Being in the history of currency.

Greetings from Rome. Rome, Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display. Ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire. Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.

It has taken me to come to Rome to learn about two currencies I knew nothing about. The Lira and US 2 dollar bill note. The lira was introduced in Europe by Charlemagne (c. 742–814), who based it on the pound (Latin: libra) of silver. No lira coins were struck during the Middle Ages, and the lira remained strictly a money of account.

By the 16th century several of the Italian states actually struck lira coins, but they varied considerably in weight. One of the states that used the lira was the kingdom of Sardinia, and this monetary unit was adopted in all of Italy when it became unified under Sardinian leadership.

In the United States, the story of the $2 bill starts in 1862, when the federal government printed its first nationalized paper bills, Bennardo says. The $2 bill was in that first printing, along with the $1 bill, but it took a while for paper money to catch on.

That’s because a lot of folks made less than $15 a month before the turn of the century. Inflation slowly brought the value of paper money down, but then the Great Depression hit. “This was a time when our country did not have much wealth, and a lot of things cost less than a dollar,” Bennardo says. “So the $2 bill really didn’t have much of a practical use.”

The economy recovered, but the $2 bill eventually found itself in a strange price point. It became the the perfect note for some rather nefarious purposes. “Politicians used to be known for bribing people for votes, and they would give them a $2 bill, so if you had one it meant that perhaps you’d been bribed by a politician,” Bennardo says. “Prostitution back in the day was $2 for a trick, so if you were spending $2 bills it might get you into trouble with your wife. $2 is the standard bet at a race track, so if you were betting $2 and you won, you might get a bunch of $2 bills back and that would show that you were gambling.”

My friend after giving me to note for the two dollar bill told me how rare the note is, that there are some US citizens who have never seen the bill and on many occasions calls have been made to the police, when making payments with the bills with the assumption that its a fake note. The Lira on the other hand has gone to its grave. Here in Rome, while I was on my morning run, I encountered two pieces on Lira notes.

Here in Italy, it’s not easy finding this notes and today was a lucky day for me because I get to see one. As a collector, this has revealed a lot about the Italian History. I am on my Roman holiday.

When in Rome, do what the Romans do.

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Visa Duties…The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

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Visa application is always a challenging process. I have never meet anyone, either a frequent or a first time traveller, who has gotten used to this tedious process. But there are countries that one doesn’t have to go through all this, but unfortunately they are few, so we can’t avoid it, and if you are doing business globally, touring or visiting family this, is a cake you must bake.

The most important thing to prepare for this day is to have a lot of luck. I have seen people who had their Paperwork right and still missed the visa. If you come from countries such as Kenya, having a stable job helps a lot. The trouble is that most people who would go through the visa process and still defile the same laws are people in stable employment.

When you are in business, depending on what kind you are doing. Sometimes you are ahead and sometimes you are behind. But my argument has always been that their is no way you will know the person who will want to defile the immigration law and the one who will not buy only looking at their faces. I agree that the information has to be accurate, but yes, if the person you are looking at has been travelling and never broken any immigration laws, then his passport should help you make a decision amongst other requirements.

We all agree that there are countries taking their fair share of their shit, be it economically, politically and socially. The life span difference between the African countries and western countries is like how far east from west. Kenya for example has a very challenging political environment and especially at this time.  And the same time I was planning my travel and if you looked at the situation at present, it will be very easy for you to overlook the big picture if you are the one with the authority to issue a visa.

So when I went for the visa, i realized that the Italian embassy has different requirements than other Schengen countries. They require you to have a eight days international insurance after you land back home. They need six months of bank statement and copy of identification of the person inviting you. After a lot of shuttling to meet the requirements, and fifteenth day of waiting, my visa was granted. Breathing a sigh of relief I walked to the bureau that processed my visa and pick my passport with my visa.

My itinerary had a ten hours layover in Abu Dhabi, something that needed a visa for me to be able to transit through Abu Dhabi International. So I went to the website where Etihad recommends for their passengers seeking visas. With all the documentations scanned, I filled in the online forms attaching my documents amongst them my bio page, Ticket that is confirmed, my hotel booking in Abu Dhabi and my earlier visa when I travelled to the United Arabs Emirates for business, my current schengen visa that I was travelling on.

I later received a message from the organisation that is tasked to processing the visas. The gentleman said that he is sure my visa request will be negative, and the reason is that because I am Kenyan and most Kenyan passport holders have been denied the visas to transit through Abu Dhabi. The weird thing you are thinking is that why would someone want you to pay him for flying in his place and deny you a place to rest your head. I took the chances and allowed the gentleman to go ahead with my application knowing very well that if it comes out negative, I would lose my visa fees.

