Showing posts from May, 2010

Gems from Naivasha

“There are three categories of politicians. The headline chasers, the policy makers and the statesmen. Some when they stand in Parliament, you see a member rising, saying the consultations are too loud. Others, when they stand to speak, even the chair sits alert. You take your pick.” ~Mr Patrick Gichohi, Clerk of the National Assembly “The public is entitled to know what MPs do, that’s why they pay taxes. Parliamentary reporters do more than report events and debates. They analyse and criticize.” ~Mr Patrick Gichohi, Clerk of the National Assembly “Who has the legitimate claim to be the people’s watchdog? Is it Parliament or the media? ~Mr Patrick Gichohi, Clerk of the National Assembly “Is this (journalism) a profession or a trade? My take is that it’s none of the two. It is a calling. It’s almost like being a priest. You have to know upfront that you are sacrificing a lot. The industry has been infiltrated by many jobseekers.” ~Linus Kaikai, ME, NBD. “Editorial judgme

Naivasha memoirs....Part IV

PC Omollo, that big shot in Parliament, made us laugh. But, that’s beside the point. He passed his message: You have attended the workshop, you’ve been trained. It is now upon you to use the skills that you’ve gained. Back in the day in Kisumu, Omollo began, there was a white provincial administrator. He told all chiefs to tell the people to dig latrines in their homesteads. The chiefs, those days, were very powerful people. So the people obeyed. They dug pit latrines in their homesteads. But they kept on using the bush as the toilet. So when visitors asked what the latrine was for in the homestead, the answer came swiftly: “Hiyo ni ofisi ya chief, hapana enda huko.” (That’s the chief’s office, don’t use it.) Omollo then gave another example. There was this man who went to England (or was it America?) to study. When he came home (Kisumu) for Christmas, he decided to sleep at a hotel. Asked why, he replied: “There are no toilets in my homestead.” The guy listening to him in the

Naivasha memoirs....Part III

“In the honour of journalism, I believe, you’ll not go and use this against me.” –Kipkoech Tanui, ME, The Standard Wow! I had to address Kipkoech Tanui, The Standard’s ME separately. When this man rose to speak that Tuesday, he started with: “I know it is difficult to keep people interested when you are speaking just before lunch hour. But I’ll try.” He didn’t try. He was mesmerizing. He gave us stories. First, five anecdotes of his experience in the newsroom, then nine others about the way forward, about maneuvering your way through it. And to make it very personal, he threw in that quote about not using it against him. If you read this man’s column, he has one of the snippets. I’d love to link you to it, but, I am tempted not to, but to cut it out and paste it right here: “In the famine of 1965-66 while Rift Valley PC he rode a police plane with Moi, who was then Home Affairs minister, and due to a mechanical problem, almost crashed. Moi later told him, "Simeon, if we di

Naivasha memoirs....Part II

The second day in class was so-so. The Great Rift Valley Lodge should consider softer mattresses. My back was aching. I should have carried my sleeping bag. But I digress. And who was in the house? There was seasoned journalist Kwendo Opanga “guiding” us on “Reliable Information Sources in Political Reporting”. Opanga is the editorial director of Diplomat East Africa Magazine, a high-end publication that targets the diplomats or should I just say, foreigners, in Kenya. And what were the gems from this old hand? Sample this: “Out there, people know that we know, they look to the media to tell them what’s going on” and this “I am not just talking image, am also talking about substance.” That was his ‘bass-one’ vibrating in the conference room as he slid yet another vocabulary “newspaper babes”, wow, did Caro Wafula, my colleague at NMG’s Parliament desk hear that? Hehe! She’s the only female print reporter who attended the meeting (didn’t see The People Daily’ s Dinah Ondari). The ot

The Naivasha memoirs...Part I

Good people. It’s good to be back. Forgive that long unannounced hiatus. I was in Naivasha with 20 other journalists who cover Parliament for a four-day workshop. Okay, two full days and the other two, the first and the last, were for “arrival and registration” and “departure” respectively. The venue was the Great Rift Valley Lodge. I know guys at the office realized my absence, moreso, one pal called George Ogutu, he who edits the East African . But, now he knows that I was in class. It was worthwhile, I must say. But very tiring (after all in class from 8.30am to 6.15pm. Now, that’s something huge. It is bound to get tiring. And for the record; I didn’t dose in class). I had a one-on-one with the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Patrick Gichohi, a tittle-tattle with Dr Fred Matiang’i of SUNY (State University of New York). After that, it was time for his majesty Martin Masinde, the Budget Officer from Kenya’s Parliament to “speak a little” about the budget-making process. N

Bad Card!

