TOP 20: INTERESTING ATM FACTS

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The hole in the wall that gives you access to easy money is something we often take for granted in today’s world. The older generation remembers queuing for hours in banking halls just to withdraw a couple of notes. And that was only after filling out reams of forms or even passbooks. Going to the bank was an event in itself, and you had to prepare spending the whole day while being served by grumpy and snooty tellers.

Let’s explore mind-blowing facts about the machines that revolutionized how we get our cash.

  1. With the first cash machines you had to buy a paper voucher from a bank teller in advance, and you could only get out £10 at a time. The voucher was covered with a radioactive substance called carbon-14 that the machine could detect and match against a PIN.
  2. On The Buses sitcom star (and Barclays customer) Reg Varney was the first person to use an ATM.
  3. There is controversy over who designed the cash machine. Scottish inventor John Shepherd-Barron was inspired by chocolate bar vending machines and created the first Barclays ATM. Yet around the same time, fellow Scot, James Goodfellow, designed a slightly different machine which used plastic cards punched with holes. Both men received OBEs for their services to banking.
  4. There is a new ATM installed somewhere in the world every three minutes.
  5. Some of the first cash machines didn’t give your card back immediately. Instead, it was either posted to you or you had to go into a branch to collect it.
  6. Lloyds launched the first computerised UK cash machine in Brentwood, Essex, in 1972. For the first time, the money was debited from your account instantly.
  7. It wasn’t until the Eighties that banks started to allow customers of rival firms to use their cash machines.
  8. ATM is an American term that stands for automated teller machine. Teller has its origins in Old English, meaning someone who counts money.
  9. Cash machines in Japan and Brazil use your fingerprint or palm to verify your identity instead of a PIN. In China they use facial recognition software.
  10. Cash machines fail 5 per cent of the time. The main reason, other than hardware faults, is running out of cash.
  11. There are three million ATMs in the world. By 2020 it is predicted there will be four million.
  12. ATMs in the Vatican City can give you instructions in Latin.
  13. In India you can make religious donations at ATMs installed in temples
  14. Barclays has launched contactless ATMs where you tap your card or smartphone against the machine to get out up to £100.
  15. Some ATMs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi dispense gold bars and coins. download
  16. Some people believe that if you enter your PIN backwards into the machine it will alert the police that you’re withdrawing money under duress. It’s a myth.
  17. ATMs were deliberately designed so the card comes out before the cash to help prevent customers leaving it behind.
  18.  Some golf courses in America there are mobile ATMs that are driven around the course on buggies.
  19. Cash machines in Japan and Brazil use your fingerprint or palm to verify your identity instead of a PIN. In China they use facial recognition software.
  20. China only installed its first ATM in 1987.

 

THE PLIGHT OF AFRICA

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Taking off into 2017, Kenya has already run into strong headwinds across the sectors. Needless to say, Kenya Airways is so cash−strapped that passengers are now being charged for their emotional baggage. Its Twitter timeline (@KenyaAirways) is littered with complaints of passengers losing their luggage or being stolen from. No wonder many travellers suffer from terminal illness at the airports. They are sick of being taken for a ride. Or flight.
However, Kenya Airways’ plight is a reflection of everything that’s wrong with Kenya. Let’s pick a few examples.

Flight delays
Many travellers opt to use aeroplanes to reach their destinations in order to save time. Yet, many face crippling delays due to ’technical issues’ and ’bad weather’. What does this have to do with Kenya? Plenty.

Every election year, citizens are treated to lofty promises that will be delivered in record time. Like the traveller believing that his/ her flight will leave on time, the voter rises early in the morning to vote in a leader who’ll help bring progress faster. Travellers have waited for hours, or even days, to board a flight that would have theoretically lasted a few minutes.
Kenyans have waited years for progress in Medicare. And just when it’s within reach, doctors ’conveniently’ go on strike. As a passenger, you’ll have to wait for crunch time (in the airline’s favour) or election year to finally see progress.

Numerous passengers have complained about baggage loss or theft. Like national funds, everyone admits that money has been stolen yet no one is held accountable.
’Investigations’ will be held, assurances of recovery will be given. But Arsenal has a better chance of winning the British Premier League than anyone seeing tangible results.
Are the losses/ thefts deliberate? One can’t provide tangible proof. Why then, are they rampant? Why are no decisive measures to curb this headache?

