Pure Madness

My thoughts on the "behind the scenes" of life. You will find inspiration here. Share it generously


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In Case Of Emergency…

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Have you seen your country lately? Have you noticed the bleeding? Can you hear the citizen wailing or have the cries become so common that they have become part of your life? Do you see the pain on our faces or hear the bitterness in our voices? Do we matter to you? How long should we wait for change and what’s the price we have to pay for it?

What can a nation do when its citizens cannot access good healthcare? When parents have to helplessly watch the lives of their children slowly fading away? When a hospital – a source of hope – becomes a source of despair and pain? What about the child that has to grow up without the tender care of a mother because she died giving birth in “alternative health institutions” under the arms of an untrained midwife? What becomes of a nation whose hospitals become monuments and historic sites; places where people used to get their loved ones “brought back to life”? Where new members of the family were first introduced to their community as healthy “bouncing babies”?

Is there anything more comforting than the reassuring words of a health worker that “everything will be ok”? To a first time mom, nothing is trivial and doctors understand this. They will gladly reassure the parents that “it’s normal”, “it’s nothing to worry about“ and “It will go away”. Imagine the agony we impose on first time parents when we take away this important channel of support. When our health centers close down for whatever reason.

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The Health sector in Kenya is ailing. Hospitals still don’t have the right equipment and are running low on medicines. Doctors are resigning daily and funds to run our public hospitals are no longer a priority. That’s not all, people are going back to alternative methods of treatment because they are affordable and accessible. But these methods are neither safe nor certified and hence further endangering people’s lives. Our health sector is ailing and we need to find its cure fast.

For you and I who may have a medical cover, we are lucky. It is easy for us to trivialize and underestimate the state of public health care in the country. As the cost of living continues to soar, many people in rural areas rarely afford a healthy diet to sustain themselves and their families. Children suffer from malnutrition and so their bodies are not able to fight diseases effectively. Apart from the hunger and its effect (which we should be able mitigate in this time and age) we are also unable to provide adequate health services; a double tragedy.

When a pregnant mother does not have access to prenatal care, we are putting the lives of both the mother and the baby at risk. Hospitals are one of the main centers for fighting deadly diseases such as Malaria and HIV. Already as a country we struggle to provide affordable health services to patients who suffer from terminal illnesses like cancer. Special needs citizens including autistic children and spinal injury victims need specialized facilities; they are yet to be established. Instead, we would rather talk about sitting allowances and tax free perks.

With the current challenges facing the health sector it is evident that as a country we will not meet the Millennium Development Goals on health. Devolution, which on paper and in concept seemed like the appropriate vehicle to aid development in the health sector has become the “choking agent” of this process. Affordable healthcare for all is still a pipe dream… Literally!

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Counties administrators seem to operate on peer influence. We do not have established emergency centers in hospitals yet we spend millions in buying and hiring ambulances. What good will an ambulance be to a patient who has a terminal condition? What good will an ambulance be to an accident victim if they are rushed to a hospital without doctors or medicine? Recently a Governor bought a private hospital at KES185M! How many functional dispensaries would that amount of money build around the county?

To a dying patient, all they require is immediate treatment. They don’t care about the politics of how much the government has released or how much the counties governments actually received. They just want to see a doctor who will make them better. That’s all! What will it take for you our leader to realize that the place formerly known as a place of hope is now the place haunted by death?


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Survivor Nairobi Edition

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Are you a Kenyan or a tourist who plans to travel or relocate to Nairobi?  Well, there are a few things you need to know before you make the big step into the big city. Depending on how you look at it, this is neither life threatening information nor a thoroughly researched document. If you are looking for that, Google is your friend.

Nairobi has a very unique mode of public transport commonly known as matatus. You will get distracted (or impressed) by the loud music and the graffiti but please keep your eyes on your luggage and your pockets. There are very well mannered men and women (emphasis intentional) who make a living out of your living. When you get to your destination, always remember the-left-foot-down-first-rule. Most matatus will not stop completely so you need to alight with your left foot first to maintain your balance in case the vehicle moves while you are still midair.

