I met Kinyanjui Kombani, the author of Den of Inequities, when BAKE (Bloggers Association of Kenya) had a Daystar training under the Creatives Academy invite, a few months ago. I bought the book and had it autographed, and then it lay around the house for weeks before disappearing into my mother’s handbag for a few more weeks. Finally, I found it and since it’s a small book, I read it in a day, it was a Sunday.
There are three main characters introduced in the book: Omosh, a poor construction worker living in the slums; Gosti, a local thug also living in the slums and Aileen, beautiful daughter of a rich dad. How do they coexist in the den of inequity that is the city of Nairobi?
The story of each of the characters is written simply and titillatingly, with the right suspense and description to capture the reader’s attention. I held my breath in some scenes, smiled at others, empathized with the characters, got afraid of some of the cops, sympathized with the thugs, the mungiki (I think it’s called The Chama in the book) and others who were at the mercy of these dirty cops..
The book gives an insight (albeit fictional) into behind the scenes of extra-judicial killings, the announcements you sometimes hear in the news of suspected criminals shot and killed by anonymous people. Take for instance the recent killings of everyone in Maina Njenga’s car; he is the former leader of mungiki. Type into Google Maina Njenga and all you get is dramatic, fatal events surrounding the man. How would you like a look into what’s really going on? Pick the book and it will all make sense!
For Omosh, things go wrong, and he needs a way to make things right; for Gosti he finds himself deeply involved with The Chama, when someone from his past comes calling. Aileen unfortunately tumbles into these events, and now how will it all end?
The one disappointment with this book was the lack of character depth. Maybe because the book was short so there wasn’t enough space to develop the characters. Omosh’s story is especially surprising because he does not seem to be the kind of man who does what the book say he does at the very end. In fact, after the first few pages, he all but disappears only to reappear at the very end. Gosti is the only one whose character is fully developed. I also thought the book would focus on the main characters as introduced by the book description, but they were kind of side stories to the main story: heind the scenes of extra judicial killings.
All in all, it was such an enjoyable book and I would recommend it to everyone I come across. Pick your copy from any bookshop today for only Kshs. 400 (thereabout). My only regret was that the book was too short.
Last year, I was part the panel of judges for the inaugural Olx social media awards in Kenya. Our work was to shortlisted five out of all the the nominated persons/accounts in each of the categories, and then the public would do the final voting. This year, I am happy to announce that I will also be a judge The list has not changed from last year. The awards culminated in a gala dinner at the Laico Regency. OLX is also the sponsor for this year’s Social Media Awards.
Last year, the OLX Social Media Awards had 25 categories including Social Media News Channel of the Year, Social Media Personality of the Year, Social Media Corporate Award of the Year and Social Media Innovation of the Year. New categories will be introduced this year to make the Awards more exciting and inclusive.
I will keep you updated on when the nominations are open so you can nominate your favorite social media influencers, we judges will shortlist them based on criteria that we will share with the public, and finally you will get the chance to vote for the final winner.
The awards create a platform for individuals and organizations to celebrate the contribution of social media in the social, economic and political spheres by recognizing those who have used it positively to impact lives.
I composed this blog post in my head while I sat in traffic, contemplating my life. The radio was tuned into 1FM, it’s the only radio station that has a clear reception, since I am still using the Japanese frequencies that came with the car radio. The music is local and urban hits: basically modern African hits – Mafikizolo, Davido, Sauti Sol, Elani, Diamond Platinumz, Ali Kiba (mapenzi yana run dunia comes to mind) etc. But my thoughts drift…
Of course, he’s always on mind, especially if I am idle. I think about how he will start crying for me from the moment I drive through the gate, rushing towards me so I can pick him up then he smiles and tries to remove my spectacles. He’s already widened them beyond belief and now they hang limp and loose on my face. This means I have to remove them and then there is the delicate balancing act of my son, spectacles, keys, handbag, laptop bag and any groceries I may have bought. Usually, I make sure I drop anything else except Jeremy.
