Friday, June 26, 2009

To Veil Or Not To Veil.

Picture From Yahoo News.

France is concerned about the increase in the number of women wearing the Burqa within its borders. It seems a showdown is looming between Muslims and the French Government after President Sarkozy hinted on banning the garment in public places, a move sure to create some tension.

A burqa is described by Wisegeek as a piece of clothing that covers a woman from head to foot. There is an opening for the eyes but the rest of the body, except the hands, is covered.

France views the garment as an infringement of women’s rights and a breach to individual freedoms. Furthermore the Burqa is said to hinder good communication especially among public servants and students.

As expected, there is a backlash already and it may get worse. Muslims feel attacked yet again after the banning in 2004 of the Islamic head gear along with any visible symbols of religious inclinations in public places especially schools.

There is quite a debate on Debatepedia and more information on sites like Peace Women, Innovative Minds and Huffington Post.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Gitobu Imanyara’s mega assassination claims: cheap publicity stunt or do state assassins actually put their murderous blue print in traceable writing?

I’m not surprised that his letter and list of wanteds did not make headlines in any of the dailies today.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Every Day Home Truths

Some home truths I read about this morning from health24 and thought I could share. Mistakes we make every other day and then wonder, ‘how could I have been so stupid?’ These are summaries. For the full scoop, head here.

  • Doing Business with family and friends – When you’re at loggerheads with someone over a business deal, and this person happens to be a friend or relative, that relationship will invariably suffer.

  • Thinking you can fix people – people can only change themselves – you cant make someone else’s life different. Accept that some people are just unfixable and the problem does not lie with you, it lies with them.

  • Expecting people to keep secrets – Now there are some friends/relatives you can trust, but the point is that few people can keep secrets. Not for long anyway. If you want to keep something really secret, tell no one.

  • The Debt trap – Banks and shops don’t give you credit because they want to be nice. They give you credit because they can make money out of you. Ok, there are things like cars and houses which very few people can pay cash for, but once you start buying things like household goods, clothing and groceries for credit, you’re in trouble.

  • Not getting things in writing – Where something is agreed upon, such as a special agreements in hiring or job contracts, get it in writing. If you’re unable to prove that someone agreed to, you have no leg to stand on.

  • Rubbish in, rubbish out – Your body cannot be abused endlessly without any consequences. Late nights, smoking, lack of exercise and hard drinking – these are all things that exact their toll. Bodies fight back. Make friends with yours and treat it kindly.

  • Everyone has to paddle their own canoe – Even if your parents or lover are prepared to take responsibility for your life, enabling you to do very little, sooner or later you will have to paddle your own canoe. Do your own thing – it’ll make you feel better, and it is, after all, your responsibility.

  • Assuming there is one love-of-your-life – Many people make this mistake and when things don’t work out with this one person, they spend the rest of their lives moping about, not really making an effort with anyone else.

  • Things are easier to get into than out of – You’ve said yes to helping a friend move or babysitting her impossible niece – just because you couldn’t get it together to say no. Or you’ve sort of let things slide a bit and got involved in a relationship that didn’t really work, because it was too much trouble to say so. Learn to say no.

  • Sometimes small actions have big consequences – Such as having unprotected sex or ‘borrowing’ money from the cash box.

  • No one has control over drugs – Many people, when they start taking drugs, think they can control it. Everyone thinks that in the beginning – and some even think that at the end – but still, lots of people die as a result of drug taking.

  • Get-rich-quick schemes – Everyone dreams of getting rich quickly. But unless you win the lottery, of which the chances are regrettably slim, don’t hold your breath for this one. Pyramid schemes and other scams – the only ones who make money out of these are the people who thought up this scheme to fleece you of your money.

  • Life does not stop when you get ditched – He’s left you for someone else, or even worse, he’s just left you. You don’t think you want to live and you don’t think you can carry on breathing. But, even though it doesn’t feel like that at the time, life does carry on. There is life beyond this person and chances are that given a while, you will stop feeling as if a sumo wrestler is sitting on your chest.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stuck In Traffic? Drive Like An Ant.

Scientists are down on the ground trying to steal a few ideas from the humble intelligent ant (hereinafter called ‘the more intelligent driver’) on how to manage traffic. And with good reason. Even when they’re moving in their millions, the little critters never get into snarl ups. I don’t know just how applicable their intelligence could be when it comes to the assortment of mean machines that roam the roads. In defense of the human driver:

  • First the ‘more intelligent drivers’ are not driving. They are walking. Who knows maybe they too could bring on the jams if they were driving. Walking humans do not get jammed now do they?

  • Second, our paths (roads) are not soaking in pheromones to let other drivers know what’s cutting. We have indicators and other signals which we sometimes don’t use. We have overweight cops and traffic rules which we follow only when absolutely necessary. And we have hand signs. An insulting finger sometimes. Oh and we have honks - shoulders to lean on in fits of road rage.

