OF “HOW’S” AND “WHY’S”

Book cover from http://www.vvkchandra.com

Paulo Coelho,one of my all time favourite authors has a new book out,Aleph.

In an interview on his blog on this particular book,he was quoted as saying that the society we live in asks too many “how’s” and not enough “why’s”.

A revelation it was to me and here is why.

Walk into any bookshop or just look through the weekend magazines,either they are telling you how to become rich,how to make the most from the stock market,how to start a business,how,how ,how to….it never ends.

How many books have you seen asking the question,why do you need to start a business,or why do you need to become rich or why you need that palatial home?

None.

If the Al Shabaab fighter asked themselves why they are fighting Kenyans and not how to throw grenades at us,they would understand Kenyans aren’t the problem.

If politicians asked themselves why they need to go into politics,probably we would have more development progress the world over than we see now.

If Christians,Muslims and anyone of faith asked themselves why they believe and not how to become better at their faith,we would see less religious friction between groups.

If we asked ourselves why we  hang onto dead-end careers instead of how to get ahead in our chosen fields,probably we would see less stress related illnesses.

“Why” is a three-letter word,probably the most important three-letter word we will have to remember for the rest of our lives.

Let it be the first thing we take with our morning coffee and the last word on our minds when we get into bed.

Why…….

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OF MICE AND MEN……

“In every bit of honest writing in the world,there is a base theme.Try to understand men,if you understand each other you will be kind to each other.Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love.There are shorter means many of them.There is promoting social change,writing punishing injustice,writing in celebration of heroism,but always that base theme.Try to understand each other”

John Steinbeck (Author- Of Mice and Men )

 

KENYANS,WE SHALL NOT BE AFRAID

Cowards have never won wars and Kenyans we will not win war by cowering in our houses,afraid of going shopping,taking our children to school or going to work.

What we should be doing is standing tall and proud ,confident of our men and women in uniform who have gone into Somalia in search of the enemy in “Operation Linda Nchi.”

Watching the news yesterday at 9pm, after the second blast in less than 24 hours ,the fear and the antelope- caught -in -the- headlights of a tour van look  was clearly visible in the eyes of our news anchors.

That is not what we need.

We need to be confident  that we are doing the right thing not only for ourselves but  for our children.

Just think of what Kenya will be like if we let the Al shabaab overrun us with fear and intimidating attacks ?Kenya will cease to exist,all 542,650 square kilometres of it.

Like all terror groups the Al shabaab are thriving on instilling fear in all of us,fear of walking out of our doors of going on with our lives as usual,and who wants that ?

Am sure if the freedom fighters had though for a minute that their home-made guns could not stand up against the British,we would still be a  colony still.

Why should a band of rag-tag militia scare us?

We need to fight for the pride that we had at independence  when so many of our fathers, mothers,brothers and sisters who are not here with us saw the Kenyan flag being hoisted up for the first time.

We need to fight and reclaim the sense of nationalism we had at independence when we were all united together in forging a common future.

We need to fight off the fear that the Al Shabaab are better armed  than our armed forces,ofcourse they are not.

Our men and women in uniform are among the best trained and disciplined forces  in Africa.They can and will win this war.

Media houses need to do away with the me- first mentality when it comes to news reporting.They are quick to tell us when and where the blast was, but how many have bothered to give a face to the men and women in uniform. fighting away so many kilometres away from home?

Or their families who are worried about the safety of their loved ones,praying that they come back home safe and sound when this is all over.

Let news editors not be afraid of raising the national psyche when it comes to this war with great stories of how well our armed forces are doing.

As for politicians lay off the bickering……

We need to see senior government officials rallying Kenyans around the cause of Operation Linda Nchi.

We need to see government officials  visiting  our troops and telling them we are so proud of them,it will do wonders for their pscyhe.

Let religious leaders pray that our men and women in uniform come back home safe and sound

Let them urge their congregations to speak up when things are going wrong in their neighbourhoods.

Granted they may all be marching to heaven but last time i checked our feet whether we are religious or not are still firmy planted on the earth.

Let us make it a better place to live in as we await our heavenly abodes.

I am so proud of the father,mothers,sons and daughters of   Kenya who were not afraid when national duty clalled…they answered.

Dear Kenyans do not be afraid ,we shall win the war against terror and we are already winning.

