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NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

ISSUE 1

Contents NOVEMBER 2016 REGULARS

2 EDITOR’S NOTE 4 EVENTS DIARY

44 BEHIND THE SCENES INNOVATION

34 Tackling “the hidden hunger” with biofortified beans.

REITS made simple.

Affordable phones to check out!

NEWSMAKER

COLUMNISTS

62 WANGETHI

6 UNMASKED

MWANGI Former Editorial Director, Nation Media Group, shares his interactions with two Kenyan presidents and how the Internet is shaping the future of media in Africa.

Ronni Waithaka: Embrace your scars and brokenness.

52 MY 2 CENTS

Kellie Murungi: Why we are all by default poor managers. Oyunga Pala: Great ideas are born ordinary. THEME

10 CHAMA GURU

Tap into James Wangombe’s vast wealth of experience in managing chamas to answer the thorny questions that many new investment groups face.

54 A-Z OF SHARE SPLITS 60 INVESTMENT 101

8 GADGETS

96 PARTING SHOT

Meet Osborne Macharia, the wizard with a camera.

ARTPRENEUR

38 Jua Cali’s journey to success.

48 WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Oscar Osir, Kenya’s first international rugby legend. MONEY & MARKETS

CAREERS

81 Job hunting while pregnant. LIFESTYLE

84 FITNESS

Dance your way to a great body.

58 Best 2016 investments. 56 QUIZ

How financially savvy are you? Take our quiz.

20 INVESTMENT:

WOMEN VS MEN Who is better at investing? Find out. FASHION

24 Meet two sisters, Lisa and Anita Gaitho who are changing the face of Kenya’s fashion with their chic, edgy and feminine designs.

86 DECOR

Turn your house into a home.

88 MOTORSPEAK

All you’ll ever need to know about cars.

90 TRAVEL

Road trip to Rwanda.

1


EDITOR’S NOTE

A warm welcome

to our maiden issue

S

age magazine is a community of storytellers. Our tools may be different – some use words, others camera lenses and still others paint and canvas – but our goal is the same; to tell the Kenyan story.

We consider ourselves artists first, believe that life should be fun and that also applies to commerce. Who said business should be boring or filled with technical jargon and numbers that just put you to sleep? So few of us went to business school and yet the wheels of the economy keep turning because of our collective actions and the different ways we choose to employ our energies, invest our earnings, save money and yes, even the ways in which we lose and waste it. Business in a nutshell, is the story of our lives and boy are we going to have fun exploring it! Our first issue delves into a subject we all love – our chamas. Whether informal or registered, a simple merry-go-round or an investment group raking in millions, chamas have become an integral part of our lives. This issue explores all the ways in which collective investment works, with tips on how to address some of the thorniest challenges, like the different ways men and women approach investment and how that plays out in mixed gender groups, how to formally register your chama and how to handle taxation. We talk fashion with the Gaitho twins, Lisa and Anita, as they showcase their debut collection. Jua Cali shares his experience of making money in music and Wangethi Mwangi, former Editorial Director of the Nation Media Group, takes us on a riveting journey through Kenya’s history with fascinating insights into the workings of a newsroom and the men and women who work tirelessly to keep us informed about the world around us. Sage magazine has been more than one year in the making; actually 12, if you count the number of years I’ve been in the media trenches telling stories in all manner of ways from novels, memoirs, magazine and newspaper articles, web content and annual reports just to mention a few. It has been a long journey, sometimes a blast, sometimes exasperating, many times downright depressing, but through it all my love for telling stories has never waned. It has taken a village to put this magazine together and we thank all the people who helped, who will never see their names in this publication but whose input was invaluable. Thank you to our writers and photographers for taking a chance on us, believing in the dream even before we could show them the finished product, and to you our first readers, for making it all real. We look forward to a wonderful journey together and conversations that will enrich all our lives. Have a Blessed month.

Wanjiru Editor

2


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1 NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

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EDITOR Wanjiru Waithaka editor@sagemagazine.co.ke @CiruWaithaka

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CONTRIBUTORS Oyunga Pala, Kellie Murungi, Ronni Waithaka, Judith Mwobobia, Maxwell Wambugu, Magunga Williams, Owaahh, Dickson Otieno, Cilla Gitichie, Ashioya Biko, Eric Omondi, Mohammed Hersi. PHOTOGRAPHERS Fredrick Onyango, Emma Nzioka CREATIVE iMac Media ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE Judy Muriuki judy@sagemagazine.co.ke FIND US ON SOCIAL MEDIA Sage Mag EA @SageMagEA sagemagea

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©Rehtse Media Ltd. No parts of the content may be reproduced without prior permission from the publishers. All advertisements and non-commissioned texts are taken in good faith. While every care is taken to ensure accuracy in preparing the magazine, the publisher assumes no responsibility for effects arising therefrom.

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EVENTS

A Monthly Diary

Keep up with upcoming events on the artscene. Exhibition Kenya Art Fair 2016- ‘Wasanii Exhibition’

Organised by Kuona Trust Fair Dates: 10th - 3th November 2016 PHOTO: TOM MBOYA

This exhibition is designed for the young and upcoming artists, giving them a chance to showcase their talent and the opportunity to hang artwork alongside some of the biggest household names in the art industry.

Jua Cali

Album Launch

to launch new 12 track album in October.

Photography

ber Octo mber ove To N 016 2

Included in the album is the single Mwoto Sana. This will be his fourth album

Nature Untouched Photographic Competition DATE: 27th October TIME: 19:00 VENUE: Polka Dot Art Gallery, The Souk, Dagorreti Rd, Karen, Nairobi HOSTED BY: Polka Dot Art Gallery

Film & Music Broadcast, Film and Music Africa 2016

By: AITEC Africa Date: Fri, Oct 28 Venue: Carnivore Grounds - Langata Road BFMA is established as the continent’s largest annual gathering of thought-leaders from all branches of Africa’s booming creative arts and digital media industry, including innovators and professionals from TV, radio, film, music, mobile tech, telecoms, advertising, animation and gaming.

4


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

Stima Investment is now introducing the most exciting project in Kilimo Biashara. Located approximately 5 km from Malindi town along the proposed Malindi-Galana-Tsavo West Road, neighbouring the Malindi Airport being expanded to international standards. The product is a complete agribusiness package which includes: • Agriculture activities (green houses) 1/8 plot can accommodate 3 green houses • Agri-insurance • Complete farm management services • Guaranteed market of the produce

Cost of Land: Eighth acre Ksh540,000 (Members) Ksh626,400 (Non-Members) Quarter acre Ksh950,000 (Members) Ksh1,102,000 (Non-Members) Pay 50% of the land price plus the cost of a green house (Ksh310,000) and start earning immediately. This is an offer price to all our Stima investment members.

For more information contact: Stima Investment Co-operative Society Ltd P. O. Box 37895 - 00100, Nairobi Stima Investment Plaza, Mushembi Road, Parklands Cell Phones: +254713905195, +254731298917 Land Line: 0202363843 E-mail: customercare@stimainvestment.co.ke Website: www.stimainvestment.co.ke

Hurry up while the plots last!!! 5


UNMASKED

Sad love songs. We all love them. They break chart records and make millions for their composers. Have you ever noticed that you are more likely to relate with the lyrics of a song when you are going through a tough time? ...Asks Ronni Waithaka

Broken yet unbowed

I Ronni is a life and motivation coach. She is extremely passionate about helping people realise their full potential. She blogs at: https:// findingfuturesnow. wordpress.com @Ronnikigen

6

bet that musicians never write great songs when they are happy; the really great lyrics come during times of heart break and tragedy in personal lives. Those are the songs that people love. We tend to be obsessed with fixing broken things. Broken hearts. Broken lives. Broken minds. Broken bodies. If you look at society today, there exist all kinds of doctors ready to offer a fix for anything you feel might be broken. There’s a stereotype about people who we perceive as “not being ok” and we steer clear of them till they are “fixed”. Till they are more like us and fit in to what we define as being acceptable. In reality though, is there really any among us who is not broken in one way or another? And if truly, great things are born out of our brokenness, then why our haste to fix ourselves all the time? I have always had an innate ability to help people. Not through providing solutions because I certainly do not have all the answers. Neither is my life anywhere near ideal. If anything, my life story exists outside the realm of all rules. Yet strangely enough, I have an almost magnetic pull and people constantly seek me out to help them. It has been like that since I was a little girl. I was the natural leader of any group I found myself in. People constantly sought out my opinion and generally went in the direction I pointed them to. I figured out early in life that I did not need to be perfect or have all the answers to be able to help other people. If anything, my experience and all the rough times I have gone through seem to have prepared me even more since I draw a lot of lessons from it. I sometimes wonder how different I would be if life had been more kind to me? I guess I shall never know, nor am I that inclined to ever change a thing. Look around you. The people today to whom we are drawn, whose stories we wish to emulate or whose lessons we want to hear all carry scars, some so massive and deep that they cause pain to the onlooker. The really great motivational speakers

are the ones who move us to tears because we physically feel the pain of what they have been through and wonder how they even had the strength to keep going. Yet we are drawn to these people. And when you think about it, what makes them really great is the fact that they don’t think of themselves as broken. Even when they were going through painful times, they did not think of themselves as needing a fix. They did not need to be put together and hide their scars. Instead, they endured their pain and learnt from it. In so doing, they came out stronger and better, but carrying the beautiful scar as a reminder of the journey they had been through. The point is, the things that break us as we go through life are what give us character. They give us strength of purpose. They help us re-focus our vision and direction towards what will keep us growing. We learn from them, but only if we allow ourselves to. If you look keenly at anyone today that you consider successful, they are the sum of their scars. Because no one gets through this life unscarred. Ultimately, what I have learnt is that no matter what I am going through, I can always be a blessing to someone else. My relationship doesn’t have to be working perfectly for me to give someone else relationship pointers. My business can be flailing but yet I still have a word of advice for someone starting out. No matter where we are in life we always have something in us that can help another person out. Why? Because we are not defined by our scars or failures. In the end, what defines us is what we learn from all our experiences. This is the reason two people can go through a similar experience and be vastly different thereafter – each chooses how it defines them. All too often in life, it is the people who are the most broken who teach us the greatest lessons. Or in this case, release the best music ever known to man. If nothing else, I hope that you will embrace your scars and brokenness more now than ever before. You would not be the person you are today without them.


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

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GADGETS

Awesome deals: Affordable By Dickson Otieno It is incredible nowadays how phones have become good and affordable. From around Ksh6,000 to about Ksh15,000 you can get really exciting devices. For most people, a good smartphone must have the following characteristics: Good battery – this is always the first thing for me Good cameras – both front and back cameras must be really good

A bright, clear HD Display

Incredible performance – here one checks for enough RAM and good Processors

Ksh13,000 to Ksh15,000

For the price, you’ll get a really good experience with the following phones which all support 4G networks. All have 13MP back cameras and run Android 5.1 Lollipop. They have good displays, good designs and good battery life. 1. Huawei GR3 2. TECNO J8 3. Infinix Note 2 4. Lenovo K3 Note

Nice design and finish – you also need a beautiful phone

Unlike the past where most people bought phones from the hype a device got, nowadays most people will consider a phone’s specifications thoroughly before spending their money. Which is a good thing, and this is why we are seeing many more good and affordable phones. The following are some affordable phones:

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On this list, the Infinix Note 2 has the best battery while the Huawei GR3 has the smallest battery. The K3 Note has the best display followed by the TECNO J8. They can all serve you for close to 3 years.


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

phones to check out!ary

Ksh8,000 to

Ksh10,000 to

Ksh10,000

Ksh13,000

Here you can check out the following: 1. Infinix Hot 3 LTE Version 2. Safaricom Neon Sky 3. Samsung Galaxy J1, J1 Ace 4. Lenovo A806

1. Wiko Slide 2 2. Cubot Note S 3. Infinix Hot Note X551 The Slide 2 and Note S have 13MP cameras. All these phones have 16GB internal storage. The Note S and the Slide 2 have 2GB RAM while the X551 has 1GB. They all run Android 5.1 Lollipop.

PHOTO: SXC.HU / PINEINETERST.COM

They all support 4G networks. The Hot 3 and the A806 have 16GB internal storage, 2GB RAM, 13MP back cameras and 5MP selfie shooters.

Now here you’ll also get some surprisingly good phones:

Less than Ksh8,000

Here you can also get very good devices. The Infinix Hot 3 3G version tops the list as it has the best specs here followed by the TECNO W4 and the Cubot Rainbow. 1. Infinix Hot 3 2. TECNO W4 3. Cubot Rainbow 4. TECNO N2s 5. Wiko KKool 6. Orange Kaduda Smart

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CHAMA REVOLUTION

Chama Guru Kenyans love their chamas but none more so than James Wangombe, who is a member of 13 different groups in which he holds a leadership position or is a member of the executive committee. We tapped his vast wealth of experience in managing chamas to answer the thorny questions that many new investment groups face.

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NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

Words: Wanjiru Waithaka Photography: Emma Nzioka Location: Heri Heights, Kolobot Drive, Arboretum Road

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CHAMA REVOLUTION

F

or James Wangombe every chama has a purpose and there is a purpose for every chama. He believes investment groups are not just for building wealth, they also form great networks. “Your network is your net worth. Whenever I have a social event I just call on my social group members and I have a crowd,” he says. “Groups are also very good for identifying mentors especially older, more experienced and more successful people who challenge you to be better. Some people might get intimidated about interacting with such people but I see it as a wonderful opportunity to learn from them.” His first group comprised childhood friends from his home village in Huho-ini, Nyeri County. Huho-ini Welfare Association was formed for the primary purpose of supporting members who were bereaved and with dowry negotiations for those getting married. After several years the members decided to invest together starting with a large parcel of land in Juja, which they later sub-divided so that each member got a piece. The group started with monthly contributions of Ksh100 which later increased to Ksh1,000. It was a large group initially, 65 people, but many have fallen off leaving the current 12. The group also purchased 340 acres in Isinya which they hope to sell at a profit. His second group, Zimwest came into being ten years ago with the twin purpose of socialising and investment. The members were young, vibrant professionals living in Nairobi and the monthly contribution was Ksh6,000 per month. This group has also invested in land in Kiserian. The group grew with time and the members formally registered it as Zimwest Investment Company Limited with a board of directors and regular annual general meetings (AGMs) for members.

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It’s always a good idea to get legal advice to make sure constitutions are properly worded to avoid ambiguity and anticipate as many future problems as possible.”

Wangombe later joined other groups including the One Thousand Self Help group with 43 members and assets of over Ksh100 million. Although the group largely comprises young people, the chairman is considerably older, in his sixties and has proved an asset many times when the group needed to move quickly on a land deal but didn’t have the resources. The chairman made the down payment and the group later paid him back once the deal went through. Today, it has opened up its membership to not just individuals but other corporates. The group also

takes care of the social welfare of its members by allowing them to get advances on their contributions whenever they have a financial problem. Like Zimwest, this group is run as a company with a seven-member executive committee which reports to the AGM. Wangombe is Vice Chairman of the group. The group has a permanent office and has invested in both land and shares. Its membership is so diverse that whenever it needs specialised skills such as legal, investment and so on, it merely calls on members who possess these skills rather than hiring an outside professional. “Our chairman trades so much in shares that we have benefitted from his knowledge of the stock market and often take his advice,” says Wangombe. An interesting group that he formed together with neighbours in Utawala in Nairobi’s eastlands where he resides, is a male only group formed with the express purpose of protecting and supporting each other as men. “You have to be a home owner to join and bachelors are not allowed in,” says Wangombe. Member contributions started at Ksh1,000 per month but that has since gone up to Ksh2,500. Each month they meet in a different member’s home for a goat eating

CASE STUDY

GROUP NAME: CRITICAL MASS GROWTH GROUP (CMG) Founded: 1996 Members: 30 Type: Incorporated (LLC) Portfolio Value: Ksh1.4 Billion Seed capital: Came from 30 members who initially contributed Ksh10,000 each per week for two years to build the capital that the group invested into different areas. Portfolio: is in real estate, stock and money market. Best Investment decision: to enter into real estate, even when the market was depressed.

Worst Investment decision: Investing in the stock market is tricky, as the market goes up and down. We have made money, as well as lost money in the stock market. Main challenge: trying to achieve consensus in all decisions because in any group of people there are different viewpoints. It was a tricky balancing act. To accommodate everyone, the momentum may be slowed down, but this has also been a major source of strength since the group has remained very harmonious over time as everyone feels recognised and their opinions, respected.


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

session preceded by prayers with a pastor invited to give a sermon. “Whoever is hosting gets Ksh18,000 and in the event that someone is bereaved they get a cheque of Ksh11,000,” says Wangombe. Another group is office based for staff of SBO Research Ltd, a marketing research firm where Wangombe is the HR and Finance Director. He chairs the group called Utafiti Welfare Group, started in 2005. The minimum monthly contribution is Ksh2,000 but staff are free to contribute more. “It arose out of the need to manage advances to staff which had become a problem. For instance, if you gave someone a Ksh30,000 advance on their salary and then agreed to deduct it in several monthly instalments, that was now a loan. So we started Utafiti to pool staff monies together and help out anyone who needed financial assistance,” says Wangombe. “Since then no one has ever asked me for a salary advance and I can attest that everyone here is either driving or has a piece of land.” Utafiti has all manner of products for SBO employees including a Jienjoy loan which members can take to pay for a holiday or just have fun shopping. Another interesting group is

Advice to chamas setting up: Respect for everyone’s opinion by building consensus for decisions taken and avoid a majority shareholder who can take unilateral decisions. Bonding professionally and socially brings you closer together but ensures you separate social and business activities. Develop a method of measuring performance and do come up with a dividend policy as this encourages investment. SOURCE: THE CHAMA HANDBOOK 2014 BY KENYA ASSOCIATION OF INVESTMENT GROUPS (KAIG)

Githaku, another all male group formed for the express purpose of helping its members pay dowry. “We challenge and remind each other to pay dowry and also contribute goats to the wazee so that we become full men in the eyes of the community.” Traditionally, Kikuyu men cannot seek leadership positions without contributing several goats to the Council of Elders also referred to as athuri a kiama kia ma. This is a group similar to the Luo Council of Elders and Njuri Ncheke, the apex of the Meru traditional judicial system. Wangombe has contributed three goats although he says he has no political aspirations. Normally, a man contributes a total of five goats at different points in his life. A man can also contribute goats for his son and vice versa. The Wangombe family also has two welfare groups which double up as avenues for the large family to keep in touch. “It brings cohesion in the family and we lift each other up financially because it’s essentially a merry-goround. It ensures that our

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CHAMA REVOLUTION

parents are in touch with the children and grandchildren because even if you don’t go home any other time you know three times in a year you will see them,” says the father of three. Another group comprising 21 couples living in Utawala has the express purpose of visiting members’ parents and honouring them with gifts. The monthly contribution is Ksh2,500. Every month, they jump into hired buses and visit one member’s parents, leaving a cash gift of Ksh30,000. They also contribute to the food and drinks budget of the host family. “After completing the first round of visiting everyone’s parents we decided to invest together and purchased land in Joska,” said Wangombe. Every time a couple is blessed with a baby, the family gets a cash gift of Ksh5,000. We asked Wangombe to tackle some of the thorny questions investment groups face: Q: What happens when a group has bought land together and a member wants to leave? For a registered company that’s straightforward. You simply sell your shares in the company to another member. For an informal group it’s tricky. We have to calculate the value of your share in the land but not the market rate, we use the cost of the land. We also deduct some administrative costs. This serves to discourage people from leaving the group. Q: Must a group have a constitution and do they need to hire a lawyer to draft it? Investment companies are guided by the articles and memorandum of association. For a welfare group it’s a good idea to have one to prevent confusion down the road if disagreements arise. A constitution is like a value statement that you ask all new members to sign, that way, they understand why the group

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exists and what its objectives are. It also defines the entry qualifications of new members and procedure to follow should a member wish to exit or dies. There’s a standard template that groups can use to draft their constitution but for exit clauses, it’s always a good idea to get legal advice to make sure they are properly worded to avoid ambiguity and anticipate as many future problems as possible. Q: What happens in the Utawala group if a member dies since it’s an all-male group? His shares pass on to his next of kin who he would have identified before. That’s one of the reasons we insist on meeting in each other’s homes and get to know the family so that if something happens, we know who his family members are. In the event that the family wants to continue membership in the group, they identify a male relative to join the group. Q: Which are the common areas that cause disagreements in investment groups? Where to invest. Some people want to buy land, others want unit trusts, others want shy locking and so on. This can lead to delayed decision making especially in a welfare group. In a formal group, the final decision of what to invest in is made by the investment committee. When we formed Zimwest it was a challenge to invest because 12 members had to meet and they were not always available. We realised we were moving too slowly and that’s why we decided to form a company. Q: Groups invest in land or shares with the expectation of earning good returns. What happens when the investment loses value? When shares go down you get members screaming in the AGM

to sell immediately, like Uchumi shares right now. Convincing them that the best strategy is to hold and wait for the price to go up can be very difficult. Sometimes you have to explain it in vernacular to try and get the message across because not everyone is knowledgeable about investing on the stock exchange. Even where it’s hard to convince them, they usually agree especially if you are still paying dividends. We also tap the experience of members CASE STUDY

GROUP NAME: SIAM INVESTMENTS Founded: 2006 Members: 48 Type: Incorporated (LLC) Portfolio Value: Ksh20 Million Seed capital: contributions are Ksh20,000 a month for each member. Some members choose to pay once a year at the AGMs and others have monthly standing orders. We also have a minimum entry fee of Ksh270,000 that each new member is required to pay. Portfolio: real estate and securities listed in Kenya and Uganda and private equities. Best Investment decision: We invested in Cooperative Bank and CIC Insurance before they did their IPOs which earned us a 750 per cent rate of return. Worst Investment decision: We ventured into two private equities which don’t seem to go anywhere hence tying up our capital. However, as contrarian investors, patience is one of our pillars which most of the time leads us to profitable exits but we are sure, this will not be tomorrow! Main challenge: unreliable monthly contribution by some members. Another one is that the board doubles up as management. With their busy schedule, this causes delays in implementation of decisions, for a group whose portfolio is skewed towards financial securities that change by the minute. Advice to chamas setting up: consider forming as a company and then get their objectives right from the beginning. If you aren’t focused, you will not know where you are going. Clear goals give you a lit path to walk on. SOURCE: THE CHAMA HANDBOOK 2014 BY KENYA ASSOCIATION OF INVESTMENT GROUPS (KAIG)


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

CASE STUDY

GROUP NAME: RAM LINKS Founded: 2004 Members: 11 Type: Incorporated (LLC) Portfolio Value: Ksh8.5 Million Seed capital: began with Ksh2,500 a month for each member, later upped to Ksh6,500 for about six years then did a cash call after realising it was easier to raise money this way instead of monthly contributions. Portfolio: consists of stocks (local and international) and real estate. Best Investment decision: We bought into Migaa estate by Home Afrika. Worst Investment decision: The stock market tanked and we realised we had to diversify. Over the last five or so years RAM has tried investing in private schools. This has been a journey in lessons. We have had three attempts and the last one lost us Ksh60,000 in cash and numerous negotiating hours valued at Ksh150,000 in time and resources spent. We had been raising cash all along so we decided to put that money into real-estate as we weigh other options. Main challenge: was members settling in and getting cohesion on the group’s common goals. It took us five years to settle in with some members leaving to pursue their own investment interests. Some felt disenfranchised as the group wasn’t moving as fast as they wanted. We began to visit each other’s parents about three years ago and that has cemented us. Advice to chamas setting up: It’s important to formulate a constitution. This helps when making decisions and also defines the values members will uphold. Also, chamas should be sensitive to the effect of the different risk appetites of their members for investments. SOURCE: THE CHAMA HANDBOOK 2014 BY KENYA ASSOCIATION OF INVESTMENT GROUPS (KAIG)

who have invested in the stock exchange as individuals and really listen to them. If they feel strongly that we should sell certain shares, then we do it, even at a loss. Q: Have you experienced fraud, where an official steals from the group? We’ve handled that by making sure that we have proper systems so that the accounts are updated every month. When appointing officials, we look at a person’s integrity and values not just what technical skills he or she has. There is one treasurer who is not a qualified accountant but we hired her by virtue of her transparency and prudence and we now help her with the system.