It was a few hours, maybe two or three, after I had given a confirmation that I received an email from the same gentleman that my request had been denied. Yes, I also wondered how. For the rest of the day I nursed my devastated heart, went to bed feeling sad and lived to make new plans. As I said, I have never meet anyone who has this process covered for themselves. Maybe my circle is not of influence, but still my statements stands.

If you are a traveller, and you go through this every time, this is something that many travellers have to go through. The bureaucracy that many countries have put between countries and citizens to restrict movement. And this kind of stuff, affect many people who would wish to travel either for business or pleasure. The people enforcing them sometimes don’t do them well.

For me, I pray not to break any countries immigration laws, to respect my host, to be at my best behaviour while am being hosted in a foreign land. This is the right thing to do, and the wise thing if you intend to continue travelling……just like me.

Wherever your travel my take you, I hope it’s fun and profitable.

 

All Saints Celebrating 100 Years.

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Photo By Sebastian Wanzalla

I wake up today in the middle of the night to look on my phone screen, a colleague whom we serve with in the planning committee was picking the guest of honor, The Archbishop of Canterbury from the airport. Its been two years since we started sitting in different committees to plan for All Saints 100 years celebrations. We have come a long way, shaping up to make sure this day, which is finally here goes on smoothly.

To many Anglican faithful, the Cathedral, as its members like calling it, has been the fountain of spiritual nourishment, while to the men (and lately women) of the cloth, it has played the perfect venue to win souls for Christ, as they are called to do. The doors of the cathedral have been open to all, those who have needed spiritual nourishment, the lost and the captive. Those who have ruled over the land, those running away from brutal attacks. Those who have started a new life and those who have departed.

The iconic architectural masterpiece that has since been classified as a national monument gives the impression of a church that was built for posterity, with the provost projecting that it can only help the growth of ‘the body of Christ. It witnessed as Kenya, which was then the british colony…..as she slept silent in the arms of London. It watched as its sons went to fight wars, in Burma. The troops were raw, lacked combat experience, and were inadequately trained …some came home, wounded and lost while for others they died in the fields of war, it watched.

The cathedral watched as Kenya became a self governed state.  As sons and daughters of this land launched a resistance to their colonial master, so it watched. As our country finally achieved what it had long fought for, independence,  as Kenyans felt with humility the pride to govern themselves and run institutions. When the first African archbishop was elected, the cathedral watched. The second liberation, as a refuge for those who ren away from the bullets and tear gases, the cathedrals watched…providing refuge for those who were followed to the inside of the sanctuary. Some of the teargas canisters that were thrown into the cathedral on 7 July 1997 on the day now known as the Saba saba rests here today…..many years later, with the broken clubs.

Its has stood the test of time, while other cathedrals in the world have been a target of war, even brought down to ashes this cathedral has stood tall. The cathedral holds the history of our great nation with pride, and it has done so really well for the last 100 years. Just as many cathedrals all over the world have stood tall and been custodians of history of the world. Some of those I have had the honour of visiting, Cathedral De Barcelona, St Mary’s Cathedral in Krakow Poland, and many others.

But as the Anglican faithful from across the world led by the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, troop to Nairobi for the church’s centenary celebrations culminating in a major service on Sunday, some will be paying homage to a sanctuary that has also been a refuge to the oppressed and the downtrodden. It was a sanctuary for those fleeing brutal security forces sent to crush dissent. Then, The Anglican Church of Kenya was called The Church of the Province of Kenya. Sarcastically, people started referring to it as the church politics of Kenya, hence the change of name.

The Cathedral has been the gospel centre, a place of worship. But it has also been a place of refuge where many have run to in times of sorrow and trouble, like the case of Prof Wangari Maathai and the mothers of the political prisoners, and during the agitation for democracy in the 1980s and 1990s.

This pulpit has been used to preach the gospel and convert souls to salvation, but also for agitation, especially for the rights of the downtrodden and those under the brutality of State forces.Also it has been used by some of the fiercest critics of the Government, especially the archbishops and provosts who have served at the Cathedral This is part of what we celebrate.

We celebrate 100 years of All Saints Cathedral, of God’s faithfulness and even as we remember the past, we do not the opportunity to seize the future.

The King’s new Clothes.

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We will credit this year as the year of the Spanish Politics. The year when we have been through a full election, the supreme judgement that nullified the whole election, the back to the drawing board by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, and the other half election………which many, including the IEBC themselves felt it would not happen.

We have also been insulting each other on social media, in public rallies, in television stations etc. We have also killed each other, physically, we have jumped over the blood of our neighbours and friends. We have falled to be our brothers keepers. So our state has gotten worse and now seeks repairs. The international journalist who have made camp here since we first went to polls finally had something to cover.

