Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Deep Sea and the Depths of Poverty in Nairobi

The first time I heard of Deep Sea slums was when my sister and a group of fellow nurses visited the slum as part of their social work way back in 2009...I guess it was 2009.

She narrated tales of the slum and ended her story with "Kibera must be 100 times better than what we saw".

Deep Sea is sandwiched between fences of affluence literally the slum begins in between fences of rich homes. It is just in between Parklands and Limuru Road.

Many of the residents single mothers do laundry in these homesteads for their upkeep. They leave behind toddlers to be taken care of by an elderly lady and they leave her with what they can and many times with nothing.

During my sister's visit to the slum the only attempt at sanitation was an attempt by a religious congregation of priests the Consolata Fathers to put up a sanitation block which the residents could take a bath and use the toilet for a shilling - many of them could not afford this one shilling but to make the service free would encourage irresponsibility. The priests also had a clinic and a school right in the heart of the slum.

Everywhere the slum told the story of an environmental hazard... signs of children with diarrhoea and cholera and adults with visible symptoms of being afflicted with AIDS (clearly they were not on ARVs or if they were their diet was nonexistent).

My sister and her colleagues visited twice more the second time to take foodstuff to the lady who took care of infants and toddlers.

I largely forgot about Deep Sea until this week when I saw an article by Amnesty International about planned evictions of the slum to pave way for a road.

I am not anti-development but I would rather the government took all the funds given to them by the EU for this road and misappropriated the money to give these people a humane life...at the very least the children born to women in this slum or the women who are mothers in this slum

Then again maybe our government is very conscientious and would not want to misappropriate money given for a road to other uses - then would it be too much to beg that part of the road budget be the cost of resettling residents of Deep Sea in a place where their children would know that toilets are not found only in the books their teacher reads to them... resettling them in a place where they would understand that the rest of the world does not wake up to the leaking sewerage from their neighbours and that there is such a thing as colorless water.

Would it be too much to beg that as much force and manpower that has been used in evictions be used in building these people a place to call home?

Would it be too much to beg my friends the affluent neighbours of Deep Sea to petition the government on behalf of their clothing launderers?

Maybe we can't change the world but would it be too much to ask all of us to start caring about the world?

At the very least if you read this please help by supporting Amnesty.org intervention on behalf of Deep Sea here http://www.amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/end-forced-evictions

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Consumer Information Should Become a Human Right - Right 32 Right To the Truth

I think the most difficult thing to do in life right now is to become ascetic.

Our world is powered by such a consumer culture that there is almost now way out for any of us.

Advertising will tell us what is sexy, what is not, what to eat, what to wear, where to go to have fun, whether it is fun at all, how to date, how to make love, how to have a great wedding, what is a great wedding, who is a good mother, what does an awesome boss look like, how to be an awesome boss, what to drive, what to ride.

I am not saying adverts are bad. I just think we are being bombarded with too much of it as opposed to actual facts on the products.

E.g. If Beats by Dre tells me their headphones are now sexier and give me an intimate, emotional experience. After Prime News I should have my local Consumer Association analyse all adverts for the day and tell me - If I wasn't sexy before I bought Beats - I won't be sexy after I buy them and if what I am listening to isn't intimate and personal then the headphones won't make it any more intimate than it is.
Beats by Dre

If Johnnie Walker tells me to keep walking - I would like my consumer association to get some Airplay to tell me if I take too much of it then walking might become a difficult task
Johnnie Walker - Keep walking

If Victoria Secret tells me that Lingerie is sexy after dark - I would like my Consumer Association to get airplay to tell me that I am sexy not the lingerie. Sexy-me wears the lingerie NOT sexy lingerie makes the not-so-attractive me Sexy.
Victoria's Secret

If my favorite cosmetic producers tell me that their product makes my skin fair in two weeks. My consumer association gets airplay to tell me that the claim has not been scientifically tested. If my cosmetic producer runs an advert showing me getting the job of my dreams due to my fair skin, my Consumer Association gets airplay to tell me that my CV also needs to look good to nail the job and dark skins have as good a chance at it.

