Posts Tagged nairobi

A baptism of fire for Peter Kenneth

Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
~ John Kenneth Galbraith

Peter Kenneth, the guy Miguna Miguna says he’d put in charge of beauty contests in the county, is a funny guy; either that or very naive, or both. He’s written a formal letter complaining that Nairobi Governor nominations aren’t free and fair, hahaha….

So this man gets into a contest for arguably the most lucrative job in Kenya (besides the presidency) with two of the most battle hardened, crude, unscrupulous, and recalcitrant Jubilee mandarins in Nairobi and then he expects it will be a clean fight? What is this guy smoking? He thought nominations in Nairobi would be a smooth affair like chomping on an aromatic Habanos Cohiba cigar while lounging on the terrace of his mansion in Runda as a flute of Chateau Margaux wine percolates on his quartz topped table? What a joke.

This is Kenya, and Nairobi is the capital city that’s inhabited by the toughest of the lot: the status quo operatives, the pharmacists without chemists, and the wheeler dealer tenderpreneurs that supply air to the City Council, they run this joint. There’s no Madam Head of Civil Service to hold anyone’s hand here, bedroom bully credentials won’t count, you’re on your own. This is a fight to the death and rules don’t apply. This is Sonko and Doctor Bishop territory, straight out of MKU and St. Paul’s Universities with two year degrees without ever attending class; this is jailbird space and your opponents have already earned their stripes, with Mike having already done time at (and escaped from) Shimo La Tewa, and Doctor Bishop cooling her heels at Parklands Police Station cells as we speak. This is blue-collar roll up your sleeves and pop your collar work, it requires people that have lived by their wit and balls before and amassed wealth by taking food out of the mouths of babies by either the sword or the word; white collar stroke of the pen chicanery like the sort that brought Kenya Reinsurance to its knees won’t work here.

You’re in the throes of the very contest that made Baba Yao throw his hands up in exasperation and decide he’s better off retreating to face Don Kabogo in Kiambu. You’ve been thrown into the pits of the coliseum my friend, and there’s no escape, you’ll just have to grapple with these baby powder producing and “the seed” eating street fighters.

Like Johnny Vigeti of Kalamashaka rhymed in Punchline Kibao
“Zinedine Zidane, starting line up ya Real Madrid na hiyo inamaanisha huku hutoboi kudai number
Plus striker wao ashachoka, ako hoi anadai sub- ha!
Ni mambo na ku-mark territory, kwa hivyo ma-doggy za mitaa zingine hazikojoi mitaani hapa
Kuifanya iwe ngumu kwa huyu jamaa wa yoh-yoh ku-buy manga”

Besides, I’d have thought having been in Starch and all that, PK must have heard of the George Bernard Shaw quote

“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

Welcome to Nairobbery Muthungu wa Gatanga, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere


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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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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


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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We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.

Homophobia: The fear by straight men that another man could treat them like they have been treating women. 

Not to reduce a complex issue to just a punchline, but it has to some extent said to be true that the fear of the LGBT community and their increasing public profile locally, as witnessed recently by the coming out of renowned Kenyan writer Binyavanga, has something to do with the fear of the typical Kenyan male of sexual harassment (as much as this is itself actually a very remote possibility).

While there are certainly a lot of people who feel strongly about the issue because of their religious upbringing or an assumption of a cultural taboo on such matters, there is also a strong constituency that will readily confess that their fear is exposure of themselves and their children to what they consider a fearful prospect of being ‘recruited’ or wooed by a person of the same gender.

I have as such been asking myself what it is that terrifies the typical straight african man the most about revelations by persons in our midst that they are not straight, that they do not share the same values that are assumed the norm? Finally I came to a point where I singled out that one of the issues is a morbid fear of what we don’t understand and the real possibility of being in circumstances where we are facing this complex matter of sexuality head on, and worse a possibility that it will not be on our own terms or with our explicit consent.

I have tried to recall numerous discussions I have held with friends and colleagues on the issue at hand and I finally came to the realization that a lot of men live in fear of the possibility of another man making a pass at them, that they imagine the horror of a possibly bigger and stronger individual harassing them verbally or even touching them inappropriately (as it is claimed happens in some clubs known to be haunts of the gay underground and in which a typical conservative Kenyan male might have strayed into).

