Category Archives: Opinion

Inside the Kenya Anti-Doping Act 2016

The extent to which the Kenya Anti-Doping Act of 2016 which was passed by parliament and signed into law by the President differed from the version approved by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is startling.

UHURU-KAMWOROR

Contrary to what the government termed as minor questions by WADA as to the reason for Kenya being declared non-compliant by WADA a total of 24 queries were raised by WADA in regards to the Act in a document that I have seen.

For instance, Section 3 (b) which indicated to whom the act applies to has provisions which narrow the scope of the Act to only focus on athletes instead of ALL sports women and men.

Part VI of the Act that tackled General Provisions and which is at the core of the Act was found to have been severely mutilated. Removed were the parts binding all sports people to the anti-doping rules, the making compliance to anti-doping rules a requirement to participation in sports in Kenya and the requirement for cooperation with Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) by all sportspeople.

WADA also had in issue with Section 26 (k) which terms unlawful stocking, distribution, transporting, selling or dealing in prohibited substances as prohibited activities in the Act. WADA does NOT consider this an anti-doping violation.

WADA is also uncomfortable with the lack of clarity in Section 42 (6) on how anti-doping violations would be handled.

Section 30 (4) which gives powers to an anti-doping compliance officer to arrest, search and detain a suspect for 24 hours was found to take Kenyan anti-doping officials into foray of criminal and prosecution procedures.

WADA took issue with a recommendation in Section 37 (2) that ADAK would annually submit a report to the Cabinet Secretary of Sports. The WADA code is transparent and so it would want public publication of the report and a copy given to WADA.

Section 7 (1) which laid out the functions of ADAK was found to have severely whittled down the functions of ADAK. WADA is for an ADAK that is totally independent.

Section 15 which tackled the conduct, regulation and powers of the ADAK board raised eyebrows with WADA. The board is top-heavy with government officials and political appointees. In the Schedule of the Act WADA once again took exception with the sweeping powers given to the ADAK board.

Section 23 (1) that established the Therapeutic Use Exception Committee was found to be altered from the final version approved by WADA.

Section 24 (2 & 3) that gives guidelines on Therapeutic Use Exception was found to have been modified and clarity lost.

WADA sought clarity in Section 31 (1) on whether the tribunal for dispute resolution would be before or after court process and what the disciplinary procedure would be.

Section 27 (6a) had a surprise reference to the Athlete Testing Programme which WADA sought clarification for as it was not in the definitions.

Section one alone of the bill had 10 comments with WADA questioning the deletion words or changes in phrasing. WADA questions were – Clarify how “prohibited activity” can be defined and why this replaced “anti-doping rule violation? Clarify whether a healthcare practitioner would fall under Athlete Support Personnel or there is a distinction?

The definitions of “national level athlete”, “out-of-competition testing”, “prohibited association”, “trafficking” were changed compared to final version approved by WADA.

All in all quite starling how the government managed to submit a law with SO SO many errors and put at risk the Olympics dreams of all Kenyan sportspeople.

This kind of incompetence needs to be punished by the President.

 

WADA-DELEGATION

 

Now to salvage the situation, the Kenyan government delegation led by Cabinet Secretary Foreign Affairs Amina Mohammed and the Cabinet Secretary Sports, Arts and Culture Hassan Wario met with World Anti-Doping Agency officials led by WADA Director General David Howman for day long deliberations in Montreal Canada on Tuesday 18th May.

The road map agreed with the government of Kenya and WADA will see adoption of the amendments to the Act, presentation of the amended clauses to parliament followed by presidential assent. Thereafter the amended bill will be presented to WADA where the WADA compliance committee will review and give approval.

While this process is on-going Kenyan athletes will be allowed to participate in international sport and Kenya will have representation at the Rio Olympics.

GOD BLESS KENYA!

 


Talking Women with KikeTele

The 2016 International Women’s Day theme is ‘Pledge For Parity’ .

On the eve of the International Women’s Day KikeTele held an event, ‘Women Game Changers’.

KikeTele-IWD-2016

These are my notes from the event.

First impressions:

Full auditorium.
Mixed audience.

