Thursday, 28 January 2010


Tuesday was Liberation Day here. We were observing the day the National Resistance Movement, led by M7, captured (that must be the right word. I've heard that Kenyatta would get offended and verbally insult you if you said that 'we' were granted freedom by the Brits. "Tulinyakua Uhuru" was right-er) power in Kampala after 5 years in the bush. I forget from whom the country was liberated. M01 was also around, pushing forth for a 4th term of the M7 presidency. Elections are early next year.

When I got back into town in the evening, I got together with some friends and we played Monopoly. It was a first for me.

After learning the rules, I bought some property when I could, refused to make early deals that would have seen me develop some from which I could have earned rent, or even allowed me to buy more, and refused to buy property I thought too cheap and in bad neighbourhoods. That you earned 200 bob every time you passed by sounded like a Mungiki-infested area.
The end? The guy who got the cheap stuff made a fortune, and was able to buy and develop other properties. Which made me broke because I had to pay too much rent. I had to mortgage my houses at half price, and ended up selling my properties to merely pass by. In the end, I was left with no property, was penniless and, I imagined, homeless.

I was shocked. Not because I lost the game (I can explain! It was my first time, and I was the second to go bankrupt, out of four people. The first loser was the mugaga-sonko-in an earlier game before I got there). I don’t want to live my life like that. We all started with exactly equal opportunities, but two of us were wiped out. Just wondering could life be like that?
In the next five years, I’ll focus investing for the long term, and on cash-flow outside my job in the medium term. Medium term is now through the next 5 years. God willing, and helping me. Starting........soon!

Ultimately I think Monopoly is a game of chance. But isn’t life? I think a more appropriate name for the game would have been Capitalism. Like, you are either going to eat or be eaten. You know, like the animals I saw on National Geographic at the same venue some time earlier. Because I’ve never been to Maasai Mara, neither do I have DSTV (who’s the other new Pay-TV guy after the death of GTV, R-TV? See, it’s a game of chance). Not until this coming weekend, anyway. Way to get that positive cash-flow, you know?

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Seeking Balance

Part of this post might come off in classic Kenyan Reality style (See the last paragraph, white font here): scarcity of details and the only take-away is that things are a bit out of balance, in a negative way.

I only made New Year resolutions in early 2005, the same year I resolved to keep a diary from that year onwards. Then I lost the diary sometimes before June, and decided never to keep one anymore. In a shared house with no personal space, it was too risky to have the wrong pairs of eyes reading it. Because I wrote about my interactions with people, some of whom I was living with.

Learning how to live with people while minimizing conflicts has been a journey for me. I can't say what I achieved what year, and definitely don't remember 'resolving' to learn how to coexist with others peacefully.

Anyway, last week there was an in incident that led to a few awake-at-night moments. And there are two others that kept me awake last night. In one, I’ll my know my fate by Feb 9th. . Still, I need to come up with a plan B for the result because I have a deadline to meet by the 15th. The other is a process that needs a lot of my effort, and favour from God. The effort needed to resolve the first issue includes such things as: patience, resolve, mutual understanding, giving and receiving respect and dignity, and even levelling expectations. And of all things, commitment. No, the other party is not even remotely a romantic partner.

There was a time that I had so much faith in God that all I would do was give my best in whatever depended on me, pray, chill, change strategy whenever need arose. These days, I’m taking things quite personally. Even being a bit sceptical on God’s intervention (to use a trending topic, think the Haiti earthquake, His omnipotence, and their faith in Him). Only that it’s all been to my detriment. I would never lose sleep over stuff. I’m so going back to my former way of dealing with everything! It doesn’t all make sense all the time, but it works for me.

Here are some 20 easy ways you can reduce daily stress. I guess, in life, you can reduce stress by better planning and anticipating stuff. And for me, praying.

Friday, 15 January 2010

To Tell or Not to Tell? Or ask.

Would you ask or tell all of your 'pyjama time' stats? There's this guy who wrote to Love Letters . He's freaked out because he asked and she said she had it going with like 35 guys in college.

Then there's huyu who's afraid to share inexperience.

I prefer to not ask. But sure go for tests. Wewe je?

Monday, 11 January 2010

I'm Back

As my Zimbabwean colleague would put it, I’m bek to werk. That is, back to work. It was good to be home and away from UG for some time. The trip itself had kidogo drama, with my flights delayed both ways. I fikad at my house at 3am leo morning, and had to be at work the same day. But, I’m a KQ shareholder, so I won’t bash them much. Here’s a recap of my time away from my home.

Got to spend time with my family. My niece and nephew, those kids are growing, yawa! Even took it upon myself to tell PKW kadogo a few things about boys and sex . PKW kadogo is my cousin’s kido, and is turning 12 this year, and we are named for my cucu. My mum seems to be ageing a bit faster than I’d have expected. She complained that siku hizi watu wanaishi kama wazungu, with kids and gradkids away from parents and grandparents. Told her she can always come stay with me when she is old(er) and I have a family. And I mean it. It’ll be awesome, I think. Interestingly, seeing my family made me feel a bit old too. Imagine I saw PKW kadogo’s mum pregnant with her when I was 19, going on 20!