Technicians on strike
Many flight delays are occasioned by qualified personnel downing their tools for better working conditions.

In Kenya, doctors have withheld their services (as have numerous professionals across the sectors) due to unsatisfactory working conditions. However no meaningful gains have been taken to resolve the issues, however recurrent they are.
This leads to brain drain, sabotage and disruption of services promised. Passengers pay air fare, citizens pay taxes – both compulsory −, only to be short changed with a promise of a ’better tomorrow’.
Many more illustrations highlighting the similarity of the woes befalling Kenya Airways and Kenya can be drawn. What is the solution?

’Buy Kenya, Build Kenya’
Really? Should one invest in a defective service or product just because the supplier is one of our own? Apparently we continuously do. Despite the myriad of complaints leveled against Kenya Airways, prospective passengers will still book flights with the airline in the hope that things will change for the better. Despite the negative press. Similarly, citizens will still elect leaders with shady backgrounds, hoping that ’their own’ will make life smoother for the. Sycophancy doesn’t always equate to patriotism.

I am yet to hear of people advocating for the protection of snakes and rats because the vermin were born and bred in their backyards. Why then, are blind eyes turned against those hell bent on bringing down the society and economy? Excuses can only hold water for so long. When does reality kick in? If Kenya Airways flagrantly delivers substandard services, why continue to board it? Why not consider cheaper and more efficient options?

How is crisis handled?
Ask any disgruntled traveller. Management feigns ignorance. They first ask disgruntled passengers to verify their claims. How would it feel − as the aeroplane you’re in hurtles to the ground – if the pilot asked the passengers to clarify that the plane is indeed out of control?
A few hundred metres to impact, the pilot then admits that a crash is inevitable and that it’s just occurred to him that there are evasive measures he can take. How comforting.

Kenya Airways needs a more efficient (and convincing) crisis management systems in place. This will go a long way in assuring the passengers that their concerns are actively being looked into and that the plane will soon take flight, while ensuring exemplary service. Yet, ’empty’ promises are the order of the day.

These are the curses that turned the ’Pride of Africa’ into the ’Plight of Africa’.

MY CAPTAIN

 

Gently down the stream I go

Row by row, row by row

Sometimes fast and sometimes slow

Through the high, through the low

Then the skies go dark…

In the doldrums I park

Suddenly the Spark

Cries, “Daddy don’t disembark”

My energies then grow,

Here we go, here we go!

 

SCHOOLED IN HUNTING: Tips on finding the right preschool for your child – PART 1

3 things scare (relatively) new parents most:

  1. When a toddler is strangely silent in the kitchen
  2. When the toddler enters the sitting room filled with guests proudly sporting an undergarment on the head (and it’s usually the torn one you meant to throw away).
  3. When the toddler demands to go to school.

 

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Welcome to the school hunting season. As the year draws to a close, parents are frantically searching for institutions in which to enroll their ‘angels’.  At this stage, they want nothing but the best.

I’ve heard a few cases where some parents fill out school registration forms at hospitals, minutes after childbirth. As the nurses clean up the baby, a school administrator shoves application forms (and school fees structure) under the mother’s nose, just before she passes out due to exhaustion. This is because the ‘elite’ schools have waiting lists of up to 3 years long. On the other side of the scale, I’ve come across fish mongers wrapping their delicacies in school prospectuses; very fishy, whichever way you look at it.

School businesses are very lucrative in Kenya and there’s cutthroat competition. At this rate, we’ll have school hawkers at every street corner, salon and bar. As a parent, which school do you go for? There is no hard and fast rule; but here are a few tips to point you in the right direction.

  1. EMPTY TINS MAKE THE MOST NOISE

Schools that advertise the loudest are more likely to treat your child as a commodity, not a young person seeking an education. They tend to air flashy television adverts and radio announcements. Others plaster entire neighbourhoods with reams of posters (also an indication that they don’t really care about keeping the environment clean, a bad sign.

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The really good schools have no need to advertise as they either already have full waiting lists or excellent reputations spread by word of mouth. Those that proclaim “ADMISSIONS ONGOING” all year round may not provide the quality education you seek. Your child is in his/ her formative years and needs the best foundation available.

Seek advice from a close friend, neighbour or relative, preferably a parent. Teachers may be biased to lure you to their schools, because it’s a business.

