Monthly Archives: June 2012

Aid for energy sector

Low-income households will have increased access to electricity after the government got a 5.4b loan and a 550M grant from the French government.

The French government through the French Development Agency (AFD) advanced the funds after the signing of crucial financing agreements with the Kenyan government to facilitate scaling-up of energy projects.

The loan will finance projects that will see rural electrification program bear tangible fruits with potential customers getting loans dubbed StimaLoans to enable them pay for their domestic connections. Currently one has to pay Sh. 35,000 before electricity can be pulled from the poles into the house which has proved to be beyond the reach of many.  StimaLoan will seek to assist 500,000 new customers get connected to the grid in the next five years.

There shall also be increased distribution of energy-saving light bulbs with the government seeking to reach roughly 1 million new users.

In addition, more transformers will be installed on the existing national network so as to maximize the number of customers can be connected countrywide.

“Energy is a key element of economic development. Kenya seeks to grow its national wealth from 5% to 10% and thus access to energy for all must be urgently facilitated,” said the Finance Minister Njeru Githae.

Kenya lags behind in matters energy with only about 25% to 30% of households in Kenya having access to electricity with the connection rate dropping to around 15% in rural areas. Thus these French-funded projects will go a long way in improving the situation.

The terms of the loan are that it will attract a 1.1% interest with the payment period being 20 years and the grace period being one year.

The grant which is sourced from the Social Fund for Development will be disbursed through non-governmental bodies’ and it will seek to help improve lives of those in living in informal settlements and in rural areas.

The agreements were signed at Treasury building in Nairobi by the Minister for Finance, Njeru Githae, the French Ambassador, Etienne de Poncins and the acting Director of AFD in East Africa, Hugo Pierrel.

The project which benefits from a 5 million Euro interest rate waiver from the Energy Facility of the European Union is in line with the Paris-Nairobi initiative promoted by the French and Kenyan governments to support access to green energy for all in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Switch Off

Users of counterfeit mobile phones have until September 30 before their handsets are switched off.

The deadline set by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) precedes a 3 month long awareness campaign dubbed, “Pata Ukweli wa Mtambo” to educate Kenyans on the disadvantages of using fake mobile phones and how to establish if their handsets are genuine.

To check if your mobile phone is genuine, dial *#06# to get the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number and then send the 15-digit number to 1555 to confirm the validity of your handset.

According to CCK’s Acting Director General Francis Wangusi this is the culmination of efforts of a Technical Committee comprising of representatives of different telecommunication industry stakeholders and the government. The Committee was set up following issues arising from last year’s notice by CCK to phase out fake phones.

He added that industry statistics indicate that close to 3 million or 10%  of mobile phones in the Kenyan market are counterfeit.

Speaking at the same function, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, Bitange Ndemo announced that the deadline for SIM registration will also be on September 30. After that date mobile operators will be required by law to deactivate unregistered SIM cards.

He asserted that the government is keen to avoid a repeat of what happened in the aftermath of 2007 General Election where text messages where used to incite violence and fuel ethnic tensions but police were unable to bring culprits to book due to low number of registered SIM cards and widespread use of fake phones.

The government has since enacted the Finance Act 2012, which provides a legal framework for the deactivation of unregistered SIM cards.

While enforcement of the Kenya Information and Communications Act CAP 411A by CCK seeks to curtail counterfeit phones in the market.

Mobile operators present welcomed the campaign with Safaricom’s head Bob Collymore, applauding CCK’s collaborative approach. He also called for lower taxes so as to reduce the cost of handsets and boost the fight against counterfeit phones.

David Munyakei – A Tribute

I wrote this poem ‘Fighting Corruption’ as a tribute to the late David Munyakei in 2006.

Watching the hullabaloo that accrued from the Ngong plane crash I could not help but wonder how right I was all those many years ago.

Having recently learnt how hard it is to stand up for what one believes in, I have new-found respect for Munyakei, a true Kenyan hero!


Fighting Corruption:

They say we are fighting corruption,

even paying someone KSH 2.5 M per month to do it,

and this in a country where 70% live at under KSH. 4,000 per month.

Yes, this is Kenya!

