Be Careful When Shopping Online

The other day I was on facebook and saw a lady talk about how she was almost conned trying to sell her tablet on OLX. For those not in the know, it’s a classified site where users can buy or sell anything for free . So the lady had put up an ad of her tablet, and got a prospective buyer. They arranged for a meeting at a certain cafe in town. As she sat waiting for him, the buyer said he was a little busy so he will be passing by in a car and wanted her to take the tablet out to him on the street.

She stepped out following his directions. However, when the car the buyer was in pulled up, there were three other men inside. She immediately sensed something was wrong and this was confirmed when a man in the rear seat pulled out a gun and told her to get into the car. Luckily, it was daylight, she was near a buidling on Loita Street and she ran towards the watchmen as the the fraudsters drove away.

In another incident, my colleague’s uncle gave out a car he was selling to a potential buyer to test drive it. He drove off away and hasn’t been seen since. Goes without saying, you don’t let anyone (least of all someone you met online) test drive your car without you in it. You should also bring backup. Don’t be too trusting.

I’ve also heard tales of people who copy others’ ads, especially cars, complete with the same pictures, only the price is lower. Then they tell you the car is Nakuru (if you’re in Nairobi), just send  3K for fuel. And that’s the last you hear of them.

These incidents are many, just as there are many successful cases of online transactions. Just recently, my bro and I got a good deal on a laptop. With the recent implementation of VAT on laptops, it’s hard to find a 4GB RAM, 250 GB Hard disk, Core i3 (minimum specs) laptop for under Ksh. 40,000. So we went to OLX and searched around and finally got a seller of a new Lenovo laptop for around 38K.

So here is my basic guide when shopping online:

  • Meet the seller/buyer in a secure, public location of your choice. A cafe/restaurant is good because it’s indoor and it’s a public place. If something goes wrong, plenty of witnesses and the person has less time to run for it so choose a crowded restaurant.
  • Come with a backup. A reliable friend, relative.. they can inspect an item with you and agree if it’s worthe the price
  • Never exchange money beforehand. Don’t even send money for ‘transport/fare’. It is better to exchange the item for money at the same time.
  • When you buying a car or land, whether on OLX or any other market place, you need to confirm ownership at the relevant authorities (KRA/Land commission).
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is the golden rule of all transactions.If it's too good to be true, it is
  • If it’s too good to be true, it is
  • Do not share your financial information for example bank details, pin, e.t.c Put up only minimal personal information needed for the buyer/seller to contact you: a reliable phone number.
  • Don’t accept a cheque payments. Checks bounce. Cash for goods

For more tips, check out this link.

 

flying car

Introducing…. The Flying Car!

Considering the bad state of our roads, I think the Nairobi governor Evans Kidero can be more futuristic (and having a twitter handle is not ‘modern’, twitter was started 7 years ago!). Instead of investing money in roads whose maintenance we can’t seem to afford, let’s forget roads altogether and invest in making sure flying cars take off the ground.

No, it’s not a future dream. Google has built driver-less cars. Planes have been flying for centuries. So what is to stop us from making a flying car? No technology isn’t the limit, but cost is.

I was reading the BBC’s Future articles when I stumbled on the one about flying cars. Part drone, part car. And it doesn’t look too far off when you think about it. No more traffic, no more putting up with bad roads.  The flying car is being researched by Cummings, an Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronauticsand Engineering Systems at MIT. And there are other players trying to create a flying car, like MIX Aerospace.

 

An MIX illustration of a flying car

An MIX illustration of a flying car

A flying car will be the solution to our road problems in Africa, although tyre manufacturers will not be too happy about this. Seeing as they love marketing African roads with their ads.

I hope the flying car becomes a reality in my lifetime.

 

P.S.

Speaking of BBC-featured future machines, I don’t care too much for the jetpack though, it looked rather bulky and cumbersome. I’d prefer the iron suit Tony Stark wears in Iron Man. I hope the jetpack design can finally come down to this!

iron man suit

Iron Man Suit

A road in Uganda, it could be any Kenyan road!