Afro print aplenty.
Moderator introduces panel reading from a paper. Shouldn’t panelist introduce themselves?

****

Saida Ali Mohamed (Consultant -Feminist analysis and women’s rights) opening:

What are the reasons for cultural practice’s
Context of pain as an African woman
Decision making at community level – household & community level

Dr. Faith Mwangi-Powell (Country Director for the University Research Company, Kenya) opening:

As a mother moved
Big up to Lightbox for aiding community telling story
It’s until community says no
Matter of choice – how can they be empowered to make choice
Dialogues with community – when you know why then your what changes
Convos shouldn’t happen at this table they should happen at village level
Let girls dream
FGM is an issue for global concern

Kennedy Otina (Coordinator Men to Men FEMNET) opening:

At times you wonder if you are doing anything
What happens if my daughter gets married in Samburu
(ModerateKenyan aside – Should it matter it’s your daughter/sister?)
FGM is impunity. Extreme patriarchy. Men deciding on women sexuality.
Power relations???
60 year old man marrying 12 year old – the men are weak, girl are red-blooded, (!!!!)

Beautiful-International-Womens-Day-Wallpaper-Free-Download

(ModerateKenyan aside – Rambling thoughts galore)
(My friend  seated next to me – Do you want me to write my thoughts?

It’s really rich of him to talk about patriarchy and then go ham on the ‘our daughter’ nonsense)

What are we not doing?

Saida Ali Mohamed (Consultant -Feminist analysis and women’s rights)

Let’s talk about the silence, agency, power.
What are the practice’s impact on women
FGM confers ‘womanhood, respect, status’ in community
Understand nuances not to validate but for clarity and effective approaches to deal

Dr. Faith Mwangi-Powell

When you understand the why you get the what
Not every culture is bad

(ModerateKenyan aside – Can we give alternatives?)

Amref is already giving alternates  – everything but the cut
Tell community about danger of FGM health wise
Not big stick but education of community is best
Narrative is changing
Create solutions with community

How have you addressed power issues

Dr. Faith Mwangi-Powell (Country Director for the University Research Company, Kenya)

Men pretend to know everything
Men pass buck
Power is in favour of men
Laws are hindered by enforcers who are part of community who turn a blind eye – chiefs come from same community that perpetuates.

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***

Notes exchanged between ModerateKenyan and a friend:

ModerateKenyan  – NTV’S Rose Wangui recently did a story on morans who have stopped FGM. Chief Moran leading campaign. Anticut warriors.

My friend  seated next to me – But do they have an NGO that knows how to use buzzwords?

ModerateKenyan  – Hahaha! Wish she was here. She has done stories on Northern Kenya for a decade plus.

My friend  seated next to me – I’d love to meet her… She sounds interesting.

ModerateKenyan Actually her story on beading was the first one to lift the veil

My friend  seated next to me – Write a blog post!!!

ModerateKenyan – Tutaona.

***

Question time:

(ModerateKenyan aside – Reveals the many NGOs in Kenya – many in audience who stood to ask represented an NGO)
NGO talk is grating
The Girlchild vs boychild question came up
A question on what of communities who do FGM in hospital, in modern space to fulfill rite? NGOs have concentrated in the so-called marginalized areas but anecdotal evidence shows FGM happens in suburbia Nairobi.

Panel response:

Saida Ali Mohamed (Consultant -Feminist analysis and women’s rights)

Role for broader sexuality conversation for boys and girls
Crude abortion – should safe abortion be possible
Safe spaces for girls availability
Have sex. Do not get PG. How now?
Autonomy of woman body in context of societal

Dr. Faith Mwangi-Powell

Medicalization of FGM has to be checked. Doctors, nurses arrested.

Kennedy Otina (Coordinator Men to Men FEMNET)

What are the numbers to support  boychild neglect
Human rights are gender blind
Men are jobless and still want to be powerful. Confusion.
Bringing forth a new generation of men
If we empower women it doesn’t mean that men are dis-empowered

More question time:

A Samburu warrior stood up and made a commitment that he will marry chic who ain’t  cut
Same warrior asked Is there alternative to ‘fight against FGM’ – breakage of family/society, alienation of girl child have long-lasting impact

(ModerateKenyan – felt this was the crux. A shoewearer who could have provided great insight and also moved conversation from NGO-speak to real talk. Shame time run out and moderator ended discussion.)

