Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Case Of The Overweight Policeman

Within a few years on the job, some of the young perfectly toned and chiseled police men and women who leave Kiganjo turn into very unfit individuals who have trouble even getting out of their cars. This sad situation makes you wonder why they’re scrutinized so much for fitness before joining the forces only to pile on the pounds afterwards.

While how much weight one maintains is personal business, cops, as a matter of job description should not have the freedom to carry around weight that can stop or prevent them in any way from dispensing their duties. There’s a reason why they’re hired very fit and should be expected to work that way. Let’s face it; a downright obese cop is a problem as far as fighting crime is concerned. With an overflowing midriff, they’re unable to outrun agile, fit-as-a-fiddle miscreants some of whom are as young as 14 years of age. And what good is a cop who cannot run after criminals? Plus there is genuine concern that if a cop is unable to run after a suspect, he may be tempted to shoot. This however does not necessarily apply to our local cops who will shoot regardless.

Overweight policemen have over the years become a concern for most forces around the world and some countries have taken or are taking measures to keep the thin blue line actually thin. Different countries have used different mechanisms in the past. As recently as January this year Taiwan's National Police Administration launched a Police Run Club to help their cops drop the pounds. At the launch of the police weight loss program, dozens of running cops were led by none other than blind Kenyan runner Henry Wanyoike. Bangkok Metropolitan Police has embarked on a similar project in the past where the cops were put on a healthy diet and exercise. Mexico is considering giving their cops financial incentives of around $9.00 per every kilo lost. Cases abound where cops have opted or have been forced into doing desk work other than be in the streets because clearly they cannot run after thieves without the risk of collapsing. Like in Romania, overweight cops are given desk jobs or any other work that does not involve street patrol because they're seen to damage the image of the forces.

But it’s easier said. Excess weight is a difficult problem to tackle because it’s neither criminal nor disciplinary. And it’s tricky to discuss without appearing to cast aspersions at the person. Calling on a person to lose weight for for whatever purposes let alone official can elicit a lot of raw emotions and maybe even human rights issues. Nobody is asking for police departments full of Arnold Schwarzeneggers but if the problem gets bigger, something definitely needs to be done. Life is hard enough for our cops without being asked to maintain that svelte figure but one should make the effort to ensure they’re not a liability to their employers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Eric Moyo Of Zimbabwe Wins Idols East Africa 2008

It’s finally over.

After the final face off between Eric Moyo and Nichollete Kiiga, Zimbabwe has something to celebrate after their son Eric Moyo won Idols East Africa 2008 in a 90 minute finale at the Bomas of Kenya. Eric is a brilliant singer who most certainly deserved the US$80,000 and the Sony BMG recording contract. He got himself, the judges and his mother all teary eyed with Michael Bolton’s ‘When a man loves a woman’. No blushes for Angie this time. All the attention was for mum and the audience. ‘This is my everything’ which BMG composed for him was just not Eric at all and other than the words, the melody and the flow of the song did not match the magnitude of the moment. And it did not sound any better the second time round after he was declared winner. BMG could have done better.

Nicholette was quite the sweet and soothing songbird especially in her first performance although that is not to say the others were not good. After performing the BMG composition ‘Goodbye Baby’, the judges thought that she sounded very appropriate doing an original. Let’s hope that’s a sign of things to come.

It was good to see the top 10 back on stage although these group performances never quite work. Of all other duets somebody picked a Whitney Houston song for the great pair that was Eric and Nicho. Worse still the West African Idols picked Alicia Keys which the other Eric performed in dark sunglasses. That was painful to watch. Other than that, the solo by Omawumi was really cool. The girl is quite a performer too.

Identity did a good job in dressing the Idols.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Google - Too Many Errors.

This and many more errors have become a staple with Google which is really acting up of late. Not all the time of course but for those who use it daily, it’s occasional bad moods become very noticeable. And it’s the whole network. Temporary errors on Gmail, Gtalk, and Adsense, and article/comment publishing are becoming all too common. The one in the picture is as straight forward as they come but if you’re not lucky you’re confronted by a whole page of techno babble when trying to publish.

Few things in blogging are as frustrating as not being able to post articles and comments when you want to. But maybe the most annoying of them is when you write a comment and try to publish only for it to disappear into thin air. Just like that. And blogger says ‘done’. Done what? Where is my comment? And then you’ll have to go back to the post and open the comment window afresh. Woe unto you if you had not copied the comment elsewhere like in Microsoft Word - in which case you’ll have to retype it.

