Friday, May 30, 2008

International Slap Your Workmate Day

Did you know that January 16th is International Nothing Day? And 21st January is Squirrel Appreciation Day? And January 26th is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. Check here for a few more crazy holidays. The bubble wrap day I’ll honour. I love bubble wrap. I don’t actually go out and buy it but if it lands in my hands by chance, for some strange reason I leave no bubble unburst.

Now how about we have an International Slap Your Workmate Day. Not that people don’t already trade slaps in offices and boardrooms. The purpose of making a day for it is to ensure amnesty against any assault cases resulting from the slaps that will be traded. No court cases so people will be free to exercise their palms to the possible maximum. You may only slap one workmate though and any slaps outside the said day are liable for prosecution.

Here in the office I have a very good idea who I’m going to slap when that day is finally passed into law. I’m not playing the holy card here. I’m not by any chance that bespectacled geek in the corner office who thinks their workmates are cheap. I do participate in office banter a lot but sometimes I just want to shut up and work. Ok Shut up and blog. I have two candidates for the slap but Bonge wins my palms hands down.

Ours is an open plan office and our work is such that different departments are busy on different days. My candidate is an Information Technology geek. What do IT guys actually do on a day to day basis? When all computers are working perfectly and the networks are fixed to perfection? They browse and chat that’s what. I mean, how many times can you fix a network or service them hard discs?

This one of ours here traverses the internet morning to evening and comes up with all sorts of weird subjects all of which he’s generous enough to share. It is when you’re trying to crack that mystery of some missing papers that you worked on just the other day that he’ll tell you about the ASCII CODE and the philosophy behind it. If you’re not interested in that, then surely you want to hear about how a volcano comes to be? How the juices boil in the belly of the earth until them tectonic plates can hold no more? How about the Ritcher scale, that one of earthquakes? The law of thermodynamics? The quantum theory? The benzing ring in chemistry and how tricarboxylates react with enamines. That’s the kind of talk he puts us through. His new craze of late is the prices of oil per barrel and he actually spends time doing some imaginary oil trade on the net! Oh Come on Bonge! How about we discuss Jennifer Lopez twin babies today?

As a plus for him, he’s very well versed in just about any topic in the world. If you really need to know something then he’s the guy to ask.

This article is posted with full blessings from dear Bonge. Noisemaking notwithstanding, he’s a very sweet guy to work with. And it never hurts anyone to be in the good books of the IT guy does it? His next project? You guessed right – he’s gonna be a writer/blogger. And he won’t just be writing short articles like one Shiko. He swears he’ll come up with an online novel in a few short months.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Alvaro - Redbull - Malta Guiness

Make a statement without saying a word - this aptly describes East African Brewery's new kid on the block Alvaro. In it’s stylish green bottle, it has an outstanding sophisticated look synonymous with the 24-35 age group for whom it’s targeted.

Produced in pineapple and pear flavours, Alvaro seems to have hit the market with a bang with sales having already jumped to three times above the projected trends. In pubs and supermarkets the drink is said to be flying off the shelves. The high sales are not just from the excitement of a new drink but also from the fact that in complete departure from it’s elder brother Malta Guiness, Alvaro is great tasting, crisp and refreshing. And the price was a pleasant surprise. I bought it for 25 bob at Nakumatt. I’m yet to see it at the local shop though. If shopkeepers embrace it then Coca Cola who are known for not so ethical business practices may be in some trouble. And I hope they have plans to introduce a canned version some time in the future. The idea of returnable bottles is so last century.

The introduction of Alvaro will create more than 100 direct jobs, plus of course thousands of indirect ones - a sure plus for present Kenya. And what could any venture be without Equity Bank these days. In a partnership with EABL, the bank which has caused chills down the spines of other established banks will step in to finance specific distributors of Alvaro.

Malta Guinness on the other hand I believe is an experiment gone horribly awry. Like the scientists gave up on it before they completed the process and put it in the market anyway. The first and last time I tasted it, I was done with in on sip one. But I had to finish all my money’s worth. By the time I took the last sip I was ready to sue for extended trauma. It has a thick sickening taste like molasses dissolved in water or something like that. Try it warm, cold, ice cold, chilled - it’s still the same thing. Sorry Malta.

