Illicit brew

The US tried to outlaw booze for a while and the resulting criminal underworld that thrived due to its underworld trade nearly brought cities like Chicago to its knees neck deep in gang wars led by the likes of Al Capone.

Its rather daft to ban a popular drug/drink or substance that has desirable effects when consumed. Especially when these desirable effects include ignoring how badly the incumbent government is screwing you over. A short history of how we got to the state we are in in Kenya can be found here.

As I write this there are over 130 people admitted at hospitals around central Kenya and a whopping 60 + DEAD after consuming laced unregulated alcohol. I refuse to use the word illicit because it seems to legitimize expensive poison and demonize the cheap variety.

Kenya and in particular Central Kenya is not surprised by scenes of  relatively young men staggering around in drunken stupors in the middle of the day. There have even been protests by the women with complaints that they are not getting satisfied conjugally. This means that both the Husbands and the Mpango wa Kandos are all too drunk to deliver the goods. This is actually very worrying and should not be tolerated.  Kazi kwa vijana indeed.

Accompanying the staggering men are instances where the brewing was hastened or the concoctions added did not balance out very well and unfortunately some of our brothers(Invariably its males) bite the dust or go blind. At most its about 2 or 3 guys in isolated cases and we communally shake our heads, wag our fingers and take another sip of our beers as we change the channel.

This has however become too real and too serious for life. My campus class was composed of some 30 guy and guyettes. So a full 2 classes of peeps are no more in pursuit of happiness.

Mututho will of-course gloat in the aftermath asking for more money to annoy us with ineffective messages of un-cool teenagers trying to sell the anti-booze message.

In my opinion the indulgence is not the problem. Its the regulation and the buggers who sit between the law makers and the law abiders, the Police. Anyone who has sat at a local bar knows the drill. At a particular hour just like clockwork, the police will come by and collect protection money from the bar owner. Swanky joints I am told send directly to the OCS if they have all their documents in order.

Smaller seedier joints have to deal with the guys on patrol. Whether you are cooking Busaa, methanol, ethanol or a witches brew so long as you pay up and keep your head down, no cop gives a f***. And I place this squarely at the Executive’s feet. The laws are there and the courts work fine. Zero enforcement of the law on the ground when it doesn’t involve extracting money from the public.

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2013 Conclusion: Arusha

2013 has been or rather was a good year for me. Ticked off a couple of items on my bucket list and added others and proceeded to tick them off.

Fiiiiinaly graduated from campus, Attended the World Youth Day in Brazil, became the subject of a documentary still in production, got a good job and witnessed many happy moments with friends and family.

So me and the sister decided to ‘jump’ the year ‘Overseas’ . . ok fine over land next door in Arusha. Its a rather short trip over land and the border crossings are not fussy at all. I think we spent all of 15 mins getting cleared inclusive of our car. I suspect though that my sister was well armed with all requisite documents.  I was happy to clutch my beer can.

We were however looking suspicious or maybe its a Kenyan number plate thing but we were stopped several times by Tanzanian cops who were very interested in the Drivers license and Comesa Insurance. If these two are in order most would let you pass but there are always the stubborn types who simply want a bribe. they will angle for silly things like the fire extinguisher type and the log book etc. Not wanting to get acquinted with the legal system of the Swahili speakers we gave a token, and we were waved away with very broad smiles. They however take bribes rather awkwardly as though they don’t know what to do during the process. twas hilarious.

Did not encounter a single pothole on the Tanzania side and all road markings were intact and more or less made sense with busstops clearly marked and plenty of road signs to guide drivers. Traffic lights are mostly obeyed however their equivalent of yellow lines are totally ignored and guys overtake anywhere. Their police have shiny new speedguns which they use with relish like our cops and Alcoblow. Its however pleasurable driving with breathtaking scenery in along the plains especially about 20km past Arusha which seems predominantly Maasai populated.

We stayed at Pamoja Expedition Lodge a small bed n breakfast on the outskirts of Arusha with very nice facilities and nice whether you want peace and quiet or want to paint the town red, the staff will accommodate you either way.

Booze and food is cheap in Arusha though depending on where you are buying but in most stores, stuff is cheaper than in .ke

Arusha, located next to the Kilimanjaro, is on...
Arusha, located next to the Kilimanjaro, is one of three cities in Tanzania that provides continuous water supply. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I would like to tour more of Tanzania especially the less talked about southern areas. I am sure there are gems down there that are not frequented by many.

My new year resolution is to find a way of crossing over into Malawi.