When in traffic, I think about what kind of life I want to give my son. Will I bring him up to be a kind, responsible man? Will I help him achieve his dreams and ambitions? Will I be the kind of mother he would be proud of? Can I set a good example for him to follow? How will I afford his school feels? What kind of schools will I take him to? In fact, where in the world will I bring him up? (This will be relevant when you read later thoughts).
I’m grateful everyday for the support of my parents, I’m still living with them and in a way they are parenting both of us. Will I make it when I move out and start on my own? How tough is this single parenthood journey?
Then I relax and decide it will be a journey, one day at a time, and things will always work out, they always do for me, in the end.
Which leads to finances. I have been working in formal employment for almost 2 years now, but I have little to no savings. Start saving now, they say, while you are still young, no matter how much you earn. It is not easy, I must admit. I live a subsistence kind of life; my salary only sustains me as far as the next salary. I need a side hustle that brings in good money. Or a better job, which will of course mean I increase my expenses and we are back to subsistence. How can I make more money? I ask myself.
I am not the type of person who would depend on another for money & security, I always know I will make my own money. And when we speak with friends, we tell ourselves, can we really make enough in formal employment? Business is the way to go, we agree. Entrepreneurship. Some of my friends are already running their own businesses. Some are working, like me. Not many have the courage to be entrepreneurs, not many were meant to be entrepreneurs.
Which leads me to ask myself, do I like what I am doing? Is it leading me to the path of riches and accomplishments (vain thoughts?)
Do I want to continue working in Ernst & Young in IT audit and consultancy? Is there a future for me here, right now?
Then I remember the decision was already made for me. I have already tendered my resignation letter but will be here for the next 2 months, then have my last working day in early September. I am leaving EY to go back to school. See next train of thought.
Did the time I invested in learning at Strathmore, courtesy of the Safaricom Academy worth it? Definitely. I learned not only mobile programming in all platforms (USSD, Android etc), but also project management, business skills, entrepreneurship, leadership and management. I know I will apply them not only now but also in the future, especially when I set up my own business to make more money so I can better take care of my son (all thoughts center around the same issues, as you can see!)
Japan, October 2014
As you wonder why I am resigning from my job with an reputable, international, I will tell you to stop wondering.. here’s why.
I got a Japanese Ministry of Culture and Education (MEXT) scholarship to go and study in Japan, at a university of my choice. I decided to go because I have always wanted to travel, and I’m going to the East first, conquer the world one country at a time. So I am going to the School of Information Science at JAIST to major in Artificial Intelligence. Another MSc. For like 2 years. But I’m young enough, with 2 years of work experience.. and I like studying, and will probably end up in (industry) research. Every tech company worth its salt has invested in research.
So I’m leaving in early October, hopefully, fingers crossed. I’ll leave Jeremy and Bella in my mother’s loving arms, then when I’m settled, I’ll send for J. For the next 2.5 years that I will be in Japan, I couldn’t possibly leave my son behind that long! I will have to do everything possible to reunite us.
My friend Pitz tells me a woman is her most attractive at 26. He says there was research carried out, apparently. Or is it a survey? So as you see me today, I am at the height of my attractiveness hehe.. so where are those serious men? How will my ambitions to travel and see and work anywhere the world, to study etc.. how will these ambitions converge with another? Is there someone out there whose path will cross mine? Is it okay if I am not even contemplating marriage? Is it okay if I decide I don’t have to “settle down” and can live the rest of my life in single motherhood?
The thing about relationships is that it’s not your decision alone to make. So until someone else comes along whose decisions I want to be a part of, and vice versa, I shall reserve my stall my train of thought here….