Some people have said it’s a question of poor internet connections but I beg to differ. Does poor internet connection only come to play when it comes to google? Does Africa Online and Access Kenya for example fall under poor? Plus how can you explain a scenario where there are several people sharing the same internet connection on a network and only one or two get these errors at any one time?

Something strange happened on this blog last week. ‘CIS vs Kenyan Law – Who Will Nail The Culprits’ was posted by HLumiti on July 16th with proper paragraph formatting. Then on July 21st it suddenly changed formatting and the whole article became one huge paragraph. How does an article change formatting when it’s already live for 4 days? Of course it can always be edited back although the whole 500 plus words article gets blown to what must be font size 20 in the edit window. It’s good Google are hosting our blogs, mail and all but can they also be flawless in the process? After all they’re Google no?

Maybe there are still a few things I’m yet to figure out about blogger. Any experts out there? Your word will be highly appreciated.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Down Memory Lane - How Were Your School Years?

300 hundred Kenyan schools have gone on the rampage in the last one month! And the reasons they’re giving for burning their schools and in some cases killing and injuring their own makes you want to weep. Bad food, power outages, difficult exams, inadequate entertainment, use of mobile phones, DVD, Music systems, unlimited visits to girls’ schools etc etc. Others want their boarding schools converted into day schools. What are our youngsters up to?

I don’t know much about the conditions in schools currently but I don’t think they’re any tougher than those of yesteryears. I’m not by any chance suggesting that modern kids should be put through what we went through but it’s no harm to go down memory lane. I remember we used to celebrate blackouts because we got a chance to break the monotony of evening preps. Our food was not any chef’s pride. It was maize and beans, sima and cabbage, rice and cabbage and then more maize and beans. Sometimes there was the distinct taste of paraffin in our food. Rumour had it that it was added deliberately to curb sexual urges – God only knows sexual urges for whom. It was a girls only school and we were confined in there for 3 months with no half term. There was no homosexuality. Besides, back then high school age was still too young.

Despite the watchful eyes of Italian Nuns, we were naughty like any other teenagers. But other than making noise and laughing in class, the most truant we ever got was stealing bananas and avocadoes in the school farm on weekend nights. Never mind that mother dorm would always find them in our mabati boxes - when the bananas started ripening, she would smell her way to the culprit box in minutes. Never mind too that the said fruits were officially for student’s consumption anyway and were served every few days in the dining room. Punishment, depending on the crime, could be anything from strokes of the cane to uprooting a tree. Or kneeling on gravel for hours with hands raised up. Strokes of the cane were regardless of chilblains (Purple fingers) which were the order of the day. The area was so cold that water sometimes froze in the taps.

As far as entertainment went, every Saturday night from 8-10 pm, anyone who wanted to be entertained would gather in the dining hall and dance to music of mother dorm’s choice. At 60 years of age, she was the official school DJ. She loved ‘Night Shift’ and ‘Chosen Few’ to bits. Either that or those were the only santuri’s the school provided. There was also television on the opposite end of the hall where we could watch habari and current affairs programs on KBC. Dunia wiki hii or something like that. Television was only switched on on Saturdays. Wednesday mornings we gathered in the dining hall and belted out songs from Golden Bells.

Still back then, strikes, though not entirely unheard of were rare. Nobody died and no dormitories were burnt. Older boys grew up rearing rabbits and feeding cows. The modern Brayoos and Stanoos are growing up on a diet of chicken and rice and other such goodies? Television, play station and the internet? Mobile phones and discos? Well, some of them may have but not all. Unfortunately many innocent parents, some of whom can barely afford the school fees will be forced to pay for damage caused by their sons. And that is just after they bail out their sons who have been charged with murder and arson.

The blame game is now in top gear, poor parenting being the major one. Parents are too busy scaling the corporate ladder to know how their children are growing up. Some are mostly drunk and their kids are learning that it’s actually ok to abuse alcohol. Media influence has not escaped the blame either. Television has become the official baby sitter in many homes and kids are growing up on a visual diet of violence and hard core movies. Sexually explicit music videos on Channel O have replaced nursery rhymes and lullabies. Some have even blamed our current politics. Kids have learnt the beauty of impunity. They feel they can get away with anything.

Bottom line I think it’s the general rot in society that is manifesting in the kids.

Related Post: Susan Akinyi's Sad Story

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shock As Trina Leaves Idols

Surprise surprise Trina has just been voted out of Idols East Africa! Now the final two are Eric and Nichollete.