Embarrassing Moments are Made of These

When you are driving, what is the most embarrassing thing that can happen to you? Right, your vehicle stalling in traffic. And maybe it’s at night, on a road filled with traffic like Uhuru Highway. To make matters worse, it’s raining. And you’re from a date with a girl and you were hoping to score .  You are causing more traffic, other drivers are hooting at you, so you have to push it off the road, with the assistance of your date who is not amused to be a) pushing a vehicle and breaking her precious nails, and b) getting her expensive weave rained on.

I have observed many guys in the above situation (car stalling in traffic) and hoped such an embarrassing day will never come to pass. Part of the reason why you don’t buy a 3rd-hand or nth-hand vehicle that’s generations old. And you regularly service your car.

Now yesterday morning as I surfed on my phone waiting for traffic to move at Nyayo, the ‘check engine light’ came on on the dashboard and the car jerked forward a bit. I kind of ignored it, because previously when it came on, it went away on its own. (Palmface)

The check engine light on a dashboard

The check engine light on a dashboard

However, movement afterwards was a bit jerky and there wasn’t much thrust forward no matter how hard I stepped on the accelerator. With my heart beating fast, and hands starting to get clammy, I switched on the hazards and made it to the parking in one piece. Only to find the parking space had been demolished to pave way for another concrete monster in Upperhill. I finally found a place to park, and left for a busy day (Mondays, huh?)

On coming back in the evening, I was to give a colleague a lift to the Kenyatta Bus Stop, then make my way to Mombasa road via Mbagathi Way. So when we arrive at the parking, I pop open the hood and ‘look around’, not sure for what. I check the coolant and there is the right amount. I don’t heck the engine oil because I had just serviced it exactly one week ago. It doesn’t make sense for me to check it, yet it is supposed to last 5,000 Kms and I’ve only done about 200 Km or so since service. So I just hope the problem of the engine light had gone away, like the last time. Big mistake.

I get in with my colleague getting into the passenger side. I switch on the engine, it’s vibrating crazily. We make our way past the Hospital Road which has been under construction ever since the wheel was invented. And it’s the road that leads to the biggest referral hospital in East and Central Africa. Oh the shame. When we finally get to Ngong Road, the engine vibrations are so loud, people are looking at us funny. So I switch to neutral and all is cool. But then traffic starts to move and when I switch to drive, the car goes off. I don’t panic, I switch it on again but when I move the car into drive, again it goes off.

We are next to a cop directing traffic and I switch on my hazard lights. We are on Ngong road, at the turn off to Ralph Bunche road (the one that goes to Nairobi Hospital). On our left, is a traffic cop station.

The cop notices we are not moving and comes over.

“Nini mbaya? Hamna mafuta?” – You have no fuel?

“No, niko na mafuta” – I have fuel. True, I never let my car go below 2 bars on the indicator. Right now it’s showing 2 bars. That’s enough to get me home and back to work. I have a 990 cc car.

“Basi tuisukume” – Let’s push it off the road.

He looks over to Josephine, my colleague and tells her “wewe, toka tuisukume”.

I can tell she is embarrassed haha.. having to get out and push the car. She will probably never accept a ride from me ever again. Luckily, no one is hooting at us. I remain inside directing it for a few meters till we are out of the road. Then I also have to get out and push, as one guy (there are always these ‘hangers-on’ who materialize out of nowhere when one is stranded) pushes with the door open so he can direct the steering wheel.  (This could have been us below. Oh wait, this was us yesterday)

Four people pushing car on road

Four people pushing car on road

 

We finally get the car to a safe spot about 20 meters from the road, just in front of the cop station. The cop had already left us a while back to go direct traffic. So it is me, Josephine my colleague, and two other random guys who are now offering to diagnose the issue.

I pop open the hood and they check the engine oil. It’s dry, as in the stick comes out totally dry. I can’t believe it! I had only just serviced it!

“Madam, haukuwekewa oil, hiyo walikudanganya” – They probably drained all the oil but didn’t replace it, is the general consensus.

Luckily, I have some two vibuyus (jerricans) each having about 1 liter of engine oil left over from previous services. We pour these two liters in and when we switch on the car, the ‘check engine’ light is off. Next, when we put it in drive, the car doesn’t go off but operates as normal. So clearly, oil was the issue, but what could have happened?

