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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The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.

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

– Joe Biden

Vihiga County Assembly(1)

A while back I was both shocked and dismayed to read that my County Government had a budged deficit of a billion shillings, had needed to borrow KES 200 million from a commercial bank to pay workers, and was collecting merely 80 million shillings in monthly revenue down from 300 million. Having posted this as a question on the counties Facebook Page and tagged relevant officials I still got no response.

A few days later I come across another news article reporting that three former executives impeached by the county assembly would be receiving KES 21 million as severance payments: Mr Evans Kahiga (Finance Sec), Elmanus Vodoti (Education Sec) and Mr Newton Okwiya (Trade Sec) were sent packing a little over a year ago but chose to go to court to fight their case, apparently the Vihiga Governor, Moses Akaranga, opted to have the matter settled out of court by means of this lump sum payment.

The summary of an audit on Vihiga County Executive expenditure below shows just how bad things really are and that the two red flags above were just the tip of the iceberg.

KEY AUDIT FINDINGS ON VIHIGA COUNTY EXECUTIVE.

1.UN-VOUCHED EXPENDITURE

The County had budgeted to spend approximately 3.2 billion shillings. However, records availed indicate the total expenditure incurred during the year amounted to approximately Kshs.2,439,803,534 composed of approximately Kshs.1,908,942,724 recurrent expenditure and Kshs.530,860,810 on development vote. The expenditure could not be adequately vouched because the IFMIS system was not reliably operated during the period. Further, no bank reconciliations were being generated and even trial balances were not in place. Specific payment vouchers could also not be traced through the system. As a result, it has not been possible to verify the expenditure incurred by the County Executive for the year ended 30 June 2014.

2. IRREGULAR PROCUREMENT OF GOODS AND SERVICES

IRREGULAR PROCUREMENT /UNSUPPORTED EXPENDITURE

The County Executive spent more than Kshs. 26, 000,000.00 on Seminars and workshops. However, most of the payment vouchers were not adequately supported. Further, no evidence was adduced to confirm that the services were competitively sourced. Consequently, it was not possible to confirm how the prices were determined and whether they were fair and the County got value for money in the transactions.

FAILURE TO PREPARE PROCUREMENT PLANS BY MINISTRIES

A number of ministries including Health, Finance, Gender, Lands and Executive department failed to prepare procurement plans as required by the Procurement and Disposal Regulations, 2006. This implies that the total expenditure of Kshs. 530, 860,810 incurred by the various ministries under the development votes was irregular. Without a procurement plan, it was not possible to confirm the necessity and authenticity of all the procurement made during the period ended 30 June 2014.

IRREGULAR EXPENDITURE ON PROCUREMENT OF UNIFORMS.

A supplier was paid an amount of Kshs.7, 212,938 in respect of supply of uniforms for distribution to various sporting teams in the county. However, it was not clear how the amount was arrived at as the budget was not specific. Further, the expenditure was incurred in total disregard of the procurement regulations as no competitive bids were invited and there was no evidence of the existence of circumstances calling for the use of alternative procurement methods.

IRREGULARITIES IN PROCUREMENT OF CONSULTANCY SERVICES

The County Government incurred expenditure on consultants and legal services totalling Kshs.63, 290,000.00 without adherence to Public Procurement regulations which require competition and in a number of cases without proper supporting documents. Further, even though, copies of agreements availed indicated that a legal firm was to formulate and draft 15 County Legislation bills at a cost of Kshs.29,250,000.00 and the formulation and drafting of 20 County Policies and Regulations at a cost of Kshs.19,950,000.00 respectively, however only five bills and five policy documents were availed for audit review. Both agreements provided for payment of more than 50% of the total agreement prices for the delivery of less than 35% work and also provided for large deposits. The unsupported expenditure on Consultancy amounts to nugatory expenditure which remains unaccounted for.

IRREGULAR PROCUREMENT OF EQUIPMENT AND FURNITURE.

The County Government incurred expenditure amounting to Kshs.37, 994,354.00 on procurement of various items of equipment and furniture without inviting competitive bids as required by the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005 and Regulations, 2006.

ADVANCE PAYMENT FOR CONSTRUCTION OF A SLAUGHTER-HOUSE

A construction firm was paid an amount of Kshs.19, 477,906.00.00 as part payment for the construction of the “final phase” of a slaughter house at Ukwanda in Luanda sub County whose Contract amount/price was Kshs.29, 050,253.00 with a Contract duration of ten months commencing in April 2014 and expected completion in February 2015. A visit to the construction site in July 2014 indicated only fencing works was complete though the Summary of payment on Account signed by county officers dated 6 June 2014 valued the works at Kshs.17,026,376.00 a value that could not be confirmed on the ground. No satisfactory explanations were given for this unsatisfactory state of affairs.

