Tuesday, August 25, 2009


According to Newton’s first law of motion, a body persists its state of rest or uniform motion unless it is acted upon by an external force. This external force, depending on its magnitude and direction, may bring the moving body to rest, accelerate its speed, slow it down or change its direction. If the body was initially at rest, the external force will cause it to move. In short, there has to be some force applied to change the initial state of a body in terms of motion. Applying the same law in every day life, nothing changes until you do something. In other words, if change is desired something has to be done! The question then becomes; what has to be done?

During the post election violence, people picked up their weapons because they felt they had to do something. They felt they’d been violated and they had to do something back. And some of us watched and said yes! Somebody has to make them pay. Someone needs to make them know that it’s not all that good. What else was there to do? Sit back and watch the news? Grumble inside your house? It was an emotional moment. But killing is not accepted, surely not even on self defense. God is not fallible and neither are his laws. God said do not kill and it stopped there, there were no exceptions. Those who know me know I wonder, does there have to be war before there is peace? Is it okay to do evil just so good may prevail? Does someone have to lie so that the truth may come out?

So again what is it that should be done when such moments arise? Young men and women are out protesting, you are safe inside your house. You support them but you are not out there with them. Your people end up dying, you know they died for you. But they are laughed at and you can’t help but think, why didn’t they just stay at home? Nobody asked them to go out there but somebody had to go. Mau Mau people are considered heroes, they fought and died for freedom. We like to think they died for us. Someone has to let them know that it’s not all that good down here. But how can that be done without risking lives? Even the Mau Mau couldn’t do that. Ostensibly, only the poor get so concerned.

Something still has to be done but we are still here seated watching them play us like it’s a movie. Watching the news, getting our moods swung and probably write about it but we are still static. Hopefully there won’t be a too big a price to pay for freedom/democracy this time, less than the loss of any life or bloodshed. But if there is any volunteer willing to die for the cause, let him show himself. God bless us all.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Is this a curse or a blessing? The fact that wherever you turn here in Kenya you see the same people in their respective lines of work, pick a profession, any profession.. we can begin with the obvious- politics. We all know how it goes, the same people getting recycled back to office and we wonder how. Well, I have news. If anyone thought that Kenya was a democracy then he was broadly mistaken, we have in place an oligarchy as a form of government. According to wikipedia an oligarchy is a form of government in which power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royal, wealth, intellectual, family, military or religious hegemony. Now if this does not describe Kenya then I do not know. Ours is an elected oligarchy.

Turn on the your TV, a new station came up and guess who you see? You got it, the same faces you are used to still reading you the news. A new radio station, the same players reshuffling every now and then changing stations. I bet there are certain media personalities who have not a single media house they haven’t worked for. That show can you dance? the Kenyan version, it came and went, right? Now we have Tusker Project Fame III, guess again whom I saw, the same choreographer that was on can you dance? still a choreographer on this show- Edu!

Take big businesses in Nairobi, if you don’t see the same person you see another him. Born in Kenya, educated abroad, worked abroad for a while then decided to come back because they love Kenya. Started their own thing and now they run a successful business. Overly educated too, intelligent, tend to think you are stupid until you prove yourself otherwise.

I appreciate it when someone is good at what they do. If opportunities keep landing on their laps because of their skills, that is a good thing, isn’t it? But is that why they get the opportunities or is it that there is not tough competition. If the latter is true, that means that there is a shortage of professionals in Kenya. There is a shortage of people with technical know-how in any field so the same people get the opportunities. In plane words, most of the population is stupid. It bothers me when I see the same people because it sends a message, it won’t be easy to get in because they won’t let you. That ‘same’ person is already there, so unless you become him, forget it. And even if you become him you have to wait until he finishes his turn. But when you make it in, you’re IN. That’s the message.


Until we as a people understand the ills of corruption, we are never going to be disentangled from it. Until we learn and permeate the culture of owning up our individual responsibility to the next generation or even the next person standing by us, we won’t stagnate economically but we will fall far back. Now this is not news it has already happened and the past can act as an empirical proof. What is most saddening is that we keep repeating the same mistakes and nobody cares because nobody wants to take responsibility. It is always somebody else’s fault.

