Drought and Hunger hits parts of Kenya.

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My last article was about spicy food, something i am really passionate about. Then came my post on Facebook, “Hunger is now a national disaster, all this time we’ve been telling hungry people to register as voters”. One of my friend wanted to know more about that, and since I could not have explained it in a few words, I decided to write this article.

Over 80 per cent of Kenya’s population of 40 million derives their livelihoods from agriculture and pastoralism. Four million small farm households produce three-quarters of the country’s food. Yet Kenya’s farmers face massive challenges. Their landholdings are small, productivity is low and most have little access to inputs, financial services and markets to sell any surplus produce. Poverty and hunger remain deep and persistent. Around 48 per cent of Kenyans, especially subsistence farmers and pastoralists, live in poverty and over 40 per cent – around 16 million people – lack sufficient food. This is graphical I know, but true.

By end of 2016, five coast counties were ravaged with drought and hunger. The situation threatened 1.3 million lives in Kenya, according to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA). Kilifi had been identified as having the severest vegetation deficit. Kinango in Kwale and Lamu West sub-counties are also in the severe vegetation deficit band. But thats where it all ended, today, this figures are a reality.

Today, more that 2 million Kenyans are facing hunger and starvation because of prolonged drought. People and animals’ lives are at risk because they have not had a chance to recover from drought in 2014 as rains were also poor in 2015 and 2016. The 2016 long rains were poor, leaving 1.3 million Kenyans in need of food aid, according to the government, which has started distributing maize, beans and rice to hungry people in the worst-affected northern and coastal regions.

Generally, responses to drought or crisis are too little and too late, it can take several months for emergency aid to reach people on the ground. Most of the worst hit area have poor road network, None if not little access to communication, and very limited representation. Kenya has declared the ongoing drought affecting many parts of the country a national disaster, calling for aid to counter the situation which is posing a major risk to people, livestock and wildlife.

The Kenya Red Cross estimated about 2.7 million people were in need of food aid after low rainfall in October and November, with the next rainy season not due before April. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called for “local and international partners to come in and support the government’s efforts to contain the situation”.

Out of Kenya’s 47 counties, 23 have been deemed to be facing disastrous drought. Early this month, residents in drought-struck northern Kenya said at least 11 people were killed and a tourist lodge torched due to conflicts when armed cattle herders flooded onto farms and wildlife reserves. Our nation has faced this situation before and efforts to create a permanent solutions have not yielded fruits.

With a score of 21.9 in Global Hunger Index, Kenya is ranked among the top 50 countries failing to provide their people with enough food. Kenya is ranked marginally ahead of conflict-prone Iraq which has a score of 22 and is outpaced by Egypt with a score of 13.7 which has in recent years been faced by conflict.

Ending global hunger is certainly possible, but it’s up to all of us that we set the priorities right to ensure that governments, the private sector and civil society devote the time and resources necessary to meet this important goal. I feel sad when I witness what is going on in our nation, my soul and prayers goes to those affected and in my little way, I contribute with kindness to the people affected.

We continue to hope, We continue to pray and we continue to fight.

Adding Heat to your Food.

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Our Table at Melville, 9th Street, Johannesburg.

If you have a wife like mine, who sometimes wonders what is it you enjoy when eating spicy food, how you eat it and why you decide to eat it, yes you are welcome…….to my world. I love spicy foods and typically enjoy 1-2 habanero peppers a day. If you like spicy food, there’s good reason to indulge your cravings, as the spicy chemical in peppers – capsaicin – and other compounds in spicy food can improve your health, just like mine.

Chili peppers, one of the main sources of capsaicin, are regarded as a staple in Central America, Asia, and India, but even in the Africa there are many devotees to spicy food whose mantra is “the spicier the better.”

Interestingly, the heat and pain you experience when you eat chili pepper seeds is designed to make you not want to eat them (hence protecting the plants’ ability to spread seeds and survive).

And it’s believed that humans are, in fact, the only animal that chooses to willingly eat them. Perhaps, on some level, our bodies have learned to tolerate and even crave chili peppers’ heat because of their many proven benefits to our health.

I have found at least three of the major benefits of eating spicy foods, this has been proved by scientists but any other advice from me has no basis or reliability than my own meandering experience.

1. Reduce Your Risk of Tumors

Capsaicin has been shown to activate cell receptors in your intestinal lining, creating a reaction that lowers the risk of tumors. Mice genetically prone to develop tumors had reduced tumors and extended lifespans when fed capsaicin, and the researchers believe the compound may turn off an over-reactive receptor that could trigger tumor growth.

