Discretion, a polite word for hypocrisy.

“In a world where many habitually broadcast photographs of their sandwiches just before they’re eaten, we no longer agree that intense self-regard is a sign that something is wrong. It may be a reasonable reaction to life in a society where extension of the self, through media, is an accepted way to escape feeling insignificant”

dona

So Ruto’s lawyer, Donald Kipkorir, posted a photo online of what he claimed was a very expensive 2016 Range Rover he’d acquired, and the condemnation from all quarters was brutal. Even Njoki Chege, who has to struggle for hits with controversy every week, went in on him, as did Bindra who is a self appointed moral arbiter, that was along with everyone and their aunt.

But I’ve been asking myself what the difference is between what DBK did and what most of us are constantly doing on Facebook: aren’t we all posting photos of the 8 year old NZEs we have recently acquired on loan from our Saccos? Aren’t we taking selfies in our clean and paved estates while out jogging? Are our timelines not filled with photos of tables at bars bristling with “mzingas” of whisky and colourful cocktails? What about the photos our ladies take while looking away and “rumping up” their ample behinds for Likes? What about the studio shoots of our perfect and smiling nuclear families that we post for the world to comment on with feel good statements? There are the photos of us boarding planes, eating at the trendiest joints, in our newest threads, at the steering wheel of our jalopies, in the holiday destinations we’ve just checked into, of our food, our big screen TVs, our lovers and partners, our kids, our classy workplaces, our attractive friends, our meetings with the powerful and the famous, our selfies in which we describe ourselves as gifts from God to the opposite sex and are the first to like, etc.

So then why are we so mad at DBK? Is it because we are forced to share comparably mundane lifestyles and more humble material possessions while he throws a brand new Range Rover in our faces? We say it is no achievement worthy of sharing, but are new dresses achievements worthy of being shared? Are visits to our parents or grandparents achievements worthy of documentation on social media? Is love and pride in our spouses and kids the stuff that makes better material for public displays to strangers online than a new SUV? If this had been a struggling lawyer who’d just purchased his first 10 year old Toyota Corolla we’d all be praising him for his hard work, but not DBK because his is a premium car that can buy thirty Toyotas, and we drive Toyotas, if we drive at all.

As a matter of fact, why are we even pretending we don’t know that we live in an age where everyone is obsessed with consumerism and publicity? An age where the likes of Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton shot to fame because of leaked sextapes and are now role models for millions of others, a generation raised on likes, retweets, double-taps, shares, and the approval of strangers. A generation that has birthed the likes of Trump as worthy of world leadership. DBK is me and you, he is us; except instead of posting photos of coffee at Java or shiny new shoes, or kids in gowns graduating kindergarten, he does a number on us and posts a luxury SUV many of us will never get into, let alone own. And so we get angry that he sets the bar in this sordid social media “look at me” world higher (or is it lower) than those condemning him can reach.

I’m reminded of a monologue from Al Pacino (as Tony Montana) in Scarface: “What you lookin’ at? You’re all a bunch of f****n’ a**holes. You know why? You don’t have the guts to be what you wanna be? You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your f****n’ fingers and say, “That’s the bad guy.” So… what that make you? Good? You’re not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don’t have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There’s a bad guy comin’ through! Better get outta his way!”

Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy

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In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends – MLK, Jr

“The desire of Kenyans is manifest. They know too well that their invincible, invisible, nameless, faceless, yet omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent rulers are condemned to serve them for life!”
― Levi Cheruo Cheptora
Moses Kuria

We have madmen on Kenya’s political scene, utterly despicable men that can make anyone with a modicum of sense choke with anger from just hearing them speak. But normally we rationalize that they are lone ranger loose canons that do not speak for the leadership of the country or their parties; because if they do then we really are in funk.

What strikes me as odd however is that the leadership of said parties never comes out to condemn the utterances of these atrocious characters, and that the same scum continue to walk the streets free while their motormouths are on overdrive inciting hatred and selling the ingredients for bloodshed.

Sample some of the statements attributed to them; statements that go unquestioned and receive little or no condemnation from the powers that be.

May, 2014: In the aftermath of the Gikomba terror attacks, Kuria states that the attacks were by Luos and aimed at Kikuyu businesses, and advocates for tribal war.

January 2015: Moses Kuria states the he fixed Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and he is ready to testify at the ICC; Ruto and Uhuru remain silent

June 2015: “That is why I told you to come with your pangas. It is not for slashing only. A man like that (who opposed NYS) should be slashed,” Kuria said; UhuRuto say nothing.

