Monthly Archives February 2019

The Little Clock

A small clock, which had just been finished by its maker, was put on a shelf in his shop between two old clocks that were busily and loudly ticking away the seconds.

“So,” said one of the old clocks to the newcomer, “you’ve just started this task. I feel sorry for you. You are bravely ticking now, but you’ll be very tired once you’ve ticked thirty three million times.”
“Thirty three million ticks?” said the startled clock, “but I could never do that!” He immediately stopped in desperation.
“Come on, stupid,” said the other clock. “Why do you listen to such talk? That’s not how things are. At each moment you only need to tick once. Isn’t that easy? And then again. That’s just as easy. Carry on like that.”
“Oh, if that’s all,” the new clock cried, “then that’s easy enough. Off I go.”

And he began again to bravely tick each moment, without paying attention to the months and millions of ticks. When the year was up, he had ticked thirty three million times without realising it.


Money Management Principles

Posted on 3 min read

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1 Timothy 6: 6- 10

If there is any scripture that I think is relevant to young people, I think it is this one and I can say that if we seek God’s help to live by this scripture, we will do well. If I were to summarize the important lessons I have or still learning, these would be:

  1. Live within your means. God will give you everything you will ‘need’, not want. The way I am going with my life these days is to dependent on the Lord and bring my needs to him in prayer. What I need, I pray for and when God does not answer my specific prayer, I know that is not His will for me, full stop!
  2. When I pray for a need, it is up to God to decide how to meet it. I used to be ‘prescriptive’ in my requests to God – in other words, I would pray for a need and then suggest to God how He should answer the prayer. If I pray for job in order to meet needs for shelter and food, and school fees, etc, it is up to God to decide how to meet those needs. Sometimes I have seen God meeting my needs by keeping my expenses down or keeping me in good health – or keeping my mum in good health so that I am not having to need the money to meet those needs. 
  3. Everything I have belongs to God – I am privileged to be a steward. So I pray for how I spend God’s money entrusted to me. There are times I feel led to meet certain needs and even if my money is not enough, I see God supplying what I need for where he is leading. It is a privilege to be generous as we are a channel of God’s blessings to the others.
  4. Remember it is the Love of Money – not the money itself, that is the root of all kinds of evil. My prayer and the discipline I seek for is not to love the money but God himself. Money has a way of seeking our allegiance and love – and it is a trap we must seek God’s help to deal with, just like in other areas such as sexual purity and other forms of greed. 
  5. Use money as a means not an end. Use it to serve God’s purposes both for yourself and for His work.

Courtesy of Joshua Wathanga


Where is Africa’s ‘Internet’?

Posted on 2 min read

Africa has made great strides in getting connected to the internet. There are 453,329,534 internet users, which translates to an  internet penetration of 32.5%. This figure is steadily growing, and we are steadily shaking off the tag of ‘the dark continent.’

But where is Africa’s data stored and processed? Many websites registered under Africa’s ccTLD, that is names like .ke, .ng, .tz, .za etc, are hosted in Europe and America. This is besides a similar number of other gTLD domains such as .com and .net, which are owned by Africans, but hosted abroad too. This means that many of the websites that are being accessed by Africans, are actually located in other continents.

One can see why most of these sites are located elsewhere. As of December 2018, US accounted for 40% of all Data Centers in the world. Africa does not rank here, and one can conclude that the number of Data Center is way much smaller compared to other continents. This is why many African sites will continue to be hosted in other continents. The cost of hosting also plays a major role with collocation in African Data Centers costing more than double the cost in the US and Europe.

Does this pose a problem? Yes, there is a big problem. The two main problems include capital flight, and latency. Africans end up spending billions of money on hosting abroad, money which could impact the economy if injected into respective countries. It has been reported that Nigerians alone spend about 60 m USD (6 billion KES) on paying for web hosting abroad. Other African countries follow a similar trend, and the money that could be building Data Centers in Africa, improving terrestrial fiber networks or even building local companies, is being pumped into developed countries.

The second problem involves latency. Although connectivity in Africa has greatly improved with several submarine fiber cables going around Africa and a vast network of terrestrial fiber, one of the main bottleneck that impacts user experience is latency. Latency refers to the time it takes for data to be transferred from the server to the user, and this time is quite high due to a physical distance between users in Africa, and servers in other continents. This is because it takes about 60 times longer to access data from Europe, than it takes when data is locally hosted. If you are in Kenya, you can test this by accessing the eCitizen website which is hosted locally, any other website that is hosted abroad.

Of course, a difference of less than a second does not hurt anyone, many think. But, this is not true. A lot of man-hours are wasted while people wait for pages to load. Money is spent on leasing international links to deliver this data, and once the world makes the leap to 5G where bandwidth will not be the limit, latency will be bottleneck. We must reverse this now.


The Zebra Question

I asked the zebra
Are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Are you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on
And on and on he went.
I’ll never ask a zebra
About stripes

Poem by Shel Silverstein


How I was Robbed in Nairobi

Posted on 6 min read

Have you ever been caught up in situation where you completely dropped your guard, and you are robbed in the most stupid way possible? A place where a very familiar robbery script unfolds before you, but for some reason you do not notice? Like when a stranger comes to you and asks, “by the way, what is your M-PESA PIN?”

