Monday, April 25, 2005

Cabinet Tales II

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Image above has no relation to content below. Pure coincidence!

Act Two

Backs <The President>: Are we all here? From there? Where we came from?
Moody<Deputy President>: Yes your Excellency. Everyone is here. We can now sing that national anthem and recite the loyalty pledge. Ochillo came late and will have to be punished. Can you kneel down?
Kirwa <Agriculture>: Why do we have name tags? It’s ridiculous!
Odinga <Roads>: (Sotto voice) Because we’re so damn many
Michuki <Security>: (Suspiciously) What was that?
Odinga <Roads>: Nothing, nothing.
Nyongo <Planning>: I think someone spilled something in my chair
Christopher <Transport>: (Mopping his brow from the 5 foot walk from the doorway) You’re sitting in my seat
Nyongo: (Bitterly) Some of us should invest in plastic trousers
Roocy <Diary Controller>: Can we all be seated?
Balala <National Heritage> (Amazement): What ON EARTH is she doing here?
Roocy: I have been voting for the past 40 years and so I’m the most senior politician here
Balala: But you’ve also been taking dumps for the last 40 years. Does that make you the ….
Moody (Hastily): Okay, okay, okay All right then. Can we get started?
Backs: Which reminds me, where is … ah …. This fellow – you know him! Human being, hair on top of his head, opposable thumbs
Kalonzo <Environment>: Santa Claus?
Backs: No, the one who reminds me of him (Points to Ndwiga)
Ndwiga <Cooperatives>: Who? Me?
Odinga: Crooked?
Ndwiga: (Angrilly) I object to that! Are you insuni ... insinu .. suni .... ah! Saying! Are you saying I'm crooked?
Backs: I remember now. Kombo
(Collective dawning)
Odinga: Aah! You mean Kombo? The Local Authorities Minister. He and Mwakwere went to Rome
Backs: How far did they go?
Odinga: To Rome
Backs: Yes, but how far did they go?
Michuki: To Rome sir.
Backs: (Growing frustration) I got that part. What I’m interested is where exactly they went
Tuju <Communications>: Vatican City.
Backs: Is it near Othaya?
Odinga: Not really – it’s in Italy
Backs: (In shock) They went all that way?
Tuju: (Puzzled) Yes. You told them to go there.
Backs: But they told me they wanted to go to roam! The grounds are here, they were here, and the fence is there…. What’s all this talk of Italy?
(Loud voice) GROAN! And he’s Commander in Chief of Armed Forces!
Michuki: (Suspiciously) Who was that?
Odinga: Someone here can throw his voice
Backs: That must be that loud ‘thud’ I just heard
Charity <Health>: No, that was our popularity falling.
Munyao <Livestock>: Aah. Here’s the tea girl with tea and mabuyu. I’m starving!
Daudi <Finance>: Nick begs!
Tuju: Not fair! Not fair! I cut for you some of my sandwich yesterday! I’m going to tell on you!
Moody: All right, all right. Can we move along! Killimo, I believe you had a presentation to us
Killimo <Immigration>: Thank you. (Gets to her feet and walks forward)
George <Education>: Manyake! All sizes! Manyake! Kama prizes…
Mugo, Tett (Simultaneously and furiously): Objection!
George: (Blushing) Oh my goodness! Did I sing that out loud?
Charity (Angrily): And this is not the first time neither! Just last week he was whistling ‘We Kamu’ as I walked past his office door. Is it in order for such sexist innuendo to be innuendoized?
Kimunya (Sympathetically): If his whistling is anything like his coordination it must have been quite the nasty experience!
George: There comes a time ....
Nyongo: Can we get on!
Backs: Your’re right there. What’s first on the agenda
Michuki: I have a bone to pick with agricultural extension officers! Cows are on heat all over the country and they are not rising to the occasion!
(Shouts of laughter)
Kombo: Isn’t attending to that Munyao’s job?
Munyao (Angrily): And just what is that supposed to mean?
Backs: Please, gentlemen! Can we proceed?
Ndwiga: Yes, on to national issues. We work tirelessly for an hour a day and our efforts ought to be recognized. I propose tax waivers for Cabinet Ministers in recognition.
Daudi (Scribbling in a notebook): Hear hear!
Charity: But that will make the public even more annoyed with us! Please sir, put an end to this nonsense! (Turns to Backs)
Backs: Zzzzzz!
Roocy: There are too many allegations of corruption against my Government …
(Outraged murmurs and shouting)
Odinga (Rising to his feet): Ayayayaya! Whose government? Nishike, maze, nishike! Hold me back!!
Roocy: I have been voting for 40 years and am thus the most senior politician here!
Kombo (Rolling his eyes): Give me a break! That line is quickly getting as stale as ‘working nation’ and ‘zero tolerance on corruption'
Kulundu <Labour>: And while we’re at it what was that crack about 2007?
Roocy: My children and I have not seen any difference in him! He’s the same as he was 10 years ago! Isn’t that so Boyi? (Turns to Backs)
Backs: Zzzz!
Odinga (Bitterly): The fact that you and your children do not see a difference is not proof of his abilities, it is only proof of one thing: that you and your children are in desperate need of an optician!
Christopher: When you have sheep and goats ….
Kalonzo (Irritably): Shut up already with all the Animal Farm talk! Can’t you say anything without involving farm animals?
Christopher (Passionately): Are you trying to get my goat?
(Shouts of laughter)
Christopher: I refuse to be cowed …
(More shouts of laughter)
Christopher: … by sheepish people …
(Still More shouts of laughter)
Christopher: ... who are always dogging my tracks …
(Shouts of laughter)
Moody: At any rate at least we know who’d make a good head of the KSCPCA, in case you’re interested in the job
Kiraitu <Constitutional Affairs>: It’s like raping a woman who is already too willing…. Ho ho ho ho!
(Shocked silence. Then a flurry of action as Karua, Charity, Kilimo, Mugo and Tett launch themselves into the air in the process of delivery of flying
kicks. They freeze in mid air (a la The Matrix) before successfully delivering a series of devastating kicks)
Kimunya (Unsympathetically): Well, someone certainly brought that on themselves. Look on the bright side – at least your mouth is straight now
Kiraitu (Sprawled on the floor with high heel marks over
his person)
: Groan!
Backs: Zzzzz!
Nyachae: No guessing who will be spending his night on the sofa
Ndwiga: This tea has no sugar! How can I dip my bread into sugarless tea?
(All heads turn accusingly to Kirwa)
Kirwa: It wasn’t me, for goodness sake! It’s not like I make sugar in my backyard!
Michuki: (Shouting) Someone taste his tea!
(Ndwiga dips slice of bread in saucer of Kirwa’s tea and samples it)
Ndwiga (Indignantly): This tea has plenty of sugar!
(Collective gasps of shock and amazement)
Nyachae: Can you explain yourself sir!
Backs: Zzzz!