  1. LOCATION

Just because an institution has a luxurious long distance vehicle for a school bus, doesn’t mean your child has to spend 4 hours a day commuting between school and home. Besides, school buses are overrated. We’ll discuss this at length later.

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The closer home the school is, the more convenient for you and the child. In addition, your child will become more aware of the surroundings.

If you can find a school within the neighbourhood, good. If not, you might want to move your house closer to one.

  1. VISIT THE SCHOOL, AT LEAST TWICE

Don’t be fooled by the lovely pictures you see in the brochures and television advertisements. You might see majestic buildings in lush, green surroundings, when the reality is that the school is located on the 6th floor of a congested residential apartment.

There was once a secondary school on Mfangano Street – Nairobi city – which was on the third floor of a busy business hub. There was a bar on the 2nd floor and a noisy church on the 4th. Both of which operated 24 hours. How they managed to study is anyone’s guess, unless they were being apprenticed to work in those establishments.

Is the environment child friendly and secure? Ensure you make a surprise visit. Catch them when they are unprepared.

Talk to the head teachers, teachers and staff

They will spend a lot of time with your child, so you need to know if they have your child’s education at heart. One headmistress asked me (as she was scrolling through her mobile phone), “Is your daughter a boy or a girl?” Needless to say, I never went back.

How do the teachers and staff interact with the children? Do the kids show signs of anxiety and nervousness? These are signs not to be missed.

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I was lucky to meet a headmistress who seemed genuinely concerned about the child’s well-being; including stating that school life is not a substitute for family life. She insisted that she didn’t run a day care. They only guide, the parents provide the push.

How soon do they pull out the fees structure?

Granted, education is expensive. But if the watchman hands you the school fees structure as you walk towards the reception area on your very first visit, chances are the school cuts corners and the items they ask you to pay for are non-existent or substandard. Ideally, the school fees structure should come after you’ve walked around and learnt more about the school.

While perusing the fees structure, note the costs of the items for comparisons with other schools.

Uniform Scam

Schools these days try to force you to buy their uniforms directly from them. To lock you in further, they insist that’s because you can only get their logos from them. With a bit of research, I found a few places that sell the said school uniforms WITH the original logos. It’s tedious, but worth it. And you’ll save quite a bit. Why pay shs. 700 for a light cotton shirt, which you can get at half the price elsewhere? I avoided the schools which insisted I purchase their outfits from them. Why buy safari boots at exorbitant prices when they are readily available at every Bata shop?

Meals

Does the school provide meals and snacks or do you have to provide them? Some schools prefer uniformity, while others will specify what sort of snacks to bring.

More often than not, the fancy food names you find in the menu are non-existent. For example, many menus featured, “Spaghetti Bollognaise”. The teachers said it was simply spaghetti and minced meat (technically true, never mind it should be speltas “Bolognese”). The fancy name is supposed to awe you into opening your wallet further, but it’s nothing close to what you’ll find at La Trattoria.

Transport

Having seen the way school buses are overloaded and roughly driven these days, I’d rather not have my daughter board one. If the school is near home, a little stroll will do her a world of good (escorted, of course).

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If you opt to use school transport, have a closer look at the vehicles. Do they appear well maintained? Are the drivers presentable? Dilapidated vehicles with drivers dressed scruffily could be an indicator that your child may be in for a few rough rides.

These are first impressions that determine whether your child will be comfortable in that school or not. In the next and final installment, we’ll go beneath the surface.

WEIRD VALENTINE’S DAY FACTS

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Most people believe that Valentine’s Day was purposely formed to honour some poor saint who was beheaded simply because he married couples in secret.  Why then don’t lovers behead each other today? The praying mantis does. After mating, the female mantis bites off her partner’s head; maybe to stop him from ever cheating on her or maybe he said that he loved her to death. The beginnings of this overrated, over-hyped and over-dramatic day are less romantic.

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Valentine’s Day traces its roots to an ancient Roman pagan holiday called Lupercalia. Men stripped naked, grabbed whips and spanked young women in hopes of increasing their fertility. I guess that the feminists of the day couldn’t stand it anymore – thanks to their eternally aching bottoms – and told the men to go practice their fertility in the stables on the pigs and goats.  They toned it down a little. In each village the lads and lasses drew lots to decide which unlucky lady paired up with which brute. They would then be lovers for a year before drawing lots again. After running out of fresh faces, someone came up with the St Valentine’s story which you are familiar with. Of all 365 days, why mark just 1?