We shall not be afraid

We have forgotten our tribal tags and for once we are united against one cause and that is protecting our land.

Let us not be afraid of naming suspicious looking people in our estates,at bus stops and other social places

Let us not be afraid to report on suspicious activities that we see taking place in our estates,at  our  work places or even places of worship

Let us not be afraid of asking our politicians to quit the navel gazing and focus on important national security issues.

Let us not be afraid of wearing our national colors when duty calls.  

Once we let fear get to us,they will have won,don’t let them win.

SIGNS OF ECONOMIC GROWTH:METAL DOORS CAN GIVE YOU A CLUE

Economists  get my mind in a spin when they start talking about projections,GDP and the stock market being bullish or bearish and other what not terms they use to describe the economy.

It is even more depressing watching news and they bring on the “5 seconds of fame” which is what business news  has been relegated to.Then my migraines start,the dollar is giving the Kenyan shilling a run for tis money yet our runners are celebrities because of their swiftness in marathons.

So I have come up with my own economic indicator on how tot ell how well the economy is doing .It basically involves a few things and people,pastry shops,masons,restaurants,stone masons and alcohol.

When I moved to Nakuru three years ago ,there were only three pastry shops and two   only served one kind of cake flavour -vanilla.There was a third that had a wider variety of sweet pastries but unfortuantely closed two years ago to give way to a mall.Thank God others came up to take its place.

Now take a walk around Nakuru,last time I checked there were twomore  coffee shops and three more cafe’s where you could have more than one variety of cake.

And we all know that Nakuru has been labelled one of the fastest growing town in Africa.

As an economy improves so do people’s spending power and if there are no customers for your sweet pastries,the economy is bad.

A population that does not consume enough sweet items like fancy cakes,pastries… is definetely  headed south

Another indicator of a  growing economy is how much wine is being drank.In Kenya it is  only a select few who drink wine and most of them are  upper middle class  or connossieurs who picked up the habit in their world travels.

A growing middle class will want to taste the finer things in life and is a good indicator the economy is growing in the right direction.A population drinking wine has moved from being concerned with what to put on the he table to a more adventorous palate.

The more the bottles wine shops are sellling  the better,your economy is on the right track.

You also need to look at the number of ethnic restaurants coming up and by this I do not mean those serving Kenyan cuisine.

The number of people eating out will be a good indicator that  Kenyans have enough money to spend to eat out because you guessed…..the economy is doing well.

They want to try out new cuisines,flavours,textures they want to see what they can enjoy outside what they taste buds are used to.

Talking to stone masons,carpenters and plumbers is also a good way to gauge how well  we are doing economically.The more you talk to who are working the better because in a growing economy the real estate industry shows people are either building their own homes or setting up  offices to meet the increasing demand.

But be careful with real estate,selling off agricultural land to set up gated communities is a no no.

Illegal drink business will also tell you how well the Kenyan economy is doing.he bigger it is the more worried economists should be. In a vibrant economy there would be no need to lace drinks with alcohol or implement laws to check on illigal drinks.

In the  Kenyan economy,the poorer it performs   the more deaths from methanol laced drinks there are.

And my absolute favourite………

Number of homes with metal doors and grill bars on windows will also let you know the economy is so bad people are protecting their few material possessions from the kleptomaniacs who seek to reap where they have not sown.

The more barred up windows,doors and air vents there are,the more likely it is your economy is headed south.

So there are my “economic indicators” let the jury decide whether I am right or wrong.

WITH LIPGLOSS AND NAIL VARNISH……..KENYA NEEDS ITS WOMEN.

Yesterday  9pm prime time news,I was greatly embarrassed by my fellow women  who were caught on camera ,rolling on the ground and screaming like crazy.

I never saw any men in that protest!

The reason for the protests was because some two male politicians were being summoned by the Narc Kenya disciplinary committee for un-party like behaviour.

Read story here

Now picture this fellow women heckling a fellow woman because she had the balls to put the men in their place and ask them to behave.Strange things happen in Kenya I tell you.

For any keen observer of Kenyan politics ,women gyrating to adulations they are singing for a politician and a man at that is not new.It happens all,the time.

 I am yet to see an  all male singing choir belting platitudes for a female politician.

It is disheartening that women more than 4 decades after independence are still playing second fiddle to the men,especially on the political front.

If it is not a female Minister saying she is going to strip ,it is women rolling on the ground when men have been behaving badly.

