Tag Archives: Kenya

#LifeSnippets – Guilt Tax (Kenyan welfare)

Setting : A middle class estate in Nairobi.

Cast : A group of men are seated at the ‘base’. Chewing mugoka, drinking spirits and smoking as they ‘escort the sun’.

‘Base’ is the name for where jobless, hustling guys seat in Nairobi estates passing time, abusing drugs, taking in the sights of the neighborhood and debating anything and everything.

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Me: (passing in front of Base, waving)

Cast: Come for a bit!

Me: (walk over wondering wsap)

Cast: We need to talk.

Me: About?

Cast: Ever since you moved on up and started working there is something you have not done.

Me: What?

Cast: Blessed the Base

Me: Ooooh!

Cast: You need to buy us drinks till we drop. Do not think of us drinking your money but more like you pouring liquor on this base and the base thereby blessing you and your money.

Me: (laughs a lot) I have heard. (Walks away)

***

Unemployment is huge in Nairobi. You may think its only prevalent in the slums and lower class estates but even the so-called middle-class estates are not immune.

Its effect is worse in the middle-class estates as the unemployed are children of retired bankers, civil servants, teachers. They saw their parents work their butt off to secure their education but now that education is redundant as job search becomes the job. Their parents being working class also limits their entrepreneurial spirit as all they were conditioned to aspire to is employment.

No job leads hopelessness. Hopelessness leads to life apathy. Life apathy leads to a drug-full life. Whiled away at base.

Simplification? Yes. Reality? Yes.

If you are lucky enough to get a job and you are from the hood then you will at one time or another pay guilt tax.

TAXES

Guilt tax is paid when you are walking/driving through the hood and someone asks for a ten bob for a cigarette or you are in the local and someone hustles you for a beer or for additional cash to buy a drink.

You pay the guilt tax not because you are rich or because you have to but because you know but for the grace of God there goes you.

You are not special just lucky.

Away from the hood setting, the guilt tax is also paid in family, extended or nuclear. We all have that uncle who texts asking for an MPesa donation because he has new wife, new child or new cow.

In retrospect, the guilt tax maybe Kenya’s version of welfare.

Plugging the gaps and pushing the broken societal wheel forward.

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So maybe I will bless the base after all.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


#LifeSnippets – 4am Loving

*Of interesting things that happen to me and things that I happen to overhear.*

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4am on a Saturday morning.

At the gate to the court in the estate.

A Passio driven at top speed comes to a halt.

A lady jumps out and says, “Thanks! Ufike poa.”

The male driver pleadingly asks, “You’ve just gone? You can’t even say thanks with a kiss?”

Lady leans in. Kisses man for half a minute. Then bangs car door and jauntily walks into court.

Man reverses in haste. Gears engaged. Car flies off.

Frustration is not a good look.

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Got me thinking. At 4am not only do you have to look out for drunk drivers you have to be wary of another breed of drivers.

The sex-crazed: Those who have chipod and are rushing to get some.

The frustrated: Those who thought they have scored only to discover they were a cabbie for the night.

condom

Stay safe on the roads and no matter what time you love do remember to use protection.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


#LifeSnippets – Becoming Baba Nani.

*Of interesting things that happen to me and things that I happen to overhear.*

Setting – barbershop in the hood

Man 1 – late 20s, early 30s, office worker. Getting haircut.

Man 3 – mid-30s, hustler in the hood. Waiting in the queue.

Man 2 – Barber. Oldish guy.

 

imagesBABY
Man 2: Mbona umetulia hivi. Mawazo ni ya nini? Si ulimarry juzi. Mama ameenda nini?

Man 1: Sare za ovyo. Mi nataka mjunior mbaya. Nimepeleka mama mbio lakini wapi.

Man 2: Wacha nikuchapie. Hii kitu haitakangi mbio

Man 3: Eh. Mimi first born wangu nilikula mama kutoka first mpaka thirtyth ya mwezi ya kwanza. Halafu next month hivyo hivyo. Na bado hakuget ball. Mpaka ikakuwa tension kwa hao. Ndiyo mzae fulani akanichanua. Kula ni ka mchezo. Usifikirie stori ya mjunia.

