Archive for October, 2006

According to Nation media report (free registration required):A foundation to recognise African heads of states and governments who have shown exemplary leadership will be launched in Nairobi on Monday (10.30.2006).

I would imagine that by the time you are a president, there should be no question about your leadership being exemplary, right? OK, so Jomo, Moi (and now Mwai?) and Mobutu and Mugabe and Museveni and many others have shown the exact opposite of great leadership, but are we not by this kind of awards and (even the BU thingy for former African presidents, the LloydG Balfour African Presidents in Residence Program) finally announcing globally our inept leaders?(not that everyone in the world, except us, does not already know and look at us in wonder at our ability to produce and tolerate such wonderful rulers). And you know, no matter how much we may protest, most of the times, a leader is just a reflection of the people whom he leads.

If i were an african president, i would oppose this award and make Mo pay more tax for the privilege of running his empire in my kingdom.

And to Mo;

(i) How would $20,000 “influence the behaviour of leaders”, to motivate them to not make $1b deals? Sounds more like the warped logic that says; pay Justice Ringera Ksh 2m so that he can be motivated enough to apprehend and prosecute Ksh 7b+ thieves. Riight?

(ii)if you cared that much, why not put this money to some useful cause, the way the likes of Bill Gates have done? Why give more money to those who have already helped impoverish their “own” people ( and i do not see them changing their SOP in the near term without push and shove from the people themselves)? Or impoversing people is a disqualifying factor for your award? How about those making deals that benefits everyone else (including external businesses) but the local people?

If you ask me, this is another clever way of influencing our rulers to be more inclined towards Mr Dr. Mo, or to make Mr Mo have it easier to run his Celtel biz ( and i have no idea what his biz morals are )


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There is a fallacy that a man can be greater than his father.

This thot seems to be more pronounced among Africans who have learned and perfected new ways that their fathers knew nothing of. It goes something like this. That if a man gets more learning than his father did or he gets to run a business empire his father would not have imagined possible, or he gets the greatest honors bestowed to him by his fellow mortals based on his work, talents, etc, then yes, he can rise and be greater than his father. Surely everyone knows Bill Gates, and all his achievementss and wealth and charity. How many people know his father? When we want to refer to Gates Senior, we talk of Bill Gate’s father, as if senior gets his identity from his son. You can think of other examples. You are perhaps more accomplished than your father could have ever dreamed of. More accomplished, yes. Greater. No no.

Lets do a thought experiment. Lets suppose for a moment that there was a fierce greateness contest. Lets say you are exactly 39 years of age, and that senior is 82 years. Let us time travel to -39 and 10 months ago. Senior decides, no Junior. End of contest. You lose. You can never be greater than your father.

OK. Perhaps your father did stuff you would not like to be associated with, things you would like to escape. Things you hate, things that made you hate him. But alas, now you find that you do exactly the same things. This is not uncommon. Evidence shows that most people (esp. sons) who hated and detested what their fathers did (e.g. spouse abuse, alcohol abuse, child abuse, anger, rage, etc), and grew bitter at their father AND swore to do better, end up doing exactly the same things! How can this be? This should really not surprise us, for, after all, you have his blood (or DNA) flowing in your veins.

So? How can one ever escape this?. Never. You never chose your father. You never even chose to be born. And you can not be unborn. What is done is done.

How about rebirth? Yes, that sounds impossible, but familiar. Reborn with a different Father. But this new birth is different, in that you CAN choose who you want to be your Father. But you still won’t be greater than your new Father.

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There are those who believe that Kenya (and other African countries) benefits from the export of their human capital to the west. I think that is a dream and i am not a dreamer. The only country i know that benefits from the export of its manpower is Mexico. Even the Phillipines does not. The mexican government encourages the needy, mostly uneducated and jobless mexican to move north. Everyone seems to benefit from this arrangement :

Mexico gets to reduce its “needy” and “poor”, gets $20billion per year from formal remiitances (probaly higher, considering the non banking avenues that are also common).

The American businesses gain a large pool of cheap labour ( road construction, housing construction, janitorial, agricultural, etc); Money transfer businesses (Western Union, Bank of America, etc) gain business that would otherwise not exist; the real estate business gains from more homes being built etc.

The mexican immigrant, who are generally without much education, gain most, in making a life out of what could have been a death sentence of poverty in a country with no social services (aii caramba!).

On the other hand, African immigrants to the west are most very highly educated and professional individuals. Who benefits from this type of immigration, the so called brain drain and brain waste? The Western nations, of course.

The western nations get to have Taxi drivers, gas station attendants, wal-mart cachiers, nursing home caregivers, etc , that are highly educated (MBAs, Msc, and even PhDs). They overall get a better economy from those that are skilled and talented enough and innovative in their areas of employment and engagements. Those in academia get to churn out more research that leads to more development of the west.. (No wonder the US is now considering adopting a points system, similar to that used by the UK, Canada and Australia, to gain more brains and talent!)