By the time, traffic has started to move, but oh wait, it was just a teaser. The cop halts the flow of traffic after 2 or 3 cars. We sit and wait.. and I finally decide it’s time I solved the Rubik’s cube that I’ve been learning to these past few weeks, in between reading books (I am currently reading the Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and I am yet to write the review for Den of Inequities by Kinyanjui Kombani), blogging, meeting friends for coffee, and squeezing in some hours of work between commuting to work in the morning and commuting home in the evening..
The cube is just about solved when traffic finally moves and I zoom home to my family, hooting at bad drivers, cursing at those who cut me off in traffic, and nodding to Elani’s kookoo.. I’m going kookookoo so kookoo coz I…aiaiai love you…… turning up the volume of my Japanese radio.
Jokes and taglines aside (Everything sells!), there are some things that you cannot sell on olx (or any other online platform for that matter), for various reasons. Mostly legal and/or cultural.
OLX has to validate ads to ensure no laws are being violated before allowing them to go live, that is why when you post an ad, you might be told to wait for sometime before the ad can appear on the website.
For legal reasons, below are somethings you cannot sell online:
Babies or any human beings or body parts or bodily fluids!
Illegal/outlawed/banned drugs e.g. marijuana, cocaine, miraa (if in the UK!)
Any content that violates copyright or trademark, especially if you do not own that copyright
Any content that violates intellectual property (IP) of another, especially if you don’t own that IP e.g. pirated movies, music, patents
Porn – this is a no no
Information regarding other people without their consent
Stolen items – don’t post stolen cars, phones, computers..
Don’t advertise your pyramid schemes, chain marketing etc
Illegal services such as soliciting are not allowed!
No pictures of frontal nudity!
For cultural and personal reasons, please don’t put up for sale the following items on the site (not exhaustive):
Used cosmetics and other used personal items such as combs, toothbrushes, underwear
I know I am late in publishing this list, since the competition and conference ended last week. Pivot East was held at Panari this year, and the winners in the five categories were picked from a pitching contest in which five start-ups were shortlisted for each category.
Here are the winners of PIVOT East 2014
Mobile Society Category
SokoText (Kenya): SokoText uses SMS based pre-ordering service to make it easier for small mama mbogas (fruit and vegetable sellers) in slums to get their daily stock. SokoText is based in Mathare slum in Nairobi.
1st Runners Up: TotoHealth (Kenya). TotoHealth enables hospitals and organizations to communicate and provide targeted information on antenatal & postnatal care using low-cost phones.
Mobile Entertainment category
UbongoKids (Tanzania): Ubongo Kids is a multiplatform, interactive edu-cartoon with SMS interaction broadcasting on TV to kids in Tanzania and online for kids around the world. They are looking to expand across Africa and already have a deal with Startimes to kick this off.
1st Runners up went to Safari Tales (Kenya): Safari Tales is an edutainment android mobile application for children to access Digital African Narratives & learn African Languages. They currently have four complete stories available on the app.
Mobile Enterprise Category
A SiM Mobile (Kenya): ASim Mobile is a supply chain mobile solution integrated seamlessly with most popular accounting, ERP apps in the world.
1st runners up: Online Hisab(Ethiopia) a cloud-based accounting package for Ethiopian SMEs, who are looking for an affordable and easy to use accounting solution.
Mobile Finance Category
ChamaSoft (Kenya): A group management platform which manages administration of chamas, allowing them to concentrate on investment rather than administration.
1st runners up was Beyonic (Uganda): Beyonic seeks to eliminate cash by creating the best solutions that enable business to make payments using mobile money.
Mobile Utilities Category
Sendy (Kenya): A platform for on-demand errands. With the tap of a button, they instantly connect senders and riders and enable payments via mobile phones
1st runners up were MaraMoja (Kenya) -Maramoja is Kenyan social enterprise dedicated to providing easy access to safe, reliable transport services through your mobile device.
The founders award went to Online Hisab a cloud-based accounting package for Ethiopian SMEs, who are looking for an affordable and easy to use accounting solution.
