Before you buy that car Part 1

Owning a car is the ultimate goal to many of us in the sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere around the world. A car speaks prestige (though not all 🙂 ) but these days it’s more of a necessity that a luxury. It saves you the hustle of long walks, the scram and scramble for public transport, gives you convenience, comfort and so on.

Being a car owner is one thing, maintaining it on the road in top notch condition is another. Cars start wearing out and depreciate in value as soon as you leave the dealership. Therefore, maintaining it on the road means you have to learn the basics of how a car works so as to be able to diagnose and predict certain problems.

I am not a mechanic by the way, but ever since I bought my first car, I have gained relevant experience in car maintenance that I can share with you so that you can get more miles on your car as well as hustle free driving and maintenance that will cost you no dime.

So let’s start from the beginning, you have saved enough money to buy yourself a second-hand car or your local bank has informed that you qualify for a car loan. Where do you start searching for a good car? How will you avoid being hoodwinked by car dealers, which is the perfect car for you?

To answer this I look at my own case, four years ago when I bought my Mitsubishi Gallant. I had already got my money in the bank that I had saved up. I did not want to take a loan since I was not consistently employed and it would be a hustle to get cash at the end of each month to service my loan. I had my budget in place and I went to a certain dealership near home to check on cars that range at that price.

You could have your own preference of the cars you fancy and go check on their prices if they fit your budget. From your budget check the reasons why you want to purchase a car, if it’s for a business, maybe a pickup would be a good bet. If you are looking for a family car, a station wagon would be a good pick. If you are a bachelor; there are sports cars that can fit your budget, if you need a car to go upcountry you might consider SUVs or 4wheel drive cars. For me, I just wanted a fancy looking manual car with a big engine that consumes less.

After you have narrowed down, you need to narrow down more. Check for cars specifications such as engine capacity, gear transmission, fuel consumption as well as customer’s reviews of the model online. This will help you have background information on the cars in your range.

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The next step is going to different dealerships as well as online ones to see if they have the cars that suit your preferences from the list you have. However in online transactions, you need to exercise some caution, there are many crooks prying those streets. That doesn’t, however, mean that there are no genuine businessmen there.

Tune in for part 2

To Farm or not to Farm: Opportunities for Youth in Agro-business

The topic of youth and agriculture is quite tricky. On one hand, lies an economic activity whose image has been tainted as outdated, hard work and a poor people’s undertaking. On the other are the youth who are greatly misunderstood but compose the bulk of the population. There are over 200 million youths between 15 and 24 in Africa. The youth are fun seeking people and most will not explore anything that they deem ‘uncool’, such as farming.

So then, how do you derive these to extremes and turn them into the perfect mix for development? The youth need to go through a paradigm shift to be able to envision opportunities in agriculture and agro-business. Simply put, if we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.

High risks in investment, low productivity, lack of defined markets are some of the problems facing the agricultural sector. However, by learning how to tackle these challenges, the sector presents great opportunities for millions of youth. Below are solutions for making it more attractive to younger generations.

Exploiting technological opportunities

The youth are the pioneers of the digital revolution with many young billionaires coming up each and every year. Technology has disrupted many industries and agriculture is not left behind, bringing about cheaper, less risky and more productive methods of doing agriculture.

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There are very high returns in agriculture as the world population increases. Currently, the world has more than 7 billion people and the available of food cannot sustain this population growth. That is why the world Development report of 2008 called for more investments in agriculture.

Easier access o funding

Youth looking to venture into agriculture are able to access grants and loans from the government, financial institutions as well as NGOs. In Murangá County in central Kenya, for example, the county government has been providing a cow to poor homesteads to help them start off on the path of agricultural success. Therefore, the excuse of lack of capital does not hold any water, opportunities are all around us.

Easier market access

Access to markets has long been a problem as middlemen fleece the farmers dry. The youth are therefore presented with a chance to bridge the gap through technology to help many farmers access market for example to supermarkets, restaurants, and markets and even for export.

Employment opportunities

The dwindling employment opportunities can give the youth gainful employment or entrepreneurial opportunities. Youth can start small-time agro-vets through Sacco loans and build up. They can also supply farm inputs through the ‘juakali’/ informal sector like wheelbarrows and hoes.

Finally, some of the youth in urban centres with fertile land in the rural area can lease them to large-scale farmers and hence earn from agriculture indirectly.

In summary, there exist numerous opportunities in the agricultural sector for the youth to explore and prosper.

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From Silly Funny to Serious: The Evolution of Modern Day Comedy

In history, trendsetters have ranged from motivational speakers, businessmen, pastors to politicians. However, the advent of comedians influence in today’s world to address different and complicated topics in satirical humour is on the rise.

