Thursday, November 09, 2006


I was too lazy to come up with something new, so I just took something out of the drafts folder and finished it off, enjoy......

This post is a kudos to one thing that Kenyans know how to do well...walk!
We also know that some Kenyans run well but let's not get derailed. Unless you were part of an upper middle class or rich family, the fact is that we all did quite a bit of mileage. It was walk to the kiosk/shopping centre, walk to the bus stop, walk to the gate, walk to the neighbours (depending on where you lived this could take quite sometime), walk to school, walk in town. Walk walk walk. We are indeed a walking nation.

This was brought to the fore during the Matatu strike over the Michuki rules. People used to walk from the City Centre to areas like Buru Buru, South C, Kangemi etc. If it was in Europe people wouldn't have made it, I'm not going to mention America because this is one nation where people love their cars and drive everywhere; other than some select cities up North.

I once remember my sister going home on vacation packing all her dainty shoes bought in America. Within one week of walking around town she had killed an expensive pair of shoes and decided to buy Bata shoes instead. Let's face it most of these shoes out here sold by athletes and entertainers are made to do everything but walking.

Look at that shoe? Good looking huh? Expensive too! Try walking round Nairobi cbd with it for two weeks and see how long it will keep its' look and form. Not too long if you ask me. Reminds me of shoes specially made for Kenyans like Safari boots, akalas and Bata Prefects. There was a pal of mine in primary school whose dad bought him a pair of Safari boots while his siblings were bought inferior brands. Almost a year passed and he had to watch jealously as his siblings were taken shopping time after time as their shoes wore out. He tired of his Safari boots and in desperation took a razor to them, it was only then he was bought new shoes. I wonder if the new Safari boots are half as good?

I also remember one neighbourhood we lived in where the matatu numbers were in triple figures and my parents decided they were not going to leave us a car. Let's just say leaving the house was like planning an expedition of sorts. You would have to leave the house one hour before you wanted to be at the bus stop because it would take you around 45 minutes to 1 hour to get there. Budget another 30 mins for one of those manyanga matatus to pass by and for you to be added to the mass of humanity in there. On finishing your errands it was the reverse. Get ready to be packed like a sardine in the matatu and then for your 45 min to 1 hour walk home. To burn time I used to buy something to eat during the walk and I would comfortably finish a pack of fries and a sausage (damn I miss farmer's choice), ironic thing is that I never put on any weight because the walk would nullify the potential calorie gain. Let's just say until we moved out, I usually only used to leave the house if there was a ride or if I had to take a matatu I would do one week's tasks in one day! Double irony was that the 'hood got minibus matatus a year or so after we moved out. Fate can be cruel huh?

I can't talk about walking without giving you all the Maasai story. During my teens there was this friend of mine who was chatting up this girl who lived on a farm in Ongata Rongai. He wanted to see her and got some simple directions and pulled me along to keep me company and run interference with his sister (a good wingman does these kind of things). So we took the number 125 matatu (correct me if I'm wrong) and got to walking. Anyone who lives in those areas knows that most of the time things are not close to each other. So we got to walking.

As we were walking we realised that the simple instructions that read go to the end of this road, turn right walk until you get to a certain landmark and then turn a right 2 houses to the left were the exception of what we thought. It seemed this girl lived near the bus stop! Woe unto us! As we walked it seeseemed that this road had no end so we asked a maasai moran nearby who was grazing his cows where the land mark was.
He told us,
"Ni hapa tu tembea kidogo na utafika. Unaona hiyo mti? Ni hapo."
As he pointed to a small tree in the horizon.

To be honest that tree looked real close to us too. We got to walking and it seemed like for every one hundred meters we walked, the tree would recede a hundred meters. To some point I began to feel like the Israelites when they accused Moses of taking them to the desert to die, at one point I almost wanted to choke the life out of my pal.

Anyway after turning my sweatshirt into an adhoc turban and braving the heat, we made it. I know at this point people are expecting me to say the girl wasn't home. Even though this was in the pre cell phone days, she kept the date. Sadly the girl's sister turned out to be a pain in the ass but as a trooper I took one for the team. Even so my pal didn't fare as well as he thought he would and we left (never to come back I happily add!)
But whenever I talk to a native of any up country area and they tell me, "Ni hapo tu!"
I take it with an extremely large slab of salt.

Don't forget to take your walk today and do share your walking tales!

How Kenyan Music Can Pay Off

I was reading this article in the Pulse about the fall of studios in Kenya, and a few thoughts came to mind. A major factor contributing to this fall is the fact that many Kenyan musicians do not know how to sell themselves as brands and their music.

I know it can cost anything from 2,000/= to 10,000/= for a beat and even more for studio time, depending on what studio you go to according to the article. So sales are depended on to counteract these costs. But in many cases Kenyan musicians are the cause of their own problems, many do only one song and send it to radio stations where it is played ad nauseum and don't make a single or if they do a cd it comes out so late that people are sick of the song. I think a hint should be taken from Western artistes who makes cds of singles and do loads of remixes of the same song thus giving it more longevity, remixes in Kenya are very hard to come by despite the amount of money that could be made from them.

