The Peculiar Kenyan

The need to write something immediately after the horrific slaughter of our students in Garissa was overwhelming. I had to resist, though. An event this brutal and unprecedented requires some reflection and some perspective. And so I have been able to observe the reactions of others. I looked on aghast as the supposed perpetrators of [...]


Which of these were April Fool headlines?

5 April 2015

This column continues its campaign to make April Fool’s Day a national holiday in Kenya. This is because we take foolishness to peculiar heights year after year. The Daily Nation, like most newspapers, has a tradition of creating a spoof story every year on the day that honours fools. My point is this: around these [...]

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No, don’t cut the serviettes in half

29 March 2015

You’ve probably been in those joints. The ones where the serviette is surprisingly small and thin. And you’re only given one. How does that happen? A member of staff sits down with a whole packet of normal-sized serviettes, and proceeds to cut each one in half. That’s how. After that, the same person will probably [...]

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So, how’s the smartphone revolution treating you?

22 March 2015

What does losing weight have to do with smartphones? Five years ago I wrote on this page that the future of your business lay in the palm of the hand. Not in the lines of fate supposedly embossed there; but in the device that I expected to be ever-present in most palms by today: the [...]

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No, the answer is not more security for the Big People

15 March 2015

Gangland-style executions are firmly with us in Kenya. A spate of recent incidents, all with the same calling-card: professionally executed hits that target specific individuals. Couple that with the ever-present threat of terrorism, and lots of Big People are worried. What is interesting is what the Big People think they should do in response. Members [...]

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The things people say that mean the exact opposite

8 March 2015

We say so many things so often, that quite often they lose all meaning. Some phrases, however, are used even when their true meaning is the exact opposite of what is said. Here are some to liven up your Sunday. I’m truly humbled. Ah, that favourite of Kenyans, especially when accepting an award. Ostensibly, it [...]

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Where will this culture of violent protest take us?

1 March 2015

Is violence the only way to make a point? If Kenyan university students have a grievance – an injustice, a bad policy, or even just a power cut – they will be out on the streets rapidly. Not protesting, but rampaging: attacking and stealing from motorists and bystanders, hurling stones, destroying property. When Nairobi hawkers [...]

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What is your experience of experience?

22 February 2015

When we look for good people to employ, what do we look for? Typically, qualifications and experience. I’ve already discussed the problem with qualifications on this page a few weeks back. First, there is the problem that you just can’t trust the qualifications presented to you any more, certainly not in Kenya. No one I [...]

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Moving your business in new directions? Do it properly

15 February 2015

Nairobi is a madhouse. Getting around is a real pain these days. A simple trip can take a couple of hours out of your day. And if you look at the willingness and competence of the people in charge to solve the awful traffic problem, you have to conclude that it will be jam today, [...]

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Agony Uncle Sunny Answers Your Questions Again

8 February 2015

As we all know, we live in a peculiar country. A very peculiar country. There are so many confusing questions that bedevil us every day, and precious few answers. So I have decided to occasionally become an “agony uncle” in this column, to tackle some of your more thorny conundrums. Here’s the latest instalment. Q: [...]

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You think your people are better than their people? Ask for your school fees back

1 February 2015

Parts of European football have a racism problem. When a black player is on the pitch, some fans in some countries will start making monkey gestures, or throw bananas on to the pitch. Picture this: a grown man in the crowd starts jumping up and down, aping an ape. He makes primitive sounds. He does [...]

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We should all talk a little less and do a little more

25 January 2015

Talk, talk, talk. Everyone talks. They talk incessantly. They chat, analyse, pontificate. They debate and discuss. They love to hear the sound of their own voices. People gather in seminars, workshops, conferences, off-sites. They yap for days. Then they gather the results of all that was declaimed and bloviated in elaborate reports, complete with detailed [...]

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The ‘nut rage’ incident that had consequences

18 January 2015

You must have heard about “nutgate.” In a nutshell, here’s what happened. A passenger aircraft was about to take off from JFK airport in New York. A lady seated in first class was served macadamia nuts. The nuts were served in their bag, rather than on a plate. The lady was deeply offended. She lambasted [...]

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Why should children hate school?

11 January 2015

If you have young children, you are likely to have faced a familiar problem this week, pretty much anywhere in the world. As your children ended their Christmas holidays and went back to school, what happened? It’s safe to predict that virtually every child out there descended into deep gloom as the time to return [...]

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Everything you enjoy today was created by a trailblazer

4 January 2015

Most of us tread on well-worn paths. We live in places where we are connected to electricity and running water. We acquire received wisdom from orthodox institutions. We take up familiar occupations, and follow traditional career paths. We start businesses in conventional industries with established competitors and known rules. We take the road most taken. [...]

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The significance of your insignificance

28 December 2014

I had to deliver a eulogy at a funeral recently. Observing endings is a good time to dwell on the meaning of your life. One minute, you are fully alive on earth, working, contributing, connecting; the next, due to some often surprising turn of events, you will be gone. No more, with people gathered around [...]

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Do people really change that much?

21 December 2014

Back in the nineties, Kenyans were really fed up of their leaders. The country was in dire straits, and there seemed to be no light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. In those days, our only symbols of hope were a group of people not in government: opposition politicians, young activists, [...]

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