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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Why are Kenyans offended by the TRUTH?

My comments in RED... blog entry courtesy of a friend who asked the rhetorical question... From the editorial of the East African Standard... Online edition...

‘The Economist’ fell into old trap on Africa

Foreign correspondents based in Africa should endeavour to report accurately on political and economic developments on the continent.

What about our journalists? Jeff Koinange certainly seems to have set a "bad" example... if the allegation against him are true...

Many African leaders have complained about their reports for decades. True, some dictators do not tell the truth, and the world has learnt to ignore their lamentations over negative media reports.

These 'leaders' were mostly crooks & buffoons... moi, idi amin, kenyatta,mobutu, mugabe, bongo, etc... Only president who was a leader in the true sense of the word... Nelson Mandela... I understand the Botswana presidents are also pretty good... Have I missed any others? So who are these leaders who speak the truth?

Still, many foreign reporters and commentators go overboard. They are obsessed with negative stories and ignore positive developments. Kenya feels wounded, and rightly so, by a negative report in The Economist of London. Anger over criticism in the international magazine led to the cancellation of the inaugural Business Roundtable meeting last week.

Billed as a first in East Africa, the conference was to give business leaders an opportunity to engage with a high-powered Government team led by President Kibaki. The meeting, organised by Economist Conferences — a division of Economist Group — was to run from July 17 to 18 at Nairobi’s Intercontinental Hotel.

Things were going on well until someone who claims to "have returned to Kenya after 40 years" decided to write a three-page article claiming that no development had taken place.

The Economist Group announced the postponement in a statement a few days to the conference, but did not give details. However, Finance minister Mr Amos Kimunya confirmed that the conference was cancelled because of the offending article

Several companies had pledged to sponsor the conference, with Barclays Bank offering Sh5 million. The article, which appeared in the June 9 issue, is titled Kenya: Going up or Down? It stated that the general state of disrepair in the country is striking.

The article alleges that Kibaki is "ailing", adding that it is time for the elderly ruling class of "hippos" to give way to "cheetahs" (young reformers). Would The Economist use such language to describe European leaders?

Apart from the "Hippos" who were offended, calling someone a Cheetah (young reformer) is complimentary! BTW, apologies to the hardworking real (animal) Hippos who bring us valuable foreign exchange! And it is TRUE. We need the old geezers who are senile (mugabe comes to mind...) to give way to the young, brainy generation!

BTW, the reference to Hippos & Cheetahs was not the Economist's original thinking but it was from a speech by George Ayittey, a blogger, journalist, entrepreneur and much more.... Here is more on that...

The story says Nairobi does not operate at night because of insecurity. It adds that tens of billions of dollars of aid have been spent yet the country’s infrastructure is worse than it was 40 years ago.

Hmmm... so last time I checked... many folks get their heads chopped off... Now what would you call this if not insecurity? Of course, Nairobi is relatively unsafe... esp some of the seedier areas... so its is true... erm, Nairobbery is not called Nairobbery without a reason!

The writer says in the early 1970s, it was possible to drive from Nairobi to Mombasa in four hours. But now, because of potholes, diversions and hold-ups, it could "take eight hours".

So we have a lousy Nbi-Msa highway... It is true... It takes over 8 hours (I think the Economist was being generous) for one to travel from Nairobi's CBD to Mombasa's CBD... So you are offended by the truth?

I can attest to the poor condition of the road, the potholes (Mariakani/Miritini), the diversions, the hold-ups because of accidents & lousy drivers... So what was the counter-point to the truth the Economist said?

The article says the mess is a result of misguided economic policies, mismanagement, poor maintenance, sloppiness, tribalism and corruption.

Oh, yes where should we start?

  • The lousy economic policies of moi's government?

  • Mismanagement of most resources e.g. Telkom monopoly that led to Kenya missing out on IT/BPO opportunities?