October 2015: Aladwa says: “2017 imekaribia na sisi kama watu wa ODM tumebaki na risasi moja…this time round the outcome of the election ikiwa tumeshinda na watunyang’anye wacha kiumane..Raila ndio awe President lazima watu wakufe kiasi…”; Raila and the CORD leaders stay quiet, Aladwa remains free and merely issues a statement saying his utterances were misconstrued adding that he meant the deaths would be a result of joy and not violence.

June 2016: MP Kimani Ngunjiri tells his constituents that Luos should be evicted from Nakuru, adding “na sasa tunasema ni bahati yake (Raila) sikuwa hapa…Tungeonana”

June 2016: Kuria states “Raila should be careful because he can still bite the bullet. We won’t be troubled by one person forever. He can as well bite the bullet and we bury him next Monday. His protesters will throw stones for just one week and life continues. If it’s war they want it’s what they’ll get.”

As our leaders continue to watch silently as their liutenants beat the drums of war and fan the flames of tribalism, let them know they will have blood on their hands if the country goes to the dogs. If they insist on turning a blind eye and playing deaf to such alarming statements which are attributed to their footsoldiers, then we have no option but to start to think these are their mouthpieces, that this is what they want for us.

 

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Nothing strengthens impunity so much as silence and fear

To sin by silence, when we should protest, Makes cowards out of men.
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

 

IEBC Protest 2016

The price of free speech; blood and tears.

 

Kenyans, they say we are the most optimistic people in the world, maybe so, because even I thought we had learnt from PEV and never again wasn’t just another cliche. I was very optimistic about 2017, not anymore. Now I sit here wondering whether it will be best to be near the Uganda border immediately after voting.

Going by what I saw yesterday, our uniformed forces clobbering civilians senseless and even shooting protesters in the back (as happened in Kisumu and in slums in 2007/8) is clearly something that can happen again and that if nothing changes we should brace for.

I have heard all the arguments to justify both the protests and the conduct of the police, and I have come to one conclusion: on which side the law and right falls depends on which tribe the person commenting belongs to most of the time.

Thugs who infiltrated a lawful protest are being described as CORD supporters by Jubilee supporters, outlaw rogue police who waded into crowds with “jembe” stumps and bludgeoned everyone in sight are being defended as acting with reasonable restraint by government supporters; in the meantime pockets of CORD supporters saw it fit to attend a peaceful protest armed with stones and other projectiles, some of them saw it fit to try and uproot a railway line later on in the evening. All worryingly reminiscent of the spontaneous chaos nine years ago.

We are in trouble. I don’t think the country has ever been this divided and most people this blind to their own prejudices, or perhaps everyone is fully aware of the chasm and are choosing to deliberately walk on the edge of this blade.

In the meantime, our names continue to betray us.

“with the police doing all the killing, who do we call when our hero’s are the villain”
― O.S. Hickman 

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He soared with the eagles and now sleeps with the fishes. But in between he lived on his own terms.

Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.
– George Bernard Shaw

Who murdered Jacob Juma? The answer is I don’t know, and in all likelihood neither does anyone reading this.

image

What I do know is that this was a man who lived hard and fast, and he had, as a consequence, made many powerful enemies both in the government of the day, in political circles, and even in former business associates. Any of them could have taken his life, safe in the knowledge that the entity (and those who run it) with the monopoly on violence would be first to be fingered.

The same persons controlling this entity could have actually assassinated him, knowing they have the power to scapegoat one of his numerous enemies, such as the already arrested Yongo.

Either way he made it clear he wasn’t afraid to go, this conviction and strength of character gave him the courage and/or foolhardiness to say things and act in ways few of us dare to.

He soared with the eagles and now sleeps with the fishes. But in between he lived on his own terms.

R.I.P JJ

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I fear for a generation raised on Facebook.

Or maybe the whole Internet will simply become like Facebook: falsely jolly, fake-friendly, self-promoting, slickly disingenuous. – Jason Lanier “You Are Not A Gadget”

Facebook generation

Sometimes I look at my timeline and wonder what it would have been like growing up as a child if my parents (ok, maybe just mum, don’t see dad doing it) had Facebook in the eighties and posted fifty times everyday their love for me and how I was the centre of their world –complete with photos of my tiny self in diapers, being bathed, crawling on dusty floors, on the potty, crying for porridge, etc. How would I have felt about it I ask myself. I most likely wouldn’t have liked it very much in my teens, I definitely would not appreciate it as an adult; that is assuming I ever matured into one given the entitlement such constant ‘love’ and attention would foist on me.