There are many investment opportunities in Nairobi too. Be careful of “investment groups” that move cards around in populated city corners and ask you to guess where a certain card has moved to. These guys have a lot of experience and know the best seasons to entice you to “invest”. Often, you will be more vulnerable during Christmas and back to school season in January. You will be offered “an opportunity” to multiply your cash in a second. There are different packages for different markets. Some will even offer to pray for your money multiply right before your eyes! In the end only your sorrows will be multiplied.

Don’t eat anything offered to you by a stranger. No matter how pretty or handsome they look or how hungry you maybe, please say no. Many have been victims of these “acts of kindness” and have woken up days later with empty pockets without a recollection of events beyond the sweet they were given by a seemingly generous passenger.

Don’t think with your heart in Nairobi. You will come across decent women who have heart breaking stories and men who will even shed a tear for you to give them some money for transport lunch or claiming to have been robbed. You are the one being robbed. Be in the same spot the following day and you will meet these actors and actresses in the same need. These days they have recruited young men who want sponsorship to go to driving schools and schools kids who are raising money for certain humanitarian events.

If you like having a good time, Nairobi has some of the best hangouts. Whatever you do, don’t leave your drink unattended. Yes, even that pretty lady with a “to die for” smile across the bar cannot be trusted. Your drink will be spiked and the entire nation will watch you on the evening news making incoherent pleas for your passport.

Be careful who you ask for directions in Nairobi. Some people will show you the direction to your misfortune. Walk into a shop and ask the attendant to assist you. Watchmen are also trustworthy but that is soon changing as they too have seen the potential in this untapped market. If you are lost act like a mwenyeji. Otherwise, “helpful god sent angels” will appear to you in your hour of need.

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If you have to be out at night, stay in well-lit streets and environments. Refrain from using your phone while walking. If you can, don’t use your phone at all at night. If you have to, stop somewhere secure, make your calls then wait a while to make sure you don’t have an audience before you continue with your errands. Many have “lost ground” and found themselves on the ground with empty pockets and aching neck because they were not conscious of their environment.

Security personnel can also be a source of insecurity. Whatever you do, stay clear of the security forces known as the City council askaris. They are known to be ruthless, reckless and walk in masses like high school outfits. They will stop at nothing if you are the target. If you fall victim to these guys stay calm and plead your innocence. God be with you.

Nairobi is a great city. There are great people and places here but there are a few bad ones too. Prepare to meet both. Tell the world about the good, I have already done the bad, well a few of the common ones.

Welcome to Nairobi, the green city in the sun.

 


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Guilty as Charged!

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My radar goes up when I see anyone carrying huge envelopes. If it’s not X-ray or MRI results why would anyone carry huge envelopes around? My suspicions were right. There were about five smartly dressed people with huge envelopes on their laps. These were not your ordinary passengers. They were high level pickpocket professionals. If you have been a victim of these guys’ services before, you never forget their efficiency in service provision. I would know.

At first, my attention was drawn to the one in front who was fidgeting a lot. He was seated next to an old man who clearly didn’t know the “employment opportunities” he was creating around him. One of them kept moving seats while the others made sure they sat near the aisle so that as you struggled to seat next to the window, they will have provided you with their efficient, tried and tested services. If you attempted to alight one of them would pretend to alight as well and block your exist as his accomplice went shopping into your pockets. All you see is a big envelop and not what their hands are doing. Organized crime is what it was.

I know you are wondering why I did not say anything. Well my excuse, they were five huge men. Of course I felt bad for being a coward and not calling them out, but wisdom at this point called for “civic education” and not “activism”. I wanted to survive to write this article. That’s a good call don’t you think?

When they finally alighted, I “brought it” on the conductor! I was furious. I gave him a double portion (with VAT) of my mind. The conductor clearly knew what kind of people these pickpockets were. But he still allowed them to board the matatu. He “opened the door” for thieves to get into his office and rob his clients. It’s his responsibility to keep watch over his territory. He would have told them not to get into the matatu or warned the passengers to take care of our belongings. They paid their fare alright, but they took more from his clients than he did. He should have protected us while we were under his watch.

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But this is not a first neither is it exclusive to conductors. We all have “territories” we are watching over. We do the same thing. A doctor who instead of attending to his/her patients in public hospitals where they have been employed, are always busy in their personal clinic what are they doing? Isn’t that leaving their post “unmanned”? If you are security officer who takes bribes and turns the other sides you too are leaving your post unmanned and exposing the citizens you should be protecting.