Did the guys at the Shell Petrol Station where I did the service really con me? (Which is a big problem) Does the car have a leakage? (Which is an even bigger problem) How come I have never noticed? (When I hadn’t checked oil levels in a week!)

I have to tip the guys who have helped us out, and then I drive on to the Total Petrol Station nearby to buy more oil. It takes 2 more liters for the oil to get up to the maximum acceptable level. My goodness, my engine could have knocked!

Josephine gets off at the petrol station to make her way home. This is quite easily her most adventurous ride in Kenya (she’s mostly lived in the States). Many thanks for helping push the car!

At the petrol station, I discover that the it’s true, the oil is leaking. Oh no, this is the problem of driving a low – clearance car on our awful roads.

So you have a luxury sports car, eh? Don't bring it to Kenya! Don't bring it to Africa!

So you have a luxury sports car, eh? Don’t bring it to Kenya! Don’t bring it to Africa! See the road pictured above, that’s the norm.

 

This morning, I dropped it off at the garage where I learned a new part of a car, the sump. It looks like a stone did it in. They should make these things out of hard metal, like the stuff the black box is made out of (RIP those aboard the Malaysian MH-370).

Lesson learned: always check your oil, coolant/water and ATF levels before leaving the house. Every day.

Also, it helps to have a colleague in the passenger side to help in pushing :-P

The Wayback Machine to The Rescue

Regular readers will know I almost lost my blog. Rather, the contents of the blog. It’s ironical because I am in the business of telling people and organizations to backup, and here I was caught pants down.  I had only backed up posts up to September 2013. Dear readers, kindly have a weekly backup (or monthly depending on how often you blog) of your content. Anything can happen.

So then I had to recover posts from between September 2013- March 2014. 6 months of work. That is when a friend pointed me towards The Wayback Machine. The Web Archive that saves every page on the internet (that always crawlers) as it appeared on the day of saving.

The easy to user interface of the wayback machine.

The easy to user interface of the wayback machine.

 

So when I typed “http://www.savvykenya.com/2013/09/” the default WordPress url for September 2013 archives, I got the result of exactly how my blog appeared that month. By playing around with post urls, monthly urls etc, I have been able to recover most of my content. It’s been painstaking work, but so are all labours of love.

 

The wayback machine's September archive of my blog

The wayback machine’s September archive of my blog

 

You can use the Wayback Machine not only to view back old pages, but also to repair broken links on worpdress or any other site, and also for programmers, there is an API for building any relevant tools you’d like. You can also submit a page for future reference, because I noted that for pages with lower amounts of traffic, they are saved less frequently.

What About Google Cache?

I tried to use Google cache but realized that it didn’t have any of my old posts. It seems Google caches mostly the main url (savvykenya.com) rather than the specific for a post (e.g savvykenya.com/2013/09/04). Secondly, the caches are temporary, and at the point of search. The Wayback Machine has various versions of the same url, depending on the date it was captured. For example, it will save “savvykenya.com/2013/09″ on a monthly basis, and store all the versions for each of the months captured. I don’t know if that makes sense. So Google cache didn’t and couldn’t work for me.

So lost a page recently, or getting a 404 error? Try the Wayback Machine.

What’s a Year in a Mother’s Life?

Somehow I have been unable to regale my readers with my tales of motherhood. Motherhood is not just something you can easily put into words, it’s not a just a feeling or a journey or an experience; it’s all that and  it’s also beyond that. It’s more than a transformation from an upbeat, care-less 20-something year old to who I am now.. I feel more deeply, I empathize more, I am more grateful, etc.. and I always look forward to going home at the end of the day. I feel such a deep sense of joy, gratitude to God for giving me a wonderful child and I live each day with purpose; to be the best mother (ever) to my son, to be there for him and encourage him to live up to his full potential, to create wonderful memories of childhood for him.

I quite easily remember the first time I laid my eyes on him, sleeping peacefully in the hospital cot. He slept a lot that first month.

Jeremy in the first month

Jeremy in the first month

Subsequent months saw him become more alert and playful.