The corrupt are recognized, feted, adored and even said to be smarter (wanjanja),

The good are unrecognized, despised and thought to be foolish (wajinga),

Yes, this is Kenya.

I say Goldenberg,

and instantly you all remember Pattni.

I say Munyakei,

and you all ask WHO?

I will tell you who Munyakei,

David Munyakei to be exact, was.

He worked at Central Bank,

but valued his INTEGRITY more than the money in the vaults

Instead of asking for the expected million shilling bribe,

he blew the whistle on the million shilling scam,

for that he sacrificed everything, and I mean EVERYTHING including his LIFE.

For daring to be different, he died a pauper but his INTEGRITY intact.

I can hear you thinking,

how stupid, what the hell, wish it was me etc etc,

Yes, he was so good, so honest,

but so unKenyan, right?

Yes, this is Kenya.

Be corrupt, get celebrated,

Be clean, get vilified.

Yes, this is Kenya.

What was that about fighting corruption again?

Hmmmmmmm,I thought so.





“To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to go there.” – Kofi Anan

It is not often that I write something and it gets a life of its own.

The last post I did has done that. With many castigating me for writing it and many congratulating me for writing it.  I have received some pretty nasty comments and some really heartfelt ones.

I write because I have an opinion. I write because I seek to share my thoughts. I write as the mirror of the society. I write because that is who I am.

I have no desire whatsoever for attention or fame.

I understand the power of words and I seek to be balanced and truthful in all my writing. If I cannot vouch for it in a court of law I do not write it. That’s my standard.

Before I wrote the last post I really thought about whether to or not. My overriding concern was peace in Kenya. I have no desire to live in a refugee camp after Kenya is torn apart by irresponsible folk. Hence I felt that I had to write and blow the whistle.

I hope that post results in  folk being informed, vigilant and in a discourse that makes Kenya a better place.

“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door and the whole world will be clean.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.













Unnecessary Noise

DISCLAIMER: This post should NOT be used to attack a community or vernacular music. NOT all vernacular music is bad. NOT all members of any given community are chauvinistic and archaic in their thinking.  Any comments that are even remotely inflammatory will be deleted. Kenya is bigger than all of us!

I listen to Kikuyu music, both secular and gospel. A lot of Kikuyu music is very informative and the beat is quite catchy.

Current song I am jamming to is Agiginyani by Shiru wa GP. An awesome keep-your-head-up gospel song.

My attention has been drawn to an emerging genre of Kikuyu music  that is inflammatory, provocative and in very bad taste. In a country that is yet to heal after the post-election violence, these songs are a harbinger of bad tidings.

I shall not sit back and watch my country burn. This post is blowing the whistle. I do not know the extent of the fire that these songs have caused. What I know is the Demathew, Kamande and Muigai are some of the most popular Kikuyu musicians with mega sales of their VCDs. Thus I shudder to imagine the number of households that are playing these songs.

For the many who cannot hear Kikuyu, I have translated snippets of the songs and in Demathew’s case explained the nuances as he sings in parables. You can ask your Kikuyu friends to translate further.

Uhuru ni Witu (Uhuru is Ours) – Kamande wa Kioi

Translated snippets:

Greetings people of the house of Gikuyu and Mumbi. I bring you a message from all Kikuyu musicians. This is a message from God. Uhuru is the Moses of the Kikuyu nation. He is meant to move Kikuyus from Egypt to Canaan. Do not agree to be divided. Let all votes go to him. He is ours. He is anointed by God, poured oil on.

Raila, there is a call. Go to Mama Ngina’s house, a king has been born there. Once there ask where Uhuru is seated and pour oil on him. Just like Samuel did for David in the Bible. Stop chasing the wind Agwambo, go to Icaweri and anoint Uhuru.

You thump your chest about Hague, is Hague your mother’s? There is a curse from God. Philistines who do not circumcise cannot lead Israel. When Abraham stressed God, he was told to go get cut, even you General of Migingo, your knife is being sharpened.

Listen to the entire song  here.

Hague Bound – Muigai Wa Njoroge and Muhiko

Translated snippets:

Question: If it was you who is being pushed to The Hague what would you do?