In my opinion the other drink that may feel the heat from Alvaro is Redbull. A lot of people don’t drink Redbull because they’re badly in need of a tourine fix. Nor do they drink it because they’re so dead tired they need an immediate energy boost. It’s the refreshing crispiness of a chilled Redbull that does the magic. And maybe the class that goes with having a few Redbulls sitting in the fridge

Monday, May 26, 2008

Liquid Hate - Acid Assult Cases In Kenya

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. This is one thing ‘Bob’ learned the hard way a few years ago when he had his face and upper body splashed with acid by a jilted lover. She cleverly lured him into a trap by asking him to drop her to pick some things at Sun ‘N’ Sand Beach Hotel in Kikambala off the Mombasa-Malindi highway. She had done her homework well and knew that to get to the hotel which is quite interior from the highway, they would pass through some dark deserted areas. Love affairs are difficult to read from outside so whether the lady in question was actually jilted or not is something nobody except the two can know for sure. But I don’t think anyone deserves an acid bathe on the face for whatever reason.

They met at around 8.00 and set off to the hotel. At the most deserted stretch, the lady poured the acid on the left side of his face and upper body. She also stabbed him but fortunately the knife did not touch any vital organs. It’s the burning and the realization that he was staring death in the face in a dark deserted place that was really getting at him. He stayed there burning for close to two hours. Fortunately he survived. He was rescued by a tours and travel van driver who was coming from the hotel and rushed to hospital where he stayed for months undergoing reconstructive treatment. His face was permanently disfigured by the time he left the hospital.

From the reports I’ve read around, an acid bathe at first feels like hot water on the skin. Then there’s stinging and a burning sensation that gets worse and worse as the acid eats into the flesh. The victim feels like his/her face is melting away. A lot of victims of this heinous and cowardly crime die soon after the attack but those who survive require months of hospitalization and reconstructive surgery. It’s like the acid also continues to eat at the flesh of the victim way after treatment commences. Some have to have their faces rebuild piece by piece over time. Whichever way, they carry the physical and emotional scars for life. The Psychological trauma of permanent disfiguration is immense and considering that most attackers target the face, permanent blindness is common.

This cowardly but frightening phenomenon is not as common in Kenya as it is in countries like Cambodia and Nigeria but that does not mean it does not happen. Cases of acid assault reported at Kenyatta National Hospital for example are in the range of 4-5 per month. In Nairobi Women’s hospital they’re few and far between but when they are brought in, they’re of such magnitude they’re not easily forgotten. Acids and other corrosive substances belong to laboratories and industries but the thing is it’s very easy to acquire them. Sulphuric and Hydrochorolic acids which are the ones most commonly used by attackers are both readily available over the counter at Kshs.500 per liter. One can even get then from car repair shops for a pittance. Although Kenya has signed three UN conventions regulating the sale of acids and other corrosive agents, it’s yet to adopt this law within the country.

Acid wielding killers are just as bad as gun totting criminals and just like we have gun controls, we need some regulation on sales of acids and other corrosive substances.

Friday, May 23, 2008

American Idol - David Cook Finally Takes The Title

American Idols, probably the most watched show in the history of entertainment finally crowned it’s winner David Cook at the Nokia Theatre in grand finale fit for a superstar. It was touching to see him get overcome by emotions after his last performance. Maybe reflecting on his long journey on American Idol was just too much for him and he was glad it was finally over.

There’s no doubt both Davids are extremely talented. But I’d always been rooting for David Archuleta through out the season and I still believe he delivered. Cook is definitely a great singer but his performances I thought were a bit lackluster for a grand finale compared to Archuleta who delivered knock out after knock out which prompted Simon Cowel to declare him winner of round 1 and 2 of the 3 rounds. It’s just as well though. At just 17 the boy is too young. He has a very powerful voice but most of the time he just didn’t know what to say when asked questions. But hey! It was not a talking competition.

