Archive for March 2009

Faith Matters

March 25, 2009

In search of spiritual nourishment, I attend a church service in Kawangware. It is a new experience. Here is a part of the soft underbelly of Nairobi.

They call it Christ’s Charismatic Church – CCC. That reminded me of another church my friend Mack and I came across in the village. It was called Christ’s Tabernacle International Center.

Don’t forget that it was in the heart of the village  – a dilapidated grass-thatched building with a handful of villagers as its members. Nothing international about it.

But I loved CCC. They are decent – though planted right into the poverty stricken part of Kawangware. They play good music too.

The sermon was uplifting too. That Sunday, the message was about accomplishing great things by faith – or simply kuzaa (giving birth as the pastor put it).

 So he narrated to us all the stories of men and women who had given birth to greater things in the bible and requested us to yell repeatedly at some point: nitazaa!(I will give birth).

Now, I must admit that it turned to be quite interesting. There was a beautiful lady sitting close to me. She had a beautiful voice too. But the way she declared right into my ear that she would give birth no matter what…

 There were other ladies around but I obviously seemed to be the target of her conviction. I thus  wondered what I had done to the pretty lady. Her ‘nitazaa’ was belligerent and explosive…

I was thus glad when the sermon ended. Next was a stroll around the place. It struck me that Kawangware in its decrepit state is such a fertile ground for faith matters. Churches all over. It must be a lucrative business in this part of the city – I thought.


We Miss Uncle Ted Roberts

March 25, 2009

Ted Roberts has retired from VOA and Night Line Africa, the program that he used to host is nolonger the same. Here is a piece about the presenter whose baritone voice and passion for his job used to beckon me closer to the radio whenever he was on air.

The VoA’s Night Line Africa Program that comes on air every Saturday and Sunday evening is never the same again. It cannot be the same without its former presenter Uncle Ted Roberts. Just like other members of the Night Line Africa family, I loved Uncle Ted so much. It was his baritone voice; his proffessionalism, his warm sense of humor and passion for his work that kept me and other members of “Nightline Family” hooked to the radio whenever he was on the air.

He is a talented broacaster who spiced up  my weekend. “All was always well. Everything was always all right.” I could pick up my phone and send text messages or call friends to announce that Uncle Ted Roberts was on the air. That ‘the people’s program’ was live from Washington.

I really miss the good oldies that he played on the program. He called them a “blast from the past – music among my souvenirs’. Then, whenever he signed off, Ted always had a quote that inspired us. I used to record most of the quotes and apply them later in my conversation with friends at college.

“After you have laboriously accomplished your daily task,” he could say, “go to bed. Your creator is awake.”

“You know what,” he could pose in another edition of the program. “You will never get a second chance to make a first impression. And that: “Life is like a bank account. You only get what you put in; and experience is your interest.”

When Barrack Obama was inaugurated as the US first Black president, he had a good one for us – that: “Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther could walk. Martin Luther walked so that Barrack Obama could ran. Barrack Obama ran so that our children could fly.”

He could then ask us to think about it… “Think about it my friend, take good care of yourself and I will see you on Saturday…is that alright?

The program was synonymous to him. Although Akwe, Imbuga and Shaka Ssali are doing a good job in the program, Night line Africa is never the same as it was when the Howard University communications professor was in charge. The responses from the Night line fans when he announced his retirement proved that he was a darling of many people. I was among those who could rush home to listen to the radio just to listen to his friendly, fatherly baritone voice that was always full of enthusiasm. His professionalism also manifested itself in the way he hosted the program – nice retirement don, we miss you!

Nairobi’s security is at stake

March 24, 2009

Nairobi is nolonger safe these days. Muggers have courage to attack in broad day light!

Seen the pictures in today’s Daily Nation? How they mercilessly descended on the young man? Reports indicated that it even gets fatal. They even take life.

Chilling, isn’t it? So that is how bad Nairobi has deteriorated. Is there any plan of action? What is in store from the ministry of internal security? We want to maintain law and order in the city – are the police going to act on the pictures?

Yes – they were clear. Quite horrific to see how criminals usually do their thing. One thug’s hand I could see was searching the victim’s inner pants…

That testifies to the fact that Nairobi is becoming increasingly insecure. Why isn’t something being done? Are we waiting for these muggers to turn into a form of Mungiki for the police to act?

Hey, if there is someome in that docket with any will to act, do it now. Hunt for those goons. They will end up thumping their chests in victory if you do not go for them. They will claim to be celebrities for the media attention they got apart from their loot from the innocent victim.

So, hunt them down and arrest them. The pictures were clear – they never made any effort to hide their faces. Secondly,  keep vigil in those blacklisted areas. Keep vigil with loaded guns because those young goons can be very dangerous – reports indicate they that they can be too brave to take life. So increase patrols in those areas and save the innocent Nairobians from these thugs.

