Wednesday, May 30, 2007

E-learning experts in town

For the last two days, Safari Park hotel has been abuzz with techies, governments and e-learning advocates comparing notes.

It’s the second e-learning Africa conference and from the choice of the venue, it’s not a place for ordinary men and women to just walk in and participate in sessions, or exhibitions.

Oops! Did I forget to say that you need about sh 22,000 to get in? Yes, it is the participation fee.

How many people can afford the fee? Who are the people who need to know much about e-learning opportunities and appreciate the technology out there?

From the ambience, this is not a place for the poor chaps with bad breath and brown teeth. If anything, they may just as well suggest that the fee is better off in their pockets than with conference organizers.

For instance, the press room has no computers because it is assumed that the local journalists and bloggers would use their laptops, and take advantage of the wireless hotspot.

Reuben Kyama, a local journalist, could only say “we are sending a message” when asked why there is no properly equipped press room or area for bloggers and journalists.

So, who are the “real winners” in this conference?


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A whining Nation

It is no secret that Moi messed up Kenya. It is equally no secret that Kenyans have acquired a whining mentality-that things are not working well as they ought to.

In the spirit of whining, the civil service has been painted as pathetic and lazy, corrupt and inept. The public has been accused of ignorance and illiteracy.

While the indictment may be true, I guess we should always give room for change. When we ever know the situation is changing if we do not give people a chance, every act is condemned.

Most of the people working in government offices are our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and cousins, who probably we hold in very high esteem. These relatives have organised their homes, pushed kids through school with peanut salary and clothed all of us somehow.

I am not in any way condoning the ills that wreck the country but I think its time we gave people a chance.

Change comes from within, we must change our outlook.

Most of the people who whine and trash the government do not queue for its services, don’t visit our hospitals, don’t go to our schools- they have access to the best services.

We may want things to move faster but even Rome was not built in a day. It takes time.

For instance, America took almost a century to make meaningful gains in the fight against child labour and efficiency in government.

We all want an efficient civil service and an informed public but it has to start somewhere.

I always feel good when I visit an office and am served well. Not because it’s a favour but because it reminds me that the situation is not that bad after all. Of course there is room for improvement but for once, stop whining.

Without fear of contradiction, I can say that at times I don’t like the services offered but if you get to know the level of poverty or the residence or salary of the person serving you, I think you say THANK YOU!


Friday, May 18, 2007


It was going to be the debate of the year, it was eagerly waited for, and at last Kenyan politicians were expected to address issues.

“I was going to be extremely impressed if they turned up. It would have been the debate of the year,” said Michuki Mwangi.

Probably Michuki’s argument epitomizes the feeling of over 80 people who gathered for the debate. It was going to be a good day.

It has been argued that some of the expected guests may not have been aware of the ICT issues expected to be discussed. Whilst this may be true, the leaders- Balala, Raila, Ruto, Kalonzo, Mudavadi, Nyagah, and Umar were sent a background note outlining the state of ICT in the country.

There was every indication that they would turn up, Ruto and Mudavadi even claimed to be on the way. At the end of it, the wait was too long and we had to proceed with the program.

The function was facilitated by Eng. James Rege and Muriuki Mureithi and all networks within KICTANet were represented.

Joseph Mucheru, Kanja Waruru, Edith Adera and Brian Logwe took turns leading the debate and the participation was equally good.

Though the live stream was hampered by poor PA system, people managed to tune in. it was a first step towards creating local content. Next time KDN and Intersat Africa will provide video streaming.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


It has been said many times that Kenyan politicians need to move beyond petty politics and embrace issues.

So when the so called ODM big wigs were invited to the ICT debate, it was expected that they would for once give a blue print of an ICT enabled country.

Most of those politicians will also be on the frontline of telling you how South Korea has developed than Kenya, yet in 1969, Kenya was perceived to be doing much better.

It was therefore expected that these politicians, who are gunning for Kibaki’s job will do better by demonstrating how Kenya could follow South Korea which by the way is the world’s most wired country.

That the politicians confirmed to participate but withdrew last minute is indicative that they either do not understand the role of ICT in developing the country or they do not care about addressing issues.

Am told that for the politicians, they are only interested in the ignorant voter and not the professionals, who are accused of shouting from roof tops yet do not turn out to vote.

I have heard stories that because Kenya has not built or maintained roads means that the politicians can not hold such a debate or such a debate can’t stream live on the internet.