 

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Official beginnings

In 1537, England’s King Henry VII officially declared Feb. 14 the holiday of St. Valentine’s Day. That spelled doom for men to this very day. It became customary for ladies to throw epic tantrums if they didn’t receive flowers, chocolate, wine and romantic dinner from the men in their lives on that 1 day; even if they were pampered silly during the other 364. Richard Cadbury complicated issues further by introducing the first Valentine’s candy box in 1868.

 

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What started out as an innocent, romantic lover’s day where sweet poems were exchanged while seated on luscious grass by a beautiful clear stream soon ESCALATED  into the official (compulsory) day of bonking. Instead of soft, gentle whispers; grunts and violent bed rattling rent the air. This is probably why Penicillin, a popular treatment for venereal diseases such as syphilis, was introduced to the world on February 14, 1929. Since then, Each Valentine’s day pretty looks like the last…red clothing, flowers, chocolate, wine, romantic dinners….yawn…until the Japanese took it over.

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Big in Japan

In Japan, women are expected to give chocolate and other gifts to men on Valentine’s Day. This tradition was started as a marketing campaign by Japanese chocolate companies (them again). Gentlemen, before you rush to acquire Japanese citizenship remember that you have to return the favor on March 14th, commonly known as White Day. Finally, a country where 2 romantic days in a year exist…until it caught on in South Korea.

 

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Bigger in South Korea

South Koreans are a romantic bunch and have marked the 14th of every month to signify some sort of ‘Love’ related day that couples can celebrate.

  • January 14: Candle Day
  • February 14: Valentine’s Day
  • March 14: White Day
  • April 14: Black Day
  • May 14: Rose Day
  • June 14: Kiss Day
  • July 14: Silver Day
  • August 14: Green Day
  • September 14: Music Day
  • October 14: Wine Day
  • November 14: Movie Day
  • December 14: Hug Day

Now that’s more like it! Celebrating and appreciating your loved one all year round. Happy Valentine’s Year!

 

USEFUL KEN-GLISH PHRASES

Visitors to Kenya often mistake the common chatter heard on city streets for English.  Although a few words are shared, the meanings are as similar as tea and tequila. Here a few phrases to help ease your communication challenges as you navigate our iconic potholes.

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  • Otherwise?

A popular greeting that is usually placed at the beginning of a phrase. Sometimes, it comes in handy when 2 people having a conversation run out of things to say.

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  • It’s high time

As opposed to what, ‘it’s low time’? Used when long suffering commuters get caught up in the perennial city traffic jams and they want the authorities to clear the mess. For example, “It’s high time that roundabouts are removed.”

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  • At the end of the day

A sophisticated combination of unrelated words intended to make the speaker sound intelligent, when all s/he needed to say, “Ultimately.”

 

  • With all due respect

The listener/ reader is being warned that the next words will be unpleasant. And probably disrespectful.

 

  • Just saying

Thank you for the clarification. For a while I thought you were singing or rapping in a strange key. I didn’t know you were saying. You know, just saying.

 

  • I, personally

Is the plural form, “We, collectively”? This redundant phrase expresses the speaker’s narcissistic tendencies, while claiming inviolable rights to the statement that will follow.

 

  • Even me I

Even me I don’t understand why this phrase is so special. Maybe you, you can help me out here.

 

  • By the way

When someone makes a profound remark or offers a piece of useful advice, it’s customary to interject, “By the way!” It’s the Kenyan version of, ‘Eureka!, only one is not expected to jump out of a bathtub and triumphantly run naked through the streets; you might catch a nasty cold.

NOW PLAYING: POPE MUSIC

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Dear Pope Francis,

I take this opportunity to be one of the first to welcome you to Kenya.  A charismatic figure, the world keenly listens to every word you speak, carefully watching every step you take. You wield so much power that you even performed a miracle in our country even before landing at the airport.

As you are probably aware, Kenya is a predominantly Christian country; not even Jesus comes close to our standards. Just the other day, ‘Christians’ across the country decided that the Catholic Church is one of the most hypocritical denominations under the sun. It was the most boring church since worshippers dressed in drab clothing, disregarding current fashion trends. It was the church which didn’t regularly perform miracles like growing financial prosperity instantly, physical healing, getting promotions at work, becoming beautiful in the eyes of the opposite gender and the like.