  • The ‘more intelligent drivers’ do not suffer from such affiliations as inflated egos. They don’t have their ears jammed with modern bits of technology. They don’t eat, drink coffee, dance, talk, SMS or tweet when driving.

  • Ok so ants move in single file, never overtaking one another. Maybe they’re never in a hurry and they don’t need/cant handle the adrenaline. Plus they can create divert paths out of nowhere in the unlikely even that they encounter an intelligent grid lock. In any event, they’re so feather light they can walk all over one another.

Seriously though, there is something there. Apparently ant traffic principles are already in use in some developed countries. Maybe not because the ants discovered them before but because some ways to control traffic are just obvious. What remains is implementation. Developed countries have not grabbed their road reserves, they’ve not yet emptied their coffers, and they have the political will to build Autobahns.

In our case, that would have to be 2031 when we have intelligent roads that can sniff a snarl up from miles away and miraculously open up side roads (leaving the VIP ones alone) to divert traffic and ease the impending jam already.

See Also: Traffic Jams Coming To Mombasa.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Desperate Wishlist

My sister and her family have been in the US for some months now. They’re all still homesick and missing things which we take for granted here. So when someone was travelling to visit her, she sent me a list of things she’d give an arm and a leg for. I must say some of them are surprising because she never really touched them when she was around. Like Clove Oil. True that saying that you never know what you got until it’s gone. Here is her list. She’s so nostalgic she wrote it mostly in Swahili. I’ve translated as many as I can but some are so indigenous I don’t know whether they have English names.

  • Iliki 3-4 Kgs – Cardamons. Iliki is very good for tea and general cooking. It’s a distinguishing ingredient in Mahamri, Pilau and Biriani. But 4 Kgs of Iliki or any spice for that matter is too much!

  • Mdalasini – Cinnamon. With it’s sweet spicy scent and flavour, it’s good for tea, pilau and many other dishes.

  • Tangawizi – Ginger. It’s often combined with Iliki above to make a mean cup of spiced tea. It’s also perfect for stews and marinades. Fresh ginger goes especially well with fish.

  • Ukwaju – Tamarind. Seeds of the Mkwaju tree. They’re brown and sticky when fresh. Tamarind is widely used to make sauce to go along with deep fried potatoes (Viazi karai) which are sold at every other corner in the estates and restaurants at the coast. It has a tangy sour taste. Also used to make tamarind juice.

  • Mbaazi – Pigeon peas. Upcountry hardly a wedding or any such grand occasion goes by without mashed mbaazi. It’s also a breakfast delicacy especially at the coast where it’s made with thick coconut milk and served with mahamri and spiced tea.

  • Hamira – Yeast. Used in place of baking powder to make dough for mahamri. Yeast is the major difference between mahamri and mandazi.

  • Mafuta ya Karafuu – Clove Oil. One word – pungent. The only use I can think of for clove oil is for massaging sore joints. But the stuff stinks to high heaven and no matter how it’s packaged, the smell will still permeate to anything and anyone around.

  • Chepe – Coconut oil. It is said to be very good for hair and skin care. Mothers especially use it on their babies because it’s natural and mild. While it is not as pungent as Karafuu, it has a not so nice smell.

  • Majani ya export – Good old authentic tea leaves. No vanilla, hibiscus, strawberry, cranberry or any such enrichments.

  • Solar Dried Mkunde and Mchicha - Mkunde is cowpeas leaves and mchicha is amaranth. They’re dried and sold in a farm outside Kikambala so I got a small trip out of town.

  • Swahili Sandals size 43 - several pairs - Beautiful handmade sandals embellished with multi-coloured beads. With a size as large and as uncommon as 43, they’re not kept in stock. I had to place an order and wait for 1 day for them to be made.

  • Royko – I Kg.

  • Soya Chunks (Nakumatt) – But the US is the mother of Soya!

  • Njahi – Black beans. There must be some around there?

  • Kunde – Cowpeas.

  • Unga wa Uji – A lot. She’s a new mother.

  • Dry peas.

  • Salimia Ointment – Sounds familiar. What was it used for again? There must be an equivalent there surely?

  • Hatha – stinging nettle.

  • Bonisan Gripe Water – I see someone has not yet known her way around town.

  • Sunlight soap – Come on now! Ok. She has only ever cleaned her babies with sunlight and the new one is no exception it seems.

Farmers Choice Sausages, mabuyu (baobab fruit), achari (spice sundried mangoes), sim sim seeds, kashata , vibibi, vitumbua, ufuta, woishe my dear sis!

I was not about to disappoint a homesick lady and new mum. The travel agency disputed just about all the items but rules are made to be broken no? Save for the perishables, medicines and oils, just about everything else has safely been delivered to her in US.

What are you people out there missing or missed while you were away?

Also see: Our Reading Spaces. A worthy course I read about at Mama Shujaa’s.