Panel concluding remarks:

Saida – s/o to Samburu girls in audience
Dr. Mwangi-Powell – tell someone about dangers of FGM
Ken – men shout it that you are against it

*****

Felt the conversation ended abruptly.

Wanted to talk to the Samburu girls in the audience and hear their voice.

Wanted to talk to the Samburu warrior going against the age-old cultures also wanted to engage him on how he thinks the fight against FGM should be tackled.

Got thinking as a communicator why the FGM campaign is taking so long to reach the audience. Is culture chipped away slowly or at once? Are the works that have been done in last 20 years and that are being done now chipping away at the roots of FGM and results will come soon?

Got challenged as a man to check my privilege which sometimes is subconsious.

****

inernational-womens-day-cartoon

Mwende Ngao who was moderating second panel began with spoken word

Politics of Womanhood – Women belong to every one apart from themselves
Kesho it’s international women day – pledge for parity
Parity is 117 years away – It’s serious.

Talk would centre on – Women artistes – portrayal of women in art

Moderator introduces panelists. Reading from phone. Why not let panel intro themselves?

Aleya Kassam (writer)

Began by saying ‘Such a chaste audience’
She read a blog post – brilliant vivid writing. Huge applause at the end.
Conversation on Aleya’s writing with moderator
Astounding how women are writing in plenty but are invisible

Moderator did question and answer instead of conversation
Also zero involvement with rest of audience/panel

As Monitah set up moderator read another spoken word piece

Monitah (musician)

Sang 3 songs
She looked she was enjoying herself a lot
She was being herself
Moderator – How do you deal with non-mainstream tag? Monitah –  I do my music, I am me, That’s bottomline
Moderator – Challenge as a woman in media? Monitah – being hit on, want more women at the top
Moderator – Plans for your album? Monitah – working on it, follow me on social
Moderator – Arts place in society? Monitah – it’s key to give folk something to think about. Plant seed.

international-womens-day-2

Question time:

Is there a point to your art

(ModerateKenyan aside -this question GRATES!)

*****

My friend, her friend and I had to leave at this juncture for various reasons.

As we left we chatted on the almost two hours spent at the event.

Authentic talk vs Talk for pay.

Heard one talk, heard all talks until it sounds hollow.

Whether one should have standards or whether one should accept standards do not pay bills and accept to be a mouthpiece for something they may not be very passionate about.

Additionally whether the talks really help or they are an echo chamber. No divergent views expressed.

I have talked about Talking Shops in Nairobi before.

******

An aside from the conversation was self-publishing and the perils. With the bigger picture becoming  whether as a friend one should harshly critique a friend’s creation or one should be ‘supportive’.

You read things or listen to songs and ask doesn’t the creator have friends? What if the friends are too timid to share harsh truths?

So my appeal as a creator is if something is good PRAISE it and if something is mediocre BASH it.

Moreso if it is done by a friend. Only way for our creativity to grow.

******

Our exit conversation also tackled:

Afro print and Afro-centric wear which have become the uniform for creatives. Note to all ourselves: do not jump onto bandwagon🙂

Moderating is HARD. Curious: Who is your favorite moderator?

*****

March 8 is International Women’s Day.

I gotta say:

Women are AWESOME!

I CELEBRATE all the women in my life.

Thank you all for being a BLESSING.

International-womens-day-images-3942

**********

GOD BLESS KENYA!


#LifeSnippets: After 4.20

The DVD guy is an essential part of modern living. Netflix and chill are eating into DVDs market but for many Kenyans series, movies are not yet streamed but rather got at fifty bob a DVD.

netflix

Books are more my fix but man shall not live on writings alone, right? So I do have a DVD guy who sorts my ‘mindless o’clock’ needs. Latest visit to DVD shop inspired this snippet.

Late on the Elementary series bus but now that I on it I am hooked. As I waited for an episode to be ‘burned’ I watched the DVD guy side hustle as a ganja seller.