I think America was afraid to catapult him to teenage megastardom lest he meets the ogre that ate former teenage star’s Britney Spears’ brains. He’s already a star by virtue of his big voice and immense talent but maybe having not won the title will give him a chance to cool off and complete his studies. The youngster had trouble even dealing with the possibility of being crowned American Idol Season 7. Throughout the show he looked mostly overwhelmed - like he would faint at any time. David Cook on the other hand is more mature at 25 years and is better placed to handle the pressures that are likely to come with is new job. I hope their careers will blossom like for some of the former winners of American Idol.

Speaking of former American Idol Winners, I was really shocked at the performance of one Fantasia Barrino on the show a few weeks ago. Talk of change of musical style! She was never my favorite even during her season but at least she had a sweet voice and actually used to actually sing! This time she landed onto the stage with blazing red hair, red lips and red nails and shouted herself hoarse. Whatever she’s smoking she needs to stop. Even Simon Cowel was caught on camera gawking in obvious disbelief. Other past winners like Jordan Sparks and Kerry Underwood seem to be doing much better.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Of Holy Noise And Kenyan Churches

Picture this. You’ve had a long week and by Saturday you’re looking forward to a quiet time at home for the entire weekend either alone, or with your family or friends. You buy everything you’ll need for those two days as you get ready to wallow in blissful peace and quiet until Monday morning when you get up to go back to work thoroughly relaxed.

But someone else has other plans for your weekend. A church that recently sprouted less than 100 meters away from your estate has been assembling a huge public address system in preparation for an afternoon crusade that will run into an overnight prayer vigil. You’ve had a lovely late lunch and just when you’re settling in for that movie you borrowed, the serene silence of the neighborhood is shattered by the now familiar ‘Testing Testing One Two Three Hallelujah’. The word Hallelujah is supposed to invoke positive feelings for the good Lord but in this case a curse escapes your lips. Your problem is not the content of their message though. You also acknowledge the power of God in your life and appreciate that after all there is such a thing as freedom of worship and speech. The problem is the volume of the amplified speakers. The problem is that they’re forcing you and the whole neighborhood to listen to them – what they want, when they want and at the volume they want.

And so there ends your dreams for a peaceful weekend. They must be worshiping in shifts because they are at it all afternoon, all night and after a brief lull, they’re back Sunday morning around 10.00 am. On Wednesday there is the weekly prayer meeting, Tuesday there is choir practice and some other day in the week there is Piano and other instruments practice – all accompanied by amplified singing and praying.

This is a scenario that is becoming all too common in Kenya with churches sprouting all over and inching increasingly closer to residential areas. Pubs, company promotions and other non Christian street noisemakers are material for a whole nother post. As much as there are laws to guard the freedom of speech in Kenya, there seems to be none to guard residents against amplified noise or music that is unreasonably loud, raucous, jarring or disturbing to persons other than those for whom it is intended. Take for example a small tin walled church of 30X40 feet. A single loud speaker or indeed none at all, is enough to address the maximum number of congregants that can be accommodated in there. So if the same church mounts loud speakers on the roof, it is no longer for the intended audience but for the neighbors. But is the church sure the neighbors want to listen in the first place? The unfortunate bit is that a church more than any other noisemaker can always play the holy card. How can you complain while the Lord said to spread his holy word? You must be so unholy bla bla bla.

I feel we need a law on this or if we have one it needs to be enforced. Amplified sound of any kind should only be allowed at certain times and should only be audible upto a certain distance – say 250 feet. Some countries have done their bit to protect their citizens against amplified noise. This has seen preachers arrested under these laws, thrown into jail and their equipment confiscated. In 1996 for example, American Christian Enterprises and SOS Ministries sued the city of San Fransisco for discrimination citing that the police and some listeners disliked what they said. But the US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their claims with Judge Ronald Gould saying in his ruling that from the evidence provided, the people were concerned about unacceptable noise levels and not with the content of the message.

Have a quiet day.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Which One Is My Father?

Clemo was a class behind me in high school and one of those uppity fellows that I never quite got to either love too much or understand entirely. The chap’s pocket money never seemed to run out and on top of his stunning good looks, had a wicked sense of humour. These combined to ensure that he always had a little crew (nowadays called the hommies?) in tow around the school. He also had a way with ‘baibes’ who were his to pick from whenever the girls’ schools came visiting for debate or whatever. And wasn’t Clemo talented! He was a leading actor, articulate debater, and basketballer and pioneered the setting up of the school’s rugby team. Then to top it up, he always ended up amongst the top performers in exams. What more could a guy ask for? Beer perhaps.