Answer: I would call my family and divide up my property and then ask my mother to pray for me.

Question: What if you knew that Hague you are being pushed there by an uncircumcised man who wants to push you there and take over your wife and all your wealth? A man who can do anything to ensure you are in problems.

Answer: There it is better to die. Things for a man are not governed by an uncircumcised man. I would kill him. Its better they increase my charges.

Question: What would you tell your crying supporters as you are being shipped to Hague?

Answer: I would tell them to pray for me and know I am being persecuted for my love of my community.

Question: When you get to Hague how you would ensure the white man does not cheat you?

Answer: I would ask for proceedings to be done in Kikuyu.

Question: When on the dock what would you be thinking of the uncircumcised man who is the source of your predicament?

Answer: I would ask God to forgive him. I would also ask that he gets circumcised so that he matures mentally. I would also ask Kenyans to be very wary of that man.

Listen to entire song here.

Mwaka wa hiti (The year of the hyena) – Demathew

Translated and explained snippets:

As Demathew I prophesize and let the stones hear me if men wont.

It is now the year of the hyena. Who will teach you and your ears are blocked?

When a man is seated he sees further than a boy on top of a tree.

You are like a greedy hyena seeing a man walk and following him hoping that his arm will drop off. You follow him till he boards the train and the arm does not drop and you never eat. (A reference to all that may benefit from ICC)

Before Jesus was crucified He stood in the court Judge Pilato and he answered all questions, Judge Pilato said Jesus is free but the crowd asked that a thief be freed instead. (ICC will show Uhuru’s innocence)

Where are you (Peter Kenneth) from? If you were one of us, you would be pained by the people burnt in Kiambaa church. My brother lost his property in Kisumu, how can you tell us he (Raila) is our community’s friend.

Father (Jomo Kenyatta) I feel sad when I see your son (Uhuru) being persecuted by men of ill-will and a woman (Martha Karua) is carrying their bags.

In-law (Kalonzo) things are not going well for you now. You are clueless and your matters are now being discussed by women in the market. But I still remember how you saved me (after 2007 elections) when leopards had attacked me.

Listen to the entire song here.

After listening to these three songs I shuddered. If the leading lights of Kikuyu music are doing this, then how much more prevalent is it? Are other communities also producing such inciteful vernacular songs? This is a ticking time bomb right under our noses!

Let us think of how to put out this fire before it is too late!




Lost in America – 3

Two events happened in 2008 that would directly impact Kenyans in America for worse.

The events were: President Obama was elected the 44th President of USA and the global financial crisis began.

When Obama was elected US president one would have thought this would herald good times for Kenyans in America but that was not to be. President Obama has outdone himself in matters immigration. He is set to deport more folk in one term than President Bush did in two terms.

There is also a growing feeling that with his Kenyan roots he has to be seen to be tougher on Kenyans so as to dispel any thoughts of favoritism.

The other event was the global financial crisis that continues to cause havoc on economies abroad. As a result job cuts and higher cost of living have become the norm.

In this harsh economic climate, the citizens are finding it hard to get through so imagine the fate of an immigrant. The last five years have being pretty tough on guys living in America.

As a result, there was being an increased reverse migration with many folk like T who I spoke of earlier returning home after decades abroad. Obviously they do not say it is because of the harsh economic times. Rather they couch it in terms of a desire to build the motherland with skills acquired abroad or other cock-and-bull stories. I spoke of them here.

However many other folk are languishing in silence in the States. Stories of guys living like chokoras are whispered but never ascertained. After chatting my relative I can honestly say things are bad in America. The menial jobs that Americans could not touch several years back are now unavailable as the retrenched Americans scramble for them. This means the Kenyans are ending up living on the streets or in homeless shelters as they cannot afford rent.

Coupled with these economic hardships is the immigration issue hanging over the heads of the Kenyan immigrants. My relative spoke of guys whose status is ‘illegal’ being swept off the streets and being taken to detention centers where they are processed for deportation. The process is not pretty. My relative was picked up in January and he spent four months in a detention center. He was then brought to Kenya under escort via a flight that took 36 hours.