Man 1: Nashangaa niaje. Nikicheza nje kitambo madem walikuwa wanaget ball na misitaki. Sahii nataka siget.

Man 2: Nimemarika for long. Nisikizeni. Mtoi ni God. Ukimwonyesha ati wewe ndiye unajua atakuonyesha si wewe. Utakula mpaka uchoke. Na usiget mtoi. Kwa hivyo tulia. Toa stori ya mtoi kwa kichwa. Kula mama bila pressure. Enjoy. Utashangaa atakuambia anaball.

Man 3: Imagine hivyo ndiyo kulienda. Ki-surprise tu mama akaniambia anaball.

Man 1: Wazi jo wasee. Nilikuwa nimeshangaa niaje.

Me: Aha!

Such is the level of intimacy men exhibit at a barbershop.

Also, conception and parenthood is as much a concern for men as for women.

And fathering a child (when said man is ready) is seen as a feather in the cap by most men.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


Spinning the ICC, Governing by PR

Let me let you in on a little secret.

I lined up to welcome private citizen Uhuru Kenyatta who returning from his Hague date. Ssssssssh. Keep it between us.

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As a schoolboy lining up for retired president Moi – who prophesied that KANU would rule for 100 years to much derision (Who is laughing now?) – was normal. He seemed to always be on the go and he (or his handlers) felt that school children should either be lining the road waving or singing for him at different forums. Moi also said “now you are saying Moi must go but one day you will say Moi must come.” And the hullaballoo at Moi’s birthday did somewhat validate his statement.

So Chief Chef Lenku’s circular requesting for peace-loving Kenyans presence along the roads which the private citizen/President was not a shocker. After all the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Curiosity and my continued study of human nature fuelled my ten minutes walk to Makadara along Jogoo Road. And my timing was impeccable. Fifteen minutes upon my arrival the motorcade made its appearance.

It is common knowledge that Uhuruto used ICC case and astute PR to ascend to power. Communities which felt under siege came together to protect their sons using the tyranny of numbers. And spin or PR if you like whitewashed the picture (and eyes).

Just how much this ICC and PR narrative sold is now unfolding.

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The mass of people at Makadara was positively buzzing. These were not rent-a-crowd folk. These were people sharing a common unshakeable belief. Not subject to reason or logic. It is because it is kind of belief. It felt like a stadium or a church.

Young and old. Male and female. Seated and standing. All waiting. Happily. Anxiously.

Snippets of conversation in the alternative national language floated around me. “He is ours.” “God-given.” “He is our blood.”

One side of phone conversations was overhead; “I am here. I could not miss it for anything. Where are you standing?” Also, “Where are you?….you can’t make it…he is almost here.”

Then the outriders’ zoomed past signalling the much awaited moment was near and the buzzing crowd became alive. Screaming, chanting and dancing. The junction into Buruburu from Jogoo Road was blocked as the frenzied crowd demanded an address.

Before I walked away I caught a snippet of Uhuruto and their astonishment was clear. The narrative gelled together around ICC and PR had worked beyond their wildest dreams. More conversation snippets floated around me. “See what we voted for?” “See the fruits of our labour?”

The ICC case and astute PR has managed to turn Uhuru support into a fanatical undertaking. The support is more than political. It is something akin to religion. And religion is now being woven into the narrative. Uhuru is viewed as the Chosen One. A popular chant of Uhuru supporters is “Si nguvu/si uchawi, ni maombi.” (It is not our strength/it is not witchcraft, it is prayer.) Songs have also being composed to that effect. Uhuru’s presidential victory is touted as an answered prayer.

kenya-flag

Another by-product of the ICC case and PR is flag-waving patriotism. Most of the crowd at Makadara had the flag. Matatus and even private cars flew the flag. The flag being used was Kenyan but is the Nation Kikuyu? Put another way, to the crowd at Makadara is the Kikuyu nation synonymous with the Kenya nation? Or another way to ask the question is did the challenge mutate from personal to communal to national? And now international?