Have we ashamed ourselves? yes. Do we deserve pity? Yes we do. We are now being covered by international media,…..how they have finally had their last laugh. We stand on the same road leading to different direction, with selfishness and injustice we have been crippled. Who cared now which revolution is being televised? Is it the true revolution?

So a home that enjoyed the peace and calm a few days before elections finds itself in need of shelter, food and other very common basic needs. The society has been robbed, while we watch with our naked eyes. So we pick the side of the king, and ignore the servant under the table. Whom the king feeds like his dog. So let’s say,…..long live the King.

When you find that the King is naked – and there are all kinds of them, of first, second and third rate – do not exclaim:

“He has no clothes on him! No clothes!”

Do not ask why he is naked.

Instead, ask yourself and inquire with prudence: why is it that no one says “He is naked!”?  Why don’t they tell him?

This must be a lonely king. Most probably he is unable to keep a trusted adviser, of a fool who dares to tell him the urgent truth. He needs one. Maybe he does not know how to use advice or is incapable to listen.

Second thought, this folk do not find a way to speak to their king; are they afraid or just awkward? They may need to find a clever way to tell him or to let him know without words. There are means to help people speak to their kings.

Finally, this may be a bad king who deserves to be left naked. In this last case, keep your tongue, remember: don’t do the wrong thing right!

When a king is naked there is judgment to use.

The donations towards the victims in Kawangware can be dropped at Naivas Westlands, Riruta and Greenhouse. Be your brothers keeper.

#TheRevolutionWillNotBeTelevised

eCommerce realities in Kenya.

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Perhaps you have heard of Kentex Cargo, Africa Salihiya Cargo, Aircom Cargo, perhaps you don’t, and don’t care……..but you should. Our new reality is that a while back connecting with somebody in a different continent was rocket science. You needed to access a phone or a fax machine, for instantaneous communication. Then the internet saved our struggles, we then realized that we didn’t have to wait 30 days for a mail delivery. Voice over internet was born and eventually, we lived web.

Today we have smartphones, with higher computing power that the apollo 11, that thing that went to the moon, that thing couldn’t event tweet. Technology has continued to help us positively in the way we live, work and connect, how we connect with different continents. We have played catch up in many areas. One thing that has really slowed the uptake has been infrastructure, it has taken a while to have it and even when it was in place, there was something else hindering progress, some of those were government bureaucracy.

The foundation for ecommerce was created in 1979 by Michael Aldrich. He connected his television to a computer using his telephone line. While it was unlike ecommerce as we know it today, his idea sparked the idea for shopping without having to go to a physical store. At the time, most people didn’t own computers. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs popularized computers for the average person. Bill Gates even said that his goal was to put “a computer on every desk and in every home.” Without computers, ecommerce would be remarkably different.

There are two ways to shop, you drive to your favorite store and pick up what you want paying at the counter or you login online to the likes of Amazon, eBay and the same thing will be shipped to your door steps. This has been possible in many countries except with suppliers who always say that they don’t ship to your address.

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  • Amazon: Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos. According to Alexa, Amazon is currently ranked the 9th most popular website worldwide, and 4th in the United States.
  • Taobao: Taobao was founded by Jack Ma. Globally, it’s ranked 11. In China, it’s ranked 5th.
  • Tmall: Tmall was also founded by Jack Ma. It has a global ranking of 15 and a rank of 4 in China.
  • AliExpress: AliExpress was founded by Jack Ma. It’s currently ranked 40th in the world and 9th in Russia according to Alexa.
  • eBay: eBay was founded by Pierre Omidyar. On Alexa, the ecommerce site is ranked 33 globally, and 9th in the US.
  • Flipkart: Flipkart was founded by Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal. Alexa has it ranked 147 globally and 9th in India.

If you are in Kenya, and you intend to buy something online, then you will care to know about Kentex and the likes. You send your good to an address they provide, either in the US, UK, UAE etc and they will ship it to you at an extra cost and normally its usually still fair. Mall of Africa, an app that gives you access to over 200 stores in US and UK. What this companies have done is to build a bridge in between the continent where the goods are originating to the recipient continent, and it works perfectly.

The ecommerce industry is expected to continue growing. According to N Channel, in the US, brick and mortar retailers generate $3.9 trillion in sales while ecommerce generates $294 billion. Over time, ecommerce will continue to take away market share from brick and mortar retailers as it has been doing over the past few years. This is good news for those looking to start online stores as sales will only continue to go up, though competition will also increase in the space.