How does the kenyan society benefit?: lost potentials, lost role models, lost innovators and thinkers, lost social changers, lost democratizers. But eh, at least we get to keep the $1 billion in remittances, right?. Really? The $1b is perhaps 5% of the immigrants net worth, so if they were in kenya and the system were working as it should, the country would have perhaps generated $20b. Remember too that part of this $1b goes to buy consumer products, which are mostly imported from the immigrant’s host country. So add in our imbalanced trade with the west, kenya probably loses $50b annually.

Poverty gone by 2030? Not if we continue to operate as we do. But who cares, when that time approaches, we can always change the goal to 3020.

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Zdnet and CNN reported (CNN comparison shows that all the major sports combined (MLB,NBA,NFL) do not bring in as much revenue!) the following statistics about the porn industry:

Global $57 bln, US $12 bln. Internet $2.5 bln, 4.2 mln Internet sites peddle porn, and they contain 372 mln images. 72 mln unique visitors visit porn sites over the span of 12 months.

Points of concern:

(i)Porn is addictive: while some people may think it is an innocent harmless activity, studies and anectodal evidence shows that people actually do get addicted and find it very difficult to quit. We all know those other activities (smoking, drugs) that to some were once cool, but which now they would give anything to stop.

(ii) Minors, being the consumers of tomorrow are now being targeted. It is reported that the average age at which a child is introduced to porn is 11 years!

(iii)Women, who traditionally are “more” decent than men, are increasingly turning to porn, despite the clear “women debasement” nature that most porn takes. In seeking freedom and “doing what a man can do”, they lose one of the desireable qualities men seek in women. Gurls, guys will hang out with you and even watch porn with you, but when its time to settle down, do not be surprised if a guy seeks out a “less experienced” woman!

Kenyans, as usual, and with their perfected “copy and paste” consumption of western content and “culture” (the west has no culture people, do not abandon what is good for cotton candy!), are just sitting ducks, In the west there are at least enforecable laws and groups dedicated to sensitize people to the problems. In Kenya there seems to be no interest in this matter.

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What is it?: a $3 water filer system that may save those in volks in those areas ( i am thinking North Eastern, Uyoma-Ralph Tuju my son?, Seme-Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o?) where clean water is a problem and prevent waterborne illnesses, such as typhoid and diarrhea.

Oh Cool, what is it?: a drinking straw designed by the Swiss-based company Vestergaard Frandsen, that uses seven types of filters, including mesh, active carbon and iodine.

Cool, what is it?: has about 15 micron filter; filter reduces the big parasites, the iodine kills the weak parasites, active carbon picks up the medium range parasites. Suggested log 7 to log 8 kill on most bacteria. According to some, better than tap water in many developed countries.
Oh, cool, where do i get one for someone?: I dunno, try lifestraw.com or ebay

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So much for negative publicity from western media. Lele send me this article from the Vanguard by a nigeriaan minister visiting nairobi. Perhaps Dr Alfred Mutua, (Oh, we learned it was new Government Spokesman side-kick Joe, not Dr Mutua) who i noticed graced M’s Gikuyu debate by posting something lame (OK, he was in the USA; Perhaps being away from kenya unclouds one’s vision:-Dr Mutua if you ever read this, no Hard feelings, just suggestions), could learn from this. I do not doubt every kenyan in the Diaspora who reads this will beam with pride. OK, i agree there are issues, and planting flowers is not everything, but maybe, just maybe, if we manage to have some postitive news and outlook( without ceasing to demand for more), we might have strength (being negative does drain one) to dream/plan solutions to our quagmires.

Something else that is uplifting (assume it is not an election carrot), but something meant to last and well though out( i wonder though, AIDS is such a burden, i hope NHIF has planned well for this), is the report on NHIF scheme for all. Rista surely this post must make your day!

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At least here is a start in the right direction: Nation online reported here about “exporting” skilled workers to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Namibia, Botswana, Rwanda and Sudan. The government says there is an agreement in the contract with the countries stipulating that some proceeds earned by the employees be ploughed back to the country.

While i do not trust this government much, this is one of the issues i strongly agree with (see old entry here) and think it is a step in the right direction. But they should go further:

Make a similar agreement that would enable Kenya to benefit from the many (~ 200,000) professionals from kenya in North America, Europe and Asia. But for this to be acceptable to those in Diaspora, they would need to be convinced that the money the government “earns” from them goes to good use, and NOT paying Anglo Leasing types, buying 4×4 Lexuses and 144m type bribes. There are three ways (see my previous blog advocating for this) that this can be achieved:

(a) Channel the funds to supplement the professional’s constituency CDF funds. Most people in Diaspora seem to agree that the CDF has a great potential and they would support such a move. Those in Diaspora would of course have a sit in the CDF team.
(b) Channel the fund to the professionals former University or HELB (which really should be decentralized and be constituency driven) or even High school of their choice to support education activities.
(c) Those in Diaspora should create special investment bodies that they empower to invest the funds in projects and/or businesses of their desire in whatever area in Kenya they choose.

Of course they would have to be convinced that:

(i) There is full accountability and the audit books are open to the public

(ii) That if the money goes to the government, that the government actively participated in their being where they are today to warrant a partion of their earnings.

Anyone who cares about these things and want to join me on K-street?

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