Interesting conversations lead to posts

As always, I find I am inspired by conversations that I am a part of or that I eavesdrop into (I’m very nosy, hence the journalism degree). I find that one of the best ice breakers is to tell people that you run your own company. Make that two like me and you have conversation material for years. People are always curious to know how it can be done and the one line I always hear is “I can’t wait to be my own boss, to decide my own schedule and make lots of money. I’m going to do it one day.”

With my short stint two year stint in entrepreneurship that seems to be working thus far -this shocks me every morning by the way- and with two failed (totally failed) businesses under my belt I think I can add my two cents to the above statement.

1.) I can’t wait to be my own boss: This is a highly romanticized approach towards being an entrepreneur. Your own boss? Your clients, the Kenya Revenue Authority, City Council and investors (if you have these) own you. Okay maybe I’m being too hyperbolic about this. The truth is you’re still accountable to a lot of parties and the accountability doesn’t end and turn into you drinking mojitos while turning in your annual reports – although this is a fun possibility too.

2.) I will decide my own schedule: No, you won’t. Your smart phone, especially in the beginning when having an assistant is but a distant dream, will be your reference for all things. This will include remembering people’s names, office locations, client’s favorite things, your supplier’s children’s names… And it will allow people to tag you into their Google calendar and schedule you into meetings. Occasionally, you may schedule your own meetings, but remember this is a luxury. Enjoy it while your business is still young.

3.) I’m going to do it one day: This reminds me of that joke that I love laughing to “Procrastinators of the world unite, tomorrow.” If you’re not taking steps to go into entrepreneurship it’s not going to happen. And it will never be the kind of thing you do ‘when the time is right’. The phrase ‘Shit happens’ excuse my language, is an understatement as to what your situation will be once you choose this path.

That said, I have never been more fulfilled and happier than when creating value for the investor, client and employee. And watching your business grow, encounter and jump hurdles as well as become known, on its own merit is quite a heart warmer. So, as a parting note I would say do it, but only if you’re absolutely passionate and driven by what you’re trying to create. That’s the only thing that will have you show up day after day even when stuff isn’t working out.

How can customer complaints be addressed more efficiently via ICT?

It has always puzzled me that despite the communication strides that the internet allows, here in Kenya we are largely still dependent on archaic models of customer care. These usually involve phone calls, letters to ‘The Watchman’/newspaper and/or visits to a physical customer care facility. While all of these platforms have their uses, I would think that the reduction in broadband price as well as the ease of access to a mobile phone would have significantly improved this sector.

Some time back conversation on this began, as I highlighted here between Ramah, Sunny, Nanjira, Asif and I. However, somewhere along the line it was lost in a sea of other personal priorities. However, recently my friend Anthony Wanderi revived my interest in it via a whatsapp chat that he graciously agreed for me to share and that has quite a few ICT based solutions proposed that I really liked. The below is his contribution to the conversation in bold:

Anthony Wanderi: “The mapping idea on your blog would have had my vote. Map complaints based on pre-selected topics and when a complaint got enough votes, whether on Twitter/G+/Facebook it would be communicated to residents from that area of complaint via SMS.”

Muthoni (Me): Here Anthony introduces an idea I had not thought about. Usually in many instances, people suffer from poor/compromised service in a similar location. For example, one gets food poisoning in restaurant X in Nairobi’s CBD, people in Nairobi/CBD would benefit from knowing restaurant X poisoned someone. And information regarding how the restaurant addressed the matter so that they are able to make more informed choices. The restaurant is also more likely to act in an ethical manner if they know other people (in their direct target audience) will find out. Word of mouth, amplified!

Anthony Wanderi: There would be issues with this of course (opt in, charges, frequency of updates etc) but those are technicalities that can be addressed. Also, in case a premium number is needed for this we could rope in a telcoms provider and perhaps pitch it as a social responsibility project?

