Archive for August, 2012

I hope this passage from Fredrick Forsyth’s “The Odessa File” strikes a cord in kenyans’ minds…

August 31, 2012

“Before the war just about everyone in Germany knew at least one Jew.The fact is,before Hitler started, nobody hated the Jews in Germany. We had the best record of treatment of our Jewish minority of any country in Europe. Better than France better, than Spain,infinitely better than Poland and Russia, where the pogroms were fiendish.

“Then Hitler started. Telling people the Jews were to blame for the first  war, the unemployment,the poverty and everything else that was wrong. People didn’t know what to believe. Everyone knew at least one Jew who was a nice guy. Or just harmless. People had Jewish friends,good friends;Jewish employers, good employers; Jewish employees, hard workers. They obeyed the laws; they didn’t hurt anyone. And here was Hitler saying they were to blame for everything.

“So when the vans came and took the away,people didn’t do anything. They stayed out of the way, kept quiet. They even got to believing the voice that shouted the loudest. Because that’s the way people are.”                


Waxing lyrical about inept leadership without proposed solutions will make things even worse for Kenya

August 30, 2012

Everyone is falling into the usual trap of enumerating problems with nary a proposed solutions in sight. Activist are all over the place shouting about “Mpigs”, vultures etc and on how we need to get rid of them. Articles on the same theme abound allover the internet, the mainstream  media is awash with them. Heck, even “jaguar” has sang about it.

The problem is the politician and we shall vote him/ her out and in his stead we elect a cow? angle?, Satan?, what?.

Politics are here to stay, and politicians will always be voted in. The net-effect of such pronouncements will be getting the enlightened voters to despair of politics, leaving the morons to elect the waibaras of this world.

And I’m talking from experience: I recall with a mixture of nostalgia and disgust a particular episode way back in ’97 elections during  nominations for a councilor’s position which had very good capable candidates  any of whom could’ve made a very  good representative for our area. It was during  those days when an area had one dominant political  party and being nominated in one was as good as a guaranteed elective seat. “The party” in our area was DP.

The campaigns were lively and the elite of the area discussed about tackling real issues and were enthused  about the best way forward to achieve the same as proposed by the various candidates. Those were good times.

During the nomination day, however, political thugs intervened, disrupted the whole nomination process and imposed their own candidate as the nominated one. The fallout that ensued killed even the tiniest desires of the enlightened to engage in the whole  political process and we all became spectators.

Eventually the elections came and passed and we were all shocked to realize that the imposed candidate didn’t win. It gets worse: the person who eventually became our councillor wasn’t even from the Ward he represented( our Ward) and the rest as they say is history.

We need to keep the electorate engaged in the political process by proposing the kinds of politicians we are to replace the current with eg in terms of academic qualifications, age, track record etc. Otherwise we risk making things Worse.

I’m proposing that the MP or Senator should have at least a first degree certificate and a governor a masters degree as minimum qualifications.

I have an issue with the idea of having a “track record” as it will effectively lock out many qualified and capable youths from getting elected.             

Did u know that Martha Karua is not a woman?

August 19, 2012

As soon as she declared her presidential ambitions, Karua became of the same weird  “gender” known as “Mt Kenya Mafia” or “Kikuyu”  together with Uhuru Kenyatta.

Martha Karua is simply at the right place at precisely the WRONG time.

You remember the #teamKenya heroes i.e kemboi and Rudisha? If they dared run for the presidency in this country today, to many a Kenyan’s mind  they’d move from Kenyan champions to just another kalenjin and masaai respectively. The transition from heroes to villains would happen faster than bolt can bolt 100m.

In politics Kenyan, any other qualifications is secondary to tribe when it comes to the presidency. We are less concerned with the gender, the degrees certificates(or lack thereof) the track record, the party and it’s manifesto etc. 

The good news is that this tribal mindset has severe consequences only when it comes to the presidency. This means that if we can somehow remove the presidency from the equation, we’d be more likely to behave as one country,  one people.

Without the presidency and tribe blocking our way, we would be able to scrutinize and vet  the qualifications of the aspirants for other seats such as the governors, MPs, senators etc. As things stand now, Kenyans will just elect “suits” and we’ll end up with many  Waibaras( the MP who’s alleged to have paid someone to seat for him the proficiency test necessary to contest as MP) and then whine about inept leadership for the next Five years.

I’m proposing that the first amendment to the constitution should be on scraping the presidential system. Voters should  elect the party and occupants to all other elective  positions except the president. The party with majority in Parliament gets the executive prime minister position, and then the legislature (Senate and National assembly) votes for a ceremonial president, just the same way they elect the speaker.  In any case, the president in the current constitution will be, for all practical purposes and intents ceremonial.

In the mean time, may I suggest that Karua and Uhuru step down from contesting the presidency for just one term and support members of another tribe eg wamalwa or mudavadi? No?

Then again, whom am I to give workable solutions to a perennial tribal issue threatening to get out of hand. You and I will still be here when the shit hits the fan… 

I digress… “Me thinks Safaricom is deliberately suppressing it’s share prices! #KOT”

August 4, 2012

Prices of Shares quoted at a stock exchange depend to a large extent on the laws of supply and demand. When the demand for shares of a particular company rises, the price of the shares soar and vice versa.

The demand for shares of a company is affected by it’s present and future prospects in terms of it’s profitability.