The interesting part is that women have had to deal with this sort of scenario (fear of unwanted advances) from the time they are teenagers, during young adulthood and even when married, it just never stops. When a man tries to chat up a girl he’s never met, say at a bus stop, she always has to be on her guard because he can be either of two things: a harmless stranger or a potential rapist. We men are finally realizing how difficult being left alone can be, and we are using all sorts of arguments (religious, moral, law) to mask our fear.

It is with such a realization, that women have been having it this hard, that I believe we can both appreciate how tough our sisters have it while at the same time acknowledging that the world we live in is different from the past and far from idea and as such we just have to overcome our own petty fears and learn to live with people who have either made different choices or who were born different. After all prejudice and bigotry are learned rather than traits we are born with.

“The sad truth about bigotry is that most bigots either don’t realize that they are bigots, or they convince themselves that their bigotry is perfectly justified.” 

― Wayne Gerard Trotman

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From the crypt of shocking ideas: Consider Ending Universal Suffrage

Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.
~ George Bernard Shaw

What is the point of decreeing Governors should have University degrees (and MPs and Senators too; before the sneaky exemption made at the last minute by MPs to void the requirements for this general election) if at the end of the day everyone, including those that are completely illiterate, is allowed to vote?

If the argument is that people without a tertiary education are not capable of leading (and are in fact forbidden by law from trying), how then are the same people proscribed as incapable of leadership supposed to have the competence to choose leaders? It is almost like being forbidden to cook (and eat), but then being told to choose the best cook?

Maybe we should just throw out all pretence and state that only those meeting the requirements to run for a position should have the right to vote for that position. Of course that runs counter to rights of universal suffrage. Therefore we should just cut the charade and allow anyone, regardless of academic credentials, to run for any office.

Come March 5th, Nairobi will be in the hands Sonko or Wanjiru and most likely Clifford Waititu. So much for constitutional requirements…..

PS. I came across this on where a somebody in attendance at the Aspen Ideas Conference wrote this:

Fortunately, one speaker shattered that fear when he presented his big idea: abandoning our enthusiasm for universal suffrage.

I’m sorry to report that I did not catch his name. I’ll try to track him down for a proper interview later in the festival.

His argument had two parts. The first was that some people simply are not ready for democracy. They have no functional conception of the state in their minds, much less an understanding of representative, deliberative democracy. Some are so poor that they can be bribed to vote this way or that for “five dollars,” he said. The application of the principle of universal suffrage was not a recipe for successful government in these circumstances, the speaker argued.

The second point of his argument was that the developed Western democracies did not start out with universal suffrage. Almost all allowed only a portion of their citizens to vote at first, only slowly expanding the right to participate in elections over the course of decades. Why force the developing world into instant universal suffrage?

This pretty much runs against the grain of everything decent and serious people think. In fact, in a place like Aspen — which is dominated by progressives of various sorts — it felt like he was standing athwart history yelling “Go back!”

So what should replace the model of universal suffrage? How do we decide who should get the franchise?

The anti-universal suffrage guy didn’t have the answers to those questions. But just because an answer isn’t at hand doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask the question. Perhaps if people started taking them seriously, we’d be at the beginning of something truly new in world politics.”

Link to complete article

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Do we have a construction industry or a criminal enterprise?

Kenyans, at least most of them, have no respect or see no need for professionals; this is hardly surprising given the impecunious life of struggle and want led by the majority of the hoi polloi, and contrasted with a life of hedonistic pursuit and unbridled licentiousness led by the thieving upper class. Somewhere in the middle of the two lies the professional, who is in a constant battle to maintain a façade of being in a pseudo middle-class, while being viewed by the proletariat as a snobbish intellectual who is stuck in an ivory tower, and being seen as nothing more than a pesky enabler to the rich kleptocrats that pay for him to afford a suit and a tie.

