DEAR STUDENTS, PLEASE CUT THE SLACK

Students strikesAbout a 100 students have been charged in court for arson related cases in the last one month. Moreover, close to a 100 high schools have been closed down following the unfurling unrest among students. The unwavering strikes have had pundits citing reasons to do with extension of 2nd term, mind you, for just one week and the archaic anxiety brought about by form four Mock exams. Some have even gone ahead to allege it’s all about Matiang’i leadership style! If you ask me though, he is one of the most hands on C.S in the Jubilee government. By the way, it’s time he cracked on the clueless County Educational Officers, as all they do is sit and wait for a hefty salary at the end of the month.

There has been this misconception over the years in the minds of many students that the world starts and ends with them. We were in that stage too, toying and flattering with the same euphoria. We used to imagine we were the end game and the creme of the world. We believed the world looked at us with awe and admiration and that it would literally stop, sit back and wait for our nonsensical mindsets to steer us to burn schools and pull a see no evil, hear no evil. Nobody could have convinced us otherwise. Dear students, we’ve been there, done it and come to regret it. Please lend us your ears and while at it, kindly cut the slack and the hype. It won’t matter a thing in a few years.

You see, there is something about uniforms that hides our family status. It blurs hard facts creating an impression that we are equal and will forever be. The truth of the matter is, that’s far from the truth. It’s colonial and cheating. Come to think of schools in developed countries and why they don’t emphasize on school uniforms. The philosophy behind this, from my imagination is to help these kids develop self-identity and appreciate backgrounds will always differ. That hasn’t been felt in Kenya. I say it again; uniforms have a way of creating artificial uniformity which is misleading to me, from where I sit. Let students appreciate they are different and must chase their individual dreams. Dear students, the moment you walk out of that high school gate having successfully sat for your KCSE exams if lucky and safe to be out of jail, reality will coldly welcome you to the other world. To the world that puts you to your rightful place. It has no time for slack and mob justice syndrome. Never. Here, everybody carries his or her cross, baggage and dream(s). In here it’s all about how you far you push your envelopes; how you trade your skills; how you amass networks and not how wealthy or poor your family is. You can also get away with impunity anyway but if not lucky, you will die a young death and a painful one for that matter. So dear students, please cut the slack.

Woo unto you especially, that is funded by a bursary scheme or harambees. No pun intended. If your parents sacrifice everything to have you in school and all you do is conspire strikes that burn classrooms; may the good Lord speak to you in a special way, now. May He wake you from the messy ignorance you are swimming in. You know, it is extremely annoying if you burn a school while your relatives have combed the entire community soliciting for small donations here and there just to give you what they didn’t benefit from. This is what we call parental love, boy! I also assume that you have come across an idiom that says; You never throw stones if you live in a glass house. Nature can be punishing and unforgiving.

Dear young girl that is chauffeured to school in pricey cars. Please don’t inconvenience poor kids’ dreams with your selfish influence. After organising for a strike, your parents will bribe their way, and ship you to another school. This is Kenya, right? Your life will move on seamlessly but you’ll have cut short someone’s only hope. Those students you badly influenced to join you in organising to burn classrooms will have their fate sealed by poverty and misery. Their parents will not have the stature or the evil monies to bribe their way to other schools. Their kids will have to drop out school sadly and get married at their young age if lucky not to get pregnant and start the journey of single motherhood before they celebrate their 18th birthday.

On the other hand, parents fixed to the corner by hard economic times will have to approach their chamas and Saccos for emergency loans. Yes they will do so to pay for your selfishness that had dormitories and classrooms torched. You even torch your books and beddings seriously while some of you don’t even have enough beddings at home. Why do you allow yourself to be drugged by this stupidity? Imagine it won’t matter in few years. You will never meet with some your so called friends after completing your KCSE. Some will do well in life while otherwise will have it rough. Some of you will have the potential of even employing some of these so called rich kids. Please dare to prove me right by not joining them in torching schools that are your only getaway to your dreams. Don’t allow them to mess with your future. You know what; Life cares very little about your family background. Actually in most cases it doesn’t. Imagine you all have a blank cheque for your life. It’s all about who you let in to your life and whose opinion you choose to buy. Life is all about creating something with what you choose. If you choose bad influence and slack from rich kids who believe their future is cut out, or from students who have lost hope of life; you’ll have sealed your fate for the worst.