I don't think anyone will heed my plea - oh well. Anyway if you didn't know what rights exist out there... enjoy the video below on the 30 Articles of Human Rights

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


I just watched the first episode of Bend Your Head TV - a Kenyan comedy show that pokes fun at ourselves.

I laughed but at the same time I had a good think. I laughed at the M-hongo cops but at the same time I thought of how corruption is so endemic that we are tempted to think - no haikuwa hongo alinisaidia tu na nikampa kitu kidogo - ni kusaidiana.

Translate - It wasn't a bribe the officer helped me out of my fix and I just gave back something to say thank you.

Bend your head made me think about our media - they do a good job at times but many times they aren't Media they become Medio"crity".
TV and media are our largest shapers of culture, perceptions, opinions, beliefs. On average every Kenyan is spending way more hours in front of the TV set; way more hours discussing what they saw on TV, heard on radio, saw in the paper than in their work, studying, hobbies, church or even on their relationships.
What is trending on Facebook, twitter in Kenya starts first either in paper, radio and TV.

But there is no Kenyan who critically thinks of their consumption - we are passive recipients. Who says we will not buy "Monkey Ball" Bites. Who says if Jay Z and Rihanna sport Illumi-natty I won't sport them.

But all my thoughts aside Bend Your Head TV are what comedy is supposed to be - to help us laugh at ourselves, our culture, our perceptions.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Najivunia Kuwa Mkenya: Westgate Mall Attack brings us closer together

62 people dead and 175 injured... and these people who call themselves warriors for an holy cause must be proud.

They should be ashamed - real warriors fight other warriors... like if they were real warriors they should have walked to the gate of DOD in Hurlingham firing not in a shopping mall shooting at children and shoppers.

They say for such deeds they get a reward in heaven with virgins - but surely even the most reasonable God knows if you did not appreciate this "temporary life" for its beauty then you do not deserve the "eternal life" if you spent your time hating instead of loving - how can you hope to live in a place where the language is LOVE. If you spent your time destroying God's beautiful presence here on earth how do you expect a reward of his eternal presence.

But anyway no terrorist will read this - and if they did being as brainwashed and caught up in whatever pain that makes them who they are... they will not see sense. How twisted can you be to shoot an innocent child?


But here is what the attack has done for me - it has helped me count my blessings. I am lucky to be in a country where people are brave to go on with their lives after they have been dealt such a huge blow - blood donations, food donations and people waking up to go to work - I Love Kenya I Love Nairobi

NAIROBI - we never say die
I like the bravery with which our forces Kenya Defence Forces and National Police took on the terrorists and the fact they finally subdued them.

I also encourage professionals in other fields to consider volunteering our services to especially the Police Force - by professionals I mean hackers, computer programmers, biochemistry experts, pathologists, forensic experts, criminology experts, forensic accountants.
This whole mindset of the Police force being for people who failed exams and only know how to shoot well and run after criminals is colonial and should go. We should be proud to work with the force.

Kenyan Security Officer rescues hostages

I didn't vote for these two men but now I realize what calibre of leaders we have in-charge. Kudos to President Uhuru and Deputy President Ruto.

I can't wait to see what they make of whatever number of terms they have ahead. As a word of encouragement when life deals you such bucketfuls of trouble - the test of who you are is staying the course... never giving up.

These two men have dealt with challenges of personal criminal cases, the challenge of a burning airport, challenge of rising consumer good prices, challenges of wayward politicians who only clamor for pay-rises and County money allocations but do not clamor to do the work and take the responsibilities that come with these funds and keep clamoring for referendums and now they are dealing with a terrorist attack.

If this is not trouble in bucketfuls I don't know what to call it. But my encouragement is if the airport burns then it is a chance for us to build better disaster preparedness - a fire department, police station and a hospital at the airport.
If the terrorists attack then it is time for Kenyans to realize the important things in life - like life itself... the drama of money allocations and power games should stop or should not interest us anymore.