Q: Any other challenges in investment groups? Arrears are always a big headache and sometimes you have to understand because a member can fall ill or lose his job. The constitution can state that if a member fails to pay contributions for three consecutive months then he forfeits membership in the group. But we have to look at a case by case basis. Sometimes we deduct arrears from dividends. We also encourage flexible payments where someone can pay a little every day or every week. Sometimes we also get situations where we’ve bought land for sub-division to members but then someone gets a financial problem and wants the group to sell

but other members feel the group can get a better price if they wait for the land to appreciate. Or you want to develop your parcel but some members are slow in paying their share which in turn delays the title deeds coming out and so you have to wait. With group investment you can only sell when it’s convenient for everybody. Sometimes a member brings a piece of land to our attention but doesn’t say that he has a vested interest in it. We solve that one by always doing due diligence and encourage members to state upfront if they have an interest in a piece of land. It doesn’t mean the group won’t buy it. We just make sure we get a fair valuation for it. 15


Should you formally

register your chama? Ashioya Biko, a lawyer at Kituo cha Sheria gives the various legal options of registering a chama and the pros and cons of each.

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T

he name chama is a Kenyan colloquialism for an investment group. By their very nature, chamas are considered as informal. Traditionally, they mostly consisted of women who came together for a particular purpose. The original chamas were structured as Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCA) commonly referred to as Merry Go Rounds. Then there is the new way of running the chamas on the basis of shares. This is where members buy shares to gain ownership of a percentage of the chama’s investment or income. This is referred to as Accumulating Savings and Credit

Association (ASCA). The question that then arises is, do these entities have to be registered? Legally speaking, chamas are not regulated in Kenya as chamas, that is, there is no law that speaks directly to chamas. But they can be registered as different entities. To be registered, a group has to have a constitution, minutes of the meeting authorising registration, and a list of elected officials. A list of the members, with copies of their identity cards, and evidence of registration fee payments are also required. The cost for registration under each category varies and with the improved services from the different government

PHOTO: AFRICANJUMPSTART.COM

LEGAL CLINIC


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

departments, the registration should take not more than three weeks. Members of a chama have to take into account what the goals of the chama are and the advantages of registering under a particular regime. It is always advisable to seek expert advice as to how you want the chama registered. Self-Help Group This is where members with a common goal come together and form a self-help group that is aimed at improving their personal welfare. Run by and for their members, selfhelp groups can also be described as ‘mutual help’ or the commonly known ‘merry- go rounds’. Self-help groups are registered under the Ministry of Culture and Social Services. The advantage of a self help group is that members are from a common background such as school or work hence the common bond is easily sustained. The risk is shared among members according to their level of contribution hence reducing the risk per member. Members attain self-development in a merry-go round through saving and giving their combined contributions to one member every month who is expected to improve his or her welfare from the funds. The cost of registering a self–help group is about Ksh3,000. Co-operative Society (SACCO) This is where individuals come together with a common goal of pulling their resources together. Members are normally bound by a common bond such as working from the same institution, are in similar careers

CHAMA CAN BE REGISTERED AS; b A self help group under the Ministry of Culture and Social Services; b A Co-operative Sacco under the Co-operative Societies Act; b A Limited Liability Company under the Companies Act; b A partnership under the Limited Liability Partnerships Act, 2011; or b A Collective Investment Scheme under the Capital Markets Act.

or are in a similar locality. They opt to include members who are not in their inner circle and give life to a legal entity that can carry out large investment. As financial intermediaries, Saccos finance their loan portfolio by mobilising members’ savings and shares rather than using outside capital. The main investment carried out by Saccos is

member’s life as it is a legal entity. The shares are also held on equity basis thus giving those members with more money a bigger investment opportunity. Members get loans at affordable rates hence enhancing personal development of individual members. As a non-profit making cooperative institution, Saccos use excess earnings to offer members more affordable loans, a higher return on savings, lower fees or new products or services. Limited Liability Company A chama can be registered as a limited liability company. This is a business entity incorporated under the Companies Act, which has a separate legal existence from management and its members (the shareholders). Most investment groups usually take this option usually where the shareholding is limited to a minimum of two members and a maximum of fifty members. There are numerous advantages of registering a chama as a limited liability company. A member’s liability is restricted to his or her shareholding. This means members can only be liable for the company’s debts up to the amount of the shares they own. The limited liability company is also a legal entity on its own. It can transact and get into contracts, own property, sue or be sued as a legal person. New shareholders and investors can be easily introduced. Transfer or sale of shares is a relatively straightforward process. It is easier to get funding or loans as the bank may be able to secure its loan against certain assets of the business or against the business as a whole. Continuity of the company is also guaranteed. Once formed, a

The advantages of registering a chama as a Sacco is that a Sacco is perpetual and it outlives the specific member’s life as it is a legal entity. The shares are also held on equity basis thus giving those members with more money a bigger investment opportunity.” lending to its members. The advantages of registering a chama as a Sacco is that a Sacco is perpetual and it outlives the specific

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LEGAL CLINIC

Registration under the CMA would be very advisable if the chama’s capital base is very large as registration of smaller chamas under the CMA would add more problems than solutions.”

company has everlasting life. It can only be terminated by winding up, liquidation or other order of the courts or Registrar of Companies. For a company with a nominal capital of Ksh100, 000, the registration is approximately Ksh15,000 in Kenya.

individual partners and not at the firm level, whereas companies are taxed at the entity level and any dividends are also taxed in the hands of shareholders. Registration of an LLP costs about Ksh15,000 at the Company’s Registry.

Limited Liability Partnership Unlike the traditional general partnership where members have no limited liability and the members are jointly and severally responsible for liabilities such as debts and taxes of the partnership, a limited liability partnership (LLP) is a separate legal entity from its partners. In this respect, it is similar to a company. The LLP structure provides a potentially useful alternative business vehicle to the private company. It has the benefit, at least at present, of being less regulated than a private company. From a tax perspective, it may prove more effective than a company because currently partnership income is taxed in the hands of the

Collective Investment Scheme Members of a chama may decide to register their chama as a collective investment scheme under the Capital Markets Act. The advantages of registering under this regime is that the chama will be regulated by the Collective Investment Scheme Regulations of 2001 and will be governed by the Capital Markets Authority (CMA). The regulations are made with a view to protect investors from any fraudulent activities by fund managers amongst other protective provisions. Collective Investment Schemes by their very nature operate as trusts. With a chama, the absence of a trust deed means that the managers who are charged with running it

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are not regulated by any laws and do not owe the members a fiduciary duty. But if it is registered as a CIS, running of the chama will be done by an expert. The regulations provide that the Fund Manager must be licensed by the CMA. With a Collective Investment Scheme, if the fund manager is negligent or over steps his mandate then other than the penalties under the regulations, the members can still recover against him for breach of fiduciary duties. Registration under the CMA would be very advisable if the chama’s capital base is very large as registration of smaller chamas under the CMA would add more problems than solutions. A second benefit to be derived from CMA registration is the fact that Licensed Fund Managers have expert financial advisors in their employment and therefore the likelihood of suffering any financial losses due to lack of knowledge is minimised. ashioyabiko@gmail.com @Ashioyabiko


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

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CHAMA REVOLUTION

Are women better

investors than men?

ILLUSTRATION : SXC.HU

In a mixed group, women can sometimes feel intimidated by the men who always seem much more knowledgeable and they are afraid to ask questions because they don’t want to look stupid says Wanjiru Waithaka

W

omen are very good at squirrelling away cash for a rainy day. Joseph Kungu, an IT consultant can attest to this. His wife is a stay-at-home mother. For two years he gave her a monthly allowance to take care of her personal and household expenses such as paying the house help and buying groceries. One evening as he was telling her about his day, he

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mentioned a great business idea that his friend had and how much he wanted to buy in, except he didn’t have the money. “How much do you need?” his wife asked. “It’s a lot. And I can’t even get a loan from the Sacco because I’m still servicing the loan for the plot,” he said. “How much do you need?” his

wife asked again. “Half a million,” he replied with a sigh. She took out her cheque book and wrote him a cheque for the entire amount. Kungu was stunned. “Where did you get all this money and yet you don’t have a job?” he finally asked. His wife smiled. “I just pinched a little here and there from the


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

amount you gave me, put some in the chama, did one or two small projects and earned a little something.” The understatement of the year. Kungu gladly took the cash, still marvelling at his wife’s ability to generate so much from so little. Men and women are different in just about every way and that is true for their approach to investment. Men are more confident investors, are not afraid to take risks and often plunge into big deals based on nothing more than gut instincts, leading to the perception that they are better investors than women. The latter are perceived as risk averse, cautious, wanting to weigh all their options before committing money to an investment. And yet women are formidable investors although they prefer to operate under the radar. One ladies only chama accumulated Ksh10 million in just over a year. Their different approaches to investment often lead to frustration in mixed gender investment groups. Whereas the men want to get into a deal quickly, the women in the group want more information before committing. Kris Senanu, member of Lapalm, in an interview a few years ago said the group found a way of harnessing the different personality types of its male and female members to achieve its objectives. “We had a situation where we bought land without seeing it but women generally want to walk around and see the property, check the title and other details before buying,” says Senanu. “When we want to do a land deal we leave it to the women because land transactions take time and checking all the details is very important. For stocks we devised a policy where the chairman can make a decision for up to Ksh1 million after merely bouncing it off the investment committee. This takes as

Men have higher testosterone levels than women which affects how they invest. A woman’s lack of testosterone can make her a more disciplined investor.” - LouAnn Lofton, author of Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl—And Why You Should Too.”

little as two hours so we can get into good deals quickly. An investment in stocks beyond Ksh1 million has to come to the whole group. We allow the women to share their concerns so that they don’t feel left out of the decision making process,” he said. Some groups opt to have only one gender to minimise conflict. In a mixed group, women can sometimes feel intimidated by the men who always seem much more knowledgeable and they are afraid to ask questions because they don’t want to look stupid. And yet research has shown that when investing in stocks, a woman’s strength lies precisely in her so-called weaknesses: caution, low risk-tolerance and a different perspective on change and the future. Women have a distinct lack of ego when it comes to investing. They are generally happy to admit that they don’t have a clue about something, which gives them the freedom to ask all manner of questions, in the process acquiring a lot of knowledge which helps them become skilled investors. They do more research,

panic less and leave their portfolio ‘as is’ for longer periods than men and in so doing get better results. Male investors, by contrast, tend to suffer from overconfidence. They take more risks, trade excessively and will always give the impression they know what they’re doing, even when they don’t. A seminal study called Boys Will Be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, and Common Stock Investment, by two academics from the University of California, Davis, analysed the investing behaviour of more than 35,000 households from a large discount brokerage firm. All else being equal, men traded stocks nearly 50 per cent more often than women. This added trading drove up the men’s costs and lowered their returns. The differences in how men and women approach investing is thanks to biology and psychology. Men have higher testosterone levels than women, which affects how they invest. A woman’s lack of testosterone can make her a more disciplined investor, says LouAnn Lofton, author of Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl—And Why You Should Too. “Testosterone can help traders take risks and move fast, making loads of money in the meantime,” she writes in her book. “But too much testosterone for too long can encourage too much risk taking. The way women tend to approach investing is healthier and calmer, and it’s the way we should all approach investing.” Buffett avoids doing things that get other investors into trouble like panicking and selling in an attempt to time the market or acting on a hot stock tip when you actually know nothing about the company. Gentlemen, when it comes to investing, get in touch with your feminine side. Your wallet will thank you for it.

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CHAMA REVOLUTION

Structure your Chama well to

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Eric Omondi advises chamas on the best way to structure themselves so as to minimise tax and reporting formalities both on the members and on the group.

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friend asked me to advise his newly formed chama on the best way to structure themselves so as to minimise tax and reporting formalities both on the members and on the group. As simple as the request sounds, there is really no straight answer. It will all depend on how many members they will envision to recruit, their planned sources of revenue, how much work/ time members are willing to assign to the process and how the contributions and share of earnings are to be structured. At the beginning, most chamas start as informal ‘Merrygo-rounds’. However, these are not recognised in law and the members’ savings are not protected. The group will have to choose a legal vehicle to

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formalise themselves into. Their options are to form a Limited Liability Company, Sacco, Self-Help Group, Partnership (General or Limited) or a Trust. Limited Liability Company This is a legal entity identified by the taxman and the law. Members are only liable for debts to the extent of their contributed capital and have no personal liability beyond that (unless they serve as officers of the company and are found to be willfully negligent in failing to pay taxes). Members vote according to their shareholding (paid up shares). The company will be able to offset a wider range of allowable expenses on its income before the net amount

is subjected to 30 per cent corporate tax. It is important to note here that if the chama wants to hold earnings for long term investment then this is the best vehicle to do that, but if they distribute these earnings to themselves instead, then there will be double taxation as the individuals will also be taxed on their amounts earned. Savings and Credit Cooperative Society Here the Society needs to be registered by the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA). In Kenya, Saccos are strong financial vehicles guided by rules to ensure they succeed. However, the rules are very many and officials have to


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minimise Tax exposure

undergo formal training to ensure they are compliant. This can be cumbersome on members. Saccos are democratic as each member has one vote unlike a company where voting is by shareholding. From a tax perspective, a Sacco is a non-profit making institution but its revenues from investments will be subjected to taxation based on the specified sources. The resultant excess profits allow Saccos to advance low interest loans to members. Interest income from savings is subject to 15 per cent withholding tax. However, interest from some development bonds is exempt from tax. Dividends are subject to 5 per cent withholding tax. Self-Help Group If the chama can prove that it is a welfare group, it will need to be registered as such by the Ministry of Culture and Social Services. This chama is very easy to register but it is not recognised as a legal entity from a tax perspective. Members will be individually liable for tax on its earnings. The group’s liability is shared among the members according to their level of contribution.

Partnership Where the group has 2-30 members, they may form a general partnership. The members in this case should give their group a name and have the name registered as a business in order to legitimise transactions. In order to eliminate ambiguity, the chama members will need to draft a detailed Partnership agreement stipulating their business arrangement, duties and responsibilities of each member, formulas for share of profits and losses as well as procedures for evaluating investment and resolving conflicts. From a tax perspective, partnerships have no independent identity and the members will be taxed on individual basis based on the specified source of income and their income brackets. Another disadvantage is that at every withdrawal or addition of a member, the partnership has to be wound up and a new one formed. Partners have no limited liability and so they will be held jointly and severally liable for the group’s debts and taxes. Trust A trust is a fiduciary, meaning a legal entity holding and investing assets (cash, property, securities) or

‘Merry-go-rounds’... are not recognised in law and the members’ savings are not protected. The group will have to choose a legal vehicle to formalise themselves into.” information as an agent-in-trust for a principal (stockholder, customer, member). A fiduciary owes (among other obligations) the duty of loyalty, full disclosure, obedience, diligence, and of accounting for all monies handed over, to the principal. Tax-wise, a trust is categorised as a ‘pass-through’ entity and as such the bulk of the income is only taxed as it passes on to the beneficiaries. Out of all the above my best advice would be the Limited Liability Company option. Eric Omondi is a finance expert and retail consultant

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FASHION

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T PO

IN ER

Meet two sisters, Lisa and Anita Gaitho who are changing the face of Kenya’s fashion with their chic, edgy and feminine designs. By Judith Mwobobia PHOTOS BY KEVIN KOBIA

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NOVEMBER • ISSUE 1 MEET THE2016 DESIGNERS

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iri Studio is the newest fashion hub in town. Known for their fashionable sense of style in the blogging circles, the Gaitho twins decided to take it a step further. They opened their own styling studio this year with clothes designed and stitched by them. Anita and Lisa, in their late 20s are not new to the fashion world. They are both successful bloggers in their own right and have amassed a great following. Both beautiful curvy women, they don’t shy away from showing off their curves in an elegant fashion and it reflects in their collection. “Siri Studio is for the young, the young at heart and those highly sensitive to timeless style,” they reveal. For now, Siri remains exclusively women focused as men’s fashion is not particularly fascinating to either of them. At least not currently. Anita’s love for fashion and all things style began right from when she was a little girl. “I loved everything about clothes. Mum used to be a designer too and maybe that was where I got my love for making clothes. Beautiful clothes move me, and even back then, I knew that somehow, I would end up in the fashion industry.” After completing high school, she decided to learn how to make clothes. “My mum found a lady who taught me how to cut cloth, make stitches and to use a sewing machine.” Interestingly, when joining the university, she decided to go for the International Business Management Course at USIU instead of studying fashion design. “Ultimately, I knew that I would start my own business in clothing and who doesn’t need some business smarts? Later, I may go back to school and study fashion, because I feel like

I don’t know everything there is to know about fashion. I may even teach fashion, who knows?” she says thoughtfully. “I started my blog (www. stylesketches.com) because I wanted it to be an avenue to showcase my work when I eventually started out on my business. Whenever I would put my personal looks up on the blog, I would get people asking me to make them replicas in their sizes. And that’s how the idea for the styling studio began, though it took several years to finally get to it.” For Lisa, the fashion bug bit her a little later. She loved clothes but when it came down to it, she settled on studying culinary arts in South Africa. “I discovered my true love for fashion in my last years at the university. I worked for a bit in South Africa’s hotel industry then decided to come back home and continue my profession here. Unfortunately, I wasn’t so impressed by the Kenyan food industry and decided to fully get into fashion. And when my sister said that she was considering transforming her little clothing venture into a fully-fledged business, I asked if we could do it together. Thus Siri Studio was formed.” Actualising the plan was not as easy as it may have seemed initially. “Starting the studio was difficult in that the capital needed was plenty. We had to find a good tailor and really focus on delivering quality products and meeting demand from our customers. Also, the Kenyan market hasn’t fully warmed up to online based sellers.” Being sisters and business partners seems to be working for them beautifully. “We are twins. We understand one another very well. Plus it really makes the workload easier for each of us. We currently have two collections.

What sets apart one collection from the other is the theme. The first collection was ‘double duty wear’ themed and the second one we will be releasing soon is something interesting. Can’t reveal that yet. The first collection really sold out and we have been busy trying to accommodate all the orders. We have hired one tailor to help us out.” The clothes they design, they say, are clothes that they would wear too. And apart from their everyday wear, the typical jeans and tops, almost everything else in their wardrobe is essentially own creations. “We are even currently making our mum some stuff,” says Anita. They may be twins but their creative processes are different. While Lisa takes a sketchpad and a pencil and pours her ideas onto the paper, Anita will sketch on her phone’s memo pad whenever an idea forms in her head. The sisters currently work from their workshop in Kilimani but have big plans for the young design house. “In two to five years we hope to have a store location and be the go to fashion hub for any woman looking for a trendy and feminine piece.” When they are not busy sketching and creating beautiful outfits, Anita will be found reading novels, fashion blogs and magazines or going out on frozen yoghurt dates with her sisters and best friend while Lisa will be reading, watching movies or stuffing herself on junk food. Parting shot? “To anyone hoping to start a business, whether in fashion or other field, we would tell them to be patient, to study and perfect their craft and not to be scared of making mistakes.” Contacts: Tel: 0795709949 Siristudioqueries@gmail.com

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INNOVATION

Tackling “the hidden hunger” with biofortified beans By Wanjiru Waithaka For decades, scientists worldwide worried about how to increase the quantity of food in order to alleviate hunger. More recently however, a different kind of hunger has been occupying the minds of scientists like Prof P.M. Kimani of the University of Nairobi.