Of course, such a question would ring all alarms and you would not answer. But once in a while, or once in a very long while, the question catches you off guard and you give the right answer. Not because you are very gullible, but because you were caught up in a myriad of thoughts. Thoughts on how well does Trump understand the global warming issue, and how long before New York legalizes ‘abortion’ of any infant below two years of age.

You are thinking about Kenya’s debt to GDP ratio, the war we are fighting on the war on corruption, the compensation of Solai dam victims, 2022, competence based curriculum, the public wage bill and how to stop your baby from waking you up at 2:04 am. You are also thinking of how to expand business to South Africa, and wondering why DCI still uses free email services. You are wondering when are the next applications to join the loved and hated middle class of Nairobi. You are thinking. In short, you are playing God by purporting to run the universe.

The Heist

The following events take place between Kahawa Wendani and Clayworks

You board a matatu to Juja at Kahawa Wendani. A very old matatu by appearance, because the number plate KAR 375D means that the vehicle has carried passengers for a few light years, but you do not care because in the next 20 minutes that you will be in the matatu, you intend to finish listening to a sermon by one Calisto Odede titled ‘Greater works than these shall you do.’

You take the front seat, and the young man already seated there doesn’t want to seat in the middle, between you and the driver, so he alights and lets you get in. You get in, carrying your back pack, a bottle of water on one hand which you have just been given by a friend, a bag full of stuff, and a phone because you were on call before boarding. The matatu starts moving, and just before Kahawa Sukari, it stops, and the conductor says that the vehicle is overheating. He asks the two of you two alight so that he can check, but without checking anything, declares the vehicle okay.

This is when things start to fall into place. The other passenger who did not want to be sandwiched between you and the driver jumps in very quickly, and you are now on the door seat. You notice that the seat belt is faulty, and the door does not lock. But you ignore, because a Ninja cannot just fall off a moving matatu when they have been warned by the door. But a few metres later, the conductor notices that the door is not locked, and he opens it and bangs it to try and lock (You are shocked because he should have given you a warning). When it fails, he asks you to try and lock it, and gives the suggestion like you try lift the door as you close, and when it does work, he suggests you ask your neighbor to help or use both hands to lift and pull the door.

Just as you try, he says that something has fallen out of the matatu, and asks if you have lost anything and you say no. He says that it is something like a calculator. You check your hand and realise that your phone is missing. It then occurs to you that it could have been your phone, and you ask the driver to stop quickly. The driver offers to wait for you as you go back, but the conductor says that they can’t wait in the middle of the highway. Your mind tells that you need to pick your phone before it is smithreened by vehicles on the road. You demand for refund and you get back your 40 bob.

You run back with your tons of luggage, but a few metres away, the lightning flashes before your eyes. The script is very familiar.

You have just been robbed like an idiot. You start thinking of what to do next. To be sure, you walk back and there is no sign of a phone, and if it had fallen down, it would not have survived the impact. You get a phone to call and someone picks and says that they are Uber driver, and they have just picked the phone. The person who lent you the phone tells you that that also sounds familiar, and it is either they are unable to switch off the phone, or they want to con you big. What do you do next?

The Futility of Loss

A lost phone in Kenya is water under the bridge. You better spend your energy working for the next phone, rather than following up your lost phone. I learnt this from experience for 9 years ago, I lost a phone which had a tracker. I could tell when a new SIM card was used with the phone. I reported at Juja police station, whereby they asked me to go to CID Thika if I needed it tracked. I went to Thika and they sent me to Juja to report the theft first. I went back to Juja for OB recording, then back to Thika when one CID officer asked me, ‘kwani how much is this phone that you want to replace?’ At this point, I simply asked for a minute and walked out, never to return. And with that, I got my first lesson on why we are still a third world country.

What do I do about a stolen phone? Should I report to the police? Times have changed. If the police wanted to catch the thief, they can do that easily because I have the number plates of the vehicle. Besides, we have CCTV cameras on the road, and I know the time I was on the road. For a matatu, the police can get the owner with a few clicks, and there is a registered conductor in the matatu, who is the thief. The owner can be compelled to produce the conductor. Safaricom could, I bet, tell who picked the phone after I called, using their Jitambulishe service (privacy concerns). But why go to this extent? Because we need to transform our culture into one where integrity is valued, and lack of it is punished.

The Grief

You have a very short time to go through the five stages of grief. After that (180 seconds), act first. If you are sure the phone is stolen.

  1. Erase your device if you can. Android lets you locate and wipe data off your device
  2. Block your SIM card. This will prevent someone calling your favorite contacts and asking for money ‘tuma kwa hii number’ style. They could use your phone to access e-banking services. In many cases I use my phone for two factor authentication purposes.

Blocking your lost SIM is easy. Safaricom lets you do it by dialing *100# from another phone.

  • Replace your SIM card. Airtel is very easy to replace, while Safaricom has tools to help deter fraudulent SIM replacement.
  • Reset your passwords.
  • Buy a mulika mwizi. Losing your phone can offer you the much needed break from notifications and nuisances of ‘always connected’ life. You can take some break to meditate on a million other things.

Ladies and gentlemen, this world is not my home.