Such arguments are made by people who are not in touch with reality in Kenya. They would rather stand on high horses and say how the government should do this or that instead of appreciating the simple things.

On a different note, somebody commented on radio how we are always quick to criticize the police yet we do not take time to commend them when they do something nice. They stand in traffic whole day at times rained on yet expected to perform like those in Europe or US.

So, if the comment is to tell me how Kenya is a pathetic country, don’t comment here, am sure there are other blogs that will entertain that, this is only for those who appreciate the small steps the country is taking towards development and change.

Whilst the failure to participate may demonstrate lack of maturity by the politicians, does it mean we are all at that level.

Is there anything that can be done to change politics?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Life in a coffee estate- hard work or exploitation??

There is nothing interesting in a coffee estate but being a young girl or boy growing up in central province, it’s worth it.

As a teenager, the major hurdle is waking up at 4am, one must monitor the lorry moving up before strategically lining up by the roadside and wait for the rope to be lowered down, and the “turn boy” hoists you up.

This marks the beginning of a hectic day.

Rewind!!!!! Why would a teenager go to the estates??

Of course there is nothing good about child labour but the joy of making your own money is overwhelming. For those who don’t have parents to shower them with money and gifts, it feels good to have your own money and the liberty to spend it.

On the other hand, the more money you make, the more you set yourself aside from the other lazy bones.

This was probably one of the reasons why we would walk about five kilometers to a coffee estate just outside the town I grew up. We would gather around every morning and walk there, this happens when there is no transport.

After 5 pm, we gather and compare our money, and vow to do better the following day. To us, it was the formation of the spirit of hard work and competition.

But there is a thin line between child labour, competition and hard work.

There are various reasons why teenagers, not children work in the estates, but when this work is forced and exploited, then it becomes something else.

Just like Bill Clinton delivered newspapers when he was young. If there were any coffee estates in his region, am sure he would have taken the offer.

Get me right, I am not advocating for child labour, I am only looking for the constructive side of it.

So, read on……

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


When Keriako Tobiko, advocate of the high court labeled FIDA as “busy bodies”, the statement attracted angry reactions from the feminist movement in Kenya.

Because Tobiko was representing former cabinet minister Julius Sunkuli in a rape case, many saw his remarks as utter disrespect for FIDA.

After all, Tobiko was arguing his client’s case, which was finally withdrawn, and a whole soap opera followed. Am sure you all know the story of how the girl in question appeared on TV after withdrawing the complaint.

In retrospect, Tobiko’s remarks may have had some truth. In the recent past, the role of FIDA has become increasingly questionable.

Though Tobiko is now Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and may have toned down his feelings about FIDA, others may not have.

Sample this: FIDA is only heard representing clients when one of the culprits is an MP or a “fat cat”. Does it mean those are the only people suffering?

Of course FIDA will say that the media is biased and does not report those small cases but how many?

As Nekessa put it, there may be many stories of people who have written to FIDA and not gotten responses.

To assess the situation, I had a chat with Jo, my friend who gave the little girl a ride. I sought to know why she did not refer the mother to FIDA.

“FIDA is not for desperate people, its all about big people and big publicity. For me I saw it as a social issue and not a political one like FIDA likes them,” said Jo.

As a lawyer, Jo apologized profusely that she did not see FIDA as a representative of the poor. For her, FIDA is all about show biz and the quest for donor money. In short, the bigger the culprit, the bigger the story.

FIDA will argue that the introduction of fees may be important to sustain the organizations, but the organization moved offices to Lavington, a posh area.

Whether that place is accessible or not, am sure that is not within my province to determine.

It may seem like harsh judgment to FIDA but I called their offices and they promised to call back. Am still waiting.

Back to the question- is FIDA a mere busy body?

Is it there to chase big wigs or is it for the Kenyans with brown teeth and bad breath?

In my opinion, I don’t think so. I have met quite a number of people stranded at the law courts wondering where the FIDA lawyers are, only to be told that the lawyers came and adjourned the cases and left.

Having offices in Lavington is not the best gesture, how many people can access the offices? How far do they walk or are expected to drive??

With the rising cases of rape, violence against women among other crimes in Kenya, one would have expected FIDA to have their strong presence in Naivasha, Kiambu, Nyeri, and Kisumu among many other areas that such crimes are prevalent.

If you do not hear of FIDA in such areas, what do you expect of those silent sufferers who can only write a letter and hope it is followed up?

Be the judge!