That’s why we deserted the church and started outfits named after aeroplanes, body parts, violent natural phenomena and like. At these religious kiosks, we were blessed with the prosperity gospel and granted instantaneous miracles (usually in exchange for a ‘small’ fee). At these spiritual discotheques, we broke into raunchy dances in the name of the Lord. If you can spare a few moments to watch some of the music videos featuring our top ‘gospel’ artistes, you’ll understand perfectly. When it was announced that you were visiting, your miracle manifested.

Catholic churches countrywide are suddenly filling up. Today it’s quite fashionable to be Catholic, judging by the number of fancy dresses being tailored in your name. Government officials who can’t tell the difference between the Bible and a dictionary are suddenly attending prayer rallies and quoting the Scripture. Everyone is fighting for an opportunity to shake your hand and take a selfie with you. Each third person you meet is a member of a Catholic choir (even if s/he is called Hassan or Singh). Preparations are fervently in high gear.

At the airport, please don’t deign show up in your modest Fiat. You’ll embarrass those who came in convoys of high end vehicles. They embrace servant leadership. We are the servants, they are the leaders. Therefore, we must pay for their lavish lifestyles. You’ll no doubt be invited to one of their glamorous palaces, probably costing millions of dollars. Do not hesitate to accept their invitations, as you will be shielded from our simple hovels. Speaking of which. Your choice of holding mass in a slum has appalled the powers that be. Your grandeur mustn’t be diluted by feelings towards the masses struggling to get by. It seems our only purpose is to fuel the lives of the rich, you being one of them.

Attempts will be made to drag you into our local politics. Ignore them. Opposition leaders are nothing but trouble. Activists only aim to destabilize our sovereign government. Corruption is a necessary evil, as you have witnessed in the Vatican. Although you have taken steps to right the wrongs in the church, we need not follow in the same steps as we are, again, a sovereign nation. We determine what justice is. The Bible? Oh yeah that, the teachings from that novel are tailored for western countries. They do not apply here. Victims of the post-election violence are nothing but upstarts seeking fame.  The rumour that you might hear about the runaway road carnage is just that…a rumour. Our drivers are among the best in the world, only surpassed by the boda bodas (commercial motorcyclists). They all observe the Highway Code and are the most courteous. Incognito, you should board a matatu plying the Kawangware, Ngong Road, Jogoo Road or even the Kangemi routes to appreciate that fact. Beware; you may be thrown out if you fall a few cents short of the required fare (which changes 3 times in 1 journey).

We are one of the securest nations in the world. The daily killings and robberies are mere exaggerations by the opposition.  Poverty? We don’t know what that word means. Apart from the billions of dollars that occasionally leak from government coffers, everyone is content. The health system works like clockwork, the roads…yes the roads. What may look like potholes are actually beautiful decorations designed to keep motorists alert. Sewage that flows on roads (that you may not be permitted to visit) are actually our ingenious contribution towards lowering global warming.

As our leaders in personally tailored garments will assure you, we love each other so much. Just the other day, we almost made our national soccer team forfeit their international match. We are so attached to them that we don’t want to spoil them by either paying their hard earned allowances nor transport. You do know that money is the root of all evil, which is why we prefer that most citizens live below the poverty line; simply to keep them righteous. Speaking of money, billions of dollars have been poured into preparations to host you. That’s a tiny sum, considering that our poor starve every day. Yet again, they are already used to leading deplorable lives. They won’t feel the pinch.

Anyway, Karibu Kenya. Karibu translates to both ‘welcome’ and ‘near’ or ‘resembles’. You’ll come to a country that resembles the ideals that our founding fathers had for our beloved nation.  Briefly put, welcome to a knock off of a third world nation. While at it, do pray for us. Sincerely.

 

TOO ANGRY TO BE ANGRY ANYMORE

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Anger is the new fashion statement.

Everyone’s outraged by some thing or the other. The government’s blatant corruption brings bile to the boil within helpless citizens. The police’s vagrancy ignites raging turmoil in the hearts of both motorists and those who can’t afford a mere picture of a Rolls Royce Phantom. Terrorist activity in a far off continent make many gnash their teeth and foam in the mouth, even though 2-bit criminals kill more in their country in a month than extremists could in a decade.

