Articles Tagged Life & Society

Jul 29, 2018
The taxi driver with advice for presidents and prime ministers

Kamran is a taxi driver in Dubai. I met him on a recent trip and found him a little different from the norm. Despite doing a difficult and demanding job, and one that does not offer the best reward, he stays upbeat and positive. So much so that I engaged him exclusively on a daily […]

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Jun 17, 2018
AI is right here, right now

I recently received an email from the folks over at Medium, an online publishing platform I subscribe to. Here’s what it said: “Hello! It looks like you’re into artificial intelligence, so we rounded up a few of our favorites for you this week. Because you’re a member and an avid reader, we want to make […]

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Apr 29, 2018
How to understand introverts (part three: in the workplace)

Let’s conclude this short series on introversion and extroversion with how it all plays out in the workplace. If you’ve been following the series (this is the third part; part one is here, and part two here ), you’ve understood the essentials about introversion vs extroversion. Here’s a beautifully concise summary, from Concordia University’s Dr […]

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Apr 22, 2018
How to understand introverts (part two: socially)

Who wouldn’t like going to a lively, energetic, fun-filled party? Introverts, that’s who. You may have heard the old joke: someone once organized a party just for introverts so that they would be comfortable with their own kind, but no one showed up… Last week I introduced this short series on introversion by offering a […]

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Apr 15, 2018
How to understand introverts (part one)

I tweet about introverts every once in a while. The responses are always very interesting. Introverts will like and store the tweet; extroverts will often be confused by what’s being said. A few months back I tweeted that I would write a Sunday column about understanding introversion. The response was immediate: do it like yesterday! […]

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Apr 08, 2018
Why good practice matters in business

Nairobi is a building site, wherever you look. Cranes and scaffolding everywhere, countless office blocks and apartment buildings coming up one after the other. New ground is broken every day, even though many of the properties built years ago remain largely unoccupied. The dearth of tenants does not seem to matter to the developers. But […]

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Apr 01, 2018
Facebook and the dark side of new tech

What kind of company can have $60 billion wiped off its value in just a few days – and still be around? The Facebook kind. Facebook has more users than China or India have citizens, and therefore it is just fine – for now. But the Cambridge Analytica scandal – the revelations that the misuse […]

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Feb 25, 2018
Kindness, the underrated virtue

Why are some people so important in our lives? Who is it we remember with fondness long after they are gone? What counts when we measure a life? When my grandfather passed away, I was living overseas. I returned to Nairobi for the funeral, and when the body was brought home for final prayers, a […]

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Feb 18, 2018
Are you teaching your kids to cheat?

In the game of cricket, there is an honour system. A batsman can be officially ‘out’ (sent back to the pavilion) in a variety of ways; but he can also choose to ‘walk’ if he feels he was out but no one noticed. A parent recently recounted an experience in this regard. Her young son […]

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Jan 21, 2018
Is your culture really yours?

I spent some time at a holiday location in December, and I thought it would be interesting to engage some friends in a digital guessing game. I sent them selected photos of my locale; they were then to submit guesses of where on earth I might be. These were the pictures I took and submitted: […]

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Jan 14, 2018
Road safety? Start with purpose

Kenyans are perplexed again by the upsurge in road carnage that takes place every December. The holiday period inevitably brings about even more horrific deaths and injuries on our roads (again). The public inevitably is outraged (again). The government inevitably promises a raft of new measures (again). See you here in January 2019 when we […]

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Jan 07, 2018
How many books will you read in 2018?

How will you measure your achievement in the year ahead? Will it be in terms of money earned? Promotions gained? Holidays enjoyed? Friendships made? Learnings achieved? Kindnesses imparted? I have a simple measure for you to aim for in 2018: books read. Believe me or not: for many people that simple activity – reading books […]

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Dec 10, 2017
Which pain are you willing to embrace?

An alum of my leadership programme recommended an unusual book to me earlier in the year. Its title was a deterrent: it is called The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A ****. As this is a family newspaper, I won’t spell out the bleeped letters, but you get the gist. It’s a strange book. The […]

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Nov 12, 2017
Are you doing something, or just posing?