 

 

 

 

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Why Dissing our MPs never gets old

Today I saw a meme that questioned the profound wisdom of older guys. The punchline was that daft people grow old too. I suppose in the past being daft meant you are likely to die fast and thus unlikely to be an old man. Possibly to live to be old meant you were smart enough to avoid the numerous risks.

Nowadays though walking into a hungry lion or cheetah or bumping into a buffalo in a foul mood is less likely. AlShabab is more likely to kill you in this part of the world than a wild animal pissed of at you fondling its children(Why do we call them wild anyway? they must think we are the weirdest things ever with all sorts of different feathers everyday and the propensity to murder each other for fun )

This reminded me of our members of parliament. The baggas always try and sound relevant to the times but in the effort they wind up showing  collossal amounts of ignorance and a significant waste of salaries. A week or so ago, a bunch of them(100 plus) all trooped to the airport to fly to the Hague “in a show of solidarity” with the Deputy president as he starts trial for causing Genocide. Such headlines are the stuff of movies.

The guys still vote by thumping their feet 3 years since seats fitted with electronic voting systems were installed. Why this happens should be investigated by Mr Ripley’s Believe it or not. Th e=recent utterances following the Westgate attack are what gripe me the most. They promised to ‘punish’ the armed forces for their dismal performance during the raid. How many of them have served in any of the forces even for a month remains unanswered.

Now Members of parliament are there to do only one thing. make laws. Foaming at the mouth trying to sound authoritative and dishing out orders for the walls to carry out is a waste of taxpayers resources in a purely fiscal manner.  Being loudmouths shouldn’t cost 1 million bob plus a month.

The link between poachers and the terrorists has long been established and the lacklustre treatment of the poachers shows more than the Westgate attack does. As is always best practice, always follow the money and you will find the culprits 99% of he time. The Ivory and Rhino horn is not sold to horn loving extraterrestrials.  If the NIS is half competent, then they have known his for decades. Why the security organs generally do nothing about it is again a bigger statement than any flurry of activity they take when a herd of elephants is found lying dead and tusk less.

Not one to be left behind, the institution of parliament has ben on a roll all year. From wailing like children to get more pay, to passing a horrendous VAT bill that I doubt any read or put any thought to, to spending mindless hours debating on even more mindless referendums to change the constitution.

As we speak a poacher caught in the act or an individual caught with ivory gets such a pitiful fine that its generally risk free to be a poacher or trafficker. No MP has bothered to sponsor the Wildlife Bill that has been prepared by the professionals at KWS. Not one.

So when I hear them shouting hoarse about national security I wonder what the hell they are talking about. Our Cabinet secretaries are even more clueless with some thinking hostage corpses are insignificant.

If there are no hollywood producers setting camp here, there is massive amount of content going to waste.

 

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Costs: Assumed and Actual

Save for people living in the DRC I think most of humanity is in problems of their own creation. We have all the technology to feed, clothe and educate everyone down to the last dusty kid in Somalia but we don’t. We don’t even have to go far to see the precipitation of this. Turkana has been ignored since before independence with ignorant politicos seeing zero benefit in investing in the region or trying to up their living standards. Now we know they have more water and oil the the rest of us.

The cost of ignoring the area is the resentment that has built up over the years. The only reason they do not proclaim Turkana si Kenya is because they are too hungry to make such political statements. Maslows Hierarchy. Food first, politics later.

We are notorious at misjudging what true costs are and what we assume are costs but aren’t really. This came to roost a couple of weekends ago when i was hell bent on attending like 5 different events on the same evening. All involved close friends or relatives and I could just see how I would make technical appearances at 4 of them and part the rest of the night away at the last place.

Of Course the problem with technical appearances is that everybody present recognizes the temporary forced nature of your stopover. I doubt anybody wants people at their party that feel they were forced to come and that they have better places to be. Its rarely worth it. Its better to just leave an apology that you can’t make it and go wherever you wanted to go anyway.

Anyhoo, my plan sorta worked though with hefty costs on my part. In the rushes involved some involving passing through Westlands Electric Avenue, there was car prangin, lotsa wasted time and foul moods allover the place. A Lot of money (according to my thin wallet) was wasted in an attempt to have maximum fun.

It is rather hilarious how we sometimes do not follow our own advice. I have always been against bar, club or party hopping. Most of the time is spent on the road, looking for parking or sorting bills so as to move to the next venue. Stick to one joint, have fun with friends and when the time comes call it a night.