Clemo took to the bottle early on and would regale us with his weekend escapades about tipple and girls at the clubs that he frequented. Occasionally his parents would let him host a bash at their house for the hommies when they traveled upcountry or abroad. This made Clemo ‘The Tough Mohine’ and quite popular. And the rest of us quite ordinary.

After he passed his high school exams, his dad enrolled him to some college in England to study law. And so he disappeared from the scene for a little while until news started filtering back that his drinking had gotten out of hand. Indeed, before a year was through, his dad shipped him back and no sooner had he arrived than we received the shocking news that Clemo had taken his life after a row with his dad. As we later learnt, his dad was not his biological father but had taken him on after marrying his mother. Apparently, Clemo’s divorced biological father was very much alive but a drunken never-do-well. On his return from England, his enraged step-father let go all manner of vitriol on Clemo, whom he could not fathom following in his real father’s ways. Not after all the effort he had made to give him the best that money could buy. Apparently when Clemo’s mum remarried, he was still a toddler and they made a pact to never tell him his real roots.

Clemo’s death left many of us in emotional turmoil for quite some time. I tried to imagine myself in his position when the brutal truth was thrown at him and I shuddered. Had this man who had brought me up and lavished me with all the things I ever wanted been faking his love? Why? Why tell me now? Is my drinking the excuse for his hate so as to abandon and disinherit me now? What will my friends think when they learn that my real father was actually just a useless village lay-about? Can I face the poor vagabond that is my father and live with him? Can I continue living here flaunting another man’s prosperity when my own father probably scrounges a living at market dumps? And mum, why did she let all this happen without even a word? Are they telling the truth now?

His burial ceremony was brief and intensely emotional. People were shaken, tearful and quietly went their separate ways. As if silently asking themselves who their fathers were.

So, do you really want to know who your father is? While it is easy to find evidence to prove that your mother is who she says she is, it may not be so for the man who claims to be your father. For although paternity matching by DNA analysis has been around for quite some time, it is only now being made locally accessible by CSI Kenya Limited, a forensic company set up recently in the country. For a fee of about Ksh 20,000, they provide a kit with which to obtain a swab from inside your mouth and that of the putative father. They then dispatch the samples to their affiliate laboratory in the US from where match results are sent after a week or two. A fairly simple exercise that should definitively put to rest the question of who your father is.

The forensic kit from CSI Kenya can also be used to provide indisputable evidence against suspects in rape cases. Hoping cost will not be prohibitive, the kit should find widespread acceptance although on the legal front it is not clear whether the rules of evidence admissibility in our courts will accommodate the use of results obtained from CSI Kenya.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Back To Nyayo House Torture Days?

I could not believe what I was hearing on the news about the atrocities allegedly being carried out by army personnel in Mount Elgon. It seems we’re back to the Nyayo house days except this time people are not being taken to the basement of that building. According to the Kenya Human Rights Commission, thousands of people belonging to the Sabaot Community have been tortured to death on suspicion of being members of the Sabaot Land Defense Force. Those who live to tell the story have horrible scars not only on their bodies but also definitely on their psyches.

There was the very sad case of a woman who was forced to strip before being smeared with pepper in her private parts. This is the most sadistic way of punishment which only a sick mind can come up with. And that means we have some sick minds in our forces. The aim of the officers who did such a thing is not only to inflict maximum pain but also to humiliate the poor woman. There’s also a lot of rape, some victims as young as 14 years old.

It’s also quite tough on the men many of whom have been rendered impotent from the torture. There are even some disturbing stories of some of them being submerged in sewage and others being made to swallow sand. This makes the more common incidents of being stripped naked and beaten or made to lie on barbed wire sound like child’s play. But it’s a violation of human rights all the same.

What makes the situation so sad is that the same people they can report to are the ones responsible for all the violence.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Is Your Money Safe In The Bank?