"Ideally, I get stumped because I never have an opinion on anything, for the simple reason that I am just a journalist. A mere writer whose duty, it seems, is to spread rumours, lies and other half-truths, just for peanuts, which are usually raw and unsalted, and not 30, or less, pieces of silver"--Clay Muganda . Folks, I told you about something that happened at a 'NO' press briefing in Parliament on Friday. My pal who works in bunge (not for bunge and not for NSIS), who happened to witness the charade, tells me that it was fraught with sheepish mischief he's never seen anywhere. He says that Parliament printed so many copies of the harmonised draft Constitution (the one released on November 17) and had them circulated to each of the offices. But then, the 30-day period within which Kenyans were to respond lapsed before all copies were circulated. So, these extra copies are now being used as door mats, really rugs, so that when you enter the press centre, you lea

Councillors, me, President Kibaki and the Constitution Debate

Let me confess. On Friday, I came to the newsroom at seven not knowing that I had a ten o'clock appointment with President Kibaki. But it was right there in the diary. The President was meeting councillors to push for the 'Yes' vote in the August 4 referendum. So, knowing a little about how presidential functions are organised, I was sure all the councillors were going to say 'Yes'. Poor me! When the President strolled in with a coterie of his 'boys', the councillors started chanting. 'Pesa', as they clapped in the now unmistakably political rythm, the '1,2,3-- pa! pa! pa!' Jane Kiyo, she of NTV, asked me "if these guys are mad!". I confidently told her that they couldn't be shouting "pesa" because if the intelligence was right, and the Head of State had been allowed to attend the event, then it was unlikely that the President would be embarrassed. I was wrong. I was so sure that they weren't shouting 'PESA'

Thief! Thief!

Ha! I just left the office and I paid Sh100 for the ride home. Yes, that’s a 100 per cent increase on the normal fare. Am I angry? Yes! This is the third day I am paying twice the amount yet some idiots have cancelled a tender for a second railway…even if it was going to Uganda (the Westlands jam would have been averted, and thus Forest Road opened up.) I don’t know why people don’t insist that the matatu phase-out be fast-tracked. They only leave that to Kwendo Opanga to speak about when we are being overcharged because it has rained, or there is a traffic jam, or there’s a police crackdown. I think the crème de la crème would have had a taste had the airlines increased their fares because of the ash cloud. Too bad they just stayed around choking our roads with their CLXs,VXs, 320is, SL 500s, X6s and, of course, the 1.8T VW Passat. Ha! The matatu (public minivan) I was in had nice reggae music. The kind of music that DJ Kalonje plays…and he was the one on the mix with a ‘Danceha

Once a man and twice a child

I just lifted that title from Bob Marley's 'Real Situation', that song that goes something like " It seems like: total destruction the only solution, And there ain't no use: no one can stop them now. There ain't no use: no one can stop them now; Ain't no use: no one can stop them now; There ain't no use: no one can stop them now." So, I am sorry I have been offline for the past two weeks. Blame it on AccessKenya. The guys took the monthly bill for April, but then they disconnected my guys saying that they had to pay for May, yet that was April? It reminded me of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company May power bills that are always inflated! Anyway, on Tuesday I spent my day with the Committee of Experts at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. I was astounded at how many people kept on saying 'YES' to the proposed new Constitution (is this damn thing still a draft?), yet they were basing their 'points' on the harmonised draft

Devolution by evolution, don't make me scream revolution!

So, I promised to talk about devolution. I am told that it is the best deal that Kenyans will ever get. They insist, ‘ever’. There are 47 counties, essentially the Moi-Kenyatta era districts. Now, Mumias ends up in Kakamega county, together with eight other constituencies. And as 15 per cent of national revenue is divided among the counties, unless it is done ‘equitably” and not “equally”, as we say in Mumias, ‘tumeumia’ (we are cooked!). Anyway, yesterday, I had a chat with Prof Kavetsa Adagala, an ex-commissioner of the 2005 team that prepared the Constitution. She told me that the proposed law was a hundred per cent okay. And that ‘we can live with it’ and that, we should be prepared ‘to live with it’. I told her that I looked at the chapter on how to make amendments, and that one way or another it will have to end with a referendum. She looked at me straight in the eye. “It has to be very difficult to amend the Constitution. It should not be easy like the way the Moi’s and Kenyatta


"But the Church is painfully aware, too, that it can only preach from the pulpit, never in bedrooms. Behind the closed doors and drawn curtains of the bedroom, only the conscience is supreme." -KODI BARTH I was just reading Kodi Barth. Then when I reached one of his 2006 articles about the Catholic Church and Invitrofertilisation, I got this quote at the tail-end of his article. Well, with the current debate on abortion and Kadhi's Court, I tend to agree with Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, he of the Anglican Church, that it will be unwise for the church to go on to public rallies. The pulpit is the farthest they can 'safely' go and I wish them well. PS: "No kitwek" seems to be my cry!

I didn't know that I also have the PM's status

Yesterday, as I was headed home, I got nine simultaneous calls and a text message. Of those, I only returned two. The point in the calls was that they had seen me on TV yawning at a news conference addressed by the Institute of Surveyors of Kenya. That my yawning, made the cut on prime time news in the 'most authoritative news channel' on a Friday night should tell you that I have the same status as Prime Minister Raila Odinga. No? As at yesterday, we can both say we shared the same platform for the same reasons! He was caught on TV yawning (and dozing), I was just yawning. That's what long working hours do to you. I think I need my leave soon. Seriously! That should tell you about the 'media stupidity' that Esther Arunga and the PM have been complaining. People are busy discussing the crucial issue of contention over the land chapter in the proposed Constitution, yet all the reporter and the cameraman do is to focus on a yawning journalist as a fit cutaway! We have