Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

It is outrageous that it took Obama, a foreigner, to tell us the obvious: that our ethnic driven politics is tragically ruinous and that it smacks of lack of imagination.

Ironically, the only Kenyan leader who routinely and consistently spoke against ukabila was Daniel arap Moi. Not surprisingly, much as Kenya’s economy and democratic space must have greatly improved after Moi’s departure, Kenyans felt more united as a people under him than during Kibaki or Uhuru.

Our fragmentation along ethnic lines is not just evident in our politics. It is in our schools and universities, in professional associations, in the media and even in church and sports. That it has woven itself into the very fabric of society and become ‘normal’ – like corruption – can be seen in the puerile and offensive exchanges on social media.

But Obama’s visit, and the offensive comments that some Americans made online about him, offer Kenyans a measure of comfort. That some American citizens passionately hate Obama is not news. That this hatred stems solely from the colour of his skin is no secret.

What is horrifying is how a people can be so blinded by hate that they choose not to see one of the most transformative figures in American and world history. The man they scorn literally pulled them from the jaws of economic ruin and stopped their nonsensical penchant for poking their noses into every little war. Instead, they chose not to see a great leader, but to hate a black man.

Kenya is no different. President Kibaki laid the foundation for Kenya’s economic and democratic transition. But he received nothing but bile for his achievements in extremely difficult circumstances. His ‘haters’ were too blinded by ethnicity to see the obvious.

The same hatred, and a shocking amount of ignorance, permeates American society. And if a country peppered with such an appallingly shallow and ignorant human resource can rise to greatness, then there is hope that Kenya, too, will one day be a great nation!
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Republican US presidential candidate Ben Carson has “clarified perceptions” about himself saying his ancestor was of the Turkana tribe in Kenya and Tanzania



Businessman and politician Gor Semelang’o has added his voice on the recent Presidential parastatal appointments.


In a sarcastic Facebook post, Gor says that we should give the rulers a break, and that no one asked us to be born in some ‘nondescript family’.

Here’s what he said.

Let our beloved President Uhuru kenyatta look for Votes where it can be found. This bulshit of young people thinking they matter must end. As long as we vote as a tribe, The Old people you are castigating today about being recycled will tell you where to vote. A ministry of youth can still be created and they give it to a 51 year old youth and you will not riot, they did that to your fund anyway and a man is the CEO of women fund anyway.The day you will start voting on issues everything will change but not now! Wacheni pang’anga!. Wait until you are elected to rule Serikali si ya mama yako bwana! ! Did they confuse Isaac odinga’s name with Wenwa Odinga? We did not ask you to be born in some nondescript family or to go to a village school.Give the rulers a break it’s their time, We must support them ama uta do?Kenya isonge mbele, sisi tujenge taifa wengine watapaka rangi baadaye!


sleepout obama

The White House announced on Monday that US President Barrack Obama will be visiting Kenya during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) to be held in July 2015.

“His trip will build on the success of the August 2014 US-Africa Leaders’ Summit and continue our efforts to work with countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, to accelerate economic growth,” read the statement in part.

As entrepreneurs and business leaders look forward to the event, hoteliers and tourism industry players in Kenya are concerned over the lack of capacity to host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi.

The announcement, which came barely two days after Britain announced further travel warnings to Kenya, is seen by analysts as a tacit “endorsement” of Kenya as a tourist destination which could in turn begin to resuscitate a now troubled tourism industry.

The greatest challenge however may lie in bed capacity in Kenya’s capital with questions arising on Nairobi’s ability to accommodate the tens of thousands of guests from Africa and the world streaming in for the event.

Nairobi had a bed capacity of approximately 10,000 according to data released in 2012 and from the scale of the July GES event and the interest that comes with a US presidential visit to Kenya, this number could prove insufficient to accommodate both domestic and international guests who will be streaming into Nairobi during that period.

Accommodation marketplace has already started discussions with private apartment owners throughout the city to scale up existing accommodation inventory in order to handle the sharp increase in demand.

“We are in discussions with guest house and apartment owners throughout Nairobi to find ways of increasing accommodation capacity in the city ahead of Obama’s visit as the Global Entrepreneurship Summit is expected to attract tens of thousand of guests and dignitaries,” said CEO Johann Jenson.

Additionally, with the availability of a wide variety of accommodation; from luxury homes to backpackers and bed and breakfasts, accommodation sites like are positioning themselves for traffic spikes as guests search for convenient places to stay near the downtown core.
Jenson says the company is up to the task and is able to handle as many bookings as possible.

The last time Obama was in Kenya was in 2006 when he was Senator for Illinois and this year’s visit will be his first he is making to his ancestral home as the President of the United States and the fourth in Africa during his tenure.

