Kenya , before the thieves showed up . Down memory lane

I rarely do a piece on a weekday but being a Friday please allow me to pen one and join me on a nostalgic trip.

A few weeks ago I met a chap who is my agemate but he comes from a rich family where the dad was a very senior goverment official. To this day they are wealthy .

I took time to give him a history of Kenya and how we had most facilities working . I told him that while we are forced to celebrate some overpriced SGR we indeed had the old railway that connected East Africa big time let alone Kenya .

I told him we even had a line to Nyanyuki to help ferry beef cattle for export via Konza and Athi River holding ground. Kenya was famous for live cattle export which is not easy to do .

We even had a railway line from Voi to Taveta . We even had KBS Mombasa to Taveta .

We had steamers on Lake Victoria. Families in Kisumu had folks in Bukoba , Entebbe or Mwanza.

Your cargo gets to Kisumu from Mombasa you load it onto water steamer across to Bukoba. Trade was huge . We had a proper working port in Kisumu.

Growing up in Marsabit I never saw a railway line but I knew there was a line that connected Nyahururu and Nakuru . Drawing railways connection in Kenya was part of our syllabus.

We even had a working very successful airline owned by Kenya Uganda and Tanzania before greed and one mad Idi Amin Dada self declared generals of all generals made us to divorce .

EU came to benchmark with East Africa on how an economic block can work .

We had working garment industries from Rivatex. Kicomi. Mountex . We had our meat canning factory in Kenya meat commission. Almost all household goods were manfacured in Kenya . We even assembled Sanyo radios made in Kenya.

My friend was left in awe . I was speaking to him like a bearded grey haired 90 years sage . Well while I went to ordinary school and managed to learn about our history my friend went to one of those ” fine” schools . Maybe they don’t get the opportunity to learn these things . I have no idea but I also loved history and geography.

For us to drool over a single line by the Chinese is really not a miracle . We had this and many more but looks like very few of us know about it or even remember it.

Health system worked where all hospitals were fully kitted and original medicine from Germany .Italy etc were prescribed.

We never had all these useless private health centres where majority are owned by goverment employed doctors selling drugs meant for public hospitals. Folks , private health centres is a clear sign of a broken system. It is NOT development.

Goverment schools all worked . I had the same books at Marsabit Primary school just like a child at Moi Avenue Primary school Nbi. We had no private schools all claiming to be academies save for community schools like Oshwal and Aga Khan . Again I repeat these many private schools proliferation is a clear sign of a broken system. It’s NOT development. Rwanda is doing the opposite . Fix goverment owned schools and the so called academies are shutting down .

In late 80’s, 90% of Nairobi had piped water , we drank to our fill straight from the tap and we were promised by year 2000 every home would have piped water. Nairobi is curenty getting water through trucks and Mikokotenis in 2019.

Folks I can go on and on. We may have been poor but the goverment of the day gave us dignity . Basic healthcare, education , water was in plenty. When basics are in place security takes care of itself.

I am sharing this to educate younger folks that Kenya was indeed a force to reckon with before the real thieves set in and made nonsense of a working system . Well I still remain optimistic that we can get our groove back but maybe not in my lifetime but I will do what I can in my small way.

Now you know and I wish you all a happy nostalgic weekend .

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi

Time to address congestion issues at Wilson Airport . Three things must happen .

Fact. Wilson Airport is a very busy airport in this region from handling tourists to emergencies and cargo notably Miraa the stimulant headed for Somalia and Northern Kenya .

The stats on domestic tourism is all bullish hence we can no longer treat Wilson as a small airport. Looking at the domestic tourism says it all.

My focus is on Wilson and space . Let’s be fair , a very busy airport and its safety record has been quite good. Recent mishaps must be addressed in a objective way and I have no doubt in my mind that we are in good hands of KCAA.

One key challenge at Wilson is congestion.

While land for Wilson has been grabbed over the years , the abandoned junk MUST be cleared to create space .

3 things must happen .

1. I strongly recommend that Miraa exporters should now be asked to relocate and operate out of Isiolo where we have a pretty idle airport . It is a stone throw away to the Miraa growing area of Nyambene hills. In fact they can salute the farmers as they take off with the stimulant on its way to Somalia .

This single smart move will also remove those daredevil speeding cruisers to Nairobi.

