Posted in challenge, communication, economy, energy, finance, humour, Lifestyle

Ask Wanjiku

via Daily Prompt: Survive

Wanjiku is knocking….

Pardon me but Wanjiku is the suitable name they came up with when they wanted to refer to the common Mwananchi (i). The mastermind behind the coining is not known but who cares Wanjiku reigns! Inflation has been pinching and emptying my pockets at the same time in the name of living. Unfortunately, it decided to pick up during the cold weather when everyone complains of this or that.

My love for food as you already know though never showcases itself in the outer being usually gets higher in the cold season. Reproduction was my favorite biology segment so am not going to dwell on the metabolism part since am no teacher. Anyway, it is during this season that my worst meal that I loath to cook, Ugali (ii), becomes the wanted. It just satisfies the belly and makes you warmer in case there are no shoulders to rub you throughout. Problem is I hate buying the various maize flour brands that make one shift to a cock, hostess and kick off the market at the same time as they never cook to the desired taste no matter the amount of heat and time geared upon. Am the posho mill fanatic that awaits the maize harvesting season and grinds maize to flour making it a win-win game as i get “makore (iii).”This is actually the best Ugali more so when cooked using a jiko (iv) and not gas (how many times will i tell people this? My Western peeps enlighten this ones) and makes me go gugugaga. Drought has made this nearly impossible since no harvest was made and now the Ksh190 packet of flour is skyrocketing screaming “stick to your chapatis. (v)”

Funny enough the government subsidized the prices after a ship docked the country with tons of maize causing controversies as some said it was from Mexico and the rest from South Africa. Talk of another unresolved scandal! The prices came down to Ksh90 for a packet of maize flour and one could say the world was coming to an end as shoppers flocked their favorite outlets for purchases.

The GOK Ksh90 subsidy pack

But you couldn’t keep the entire stock to yourself as managers warned shoppers with the “do not pick more than 2 packets” notice. Then the flour went out of stock and we back to square one. Sigh.

Morning breakfasts got better with my usual traditional meals of sweet potatoes and arrow-roots not deleting my brown bread  till I upgraded to cornflakes and Weetabix’s that needed milk.

testing my middle middle class upgrade

This crossover was me testing the middle middle class if such a thing exists since it is not just the elite who take this stuff. At first I was disappointed by the number of flakes in a pack yet expensive for who? Milk was not an issue since the Ksh25 small pack or the Ksh30 ‘straight outta cow’ from my regular mama kiosk was always trickling in. I was getting accustomed to strong tea (water mixed with tea leaves) and my fake cocoa that was made of hot water and cocoa as I started my hustling journey till I also upgraded to milk drinks. Then the worst happened. Milk also hit the roof! Now I think I should just sit down and be humble as I trace my humble beginnings that never were a bother. Goodbye cereals, hello…..

I almost went berserk when my mum told me the monthly electricity bill was Ksh 3,000. I mean since I have lived in that house we have never paid such a hefty bill. This was a first. She lamented how the KPLC providers never come to do their readings and end up with estimates. So keen to confirm that indeed it was true, I went to my Facebook where I love hitting inboxes of companies that I got issues with. I read the current meter bill , gave them the account number and voilà we were chatting till they confirmed the dreaded. My mum started blaming us on how our gadgets were consuming electricity, how we would boil water using the jiko blah blah and all I could say was ” we rarely here.” Last month the KPLC guy just came in time when I was around but not to do his meter reading but cut us off! Yes we had neither received the bill nor the famous SMS.  Luckily, the entire neighborhood was going to get the cut since no one had received their bills. For the first time in history, I the never no bribe lady did it. There was no way my vacay would be ruined by electricity and who was going to pay the reconnection fee? Me? No. That settled I inquired why the high cost and not that we owned a factory in the house! Drought, no water he assured me. Then as if to test my patience he added that the next bill would also be high!Lucky are the tokens in the urban areas that all signal red as if danger awaits an entire building.

