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My awful experience with the Nairobi Rains

Victor Mochere

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My awful experience with the Nairobi Rains

It’s on a Monday morning. I’m supposed to be awake; I must have missed my alarm. Only that I didn’t set one, of late my brain is losing it. I’m woken up by some creepy sound in my blanket, it must be my phone right? No, I left it charging.

 

My bed so wet, the last time I wet my bed, I was 8. So what happened? The sound comes up again. I try to reach deep into my blankets, my hand lands on a soft, slippery cold moving thing. I try to grab it, it jumps onto my chest… a frog.

 

I immediately jump out of my bed and land in water, a pool of water… in my house. Was I that drunk as to sleep on my swimming pool? No I didn’t drink last night and there’s no way on earth I could move my bed to the backyard.

 

There are so many of them, frogs, enjoying the serenity of my house now turned into a lake. As I walk through the water to reach the door, I stumble on something, a microwave, immersed in water. Did I just injure my feet? I’m bleeding.

 

The brown muddy water, now turns its colour to red. Mother nature at work. I proceed upstairs, only to realize, I don’t actually have a roof, my house so bare and scary. Blown away to only God knows where. Someone must have bewitched me.

 

My house so disorganized, the kitchen turned into the bedroom, the bedroom the kitchen, the living room the bathroom and the bathroom cut off. The house is now in pieces, scattered all over. Each piece decided to take a different route.

 

As I take a glance outside, I realize my house is moving, surrounded by water, uprooted from my compound, so I own an island. Only that in this particular one, houses float on water. Regards of the same I have to get to work.

 

What I used to call a closet, now harbouring rags. As I finish dressing, I have another mission to accomplish, to find my car keys. Actually I can’t. It’s getting late. Oh, I remember I left them in the car. I dash out, no need to lock the house.

 

I can’t spot my car where I parked it, I have to find it no matter what. Did it sink in the water? I’m shocked to see it floating in my neighbour’s yard. Mother nature will have to reverse and undo its mistakes. I can’t afford to lose my job.

 

I take an Uber, no soon had we started the journey, than the Suzuki Alto 800 starts to float on water. It can’t be. I get out and try my luck with walking, maybe I will catch a bus instead. I accidentally slip into a ditch, it’s time to employ my swimming tactics.

 

I lose my phone in the process. I can’t call in sick, am screwed. As muddy as I am, am determined to get to work. Finally, a bus approached, they can’t carry me. I have to take a motorcycle. When I reach at work, my boss is so mad.

 

I had an appointment with a very important client. My boss rebukes me, “I pay you to work, how you get to work is your problem”. My excuse can’t be tolerated, am fired. My mistake, getting to work late, untidy and losing a client in the process.

 

I bid my co-workers farewell. It’s called life. I proceed home, or at least what used to be my home. I have to salvage whatever little I can, and take a stride into the downs of the universe. As I step in, like I always do, I reach out to the lights. I get electrocuted.

 

The next I thing realize, I am in ICU at Kenyatta National Hospital. Who brought me to the devil and served me for dinner. I’m surrounded by a doctor and two nurses, my eyes blurred. With my fat tummy, I pray that I don’t undergo a cesarean section.

 

Finally, I wake up. My alarm so loud that my neighbours have reported me to NEMA thrice. So it was a dream, a bad one I guess. Indeed, when the unimaginable becomes unavoidable, the nightmare becomes the reality. Nairobi is flooding.

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I’m a literati savant, altruistic, queer laughist, critique from the non-core academia and above all it’s my conviction that in all my papers the rule of three applies.

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Opinion

The bitter story of Mumias Sugar Company

Victor Mochere

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The bitter story of Mumias Sugar Company

Have you heard the bitter story of Mumias Sugar Company?

 

Regarded by many as Kenya’s most successful sugar miller, Mumias Sugar Company was a disaster waiting to happen.

 

Many pointed out how Mumias Sugar Company was a fortress in the wreck that is Kenya’s sugar industry, only unaware that it was just a matter of time. As the old wise men said, “Ukiona cha mwenzako cha nyolewa, tia chako maji”.