He was my wallpaper in his second month :)

He was my wallpaper in his second month :)

 

Even before the word selfie was inducted into the dictionary, we had mustered the art. He used to reach out and try to grab at everything.

Jeremy at 3 months

Jeremy at 3 months

 

Then after he turned 3 months, my maternity leave drew to a close and I went back to work. I realized that if I had the option, I would have stayed home longer, freelancing or doing some other work that I could do from home.

He was 4 months in this picture and we were heading to clinic for weigh-in.

He was 4 months in this picture and we were heading to clinic for weigh-in.

In most ways, I am lucky to have my parents support me. I still live at home and my parents are not just dotting grandparents, they are co-parents! This has afforded me peace of mind over his care, and although we all work, my mother always goes home earlier to check on him. We’re having a challenge getting a full-time nanny for him, but we take it a day at a time.

5 months old, and sometimes pensive.

5 months old, and sometimes pensive.

By halfway through his first year, a baby hits milestones such as sitting and recognizing you, especially when I come home in the evening. He was starting to crawl and it was quite a sight watching him spend so much effort to move forward. He’s such a happy baby though, he’s always been so!

A jolly Jeremy at 6 months.

A jolly Jeremy at 6 months.

Watching him make that transformation from a helpless tiny baby to an energetic infant who can kick, scratch, scream, cry, laugh, give hugs, grow teeth and bite people has been the highlight of my life.

Black and white selfie at 6.5 months, say 7 months.

Black and white selfie at 6.5 months, say 7 months.

He loves his food, he plays with everything apart from his toy and he seems to hate unfamiliar environments. From the moment he started crawling, he’s never been in one place for longer than a second. He is constantly on the move, always exploring, pulling, poking, chewing things. His currrent favorite is opening and closing lids of various containers like flasks, hotpots, bottles..

8 months

8 months

He now imitates phonecalls. He’ll put a toy up to his ear and pretend to be talking. He talks, but it’s gibberish for now. If you teach him a trick, he’ll remember it. If you teach him a word, he repeats it. Too cute.

At 10 months.. still crawling around.

At 10 months.. still crawling around.

He finally started standing, for quite long periods of time. He now takes a few steps forward, then tumbles to the floor to continue crawling at crashing speeds.

On the eve of his first birthday

On the eve of his first birthday

On his first birthday, 30th March, we had a party at my aunt’s place. Her daughter was turning 4 at the same time (31st) and it was a joint bash. He had too much cake and soda (I know he’s just one but it’s his birthday!)

My brother gifted him the Barcelona kit he’s wearing below.

On his first birthday!

On his first birthday!

What can I say? Motherhood is the best thing that ever happened to me :)

Held Up in Traffic

 If you’ve ever been robbed at gunpoint, you know what it’s like, how they steal your money, your property, and your dignity. – from Wiki

It was a pleasant Thursday evening, around 5pm. I had just left work at Upperhill, walked to the parking lot where I met Kareynzs, a friend and former classmate. We were going to the Safaricom Women in Tech monthly meet-up at Safaricom House on Waiyaki Way, Westlands.

For Nairobians, we all know what a nightmare evening traffic is, especially around Upperhill. This means instead of a direct route to Uhuru Highway- Waiyaki Way, we decided to go use Valley Road, then to State House Road, to the Kileleshwa Bypass then to Westlands. I don’t think Google Maps has the Bypass mapped though, it kind of misled us but in the end we reached our destination in time. However, that is not the interesting part.

Roughly, same the route we used to Westlands via James Gichuru road

Roughly, same the route we used to Westlands via James Gichuru road

 

We flew (yes flew, my car is so light :-D) down Valley Road towards the junction at State House Road, and then stopped for the traffic lights to turn green. Okay I lie, we were waiting for the cop to (mis)direct traffic because at peak hours, traffic lights are hardly functional. As I stated earlier, it was one of those sunny evenings, and our windows were rolled down to enjoy a cool breeze. My friend and I were catching up as we listened to music and waited for the cop who was 3 cars away, to wave us on.

Suddenly, we got held up.. at shit point. I know that sentence doesn’t make sense!