Potleaf

Sale one. Six girls. All of at most 21 probably younger. 3 roughly 5 months pregnant. 2 in tank tops and hot pants. Interesting bevy. Even more interesting was their brazen purchase.

“Let us see the stuff. It’s too slim. Let’s call Benja, his stuff is fatter. No let’s get these then we see. Ok, is it local or international?  We want five. You have 3 only? What peddler doesn’t have stock?” One could never have guessed ganja is illegal in Kenya. The girls could easily have been buying tomatoes from Mama Mboga.

Sale two. Group of boys. High school. Probably form two at most. 16 years. They stood outside. Need looking kid did the buying. More discrete.

“You have? Cool.” Then money was passed and then stuff was passed across. One would not guess they have just bought weed.

Curious me window shopped. Apparently local is Kenyan weed or according to parlance Kush ( for Kushingpeng) and it costs 30 bob a joint. International is Ethiopian or according to parlance Shash (for shashamane) and it costs 50 a joint. The prices are adjusted upwards based on a buyer’s looks or street smarts.

                                                              ***********

A decade and a half ago bhang was the drug of choice for social misfits.

Stereotype of a weed smoker was an unkempt man with untidy dreads who probably listened to reggae. Peddlers were in the off-the-way places – car wash guys, rubbish heap with parking boys selling etc. A whiff of bhang was as rare as the sighting of a five shilling note.

Something happened – I do not know what – and weed became cool.

A joint suddenly was just the thing to spice up a house party and shortly thereafter  cookies, brownies, muffins were cooked with weed. This pulled the ladies in and kufumba na kufumbua smoking weed in Kenya has became as normal as smoking a cigarette. And the age of weed smokers is decreasing rapidly. 14 year olds just done with KCPE are puffing away.

weed

But Kenyan law has not moved an inch and in the eyes of the law bhang is a ‘hard’ drug with serious ramifications.

In Kenya Bhang is denoted as a narcotic drug under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act No.4 of 1994. An example of the dim view the law takes on bhang, Section 2a gives the sentence for possession for own use as 10 years.

A decade in jail is what the buyers I observed were dabbling in. As for the enterprising DVD seller with a ‘cool’ side hustle he was dabbling with a trafficking charge which is SERIOUS crime.

The norm in Kenya is to bury our heads in the sand and also play the moral card in regard to any vice. The ‘hypercritical conservative-ness’ helps no one and at some point after a lengthy duration ‘we’ are ‘sufficiently shocked’ at the extent of the reach whatever it is that was being ignored as it went on.

Many governments in countries abroad are having to redo their laws in as for as bhang is concerned motivated by reports of medicinal value of weed as well as the allure of huge taxes to be got.

NACADA, KFCB, etc all screaming morality notwithstanding, I reckon Kenya has to have the ‘legalize or not’ conversation about bhang sooner rather than later.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


Dark Days

Where does one start writing about dark days…

On dark days all one wants to do is stop…

To stop doing,

To stop the darkness from being all encompassing,

To just stop.

dark cloud

Dark days are days where getting out of bed and taking a shower takes on climbing Mount Everest proportions.

You could have been on top of the world the previous day but then a dark day just happens and knocks you off your stride.

Out of the blue you have the blues.

Scratch that, ‘the blues’ is not this.

This is stay under the covers, switch off the phones, and gallantly try to fight off the cloud that threatens to suffocate you.

While fending off curious looks and offhand statements – “these are white people problems.”, “just shake it off.”, “just cheer up.”

Then just as randomly as a dark day comes, a dark day goes.

Until the next dark day. (Day may be one or many days.)

In the last one month, a friend checked herself out of this planet and another failed in her attempt to check out.

In the same duration someone challenged me why dark days are not written about, talked about and why checking out is shrouded in such secrecy.

Got me thinking…

In one of Chinua Achebe’s books a lady makes a profound statement, “I do not have the mouth to tell the story”.

Because at times folk may be living out a situation but the circumstances of the situation makes them unable to express the essence of the situation.

Also, there is societal baggage.