End of Act Two

Cabinet Tales I

Angie Stone - I Wish I Didn't Miss You

Friday, April 22, 2005

Of Conferences

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Tuesday found me at Sarit Center’s Exhibition hall at the Safaricom launch of Mobile Office, a GPRS wireless internet solution, as well as showcasing some ICT solutions from partners that are running using Safaricom’s network infrastructure.

Nothing out of the ordinary. I generally don’t mind attending these. I get to eat food not served by people in ridiculous plastic aprons and hats, get to meet new people, get a couple of new contacts, find out what other companies are up to and generally keep a finger on the pulse of industry in Kenya.

The difference was that while I generally attend these in a purely technical capacity, accompanied by a couple of salesmen, this one I attended wearing both hats. Now from the very beginning I was extremely reluctant to come in the sales capacity. People who do sales have got to be the most patient people in the world. I am not one of these.

But it was an interesting challenge, and I generally take these with both hands. And as with most things, I made some interesting observations
- Safaricom clearly has an enormous budget to spend on these shindigs. Hilton were doing the catering, and waiters made sure no guests were standing without glasses in their hands
- However they did a remarkably poor job at promoting the launch. At its peak the attendance was just about 30%
- African time is solidly and deeply entrenched in this country. Things were supposed to kick off at 9:30 but at 10:30 my lads were still twiddling our thumbs as I tried to find out who was in charge and whether they planned to get started while still under the NARC regime
- Many people, and not just foreigners, still consider this country a technological backwater. My colgate smile as I repeatedly fielded the same irritating questions was complimented later by those who know me well
- What? There is GPRS in Kenya?! No way!
- You mean to tell me this software is locally developed?
- There are actually local solutions providers in Kenya
- Did you develop that product yourself?
- Do you have overseas partners for development of these products?
- I can actually do sales if I had to
- Kenyans have an uncanny habit of identifying events offering free food and freely availing themselves of the same. Some rough statistics of people plotted againt waiters and time are shown below: (Squint really hard)

Oh, and lunch was served between 12:30 and 2:30.


Sudanese First Vice President John Garang assures Former President Daniel Moi that his shirt is not on fire, as Moi tries to focus his eyes to find the hidden 3D images

Been a while since I went trawling but here we go!
P.M. Dawn - Set Adrift On Memory Bliss

Thursday, April 21, 2005

We're In Deep Tint

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Events over the past couple of weeks continue to leave me undecided whether to laugh or to cry.

Over in Ngong people are living under a siege of sorts, and it takes a particularly brave soul to venture outside past six in the evening, risking loss of assorted teeth, slashed person and life.

Over in Mombasa there are Raiders Of The Lost Ark, or whatever they call themselves training in the jungle. They are not training to play volleyball, but on the contrary they are training in the jungle to fight.

And even here in Nairobi proper we are being mugged, car jacked, assaulted and raped. Personally I am extremely reluctant to be on the streets after dusk, having several times run into gentlemen who very considerately, out of the charity of their souls, go out of their way to relieve me of the burden of my personal possessions. The firmly refuse to believe me when I confess that actually the weight of my money is too much, and my feet don't need to be held captive by shoes.