It will also help the economy of both Isiolo and Meru . If we could move cargo to Embakasi and soon Naivasha let us also move the Miraa export base to Isiolo and in the process Wilson will get breathing space .

2. Move the myriad of flying schools to Malindi and also Isiolo. That will again help decongest Wilson and help spread business to other smaller towns .

3. Get rid of all the old junk aircrafts at Wilson. I am sorry Wilson is NOT a junkyard. Even JKIA is developing the same problem gaining ground with more and more abandoned aircrafts. They are even an eye sore.

Folks first things we can not handle both passengers and miraa in such a small place and security is also paramount.

This is practical and let us do it . They say Talk Is Cheap.

Well as always I choose to remain an optimist.

Mohammed Hersi
Kenya Tourism Federation

It is about time Kenya Ferry Services was handed over to Mombasa County

Pedestrians and vehicles disembark from the ferry . This is a vital link to Diani , Kwale and Tanzania

Kenya Ferry Services connecting Mombasa to South Coast & Kwale County and then Tanzania is such a vital link.

On a busy day Kenya Ferry can handle 350,000 passengers and 6000 vehicles including oil tankers carrying fuel etc.

Sadly a mother and her daughter drowned a few weeks ago and it took 13 days to locate and get the bodies out. May their souls Rest In Peace.

Kenya Ferry Services is considered a state installation run by national goverment. Kenya Ferry Services falls under the expanded Ministry Of Transport , Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Planning. Keep in mind that all the airports and railways matters fall under this ministry including all the road network and projects . Then add Kenya Ports and Kenya Maritime . You tell me will Kenya Ferry Services get any attention in a crowded Ministry like this ?

Reality is that when an activity is far away from the heart of goverment there is less attention given to it . It is a fact that Kenya Ferry is the lesser cousin to the cash rich and bus Kenya Ports Authority. The only time you see attention on KFS is when buying a new ferry that is always shroudered in court cases or when a new board is appointed and a rare occurrence a few days ago when entire board was shown the door.

With devolution in place , where even hospitals are now under county governments I dare say that it’s now time Kenya Ferry Services was handed over to Mombasa County. Mombasa County have done well with matters health hence they can do more.

While Mombasa County has had its own challenges, I must point that Transport docket has been quite active and creative in sorting out issues from a walkable city to well managed traffic in peak hours by being ingenious with the same space we got. You can see the amount of passion they display , you can see tens of volunteers who are helping manage the traffic and most of them are people who have their own companies but volunteer to serve after their office hours. It only happens in Mombasa and for those of you attending Mashujaa Day you will see this volunteers on ground .

I am pretty sure Mombasa County will do far better in running the affairs of Kenya Ferry .

Mr President if it is one Executive order you can give at the Mashujaa day celebrations is to announce the transfer of this key facility dear to Mombasa to the people who host and use it on daily basis.

As always I choose to remain an optimist.

Mohammed Hersi

Abiy Ahmed was destined to clinch The Noble Peace Prize, I saw it coming

First posted on 9th June 2018 on my Facebook Timeline

While we are busy with our micro politics so much is happening around us and mainly driven by 42 year old new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

In less than 90 days he has been able to achieve the following .

1. Released most of the political prisoners in Ethiopia. He has been to key regions in Ethiopia to share his vision and show them true genuine love and suddenly Ethiopia is on another level full of optimism.

2. He has been able to break the ice with Egypt on matters of waters of the Nile which is lifeline for the land of pharaohs.

3. He has visited all the key neighbouring countries including ours Kenya.

4. He has also managed to bring the warring factions of South Sudan together Salva Kir and Riek Machar

5. Then the major one was over the weekend , in one stroke Ethiopia dropped the claims to some territorial dispute and accepted to vacate the disputed land with Eriteria without any condition . Over the weekend he flew to Asmara and what an emotional visit for both countries.

Abiy Ahmed and Isaiah Afeworki have 30 years age gap. PM Abiy was only 17 when Eriteria PM took over . It’s clear age means nothing. Eriteria PM is 72.

This man Abiy has been able to achieve so much in less than 100 days without those never ending conferences and meetings . This is Execution redefined .

What does Eriteria peace deal mean ?