We are all guilty in one way or the other. Caterers who add a lot of water in the stew instead of making enough food as per the agreement are guilty. Watchmen who sleep at night so that they can go for another job during the day, house helps who don’t do a thorough job because they were watching “afro-sinema” all day are guilty too. Drivers who speed risking the lives of their passengers, matatu owners who have un-roadworthy vehicles on the road, ambulance drivers who fake sirens to evade traffic – guilty!

You and I who use company resources to do personal businesses and take a two hour lunch break are guilty. The teacher who at the expense of his or her students focuses on his/her other businesses is guilty. Students who don’t do their due diligence in class and instead “chose to be creative” during exams are guilty. Parents who leave the house girls to bring up their kids, religious leaders who put their institutions before their families, businessmen who are strangers to their families because they are always on business trips; you are all guilty. Guilty of leaving your post unattended. Guilty of not protecting those under your responsibility and care.

Mr. Politician! Tsk tsk. When “your people” are going hungry, when children are learning under trees, when hospitals are not well equipped and doctors are resigning out of frustration, when roads are a mess, access to water – a pipe dream, literally – You are guilty. You have the funds, give your people the services they deserve! Be a good watchman over their funds. They put you in office.

Mr. President and your Deputy, when the nation is despairing and losing faith, when citizens are questioning themselves and their decision to vote for you, when things are going wrong and they barely see your authority, when a nation is slowly disintegrating into tribal groupings; you too are guilty. You need to reassure your citizens, unify them at whatever cost. Give them hope. Show them that you are still in control and you are looking out for their interests and not those of the politicians “in your camp”. Sack the “watchmen” that are not performing as they should. Whatever it takes, reaffirm your people. This is your gate, be on your guard.

 

If only we could all go back to our posts. If only we could take up our positions at “our gates”. If only we were vigilant. If only you and I took our positions, maybe everyone else would too. Maybe then we would solve some of the problems that have plagued our country for so long.

 


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#ProudlyKenyan

Kenya is a beautiful country with beautiful people and amazing cultures. Kenyans love and support their own. Whether you are the President of another country or a player in an international soccer team. Even if you changed your nationality; we still love you as our own and will talk about you with great pride and excitement.

Kenyans love having a good laugh and will laugh at each other even during difficult times. Nothing keeps us from laughing. Not even terrorists. That’s how we “deal” with tough times. It’s not uncommon to find us on the streets standing in crowds, engaged emotionally and discussing political and social issues as if our contributions on such fora had any impact. We love talking. In matatus, in hotels, in parks if you are standing next to me, be sure I will tell you what’s on my mind and I expect you to listen, and contribute.

We are curious. We ask questions. We may not have the answers but we’ll still ask the questions. We always have an opinion and we get offended easily if you don’t consider “our wisdom”. We have our own experiences that we will share with you generously. We are story tellers. We love details and a little bit of exaggeration. It’s a skill that if you dare indulge us, you will definitely drink from this cup.

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Kenyans love to help. If your car is stuck, if you are stranded, if your food is too much; just ask. You will get help. Don’t be too surprised if it’s more help than you needed. We come in drones to help. Some of us are “help consultants”. We will not do the actual helping but we will give suggestions of how we would do it if we were the ones implementing the helping.

We don’t care about names that much. We would rather give you titles. Often, “boss” will do just fine. If it’s a lady, “madam” will work. We have received some hostility from the ladies for using this title but since “sister” never gets the results we want, we have stuck to “madam”. Our market research however indicates that both genders are apprehensive to the term “Mzee”. We have since reduced the use of this term until further notice.

We love hosting guests. We know that when we invite you for a cup of tea you will won’t come alone. So we put measures in place to accommodate your entourage. You are luckier if you fall in the “mzungu category”.  You will definitely get better services, faster. We don’t hide it. We are awed by the Mzungu community. We don’t care so much which part of the world you came from, if you are a Mzungu and you plan to visit Kenya, learn how to respond to “Jambo!” and “Taxi?”

We respect anyone in authority. Top on that list; our politicians – mheshimiwas. Our parents come in a distant second. A unique relationship exists between us and the politicians. They speak we act.  They lie we believe. They fail, we vote them back in. No amount of education has managed to disconnect us completely from this school of thought. The struggle continues.

Karibu Kenya. Jambo? Taxi?