Crime is so prevalent it is finding trouble accommodating itself in cities and is now bursting its seams and flooding the countryside.

The Police clearly have a lot to do. But what are they doing?

Last month they were whining about speeding. Huge masses of policemen and policewomen were deployed to spend entire days at the roadside to harass Tuk Tuks, jalopies and other vehicles going 51 km/h on highways.

This week they are whining about TINTED WINDOWS. Troops and troops of police have been deployed to waste their time, and most importantly ours, bleating about TINTED WINDOWS. Did I mention they were harping about TINTED WINDOWS? If they catch you with tinted windows you will be arrested, taken to the police station and generally refused bond and charged in court for having TINTED WINDOWS.

Surprise, surprise, a certain sweaty gentleman is at the helm of the transport ministry and derives considerable pleasure in wasting everyone’s time enforcing laws written when two horsepower meant precisely that, and vehicle exhaust was considerably more solid that it is now, and tended to remain on the road.

And at the same time we are living under a virtual siege, prisoners in our own homes. Some households have windows that are so grilled that sunlight has to knock before being allowed admission. Some gates are locked with padlocks, that are in turn locked by other padlocks and finally the famous anti-janitor is placed in the padlock. As a final safety layer, the anti-janitor has its own anti-janitor.

Traditionally one’s house had one gate but nowadays to be safe you are forced to have a pre-gate, the gate itself and a post-gate. Every gate promises ‘Mbwa Kali’, and to show independence of thought, others volunteer information about ‘Mbweha Kali’, ‘Fisi Kali’, ‘Chui Kali’ and ‘Simba Kali’. Judging from the racket coming from her house, my immediate neighbour may want to put up a ‘Kuku Kali’ sign.

What is it with this Government that makes it unable to prioritize anything? That makes it churn out policies that are either half baked, quarter baked or not baked at all? There must be something in that ministerial oath that reduces your brain cells to cornflakes.

If you think deploying hundred of cops to bleat, low, harp, bark and moo about tinted windows while nothing is being done about real live crooks running around with machetes and clubs is an acceptable state of affairs raise your hand and smack your fat head.

Been attending a conference so not had much time to blog. Will resond to Quality Control shortly


Q: What did the Pilgrims at the Vatican say as the new Pope was elected?

Oliver Ngoma - Ameh

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Quality Control

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<INFO>Just a shotgun post to gather views</INFO>

Looking at my site statistics informs me that more people visit now that they did some 4 months ago. Visits are increasing.

This pleases me.

Looking at the number comments left informs me that people comment less now than they used to. Some posts were unable to inspire a single comment.

This concerns me, especially factoring in that more people are passing through. Why am I concerned? Because I don't know if am hitting a chord or wasting your (and therefore my) time slaving over a hot stove -- er keyboard. In fact on that note

Blogging -> Cooking

Comments -> Compliments to the chef

No Comments -> The food sucked

This could mean one of the following:
  1. I post way too often which could result in
    1. No time for people to comment
    2. Familiarity breeding contempt
  2. Quality is descending, therefore there is nothing to be said
  3. I'm becoming predictable, therefore there is nothing new to be said
  4. Beginning to talk about stuff no one is interested in, therefore nothing to be said
  5. There are gremlins at that wreak havoc
  6. None of the above

I cannot speak for other bloggers, and in fact am very skeptical about the concept of blogging 'just because you can'. Feedback matters to me. Perhaps I should cut down and post weekly...... Anyway, lemme know. I take critique very well.

Nonchalant 5 O'Clock

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Kibaki Meme

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Deno, over at Virtual Insanity threw a challenge my way. I duly comply (risking getting myself into a situation where I will have to avoid dropping soap in a certain well guarded communal shower)

1 a. Do u think Kibaki is LAZY?
Not really. He just has an acutely severe aversion to exertion of any kind
1 b. Give an instance of when he portrayed LAZINESS as president.
- Never reacts to anything (except when his driver drives away during a drizzle)
- Arrives at Sudan Peace Deal signing hours late
- Arrives at Donor Conferences hours late
- Refuses to take time out to address the nation on his visions
- Failed to go to Rome despite having NOTHING to do here
- Dancing ungracefully in coast while peace is being negociated in Sudan

2 a. What trait do u find the single most detrimental to the national cause?
Tolerance of mediocrity
2 b. Comment on it
Mediocre leaders voted in, poor work ethic, leading to poor service delivery (water, garbage collection, business registration), being late for engagements because of 'African Time', thereby making others late, half baked policies, shoddy workmanship (roads), etc

3. What is the most embarrassing thing, in your opinion, Lucy Kibaki has done?
- Snubbing Matere Keriri - so petty!!!
- Speaking for Kibaki -- can't he speak for himself?
- Talking through her hat -- whatdju mean 'there is no corruption in the Kibaki Government, it went out with KANU'
- Talking through her other hat -- 'Mimi kama Rais'
- Talking through her straw hat -- 'I have been voting for 40 years and am therefore the most qualified politician in Kenya'