Well Eriteria has two deep ports which is now open for use to Ethiopia and by default Lamu will now be affected. They also have acess to Djibouti and he has just signed a deal with Berbera in self declared republic of Somaliland but again if we act and deliver Lamu port then Southern Ethiopia can still opt to use Lamu just like Arusha opting for Mombasa as opposed to Dar.

This man takes soft power to another level. His charisma and likeable personality is just out of this world . It is clear he is trusted by everyone and he is only 42. May Almighty God protect him , we need such young charismatic leadership in Africa.

He said he wants peace with Eriteria he did not waste time seeking for approval from some various countries. He went for the bulls eye. At this rate Nobel Peace Prize could come his way, I would not be surprised.

Finally It Came To Pass…..

To Ethiopia and my friends like Addis Alemayehou , Dawit Bekele we wish you the very best of luck and It’s about time we brought you on board to join East African Community. Well abundance mentality dictates that when your neighbour thrives you also do well. We are happy for you and loads of love from your southern neighbours Kenya.

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi

To Kenya Railways, your notice is blanket condemnation . Recall & Review.

To Kenya Railways .

I hope my note finds you in good health.

Firstly it is indeed quite a while that I wrote anything about Madaraka Express but the few trips I have had with you was nothing but joy.

Now I saw this notice and I wonder how you arrived at it, it is draconian rule that makes no sense at all and you rub already stressed Kenyans the wrong way.

The issue that must have triggered this notice is the image and post that has been circulating of drunk and disorderly passengers in the cabins. The debate is about alcohol and where is alcohol permitted when on board. The debate is not about food, we have young ones , we have the sick who have a condition like diabetes they must eat something. I cannot stand management that stir up everthing. It is nothing but incompetence.

What you should be addressing is purely about alcohol consumption and disorderly passengers.

Simple rule, limit the alcohol consumption to the bar cabin / coach. No alcohol consumption just like cigarette smoking should be allowed in the passenger cabin.

Kenya Railways Management please stop such moves that only make you look bad. You are now running a modern railway line and Kenyans are paying for it through the nose. Please modernise your thinking process.

Now to my fellow Kenyans,

I will be very honest with you , travelling on SGR is not a blank cheque to drink yourself silly and act mad. What makes you think that once you board a train you can act the way you want shouting obscenities without repercussions? If you want to do that then hire a bus all by yourself , you can do what you want to do there. You can choose to travel half naked in your hired bus. SGR is SHARED TRANSPORT. Get that into your head.

Firstly drinking and travelling don’t go together and any responsible traveller knows that very well. In case of an emergency how do you expect to be assisted when you cannot even keep your drunk head straight let alone your wobbly legs . You are slumped over the small table and spreading your legs and hands in all directions. If you are not asleep drooling you are busy making noise to the discomfort of other passengers and even worse babies and sick passengers . You must respect the space of others.

What makes you think that since you happen to be in a mob decorum no longer matters. If anything the management of KR have the right to offload you at next station until you sober up. Please get that very clear , being noisy and disruptive is NOT cool NI USHAMBA. How do you feel when the next day a clip or image of you is circulating on vast social media .Please do NOT forget that internet never forgets.

Decent and civilised people don’t drink themselves silly

To Kenya Railways be sensible and reasonable in your rules . This notice is rubbish and it makes no sense . Go correct it. Carrying my water bottle or sandwich or a young mother carrying food for her baby should NEVER be an issue.

Mohammed Hersi
Kenya Tourism Federation

Lessons from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s new book ” My Story”

*Lessons from Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al Maktoum’s new book ” My Story”*

These days I read alot of personal memoirs by leaders who made a difference in the lives of their people and by extension made a huge mark in the world.

One such leader in our lifetime is Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

He has penned a new book titled ” My Story ” 50 memories From Fifty Years Of Service.

While his previous books My Vision and Flashes of Thought were equally good I found this to be very personal. In this new book he talks about his late mother and Dad and the tough childhood when they used to fetch water from the wells . How they sleep on roof tops in summer to cool down way back in the 50’s and 60’s when many in the world could not even have placed Dubai on the world map.

Why am I sharing this story ?

Every time some of us challenge our leaders some system apologists will quickly tell us to take charge and make a difference. Folks there is a big difference between what I as an ordinary individual can do and what I as elected leader who has control of huge public resources can do.