 

The proverb means that if you see your neighbour’s head getting shaved, your head will soon be undergoing the same – you’d therefore better wet your head for a smoother shave, otherwise you will be forced to undergo a painful, dry, shave.

 

But what ails Kenya’s sugar industry?

 

The Kenya sugar industry is under legal siege. The typical Kenyan issue of coming up with laws to tackle a problem is evident here.

 

Many of Kenya’s sugar factories are owned by the government, and have slowly declined under mismanagement and corruption. The appointing of political cronies and tribal management to such firms means that unqualified people are appointed to lead these firms. The same management can hardly resist dipping their fingers in the sugar jar, and end up slowly eating the factories to a level where they can’t operate, or if they can operate, do so at very high costs.

 

Elsewhere, sugar industries in other places are owned by business people who take good care of them, only eating profits. To increase the profits, sugar factories in other countries are run at lower costs, and at a higher efficiency, that maximizes on costs while also trying to keep their product as affordable as possible in a bid to fight off competitors.

 

This has eventually resulted in a situation where you could somehow convince a Portuguese speaking Brazilian to sell you sugar, in your mother-tongue-afflicted English.

 

You then board the sugar on a ship, where it will spent 6 months in the high seas, and another month or so in the inefficient port of Mombasa. It then gets loaded onto a truck to Nairobi, in what is a proportionally costly.

 

On getting to Nairobi, Kenyans will still find your sugar cheaper than sugar from Kenya’s sugar belt, just a few hours away from Nairobi.

 

When the bitter truth of this dawned on us, our hapless farmers cried foul, and our politicians reactively ground into gear. With everyone keen on keeping on eating, a familiar “win-win” solution was found. We would come up with a law banning or limiting the importation of sugar, to protect “our farmers” and tax payer factories.

 

Genius, right?

 

Wrong. In Kenya, laws are for the poor, the rich consider laws as merely a suggestion that they may choose to uphold or ignore.

 

As the inefficient cost of Kenya’s sugar production went up and up, the difference in price of Kenyan produced sugar and that of imported sugar grew.  The chaps who drive dark tinted big cars figured that if they could somehow import sugar into the Kenyan market, and sold it at the Kenyan price, you could double your money faster than a prophet could by promising to act as a godly middleman.

 

Meanwhile, Alshabaab, all the way in Somalia, figured out that if they could import sugar and sell it in Kenya, they could easily fund their war on Kenyans. In Kenya, they found a ready market in businessmen who find sugar a fast means to riches.

 

The government agencies meant to uphold the ban on imported sugar were nowhere to be seen. They had taken shelter from the money that was raining on them as bribes. After all, if someone slaps you on the cheek, with a bribe, you offer them the other cheek….

 

It did not stop here. Those appointed to run our sugar factories found that they if they imported sugar and repackaged it as local sugar, they would need to stay up all night just counting all the money that came in.

 

Thus, a law to protect Kenya’s sugar industry has only resulted to helpless Kenyans being forced to pay double what they should for sugar. The poor farmers who were to be protected by the laws are now owed billions by sugar factories. Kenyans are still being asked to fork billions to bail out these sugar factories, in readiness for their next, inevitable cycle of collapse.

 

Furthermore, Kenya, being part of COMESA, is bound to allow neighbouring countries to sell their sugar in Kenya. However, Kenya has perpetually requested for the extension of the deadline, year in, year out, under the guise of putting our sugar industry in order.

 

A man finds himself in a dessert, with neither water, nor food, stranded with all his belongings. Luckily, the man is found by a helicopter, which could rescue him, but the man has to leave his belongings in the desert. The man argues that he can’t leave his belongings since he will be left poor.  The helicopter leaves, and the man gets lost further in the desert. Another helicopter comes, and another, but the man is still not ready to abandon his belongings. This man is Kenya.

 

It’s time Kenya’s government left the sugar industry to private sugar companies, like West Sugar Company (Kabras), and allows other companies or individuals to take over the failing sugar factories. Laws protecting the sugar industry should also be done away with, alongside those that determine how and who can run a sugar factory.

