The Peculiar Kenyan

Innovation is all about connections

by Sunny Bindra on May 24, 2015 · 0 comments

in Sunday Nation

The year was 1970. A man was with his family at a busy airport, lugging two very heavy suitcases. An airport employee walked past, pushing a heavy piece of machinery fairly easily on a large wheeled trolley. An “aha” moment occured. The man, Bernard D. Sadow, looked at the trolley, looked at his suitcases, and [...]

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Why are we helpless? Because we learned to be

17 May 2015

Why do so many of us feel so helpless so much of the time? We think there’s no point in protesting – nothing will change. We think there’s no point in applying – the jobs are already allocated to insiders. We think there’s no point in aspiring to run our own businesses – we’ll just [...]

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Service fails because people don’t care enough

10 May 2015

Solomon Maundu asked me a question on his blog (and on Twitter) recently: “Is the reason the public service is bad at service delivery that most public servants do not take pride in their jobs?” In other words, do I think that bad service delivery and a lack of pride in work are connected? Do [...]

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Xenophobia comes from small minds entertaining small thoughts

3 May 2015

Xenophobia never died. That intense, irrational hatred or fear of “the others” is alive and kicking. It thrives, paradoxically, in South Africa, a country whose rebirth was predicated on the principle that “separateness” was wrong. It emerges, predictably, in Greece, where immigrants provide a convenient scapegoat for self-inflicted economic woes. It even threatens, bafflingly, to [...]

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What madness make us clap for swindlers?

26 April 2015

Sometimes I wonder: is there something put in Kenyans’ drinking water that makes so many of us mad? This thought occurred to me as I watched a so-called “pastor” invited to a high-ratings show. Nothing wrong with that, you might say: except that this man of the cloth, ahem, was recently exposed as being no [...]

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A racist restaurant and the danger of the single story

19 April 2015

A Chinese restaurant in Nairobi was operating a blatantly racist admission policy. It was exposed. Kenyans were understandably outraged. Sensing the the collective anger, the authorities took action. The restaurant is now closed, and the owner faces charges in court. Will we now live happily ever after? I suspect not. Life is never that simple. [...]

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The one word no one is saying after the Garissa attack

12 April 2015

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 [...]

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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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