Muthoni: With this second point, one would in my opinion benefit greatly from a telcom partnership. However, my biggest hesitation would be that they would use this partnership to reduce evidence/influence the visibility of complaints against them. Perhaps a better partnership would be with a consumers’ advocate group? Also how would people sign up to this service and how would they control the rate and quality of messaging they would receive. A highly attuned user experience menu would need to be created for this in my opinion. One similar to the Safaricom+ and Mpesa menus that people have in their phones. This could be somehow downloaded into one’s phone. The best way people could find out about this would be via advertising, sensitization and education as well.


The inevitability of change

It’s been a while since I last sat down to blog. A function of new projects and a new company (more on that later)  swallowing up my time. As well as a hesitance to put down anything for the sake of it. I logged into my blog admin today and I found a quote left in my comments section from this article that was such an inspiration:

“I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success . . . Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”
― Nikola Tesla

Aren’t people on the internet awesome?

Almost two years since I started writing here and so much has changed. As those of you who regularly/occasionally  read this blog know, I’ve been running Deviate as a sole proprietor for close to two years. However, I recently sold shares to include two more partners who I feel can drive the company forward as well. I am determined that it must outlive me and see many SME’s grow into more successful long term companies as well.

My passion for creation and the betterment of local and regional business, however, does not stop there. I recently partnered with some friends on a fashion line, but as time went along we found our ideas -though all good – did not meet. Nothing worse than differing visions so we split. But I am still enthusiastic about the Kenyan and African fashion scene so I started Nine by N. The goal of this company is to outsource labor and supplies from local suppliers to develop unique designs that expand their market base. So if you know any awesome artisans and tailors who operate from a Kenyan market (yes any) holler! And if all goes well it will also be an employer and economic driver just as Deviate is in its own way. So far the response has been fantastic, and over 5 shops within Nairobi have agreed to stock my product. Not to mention the amazing individual clients who have purchased and WOMM’d my line amazingly for me.

So a few changes will be happening on the blog to reflect all of this, as I still do wish to share anecdotes, lessons and ideas here. I will be changing up the look, feel and site navigation so that people are better able to select what areas they wish to read. As opposed to the current format that is just a looooooonnnngggg scroll down. I hope that will be more enjoyable.

Business, conversations and lessons

I love having conversations with go getters, alphas and doers in society. Picking their brains and hearing out their dreams, ambitions and thoughts for a better future, in their corner of the world always fascinates me. In one recent conversation, we tore down what it was that kept people out of doing something that mattered to them.

Was it money, fear or the relaxed atmosphere that a comfort zone offers? Was it that as a society we feared ‘failure’ and discouraged it so much that we ended up stifling the necessary experimental and curious nature that innovation and solution finding calls for. Or was it also, that we, who had enjoyed some measure of success were not honest enough in giving our ‘rise to x..’ story, and insisted on the glamourous rags to riches format instead? Which rarely provides anyone with the relevant know how in achieving the same level of ‘success’.

I guess there are many reasons to the why, however, in today’s post I will share some of the lessons I have learnt in running, owning and ensuring my company survives and stays relevant to my staff and clients (the most important people in that order).

When I started Deviate I was passionate about providing better marketing services and platforms for small but dynamically growing Kenyan businesses. Brands like Tile and Carpet, Tropical Heat and Mercantile Insurance had fascinated me when I worked at Creative Edge. What I however, found was that despite their having a few million shillings to spare for marketing, they were not receiving the best service tailored specifically for them. Media (billboards, radio, TV and Print) and agencies usually priced themselves and built their models in a way that would work really well for a big brand eg Colgate but not as well for a brand like Whitedent.

So I started Deviate, a company who’s sole aim is to provide better service, delivery and set standards for SME and agency relations. It’s a company that picks brands that it can grow with as opposed to just a brand that can grow the profit margins of the company. The company is entirely built around two groups of people, the staff and the clients.

I believe this is one element that has helped us grow to where we are, currently the company represents over 20 regional brands. And we’re a year old.

