The Business Falcons

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By Okello Okello

Falcons are a species of birds commonly referred to as Hawks. Hawks are characterized by sharp talons, large, curved bill and muscular legs. They use their sharp bill to bite and tear the pray and this makes them the best hunting birds ever known. Most entrepreneurs involuntarily act like falcons hence the title “Business Falcons.” So in what ways are entrepreneurs like falcons?

1. Vision.

Falcons have excellent eye sight, they can see up to 8 times further than human eyes sight. This helps with accuracy when sporting a pray. They can identify the difference between a rock and a mouse when they are over 100 feet in the sky. Visionary leaders also see opportunities that lie miles away from them. That is what drives them to take an action to either bring change or start something new. As an entrepreneur, always know what you are going…

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Confrontational Leadership

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By Okello Okello

This is not to be confused with arrogance. What I simply mean by confrontational is the ability to oppose or challenge directly the action or authority of someone. I also should make it clear to you that personality contributes a lot when it comes to being a confrontational leader.

Even though most entrepreneurs shy away from this type of leadership, it can mostly benefit the organization if handled with care because there is a very fine line separating it from arrogance. While arrogance holds the intent of superiority and recklessness, confrontation has an intent to question the credibility of an action and how it is benefiting the entire organization.

In my daily life, I do not like confrontations of any kind but one of my business friends, a fellow school mate and an entrepreneur once taught me that it is never wrong to question what is wrong…

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President Kenyatta Should Be The Last To Criticize The West

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By Ochieng’ Maddo

President Uhuru Kenyatta, flanked by Deputy President William Ruto. Source: Reuters
President Uhuru Kenyatta, flanked by Deputy President William Ruto. Source: Reuters

Yes, Britain colonized Kenya for years. The colonialists took our land, forced us to toil on it while paying us poorly, and still, taxed that pittance heavily. They oppressed freedom movements, tortured and killed dozens of Maumau and other Kenyans, and detained Jomo Kenyatta, the current president’s father. But these atrocities were not limited to Mount Kenya only. Even at Kapenguria prison there were five other inmates, not Kenyatta alone.

But of late President Uhuru Kenyatta has become sentimental about British colonialism which ended fifty years ago. When he previously served in the government in different positions, he never portrayed such emotions. It is clear that his strong feelings have been triggered by his impending trial at The Hague. He is lying that it is the West that is keen to prosecute him. Let me set the record straight. The Rome Statute was a UN creation. Member states signed it out of their own volition. In fact, out of the 122 ICC member states, Africa is leading with 34 counties of her 52. Asia and Pacific States have 18, Eastern European States 18, Latin America and Caribbean states 27, and Western European states 25. Senegal and Ghana were the first African states to join it in 1999. Kenya became a signatory on March 15 2005 and Côte d’Ivoire, whose own Laurent Gbagbo is also indicted, was the last join ICC on 15 February 2013. USA is not even ICC member.

Therefore, Uhurus’ claims about the West interested in taking him to the ICC are false and do not augur well for the well-being of the nation. He was indicted by the International Criminal Court, which Kenya is a member, before he became president hence his case should solely be his personal problem. Furthermore, he is himself still benefiting greatly from British colonialism than any other Kenyan alive today.

To begin with, in 1935, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was in the West, studying social anthropology at the London School of Economics. He was an active member of the International African Service Bureau, a pan-Africanist and anti-colonial organization, before later returning home to join Maumau, which culminated into his seven years detention. It was his British education, international exposure and organizational skills acquired in London that gave him advantage over other local veteran Maumau leaders, who even deserved the presidency more than him.

Jomo Kenyatta left prison to become an autocratic president whose death was even treasonable to imagine. He used his position to acquire huge chunks of land in most parts of the country, some of which Uhuru Kenyatta has inherited. Coming from Kenya’s aristocracy, Uhuru was chauffeur-driven to the prestigious St. Mary’s school Nairobi, after which he went West to study political science at Amherst College in the United States. Upon returning to Kenya, he started Wilham Kenya Limited, a company through which he sourced and exported agricultural produce, again, mainly to the West.