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any people lack particular nutrients in their diet which although required in tiny amounts, cause major health problems if they are not available. These nutrients are iron, zinc and vitamin A. The most serious is iron deficiency. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that an estimated two billion people worldwide are anaemic. In developing countries, every second pregnant woman and about 40 per cent of preschool children are estimated to be

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anaemic. “Micronutrient deficiency can be treated by taking supplements but that comes when the damage to the body has already been done,” says Prof P. M. Kimani, Professor of genetics, plant breeding and consultant in horticulture, research and development at the University of Nairobi. Zinc for instance, is involved in at least 100 enzymes in the body. Lack of it leads to stunted growth particularly in young children, something most people don’t realise. “This is why micronutrient

deficiency is called the hidden hunger because you don’t feel it, see it or realise you have something like anaemia until it’s too late,” says Prof Kimani. Fortifying food, which entails putting these nutrients in foods that people consume regularly like cooking oil, flour and sugar is gaining in popularity. However, for this to work, a country must have a well developed food processing industry and have the majority of the population consuming these processed foods. That is not the case in most of Africa. Fortified foods also cost more meaning they may not be bought by poor people who need it most but are more price sensitive than the rich or middle class. Biofortification is a new strategy aimed at addressing the main problem with the above two approaches – that of limited reach


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The idea was to look for crops that have natural ability to accumulate these nutrients from the soil to levels that match the recommended daily average intake (RDA).” - Prof Kimani.

and high cost. Biofortification tries to address the problem from its roots literally. In Kenya, the University of Nairobi has pioneered biofortification of beans as part of a global initiative that kicked off in Colombia in 2001. Beans are the main grain legume in Kenya and 90 per cent of Kenyans consume beans in one form or another. They are cheap and a good source of protein. For poor people this makes them a good alternative to meat. “The idea was to look for crops that have natural ability to accumulate these nutrients from the soil to levels that match the recommended daily average intake (RDA),” says Prof Kimani. The first crop that was found to have this advantage was the orange fleshed sweet potato but this was specifically to combat Vitamin A deficiency. “Biofortification of sweet potatoes with vitamin A is now common practice all over the world but for zinc and iron, the problem was much more complicated,” he says. The university started by analysing more than 3,000 bean varieties from many countries in east, central and southern Africa, to establish their iron and zinc content. The scientists

found that an average bean has 50 parts per million of iron and 20 parts per million of zinc. “Our goal was to increase the iron concentration by 80 per cent and double the zinc so that a person eating the end product would have met their daily recommended allowances.” The university then started the formal breeding program using cross pollination to develop hybrids that met these targets. This was a long process that took several years. The university eventually narrowed down to 72 lines or potential new varieties that had the required levels of iron and zinc and were ready for the first field trial in Suneka and Marani in Kisii. “We chose Kisii because it has one of the highest per capita consumption (66 kg per person per year) of beans,” says Prof Kimani. The field trials were for testing

$2400 (Ksh240,000)

It costs $2,400 (Sh240,000) to enter one variety for the National Performance Trials and $600 (Sh60,000) for DUS testing making a total of $3,000 (Sh300,000) per variety.

the agronomic potential of the new bean varieties. “Other than having enough iron and zinc, the beans needed to be high yielding and resistant to diseases otherwise farmers wouldn’t want them. They also needed to be adaptable to low soil fertility areas with low nitrogen and phosphorus because ordinary farmers of dry beans hardly ever use fertilisers or spray their crops,” he says. Another challenge that the scientists faced was creating new varieties that looked unique to help farmers and ordinary consumers identify the nutrient rich beans. The field trials in Kisii yielded good results and the scientists identified 40 lines that fulfilled all the above conditions. The breeding program had been funded by the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) to the tune of $400,000 (Sh40 million). A key condition of getting the funding was that the University of Nairobi share its findings with other countries in the region. “Since the Colombia meeting where I was the only breeder from Africa, other countries in the region had been keenly following our progress. In 2005 we shared the materials we had developed with 28 countries in east, central and southern Africa. We called the 40 lines “fast track” because we wanted to have something to give to farmers in the shortest time possible in order to combat this problem,”

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INNOVATION

says Prof Kimani. Each country used the materials given to develop their own local varieties. Bean varieties popular in one country may be rejected in another hence the need to create local varieties acceptable to consumers in each country. Twelve countries in West Africa joined the program two years later. Meanwhile, Kenya tested the same materials in all the major bean growing areas countrywide including the central and eastern highlands, parts of Rift Valley, Taita Taveta and Loitoktok. “We narrowed down to 20 promising bean lines with high levels of iron and zinc and submitted 19 to the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) for independent verification and testing in 2007.” After testing the beans in seven sites over a two year period (National Performance Trials) as required by law, KEPHIS took the beans through DUS testing. This is a process that ensures that new varieties are distinctive from any other in the market, uniform, because farmers want consistency, and stable, meaning that if grown across regions

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The biofortified climbing bean varieties had even better results with over 40 per cent yield advantage over commercial varieties.”

40% In developing countries, every second pregnant woman and about 40 per cent of preschool children are estimated to be anaemic. - World Health Organisation

and from year to year they give the same results. It costs $2,400 (Sh240,000) to enter one variety for the National Performance Trials and $600 (Sh60,000) for DUS testing making a total of $3,000 (Sh300,000) per variety. The biofortified bush types had an average yield advantage of 20 per cent over commercial beans in the market based on KEPHIS results. The biofortified climbing bean varieties had even better results with over 40 per cent yield advantage over commercial varieties. To be registered, a new variety must attain at least 10 per cent yield higher than the best commercial varieties in the market. By 2013, three new varieties of biofortified climbing beans had officially been released and gazetted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries – Kenya Majano, Kenya Afya and Kenya Madini. All of these new varieties were yellow in colour and therefore easy to identify. In 2015, another four new biofortified bush varieties met all


criteria after independent testing by KEPHIS and were officially released by the Ministry of Agriculture, bringing the total number of biofortified bean varieties officially released in Kenya to seven – Kenya Maua, Kenya Almasi, Rosecoco Madini and Kenya Cheupe. The bush varieties have popular grain types such as red mottled and small white. These varieties are not only high yielding but are also very tolerant to common bean diseases and have the upright growth habit that is easy to manage and harvest. The university didn’t just rely on KEPHIS for independent verification and testing. It also sent samples to ETH, a science and technology university in Zurich, University of Adelaide in Australia, University of Copenhagen in Denmark, Cornell University in USA, and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) financed this phase of independent testing by other countries. It will be a while before Kenyans have the biofortified beans on their dinner plates however. The process of multiplying and disseminating new seed varieties is long, costly and complex, mainly due to the legal hurdles breeders have to cross to ensure traceability of the seeds and substantial resources required to produce and market the certified seeds. “As a university, we don’t have the capacity for large scale production and distribution of seeds. We have a technology licensing agreement with Simlaw Seeds, a subsidiary of the Kenya Seed Company, under which Simlaw Seeds multiplies and disseminates the seeds to farmers for us,” says Prof Kimani. But this is grossly inadequate considering that

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at least 15,000 tonnes of bean seed are required to partially meet the current demand. The whole process takes two years and involves growing four categories of seeds from the breeder seeds to the certified seeds that are eventually sold to farmers. KEPHIS does three inspections; at flowering, at maturity and once the seeds are harvested. Funding constraints have hampered dissemination of the seeds and only a few farmers have accessed them. “Those who have are upbeat about them such as Mr Mwaura, a farmer in Nakuru who made more than Ksh500,000 in one season with the new varieties. A lady farmer in Njoro recently made more than Ksh1 million selling the seeds,” says

Prof Kimani, who believes that the government should drive the process of mass production of new seed varieties instead of leaving scientists to partner with NGOs and private companies. “Ethiopia has raised bean production from 700kgs to more than 1,000kgs per hectare with the help of Kenyan researchers. Yet Kenya is still importing beans,” he says. “When we started the breeding program in Ethiopia, they were making no more than $20 million (Sh2 billion) from exports of beans. Today they earn $66 million (Sh6.6 billion) with the help of Kenyan breeders who trained Ethiopian breeders using a programme that originated here. My former students are leading the bean programme in Rwanda. The country used to import beans from Congo and other countries but today it is selfsufficient and is exporting beans. The irony is that they have achieved this feat using Kenyan technology and brains. In Kenya we develop good new varieties, but how much public investment is there other than my salary?”

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ARTPRENEUR

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Journey to

SuccesS

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By Wanjiru Waithaka Jua Cali vividly remembers the first time he was paid to perform his music. It wasn’t much, just Ksh3,000 but it was a huge achievement in the sense that it gave him validation that someone liked his music enough to pay for it.

t was at the end of 2002. Insyder magazine used to perform end of year parties for school leavers and they invited me to perform at the Carnivore,” he says. Until then, he and Clemo, his childhood friend and producer, who had teamed up with him to form Calif Records, had been pounding the pavements for two years, moving from one radio station to the next and from one club to the next asking and sometimes begging DJs to play his music. Jua Cali was born Paul Julius Nunda in 1979 and fell in love with hip hop thanks to his older brother, Chris who played this music all the time. He has two other brothers who are also older than him who loved reggae and R&B but it was Chris’s taste in music that he identified with. “Hip hop was called the black people’s music because they rapped about their struggles with unemployment, police brutality and bad housing. I related a lot with the music because we experienced similar things in Calif (California).” This is the estate in Nairobi’s sprawling eastlands where Jua Cali grew up and which influenced his choice of stage name as well as the name of their recording company. Hip hop greatly influenced the sound (genge) he developed for his own music, a combination of Kiswahili and sheng. His first big break came when Jimmy Gathu, then a popular presenter on Capital FM agreed to play his song Ruka which he recorded in 2001. “Jimmy’s show used to air from 7pm. We arrived early at 6pm and he wasn’t at the studio so we decided to leave and come another day because we wanted to give it to him ourselves. We took the lift downstairs and when the doors opened on the ground floor who do we find, Jimmy, waiting to get in. We quickly introduced ourselves and gave him the CD and he promised to play it,” says Jua Cali.

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ARTPRENEUR

Gathu played it often on his show in subsequent months. “Like us, Jimmy was also raised in Eastlands in Kariokor and he loved the song. He grew up with people who talked like I did and went through the same struggles.” The frequent airplay helped Jua Cali get live gigs where he performed the song and another, Nipe Asali which he recorded in 2002 but it wasn’t until the Carnivore gig that he actually got paid. Initially, the pair managed the business side of the music themselves handling everything from recording, writing lyrics, PR and handling the logistics of performances. Their first manager Charles Oliver, was a friend of his brother and a church elder, who worked on a commission basis earning 10 per cent from each show Jua Cali performed in. Oliver took over PR and handled promoters, leaving Clemo to focus on producing and Jua Cali to write lyrics. “After Oliver came in, we realised just how much we’d been doing before but we hadn’t felt the weight, being young and energetic I guess,” says Jua Cali. Since they all had different personalities, disagreements were inevitable, such as whether to take certain gigs or not but Jua Cali says they always resolved them amicably. “Sometimes Oliver accepted a gig with very little pay or agreed to stay in a hotel which we considered dingy and we would tell him to renegotiate.” Oliver eventually relocated to the US in 2008 after three years with the company and he was replaced by Tom Mahondo, who at the time was studying at Kenyatta University. “Tom lived just a few blocks from our studio and was always visiting us. He showed a keen interest in our music and so we asked him to join us,” says Jua Cali. Perhaps because of their early struggles to get airplay, Jua Cali and Clemo never took success for granted and once they started earning money from their music, always reinvested a portion in the business to buy equipment, t-shirts for promotion and so on. “We opened an account where

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Sometimes a client will come and say I can only pay you Ksh30,000 and you think that’s an insult. But someone like that can offer you bigger gigs in the future.” we deposited all our earnings and we would mutually agree how to spend it. We also kept track of all expenses,” says Jua Cali. This proved to be a shrewd move because many artistes mix up personal and business cash and cannot tell if they are making profits from their art. This early training of always investing in the business with every performance (and pay check) kicked in when Jua Cali entered the big leagues, landing his first major endorsement with Motorola worth Ksh1 million in 2007. Many artists would have been tempted to splurge but they spent 90 per cent of the cash on new equipment

for their studio. “At that time there was so much competition so we had to up our game in terms of quality, sound and everything,” says Jua Cali. The company flew him to South Africa for three days to shoot a commercial after a very brief negotiation which lasted barely 30 minutes. “There are so many artists out there and I felt privileged to be called to represent the brand, a low end phone which was ideal for the common mwananchi, the people who really enjoyed my music.” It helped that the agreement they were asked to sign wasn’t lengthy and complicated, just a one-page deal. Motorola paid half the


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hood) video game developed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which aims to enhance HIV awareness among youth, the key demographic that Jua Cali’s genge music appeals to. On the music front, he’s putting the final touches on his fourth studio album which is as yet unnamed. It will have 12 tracks. At the time of this interview, he was getting ready to shoot the video of one of the tracks in the new album – Mwoto sana (as in really hot or flying hot as he puts it). Although he’s one of Kenya’s most successful artists, Jua Cali doesn’t spend a lot on his videos. The most expensive he’s ever shot was at Tribe Hotel for Ksh250,000 for a track on his last album. Some artists on the other hand have been known to spend upwards of a million on a single video especially if shot outside the country. Jua Cali’s other albums are JuacaliSekta (2006), Ngeli ya Genge (2008) and TuGenge Yajayo (2013). His dedication to producing albums is surprising in a country where most artists prefer to release singles and focus on making money off live shows, citing widespread piracy of music. “Sticking to singles is limiting yourself because then you become associated with doing particular kinds of songs such as dance tunes since singles are usually targeted for airplay in clubs. An album allows me to put my creativity on full display. I can do slow songs, love songs, and basically explore any theme I want with 12 tracks. Albums remain the best way to showcase your diversity as an artist,” says Jua Cali. His take on piracy is quite fascinating; he embraces it to some extent not condemning it like so many of his peers. “People pirate a song because they love it; if no one pirates your song then it’s not popular.” But don’t musicians have to eat? “You can’t pirate a live show and that’s why

ABOUT JUA CALI b Jua Cali charges Ksh50,000300,000 per show with corporate shows at the higher end and CSR shows at the lower end. b The most expensive video he has ever shot was at Tribe Hotel for Ksh250,000 for a track on his last album. cash up front and the balance once the video was shot. Two years later, he landed another big endorsement with another telecoms company – Orange Mobile for a reported 8-figures although he’s reluctant to divulge the exact number. The gig involved the ‘hello tunes’ advertising campaign and later a series of infomercials with the Kenya Rugby Sevens team. Other ventures by Jua Cali include the Pamoja Mtaani (together in the

artists try to maximise on these,” he counters. Ultimately, the onus is on musicians to educate people to show them that paying for music supports artists especially with Internet streaming which has made it even more difficult to control piracy. Jua Cali charges Ksh50,000-300,000 per show with corporate shows at the higher end and CSR shows at the lower end. He usually has a show every weekend with the peak months falling between September and December. Currently, he’s mentoring two musicians – Alac and Masha Mash. He says the biggest problem with many upcoming musicians is they let early success go straight to their heads, forgetting to take care of the business side of the music. “As much as it is fun to have fans screaming your name at a concert, that’s only 10 per cent of what being a musician is. The other 90 per cent is how you carry yourself as a person and the way you talk to clients. Sometimes a client will come and say I can only pay you Ksh30,000 and you think that’s an insult. But someone like that can offer you bigger gigs in the future. Building relationships is very important. Many of the people I work with today, I met when I was starting out,” says the father of two who is married to Lilly. His daughter Doreen, named after his late mother is one and a half years old and his son Evans, named after his late father is four. Jua Cali advises artists to keep learning and experimenting. “You will never get to a point where you can say I now know everything there is to know about music. I always practice every day and listen to advice. Keep your ears open, listen to what the competition is doing and collaborate with people whose music you like,” he says. His parting shot? “Avoid bad publicity. The moment you have a good brand, corporates will come looking for you because they will say this person has the same values as us, believes in the same things we do and can therefore represent our brand well in the market.”

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ARTPRENEUR

Do artistes need managers? By Wanjiru Waithaka Fakii Liwali, former manager of the rap group Kleptomaniax, explains why artistes need managers to handle the commercial side of their craft. Does an artist need a manager? Yes, artistes need managers. They need managers summarily to take care of the business end of their music so the artiste can concentrate on the creative / talent end of theirs. What role does the manager play? The manager ensures that the artiste makes business sense of what the artiste does. The manager coordinates his appearances (interviews, shows and so on), manages the relationship with the record label, clients, other artistes he is working with, sometimes even finances and taxes. Should an artist hand over management of the commercial side of his music and focus purely on creating? While they actually should hand over, they need to have a clear understanding of the business. The artiste and manager can agree on a few basics such as the minimum amount to charge for shows and what kind of shows to accept but it is important for the artiste to still be aware of business basics and get a regular summary briefing from the manager.

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Which artist or group have you managed in the past? Did your roles sometimes overlap? I managed the rap trio of Kleptomaniax. The relationship was great as it was borne out of respect and love for their music plus a great relationship with their then record label (Ogopa DJs). I would basically handle all their business – getting gigs, negotiating fees, handling PR, handling logistics of a concert (pre, during and after the concert). Recording albums was mostly handled by the record label. I was a manager and promoter at the same time. Did you find yourself in a situation where you had to overrule something the group wanted? It happened many times especially with quack promoters who go and make false promises to the artistes directly. Being in the industry for long you get to know how to spot a quack. Sometimes they are even people you know personally but you know they are not capable of putting together a decent show. However, for the artistes to appreciate your insight, sometimes, and I’ve done this before, especially when they insisted on doing a gig that I advised against, you let them do it but be around to help pick the pieces and manage fallout so they can learn. Obviously the group members had different personalities.

Did this ever create conflict? Luckily they all had mutual respect for each other as they were friends from a while back. I also got to learn their different personalities so I knew who to concentrate on for what. We never really had issues. Kleptomaniax were always each of their own brothers’ keepers. They even had an extended rap family (KGB) that kept them in check and real. What qualities should an artist look for when hiring a manager? Honesty. Knowledge of the Industry. Outgoing Personality. Good Negotiating Skills. Creative. A manager is mostly (in Kenya) paid a percentage of revenues though we need to move to a combination of a fixed fee and / or percentage because a manager is not necessarily a promoter. Tips for aspiring musicians on how to succeed in the music business? They need to identify their target and revenue streams. A lot of artistes get lost on the hype and focus on being famous / popular too much, to the detriment of their ROI (Return on investment). I tell artistes all the time – you cannot use your face on a magazine / newspaper to pay rent. You need to figure out a market that gives you a revenue stream and focus on that. You need to have your own identity – don’t try to copy another. @Fakii


PHOTO : FREDERICK ONYANGO

NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

The manager ensures that the artiste makes business sense of what the artiste does.

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BEHIND THE SCENES

The Wizard

Called OZ

By Magunga Williams Osborne Macharia will do anything to get that one perfect shot. When he leaves his house to go to work, he knows that he will either slay or be slain. Photography is the one thing that he is willing to die for, and so he lives for it.

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or someone who does not like talking about his work, Osborne Macharia’s photography has a lot to say. Everyone is curious to pick the brain of one of Africa’s most iconic photographers today. What goes through his mind? How does he do it? Where do the concepts come from? Is there a message he is trying to pass with his personal work? I have had the rare privilege of watching Osborne work and to be honest, I still do not know how to answer these questions. I first met Osborne during the 2014 Capture Kenya photography project. This is a project run by the

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leading telecommunications service provider, Safaricom, which has every year since 2013, sent out a team of bloggers and photographers to capture the true essence of Kenya in words and pictures. It is during this time that I saw Osborne work his camera. This is the first time I got to witness what happens behind the scenes. Osborne will do anything to get that one perfect shot. In fact, he does not take many photos. Just three, or when he is feeling a little bit generous, four. This one time in 2014 he told our producer, an industrious girl named Fortune that he wanted to do a sunrise shoot of a stunt man on the Lonrho House rooftop. What this

Oz, as we had taken to calling him, did next left the rest of us holding our beating hearts in shaking palms. He positioned himself at the edge of the building, twenty four floors up, the upper half of his body dangling in the air. He was the only one who didn’t seem worried. “I am fine guys,” he assured us with a laugh. “Relax.” The second time, we were on a beach in Malindi. The wizard called Oz wanted a shot of two old men in the sea. Meaning we had to get into the water. We had no problem getting wet. But it wasn’t until we were waist deep in the ocean that Oz told us to be careful. “That battery you are holding must not touch the water, otherwise we are toast.” For him, putting his skin in the game like that is a normal thing. He is like a soldier. When he leaves his house to go to work, he knows that he will either slay or be slain. Photography is the one thing that he is willing to die for, and so he lives for it. This begs the question:


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

Osborne first started out with a basic camera kit worth Ksh60,000 and one Canon Speedlite that used to go for Ksh26,000 and slowly upgraded with time.” How did Osborne Macharia get into photography? Anyone who would think that he studied it in school would have missed the boat by a river. Oz is just another familiar story of a gifted mind who got trapped in the 8-4-4 education system that has no patience for talent. That is how he ended up in Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, or JKUAT as it is fondly

known. He was an Architecture student, but on his fifth year, he was unable to proceed. He failed, twice, with a year break during his first repeat. That is when he fell deeper in love with his lenses. He finally finished his schooling, after which he landed in a number of architectural firms, for which he would build paper models. It is the proceeds from these gigs that funded his photography career. Then he switched completely to become a camera man. And of course, as with such narratives, he had to struggle to make people understand that following his dreams was not synonymous to throwing his future away. Osborne first started out with a basic camera kit worth Ksh60,000 and one Canon Speedlite that used to go for Ksh26,000 and slowly upgraded with time. Today, he makes a living out of taking photos. His

rates vary depending on the number of hours worked and images to be produced. If you walk into Prokraft Media studios, a talent management enterprise on Kindaruma Road that focuses on marketing art by top Kenyan creators, you will find an array of framed images hanging on the wall. You will find Mutua Matheka’s epic shots of the Nairobi skyline superimposed on dark silhouettes alongside Thandiwe Muriu’s dark and powerful portraiture of women who look like they are about to jump out of the canvas and steal your soul. Next to these are Osborne’s images. An eccentric collection that, in my opinion, work at bringing out the beauty from places we seldom imagine could posses it. Take for instance Melanin-0 (zero). In this collection, Oz and his people work to bring to the fore the plight of people living with albinism. Albinos are generally thought to be weak and dependent, but in Oz’s photos they are empowered. There is a man holding a hand axe, covered in grease, presumably a construction worker. Another is a chap holding his chin, dressed as a pilot. Another model is a high ranking police officer saluting like she has been serving in the force ever since the world was fresh. In Chokosh, Osborne turned street children into photo subjects. In Nairobi, the presence of homeless people is a nuisance, but when they stand in front of Oz’s camera, we are reminded that they are human beings just like us. With the NYANYE project which sent Kenyan interwebs into a spin, he portrays a group of old women as retired government honchos from the 70s who now live large, travelling the world in their golden years. Only

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BEHIND THE SCENES

that there are no such globetrotting grand dames. It was all fiction. A necessary one, he believes, to change how we view society and appreciate that women play significant roles in the civil service. KABANGU has been Osborne’s biggest work yet, in terms of reach. In it, he shoots a bunch of wizened men dressed as hiphop artists who moonlight as watchmen in Nairobi’s Kariobangi estate. It caught the world’s attention, including world renown platinum recording artists such as Mos Def, Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dogg. The latest images to come out of Osborne’s camera are MENGO. In this he portrays people of short stature (dwarfs/ midgets are offensive terms) as members of an underground fight club in Nairobi. Considering these projects, one would therefore conclude that Osborne strives to challenge what we perceive as ‘normal’ and ‘strong’. Through his lenses he looks at the privileged members of the society and asks Why and then looks at the marginalised and asks, Why not? If you met Osborne in his relaxed form, when the camera is in the bag and his feet are up, you would not know he is the chap responsible for some of the most thoughtprovoking, inventive stuff Kenyans have ever seen. In his standard pair of shorts and t-shirt, he looks just like the next guy. But then again, what does greatness look like? And why not this?