4. Do you wonder where Wambui, the Hillary Rodham of Kenya, ever went to?
Not really. However sooner or later she will go shopping for 2Ply tissue and sugar under the glare of the camera like she did before

5. Do you care How much influence the First Lady has over decisions made by the president?
Of course! Since Kenyans elected HIM to office Kenyans expect HIM to make the decisions. If (God forbid) I wanted Lucy to articulate policy and make decisions for me in public fora, I'd vote for her (On that cold day in December when pigs fly and lions lie down with lambs)

6. What is the single most critical issue facing the Kenyan presidency today?
Inability to translate visions into tangible results

7. Did you vote in 2002 General Elections? (must answer). No excuses required.
No. But I was at NARC headquarters making sure rigging was not going on. Boy wasn't that a wasted Christmas!

8 a. Do you care?
8 b. Who else would you like to complete this meme
Kenyan Pundit, Bankelele, Githush, Guessaurus, Ms K, Nick, Mental, Afromusing, Maitha


A tortoise (no relation should be drawn between this animal and the content above)

Black Eyes Peas - Shut Up

Nothing Actually Really Changed

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Recent events, chiefly comments by some leading NARC luminaries, as well as the forced resignation of TI boss Gladwell Otieno and the arrest of Reuben Ndolo have left a particularly bitter taste in my mouth.

Call me cynic, but I have never been one for rhetoric. Anyone can talk. Anyone can give stirring speeches. Anyone can write policy papers, memoranda, manifestos and strategic plans. But it is one thing to talk, but quite another to walk the talk.

The NARC Government is one such entity, long on talk and wanting decidedly on walk. When they came into power hope swept this nation, but as every day passes it becomes more and more apparent that the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Maybe its the nature of my work, or my own nature, or combination thereof, but I don't really care for talk. Show me results. Results are what matter. Talk is cheap. You cannot eat promises and visions. You cannot make money from promises and visions. You cannot prosper fuelled entirely by speeches and conferences.

Granted they have some achievements, but then again I contend it is laughable for me to commend you for doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing. Government's function is to attend to the education, health and security needs of its populate, and I fail to see why they should be congratulated for doing exactly what they are supposed to do. Whether or not the KANU Government delivered the goods is a moot point, so any defences that start with "At least...." hold no water. You are judged against what you are supposed to do, now what the people before you did.

What They Say What We See
"We believe in the rule of law, and people are presumed innocent until proven guilty" Funny how the Judges what were purged were never availed this facility. Funny how different yardsticks are used depending on circumstances
"We have already arrested and prosecuted people" The zest with which people from KANU were chased was impressive - Chepkonga, Oguk, Meme. Conveniently, NARC does not seem to have any dishonesty in their blood
"We have spent our time setting up institutions to fight corruption" True. They were 14 at last count. However what have these institutions netted, besides small fry? Results, not institutions. Results
"We are deeply committed to fighting corruption" Minister Kiraitu Murungi told us that the Office of Ethics And Governance (Githingo's old office) is being downsized
"Like it or not Mwai Kibaki will be president until 2012" Lucy Kibaki, just last week and Kiraitu Murungi, about a year and a half ago "Like it or not " cannot appear in the same sentence as democracy, never mind the fact that it was Kibaki's own pledge that he would be a one term president. Shades of Oloo Aringo and JJ Kamotho, and indeed Kibaki himself with his famous 'cutting down a Mugumo tree with a razor blade' statement
"KANU run down this country and destroyed it" There are KANU ministers in the present Government, KANU members who were deeply involved in the said mismanagement. Nicholas Biwott appears headed for Government.
"The Government cannot control Transparency International" Joe Wanjui, who sits on the TI board is one of Kibaki's close confidants. This has not been lost on many observers
"(Gladwell Otieno) was too critical of NARC's anti-corruption campaign" Of all the reasons to 'sack' her, this is the LAST one that should be used. This is precisely a reason to keep her on!
"We have allowed freedom of expression, and you can say anything" Do not forget Martha Karua's campaigns against cartoonists and radio stations. And most recently do not forget Reuben Ndolo was arrested for singing a song critical of the President. Who's next?
"KANU mismanaged and misused this country's resources" The opulence of this current Government has to be seen to be believed. Kibaki's convoy is composed almost entirely of Mercedes Benzes, including the chase cars! And the convoy is not small. All 30 odd ministers drive 15 million shilling cars, paid for by the tax payers. And the Government had problems raising money to send the Olympic team to Athens!
"The country is more secure" Laughable. Clashes abound in Kwanza, Trans Nzoia, etc, Ngong is under siege, we are being car-jacked, stabbed, mugged, pick pocketed and defiled right left and centre
"We are doing everything to revitalize agriculture" Writing off debts left right and centre is NOT the way to do this. We have lost count of the number of debts that Kirwa and Ndwiga have written off, forgetting that there is no such thing as writing off -- someone (me) has to foot these bills!
"There is no wrangling" Mwai Kibaki, as recently as last week, and Moody Awori, pretty much for as long as he has been in Government Nothing need be said
"The Kikuyu, Embu and Meru should reunite politically." Njenga Karume yesterday, mooting for the reactivation of GEMA Speechless with amazement that in this day and age we are marching right back to tribal enclaves and politics!
"Constitution in 100 days" We're closing in on 1,000
"I will not put my face on the money" It takes an exceptional man to break a promise that he could keep by doing precisely nothing
"Zero Tolerance on corruption" Nothing need be said
"Government's stand is to facilitate business in the private sector" With Government sticking its beaky nose and frustrating the Kenya Meat Commission, Kenya Cooperative Creameries, Tiomin, EPZ and most recently Econet wireless, the message foreign investors are getting cannot be a positive one
"The Era of psychophancy is over" You just need to listen to the Kiraitus and Murungarus and Viscount Kimathis to shoot that down. Plus in Rariedasongs of praise were commissioned for Kibaki and his wife!