There appeared at my window a chokora (street boy). He held down my window with his left hand so I could not roll it up. He was a wearing black, dirty coat and an equally filthy hat. In his right hand, he held human faeces, which were smelling fresh (and apparently steaming, said Kareynzs later). He said quietly:

“Auntie, haina haja nikupake hii mavi. Let mia mbili tu.” (Auntie, there is no need for me to smear you with this. Just hand over 200/-)

I had frozen when I saw that shit. In fact, it’s exactly like they show in the movies. Time freezes. The cop’s hand froze mid-air, there was silence in the air, the only sound was our heartbeats. I remembered reading on facebook of such incidents where people are held up, not at gun point, but at shit-point, by street boys.

And then, time unfroze, and I realized I didn’t want to have human shit smeared all over me. I scrambled around, found a 40 bob coin in -that space in the car where we put phones – and handed it to him. No way I was going to give him my last 200 bob (it was around payday and like most Kenyans, I live paycheck to paycheck).

“Shika hii 40 bob ndio niko nayo” I gave him the coin.

“Hapana, leta 200″. (No, bring the 200)

“Aki, hiyo ndio niko nayo” (That’s all I have).

Later, is when I realized I have bargaining skills, LOL. I am being held up at gun-sorry, shit-point and here I am bargaining instead of handing over the 200 bob.

 

kenya-40-shillings-coin

The Kenya 40-shilling coin. Image from www.kenya-today.com

He left, slithering quickly away among the vehicles idling in traffic. I rolled up my window. The whole exchange took maybe, 1 minute, but it felt like forever. I was shaking afterwards, still in shock. I realize we had been lucky, I mean Karey had in her hand her Samsung S3 mini, while just next to where I had removed the 40-bob coin, I had my Samsung Note III. But he hadn’t asked for them.. though I think if it had come down to that, I would have fought back and maybe we’d both end up with shit on our faces. I don’t know.

While evaluating the incident later, we wondered where he got the shit from. Did he um.. ask a friend to drop him something into the black plastic bag? Did he do it himself, and how did he know to stop? How much is enough? He also must have panicked, I mean there was a cop barely 20 meters away. That’s why he didn’t ask for our phones. We also knew it must have been unpleasant for him, I mean no matter how you live, human shit is not pleasant to handle

I felt so helpless and angry at being held up and there was nothing I could really do, unless I wanted to end up with shit all over my face (urgh!). How low can a human being sink, to what depths does the search for a livelihood lead one to use shit to rob people?

Although I try to keep my windows up in traffic and switch on the air conditioner, no amount of AC will ever beat the feel of a pleasant breeze across your face on a tropical afternoon/evening. Guys, keep your windows up and your doors locked in Nairobi traffic.

Afterwards, I still had to navigate the roads using Google maps that misled us, since the bypass appears not to be mapped. Somehow, we ended at ABC Place on Waiyaki Way, crossed the road and joined other women in tech trying to (or already did) scale the corporate ladder.

That is the story of how I got held up in traffic.

N.B.

Learn more about human faeces on wiki. Apparently, it comes in all colours including blue and purple, and can actually smell nice depending on a certain diet. However, what we saw on that day, was a normal, soft, brown, and smelly disgusting mess.

s5-cover

Why Should You be Excited by the Samsung Galaxy S5?

In February, the Samsung Galaxy S5 was launched in Barcelona, Spain, during the Mobile World Congress. The S5 follows in the path of the S4, S3, S2 and S before it.

This time, Samsung didn’t go all out to create the fastest, biggest, most radical Android device. I think we’ve really reached a limit in terms of things like how fast the processor is, how much memory the device can has, how clear and sharp the screen is etc. Because really, beyond a certain point, you stop noticing the difference between a quad core snapdragon vs tegra 3 processor!

So with the S5, Samsung added a few niche features and improved some existing ones. Here’s what I am looking forward to:

1. Waterproof and Dustproof

The phone is waterproof up to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes. Enough time to impress your friends by dipping it in a glassful of beer :-D

2. Fingerprint reader

There is now a fingerprint reader to unlock your phone so you don’t have to worry about entering the pass code 100 times a day like I do now. Besides, everyone around me now knows the code so sometimes I wonder why I continue to torture myself so (entering the code 100+ a day!)