@theMagunga To see his work, pop into Behance (https://www.behance.net/Osborne), his website (http://k63studio.com) and Instagram (https:// www.instagram.com/osborne_macharia/?) PHOTOS COURTESY

CAPTIONS: Top Right; Some of his iconic pieces. Bottom Right; Osborne Macharia at work.

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NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

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WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Oscar Osir

Kenya’s First International Rugby Legend By Owaahh Rugby in Kenya has always been a niche sport, partially as a testament of its exclusively white roots. But Sevens helped bridge the gap, and men like Oscar Osir showed a fluidity on the pitch that was like an art.

PHOTO : @KENYASEVENS

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here were many before him, but none like him. Seeing him in his crisp suits and talking about health insurance and strategy, it’s hard to see Oscar Osir as nothing more than a corporate mandarin. But to rugby enthusiasts, Osir remains one of the most celebrated players of all time, despite having a professional career that lasted five short years. Osir the rugby player morphed into Osir the rugby coach and then Osir the Country Director of Resolution Health in Tanzania. When Kenya beat Fiji 30-7 to win the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Singapore in April 2016, the captain, Andrew Amonde, dedicated the win to his predecessors. He thanked the two major generations of rugby players that built the success this world-conquering team was now riding on. The first of these were the Watembezi Pacesetters, a brilliant machinery of raw power and passion that represented Kenya at the Dubai Sevens in 1983. The

second generation, the first Kenya Sevens, went to the inaugural World Series in 1999 in Dubai. Although they performed dismally at first, the Sevens-a-side team eventually gelled into a fine machine, led by what a BBC reporter called “… an odd combination for sevens inspiration…a full-time student and a salesman.” Benjamin Ayimba, the coach of the current team, was the full time student, a magnificent hard worker on the pitch. Osir was the salesman and the flash. Together they were a hungry, fast and efficient machine. The original game of rugby had 20 players-a-side. In 1877, the number was reduced to 15-a-side, playing for a total of 80 minutes. The grueling match, still considered the purest form of rugby, is complicated to amateur fans. In the 1880s, a fundraiser match in Melrose, Scotland, birthed a new form of rugby. Seven players on either side, on a pitch the same dimensions as a 15-a-side match, but playing two halves of seven minutes each with


a two minute break. Everyone had a lot more ground to cover, and scoring was easier and more thrilling for audiences. A tournament could be packed into a single, fast-paced weekend. For most purists though, Sevens was just a way to improve one’s running and ball handling before the real game. An unintended result of the technical differences between Sevens and 15s is that the former allows individual players to shine. Sevens demands a lot more in individual stamina and decision-making. 15s requires complex team work at every stage, hence less scores despite the longer duration the game is played. For the frenetic 14 minutes that is a Sevens match, audiences are treated to a complete adrenaline-fuelled game with magnificent ball handling and speed. Oscar Osir had both, and he used them well. Born on the last day of August 1975, Osir spent most of his childhood in Mombasa, tucked away in a town with only a small vibrant rugby community. He settled on rugby when he moved to Nairobi Secondary in the early 1990s. Fifteens-a-side had only been formally adopted as a school sport in 1990, but it was well on its way to spectacular growth. By the time Osir’s high school side won the second-tier Damu Pevu shield, he knew he could not run from the sport. In 1994, after high school, he moved to Mwamba FC, one of the strongest sides in Nairobi. He quickly switched, briefly, to KCB before settling for Impala. For decades, Impala RFC had been the strongest side in rugby in Nairobi. Osir chose the move at a pivotal time when the team was attracting a new generation that would revolutionise the sport. There was the phenomenal Benjamin Ayimba, whose success as a coach

PHOTO : COURTESY

NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

At the 2002 Commonwealth Games, Osir pulled off an impossible try that gave Kenya a 28-20 win over Samoa. With 25 seconds to go, he kicked the ball and chased after it, using his obliterating speed to beat the Samoans.“ would eventually overshadow his professional career. Then there was the powerful Moses Kola, the brilliant Ian Simiyu and the force that was Philip Mwenesi. With them, Impala was unbeatable and Kenya had a team. Osir first almost made it to a national rugby team call up in 1998. The team that did make it to the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur suffered a 71-0 defeat by rugby powerhouse Fiji, the worst loss by Kenya’s national team to this day. Osir missed his next two call ups too due to injuries. When he finally did turn up, in

2001, Osir quickly became Kenya’s leading try scorer. His speed and ability to create opportunities on the pitch were unmatched, making him and Ayimba an unstoppable pair. With them, Kenya were Bowl Semifinalists at the 2001 Rugby World Cup Sevens. But Osir’s true worth became clear the next year. At the 2002 Commonwealth Games, Osir pulled off an impossible try that gave Kenya a 28-20 win over Samoa. With 25 seconds to go, he kicked the ball and chased after it, using his obliterating speed to beat the Samoans. Samoa remains one of the powerhouses of rugby in the world, with a team of massively bulky players who have become, like Fiji and New Zealand, a rugby dynasty. Osir’s try was one of Kenya’s loudest announcements on the global scene, and a trigger of the fervor of what became a national sport. It also further drove an emerging cult in the stands, a small group of frenetic fanatics in red attire cheering for Kenya and drowning out everyone else. Today, these fans follow the Kenyan team across the world and are famous for their colourful and passionate cheering. Now an international legend, Osir captained both Impala, his home team, and the national Sevens team. He was the captain of the team that defeated traditional rugby greats like Australia and Wales. Like most purists though, Osir remained primarily a 15s player. In 2003, Osir said in an interview that he feared Kenya would become “A Sevens nation as opposed to a total Rugby nation.” But without a rich rugby history, he rightly opined, it was still better to start from somewhere and then build from there. By the time Kenya went to the 2005 Sevens World Cup, Oscar Osir was second on the leading try scorers in the International Rugby Board

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WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

PHOTOS : COURTESY

(IRB—now called World Rugby) Sevens Circuit. Only two Kenyans have ever featured that highly on that prestigious list; the second, Collins Injera, is currently the top try scorer in the world. Most rugby pundits see Injera as Osir’s successor in a unique, almost contradictory way. They both had speed but Injera combines it with a shorter frame and a lot more drive. In the years after the success of the Kenya Sevens team, both Osir and Ayimba were signed on to the UK second-tier side Penzance and Newlyn. In 2005, Osir decided to retire from Sevens, seemingly premature for a man at the pinnacle of his sport. He had had five glorious years that were a complete speed fest, but he was done with the sport, at least as a player. He returned the next

As the head of Resolution Health Tanzania, Osir is again at the top of a key building bloc of a fast-growing Kenyan brand in a foreign land. It is familiar territory.”

year, and for five years after that, as the no-nonsense team manager of the national team. The technical bench was filled with the players of his generation, led by Ayimba as coach. It was the team that turned its successors in the game into a fine, ruthless machine on the pitch. The one that broke record after record and became a constant feature in the IRB World Series. Rugby in Kenya has always been a niche sport, partially as a testament of its exclusively white roots. But Sevens helped bridge the gap, and men like Oscar Osir showed a fluidity

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on the pitch that was like an art. It thrilled crowds and set the pace for sponsorships and growth in national tournaments. In 2004, 14 years after 15s was recognised as a formal school sport, Sevens was also added. The problem was that rugby never truly qualified as employment. Sponsorship at the start was erratic, forcing greats like Osir to keep their day jobs. This has never changed, although sponsorship has grown with the commercial success of the sport. A good number of the best players in each generation found employment training the next one, as did Osir and his teammates. Eventually, Osir

moved on to his other life’s passion, selling insurance. As the head of Resolution Health Tanzania, Osir is again at the top of a key building bloc of a fast-growing Kenyan brand in a foreign land. It is familiar territory. @Owaahh


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

Sage reads... By The Book Worm

The Unbroken Spirit WANJIRU WAITHAKA Spear Books

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n abominable crime has been committed but powerful unseen forces have conspired to thwart justice. A woman left with no options seeks the ultimate revenge as the battle between good and evil turns to war. A desperate race against time through the streets of Nairobi to avert another tragedy that will consume them all. Can she be stopped in time…or is it already too late? Third prize winner, adult fiction, Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature (2007), Kenya’s biggest literary award.

A Profile of Kenyan Entrepreneurs

WANJIRU WAITHAKA & EVANS MAJENI East African Educational Publishers

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npiring stories of resilience and courage by Kenyan Entrepreneurs. The profiled individuals include Manu Chandaria, S.K. Macharia, Nelson Muguku, Mary Okelo, Myke Rabar, Jonathan Somen among others.

Get these books at Magunga online bookstore (http://books.magunga.com/), Text Book Centre, Prestige Bookshop, Mama Ngina Street and Bookstop at Yaya Centre. For more information please visit Wanjiru’s blog : https://wanjiruwaithaka.wordpress.com/

Answers to the Quiz: How financially savvy are you? (pg 56) 1.B 2.A 3.D 4.C 5.C 6.B 7.C 8.C 9.B 10. B

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MY 2 CENTS

Why we are all

by default poor managers By Kellie Murungi Last week, while setting up for finance training for entrepreneurs at one of my client’s offices, I got chatting with the lady who was hosting me. Our conversation went something like this;

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he lady: “This is a great program, but I wish you were teaching us about personal finance too. I am terrible with money.” Me: “What are your money challenges?” The lady: “Everything! I seem to spend all the cash I get, I never have enough to save.” We spoke some more about her spending habits, but because of time, we couldn’t finish the conversation. Many of us are like this lady. We know we are not managing our money as we should; we spend too much, save too little and sometimes just wonder where it all went! “If only someone taught us this finance stuff, we would be better at managing our money,” we tell ourselves. The truth however is that better money management has little or nothing to do with finance knowledge. If it did, finance people

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would be the wealthiest, and people who did not go to school would all be poor. This is never the case though. If you are reading this article, you have all the information you need to manage your money better. Why we fail despite good intentions There are three reasons why we fail at practicing things that are good for us. The first is that we overestimate our willpower. Research has shown that willpower is like a muscle which self renews every day. It is strongest in the morning, and depending on how much you tax it during the day, it is weakest by the end of the day. This is why we find it easier to go to the gym in the morning, and in the evening we feel justified coping out to watch TV. The second reason we fail despite our best intentions is that we trust our minds to choose what’s best for us in the long term, despite the fact that our reptilian

The reason we fail despite our best intentions is that we trust our minds to choose what’s best for us in the long term, despite the fact that our reptilian brains always choose the immediate gratification over long-term benefits.”

brains always choose the immediate gratification over long-term benefits. Finally, we always assume that at some point in future, we will “grow up” and start making better choices. Future Me will be better at money management than Present Me. Future Me will not be tempted to buy gadgets (shoes, food etc), because Future Me will have more personal finance knowledge. This deferment of important actions doesn’t feel bad, because we tell ourselves that we will get round to it at some point in the future. In summary, you are not bad


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

TAKING CONTROL

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Reduce access to your savings. Easily accessible savings means that you are risking your savings to your brain which loves satisfaction NOW! So keep that money away. Most banks have savings accounts that restrict withdrawals to four times a year. This is perfect because you then won’t be tempted to withdraw the cash. Another option is to save with a SACCO.

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Celebrate milestones. We all have long term goals, and the reason why these goals are so dreary is they take forever to attain. As we have seen, our brains like fulfillment now. Set for yourself personal finance milestones that are achievable in the short to medium term, and when you achieve them, reward yourself. The first step is realising that it is not information and finance knowledge that is making you a poor money manager, but your brain. The next step is to build habits that make it easier to stick to your goals, and the next article will look at these critical habits.

PHOTO : SXC.HU

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Automating your finances. Automating your money works because you’re paying yourself first: if you automatically deposit a certain percentage of your paycheck to a savings account, or other investments, you won’t be tempted to spend it later. As the famous investor Warren Buffet says, “Don’t save what is left after spending; spend what is left after saving.” Automating your finances also saves you from having to rely on your willpower to save money every month. If you have not been saving, start by setting up a standing order of 10 per cent of your income to another account, then keep increasing the amount you save as you master other money habits.

Author Bio

Kellie heads Lattice Training (www. lattice-training.com) where they offer customised training solutions for businesses of all sizes, from startup entrepreneurs all the way to large corporations. She also blogs about personal finance on www.rookie-manager.com. Reach her on gatwiri@kelliemurungi.com at managing your money, your brain is just not very helpful in this area. The point of this post is to give you some tactics to help you overcome the above tendencies, which are common to all of us, no matter our education level or profession.

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MONEY & MARKETS

What exactly is

a Share split

If you had a Ksh1,000 note and someone offered you two Ksh500 notes for it, would that make you richer? Sounds ridiculous of course but that’s the position a share split – also known as a bonus share – puts you in, says Wanjiru Waithaka.

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enyans have certainly embraced investment in the stock exchange. But too often, people invest in shares based on hype without taking the time to understand a company’s fundamentals. Take for instance, share splits. When a company splits its shares, does that make it a better investment? Unfortunately, no. To understand why, let’s look at what a share split really is. If you had a Ksh1,000 note and someone offered you two Ksh500 notes for it, would that make you richer? Sounds ridiculous of course but that’s the position a share split – also known as a bonus share – puts you in. A share split increases the number of shares held by the company’s shareholders by dividing each share which in turn reduces the price. But the company’s total value

(market capitalization) remains the same. For example, with a 2-for-1 share split, each shareholder receives an additional share for each share held, but the value of each share is reduced by half. Let’s say a company with 10 million shares trading at a price of Ksh40, giving it a market capitalization of Ksh400 million, decides to split its shares 2-for-1. The total value of the company doesn’t change even though the number of shares has doubled to 20 million. The only thing that has changed is the value of each share which has reduced by half. So why split the shares? Companies usually split shares when they are perceived as too expensive and therefore not traded as often


NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1

especially by small investors who often find it easier to buy 100 shares of Ksh10 stock than 10 shares of Ksh100 stock. The amount the investor spends is the same in both cases so it’s really human psychology at work here. Splitting the shares brings the price down to a more “attractive level” thereby enticing new investors. More shares on the market – referred to in industry lingo as increasing the stock’s liquidity, is bound to result in more trading in the shares, sometimes quite dramatically. This is because many small investors mistakenly believe that a share split is a sign that a company is doing very well. As soon as a share split is announced, the share price begins to climb, sometimes more than doubling in value. A good example of this was East African Cables whose share price jumped from Ksh399 to Ksh571 in a span of just four days in August 2006, pushed up by what brokers claimed was a huge appetite for the company’s stock after the company announced a 10-for-1 share split. By early September when the share split was implemented, the share price was Ksh645. The share split price of Ksh65 (645 divided by 10) climbed to hit a high of 110 then lost half its value to trade at Ksh55. This means that the share was overpriced and the market had started correcting itself. Shareholders who cashed in on the fever to dispose of their shares made a killing. However, new investors who bought shares after the split were left holding shares valued at less than what they paid for them. When that happens you have two options. Sell and make a

Splitting the shares brings the price down to a more “attractive level” thereby enticing new investors.”

SHARE CERTIFICATE

$4

Splits into 2

SHARE CERTIFICATE

SHARE CERTIFICATE

$2

$2

SHARE SPLITS b Many small investors mistakenly believe that a share split is a sign that a company is doing very well. b Think of a company as a pie, with each shareholder owning a slice. If you were to cut the pie into two or ten pieces, the amount of pie remains the same.

loss or hang onto the shares until the share price goes up and reap dividends in the future. This is what differentiates savvy investors from amateurs in the stock market. What is your motive for buying shares? If it is for growth/dividends in a solid well performing company, then investing in a share after a split is a good way in. Buying hoping to make quick returns is a good way to burn your fingers especially if you took out a loan to buy the shares. Paying high interest on a loan when the share price is falling can give anyone high blood pressure. A share split does not change any of the business fundamentals. Think of a company as a pie, with each shareholder owning a slice. If you were to cut the pie into two or ten pieces, the amount of pie remains the same. Whether you have two Ksh500 notes or one Ksh1,000 note, you have the same amount in the bank. Savvy investors look at a company’s performance going back several years and its future prospects to decide whether to buy shares. A stock split and the often positive sentiment surrounding it is not always a good buying indicator.

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MONEY & MARKETS

How financially savvy are you?

Take our quiz

1) What is your net worth? a) The amount of cash I have in savings b) The amount by which my assets exceed my liabilities c) Profits from a business d) The total value of my investments (cash, bonds, property, shares)

3) Jane and Beatrice are the same age. Jane started saving Ksh30,000 every year 20 years ago at 6 per cent interest per annum. Beatrice only started saving 10 years ago but she has been saving Ksh60,000 every year at 9 per cent interest. Who has accumulated the most money? a) They have the same amount of money because they saved the same amount b) Beatrice, because she saved more each year c) Beatrice, because she earned a higher interest rate d) Jane, because her money has been growing for a longer period at compound interest 4) Which of the following investments has historically outperformed all other investments? a) Real estate b) Treasury bonds c) Stocks d) Fixed deposit account 5) The stock market has been down for

PHOTO : SXC.HU

2) Which of the following investments has the highest risk? a) Shares in the stock market b) Treasury bonds c) Mutual funds d) Fixed deposit account in a bank months. What is the best thing to do? a) Quit while you’re ahead – sell all your shares b) Sit tight, do nothing and pray for a quick upturn c) Invest more by buying the now cheap shares 6) What does a bull market mean? a) A volatile market b) A market in which prices of securities are rising or are expected to rise c) A market with very aggressive traders d) A market where prices of securities are falling across the board 7) Which of the following is the biggest threat to your investment portfolio? a) Rising interest rates b) Slowdown in economic growth c) Inflation d) Rise in taxes 8) What is the over-the-counter market? a) A place where pharmaceutical companies sell their products

b) A stock exchange that is not computerised c) An alternative market where shares of companies that don’t meet the listing criteria for the main stock exchange are traded d) A special exchange for trading of blue chip company stocks only 9) What is a bond? a) A share of ownership in a company b) A loan to a company c) A bank loan d) Dividend earnings from a company 10) Which of the following is saving but not investing? a) Putting money in a pension scheme b) Contributing to a chama (merry-go-round) where the pooled funds are distributed to members in turns c) Putting money in a savings account d) Buying stocks or bonds

Find answers to this quiz on the bottom red strip on page 51 of this SAGE magazine

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NOVEMBER 2016 • ISSUE 1 GUEST COLUMN

Banks and Chained Pens… Please encourage your clients to take the pens says Mohammed Hersi

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esterday afternoon I walked into my bank, a branch somewhere in Nyali Mombasa. This is a young, small, trendy bank compared to where I have always banked. I decided to try a smaller bank while maintaining my relationship with my old bank. The ATM outside was out of order and I walked into the small banking hall. I was received by very charming, warm, friendly professional associates. I was even served a nice cup of coffee. They quickly facilitated a withdrawal and when I wanted to sign the slip I noticed a branded “plastic” pen which was as usual chained so that the pen is not taken away. I asked the three associates present why they chain the pen. All had their answers but the main one was, “You see we will lose many pens and we are also trying to cut our costs”. I then posed a question, how much does the chained pen cost? They were all hesitant to give me an answer but I encouraged them to try. One said Ksh100 while the lowest said Ksh60. As a hotelier we give pens at all the meeting rooms and even in the rooms. The cost when you buy in bulk is anything between Ksh9 to Ksh12 for non-branded pens while you can pay up to Ksh17 for a branded pen and a good quality one for that matter. So the staff did not even know the cost of what they were trying to “protect.” Suppose they encouraged their clients to pick a pen and take it home or to the office or even keep it in the car. When I use it, a discussion may easily come up and in the process I may end up recommending that bank to someone else. Others may end up using that bank simply because they saw me with that pen.

Your customers are not there to steal from you. Encourage them to pick a pen and who knows, that could bring you a referral.”