To the President and Deputy President - take heart and may God give you strength.
President Uhuru and Vice President Ruto - the most energetic duo ever

I know one media house did disappoint us on Sunday by putting sensationalist and traumatizing pictures in their daily and I was really disappointed with that guy of "Ni kama video ni kama drama" for fooling around in a situation where his fellow Kenyans were losing their lives. Other than that I am quite proud of the kind of reporting our media houses did.

My heroine for the day was Anjlee Noorani Gadhvi of  K24 she was on the scene from day one - she truly empathized with the victims and did an awesome job of reporting

K24 - Anjlee Noorani Gadhvi - KUDOS
Anjlee back in the day used to be with KTN - always wondered why they never gave her a more prominent role as she was an excellent news presenter. She appeared sporadically in late night news and the longest periods we saw her on screen was during the 2007 elections.

Anyway that is her past - With her stint in K24 - this great news anchor seems to have come of age - Kudos Anjlee Noorani Gadhvi.

Song that is pulling my heartstrings right now


Sunday, 15 September 2013


Henry Raichena

RIP Henry Raichena

In life God's providence has ways of helping us out of our very "human fixes". God's providence sometimes works through people... sometimes works through situations. God's providence worked for me through Henry Raichena Chief Principal Mang'u High School - my Headmaster, Headteacher... Principal at Nkubu High School. So when he passed on this week - I do not know what to do to thank providence or to do the human thing - weep for loss.

Pretty uncommon I know - not many of us owe anything to our HMs maybe some caning... making life "unnecessarily difficult or interesting - tis interesting to have a "bad cop". Well mine is a different story and I owe this HM.

Raichena joined Nkubu High same year I joined in 1996 - so in a special way our class "Nkubu class of 99" were his first Form One class - he was new... we were new.

I owe Henry Raichena personally because I came into the school two weeks later than other Form one's reason - I didn't have money. He told my mum if we went home and came back with at least part of the fees we could talk... so that is how my four year story of a man who was patient with a financially challenged family begun... and so it stayed till I cleared my high school. So if I finished high school - I owe this man in a big way. God's providence brought him into my life - he stayed on in Nkubu only for one more year after I left - and he went to on to greater challenges "Mang'u Boys".

Raichena got the name Guinness as his nickname.
Teenage boys are a troubled age - and physical size is a big achievement for a teen. So I guess it was really esteem bolstering for the big boys to see they were taller than their Principal hence the name Guinness - since it was the shortest bottle of beer the boys knew about.

Anyway in retrospect I look back and think we may have unwittingly prophesied what Raichena was and what he would be - He was a Great Man and much later when I see the "Reach for Greatness" Ads I realize we had one such great man in our midst. The man we called Guinness

Raichena did what leaders do. He changed our culture, our expectations of ourselves, appearance of the school. He left his mark.
When Raichena came to Nkubu all our dorms and classes had "potholes". Okay this is not metaphorical - see the potholes you see on the road and pick that picture and put it in a dorm...that was Nkubu High. The school performed well in sports and academics but it was just guts and a great tradition - not infrastructure. We were so badly off and we assumed that is how things were supposed to be. Tree stumps were common in classes as chairs and sharing desks was common place especially for Form Ones. I had been to a posh primary school (story for another day) Consolata Primary School all my life - I didn't know sitting on a tree stump or a log could happen in a school.

Raichena changed all that - we had new desks brought in for all Form Ones - that didn't make us favorites with other classes "We were Guinno's Monos" (Guinness's Form Ones).

By the time I cleared Form Four in 99 I could not recognize the school I had walked in to in Feb 96 - transformation is the only word for what Raichena did. All floors had been repaired. We had a new one storey dorm complex - the first building in Nkubu high that rose above ground floor. The school even had its first computer (okay stop laughing - at least now you see from what depths we were at)

The dining hall which had a collapsing roof... flaky green paint that looked black and grey and something in between ... mega pot holes and tables that scared the hell out of the phrase "sit down to lunch". (Actually most students used to sit outside on the grass and eat - can't blame them). When I left Form Four our dining room could actually host district level events it was well lit, had a stage to convert it into a hall for such events. All tables were new - had red Formica you could actually sit down to a meal.