 

The laws just but a flimsy hatch trying to stop a barraging flood of cheap sugar from everywhere else other than Kenya. The only beneficiaries are the crafty and powerful business men, who are eating on our behalf.

 

As if we have learned no lessons, the same mess is set to repeat itself in the maize industry, where the government is setting up flour milling industries to “protect consumers”. Importation of maize is also banned to “protect farmers”, and government owned National Cereals and Produce Board who is a major buyer of maize, is now to become a miller. De ja vu, you have heard something similar before, haven’t you?

 

As is said, history is bound to repeat itself for those who fail to learn from it.

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Opinion

Everyone is (should be) an entrepreneur

Victor Mochere

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Everyone is (should be) an entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs have often been described as people who add value to products or make products with value, either directly or indirectly, and sell them at a profit to customers. While those people who do not impact any value to products they sell are basically ordinary people in business. Therefore all entrepreneurs are business people and not all business people are entrepreneurs.

 

Each individual alive today has a product that they sell to their customers, and that is the human labour either physical or mental.

 

If you are an employee, then your customer is your employer, to whom you are selling your product labour. If you are a student, then your customer is your examiner, to whom you are selling your mental labour. If you are a business owner, then your customer gets the products or services upon which you have spent your labour on. If you are not employed, you still have your product which is your labour, you can choose to either sell it to your potential employer by being employed or use it to create other products or services to sell to your potential customers.

 

The key pillars of entrepreneurship majorly rotate on creativity and innovation, therefore for your labour to be very competitive and to be bought, you must invest in those pillars so as to make it better than that of others.

 

It is a sad tragedy if you don’t think that your labour is a product, or at extreme don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur. It is also a sad reality that most employees lack the entrepreneurship mind-set and prefer rather to remain with employee mentality. Most employed people often think that value creation is the work of their employers, through assigning them specific tasks. That it’s their duty to perform those tasks, and that’s it. They think they don’t need the passion, drive and stigma to create value.

 

Most employees see their current work as a necessity for survival rather than an opportunity to advance themselves through value creation. So they will keep working, day in day out with an anticipation of payment for their labour and if they are not paid, they will resort to industrial action. Others will humble themselves, keep their heads down, perform tasks assigned, follow the routine, and hope that they will get a promotion or salary increment for time served while praying that they don’t get laid off.

 

Think of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., imagine if he has treated the buyers of Apple products (his customers) as most workers threat their customers (buyers of their labour services). They keep asking and buying Apple II computer, why don’t we focus on producing them. Then he would never have developed the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc. The world would never have had better and advanced products, and he would have remained much poorer as a result.

 

There are also the bureaucrats, the non-entrepreneurial bosses. A bureaucratic boss expects the employee to stick to the routine, any deviations would be treated as insubordination, and as needlessly creating extra hassles. Such a boss is receptive to value-adding innovations, and would readily give the employee a bigger role to facilitate and tap into his/her quest to create a lot of innovations. A bureaucratic boss would also know that other entrepreneurial bosses would try to poach the innovative worker’s services given a chance, he/she in a bid to prevent that, would increase the employee’s pay.

 

In pursuit of value creation, an entrepreneurial worker will have to be intelligent and assertive, in doing so will enhance his/her demand in the industry, improve his/her career credentials and ultimately as a result be served with better opportunities in terms of compensation, working conditions, more fulfilling work and life.

 

Shun away from the mentality that you are not an entrepreneur. Every person should have the mindset of self-employment. For those employed your boss is your current customer. For those still in school, your customer is your examiner. For those employed on wage contract, your customer is the market. In any case, whichever path you choose to pursue, you will have to invest heavily on creativity and innovation which in other terms can be perceived as entrepreneurship, the consequences of satisfying your customer being deriving some gain.

 

Only you, are ultimately responsible for your own worth creation, the pay you want and the career path you desire. You are the person and in essence the entrepreneur responsible your own labour producing company called “Me, Ltd.” It’s worth noting that everybody is a potential entrepreneur and entrepreneurship is for everyone.