Growing up in the eighties and nineties, parents and older relatives were viewed simply as providers and symbols of authority and discipline, there was little room for being smothered with odes to our infantile greatness, praise was dispensed sparingly and only when deserved and that made it all the more precious, hugs were reserved for just the most difficult or happiest of times, yet we survived. It was true then as it is now that there’s only one beautiful child in the world and every mother has it, but this went unspoken. Maybe that is why we’re not the most romantic men in the world, maybe that is why we don’t cry like Alejandro at the drop of a hat, maybe that is how African men should be raised, or maybe not. Then again, what do I know about such things.

Look at what is happening in our schools: in the bad old days poor performances were placed squarely at the door of the student by both parents and teachers, punishment to remedy this was not far off. Nowadays bad performances are blamed on teachers by parents and students, teachers are berated and shouted at as poorly performing students sit smugly in chairs during school visiting days. It is difficult for me to relate to this. In the times comprising my childhood, any adult could set straight any kids he found playing in the middle of the road, nowadays it is best to mind your own business even if you see the worst of behaviour in children who are not your own. It no longer takes a village to raise a child, just Facebook likes and comments on cute photos will do.

I cannot wait to see the kind of men and women that will be the legacy of a generation raised on Facebook.

When a human being becomes a set of data on a website like Facebook, he or she is reduced. Everything shrinks. Individual character. Friendships. Language. Sensibility. In a way it’s a transcendent experience: we lose our bodies, our messy feelings, our desires, our fears. – Zadie Smith

 

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Cry My Beloved County

Fighting corruption is not just good governance. It’s self-defense. It’s patriotism.

– Joe Biden

A while back I thought it was bad enough the talented visionaries leading Vihiga county were broadcasting to the world their innovative plans to build mud houses at 20 million shillings, while raising taxes through charging parking fees on donkey carts, mkokotenis, and wheelbarrows. All these in the face of mounting debt then at a colossal KES 2.53 billion. I was wrong.|

Mud houses in Vihiga

The findings of an audit report have left me open mouthed with both amazement, shock, anger, and seething rage at the rape and pillaging that has brought this tiny county to its nadir.

Some of the payments made out to profiteers and other crooks and tenderpreneurs include figures so staggering that it beggars belief that public employees have the audacity to sign off on such blatantly fraudulent contracts and condone unconscionable racketeering, all at the long-suffering public’s expense, without fear of being marched to the gallows by mobs frothing at the corner of their mouths from all the bending over and shafting they have had to endure from the thieving lot ensconced in our county offices.

Monies were shoveled with abandon to pay for delivery of services and works that do not pass muster or have been multiplied by several factors, these sad unscrupulous dealings were scrutinized in an ADHOC Committee report tabled this week at Vihiga county assembly that was concerned with the 2.5 billion debt. Suspect payments include (and this is just the tip of the iceberg):

  • The installation of a generator with automatic switch and two 300 litres solar heaters at the Governors residence awarded to Mian Contractors LTD at a cost of Ksh. 6,040,000.
  • The installation of CCTV surveillance system at the governor’s residence worth Kshs. 877,900.
  • Payment of 3.216,000 shillings to company called Daysey Enterprise
  • Payment of Ksh 3,463,920 to Ahadi trust in two installments
  • Payment of Ksh 4,500,000 for legal services to Browne Nathans & Co. Advocates.
  • Payment of Ksh12,845,344 to Antonina & CO Advocates,
  • Ksh 32,000 paid to Rafiki Bank and Micro finance under questionable circumstances.
  • Payment of Kshs 1,563,686 to K.R.A and PAYE which is questionable as this is deducted from employed emolument
  • Payment of 2,286,040 paid to commissioner of VAT.
  • Payment of Ksh 19,463,975 to consultants for unspecified service delivered,
  • Payment of 100,000 shillings to the county secretary’s personal assistant Mr. Herbert Kenogo
  • Payment of Ksh. 30,000 to Mr. Hudson Mutsotso
  • Payment of 3,897,600 paid to a security company identified as Leadman security services LTD for service not delivered.
  • Payment of Ksh.8,340,880 to council of governors,
  • Ksh. 5,677,800 paid to Mian contractors LTD,
  • Kshs. 6,283,140 paid to a company called Mavuh LTD for unspecified services.

