Monthly Archives: November 2010

War Child

I had had a long day on Saturday. My plan upon getting home was to unwinding to my very engrossing novel with conscious reggae music playing in the background.

Before I started my unwinding I logged onto twitter to check out what was going on in Twitterville and someone tweeted about Emmanuel Jal’s documentary that was airing on K24.

I tuned in and my long day, my reading and my music were all forgotten.

One and a half hours later these were my tweets regarding the documentary:

#nw Emmanuel Jal’s film on K24.

Wow! Just watched #WarChild. A documentary on #EmmanuelJal. That was deep!

Respect to #EmmanuelJal. You have come from far and you are doing great! Kudos. #WarChild

Kenya is not special. We should not take our peace&stabilty for guaranted. War is terrible. #WarChild

As South Sudan goes for its referendum in Jan, I pray for peace. #WarChild

Big up to K24 for airing #WarChild.

From production perspective, #WarChild is a brilliant production. It captured the story’s essence&conveyed it powerfully. Kudos to the crew.

From these tweets you can tell War Child touched me. Respect to Emmanuel Jal! Check out his foundation – Gua Africa.





I was having lunch in the hood today when I overheard a conversation which I thought I should share.

Location was Migingo, a mabati construction at the back of a hotel in the hood owned by the area MP. The kibanda I was enjoying my lunch of ugali matumbo is called K’Ogelo.

A conductor in one of the matatus owned by the area MP was holding fort and this is what I overheard:

“Ati wanasema yuko ndani. Mtu anaishi poa hata kushinda wale wako nje. Cell yake pekee yake, TV kubwa, mattress na blanketi, anakula kuku na anateremsha na tusker malt baridi. We unaniambia nini? Parking Kileleshwa hakuna, magari kibao ilitubidi tupark kando kwa barabara. Na wale watu wanakuja pale sio watu wa tafadhali au naomba, wale ni watu wa kifua mbele. Masonko wamekuja kucheki Sonko. Si usare! Nakushow hii ni showbiz itakatika.”

I was and I still am speechless.


The truth is stranger than fiction!

When Philip Kisia was appointed Nairobi’s Town Clerk (which is effectively Nairobi’s CEO) many people were full of praise.

Kisia had distinguished himself as the chair of Nairobi Central Business District Association (NCBDA) and also as the CEO of Kenyatta International Conference Centre. It was hoped that his previous success would spill over to his tenure as Town Clerk. Incidentally he inherited a very well maintained city from his predecessor, John Gakuo.

It is with sadness then that I note that the city is slowly but surely falling apart. The street urchins are back, the hawkers are back, garbage is piling up, streets are not being swept, the decree of painting buildings annually is not being adhered to and City council askaris are back to harassing and extorting money from Nairobians.

My feeling of dissatisfaction with Philip Kisia’s running of Nairobi has being stewing for awhile and I recall having tweeted about it often. What has inspired this post however are the sights that meet me every time I enter the city from the Eastland’s side.

Starting from the City Stadium roundabout, Landies Road has being in a state of disrepair and repair for a period of at least three years. At any given time the road is being re-carpeted (in a very shoddy way) or the drainage system is being fixed (shoddily). Currently it is the drainage system that is being fixed and even to my layman eye, it is not being right! Who is benefiting from the constant repair work?

Driving down Landies Road, you get to the Muthurwa Hawkers market which cost Ksh 700 million to construct in 2007. It is now in shambles. Did you read the seven hundred million shilling price tag? Burst sewers, cracked walls, lack of water and a general air of chaos. Is City Hall in-charge and if so why doesn’t it bother to fix the mess?

Opposite Muthurwa Hawkers market is the Retail Market which has being a fixture in this side of the city for decades. Behind the Retail Market, some clever person is constructing four blocks of shops. My issue is not even the potentially grabbed land but the standard of buildings being constructed. I always imagined that when constructing a building in the city centre you had to adhere to certain building standards. In my opinion, these blocks of shops which would fit nicely in a village shopping centre have no place in the city. Who approved their construction?

Driving down, you get to The Salvation Army Church. The church has decided to go commercial and construct rental buildings both in the front and back compounds of the church. It is very well for them to take advantage of their location and make an extra buck BUT it is not right for them to construct unsafe buildings!

The two-storey buildings have not yet being completed but the walls have already collapsed and the ceiling plaster has carved in. In spite of all these, construction is still ongoing and the roof is being built. I kid you not! To add more incredulousness to the story, the Church is on the same line as the licensing department of Nairobi City Council!

It is certainly a case of the truth being stranger than fiction.

These and many other eye sores are what welcome one to Nairobi from the Eastland’s side.

Is the City Council waiting for an outbreak of cholera at Muthurwa Hawkers market, the collapse of the aforementioned buildings or the construction of slum like structures in the middle of the Central Business District (CBD) to do something?

Philip Kisia, you are doing a shoddy job! The residents of Nairobi deserve better service! You need to either wake up and work or quit.


Proudly Kenyan!