Yes I hate sugar. In fact I joined the Granny’s club way back as I enjoy sipping my tea sugar free. The hike in sugar is not affecting me at all that is the ONLY thing am at peace with and y’all freaking over it should join my club.

All this hullabaloo brought in the external factors debate. We blamed drought, the government that others decided to take the situation as their campaign mantra but did we really blame ourselves? No since no one wants to accept reality. Truth is our sugar is the most expensive in the world yet we got sugar companies that go under now and then. Can’t these people make sugar cheap for us? We continue to depend on rain fed agriculture no matter how many times the weather man warns us. Year in year out, drought happens at the same time, same months but do we really learn? No, we wait for drought to kick in, wait for relief food, wait for media expose then come up with a campaign to help drought affected populations. Then the cycle continues. We see big chinks of uncultivated lands as we tour the country that have turned into forests. This are not bushes but fertile lands belonging to some inhuman humans who would rather see a forest than food. We run to the city leaving our lands to be cultivated by God knows who. Then we rant hunger yet your land that could have helped gap this food insecurity is barely clothed. We see how desert countries like Dubai are food secure but we would rather exploit their aquarium malls and desert rides rather than imitate them.

The rains are here but how prepared are we? Shall the hashtag #WanjikuDecides be the trending topic come 2months time? Wanjiku has cried, cursed and lost it. Jumping into the Wanjiku bandwagon is not me. Am a survivor, I will survive this turmoil.


(ii)Dish made of maize flour

(iii)Chicken feed made out of maize cobs

(iv)Type of stove that uses charcoal

(v)Unleavened flatbread made of wheat flour. Roti/roshi

Posted in development, economy, entrepreneurship, family, finance, parenting, personalgrowth

Lessons from my papa:Shares

Yesterday afternoon after church we were munching lunch when I started the usual business talks with my dad. Curious on why lately I haven’t been told to free up my schedule for companies AGMs ( I always stared at those books when he attended them and my eagerness was not on the financial part but on why women were company secretaries and not men then the math followed suit.)
“Is there a company holding a meeting soon?” I asked as I enquired if there were more blackbeans left. “I only know of Sasini on 24th March,” he replied.
“I see,” I replied waiting for an invitation to accompany him.
“Come with ksh 2,000.” Damn that is how you get invited. “What for,” I asked agape.
“To buy shares,” he replied. That got me thinking I had bought KPLC shares and that is when I again for the 100th time asked how this share thing worked since I was now becoming confused at some point.
“You have to sell them or buy more,” was the response I got from my business minded brother Kamau. ” Muheria I keep saying we need to invest while we still young,” he turned to thump up my younger brother.
“I have a hen, (i) 🐔🐣 mwera so you know,” I had to brag to my dad for the progress am taking. “I bought it,” the reassurance answer I gave him when he gave me the ‘ where did you get it from look.’ Am retiring to farming in the days to come so I have to start behaving like a farmer, newsflash!
Back to shares…..
My dad had to figure an easy way to teach me or else his share jargons would not work well with a daughter good at financial accounting( math part) but failed to fathom mathematics the subject. Humor me😕! Nyambu he started off as my brothers came in for this lifetime lesson. Like a good teacher he had to use a narrative☺. Here we go….
“If you want to tell one about shares, compare it to a dairy cow. The benefits are milk, manure, calf or on a rainy day one can sell the cow. Shares are like the cow. When companies get profit they share out these profits as dividends to shareholders according to the number of shares one has. However, the profit can be ploughed back or retained and this is what we call retained earnings which can be used as capital. ( At that point I remembered where I used to input retained earnings in the profit and loss account.) The dividend is the milk. Shares can be used as security to get a loan from bank or even when one is arrested and in need of a bond the shares can come to the rescue. Manure from the cow is security. Appreciation also happens in shares when the amount you bought it goes higher with time meaning if you to sell them, then the more you gain. This is where bonuses come in and companies decide to give let’s say one for every 2…by splitting the shares. The calf from the cow is the bonus. On a bad day and you in need of money, one can sell their shares but you have to have many of them to get good money. The same happens to the cow or calf that may be sold by the farmer when he is need of money.”
“What does it mean when people say shares are going under?” Kamau asks.
“When the state of the economy is bad like right now when there is drought, election fever you find shares that were going for ksh 60 per share been bought for ksh30. Depreciation. Actually that is the best time to buy shares when the prices are low compared to when they are high. Reasons been when the economy booms, the prices go high and as a shareholder you get to sell them earning you profit. The vice-versa happens when you buy at a higher price.”
“The first thing you need is an account?” Asks again my intelligent one
“CDS account,” I reply to him.
“I don’t have one,” my not so concerned younger one gets off from his phone ( what is it with phones this days?😐)
“You all have them,” my silent mum chips in.
“I opened them for you all, can’ t you remember?” My dad tries to make the younger one come back to the business world.
Armed with useful knowledge I head to my bedroom and thankful for the information😊.

