packaged in a sexier way so that young people can not only be part of feeding the continent, but also part of the global food chain.

It is these things, that I want to be part of, and for 18 minutes, we may one day change the world's perception of Africa.

I wish all the TEDtalk audition candidates all the very best!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dear Developed world, Africa is on twitter.

When I first watched the Kony 2012 video, I remember tweeting about it saying ; “I once thought I could save the world too".

And I did.

There's countless blogs I've done before about a better Africa, and what I can do about making it better. Here and Here are some of those that display what I sometimes think is a passionate naivety. But I believe in that. And after this week, I know that I am not alone. Regular African's care a lot about Africa; passionately.

Kony 2012 is a great attempt at making the world stop and listen. Such is the stuff award winning campaigns carry. Much like the Obama campaign which made the world respond as if we were electing a Global president. Kenyans and several African countries displayed "Obama, yes we can" merchandise in very bold spaces, on their cars, homes, and they wore T-shirts that supported Mr Obama's candidature. We, Kenyans, also got a public holiday the day after he was decaled the president of the United States. Ha!

It was a euphoric moment, much like the #Kony2012 and #SomeonetellCNN hastags that trended worldwide last week.

For me though, it wasn't so much where Kony is or what Uganda and its neighbours have done or not done to aggravate the situation; it was the coming to age of what I would like to refer to Africanism. Never before have I seen Africans show so intensely what they think about what pan african analysts call the "Inteference of the Western World" in African matters.

When I saw the CNN banner "Violence in Kenya" I thought,sarcastically "there we go again, let's hype this as much as we can."

I will not go into the lifelong debate about who shapes the western world’s perception on Africa,and how they do it. We know that, and we have let them and ourselves continue to do it. It's the balance of reporting that we seek.

The "white saviour" mentality that has been much talked about by people like Teju Cole ( An American of Nigerian descent, and in my books joins the likes of John Githongo who enjoy western Bliss and continue to bite the hand that feeds them. ) and others; is perhaps deep down, the same "naivety' to save the world. Why? Because first of all, if Invisible Children really knew Uganda they would know it isnt a "central African country", and they also lost me completely when they talked about Bono.

This week I have learned that Africa has a voice, which may not be ignored for a long time. I also learned that CNN makes mistakes and Africa notices it, and confronts the situation, by making it a trending topic on twitter, as well as a real patriotic phone call to a lady who sounded like she was chewing gum at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta.

African's are no longer the quiet group of remote black people watching the world happen. And when they do, they are passionate about making sure the proper perception is acieved, somehow. Oil finds, Gas, Platinum, Gold continue to rule the world economy, Africa is rich with these natural resources, and these African's beginning to talk about such things are growing to be more patriotic than the Africa that has been seen in the past.

So Dear Developed world, Africa is on twitter, and we have a voice too.

KONY 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Way to Go Mariga, yours is a move all players should emulate.

I know nothing about football.

That's not entirely true: Ok,I know two things: That he likes Manchester United, and so I was informed i'm on that side too, and that I like to guess scores of matches based on absolutely nothing.

But, I've got a rant, that's got everything to do with football, and also nothing to do with football, depending on how you want to look at it. I'll make it short.

Last week, Kenya played Togo, we won. 2-1. One of our international players, Macdonald Mariga (Midfielder, Parma, Italy) refused to play in the match because the Football Kenya Federation owed him 1.5 million shillings in airfare dues. But Kenyans have now gone all out, cursing at Mariga for his "lack of patriotism".

Patriotism? Here's my rant.

I'm with Mariga all the way.

How do we expect Kenyan football to ever mature into international standards if we keep playing footsie with the management.

We've mastered the art of Double standards!

FKF should get its act together. It may be a new management ( I hear someone laugh about that too) But they need to treat our professional players with the respect they deserve.

Football management in Kenya is a big fat rot. Sigh.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An open letter to college students ....Polish up.