Let us now do some math and see how much banks are busy chaining and the lost marketing opportunities. Suppose a small branch like my bank was to give away 50 pens a day, trust me, that is a huge number of pens. We are talking of a mere Ksh850 per day which will be in the hands of serious people who have entrusted you with their money. In a month (26 days), we are looking at Ksh22,100 and in one year Ksh265,200. The same bank will have billboards across the city trying to catch some new customers. One billboard in a month will cost you anything above

Ksh140,000 plus printing cost, while a coloured ad in the dailies will set you back Ksh750,000 plus VAT and the next day “ina funga mahamri ama nyama.” Just because the big players do it, please don’t copy them; they are wrong. Your customers are not there to steal from you. Encourage them to pick a pen and who knows, that could bring you a referral. Anytime I see a bank chain a pen, I see lost opportunities for free marketing in the right hands. Hotels give slippers during your stay. When you wear them at home a discussion may come up and who knows, your sister, brother or a work colleague looking for a place to go on holiday, may actually end up choosing my hotel because of the slippers we provided during your stay. How much do those slippers cost? Ksh140 branded, and for how long will you use them? Maybe two months. Can you imagine free advertising at someone’s home for 60 days, wow! And my hotel becomes a talking point every once in a while. Would you allow me to place a banner in your living room? Of course not. Hotels that give such collaterals do not get anywhere close to what banks make in profits. Can you imagine how much more banks could make if they chose to unchain their minds and pens? Your guess is as good as mine. Please give out the pens, with a sign “If you liked how I write please take me home”. Mohammed Hersi is the Chairman of the Kenya Coast Tourism Association and CEO of Heritage Hotels. @mohammedhersi SOURCE: https://mohammedhersiblog. wordpress.com/

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MONEY & MARKETS

The numbers are not making for good reading this year in the stock market, which is in one of its periodic negative runs says Maxwell Wambugu

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ames and Michael are traders in Nairobi. In January, each had Ksh1 million which they would not need to utilise for at least six months. James visited his stockbroker and put his money into a portfolio of shares drawn from five listed firms in the NSE, looking forward to selling at a profit in June. Michael went to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and bought a 182-day Treasury Bill, essentially lending the government his Ksh1 million for six months. In the context of the returns being offered by the two investment options so far in 2016, James would have been left looking at a loss after six months, while Michael would comfortably and safely make a profit risk free. In short, the numbers are not making for good reading this year in the stock market, which is in one of its periodic negative runs. In the first half of 2016, the NSE 20 share index dropped 10 per cent in value, equivalent to 400 points, leaving it at a four year low of 3,640 points. The index is made up of the top 20 companies listed at the market, which are chosen primarily as the beacons of their respective economic sectors. In total, the value of all shares at the exchange came down by Ksh56 billion in the first half of the year. So, for James, the Ksh1 million investment would have led to a loss of Ksh100,000 if he invested it equally in the companies on the main index, leaving him with just Ksh900,000 were

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In the first half of 2016, the NSE 20 share index dropped 10 per cent in value, equivalent to 400 points, leaving it at a four year low of 3,640 points.” he to sell his shares in June. This is however a common occurrence in any stock market, where shares go up and down periodically in what are known as Bull (up) and Bear (down) runs. This year, it is shaping up that some of the most recognisable companies have been the ones losing value the most. Shares of top blue chip firms such as Kenya Commercial Bank, Barclays Kenya, Cooperative Bank, Nation Media Group and Kenya Airways have performed poorly, leaving investors with billions of shillings in paper losses. Even through the gloom of the equities market, savvy investors would have had no need to worry. They follow one of the rules of a successful investor—flexibility. Analysing the market, Dyer and

Blair head of research Linet Muriungi says that the low share prices are now offering investors the chance to buy shares, some of which would have been too expensive in the past when prices were rallying up. Investment advisors say that the best time to buy is in a Bear run, then sit and wait for the inevitable Bull. “Given that the outlook of the shilling and interest rates point at stability on both fronts, current equity market trading values present a good entry point, as the market appears to be relatively cheap, all factors considered,” says Ms Muriungi. There are other options always available to exploit as well, like Michael did. This year, the smart money has been going into the fixed income market, which offers relatively safe if not high returns. The segment is composed of Treasury Bills and Treasury Bonds, where the former represent money lent to government for a short period of up to one year, and the latter comprise of any debt longer than one year. These investment instruments will never give you the windfall earnings that you sometimes get in the stock market, but they will not lose you money either. They are safer than keeping your money in the bank as well. The interest rates on short term Treasury Bills has been in the range of 8 to 12 per cent, while the average interest on longer term bonds is about 14 per cent. However, a lot of Kenyans are not even aware that they can lend money


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-40

-30

-20

-10

0

10

Safaricom EABL

-6.3

0.4

-2.6

9.3

BAT Kenya

6.15

Standard Chartered

Cooperative Bank Bamburi Cement Barclays Kenya Diamond Trust Bank

30 22.1

Equity Bank KCB

20

-20

SOURCED FROM NSE DATA

Performance of top 10 companies at the NSE in 2016 (% gain or loss)

-3.4

-27.6 -14.5

Of the top 10 companies at the NSE, 6 have lost value in 2016 as the market continues with its bear run.

Treasury Bills 2016 interest rates (%) SOURCE: CBK

to the government, leaving this investment avenue to banks, insurance companies, pension funds and Saccos. In order to invest in a bond or bill, all one needs to do is walk into CBK, open a depository account and put in a bid, where the minimum is Ksh100,000 for a T-Bill and Ksh50,000 for a bond. It beats keeping the money in your bank account for a year, earning near zero interest while paying account maintenance charges every month. If all this proves too much work, there is another option, unit trusts, which involve giving your money to professionals to invest for you. These come in various types, including money market funds, equity funds and fixed income funds. The unit trust managers basically invest in the same portfolios as you would, but they have the advantage of market knowhow and volumes from the pooled funds, so they can extract better rates and returns compared to an individual. Looking at the performance of various unit trusts this year, the returns have been higher than what you get from shares, even in those funds that invest in the stock market—known as equity funds. Fund managers normally take a long term view to investment, and are therefore unlikely to lower the returns they are offering their customers just because there has been a temporary blip in the markets. Money market funds, which invest in the T-Bills and bonds, are offering interest rates of between 6 and 14 per cent, much in line with the government rates. Equity funds have also maintained their prices, with the fund managers simply sitting out the negative run by avoiding panic selloffs that are common among retail investors. They say that you can only lose money in the stock exchange if you sell your shares. If James holds on to his, the paper loss of Ksh100,000 will never materialise.

The rates on Treasury bills have not fallen below 7% all year.

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MONEY & MARKETS: REAL ESTATE

Investment 101: REITS Last year, the first Real Estate Investment Trust (Reit) started trading in the Kenyan stock market.

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eits are the latest products introduced into the Kenyan capital markets for investors, joining the stable that includes ordinary shares, treasury bonds and bills and unit trusts. They are floated just like shares are in an IPO (Initial Public Offering), and are traded at the stock exchange in a similar manner to shares. They come in two types: Investment Reits (I-Reits) and Development Reits (D-Reits), through which companies can raise money from the public to finance real estate projects. A company issuing an I-Reit uses the proceeds to buy into an existing property, with the investors reaping returns in form of dividends from the rental income generated by the property. In a D-Reit, investors are asked to buy a stake in a project before its completion and earn future dividends from the income it will generate once it is completed and let out or sold— in short advancing the company money for a project on the premise of a future share of the returns. Essentially, Reits are collective investments by members of the public into a real estate project, in which they would otherwise be unable to buy into by themselves. Through a Reit therefore, an ordinary Joe can own part of a shopping mall such as Two Rivers or Garden City.

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When you think of a Reit, think of the land buying companies that came up shortly after independence, which allowed indigenous Kenyans to buy up vast tracts of land previously held by whites by pooling funds through buying shares into the land company, and once they had pooled enough took ownership of the land and subdivided it. Two Reits have so far been

They come in two types: Investment Reits (I-Reits) and Development Reits (D-Reits), through which companies can raise money from the public to finance real estate projects.”

opened in Kenya; the Fahari I-Reit by financial services firm Stanlib and the Fusion Capital D-Reit. It is however clear from the way they have performed that they are not as well understood by investors as they should be. Stanlib managed to raise only Ksh3.6 billion out of its target of Ksh12.5 billion in the Fahari I-Reit, with the underperformance a direct

result of lack of understanding by investors on the new type of investment. Fusion Capital has also struggled to raise its target of Ksh2.3 billion issue that has been on sale since June, whose proceeds are meant to put up a mixed use property development in Meru town. It has become clear therefore that investors are yet to fully grasp how they can get returns from Reits compared to other ‘traditional ‘investments such as ordinary shares and bonds. Reits are known for two things; their high dividends and the fact that their prices move independent of the rest of the stock market. “In any market, Reits will chart their own course,” says Aly Khan Satchu, the chief executive of financial advisory firm Rich Management. Buying a Reit is no different from buying an ordinary share in the stock market. Initially, the Reits are offered through a public issue, commonly known as an IPO. Thereafter, they can be bought or sold at the NSE through any licensed stockbroker. For instance, the Stanlib I-Reit was sold to the public at Ksh20 each, with a minimum of 1,000 units, making it within reach of the average investor. Those buying into it now count Greenspan Mall in Donholm as one of their assets, after Stanlib bought the property with the proceeds of the issue. The Reit issuers usually invest up to 75 per cent of the proceeds into income bearing property, which is what gives the higher returns to investors.


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MENTOR MANAGEMENT LTD

Highest office rent rates in selected Nairobi localities in Sh per square foot (Dec 2015)

Office rent rates in Nairobi are now north of Sh100 per square foot, promising higher returns to investors in the property market.

Retail Office Industrial Hospitality Others (non property)

30 % to 75 % 30 % to 75 % 0% to 15% 0% to 15% 0% to 15%

SOURCE: STANLIB

Maximum allocation per property class for a Reit in Kenya.

Issues of a Reit are required to allocate the majority of their proceeds in office and retail property segments, which are the highest yielding in the country.

Total building plan approvals in Nairobi (Million Sq Ft) SOURCE: STERLING CAPITAL/ MML

Analysts at brokerage house Sterling Capital have used the example of the South African stock market which has 33 registered Reits to illustrate this point. South Africa and Ghana are the only other countries in Africa offering Reits. A person investing in a Reit in 2015 would have made a return of 11.6 per cent, compared to 3.4 per cent in shares and 2.7 per cent in the bonds market. “The South African Reits have maintained good returns to investors even in the most difficult economic climate. SA Reits made up a significant 11 per cent of the top 100 listed companies over five years based on a compound annual growth rate, and the top spot went to a Reit for the first time in 2015,” say Sterling head of research Eric Munywoki. For a Kenyan investor therefore, the Reits could be the tonic to the bear run the stock market is experiencing, providing insurance against loss of value. The primary source of Reit income is rental income, which inevitably goes up in line with general cost of living and doing business. Demand for space, especially in commercial buildings, is also high, even as the residential housing market looks like it is cooling off. A word of caution is however necessary before one goes into buying Reits. They work best for long term investors, not speculators out looking for a quick shilling. This is especially true of D-Reits. Take the Fusion Capital offer for instance. It will take many months before the Meru property development is completed and either let out or sold, therefore investors must be willing to wait for their gains to mature. Given that they are also single sector investments, there is also a risk to Reits should the property market in Kenya burst one day.

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Words: Wanjiru Waithaka Photography: Emma Nzioka, AMI, Wangethi Family Location: Heri Heights, Kolobot Drive, Arboretum Road

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Wordsmith:

Wangethi’s Second Act Wangethi Mwangi, former Editorial Director at Nation Media Group, and now Senior Advisor at African Media Initiative, shares insights on the biggest stories of the last three decades, his personal interactions with two Kenyan presidents and how the Internet is shaping the future of media in Africa.

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t was a bitter cold day with sheets of rain pouring down relentlessly. Warm air from the car’s interior fogged up the windows, matching the fog outside that had reduced visibility to just a few metres. The rain was a steady drumbeat on the roof as the car sped towards the coffee farms of Limuru, making good time on a road devoid of traffic, which had been cleared to allow passage of the president’s motorcade. The late Juvénal Habyarimana, third President of the Republic of Rwanda, was in Nairobi on an official visit. Wangethi Mwangi, a trainee sub-editor with the Standard newspaper, was in a vehicle a few metres behind him, together with photographer Frank Wanjohi. The motorcade had just passed the shopping centre at Banana when the storm felled a tree which hit electric cables, sending them crashing to the ground where school children waved miniature flags as they cheered the president. Three died on the spot. The Standard driver brought the car to a screeching halt at Wangethi’s urging as the rest of the motorcade sped on. Wanjohi leaped out of the car and began taking pictures,

cupping the lens with his hands to shield the camera from the rain. Wangethi started interviewing onlookers while taking down details of the scene. The police arrived soon after and the dead and injured were taken to Nazareth Hospital. Back in the newsroom, he banged out his copy on an ancient type writer on six sheets of paper separated by carbon paper. The copies usually went to the news editor, chief sub-editor and the editor-in-chief among others. He pulled the sheets out of the typewriter, pleased with his handiwork. His editor wasn’t impressed. He immediately put fresh sheets of paper into his own typewriter and taught Wangethi his first crucial lesson in journalism – how to write an intro. Wangethi had started the story thus: ‘Three school children were electrocuted yesterday…’. The editor typed: ‘Tragedy struck deep in the heart of Kiambu yesterday…’ and rewrote the entire first paragraph. The story went to the front page giving Wangethi his first byline in the paper. A person unfamiliar with the workings of a newsroom would expect that Wangethi would

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be reprimanded for abandoning the Habyarimana assignment but instead he received praise for spotting a breaking story and following his instincts. After all, the paper could always use copy from the Kenya News Agency (KNA) for the Habyarimana story.

T

his was one of two incidents early in his career that shaped the way he approaches journalism even today. The other also involved a dignitary, but was the complete opposite of the stellar performance he displayed on the Habyarimana assignment. The UN had just opened its Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) office in Nairobi and Arcot Ramachandran, Under-Secretary General had been appointed its first Executive Director. The late Mitch Odero, news editor at the Standard, asked Wangethi to go to the airport and cover his arrival. “Obviously, it was a big thing and yet I had no idea about Habitat and no time to research. He just gave me a car and photographer and asked me to go and report the story.” Wangethi racked his brain wondering how he was going to pull off the assignment. “Calestous Juma, a reporter for the Nation, saved the day,” Wangethi recalls. Juma, now a respected professor at Harvard University, knew his subject. “He had studied a lot about the environment and was already acquainted with Ramachandran, so he fired all the questions while the rest of us took notes.” Juma wrote an excellent story for the Nation. Wangethi describes his own story as passable. “I promised myself I would never go to an assignment unprepared, and would ensure anyone working under me was properly briefed before going out on assignment,” he says.

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M

eeting Wangethi for the first time is a confusing experience. His ability to smell a breaking story from miles away is legendary but he has a reputation for being a ruthless taskmaster who thunders when angry, is intimidating to his juniors and flat out arrogant even with superiors. Managing editors who walked around the newsroom like they owned it, inspiring fear in juniors themselves, were said to be reduced to stuttering wrecks in Wangethi’s presence, almost as if their brains had been lobotomised or cloned such that they were unable to communicate in anything more than a mumble. Kwamchetsi Makokha, a Nation columnist and communications consultant puts it thus: “With Wangethi, you have 60 seconds to make a good impression. If you don’t earn his respect when he first meets you, you’ll never earn it, no matter what you do in subsequent weeks, months or years.” My first impression of him is a friendly social gentleman with a mild personality and not the least bit intimidating. Where is the monster I was warned about? Wangethi laughs at this saying that is not his management style but when pressed, he admits there is some truth to it. “I was very demanding, very authoritative and also very impatient. That’s what I would call the extreme side of me, but if I liked you, I could be very patient, understanding and accommodating.” He shouted when upset especially when someone goofed on a story. What is that common refrain ‘Lawyers jail their mistakes, doctors bury theirs, but journalists publish theirs for the entire world to see’? In such a high pressure environment where deadlines are critical, and reporters have only hours to put stories together, it’s perhaps

understandable that an Editorial Director would lose his cool when errors slipped into the page. After all, he was responsible for everything that went into the paper and was the one people sued when unhappy about a story. This sometimes extended to advertising where he was blamed when readers considered an ad offensive, never mind that ads were the preserve of the advertising department. Wangethi also concedes that he can be very dismissive and has in the past denied someone a job in the newsroom or a promotion within a few minutes of meeting them. He says he goes with his gut and has no apologies about it. This confidence in himself, which has thrust him into leadership positions in his journalism career, has its roots in his childhood.

H

e was born in 1953 in Pumwani Maternity Hospital, the fourth born in a family of 10 children. He never met his oldest brother who died before he was born. The family lived in Shauri Moyo and later moved to Bahati, then Kaloleni Estate. In each of these places, the family lived in tiny one or two-roomed houses with communal bathroom facilities and a tiny kitchen that also served as sleeping quarters. His mother, 1

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Salome Wanjiru, ran a grocery store at Burma market. His father, Geoffrey Mwangi, was a motor mechanic in downtown Nairobi. His two older brothers went to live with their childless aunt in Maragua, about 60km from Nairobi, where they stayed throughout their primary school education, leaving Wangethi in Nairobi with his four sisters, parents and paternal grandmother. Wangethi would spend a week or two in Maragua with his brothers during the school holidays. Most of it was spent on his aunt’s farm, ploughing the field or picking coffee, which they took to the mill. He was a curious child and jiggers in particular fascinated him. “One day as they pulled out jiggers from my brother’s toes, I took a bit of it and pinched it in one of my fingers, and in time it grew,” he says. The subsequent

2

itching sensation and painful experience of removing the jigger remain etched in his mind. Christmases were spent in Nairobi. This was the one time of the year when their parents pampered them. “Dad would take us to the shops on River Road and buy us new outfits. Then we would have chapo, rice and meat. It was always an occasion to look forward to.” Wangethi tried singing in the choir at Morrison Primary School and drama at Ofafa Jericho High School where he sat his O-Levels, but didn’t get very far with either, blaming it on sudden attacks of bashfulness. “In Form 2, my teachers persuaded me to sing in the school concert. I got up on stage and started belting out Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by the Beatles. After the first stanza, my voice cracked and I ran off the stage

1. Wangethi and third born son Thuita. 2. A cosy moment with Lizzie during a visit to Garissa. 3. Wangethi and Lizzie (seated) with their children and grandchildren: Standing from left- Njeru, his wife Millicent Karanja and their daughter Kui; Thuita (centre); Mwangi (extreme right) with wife Lillian Ruto.

in embarrassment.” He tried again later with better results. He was still in high school. His brother used to love dancing and would take him to daytime boogies at the local social hall. “We went for one at YMCA Shauri Moyo and I spotted a friend in the band playing the drums. I asked them to give me a lift, that is, play a tune while I sang and belted out Wilson Pickett’s I’m a midnight mover. I couldn’t synchronize my singing with the instruments. They kept telling me to slow down and it was very frustrating, but I did finish the song and guys danced to the tune. Those were the days of soul music where you moved the upper body and shook your head vigorously almost to the point of dislodging it from the neck,” he says.

H

is older brothers being away in Maragua thrust Wangethi into a leadership position early in life. “Mum would wake up very early. I would escort her to the bus stop and make sure she got on the bus or matatu to take her to Marikiti where she bought supplies. Once in a while, I’d go with her, buy provisions for our store, and then we would head back home and wait for the mkokoteni (handcart) to bring them,” he says. He learnt to cook at an early

3

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age. “I made tea in the morning for my sisters and learnt how to make chapo and other foods. During my university life, I spent holidays with my brothers and did all the cooking.” With time, even his older brothers came to view him as the natural leader in the family, often deferred to him when family decisions needed to be made and left him to organise family gatherings. Wangethi knows what he wants and is not afraid to make a decision even if he risks offending members of his close family. A good example is when he decided to legally change his name while in second year at the University of Nairobi’s main campus where he was doing a Bachelor of Arts course in literature and political science. “I decided this whole religion thing is nonsensical, baptism is just a form of cultural imperialism and I discarded my baptism name,” he says with relish. He hired a lawyer, filled out the required paperwork, which his lawyer sent to Sheria House and dropped the name Joseph by deed poll. Did he consult his family before doing this? “I really didn’t care. It wasn’t their life, it was mine,” he says with finality. He attributes this decision to a Marxist phase he went through at the university, which he attended from 1973 to 1976. “We were in this vice-like grip of militarism, engendered by the whole ideology of Marxism that was characterised by the conflict between capitalism and communism. Given our young minds, we were very easily persuaded to embrace communism. We felt for the rights of workers and mouthed catch phrases all the time to show how well read we were,” he says. The university itself was going through a lot of changes at around the same time. “Scholars decided that we had read too much of English Literature, and therefore the emphasis ought to be literature in

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English, that is other forms of literature that are in the English language by people like Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiongo. That whole shift had a big impact on my mind.” His parents had a customary marriage and later had an Anglican Church wedding at St Stephen’s on Jogoo Road where he was baptised. Wangethi later switched denominations to the Catholic faith after being influenced by his older brothers who were raised by a devout Catholic aunt. Thereafter he attended mass regularly at Our Lady of Visitation church at Makadara in Nairobi’s sprawling eastlands. Then he discovered Marxism and threw away all that history along

with his baptism name. It’s ironical though that for a man who professes not to be too hung up on religion, when he’s stumped by a question or is having trouble remembering something, his favourite exclamation is “Jesus Christ on a bicycle!”

W

angethi’s decisiveness extended to his marriage. Many girls dream about a white wedding but such whimsical notions never got a chance to take root in the Mwangi household. He met his wife Lizzie Wangui in 1974 while she was in nursing school at Nairobi Hospital. Lizzie was later employed as a nurse at The Mater Hospital. The couple had their first born, Mwangi, named after


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2

1. From left, with Dave Mwangi, Gacheru Migwi and Oluoch Obura at Jamhuri High School in 1972. 2. Wangethi as a young man.