I am sure virtually every county including many in national goverment have been to Dubai and myriad of places to benchmark , they have also been to many other cities and places to do the same. Then we always ask , how comes we ain’t seeing an iota of the stuff replicated locally from those places they went for benchmarking.

I finally found the answer in this book and Sheikh Mohammed has dedicated an entire chapter that is titled ” A New Dubai in Africa”. He says many leaders have made contact with him with a goal to emulate what Dubai has been able to achive in less than 50 years.

He sums it by saying ” There is a big difference between wishing for something and working to realise those dreams”. He then goes ahead to emphasize , We do not tolerate corruption, we do not undermine the rule of the law , nor are we lax in the implementation of the plans we launch . This is how we are building Dubai”.

Now back to my earlier statement , as elected leaders with acess to public resources you are in a position to do loads of things.

It takes leadership to get the population to believe in a cause. I have had the opportunity to see Dubai evolve in the last 30 years , Morocco is another country which was just average until the current King Mohammed VI took over from his late father King Hassan II and in less than 10 years tourists visiting Morocco jumped from 1M to 11M which means every single year they have been attracting 1 million extra visitors , Morocco is churning a half a million Renault cars every year , Morocco is busy producing parts for Airbus why? Because the King himself is leading the way .

I am currently in Turkey and in less than 10 years Tayyip Erdoğan managed to turn Turkey into one very serious country economically exploiting their God given location and large young population. President Erdoğan has been President of Turkey since 2014. He previously served as Prime Minister of Turkey from 2003 to 2014 and as Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998. He had positional leadership where he used resources to do the right things .

Turkey just retired yes get me right retired an airport that was handling 70 Million passengers a year because the vision of President Erdogan is to handle 200Million + passengers a year turning Istanbul to be one major hub that will even eclipse Schipol and Heathrow. It takes leadership to do that . We are still struggling to hit even 8Million Mark.

The Asian tigers also jumped from desolation in under 50 years from Malaysia to Thailand and lately Cambodia to Laos to Vietnam once war torn countries.

Well closer home TZ under President John Pombe Magufuli aka JPM is walking in that path because he does not tolerate bad guys misbehaving. Collin Powell in his 18 rules of leadership says that you must confront the bad people who need to be confronted. Thanks to him TZ civil servants now use bio metrics to sign in at their place of work and as a public official President Magufuli will simply call you out in public and even fire you . Rwanda and Ethiopia are silently doing what needs to be done to catch up on lost time without drama and fixation on some election that is 3 years away .

Well I feel Retired President Kibaki almost gave us that feeling when he went to fix very many roads that were dilapidated including forgotten places like Isiolo Marsabit Moyale Addis highway and of course next door Voi to Taveta road. Can you imagine if Nbi never constructed all the bypasses ? And the many interchanges ? Even Thika highway is now traffic gridlocked. Imagine for once if Thika road was left as it was .

We now have the Big 4 which is a great vision but I am afraid I don’t see that happening when we allow so many guys to get away with murder to a point where for the first time a diplomat Israeli Ambassador asked to be recalled from Kenya . He felt he was achieving nothing when a host nation was not keen to address issues and this was the failed noble idea of Galana Kulalu maize project. This was well captured jn a candid interview with a local media house. We see bad guys undermine the Big 4 day in day out and they walk like they have done nothing wrong.

We have counties that receive billions every year but the people and entire county is worse off with dirty streets , broken infrastructure, collapsed health system that worked under national goverment. The said governors will be in the news for all the wrong reasons and thanks to our failed media who give them coverage. Some of these misbehaving ” leaders ” think clowning is cool. Tragedy is that these governors are local boys who rose through poverty and how we mistaken were we that they would love to lift their people out of poverty . Some of these governors manage funds to the tune of Ksh 10B to 15B which is $100M to $150M a year . Take it from me that is alot of money.

Devolution was to allow us to vote in leaders who understood the pain areas but what many counties got in return are leaders who behaved like small kings which Sheikh Mohamed in his book talked about the likes of King Shah in Iran and Kind Idris in Libya amongst many who were toppled. We got leaders who were only fixated on how many relatives and friends will occupy what office and what contracts they will bag.