3. Heart rate sensor

Basically, you can now check your heart rate  by placing your finger on a sensor located at the back of the phone. This is in addition to the usual pedometer, diet and exercise recordings, that come with its S Health app.

4. Improved Camera

Well, the camera is now 16 MP, up from the 13MP in the Galaxy S4. You can also record your videos in 4K -format, that’s like the next big thing in the display world. All you need to know is that your images and videos will look better with the improved camera features!

5. Improved design of the cover, a bit bigger than S4

The S5 is a few inches wider and longer than the S4. However, it’s still just as thin as its predecessor. The faux-leather plastic casing is more solid and makes the phone feel expensive, which it is (or will be when it’s available in the mass market from April 11th).

In addition to the black and white covers, the S5 now comes in blue, and gold. I would love the blue one.

 

The Samsung Galaxy S5

The Samsung Galaxy S5

6. Kid Mode

It’s not just my son who loves playing with (and biting) my phone, but any other kids who come into contact with it. The kid mode allows kids to mess up with kid-apps, so that you don’t have to worry about them making accidental calls or deleting unbacked-up documents and pictures.

Samsung kids mode

Samsung kids mode

7.  Download Booster

This will combine wi-fi with your 3G network to give you the best of both worlds for faster download speeds. Will this solve my perennial issues with internet speeds? I hope so!

8. Battery Life

 Samsung bragged that the Galaxy S5 can endure up to 10 hours of web browsing, and up to 12 hours of HD video playback, which is impressive . There is a new Ultra Power Saving Mode, that makes the display show images in black and white, shutting down all processes and connections it deems unnecessary, which should make the phone last longer when your battery is low. This will allow you to make 10% of your battery juice last for 24 hours. Hmmm.. can’t wait to try it out.

9. The Gear 2

Just like Note III was launched and paired with the Gear 1, I am looking forward to the improved version of the Gear. There are three versions: Gear 2, Gear Neo, and Gear Fit. There are also rumours of a Gear which could be a standalone device with its own SIM-card. The possibilities.

The Galaxy Gear 2 is yet to be launched

The Galaxy Gear 2 is yet to be launched

 

10. The Satisfaction of Having the Latest Gadget in the Market

This never gets old. :-)

ws

Wole Soyinka’s You Must Set Forth at Dawn

Wole Soyinka describes a scene in New York, where he’s in a taxi with a friend as they are driven down the streets. They see a woman alight from a taxi ahead of them, with a man following closely. There is a doorman to the building, also watching them. It seems the woman doesn’t want to be with the man, who’s roughing her up, and who proceeds to smash her head repeatedly against the wall, while she screams. The doorman is watching the scene apathetically, not even moving from his position to help the woman. What would you do if you were watching such a scene?

He told his taxi driver to slow down, got out and before he knew what was happening, he was standing over the knocked body of the man(handler). He saved the girl.

But soon he is surrounded by curious onlookers, and the woman who was recently having her head slammed against the wall was now mad at Wole Soyinka for beating up her lover. She was now all over him (the fallen lover) wondering if he was alright. Then Wole Soyinka realizes that here he is, a black man in New York, assaulting a white man. He helps the man up, dusts the man’s coat, and tells him (this is not verbatim, I don’t have the book as I type this):

“Sorry sir for the misunderstanding. Please, go home and take her with you. Take her and beat her senseless” (or something close to that).

And then he equates Africa with that woman. Our politicians abuse us, they rob us blind, hoard resources, give jobs to their relatives, public contracts to their friends, incite tribes to burn each other, steal votes, insult us, are arrrogant…….. but at the end of the day, we vote them back in because they are our “lovers”. We love them so much, that when anyone else tries to “rescue” us, we turn against our rescuer instead. Gado captures the African Big Man (president/politican) perfectly in the cartoon below.

Milking the cow dry by GADO the cartoonist

Milking the cow dry by GADO the cartoonist

 

Wole Soyinka’s Memoir, You Must Set Forth at Dawn, is a political glimpse into his life and thoughts on Nigerian (and African) politics. He never delves into his personal life, which is a pity because I am sure he has led quite an adventurous life. He left for England to study after finishing his secondary education, and while there he was conscious of the freedom struggle in Africa. He came back to Nigeria and during the first elections of the country in 1964, witnessed the stealing of an election, a phenomenon still rampant in Africa today.