Take a look at this and decide for yourself whether there is any truth in the allegations that NARC stands for Nothing Actually Really Changed

The bottom line is that we need a complete purge of these people in the next elections. Completely fresh blood, with no baggage and visions of the future, not of tomorrow. For only then will we make strides in rising from being just another poorly manages third world country

I'm polishing up photos from my Uganda trip (removing errant thumbs, window frames etc). Ought to be done soon. Also Cabinet Tales 2, the successor to Cabinet Tales is getting warm....

Shania Twain - Ka-Ching

Friday, April 15, 2005

Back In Time

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Those of us who were obsessed with the 80s cult classic cartoon Transformers, where robots would turn into assorted vehicles and aircraft will be glad to know that there just may be a movie coming out! I await with bated breath.

On the same vein I'm also looking forward to Batman Begins. After that atrocious fiasco with George Clooney as Batman and Arnie Schwarzenegger as Mr Freeze, the franchise can only improve. Batman & Robin is not only the most awful Batman movie, it is also one of the most awful movies of all time. With bollocks lines like these:
Mr Freeze (Arnie): (With ice gun in hand) Everybody ... CHILL!

It has no chance in heck! The Gothic, mysterious theme was lost completely in a kaleidoscope of mediocre plot, outfits and dialog! Nothing like Batman Forever, with Val Kilmer and Nicole Kidman. Now that was a much better movie, with a great soundtrack

And the last nostalgia inspired movie am waiting for keenly is the Fantastic Four

Yeah, I'm unapologetically a fan of cartoons and comics. So sue me!

Mwai Kibaki was some hours late for a donor's conference. He told an amazed audience the reason was that he had a cold


U2 - Sweetest Thing

Thursday, April 14, 2005


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Going through my inbox yesterday I cam across this:

I notice you never commented on the issue of Terry Schiavo and I was just wondering why, and also what your stand was



Interesting question. Why didn't I comment, and what is my stand.

Well, Winnie, Some discussions revolve around issues that are highly polarized. Think Religion, (Islam vs. Christianity, Catholicism vs Protestantism, Atheism vs Organized Religion, etc). Think life (Pro life vs Pro Choice, Capital Punishment, etc). Some topics are so highly polarized that it is difficult to have a discussion about it without people getting hot under the collar. The Schaivo case is one such.

My stand is very simple -- a principle I hold very dear is that your life is not your own. It is not yours. You are responsible for it, yes, but it is not yours. Ergo you cannot take away your own (or anyone else's for that matter). So capital punishment, euthanasia, abortion, etc are out the window. If a crook comes to your house and you set out deliberately to kill him you have a case to answer for. If in the course of defending yourself you end up killing the cretin, that is another case altogether, but as long as you set out to kill him -- you have given yourself the role of judge, jury and executioner. That is a no no.

On to Mrs Schaivo. One of the most striking things I have seen in defending the withdrawal of her feeding tube was that it was concluded that her life was not worth living, and she was not truly alive. This beggars the question of what is a life, and when does it begin (another polarized topic!) Your beliefs are already cast in stone, so I shall not try and convince you to see mine. In fact, for this particular issue, it does not matter! If you give me some leg room, I will show you what I mean

March 2005: In a coma
April 2005: Researchers discover a culture that regenerates brain stem cells. This is administered
May 2005: She walks out of the hospital

Bottom line: much as it cannot be proved the culture could be developed, it also cannot be proved that it could. T

Then there is the issue of "her life was not worth living, and she wouldn't have wanted to live this way". Large chunks of time were spent debating whether or not she wanted to live in this way. People on the verge of jumping off bridges have precisely the very same sentiments, which they deeply believe. Should we helpfully shoot people who feel their lives are not worth living? Again I get back to my first point: your life does not belong to you, therefore you cannot terminate it.


Because every last thing on this earth, and every human being has his and her purpose. A small number are aware of their purposes. The rest of us may have inklings or not. It is the height of audacity to purport to know what purpose another human being serves. You simply have no idea. To make things even muddier is that you may actually have several purposes for being on earth, some overt and some covert.