However, our business model is not all that matters. One of the biggest selling points Deviate has is the relationships with clients. This really is not marketing lingo. My clients inspire me as people, and they happen to be some of the most interesting and forward thinking people I have met. A huge problem in agency is the idea that ‘client is confused/stupid/complicated’. In many instances they are able to provide an outside-in view that can truly guarantee marketing ROI. A notoriously difficult thing to achieve. So we value our clients and their input, as well as enjoy creating something with them. After all, we work with SME’s, one of the most creative and dynamic groups there are. Do I go out of the way for them in many areas, yes, is it worth it? Yes, all jobs and retainer clients have come from WOM of current/past clients. Not to mention the repeat business opportunities that can be explored.

Now to the dirty bit of it all, the top was all flowers. Lack of money and fear of failure. When I started out, Deviate was going to be all about carvertising-selling ads on taxi bodies. Long story short it didn’t work out yet I had spent all my savings on it. I was flat out broke. I don’t know whether I should thank Zeus, Bacchus or Thor, but someone who I had worked with at Creative Edge approched me to pitch for an online brand management job. I did and I got it. However, it took about three months for this and the cheque on it to clear. I lived on Uchumi points and for one month my electricity was cut. During the three months, I got three job offers, not interviews, offers, one of whom wanted to pay me 120 000 ksh net. I emailed my thank you but regretted to inform them that I had started my own company. My family and friends listed me off as insane, and in all honesty at that point I kind of was. There was the constant nagging of inner voice me that kept reminding me that I had already failed in the carvetising, plus, the online brand management client might not want to go with me. I guess the lesson in this is that I was determined, possibly half starved to a near insane at this point and I really had a good feeling about what I wanted to do and I believed my solutions could make a difference. Money and comfort were just not going to cut it.

That client ended up being my first major win in many ways. They were a very recognizable brand, and over the year that I worked with them, we not only receive fantastic online PR but this translated to offline as the brand is referred to as one of the few active and engaging corporate brands online. Plus we got nominated for best corporate account at BAKE.

Do I still have issues with money, yes, can I still fail yes. In fact failure at this stage would mean ruining the lives of my employees and clients. Will I give up, or am I tempted? No. Never ever. I plan on building a company that will be over 100 years old and still counting. How many of those do we have in Kenya/East Africa that are truly ours?

Fellowships being offered up in the fields of new media and digital innovation. Apply!

Innovation for change powered by Oxfam, is proud to announce three summer fellowships for students and recent graduates. Summer Digital Innovation Fellowships are offered with our partners working to combat injustice and end poverty and suffering. Each fellowship is offered over a two month period and includes a stipend of $2000. Course credit is available where applicable.

Who Should Apply?
Currently enrolled Undergraduate and Graduate students, as well as recent graduates (graduated within the past 6 months) are eligible to apply. All applicants MUST BE OVER 18.  You are responsible for complying with local immigration and visa regulations at the location of your fellowship. However, shiftLabs and partners can assist with invitation letters and other documentation.

What You’ll Give
You will give two months of your summer to help incredible causes do no less than change the world for the better.  Time commitments and intensity vary slightly for each fellowship, but plan to spend the months of June and July working full-time or near full-time for your cause. Our partners need your passion, energy and dedication to make great things happen.

What You’ll Get
In addition to financial support, shiftLabs and fellowship sponsors will provide a mentorship, daily management and integration with a team working for change. We promise you that these are action-filled, boots on the ground posts — you will not be fetching coffee! Your fellowship can be tailored to meet internship or course requirements within reason.

– All applications close May 18
– This is NOT an offer of employment. Fellowships are internships that include a small living stipend.
– All applicants will be considered equally regardless of race, age (must be over 18), nationality, or gender.
-Applicants must submit proof of current or recent enrollment in an accredited Undergraduate or Graduate  University-level program.