I do know that piracy is a problem in Kenya and in some ways artistes excerbate it. It does not make sense to have your songs play on radio for almost a year and then release a cd. During that time you have been pirated left right and centre. Some artistes I mean Kenyan singers have been releasing their cds for the last 5 years ( Lenny and Amani are you there?) Kenyan musicians need to know that they don't have to get cds pressed in Singapore or wherever else they get them done. Just buy loads of empty cds and a printer that can print on cds and do cd covers and you're good to go! With this game, if you snooze you lose! You have to be one step ahead of the pirates. Kenyan artistes also seem to think that everyone has a cd player which isn't the case, the late Poxi Pressure made loads of cash by selling tapes of his music. In that way his music reached the masses, think of matatus most of them still have tape players so if one of them had a tape of a certain artiste; imagine the airplay they would get?

Also I do think that more Kenyan artistes need to learn how to be showmen. Not to many of them put up a show worth going to. Some of the afro-fusion artistes put up very good shows, I have seen Abbi and Achieng Abura performing and I was impressed. On the other hand going to watch a kapuka/genge rapper jump up and down and shout to a playback track was a complete waste of time and I have never gone to see another one perform again. Many artists in the West make the bulk of their money touring and I am sure if Kenyan artistes singers did this they would make a whole lot more cash and sell a whole lot more records.

They also say that the best teacher is other people's mistakes. Kenyan artistes need to go on a fact finding trip to Tanzania and learn from them. Tanzania may be another country but there is still alot that can be learned from them. There is still a bright future for Kenyan artistes if all parties involved pull their heads out of the sand.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Idle Thoughts on Blogging

I am still on semi hiatus so I'm just going to ramble a bit instead of doing a whole post.
Once in a while I break out of my newshutch aggregator and go take a look at the rest of the Kenyan blogs in the blogosphere.

This may not please many but things aren't what they used to be. I remember at one time I spent a whole day on the aggregator and had to work like a mule to make up for that lost time and this used to happen often. But now since quite a few old timers stopped blogging and for some other reason, if I look at the feed, it's only for a few minutes.

I am in no way whatsoever saying that the new blogs are not any good, au contraire quite a few are and they know themseleves because I constantly comment on their new posts. I think that part of the problem is that when many people start their blogs they don't have an idea where their blog is going. Of course it's your blog and you can write it anyway you want to but if you want to get readers it has to follow a formula that makes it readable.

First things first, your blog has to be original. Piggy backing someone's writing style and catch phrases only works for so long but if I want to read someone who writes like M, I will go read M and not your blog. I think that is a major part of the problem because too many blogs read the same and this is why interest is waning on the parts of many. We all have a unique writing style and opinions and it is best to stick to that and not other peoples'.

Second, if you are going to write a "serious" blog, you know the ones that have commentaries and all do it well. Be informed, conscise and to the point. This is because opinions abound across the whole internet and to be honest unless it is about an issue I need more information on I look towards the most informed and authoritative source or just make my opinion. Plus write and interact with your readers in a way that will make them want to come back to your blog and learn more and not like a sanctimonious know it all.

Third, if you are going to write a "technical" blog follow the first two sentences of the previous paragraph. Furthermore if you want to pull in readers write in a way that is understandable to lay men. I think some of the financial blogs in the Kenyan blogsphere would get alot more readers if they gave a link of commonly used terms and their definitions. Many assume that since someone is on their blog they know the meanings of all those terms which isn't the case as I do know many Kenyans do not know the inner workings of the stock market.

Fourth, if you are going to write a personal blog don't make it a journal (unless that was your intention). No one wants to know what you had for breakfast everyday, how long you spent in traffic unless something unique happened during that time. If people can predict what is on your blog, they will stop visiting it. But on the other hand (this is my own opinion) you can be as open as you want to be on your blog but I believe in staying within certain limits. It is fine to say that you got laid over the weekend, but when you go into every single detail your blog just turns into cheap porn (which may be your intention) . With the way many bloggers meet personally, would you want the first thing bloggers to think when they see you be your explicit sexcapades? When you are more than that? Matters of an explicit nature tend to blur out everything else. But then again that is just my own opinion feel free to bare as much as you want of yourself but know that the information is in public domain and may fall into the wrong hands, and may result in some interesting opinions of you.

Fifth, if you are writing an "activism" blog make sure at the end of the day it leads to some change. There are many activist blogs but in most cases they hardly lead to any action on the ground. Why? Because most of them reach out to the wrong audience. If you are trying to reach an International audience then a well publicised blog can work wonders. But on the other hand if you are trying to reach people in Kenya ie everyday joes about the importance of voting than a blog isn't the best way to go round about it. This is because we all know how poor internet access is in Kenya for most, so a newspaper or radio would be a better way to go. To be honest most activist Kenyan blogs are either preaching to the choir or talking to an empty room.
Make the right connections and seek out the right audience and this won't be the case.

Anyway I think this post is getting too long, so let me leave it at this. At the end of the day blogging should be fun (unless it's your job), it doesnt matter how often or how long your posts are but as long as you enjoy it, say what you want to say and fulfil your goals blog on!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Rules for Single Women.