Jesus Christ came to Earth to save Man from his sins (Overt). Along the way he also taught forgiveness and tolerance (Covert). This did not strike people until he had left.

You may think your purpose is to go to school, go to uni, get a job, get married and have kids (Overt). You may not be aware that your little rural cousin has been observing you and has decided to go to school and become just like you, and become an example to his village mates (Covert).

You cannot purport to know why other people are on earth -- it may not be as obvious as it seems. It is audacious for you to say "She's just lying there, not talking, not doing anything, not responding to anything. Besides, she's costing us money so her life is not worth living."

Not so fast

Shortly after the 2002 elections there was a plane crash, and one of the passengers, Dr Kihoro is in a coma until today. At face value there is a woman in a coma. But the reality of the matter is that even in her coma she has had effects, some of which are lasting, on many people. The most striking things that I have gotten out of the situation are that:
- Her family has been brought together, and not just the immediate family, by the adversity. I was reading in a newspaper that her family take turns to sit with her in the hospital pretty much all the time
- Soul searching and self discovery for many, including her daughter MJY, triggering a whole new set of activities and initiatives that without a doubt have made some difference. Ask some of the people in Belize
- Those who have never come across faith and hope ought to have a pretty good idea by now about what they are
- Greater awareness amongst the public of neurological issues

And the most striking thing for me is what I have observed in her husband, Dr Wanyiri Kihoro. He's been on TV and the papers a time or two. One thing that is without a doubt is that this man loves his wife. It is strikingly apparent. He visits her tirelessly and spends hours and hours with her. He misses her but it is not lost on observers that he loves her deeply.

Now I cannot say how many people have observed this and been moved by it but I can for a fact stand up and say that I have, and I hope that I will be love my wife half as much as he loves his.

So no, I do not for one second believe we should withdraw life support because someone cannot talk to us. We never know what God intended for them. Your benchmarks as to the value and purpose of life are not the ones that count. God has been in the business of life for millenia. Let him decide.

Someone, whose "life is worth living", has a blog here that makes me wonder about humanity

Monday, April 11, 2005

Plane Crazy

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A storm gathers over Port Bell

Much as I spent obscene amounts of time attending meetings and superintending operations, I had an excellent time in Kampala. Uganda is a lovely country and I have the photos to prove it. The hot humidity is irritating, but I'm told you get used to it.

So finally the time to depart came. I've never actually held a million shillings in cash in my life, but after settling my hotel bill I can cross that item from my things-to-do-in-this-lifetime list. I checked out of the hotel, attended my last meeting and was driven to Entebbe.

A few minutes after boarding the plane left me in no doubt that in my previous life I must have been Adolf Hitler or Joseph Goebbels, and my Karma was coming around. I got to the airport later than I'd have liked and got neither a window seat nor an aisle seat.

The gentleman who got the window seat proved to be as unpopular as his first impression suggested. He was a large fellow, bald and sweating, and filled most of his seat and spilled into some of mine. Huffing and puffing he settled down and composed himself for slumber.

Aha! He's going to sleep! I can get some photos of the sky for my nephews and godsons.

M: Excuse me
Shmuck: (Opening one eye) Yes?
M: Would you mind trading seats for a bit? I'd like to take a couple of photos
Schmuck: (Suddenly opening eyes and looking awake) Ah ha ha, actually I was planning on doing some sight seeing myself.
M: Oookay. Then would you mind reclining your seat a bit so I can take a few photos?
Schmuck: Ah ha ha, ordinarily I would but its bad for my back. I hope you understand
M: Right.

Enter a large lady with five or six carry on bags and one paper bug that looks suspiciously like it was full of live chicken. Huffing and puffing she shuffles along looking in the overhead compartments for space. I'm not the least bit surprised when she stuffs everything and lowers her considerably bulk in the seat next to me, filling her own seat and spilling over into mine. I had a good mind to summon a stewardess and get a quarter of my fare back, since it was being used by other people.

She turned to me, treated me to a vision of yellow teeth and left me in no doubt that my flight was not going to be a peaceful one.

Hello! My name is Mukami. Have you flown before? This is my first flight.

That information I digested later. But the most pressing issue at first was her breath. I've never actually had a blowtorch in my face, but I have an idea of what it feels like. I debated internally whether or not to find out if my oxygen mask works but decided that it would cause more problems that it would solve.

M: (Desperately) Oh really? Well, I hope you have a pleasant journey (Settles back in seat and gives every impression of preparing to go to sleep).
W: I've been visiting my big sister in Uganda
M: (Eyes watering from the breath) That's great, just great (Faking a yawn)

At this point that safety movie begun playing, and when it got to the point about mobile phones, Schmuck on my left took it as a cue to pull out his phone and make a series of calls.

Mukami on the other hand is anxious to impart information on her and her family tree to me. I hear more about her son in Spain than I would like to. My reluctance to know what her daughters are doing in Nakuru passes her by completely. My disinterest in her husbands farming does not penetrate her veneer of enthusiasm. All this time I'm suffering from a chronic lack of oxygen. That breath would be a hit if it were bottled and sold as paint remover.