What follows is a journey through the political drama of Nigeria and Wole Soyinka’s role in it. He was hunted by dictators who either wanted to use him to push their popularity agenda, or wanted him dead. He lived in exile for a number of years, especially during the terrible reign of Sani Abacha, he who had Ken Saro Wiwa (and his colleagues) shot in public in the early 90′s. The book is a tumultuous descriptions of the politics of Nigeria, the dictatorships and what one determined man (working with other determined like-minded people) can do.

It’s not an easy read, but once you get past the first few pages and start loving Wole Soyinka’s style of writing, you will loathe for it to end. What can I say? It’s not easy reviewing a man who has under his belt The Nobel Prize for Literature. He was the first African to do so in 1986. Other African Laureates now include the late Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz (1988), South African Nadine Gordimer (1991) and John Maxwell Coetzee (2003).

Remember Masaibu ya Ndugu Jero? Ever heard of the famous play that was recommended study sometime back in Kenyan secondary schools? Well, the play is a Kiswahili translation of his book, The Trials of Brother Jero. He writes poems, essays, novels, plays and has dabbled in theater. Google his works.

Wole Soyinka also talks deeply of his friendships, notably with his friend Femi Johnson, whose death he describes in the first few pages as he flies home after the death of Sani Abacha and the installation of Olusegun Obasanjo as democratic president.

The book ends on a pessimistic note, just as Wangari Maathai’s memoir. It’s cautious of the emerging ‘democratic’ Africa, because we all know that really, the democracy we have right now is just an illusion.

I enjoyed getting into the brilliant mind of W.S and wouldn’t mind re-reading this book sometime soon. The book is not just the story of a man, but is essentially a lesson in Nigerian history.

And I tell myself, Savvy, You Must Set Forth at Dawn and be Unbowed. Someday.

Memoirs of two African Nobel Laureates

Memoirs of two African Nobel Laureates

A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd – Book Review

Morgan Leafy is a misanthrope. You don’t like him at first, he comes across as condescending, even to himself. He describes himself as not too attractive, his skin is not tanning in the hot and humid West African weather and his potbelly is growing. He doesn’t like his job much as the First Secretary at the British office in the small town of Nkogsamba, in the republic of Kinjanja. The country seems to be recently independent and are about to carry out their second elections.

 

The book cover for A Good Man in Africa

The book cover for A Good Man in Africa

 

However, things are about to change for Morgan. He has a chance to redeem his dim career through a project that his boss, Fanshawe is involved in. In addition, Fanshawe’s daughter, Priscilla, has come back from England and things are going smoothly between Morgan and her. Morgan has finally got a flat for his black mistress, Hazel.

It is when things begin to fall apart that we begin to like Morgan and sympathize with his problems. The books is hilarious in describing incidents, I laughed out loud in many scenes. Priscilla dumps Morgan for a younger diplomat who has come as Morgan’s assistant. The project Morgan is working on is a local politician called Sam Adekunle isn’t going too well, as Sam is now blackmailing Morgan. Morgan was unfortunately sleeping with Sam’s wife and when he’s caught, the consequences include losing his job and his reputation. So Sam blackmails him by making him bribe the only righteous man in the book, Dr. Alex Murray, who has been treating Leafy (he has a venereal disease).

Things head to a climax towards Christams as some obscure royal duchess is visiting the small town of Nkogsamba and Morgan has to be Father Christams. Then Fanshawe’s maid Innocence is struck dead by lightning and it’s up to Morgan to sort out the mess. Even as the book ends, Fanshawe’s wife tries to seduce Morgan, although they have had a hate-barely-tolerate-each-other relationship throughout the book.

This is the best book I’ve read in a long time, and I’m glad I listened to the friend who recommended it.

Vote Now for Your Favorite Kenyan Blog!

The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) has today unveiled the nominees for the 2014 BAKE Kenyan Blog Awards. The Awards reward bloggers that post on a regular basis, have great and useful content presented in a creative and innovative format.
The nominees were selected by a panel of judges comprising of bloggers and media personalities.