When we run out of ‘weighty’ matters to rant about, we resort to howling at the City Council for growing grass with taxpayers’ money. When we have absolutely nothing to rave about, we resort to throwing tantrums about how other teams in the Barclays Premier League are doing better than the ones we support; even abusing those whom we perceive support ‘useless’ teams. We seem to simply be happy about being angry, or rather, demonstrating to the world how much poison runs within our veins.

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We take to social media spewing venom against our enemies. We walk the streets hoping that someone brushes against our shoulders so we can direct choice invectives at them. We drive, praying that a fellow motorist accidentally honks in our direction so we can jump out and smash their windscreens. We anxiously wait for electricity to fail so that we can destroy property and abuse those in…power. We fervently pray for a bank, or corporation to fail so we get to yell and scream bloody murder at how the ‘helpless are downtrodden’. We’re only too happy to be angry. The result?

Social media, once a fountain of knowledge, is now a cesspool of vitriol raging about one subject or the other. ‘Knowledge’ which we gained from our various education systems betrays the inherent ignorance which we dearly hold on to. We are always in a hurry to criticize, condemn and chastize those who dare infringe upon our Utopian ideals. And that’s where it stops.

Any parent who has raised more than 2 children will attest that they have long grown immune to their infants’ incessant yells, only reacting when the situation truly calls for it. Truly, it doesn’t take much intelligence to throw tantrums. Children constantly do so. It’s not a sign of maturity to bombast against a perceived injustice; infants effortlessly do so when a favourite toy is snatched from them.  While a child rolls in the dust screaming bloody murder, the parent calmly completes a necessary chore. The child will eventually quieten, looking for another gripe.

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While you’re grumbling because a certain public officer is syphoning billions from the national coffers, the same individual is building his/ her dream future. While you’re peeved about some militant killing innocent lives, s/he is sleeping easy because they have taken a tangible step towards resolving their perceived injustice. While you’re bemoaning the fact that errant motorists get away with murder, they have reached their destinations within the shortest possible time. All you can do is rant and rave; much like the squawking and squealing of chicken at the slaughterhouse.

The sad truth is, there is no prize/ award for the most offended individual with access to the internet. Every tirade or outburst only serves to enrich the owners of social media platforms. Each share confirms the inadequacy of our self-righteous actions. If you truly believe in a cause, act on it. Physically.

I’m yet to come across an individual afflicted by constipation, posting it on facebook. The victim will (obviously) take relevant steps to obtain relief before publicizing the condition to the world. Which is why I respect militant extremists across the world. They are righting the perceived wrongs (attaining damaging results in the process). They are doing something. I applaud the corrupt, simply because they are taking steps to achieve a better life. Hats off to petty criminals, they are taking tangible steps towards achieving their goals. Everyone else just sits back and wails. Since when did complaints alone achieve results?

To all social media warriors, shame on you. You are nothing but sniveling cowards hiding behind anonymity, waiting for someone else to physically support your cause, which you’ll ‘conveniently’ join in once there’s no eminent danger to your personal selves. To all cowardly complainants, shame on you. You just squeal from behind your mother’s skirts, only emerging when sure no danger is imminent.

If you are limited to voicing your diatribes from a safe distance, i.e., from your mobile phone or whichever internet connection then, shame on you. Simply shut up. Surely, there is something good about your surroundings you can share. There is no difference between you and those who record accident scenes on your mobile devices, with no intention of helping the victims; which you then post on social media with the sole purpose of increasing your popularity, instead of making the world a better place. Again, it doesn’t take much intellect to rant and rave.

Personally, I take it upon myself to change what I can and accept what I can’t. Life’s too short to show off how angry I can be. After all, it won’t lower the price of milk.

WELCOME TO KENYA-ZHOU: CHINA’S NEWEST PROVINCE

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Once upon a time, products from China were viewed with great suspicion. They were perceived to be knockoffs. From pencils that broke at will, to sharpeners that broke the said pencils, TV sets that lasted a few days, wall hooks that couldn’t carry anything heavier than 10 grams….anything Chinese was doomed for failure (despite their low prices). We later found out that businesspeople deliberately imported knock off knockoffs and made a killing, while killing innocent Kenyans in the process. Today, the country is flooded with Chinese products and services. If the Chinese could clone Kenyans, they gladly would. But we’ve already beaten them to it.