In an opinion piece for CNN, Dean Obeidallah describes the role of the opposition in the United States as having shifted to comedians instead of the Democrats.  This maybe to the fact that President Trump is an easy pick to make spoof remarks of. He just needs to make some gestures or statements and there you go, the comedians have their content.

We have therefore seen the rise in influence of comedians such as Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Trevor Noah among others, making them the more likely information feeders to the public on matters politics.

You see, humour is the ultimate inspiration that lets us see the lighter side of life, it simply breathes energy to life. Comedy is the form of entertainment which reflects life in a humorous way.Related image

Not only abroad but even here in Kenya, many comedians are coming up each day, and the crowds they are pulling are clear indications that this is the next frontier to watch. Essentially, it is said that Comedy can inspire and motivate people to high spirits that they can take the emotional crisis in life in a slight manner and go on with the life with a very positive outlook.

Comedy has evolved. It is no longer about the Jim Carrey silly-funny content. These days, it is a way of bringing out real life issues that affect the people and breaking them down in a satirical way. It has also been used to address uncomfortable truths that would not blatantly be heard in normal conversations.

Political satire like what Trevor Noah and Colbert do is quite similar to what we see in Jameni, a local show that has gained a lot of following.  We all remember that political satire was started in Kenya by the Redykyulas crew in the early 2000s and used to attract a multitude of following. The increase in the number of comedians can, therefore, be linked to the hunger for a more humorous approach to life for the masses.

Trump has also termed news stations such as NBC, CNN as fake news and that’s exactly what he is been served by the likes of the Daily Show. These fake news channels are taking viewership by storm, with people opting to watch them over the real ones for that extra dose of humour.

It is said that if you do not laugh, you will cry. That has clearly gone well with Kenyans who thanks to social media have become their own comedians. With the high cost of living, instead of wallowing with complaints, Kenyans are busy creating memes of various scenarios that will leave you in stitches. With humour, we are able to laugh at our own problems. One person even blamed the president for his team’s loss in a football match, citing that the players did not have energy due to the high cost of maize meal.

Watch this space! Comedy is taking over!

Where did all the Betting Critics go?

Apart from the aspirants who were beaten in party nominations by fair means or otherwise, there is another bunch of guys who have also disappeared from the radar. These are none other than the naysayers, the critics of betting. This is after one Samuel Abisai won a whopping 221 million Kshs in the Sportspesa mega jackpot.

Recently you would hear, betting is bad, addictive and renders you poorer each time you bet. However, the much-publicised win of the young man has placed them on a doubting state on how that was possible. I can actually confirm from very reliable sources in Sportspesa that they have seen a massive increase in betting since the mega jackpot win hit the airwaves.

Given that I am a well-connected man, I can also confirm from Google that the most searched item this week has been, ‘how to win bets’, the second one which has been from the Kenyan ladies is ‘what turns on Samuel Abisai’.

Image result for samuel abisai The man of the moment; Samuel Abisai

The guy is famous now and I blame him for the few nights I have endured without sleep. The poverty and high cost of living I have come across has kept me awake, reminding me of how lucky you are.  Anyway, you are God sent and have made me to with immediate effect change my lifestyle, starting with my monthly budget.In these new developments, resource allocation to gambling activities has been increased to a close second after rent, which in any instance will always be number one.

In all honesty, however, I would really like to half-heartedly congratulate you Samuel Abisai for the win. I keep wondering why God did not bless me with such lucky friends. Instead, I have those that text ‘nirushie thao mkubwa, nitakuona end month’. Your win has also come in handy since I have a friend called Edwin who is among those who have disappeared from the radar. You see, we can never have a good night sleep because he shouts from the highest point of social media mountain when he wins two thousand.  He screenshots his winnings in pride and lays them across all platforms for all to see and admire. I don’t know which spell you have cast but Edwin is humbled and nowhere to be seen, his social media activity is nonexistent.

According to an imaginary poll by IPOSOS, Abisai’s win has also dealt a morale blow to workers across the nation.This is when they realised that the work they wake up so early to do will not get them any closer to a figure like 221 million.

Many including myself are henceforth declaring to shift to this new ‘career’’ that does not require huge capital, nor a bunch of degrees. It requires just a few hundreds, a Smartphone and data. From there it can land you straight to the millionaire’s table. We will keep trying or just die trying. #PositiveThinking

Clean Sweep by Voters in Primaries is Encouraging

Things are changing and there is hope for us. This has been the revelation in the ongoing political party nominations which has seen political bigwigs and schemers beaten at their own game by the voters.