Articles 147 and 134 are in the constitution. Ruto is a Deputy not Vice. It follows then when principal is absent the deputy acts. But politics is about perception. And Uhuruto use of PR is phenomenal. So amid much fanfare President Uhuru became a private citizen while Deputy Ruto became Acting President complete with trappings of power.

uhuruto

A fact that one following the ICC case may found hard to believe is that post election violence actually happened. The Kikuyu bore a substantial brunt of the violence. The Uhuruto bromance aside, the hoi polloi still harboured a grudge. A Ruto presidency was unfathomable. Too much blood under the bridge it was said. But after ‘the handing over power’ show a Ruto presidency is now somewhat discussable. Which given numbers tyranny, then a ten plus ten Uhuruto reigns may not be fiction.

Remember the 100 years prophesy? Tingisa kabisa.

So what do all these variables portend for mkenya wa kawaida or for Kenya?

Is the ICC case good for mkenya wa kawaida or for Kenya?

Is the management by PR good mkenya wa kawaida or for Kenya?

I have no idea.

You?

GOD BLESS KENYA!

p.s – ALL images courtesy Google.


Word on the street…

(Guys in a house watching football, listening to music, having a beer and basically chilling.)

Guy A: Who will you vote for?

Guy B: (Proudly) Peter Kenneth. My conscience cannot let me vote for these other fools.

Guy A: Okay. After you and your conscience have wasted your vote and forced Kenya into an expensive run-off who will you vote for?

Guy B: Wa! Between worse and worst I guess I will pick worse so I will reluctantly vote Cord. I do not want to live under sanctions. Just look at Zimbabwe or Sudan.

Guy C: I was also going to vote for Martha or Peter Kenneth but after the alliances formed I realized it will be a close two-horse race. So I changed my mind! I am not going to waste my vote. I will vote for Cord. Not that Cord are that great.

Guy D: I will vote for Jubilee. Kenya and Kenyans do not need half-shocks like PEV 2007/8. Kenya needs major shock to happen so that it can rebuild once and for all. These half-measures mean Kenya never grows. Look at Rwanda? It totally broke apart then now it is doing well. Let us break apart totally and then rebuild. Also I can’t vote for Raila after his 41 tribes versus 1 tribe mantra in the last elections.

Guy C: So it is basically about tribe?

Guy D: Off course it is about tribe! This is Kenya. How would you feel if your community is targeted and singled out through no fault of your own? Even you are in Cord because your guy got running mate.

Guy B: See? This is why I am voting Peter Kenneth. To end this tribalism nonsense.

Guy C: To bad Kenneth has no chance in hell of winning. So you are wasting your vote. And these wasted votes will force us into a run-off. Do you think Kenya is politically mature enough and rich enough to go through a run-off? Or will a close election result in chaos?

Guy A: And to be honest, Kenneth appears to me to be an Obama in 2008. He looks good, can be branded well and he can speak well. But when push comes to shove he is short on concrete and long on fluff.

Guy D: So you who will you vote for?

Guy A: No one! I do not have a voter’s card. And looking at the options available and after listening to all your reasons for voting, I can’t say I am missing out on anything. Whoever wins it seems we are screwed and the question the election is settling is just how screwed we are!

Ends…

The above conversation played out in my presence over the holidays.

The guys chatting are all young, urbane and educated with exposure to internet, media and world affairs.

It is amazing that all these attributes seem to have had no impact on their decision on who to vote for. No one mentioned issues or track record. It basically comes down to tribe and political history of aspirant.

It is a sad indictment of the level of our politics/democracy after 50 years of independence.

With two months to what promises to be bruising and very competitive elections, it is also worrying and scary.

Pray for Kenya.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


Kenya Daima…

These words of William Butler Yeats in his poem The Second Coming keep playing in  my head:

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

My country is no longer at ease.

