Right of reply

Julian Kamau has written a letter to us privileged Kenyans to check our privilege. For clarity, you are privileged if

You have stocked your fridge with food to last you a month during this coronavirus period, you have stocked your pantry with dry foods to last you a week or a month, you are working from home with a laptop, you own a car (s), use a taxi or are picked from home and dropped by the office car, you live in a gated community or have 24-hour security at your home, your biggest worry right now is inconsistent internet or the disrupted power meaning you won’t watch your favorite series on Netflix, Showmax or DSTV.

Why is Julian so irked by this class of Kenyans? She thinks we believe

The Kenyans you see being brutally beaten by the police on the streets are not lazy, ignorant or difficult.

which leaves me asking where did she get this idea from? Is she projecting her feelings on the rest of the privileged class as she calls it? For one, I think our cops and those who lead them need a course on humanness. More importantly, they need mass brain transplants. They collectively as a group have no brains. Or maybe, Nietzsche was right, in mobs, insanity or madness is the norm not the exception. Kenyans know their government is violent. That there is little difference between the colonial and post colonial regimes is evident to anyone who bothers to check. Violence is always an order away. Dialogue is not an option. In fact all the opportunities are closed once an order to use force is issued.

Instead of throwing aspersions at the privileged class, we should question the government’s logic of leaving out taxis, public transport vehicles out of essential service providers? How are people to go home? On the one hand, these buses and vans have to operate at below 60% capacity, how are people to go home? Further, the government asked factories to operate in shifts, how will employees get to work? Employers, why not shorten your work hours so people can go home early and not be afoul of the law?

I respect the non-privileged class so much to believe they can speak for themselves. I also believe they are capable of assessing their situation and deciding how best to proceed. Let’s not make victims of people who don’t consider themselves victims. Our lives are intertwined & a lockdown would affect many of us negatively. I am an architect & my income depends on people being able to invest & construct. So while according to Julian I am a very privileged Kenyan, I am alive to the challenges of the casual worker in a construction site. If I close my sites completely, I consign them to starvation.

So I disagree with Julian where she writes

You must first know that you are privileged then use that position to speak for the less privileged in society or just keep your mouth shut.

because I think even the poor or less privileged can speak for themselves. Why appoint yourself their speaker and push them further away from where they can be heard? In fact, in these times, it is not just the less privileged who need to be heard, but everyone whose livelihood is on the line. That hotel employee, that bar waiter, the hotel owner, airline employee, and anyone else adversely affected by the continued restrictions on movement.

I find this accusation

Unlike you, coronavirus is just one of their problems but it’s the least of their problems. I know this might be too complex for you to comprehend

far fetched and unjustified. Many Kenyans privileged and non privileged alike understand how precocious our stations in life are. One is always a sickness away from poverty. I don’t know about Julian, but many of us belong to extended families with people in different stations or classes that only those blinded by fortune would be unaware of the problems of the lower classes.

But I agree with her that calls for total lockdown are ill advised without a commensurate solution to their daily needs. You cannot tell a person who is paid only on days worked to stay home to look at the roof and not provide for their basic needs. This corrupt government I am almost certain doesn’t have the means, the capacity or even the will to help the urban poor. If an allocation were to be made to help them, their numbers would be inflated & a handful of people will have a windfall.

So maybe, it is Julian who should know that the privileged Kenyan is not stupid. They are aware of what a lockdown would imply to their lives and everyone around them.

Thoughts out of season

We are living in strange times. Countries are effecting curfews in peace time. Flights have been grounded without a shot fired. There is no Bush to tell us you are either with us or with the terrorist ( an ultimatum that is no different from the terrorist).

The US economy, the largest in the world, has a 2.2T cheque to save its economy & as they are won’t to do, bail the rich in this trying times. I am not sure poorer countries have such deep pockets and their poor and homeless will fend for themselves. For example the tax reliefs announced by Uhuru only help those in formal employment. The lowering of VAT by 2% has such a limited range on most perishable goods and all.

In 2009/2010 the world suffered a flu pandemic (H1N1) and I don’t remember such shut downs. So far as I can remember, only meat products from severely affected countries were banned. And in the year starting June 2009 to August 2010 when the pandemic was declared over, about 60mn people had caught it and deaths, depending on who you ask were in the range of 200-575k world wide and I don’t think this novel coronavirus will get there.

I have been to the airport in the last two weeks and every time it looks like a ghost town. Passenger lounges that are usually bustling with activity are deserted. Restaurants are open only for take outs. It’s a bad way to live.