The Kenyatta family name just like Jaramogi Odinga’s in Nyanza, has reigned supreme in Kenyan politics for decades. In Central Kenya it is almost a political religion, going by the fanatical support he wields there. Many political analysts have argued that if Uhuru was to be stripped of the name Kenyatta; he would struggle to win even a parliamentary seat. In fact, it was his weak personality and political inexperience that made him lose Gatundu parliamentary seat in his home area, to the little known Moses Muihia in 1997. Basking in the glory of Kenyatta family relation, politicians Ngengi Muigai and Beth Mugo have won several elective (and nominative in the case of Mugo) positions in Kenya.

Uhuru Kenyatta is also enjoying his father’s massive wealth. Recently, Forbes Magazine placed him among Africa’s 40 Richest. According to Forbes, Uhuru owns at least 500,000 acres of prime land spread across the country, elaborating that: ‘the land was acquired by his father in the 1960s and 1970s when the British colonial government and the World Bank funded a settlement transfer fund scheme that enabled government officials and wealthy Kenyans to acquire land from the British at very low prices.’ The Kenyattas also have diverse business interests cutting across the board. This shows how Kenyatta family and others took advantage of the British government’s funds to deprive other Kenyans who could not meet the cost of land.

From a national and even international approach, Kenya still benefits more from the West than East. There are more and more Kenyans trooping to the West in search of education, jobs and better life. They are keen on strengthening and stabilising diplomatic ties between Kenya and the West. In August this year for instance, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi opened Britain’s first Kenya Coffee House in Romford, Essex, East London. The business is owned by UK-based Kenyans Joash Robinson and Susan Gakungu.  This demonstrates how Kenyans are willing to invest wherever there is opportunity, and it does not matter to them whether Uhuru Kenyatta personally has an attitude towards the West or not.

Kenyans’ desire to flee their country to the West is manifest from the winding queues and crowds trooping into and out of the US, UK, Canada and Australia consular every day. Local statistics indicate that people from Central Kenya form almost half of this population. There are conflicting figures of Kenyans living abroad as most of them lack valid status. In the UK, it is difficult to classify genuine Kenyans because of the large number of Somalis and Asians of Kenyan origin. Still, many Kenyans in the UK and elsewhere changed their nationality to war-torn countries such as Rwanda, Burundi and DRC to acquire asylum status. Kenya’s former US ambassador, Elkanah Odembo, admitted early this year that over 400,000 Kenyans in the US do not have valid visas, even though demographer Jeffrey Passel put the number at just 30,000. But the numerical disparity points at the fact that Kenyans are trying hard to remain in the West, contrary to Uhuru’s thinking.

Furthermore, the ‘digital economy’ that Jubilee government promised to initiate depends also on Diaspora remittance. Central Bank of Kenya keeps up-to-date statistics on monthly remittance, which the government uses to gauge economic strength. Its data shows that  in the 12 months to August 2013, average Diaspora remittance inflows increased by 10.4 percent to USD 102.6 million from USD 93 million in the year to August 2012, which was viewed as positive indicator in the economic sector.

Kenya still gets more tourists from Europe and America than elsewhere, and the local investors in creative, transport and hospitality industries react with anger every time the president takes to the podium to lecture the west on our sovereignty, which of course, they know. Having benefited from the West in this way, Uhuru Kenyatta should not to deny the rest of Kenyans a chance to also develop their lives, families and the future of their children in the same way Mzee Jomo Kenyatta did. His constant unwarranted attacks on our development partners will strain our cordial relation. Don’t we also want to educate our children in America the way Mzee Kenyatta did to his son?

New Study Confirms Leggings Are Not Pants

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The Snarkist

A recent study at Harvard University entirely debunks the popular notion that leggings are pants. Such a firm conclusion was slightly unexpected, according to the study’s authors. “Clearly a hybrid of tights and trousers,” lead researcher Deborah Collins commented, “leggings retained the real possibility of falling on the ‘pants’ side of the dividing line between these two types of clothing.”