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Opinion

I need a Kim to my Kanye

Victor Mochere

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I need a Kim to my Kanye

Awhile back, my folks were all over my ass. They wanted an insight, an update, a grapevine if you may, anything that resonates with my love life. They literally made my phone a ‘ticking time bomb’. But am single, and for quite a long time I have been. At that moment it struck me, in a couple of years I will be clocking 30, so I need a Kim to my Kanye.

 

If you are interested in a junk like me. Then you must be tall, short ladies will have to forgive me on this. Be modest, mature and civilized. I don’t like socialites, or at the very least slay queens. I don’t want to be with someone who takes selfies with their tongue out. It’s important that you look presentable. Know how to package yourself. A God fearing lady will be an added advantage. Maybe with a price tag, ‘made in Heaven’. I’m not a church person so you might be forced to drag me to sermons, once in a while. I’m not an anger management consultant, so don’t bother if you are irascible. In a nutshell I need someone who is emotionally strong, and not a wet or green crap.

 

You must be young enough to be a lady and old enough to be a woman. In fact, if you think 23 is old, then you are the right fit. A very loving, caring, patient, tolerable person. Also you must be a very responsible person, hardworking and relatively smart. Which means you should be a logical thinker, intellectually secure and not myopic. A very support woman who is ready to be a wife and a mother. You must not be a drunkard, smoker or do drugs. For crying out loud am trying to start a family. Not unless we’re both drinking, lightly, and we will from time to time.

 

I’m in my mid 20’s. Four months ago I marked my quadranscentennial birthday, so ideally you can guess my age. I’m averagely tall, very dark and arrogantly looking. I do get comments like, ‘ugly’ ‘weird’ ‘trash’ whenever I post a picture of myself on social media. Though I do believe that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Thanks to my mother, am an affable person. Shy but romantic and often attached to sex but I have never dated before.

 

I love movies, music not so much. Sometimes, more so on weekends I might extend into the night watching my favourite TV series, I hope you won’t be bothered by that. I don’t watch soap operas. I’m a fun maker, a joker, thrice I have choked on my jokes. But I will caution you if am making a joke about you. I’m a sound sleeper, so I will appreciate if I get someone who doesn’t snore at night or keep rotating in bed. I do read, but mostly about technology and politics. Once in a while you will find me blogging, that is something that fascinates me.

 

I love eating, and do cooking, though the only person who approves my cooking is my uncle. I might be forced to share your kitchen or displace you entirely, when that happens please bear with me, cooking is one of the very few hobbies that grace my résumé. I don’t like sports, not at all. So if I happen to give you an excuse of going out to watch football, then I must and will certainly be lying. I’m an open person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep secrets. My life is a secret itself. I love kids, I hope and pray that we will have ours too, at most four. I have this notorious nephew who usually comes to my house to play video games or watch cartoons, I do give him his space and I will appreciate if you do the same. I have a very strong bond with him that I won’t like to see threatened or jeopardized.

 

I love coffee, very much. In the morning I usually take a cup of coffee with cream while in the evening with lemon and sometimes with ginger. I take shower twice a day, a cold shower in the morning and a hot one before bed. I don’t like riches or poverty, I live a modest life that will be part of you too. I must warn you that I have a killer instinct, more so when it comes to achieving what I want.

 

I don’t prefer a public life though the name ‘bigwig’ has been used on me before. I’m an introvert to some extent, so in case you want to bring some friends over, please have at least one who can initiate a conversation. I don’t smoke or do drugs, the far I have gone is some two or three buffs of a joint. But I do drink occasionally, once every month I go out with my friends to have fun and catch up. I will explain what I mean by fun on our first date. But the good thing is that I usually come home. Sleep overs are only when I have traveled.

 

Before you get too excited. Kindly note that am a nobody, in fact my father once called me a ‘useless baboon’. I don’t know whether he meant it literally or metaphorically. And I must insist that I don’t own much worth calling wealth. But we can start small. Won’t we?

 

If you’re interested or know anyone interested, rush to my inbox IMMEDIATELY!

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