Learn about each fellowship and apply:

John Seno’s Perspective: Economic Freedom in Africa

Thanks to John for letting me re-blog this article, he blogs here. Bless!
I was recently in Tanzania and it was interesting to observe the similarity in the living standards of the Tanzanian majority and the Kenyan majority. Tanzania practiced socialism for a long time under its founding president the late Julius Nyerere. Kenya on the other hand has always been a moderately free market economy with private property rights and a fair bit of competition. In the 1980’s and 1990’s both countries opened up their economies through privatization of state corporations, liberalization of markets and deregulation.
Overall we have experienced mixed results that really haven’t pulled the masses out of poverty. Often gains made through economic liberalization have been severely hampered by political allocation of resources. When politics becomes the main criteria for allocating resources the incentives under which free markets work are changed substantially to the extent that market equilibrium is no longer possible. Under these conditions markets are characterized by low productivity, corruption, nepotism, trade imbalances, monetary instability and a host of other systemic problems that limit economic growth.
Further worsening the situation is a political culture based on negative ethnicity, idolization (personality cults), favor seeking, weak legislation and ignorance. This feeds a vicious cycle that perpetuates legacy issues inherited from successive regimes.
Afro optimists paint a very rosy picture of Africa’s future but they do not appreciate the delicate nature of our loosely integrated nations. The reality is that economic growth today can quickly be erased by an election gone bad tomorrow. We have numerous illustrations across the continent of nations with massive potential that have been dragged into the abyss overnight. African leaders, tired of working under the western microscope of good governance are fashionably looking east to China for development partners. During the cold war era Africa like other developing regions were conveniently provided with development assistance by the west without much emphasis on good governance, so it’s fair to say that we are stilling suffering from cold war hangovers. We still want assistance without accountability.
In order for us to overcome these social economic challenges we must replace our myopic view based on our ethnic identities with a new identity based on our humanity. As idealistic and rosy as it sounds, we have to create a socially cohesive, multiracial society that rewards effort, initiative and courage. It is disheartening to note that although we have white Kenyans and Asian Kenyans they are not adequately represented in parliament or government. It is only through social integration that the foundation of trust (upon which economic activity is based) emerges. With a firm foundation of trust all other challenges become less daunting.
Mombasa Port

Beyond social cohesion issues, infrastructure is a critical area that has to be managed well. We say time is money and the characteristic of poor infrastructure is endless delays that slow the whole economy. Poor infrastructure lowers productivity, increases waste, increases production costs, increases transaction costs, prohibits trade, reduces population mobility, slows supply chains and increases the counter-party risk of our landlocked neighbors like Uganda. Africa’s development is pegged on inheriting manufacturing jobs from Asia. China is projected to shed 85 million manufacturing jobs in the next decade, for us to inherit these jobs we must invest heavily in world class infrastructure, namely roads, ports, energy, mass public transit systems, rail, pipelines and more. It is worth noting that no region in the world has managed to lift its people out of poverty without some form of industrialization. So while it is nice to talk up knowledge based industries like IT we must appreciate that currently the masses can only be absorbed into labor intensive industries like manufacturing and large scale agriculture. Overtime as automation takes over, improvements in education will enhance the productive capabilities of our population and transform us into knowledge based societies.

Africa has traditionally been a major supplier of raw material and our resource wealth has gone a long way towards blinding us. The only way to truly benefit from our resources is to reduce exports of unprocessed raw material and instead increase exports of finished products. Our focus has to be value addition.

To date politicians and politically connected individuals skim revenues generated from the sale of our resources. This habit wouldn’t be so damaging if the diverted revenue was reinvested in our economies but that does not happen. The proceeds are swiftly transferred abroad further depleting the continents wealth. We can stop this counterproductive behavior by paying civil servants and bureaucrats well. We lose more money to corruption than we save from underpaying civil servants. The only way to fight corruption is to reduce its incentives. Civil servants are the administrators of public finance, if they are well compensated more of them will diligently protect the public’s interests. The popular notion is that public service is some kind of higher calling that justifies low pay but the truth is humans are very sensitive to value and incentives. If we feel we are bringing more value to the table than we are receiving we will readdress the imbalance through any means necessary.