Enough analysis have already been made by experts, clearly outlining our problems and mistakes in an articulate way. Comparisons have been made between our economy and other economies which were of the same level as ours some thirty to forty years ago. Sometimes one can’t help but get ‘wowed’ by our failures. Well, this article is not about what we are doing wrong, it’s about a fresh start. It’s about getting the hell up, dusting our shoulders off and getting our walk on! It’s a process, a realistically executable one. The views expressed here may not be in synchrony with the laws of political science but here they follow in no particular order, nonetheless;

1. In The Head

This is where it all begins, in our heads. Every individual has a role to play. Even if we had angels in the government (where most of us erratically think it’s where it starts, understandably though), they wouldn’t do much good if the people didn’t want to be led by them or were simply not corporative. We need to support and respect those whom we chose to lead us, after all God put them there. The condemnation and the negative talk won’t help, let’s accept what we have in our hands and work with it! Let us all foresee prosperity and success before it is here. Let us not say ‘Kenya will never develop’ because every time someone else utters those words the realer it becomes. Let us think positive and see the good.

Don’t you know, that it’s not always that we are doing something wrong? Sometimes we fail not only because we don’t have faith but because we spray too much negative criticism on a good thing even before it is put in place such that it doesn’t do us the good it was intended by the few men and women of faith and goodwill, or didn’t you think they exist?

If you are not proud to be Kenyan, at least don’t be ashamed of being Kenyan. A man said of Kenyan products; I will not buy Kenyan products just to prove I’m proudly Kenyan, give me quality and I will buy. I believe that is how true pride is achieved.

2. Call Upon God, Not The Government!

Those who watch the news are all too familiar with the rather sickening phrase ‘serikali iingilie kati’ which is now a cliché. That has to stop because if it brought us any solution it was short-term and we were stretching out our arms again, begging. Just like they (gov.) do to donors when they run out of funds in their budget.

It is not necessarily evil or detrimental to our progress if we called upon the government, but much more of our needs would be met if we called upon God just as much. Why call upon the ‘legion of thugs’ anyway when you can go straight to the source?

This point kind of inclines to religion, and not so long ago when priests and pastors were tossing themselves into politics every major TV station asked people to send their opinions whether or not religion and politics can mix. It’s hard to tell about the ‘can’ part, but what is for sure is that it should. I sure as hell want to know that my president prays. If we put God first, we wouldn’t have anywhere to go but up.

3. Hard Work/ Giving Back

There is no doubt that Kenya is a working nation, but why then is our hard work not reflected on our national growth? I may not know much but I think it’s the lack of a common goal. Most of us are at the point where we’d do anything for money, just to get by. So other people work to survive. Some people do what they do over other things because of the huge amount of returns.. (have nothing against that as long as it is legal).

Whatever the reason for working, we tend to miss the bigger picture- our contribution to the wider community through our work. Does our work change lives, does it make life easier or bearable to someone else? (Selling drugs to an addict doesn’t count). It doesn’t have to be something big. The point is, we may be working hard but some of us are working hard in the wrong direction because we always put ourselves first. The target should be a better future for the unborn children, our grandchildren. Our ancestors might have failed to prepare a good present for us but it doesn’t mean that we too should fail the generation that is going to come after us.

Yes, we should think of our immediate families first but in the end we should think of everyone. For this reason I suggest we do more volunteer work when we get the time off our busy schedule in addition to just dishing out money. Visit children’s homes or help clean the environment. Do physical work that will benefit the community, that is giving back.

4. Education

Our education system should change. This is a tough one because this system is all we know. Our teachers went through the same system, its all they know. That we read, we pass, we get a job- period. We don’t even need to think. Alternatively, we don’t read, we don’t pass, joblessness.

Poverty is by no means an excuse for poor quality of education. With a pencil, a paper and a good trainer one can still get quality education. Other things like computers, desks, a classroom etc just facilitate the process. Its like money and love. Love feels better if you have money but you can still have love without money. You tell me where Newton and Socrates got their education. (I understand though, that times have changed and that even Newton and Socrates would find it hard to cope in today’s world but you get my point)

This means we need an educated lot. We need men and women of integrity. Since education is one of government’s responsibility, they can do much to improve on the quality.