It's difficult to understand what Africa is voting for because Trina is obviously a better singer than Nichollete. Maybe sweet personality and composure which Nichollete has plenty of.

Now nobody, not even Eric is safe. Infact I now believe he's in trouble and Nichollete may very well win. The way things are going, he might even be voted out for his hair style. Reminds me of TPF1 when Alvan was obviously a better singer and yet the final result came as a shock when Linda was declared winner.

As Kirima says, 'Eric fans also need to watch out for complacency as well and vote vote vote!

Idols East Africa - Top Three

After lots of good food, chauffeuring and pampering from World Earth Day Spa, the contestants were feeling and looking like stars.

Nichollete Kiiga:

Nichollete kicked off the show rather flatly with ‘Any Time’ by Kelly Clarkson whom she seems to like so much. Given that it was her own song choice, Nichollete could have chosen something she could handle better. After all she knows her voice well by now. It was evident she was struggling through the song but TK and Angela Angwenyi decided to sugar coat their comments anyway. The only one who told her the truth about the struggling was Scar.

Her second song ‘The Way You Love Me’ by Faith Hill, which was picked by the viewers was not a good performance either. She decided to sit through it all, which would have been ok if she sang well but she did not. Scar reminded her that this was the Top 3 and she needed to get out of her shell. I think it’s too late. She’ll most likely get voted out tonight so if there’s any getting out of the shell, it’ll be later when she’s a performing artist.

Song number 3 for Nichollete was ‘Save The Best for Last’ by Vanessa Williams. She looked angelic in white and this in my opinion was her best performance among her three songs. But she lost the song somewhere along the way. And it was still not top three material.

Trina Chisanga:

Even before Trina started performing Aretha Franklin’s ‘Natural Woman’, I thought that was a clever song choice and I knew she would nail it. It sounded like just the perfect song for her voice which Angela accurately described as raspy and sexy. Maybe that’s why an Aretha Franklin song seemed the perfect song for her to do. I wish I could say the same about the second song chosen for her by the fans though – ‘Put Your Records On’ by Corinne Bailey. Fans actually chose that song? Considering the large fan base, I’d expect something more widely known. The performance was rather flat and the judges struggled to give glowing comments. Angie was into the green shoes. TK shouted something I can’t quite recall. Scar as usual said the truth. It was not as good as the previous performance.

Song number three, picked for Trina by the judges was a powerful song for the right girl at the right stage of the competition. Performing ‘I Believe’ by Fantasia, Trina was pretty much like Fantasia on the night she performed it after winning American Idols – complete with the emotions and tears. Last night I even thought for a fleeting moment that Trina looked a little like Fantasia. The Fantasia of them days not the current one. The power of the song combined with the power of Trina’s vocals and the magnitude of being in the top three all ensured a true winning performance.

Eric Moyo:

Eric Moyo is a crazy one. The good kind of crazy. You’ve got to hand it to him for the sheer boldness and daring, taking on the Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’. Who takes on MJ by choice? Eric Moyo. He’s a natural entertainer and a risk taker. Even the flu he’s said to have had for most of the week did not seem to slow him down. He sang ‘Kiss From A Rose’ equally well with not a note out of place. My loyalties are back with him. I don’t even know what I was thinking straying to Nichollete who will most likely leave today. He closed the show with the judges’ pick - Elton John’s ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go down on Me’. Good song choice good performance. So he was the best performer and the best dressed contestant. That’s what spending time in the Jacuzzi with two beautiful women can do to a guy. So says Scar.

I read some allegations somewhere to the effect that during the week of Amarra Brown’s eviction, the producers deliberately blocked her voting lines. If this is true, then that could explain a lot. But why would they want to do that?

PS: So if Eric wins the US$80,000/- how much is that in Zim dollars? He had better start doing the math now. That calculation is huge and could easily take a week to complete.

Related Post: Michael Jackson - Is The Thriller Still Thrilling?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Genetically Modified Foods - The Good The Bad And TheUgly

The East African Standard can now reveal that mysterious seeds whose sale is being monitored by secret agents are being sold in Kenya.

This is scary but hardly surprising. Like a lot of other desirables and undesirables from the west, Genetically Engineered Foods are finding their way into African Markets and African Governments and the people as a whole are being urged to embrace the technology. Biotech companies are selling the idea of GM foods as the savior of the world in the wake of population explosion, droughts and severe food shortages. Super crops with enhanced nutritional value and resistance to pesticides and drought. Super seeds that produce higher yields thus ensuring higher financial returns. Super seeds with bug and weed killing capabilities so that farmers spend less time spraying and manually extracting weeds. Just what the doctor ordered for Africa which suffers the most severe food shortages.