Capsaicin has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has even shown some promise for cancer treatment. Research has shown, for instance, that capsaicin suppresses the growth of human prostate cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.

In one study, about 80 percent of the prostate cancer cells in mice were killed by capsaicin, while treated tumors shrank to about one-fifth the size of untreated tumors.

Capsaicin has also been shown to be effective against breast, pancreatic, and bladder cancer cells, although you might need to eat unrealistically large amounts of capsaicin to get such benefits (such as eight habanero peppers a week).

2. Improve Your Sex Life

In this case, it’s not the spice from chili peppers but that from ginseng and saffron that showed benefit. In a review of purported aphrodisiacs, both ginseng and saffron were found to boost sexual performance.

3. Help with Weight Loss

Spicy foods increase satiety, helping you to feel full while eating less, and hot peppers may even help your body to burn more calories. Capsaicin has actually been used to selectively destroy nerve fibers that transmit information from your gut to your brain.

This procedure was said to have a “remarkable” impact on weight, but destroying these nerve fibers could have serious long-term implications on your health. Fortunately, capsaicin may be effective for weight loss when added to your diet, as opposed to via surgery.

For me, “It’s not hot enough unless I’m dripping in sweat as I eat it,” I have always told my wife when I choose to go big on the HOT. She always asks “Do you really taste the food? Does it not burn your tongue?”. Both in awe and disgust, she  watches me pour threatening levels of neon orange and green sauces on my food, as I relish the buzzy head rush from the standard medium-level red salsa.

I have learned that spicy food lovers aren’t born with an affinity for hot sauce. Rather, it’s acquired over time, as capsaicin and other spicy food molecules deplete a neurotransmitter called substance P, which is responsible for sending pain signals to the brain…… its sad that I have gotten here. I have no idea what it it you feel when indulging in your hot sauce, lets agree that hot is hot, and we love it when its hot. We care about hot and when it’s not hot we are not happy. We are sad!

My BMW Is for Sale.

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If you are planning to buy a BMW, you should read this article. I have always had this strong thoughts that “my BMW is not for sale”. That thought has changed. My 1988, 520i M20 Engine went on sale in December 2016. It was 29 years old, out of those, nine years under my custody. I was the third owner. In Europe they say ” If a car this old is still being  driven it’s living on borrowed times”. If it’s driving in Africa, it has it’s whole life ahead of it, just like the road.  I will admit that I knew very little about BMWs except for the fact that “the Germans make the car”, and they are good cars.

While living in Mombasa, I got a tender to supply stationery in one of the leading hotels which had one policy, that they would not accept any delivery if you didn’t show-up in a car. Cars were not common then and deliveries made using other modes of transport were very common. I desired to have a car, and living the Henry Ford dream, I wanted a car I could afford, and that would be a beetle.

If you have been around for awhile, you might be enjoying the luxury the auto industry provides today but to speak the truth, when cars were made, the VW Beetle sent out a good statement. The need for this kind of car, and its functional objectives, was formulated by the leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, who wanted a cheap, simple car to be mass-produced for his country’s new road network. Hitler contracted Ferdinand Porsche in 1934 to design and build it. Porsche and his team took until 1938 to finalise the design. Porsche’s design influenced other contemporary cars, such as the Tatra V570 and the work of Josef Ganz remains a subject of dispute.

The result was one of the first rear-engined cars since the Brass Era. With 21,529,464 produced, the Beetle is the longest-running and most-manufactured car of a single platform ever made. My dream to own one of this beauties did not mature and on January of 2007, I managed my first ever car, 1988 BMW sedan, it was a 520i with an M20 engine.The BMW E34 is the third generation 5 Series, launched in February 1988. It had a stiffer body and was more streamlined than its predecessor.

The E34 was among the most reliable luxury cars on the market, earning the best-in-class ratings from Intellichoice in 1991, and still considered one of the most reliable BMWs ever made. It was also one of the safest cars on the road during its production, providing airbags, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, and a very rigid body structure to protect occupants in the event of an accident. It was also equipped with automatic stability control (ASC) or traction control (ASC+T) in later years on higher-specification variants.

The past nine years behind the wheel of 5series have been full of emotions, we traveled the roads together.  We went East, where the sun wakes up with a smile, bringing the earth to life. We went West, where the sun goes to bed handing over duties to the moon and the stars and the hungry wolfs. We went North, to the mountains, the mighty and not, the Soysambu Conservancy touching the dry grass, and the rocks a head and the dust to the horizon. We went south, to the beaches, to where God put all the waters of the earth. We have been together during the day and during the night, with the sunroof open the sun kissing my head and in the middle of the pouring rain. This old folk son of a beach, has been faithful.