Overall I’d say there are a lot of positives, more positives than negatives. As long as we remain aware of the obstacles we must overcome and implement good strategies & sound policies the future is bright.

Conversations with Sunny Bindra, Nanjira Sambuli, Ramah Nyang, and Asif Khan

Just to get everyone on the same page, there was a Twitter storm (Nanjira was kind enough to document it) of sorts after the publishing of these two articles on CIO Kenya’s online platform. One was by Management Consultant and Writer Sunny Bindra and the other by me. The storm that followed was polemic, with camps formed to dismiss the hashtag #TwitterBigStick and some loyally supporting what they felt helped them air their grievances against companies that were otherwise not paying attention.

Nanjira and I, were pitted against Sunny and Asif and as time went by, the 14o character environment noise (aka Twitter) and limitations proved limiting. We agreed to have a sit down and discuss a better way forward. We were/are all in agreement that consumer rights and complaint platforms needed to be improved in the country.

Nikhil Hira, was also a participant in the hot debate and he suggested that we have Ramah as a moderator during our meetup, and we agreed. So on Tuesday the 24th of April we had a sit down and the below was what was discussed:

Where did it begin?

Sunny came into Twitter in order to communicate and connect with a generation that was on it in order to keep up with the times. Twitter big stick was to change how organizations fear the customer, mobilizing people in order to make the change that was required to get organizations to pay attention. People seemed to tag the hashtag as they felt Sunny’s (due to his RT’s) brand gave them a platform that they as ‘smaller’ entities did not have.

How do we get brands online and how do we get clients to be represented better?

We all agreed that brands getting online required the right tools, Asif pointed out that Squad Digital, where he works also believes in monitoring brands using  sentiment engines, which pick all internet data relevant to a brand, not just a Twitter hashtag, as had been pointed out in my article. However, we still felt that the creation of a great complaint platform for customers was a key challenge. As a tech enthusiast/evangelist I proposed mapping complaints, for example, restaurants in Nairobi known for food poisoning. Nanjira suggested that we have a similar platform to GotIssuez, but one that would charge as a freemium model, allowing brands access to customer complaint data, but serving customers by aggregating their complaints and presenting it on a site as a score. Asif, having worked with Ushahidi, proposed using the software to create a complaint data mining platform. However, our resident play blond/devil’s advocate Ramah kept asking us questions of a more technical nature than we could answer. At some point we felt our solutions, noble and workable as we may have envisioned them, may not work well as we are not indeed coders/actual techies.

Where do we go forward from here?

We felt that at this point we needed to rope in those better suited to actually building a platform that could work, talking to Simeon of the iHub and Bankelele of #OverlapKe was a starting step to this. While talking on email, Simeon graciously agreed to give us space and to pitch our ideas and thoughts to techies regarding consumer complaints and a monetised model that they could also benefit from. A tentative date of 15th May 2012 has been set for this, however, till we confirm, we are open to more ideas and thoughts on the way forward. Let’s build a great customer complaints platform people!