Somehow when your surroundings change your esteem is boosted - something about the way Nkubu boys carried themselves during his time was very telling about how they felt about their school. There was PRIDE.
There was pride in the way prefects carried themselves in their new blue blazers with gold stripes (I never was a prefect - but I saw pride). Even us the non prefects started wearing our ties religiously on weekdays - dressing down only on weekends (Nkubu High before "Guinness" didn't have ties). We even got school IDs ... somehow it was quite a bother to us then but in retrospect I see now why we had to identify with something or learn the feeling of being someone... and Raichena did that for us.
NKUBU ID - finally we identified with being part of an institution

VERITAS ET FORTITUDO - Truth and Courage

boys in ties - suddenly our mindsets changed about the sort of people we were

There was pride when the Soccer team in 98 in blue shorts and yellow T-shirts run down the steps of our tallest building (our one storey dorm) on to the field to win the Meru District Inter School sports which we were hosting and proceed to Provincial level as District Champions. There was pride in every event we attended because when you said "Nkubu High" you knew you were the best.

Our anthem used to be something like
Oh hail to dear Nkubu, school we all love
Truth and courage is our battle cry
St. Joseph is our captain, Christ is our King
We'll keep on fighting until we win
Success in our studies, Victors in sports
East of Mt. Kenya we are always top
You will know us always as Nkubu Boys

I think I forgot a couple of lines or the sequence.
Nkubu High Scout - Admin block in background

Nkubu High boys - chilling on a weekend

But in Henry Raichena's time we actually believed our anthem and this paid off when the class of 98 were the 28th best school in KCSE nationwide that year.

Many of us may not have understood what transformational effect Raichena had on schools until his former school "Terige High School" from the Rift Valley sent a delegation of students to see where their Principal had gone to. Suddenly we realized we had a "prize possession" in our midst and loud arguments were heard in dormitories against any imaginary "enemy" who wanted to take our headmaster.

I know by this time next week we will have laid him to rest - the man we all loved to call "Guinness" but today with a bit of angst - I remember this man who made us the men we are today - men who are proud of who we are... men who know how to fight to win... men who believe that things can be made better... men who decades later still come together because we identify with a Nkubu he built - this Giant of a man.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Monday, 19 August 2013

Cavaliers Band - Dunia (One of my favorite throwbacks)

I must be aging - I am listening to very old songs from my childhood.
In this song the subject recalls caution given to him by his parents about the people of the world (Walimwengu) and now in his prime finds that what they told him was true(the world holds for him the unexpected - dunia ina mambo)

Of course I had to transcribe the lyrics - so if you find any mistakes please correct me

Cavalier Band – Dunia
Baba na mama waliniudhia ewe kijana,
kuwa mwana kujionea dunia ina mambo
Nao siku yasikiza sasa mimi najuta,
 kweli najionea dunia ina mambo

Walinaambia kijana jihadhari na walimwengu
Hao walimwengu si wazuri kwako kijana
Nao siku ya sikiza, hata mimi najuta
Kweli najionea dunia ina mambo

repeat verse one and two (look for rap/spoken interlude)
Dunia ina mambo oooh, dunia ina mambo
Dunia ina mambo oooh, dunia ina mambo

Ukiwa na cha leo marafiki ni wengi sana
Watakusifu oh, wewe kijana mzuri
Dunia ina mambo oooh, dunia ina mambo
Dunia ina mambo oooh, dunia ina mambo

Ukiwa huna oh, wengi wanakukimbia
Na wengi kusema wewe kijana mbaya
Dunia ina mambo oooh, dunia ina mambo
Dunia ina mambo oooh, dunia ina mambo


Fantastic Kenyan track divas IAAF Moscow Athletics 2013

Wow Moscow 2013 is over and Kenya is sitted fourth in the medal standings.

So this is me paying tribute to Kenyan track divas. I am not saying the men didn't do well. They did fantastic Asbel Kiprop as usual was dominant in the 1500m his long frame belying his powerful sprint. Ezekiel Kemboi now has a mohican but he still wins 3000m steeplechase and we have a new kid - Consensus Kipruto in the same race and not to forget our own you-tube athlete javelin thrower Yego.