PROCUREMENT OF ROAD WORKS

Procurement records including copies of advertisements, all procurement minutes and award correspondences, in support of a total expenditure on various road works amounting to Kshs.150, 000.000.00 were not made available for audit review. It was not possible to confirm whether the works were procured competitively neither as required nor whether the Government received value for money out of the expenditure.

CONSTRUCTION OF FORMER TOWN HALL

In June, 2013, the County Government of Vihiga revived construction of the former town hall building. Request for quotations method of procurement was used to identify and award the works at a price of Kshs.29, 947,772. At the time of this audit, approximately 95% of the work was completed but the contractor who was still on site had been paid a total of Kshs.36,991,723.00 which exceeded the contract price of Kshs.29,977,772.00 by Kshs.7,043,951.00 or 24% increase. This excess payment was neither supported by a variation order nor explained. Further, given that the amount involved exceeded the maximum allowed for the request for quotations method, and therefore called for open tender method, it was not clear why the former method was used.

FILMING AND PRODUCTION OF PROMOTIONAL INVESTORS VIDEO DOCUMENTARY

Shooting, editing and production of the Vihiga County Investors video film documentary and related promotional works was undertaken by a Consultancy firm that was paid Kshs.775, 000. However, no satisfactory explanation was received as to how this service provider was identified because copies of quotations, procurement minutes and other procurement documents and evidence of service provided were not made available for audit review.

IRREGULAR PROCUREMENT OF MAIZE AND LOSS OF FUNDS.

The County without inviting competitive bids as required incurred expenditure of Kshs.11, 728,000.00 on the procurement of maize purportedly for distribution to schools under a schools feeding program. Details of the feeding program were not disclosed as the Ministry of Education was not involved and the relevant County Legislation had not been passed. Further, the whole maize consignment was condemned by the Department of Public Health as not fit for human consumption and recommended for destruction before it could be distributed to the schools. A loss of the Kshs.11, 728,000.00 was occasioned. The expenditure had also not been budgeted for during the year.

IRREGULAR PROCUREMENT OF FERTILIZER.

The County Government incurred expenditure on the supply and delivery of fertilizer at subsidized cost of Kshs.10, 385,200. However Payment vouchers in respect of only 3,793 bags of fertilizer were availed for audit review even though a transporter was paid a total of Kshs.1, 596,000.00 for the distribution of 4,333 bags to various destinations. The discrepancy between the two figures was not explained and the details of these destinations were also not disclosed. Tender documents including copies of advertisements, quotations, minutes of procurement committees, list of beneficiaries were not provided for audit review. Ledgers were not opened to facilitate recovery and the management of the intended revolving fund.

PURCHASE OF MOBILE PHONES FOR CHIEF OFFICERS

Payment through Imprest Warrant No. 1966009 dated 30 April 2014 for Kshs.759, 990 to purchase 10 Samsung mobile handsets for Chief Officers through single sourcing was not supported.

3. EXCESSIVE AND IRREGULAR AIR TRAVEL

No documents were availed to confirm how a travel agent to whom a total amount of Kshs.14, 000,000.00 was paid in respect of air tickets was identified. Specific reasons for travel were in a number of cases not indicated and there was also no documented policy as to which officer was entitled to air travel. In view of the foregoing, it was not possible to confirm the propriety of the expenditure of Kshs.14, 000,000 for the period ended 30 June 2014.

4. OUTSTANDING IMPREST

As at 30 June 201 4 various officers held a total outstanding imprest of Kshs.56, 980,992.00 contrary to the existing financial regulations and procedures on imprests. No efforts appear to have been taken to recover the overdue imprest from the officers’ salaries.

5. EXPENDITURE ON MISS TOURISM KENYA 2015

A Commitment fee of Kshs.10, 000,000 was paid to Ms Miss Tourism Kenya Limited (MTK) on 9 March, 2014 to host Miss Tourism Kenya 2015 in the County of Vihiga at a cost of Kshs.26 million. However, the expenditure was charged in the Executive vote as the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Tourism which did not have any allocation for such expenditure. In the year 201 4/2015, the Ministry provided for the same but the County Government failed to approve the allocation. Further, no evidence that expenditure was approved by the cabinet has been seen. Cost Benefit Analysis prepared by the Ministry indicates that 1500 people are expected with each spending an average of Kshs. 2000. A total of Kshs. 3, 000,000 may be realized. However, the county has no capacity (accommodation-wise) to accommodate such a huge number. Further, the agreement appears not to hold MTK responsible for any failures which may be realized in the event. The agreement also fails to mention the Kshs. 10, 000,0000 commitment fee paid in case the event fails to materialize. There was no guarantee that the amount paid out by the government is recoverable and thus there is exposure to possible loss.

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Saba saba: Remember remember, the 7th of July, 25 years ago at Kamukunji

At every turn when there has been an imbalance of power, the truth questioned, or our beliefs and values distorted, the change required to restore our nation has always come from the bottom up from our people.

– Howard Dean

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I’m sure most of the abusive and ignorant young keyboard warriors that troll Kenya’s social media today, typing invective in atrocious grammar insulting people who do not share their ethnicity or support their tribal overlords, do not know what today signifies.