Wangethi’s father, while living in Buruburu estate in Nairobi’s eastlands. They had a civil wedding at the Attorney General’s chambers in Sheria House in 1981. “That’s the one thing I had made up my mind about. I was not going to have a white wedding and had told everybody, including my parents. We got two witnesses, went to the A-G’s chambers, got married and then hosted a small lunch at Buruburu for our parents and friends.” The couple have two other sons – Njeru, born in 1981, and Thuita, born in 1987. Mwangi lives in Sydney, Australia, where he works in HR. He is married with one daughter. Njeru is also married and has two daughters. Njeru and Thuita are both IT professionals. Wangethi’s decisiveness sometimes

got him into trouble however. Tragedy struck when the family lost three family members in quick succession. His father got a stroke in 1995 and was admitted to MP Shah hospital. “He had been suffering from high blood pressure and gout and was on medication. He was in a coma on life support for a fortnight and died in July 1995,” says Wangethi. The family was still reeling from the loss when their mother was diagnosed with cancer soon after. “She had been complaining of pain in the stomach and I took her to a doctor in Kimathi House, who checked her out and recommended doing an endoscopy.” The results were grim. His mother was given six months to live. “My dilemma was, do I share this with my brothers and sisters?” says Wangethi. “I decided not to, thinking I was saving them the agony of having to stare death in the face. They knew about the cancer diagnosis, but had no idea she had only six months to live.” The cancer got really bad and she suffered. At one point she lived with Wangethi for a few months and then went to live with his older brother. When the cancer advanced to the point where it could not be managed from home, she was admitted to Equator Hospital in Nairobi West where she died in December the same year. The family’s agony intensified when their eldest brother, Anthony Kamina, checked himself into hospital

to have a nagging pain in his stomach checked. “Doctors opened him up and couldn’t deal with what they found; abdominal cancer that had just gone haywire. They closed him up immediately and within a week he was dead,” says Wangethi. It was a terrible loss, coming so soon after the death of their parents. Much later, Wangethi told his siblings about their mother’s prognosis, that she had been given six months to live and he kept them in the dark. They were devastated. “They never forgave me. I told them I didn’t regret it, because I thought I was saving them this grief. But what happened, happened and I will live with that decision for the rest of my life.”

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angethi’s journalism career began at the Standard newspaper, which hired him as a trainee sub-editor in 1977. He had responded to a job advert in the paper and was called for an interview where he found familiar faces also gunning for the job. He knew Absalom Mutere, Kamau Kanyanga and Mbatau Wangai, all from the University of Nairobi. Esther Kamweru, who had studied at Makerere University, was also at the interview. The paper hired all five of them. Wangethi’s salary was Ksh2,300 per month. At the time, the University of Nairobi’s School of Journalism ran a two-year diploma programme for Form Six graduates. It was not a degree course but churned out some of Kenya’s best journalists. “In the morning, we would sit with the then director of the School, Bill Macketeer, in the Standard board room on Likoni Road and he would teach us journalism. Then we shadowed senior journalists like Gideon Mulaki and Frank Ojiambo in the afternoon as they did their rounds. We wrote a report after each trip, which was discussed the following morning

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during the training session,” says Wangethi. The training ended after three months and Wangethi was sent to the news desk together with Kamweru and Kamau. That was when he landed the Habyarimana and Ramachandran assignments. Despite getting his byline on the front page a few times and winning praise for his reporting, Wangethi preferred sub-editing, which involved rewriting other people’s stories and never getting a byline in the paper. “I didn’t really like reporting and once I tasted sub-editing I realised that was my calling. The challenge of making something better appealed to me. I got the satisfaction of reading a story the following day and hoping that readers enjoyed it and although the reporter got all the credit, I hoped he was happy that I contributed to getting the story to the level that it actually excited readers.” He stayed at the subs desk for a year then decided to enrol for a postgraduate diploma in mass communication at the University of Nairobi. Although his employer declined to sponsor him, he was fortunate enough to get a full scholarship from DAAD (the German Academic Exchange Service) with a monthly stipend of Ksh2,500. He graduated from the one-year course in 1980 with a distinction and returned to the Standard, which hired him as a Senior Sub-Editor with a monthly salary of Ksh6,000. He did that job for only six months before leaving to join the rival Nation newspaper in the same capacity in November 1980.

A

t the Nation he found the no-nonsense English master Philip Ochieng, then chief sub-editor, who made him realise he still had a lot to learn about journalism.

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“Working with Ochieng was a real shock. I thought I had honed my skills quite well as a sub-editor and reporter at the Standard. I had a BA in literature-in-English, so I knew my language very well. The first copy I edited and gave to Ochieng to revise was thrown back at me with red marks indicating errors here and there, and I looked at him and wondered, ‘Who the hell do you think you are?’ But I swallowed my arrogance and settled in, and realised that I had taken too much for granted. Journalism is not your usual English essay, it has its own style, and if you don’t learn it too well, you might end up not ever learning the craft as well as you should if you have the patience and the disposition.” Ochieng taught him how to tighten copy, identify verbiage, trim a story without destroying its essence and introduced him to the Nation style of writing. Wangethi rose through the ranks, earning promotions to deputy chief sub-editor, then chief sub-editor, managing editor of the Nation and eventually group managing editor in 1991. His promotion to GME came as a shock. His boss, George Mbugguss, the GME, came into his office at four o’clock and told Wangethi that he and his assistant, Joe Kadhi, had been called to head office at Rehema House, next door to The Stanley hotel, by the executive chairman, Albert Aggrey Alexander Ekirapa, fondly referred to as “triple A”. “Around an hour later Mbugguss came back and called me to his office. We joked for a bit and then he said, “Wangethi, run the show. I’m out.” “What are you talking about?” “I’ve been asked to leave.” “But you can’t just go, we have a paper to produce for tomorrow, we have all these things to do.” “No, you run the show.” “And that was it. That’s how he

handed over to me,” says Wangethi. “I was stunned. I remember going back to my office and just sitting there wondering, what next? Where do I start? Do I continue working from my small office, which was right next door to his with a stinky toilet behind me, or do I go and sit in the big office? It felt very strange. Then I got a call from Rehema House. Ekirapa was on the line and he asked me to join him at his office. “I was ushered in by his cheerful personal assistant, Violet Anyango, and for the next one hour, he briefed me about the board’s decision to change the editorial leadership. I’d take over as the Group Managing Editor with Tom Mshindi, who served in the role of associate editor, as the Daily Nation’s managing editor. ‘I must admit I was petrified and without thinking blurted out, “I’m not ready for this. I can’t do it.’” “Don’t be a fool,” Ekirapa retorted. “You go and sit there and if you need any help we will be there for you.” The early edition had to go to the printer at 7pm and I didn’t even know what the top stories were. It was not that we were not used to this high-end of the journalism operation, no. It’s just that the hour was awkward plus the realisation that we were now the final arbiters in the editorial chain of command. If it had happened in the morning, that would have been better because we would have called our troops together and worked out a strategy.” However, with only an hour to the deadline, Wangethi didn’t have much time to dwell on it. Everyone was looking to him for leadership and he had to step up to the plate. “I put away all my fears, called a meeting together, looked at all the stories that we needed to do, and we produced the next day’s paper.”


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Wangethi Mwangi fact file Born: 1953 Academics: Morrison Primary School (1960-66) Ofafa Jericho High School: O-Levels (1967-70) Jamuhuri High School: A-Levels (1971-72) University of Nairobi: Bachelor of Arts – literature and political science (1973-76) University of Nairobi School of Journalism: Postgraduate Diploma (1979-80) Strathmore Business School: MBA in Strategic Management (2007-2008) First job: Untrained Teacher (UT) at St. Philip’s High School at Kayata, Machakos Loves: Coffee. First thing he asked for at the photo shoot. Favourite meal: chapati and beef stew. Is a gym freak. Trains at Parklands Sports Club several evenings after work and weekend mornings. Also likes long walks (6km). Typical outfit is grey or black sweater with tan slacks, large silver Seiko wristwatch. Publications involved in: 1. Media and the Africa Promise: based on speeches and presentations at the Pan Africa Media Conference held March 18-19, 2010 in Nairobi. 2. Staying Safe: 10-point Charter for media owners, managers and editors to ensure journalists’ safety. 3. A Protection Guide for Journalists in Kenya: A publication of the Kenya Media Working Group. 4. Leadership and Guiding Principles for African Media Owners and Managers: A project of the African Media Initiative and endorsed by the African Media Leaders Forum in Tunis on November 12, 2011. 5. The Dar es Salaam Declaration on the Editorial Freedom, Independence, and Responsibility (DEFIR). 6. Covering Outbreaks of Infectious Diseases: A Guide to Better Journalism: Lessons Learned from Global Coverage of the Ebola Virus Crisis.

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12 1. Wangethi and a collegue during an NMG training session. 2. Robert Mwangi, Managing Editor Taifa (left), Mutegi Njau (centre), Wangethi (right) at Nation offices. 3. Ali Hafidh, Editor-in-chief of the Standard (left), Wangethi (centre), Philip Ochieng, Editor-in-chief of the Kenya Times (right) at a cocktail party. 4. Wangethi and AMI CEO Eric Chinje at official residence of Mauritius President H.E. Ameenah Gurib. 5. 6th Edition of the African Media Leaders Forum held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2013. 6. Banging out copy at the Standard. 7. Farewell party for George Mbugguss (right) and Joe Kadhi (second right) at Nation offices. Tom Mshindi (extreme left) and Wangethi (second left). 8. All together now, Happy Birthday . . . for AMI June “babies” Wangethi, John Muema and Evelyn Shikuku.

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9. Wangethi and AMI CEO Eric Chinje weigh in on international issues in a radio interview at the l’Express studios in Mauritius in July 2016. 10. Wangethi presenting an award at the Media Council of Kenya’s Annual Journalism Excellence Awards. 11. Wangethi and his wife Lizzie bidding farewell to Sean Egan, Executive Editor of the Nation. 12. Wangethi at the AMI headquarters at Westlands, Nairobi. 13. Wangethi at the launch of This is Africa website at the Radisson Blu hotel in Nairobi.

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typical day in the newsroom in those days started with a post-mortem meeting of senior editors at 11am. The team looked at all the day’s papers, including the competition and assessed what they’d got right, what had gone wrong and any scoops they had missed. This meeting was chaired by the GME and attended by the managing editors of the Nation and Taifa, the news editor, chief subeditor, training editor and picture editor or chief photographer. The news editor took the team through the diary/docket to see which stories their reporters were chasing that day and what resources needed to be deployed in the field. The team reconvened at 3pm to discuss the progress. By then, the news editor would have received the bulk of stories from reporters, which he would first assess to ensure they were newsworthy. He spiked those that weren’t by putting the paper through a sharp metal rod on his desk. These days such stories are simply deleted. The news editor would also take a first stab at cleaning each story to correct errors before sending it to the chief sub-editor, who would assign it to a sub-editor. “The subs would panel-beat the story, decide where to place it in the paper with the guidance of the chief sub-editor, trim it to the desired length and choose any illustrations required,” says Wangethi. Throughout this process, the news editor and chief sub-editor

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would be looking at the stories in terms of value to see whether they needed to put any one of them aside for consideration for the front page later in the day. “We would look at these stories at the 3pm meeting and decide which was a good seller, hence meriting a front page splash,” says Wangethi. “Sometimes if a story wasn’t strong enough we added one or two other stories on the front page.” The ingredients for a good seller were controversy, drama, scandal

and tragedy. “During the early days of the Nation, accidents used to be very big stories. A road accident that killed 10 people was a front page story,” says Wangethi. Parliamentary debates were also hot sellers because they allowed editors to craft sensational headlines like ‘Njonjo heckled in Parliament’ and the paper would milk it for days. “I look back at it and wonder, how cheap could we have been then? But the stories sold like crazy,” he says with a laugh. Some stories were too hot or politically sensitive and had to be run by the editorial committee of the board – tasked with the application of the organisation’s editorial policy and guidelines – before being published.

A typical example was the Anglo Leasing scandal during former President Mwai Kibaki’s tenure. “Because of the potential impact we thought it would have at the national level, with some people even suggesting it could bring down the government, we had to bounce it off the editorial committee of the board even though we had all the facts,” says Wangethi. Stories about the 2008 post-election violence were also given the same treatment. Special Editions were another challenge. Sometimes a big story broke with no warning, requiring that a special issue of the paper be produced the same day. A good example was the August 1982 coup attempt by the Kenya Air force. “Getting the teams together to do the Special Editions was always a challenge because we had to do everything at high speed while still making sure we had all our facts right. The government declared a 6pm curfew after the coup attempt so we were all rushing like mad trying to get content, edit it and then make sure it got out to Nation House on Tom Mboya Street and then Industrial Area where the printing press was,” says Wangethi. At 3pm everyone was rushing to catch a ride in order to beat the curfew. Many people walked home because on some routes there was no public transport. “I was living in Buruburu then. It was crazy. Peter Mwaura (current Public Editor at NMG) was editor-in-chief and wrote the editorial aptly headlined The folly of a coup. Written against


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the deadline pressure of beating the curfew, it, quite understandably, ended up with lots of errors,” recalls Wangethi.

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t 10.30am on August 7, 1998, Wangethi was in the boardroom at Nation House on Tom Mboya Street, interviewing job applicants. A sudden loud blast startled everyone in the room. Wangethi, whose curious nature was still very evident despite rising to the highest ranks of a media house and doing what was essentially a desk job, immediately went to the window to try and pinpoint the source of the sound. “Must be a tyre burst,” said one of the panelists. Not quite convinced, Wangethi abandoned the interview and ran outside to get a better look at the street. He saw wisps of smoke coming from the direction of Moi Avenue and people running in all directions. He took off with Frank Whalley, the training editor, close on his heels. Bits and pieces of paper from nearby buildings floated to the ground as they got closer to the Moi Avenue/Haile Selassie roundabout. They froze in shock on seeing the destruction of the Cooperative Building fondly called bell bottom because of its shape. “I couldn’t tell what had caused the carnage but remember seeing mannequins strewn all over the street and thinking, ‘Are those bodies?’” Then as the grim reality of the situation sunk in, with people coming out of the wreckage bleeding and screaming, their clothes in tatters, Wangethi quickly found the nearest phone and called Mshindi. “It’s not a tyre burst. We’re going to need a Special Edition.” Having been the first on the scene, the pair went back to the office and wrote the lead story with Wangethi dictating and Whalley typing. “That

may have been our last Special Edition. Television and the so called new media killed the Special Edition.”

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as there a story that left him vulnerable or afraid while on the job? “Yes. I was managing editor, and Mutegi Njau was my news editor. We had just received a story about a minister against whom a warrant of arrest had been issued by the New York State authorities over some sexual misdemeanour, and decided to run it.” At 7pm, the phone in the newsroom rang. At that time there was only one direct line in the newsroom, and it was on the news editor’s desk. Mutegi took the phone and then gestured to Wangethi to take it. “State House. Lee Njiru,” he said. Njiru was President Moi’s press secretary. “I’ve been asked by mzee to tell you that the story that you’re planning to run on so and so, is not in the best interests of the nation,” Njiru said. “Why not?” Wangethi countered. “I am just telling you what mzee has said.” “Well, I can’t pull out the story.” “Is that what you want me to tell mzee?” “You tell him what you want, but I just can’t pull out the story.” Njiru hung up. A few minutes later the phone rang. This time it was President Moi on the line. “Mr Mwangi ni nini hii nasikia?” (What’s this I hear?) “Mr President, we have confirmed the story and the paper has already gone to the printer. And in any case, I’m not authorised to pull out stories once they’re in the paper.” “Mr Mwangi, you are a young man, if anything happens to this nation, do you think your family will be spared?” Wangethi didn’t reply. “I’ve always said the Nation

is Kenya’s public enemy number one, and now you have proved it.” The president went on and on complaining about the paper and then concluded by saying, “Anyway, I have said my piece, the rest is up to you.” Then he hung up. Wangethi knew they had a good story of great interest to the public. They had checked all the facts so there was no risk of being sued for libel. Still he decided to consult his bosses. Mbugguss could not be reached but he managed to get hold of Ekirapa and explained the altercation with the President. Ultimately, the story was pulled out at great cost to the company. The next day President Moi called. “Kijana, ulifanya kazi mzuri.” (You did well young man). “I told him, it wasn’t my decision but that of my bosses.” “Ulifanya kazi mzuri sana,” Moi repeated. The matter didn’t end there though. Wangethi and Mutegi were hauled before a special committee of the board and interrogated about their conduct during the incident. “At the end of it, I was told in no uncertain times, never to engage the president in an argument. If he ever called again, I should tell him, ‘Let me refer this to my seniors,’ and then call either Ekirapa or Stan Njagi, the group managing director.” He spoke to President Moi several times after that at State House functions, but they never clashed again. “Moi was very hands on and such calls to media managers were not unusual. Kibaki, on the other hand, was very aloof and rarely dealt with media directly. I only spoke to Kibaki once, and that was before he was elected president. He called me from the campaign trail and asked if I would publish an opinion piece he had written. I asked him to send it and we published it. We never met or spoke after he became president.

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If he had reason to complain about the Nation, he did it through other people, and if we had made a mistake, we corrected it,” says Wangethi. “In terms of openness, I think the media space expanded tremendously during Kibaki’s time even though it had started widening towards the end of Moi’s reign.”

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ne day soon after Mwai Kibaki was sworn in for a second term at twilight on 30 December 2007, Wangethi received a phone call from NTV journalist Rashid Juma, who had been deployed to Kisumu. “Mr. Mwangi, I need your help.” “What do you mean?” “I’m in Kisumu. I’m running actually, looking for a place to hide.” Juma sounded fearful. The country had been on edge and the announcement of Kibaki as the winner of the election by the late Samuel Kivuitu, head of the now defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya, had set off a chain of violent tribal clashes in parts of the country. “But Kisumu is your territory?” Wangethi asked Juma in confusion. “I know you’ve always thought I’m a Luo, but I’m not.” And then he started crying. “I need you to help me. I can see these gangs coming after me.” Wangethi quickly swung into action and mobilised a rescue team to extract the reporter but first ordered him to go to the nearest police station, DC’s headquarters or church compound and stay there until help arrived. In the days that followed more frantic telephone calls from their

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reporters in Kericho came in. “We hired helicopters and sent them to Kericho and Kisumu, which were the areas worst hit by the violence in the early days,” says Wangethi. “We had to report on the chaos but for us safety comes first and we ended up flying some of our best people back to Nairobi, leaving our teams on the ground severely shorthanded. But I’m glad we didn’t lose a single soul in the violence.” Back in the newsroom, things were unravelling fast. In previous elections, Nation staff always tried to maintain neutrality in their reporting, but this time around, cracks opened in the ranks as reporters and editors took sides, depending on which political party they supported – the Kibaki led Party of National Unity (PNU) or the Raila Odinga led Orange Democratic

Movement (ODM), which had been declared the loser in the just concluded General Election. “I remember Njeri Rugene, one of our editors coming to me and saying, ‘Hey, you better come down.’ She led me downstairs where our journalists were clustered in two groups before the two television sets in the newsroom, one tuned to KTN and the other to NTV, each showing a different region in the country. People were cheering and I wondered, what has happened to our newsroom?” Wangethi was shocked by this turn of events. “I think the scale of violence just took everybody by surprise and people began to allow their emotions to take over. They lost all sense of objectivity altogether, so that suddenly you realised you are a Kikuyu or Luo or Kalenjin, and


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it affected the way you viewed the violence,” he says. Wangethi at first tried to manage the situation by asking editors to remove all references to tribal or ethnic identity in stories and instead use ‘community,’ a euphuism that persists even today in reporting by mainstream media in Kenya. He also asked to view footage of all NTV reports on the violence and insisted on edits where the station might be accused of fanning the flames. Needless to say that didn’t go down well in the newsroom and resentment towards him began to creep in. “I got accused of managing TV content to suit my tribal agenda and that wasn’t my intention. Our people brought back pictures and video footage of people waving machetes and screaming blue murder and I thought we just couldn’t air that; it will make things worse,” he says. Suspicion and mistrust in the newsroom had grown to the point where even senior editors were accused of using their offices to further the agendas of their tribal chieftains. Photographers and sub-editors were not spared; the former accused of taking photos that showed only one side in good light and the latter of rewriting stories that completely distorted what the original authors meant to say. “I’ve never felt so helpless. Like you want your eyes to be everywhere in the newsroom because your forces are divided, but it was an impossible task,” says Wangethi.

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fter days of reporting on the violence and media appeals to try and calm the nation, Wangethi felt so frustrated that he personally called the Minister for Internal Security, the late John Michuki and Isaiah Kabira, Director of the Presidential Press Service, to ask what they were doing to quell the violence. “Oh we’re doing something.” The vagueness of the response did nothing to reassure him.

