Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Case For The Street Vendor

Street Vendors. They’re viewed by many as tax evaders, a nuisance to the public, a disgrace to society and sometimes as disguised muggers. First off, the hard facts. Street vendors do hog pavements and force pedestrians onto the roads. They inconvenience tax paying shop owners. They crowd the streets and make it easier for muggers to do what they do best. They cause much littering. Some are plain annoying, like those who hound passersby and put their wares in their faces.

All these they may be but that’s because their contribution is not factored in urban policies and there are no frameworks set for them to work along. These traders are an economic necessity. They have every right to contribute to the growth of the economy and to make a living for themselves and their families. Their input is very much a part and parcel of the Economic Development Plan that is Vision 2030 and should receive attention, solid governing policies, and even incentives. They need intervention to better their trade, not oppressive regulations.

In Mombasa for example, currently the streets are clear of hawkers. A few still sell their goods amid running battles with Kanju, but majority have left the streets. They’ve been herded and allocated space in far off Buxton which is right at the beginning of Nyali Bridge. Save for Mombasa Poly students, residents of that area, and people boarding Kilifi Malindi matatus, there isn’t enough human traffic there to sustain any business. Others have been moved to Mbaraki, an awkward side of the island where people rarely visit. Yet the essence of their trade is to bring wares closer to the people.

Street vendors cannot be pushed to a far off corner and ignored. What they need is space and accommodation. There is enough land in town and local governments have enough money to build markets. If someone tried hard enough the solutions are there. So it all boils down to the question of good leadership. And the cycle begins all over again.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Birthday - We're One Year Old!

Wanjiku Unlimited turned one over the weekend. And what better way to celebrate than to go through the archives, reminisce, have a good laugh and wonder, did I really write some of that?

Thanks people for keeping it here and for being part of my blogging journey.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Recession Mbaya

Are the Economies that bad?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Is This The End Of The Book As We Know It?

There is word that by the year 2020, 90% of every thing you read will be delivered in electronic form. And it seems we’re already on our way there. The net is awash with virtual downloadable books which we can read from our computers and laptops. Readers like the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader and Cybook among others are already making amazing sales especially in Western countries. There’s the advent of E-libraries and traditional libraries too are going online to keep in business.

Reading books is already on the decline worldwide as the current young generation shuns the age old practice for more modern gadgetry like mobile phones and computers. Like anything else advanced, E-reading comes with advantages. For one you get to contribute in saving the earth by going paperless. You can carry 100 books with no weight problems. You can alter the size of text to suit your needs and checking up words in the dictionary is instant.

But personally I’ll not be getting a reader any time soon. I’d still prefer to curl up with a traditional book on the sofa, in bed or at the beach. After staring at the computer for hours on end and then some, I don’t want to be handling another cold shiny plastic gadget. A book is like an old friend. Warm and organic with some emotional connection to boot.

So are we witnessing the demise of the book? I think not. At least not yet.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Where Did Our National Dress Go?

Yesterday I was reminded of the Kenya national Dress when I watched Liz Ogumbo talk about it on TV. She asked the very question I asked myself when I first saw the dress and which I guess is safe to ask now that the dust has settled down on it. Who was going to wear it?

I’m no designer, so I cannot claim to know the aesthetics behind the whole apron and cloak design but was the idea really going to sell in cosmopolitan Kenya? Some of the women’s versions looked kind of cute but as far as I know, they were to be found in up market boutiques for a handsome price way beyond the reach of many Kenyans. And for an idea of such magnitude, even an internet search does not produce much details or pictures.

And were the guys going to wear a cloak over their shirts?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Miraa And The Church

Khat is classified as a drug of abuse that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence. It’s a controlled/illegal substance in many countries. The uses and effects read like the bad rap of any other drug. Long term use or abuse can cause insomnia, anorexia, gastric disorders, depression, liver damage and cardiac complications. Delusional and manic behavior has also been reported. As such, it would be expected of the church to discourage chewing of khat on the same token it does smoking or drinking beer.

Not so in this story from Meru. It’s difficult for anyone, not even religion to come between the Ameru and the only cash crop they’ve known for generations. In a case of tradition versus modern religion, some churches accept khat as an offering and later sell it to the faithful.

The Khat story aside, the Church has come a long way. I recall a time back in the village when Churches used to hold fund raisings but never once invited local bar owners or anyone selling things considered anti-church. Likewise, faithful who owned shops were not allowed to stock cigarettes. Not any more. In my local church there is a whole row of pews donated by the owner of a prominent night club. The money is no longer dirty.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Into The Dark World

I have a curious fascination for world cultures and today I'm all Goth. I recently came across an interesting article in the Mail Online site that sent my curiosity into the dark Gothic world. I've seen Goths in movies and other programs but never really taken a keen look at their fascinating lifestyle. The mailonline article is simple. Boy loves girl and he moves around with her on a lead, like you would a pet dog. Girl is a self confessed human pet and is comfortable with the circumstances. It's the discrimination that irks them.

Goths have mostly received a bad rap. When people think Goth, they think black, evil, blood and horror. They're a stereotyped lot often perceived to be witches, devil worshipers and vampires though that's not always the case. Like in every other culture and religion, there are always rotten apples that give them a bad name.

I doubt there are any Goths in these parts of the world. Unless we count that black nail polish that was all the rave some time back. But in the unlikely even that you bump into one in the streets, know the following:

They're not to be feared. Beneath the black clothing, jet black hair, black eyeliner, black nail polish, black lipstick and whatever else they wear, they're normal people like you and me. They actually nice and intelligent people capable of happiness like everybody else. They just prefer living on the darker side of life. In any case they don't always wear black. They're not schizophrenics. They don't suck people's blood. They're not always satanists. A Goth can be from any religion. Some, like this writer are Christians.

And in unrelated, repeat unrelated stories fashion critics have bashed Michelle for wearing a sleeveless dress to a formal occasion.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Blogging Under The Influence

Have you ever blogged under the influence? With lap tops and mobile internet services, intoxicated blogging is possible anywhere any time. At home, on the beach or even from the local pub. And it’s so easy. And by blogging I mean even posting comments. Actually BUI could explain a few posts I’ve read of late. And some comments I see here and in other areas …………….

Anyway, I guess there’s no sure way of knowing a drunken post. After all blogosphere is not an English exam and people are free to use whatever language they wish without having anybody to approve of it. Wrong grammar and disjointed stuff can therefore not be used as an indicator that the person is Blogging Under the Influence. Unless the article starts all nice and proper and degenerates into incoherent blabber as time goes by or your readers know you well and they can sense a sharp difference in your style. But then again you could just have decided to use a different style.

A little bird told me that while blogging under the influence, one gets funnier and typing becomes easier and faster as the drink goes by. I wouldn’t know that because already my typing is easier and faster. The same bird told me that there’s a site for drunken bloggers but being a responsible citizen I’m not about to lead my readers to drunken sites.

No I don’t blog under the influence although someone thought I was high when I did this article. But it’s just an ordinary post surely? There are some blog commandments somewhere. Maybe we should add Thou Shalt Not Blog Under the Influence? My E-friend too has been suspected of this E-crime but I doubt she’s guilty. Practicing Chinglish is guaranteed to make one sound high.

Blog on – sober or drunk. It’s not a punishable crime. If you can still organize your thoughts and ideas into a post then you’re not drunk enough. BUI will probably not do you much harm unless you go as far as posting compromising videos of yourself and Co. Other than blogging, in other aspects of E-life be careful. After all this is the internet where it’s said men are men, women are men and children are FBI agents.