Congratulations to 24 year old Evans Wandongo for being nominated for the CNN Heroes Award. He may not have won but he is doing a great job. Keep it up!

Congratulations to 21 year old David Rudisha for being named IAAF male athlete of the year. Breaking a world record twice in a week is AMAZING!




Tribalism has been touted as one of Kenya’s greatest ills but I beg to differ. Entire tribes do not benefit due to one of their own being in a position of leadership. I know that political leaders seek to create this illusion of tribal victory or loss but it is just that – an illusion. This illusion is enforced for various reasons all of which favour the politician. The politician gets the title of tribal lord and with that he can negotiate for power and in times of hardship he can rally the hapless tribesmen as his foot soldiers.

Kenya has had three presidents. President Kenyatta was a Kikuyu who come from a village called Gatundu, President Moi is a Kalejin who comes from a village called Sacho and President Kibaki is a Kikuyu from Othaya. It is common to hear that Kikuyu’s have eaten (Remember Wrong’s ‘It’s our turn to eat’?) and thus they need to make room for other communities to eat. Kalejins too were said to be eating during the 24 year rule of President Moi. However, a glance at these villages that have produced the three presidents reveals the same poverty that is evident in other villages in Kenya. Therefore these villages and the common tribesmen did not accrue any benefit from the Presidency or closeness to power.

So who are the people who accrue benefit?

These benefits are shared out by the people who are close to the person wielding power. During Kenyatta’s time there was the Kiambu mafia, during President Moi’s time there was Rift Valley mafia and during the early days of President Kibaki’s term there was talk of the Mount Kenya mafia. These shadowy men and women behind the throne (who most of the times are friends and relatives and incidentally share a tribal bond) are the ones who get all the spoils of war and end up being billionaires. In so doing they give the tribe a bad name but it is the common man who gets the flake for their misdeeds. This eating with friends and relatives spills over to all areas of governance and it leads to incompetence, unprofessionalism and corruption.

Stay with me, there is a point to my extensive background.

My attention has being drawn to different news items which separately may not have bothered me but cumulatively they draw a sad picture.

Chairman of the Interim Boundary Commission, Andrew Ligale is an ODM man who in the splitting of boundaries appears to have favoured his party. Water Minister Charity Ngilu reappointed Reuben Ndolo as the chair of the Athi Water Board. Ndolo had resigned to bid for the Makadara seat but he lost. In the same board seats, John Kiarie (KJ), an aspirant in Dagoretti constituency in the last elections. Julius Sunkuli is the ambassador to China, Kembi Kitura is ambassador in Belgium, both are former or should I say rejected politicians. The shortlist of the Constitution Implementation Commission chair consists solely of former politicians and political aides who are associated with the heavyweights in the current political scene. Water Minister Charity Ngilu is said to have awarded tenders to companies in her ministry to members of her immediate family. A look at who seats in most Constituency Development Fund boards reveals an assortment of cronies and relatives to the Member of Parliament.

This list is by no means extensive but it helps draw a picture of the problem of patronage that is facing Kenya. Qualification and experience are shoved aside in the quest to give favour to friends and relatives. This obviously leads to stagnation in our quest for development and it also breeds corruption.

Apart from the elites who benefit from this patronage system every other Kenyan suffers from it. Ignorance is bliss and thus your average Kenyan has no idea of the happenings or if he does believes that this how things should be.

I hope more Kenyans will wake up and smell the coffee. It’s not tribe x that is eating but rather the elites engaging in sharing the national cake amongst themselves in total disregard of Kenyans and Kenya’s development.

What is the way forward?

I have no idea! I have no fancy answers but something tells me that this will require a shift in the way that political office and any position of authority/power is looked at. A shift from looking at power as an opportunity to enrich oneself and serve only those close to you to seeing leadership/power as a noble calling to provide service to all.

Maybe I am being idealistic but for Kenya to move from potentially great African country to its rightful place as a great African country we have to re-evaluate our leadership system and this patronage system has to cease.


Boundaries Row

Division of constituencies is ordinarily an emotive undertaking. This is because it touches on the giving and taking of power. Ideally it is meant to ensure effective representation and aid in just allocation of resources. In reality it is about whether a constituency seat gets retained or dissolved. When you take into consideration the fact that a Kenyan MP earns Kshs 800,000 and controls a substantial kitty of development money then you will begin to appreciate the furore over boundary splitting.

In my opinion, the appointment of Andrew Ligale as the chair of the Interim Independent Boundaries Commission (IIBRC) and the appointment of various political aspirants as commissioners guaranteed the failure of this commission from the onset. These political appointees would obviously cater to the whims of their political masters at the expense of the greater good.

Everyone agrees that there was a formula to be used. The formula is based on population and size of a constituency. The point of departure is application of the formula.

It appears as though the formula was applied selectively and this has lead to the major disagreements and numerous court battles. There are several examples of what appears to me appears to be discrepancies: Vihiga constituency with a population of 91,616 got split, while Dagoretti constituency with 329,577 people did not get split and Westlands with 140,839 people was split! Just a random picking but it is worth noting that Chairman Ligale is an ODM member and he contested and lost the election for Vihiga constituency, Westlands is ODM territory while Dagoretti is PNU territory. Make your own conclusions but it does not look pretty!