(Next we have decided to ask papa on share transfers 😀).
PS: Share trading is a good way to gamble than those sport pesa bets 😉.

(i)Mwera-female hen that lays eggs.

Posted in economy, entrepreneurship, Lifestyle, planning

Bizarre Shopping

Am a very disappointed shopper. Supermarkets boom all over but as they try and satisfy consumers are they really ensuring that all goods are available? I do not know if in your country supermarkets go with class and by class I mean it’s all determined with the prices of goods. You find in one supermarket the same item is ten shillings cheaper in another and it all ranges on and on.

However, am not here to tell you in what stores to shop from but my agony of carrying three heavy paper bags from three different superstores. Now that I’ve been free lately I decided to do our monthly shopping on behalf of my mum. I have always wanted to do this and quickly jotted the things that needed to be bought and my brother been the lifting man off we went.

In supermarket one they keep restructuring everything. Since time in memorial I have never come to terms why they are always shifting things overnight and never settled. Who is their adviser??? Like seriously every time I go to this one I always get the urge to drop the trolley and run! This is my mum’s favourite store and she knows I hate it! From one shelf to another, floors to the next I took what was needed and voila I ended up not getting everything. More so, the prices due to their shifting were messed up and I had to constantly ask the attendants what the prices were to where I could get what I needed. Damn!

As consumers we like different brands of the same item and this took me to supermarket two. It is the cheapest in town, everyone likes it but it is small. How I pray they can expand in the future and the crowding and long queues can be over. They know their consumers tastes and preferences and their prices attract all walks of life. Yes I got some of the things here but not everything. Then my brother and I shared the “why can’t we get everything under one roof” look.

Two papers in tow it was time for superstore three. I have to confess this is my favourite of all where I even have a card to it. This should have been the place to shop but there is this myth with my mum that it is expensive and that is why she has never trusted me with shopping; “I know you want to shop there so that your card earns the needed points.” I tried explaining it is not expensive to even comparing different receipts from stores but she has never believed me. Well, too bad but in my house I will shop in this one. The only problem with this is that it lacks enough attendants especially when goods do not have prices to them and you have no one to question. Secondly, they only deal with certain variety of goods and getting some items can be difficult.

Next stop was the grocery stores and the trend kept repeating itself. It got to some point that I was already tired and shopping couldn’t be over without visiting my regular movie shop for a couple of series to unwind with. Back home I asked my mum if this was the torture she went through from one superstore to another and a big yes was her reply.

Fellow entrepreneurs why is it becoming difficult to find everything under one roof? It’s not all about making money but understanding consumers tastes and preferences. From that experience I am not looking forward to another shopping soon. Moving up and down can be really crazy!

Posted in development, economy, education, sentiments

Different Strokes

This year’s K.C.P.E results had a different stroke and am glad it had to be that way. It seems to be a turning point for the worst hit North Eastern regions known to be poor in everything. The way we narrate about it to believing everything we hear and told should change come 2016. Ooh yes they have had their bitter share of the cake but sweetness is revealing itself.