  • Poor (if any) maintenance of the vital Nbi-Msa highway or the Railway system?
  • Sloppiness - the poorly drawn up contracts for Anglo-fleecing among other scandals like Goldenberg?
  • Tribalism - what about the Likoni clashes, Burnt Forest & now Elgon clashes?
  • What about the dominance of illiterate kalenjins in the govt during moi's days?
  • Corruption - does Goldenberg, Anglo-fleecing, All-Africa Games scandal, etc ring a bell?

Economist Conferences have over the years built their reputation on the ability to deliver the highest quality events with government leaders. The conference would have brought together the President, key ministers, the Central Bank Governor and Nairobi Stock Exchange chairman, among others.

Granted, Kenya, like many other African countries, has had its fair share of mediocrity, decay and backwardness. But any analyst who fails to recognise efforts of recent years is unfair.

Recent UN and World Bank reports have not failed to notice a silver lining in the cloud. Is it that foreign media are still stuck to the old template of Africa? In this report, like many others, one does not fail to see and feel the tinge of the ‘heart of darkness’, the failed continent.

The Economist is a respected magazine and should not publish articles which do not reflect Kenya’s situation. The meeting would have brought foreign and local investors to exchange ideas. We hope that opportunity has not been lost for good.

BUT its does reflect Kenya's situation... we might have blackouts due to power shortages, Railways has/had almost collapsed, the KPC's capacity is woefully inadequate, we have no undersea fibre optic cable connection thus relying on expensive & less reliable satellites... So what is not true?

Or kimunya thinks mungiki is an urban myth?


Odegle said...

i have never understood the worlds affection for nelson mandela. how does he not compare with kibaki? one forgave the white extremist thugs the other forgave the extremist thugs of kanu. am sure the kanu crooks of yesteryear see a saint in kibaki as much as the white criminals of apartheid see an angel in mandela. but between the two men. mandelas SA is trying to give wealth to the blacks through BEE, while in Kibaki is trying to give wealth to everyone through better management of economy. yours to choose which is a better style

coldtusker said...

Odegle - Comparisons (if ny) need to be made between Mandela & kenyatta (not kibz).

- Mandela - to the best of my knowledge - is not a land grabber who became wealthy due to crooked means! kenyatta... oh, well...

- Mandela "relinquished" power while it was treason to "dream" of kenyatta's death! (How could Njonjo, such a brilliant mind, come up with this?)

coldtusker said...

Kibz has done well, so far, but he started off from a very low base. moi's rule had brought our economy as low as it could get. Kibz has picked the low hanging fruit. Now comes the tough going.

Its a pity he was not more decisive in ensuring the crooks behind Anglo-fleecing were not sidelined asap. Among the other scandals that continued from the bad days of kanu.

Anonymous said...

'These 'leaders' were mostly crooks & buffoons... moi, idi amin, kenyatta,mobutu, mugabe, bongo, etc.'

i think thats a very simplistic argument ..lazy i may say its the same kind of view that got america into iraq. most of this leader operate in the environment they live in its not like moi came from a vacuum or mobutu they came fromt their respective countries and there rule or misrule are just symptoms of the countries the lived in.

whats going on iraq should make everyone cautious about blanket accusations.

coldtusker said...

Anon - How about a name?

"Lazy argument" you say. Why don't you provide more details?
Erm, there was no argument... it was a statement...

This wasn't about detailing excesses that IDOIOTS, THIEVES, CROOKS, THUGS like mugabe, kenyatta, moi, bongo among others are/were...

Do you live in Africa?
When were you last there?

You said "Don't blame them (the crooks), blame the environment???" I say that is a crock full of shyte... surely they could have made other (better) choices like kenyatta NOT grabbing land!!!

mugabe has turned against his own people. We are talking of the common man. The peasant. The slum-dweller. The innocent.

We have Kagame of trying to uplift Rwanda while Kenya had moi who turned Kenya into a basket case. While deriding corruption, he doled out favours, contracts & land to the "chosen"!

Often, I use the example of Singapore... a backwater 40 years ago... now, a high tech booming economy... They did so with few natural resources but they used their BRAINS... not arses purporting to be brains!