GM food companies don’t come any bigger or any more sinister than Monsanto – a US Agricultural giant and world leader in genetic modification of seeds. Monsanto is spreading it’s tentacles all over the world, Kenya included, and radically altering agricultural practices as we know them. The company is known for some bone chilling practices and the characteristic vice-grip they have on the farmers they deal with. It’s no wonder that their agents are profiling and secretly storing personal data of unsuspecting farmers who buy seeds from them. If their activities in the US are anything to go by, we may soon have a scenario where local farmers are slapped with lawsuits or penalties for breaking this big brother’s rules. Perhaps Monsanto’s most controversial contribution as far as agriculture is concerned is the terminator gene – a gene engineered to make plants kill their seeds so that farmers have to purchase new seeds every time they want to plant.

Chances are we have all eaten generically modified foods either knowingly or unknowingly because a lot of times it’s challenging to separate engineered and non-engineered foods. For instance, Nakumatt and other leading stores are awash with products like soya beans, soya mince, soya chunks, and powdered beverage soya among others. Some of these products are imported from the US which is one of the biggest producers of Soya beans. So if the beans from different areas are pooled together for processing and packaging, how then can we, the consumers isolate the un-engineered version? To the layman, the foods look identical and can only be told apart through laboratory analysis. Do our stores and supermarkets have the capacity to sort, isolate and label GM foods so that consumers can only eat them by choice? And are consumers sensitized enough to read labels in the first place? It’s only fair that we know what we’re eating. Soya is just an example and one can avoid it. But what about foods like maize and it's products?

As much as science is getting braver and braver, it needs to know how far is too far. It is one thing to clone a sheep but quite another to make unsuspecting consumers eat foods whose effects on human health have not been fully established. Otherwise the cost on human health could turn out to be something the world is not prepared to deal with.

Someone may soon have absolute control over what you put on your plate.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

CSI vs Kenya Law - Who Will Nail the Rapists

In a previous post here, I mentioned the availability in Kenya now of rapid DNA testing capabilities, courtesy of an independent forensic outfit that has recently set up shop, the CSI Nairobi. While welcoming this top end technology in our arsenal of tools to unravel and speed up forensic cases, I also expressed a little skepticism over whether the guardians of our outdated laws would be inclined to accept this, now widely practiced, technology. And true to form, the ancient sloth that bestrides our legal corridors has not disappointed.

CSI Nairobi says they have spent most of the last two months shuttling from one government office to another trying to convince the powers that be to accept results of DNA profiling that they have conducted. This is watertight evidence that will help nab and convict without a doubt the perpetrators of various crimes. They are currently holding many such results pertaining to the murderous post election violence that included gang rape and other forms of physical brutality. But as the Kenyan law now stands, it cannot be adduced in court because CSI Nairobi is not a designated government analyst. Their high tech evidence can actually be dismissed as hearsay... or as our lawyers like to dismiss it, mama mboga evidence! By Kenyan law, the only forensic experts recognized in court are to be found at the Government Chemist’s department. And even then, they have to be gazetted officers. To be gazetted, one would first have to be in the employ of the Government Chemist, undergo several years’ training and then gather several years in experience as a senior analyst.

Of course this now means that to indulge the ingenious good people of CSI Nairobi, the laws may have to be changed. But by whom and when? Our serious looking Director of Public Prosecutions who should be bothered by the increasing number of pending cases in these matters is apparently engaged in more serious matters of the state. Like chasing one Okoiti Omtata around town with countless charges of, among other things, attempting to commit suicide at Police Headquarters. The best he could do for CSI Kenya was to ask them to take their results “to the CID and Government Chemist for verification and accreditation”. The very same agencies that have no capacity to conduct these analyses! The CID would be verifying DNA profiles against what? Finger print records? And by what statute would the Government Chemist be accrediting anyone when he/she has no such powers anyway? Was the DPP just flexing muscles by tossing around hawa vijana tu or could it be that he does not really appreciate just how much law he’s purporting to serve is senselessly convoluted?

Bwana DPP also reminded the CSI that the Attorney-General had set up a task force to look into the ‘operationalisation’ of the Sexual Offences Act (of 2003). Yes, 2003! And still waiting. Gender activists might want to note that the said task force is/was chaired by Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch. And that the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs under whose docket the law reforms program falls is one Martha Karua.