It needs to stop.

That is why we need someone who wears lipstick and nail varnish at state house,that way women can see that “IT IS POSSIBLE” to “kick ass” as the Americans would say  in lipstick and nail varnish.

That they do not have to be hired for a few hundred shillings to go and be an embarrassment to fellow women when they roll on the ground and scream themselves hoarse  like deranged beings.

For far too long Kenyan politics has been a preserve of the men and only a few brave women like Martha Karua have had the guts to stand up against the “boys”.

And now even with a new constitution in place that has ensured men no longer get all the elective posts,women are behaving like the constitution never saw the light of day.

Instead of swinging our hips as we entertain the men seated under canopies while we are out in the sweltering sun during political rallies,we should be thinking of ways by which we can have more women in the next parliament and senate.

Instead of waiting for revolving funds to be set up by government so that we can access loans we should be using our chama’s to empower ourselves economically.

Instead of keeping quiet when some men pilfer away funds meant to educate our children ,we should be the first to speak out when funds are being embezzled in our places of work.

Instead of attacking fellow women who stand up for what is right,we should be scolding the men for lying as low as envelopes when things go wrong.

Instead of mucking around in the muddy waters of Kenyan politics and playing it like the men do,we should be bringing class and finesse to Kenyan politics with our nail polish and lip gloss.

Who said politics is dirty,who said politics is a preserve of the men?

Great women throughout history have lived up to their ideals without getting rid of their femininity,why should we not do it like they did.

Kenyan women…..stand up in all your glory and be counted,your children need you to save this country from mediocrity.

MY IDEA OF HEAVEN AS A KENYAN

I have never gone to heaven ,neither do I know anyone who has seen the so-called pearly gates but I sometimes imagine I have an idea.

Definitely not a place where we play harps all day or drink fruit juice from morning till night but it may have a huge library that has all the books that have ever been published,has a wine bar that serves French champagne and Italian wines and a coffee shop that sells French pastries and Kenyan coffee.

I may probably be labelled a heretic for this but I like to think it’s filled with good things,why else would we all be happy to heading there anyway?

I believe heaven should be a place where everyone feels they belong and where it is not necessary to convince people it was worth  waiting a lifetime to get there.

Now Brand Kenya has a very nice advert on Kenya that gives you the warm fuzzy feeling and you want to go ohhhhhh that so sweet and patriotic.

But we forget that branding the country has got more to do with how its citizens feel about themselves,their leaders and how the national psyche at the time is.

It needs to be based on a value system that describes us as a whole as 42 tribes,brown,chocolate,mahogany,dark-skinned,white,asian   in all our different hues

Right now if you ask me ,it is a bad time to be Kenyan.With fuel prices on the rise,food prices have quickly followed suit and with a rag-tag government that is more concerned with next years elections than with how things are right NOW,we need grace to survive the day-to-day struggles of putting food on the table.

And all these problems aren’t because Kenya is a bad place or has horrible citizens who love breaking the law.

It just because things sometimes do not work and we seem to be averse to following rules and the letter of the law for the most part.

We have some of the best sights and sounds   in the world,South Africa literally fights with us for tourists,a lot of people in the developed world have a  Kenyan Safari on their bucket list.

We produce the worlds finest coffee and tea and we have some of the most enterprising people on earth.You can be sure you will find a Kenyan in Iceland doing his thing or selling nyama choma(Kenyan version of roast meat)

 Kenya has many great things but it also has many more things that are wrong.

From the glaring inequalities that have fuelled social crimes to the blatant disregard for the law by every one of us ,we seem to be  turning this little piece of heaven on earth into a veritable hell hole.

With our skewed political interests, we  forget that the haven Kenya can be will only be achieved if we all work together,and that it is not the work of politicians to turn it into a haven of peace for citizens.

It is everyone’s responsibility.

It is going to require that we throw away the tribal tinted glasses with which we seek to view fellow Kenyans.

It could start with us taking more  care of our environment,and now even more so because Wangari  Maathai our Nobel laureate  is gone.

A few weeks back I had the privilege of getting a bird’s-eye view of Nandi Hills forest and Kakamega forest and was left in utter shock.

Not because of the amount of forest cover in the country, but because smack in the middle of the forests there were empty patches of land where trees had clearly been cut down.

And there was more,there were spiffs of smoke finding their way into the clear  afternoon sky from various spots in the forests,a clear and sure sign of charcoal burners.