Guest Post By Kahenya: Quick Guide On How To Beat The Safaricom Cap

Safaricom has taken its position for granted. I have spent two days unable to access the net because apparently I am capped since I have exceeded the 4.5/6 (1.5 x 4)??? GB monthly quota off my *unlimited* package. While I understand that Safaricom and its team does not have a choice since they cannot afford to offer the service, I have written a guide on how to beat the Safaricom Cap once and for all, and still retain the same speeds. Its actually an easy process and works for everyone. The only difference is in if you have a modem or if you have a phone/touchpad which you tether wirelessly or via a USB cable. I have the latter so thats the guide I know. Based on a true story. Thank you @NonieMG for the guest slot.
1. You call Safaricom help service (100 on prepaid, 200 on postpaid). You hear the IVR reminding you of how you can access their help desk and remind you that you they may ask you to judge the person helping you. You realize that you have never been asked to judge anyone yet you have to call every 3 days to get something fixed. You get suspicious, but you ignore it. You have bigger things on your hands to worry about.
2. You *calmly* explain to the operator that your speeds are slow (in my case, I have not been able to access full service for almost a week, meaning I am a week behind work). You answer questions about where you live and you both troubleshoot the computer. Operator tells you that your computer has a virus slowing down your connection. You tell the operator that the computer does not have a virus. You argue. She argues. You argue some more. She insists that you complete the process of troubleshooting the fault. You relent, and pretend to scan your computer for a virus. You are tired of explaining to her that it is *NOT* a Windows computer, and the possibility of having a virus are pretty remote. She realizes that you are not buying that one. You proceed to the next step.
3. The operator writes down your issue. The operator then advices you that another more technically clever operator will call you back in 24h. You realize you have passed the first check of not being disqualified as riff raff.
4. You kiss your pet/bf/gf/wife/husband/clande/gecko/ass goodnight. You go to sleep.
5. You wake up.
6. You eat breakfast.
7. You sit on your throne (if you are a morning person).
8. You take a shower.
9. You go to work.
10. You get rained on, as you walk into your work place (if operating in rainy weather).
11. You get called by a Safaricom operator (a cleverer one than the one you spoke to) who tells you that the problem is resolved. They advice you that they will call you back in a few minutes to confirm that the service is working. You ask them why they called, they tell you they wanted to find out the story, which results in you repeating the whole story again. 2nd time.
12. You dry your hair/weave/head/hair piece/wig.
13. You have a cup of coffee/brandy/tea/gin/milo/vodka/twinnings (depends on where you are in the company’s food chain) while booting your computer.
14. *Steps May Vary* You tether your modem/phone/touch pad/other device to the said computer.
15. You try the connection, it still does not work, or it is crawling. You curse. Lightning strikes. You shudder. God is watching.
16. Safaricom technical help desk calls you back, you advise them that the problem is not solved, and if anything, it is much worse. The operator advises you that he will call you back in 10 minutes, as he has to refer to their data team to find out what happened. You remind the operator that he is part of the data team. He laughs and agrees, but he has to talk to someone more clever. You ask if he should check Wikipedia, he calmly tells you that things are not that serious yet, so you need to relax.
17. The Operator writes in the system that you are happy with the service and proceeds not to call you back. You wait, forget, eat lunch, sit on the throne (if you are an afternoon person), finish work, sign papers, beer o’clock, get home and service is still rubbish. You call the help desk, you are tipsy/drunk/randy/lonely/hungry/broke, who advice you that first there is no open ticket bearing your issue. You read the ticket ID. They still can’t find it. You raise your voice and ask for a supervisor. Miraculously, the ticket appears, and you soon learn that your ticket was resolved and you were quite happy with the service, and the speeds are back to normal, and that afterwards, the technical operator said you commended them on a job well done.
18. You curse again, no lightning, you curse some more, you realize God might be attending T-100 at Psyz in Westlands, with my girl Denise, which makes you continue cursing, words like bull and excrement feature prominently in this conversation, the supervisor apologizes profusely and advices you that it will be looked at first thing in the morning.