5. Family/ Morals

The basic unit of a community, that is what a family is. The family plays a very crucial role in developing us as responsible human beings as we grow up. Not enough attention is given to our young ones when they grow up so they get confused. They grow up thinking one thing is right until they find out its not when its too late.

We need to pay attention to what our children are thinking when they are still young and correct their misconceptions while its still possible. Children listen to what we say and emulate, when you watch the news and haul insults at a politician you don’t like, he’ll grow up thinking MP’s are stupid, a certain tribe are to be avoided and so on. We don’t want that.

We need to protect the innocent minds of our offspring from the cruel world we live in until they are ready for it. They need constant checking up, find out what they’ve learned, how they spent the day. The future might just depend on these minds. It’s a hard job, parenting. And it was meant to be done by parents, not by schools or the media.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


In the Greek language, there are three (actually four, it depends) words for love; eros which means passionate love with sensual desire and longing, Agapē which refers to general affection rather than the attraction suggested by eros and Philia which refers to a dispassionate virtuous love. It requires virtue equality and familiarity. I find it interesting that the Greek created these many words for love but I find it convenient, and so did Martin L. King Jnr. I have come to think that all the many great men and women who came before us were not any different from us, they too were human. Because even Mr. King who preached pacifism stopped to question himself, why should I love him who oppresses me and my people? What do you when he smacks you in the face for no reason? Yes even Mr. King questioned himself sometimes so we are not that much different, but at the end of the day there is something that makes us different… that makes me different. And that is Love. Mr. Martin explained that he couldn’t possibly love his oppressors, he just couldn’t. But he loved them by virtue of them being human. He loved them because God loved them too just as much as He loved him. He loved them because he was not as superficial as they were so as to just see the colour of their skin, but he saw them as brothers and sisters in the family of mankind.

I want that. I want to love, in all aspects of the word. I want to be loved. I want to create a world of my own where people share everything they have. I want a world of my own creation where everyone cares and people forgive. The Lord knows that I do try… I really try, just maybe not hard enough. I want to do good to people without expecting nothing in return. I want to wash people’s feet, I want to serve! I want to learn the secrets of life, learn about spirituality and gain all the wisdom I could get. I want to understand. I want faith. But most of all, I want God.

Isn’t that the meaning of life? We spend too much time just trying to get by, all for what? If you can love and find love in this life, then you are successful! Yes we need to work to put food on the table and even more but if only we understood what love can do… Malcolm X said (I’m ashamed to have to quote foreigners); Africans didn’t get their freedom by singing ‘we shall overcome’, they fought for it! Frankly I don’t know what to say to that, but I think that the real man is he who can still be able to love his enemies regardless of how much wrong they do him. It’s so easy to be angry, the task comes in containing it. What I’m saying is realistic, just in the same way poverty can be eliminated and tribalism can end!

Perhaps I’m dreaming. Well, I can’t waste my life hating. I’m creating my world within myself. And when I have kids I will share it with them. I will love them and I will teach them everything I know. Then I will tell them to spread it as far as they can. Then I will consider myself to have played my part. Because we cannot all be Martin Luther.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I read about the art of negotiation in the recent past and it created a notion in my head that to get what you want in life you just have to acquire the skills to play the game of life. The skill my people, is the art of negotiation. In reference to what I read, we all negotiate everyday. When you want someone to cover for you at work, when you have one too many drinks and can’t go home for some reason (maybe your wife is a python or you still live in your mother’s house) so you call a friend at 2am for a spot to sleep. Perhaps the latter situation is a little extreme in the sense that it doesn’t occur that often… well, for most people, but it is in such occasions that you need something a little extra to get what you need, that you might not necessarily deserve.

Just so that we are on the same page, I feel compelled to define the word ‘negotiate’, not according to the dictionary but in the context of which I’m using it. To ‘negotiate’ can fundamentally be defined as persuasion or convincing in order to gain that which you desire while having to give up the least. It is possible. This blog was not intended to give a lecture on the subject but I will say one thing, you have to understand the interests of the other person. Have a little something on them too, you get?

