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…gosh, the days are flying…can’t believe it’s been over a week since I posted. Not suffering from writer’s block, just trying to juggle motherhood, work (which is suddenly crazy busy and has to fit into a part-time schedule), and a long-overdue Mzalendo ramp up especially with elections around the corner.

Oy vey.

Speaking of writer’s block, you have to read this wonderful article about Ralph Ellison’s struggle to complete his second novel. Suddenly a few days lapse doesn’t seem so bad :-)

3 comments to …

  • Louise Khabure

    Hi Ory,
    I have been redaing some of your stuff..very good and interesting, i think many of us are intimidated of writing or postpone it because we want to write a perfect piece..and there is no perfect piece..or sometimes we want to write a vey moving piece for others..but to me writing something moving is writing what moves you. I especially appreciated your article on growing up in Nairobi..well I went through pretty much all you wet through, and reading it brought both tears and laughter because I hear you when you say when thing were good you ate egges and sausages and when they were bad porridge..half loaf was a regular purchase…and i ended up going to the Kenya high..and i was kicked out on several occasions. Now, as a research fellow at Kings college, who would have known! We have to find African voices..in different ways..some like you are good with internet blogging others are better at writing columns or books, research papers you name it but I agree we must be part of the african cmmunity that has authority over our own stories..we cannot do that without knowledge as well..I think we wish too but we are bogged down with daily survival issues..I dont know how our folks did it..because I know I cannot support a family of five like my mother did..take them to private catholic on a schools..on a city council salary..I earn more than she will ever earn and I still cannot do it!! Let me stop my rant here..and add that this month orprah magazine has excellent tips on writing..Walter Morsley especially, says to write yu have to write everyday no matter what!! I am highly impressed by your writings..I wish you well with yoru plans re motherhood, work and mzalendo

  • Patriotic Kenyan

    A small axe to the Safaricom IPO
    I am not the daughter of a Big Man. Neither am I married to a Big Man — or even to the son of a Big Man.

    I had the good fortune to have essentially middle-class parents who worked hard to give my siblings and me a good basic education. And I had the good fortune to have a mother whose citizenship made it possible for me to attend university, courtesy of the student loans system of her country.

    The student loans covered fees and accommodation. But my parents couldn’t afford to send us much money — getting $100 on birthdays and at Christmas was like getting a windfall. So I worked to supplement the student loans, from the time I left Kenya at the age of 16.

    Of course, I now recognise that, despite not being associated with a big man’s family, in comparison with the majority of people in Kenya, I am not only fortunate, I am actually extremely privileged.

    But, despite that recognition, having worked since the age of 16, I also know the value of my money. I have worked for what I have. This is why, for instance, I get apoplectic with rage about corruption.

    Under Kenya’s ridiculously constructed tax brackets, I fall into the same top tax bracket as Kenya’s Big Men. And I get nothing for it, having to pay privately for everything—including security where I live and medical insurance. But, my privileges taken into account, I certainly wouldn’t mind paying the amounts of tax that I do pay if I felt the money went to help those with fewer privileges, not to pay the obscene salaries of those who cannot be bothered to assure the House of a quorum sufficient to pass even 10 Bills a year — or to build the “bigness” of the Big Men.

    The other night, some friends and I calculated the share of Safaricom’s reported Ksh17 billion ($253.7 million) profit that would have gone to Mobitelea — the company that, according to the Public Investments Committee, is irregularly in possession of no less than five per cent of the mobile phone company’s shares, meaning that there are apparently no records of Mobitelea having paid for that shareholding.

    MEANING THAT MY TAX MONEY, which went into building and sustaining Telkom and Safaricom, was essentially given away. Meaning that, coming back to our calculation, the alleged owners of Mobitelea — the son of a Big Man and the son-in-law of another Big Man under the former regime and a Big Man in this regime — earned themselves no less than Ksh850,000,000 ($12.6 million) last year alone. From doing nothing at all, except live off the profits of having stolen from us. Ksh850 million off my back (and your’s as well). Again, I am incapacitated with rage.

    And yet, the Treasury insists that Safaricom’s initial public offer will proceed, regardless of the outcomes of the PIC debate within the House or any court cases that might ensue.


    FRANKLY, DESPITE OUR NEWFOUND fascination with IPOs, I don’t think a single one of us should put a single shilling forward. Those of us who do work hard and honestly deserve better. If shares in Safaricom could essentially be given away to Big Men, their sons and sons-in laws, then they can be given away to us. Why should we pay for them? They’re our property in the first place, which the government was meant to hold in trust for us. If it breached that trust for three of us, then it should share the love with all of us.

    It might not seem like it, but there are, in fact, victims of corruption. Those victims are you and me — every single Kenyan who dutifully pays his or her taxes. I’m furious. I’m ready for a tax boycott — the residential associations led the way and it’s time to scale up their efforts. We need to say to hell with that IPO until the issues raised by the PIC have been satisfactorily dealt with. We need to be the “small axes” that Robert Nestor Marley talked about and cut down all those “big trees.”

    L. Muthoni Wanyeki is a political scientist based in Nairobi

  • You have hit the nail on the head, L. Muthoni Wanyeki. Indeed, grossly, that is why our Kenyan economy has been in a slump for a long.
    These “Big Men” devoured us completely in the name of siasa nzuri maisha mazuri and siasa mbaya maisha mbaya etc. That is why many graduates aimlessly,when hungry, emaciated,and hopelessly trek the strees of small Nairobi dropping their CVs for which they hardly get no feedback.

    Ours in Kenya has been a dichotomy of the rich and the poor. Not even elections are doing us good because these same politicians who have dried the tax payer’s money more often than not end up in the office.

    BUT,we need to fight harder to change our country Kenya for good. We need the good senior citizens(aged who mean well) and the junior ( young graduates – most if whom are embracing ICT and entrepreneurship) to change our country.

    Long live Kenya, live and be strong Kenya!!