Doing business with counties was also seen to be another way to help the economy at grass root level but it has turned out to be one way to kill your business. Even worse it qualifies as one of the 101 ways to die young since counties are just not in the habit to pay their bills unless you are one of those friends and relatives.

Kenya is not poor due to lack of resources but due to failed leadership at all fronts both at national and county levels. To those leaders with acess to all these funds , history will judge you very harshly. Keep in mind that you won’t live for 1000 years , we all have just a few years to make a difference . What do you want to be remember for ? To the electorate keep thinking tribe and I promise you , the exit from that rat hole will never happen and please do not blame Almighty God. He gave you a working brain to think.

To our elected leaders holding various positions , I leave you with Henry Ford’s quote ” You Can’t Build a Reputation On What You’re Going to Do.” It’s easy to be lured into a false sense of security based on what we intend to do” Nothing More Nothing less.

Despite all this I still choose to remain an optimist that one day we shall get serious as a country . To the system apologists I will for sure do my bit in my own small way but I won’t tolerate you when you want to pretend to allocate yourself the role of a gate keeper to censor and sanitise what we say . Sorry such a position doesn’t even exist.

Mohammed Hersi
Twitter @mohammedhersi

Mohammed Hersi

South Africa a big brother tormenting other Africans.

I hate to watch any clip that has violence let alone where human beings are clobbered and burnt to death. I opened one such clip I received via WhatsApp. It was shocking, killing others simply because they are from a different country and ” YOU THINK ” they took your imaginary job.

What I have seen time and again in South Africa is revolting .

White farmers are also getting killed in big numbers across South Africa but for some reason International media have not picked that story . A white famer dying in Kenya naturally is headlines globally.

I had so much hope in President Cyril Ramaphosa yet I have never heard him come strong against these young South African black young men roaming the streets in their hundreds NOT thousands killing and burning Zimbabweans. Nigerians . Mozambiqueans. Even our Kenyans have not been spared.

A press conference is not the way to deal with it , fold your sleeve and get on the shop floor. Get the military to step in and give shoot on sight orders to anyone killing and looting. The current scenario is now beyond a press conference. Those lunatics don’t watch news.

You see 300 marauding thugs it’s an insult to call them youth breaking into shops and looting. Burning premises and vehicles owned by blacks considered not South Africans some torched alive to die a painful death. Where is the paramilitary police . We have seen no attempts to stop them . Where is South Africas intelligence team.

A man the world considered dangerous Julius Malema has been more vocal, considerate and measured in his response to condemn these violence.

Madiba Mandela ( RIP) is one man who led for one term to stabilise the nation and he never insisted to stay on . He is one man who forgave and tried to accommodate others including the people who tormented him .

ANC went on a looting spree once he was gone which is a common trait by my fellow Africans . Granted the youth are disillusioned but don’t transfer your aggression to your fellow African immigrants who are there just to make ends meet.

Challenge ANC the ruling party to create employment and opportunities . Killing an Ethiopian shop keeper or Ghanian Tailor will not solve your problem.

To Cyril Ramaphosa you were very unhappy when you were skipped and Thabo became President. Then followed the ” Zuma Error ” where wedding parties could land their private aircrafts at protected military installation and Rhino poaching was at all time high.

Now that you are in charge , South Africans cannot see your leadership let alone rest of Africa and the clarion call of Ubuntu. Your half hearted approach in addressing the ongoing violence leaves a lot to be desired. Now I believe that a successful corporate guy does not necessarily become successful in politics.

To the rest of Africa please do not harm any South African in our midst neither should you attack any of their business outfits. Late Mandela a man I admire immensely has given a solution treat ANC just the way we treated the bad Apartheid regime .

In my small way I will boycott any South African firm and product in Kenya .That is what we did to Apartheid South Africa. They do not deserve our support . Corporate South Africa has remained silent as these atrocities unfold right infront of their business premises.

To Corporate South Africa once the thugs are done with their fellow poor Africans they will come for you . I leave you with a swahili saying ” Ukiona mwenzako Akiyolewa chako kitie maji.” When you see your friend getting a beating prepare yourself to be next.

Madiba must be turning in his grave at Qunu in Transkei. RIP Khulu.

As always I choose to remain an Optimist.

Mohammed Hersi
A True Pan African.
I Am Hurting .
Mombasa Kenya.