A friend of mine had an unfortunate run-in with a local Kenyan Bank some two years ago. After making an ATM withdrawal, she noticed that something was not right with the balance. Some Kshs.20,000/- was missing from her account. The withdrawal had been made like 2 weeks back and she was sure it was not her. She naturally went to complain inside the bank.

The teller she complained to, without even asking her any questions, immediately made her fill out ATM fraud forms. Sounding rather admonishing, he told her that the only way her money could have disappeared from her account was if someone else had access to her ATM card and PIN number. She explained to him that the only person who had access to her card was her husband and he couldn’t possibly withdraw money from her account without letting her know. From the way the conversation was going, the teller tried to lay the blame on her and her husband. He even cast doubt on trust levels between them by implying that that very husband might have withdrawn the money and was not being genuine. The guy was calling someone’s hubby a thief!

Anyway she filled the forms and was asked to wait for some time then go back and check. As soon as she went back to the office, she told the company account about it. He advised her to go back to the bank and request for her latest statement. To her shock she learnt from the statement that the missing money was not withdrawn via ATM. It was a cash withdrawal. And yet in over 4 years with that bank she had never made a cash withdrawal. That became a whole new ball game. She could even sense some panic in the teller. They apologized and said that it must have been a mis-posting. But still a cash withdrawal requires the national identity card and careful comparison of the client’s signature. Anyway, she decided to swallow that excuse, accept the apology and let the bank take care of it. And it did. In the space of half an hour her Kshs.20,000/- was back in her account.

All salaries for her office were channeled through that bank and she warned her colleagues to go and check their accounts. They rushed to ask for statements which the bank provides usually after six months. Anyone requiring one outside the six months is given at a fee. The results were shocking. Three more of her workmates had their funds missing. For two of them the money was withdrawn and then deposited back after a few days. All without their knowledge. A more unfortunate one had Kshs.15,000/- cash withdrawn from his account and not returned. This was no longer a mis-posting. There seemed to be a deliberate attempt by some employees at the bank to siphon client’s money. And in a very foolish way for that matter. Yet this was only one office. How many more clients spread all over the town had their money played around with?

My friend was lucky her case was sorted out immediately. But by the time her other colleagues filed their complaints, Central Bank of Kenya had already been notified and the cases had to go through the courts. For the two whose money was stolen and returned however, the case ended fast. For the one who had Kshs.15,000/- still missing, things were not so easy. He had to go to court and testify, then wait for judgment. Only then would he be given his money back. The accused in was one employee of the bank and one customer. It seems the two used to work in cahoots so the bank guy would transfer funds to the customer’s account, the customer would withdraw and they would share the loot.

As I write this the guy has never received his money back. He’s still waiting for judgment. The bank however within a very short time of this saga fired a lot of it’s employees including the manager. Others were transferred to other branches in the country. So obviously the game was bigger than the one employee who had to go to court as the accused. These days there’s only 2 old faces in the bank. All the rest are new.

This case leaves me wondering, how safe is our money? This is no small roadside bank by the way. It’s a big bank with branches countrywide. Second since it was obvious the money was withdrawn irregularly, shouldn’t the bank have paid first to reduce inconvenience to the client and then followed the case later?

And how safe is your cash in the bank?

See also: Raila Embarks on ‘Big Man’ Journey.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Microwave Ovens - Are We Putting Our Health In Danger Every Day?

The modern woman is a busy one and technology is right there by her side providing gadgets to make her life easier in the kitchen. One of them is the microwave oven. The performance of this gadget is not in doubt but there are some conflicting theories about it’s safety. Wikipedia for example states that although microwave radiation in and of itself can be dangerous, when used properly these devices heat food quickly, efficiently, and safely. Key word SAFELY.

But I’ve also heard some horror stories about the microwave which left me wondering. Are we embracing technology blindly? Are we indeed benefiting from a few saved minutes and preservation of nutrients or are we slowly killing ourselves in the name of modern technology? It is said that the problem with microwaving is not really radiation. Manufactures have us thoroughly protected against that. The danger is that microwave cooking alters DNA in food thus making it unrecognizable to the body. The body then wraps it in fat cells or eliminates it fast. Could this be true?