Are there some disappointing days? of course yes, a few of them. Like when she blew the fuel relay and I couldn’t figure out what. The accident at 4am when she couldn’t remember home because I was drunk. The day I picked up pieces of my broken shock 300 km away from home. The overheatings, sometimes on traffic, sometimes on the highway, sometimes early in the morning and sometimes late at night. But all the same,this has been a good experience for both of us, we took care of each other. We were faithful friends. So today “Kasuye” as I have often called her IS FOR SALE and the next buyer is looking forward to create his memories, just like me.

But for you out there, if you are thinking of buying a BMW 5 series, please read this article. The 5 series BMW’s second best-selling model after the 3-Series (where I am headed next) and in 2010 produced about 50% of the BMW’s profits. I do not know if I will come back to the 5 series again only time will tell, for now I want to experience what is in store for 3 series club members and when am done here an SUV would be my ideal choice of the future.

One day a friend of mine told me that I love my car too much, I give her too much attention, and too much time. I believe men who invest in toys have mastered the art of praising their toys. But my answer to my friend was that “when you own the same car for nine years, you become companions.

Abuja Is Calling-CMS Africa Summit 2017.

“CMS AFRICA enables the attendees to gain knowledge, share experiences and meet other professionals. It empowers developers and businessmen of today and tomorrow to stay relevant in their relevant markets”. – Sarah Watz. President Open Source Matters.

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The history of West Africa can be divided into five major periods: first, its prehistory, in which the first human settlers arrived, developed agriculture, and made contact with peoples to the north; the second, the Iron Age empires that consolidated both intra-African, and extra-African trade, and developed centralized states; third, major polities flourished, which would undergo an extensive history of contact with non-Africans; fourth, the colonial period, in which Great Britain and France controlled nearly the entire region; and fifth, the post-independence era, in which the current nations were formed.

This year, we are in Abuja Nigeria for our annual CMS Africa Summit. Abuja is a planned city which was built mainly in the 1980s. It officially became Nigeria’s capital on 12 December 1991, replacing Lagos, though the latter remains the country’s most populous city. CMS Africa summit is a premier Web, Business, and Mobile event in Africa that gathers developers, E-commerce professionals,  Web administrators, Telecoms and Open Source Organisations among many others in a 2 day summit. This year’s event will be on the 3rd and 4th March at the Chelsea Hotel, central Area, Abuja Nigeria.

This event brings together speakers from all over the world with great experience in web, business, e-Commerce, Telcoms and Open Source. Among the speakers lined up for this year’s event are; Kuba Zwolinski, the Vice President of Magento Organisation and CEO of Snow.Dog a mobile and commerce agency and Job Thomas, education lead and a team from Automatic, engineers and developers from Automatic.

Come attend eye-opening workshops, get strategies for your business and network with creative minds and professionals in the industry. At the summit, you will be treated to, 2 days of activities, 30 speakers and 40 sessions.

One day is never enough for the awesomeness happens at CMS Africa summit. So the summit will take you through two full days of coveted industry talks and workshops. Disrupting old ideas and enforcing new ones while taking you through what moves the IT world. The summit has put together the most versatile speakers we’ve ever landed; They’re not just highly regarded. They run their own companies. They know about business. They understand concepts. They drive the world economy.

We’re covering Disruption, e-commerce, Leadership, Marketing, Mobile, Social, Startups, Tech, UX.  CMS Africa is a Non-governmental organisation that seeks to engage and support students, graduates and start-ups that deal with web applications, frameworks and platforms using open source content management systems.

CMS Africa is a collaboration and partnership between companies (directly dealing with building websites, platforms, applications, and other related professions), and universities/colleges to help build students and graduates in their passionate desires to join in the movement of uplifting the African Continent through content management systems

Registration is on at http://www.summit.cmsafrica.org and you cam follow up the developing events at the CMS Africa secritariat @ http://www.cmsafrica.org.

 

 

 

 

Remembering Marshall McLuhan.

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“The late Marshall McLuhan, a media and communication theorist, coined the termglobal village” in 1964 to describe the phenomenon of the world’s culture shrinking and expanding at the same time due to pervasive technological advances that allow for instantaneous sharing of culture”.