Anyway, so I tried to put into practice what I read in them stupid books. I went out to the world and I could see all the things I did wrong… unfortunately I couldn’t make them right, I’m just too critical to negotiate. Check this scenario; me and a friend walk up to the entrance of a club… wait, we weren’t going in to drink or party. We’d traveled together and arrived late (8pm) so while we were in town, he decided I had to see this place which he likes. I wasn’t so much interested but I went anyway. At the entrance I get frozen, apparently I look like a twelve year old with facial hair! It was ridiculous. I probably should but I don’t walk with my ID probably because I have never owned a wallet. I tried to ‘negotiate’ but what I ended up doing was trying to win the argument. I even engaged hypothetical talk; ‘what if I have a student ID?’ As we continued to argue, he lets another person enter without asking for his ID which makes matters worse. Long story short we were let in, my friend was the better negotiator for the day and he didn’t read any books. He bribed the bouncer with fifty shillings. I didn’t like that. I preferred to just walk away which I was already doing but my friend insisted. My point? I lost my point.

But I like the following conversation I heard in a movie.

Man 1 : How much do you charge?
Man 2 : 50,000
Man 1 : 50,000, are you kidding? Earlier you said 30,000.
Man 2 : Things have changed since then.
Man 1 : (Sighs) I’ll give you 40,000
Man 2 : Deal.
Man 2’s partner : Hey, you know what? We were bluffing, we would have taken 30,000
Man 1 : I was bluffing, I would have given you 50,000.

Monday, August 17, 2009


In Nairobi we take greetings for granted, I can give you that. The fact that I nodded at you today doesn’t necessarily oblige me to perform a gesture in form of a greeting on the following day or from that day onwards. Its just how we live, it doesn’t mean I have a grudge against you, it just means we missed eye contact. That means we move on! So pardon me.

Yes, I do nod… that’s a form of greeting. I mean, you can’t be too careful these days, a Latino President caught that virus! No, not HIV, that H1N1 flu virus. I read some tweet suggesting hugging but I don’t swing like that. I don’t like getting all touchy especially around my abdomen. Plus, I hate when someone rubs my back when we hug, thank you very much, I’m warm enough. Its like they want to make sure their ‘dirt’ sticks on you, uh-oh. I’d rather wave, or just holler your greetings. Hugging is over-rated, even strangers want to hold me!

The hardest people to handle when it comes to greetings are those people you are not used to, you are not friends, you don’t even talk with each other but circumstances put you both in the same place everyday and you have to say hi to each other... the awkwardness brewed up by the situation can be so overwhelming!

Maybe I just leaped out of stone age but do you remember the days when there were greetings for different age groups? Like you wouldn’t just approach your dad and say “what’s up?” Where did those days go? Forget it I think I know… to the dogs.

I’m saying this because I came back home from college one day and found new security guards (don’t call them watchmen, some of them really sensitive) at the gate. They are not familiar with me so I see them looking at me funny but I know that they are just doing their job, so as I approach I holler my greetings in case they have something to ask me.

“Habari yako?”, I mutter.

He still gazes at me. He sees that I’m sure where I’m going, then he replies;

“Poa, Poa!”

I was dumbstruck. I just walked by feeling like the Flintstones.
That day I learned a valuable lesson. These men are not that old, they are just grown.

On another occasion, I come home at night. It was dark and again I have this thought that it would make their work easier if I make my voice heard so they can identify me by it.

“Niaje?”, I say as I hurriedly pass through.

“Wewe ni nani?”

“Screamer”, I replied.

“Unaishi wapi?”

Right then I knew I’d used the wrong greeting. I had better chances of passing without all the scrutiny if only I had kept my mouth shut. What? If I say “Habari yako”- you are not that old and if I say “niaje”-I’m a suspect?
That is so unfair. I had to answer a dozen more questions like I was some sort of criminal before I walked into the estate. On that night I learned another valuable lesson; to just keep my mouth shut until I’m talked to!

I don’t know if this is relevant but on that night my jeans were sagging, I had a cap and I carried a backpack.