Month: July 2010

Kenyan Studies 002: Kenya’s Survival Guide

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From Manufactured In Kenya, you might think that Kenya is all about picturesque scenes such as silver sands, whispering palms, and green wildlife, but there is also a dark side to the Kenyan story; insecurity.

Insecurity is basically attributed to the fact that police officers aren’t paid well enough, so they take bribes to make up for their meager incomes. Bribing policemen has become so common that all that policemen have to do is stop a car (for any valid reason or not), and say, “TKK” (toa kitu kidogo = or give me a little, hint hint,give me some money ), or “Naskiya baridi” (I’m feeling cold, hint hint, give me money for tea), and never try to be cheeky and say, “You’re cold? Then wear a jacket”.

Given below are things to remember if you were to enjoy a vacation in Kenya;

1.Packing  Criteria: Take things that you don’t need so much so that if they were stolen you wouldn’t cry over them. Leave your iphone at home and get a Nokia 3210. Replace your Burberry hand bags with something cheap.

2.While driving in the city of Nairobi, keep all windows up, even if the AC is not working. Professional thieves start work during peak time to steal things like phones, the car’s headlights.  f someone comes to steal the mobile phone, then tell him, “Wait right here my friend, let me get you a charger,” then hit the accelerator. Also, avoid taking pictures, because the thieves will certainly want to assist you in taking those photographs.

3. Police moonlight as thieves as well, except that they’re legal. They do that by stopping people and asking to see all kinds of things from driver’s license to car insurance to ID, then charging you with TKK if you forgot anyone of them as a bribe. To avoid that, hang out with a local, or smile wildly at them and ask, “How is Kamau/Maina? He’s not on shift today?”

He’ll think you actually know his boss/partner and out of respect for his boss/partner, he might leave you alone.

4. Drive like you know where you are going. No cruising at 20 kph on the road, unless there’s a jam of course. Also don’t stop strangers to ask for direction, for obvious reasons, because if they know you are lost then they might help you find your way to… (you fill in the blank).

5. Do not order take-out food, someone might release an AK 47 from the pizza box.

6. Brothers going to the masjid, wear bata flip flops. Proper shoes and sandals could be stolen. Legend has it that a guy once tried to steal shoes from the masjid and he was caught by the mob justice crew, so trying to get out of trouble, he said, “I’m a Muslim.”

Someone told him, “Prove it. Say the testimony.”

He said, “Assalam aleikum.”  (I don’t know how true the story is but it was funny).

Flip Flop

7. When riding a tuktuk, pack panadol with you because the engine is so noisy. Funny enough, it goes something like tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk….and you’d be jumping around a lot especially since our Kenyan streets are generous when it comes to the number of potholes they have. If you were overweight, don’t b surprised if the driver tells you, “Mami, please get off, I want to take the corner and you’re way too heavy, the tuktuk might tip over.”

TukTuk

Don’t tell me you haven’t been warned. Yeah, and one last thing; Welcome To Kenya ;-)


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Manufactured In Kenya

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“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to” John Ed

A couple of friends have been asking about Kenya, so I thought I’d put together a note on Kenyan Studies 001: Introduction To Life In Kenya. When people imagine Kenya, they probably imagine black men enwrapped in red clothes, elephants and lions prowling grassless terrains and the magnificence of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Now that only explains part of the Kenyan story. Kenya is a melting pot of people from different ethnic backgrounds. Mombasa for instance has a huge concentration of Muslims so that masjids and abayas are common sights on the streets.

Compiled below is a list of things Kenyans use as a substitute for modern gadgets in other parts of the world:

1. A substitute for Alarm Clocks. In Mombasa, you wake up to the sound of twittering birds and squawking crows outside the window.  Overriding them is the cry of a man pushing a potato-filled mkokoteni saying, “Haya vyazi, vyazi, vyazi…” in case you want to buy potato from him.

Mkokoteni

2.A substitute for  vacuum cleaning. Not all houses have vacuum cleaners. Most do without, they use a fagiyo (right) to sweep clean the floors. Then the dirt it swept onto the bamba (left). But you have to have a strong back for this.

Fagiyo Na Bamba

3. A substitute for Satellite dishes. You know the siniya (metal plate) that you use to put biryani on in big weddings? Take a couple of these, put them together, put them on a corrugated iron roof, wire them to a TV and voila, you get the local channels. I don’t know how it works really, but come to Kenya and you’ll find one on most houses. Talk about innovation.

"Satellite Dish"
"Satellite Dish"

4. A substitute for a fuel cooker. This is called, “Jiko.” It runs on charcoal and is  quite mobile.

Jiko
Jiko

5. A substitute for air conditioners.

Fan
Fan

Last but not least, the scene outside my window.

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Homeschooling vs. Normal Schooling

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Which one is better in your opinion? What are the pros and cons of each? Should homeschooling be encouraged in this part of the world? Why? What’s wrong with our schools nowadays?

This is a discussion post, leave your comments below.


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Why My Writings Are Echoes Not Reflections?

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Dissecting “A Heart’s Echoes
When we sit and ponder about something in writing, it tends to be a reflection of what’s happening in our mind. So it would only make sense if I called my writings, A Mind’s Reflections.
But I’m an engineer, and things aren’t always that simple for engineers. A lot of my writings come from the heart, and that explains why “A Heart’s” replaces “A Mind’s”, besides the fact that the first two letters from “A Heart’s” are “AH”, the initials of my name.
Why Echoes Not Reflections?

Both echoes and reflections tend to describe similar phenomena; something striking a surface and then coming back come, except that echoes are connected to sound waves and reflections are connected to light waves. Since my writing is my voice, then Echoes wins the race.

All about me


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