The Peculiar Kenyan

I often state something like this on Twitter: “Don’t give your money to businesses that despise you.” I will keep repeating a version of this for as long as I can. Interestingly, every time I do this, several people will reply with: “So what should I do with Kenya Power?” In other words, how is [...]

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Wait: could rampant cheating be a good thing?

16 November 2014

Last week on this page I wrote about a chronic problem in Kenya: that we are increasingly unable to trust the certificates churned out by our educational institutions and examination bodies. Some of these certificates are forgeries; others are bought without doing any of the requisite study work; yet others are gained by cheating in [...]

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What happens when you can’t trust educational qualifications?

9 November 2014

There have been widespread reports of cheating in Kenya’s public examinations again this year. As there are in most years. The problem of papers being leaked and sold seems to be rife. In addition, can we trust the certificates being churned out by our educational institutions any more? So many are suspect, being sold by [...]

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Give freely (but quietly)

2 November 2014

I railed against the hypocrisy of corporate giving on Twitter recently: the self-conscious posturing, the playing for the cameras. A couple of followers pointed me to the wisdom contained in Matthew Chapter 6. A great treasury of wisdom it is, too. Jesus is in full flow against the hypocrites: those who “sound a trumpet” whilst [...]

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Employ human beings, not human resources

26 October 2014

Here’s a thing. It was reported recently that an elderly lady fell down on an escalator at Leeds Railway Station in the UK. Staff of Northern Rail who saw her fall failed to come to her aid. Why? Because they had not been trained in “people handling.” Northern Rail later confirmed that the staff had [...]

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Poor customer experience? Here comes disruption

19 October 2014

You must have heard of Uber. The mobile-app-driven taxi service has taken the world by storm. In just a short time it covers 45 countries (200 cities), and has even entered Africa (Lagos and Cape Town). Why this phenomenal expansion? Here’s how it works: You go to the app in your phone. It picks up [...]

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The new world of work requires great personal discipline

12 October 2014

What are we going to do in a world where people play where they used to work, and work where they used to play? For the past two weeks I have explored this phenomenon here on this page: an era in which mobile computing and connectivity allow people to carry everything they need – the [...]

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Working while playing, and playing while working

5 October 2014

Last week I pointed out that what looks like work often isn’t, and what looks like play may be someone hard at work. Consider the lady sitting in your office, hard at work on her computer. She seems to be very busy trying to get something urgent done. Take a closer look. She’s on Facebook, [...]

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The line between work and play blurs

28 September 2014

I sent someone an email late on a Saturday night, recently. His jokey reply asked why I was working so late on weekends. Which made me stop and think. I wasn’t working, exactly; but nor was I not working. I was doing my regular scan of my Twitter feed, and came across a link that [...]

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My 600th column: Kenya’s true economic engine

21 September 2014

This is my 600th column on this page, and to record the milestone let us take another look at this country of ours – through a different lens. Recently, feeling depressed by the state of the nation – the self-centred, money grabbing politicos and their relentless noise, the unending terrorist attacks, the spiralling epidemic of [...]

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When companies are built on being the best in a rat race, only rats will win

14 September 2014

John Lanchester writes very useful books demystifying the world of finance, explaining its arcane intricacies to those who weren’t schooled in it. Sitting on a plane recently, I came across a piece by him in the New Yorker. It contained this gem: ““My father once told me about the first colleague he ever knew to [...]

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The story of one kind man and his kiosk

7 September 2014

Many moons ago, a gentleman called Chege ran a food kiosk close to the main campus of the University of Nairobi. Chege’s place was well frequented by students, and was an institution unto itself. Many of these students came from relatively humble backgrounds from all over Kenya, and lacked support systems in the big, unfriendly [...]

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Education is acceptance, not antagonism

31 August 2014

A friend was visiting Kenya from abroad recently, and I took him to visit his old high school. The place was a shambles, dirty and decrepit. Some of the desks and chairs looked like they had not been changed since my friend last sat on them thirty years ago. And yet there was gold to [...]

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Use this golden rule to make people matter again

24 August 2014

Can we run this world as though people matter? Of course we can. Henry Hazlitt showed us how, way back in 1946: “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely [...]

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We are running our world as though people don’t matter

17 August 2014

What’s the most common thing you hear political and business leaders say about Kenya’s insecurity problem? That it’s having a bad effect on the economy. That as tourism implodes, economic purchasing power heads south. That as fear pervades the nation, the investment climate suffers. What’s wrong with this picture? All of the above is true, [...]

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“Look at that, you son of a bitch.”

10 August 2014

Edgar Dean Mitchell is a former NASA astronaut. He was the sixth man to set foot on the moon. As he stood on the lunar surface and gazed back at planet Earth, he was profoundly moved. Later, he wrote this about the experience: “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction [...]

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Societies explode when equality of treatment is missing

3 August 2014

I can’t watch the news anymore. I can’t watch any more images of children being maimed and mangled as rockets rain on them out of the sky, because of ancient hatreds that they know nothing about. I can’t watch any more images of people hell-bent on killing other people within their own borders, because of [...]

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