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The country’s already full of knock off clerics, doctors, police officers, medics…etc. Corruption has permeated into every sector. The only people not corrupt are lying 6 feet below in cemeteries (many of them are rotten anyway).

Despite national goodwill and government funding, KQ has managed to become the ‘Plight of Africa’. It has recorded colossal losses, despite allegations that it charges higher ticket prices than airlines who’ve recorded huge profits. ‘Coincidentally’, a Chinese airline has taken over one of the routes that KQ had just launched. Speaking of infrastructure, we can’t even be trusted with building our own roads. The Chinese are building them for us. The few Kenyan contractors available specialize in creating symmetrical potholes. Army and police vehicles are suddenly sourced from China.

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Wheel barrows apparently cost more than motorbikes, despite being neither remote controlled nor self-driving. Private motorists and public service drivers are getting reckless by the day, even overturning vehicles smack in the city centre; apparently the authorities are happy with the situation. Crimes are being committed, yet no one is guilty. However, if someone steps on a patch of grass, they are nabbed on the spot and hauled off to face retribution. Clearly, Kenya was manufactured in a Chinese factory specializing in imitations. Nothing seems to work the way it should, because no one cares anymore. The only original thing that works in Kenya is finger pointing. It’s always someone else’s fault. As long as it’s not happening to me, all’s well. Or is it?

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We are like the proverbial farmer who showed kindness to a poisonous snake, which killed him eventually. The longer we condone evil and corruption, the greater it will strike us. Those who steal will run out of items to grab and attack those protecting them. Our children are not spared. ‘Modern’ parenting calls for constantly showering our offspring with gifts and money. When the kids err, ‘modern’ parents react by vilifying those who point out their anti-social behavior. Recently, a picture of a  high school girl was circulated on social media. Interestingly, outrage was directed at her nude pictures being shared, and not the fact that she was allegedly caught with narcotics while having sex in a public vehicle. If she was well behaved in the first place, the police would have no reason to arrest her. Yet there are those saying the girl was ‘traumatized’ and ‘humiliated’. Would they rather their children continue misbehaving? These ‘modern’ parents and ‘feminists’ are simply knockoffs of the originals. Made in China. It won’t be long before our babies are ‘Made in China’. Soon, unnaturally light children will be born to parents who happen to be pitch black. Wait a minute, it’s already happening. Remember the story of a lady who was impregnated by a Chinese road constructor? When she went to confront the father, she realized that she couldn’t tell who was who since they all looked the same to her.

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A this rate we need to start learning Mandarin, since we already speak the knock off versions of English, Swahili and vernacular. We claim to be proud of our roots and culture, only when ‘one of our own’ is being ‘targeted’. Journalists have stopped trying to pretend to be grammatically correct. One would think their nursery school kids wrote and edited their articles, judging from the ever increasing errors we see across the media.  It’s no longer a laughing matter.

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Speaking of jokes, our comedians are also ‘Made in China’. They seem to believe that only way to make Kenyans laugh is to make stereotypical jokes about certain communities. The hardest they can do is deliver stale jokes with a vernacular accent. One would think that since the internet is widely available, they would try to research sites other than their social media accounts (which they check twice a month).

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Instead of simply ‘facing East’, we might as well import their leaders and get rid of the goons holding office. Instead of copying knockoffs, let’s import the real knockoffs and improve China’s newest province. We’ve practically sold off our country and are paying rent. How, you ask? Look for elephants and rhinos in our game parks. They’ve mysteriously evaporated. Half of the northern part of the country has been taken over by foreigners prospecting for oil. The other half is apparently under the rule of terrorists, whom we can’t seem to contain. The economy of the western part of the country has been stifled. Apparently, it’s cheaper to import sugar and maize from Brazil through Uganda (even though we own the port). We’ve even donated an island to a neighbouring country. The coastal region is apparently been run by invisible drug cartels and smugglers. Hauls of drugs are captured, yet those responsible have never been named. Some even doubt whether the drugs are destroyed as publicized. Most of the prominent property and businesses are owned by foreigners. In addition to Mandarin, we may as well learn Somali; these should be the official languages.

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Finally, we should all have ‘Proudly Kenyan. Made in China’ stamped on our foreheads. It’s the only national identity we seem to afford.