‘I have a cold’ does not attract judging, stigma or side-eyes as saying ‘I have dark days.’

That is how we are, who we are.

So darks days are hidden, battled with individually, with fatal consequences sometimes.

And the all-round silence on the dark days or the fatalities persists.

Hopefully, one day dark days will be talked about openly.

Then maybe hopefully checking out from this planet will not be so prevalent.

featured_slide2

Until then lemme share these gems I stumbled on:

“Never give in to sadness. It won’t last forever. The broken pieces of life will fit itself into a puzzle once again. Have faith. Have hope.”

And

“Reach out. Not on WhatsApp, text, social media. Really reach out. Feel like this needs saying a lot. People be shouldering heavy loads.”

And this oft repeated quote,

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Pray that someone in the middle of a dark day will read this and get that little extra strength to fight off the suffocating darkness.

Also pray that for those who deal with folk with dark days will read this and get a glimmer of understanding about dark days.

Christmas_candle

I hope…

GOD BLESS KENYA.


Talking Shop

I am technologically challenged.

After decades of an old fashioned phone I finally got a smartphone six months ago. It has only being eight weeks of instagram and my relatives and friends are now holding vigils for me to join Whatsapp.

Despite my stubbornness and yearning for the past I do realise that the world is changing and tech is the present and future.

tech

I am also insatiably curious and thus the the title African Futures – “Technology: Means or Curse?” piqued my interest.

pichaaaa2

Before I fell off the bandwagon ten years ago, I was part of the Nairobi art scene. Kwani? is home for me and thus attending the talk which they were curating was a sort of homecoming.

Got to Goethe at 4.50 since the talk was to start at 5pm. It started at 5.50pm. Time in Africa is obviously an elastic concept. The delay gave me ample time to observe and people watch the creatives. The dreadlocks, the colourful attire, the fancy hairdos, the afro bracelets were still how I remembered them.

Being an introvert my default was to sit at the back and avoid small talk. So imagine my horror when someone from my past remembered me and come to seat with me. To add to my horror I could totally not remember her name. Since asking would have seemed rude she talked and I listened.

She is a creative who became a biologist and who is now a new mum and also setting up a biotech lab. So in the near future Kenya may not need to take DNA samples abroad. She was also reading the Black Anthena. Surprisingly the highlight of my evening!

Finally the talk did begin and I took shorthand notes.

PICHAA

Dr. Kamau Gachigi.

A Materials engineer. Runs Gearbox which deals with Hardware side and is basically quipment for lease. Think of it like a gym. Previously run Fablab at UoN. A scion of MIT. Newest course is How to grow anything. Amazing that this is normal now. Where is your mind most of the time – that is your religion – is tech a religion? Is internal tech a thing – telepathy, premonition – can be explained how?

Prof. Karin Harrasser.

An academic. Author of Body 2.0. Tech has to be looked at as an ecosystem. Tech births new worlds. Rise of black box tech – just use devise and do not care what is inside device. Tech has taken away consent in that you will be dragged kicking and screaming into the brand new tech world.

Jimmy Gitonga.

He need not introduce himself or what he does. He devolved straight into it. Defined tech as useful art that must meet a need. Pace of absorption is phenommenal. What is in smartphones is mind-boggling. And for the young ones it is the normal. Internet has thus democratised. All can access the ‘promised land’. Posed question of whether Africa is a country. Internet and tech have birthed mediocrity and innovation in equal measure. 1st world – I think therefore I am. In Africa – I relate therefore I am.

Marie Lora-Mungai.

A journalist turned producer.  Tech and media are wedded. Tech has drastically personnel need for multi-personnel. Internet in Nairobi has changed drastically. 10 years ago to send a 3 minute story it took 4 days and one had to split it in 15 second parts. Founded XYZ show 7 years ago inspired by a French show. Made everything themselves. Thus creativity/media met science as they needed a cold room to manufacture puppets. Ventured across Africa. Need for distribution led to birth of BuniTV. Urban Africans have smartphones. But slow internet and expensive data means promise of internet is a dream.