The release of the nominees list begins the voting phase of the awards.

vote300px

Voting will run from 3rd March 2014 and end on April 30th 2014. You can vote for your favourite blogs through www.blogawards.co.ke/vote

Here is a list of the nominees in the various categories.

Best Technology Blog
1. http://www.moseskemibaro.com/
2.http://emmanuelchenze.com/
3. http://techtrendske.wordpress.com/
4. http://techmoran.com/
5. http://www.kvrop.com/

Best Photography Blog
1. http://stevekitots.wordpress.com/
2. http://benkiruthi.com/
3. http://mutuamatheka.co.ke/blog/
4. http://allangichigi.com/star/
5. http://www.gallerymichaelkhateli.blogspot.com

Best Creative Writing Blog
1. http://www.bikozulu.co.ke
2. http://www.mydeardoris.wordress.com
3. http://mkatenusu.wordpress.com/
4. http://www.donotfeedthebloggers.com
5. http://michaelngigi.wordpress.com

Best Business Blog
1. http://www.bankelele.co.ke/
2. http://sokodirectory.com/
3. http://www.kenyamanual.co.ke/
4. http://simplytakeaction.com/business/
5. http://inspiringgreatness001.wordpress.com

Best Food Blog
1. http://leotunapika.wordpress.com
2. http://healthylivingkenya.wordpress.com
3. http://happymealskenya.blogspot.com/
4. http://www.pikachakula.com
5. http://www.yummy.co.ke/

Best Environmental/Agricultural Blog
1. http://emmiekio.blogspot.com
2. http://rockesci.co.ke
3. http://www.panaac.org/blog
4. http://youngagrochampions.blogspot.com
5. http://www.farmingafrika.com

Best Fashion/Beauty/Hair/Style Blog
1. http://www.thisisess.com
2. http://www.kurlykichana.com
3. http://luciamusau.com/
4. http://www.ourstylekenya.com
5. http://nanciemwai.com/

Best Politics Blog
1. http://www.anjeru.com
2. http://kenopalo.com/
3. http://www.brainstorm.co.ke/
4. http://www.shitemi.com

Best New Blog
1. http://confessionsofayoungmummy.wordpress.com
2. http://www.magunga.com
3. http://www.tdsblog.com
4. http://kenyansnapshot.wordpress.com
5. http://www.wendywahito.com

Best Corporate Blog
1. http://crownpaints.co.ke/blog
2. http://www.olivia.co.ke/blog
3. http://storymojaafrica.wordpress.com
4. http://www.ihub.co.ke/blog
5. http://blog.batakenya.com

Best Topical Blog
1. http://www.mummytales.com
2. http://blog.inkedbiker.co.ke
3. http://blog.gigwapi.com
4. http://www.lizlenjo.com
5. http://datascience.co.ke

Best Sports Blog
1. http://futbolchiqa.wordpress.com
2. http://www.michezoafrika.com
3. http://www.superfoota.co.ke
4. http://www.ilfabiano.wordpress.com
5. http://www.futaa.com

Best Entertainment/Lifestyle Blog
1. http://www.ghafla.com
2. http://www.niaje.com
3. http://www.afritorial.com
4. http://owaahh.wordpress.com
5. http://actors.co.ke

Best Travel Blog
1. http://www.kenyatalii.com
2. http://www.safari254.com
3. http://www.hazelvint.com
4. http://ecotourismdemystified.com

Best Health Blog
1. http://fitnessmovementke.tumblr.com
2. http://wambuiwaithaka.com
3. http://strengtheninghealthsystems.wordpress.com
4. http://sitawa.blogspot.com

Best County Blog
1. http://uasingishudecides.wordpress.com
2. http://www.nairobicityguide.net
3. http://county-411.com/baringonews
4. http://www.mombasahub.net
5. http://www.amazingkisumu.co.ke/blogs

Best Kenyan Blog
1. http://mutuamatheka.co.ke/blog
2. http://mydeardoris.wordpress.com
3. http://bikozulu.co.ke
4. http://pikachakula.com
5. http://nanciemwai.com

Tech, Motherhood and Everything Else