It is hard to tell what it is that the authorities are doing sitting on such a law even though the comforts of high office may obviously be preventing them from empathizing with the trauma and suffering of many civilians. Assuming that the said Act will in fact give way to the likes of CSI Nairobi being incorporated in the fight against these crimes, one is at a loss to figure out just what it takes to ‘operationalise’ this law. And given the daily revelations of the shady goings-on in the corridors of power, one would be tempted to think that schemes are being put in place to ‘eat’ from the operationalisation process. I wouldn’t put it past these folks, never mind their professed learned brotherhood.

I suspect that the simple truth is that government functionaries are in a state of utter confusion and apathy with no one in particular tasked to work on any specific tool or event related to the law(s). The top brass in the bloated executive are engaged in foolish grand posturing while their charges pass the buck and continue to serve faithfully at the pleasure of the President.

Meanwhile, thousands are crying out for justice and the CSI resources that may just alleviate their suffering could end up lying idle. Isn’t the law an ass?

Related articles;

So You Have Won Kshs.100,000/- Plus Nokia 6230i?

Yesterday 15th July I received a message from Telephone Number +255764848389 that read like this: You have won Kshs.100,000/- plus Nokia 6230i. Call us on 0729-999999 or 0728-540841 That was such a coincidence because just the previous night I had watched a shocking confession from an inmate who claimed that he had made Kshs.12Million, bought a 32 acre piece of land and 3 matatus all with proceeds from the above SMS con game.

When I received the message, I knew it was one of those but I decided to call the number provided just for the kicks. The guy said that he was at the Safaricom Headquarters and that I had indeed won the said prizes. I asked him what I had done to win since I had not taken part in any Safaricom contest and he said that my phone number had just been picked at random by their computers. I had quite a number of questions for the conman – what a nice way to satisfy my curiosity and have a good laugh while at it. We actually conversed for about 2 minutes. It went something like this – in Swahili though:

  • What have I done to win this money and phone? You don’t have to have done anything. Your number was picked at random by our computers.
  • Is Safaricom running a secret contest or do their systems just periodically pick on lucky numbers? You’re just lucky that your number has been picked.
  • Are you aware of the prisons con game that is under investigation? Yes but this is different. I’m calling from Safaricom headquarters.
  • How come you’re using a different number from the one used by Safaricom to notify it’s winners? Sometimes Safaricom assigns different numbers for different purposes.
  • How come the initial message came from a Tanzanian number? Safaricom headquarters can use any number within the roaming area.
  • When you win something from Safaricom or any other company, do they really ask you to call them or are they the ones who call you? They get in touch with you.
  • So what do you want now? I send you Kshs.2000/- worth of airtime? No just give me your full name and ID number so I can send you your prize money and the Nokia.

By this time he sounded like he was beginning to get worked up. Me I was having some dangerous fun although I started getting scared at some point. What if these are actually the police doing investigations? What if he’s able to trace my number like in the movies? What if my number is now a marked one? Anyway, when he asked for my full names and ID number I was done with the freak and disconnected the call.

Seriously our prisons are fast becoming money making institutions. It seems being locked up does not make a difference to these criminals as far as getting rich is concerned. Even at the height of investigations into the cell phones saga, and despite the nabbing of over 350 cell phones and assorted SIM cards by police the game is still going on.

Can the prison authorities explain how so many cell phones land in the cells in maximum security prisons?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Idols East Africa - Eric Moyo, Adiona Maboreke, Trina Chisanga and Nicholette Kiiga

This time my girl is Nichollete. Although Amarra’s departure was a shock, it’s just as well Nichollete stayed after all. This week song choice was up to the producers and her first performance was ‘Do you know where you’re going to’ by Diana Ross. It turned out to be the best song choice for her. The thing is, at just the right pitch Nichollete’s voice sounds almost angelic and very well controlled. It is when she hits the lower notes that things don’t seem to work well for her. If she chooses her next songs carefully and with this in mind, that pleasant aspect of her voice along with her sweet personality might give us all a shock. Including Eric and Trina both of whom seem to believe they’re home dry already. I agree completely with Kawesa this time. Nichollete’s performance was like a soft massage to the soul.