Last summer, the United States paved new pathways for Americans relationship with Africa by hosting the historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Fifty-one African leaders joined President Obama in Washington for a discussion on “Investing in the Next Generation”, the theme of the Summit. This gathering resulted in $33 billion dollars in new commitments to support economic growth across Africa, as well as tangible U.S. and African efforts to improve security, promote human rights and good governance, and provide opportunities for Africa’s sizeable youth population.

As the White House announced earlier today, the United States is partnering with the Government of Kenya to host the sixth annualGlobal Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). The President will travel to Kenya this summer – his fourth trip to sub-Saharan Africa and the most of any sitting U.S. president – where he will participate in bilateral meetings and attend this important event.

Launched by President Obama in 2009, GES will bring together more than 1,000 entrepreneurs and investors from across Africa and around the world to showcase innovative projects, exchange new ideas, and help spur economic opportunity. This year’s Summit in Kenya will have an overarching focus on generating new investments in entrepreneurs, particularly women and young entrepreneurs. Choosing Kenya as the destination for GES underscores the fact that Africa, and Kenya in particular, has become a center for innovation and entrepreneurship. Kenya is a world leader in mobile money systems like m-pesa and a driver of innovation, through creative spaces like “iHub.” These are just a few tangible demonstrations of the entrepreneurial spirit that is deeply rooted on the African continent.

 Just as President Kennedy’s historic visit to Ireland in 1963 celebrated the connections between Irish-Americans and their forefathers, President Obama’s trip will honor the strong historical ties between the United States and Kenya – and all of Africa – from the millions of Americans who trace their ancestry to the African continent, to the more than 100,000 Americans that live in or visit Kenya each year. The President’s trip will be an opportunity to point to the progress already made in improving health, education, human rights and good governance, security, and economic growth across the continent, while helping to spark new opportunities for future generations.

Despite legislative attempts to curb drinking, Kenya is still facing its greatest threat from alcohol abuse. Calamities associated with excessive intoxication – dementia, seizures, liver disease and early death – have done little to deter users.

Not even confirmed reports by the Ministry of Health and government agencies such as the National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) that illicit brewers have been turning to lethal embalming fluid used in mortuaries have cut the rate of abuse.

“Patrons want to spend as little as possible but drink as much as they can, so they opt for cheap illicit brews, especially spirits,” says Nduta Kamau, who brews home-made alcohol in the sprawling Mathare slums in Nairobi.

The [Kenyan] Alcoholic Drinks Control Act was substantially weakened in 2013 with the introduction of “devolved government”. This system of ‘home rule’ means that each county government must ratify the act – an uphill battle because some county leaders are also the owners of bars.

According to Kamau, those who brew illicit alcohol also spend as little as possible “in time and money but produce as much alcohol as they can”, while chemicals used in the mortuary speed up the production process, “so we are able to produce a lot of alcohol in a very short time.”

Kamau adds that illicit brews from dens in the slums are bottled, labelled and sold in pubs across the country. A series of police raids in these dens have found women’s underwear and dead rats in the brew.

The Alcoholic Drinks Control Act of 2010 restricts the sale of alcohol to between 5 pm and 11 pm, but drinkers are finding their way around the curfew.

Data collected by Euromonitor International, a market research firm, revealed that alcohol bought in shops or off trade beer sale during the curfew in December 2012 rose by 4.35 percent to 26.4 million litres.

“They [patrons] lock themselves up in pubs and drink during curfews or they buy the alcohol and drink in their homes exposing their children to alcohol from a very young age,” says Dave Kinyanjui, a bar owner in Nairobi’s downtown area.

The Alcoholic Drinks Control Act was substantially weakened in 2013 with the introduction of “devolved government”. This system of ‘home rule’ means that each county government must ratify the act – an uphill battle because some county leaders are also the owners of bars.

Increased drinking has meant higher profits for commercial brewers. A report last month by the East African Breweries Limited (EABL) noted an average 11 percent increase in profit from beer sales.

According to EABL, the highest growth in sales – at 67 percent – was in spirits, mainly targeting the lower income earners, who are also the target for the many brands from informal sources.

Another report released by Euromonitor International confirmed the steady growth in alcohol consumption, which could rise as the economy improves further, saying that “the alcoholic drinks market is set to expand over the forecast period as the economy is expected to grow tremendously during this time due to bright prospects of oil in Kenya and political stability.”

With the availability of non-returnable bottles and cans, it has never been easier to carry alcohol to the house.

A 2012 national survey by NACADA showed that alcohol is now the most abused substance in the country and of the different types of alcoholic drink, traditional liquor is the most easily accessible, followed by wines and spirits and last but not least Chang’aa (which literally means ‘kill me quick’).

According to an “Alcohol Situation Analysis” for 2012 by the regional office of IOGT-NTO, a global temperance movement: “out of the number of people interviewed, 63 percent had used alcohol and 30 percent had more than five alcoholic beverages per sitting, which is heavy episodic use. Teenagers between 14-17 years of age are having two alcoholic beverages per sitting.”