 

The other hot spot area where millions of shillings were looted was in the execution of projects not budgeted for.

These projects with exaggerated payments included:

  • The construction of Kaimosi Dining Hall awarded to Manvuh LTD at a tune of 13,528,036.
  • The rehabilitation of 8km Kapsanjo-Habalia Road in Busali ward the contract awarded to Mazobi Enterprise at a cost of Ksh. 2,995,874. It was established that these were ghost projects since these roads were not in Busali ward.
  • The connection of internet and wi-fi at KMTC computer laboratory awarded to Kenworth Prime solution at a cost of Khs.1,698,530.
  • The construction of perimeter wall at Vihiga county headquarters at cost of Ksh.18,810,212 the tender awarded to Reapways Enterprise.
  • The construction of a sentry house and electrical perimeter wall at Vihiga FM radio station awarded to Stomatech Enterprise at cost of 14,695,400.
  • Construction of kitchen and toilet at Vihiga FM station at cost of Khs. 11,339,017 awarded to Sulu construction LTD.
  • The construction of Vihiga county court headquarters the function of national government cost the county Khs. 9,417,956 done by Splendour supplies LTD.

The committee recommended the directors of these alleged ghost companies be identified and chief officer treasury held responsible.

The committee also sought accountability of the transition funds Kshs. 61,592,200 set aside for commencement of county government.
They demanded Beatrice Alosa be held responsible for failing to provide conclusive evidence relating to the expenditure of Ksh. 61,592,200.
The funds were alleged to have been spent on:

  • The completion of the county hall and offices at a tune of 29,947,772.
  • The purchase of Hansard for county assembly at a cost of Khs. 6,600,000.
  • Roads grading and murraming at cost of 2,750,000 and refurbishment of county assembly at cost of 15,775,362 all these projects are not completed.

There was also:

  • A loss of 900 million that was allocated to wards projects,
  • The irregular expenditure of Khs. 105,984,712 emergency fund,
  • The loss of Khs. 1,6646,616 received for development in the FY2014-2015.

The Committee had recommended that Governor Moses Akaranga is also asked to explain how the county government incurred Khs. 2.5 billion debt. He is also to explain how and when the stalled projects will be completed.

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The first Diesel engine was powered by peanut oil, not diesel

“The diesel engine can be fed with vegetable oils and would help considerably in the development of agriculture of the countries which use it” and that “The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may become in course of time as important as petroleum and the coaltar products of the present time.”
– Rudolph Diesel, 1912
bus-smoke

Volkswagen is in crisis, they’ve deliberately set out to make millions of diesel powered cars pass for cleaner than they are by programming some 500,000 vehicles to emit lower levels of harmful emissions in official tests than on the roads using clever computer algorithms.

The fact that a major company would go this extent to pull such skulduggery should be a pointer to the fact finding a balance between level of emissions and efficiency/performance is proving tough for cars running on diesel. Maybe this is because the inventor of the diesel engine intended it to run on vegetable oils but died mysteriously shortly after affirming this position in 1912.

But what is of more concern to me is that often on Kenyan roads you see lorries, buses, matatus, pickups, and other diesel powered cars belching so much smoke and soot you’d think someone had lit a coal fire to beelzebub’s backside. Worse this is not an unusual sight by any means, which is why it should worry us all.

What the Dieselgate scandal by VW has alerted me to is the dark side of diesel that I have not been paying attention to: diesel engines release 15% more CO2 per volume of fuel than petrol engines as well as 20 times as much mono-nitrous oxides (NOx) — a chemical that damages respiratory systems.

My worry then is just how badly exposed we are to this dangerous diesel emmissions seeing as it is acceptable locally to drive behind a lorry that is farting so much smoke into the air that you can barely see the road ahead nor breathe without choking. Maybe we need to ask ourselves why nowadays we have so many cases of asthma, pneumonia, and other respiratory and chest problems as compared to the old days when we had fewer cars.

Are checks for levels of emmissions included in the inspection that is carried out annualy on public service vehicles and commercial vehicles? Are our diesel vehicles fitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction systems that are actually working? Is the use of diesel powered vehicles in this country subject to any specific regulations? Do we care about this things?

Let it not be forgotten that Rudolph Diesel was dead long before they named a by-product of petroleum as diesel fuel. This had nothing to do with him or the engine he invented.

In the words of Dary Hannah “Most people are really stunned to find out that the technology has been around for more than 100 years, and that the diesel engine was in fact invented to run on vegetable oil.”

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