Recently I received an E-mail with some scary account of what the Microwave can do to our bodies and overall health. And what mothers are doing to their babies by heating milk in it. There was also something about a nurse in Canada who warmed up blood for transfusion and the patient died as a direct result of receiving dead blood. Very uncomfortable thoughts especially if a microwave is sitting pretty in your kitchen. Or if you eat in restaurants most of which have microwaves ovens these days. The rest of the mail read like this:

Continually eating food processed from a microwave oven causes long term brain damage by shorting out electrical impulses in the brain.

The human body cannot metabolize the unknown by-products created in microwaved food.

Male and female hormone production is altered by continually eating microwave foods.

The effects of microwaved food byproducts are residual within the human body.

Minerals, vitamins and other nutrients of microwaved food is reduced or altered so that the human body gets little or no benefit, or the human body absorbs altered compounds that cannot be broken down.

The Minerals in vegetables are altered into cancerous free radicals when cooked in microwave ovens.

Microwaved foods cause stomach and intestinal cancerous growths. This may explain the rapidly increased rate of colon cancer in America and other parts of the world.

The prolonged eating of microwaved foods causes cancerous cells to increase in human blood.

Continual ingestion of microwaved food causes immune system deficiencies through lymph gland and blood serum alterations.

Eating microwaved food causes loss of memory, concentration, emotional instability and a decrease of intelligence.

So Wanjiku here is wondering, are these all baseless rumors from scaremongers or is there something there?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Mum I know you don’t blog but this is for you all the same.

I know I wailed the loudest when I was little. And that the terrible twos in my case were really a little more than terrible. I know that my teenage years had you in a permanent fret. I believe all these things served to bring us closer together. Through it all you were a great mum. The best mum. And here we are. We made it.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Completely Morally Upright Kijabe Mission Town. Is It Possible?

The story of Kijabe Mission Station as reported in the Standard this week reads like a Utopian dream. The town has very high moral standards dating back to colonial times when severe punishments were meted on anyone indulging in vices. There’s no loud music either from shops or matatus like is common in most other towns. Commotion and disorder are unheard of.

Shops in this place are not allowed to stock cigarettes and alcohol and any new investor has to sign a code of conduct prohibiting him from selling the same and any other immoral products. Any shop keeper found breaching these rules could earn himself an expulsion from the town but if he’s remorseful and apologizes, then he may be allowed to continue operating. This was easier to implement in the past than it is now because most shops were owned by church leaders anyway. The church now employs guards who go round and conduct inspections in shops in an attempt to uphold this rule. But generally these standards are getting more and more difficult to maintain especially with modern life, and employment of professionals from other areas.

Cohabiting, unwanted pregnancies and children born out of wed-lock are unacceptable. Of course they’re unacceptable everywhere but in Kijabe Mission Station it actually works. Men are not expected to laze around with young women – infact unmarried women are not allowed to be in the company of men after 7.00 pm. This must be difficult even though it’s a mission town and parents there must be a very happy lot.

Life in Kijabe Mission Station is not easy for the youth although it works out well for them in the long run. Many are known to take a sabbatical from their constraining hometown to go to other areas and indulge. Others go to colleges in other urban areas and have their big break but when they go back home they have to follow the rules again. Others sneak into the forest to indulge in a puff here and there. Or some other sins.

Now if only all urban centers could be like this place.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Still Waiting For Miracles?

You know those fake E-mails that promise miracles within 96 hours if you forward to a number of people? And the greater the number of people you send to the bigger the miracle? Our friend here got one many years ago. He’s still waiting for his miracle.

Now send this link to very many people or else………....

Obama - Are You Ready For This One?

I’ve tried and tried to understand the USA electioneering system but I always get lost somewhere in the Primaries, Caucuses and super Tuesdays. Ours here I understand a little bit too well. Stuff enough ballot boxes with khangas and lamps and there you have your ticket to parliament. And a ministerial post soon after.

I’ve since given up on the US system but at least I know the basics. Barack Obama is in the lead. And he took a major stride towards Democratic Party’s presidential nomination with a victory over Hillary Clinton in North Carolina - a big win for the Obama camp which has put him almost beyond Hillary’s reach. The good very forgiving lady will need a miracle to reach him now.