Still working on the slides and catching up on the classes I missed. Since some bloggers seem to be aficionados when it comes to the "rules", I might as well share some interesting ones I came across at one of my regular blogs. Enjoy but remember I am not the one who wrote them! So don't vent at me!
  • If you think all men are pigs, expect to live alone when you get older.
  • If you have 100 reasons to reject a man, expect to live alone when you get older.
  • Prince Charming is gay. The perfect ones always are!
  • Rich, attractive, nice - you can only have two in a man.
  • If you ask a man on a first date how much he earns or what kind of car he drives, he gets to look at your bare breasts while you are still in the restaurant.
  • If you answer your cell phone during a first date, he has the right to immediately get up and leave with no explanation.
  • Choosy and "stuck up" are closely related.
  • At 40, single "Rules Girls" become single, lonely women.
  • If you expect a man to pay for everything, you'll need a strong jaw and a good tongue.
  • Perfect men don't exist. Good men are everywhere.
  • It's OK not to want kids. It's not OK to sacrifice your personal life and goals for your career.
  • The karmic retribution for putting good men into the "Friend Zone" while getting hurt by bad boys is to become bitter, angry, and the owner of at least three cats.
  • You are not a princess no matter what your T-Shirt states. If you really think you are a princess, then you'd better have the body of a stripper, the face of an angel, and the personality of a saint. Even so, only Prince Charming can marry a princess and Prince Charming is gay.
  • Your single girlfriends don't want you to have a happy relationship with a man. Consider this when listening to their advice.
  • A man won't say "I love you" until he is 100% confident that you won't use this against him. This might take years, be patient because men can be sensitive, too.
  • Taking the time to look your best is not optional. After all, if you can catch his eye then you can catch his heart. Being agreeable, pleasant, and happy will seal the deal.
  • Smiles and laughter are contagious and can melt any man's heart.
  • The unintended consequence of independence is loneliness.
  • There is a fine line between expecting that a man pay for everything and being a common prostitute.
  • Excessive complaining is neither attractive nor polite.
  • You are entitled to nothing. However, you can expect rewards for working hard for something.
  • Before you say "it's all his fault" after a bad date, look closely in the mirror.
  • It's not always men making you unhappy. Don't let bitter women convince you of that.
  • Being strong doesn't mean being bitchy. Wise women have known this for generations.
  • You can't have it all. Please have the good sense to realize this.
  • Compromise is not surrender, it's what is necessary to have a good relationship.
  • Don't expect men to fall all over you just because you are a woman. Feminism taught men to be independent, too.
  • There's nothing wrong with looking feminine.
  • If he doesn't call you back, it means he's just not really into you. Deal with it.
  • If you meet a man, don't find reasons to reject him or things to change in him. Find reasons to accept him and respect him.
  • "As if" and "whatever" are immature insults used by 12 year olds, not intelligent young women.
  • The common word in "drink whore" and "dinner whore" is still whore.
  • Sorry girl, it's NOT all about you so you can change your T-Shirt now.
  • Many men would rather chase women, not girls.
  • Given the current state of divorce laws, don't expect any man to marry you. It's not you, it's just how things are right now.
  • Hanging around gay men won't give you any useful insights about straight men. Frankly, hanging around gay men is just creepy.
  • "No fat chicks" is the man's version of "If you're rich, I'm single".
  • Winning a man is easy, keeping a man requires hard work.
  • Advertising "Bitch" on your T-Shirt or sweatpants won't get you any dates. Single men don't care for that attitude.
  • Deferring self-gratification is a sign of maturity. You can wait until dinner even if you're hungry now.
  • The real world is pushy, rude, and often unpleasant. That doesn't mean you have to be the same way.
  • If you dress like a whore, expect to be treated like a whore.

Guess Who's Back!

Seems they knew I was coming!

Behold! I have returned! I've always wanted to say that! Anyway it's back to life after my trip to Savannah. I had gone for the Model African Union which is like an MUN but for the AU instead. I guess Karma had to come around because I tried to get into the MUN when I was in high school but to no avail, they always picked those brainy chuti kids instead so hah! I finally get my payback!

The drive wasn't that long because the 'ville is closer to Savannah than ATL is. Our faculty advisor drove us there, he wasn't the best driver as he was a bit hesitant and had a bit to liberal with the brake peddle but what to do? Just grin and bear it.

We were staying at the Courtyard Marriot! Yup we were living large! But as it goes with conferences you don't have enough free time to spend in your room. Our group consisted of 2 chics, 2 guys and 2 professors. My room mate was a pretty nice guy, I knew both chics from before, one was from DRC and the other was American. Anyway the chic from DRC is a lesbian and her room mate didn't know this and had been making some anti gay jibes but when the room mate told her it got even worse. Let's just say at one point in the trip something unexpected happened! Aco found himself defending a lesbian's right to be who she is without being pestered, and to think some people call me a gay basher; sheesh!

Anyway more happened but I am feeling too lazy to type. It's Sunday night and I have alot of work pending!
Here is the first slideshow of 3 for you to enjoy! Have a nice Monday!