"CEOs can't wait to read Sunny Bindra's articles every week."

Oct 02, 2016
To understand human endeavour, understand Hubris and Nemesis

In her book Signals, author Pippa Malmgren asks us to understand how the world economy works by going back to the ancient Greek concepts of Hubris and Nemesis. Hubris is what happens to people when they overdo it. They succeed, and therefore they become overconfident. They think they have unusual powers. They imagine they are […]

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Brown shoes
Sep 18, 2016
Actually, I’ll wear brown shoes whenever I feel like it

“There are no circumstances in which you should be seen here in brown shoes.” Those were the words uttered by one of the old warhorse bosses in my first-ever job. He was talking to a group of us who had started out straight from university, in a global consulting firm located in the City of […]

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Jul 24, 2016
Will you have a job in the (near) future?

You know that the employment landscape is undergoing fundamental upheavals, right? You appreciate that the advent of robotics and artificial intelligence is going to give automation a big push, I hope? You realise that some studies suggest nearly half of all today’s jobs could be lost to automation – yes? And that it won’t take […]

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Jul 17, 2016
A city that’s lost its neighbourliness

It starts as a pulsating thud in the evening and gets progressively louder as the night goes on, often going into the early hours of the morning. Many, many Nairobians lie on their beds wide awake because of this noise, wondering what happened to good neighbourliness. The noise I refer to is the music being […]

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Jul 03, 2016
What did the United Kingdom just do?

The market reactions said it all: the pound plunged to levels last seen in the 1980s. British shares endured a bloodbath, some losing a third of their value. That tells you that no one had factored in a ‘Brexit’ – Britain voting to exit the European Union. I know I hadn’t – I never thought […]

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Fence green grass
Jun 19, 2016
Why the grass is always greener on the other side

We are constantly peering over fences and into windows. The lives of others fascinate us. We have a lifelong obsession with knowing what they are doing; how they do it; what we need to copy from them. What are they wearing? Where do they get that stuff? How do they look so effortlessly stylish? I […]

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May 22, 2016
Protect your ‘madness’ – it may be your distinction

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” So said Robin Williams, comic genius. I read that recently and found myself nodding, then thinking deeply about it over the days that followed. It is true. You must protect your madness. Robin Williams led a troubled life and committed suicide in 2014. […]

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Jekyll and Hyde
May 08, 2016
If you want to fight evil, start with yourself

(Photo credit: suchosch / Flickr) Microsoft recently encountered an unexpected problem online. It introduced Tay, an artificially intelligent chat ‘bot’ to the world. It was conducting an experiment to see if Tay would learn from its conversations with people online and get progressively smarter. It was a train smash. Within 24 hours, Tay had turned […]

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Small Deal
Apr 24, 2016
The things money can’t buy

We are obsessed with, fixated on and deranged by money in this country. From the top dogs to the little mutts – all seem to wake up with just one overwhelming thought in mind: “how do I lay my hands on more money?” Money, we think, is the escape from poverty and misery and the […]

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calm sea sunset
Mar 13, 2016
Could we all calm down and focus on our own lives?

This country just revels in drama. Every day it’s the same. A dramatic new bunch of stories to consume. Corruption accusations and counter-accusations. Televised arrests and sackings. Campaign insults and counter-insults. Hysterical family inheritance fights. Grim warnings of trouble to come. Pleas of innocence and claims of witch-hunts. Courtroom battles. Seven-day ultimatums. Who needs pulp […]

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Nov 22, 2015
Waiting for Pope Francis, champion of the poor

“Lombardi had served as the spokesman for (pope) Benedict, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, a man of Germanic precision. After meeting with a world leader, the former pope would emerge and rattle off an incisive summation, Lombardi tells me, with palpable wistfulness: “It was incredible. Benedict was so clear. He would say: ‘We have spoken […]

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Nov 15, 2015
When vehicles start driving themselves – what happens next?

Last week I wrote about the phenomenon of autonomous vehicles that is on the horizon. Some futurists think that this technology will rival the smartphone in its potential to disrupt our world. This week, let’s trace out where the effects may fall. As indicated last week, car ownership will change dramatically. Consumer purchasing of cars […]

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Applause, clapping
Oct 25, 2015
Where the ignorant clap for the immoral

An article I wrote here a couple of weeks ago seemed to excite much reaction. Online as well as in person, many Kenyans seemed keen to tell me why the temptation to be like the looters all around us is so strong. So this week let me go further. Much further. Of course it’s tempting. […]

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Oct 11, 2015
Three words that may ruin you one day

Lawyer Mugambi Nandi recounted an interesting episode on Twitter recently. He was sitting in the back of a taxi when an ambulance appeared, siren blaring. Mr Nandi’s driver, like many others on that road, refused to give way. The lawyer took umbrage and ordered the taxi driver to give way, to little avail. He even […]

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Sep 27, 2015
Keep Left Unless Overtaking

Many years ago I was a university student in the United Kingdom. I would, of course, take public transport everywhere: trains, buses, coaches. But I missed the feeling of getting behind the steering wheel of a car. Once, when I had to make an inter-city trip to meet some relatives, I decided to splash out […]

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Jun 14, 2015
Jail the real criminals, not minor traffic offenders

Regular readers may recall I was arrested a while back. Irregular ones may need reassuring that it was for a minor, inadvertent infringement of road rules that technically constituted an offence. I looked the arresting officer in the eye and asked him why he wished to arrest me, a generally law-abiding person who takes great […]

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Jun 07, 2015
We need to act now on Nairobi pollution

What’s the biggest killer in the developing world? Given our propensity to engage in senseless and unending armed conflicts, you might be forgiven for thinking war was the biggest culprit. Not so. If you have been following much-publicised recent global campaigns, you might also think diseases such as malaria and HIV-AIDs are the most lethal […]

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May 03, 2015
Xenophobia comes from small minds entertaining small thoughts

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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Apr 26, 2015
What madness makes us clap for swindlers?

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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Apr 19, 2015
A racist restaurant and the danger of the single story

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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Apr 12, 2015
The one word no one is saying after the Garissa attack

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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Apr 05, 2015
Which of these were April Fool headlines?

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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Mar 15, 2015
No, the answer is not more security for the Big People

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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Mar 01, 2015
Where will this culture of violent protest take us?

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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Feb 01, 2015
You think your people are better than their people? Ask for your school fees back

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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Jan 18, 2015
The ‘nut rage’ incident that had consequences

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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Nov 16, 2014
Wait: could rampant cheating be a good thing?

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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Nov 09, 2014
What happens when you can’t trust educational qualifications?

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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