Some Q&A from audience:

1. I f tech is too much should we wean ourselves out of it?

2. Content is there but it is not accessible. So how do we bridge gap?

3. Should Africa be a country?

NB: There was a moderator but felt she was superfluous to the whole event.

Remember I attended the talk as a technologically challenged person seeking to reduce my tech illiteracy.

Walked away with very little in that regard. The talk had four panelists two who were scientists and two who were creatives. This dichotomy obstructed rather than aided the debate. The moderator did not quite guide the talk or seek to drill down the issues so the panelists went round and round. The audience also got lost early on so by the time it come to Q&A there were still navigating the daze.

Underwhelmed was the over-riding emotion I left with.

under

Projecting forward and a look at Nairobi Now shows an increase in Talks, Seminars, Conferences being held in Nairobi.

A Talking Industry has emerged with being a panelist, moderator a sustainable side-hustle what with seemingly a deluge of donor funds for folk to TALK.

Respect the hustle but I am reminded of Rabbit’s line in his song Swahili Shakespeare – “….talk haipiki rice…”.

Smart spaces for smart people to talk and talk is all well and good but after all is said and said folk have to actually roll up their sleeves and work.

talking shop

Ama?

GOD BLESS KENYA!


Eyeing iHub

I am the first to admit that I am quite tech-unsavvy. Totally under the rock. Feel nothing for gadgets. I am not on Instagram, whatsapp, etc. Do not use a smartphone. Tune out when folk spew tech-speech.

So this post is venturing into unknown territory. Possibly into a minefield.

Oh well…here goes…

index

Many people, even tech-unsavvy me know of iHub but ask folk what it is exactly and not many can give sentence long answer.

In my 2015 quest to at least move a step out of from being under the rock I paid a visit to iHub which is located on Bishop Magua building on Ngong Road.

Practically Kenya’s Silicon Valley.

Through my conversations with folk who work at the iHub and members, I sought to get the essence, the spirit of the space.

My walking “tour” began on the second floor, through to third floor and finally fourth floor. There are many tech companies in the different floors.

071013-global-africa-tech-hubs-accelerators-kenya-ihub.jpg.custom1200x675x20.dimg

Sat at Pete’s Coffee. Rose is real and cool. Drank the House Coffee, freshly brewed, just as good as kahawa tungu ya Mombasa. Drank it sugarless. Got buzzed.

Many working tables and chairs. There is a seven-sitter sofa with a coffee table. A ping pong machine. A bookshelf with books that look like no one has ever opened. 4 rocking chairs which seem out of place prpos. Signage on the walls declares the piper payers: Hivos, Omidyar, etc. A wall with everyday Nairobi street signs which feels like an attempt at Watu-nizing the space.

The crowd on the fourth floor is young, nerdy-looking, no suits, no ties, every pair of eyes glued to a laptop with earphones in ears. The atmosphere is sterile, deathly quiet. Very male-centric. Too few women.

ihub

Apparently iHub was born out of Ushahidi money.

So let’s define Ushahidi. Long story short it is traditional 9-1-1 call in text form. SMS-based platform for missing persons, emergencies, elections. Helps with crowd-mapping, helping engineer response. Started in Kenya, has gone global.

So from Ushahidi, techies felt there was need for a community for and by techies. That was five years ago.

That idea has birthed:

iHub research – which researches on tech ecosystem in the East African region. Focus is on Education, Hatespeech. Funded by foundations. Great in theory but lacking in dissemination of information deduced.

UXLab – which works on quantifying user experience, testing apps on users. So it is a great space for techies.

IHub consulting – this is where community meets opportunity. iHub using its clout can pitch for big jobs then subcontract to community members. So it is a great space for techies.

BRICK – Long explanation. What I got – UPS for the bundus.

mLab – mobile apps creation space, mobile apps testing space. Home of M-vitus. So it is a great space for techies.

images

Having gotten this for dummies break-down my immediate thoughts were:

– Kenyan techies are quite well sorted by iHub.

– Funding this, funding that, funding, funding and more funding. There is clearly a lot of money in tech in Kenya.

But:

– What are the actionable tangible useable in real life things out of iHub?