Imagine the vast spectrum of all the cultures in the world. Listen to the music—from the gentle drum beats of Africa, to the melodic didgeridoo of Australia, to the scream of the electric guitar. Taste the curry from India, the coconut milk from Thailand, the cheeseburger from the United States. Now imagine that all these cultures are compressed into one super-culture.

Marshall Mc Luhan the visionary media theorist who gave us the phrases “global village” and “the medium is the message,” was born a century ago.  At the time, McLuhan’s journey from obscure Canadian English professor to world famous sage was almost complete.  He was the first to tell IBM, for example, that they were not in the machine business, but the information business. Today, the term “information technology” is commonplace, but fifty years ago it was a revolutionary idea.

It is no exaggeration to say that McLuhan also predicted the internet. While other futurists declared that computers could lead to either utopia or Big Brother, McLuhan quietly anticipated Facebook and Twitter. Writing in 1967, thirteen years before the first Web site even went live, McLuhan got the trivial, distracting qualities of our digital life just right. He told us there would someday be “one big gossip column,” powered by an “electronically computerized dossier bank,” that would keep an uneraseable record of our tiniest actions. This would be the background noise against which our lives would play out.

How did McLuhan attain such foresight? Through “pattern recognition,” yet another phrase we owe to him. As a way of thinking, it is an excellent tool for survival in a world of information overload. In pattern recognition, facts are less important than the patterns they reveal, and comprehension takes a back seat to intuition. It is a skill we have all had to learn just to keep pace in our jobs and our lives, though not everybody can apply it as widely and effortlessly as McLuhan did.

It is a fact of nature that animals that are in danger of being eaten watch everything at once. Prey species-cows, sheep, gazelles, zebras-warily scan their surroundings, never riveting on a single object. Only predators point with their eyes. Hawks, wolves, tigers-and humans-gaze directly at what they want to eat, or ponder. Consequently computer scientists are designing machines that can monitor what we`re looking at. Stare at any part of the monitor screen, and the machine responds.

When used today, “global village” usually has positive connotations. As media and commerce make us more interconnected, the argument goes, the world shrinks into a peaceful, prosperous, global village. But McLuhan did not think of the global village as a happy place at all. He saw it as a place of terror, the home we would all have to move to when electronic media had finished re-tribalizing us.

The last ten years conform painfully with McLuhan’s predictions. High hopes for globalization have given way to what seems now like permanent economic uncertainty. Privacy has become harder to manage in the age of social media, and may even seem old-fashioned to the rising generation. The War on Terror is still officially being waged, and is perhaps the most McLuhan-esque feature of the present.

Since it began in 2001, the War on Terror has slowly become one of those assumptions behind every news story — part of the media environment that we step into every day, as McLuhan once famously said, “like a warm bath.” The News of the World hacking scandal, with its terrible crime, invasion of privacy, global scope, and empowered popular outcry could be the perfect illustration of all of McLuhan’s ideas operating at once.

Ending the Debate.

With the widespread adoption of the 29er mountain bike in manufacturing and the mountain bike community, the growing debate of 29er vs. traditional 26″ mountain bikes is getting hot amongst riding groups. If you are in the market to upgrade your current mountain bike or get into the sport, your options are wider than ever which is a good thing for the sport but can be debilitating when looking to purchase a new rig.

For  years, I have been riding a 26″ while wishing for a 29er, it has been a long journey taken considering the fact that I wanted to be sure before I blew the bank for my next purchase. A road bike has never worked for me, and our roads are not polite to her……trust me, when you are on a road bike in Nairobi, half of your ride will be filled with sadness. I am an adventurous person, I like to be in the woods, cycling into Karura forest, Arboretum and to the Gilgil hills, many times I commute to work on my bike between 30km to 80km, depending with the errands.

After a test on different bikes, ..you can name them, my body and my heart settled on the 29er, my body because am a tall guy, I wanted the luxury the 29er provides for guys like me. My heart because am passionate about cycling, I commute a lot on my bike and trust me, when you are sitting on a 29er, you get this feeling that you are on top of everything, you are under control, the bike gives you control. When confronted with the woods, the rocks, the roots and the sliding floor, the 29er is on top of it all, helping you manage the task at hand. I do not mean to say that the 26″ can’t do this, don’t get me wrong, but when you are on a 29er, the terrain belongs to you.

In the short travel and hard tail mountain bike market, the 29er mountain bike has almost completely taken over. This recommendations are used in conjunction with the height recommendations below.