So why am I paying tribute to the women - maybe it is because I have soft spot for Kenyan female athletes, maybe it is their spirit in the field - I am not really sure but they are a wonder to behold.

Edna Kiplagat started off Kenya on the first day by defending her marathon title


Milcah Chemos who everyone said was more of a hurdler than a jumper proved them all wrong. She did a fantastic piece of front running and she and Lydia Chepkurui did what Kenyans have come to expect of the men in the 3000m steeplechase. They bagged Gold and Silver. Milcah didn't even break sweat she was so happy and doing a jig at the end of it


Milcah said she was tired of playing second fiddle - tired of bagging bronze perenially. She did just that - she is the first ever Kenyan woman Gold medalist in 3000m steeplechase.

Helen Obiri gave a valiant run but her superb kick could not match Jenny Simpson and Aregawi who now runs for Sweden. Simpson somehow managed to run in front and keep strength for a kick. Aregawi never lost her strength at any point - true dominance reminiscent of Nancy Jebet Lagat my last years heroine who didn't have it in her this time. Kipyegon also gave her best kicking with Obiri but fell to fifth place.


But the highlight of the games for me was Eunice Chepkoech Sum. The media has had a field day playing with her name. Sum did sum it up though for Kenyans.

After Janeth Jepkosgei and Pamela Jelimo no one thought we would ever see another great Kenyan athlete for a while in this distance 800women but Sum in her debut really surprised the world - she came, she saw, she conquered.

All eyes were on home girl Maria Savinova, USA's Allysa Montano (who did some fantastic piece of front running) former champion Lupu of the Ukraine but no one paid attention to Sum and now the world has to stand up and take notice.
In the absence of Rudisha in the men's race Sum just surprised the world in the women's version of events and totally made my day.

What a way to sum up a really fantastic IAAF Moscow 2013

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Upper Hill - Nairobi County's New Commercial Capital

Just so you don't get my blog wrong... I am not a real estate broker. I am just a guy who likes nice landscapes and can't help notice when the skyline changes.

This is what is exactly happening to Upper Hill in Nairobi. Once upon a time the most notable things in the skyline was the tip of Rahimtulla towers stabbing the sky and the statue of Mary Help of Christians looking down on the City, the uniquely designed Victoria Towers and the square solid 8 storied Kenyatta National Referral Hospital.
beautiful Rahimtulla towers

Statue of Mary Help of Christians at Don Bosco
Left: Geomaps on Matumbato road a pioneer building in Upper Hill Right: Kenyatta National Hospital in the background and works on Mara road

Pencil Holder shaped Victoria towers in the foreground and KCB head office skeleton in the back
Now all that has changed the skeleton of KCB (Kenya Commercial Bank) new head office 22 storey towers on Ragati road in the face of it's competitor Equity Bank's head office and right behind them a new building by the World Bank. A few meters across from the three Britam (British American Insurance is putting up a new structure. Not to be outdone UAP provincial insurance is putting up their own building towering above Upper Hill high school which will hopefully be the last green "standing".
British American foundation being drilled on Ragati road
World Bank building in progress

KCB head office still towering
Equity Bank Centre right in the competition's face
With Elgon Road from Oxford all the way down being expanded and various construction works along it's length including a shopping mall, a potentially star hotel to rival Crowne Plaza's dominance Upper Hill is about to claim it's place as Nairobi's commercial capital. Mara road is also being redone separating two members sports clubs Nairobi Sports Club and Public Service Club.

Developments on Elgon Road Oxford in the background
Developments on Elgon Road the expansion is set to take another year

Developments on Elgon Road seen from Matumbato Road

Developments on Elgon Road Duplex in the background

Developments on Elgon Road Duplex in the background

Very soon it is bound to attract all the large food chain outlets and Supermarket Chains. Nairobi Java House has already got in early setting up shop at the Kenya Medical Association flats KMA flats.