Meanwhile, the perception among ordinary citizens was that the Nation had taken sides and supported Mwai Kibaki’s government. Its sales tanked to almost nothing in opposition strongholds like Nyanza. “That was one of the most trying times we ever had at Nation,” says Wangethi. “We hadn’t taken sides, but the perception was there and it took Nation a really long time to recover its position in Nyanza.” Once the violence eased, his priority was twofold – get help in the form of counselling for staff traumatised by the whole experience and rally the troops to become a united front once more. “We needed to bring ourselves back to where we ought to be, where we had started, which is professionals that are bound by their duty or primary obligation to serve the public interest without any biases.” For the entire media fraternity, not just NMG, what followed was a period of soul searching to determine what role media reporting had played in stoking tribal animosity in the months leading up to the election. On 15 December 2010, Luis Moreno Ocampo the ICC prosecutor, called a press conference and named six Kenyans, three from each of the feuding sides, ODM and PNU, for sowing widespread violence following the disputed 2007 elections. The inclusion of Kass FM presenter Joshua Arap Sang among the “Ocampo Six” sent shockwaves across the media fraternity. The idea that a reporter could be held personally responsible for his utterances and be hauled to an international court and not his employer was incomprehensible. It stunned many reporters who had assumed until then that you could always rely on your employer to protect you if people didn’t like what you said or wrote. Wangethi has a different take on it, however. “I do not know whether Sang was guilty of what he was

accused of or not, but one thing I know for sure is that he was thrown to the wolves by his employer to the extent that he couldn’t even afford a ticket to go to The Hague and had to rely on the generosity of the court to appear for his trial,” says Wangethi. “He was acting as an agent of the employer who should have taken up the case. Not sitting in trial on his behalf, but they should have put in place a proper support system for him. If, for instance at Nation I was sued for material that had appeared on TV or in the newspapers, I didn’t appear in court as Wangethi Mwangi, I appeared there as an agent of Nation and the paper paid all the legal fees.”

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he impact of Sang’s arrest was visible in the way Kenyan media covered the 2013 General Election. “The media got a better sense of just how dangerous hate speech could be from the 2007/8 tragedy. And that’s what informed their coverage of the subsequent elections, consciously weighing the likely impact of the content of their stories and subjecting political utterances to rigorous vetting. There was a sense, an appreciation or acceptance that not everything that you see or hear ought to be reported and this led to more restraint by the media than before,” says Wangethi. “There was also a very deliberate effort by the media to rely more on the electoral body’s vote tallying than on their own unlike in the past. “Every media house wants to be the first to report who is winning, but when you concentrate too much on numbers from a particular region and give the impression that somebody is winning because the numbers are high, without asking yourself, maybe we need to wait a little, and see what the numbers from this side are saying as well, that presents a huge problem.” But aren’t media tallying mechanisms meant to provide

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Wangethi on his graduation from UoN (BA degree): L-R: Wangethi, Patrick Mungai, Irungu Ndirangu and a friend.

independent verification of election results? “Media lost something of value there, all right, because when done well, internal tallying mechanisms provide a second perspective of what is happening on the ground,” Wangethi admits. Giving the example of media in the west, such as CNN, which give accurate projections and even call elections in favour of candidates before the official results are in, he says that although Kenyan media played it safe in 2013, they should not abandon internal tallying mechanisms but instead focus on getting it right. “Media in the US have their people at every polling station and they do exit interviews unlike here. They’re able to call an election based on the exit interviews. They’re better networked and funded. Our own pollsters still have a lot of deficiencies in the way they do their polling and that has affected the credibility of their polls. One way to enhance their credibility is to monitor how it’s actually done in the field to ensure their systems are sound; but then you need to commit a lot more funds.”

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n Saturday 15 February 2015, Kenyans woke up to blank screens on four of

the leading media channels – KTN, NTV, QTV (which has since been shut down) and Citizen TV. The four channels switched off their digital signals on DSTV, ZUKU and other pay platforms in protest at the way the regulator – Communications Authority of Kenya, was implementing digital migration. It was the culmination of a long running battle as established media houses tried to protect their turf from the avalanche of new television stations expected after the migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting at midnight on 17, June 2015. The action by the four stations evoked mixed reactions. Wangethi believes that was a huge power play that backfired badly as it undermined the media houses in the eyes of the public. “It was very sad seeing men who were so experienced in the industry cutting their feet from under themselves the way they did, even agreeing to switch off their stations, and then very quickly realised, ‘What have we done?’ after the country just moved on,” he says. “I think the media believe too much in their power to influence and change things or resist things, and they don’t think there is a force that can bring them down to their knees, although that time they were proved wrong.”

He believes the three media houses didn’t handle digital migration very well. “Their language was very intemperate, ill-timed and arrogant. By the time they threatened to switch themselves off, I knew they had lost the battle to win over the public.” Traditional media is still very relevant in the digital age despite the abundance of social media and citizen journalism. But it needs to stop competing with social media to break news and instead focus on what Wangethi calls Day 2 journalism. “They should add value to stories by providing deep analysis and context, which social media doesn’t do well. A good example is Nation’s coverage of Jackline Mwende, whose hands were chopped off by her husband of seven years. They generated some very good packages on domestic violence, complete with statistics on its prevalence. There is a market for that because at the end of the day, readers want to understand why things happen,” says Wangethi. He singles out mainstream media’s coverage of the Westgate shopping mall attack in 2013 for criticism, saying in their efforts to compete with bloggers who were providing first-hand accounts on the ground, traditional media houses forgot their role of fact-checking before publishing and resorted to peddling rumour as truth such as the hilariously ridiculous claim about a tunnel under the mall which the terrorists supposedly used as an escape route. “They were sensationalising the event instead of giving context that would help people understand the story beyond just the headlines,” says Wangethi. “There is a hunger for that kind of content and people are willing to pay for it. Take a bit of time to ensure that what you put out for the public to consume is so tight and so well done that it enhances your credibility as a trustworthy platform for information.”


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angethi retired from NMG in 2009 but stayed on for six months as a consultant to help organise a Pan Africa Media Conference, a joint initiative of NMG and the African Media Initiative (AMI), his current base. He is also still a board member of Mwananchi Communications in Tanzania and Monitor publications in Uganda, which are part of NMG’s stable. After leaving NMG, he got together with peers to look at issues that affect journalists such as their safety and protection. Together with 2 representatives from Twaweza Communications, Media Council of Kenya, Committee to Protect Journalists, Kenya Media Programme, Protection International, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders and AMI, and with funding from HIVOS East Africa, they researched and produced a booklet Usalama Kazini, a safety guide for journalists. The response was so good that they decided to include media owners in the initiative, producing a 10-point Charter to guide them on how to ensure the safety of journalists in their employ especially those deployed to war torn areas like Somalia. Specifically, Wangethi was hired to breathe life into one of the pillars of AMI – ethical leadership and good governance within media houses. He researched the subject, supported by a team comprising media leaders from South and West Africa, drafted a set of principles and bounced them off media owners in Kenya. The resultant booklet, Leadership Guiding Principles for African Media Owners and Managers, was subsequently launched in Tanzania, west and southern Africa. Wangethi also helps organise AMI’s flagship event, the African Media Leaders Forum held annually

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1. Wangethi giving away his niece, Mary Wanjiru, daughter of his late brother Anthony Kamina in marriage. 2. Wangethi & Lizzie on their wedding day. L-R: Geoffrey Mwangi (Wangethi’s late father), Salome Wanjiru (his later mother), Sarah Njeri (Lizzie’s mother), Lizzie’s aunt Eunice, George Muraya (Wangethi’s paternal uncle). 3. Wangethi graduation (1980).Seated (R)- Lizzie, Standing (L)- his younger brother Martin Muraya, (R) his older brother Anthony Kamina (deceased).

in different cities on the continent. The first event attracted only 10 participants but today is attended by over 600 media leaders, senior editors and reporters from across Africa. “AMI believes very strongly that media’s role is not just to play the watchdog role; but to play an effective role in the development of the continent by setting the agenda,” says Wangethi. “We have a programme called African News Innovation Challenge where we invite entries from journalists on serious issues like health, agriculture and climate

change, which are not always sexy or exciting and so rarely make front page news. We then visit various capitals and engage with journalists to teach them how to write winning stories that they can sell to their editors.” This programme has taken him to South Africa, Morocco, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.

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Painting the stories

of our lives

By Magunga Williams In Kenya, it is better for a student to fail the national exams than to pass because academic failure gives way to more freedom to choose what one wants to pursue in life.

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f you turn out to be an A student in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, what follows is all kinds of pressure from all spheres of life for you to become one of five things; a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, a businessman or an architect. Top courses. Otherwise you are a disgrace to the family. Meaning, when you are young and your parents tell you that you can become anything, they mean you could become anything, just not a

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poet, footballer, writer, musician or painter. Perhaps that is why when Tom Mboya finished high school with fairly good grades, his folks pushed him to become a hotelier. Never mind that Mboya has always had this impulsive obsession to colour his world. For as long as Mboya can remember, he has been painting. At first, it was just one of those things where he created art just for the sake of it. Just because he liked doing so, and he had no pressure whatsoever. Instead, he did a course in hotel management and ended up working for different major hotels in the country, including Mada Group of Hotels. He was disciplined and hardworking and rose quickly


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PHOTO : FREDERICK ONYANGO

through the ranks. But he did not enjoy his work. He knew that he wanted out but kept on postponing it. He had a wife and daughter and paying the bills took precedence. In as much as Mboya wanted to throw in the towel and get back to his brushes, to do what he loved for a living, there was always that fear of the unknown. Leave his well-paying job to become a freelance painter and then what? How would he feed his family? So he stayed, and eight years passed by

unnoticed. Until one day he decided he could not take it anymore. Other artists can relate to this bug. It nudges you to come back and create art. And so he left. Took the bold step and jumped into the unkind waters of being a freelance artist in Nairobi. He majors in drawing, painting and researching on art installation and graffiti. The themes in his work are inspired by human social life, wildlife and the environment they share. Having spent part of his life living

in urban centres, Mboya’s art work is dominated by scenes like streets, market scenes, human and animal faces. He says, “My sketches are the result of my critical thinking or perceived daily encounters, hence I get my sketches anywhere, any time.” When I met Mboya about a month ago, life had taken a surprising turn for him. It was during the launch of Tune Hotels in Nairobi; a franchise that started in Mauritius and has now found its way into the Kenyan

At the point of my exit I never anticipated how much return I would get from painting; all I knew from the age of six was that I had passion in art. Today, I would testify without regret, that art has really changed my life.” - Mboya

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PHOTO : FREDERICK ONYANGO

CAREER

market in the form of a conspicuous 12 storey building on Rhapta Road. During the launch, the moderator told us that all the artwork that hangs in the rooms were painted by a local artist. He meant Mboya. I stole him away for a few minutes to chat. I needed to know what it was like, landing a huge deal like this one, because not all artists ever get such a big break. Looking at him, I placed him somewhere in his 40s. He strikes you as being an old hand; an artist who has been creating for years, whose name is whispered in boardrooms as the go to guy when in need of wall paintings that reflect what it truly means to live in contemporary Africa. In reality, Mboya is rather new in the business, although he has dabbled in the craft for the better part of his life. “I was lucky,” he says, “to have been able to start getting paid for my work less than a year after quitting my job. Other people are not that privileged.” He admits life was tough after he quit his job in Kilifi, but thanks God for a supporting wife and an understanding daughter. “How old is your daughter?” “She is 15,” he says. “And do you see her following in the footsteps of her father?” “Well, no,” says Mboya with a slight laugh. He appreciates just

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how difficult it was for him after he was forced to get into a career that he was not comfortable with. That is one burden that he would not want to place on his child’s back. “She will do whatever she wants.” It is always a tricky affair when it comes to making a living out of talent. The unforgiving pressure to keep on making the beauty you see in your mind, a reality. At some point an artist finds himself in a position where he has to create art for money, and that is usually not their best work. The best works by painters, writers, photographers, sketchers, illustrators, musicians and other artists were done without thinking. But when you live in a city as expensive as Nairobi where you can’t pay your rent with passion, one has to earn a living. For an artist who has sold his art for between Ksh5,000 to Ksh300,000 per piece, Mboya says that the best financial decision he ever made was to quit a well-paying full-time job to become a professional artist. “At the point of my exit I never anticipated how much return I would get from painting; all I knew from the age of six was that I had passion in art. Today, I would testify without regret, that art has really changed my life.” Mboya insists that he will continue painting whether money comes or not. He has been blessed

with beginner’s luck this far, so he remains cautiously optimistic. Every day at 8am Mboya leaves his home in the morning and goes to his studio inside the GoDown Arts Centre in Industrial Area, where he and other artists gather to paint their canvases with the stories of our lives, one stroke at a time.


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Job hunting while

pregnant By Wanjiru Waithaka

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laudia Atieno has always dreamed of working with a blue chip company in the fast moving consumer goods sector. The marketer has sent several applications over the years and received no response until last month when the long awaited call for an interview came. There is only one problem – she is three months pregnant. She has agonised for days about whether to tell the interview panel or hide her pregnancy until after she lands the job. Although pregnancy can be planned in accordance with career goals, the reality is that there is never an ideal time to conceive. Some women find themselves out of a job while expecting especially in hard economic times like the present where companies are ruthlessly cost cutting and retrenching employees. Unless she has a husband with a very good income to support the family until the baby comes, then an immediate job hunt is necessary. Many wonder if the pregnancy will make them unemployable. Although this discrimination is illegal, it is a reality, especially in developing countries. By law, all female employees are entitled to three months paid maternity leave, plus the annual leave, while men are entitled to 10 days paternity leave. This means a female employee could be out of work for four months in a year. “Are you planning to have children?” has become a standard question in many interviews and career women know that it is often a deal breaker. In most companies, new employees are required to work a full year before going on leave and many will not hire a pregnant woman citing the extra costs of hiring a replacement while she is on maternity leave with full pay within a few months. The dilemma for pregnant women, particularly when the baby bump

is not showing, is whether to disclose their condition. “No they should not. It’s not a requirement. She should only confirm if asked which is highly unlikely and unprofessional,” says Mwikali Muthiani of MillennialHR Consulting. “Good companies will hire for skills and competencies they are looking for and will not care if you are pregnant or not. They hire for long term not thinking of a possible maternity leave in the near future. Companies that are not progressive may be biased not to hire pregnant women to avoid costs relating to maternity cover replacement,” she adds. Some HR experts advise full disclosure warning that the employee’s integrity will be questioned down the road when the pregnancy becomes obvious. Telling the interview panel about the pregnancy allows the company to make an informed decision, lets the employer know that she is an honest trustworthy candidate, which bodes very well for her future in the company. It also lets the employer plan their budget with regard to temporary relief to fill the position whilst she is on maternity leave. Some employers won’t care about the pregnancy especially if the candidate for a vacancy possesses a rare skill in the market which they really want. This is more so when the pregnancy is not very advanced and she can prove her capability during the probation period. Some employers are very understanding and appreciate that pregnancy is not an illness and a woman can perform just as well when pregnant, if she is not suffering from any complications.

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STYLE

Decoding

the dress code

Dressing for functions used to be so easy. The invite either said formal or casual. By Wanjiru Waithaka

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Casual The host wants you to be comfortable but it’s not permission to wear your oldest sweatshirt. Only wear jeans if the invite was very informal such as by SMS or you know the host really well. Otherwise, wear a trouser and skirt with a nice top or t-shirt. Avoid those branded with company logos. Open shoes or sandals are fine but no flip flops unless it’s a barbeque in your best pal’s garden. Festive This generally means dress in bright, happy colours or florals. Something great for dancing.

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PHOTO : SXC.HU

oday, it’s like negotiating a minefield with numerous ways to commit the ultimate social faux pas. When a card arrives with the dress code indicated as festive, cocktail, casual-formal, informal, business casual, black tie, black tie optional – it’s enough to make you just stay home with a good book and cup of tea or glass of wine. Here is how to decode those terms. The other factors to consider before selecting an outfit are the location, who else is going to be there and how well you know the host.

Cocktail This is the perfect opportunity to show off your little black dress with a little bit of bling. You can also get away with fitted trousers and a dressy top. Men

must wear a jacket but you can go open collar, no tie. A suit is good too. Formal Think lawyers in a courtroom. Conservative suit for both men and


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since it has a collar. For ladies, this is the time to bring out the summer dress with lots of prints or florals or a maxi dress. Avoid exposing the shoulders however so no spaghetti straps or wear a light jacket if you’ve donned a sleeveless top.

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Black tie This requires a tux for men (often called a peacock suit). A tie or bowtie is a must. For ladies this means a full length ball gown and heels with good quality but tasteful bling, nothing too outlandish. Remember the golden rule – bare the shoulders, leg or back but not all three, that is just tacky. You want to go for an elegant, understated sexy look. Black tie optional This is aimed at men who don’t have a tux and implies you can wear a really good suit instead. Properly fitted. Baggy shoulders, cuffs reaching the fingers, ankle length trousers, tight mid-section, pant legs bunched in the groin area – these are all the signs of a bad suit. It’s all in the cut gentlemen. Wear a plain tie in dark colours with no pattern although a tie with very discreet stripes is acceptable. White tie These are super formal events where men wear coattails and women ball gowns for instance events involving royalty. women and no loud colours. Think charcoal grey, navy or black combined with a plain or striped shirt for men. This is not the time to wear your checked or flowery shirt. If it’s a dinner in a hotel for instance, women can wear a dress that is knee length or mid-calf. Do not show too much skin and keep the bling to a minimum – wristwatch, silver bracelet, thin necklace, nothing too flashy. You want

to go for a sleek sophisticated look. Business attire This is the same as formal but implies it’s a daytime event. Casual formal This allows for mix and match where men can wear different colour trouser and jacket such as a linen trouser with a checked shirt. A polo shirt is also good

Wedding The general rule of thumb is don’t wear white to avoid upstaging the bride. For a beach or garden wedding, avoid stilettos and wear a block heel or wedge instead to help you navigate the terrain. Avoid fabric covered shoes. Grass or salt stained fabric on shoes looks very unattractive. Plus, it’s a waste of good shoes.

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FITNESS

Dance your way

to fitness

Shaking to the beat is incredibly healthy. Not only do you get to tone those curves, but also have some jolly good fun. What else can dance do for you? Judith Mwobobia finds out.

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ancing has been used since time immemorial as a form of recreation and fitness. And not to mention its numerous health benefits. According to a UK study carried out in 2015 on circulation, it was found that people with cardiac conditions who spent at least 20 minutes on the dance floor three times a week, have improved health in comparison to people who stuck to running or walking. The reasons to brush up on your dancing skills are many and varied; among them an increased muscle tone, weight loss, reduced risk of osteoporosis, boosting your brain power and a general feeling of

choice for her. “I love dancing, never liked the idea of gym. I feel like whenever I go to the gym, there is pressure to lose weight or achieve some kind of result unlike with dancing where I just have some great fun and lose weight. I think I also particularly liked my trainer Silvester’s approach to dance fitness. I had met him earlier at a camp. The Dance Fitness is a mesh of dance, pure cardio work out and Pilates.” The results, she says, were almost immediate. “After a few days of the workout, I felt a great improvement. Dancing also makes me feel young. I get to have fun and be silly and dance to

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Dance Fitness is a form of workout that provides the potential for personal expression. There is no right or wrong way of moving.”

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wellbeing. Christine Maina, a mum of one knows all this too well. “After I had my baby, my weight shot up to 87kgs from 74kgs. Besides the weight gain, I had also developed a problem with my right leg since child birth. I spent quite a lot of money seeing a chiropractor and nothing was changing, so I needed another solution.” And dancing was the natural

all the songs that I have secretly wanted to dance to in a club but I am too shy or have no energy to do so. I can say, as a musician, at times I get lost in the music during the workout and stop thinking too much about how many cycles of a movement I am doing. I also like how Silvester creates a simple choreography from a mix of songs and 30 minutes into the workout,


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I feel like I am a professional dancer. Day by day, I get impressed by my flexibility to move from one move to the next. My energy is always up every day I leave the workout and now I can keep up with my child as she is at the age where she likes to run around and engage in physical activities. Dancing has also boosted my confidence and improved my posture. I attended classes religiously for about four months where I lost 10kgs and a lot more inches. I took a break for three months because of several commitments but I am back now and will continue with the same schedule. I am back to my old 74kgs too and I love it.” And the hardest part about dancing? “The hardest part is when we focus on certain body parts in some classes and I usually feel like there is only so much I can take before I drop dead, but I realised that it was all in my head because I would come out of there alive and full of energy for the day,” she says. Silvester Oduor, Christine’s dance trainer and a choreographer explains what Dance Fitness is all about. “Dance Fitness is a form of workout that provides the potential for personal expression. There is no right or wrong way of moving and I conduct the session quite differently from traditional fitness class. One of my goals of dance fitness is to communicate through movement and to enable students to draw on their own inner resources to create and express through their own unique movement. The aim of dance classes is to continually

expand and extend movement range by drawing inspiration from a range of external stimuli including music and emotions.” He has been dancing for over 13 years now and dance is a fitness mode he would recommend to anyone as a fun delightful mode to get one’s sexy back. “I highly recommend dance fitness to my clients and any other person who wants to embark on a healthy lifestyle, because everyone likes to dance, be it professionally or just to have some fun. That makes it a number one preferred choice of partying and dancing yourself into shape.” And as a trainer, he is a very busy man as dance is quickly becoming a phenomenon. “I have different classes weekly, and I charge my clients differently based on their demands, for instance other clients prefer one on one sessions in their respective residential homes for which I charge Ksh18,000 per month. For group sessions, I charge Ksh8,000 per month per person. On a normal day I teach at least 25 students. Need any more reasons to get out your dancing shoes and grooving to the beat? Didn’t think so. Reach Silvester at oduor.silver@gmail.com

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DECOR

Turning your house

into

a home You may not be living in your dream home but you can definitely make your abode your dream space. Judith Mwobobia shows you eight easy ways to do just that.

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t’s been a tough day at work, you are tired, hungry and just want an envelope of warmth and relaxation to wind up your day. But then you open the door to your little apartment and you are hit by cold air and grey stark walls. Not the kind of welcome you had in mind. Or you just moved into your little one bedroomed house and as much as you love having your own little space, it isn’t quite as cushy as you thought it would be. Fret not. Follow these eight tips to create your little haven. And the best thing is that you don’t have to break the bank while at it.

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1. Create a focal wall A focal wall is a wall of interest. A wall that livens up the entire house. A fresh coat of paint on one wall in an accented colour could be all the uplift you need. While painting the walls peach may be out of the question for you, especially if your house is rented, you can always use a wall paper on one of the walls, in your select uplifting colour or print. And you do not have to worry about damaging the walls as there is a vinyl wall paper in the market that you can easily peel off the wall if the hue gets a tab bit boring. 2. Add rugs and throws Rugs and throws serve to add texture, colour and sophistication to the room. A cute little rug next to your bed adds a glam element to a little room. Get a bright coloured one. Throws on the bed and the sofa also have some functionality especially in the cold weather where you can cuddle up with a book or watch your best series on the sofa.