Government statistics also show that alcohol and drug abuse is highest among young adults aged 15 to 29 years and lowest among adults of 65 years and older.

Under-age and rural children have not been spared. According to NACADA, rural children are more likely to have consumed traditional liquor and Chang’aa than urban children.

David Ogot, national coordinator of Alcohol Awareness in Kenya and a recovered alcoholic, told IPS that “excessive drinking is often viewed as a passing problem until it really gets out of hand, at which point most families hide the issue due to shame.”

He said that there is now a great need to address “alcoholism and to stop justifying the behaviour of an alcoholic.”

Alcoholics wanting to end their addictions have little recourse, according to Dr William Sinkele, Executive Director of Support for Addictions Prevention and Treatment in Africa (SAPTA). While Kenya has over 70 in-patient treatment centres, only three are government-run, he told IPS – Mathare Hospital (with an addiction unit), Coast General Hospital and Portreitz Hospital. The rest are privately owned.

“While is it is good that we have this many treatment centres, most are concentrated around the Nairobi area. We do not have many centres outside Nairobi. The average Kenyan with an alcohol or drug problem cannot afford treatment,” he said.

Meanwhile, many of those fighting alcohol abuse in Kenya point an accusing finger at the global alcohol industry which has a big foothold in Kenya and has undermined proper implementation of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act with aggressive advertising and promotion through musical and artsy events.

A press release from financial advisors KPMG, titled “Incredible Growth of Kenya’s Beer Market” noted: “Driven by strong population growth, a growing middle class and a dynamic private sector, the beer industry in Kenya has taken off in impressive ways, and is promising of even further developments in the coming decade.” Only inflation and tax increases could diminish this rise, it said.

“To expand its customer base, “the company has accordingly invested in marketing and sales capabilities in this area.”

Meanwhile, in a blog on the IOGT International temperance website, Brenda Mkwesha wrote: “The odds seem to be against us, but we have heart-driven teams who aren’t willing to stand by while we flush our lives down the toilet. Here’s to a Life Set Free!”

This article By Miriam Gathigah and Edited by Lisa Vives/Phil Harris was first posted on

I found it always a shame that African music interest often stays associated with the usual form of Highlife genre defining this often as the true sound of Africa. Last friday, Johnie Bar and lounge in Haruma’s John saga area showed us something else. Every Friday they take us back to the 70s in an extraordinary show dubbed Rumba extravaganza, where they get to play pure rumba and lingala music.although here we call this kind of music ‘Lingala’, but really Lingala is the language. In Europe and other parts they call it ‘Soukous’ but whatever you call it, it’s unmistakable. The moment you hear those tingling guitars, you can not help standing and start dancing.

I personally always like African music from the 80s to late 90s, which was largely dominated by rumba and lingala but its sad nowadays it rarely finds enough playtime sessions in public places. Luckily this Johnie Bar and lounge is, finally, one of the exceptions. I wasn’t here before. Located in a residential area from the noisy city center, it struck me that I should come to Haruma’s Johnie Bar and Lounge  more often.

The host of the night is Dj Moht dressed in a baggy clothing and sporting cornrows, Dj Moht knows just what the audience wants. No one in the audience is here for anything but the music and the will to cultivate spirit.

The concert stretches on for more than two hours but no one even remembers they’re wearing a watch. There’s 30 minutes of encore, as the Dj stunningly moves through electrifying versions of hits and album cuts from Tabu Ley, to Tshala Mwana, from Mbilia Bel, to Franco, Sam Mangwana,Musa Juma, Nyboma, Wuta Mayi,Les Quatre Etoiles and who forgets Koffi Olomide with his ndombolo. Steaming hot mamas marauds the dance floor, bouncing off the walls, dissolving time and space and bodies. After a long stretch, there’s demand for more, and we get it in the form of Pepe Kalle’s 90s band ‘Empire Bakuba and the song that no one will leave without hearing, Kanda Bongo Man’s “Kwasa kwasa” One by one, the the men leave the dance floor and peel off into their seats until it’s just the ladies alone on stage, shaking their blessings to the amazement of the now tipsy men in the building. All that’s left is the powerful current connecting the Dj and his rapt Johnie Bar and Lounge ladies on the dance floor, the way they zungusha their limbs it is like they have katika at the waist.

Later in the morning, Stepping out into the cold corporate air of Nairobi, the Rumba night extravaganza, like any shows of the 90s was bulwark: it is a reminder that music’s ability to bring people together to celebrate soulful feeling is in and of itself, as Tabu Ley once remarked, a weapon of the future. I set to leave Johnie Bar and Lounge but deep down in my heart, a voice assures myself. I’ll be back. Next Friday!