If it matters at all, her wardrobe was also quite a smash. She looked the angelic part in that white top while she was doing her first song and then she wowed us all with a shimmering metallic silver dress reminiscent of Leona Lewis in ‘Bleeding love’. Now compare that to Trina’s military trousers and dungarees. I respect Trina’s taste but girl! Military pants? Anyway’ it’s not a fashion show so let’s get down to her music. I honestly think Trina gets overrated sometimes. Sure she can sing but so can all the other finalists. This week especially was tough for everyone and Trina was no exception. She seemed to struggle with Mary Mary and Christina Aguirela’s songs. Idols East Africa is known for shocks and aftershocks and she better watch out. Just ask Amarra. And she has written off Nichollete and Adiona already. Asked whom she thought were the best Idols, she counted herself, Eric and Amarra. That interview was of course before the Amarra eviction shocker.

My guy Eric whose Afro hairstyle is getting bigger and morphing into dreads performed ‘All Night Long’ by Lionel Richie. In my opinion that was the perfect song choice for him and he did not disappoint. Second choice ‘End of the road’ by Boys to Men was just the right song for him to ooze his characteristic romance on stage. He delivered alright but I must say his theatrics were a bit annoying this time. Surely the audience will forgive him if he does not involve them just once? He’s still in the contestant stage and not yet a performing artist. He sure has the strongest of voices although the backup provided at bomas was not doing him any favours. It was masking his singing rather than complementing it. So much for third world sound systems.

Adiona seems to be always floating along somewhere but I don’t know how long her luck can run. She may have taken over the role of Houdini from Cynthia Kuto. She dared a Celine Dion song for the first performance and gave it a not too bad try. And producers, how could you choose Rihanna’s Umbrella for someone? If she leaves this week you take part of the blame for selling her out surely! Even the judges had a rough time praising her after Umbrella. Everybody two finger in the air??! That was a complete no no. But she looked hot in both her outfits.

I’m hoping one of these days before the show ends someone will sing Listen by Beyonce.

Where Are Our Movies Project Nollywood?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Of Ugly Beauty And Dying Models

We’ve all seen them. Beauties strutting their stuff on high-end international catwalks. Models are considered the cream of society as far as beauty goes. They seem to lead this glamorous life which sucks young girls into the modeling world in droves every year. For those who make it, there is immense wealth and a glamorous lifestyle working with top designers and jet-setting from city to city. The allure of modeling gowns worth thousands of dollars which could then very easily land in Halle Berry’s or Catherine Zeta Jone’s body is too much for them to resist. That is the beautiful. Now the ugly.

Most models are spotted by hawkeyed model scouts at a very tender age. In the past there were mothers sending children as young as 12 to the modeling world, or to the wolves if truth be told. The message to these young girls is simple. Loose weight and you’ll join this glamorous exiting world where you’ll make lots of money. Surviving on a diet of lettuce, diet coke and laxatives for months never won anyone anything. But in the modeling world it could win you lucrative contracts with major fashion houses that need human hangers with the least amount of flesh possible.

It is this pressure to lose weight that gives rise to dangerous eating disorders, malnutrition and even death which can directly be linked to prolonged poor eating habits. The lengths to which some girls will go to for that super svelte body are bizarre. And still the agencies want them thinner. The pressure is viewed as a small price to pay for the lucrative deals that skinnier models get. Small price? When you get so thin your boobs disappear? When you look so pale, gaunt and run down? When there is the possibility of dying of malnutrition like those two model sisters who died from extreme diets? I don’t think so. I think real beauty is in natural curves.

Hollywood has not been spared the weight loss madness either, although not to the extent of models. There have been rumours that Nicole Richie once held a party and dictated beforehand that guests beyond a certain weight would not be allowed in. It is said she had a scale at the door! I wouldn’t have a hard time believing that. Last I saw her picture she looked rather malnourished herself. And Beyonce has been known to at one time cut 11/2 stone in a fortnight of drinking diluted maple syrup. The mere mention by a celebrity that she’s on a certain diet is enough to send thousands on girls clamouring for the same.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Over the last few years, with protests from governments and women rights crusaders, the fashion world began to see the creepiness of the demands they had been making on the girls. Major modeling agencies and advertising networks are now refusing to use waif-like models and those under the age of 16. Some are requiring models to produce medical certificates of health before they can get contracts. Some like the Melbourne Fashion Week even employ nutritional experts to monitor the health of the models. There are success stories of models who have come back from the thin world in good time and still continue being successful.

Luckily, locally we do not have these extreme problems. Or do we?

See Also: Magical Kenya.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Big Shots Tumbling Down

Good things are happening in Kenya of late. In complete departure from the past, ministers are resigning and getting fired and big shots are being hauled to court all due to public pressure. This is something that Kenyans could only dream of just a few years ago when the country seemed to have it’s owners. There’s still a lot more to be done but I believe we’re off to a good start seeing that Parliament can disown one of their own who is suspected of shady deals. We cannot say with certainty that we know who did what because most documents are gathering dust somewhere marked 'classified'. But bottom line is that bold action was taken by our parliamentarians in their capacity as the public watchdog and hopefully this will make other leaders think twice before engaging in shady deals in future.