In my effort to understand the system further, I came across a candidate who could very well be the next president of the United States of America. Maybe just as much as Nazlin Omar could have been Kenya’s president. His name is Jonathon ‘The Impaler’ Sharkey and he’s a Satanic Dark Priest, Sanguinarian Vampyre and a Hecate Witch. As a self proclaimed Satanist, Jonathon will be vying for the US presidency under the Vampires, Witches and Pagans Party which he founded in 2005. The party is officially recognized by the United States Federal Election Committee. Under Jonathon’s leadership (if he wins), gay marriages will not only be allowed, but as an ordained priest he will devote time once or twice a month and conduct them himself at the White House. He has major beef with the likes of Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaida and although his preferred form of punishment for terrorists is to viciously impale them, he also has good plans to drop a bomb in the holy city of Mecca and level it to the ground.

This is not the first time Jonathon is vying for public office. He gave presidency a shot in 2004 and now again in 2008. He has also vied for congress in 3 states, New Jersey, Indiana and Florida. In 2006, he ran for Governor of Minnesota.

It’s difficult to write much about him without sounding like I’m campaigning for him but one last thing. Those who know about wrestling might know him by the name ‘Rocky Hurricane Flash’. He’s also a professional boxer. You may not want to but if you want to see him in his blood stained vampire website, you can check it out here.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Michael Jackson - Is The Thriller Still Thrilling?

Does this guy look familiar? The last time I heard of him someone was saying that his nose was falling off. I still see a nose there so that must have been a nasty rumour.

Michael Jackson has been accused of many bad things, most of which are true. But he has a few genuine problems as well. He may have bleached his face and had one too many surgeries but not all were deliberate. He was diagnosed with Lupus and Vitiligo in the early 80s, both of which make him sensitive to sunlight. The treatment he used for his Vitiligo further lightened his skin colour, making it necessary for him to use make up, which in turn makes him look even more bleached.

As for the surgeries, he did break his nose in 1979 during a dance routine. That was the beginning of his nose and face surgeries. After the first nose operation, he developed breathing problems and had to go back for a second one, and a third, and a fourth. The third and fourth I’m not sure they were as a result of breathing problems though. I think he had gotten hooked to the idea of restructuring himself by then. He has also had work done on his lips, cheekbones and forehead.

He has done lots of other weird things though. Doing bad things to little boys only he can explain.

Kenya Airways – How Safe Is The Pride Of Africa?

Kalonzo Musyoka – Drowning Already?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mombasa - Not Always A Clean Haven

For many people, the mental image of Mombasa is a place with cool hotels and sun kissed beaches. Well, we have plenty of those. And then some. Mombasa is a beautiful place to say the least.

But then we also have hovels for pubs. Like one I came face to face with a few weeks ago when the boys from the office offered to buy me lunch where they eat. We shall call it Club X. I’d heard of it so much and was eager to visit.

I did not exactly expect to be going to the Ritz Carlton but as soon as we got into the parking I was sure we had made a wrong turn. The half done un-kept structure could not possibly be the famous Club X! Something was not right. But curiously the parking lot was so full that even finding a spot was quite a task. All those people could not be wrong, I encouraged myself. Still I was skeptical about the cheap tables and plastic chairs.

Well, it turned out we were in the right place alright. And whoever designed Club X should be prosecuted in a court of law. The first thing we came across on our way to the sitting area was the washrooms and with them the unmistakable pungent stench of ammonia. Next the butchery with the grotesque carcasses hanging upside down with just about every inch covered with flies. Then the bar and finally the sitting area. To think that part of those carcasses would soon be on a plate near me!

By the time we identified a table and sat down, I was just about finished. But Club X was not done with me yet. The waitress delivered the knock out blow when she came to clean the table. Or rather to smear it with foul smelling diesel apparently to keep away the flies. It would have been easier on the soul if it worked but other than make us sit awkwardly with our hands to ourselves, it did not work on the flies. They were back attempting to land as soon as she was done wiping. No wonder all the patrons were waving their hands from side to side amid bites and sips. I unraveled that mystery when I found myself doing the same - they were chasing away the flies.