The cost that I assumed was that I would miss out on parties were my good friends were having a blast. You could say this was a social cost. The actual cost was fuel burnt, time wasted, car slightly damaged and not enough meaningful time at either party to bond or interact. There will always be more places you are needed than you can go to.

The same skewed judgement is applicable in our lives with assumptions as to the true costs of decisions not being accurate.

A friend once told me the difference between a CEO of a company and the sweeper in the same company is the quality of the decisions made. Its about knowing what an actual cost is and to be able to quantify it and act. Most of the costs we incur are unnecessary, be it sustaining habits, propping up excuses or refusing to move on from acidic friendships, relationships, business or relations.

Recognizing costs is as important as acting to counteract it.

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Obama in Africa

So Obama just finished his prance across the continent to mixed reviews from the armchair analysts.

In my opinion this was a lackluster trip that has even less oomph because it is obviously a reaction to the Chinese onslaught on Africa with way more agreeable deals.

Many Kenyan pundits were up in arms that not stopping by was rude seeing as his father was Kenyan. I personally don’t think this is even remotely important even to historians. Barrack is as american as 95% of the American population. Authentically ethnic Americans are the Red Indians that were either exterminated or pushed to reservations and allowed to run casinos without paying taxes. I suppose they like this arrangement however much it may sound like a horrible deal to the land loving Africans.

So Obama promised $7bn towards building out Africa’s power capacity. The fact that he came in with hundreds of US investors and the increased activity of the likes of General Electric in the country tells me that most of that money will wind up paying US companies for consultancies and services.

This is expected and that the money is being split between 5 countries over several years says this is not much investment. The US has for the longest time treated Africa as a weird awkward neighbor that is given aid but not really helped. There are few actual American industries that invest in the continent and do stuff like build out roads,hospitals or power plants that are sustainable. Maybe they exist but they are far less conspicuous than the European brands and this is very visible seeing ad they are the wealthiest country on the planet. The “neglect” is conspicuous in light of their willingness to steer geopolitical affairs especially internal country policies.

American power is also amusing if you compare its size to the African continent. All of the US easily fits in the Sahara Desert. That’s it.

We should get off the Obama euphoria and wake up to the fact that he is an employee of the US industrial-military complex and stop viewing him as some sort of Savior.

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How to bungle an election

Well this has gone to shit fast.

The Coat of arms of Kenya
The Coat of arms of Kenya (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here we were with an expensive electronic system that was supposed to guard against rigging, gerrymandering and all sorts of irregularities that are the staple of Kenyan elections. All that is until the whole damn thing collapsed with so many issues that it was fully abandoned and now we are back to the 19th century with manual counting. Atleast we have calculators. That should help.

Some say, the issue was the server running out of harddisk space, others that Safaricom collapsed under the traffic (which was pitifully little, only hashed text was being sent from the Returning officers.) Others speculate that the server (vulnerable like anything else connected to the internet) was hacked to bits and a permanent 400,000 lead in favour of Uhuru Kenyatta was coded in.

The conspiracy theory in me tells me this is more a human problem than a technical one. Someone/some people are trying to rig themselves in and the ripple effects of these actions are the visible events at Bomas of Kenya. I say this at the risk of being branded a warmonger or unpatriotic kenyan ad nauseam but I stand by it. There is nothing normal about the Chairman of the IEBC insisting on the fact that the law gives him a week to announce the presidential results. That signals a big problem that has required a recount or in depth audit of the results filed by the Returning officers. The slow rate at which the results are bing announced is also disheartening. & constituencies since morning. What possible issue could justify such a rate?

A useful site has been put up by Eric Hersman  to investigate the internals of the system and the flow of the electoral information from the polling centers to the National     Tallying center. Here is the site (http://iebctechkenya.tumblr.com/). This should be the start of the investigation into how a Ksh. 10 Billion plus election that has spent extremely heavily on tech has proceeded to dump the tech.

As is the Kenyan style, the biggest problem that the public has is with the PR department of the IEBC. Everything was fine 5 hrs after tallying began until the incrments slowed down to a painful trickle. All through the communication style of the commission was unsatisfactory with all manner of quotations of the law with less and less of what the public actually wanted. Actual results!

Speculation without evidence is generally shunned in my circles so I avoid it. But with scanty information coming from the authorities, throwing stones in the dark tends to get a response.

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Gay Awards

So the Auspicious KHRC decided that they would hold an awards ceremony for all the supporters of the gay community and to all those that have contributed to this good fight.

 

I must say the way it was portrayed in most mainstream media was rather appalling.  What I understood from the news reports was that gay people were being awarded and I was obviously perturbed as to the rationale behind the whole affair.