I have opted not to get into details of his case or of other deportee stories that I am privy to as matter of privacy. However I wish to make this plea. I know that guys went abroad to seek better life and that there is a sense of guilt and shame associated with coming back empty-handed but please be your brother’s keeper.

If you have relatives abroad, check on them regularly. If you sense things are not okay, make them understand that it is fine to come back home instead of suffering in silence in the US.

Deportation is traumatic. I have a feeling that before long many families will have to endure it. This is me attempting to start the conversation so that folk can prepare for the eventuality or better still preempt it by having guys with ‘illegal’ status remain home voluntarily.




Lost in America – 2

One was sent to America with fees for a semester. With the disclaimer that others have made it so why not them. Go forth and pull this family out of the resident poverty was the unspoken message.

Picture a nineteen year old landing in a new country with the hopes of an entire family, clan, weighing them down.

Back then internet and mobile phones were less prevalent; Kenyan media was not so open, social media was unheard of, so exposure to the world outside Kenya was very limited. Imagine the culture shock.

What no one told people was that undergraduate fees for non-Americans are very high. Living costs are also exorbitant. Another thing not shared was the issue of law in America. Unlike in Kenya where one can err and get away with it, in America the arm of the law is long. I shall return to why this matters.

The most important document to get a visa was the I-20 which is what the universities would send to show that they have accepted your application to join the university. Majority of the visas issued were student visas.  Which meant one was not meant to work or one was only allowed to be on work study for a few hours at the university to earn credit hours  (school pays your fees for unit x and you work at place y at the school for a semester).

Remember one left Kenya with only fees for a semester, so actual dollar paying work was not optional but rather a necessity so as to be able to live in America.

Upon landing in America one discovered that the most important document was now a Social Security number. A social security number is the universal identifier for those living in America. One cannot work without it. This made getting it the Social Security number a matter of life and death.

Originally it was not very difficult to get. T who lived in the States for 15years before coming back to Kenya for good last year told me when he arrived in the mid-90s he had several socials to enable him send dollars back home without authorities figuring out he was a student who worked many jobs.

However in the aftermath of September 2011, America changed.

The officialdom tightened its screws and what was easy to get like in T’s case became almost impossible to get. The hours guys could work were also reduced. Schools were also tasked to be more vigilant so the taking leave of absence (skipping a semester or two to earn money) from uni trick so popular of Kenyans in America could no longer work.

Many of the guys who went to the States in the mid-to-late 90s managed to scrape through school and help out their folks back home as America was relatively easy-going. However many of the guys who went to America in the turn of the new millennium did not manage the same feat.

Remember that the American dream was get dollars and get an education. With a Social being hard to get, school being expensive and the hours one could work being reduced guys had no option but to quit school and work at making at least one part of the dream – getting dollars – come true.

If you went to USA on a student visa and you do not go to school you void your status and became an illegal. Underground living becomes your forte with menial minimum wage jobs your only source of income. Keeping one step away from the long arm of the law becomes a daily chore.

At this point the truth dies. The family back home is kept in the dark of the happenings. Guys become experts at putting up a front. Relatives and friends who are also abroad and know the true state of affairs are signed into a code of silence tougher than the Mafia one. Pictures of them appearing to be doing well and living it up are posted online. An occasional hundred or even thousand buck is wired home even though that means working 20hours-a-day.

America is a very individualistic country. Thus old people are left to fend for themselves by their families. This inadvertently resulted in an industry for many a Kenyan abroad, nursing.

I am talking of the years between 2003-2008.Guys flocked into the industry in droves. It paid better than the waiting tables or packing stuff in supermarkets. Guys could make enough to live well, send dollars home and even go to college to study nursing. Never mind that one went to America to study Computer Science.

Another trick that the innovative Kenyans perfected was the marriage for papers. Here one got into a business transaction with an American citizen. Pay x amount per month for a given period. Live together and act like a married couple. Then apply for a citizenship and upon being granted the residency papers go your separate ways. With residency ones status changed from illegal to legal and one could come to Kenya at will.

This period was a good period but like all good things it had to come to an end.

The years of 2008-2012 were to prove to be terrible for Kenyans in America. In my next post I shall seek to show how this happened, the current state of affairs and why it matters to you.




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