Those investors mainly interested in present profitability of the company are Short-term (I call them hype) investors. They  are more interested in whether the company is declaring large profits now, which means people might buy the shares. Most of these invest in the shares so that as soon as the share prices rise to their liking they sell them off and make a profit. Such investors wouldn’t know about the idea of a shareholder being owner of a company if it came wrapped  in dollars…

Long term investors buy company shares after careful study of the company’s fundamentals ie it’s current profitability levels,the business the company is engaged in and it’s future,the growth prospects of the company,the management of the company etc. Such investors are not overly bothered by whether the share prices or indeed the declared profits fall. Unless it’s with a big margin.

These two investors meet at the stock exchange and buy shares raising the demand for such shares and hence the price shoot up.

I really, really don’t think I need to explain to you what safaricom is and it’s prospects and fundamentals. If you find a better company than safaricom currently in Kenya then I must have missed it…

The million shilling question is, why has it’s share prices ever since it’s IPO always remained abnormally low?  My hypothesis is that the company or it’s affiliates  are deliberately suppressing the share prices.

Can it do it?  How? Easy: The shares issued during the infamous IPO  were so many so the company or it’s affiliates allocated themselves a big chunk. Whenever there’s a risk of demand shooting up, especially when they declare their usual abnormal annual  profits, they sell some shares to keep the demand for the shares low. They also make sure that they declare very very low dividends to make the shares even less attractive: 20 cents per share! Nkt! 

Why: it’s usually a nightmare,and an unnecessary risk dealing with short-term IPO (hype) investors as they may cause a run on the shares by selling them enmasse eg after   taking some malicious rumours seriously.

The point? if the share prices  are kept very low, these “hype” investors will get tired of holding on to  the “useless” shares and sell them off. The serious long-term investors will then gobble them up, and the Serious business of making serious money will begin…    


Maybe,just maybe women shouldn’t vote…

August 2, 2012

If women didn’t vote,the quality of the men elected would change little if any. In other words presence of women votes seem to add little QUALITY in the electoral process, and an overwhelming QUANTITY given that they constitute over 50% of registered voters!

Women fought for and gained full suffrage rights: the suffrage rights some women so take for granted  were not handed to them on a silver platter!

The question that always does rounds in my head is: what was in the first woman-suffragist’s mind when she decided that women needed to have the right to vote? Was it to merely exercise their right to vote (assuming “the right to vote” risked being obese due to lack of exercises), or was it so that they could elect better men ( with the complaints over poor political leadership, they’ll then have utterly  failed), or was it to help men elect bad or inept men leaders?

Unfortunately, women gained their suffrage rights in a patriarchal society where leader mainly connotes strength, and strength implies man, therefore, leader means man. This I can “understand” and sympathize with. However, a century plus since then we should be having a society which should have moved beyond the gender of the person to the quality of the leader.

It’s weird that women will fight for women to be appointed to leadership positions, but when I tell them to elect women they hit me with a patriarchal cliche, “we don’t need women leaders, but good leaders”! For instance in Kenya women lawyers have variously taken  president kibaki to court for appointing fewer women than the third stipulated in the constitution. Some of these appointments are actually equal in stature to the elective positions they only whisper about in NGO conferences. The most recent case in point is the county commissioners which is largely equivalent to county Governors. Barring occurrence of a miracle, we are unlikely to elect even a single woman governor in Kenya, a sorry state of affairs given that women constitute about 50% of the registered voters!

Which reminds me of another weird scenario: women blame women failure to run for office as the reason we have few elected women. You’ll see on social media women exhorting other women to run for office, rather that organizing themselves to vote for those who’ve already shown the interest!  Just tell me, what’d be the point of running for an elective position knowing for a fact that people won’t vote for you?! Unless you want to tell me that if we have 100 women running for a single seat they’d actually magically get elected…

One complaint from seemingly educated women has been that once women get elected, they end up being assimilated to the patriarchy culture and rarely serve the women. These women actually get elected by MEN! Even during their campaigns they are always at pains to distance themselves from women issues. In as much as they are biologically women they are politically men. These women once elected, therefore, bend over backwards to please their core constituency: Men. Until women come out and overwhelmingly vote for women..

I used to hate it when some people said that we get the political leaders we deserve, but after careful thought I can’t  agree with them more! Men and women in Kenya and USA vote mainly for men because we believe leader means man.Before I started the project “women and men are leaders”, I asked a group of pupils to draw a leader and most of them(both boys and girls) drew a man! You can make your own conclusions.

Leader’s influence is dual pronged: through the formal position and from the quality the person he/she becomes. I’m interested in women in politics not for what they can do for me in their official capacity, but as women-leader role models for our young daughters.

Women might be interested in more women in politics for women-friendly legislation as most policy decisions are made at the political level.

As a society more women in politics will benefit us through  the quality women might bring to leadership.

Men will always be reluctant to vote for women as they know politics is real power and they might not want to cede any to women. So it’s up to women to vote for women.

In my books, there’s nothing that says “weakness” in caps like Affirmative action!

By the bye, anytime a woman votes for a man expecting he’ll support women issues is deluded. Actually she’s confusing activity with achievement!, pretty much akin to a sheep taking her lambs to a wolf’s daycare..

It’s about time women stopped allowing themselves to be used as filler material in the electoral process.

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