The winners of the competition will get funding amounting to 10,000 dollars per startup from m:lab East Africa. The funding will be split into two halves, the first being a $5,000 grant. The other $5,000 will be an investment which may be topped up by other investors
It’s one thing to write about an app after learning about it, it’s another to actually use the app and experience it for yourself. After learning about Sendy, I downloaded it from Google Play, but didn’t use it for a while.
I had bought a book for a friend and was having a challenge delivering it to them, because of distance and hectic schedules. So this week, I have been working in Industrial Area in Nairobi, and my friend works on the other side of town in Kilimani. The obvious solution was to have a rider deliver it, so I opened the Sendy app. At first, it had my location at Bunyala road, so I tapped on the screen to update my location and it did so immediately, I didn’t even have to turn on GPS, I guess it uses your GSM network for location as well.
There was only one rider who was around me, so I pressed the button for call rider. He informed me his name is Oloo and he would be there in 20 minutes (much less than the app indicated). I told him I needed something delivered to Kilimani and he quoted his price, which was reasonable. So he agreed to come over, as he was in town.
I had cash, so when he arrived in the 20 minutes, I just paid him. But if you don’t have cash (or change) you can pay through M-Pesa or your VISA card.
Oloo called me about 30 minutes later and told me had delivered the book. Calling my friend confirmed receipt. So I texted Oloo to tell him thanks and saved his number for future use.
I remember asking him how he signed up for Sendy. He told me he had to go through a lengthy vetting process including getting a certificate of good conduct from the CID, but he has had good business so far. So you can trust Sendy riders.
But come to think of it, I don’t need to save all numbers of all riders I come across; because once they have the Sendy app on their phones, it tracks their location. If I ever need a package delivered, all I have to do is load the Sendy app on my phone and get the nearest riders available around me, and the estimated time until they arrive at my location. Usually, the time they take to arrive is much less than indicated in the app, because they’re on motorbike thus not hindered by traffic. You can always call them to confirm their ETA.
Later, when I was having coffee at Savannah Lounge at Sameer Business Park, I tried out the app and it had updated my location and the nearest rider information had also changed.
I’d suggest everyone download this app and keep it in their phone, because you never know when you will need it.
It’s simplicity is astounding, the first page you load is the one showing you riders around you. You just have to sign up first after downloading it. Let me know your experience with it once you have used it.
There are many odd things on sale on olx Kenya. Not in the least, rabbit urine. As more and more people get online looking for deals, the market expands for the seller. There should be no limit to what anyone can buy/sell online (within legal limits!)
So do you have something you never thought could sell online, that probably couldn’t find a ‘category’? – although I think there is a “Miscellaneous” category.
If you’ve been looking for a kids app that tells traditional folk stories in English, Kiswahili and other African languages, then Safari Tales is what you need. The application is free to download from Google Play.
The application has:
Poems & Tongue twisters
Songs- Nursery Rhymes & Lullabies
Have fun offline – upcoming Kiddie events
The features of the application include:
All African Folklore in one application
“Read to Me” — hear the narration as you read the story
“Read it Myself” — read the book in its traditional form
“Auto Play” — plays like a movie, automatically reading and turning pages.
Tap on a word to read its meaning from an in-built dictionary
A full library of traditional African Folklore: ¸ Free first Bundle of books!
If you have young kids and they’re tired of playing fruit ninja, angry birds, temple run and whatever other games kids play on your android devices, download this app today and let me know your feedback. I will probably do another post when I have interacted with this app fully.
Barbara and Stephanie Keating introduced us to unforgettable characters in the first book of the Langani trilogy, Blood Sisters. (Read the review here). Central to the tale are Sarah, Camilla and Hannah, the three friends who are now blood sisters through an oath they swore, to stay friends forever no matter what. Hannah’s parents own Langani Farm in central Kenya, which the sisters consider home.
The first book ends in tragedy, but I don’t want to give away the story in case you haven’t read it. The second book, a Durable Fire, picks up from there and spins yet another tale that brings alive the Langani farm and her intriguing cast of characters.