This I say as one who has seen clients shocked that architectural fees are pegged to a percentage of the total cost of a project, and this by law not whim. You see the mentality in this country, and a lot of the neglected backwaters of the planet, is that it makes sense to pay for tangible goods, bricks and mortar so to speak, and not for services or intellectual property. Developers, if you can call the disgraceful charlatans and unscrupulous speculators that run the construction world here so, would rather pay a quack a pittance to do a mockery of a design for them, even when they intend to spend tens (if not hundreds) of millions of shillings on the actual construction of a building. In deed even the president himself once said Architects are too expensive for most Kenyans, which by itself amounts to a sanctioning of jua kali developments if you ask me.

The results of this attitude by the moneyed, that professionals can be dispensed with in the building processes, and the fact that the rest of the country can neither afford nor even care to know what role professionals play in construction, are not limited to the impoverishment of the highly skilled and properly qualified professionals, they also have seen the the springing up of unsightly to downright hideous and dangerous buildings which are more often than not illegally put up (with a council officer once telling me some construction sites are only active after dusk to dawn when officers are a slumber) In instances where the lethargic, and often complicit, City Council has tried to step in and order demolitions or stop ongoing unsanctioned developments, friends of the powerful, and who are supposed custodians of law and justice in our courts, have promptly stepped in to protect the accused with favourable rulings.

Of course these issues are only brought into focus when a tragedy occurs and lives are lost in collapse of buildings, such as happened in Langata and Embakasi recently, and Nyamakima and Kiambu a while back. Which is why I was not at all surprised to read this in the daily Nation:

“The building that collapsed in Embakasi killing at least four people had been earmarked for demolition by the City Council two years ago.
The developer of the building however moved to court stopping the demolition resulting to a battle whose climax was a court order that Town Clerk Philip Kisia be committed to 21 days civil jail.
Mr Kisia was at pains on Thursday, to explain the council’s efforts to stop the construction of the house in Pipeline estate.
The clerk further sent alarm over other illegal buildings in Embakasi-Pipeline, Kahawa West Phase II, Tassia, Umoja Zone 8 and 9, Kayole, Roysambu and Mwiki and cautioned tenants against occupying them.
He said council employees had been blocked from inspecting construction work in the estates by illegal gangs.”

How can we really expect better building standards if projects are done by charlatans or built without any drawings whatsoever, if outlawed gangs run sites instead of foremen, if criminals and gangsters build houses instead of developers, and if these tragedies are forgotten in a day and we carry on living in our precarious high-rise death traps because it has not happened to us?

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They front religious, but their heart is empty. Like a televangelist preaching out of his bentley

Pampered televangelists, in their bespoke suits, praying for the death of those they count among the sheep; seeking divine help to expedite the orphanhood of children, who are innocent and whom christians are called to become like if they are to see the very kingdom that their– the preachers– constant plugging keeps them in fuel guzzlers and heavenly mansions; cursing in prayer and pronouncing afflictions on wives of men who obey orders and enforce law as a duty. What a shame that we have come to this.

“I ruku musupuu, I ruku muyang’i, I ruku musupuu” ~ Apostle James Ng’ang’a…

First off all, you’re not an apostle:

apostle: n    noun. 1    (Apostle) each of the twelve chief disciples of Jesus Christ. Øan important early Christian teacher or missionary. 2    a vigorous and pioneering supporter of an idea or cause.

Then a so-called tolerant and forgiving man of the cloth goes in with this vengeful curse of a prayer: “Wanawe na wawe yatima, na mukewe awe mjane, kutangatanga na watangetange wanawe kama machokoraa, na kusihi kusikose siku zote katika hiyo nyumba mtu atakaye kuwa anaokwa na damu siku zote”

So this is the gospel we preach in Kenya now? Is the church above earthly laws that they can disobey city council by-laws and then pray for the death of those who enforce them? And then they wonder why they are no longer taken seriously by any right thinking person, as is clear from the crushing defeat at the constitution referendum (where they tried to throw in the usual bogeymen of Islamic law being forced on Kenya, women being given abortion on demand and homosexual and gay marriages being legalised), I also hope they lose their ridiculous attempt to block the ascension of Willy Mutunga to the helm of Kenya’s judiciary with their feeble family values excuse that is based on nothing more than an ear stud.

Looks like we forgot that Jesus taught that we should: “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”

Here’s a clip of the Church’s demolition and the “Bull’s Eye” segment where they spoke curses against the city council employees:

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