The climax of everything came as we were just over Kisumu and the flight assistant's voice came over the speakers. It is seldom a good thing to hear from the front in the middle of a flight so sharp breaths were drawn. The gist of her statement was:

"Ladies and gentlemen, weather forecasts indicate that there may a bit of rain shortly and some turbulence"

Mukami's torrent of speech died to an ebb.

"Turbulence?" She asked.

No sooner had this left her lips that the plane began to shake quite alarmingly, in a manner to suggest it was only a matter of time before the wings broke off. That plane shook as if it was Mwai Kibaki being shaken by the First Lady for leaving the toilet seat up. Schmuck on my left suddenly developed Chris Murungaru syndrome and begun to sweat copiously.

Then quite suddenly the plane suddenly dropped, as it lost attitude quicker than NARC spends taxpayer's money. It felt like it had drooped 40,000 feet. We were expecting to feel solid earth beneath us in a matter of seconds.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that it was not the kind of thing I would want to experience a second time. Something I suspected to be my heart crashed into the back of my teeth and then dropped back to its usual residence. I felt like Tom and the Coyote do when they run off a cliff then their body falls while their heads hang in mid air for an agonizingly long time before obeying gravity.

Which was nothing compared to my two travel mates. Quicker than Njeru Ndwiga on a tax waiver, twenty fingers dug into my arms (ten on each side). Mukami wailed to her God and Schmuck's vocabulary came forth in a torrent of four letter words.

Saint Peter, as God's official handler of the Heavenly switchboard must have been overwhelmed by the sudden flurry of communication from that flight.

Fortunately that bit of turbulence was the only one, and Mukami had some revelation about the Desiderata, especially the bits about going placidly and the value of silence. Not one word escaped her lips.

The relief when that plane hit the ground -- er touched down -- at JKIA was almost palpable. The ridiculous slow queues at the immigration section of the airport left me in no doubt that I was at home.


Aaron Ringera, Anti-Corruption Chief: It is very difficult to pin documentary evidence on cabinet ministers because they don't sign documents

David Mwiraria, Finance Minister: Yes. I signed the documents.

Seal - Love Divine

Serial Misser

I have moved to, and i have also migrated all posts and comments. YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE SO CHANGE YOUR BOOKMARLS/BLOGROLLS ACCORDINGLY!!!!

When it comes to never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity, Mwai Kibaki is impossible to top. This man makes deliberate efforts to miss opportunities whenever once arises.

I left Uganda on Friday afternoon, and the entire morning was in a meeting, so I never got to watch Pope John Paul IIs funeral. However I watched the odd clips once I got home, and my amazement grew by the scene.

George Bush and his wife were there. Bill Clinton was there. Tony Blair and his wife were there. Prince Charles was there.

But no Mwai Kibaki.

Jacques Chirac and his wife were there. Koffi Anan was there.

But no Mwai Kibaki.

Olesegun Obasanjo was there. Robert Mugabe was there.

But no Mwai Kibaki.

The President of Israel was there. The President of Syria was there.

But no Mwai Kibaki.

The Orthodox Church was represented. The Protestant Church was represented. The Muslims were represented.

Kings, queens, princes, princesses, heads of state, prime ministers, all the way down to the ordinary man and woman were there.

But no Mwai Kibaki.

I asked around. Perhaps he got there late and was steated on a fence at the back? No cigar. Mwai Kibaki remained in Kenya.

What for? I asked. Some crisis? Illness in the family? Crucial meeting?

Nope. He just stuck around.

All right, then who did we send? Moody Awori?

Actually no, Moody stuck around too.

At this point I was flabbergasted. Then who, cried I, did we send?

Ali Mwakwere and Musikari Kombo, I was told.

I didnt know whether to laugh or cry as I tried to marshal my thoughts.

Mwai Kibaki had every reason to attend that funeral
- He is a Catholic
- Kenya has a sizable Catholic community
- The Pope contributed enormously to the wellbeing and development of the world
- The Pope was also a head of state
- It was an opportunity to show Kenyas solidarity with the mourning Catholics around the world
- It would cost him nothing and benefit him greatly
-There was nothing of substance to keep him behind

But he did not. Neither did he send his Vice President.

So every leader there who had the misfortune to meet Ali Mwakere came away with the impression that we are a most unfortunate country governed by a rather lazy leadership who'd rather sleep in than show solidarity with a grieving community of billions.

Like I said, I did not watch the funeral but I know for a fact that the last thing I want to see is Ali Mwakwere's goofy face smiling his goofy smile at the camera, purportedly representing me. It just says this government simply does not take itself or its foreign affairs policies seriously. Sending a man who freed hosteges on the strength of a SMS from a 0722 number, and his latest coup of declaring a band of jungle warriors 'innocent boys' speaks volumes of the sending authority.