A Durable Fire
In A Durable Fire, the sisters have all but grown up. Shortly after their 21st birthday, after the tragedy in the first book, they must pick up pieces of their lives and find the strength to move on. Sarah immerses herself in elephant research in the dry and remote Samburu, finding solace in the unchanging habits of the elephants over the centuries. She works with a couple, Dan and Allie, that offer her the solace she needs to get over the tragedy. She has an eye for photography and soon, an Indian journalist arrives on the scene, and they have an idea for the book. While working together, an attraction builds between them, but can they overcome their racial, religious and cultural differences?
Camilla, the beautiful London model, has achieved worldwide success and fame. She still longs for Kenya, and for Anthony Chapman, a charismatic tour guide who is a friend to the sisters. They had good times, but she’s a sophisticated London model and socialite; he’s just a bush boy happy when he’s camping in the wild. Their worlds are separate, but clearly they are meant for each other. Their tale of star-crossed lovers is tragic. Camilla learns the secret of her parents’ cold marriages, who had initially been diplomats in Kenya before retiring to the UK. It’s a secret that keeps her estranged from her father.
Hannah who is married to Lars Olsen, has to take over the running of the farm together with her husband. They keep the farm running, but it doesn’t feel like the danger is over at all. It’s not just poachers or corrupt officials they have to deal with (the farm also includes a wildlife conservancy) but the danger from the past that comes haunting them again. Hannah decides to adopt a black boy at the center of it all, in order to end the cycle of tragedy and bitterness.
If this second book has you hooked, you will then have to read the final book to just know how it all ends.
In Borrowed Light
In Borrowed Light
The book is set 11 years after the second book; the sisters are not young anymore, they are older, mature women in their early 30′s but have they achieved what they they set out to do?
Sarah is married to Rabindrah, the Indian journalist. They have done a number of successful books together. They have been trying to start a family for years, but have been unsuccessful and this is putting a strain on their marriage. Their families aren’t helping either, pointing out their unsuitability in the first place. Sarah, who’s always been the happy, wise(r) one, is becoming sad and bitter. Will they resolve their crisis and save their marriage?
Camilla still cares for Anthony; but she still spends a considerable amount of time in London and New York. She is now a designer of high end clothes with African decorations, and only does select modelling announcements. Will Anthony overcome his stubborn pride and see that he has only unconditional love to gain?
Hannah Olsen’s kids are growing up fast, as kids always do. Her first born daughter, Suniva, is very close with the boy she adopted, James. They are inseparable as they grow up, even into adulthood. Are their parents ready for these relationship? James’ past is unknown to Suniva and to James himself, but terrible things have happened in the past that threaten to keep them apart.
The last book in this trilogy brings out the best and worst in the characters; the endurance and forgiveness and love that defines the very basis of a good story.
I read the first two books using the Amazon Kindle app, and the third I bought from Text Book Center.
The digital migration hullabaloo died down, thanks to several parties and court cases; none of which had the interests of the end consumer at heart (like anyone ever does).
Anyway, you don’t have to wait for the migration order by the government to switch to digital TV. Lots of Kenyans have subscribed to providers of digital TV such as Supersport, Zuku, GoTv and Star Times.
Star Times are trying to gain numbers in the market and have reduced the cost of their decoders, they are now the lowest in the market. The new prices are below:
The Pay TV is now Ksh 1,999 from 2,999 (with monthly payments ranging from 500Ksh)
The Free-to-Air box for a one-time price of Ksh. 4,499 from 4,999
If anything, you can purchase the set top box to view free to air channels (ie NTV, K24, KTN, KBC etc) clearly. The only strong signal in our area is K24 and I wonder if it’s a conspiracy. I have the pay TV Star Times decoder, but the last time we renewd the subscription, my brothers messed up with it and now it no longer works.
Have you used Star Times, what is your experience?