Needless to say it appears mainstream media and by extension the general public is far from being tolerant to and accepting of the gay community if the reactions on twitter were anything to go by. Twitter for me is a very useful barometer of what the middle class intelligentsia /consuming class is harping on about, what the latest outrage by the ruling class is or the latest ignorance or ‘shagzmodo’ behavior emanating from the ‘ghettos’ . All in all it paints a rather accurate picture of what the public thinks of current affairs and it doesn’t get more current than having a gay awards gala.

I can understand why the Kenya  Human Rights Commission would want to award those who advocate for gay rights. Its a tough world out there for gays and  especially worse here in Africa. Ask the regular African pedestrian what he thinks of gay people and he/she will say its unafrican. I have always been stumped by this universal opinion. I mean, how far back in our history can we pinpoint and say “See. For thousands of years Africa has not had a single gay man or woman. There are the records’ you can pore through them and see being gay is very unafrican.”

I believe this notion was a cultural import by the puritan and prudish missionaries that landed in Mombasa and decided that worshiping a Caucasian featured Jew who supposedly died thousands of years ago was better for the community than the spiritual based religion they found. As John Lennon once asked, “Why do we hide when making love but glorify violence in the open?”

Its about time we stopped this fear based attacks on individuals freedoms on their sexual orientation. Its really none of your business what a man decides to do with another man.

 

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Why I am happy we were colonised

We just love complaining.

I think its a part of our genetics. Must be.

A lot of literary acreage and intellect is wasted attacking the west for colonizing Africa and using the land, resources including the human population as slaves to work on their sugar plantations.

Others decry the policies imposed by the IMF,World Bank,UN etc in interfering with our ‘sovereign’ affairs. The sovereign affairs could easily be a despot murdering citizens but we complain non-the less.

I think we are full of it. All the technology we use to launch these attacks is mostly western made on eastern assembled hardware. All south-saharan communities did not have written language prior to Arab and European influence(as far as I can tell). The world is one huge village already. Complaining how one of your neighbors used to steal you candy when y’all were small 20 years later is considered universally lame. So the British took ‘our’ land and generally mistreated us for many decades. What have we done about it since then? Sue them in their own law courts. Really?

And the slavery business is just another pot of lies and misdirection. The Arabs had been at it for centuries before the Europeans got into the game. The Europeans and Arabs didn’t raid villages and capture the strong and able-bodied themselves. They had African warlords and chiefs do the dirty work for them. Slavery would not have existed were it not for the complicit chiefs who decided that cowrie shells were more valuable than the neighboring tribes. It was simply not possible to lead incursions into the hinterland to gather slaves. Instead of blaming the Arabs and Europeans, why don’t we look to ourselves to figure out why our neighbors happily sold us? With that level of betrayal would you still want to keep all foreigners out?

A united African front would have been impenetrable what with Nature helping the cause along. The Europeans and Arabs had no immunity against the plethora of micro bugs that teemed in the continent at the time and you can’t develop drugs for diseases you don’t know about. It all came down to greedy chieftains and warlords that sought profit from the suffering of the masses.

It was also the Europeans led by the British that put a stop to the slavery trade anyway. At their own expense. Shouldn’t we be happy about that?

Human issues are never black or white. They are almost always one of the millions of shades of gray. With our 40 years of self-rule, we have seen dictators, corrupt autocratic ‘statesmen’ and ethnic cleansing. I shudder when apologists try to blame foreign power meddling in our affairs and I wonder how Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez turned round his country.

I love technology and I care very little who made it. I love that we have 3G all over the country and with 40/- I can call a cousin in Europe and talk for a few minutes. I can tell you for free Africa without European intervention would not have developed a worldwide communication network by 2012. I am not interested in traditions that do not help my life. I bet if Africa remained the untouched dark continent, I would be in skins now herding some cattle and run away from a chopper believing it was a demon or worship it and the guys who would descend from it as gods. We wouldn’t have a global system of satellites that was African built and operated. I am not about to stop using something just because it wasn’t built here. That is nonsense as far as am concerned.

I am not apologizing on behalf of the British for their excesses. Am just saying we are not any better.

We need to let go of the colonial hangover and do our thing.

Nigeria’s agony dwarfs Gulf oil spill

The reason Africa is called the dark continent is because western media simply doesn’t cover the continents issues. But then why should they?  Its a different continent all together.   http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/nigerias-agony-dwarfs-gulf-oil-spill/