To some of you, it will feel momentous when one contributes to the pattern that adds to the infamous staggering statistics of schools torched. Momentarily, your peers will celebrate you. How foolish is that and how long will it last? How much will you cost your struggling parents while even having you in school smoothly without being sent home for fees is a problem?(No pun intended). Dear students, it’s all fun and games until when you check to your parents’ humble homes only to be welcomed by reality. This is when you realise, the uniform no longer matters but rather, is the devil in the details. You realise how much uniform hides from reality. Who lied to you that you were born conjoined at the hip with your classmates? That’s a fallacy you need to drop before it’s too late. Their lives will be fixed by their influential parents but what about you who can’t afford a lawyer or can’t relate to the term – Family doctor?

Promise to stop this madness, dear student.

Address to parents:

Parents must step up and cede from overprotecting their kids. They must drop the shenanigans of treating their children with kids gloves. This alone, has immensely contributed in the soaring indiscipline cases in schools. Just the other day, it was reported that a parents’ association had bailed for an out of court case with one of the affected schools. Now, what will stop this delinquent kids from torching their schools all over again given a chance?

A MEETING OF SORTS: MR. X & I

Mr.x2On this afternoon, I get a text from a close friend reading that there is this gentleman, whom we shall name Mr. X, in dire need to meet me to have an important conversation. I immediately call my good friend to dig dipper. She doesn’t disclose as much, only alluding that Mr. X has some great opportunities if only I’d be interested. We end the conversation. By the way, the text had his number. At least my number wasn’t given out without a heads up. We call that courtesy. Well, I take my time wondering what Mr. X could be having in store for me. I even start questioning, why me and not any other person. You know how fears and doubts can tread on someone? Shame on them. May these demons of self doubt die premature deaths.

This was last week….

Thanks to the temptations of thinking that the grass is always greener on the other side, thoughts of me calling Mr. X were receiving National spotlight in my world. It could be the turnaround I have been waiting for, you know! I thought. They say opportunity knocks once, meaning it should be grabbed with all vitality in our possession. In this very competitive life, one cannot afford to pull a seat and wait. By now, I was on adrenaline, my mind going wild, occasionally throwing random thoughts that probably my dreams could come sooner…my savings could grow confidence and my tight budgets could loosen. I was on a mental treadmill trying miserably to control my jumpy heartbeat and the roaming mind. Speaking of my mind, it literally downed its tools on whatever it was working on, took off the dusty apron for the day and ran after the building illusions. As for me and the rest of my body, we pulled duvets and watched in amusement. “This is it!” I mumbled to myself.

In few minutes time, I was calling Mr. X, resisting an overwhelming anxiety. I helplessly listened to my phone requesting him to pick up from the other end. My fondly gadget remained so hopeful but unfortunately it didn’t come to be. Something else interrupted in a few….My call was hanged up. How? Jesus Christ of Nazereth? How does Mr. X hang up on me? It doesn’t happen especially when you sort to reach me through somebody. Mr. X c’mon. That was a mistake which I wasn’t taking lying down. How could I? At least not when I had a whole pregnant mammoth of illusions, expectations, built castles, racing hearts, shivering hands and anxious eyes eagerly waiting for my State of the Nation address. This build up of momentum couldn’t be in vain? Surely Mr. X

I retreated to the penthouse with my very trusted confidants eager to build a counter narrative, a Plan B & C and a painful exit strategy if need be. I was here chairing a tensed meeting, clouded with uneasiness and simmering frustrations smoldering from the cracks of vague hopes. Seated with me were my Instincts on the right, which serve as my National Intelligence docket. Present too were my emotions tough to persuade not to overreact. I had to give them (emotions) a dress down speech, on how to behave and be hopeful. In our midst was my Ego pulling no stops in giving indirect subtle threats and ultimatums to Mr. X lawyers. You see you have to give it to my Ego. It’s okay to liken it with one Nkaissery. Fiery loyal, protective and gun blazing. Dare me hehe. My P.A was also present having been represented by my Personality. My lawyers were in the vicinity too hired from the enviable Kageshi Kingdom. The chiefdom was in a crisis if you may, and summons had to be honoured.

Straight on the agenda was how to prepare for Mr. X:

  • How organised and ready was he to find us?
  • If he’d ask for some commitment fee, could our Treasury be in a position to honour?
  • How quickly were we to do our maths in finding out if the deal was exploitive? He could be a cunning salesman you know!
  • What if he didn’t call or pick up our calls ………after having the whole nation after us? It’s like Obama cancelling a nostalgic and over publicised trip to Kenya. But we rode on an assumption that Mr. X was a very busy man and could be calling in no time.