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They can’t possibly remember progressive Kenyans of different races, creeds, sex, and ethnicities taking on the despotic Moi regime 25 years ago today to fight for political reform at the infamous Kamukunji grounds.

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What’s worse is that they can’t really see that the reformers are now out in the cold and the KANU boys are back in power rebranded as digital (just as the home guards took power at independence and the Mau Mau were isolated).

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Sabasaba should be a national holiday but isn’t, because we are still not free from the anachronistic mandarins of one party rule.

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Decisions, decisions: The 5 Series vs the Aisle

Cars and cameras are the two things I let myself be materialistic about. I don’t care about other stuff.
~ Louis C. K.

The car, or the bride, or both....

The car, or the bride, or both….

Lately I have been having a tussle within my heart; I have been holding meetings with myself, been tossing and turning all night, and staying motionless from brooding all day. I sit on the horns of a dilemma: should I buy a 5 Series BMW or should I marry in a nice church wedding.

It might look like an easy choice but it is not.

For starters I haven’t yet met the car or the bride, but I am at least able to check the car’s specs online and blush at gushing reviews from satisfied drivers. I however cannot find any such elaborate and satisfied reviews from men that walked down the aisle recently, unless I have to assume men don’t talk about such things because they bring them so much joy that they are rendered mute, even angry.

The second matter has to do with cost. I cannot afford either in my estimation. You see a brand new 5 Series BMW costs as much as a house, and I don’t own a house. A wedding worthy of The Wedding Show I’d guess costs less, but not much less. Both are not within my reach given my current station in life. But there’s a way out, I will simply buy a used BMW at a fraction of the cost of a new one and will proudly show off as if I drove straight out of a showroom in Bavaria. I however do not know if there’s such a thing as a brand new versus a used bride, or if latter then cost less to marry in a white wedding. I do know for sure that wedding guests won’t expect less of a gourmet treat on account of condition of the bride (and groom for that matter, being no spring chicken myself); but I do know my friends will understand if the ride in the used BMW is a little bumpy from shock absorbers that have seen better days.

Here is where it gets interesting: for obvious reasons I cannot have kids with a car (even one as beautiful as a BMW), but I’ll wager the SACCO loan I’d use to buy that car that I will have a better chance of meeting someone I can have kids with if I am in that BMW to begin with. I can also bet if I do the latter first then I will not in the future be allowed to buy that luxurious toy which I am betting will enable me do the latter later. It’s crazy.

And so my struggle continues.

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Every time you mistreat a woman, you give up the right to be treated like a man

“A woman brought you into this world. So you have no right to disrespect her.”
~ Tupac Amaru Shakur

women-equality-oppressed

The late John Njoroge Michuki, in what was viewed as an inadvertent residual kowtowing to and hearkening to outmoded colonial attitudes towards ‘natives’, once justified the government’s need to limit freedoms because ‘The African mind does not accept authority.’

Sometimes you have to wonder if he, and the colonial vassals that influenced his parochial self-deprecating world view, didn’t have a point. Sometimes we put on spectacles that call into question both the sanity and intelligence of every single one of us that inhabit this beautiful continent, a continent that most of us would prefer wouldn’t be termed a dark continent but the actions of a few vindicate those who paint us with this broad derogatory brush.

There’s a truly disturbing and unconscionable video that has been doing the rounds in Kenya lately showing a bunch of clearly worthless ogling male Embassava touts taunting and groping women they have forcibly undressed. What crime have these women committed to deserve such a harrowing and undignified public disrobing you might ask; well it is apparently because they wore skirts that the said sad excuses for men deemed to be too short for their liking. Never mind that these men do not know who these women are, and as a matter of fact there’s not a single justification I can even thing of for such an act of gender-based violence and blatant misogyny. This is bullshit, it’s crap, it’s not acceptable in civilized society.

Those men, if they can even be called that, are to me nothing but perverts looking for kicks, bastards who have to look for excuses to rip the clothes off passersby to get the fix their wretched lives cannot get by any other means. These men are nothing but wankers that should be getting the shaft in Kamiti Maximum Prison if it were up to me. I can imagine how pleased they’d be having hardened criminals disrobe them when they drop the soap.

But seriously let’s have some respect for women and girls regardless of how they choose to dress or walk or live their lives, it’s the least we can do for what are our sisters, cousins, aunties, mothers and daughters. Every single one of those women subjected to the pain of a butt-naked walk of shame down streets full of staring men has a family that deserves better than the humiliation of a person they love and respect.
Frankly the actions of the men in our society who think the appropriate action to take when we see women dressed in ways we don’t agree with is to have them stripped bare is to say the least a sign of our own immaturity, intolerance, ignorance and perversion. And this rubs off on all of us and bathes us all in the pungent fumes of sexism.

In the words of Barbara Boxer: “More than anything, I think as our country matures, we recognize that women deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”

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