3. Add some art There is something about art that elevates even the drabbest of places. And it doesn’t have to be pricey. You can pick up some beauties at the House of Leather in town or any home care stores along Biashara Street. Pick something that speaks to you the moment you see it. If nothing suits your liking or budget, create your own art. Print out your best quotes on a piece of paper in your preferred font style and size, then find a nice picture frame at your local store and print it. That’s art right there. Or if you have a beautiful piece of Ankara fabric, stretch it out and fix it on a canvas and voila! You have art. 4. Bring the outdoors in Read up on indoor plants and select one that you like. Pay a visit to the nearby nursery and have them transplant it into a beautiful vase. Find out how often you need to water it and what special care is needed. Bring it home and see how much it brightens up your little space. 5. Light it up There is nothing quite like relaxing in the bath or sipping your chamomile tea just before bedtime with some sweet scents all around you. And that can be gotten by just lighting up some scented candles. Choose your favourite scent, from vanilla, to citrus, cinnamon or lavender among others. Light them up as soon as you

walk into the house. However, always remember to keep fire hazards away and blow the candles out before you fall asleep. 6. Add some rich drapery Curtains play a prominent place in your home décor. Rich textured fabric adds a touch of elegance to any room. The right colour and thickness can transform any room. If your building is flooded with natural light, you can get away with heavy drapes. If positioned on the sheltered side, get light coloured light fabric to let in some light. Always remember the rule of colours- bright colours reflect light, dark colours absorb light. 7. Grab a bouquet If you can, keep a fresh garland of your preferred bloom in a beautiful vase as a centre piece on your dining table. They liven up the place and the lovely fragrance they give off will rejuvenate your senses. If fresh flowers are a stretch for you, get a nice bundle of life like artificial ones and put them in a vase. They work just as well. 8. Add a personal touch It is your abode. Your home is an extension of who you are. If you love books, put up a nice display of your best reads. If you are a wine collector, display your favourite wine bottles, if you love cars, get those cute little miniature cars and display them prominently. If you have some photographs of some of your best memories, put them up. That’s an effective way of making your space feel like home.

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MOTORSPEAK

about cars

All you’ll ever need to know

By Cruise Control Motor vehicles have continued to excite us from time immemorial which is a great wonder because they have changed about as much as a jiko in the same time. Every new model, every new face lift has us ogling as it whizzes past wondering when our bank account will be fat enough to get our very own.

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he tech boffins and marketing gurus team up and conspire to keep us awaiting the next one while doing essentially nothing Henry Ford didn’t already do. As it is, we’re always anticipating the latest antique. For those who find cars complex, allow me to simplify the motor vehicle. A car is a set of individual systems that, when they each work well, your car will move and when one or more fails, you will have problems. Each problem can be solved by itself and rarely affects other systems unless ignored for a long time. Combustion system: This works simply like the aforementioned jiko. A fire is lit by a spark plug, gases (fuel and air) get hot and expand, the expansion pushes a piston. Once the gas has done its work it is removed via exhaust. You may be intimidated or impressed by many acronyms such as VVTI, DOHC, MPFI and so on. Don’t be. They are just ways of

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getting fuel in, lighting it and emitting the exhaust that follows. If you’ve watched your grandmother boil anything in a covered pot and seen it boil over, you’ve seen the fundamentals of an internal combustion engine. I deeply apologise that you will never view your costly automobile the same again. Transmission system: Also known as the power train or drive train when included with the engine. These are the bones and joints of the vehicle. Once the pistons are pushed around by the expanding gases contained in the piston chamber, a series of connections dance like a string puppet to move your vehicle. A crankshaft first converts the up down movement of the pistons into rotary motion. This is necessary, as hopping around like a kangaroo may work

in Australia because those guys are nuts, but in the rest of the world smooth fluid motion is preferred. From then on it is a bunch of witchcraft that makes the said motion faster, slower, smoother or forward and backward. Think the bones in your body. If you meet GSU, run. If you hear music, dance. No one really cares, at that moment, for femurs, carpals or anything synovial. Cooling system: This is a bottle of water after a half marathon. Don’t drink it and you die. Lubricating system: Try eating boiled sweet potatoes without tea and you will understand why lubrication is vital for your car. Electrical system: This is where they part you from your


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YOUR CAR AND YOU

PHOTO :

Y.COM PIXABA

money with some galactic sorcery. You are defenseless against their power so don’t fight it. What’s worse is nothing here is essential to the vehicle’s core purpose. This system operates all gizmos, gadgetry and fancy things that convert highly educated people running great companies into half wit, starry eyed saliva dribbling buffoons. I kid you not, humans with 30 million shilling homes that have manually opening windows, mounted mirrors, fixed furniture and a solid roof would spend extra hundreds of thousands on an ever depreciating vehicle to have electric mirrors, power windows, AC and a sunroof all in a space smaller than their bathroom. Sorcery I tell you. Braking system: Occasionally substituted by trenches, trees or the rear end of other vehicles. Its essential purpose is to stop motion instituted by the other systems.

Suspension and steering system: This is a testament to how soft we have become as it tries to mask defects in terrains smoother than what our great grandparents slept on. Springs and shock absorbers try to cushion us from all “life threatening” changes in ground texture. The steering system helps us direct the vehicle to where we want to go although no amount of engineering will help those idiots who drive straight through a roundabout. Interior system: Combines the seating, safety and convenience of the driver and passengers to move them from point A to point B in the most comfort. It is also from here that all user controlled functions can be manipulated. It is also here that cell phones and house keys go hiding just to spite you.

Body: This is the shell that covers everything and on which things are mounted. The body shape is the first step in pulling you into the rabbit hole. They come in infinite shapes, sizes and functions and there is a design to suit just about everyone including a monk. It is designed to prey on emotions, logic, vanity and just about everything else that can influence a human being’s decision. While this is not the complete breakdown of your vehicle, it is comprehensive enough to understand cars. There are systems within systems, optional systems and unicorns. That is mythical systems that no one knows how or why they work and everyone circumvents discussing them in detail. When they fail, one just pays for replacement and doesn’t ask questions. Warranty also doesn’t cover them; dictionaries don’t define them. Condenser anyone? You may ask questions on how things work and I will try to simplify it as much as possible. I will not, however, try to make you understand why your front left wheel bearing wears out faster since you started carrying your overweight neighbour to town when what they actually need is some exercise. That’s karma.

2cruisecontrol@gmail.com

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TRAVEL

Road trip to

Rwanda

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By Cilla Gitichie Rwanda was not in my travel plans for this year; my focus and savings were geared towards visiting my friend in Europe. So when the idea to visit Rwanda over the Easter break was proposed by colleagues one February morning I thought it would not materialise.

oon there was a Whatsapp Group of about nine people. I was in the team that shopped for airfares, adamant we book early to get cheap fares, but not everyone could afford to fly, thus it was decided it would be a road trip. The longest road trips I have ever taken was to Siaya and Turkana. This was going to be longer in comparison, close to 23 hours. As Easter fast approached, my apprehension changed to excitement as I opted to look at the trip as a new experience. This was not my first time in Rwanda. I first visited the East African country in 2013 for a business trip but I had a few hours to explore Kigali and visit the Genocide museum. This time around we had a well thought out itinerary. On Wednesday 23, 2016, at 4.30pm, four out of the original group of nine, boarded the Modern Coast headed for Rwanda. We had booked business class at the front of the bus, offering comfortable reclining seats and plenty of legroom and recline. Other than the traffic getting out of Nairobi, it was a smooth trip with stops in key towns, at well-lit petrol stations for bathroom breaks and to pick vetted passengers. Nairobi to the Namanga border point is the longest stretch of the

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Enjoying a cocktail at Hotel des Mille Collines, where the movie Hotel Rwanda was filmed, while reading the book ‘A People Betrayed’ that tells the story of the Rwanda Genocide.

trip. Once you cross to the Ugandan side the first thing that confronts one is people selling money – Uganda Shillings and Rwandese Francs – all at a negotiated price. Uganda still has entry and exit cards, which Kenya abolished about

two years ago. Kampala welcomed us with morning traffic jam only comparable to the legendary Mombasa Road traffic that passengers landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) face once they arrive in


Nairobi. We stopped in Kampala for about two hours for the driver to take a break and passengers to have breakfast. Kampala was alive as businesses opened. Of interest were the many gaming companies advertising across the city and into the countryside. Kenyan companies have firmly taken root in the region especially Equity Bank and KCB whose branding was visible all over Uganda and in Kigali. The Ugandan country side is beautiful with lush green hills. We arrived at the border, named Katuna in Uganda and Gatuna in Rwanda on Thursday afternoon. Gatuna is the busiest border crossing in Rwanda, handling most of the imports and exports. Rwanda has a strict plastic bag policy and all passengers are inspected at border points with foodstuff being transferred into brown bags. We arrived in Kigali about 8pm. The cab got us to YAMBI Guest house, which we had booked through

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Rwanda has a strict plastic bag policy and all passengers are inspected at border points with foodstuff being transferred into brown bags.“ AirBnB, an online accommodationbooking app and website. YAMBI was the ideal guesthouse for us with the owner Patrick and his staff helpful with tips on what to see and where to go in Rwanda. Despite having been on the road for close to 24 hours, after freshening up we were out to experience the Kigali nightlife. Friday was spent exploring Kigali. It all started at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, which is an

emotional journey commemorating Rwandan genocide in 1994. Next was to explore the contemporary Inema Art Gallery, to sample the works of some of Rwanda’s leading artists in this creative space with a lovely view of the city. The former State House, Presidential Palace Museum, is a step into Rwanda’s history. This was the home of Rwanda’s third and longest serving President Juvenal Hayarimana whose aeroplane was shot down on April 6, 2004, an

The shores of Lake Kivu at Serena Hotel.

action that is seen as the Genocide catalyst in Rwanda and neighbouring Burundi. Debris of the aeroplane, a Dassault Falcon 50, is still in the compound. It is a lavish palace with prayer rooms and a glass table in the master bedroom supported by real elephant legs. At the popular Car Wash and Grill, one can get a serving of nyama choma and withdraw Mpesa. We opted for a Rwandese meal as part of our experience. Every last Saturday of the month Rwanda has the national cleaning day called Umuganda. The name loosely translated means ‘coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome’ in traditional Rwandan Culture. Our trip to Lake Kivu, in Gisenyi, north west of Kigali, fell on the Umuganda day. Vehicles are not

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TRAVEL

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When we arrived in Lake Kivu most of the restaurants were closed as President Paul Kagame was in the area giving a speech and they could only start operations once he was done.� PHOTOS : COURTESY

allowed on the road in the morning hours with everyone expected to be participating in Umuganda day. We started our journey early to get a head start in the three-hour drive before we stopped, tied our Kangas and started interacting with the local community. A little before noon we were back on the road keeping to the speed limit, as Rwanda is strict and has police with speed guns stationed every few kilometres. When we arrived in Lake Kivu most of the restaurants were closed as President Paul Kagame was in the area giving a speech and they could only start operations once he was done. It reminded us of the days in Kenya when this was the case and district commissioners ensured people attended the official public holiday celebrations. We opted for Serena Lake Kivu where we spent the afternoon at the poolside and at the shore before driving back to Kigali, a three-hour drive. On Sunday, the last day was spent lazing around at the HĂ´tel des Mille Collines, which is operated by Kempinski and where Hotel Rwanda was filmed. We boarded our bus to Nairobi at 7pm. The trip back felt long and endless after a weekend well spent with friends exploring Rwanda in three days. The road trip and adventure was worth all the hours spent on the road. It was a new experience for me, an understanding of how traders criss-cross the East African borders with ease. But the many hours on the road is not something I will be doing in the near future. I will go back to Rwanda specifically to see the mountain gorillas, and despite it being quite a hike I am looking forward to doing it. I will however be taking a flight next time.

Above: View from guest house YAMBI. Left: Sampling the local brew at Trattoria the first night.


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DINING

Kula Craft: Crafting recipes into delicacies

Kula Craft can be found in some of the biggest events held in Nairobi and its environs such as Blankets and Wine, Koroga festival, Masaku Sevens and Nairobi Auto Show to mention a few.

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ula Craft was started in April 2016. It had been a lifelong dream for chefs Andrew Wainaina and Benjamin Nyaga, who are former chefs at Fairmont the Norfolk. Having been friends for years, and with a combined culinary experience of over 10 years, they left the hotel industry to start up their own company and have managed to create a product still a little unfamiliar to Kenyans with their very well kitted truck which has some of the latest equipment in the

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hospitality industry. They can be found in some of the biggest events held in Nairobi and its environs such as Blankets and Wine, Koroga festival, Masaku Sevens, Nairobi Auto Show and Muranga TT to mention a few. The food truck industry is one that seems to be growing in Kenya and in order to make it in this market, and with people nowadays wanting high quality food, better services, and served in a relatively quick fashion without compromising on standards,

it almost seems to be a juggling act. From getting the best possible ingredients, creating a unique menu, pricing the menu appropriately, identifying a target market while still maintaining consistency, this is something that Kula Craft has managed to do with ease and finesse. Some of the items which you can find in their menu include their signature BBQ chicken which seems to almost fly out of the kitchen to waiting customers, their beef or chicken wraps with butternut chapattis and fresh herb salad, and the grilled beef burger with minced nundu and onion marmalade. Next time Kula Craft is in a town near you, make sure to pay them a visit. .


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CHICKEN CHAPATTI WRAP Ingredients: 100 g chicken breast – cut in strips, 15 g onions – sliced, 10 g white and red cabbage - shredded, few fresh herbs – picked, 1 pc chapatti – cooked (can be left over), little fresh lettuce , 10 g carrots - grated, 20 ml oil, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tbsp mayonnaise, grease proof paper. Method b Heat the oil in a large enough pan under medium high heat. Season the chicken strips with salt and pepper and add them into the pan. b Allow to brown lightly before tossing them about to brown all round then add the onions. Sauté until the chicken is cooked and the onions have browned lightly. Take out of the heat and keep warm. b In a bowl, mix all the herbs and vegetables together. Season lightly and set aside. If chapatti is left over, warm it up in the

BBQ CHICKEN Ingredients: Whole chicken –cut into quarters, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp white sugar, 2 tbsp salt, 1 tsp Spanish paprika, 1 tbsp dry oregano, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 1 tbsp oil. Method b In a large enough bowl, mix everything together except the chicken and the oil. b Using a pastry brush, spread the oil onto the chicken making sure to coat it well. b Sprinkle the dry rub onto the chicken generously and then place into a zip lock bag. b Refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight to allow the rub to marinate the chicken. When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the zip lock bag and place it straight onto an open flame. BBQ until grill marks appear on the surface of the chicken and then flip over and BBQ the other side at

microwave or a pan. Once warm, place on top of grease proof paper, and spread the mayonnaise onto the chapatti evenly. Place the cooked chicken on the chapatti then the mixed vegetables. b Roll up the chapatti making sure the chicken and vegetables remain tucked in then roll the grease proof paper to help hold everything together. Tighten the ends and cut the wrap in half.

b Once grill marks have been achieved, cover with foil and finish off on the grill, or in the oven. To check whether it’s done, prick the flesh with a skewer. If the juices pour out as clear, it is done. If they pour out as pinkish or red, cover with the foil again and cook until done. Once done, allow to rest for five minutes or so before serving with your favorite starch.

CRISPY FRIED CHICKEN Ingredients: Chicken – quartered, natural yogurt, garlic, whole cloves, rosemary, black pepper, ginger, baking flour, cayenne pepper, salt, frying oil. Method b Mix the yogurt with the garlic, cloves, rosemary and ginger. Dip the chicken pieces into the mixture until fully covered in a large bowl and cover. Refrigerate for 12 hours. b When ready to cook, heat some oil in a deep frying pan. Take out the chicken pieces from the bowl and season well with salt and pepper. b Mix the baking flour, cayenne pepper and breadcrumbs together. Coat the chicken pieces thoroughly before dipping them into the hot oil. Fry until crispy and golden brown. b Take out of the oil and drain excess oil. Finish cooking in the oven until done. When it’s done, the juices will run clear. b Once done, allow to rest before serving with your favorite salad or starch.

intervals of 3 to 4 minutes on both sides.

kulacraft@gmail.com Tel: 0722667855/ 0722806576

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PARTING SHOT

Great ideas are born ordinary Creatives have a tendency to get stuck in the romantic allure of success, forgetting the business side of things. Producers call that, “demanding champagne on a beer budget”, writes Oyunga Pala.

M

y work as a content editor for a local production company involves listening to creative ideas that land on my desk. The artistically inclined come up with ideas that have the potential to be produced into TV shows. My job is to listen to each one and weigh the merits of the story ideas against the reality of the company’s production capacity A good portion of the ideas pitched are hardly thought through. They sound like ideas that erupted during a drink up with buddies who had no time to sweat the details. Though they carry the sizzling spark of a great idea, it is mostly all hat and no cattle because the creators spared no thought on the execution. Many of the people who knocked on my door to pitch ideas were young artistes all brimming with enthusiasm, stuck in the narrative of the big break. Motivated by the story of Sylvester Stallone and Rocky who came from a nobody to a box office No.1 success. Or Bruce Lee who landed his first major TV series role in the Green Hornet after a single screen test. Aspiring artistes show up with a pay date in mind and the perks that follow the

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overnight success act. When the rejection comes about, it can be difficult to pick up oneself and gather the strength to reexamine the flaws of what seemed like such a great idea. In most cases, the idea is not the problem. The creator simply did not understand the business side of creativity and how products have to meet the market’s needs. Understanding the business side of creativity goes beyond getting a golden embossed business card and a dazzling portfolio. A creative needs to understand the market needs of the entities that they pitch to. Do not sell a Horror series idea to a Christian channel. Do not pitch a tech hack idea to a Cook show. The first thing every creative has to learn is finding a product that can be tweaked to fit the market they are targeting. Creatives have a tendency to get stuck in the romantic allure of success, forgetting the business side of things. Producers call that, “demanding champagne on a beer budget”. There is a perception in the creative business that great ideas and talent is all it takes to succeed. In reality, there is an entire support ecosystem that has to be incorporated on the road to success. It takes a village and creative works involve many players working in collaboration. Ideas have to be developed and I have found that incremental progress is what turns an ordinary idea into an extra ordinary production. In the creative business, the progress principle is made of small wins that become the central driver that leads to a big success. In 2013, a colleague came up with an idea about starting an off shoot show around a house-help character, Rispa, who had emerged as a popular fringe player in the TV series Lies That Bind produced by Spielworks Media. The original idea

was to have Rispa lead on her own show as the CEO of a House Help recruitment company. Rispa would run a bureau that contracted house helps to new clients and the comedy would be generated from the exchange between her and her clients’ varied expectations. The idea received some good feedback but despite the success of Rispa as a character, no client showed interest in the TV comedy series idea. Rispa had to be packed and shelved. One year later, a client who worked in the breakfast cereal space came knocking in search of creative solutions to push their breakfast brands. They were not interested in mainstream TV and wanted solutions for the digital space. I gathered a team and we retreated to the development room. The discussion yielded a new way to repurpose our original Rispa idea. The show was stripped down to a 5-minute drama from a 26-minute comedy. The comedy would happen around the breakfast table and Rispa became the glue that held a family together during breakfast. The client loved the concept and the branded digital TV miniseries, Rispa was born. Today’s creators have to be entrepreneurs as well. Thousands of great ideas gather dust on shelves because the originators were unable to adapt to the needs of the target audience. Originators tend to be precious with their ideas which limits the possibility of leveraging a good idea beyond its original focus. For a great idea to gain traction or legs, creators have to answer a need and refrain from getting fixated on the brilliance of their ideas. The business of creativity is about connecting the dots, constantly tweaking your idea and that is what determines whether a good idea will turn to dust or gold. Oyunga Pala is a social commentator and a renowned Kenyan newspaper columnist. Oyungapala.com. @realoyungapala


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Ngøgð wa Thiong’o is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and English at the University of California, Irvine, and an award winning Kenyan author currently writing primarily in the Gðkøyø language. The author of many novels, plays, short stories, and essays, Ngøgð wa Thiong’o is founder and editor of the online Gðkøyø language journal, Møtiiri and an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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prolific Kenya’s most is undoubtedly University in Uganda, THIONG’O rere NGUGI WA work, Weep i went to Make UK. His first in 1938, Ngug . Since Leeds in the writer. Born University of er African writer – and later to the launched him as a pione array of works an , with (1964) i are: Not, Child the literary scene novels by Ngug has traversed then, Ngugi and essays. Other (1967); Petals of Blood stories, plays Wheat novels, short ; A Grain of Grain of Wheat A . (1965) en (1987) ari The River Betwe Cross (1982) and Matig A’S 100 BEST on the among AFRIC in g voted (1977); Devil writin the Cross were t advocate of As an arden and Devil on his earlier 20th Century. ally written i has origin BOOKS of the ated into languages, Ngug subsequently been transl sor of indigenous u, which have guished Profes of the works in Gikuy Ngugi is currently Distin or Direct of Literature and other languages. at the University Comparative g and Translation English and Centre for Writin International , USA. California, Irvine es movingly narrat i delicately and e, and of War, Ngug cape, the peopl life Time a lands in s the ring In Dream ms of childhood, captu es and proble en the story of his social and political chang nship betwe the troubled relatio also their culture; war; and the rural poor. He and the ialism and ce under colon middle class ’s independen Christianised struggle for Kenya also the lives of an emerging Mau Mau armed own life but shows how the ed not only his inform British against the to him. those closest of work that ational piece War is an inspir the worst of times. of Time a even in Dreams in reader to dream encourages the

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