Nairobi Java House in Upper Hill with Kenya Medical Association's flats at the back

Nairobi Java House in Upper Hill with KMA flats at the back

Shaping up - additions to Real insurance building on Ragati road
The leafy suburb of Matumbato has seen many houses turn into offices: Above Swivel Marketing

 Potential beneficiaries could include housing developments in Madaraka which is a railway crossing away though on the flip side house rents could go up.
Railway - stands between Upper Hill and Madaraka

Kanake Gardens one of the new developments that are on the rise in Upper Hill

Old Madaraka with the new

New Madaraka

Highrise apartments on Kiambere road and New Madaraka

National Housing Corporation's Madaraka Estate

old developments next to the railway upgrading to meet demand

Anyway as they say pictures say it better than a thousand words - so just don't do a word count because I hope I made it count for you with pictures of Nairobi's new commercial capital in the making.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Seefar Apartments Mbagathi Way - My Questions for your answers

If there was ever an industry in Nairobi to bank on then it would be real estate and housing.

Everyone is chasing the dream of "get a beautiful house and settle down".

Chasing dreams ain't bad. I am also now trying to get excited about good and normal things that everyone else is excited about. But anyway this article is not about me.

This article is about how much do you research the place you will get your "dream home" or at least your "dream rental".
Last year a small block of flats was completed just after Blue Sky estate on Mbagathi Way. It used to be a laugh for everyone who passed by because the ground floor of the flats kept caving in. But we aren't laughing anymore. The three story flats are complete and have tenants... and somehow I think the developer wants to proceed as he hasn't put a roof.

The apartments in my title are much the opposite of the above flats - they are professionally built and have taken tremendous efforts to get to 12th floor - but I still have questions and unanswered issues.


they are professionally built and have taken tremendous effort to get to 12th floor

I wish my friend Joab S. Kola aka Jobby had been elected as the representative for Nyayo Highrise then I would just send him to ask the questions for me. But he wasn't...

Highrise flats are three four storeys at best. Seefar has towered to twelve storeys currently

Seefar apartments stand in between H Block and the Dam

Seefar apartments are built at the end of H-Blocks of Nyayo Highrise. These H blocks are in a valley bordered by the Nairobi Dam on one side. Seefar just took the heat off us. They built right next to the dam. This was not a very easy task. Three landslides, two times a collapsed foundation, costly control of the  dam waters (wah!! si the mosquitoes had a ball when the dam was blocked - they really fed on us).

View to die for?
Foam from Nairobi Dam - our tourist attraction when it rains

Nyayo Highrise at Sunrise above and a rainy morning right

Same area when it rains - notice the white foam swelling above the fence

Beautiful Sunrise in Highrise
Anyway troubles aside Seefar has beaten odds and it has become the 12 story tower in our neighbourhood. The hardworking crew work day and night. You can see in the short video below.

So then what issues do I have with a construction of beautiful apartments like Seefar - which are really evidence of what man can do in overcoming obstacles and in the efforts of making a living.

The Erdemann Properties quote a number 00008382 as the NEMA number to show that the environmental watchdog evaluated and approved that the construction of a 12 storey highrise building a stone's throw from the dam and that it did not constitute an adverse impact to the environment.
I do not know what an EIA contains but in my layman's assessment - if you have woken up to the scenes in my pictures above and you know how Nairobi dam comes alive when it rains you would never advise anyone to build that close to the dam. Secondly NEMA or no NEMA I saw the crew struggle with two or was it three landslides. The land rebelled hurled gabbions twice down the embankment and covered the foundations twice before man mastered the land... or did he? Thirdly even if all the above are settled - any resident of these blocks should know they have just signed up to be part of mosquito menu.

Highrise roads are now one eyesore pothole due to the heavy machinery that had the estate as the only access to the flats. I hope the owners have thought about doing repairs when the houses are complete.

Highrise has an acute shortage of water - it has enough trouble getting to third floor. I hope SEEFAR truly have boreholes unstable or stable ground notwithstanding. I can't imagine someone in 12th floor lacking piped water.

If Erdemann can answer these few question then they can complete their housing unit with my full blessings and well wishes

About Me

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Loving life and living it. “Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.” (Mary Anne Radmacher)
Give yourself completely in everything for that is love and only when we love can we find God.