It is better we do these thins now before the city is taken over by these goons. Now that can attack from an open area such as Globe Round about sends home a loaded message – that something ought to be done.

Falling in Love with Marsha and Math

March 20, 2009

My first time to fall in love with Math was very interesting.

I was sixteen and in form three while she was a raving beauty from the neighboring school.

It was not my appearance that impressed her for I never used to visit a barber or make friends with a comb and jokers used to claim that the bush on my head was a actually a real Amazon if not some sort of a Maasai Mara.

Well, big hair was a sign of being intelligent to many students. But for sure I was not an intelligent guy!

We met during Inter-school drama and poetry competitions in which I performed “The mathematician, a dramatic verse in which I featured as the main actor.

Marsha watched as I performed and concluded that I was a bright student especially in the Math subject. After my performance, she searched for me outside the hall and requested for an interview for she was a school journalist.

My response impressed her–I talked at length about my great poem and about my uncle’s plans to have my CD recorded in Hollywood. The interview took a romantic turn and I found myself caressing her behind the school buildings.

She was glad to fall in love with a man who was destined to fame. We assembled in the hall when the bell rang and we were both cocksure that I was going to be announced as the best overall actor in the school festivals.

So we later assembled for the results. The judge began by congratulating us for our talents. He then lashed at our weakness in some areas – and; to my astonishment the item I had performed was among the ones that needed serious improvement.

It was a real death sentence. My eyes became wet

“Don’t worry about it!” Marsha consoled.”After all, you are Hollywood material. The old judge is just proving to be jealous.”

My math teacher who happened to be part of the audience really had a glorious day. I saw him nod in approval to the judge’s comments. He even clapped his hands as looked towards my direction.

Only Marsha was there for me and I promised her that I was going to make it in future. Well, we have never met again. Math is still a challenge to me but there is one thing I have learned: being honest. Thus I am still befriending it – and I am sure one day I will make it. Then I will probably bump into my Math teacher or Marsha…


Saving Nairobi River

March 19, 2009

The poor river meanders miserably through the busy Nairobi’s Central Business District. Her water is almost black in color. Pollution here is at its peak.

I pitied her as I stood on her bank near Kirinyaga road. The poor thing had a mountain of garbage afloat. And that was not all – another monstrous heap of garbage lay on her banks, ready to drift into the water.

If you thought that what she carried beneath her belly was water; you had to be excused. It was real poison. At least that is what I termed it. Or how else would you have described the blackish foul-smelling stuff that oozed into the river at various points?

How would you have described the floods of industrial wastes that ran into river? Poison! I even learnt that the poor river is a washroom too. I watched two grown-up men hurry down and unzip their trousers. Then they did their thing excitedly right into the water.

The river is the eldest in a family of three main rivers that make up Nairobi basin. Others are the Ngong River and Mathare River. The rivers, according to the information on the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) website meet toward the East where they flow into Athi River on their way to the Indian Ocean.

Looking at all manner of structures on her banks, I wondered whether Nairobians care about the environment at all. ‘Development ‘is the main concern here, I thought. High-rise buildings that pose environmental risks are a common sight in the city. Then there is the challenge of the sewage system that cannot stomach the growing pressure.

Such are the challenges that the poor river is facing. She does not only receive tons of untreated sewage that the Nairobi industries emit but also acts as a cheap dumping site for city dwellers. It is estimated that the city generates around 2,400 tons of dirt on daily basis and the river stomachs nearly half of that amount according to NEMA.

Although the dirt in the city is supposed to be collected and be taken to designated dump sites, illegal dumps in the city are common. Poverty is also to blame since many folks find disposing the dirt in the river to be a cheap option.

It is encouraging however to note that the river has friends too. The Nairobi River Basin Program (NRBP) is trying to fight for her survival. The body comprises of various stakeholders such as UNEP and UN-Habitat who have joined hands to ensure the river flows with clean water to improve livelihoods and that her ecosystem is well managed.

There is a visible sign of some progress in the efforts to clean the river. A keen look around the globe roundabout reveals the absence of a huge pile of garbage that existed there previously. The Nairobi City Council (NCC) has also designed some public toilets to improve sanitation in the area.

But much effort is needed to save the river. I observed that despite the previous cleaning exercises, the river’s waters are still toxic. Folks still use it as a dumping site. Industrial waste still flows into the river.

I also learnt from my observations and interactions with businesspeople along the river that folks only care about what happens to their businesses. No one seems to mind the poor river. I therefore thought that a vigorous environmental awareness campaign is necessary.

The media in collaboration with other stakeholders can help in such a venture. Change has to begin from within. Folks have to take the words of Kenyan Nobel prize laureate Wangari Maathi seriously. That if we destroy nature, nature will destroy us.