– How does MKenya wa kawaida relate to, benefit from iHub?

– It appears to me that five years into the iHub experiment at first glance there is not much to show for it.

Word on the street has it that iHub started as a community but with time it became individualistic and cutthroat. That obviously has diluted the original ethos. Coupled with techies getting poached by corporates thus killing the ‘open-concept’ of the space

(Techies, before shooting, please free to enlighten me further…)

Flipping script…

Chatted an entrepreneur who has had company up and running for two years. It specializes in men’s fashion, making accessories and shipping them to USA.

Entrepreneur joined iHub three months ago and a chance conversation there has lead to getting kick-start funds of over a million bob. With that Entrepreneur plans to set up own plant to make the fashion accessories.

Entrepreneur reckons what iHub offers is the networking opportunity available and the sense of shared experience which gives hope and aids smooth-en common challenges.

Entrepreneur raised a valid point upon my asking why he only joined 3 months ago – how can you be part of something you do not know?

Entrepreneur also pointed out that not everyone can be a techie and even as tech is embraced there is need to make tangible things, need to grow real industries, need to get off the tech bubble and into the real world.

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Food for thought, no?

GOD BLESS KENYA!

(P.S – all images courtesy of iHub or Google.)


Nairobi Restaurant/Kibanda Week

Setting: In a formerly middleclass estate in Nairobi.

Mum: A lady in her thirties, who was in a hurry with a daughter in tow.

Daughter: A girl of 8 or 9 years old.

Daughter: Mum….mum….mum…

Mum: Nini? Harakisha…

Daughter: Mum, ushawahi kula pizza?

Mum: Hapana. (harshly) Kwa nini?

(The two then walked past my earshot.)

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This exchange which happened awhile back got me thinking. On food, experiences and economics.

It has been cooking in my head ever since and the on-going Nairobi Restaurant Week has triggered this post.

For those clueless, #NRW2015 is an annual event where high-end restaurants reduce prices and enable more people enjoy fine-dining.

NRW-Blog-Post-NC

Our local cuisine as Kenyans is pretty basic and it is mostly dependent on where you come from. Rice – coast, Ugali fish – Nyanza, Githeri (mashakula) – Central. Food in Kenya is not cheap and thus folk mostly eat what they farm or readily access.

githeri

In the urban setting, food one consumes is dependent both on economic capability as well as exposure.

How old were you when you fast tasted pizza? If you are in your late twenties and above chances are that it has happened in the last decade and losing your pizza virginity was a big deal. Back in the day, kuku quarter and chips and soda was the epitome of cool. Pizza come with the South Africans outlets and it did not quite get traction.

pizza

However, in the past decade Nairobi’s middleclass has balloned and with it has lead to an avalanche of trendy food joints.

Through social media into the mix and being with it now involves KFC, Pizza Inn, Cold Stone and other foreign food joints that have opened up in Nairobi. For a few the cost is not prohibitive but for a majority a meal at these cool joints is a cause for major personal budget realignment.

cold stone

So I feel for the daughter who wants to be cool but I also get that the mum has to think of the family budget and thus talk of pizza is unsettling.

To counter the #NRW2015, folk have tweeted and posted on Facebook in jest about Nairobi Kibanda Week.

Underneath the jesting is a bit of harsh reality. There is a Nairobi for Kibandas and one for Restaurants.

Many years ago, Kitu Sewer of Ukoo Fulani Mau Mau rapped, “nikitaka kujua story ya economy ninacheki price ya kaquarter kwa butchery.”

Clearly, food is a great indicator of national, local and personal economy.

Then there is exposure or readiness to embraces new experiences.

Many people who can afford it, have never eaten Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Thai, West African? Why? Comfort zone.

And on the flip side many people have never enjoyed the thrills of Mama Ntilie food in a kibanda. Why? Uptightness.

nyamama

My people say he who has not travelled thinks only his mother cooks well.

Maybe as Kenyans we need to broaden our palate and maybe, just maybe, there is room for both Nairobi Resturant Week and Nairobi Kibanda Week.

Bon appétit.

GOD BLESS KENYA!

(PS: All images courtsey of Google.)


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