The row is unfortunate and it is obvious that Ligale was NOT up to the challenge of chairing such an important commission. Compare him to Issack Hassan and Abdikadir Mohammed chairmen to Interim Independent Election Commission (IIEC) andParliamentary Select Committee on Constitution respectively and the difference is GLARING!

Ligale = old Kenya. Issack and Abdikadir = new Kenya.

There are two court injuctions which bar the Ligale commission from gazzetting its finding and it appears that the Ligale commission has effectively reached a dead end.

The politicians with their theatrics and the media with the sensational headlines are all doing Kenya a disservice. In my opinion, the way forward is that Ligale commission winds up on Nov 27 and the yet to be constituted Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission takes over and attempts to sort out the mess.

Here is what the new constitution explicitly states on the issue:


(Article 262)


The Interim Independent Boundaries Commission

27. (1) The Boundaries Commission established under the former Constitution shall continue to function as constituted under that Constitution and in terms of sections 41B and 41C but—
a) it shall not determine the boundaries of the counties established
under this Constitution;

(b) it shall determine the boundaries of constituencies and wards
using the criteria mentioned in this Constitution; and

(c) members of the Commission shall be subject to Chapter Seven of
this Constitution.

(3) The requirement in Article 89(2) that a review of constituency and ward boundaries shall be completed at least twelve months before a general election does not apply to the review of boundaries preceding the first elections under this Constitution.

(4) The Boundaries Commission shall ensure that the first review of
constituencies undertaken in terms of this Constitution shall not result
in the loss of a constituency existing on the effective date.

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission

28. (1) The Interim Independent Electoral Commission established under section 41 of the former Constitution shall continue in office in terms of the former Constitution for its unexpired term or until the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission established under this Constitution is established, whichever is later.

(2) When members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries
Commission are selected, regard shall be had to the need for continuity and the retention of expertise and experience.

Clearly all this hullabaloo is empty noise. See through the nonsense.


Football made in Kenya.

Ulinzi FC are the 2010 Kenya Premier League Champions! The military men fought of a spirited challenge by the young Gor Mahia side to emerge victorious on Sunday.

This year’s league has been the most competitive in recent past with two teams (Gor and Ulinzi) separated by only I point going into the final day of the season. Afraha Stadium Nakuru, home to Ulinzi and venue to their match against Karuturi was packed with fans decked in the Ulinzi jerseys while the situation was the same at City Stadium Nairobi, home to Gor and venue of their match against City stars. Gor drew 0 – 0 with City Stars while Ulinzi defeated their neighbors from Naivasha Karuturi 2 – 0 and were thus crowned champions.

Various factors have led to the resurgence of interest in local football. SuperSport in 2007 entered into an agreement with Football Kenya Limited (FKL) to broadcast Kenya Premier League matches and this brought a semblance of order and professionalism in the clubs management.

There has also been flamboyant clubs taking the league by storm and stirring interest. Sofapaka popularly known as Batoto ba Mungu rose from a church-based team in Kawangware to win the Kenya Premier League in their first year of playing in 2009. In the 2010 season, Gor Mahia popularly known as K’Ogalo has revolutionized football support in Kenya. Fanatical Gor fans have electrified the support base and filled up the stadia and this has been infectious. Kenyans now talk animatedly of Blackberry, Barasa, Ngwa, Itubu Imben, and Mohamed Juma just as they talk of Rooney, Fabregas, Drogba and other footballers.

I pray that the current momentum will be maintained and increased in the 2011 season.

However football in Kenya is not entirely a bed of roses. Football management is in a sorry state and I honestly can not make heads or tails of the situation which involves FKL, KFF and FIFA. What I know is that ALL these football officials who have run football in Kenya for the last two decades need to be swept away like bad rubbish and new blood brought in to take Kenyan football to new heights.

Looking forward the growth areas in Kenyan football are: construction of  new stadia, starting of training academies that will act as feeders to the clubs, increased tactical training for coaches, better club management, injection of sponsorship and in honor of the fans who died in a stampede at Nyayo Stadium changes in spectator management during matches. Other miscellaneous areas of growth are in football reporting, football commentary (Bernard Otieno can only do so much!) and merchandising (Did Gor make any money from the thousands of merchandise sold or did clever Wahindis cashing in?).

In the international scene, Harambee Stars campaign in the Africa Cup of Nations has started off badly! They have lost one and drawn one and I’m not entirely convinced about Ghost Mulei being the coach. I hope that Francis Kimanzi can be convinced to take over when he comes back from Netherlands.

In the midst of all the mismanagement, it is with pride that I state that Kenya has TWO footballers in the Champions league. These are Inter’s MacDonald Mariga and Auxerre’s Dennis Oliech. Imagine what would happen if football in Kenya was professionally run?


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