Indeed, early in the research process, Collins and her partner in the study, Martin Hilfiger of Boston University (no relation to the fashion mogul), hypothesized that leggings might, in fact, be pants, due to the apparently endless number of women that he encountered daily on the streets of Boston and Cambridge, wearing t-shirts over partially opaque leggings, often with the seeming declaration, “Panty-lines be damned!”

“Of course,” Hilfiger cautions, “the fact that many people believe something has no relation to the likelihood of its actually being true.” He rants…

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How Raila Carved a Niche for Himself Among The Luo

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Former Prime Minister, Raila Amolo Odinga
Former Prime Minister, Raila Amolo Odinga

By Maddo Ochieng’

Luos of Kenya have endured all manner of insults and derogative comments from some supporters of Raila’s opponents for ‘blindly’ following the enigma in Kenyan politics, Raila Amolo Odinga. It is true that Luos including this writer, are Raila die-hard. Apart from Raila’s political achievements, they love and revere the man because of his bravery, charisma, unique mien, strange looks, rare humour, husky voice and gift of the gab, especially while speaking Luo language. He also has prolific academic qualification to boot. But what Raila’s ‘haters’ fail to understand is that unlike his competitors such as Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila fought his way up, and in most cases, suffered immensely.

When the combative provincial administrator, Joseph Kaguthi served as Nyanza Provincial Commissioner in the 90s, he was constantly at loggerheads with the locals. He reportedly found it more challenging to govern the regions occupied by the Luo community than other regions. He therefore coined the name: ‘Luo Nyanza’ to describe some residents there. Nyanza is a home to four major communities namely the Luo, Abagusii, Abakuria and Abasuba. At that time the predominant political party in the region was Jaramogi Odinga-led Ford Kenya. All members of parliament from the Luo region were elected on the party’s ticket.

 However, Odinga had came a distant fourth after President Moi of Kanu, Kenneth Matiba of Ford Asili and Mwai Kibaki of Democratic Party in 1992 general election. Odinga’s influence in the region also saw his party clinch West Mugirango constituency in Nyamira, then represented by Henry Obwocha. Kuria stuck with Kanu and elected their career asasistant minister, Eng. Shadrack Manga. Majority MPs from Kisii came from Kanu except George Anyona of KSC and Obwocha.

 The Kisii and Kuria communities got accommodated in Moi’s government while Luos felt disillusioned and sidelined from the mainstream politics following Odinga’s defeat. Determined recapture its lost ground, Kanu convinced Ford-K MPs Tom Obondo, Ocholla Ogur and Owino Likowa of Ndhiwa, Nyatike and Migori respectively to defect back to the party. A by-election was conducted in which they lost resoundingly to newcomers Orwa Ojode, Tom Onyango and Owino Achola in that order.

 That marked the first time Luos discovered Raila’s political strength and bravery. He played a significant role in those elections and ensured victory for Ford-K despite Kanu’s onslaught. Through its moneyed point-men Dalmas Otieno, Oluoch Kanindo and Akech Chieng’, Kanu literally bribed voters with colossal amounts of money. At one point Dalmas Otieno declared Raila a persona non grata in South Nyanza. Kanu used the provincial administration machinery to ensure Otieno’s decree was upheld. But Agwambo—that translates into ‘the mysterious one’—is said to had mysteriously sneaked into Nyatike village at dawn and personally woke up the Ford-K candidate, Tom Onyango, who was still in bed: “Pod inindo sani”, “You mean you’re still in bed at this hour?” he asked him.