19. You wake up. *Day 2: Repeat Step 5 – 10.*
20. You call the Safaricom operator, request to speak to a supervisor, you are seething mad, you don’t care if God is striking folks, you are insanely mad anyway. The operator requests you tell her the problem. You repeat the problem again. This will be the 4th time. You repeat word for word where you live, the colour of your computer and the Apostle’s creed, over and over again. You tell the operator that you think she is sweet, and you are pissed, so unless she wants to hear how cows fornicate, she best call the supervisor. Calmly, you tell the supervisor of the issue. Supervisor then makes you repeat the entire story again. She takes the notes and promises to call you back in 15 minutes. That is the 5rd time you have told that story.
21. You go for lunch.
22. You sit on your throne (assuming you are an afternoon person).
23. You work, you finish, you realize the supervisor has not returned your call. 6 hours later.
24. You are pissed, you call the help-desk again, the IVR reminds you of just how you can access the help service and that they may ask you to judge their operators or supervisors. The operator answers, you demand for a supervisor and tell her that if she bothers to ask you to repeat the story again, you will curse at her and make her cry and that you are Mungiki/Gema/Kamjesh/Forty Brothers. Frightened, she calls the supervisor. The supervisor promises to call you back in 15 minutes.
25. The Supervisor calls you back in a record 12 minutes. You repeat the story again. 6th time. You get mad and ask supervisor to write the story once on a piece of paper, with a Bic pen made by DJ CK, not the Chinese ones, since you are patriotic, and make photocopies and distribute them as a memo among the staff, that way, you don’t have to repeat the story again, since they don’t use their customer services tool. You feel bad because you realize that by the time this issue gets resolved, the entire Karura forest will have given its life in paper.
26. The supervisor promises to investigate and get back to you. You tell the supervisor not to bother since you know very well she is lying to you. The supervisor surprises you and calls you back, you suspect she is a believer, in which case you knows if she lies, she will end up doing call centre service in Safaricom Gehenna. She knows this too. The supervisor tells you that your line is capped because you exceeded the monthly 4.5 GB allocated per month. You remind her that her CEO went to great lengths and wore his spectacles and said it was 1.5 GB per week. The supervisor flips her weave upwards. You realize she is single, otherwise, she would have been MAWE compliant. You hear it rustle and whip a fly over the phone. She means business. She then calmly tells you that he (The CEO) doesn’t know what he is talking about and the allocated is 4.5 GB per month. After which you get capped to 128 KB Per Second (translates to 10). She also tells you that she suspects he too does not understand the market either, and that Unlimited Internet was a horrible product from Day 1 but they had to keep with the times. She tells you she wishes that the greatest Kenyan to walk Kenya, her former boss, MJ, would come back to work again. You both laugh. You out of frustration, her cause she is scared excrement-less that it might actually be her who does not know what she is talking about and that she just bad mouthed her boss, and the call was recorded.
27. You tell the supervisor that if the connection was capped, the service would be slow but you would be able to use it somewhat, but in this case, it takes you 15 minutes to open a page. Supervisor agrees that it should work, and advises she will call you back in an hour after getting the problem resolved.
28. You sigh. *sigh*. You realize you have been played. The supervisor calls you back, advises you that they are looking at this issues on a case by case basis and it may take a while before its your turn to get dealt with. You shout but you are tired, so you write a blog post, somewhat amused and relieved that at least you are not the only one.
29. *Steps may vary*. You walk out of your office/house/bar/throne room, you buy an Orange Simcard/Orange Simcard + Modem. You insert sim card in your connecting device. You load airtime, you realize it is a bit cheaper than Safaricom. You buy an unlimited package. You wait 15 minutes. You switch/disconnect the device. You remove the sim card. You wait for 20 seconds. You switch the device back on. You realize you are back to where you should have been in the first place. You smile.
30. The Safaricom supervisor calls. You ignore call. You sit on the throne. Before you void the throne. *Steps May Vary* you throw in your old sim card/sim card + modem, then depress the lever and feel relieved.
You realize, its never that serious.
Yolo bishes, I’m back for a minute.