  • HT and 100mm travel and under: 29er or 650B
  • 120mm to 130mm: 29er or 650B
  • 140mm: 650B (27.5) or 26″
  • 150mm to 160mm: 650B (27.5) or 26″
  • 160mm+: 650B (27.5) or 26″

While on my honeymoon in South Africa, I visited this small restaurant at the Durban WaterFront, its home for cyclist and dog lovers. While  enjoying coffee, I picked a flyer for a bike shop that was literally five blocks from where we were staying, and I visited them. Good news is that it was christmas and they had something on offer, something I was looking for, a 29er bike. The moment that followed was just me trying to get financing for the bike and since my wife is also the family accountant, I had to go through her. I left Durban with my bike and managed to send it to Nairobi before I left South Africa, and sixteen days later, it arrived.

I have since assembled the bike ready for its maiden ride, I can tell you, everything is worth every Rand I put on the bike. The Giant 29er comes with all the comfort and performance that a cyclist would love and want to enjoy. It’s luminous green colors makes you visible from a while distance, the tyres keeps you on the ground and with the wide handlebar, your control is not compromised and if you enjoy the benefits of being tall, cycling a 29er gives you room for your height and comfort.

As mentioned before, 29er mountain bikes do take more to maneuver through tight single track. If all of your riding is filled with tight turns in trees, you will want to try out a 29er on your own local trails before making a decision. On the other side of the spectrum, if your trails are more open and rocky, the 29er wheel size can really excel and bring more speed as you can hit sections faster.

As of 2016, the 26″ wheel is seeing its way to the “remember when” category. 27.5″ wheels have essentially taken over that market to the point that you rarely even find a 26″ tire on a long travel bike. We’ll now just refer to the 26″ tire as the size dedicated to Walmart bikes. With 27.5, 27.5 plus and other new standards, the 26″ wheel is officially dead.

Emerging green workspace

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United Nations Office at Nairobi

Greetings from Nairobi, Kenya. I am back to my small desk in Westlands, for those who like scheduling holidays and travel, you will agree with me that there is the beginning and the end. And the end is always filled with memories and both good and bad experiences. In case you are wondering, you are not alone. To bring myself to speed being back, I took a tour that was pending – visiting the United Nations Office at Nairobi. I am not new to this place but I hoped that this tour will be an educational one for my future of 2017.

The main point of interest for me then became the environment. The office sits on a hundred and forty six acres of land donated by the government of Kenya. It neighbours Karura forest and the United States Embassy. Its surrounded by the love of trees, fresh air, birds and water. If that would be the requirement for a healthy working space, I would say, UNON have succeeded. The environment created to encourage living and working in a clean, renewable and sustainable. My ‘icing on the cake’ of the tour was the United Nation Environmental Programme office, which also houses the UNHABITAT. While every other new building in town prides itself on being the latest to add green features, it is only prudent to find out how UNEP’s own headquarters in Nairobi have been designed as a model for other buildings.

What strikes you upon entering the new offices in Gigiri are the airy walkways full of plants, coupled with natural lighting coming down through the central atrium that runs the entire length of the building. This is made possible due to the building’s North-South orientation that not only helps it achieve maximum light intake but also mitigates against solar gain. About 6,000 square metres of solar panels that cover the rooftop are able to generate enough energy for the building’s 1,200 users. The water features at the entrance of each block are fed by harvested rainwater from the roof. Excess waste water is treated at an on-site aeration facility that is then used to maintain the expansive gardens. “This building is beautiful, comfortable and efficient. But more than any of that, this building is a living model of our sustainable future,” were the words of Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary General, on the official opening of the building.


Countries all around the world are powering towards a low-carbon future by embracing solar, wind and geothermal energy. Thanks to its unique geography and commitment to environmental preservation, small but mighty Costa Rica meets a huge amount of its energy needs (99% in 2015!) using hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, wind, and other low-carbon sources. Next on the horizon: Costa Rica aims to be entirely carbon-neutral by 2021.

Nicaragua saw renewables comprise up to 54% of all electricity production in June 2015. How’d they do it? In 2007, the then-president began emphasizing renewable energy investments. By 2012, Nicaragua invested the fifth-highest percentage worldwide of its GDP in developing renewable energy. Next on the to-do list: The country is aiming for 90% renewables by 2020, with the majority of energy coming from wind, solar, and geothermal sources.

Over the years, the UN have turned their working space to be clean and sustainable with the GREEN ONE UN House being an important component of the UN’s climate change advocacy. Professor Wangari Maathai said “In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now”.

#RenewRecycleReuse