A few weeks ago I ranted on twitter about how young Kenyans just out of college seeking jobs, or those still in college seeking internships have no clue how to relate professionally. Some responses were angry ones from possible campus students, or just people who have a strong opinion about everything, without critically looking at the issue at hand. (and they're many of these types on twitter)

Anyway, last week, I set up a meeting between a young person that's very close to my heart and a friend of mine who runs a top ICT company. It wasn't a job interview, but just a sit down chat so my young friend would get to know what happens in the business, as well as to network and hopefully make a good impression to a possible employer.

He had all his papers in order, and dressed well for the meeting, but against my advise, went along with a friend. (who proceeded to ask the secretary if they have openings in another department.)

After his meeting, I asked him to write a letter of gratitude to the MD: and this is what he wrote:

Subject: Appriciation
I would like to thank you, for having a meeting with me.
Incase of any opening i could qualify for, i would appriciate if you kept me in mind.

He copied me in on the letter (please note; I have not altered anything). Take a look at the spelling mistakes and the careless casual attitude it carries.

He does not address the MD by name, and does not sign off with his.

In my opinion it was a hurriedly written letter by someone who's not really interested in a job.

When I rant, I mean well.

I hope that these young people can polish up their images.

I'm also ashamed of our institutions of higher learning, who are in charge of preparing these young people for the real world, and are currently doing NOTHING about it.

Countless times, I get emails from young people seeking internships and job opportunities, and they're very few that impress.

Several of them start with " Hi" some go the extra mile and say "Hey babes". ( listen, we're not friends just because we've tweeted each other. 'Sasa Mrembo" and "Cheers" is not how you ask for a job, I will never take you seriously, and most likely, no one else will.

So Dear young people, as I said on twitter last week, SMS speak is for your room-mate.

"w8 4 ur assist" will not earn you a place on my or anyone else's priority list.

English is the language spoken in the real world, and with that, polish up your presentation, you can never have a second chance at first impressions.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dear Sasha

As i was dropping Imani off to school this morning, moments after we've discussed why she can only wear lip gloss when she's over 16, she reaches her school bag and pulls out an envelope. I can see it is sealed with a brown masking tape.

It a re-used envelope from a bank statement or one of those formal letters, but now it had her beautiful handwriting, with a few flower drawings on it, well coloured and addressed to Sasha.

So I asked about Sasha, who is now her new best friend.

I asked her about the contents of the letter, and how she started the letter. She said she started with "Dear Sasha, Thank you for being my best friend".

I turned away to blink a tear drop, and I asked her why she was writing to Sasha. She said she was inviting her for her birthday, but was also telling her that this year, her birthday will be held in Kisumu, with her aunt(my sister) and her family.

I don't know exactly what it is about that whole experience talking about letters is what got me all fuzzy eyes, or it is yet another reminder of how fast she is growing.

She is spending the weekend with family friends, and what amazes me is how early she plans for it. Later this afternoon she and her dad passed by my office as he dropped her home, and she asked about her Friday guitar classes, wondering how she will go to her friend Ayana's house from guitar school tomororw. So, she has planned to pack her weekend clothes today, and put them in my car tomorrow morning so she goes straight from her music school to Ayana's house.

It the complexity of her mind that truly fascinates me.

She is 5 years old going on 15.

She still loves to read, and we made a deal in January: For every book she reads, she will narrate to me the story, and get a reward each time. She's just finished reading " Why the tortoise has a cracked shell" and now we're off to the skating rink at Panari next Saturday.

We're growing up fast, but she always manages to bring out the child in me.

Today, Im celebrating my Imani.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lost for words.....Happy New year..its not that late is it?

The new year started with quite a bang for me.

I changed stations, and Im now working with CCTV Africa. It's been an amazing few weeks telling Africa's positive stories. CCTV International broadcasts throughout the world, and I work from the Nairobi studio's which is the headquarters for Africa.

We have a one hour News Bulletin, Africa Live, within which I host ' Bizz Africa. every Monday to Friday'.

Here's a sneak peak of what we do

The new experience has been amazing, you know what they say about fresh starts!

Imani is now in Standard One, primary school, and she makes me proud!This morning she was explaining to me the difference between a turtle and a crocodile, and this year, her wishes are that we go to Mombasa and America in December, and she hopes she can finally be able to play her guitar, the lessons have been tough lately, but we're pushing on.

My plans for this year? Going Big!

Thanks for staying with me through this journey!