It got to a point where it seemed Kenya was cursed with poor leadership by a certain witch who later died and hence the spell can’t be undone. However, it has been undone! Across the country irrespective of the political party, Kenyans have voted out most incumbents and replaced them with a new crop of action based politicians.

In Nyeri County, for example, only one MCA and MP in the current government got the ticket to vie in the Jubilee party which is the dominant party in that region. This is the same case in areas that are strongholds of the NASA.

There is a hashtag dubbed #FagiaWote which has been trending on social media across the whole nomination process and has been urging voters to send all politicians home and replace them with new ones. It clearly seems Kenya’s have been following the advice.

But what has brought back this change in Kenyan’s? I think the current hardships across business and inflation, rising cost of living has woken them up. They, therefore, need politicians with their interests at heart, and with effective mitigation measures/solutions to these challenges. The advancement in technology through social media has also provided a platform for Kenyans to engage and talk through their frustration and in that mix come up with Solutions themselves, one of them has been to send ineffective leaders packing.

The issue on action based politics is well represented in the people’s choice to overwhelmingly vote in Ferdinand Waititu in Kiambu, Mike Sonko in Nairobi and Anne Waiguru in Kirinyaga. These are characters that if passed through the moral sieve would not make it through the other side. However, their head-on tackling of issues, courage and total disregard of the ‘norm’ has clearly won the hearts of Kenyans. This has not just happened in Kenya because there is also the electing of Donald Trump as the US president who I would rate in the category above.

Even though nominations do not 100% reflect the outcome of the general election, it is a fair assumption based on voting trends of Kenyans in various regional blocks. As Kenyans are known to sweep clean various marathons around the world, they are doing a clean sweep of another kind back home. All I can say is cheers to Kenyans; we are a step ahead in the right direction.

In Death of Christ we Live

The events culminating to Easter of how a humble king rode on a donkey in jubilation all through to his eventual crucifixion, death, his resurrection and ascending to heaven are what sums up the Easter celebrations. It is a time as Christians when we reflect on one of the most significant events of our salvation in Christ. We remember his great love for us that he died for our sins.

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It is a reminder that no sin, no disappointment that we have all endured is too much that the blood of Jesus could not wash it away. It is a reminder of just how significant we are, a humbling moment of the reflection of the bigger story of Easter.

It is a time of repentance, that we may believe that Jesus Christ died for us and in him his death we get a new life. We are all sinful beings but it doesn’t end there, to us a son is given and a hope of a generation is restored.

Rise and walk! That is what Jesus said when he healed a lame man, and for us, it should be a time of picking up, rising up and going forth to be the best we can be because Jesus, the way, truth and life has renewed us through his death and resurrection. In all dead situations in life, Jesus brings us back to life, to look into life with renewed optimism and courage.

Happy Easter!

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Reflections on Life and Death

At the end of it all, you will die, no one escapes this world alive. This was my realisation this weekend as I pondered upon the demise of Janet kanini Ikua, a household name in Kenyan journalism. She was a cancer warrior who fought to her last breath.  As we commend her for her courage in the face of this giant, her will to live and fight, stand up to be counted as a soldier is just breathtaking.

As I reflect on her death, I think of my own since clearly death is the destination we all share. I am looking at death from a different angle, however. I believe that at the end of it all it will not matter how long you lived, but the quality of life that you lived. Steve Jobs himself said that “knowing that I will be dead soon is the best tool I have used to make the hard decisions in my life.”

In life we have to make hard decisions, some that push us to the extreme, to parts we did not even know existed. Change is hard, humans are settling beings and that’s why we love the security that comes with comfort zones even if we know that’s not where we are meant to be.

Many pass through life without taking risks and at the end of it, they regret not the things they tried, but the vast that they did not try. Either way, life is hard, so we have to decide which pain we want to go through, the pain while going up or the pain of regret at the end of life.

What if Janet just gave in and did not fight cancer? She would have just gone to the next life in silence. But now she is an icon to many people suffering from cancer, she is a heroine to many who maybe had given up a long time ago. She is a heroine to her family and her children.

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We celebrate our birthdays each year because we know them, but we never think that we pass our death date each year too. Therefore, it makes no sense to be mediocre, not take the hard decisions because, at the end of it, you will still die. So it’s much better to take risks and live life fully. Don’t be trapped by dogma which is living according to other people’s opinions and expectations.

Don’t be afraid to cultivate your own path because you are the only person who really matters. Compete against yourself and celebrate even the little success and from the failure, take the hard lessons for the future.

The time to act is now! Chase your dreams, because you don’t want to get to the end of life just to realise that you never truly lived.

As for you Janet, we shall see you on the other side. May God console your family at this trying time.janet-ikua1-e1435904036964

Janet with her family