 Even though they pledged unwavering loyalty to Jaramogi, Luos felt increasingly disenfranchised by the government. Their hopes for the region’s economic recovery dashed. Giant companies which had been run down by the corrupt Kanu regime continued to slumber. Deplorable roads with potholes big enough to bury a child in, as the late Odongo Omamo once quipped, continued to widen. Education standards were at their worst as joblessness among the youth soared. The HIV/Aids pandemic was at apocalyptic proportion. Water hyacinth was choking Lake Victoria, hampering fishing activities. Ravaging floods continued to sweep lives and property from Nyabondo Basin to Kano Plains towards Kanyadhiang’ in Karachuonyo. Professor Ouma Muga claims that the only industry which was thriving in the region was ‘Poverty International’.

 There was dire need for lasting solutions to these socio-economic problems, and now that Jaramogi had bounced back into politics after autocrat Moi had bowed to pressure and allowed multi-party democracy, the Luo community banked all hopes in the ageing prolific politician. They welcomed Odinga’s decision to co-operate with Moi, albeit cautiously. They wanted change. They wanted food, security, better education, infrastructure, health care and clean water among other basic needs. These,  Luos believed, could only be achieved by being in government. Other successive governments had duped them, killed their aspiring and brilliant sons and collapsed their industries in bid to confine them to political dungeons. They therefore wanted nothing less than presidency.

 But Odinga was old and frail. People knew he would eventually pass away or quit politics completely, and they were looking for alternatives within the region. The prevalent question was whether it was Oburu Oginga, being the first born, or Raila Odinga who would succeed their father. The Odinga family was revered among the Luo community because of its strong adherence to Luo culture and traditions. It was also a wealthy family that often helped the poor with money and food. In fact, Odinga’s wishes prevailed in Luoland even when he was serving house arrest for years. During the perennial bloody battles between the late Kanu strongman, Okiki Amayo and Pheobe Asiyo for Karachuonyo constituency seat, Pheobe Asiyo consistently trounced Amayo simply because in his hay days, Jaramogi used to stand at Katito Junction along Kisii-Kisumu Road and simply swing his magical fly-whisk in the Kendu Bay direction saying: “Joma dhi Kindu, umosna Nyar Agoro”, “Those who are going to Kendu-Bay, send my greetings to the Daughter of Agoro (as Asiyo was popularly known)”.

 Fate turned against Luos when Jaramogi passed away in 1994. The Luo felt a leadership vacuum when Ford-K chairmanship went to Kijana Wamalwa of the Luhya community. In public transport vehicles, market places, funeral gatherings and other informal meetings, people deliberated on who was fit to succeed Jaramogi. His shoes were too big to fit. Names of James Orengo, Raila Odinga, Anyang Nyongo and Ouma Muga were floated. A succession tussle ensued between Orengo and Raila. The battle however, simmered subtly until the issue of the party leadership arose. The latter wanted to become chairman while the former, himself vice chairman then, supported Kijana Wamalwa.

 In 1997 Wamalwa beat Raila in an acrimonious party election at Thika Stadium to become Ford-K chairman. Raila left the party in a huff and joined Stephen Omondi Oludhe’s National Development Party, NDP. All Luo politicians who stuck with Orengo in Ford-K lost their parliamentary seats in that year’s general election except Orengo and Gem’s Joe Donde. Donde got Rila’s blessing to capture his seat on Ford-Kenya ticket against Kanu’s Grace Ogot after NDP candidate was arrested hence got time barred. That was a defining moment in the history of Luo politics that saw giants like Ouma Muga, Otieno K’Opiyo, Aluoch Pollo and Akumu Dennis sink into political oblivion. Since then, the belief that whoever is not favoured by the Odingas cannot win an election in Luo Nyanza became oboquitous.

 The people who went against Raila’s grain have had to quit politics all together, or come back and apologise and toe the line. These include Dalmas Otieno, Oloo Aringo, Anyang’ Nyongo’ and Orengo. Other ‘strong-headed’ fellows like K’Opiyo, Ochuodho and Tuju are wallowing in the periphery of politics. Today, the talk among the Luo people is whether Raila should quit politics, and if he does, who will succeed him. People are trying to fathom what the post-Raila political landscape in Luo Nyanza will look like in the event that he quits.