Ecommerce will also likely evolve over the years creating a more augmented or virtual reality experience for shoppers. Stores may eventually include features to help customers ‘virtually’ try on clothing to ensure it fits their shape while allowing them to see what it would look like on. Shoppers may be able to ‘try’ on makeup using their laptop or phone’s camera.

Are you interested in getting started with ecommerce? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

Good Deed.

“We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all”.

Wangari Maathai

I am a lover of nature. When I started building my house, I planted some trees. Some are alive and some died, reasons I do not really know. Things have changed, my father gave me a different piece of land to start it all over again. I felt it was good to plant a tree.

I scouted the location, the stones represent the location where a tree once stood. This was my prefered location with the hope that things will be different this time round.

I visited a small tree nursery which is a few minutes from my fathers house. There were many trees there I was spoilt for choice. My wife looked at this pine, she fell in love with it. We made a decision, to carry it. It costed us Ksh.150 about $2.

 

With the position ready, it was time for me to sink the tree to the earth. With pride I did it, and nurtured its surrounding to make it comfortable in its new home. When you plant a tree, and care for it, it will one day provide a shade, firewood to keep you warm, welcome rain at your doors or even roof your grandson’s house. It’s good to plant trees.

Traveling to Kakamega.

Last weekend we were traveling to Kakamega, to see my parents and to be with one of my sisters who lost her father in law. As usual, I start my trips really early for two reasons. It is peaceful in the morning , the roads are deserted and the NTSA usually at this time, they are not awake……meaning No speed guns. Unfortunately for us, our trip started with a warning light on the dash, its called a limb light or limp light mode.

Today, nearly every system in your vehicle is operated by the computer – including the transmission’s line pressure, shift timing, sequence and feel. The vehicle speed sensor provides input to help control ABS, fuel mixture, fuel injection and transmission operation. The manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor and throttle position sensor (TPS) provide the engine’s load information which is used to manage the shift and downshifting in the transmission when you’re driving up an incline or you’ve put the pedal to the metal.

“Fail Code” conditions or “Limp Mode” occurs when there is a problem with the logic of a vehicle’s computer. When the signal value sent by a sensor to the computer is not within a pre-programmed range specified by the manufacturer, it will switch to “secondary” programming. These procedures are designed to protect the transmission from further damage that could be caused by the signal error.

As long as the computer is receiving signals from the MAP, TPS, vehicle speed and other sensors that fall within their “normal” ranges based on the current conditions, the transmission will operate normally. However, as mentioned above, if it receives a signal that is outside of the expected range, it will switch to secondary/emergency operation.

The exact measures taken in secondary operation is determined by the computer’s logic as programmed by the manufacturer and depends on how far outside the acceptable range the signal is (if there is any signal at all). It might react differently when the value is higher than the highest parameter than it does when the value is lower than the lowest allowable value.

We arrived home to a well welcome of pumpkin leaves for dinner. It has been long since I had this kind of a meal. I took my time to enjoy with my family. This grows in my mothers garden, normally….just on their own. We have been having vegetables growing here since I was a child, sometimes neighbours would just walk in and help themselves with it…something like community sharing.

This is how I remember my childhood. Many nights I walked through this door and walk down to the pit latrine, for many years the rear door connected me to everything, school, playground, garden and to the second kitchen that was usually outside. When my uncle was around, he used the room next to the door. Every Night he played music from his philips stereo.

The smell of cows overwhelms me everytime. My life has always been surrounded by cows, I mean, if I could not afford one…….maybe I would not be married. The traces that cows exists are everywhere you look. They will be grazing somewhere, you will encounter manure proudly made by them helping the garden thrive. Dogs, they provide security. They are not seen during the day…..sleep all day and work all night.

Everyone has made the garden their haven. We feed from it, the cows feed from it, the birds feed from it and the dogs secures it. Life is made and destroyed from it. Water drips from the tap that connects to a black water tank acting as a reservoir. Water is everything….water is important and life surrounds it.

There is a representation of the new and the old, what has died and what is still alive. The bird create their new home, step by step. Its a well worked out system you can watch all day.

If you have no idea what is happening here rest assured, someone is looking for food. This is how termites are collected. The blacket acts as a disguise, creating an illusion of darkness but once they are out and see the light, they run towards it. Their journey is always short lived as they slide on the banana leaves ending up in a small hole. The chickens love to eat them and so do the human beings.

Before I left home, I sat here captured by my different view. One of the lawn that leads to the perimeter fence, I could still see the garden. The other one not so exiting, the car in front of me and the third one the bird, still on its mission…..on building a nest. And my time to depart had come, and it was sad to leave. As they always say……Home is always home. And the roads will always lead me there.