Saturday, 2 August 2008

Bribery in the UK Government? Surely not!

I have just heard over the radio that the Secretary of State for Justice, Rt. Hon. Jack Straw, is calling for a measure to bribe the British public.

Apparently, the latest ploy of our esteemed socialist government is to bribe the electorate at the next general election.

According to Straw, the idea is that if you turn out to vote, you will be entered in a draw to win a plasma television, presumably regardless of which party you vote for - at least I hope this is the case!

I know that the turn-out at elections is dropping, probably due to the total apathy felt towards our leaders, but this is a pathetic attempt to get us into the polling stations.

Surely, it would be more plausible to have a manifesto that fires the imagination of the public - love it or hate it - you would feel obliged to vote for or against it.

But then, of course, manifestos are usually conveniently forgotten. What a party promises to do in order to get voted into power, has little bearing on what they actually do when they win.

Admittedly, the British Labour Party has hit a popularity low since Tiny Blur abandoned the Premiership (and the country) to Gordon Dour. The Scots want to break away from the rest of the UK (and who can blame them?), the Government cannot hold on to its safe seats in a by election, and the opposition parties are winning other by elections with ever increasing majorities.

So, I suppose Straw is hoping that if, at the next election, the Labour Party can get their apathetic voters to the polling stations, they will manage to hold onto power.

I doubt it. Listening to interviews with life-long Labour supporters after the Glasgow East by election, Labour have a snowball's hope in Hell's chance of winning - unless they bribe the electorate - and I don't mean with a plasma TV.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Getting Used to Kenyanese - part II

I am not even going to try to explain the nuances of Kenyan English - sorry. There are other blogs out there, written by Kenyans that can explain this. A good example is:

However, there are certain idiosyncrasies that I could point out. I have already touched on the "Yes" meaning "No" and the constant use of the word "Sorry" in a previous blog,

But now I want to touch on more general differences. Firstly, it has to be said that to a Brit, Kenyans can seem to be very rude. They are not. In my experience, they are very warm, polite people. But they can be a little abrupt. Do not be surprised if, when giving someone something such as a cigarette (or stick as it is known in Kenya), you will not necessarily receive a "Thank you". It is implied, though. Accept it as said.

The same goes for "Please". This seems to be used as a plea, a last resort. I child may say please when asking for sweets, for example, but only after several attempts to ask for sweets without using the word. This is not rude. Again, the please is implied, not spoken.

"Oh pleeease buy me some sweets," is accompanied by a cute (girl) or cheeky (boy) smile, a fluttering of those beautiful brown eyes (girls only, though).

Be warned: If you like Kenya and Kenyans, you will not resist the pleas of the children. They are masters of the plea. They are not begging, well most aren't, they just want you to be friendly and buy them sweets. Simple.

Even when travelling by train between Nairobi and Mombasa, you will not escape the children asking for sweets. They line the track-side, calling out how much they like you ("Mzungu, I love you. Pleeeease give me sweet!"). The trains only runs every other day and are slow, I mean like you will be overtaken by tuk-tuks.

The kids living in the villages next to the line know when the trains are due, and will even break from school classes to ask for sweets. Many a time I have seen an open-air classroom with only an exasperated teacher standing by his chalkboard, his charges running next to the train, carrying plastic bags in which they put their spoils.

It is a Government thing ...

The buck stops here ... But these days, we have to ask ourselves where "here" is. Because, once upon a time, it was at the desk of the President of the United States, Harry Truman.

These days, it seems, when there is a problem, the minister in charge of the relevant department takes a quick look around, and tosses it to whoever is nearest.

In the latest cited case in Kenya, secondary schools are complaining about funding. President Kibaki announced in January that secondary education was to be free. Hurray!

But had he given a thought about where the money was coming from? Obviously not, because he and Raila then went on to create a 42-minister government, just to make sure that all their friends had jobs.

Did they wonder where the money was coming from to finance the extra "ministries"? Obviously not.

Now the Ministry of Education, which is strapped for cash as all ministries have had to rein in on their budgets, are blaming school administrators for the delay in payment of government funding to the schools.

During the school riots, is was the fault of the parents, mobile phones and buses with music systems installed.

When will they wake up and face their responsibilities?

I would guess that, because they are just like most other governments in the world, yes including ours, never.

While they earn their inflated salaries for doing little more than bickering among themselves, or selling of Kenya's "family silver" for a song, and making sure that they don't have to pay income tax like real Kenyans, they don't have time to look at real issues, and find a real solution.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Clarity at Last

My business partner in Kenya and I (still in the UK) have been battling with emails from an important potential client because the English used by said client is not as precise as I would like. We have been going round in circles for the past week, trying to understand each other.

Finally, the veil has been drawn away from my eyes

Apparently,there is a trade agreement between Kenya and the country of origin of our potential client and our contract has to be notarised, at our cost. That's not really a problem, so, with a bit of luck, we are ready to advance to the next stage.