Posted in Kenya my country

Kenyan Matatu rides

I enjoy my matatu (Public Transport) ride for various reasons.

The different matatu I use have different kind of music so I end up listening to a range of music- some irritating but hey music all the same. The volume makes many older people wish they were all working in the National Environment Management Authority in the noise department. They don’t know that sitting in the front seat helps because the big speakers usually occupy the boot and I take that advantage to enjoy the best volume with the driver. Do the matatu operators think that the health officers that warn against the high volumes just yap yap? I am yet to find out.

When my Mercedes driving boss asks me how I get to work, I tell him I take a 30 and then a 46 and he asks what’s that? Only that I can’t laugh aloud so I delicately explain that matatus come in numbers depending on the routes they run and then he goes ahead and asks me “so you take two matatus?” tempted to tell him that 98 percent of his employees take two matatus for his info but I smiled and said thank you for the ride- in my mind, thank you for the short quiet ride and dumb questions.
The other reason I like my matatu rides is the interesting conductors who pretend to forget that they have my change hoping I will forget. When I ask for it and see the disappointed look on their faces, I wonder where they learned the art of con I mean; all of them have the same habit.

They change routes like they make them and they are in a more hurry to get me to work than I am. When I am late, I can always trust the matatus to get me to work in a flash especially if I get the newest in the route.

The multitasking involved in driving the matatus amaze me, who said men can’t multitask? The drivers- who are mostly men- juggle between the driving, operating the music, dropping and picking customers, looking out for the traffic police, and competing with other drivers on the roads.

They have the most brilliant eye for business, their mastering of business concepts leave me wordless, When it rains, they realize their customers need to get home asap and they double or triple their charges with no apologies made. They have the right words for anyone who asks ranging from the prices of the fuel, to the traffic jam to how the traffic police are harassing them.

In the evenings as I wait for my fellow villagers – apparently that’s what my good friend Caro calls the suburb where I live- to fill up the matatu, I get to see lovers as they get their loved ones at the stage and I can easily tell which couples are on their first date. Observing as if I am watching TV gets me wondering how I act when in their situations but that’s a discussion for another day.

The art. Oh the art! The matatu industry knows the real meaning of art as a way of expressing oneself. The art is mesmerizing and in most cases matches the music and the volume of the music in the respective matatus.

It is only in Kenya where I can enjoy and extol, curse and complain and still use the same matatus. That is when I know that I am in Kenya my country.

Posted in Kenya my country

Kenya’s Vision 2030, MDGs and National Development

The launch of Kenya Vision 2030 process is an ideal starting point to focus attention on what should be done in concrete terms to realize a prosperous Kenya and what must be done in the face of dwindling resources like water, rising unemployment and problems of urbanization. The Kenya Vision 2030 is a long term vision and should have broad based public support and ownership.

Alongside the vision Kenya like many other developing countries is also struggling to deliver on the commitments to MDGs, there is need rethink on the approaches that are used as a way of ensuring that we are on the right track. Kenya as a country has to look at the local conditions and come up with local solutions to these problems. However, this needs to move from mere rhetoric to practical action vested on local knowledge and realities of the communities.  A local solution needs to happen within an institutional framework. This framework should foster the transition from merely donor funding to enhancing knowledge transfer so as to locate and sustain this knowledge and skills within communities. Knowledge and skills adoption within society is therefore the critical move the government and other stakeholders need to undertake. To leave the government to accomplish all these, considering our situation as a developing country, would be so much as there are multiple issues involved one of the major one being the politics. Therefore it is up to the individuals to take up the responsibilities as well and build the country.

Mobilization of resource to sustain the business models especially for the micro and small businesses is of paramount important. This must be looked at from the perspective of the attractiveness of the businesses while minimizing the risks to environment. This calls for a change in the approach to all sectors, as well as the attitudes and relationships with them.

I would like to see communities empowered to influence policies in the governance so that they would benefit from these policies and therefore contribute to the development of this country and Africa as a whole where scramble for resources causes a lot of conflict.