To make my life easier, I decided to concentrate my energies on looking for something positive about the place. There had to be. The place was so packed! Ok, the place was well stocked. It was not one of those places you visit and there is either no cold coke or no warm this and that. It seemed everything everyone ordered was there. And considering the way it was packed, the waiters were very efficient. That’s all. Unless maybe the free drinking water they provided in greasy sticky jugs was a point in their favour.

And the tap! Oh God the tap! There was no sink under the tap. Just a bucket to collect the dirty water as the patrons washed their hands. And some pieces of panga soap. Call me whatever but I could not touch it. I figured I was better off with the dirt from all the handshakes than with what I might collect from touching that tap. Hence I did not wash my hands. By the time the food hit the table, the plates piled on top of other plates, my appetite was mince. I managed to eat, but only the meat. Maybe because it came hot from the fire. Plus choma is always tasty. I was however unable to ignore some very unpleasant thoughts about the vegetable salad and so I did not touch it.

Using the washroom was one stunt I was not going to pull. Seems nose powdering ladies are not welcome here – just hardcore drunkards who believe that a bathroom is a bathroom is a bathroom. As for me, at the first sign of a bathroom break, I was out of the club like a bat out of hell feeling like a million amoebic dysentery causing pathogens were crawling all over me. I grew up preparing and sometimes eating my meals in a smoke filled kitchen back in the village, but it was not dirty.

I’ve obviously not been to the men’s washrooms but I got a candid description from someone who had. Let’s just say it’s not advisable to visit before eating – otherwise you won’t eat.

The Chinese Tourist Dollars – Is Kenya Prepared For Them?

Revival of the tourist industry is in top gear after the blow the sector received from the post election violence that hit the country at the beginning of the year. It seems any paying tourist will do. Kalonzo Musyoka recently tried to woo the tourists from China, and with good reason. With a population of over 1.3 billion people, the Chinese tourist market could be very lucrative. Hitting it may mean hitting some big money. But a few home truths about our future guests is in order especially for hotel operators. It will go a long way in psychologically preparing for them the day they finally arrive.

The Chinese have a unique approach to hygiene, etiquette, and other social graces. A contingent of Chinese guests will bring with it manners never before witnessed in our usually quiet tourist hotels. First of all they travel in large tour package groups. A large group of rude pushy bumpkins can be intimidating even to the most seasoned tour operators and hotel staff. With little regard for such graces as queues, it’s near pandemonium when they descend at the hotel lobby or other business premises like curio shops, all talking loudly at the same time and pointing fingers at attendants.

Loud chattering aside, polishing their shoes with hotel towels and bed linen is not too big a deal to these people. Neither is spitting in hotel rooms and leaving the toilets un-flushed. They’re certainly not thieves but sometimes they feel entitled to take souvenirs like pillows out of the hotel room when they leave. And you know that feeling you get when you try to walk on a perfectly manicured flower bed? That it’s not right? They feel no such thing and will comfortably walk anywhere, all the while spitting on anything and everything. The real bad cases will not hesitate to hock up some disgusting loogey and spit it in the hotel lobby or on the pavements. Mercifully this breed is not too common. At least not as common as the regular spitters – not that the regulars are any pleasant either.

It is said that the Chinese tourist packs enough instant noodles and dried fruits to last their whole stay. The only thing they will ever require from the hotel in terms of feeding is hot water in which to soak their meals. And you can’t charge guests for water now can you? So hotels don’t count on the thousands of shillings you make from the strange names on your menu. Just bed occupancy. But they will visit the dining room occasionally and display their characteristic slurping around of food. Don’t be surprised if they come in there in their pyjamas. Or stripped to the waist.

And you may not want to admonish them for all these. Irk them enough and they could stage a noisy sit in at the hotel lobby and belt out their national anthem. That’s the Chinese tourist for you.

China knows about this dubious reputation and they’re not taking it lying down. They have tried running campaigns to educate the population in etiquette and good public manners via state run news agency Xinhua. With a population as huge as they have, it may take some time for the results of this campaign to be seen.