To hell if there was leakage(as I bumped into some conversations), to hell with the pupil: teacher ratio, to hell with the poor infrastructure that makes them study under trees, to hell with the cultural practices that drive illiteracy levels a notch higher and good riddance to the best performance I have heard so far.

My ears were getting used to the same old song of the best private schools around the cities conquering it all and the child in that marginalized area was left in the arms of mother nature to nurture her education. So common was the song that even when the government decided not to rank schools anymore I was perplexed. Why? When all I wanted to see was which giant school out did the other. However, in the midst of it all I was happy because the shame would not have to demean some areas and prove that they were stupid!

Alas, what does Mandera, Wajir, Garissa’s performance mean? That indeed enough is enough! Enough of the mockery, insults, discrimination and we bringing it on. Change. Despite terror attacks looming in the area, no matter teachers leaving for fear of their lives; investments in education need to be on the rise. Building proper classrooms, disbursing funds equally, allocating teachers and improving state of infrastructure in the regions should be highly considered.

Barriers to achieving quality education like the nomadic lifestyle where pupils drop out of school to look after cattle while other have to move from one area to another for greener pastures have to be addressed too. I respect thy culture thou.

Public schools continue to showcase their lack of performance with an enormous number of drop outs yet the free education system still exist. It is not ironic whatsoever as the same topics, syllabus runs even in the private sector. Yes, there are a couple of grievances that create room for excuses day in-day out; who is to blame?

Shine on my dear North Eastern-ers.

PS: My MIA doesn’t been I’ve been wandering but been keenly concentrating on things I love. For instance MC10 W.T.O conference held in Kenya recently has had my country blamed for failing Africa. Ha, it was the first in Africa where the big 5 dominated ruling out even the host country in finalizing a deal. Even COP21 deal in Paris didn’t come easy as countries disagreed but finally an agreement was reached (hope you in the move to reduce global warming). So what was different with the trade deals? The norm has been developed countries take advantage of developing countries when they open up their economies. Duty free access to markets seemed to be the only thing that passed through. The mayhem to this failure was the ignorance given to the Doha Round where up-to date no agreement on agricultural subsidies, export competition and market access has ever been finalized. While others argued concentrating on an issue for too long delayed key agendas some still feel that the LDCs should have been the first priority. What transpired leaves more room for debates, questions and as we accept multilateral trade are we ready to incorporate the principles of WTO trading system? Come 2017 for the next conference, are we ready to take into effect the concerns of developing countries?

Are you ready to usher in the NEW YEAR? SUPER EXCITED…..COUNTDOWN….

Posted in community, development, economy

Ownership of Development

Development. Hmm, did you at one time initiate a development project on your own or as a group only for the trouble to be in terms of funds? Most of the times we come up with crazy, unique ideas but the independence vigor has not yet cropped into us. We so dependent that sacrificing our own sources of funds in a no and manna is all we wait for.

country ownership
country ownership

Debts have continued to been incurred by nations, individuals, organizations because the huge chunk of money incurred cannot be paid off. As a development mania am proud of Egypt. Yes, I have always craved touring the country to see the great pyramids, tombs, red sea and a mummy if there is any left.

The commitment, participation of the population in this country is one to admire, learn and borrow from. They did not wait for donors, other nations to chip in their agendas but steer-headed it to build the biggest canal familiar to the Suez Canal. They came together, contributed $8.5b, manpower of 43,000 workers and the construction deemed to take 3 years was completed only in a year. Wow! Got to say that is the spirit we all need in whatever we do. Their trade, economic growth, infrastructure, transport will surely double up and the message I can think of is…watch out for this space.

I won’t say much. However, if we all incorporate passion, collaboration, unity, love, creativity, innovation, self-esteem, drop down our pride and egos, then we do not have to worry of taking ownership our own developments, where the funds will come from, how debts will be paid off; but prove to ourselves and those around us that indeed we can.