Mwai Kibaki has yet again statched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Ushindwe wewe!!

Nas - Get Down

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

(M)ore on Uganda

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It is refreshing to be away from loud mouthed sweating buffoons, fence sitting amnesiacs, selectively un-waivering little men, arrogant foot and mouth sufferers and hopelessly inept local chapters of the Mafiosi.

By and large this country is a beautiful country. There’s something to be said about having a capital city festooned with lush greenery, surrounded by hills and crowing it off with a beach and a courtside seat view of Lake Victoria wind rippled surface.

Some of the observations I’ve made about this country however, make me unsure of whether to be amused or annoyed..
- When you’re in some establishments, like my hotel, try not to be black. Otherwise waiters will ignore you by default and when you forcefully grab one and make an order, you will be required to pay in advance
- At the establishment where I’m rolling out some new infrastructure, there are expatriates for pretty much everything. And I do mean everything. There is as much sense in this as there is singing talent in Jennifer Lopez. I refuse for one second to believe that there are no Ugandans that can do some of those jobs. The costs of all these expats are close to astronomical
- Some of said expats tried (and failed) to hide their amazement upon meeting you, and realizing that what you’re there to do is not to bring them tea, drive them around or sweep. (Note to said expats: don’t bother with those plastic smiles. They don’t fool anyone)

My dad came over in the same flight as myself. We discovered this unexpected coincidence the night before we both left Nairobi. Sat in the same row too, but with a very morose and very bitter gentleman between us.

He's working as a consultant for some construction work at one of, if not, Uganda's biggest hotels. Went to visit the patriarch this morning and he showed me around the place, and what he's up to.

Fact: Sewerage pipes pass just under the ceiling of the main kitchen, and have been doing so for the lifetime of the hotel. That's right, food from the kitchen at that establishment sooner or later passes by the very same room en route to other destinations. No, they were not leaking and they looked sealed and all, but I do not see myself partaking of a meal at that establishment for love or for money. Pops' amused comment of a leak contributing to an altogether different flavour to the fine cuisine sealed the fate of that establishment.

Managed to secure a camera (but no batteries). Hopefully this will be sorted tomorrow

"We want the Karamojong to stop walking naked. We want them to go to school"

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, commenting on a particularly rebellious Ugandan community

Monday, April 04, 2005

Farewell John Paul II

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I never actually met him when he came to Kenya but I came a whisker close to, and was impressed by the man's -- how can I describe it -- realness? There was something very real and very human about the man.

He's served God and the Church for close to 70 years and it cannot have been an easy job. I think some of the suffering that he has undergone has been due to the heavy decisions that he has had to make as the Pope, that have had considerable ramifications on the Church and its people, and one in particular that I am sure has tortured him is the issue of condoms and AIDS. This is a decision I would not wish on my worst enemies.

Personally I was not praying for God to keep him alive -- on the contrary I prayed for him to be welcomed to the rest that he so richly deserves.

Rest In Peace Papa

Saturday, April 02, 2005

(M)issing In Action

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I've received a lot of correspondence from those who know me well wondering if I am alive, seeing that April Fool's day passed without me doing something suitable for the occasion. It is an opportunity I almost never pass up, and (toot toot) generally rise to the occasion.

So my silence was met with amazement and concern.

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I am very much alive and in excellent health, enjoying the sunny disposition of the Ugandan climate. I'm doing my thing from an office with a lovely view of Lake Victoria and Port Bell. Murphy has been unusually good to me and things are working excellently.

The pilot managed to hit the airstrip on the first attempt and I went straight to site (luggage and all).

The overzealous nonsense so prevalent in Kenya of confiscating identification documents so as to allow you entry seems to have been picked up there. I was forced to surrender by passport and imagine the unChrisitan language I had to choke back when on being driven out, the reception had merrily locked my passport in and gone home for the day.

Convincing hotels, at least those of any repute, to allow you to register without identification documents of any kind is an experience I highly recommend for those willing to prove they can talk themselves out of trouble. After a careful cocktail of honey and threats, they let me in.

As rooms go, it's not too bad. After establishing the most crucual aspect (in Uganda - ice cold air conditioning), and then lesser things like the presence of a bed) i was satisfied. It even has a little living room and those nice cane seats. The flowers, i discovered after a night, are fake. The person who was there before gratefully locked the safe and went off with the combination so I have to look for a manager to unlock the thing. I hope the previous occupant did not leave a grenade or something in there, or i shall have some explaining to do!

I'm also realizing just how much i inject Kiswahili, Sheng and bits and pieces of other languages in my off the cuff conversation. However i'm making a conscious efforts and the blank looks and 'excuse me?'s when i drop a stinging 'fokojembe' and 'bollocks' seem to be reducuing.

I was very amused at the forex bureau when i gave the good lady behind the counter a smile and 10,000 Kenyan shillings and she gave me back an even bigger one and 226,000 Ugandan shillings. The currency here takes some getting used to - a soda is 500 bob. A litre of super is 1,770 bob

Haydn - Symphony No.46 in B