The Peculiar Kenyan

No, I don’t know that many Mr Singhs…

by Sunny Bindra on April 13, 2014 · 3 comments

in Sunday Nation

When I make a new acquaintance in Kenya, particularly those of a certain age, there is a question I will very likely be asked during that first conversation: “You must know Mr So-and-So Singh?” My new friend will then proceed to roll off the names of a few Sikhs of his acquaintance, typically building contractors [...]


What is your child being educated to become?

6 April 2014

If you’re a parent worried about the future of your child, you should really read Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin. And the first thing that should begin to worry you is how your child is being schooled. Is this your child’s daily education routine? Show up every day. Be punctual. Fit in. Have good handwriting. Don’t [...]

22 comments Read the full article →

Which customer would you give a refund to?

30 March 2014

If you run a business, or are employed in one, allow me to put three scenarios to you this Sunday. Think about your answers carefully. Scenario One: an unhappy customer comes to you. She is dissatisfied with the product she bought, because it doesn’t work. You study the situation, and conclude she is right. Should [...]

1 comment Read the full article →

What’s the Lupita phenomenon all about?

23 March 2014

Lupita Nyong’o. A name hardly anyone knew a short while back; one that pretty much everyone knows now. Why is Lupita such a phenomenon? Why is she suddenly in every fashion magazine, TV chat show, dinner-party discussion, social media debate? The clues lie in what is being discussed. Last time I checked, Lupita was an [...]

4 comments Read the full article →

The secret of success is that there’s no secret

16 March 2014

Why are we becoming so interested in ‘richest people’ lists in Kenya? Partly, as I wrote on this page last week, it’s because we have such a slobbering adoration for money as a society. Those who have it are a source of endless fascination for us. But there’s another reason. Too many of us seem [...]

8 comments Read the full article →

Why money is everything in Kenya

9 March 2014

Money is everything in Kenya. If you have money, you have everything you need. If you don’t have it, you have nothing and are nothing. To see the truth of this, consider what money gives you in this country. First, money gives you financial freedom. It gives you the ability to cut the chains that [...]

10 comments Read the full article →

To succeed properly, allow yourself to fail

2 March 2014

My son was fired from his job the other day. And his father was delighted. He’s only ten years old. And the ‘job’ was as manager of a leading football team. In a popular video game. I spent time earlier this week with successful entrepreneurs, listening to their life stories. And here’s the thing about [...]

6 comments Read the full article →

How Kenyan farmers quailed at quail farming

23 February 2014

Quail eggs were hailed as the answer to all ailments; prices began rising fast; enterprising Kenyans rushed in to make money; supply surged and prices fell back sharply; many were left nursing wounds and cursing their luck. In that sequence of events lies many a lesson for peculiar Kenyans. Let’s unpick a few this Sunday. [...]

1 comment Read the full article →

Let Kenya finally focus on the causes, not the symptoms, of hunger

16 February 2014

I was flicking TV channels a while back and came upon the spectacle of assorted GoK bigwigs flagging off something. They weren’t launching a race or opening a road; they were flagging off a convoy of relief food. For the long-starving people of Turkana. I tweeted at the time: you don’t flag off relief food [...]

6 comments Read the full article →

Watch all these jobs disappear

9 February 2014

This column often highlights the various technological disruptions that will change all our lives – for better and for worse. As I have written before, this is a time of phenomenal economic and technological change, and the ramifications will be felt far and wide. One of the issues we will have to deal with in [...]

3 comments Read the full article →

Your apathetic employees can bring your business to its knees

2 February 2014

During the recent holiday season, I took a taxi from the hotel where I was staying, to go and visit a nearby shopping mall. The driver was courteous and polite. He maintained a very clean and pleasing vehicle. He was solicitous and considerate, and did everything possible for his customer’s convenience, such as driving carefully, [...]

8 comments Read the full article →

Wisdom lies in accepting your own foolishness

26 January 2014

How many times do you want to be wrong before you’ll accept you’re not infallible? I often watch some of the more cocksure folks amongst us strut from one bad decision to another – while never once acknowledging their own mistakes and errors of judgement. The blame is passed swiftly, scapegoats are found quickly, and [...]

7 comments Read the full article →

These distasteful selling strategies are for losers

19 January 2014

I hate spam. I always have. If you send me spam, it will have the reverse effect to what you intended: after receiving your unsolicited communication, I will never even consider buying whatever you’re selling. I tweeted this sentiment recently, and got an odd reply: “But Mr B, what’s really wrong with this practice? Isn’t [...]

16 comments Read the full article →

Doing more with less

12 January 2014

In my first year at university, I was like most students around me: finding my way in the world; straining to understand my own identity and place; yearning for experiences, the more the merrier. My budget was tight, though. Like most of my fellows, I spread my money as far as possible, seeking the cheapest [...]

5 comments Read the full article →

Chekhov on society and discourse

11 January 2014

“What savage manners, what people! What wasted evenings, what tedious, empty days! Frantic card-playing, gluttony, drunkenness, perpetual talk always about the same thing. The greater part of one’s time and energy went on business that was no use to anyone, and on discussing the same thing over and over again, and there was nothing to [...]

0 comments Read the full article →

Success is no longer a train you board with a ticket

5 January 2014

To succeed in the world to come, you won’t be boarding trains with tickets; you’ll be jumping off planes with parachutes. These are fast-changing, enormously disruptive times. Success is no longer about playing safe, being predictable, or following schedules. That’s how it was when I was growing up. Children were told to pick safe subjects; [...]

3 comments Read the full article →

3 words to use (and mean) in 2014

29 December 2013

As another year draws to a close, many of us will be sitting down to reflect on the months that passed, and those to come. Kenya is fifty years old now, and we should use this milestone to engage in deep introspection, not just frenzied celebration. It is not the number of years that matter, [...]

2 comments Read the full article →