Time with friends fro seco. I think there is nothing like friendships za kitambo. You know, one of those when you haven’t seen each other for five years, meet up, and ongea, mpaka it feels like you were never apart? With one of them, we spoke mpaka the husband flashed her phone—aende akalale.

Time with my friend that I met kwa mtandao. Kasichana, thanks for inviting me to the Kenya-Cameroon friendly match on Sato. Thanks to you,I can now be counted among the people who have seen Etoo, Song (? The guy who plays for Arsenal) and Congestina live. We lost. 3:1. Wana-Cameroon waendelee hivyo hivyo especially kwa finals za World Cup in June. Woi, I hope at least one African team will get to the semi-finals. Gosh, I hope the stadium is going to be ready.

Not enough time with the Man, but every second was well worth it. We even had a mini-crisis which we kinda created by failing to plan, and got through it intact.

Became increasingly aware that depression is a terrible disease. A relative of a friend, whom I knew, committed suicide in ’08. She was 30. Second time I was hearing this in the last couple months, though the other friend’s dad committed suicide in the early-mid 90s. I think many people, including me, are never aware when they are depressed, thus never seek help. And what you think is your support system can be your biggest detractor. It may be hard for people to support you if they don’t know you’re sick and don’t even recognize a disease in the first place. There is a case for mental health awareness in Kenya.

Had conversations that made me to (more seriously) think about retirement. Yaani, gone are the days when people would retire and go grow sukumawikis or have a ka-kiosk huko shagz and that would sustain them. These days, some maybe lucky to be in the village sinceyour expenses may not be as high as those of townfolk. Luckier if your kids are doing well enough to take care of their kids and take care of you. Not many Kenyans put retirement living into their plans. We have a lot of young people to take care of, and it’s a matter of time till we have a lot of old people to take care off. I used to hate nursing homes with a passion, but now.....someone better think of expanding that business model.

Matatus: I ride them all the time in UG, they are called taxis. Cabs are called ‘Special Hires’. Over here they are white, with a broken blue strip, not pimped hata kidogo. In Nairobi, they come in many colours, music and DVDs. I rode in many ‘SMS ONLY’ matatus. Yeah, the music was that loud. And Tanzanian music seems to have taken over. But then matatus went on strike last Monday.As my sister-in-law put it, watu wa matatu ni watu wa njaa, hawawezi enda long. Sure, they were back Tuesday night. I really hope we don’t get as many bodabodas in town. Ama they outlaw their operation in the CBD. Kajini they are doing a great job between where the matatus drop people off and homes in shagz. Made a new friend. A broker, can imagine that?

M-Pesa scare. Sent 10K to someone by mistake, using 0710, instead of 0720. You should have seen me running from Maggie’s to the Safaricom Customer Care Centre on Moi Avenue and dialling 234 at the same time. I ingiad the Maggie’s kitchen while looking for the exit. Luckily 234 went through real quickly and they reversed the transaction. But I couldn’t re-send or use that particular amount of money until after 72 hours. Apparently, people had gotten into the habit of buying lots of merchandise, paying through M-Pesa, and immediately calling Safcom claiming they sent the money by mistake. Then discard the SIM card and get another one. Kinda makes SIM registration sensible, when I think about it. J.N., the guy I’d sent the money to by mistake, asked me to send him 100bob air-time sababu hakutumia pesa yangu vibaya. I didn’t. M-Pesa’s real cool. I even M-Pesad the mama who did my hair the fee.

Rain, rain came our way: a lot of Kenyans had prayed. It poured. Yaani, in my village it rained every day. When I went back to Nai, I M-Pesad my mum enough money to plant 100 or 125 trees. Also realized that forest land at the small centre not far from our ka-market on the way to town has been demarcated and settled in by, I think, previously landless people. Used to be a forest 10 years ago when we moved there. Also, wonder of wonders, wells in our village had dried up during the draught. Imagine that, and we don’t have rivers. Potatoes, which we;ve sold for as low as 200bob a sack, had hit 5K bob.

Real estate (flats and houses): I think now that the roads are being repaired, real estate value in some places is shooting trhough the roof. Was last in Kitengela in December 2004, and now people have built up the place like no one’s biashara. Nyumba poa za kuishi. It’s becoming a well established town with all the social amenities. Was in Kajiado, and some guys actually commute there daily from Kitengela. Then I met this guy who told me that he’d bought 2 parcels of land for 70K each in early 2008, and just sold one for 500K. Then again, some people in Central Kenya will quote millions for an acre, even though they can’t justify that. I think it may be a bubble. There are flats coming up almost in every direction you drive from Nairobi. I should be a shareholder in one of those cement-manufacturing companies. Or HFCK, or the other banks financing the developments. I also imagine that it may be better to buy than build a house. Saving me the hassle of building from scratch. Just a thought.

Other resources (cows, land). I think the Maasais, at least the ones I interacted with, are a very rich lot.

I feel rather excited about 2010, like it has great things in store.
I wish everyone a happy, health and prosperous (for real, not just because that’s what people say) 2010. May God guide you and help you accomplish your plans in 2010 and beyond.