Grace Mungai, a reader of this column, sent me an impassioned email recently. She asked: why are we reducing important occupations or undertakings or positions to ‘brag words’ – things we pretend we are doing, rather than actually doing? Her practical analogy: you can read about, discuss or look at treadmills and rowing machines all […]

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Nov 05, 2017
The invisible issue haunting our elections

And so Kenyans trooped to vote again in a presidential election for the second time in three months. Or not. This election, held against the backdrop of a deeply divided country and the withdrawal of a key protagonist, ultimately yielded a turnout that was a record low. Because so many voting stations stayed empty for […]

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Oct 29, 2017
There are many kinds of silence. Try them

For many people, a silent person in their midst is a cause for concern. Why is he quiet? Why does she not say anything? What’s going on in that head? Why not just come out with it? Quiet people make them queasy. Or they dismiss the silent ones as having nothing meaningful to say. Perhaps […]

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Oct 22, 2017
Who taught you to hate?

Many of us seem to hate – not even dislike, but hate – whole groups of ‘others’. Who teaches us this? It’s an important question to consider. When I was a boy, some of my elders would fill my head with tales about Muslims. The horrific partition of the Indian subcontinent had occurred across the […]

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Sep 17, 2017
The madness of believing in charlatans

A rapist was found guilty. The rapist had supporters, though. Millions of them. A mob of thousands, upon hearing the court’s verdict, went on the rampage, attacking journalists, setting vehicles on fire, attacking train stations and government buildings. Dozens of people were killed in the mêlée. The army had to be called in to quell […]

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Sep 10, 2017
Amidst electoral uncertainty, what to do?

(Photo credit: Ciku Nyawira) When they said 2017 is an election “year” in Kenya, they meant it! As I write this, Kenya is in electoral limbo. The Supreme Court has ordered a fresh presidential election, declaring the August 8 poll null and void, after months and months of noisy and expensive electioneering. The electoral body […]

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Aug 20, 2017
We must move on from messiah leadership

Watching the aftermath of our recent general election, I was left pondering a phenomenon that appears after pretty every such event in these parts. Those who support the presidential candidate announced as the winner inevitably embark on celebrations. That’s perfectly understandable – everyone likes to be part of a winning team, after all. But for […]

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Aug 13, 2017
What comes first – your belief, or the facts?

Another disputed election. That’s a hat-trick now since 2007. At the time of writing this, I do not know who won the various poll races held in Kenya this week, because the official results are not out yet. But the airwaves and the cybersphere are full of competing narratives, conspiracy theories, accusations and allegations. The […]

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Aug 06, 2017
Waiting for an election-proof Kenya

Another general election looms. Because this is Kenya, that could mean some or all of the following: Heightened tension. Hate speech. Fake news. Reversion to tribal identity. Insults and counter-insults. Voter suppression. Gerrymandering. Rigging and counter-rigging. Anxiety and nervousness. Economic standstill. Ethnic displacement. And, if the worst happens, botched results followed by mayhem. Why are […]

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Jul 30, 2017
My 750th column: men, untie yourselves!

This is my 750th column on this page. Let’s commemorate by loosening up a little. I became self-employed in 2003, and I don’t think I’ve put on a tie ever since. Even when visiting boardrooms or delivering keynote addresses. Only once has someone objected. An antediluvian director in a leading board asked if I was […]

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Jul 09, 2017
A rich person just walked in. Clap, everyone

There’s one thing you can pretty much guarantee in Kenya: if a rich person walks into a room pretty much everyone there will fall over their feet trying to greet or be noticed by the personage. People are shameless about this. They slobber; they swoon; they hit new lows in obsequiousness. They make way for […]

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Jul 02, 2017
Where’s the outrage and where’s the learning?

Photo credit: ChiralJon/Flickr I began worrying about collapsing buildings in Nairobi more than a decade ago on this page. Over the years, I have written increasingly vociferous pieces warning that if shoddy building standards are not addressed, we will kill many more of our citizens. If consequences are not visited upon those who build badly, […]

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Jun 18, 2017
What’s behind all these shock election results?

As miscalculations go, this one was epic. Theresa May, prime minister of Britain, had no need to go back to the electorate. She had a decent majority in parliament and a whopping lead in the opinion polls. Misguidedly, she called a snap election. Now she has no majority, has lost the confidence of her party, […]

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Apr 30, 2017
Losing your temper often is easy, and pointless

I was revisiting Seth Godin’s graceful little book Graceful the other day, and came across this: “The guy in front of me in line (maybe he was in front of you, once, too) has every right to be upset with the clerk. She’s not making it easy for him to buy his ticket, and after […]

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Apr 09, 2017
Your life, with robots

Let’s continue our examination of robotics, begun here last week. Donald Trump wants to bring basic jobs back to America. He thinks assembly-line workers, coal-miners etc should be Americans. His grand idea seems to be that the jobs will come back by slapping tariffs on foreign products coming into the country. If only he’d ever […]

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