Before I wrap my head around what is going on I would like to:

Pay tribute to all the members of the security forces who have lost their lives in the recent days while in the line of duty.

Pay tribute to all Kenyans who have lost their lives due to the recent spate of violence.

Request you to spare a minute every day to say a prayer for our beloved country Kenya.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


Undecided…

During the US elections I often wondered how given all the media coverage and adverts available any voter would be undecided on whether to vote for Obama or Romney.

It is therefore funny that with three months to the Kenya elections I find myself being an undecided voter.

Do not get me wrong, I am decided on who I will NOT vote for. The indecision is on who I WILL vote for.

Courtesy | Google

I am tired of crap. 50 years of nonsense is enough for Kenya. I believe time is nigh for Kenyans to break away from the yoke of mediocrity.

The launch of Tunawesmake was a breath of fresh air. Issues appeared to have come to the fore-front of Kenya’s body politic. But two weeks later there is no sustained buzz from the Peter Kenneth campaign. Methinks this was a wasted chance to build momentum by his campaign team.

Enough about Peter Kenneth.

Let us talk about the ‘elephant in the room’: Martha Wangari Karua.

For a while, Martha was touted as the ‘change candidate’ for the demographic of Kenyans who are tired of the tribal nonsense and business as usual politics.

However her campaign appears to have lost team and direction. It feels to me that it has fizzled out even before it got started.

And now with the launch of Tunawesmake many of those who were Team Martha are slowly getting seduced by Peter Kenneth. Therein lies the indecision many pro-change voter are faced in. They have to choose between Martha Karua V Peter Kenneth.

This is reminiscent of Obama v Hillary duel in 2008 for the Democratic Party ticket. Hillary lost and had to settle for Secretary of State while she bids her time. She is said to be considering running for the US presidency in 2016.

Martha Karua is no stranger to politics. She has been in politics since 1992. Prior to that she served as a magistrate. She rose up to position of Minister of Constitutional Affairs in President Kibaki’s cabinet where she was referred to as the only man in the cabinet due to her strong-will. Her only blemish is her unequivocal support for President Kibaki during the 2007 election debacle.

Her political pedigree is not in doubt but the question begs, is Kenya ready for a woman president? Or is presidency a bridge to far for Martha? Should she swallow her pride and support Peter Kenneth so as not to split the reform-centred vote?

Kenya is a patriarchal society. This is even more pronounced in the rough and tumble of Kenyan politics. Just look at the hullaballoo over the two third rule. Despite women having the numbers it is highly likely that not enough women MPs will get voted into Bunge thus resulting in a constitutional crisis after the elections. Add to that mix what I call the Baraza-effect; Kenyans been averse to a strong confident women leader following the Baraza alleged nose-pinching incident. The odds are thus heavily stacked against Karua.

Folk have been saying that Kenneth can choose Karua as his running mate. I believe this will be problematic. A ticket that has Peter Kenneth and Martha Karua would be a hard sale due to the fact that both have Kikuyu roots and President Kibaki is Kikuyu. I know it should not matter but Kenya in 2012 is a tribal country and tribe cannot be ignored. Two Kikuyus seeking to succeed another Kikuyu would not go down well with ordinary Kenyans.

Since she has already said goodbye to Gichugu constituents, how about Martha borrows a script from Hillary Clinton? She can throw her weight behind Peter Kenneth and then negotiate for a Cabinet Secretary for Constitutional Affairs. With the new Katiba needing massive implementation, she will have mega visibility and she will be working on something she has labored for over the years –constitutional reforms.

Will she? Would she? I have no idea. That ultimately is Martha Karua’s decision to make.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

It appears that I am not the only one who has to make decision concerning the upcoming 2013 elections.

Given the state of our country and our politics, the decisions are not black and white. It is about choosing lesser evils, been strategic, sacrificing individual desires for the greater good of many.

The only constant I can see in the midst of the ever changing variables is the love for Kenya.

Everything notwithstanding we all have to put KENYA FIRST!

GOD BLESS KENYA!


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