Kenya needs to be the little haven where every Kenyan regardless of tribe,color,creed or belief feels welcome and at home.

Look at the South Africans with their Rainbow Nation,they have figured out a sense of what being South African is all about.

It does not matter whether you can name your ancestors  3 generations back or you just acquired citizenship,are visiting for a short while or just passing by en route to somewhere ,Kenya should be home to everyone who sets foot on our soil.

There need to be values that we as Kenyans can identify with,it could be hard work,welcoming or enterprising we need to pick what defines us.

It does no good for national psyche for Somalia militants to come and kidnap tourists right under our security organs noses,we need to improve on our security.We need to feel safe at “home”.

And let us  not forget leadership plays a big part in all this business of branding.After all Brand Kenya is funded using tax payers money,we need to see our top leaders standing head ans shoulders above the definition of what it  means to be Kenyan,once we agree on what that is.

 Kenya can be a heaven down here,if we all believe in it.After all what legacy is our generation going to leave for the next one,a wrangling,quarrelsome,drama loving country- I hope not.

Let us  make it possible.

KENYAN RECESSION:THE GOOD,THE BAD AND THE UGLY

It’s official Kenya is experiencing one of the worst periods of recession since independence.

The Kenyan shilling is on a suicide mission against the dollar,business are cutting costs and we may soon see job cuts or hiring of more temporary staff by corporates.

And everything,literally everything from the packet of milk we use for breakfast tea to the matatu we take home from work ,we will have to pay more for .

First the good news…..

Some businesses and industries that will not get affected by the recession are the food industries,health and medical practitioners,hospitals included,alcohol manufacturers and those who sell  cosmetics.

People will always eat,recession or not,and fast food chains especially its a home run,fast food is always cheaper than the healthier stuff.

People will get sick and they will need medical attention,and even with the cost of drugs increasing as a result of the poor performance of the shilling,well these are people who will not be losing their jobs soon.

Alcohol manufacturers,whether Mututho laws are enforced or not will sell their brews as people seek to forget the harsh economic times they are living in.

It may not be surprising if we see many more people turning to cheap liquor,as the brands on the higher end of the market become unaffordable.

And women…they will want to look good,no matter the beating the shilling is taking and those in the business of selling cosmetics and sprucing up images will definitely be getting more clients.

Churches will also reap from this as people seek divine inspiration and consolation for the harsh economic times they are going through.

People want to look good and feel good all the time if not most of the time and a shilling that is heading south will not deter them.

Now to the bad……

As more people lose jobs,we may see an increase in petty crime as people turn to alternative but illegal forms of supporting themselves.

The price of things will definitely go up,from groceries,to school fees to medical costs will rise and t is time we prepared ourselves for the long haul.

The real estate industry that was growing by leaps and bounds will feel the effects of this the most .With building materials going up,not too many people will be looking towards owning a home.

Am sure even the land agents who had subdivided farmland for sale will see a dip in their profits and people may decide to hold onto their cash as they study the performance of the shilling.

The Nairobi stock exchange  is the best place to be if you are a long-term investor but it is a nightmare for anyone thinking short-term.

Share prices are at their  lowest,volumes are down and everyone is just watching and waiting for things to pick up…maybe after the elections.

And the really ugly…

Things are gong to get worse,with an election looming next year,everyone is to preoccupied with building alliances rather than the economy.

Sometimes it would seem it would be more interesting to watch paint dry than watch  the forex numbers coming in.

Now to some more good news…..

For companies that are seeking to reap from this crisis and still maintain their customers,the best way to go about is offer great bargains.

Make people feel they are getting the best value from their shillings.

And with this am thinking especially for supermarket chains and retail stores offer customers great deals on items that feature daily on people’s shopping lists especially if they are buying in large quantities.

discounts for items bought on wholesale will get you customers and  push up your volumes .

After all what you need are numbers.

Give discounts to your loyalty card holders,after all you do not want merchandise sitting on your shelves ,you want it to  move.

For the shoppers like me look at the way you can cut costs in your spending,eat out less,cook more at home.

Look for bargains and discounts.

Readjust your preferences and check out if they are cheaper alternatives to the products you use,from margarine to rice to detergent the choice now in Kenya is wide,save a few shillings.

Have any ideas on how we can weather out the recession,please share….