Gaddafi before he was killed said ‘they’ will make a virus, infect you with it and then sell you an expensive cure. Maybe 100 years from now when the lid will be lifted on secret documents, our descendants, if they will be still alive will find that this was a bad experiment. Question is, who benefits from a global meltdown? Is it a nation? A group of individuals?

Can’t we just go back to work? If we die we die. This must be one of those occasions people should say give me freedom or give me death!

And with that I go to ride. Damn coronavirus.

Postscript: if you live in a country that has used nerve gas, or some other chemical or biological weapon against her citizens or adversary, why do you think it would be beneath them to try it on a global scale to stimulate a response? Besides war has changed from boots on the ground to drones and all.

My barber has closed until further notice, don’t question my unkempt hair.

And while still on this, our police are shit. I think police use their heads as helmets or vessels to hold their ears in place. If anyone needs new brains, it is the police and those who lead them. How do you go about brutalizing people in the name of effecting a curfew when these people are just trying to get home?

And finally some dark story.

Appointment in Samarra by W S Maugham

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me.  She looked at me and made a threatening gesture,  now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate.  I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.  The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went.  Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threating getsture to my servant when you saw him this morning?  That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise.  I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

Making sense of the present crisis

In the days of my forefathers, when calamity befell the community, it was reasoned that the ancestors had been wronged and corrective measures were deemed necessary to appease them. Sacrifices and cleansing ceremonies would be arranged to please these ancestors. It was understood there would be both good and bad ancestral spirits. So it is particularly these bad spirits that would be appeased to stop the pestilence from decimating the population.

The missionaries came with their monotheistic religions with one powerful god. And in these times of crisis, I keep seeing texts and memes from my Christian friends that we have offended their powerful god through our godlessness, and all. One text I received this morning says god has decided to bring to a halt, temporarily, I think, the worship of sports, celebrities and even the public worship of the gods by ensuring people can’t go to church. And my godless self is here left wondering how unimaginative can people be?

It’s beyond the pale to claim that an all loving God has seen it fit to bring pestilence (& locusts) upon mankind because she has been displeased by a few people here and there. It is like killing of David’s son, as told in the Bible, for the transgressions of the father. It also brings to sharp focus the claim by the same group of persons regarding the vicarious redemption Jesus was meant to offer through his death. Was it for all time or it is like my android apps that need updates every few days?

The good news, if it can be called that, is this will end. People will die and those who remain will continue with the breeding business. Some people will lose faith. Some churches will grow in membership until such time as another crisis hits us or those who will be left.

When one looks at the statistics being shared around regarding the number of people who might get infected and die, fear and paralysis is likely to set in. We must find ways to be alive. To live meaningful lives even in the midst of the crisis. There is room, a lot of room, to be kind, useful and helpful to others.

If we die, we die but let’s die as we have lived.

every rich man is a thief

But whenever I have said this, I have been told no, that the market bla bla and all. Now in the midst of this pandemic, an American company has been given exclusive rights to make an antiviral drug that would be used in managing covid19. With this exclusivity, they will profit from it for 7 years, during which time even if generic drugs were developed, Americans would not be able to buy. I don’t know what to call it. But i have been informed it is not greed, so I leave it to the rest of you to come up with a descriptor.

Why I say it is theft. Listen to this

Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir was developed with at least $79 million in U.S. government funding, according to a paper published last week by KEI. The origins of the drug came after the 2014 Ebola outbreak in western Africa, which spurred research into potential antiviral medications to control future potential pandemics.

You can read more here

Hooray to the free market where we are told the government should keep off the markets while at the same time it is busy subsiding big companies, carrying out deregulation and all.

Is the cure more deadly than the disease?

That seems to be the opinion of this author and this group which then leads me to ask why are we all doing this? Is it a case of global hysteria? Or a global propaganda war?

There are already 63K deaths worldwide as at the time of publishing from a variety of causes. Hidden in that number is 111K deaths this year arising from seasonal flu.

And with that I go to ride my bicycle.

To my fellow countrymen and women

First I will start by saying majority of the voting public is insane irrational. In 2013, I wrote an open letter to those who can read imploring you it would have been much better to vote in a dead cow than the duo running for president at that time. Kenyans, millions of them, thinking they were defying the ICC and other western governments overwhelmingly voted for the Uhuruto duo and if that wasn’t bad enough, the Mutunga Supreme Court gave them a shot of legitimacy by validating their win and so we got stuck with an incompetent, corrupt and irresponsible duo.