Forget Iraq (BTW, was saddam your idea of an enlightened leader??? LOL...ROFLMAO...) and get back to Kenya...

Oh, how I wish we had a leader like Lee Kuan Yew as president instead of the thieving homeguard called kenyatta!

Since 1990, an enlightened leadership in a notoriously corrupt country such as India has done wonders... India doesn't need "good press", they receive it from others. Even then, the bad is also highlighted.

China received bad press on the "food poisoning" & fake medicines issue. So they executed the corrupt head of their Food & Drug Administration for taking bribes! Nice!!!

In Kenya, they would give you a medal... go figure!

don said...

Jeezz... you sure missed the boat on this one.

PR has real consiquences to a country.

The USA's greatest export is it's image (which consiquently was the greatest loss attained during 9/11) Before the world trade center... who could have imagined an attach on US soil.

SA is more dangerous than Kenya but do you hear about that?

Shall we dwell on the good of Kenya or on the Bad. Which do you believe is more helpfull to Kenya?

What this article is points to is that we should wait until we have wipped out the last 40 years of stagnation before we can say anything good about the country...

The article was technically true yet failed to paint the economic picture of the country.

The writer is an idiot!

coldtusker said...

Don - The subject line is 'Why are Kenyans offended by the TRUTH'???

The GOK should be doing PR... promoting the good aspects of kenya... but the truth remains... we are only "friendly" to tourists (& even then sometimes not so friendly)...

I just read that Mwiraria has been appointed "Environment Minister"... I don't know if he is corrupt but he was among those who "accepted/assented" the return of stolen cash (Anglo-fleecing) without identifying the culprits/thieves!!!

The CBK insists Kenyan banks "Know Your Customer" but CBK apparently had "no idea" who wired the cash back???

Who are we kidding? Ourselves? We let thieves go scot-free (Goldenberg, Anglo-fleecing, turkwell Gorge, etc). Is there no outrage???

About crime is SA. Oh, it is highlighted but at least the SA government (unhappily) acknowledges it. A quick google search will bring out tons of newspaper articles on crime.

Regarding PR... sure PR is good but not when it is used to "hide" the truth!!! We want to cover our slums using the right PR.

We hide the potholes along the Msa-Malindi road for a few days during the World cross country! Then the rain almost washes away the road!

The best PR is doing the right thing. Singapore has great PR. Why? It is relatively (very) safe... yes, it is clean & safe. OK, it is great as a tourist. Unlike Nairobi's CBD, there is very little visible crime. Locals don't seem scared. They are not clutching their purses. And their is a vibrant night-life. Not just the sleazy kind. Nairobi's (retail) CBD starts shutting down by 5PM, almost all closed by 6PM then dead by 8PM.

Even the stores in Nairobi's suburbs close early. Why? Fear!!!

Oh, BTW... did you know that the High Court in Nairobi (teeming with 100s of policemen) has signs... "Beware of Pickpockets"!!!

I love Kenya but not the "leaders"... most are liars, thieves & selfish.

Anonymous said...

Mr ColdTusker,

Why are Kenyans offended by the truth? Because we are Kenyans, like it or not our culture is that of noisy finger pointing...
We also need to examine 'who' is/ are offended ;-) truth be said, those who are mostly offended are beneficiaries of the current regime, alas, but again they will be offended by my remark, offended or the truth hurts.

Ps. For those nay Sayers it’s not about dwelling on the good or bad, BUT it is about accepting our flows. Most psychiatrists would tell you the road to recovery starts with accepting that there is a problem to begin with.

Thought for the day “A Country where Government employees and their affiliates are the Wealthiest should be looked at with Caution”.

Ken T

don said...

No one is disputing that kenya has problems and has a long... repeat long, way to go.

The question is the venue to put out certain pieces of information.

The economist... talk about how the country has turned around over the last 5 years.

Blogs, websites, watchdog groups, UN etc. Talk about what must be done to improve the country.

when a column causes progress to stop. The writer is just as bad as someone who literally took money out of the treasury. It is a crime against kenya.