I do not think Kimunya can sell such a landmark hotel like Grand Regency alone and my hope is that other big and small figures who might have participated even in the least way will come tumbling down soon. That’s the new Kenya. The next thing we’ll be seeing these hitherto untouchables in King’ong’o or Kamiti as guests of the state, having been prosecuted in a court of law and found to be guilty of a crime. We’ll crash impunity one law suit after the other. Every little step counts.

Recent happenings on the political scene have really sharpened the Kenyan people’s antennae. Young people in the past assumed that politics is uncool and for the elderly. Not any more. Thanks to civil education and campaigns targeting them, they have since realized that what happens in political circles has a direct effect on the destiny of their beloved country. They’re now putting decision makers to task and even vying for political office. That’s another step forward.

We cannot put every misfortune that strikes us down to bad political leadership but a lot could have been avoided with strong policies and good leadership. For example thousands of lives are going to waste in villages because one the hospitals are very few and far apart, two there are no roads to get there and three even when they eventually get to hospitals they’re poorly equipped anyway. All this is compounded by grinding poverty which with good leadership could not have been as bad as it is now. That is just one instance. There are many more like poor Agricultural management, poor land policies, etc etc.

Political figures aside, we’re also witnessing the hauling to court of hitherto untouchable rich men. It’s never good manners to laugh at someone else’s misfortune but I rather liked the idea of a forlorn looking Chris Kirubi in court a few weeks back. Makes you wonder just what some of these guys want. Is Kirubi not already super rich? With different streams that will keep the cash flowing his way for God knows how long? Why then would he tarnish his reputation for what must be loose change to him? For some of these people you get the impression that they’re challenging fate. They’ve made it in life, they bored and the next option is to get mischievous. After all mtadoo? Now they’re getting to know what we will do.

I’m loving this!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Idols East Africa - The Home Stretch

This time around, with just 5 contestants left, idol performances came in double as each of them had to perform 2 songs from their favorite musician. Evidently the African theme was not going to last long. With contestants performing songs from American Idol winners like Jordin Sparks and Kelly Clarkson, I could not help comparing Bomas of Kenya with the Kodak and Nokia theatres. Just for the fun of it.

Nicollete Kiiga opened the show with a poor performance of Vanessa Amorosi’s ‘Absolutely everybody’. This must be the weakest starting since top 10 began. Her second song, ‘A moment like this’ by Kelly Clarkson was not that good either. In short Nichollete’s performances were both dismal and she’s most likely the next one to go.

Amarra’s ‘Falling’ by Alicia Keys was a complete knockout with not a note out of place. Congratulations to her considering that Alicia Keys songs are not the easiest to do. But on her second performance doing a song by Christina Aguirela, one could catch the unpleasant side of her high notes. There was something like screaming there alright. I don’t know whether that’s what Angela was calling Maria Carey notes some time back. But all in all her singing was spectacular as always.

I’ve almost no doubt now that Eric Moyo will win the competition. Much as he has refused to give up his theatrics, he has perfected the art of blending them into his singing without missing a beat. He did a great job singing ‘Over my shoulder’ by Mike and the Mechanics, but it was in the second performance that he injected raw romance into his song and made Angela blush some more. He sang the beginning of Michael Bolton’s ‘When a man loves a woman’ directly to Angie, then picked a lady from the audience and serenaded her with the rest of the song. All this without disrupting his singing. He got a standing ovation from Angela as expected. His afro is getting bigger and bigger and it is said that young men are now refusing to shave their hair. Way to go Eric.

Trina proved herself once again by being different and daring with a Natasha Bedingfield song. When she started the song I didn’t think she’d pull it off. But this queen of versatility did more than pull it off. She gave a spectacular show. Unfortunately Whitney Houston’s ‘On my own’ did not come out well enough. Trina’s lower register was too deep and hence the transition to high was not that smooth. But that notwithstanding the girl is top 3 material.

Adiona seems to really have morphed for the better musically but this being the top 5 she’s still not doing enough. She chose Christina Aguirela and Jordin Sparks. Personally I thought she ended the show as poorly as Nicollete had started it but the judges heaped praise on her so obviously they thought different. Other than musically she made the guys in the room drool with her provocative outfit, including judges TK and Scar.