Again in 2017, a good proportion of the public having seen the mega corruption scandals, ineptitude, the claw back on basic freedoms and rights, decided that the duo were the best placed to rule this country and on 26th of October voted overwhelmingly in an election where only one candidate was running to give him a birthday present. Fools will do what fools do.

2020 is here with us. It is not the best of times. It will take Covid19 to show the weak underbelly of this regime. It has been said by others more eloquent and brave than I that Uhuruto are incompetent, corrupt, irresponsible and illiberal. At this time of crisis, these four things will come to the fore. You remember the Afya House scandal involving medical equipment running to billions of shillings. The dams scandal. Eurobond. SGR. All these are coming to bite now. The government of incompetents will not be capable of pulling together the right talent to steer the country out of this mess because the only people who are willing to work with the duo are thieves. Or potential thieves.

Having no safety nets and a broke treasury means those Kenyans who will lose their jobs have nowhere to go. The impact of that on law and order I leave to sociologists to address. A corrupt government means that even if money were made available it would not reach those most in need. In short, we are fucked and as has been said so many times before, choices have consequences.

As we sit at home to ponder our next moves, maybe it is also time we reconsider our choices for representatives. It may go along way to making the difference between life and death.

I leave you with this passionate letter from V to us all.

There is a new sheriff in town

In 2017, the good people of Nairobi county elected a clown, a jail break of questionable intelligence to be their governor. Whether it was out of hysteria or plain old foolishness, only history will be the judge. Now, after two years of disastrous leadership, the other incompetent fellow at State House have taken over critical functions of the county government leaving Sonko basically idle and with almost a ceremonial title. The legalities of the process I leave to lawyers to discuss.

The new town Sheriff is Major-General Mohamed Abdalla Badi. If he is to clean the rot in the city government, I see only one way to do it. First and foremost, announce vacancies at development control. Fire everyone who is there and have fresh interviews. Those who reapply and qualify, move them to sub-county offices or place them in other departments or he should say goodbye to changes in that department.

Kenyatta said

“There are cartels running the city water supply, garbage collection, parking, issuance of permits,”

and if this it to change, a change of guard at the helm is not enough. A shakedown of the entire edifice is mandatory. Unless, this is one of those plans by incompetent office bearers to keep justifying their salaries while being incapable of delivering their mandates to the public.

The toughest job for the good major will be managing traffic congestion in the city roads. As Brian never stops to remind me, planning alone will not solve this problem and especially as long as people rely in their own personal cars, we shouldn’t expect any changes and I doubt the general has what it takes to demand radical action to change how move within the city so we might as well forget any changes in this respect.

Studies have been done around the world how cities can improve their revenue collection. I can’t tell to what extent the general believes that scholarly material has application in practice. It is likely he will do nothing creative or innovative to improve revenue collection or to come up with new revenue streams.

To improve public health systems, the county government or in this Nairobi Metropolitan Service will need to move fast to improve clinics and other health facilities, employ necessary personnel and pay more attention to preventive actions rather than curative.

The good general will have to allocate up to 30% of revenue to manage garbage collection. This again is supported by evidence from studies in other jurisdictions of what budgetary allocations are required to maintain some decent level of garbage collection, disposal and treatment.

He has a tall order which I doubt he will be able to accomplish. Maybe the general is an accomplished army man but public service is an entirely different ball game. And because I have doubts in the appointing authority’s ability to carry through with a challenging task, there is no where this Nairobi regeneration plan is going.


In Covid19 related news, there was a national day of prayer yesterday (Saturday) where among other things the president said

There are those who are saying that we should depend on science not prayers. But I want to assure you that even science needs God. A nation prospers when a nation trusts in its maker.

the same maker who has left the most Catholic country in the world in the hands of her medical officers.

He added

Let us continue to pray for healing, understanding, and prosperity. Our God is a hearing God and He will grant us our desires and our wishes.

which he has so far refused to the 13071 dead (as of this writing) from Corona virus. But maybe we are a special country, who knows.

The archbishop for the Anglican church on his part had this to say

When the children of God strayed away he would allow calamities to ravage their world.

And since god is ravaging the world, is it not best to wait for her anger to dissipate and she stops infecting people with disease?

I have read elsewhere that the theme of the prayer service was

 the apparent sinning and rebelliousness of man from the word of God.

and the guest list was basically all those corrupt government officials and the clergy that provides them with cover. Basically, the source and end of our problems arising from mismanagement were at SH. One asks at such times where was god?


In these times of Covid19 all one can wish his friends is to have a corona free day, won’t you?