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Africa! The future is bright!

On my flight today I came across a similarly titled article in Msafiri (Kenya Airways in-flight magazine). I couldn’t resist picking a few inspirational pieces from it.


Ben Okri- An African Elegy

We are the miracle that God Made
To taste the bitter fruit of time
We are precious
And one day our suffering
Will turn into wonders of the earth



Africa has not been proactive in combating the negative images of the continent until very recently, says Thebe Ikalafeng, CEO of one of Africa’s most dynamic branding agencies, Brand Leadership, based in South Africa.

” We have allowed others to monopolise our story to such an extent that we have begun to see ourselves in those images. We have come to believe that we are indeed as powerless and backwards as we are portrayed. This is sheer nonsense. We have to regain our confidence and tell our story in our own words and images. We must stop looking for validation from outside. We need to take a unified approach to brand Africa, because what hurts one, hurts all.”


Look at the car being advertised, Africa, aren't we worth it all?

As a brand Africa has everything, fabolous landscapes, seascapes, unlimited resources, wonderful towns and cities, am astoundingly rich and diverse culture and fabolous people. We have to believe in what we have and what we are, not how others would want us to see ourselves. India and China have more poor people than Africa combined, but what image do they project? They project success, technology, growth, culture, wonderful scenery and entertainment. They have taken control of their own image.

My challenge today and for this year, is what image will I portray of my country and ultimately my continent? The choice is mine and the consequences whether positive or negative, mine alone as well.

Fly high people!

#TheTrend @MagicalKenya and the culture of ‘At least we tried’

“At least we tried….” how many Kenyans have heard this phrase to explain away incompetencies? Whenever anyone does not do their job right, or fails to deliver, this is the phrase that is always tossed back at people who question why. It is also sometimes followed by a “Well, what have you done?” or a “Well, can you do better?”. Defensive, BS all of it.

I for one am sick and tired of it all. And I’ll share two case studies, that if people had been doing what they were meant to, would never had happened.

During the Easter holidays I happened to have been in Mombasa for business but over the course of my stay there, I went to visit a friend at a beach hotel. The guard refused to let me in with this statement “Unaenda kuona mwanaume mgani? Ngoja” even when I explained that I was going to see a lady friend at the venue. I called my friend, had her explain to the guard but she still refused to let me in insisting that she had to check with reception. Fair enough, right? Throughout this time, other people (of different colour) were being searched and let in no questions asked. As about 15 minutes had passed with no connection to said reception, I asked her if she could escort me to the reception to pay for pool use if all of this was such a huge issue. She refused, by this time my friend had called reception and they called to clear me. The guard did not even search my bag, I assume that I was not deemed a ‘security threat’ just an unwanted. The hotel, as per tweets from people staying there and my experience still continued treating us badly, at one point my friend who happened to be Indian, had to ask them to stop, and somehow his word worked like ‘magic’. While in Mombasa the hotel and the airline I was travelling with (another long story, we can talk on email on if you wish) frustrated me to high heaven.

Enter Magical Kenya, the promoters of local tourism. I complained and tagged them on Twitter, and asked them to get in touch with me. Several other people also tagged their complaints which were similar as well. To date, despite all their promises that they would and my reminders, all I got were more empty promises on “we shall talk”. Is it safe to assume that they only wish to pay lip service to promotion of local tourism? As well as hand out free holiday online PR stunt trips? Then hope and wish away the actual problems on the ground that have people not wanting to #tembeakenya?

But at least they’re trying right?

Moving on, Al Jazeera’s The Stream has been a great success for them kudos to that, a local station wished to do the same under the name #TheTrend. Sounds fantastic no? I was just as excited as you when called to be one of the first guests on a Google Hangout they had planned yesterday. Arrived at stated location half and hour early to be informed that the wi-fi was down. No biggie, stuff happens so we were asked to go to the station’s building to do it from there. The cab driver, drove like madness so that we could be there by 9pm when the news was to begin. On arriving, we found out that even at the station’s building, wi-fi had not been arranged for us and lo and behold, the hangout had been made public so other people had jumped on it, leaving no space for us, the people who were actually supposed to be on it. Anyhow, a friend and I managed to fix it so that we could hang out but as this was at around 9.45 we were dropped and they chose to skype in someone from the states instead. Afterwards, we asked one of the people who were behind the show what all of this drama was all about. He then said “Things happen, it was beta, next week it will be better. At least we tried”. Beta? Something you publicised and that was to be aired to millions was beta? Something you could have tested the day before, you test on the same day and then brush away your carelessness of it with words like ‘beta’ and statements like “… At least we tried”?

The problems with our country are not just politicians, or bad roads, or terrorism, they stem from us and the general careless way in which we handle the little that we have. “At least we tried.” that statement will always hold us back from “That was amazing.”