Speaking of outfits, Angela has resorted to turbans and she looks beautiful as ever in them. But with the white one she could pass for a member of a certain local religions sect, ie if she didn’t have the make up on.

All said and done Eric was the performer of the night. The way I see it so far, they will leave in this order: Nicolette Kiiga, Adiona Maboreke, Amarra Brown, Trina Chisanga, Winner Eric Moyo – although there'll be competition for second place between Amarra and Trina.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Oregon Man Gives Birth To Baby Girl

34 year old Thomas Beatie is the proud father of a baby girl. Nothing unusual about that except Thomas is the one who carried the pregnancy. He gave birth in a hospital in Oregon USA. Thomas said in a past interview that it felt incredible to be a pregnant man.

So is Thomas a man or a confused woman? Or a man in a woman’s body? Or a bearded woman? Or a marvel of medical Frankenstein? Is he the proud father or proud mother? He’s is a transgender. He was born female (Tracy Lagondino) but underwent a gender switch surgery and testosterone therapy to become Thomas Beatie who is now legally recognized as male. He decided to keep the female reproductive organs even as the breasts were surgically removed. You can see the breast removal scars from the picture.

Bettie says wanting a biological child is neither a male nor a female desire but a human one. Nancy, his wife of 10 years was unable to conceive because of a hysterectomy she had had after an illness. And who wants a surrogate when he’s perfectly capable of carrying his own child? Thomas and Nancy agreed that he was the one to carry the baby. He stopped taking his twice a week testosterone injections and used a sperm donor to get pregnant using a home insemination kit. No fertility clinic could touch him. According to the Times Online, this is not the first time Thomas has attempted insemination. His first attempt resulted in a life threatening ectopic pregnancy that had to be surgically aborted. He thus lost all three embryos. This time round the couple is lucky though.

I try not to judge anyone. I really have no problem with what people do behind closed doors. Whatever one is, transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual I just have no problem. It is when kids begin to say ‘my dad is my mom’ that I worry. Or when wives begin to say ‘my husband is the mother of my baby’. That is weird science if you ask me. But Thomas says their family will be a normal one. He’ll be the baby’s father and Nancy will be the mother – like any other happy family.

There’s concern that the unfortunate child is psychologically screwed from age zero and might grow up to have severe emotional problems. But who is to say? There are children being raised by drug addict mums and dads out there and of course there are lots of other misbehaving parents. The question is who should throw the first stone? The couple has their fans who include Nancy’s older daughters who believe their parents are role models. Thomas is not the first transgender to give birth. There’s another story here.

Big words we’re hearing here. Home insemination kit. So now you can get pregnant at home. Yeah of course you can but on your own? Without a guy?

See also: KBC, KTN and NTV Plodding Along

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Entrecard - A Sure Winner For Blog Traffic

If you do not have an Entrecard Widget on your blog then you’re missing out on lots of blogosphere goodies. Most bloggers have been through a scenario where you visit a blog, love the content, wrack your brains for a comment but none is forthcoming. But still you want the blog owner to know that you paid them a visit. Personally I’ve found myself wishing there is some sort of stamp I can use to say “I was here’. In such a case Entrecard gives you a distinct advantage. The concept is pretty much like a business card which you drop on other member’s blogs when you visit. For visiting other blogs and letting then advertise on yours, entrecard rewards you with credits which you can then use to advertise your blog on other blogs. Got the drift?

The beauty of Entrecard is that it’s free and there’s nothing mysterious or technical about it. You can clearly see how it works. So register today. Roam around blogosphere discovering great blogs and dropping your card as you move along. In all likelihood, the bloggers on whom you drop your card will follow it to your blog and drop theirs. That way you create a network of bloggers, give your blog exposure, generating traffic, and have lots of fun while at it. You also get to discover many wonderful and fun blogs which you’d probably never have chanced upon.

I learnt about Entrecard from my blogthren Nairobian Perspective and registered immediately. I have since witnessed a significant increase in my blog traffic and it’s going up gradually. Not in the thousands but I’m getting there one day. Thanks Nairobian. As one member from Asia says, ‘One of my visitor left comment about trying Entrecard and getting about 200 - 300 visits per day. That moment changed my blog visits to 3 figure visits’.

Among all the snazzy HTML additions out there, Entercard is one sure winner. Take time to read their free PDF E-Book to understand the concept better.

Happy blogging.

See Also:

Where are our movies, Project Nollywood?

Life Online - One Girl's Experience