Meanwhile we kept the bulging battery of journalists around penthouse guessing on what could be cooking

And he finally called. From the onset, I could sense he was a salesman all hidden by the wishy washy preambles. Keen to listen, careful with his words and bringing along, a well -oiled confidence. Make no mistake he had mastered his game and was here to pursue a target. To catch and confuse a seemingly naive soul, a gullible taxpayer and an impatient youthful employee scared of stagnation.

So the eagerly awaited deal was all about joining his establishment, for lack of a better word, that partners with hotels across the world and endeavors to bridge the space between holiday enthusiasts and holiday destinations. He is a senior official in this organisation and his work is concisely to recruit, recruiters. Don’t get twisted. He is the chief of them all and have set base across 29 countries including Kenya. From the eye infectious sandy beaches in Singapore, rolling high walls in China to one of the longest suspension bridges in the world sandwiched by a thick forest and wild animals in British Columbia, what else could you ask for. The thing is, this package comes with discounted bookings in thousands of hotels around the globe. The trick is; the more people you net in, one gets a commission but Mr. X gets a tidier sum of money. It’s like being your own boss but having to part with huge commissions for the big brother. You recall the euphoria about GNLD back in the day? It’s the same concept.

Call him Mr. X. He is defined by zero chills and the art of conviction. He is a self -believer, has a feel good effect and good at charm offense. He can sell you land in Pluto, convince you to lend him all your savings or share your wife with him. He knows nothing about uninterested clients. They never exist in his world. He has this witty smile that talks of the devil being in the details. Even without having met him you could tell he looks straight to the face with eyes that can audit your life and find out about your bank balance in seconds.Funny enough, Mr. X doesn’t understand how to end a conversation. He calls for 30 minutes with a Safaricom line with no indications of hanging up soon. He will call when you are preparing evening tea, have it ready and taken, listen to him as you clean your dishes, as you dust your carpet, as you watch the news, as you say hey to your neighbour, without him getting bothered of the background noise or of your annoying yawns. He takes no chances. The fact that one has to raise a minimum capital and pay a monthly charge if he/she fail to maintain at least 4 active members was my point of departure with him. That was too much work for me.

Meanwhile, all my imaginations came grand halting, hitting down with thunders of frustrations and salivating for my blood like the armies of the movie, Game of Thrones. The annoying part is, thanks to Mr. X’s marketing skills I didn’t know how to say No. Yes, I’m one of those who nod when they mean No. I belong to the school of thought that is afraid of hurting people with cold Nos. Haha. At this minute, Mr. X is waiting for my appointment and I have no clue on what to tell him. Anyone willing to help..Andreaders?

Surely Mr. X

WHAT TYPE OF A BAR PATRON DO YOU MAKE?

Happy hoursI can already predict Kageshi will not have kind words for this post. You know, she is not the type that encourages me to pop in a House of Noise as she would refer it. Where middle class humans frequent to watch the night pass, while imbibing toxic stuff and drooling at the rest of the souls for over 6 hours. Since the music sound is normally deafening, the following morning one wakes up with a husky voice as what transpires the previous night happens to be a series of shouts in the name of conversations. That said, the feeling is phenomenal especially when you check into a popular joint once in a million years. It feels great to observe all caliber of people from all walks of life checking in and seeing them metamorphoses to laid back zombies while some transform to wild guinea pigs in a space of three hours right in front of your eyes. Here you’ll bump to Mr. Githendo of Tigithi Butchery & Grill (Read Mutura). For those who don’t recall this chap, he was the guy you would call for delivery of a ka-half  (Half kg goat meat), right at your doorstep before you moved houses.

You’ll meet him at the corridor that extends to the washrooms at 12:01 am making his way out from the gents. He will insist on shaking your hands at this time of the night even after you are damn sure he will not have cleaned his hands. How could he get bothered by not washing his hands at this time of the night when the germs have long retreated to their camps so drunk or drained by the noise and the overwhelming energy from the patrons? Well, Mr.Githendu a long human being, with unkempt beards all over his cheekbones will have chained your worried hands with his tough palms. He’ll indulge you for five eventful minutes but also having to deal with an endless traffic of humans making their way to and from the washrooms occasionally tearing between you too unapologetically or stepping on one of you so casually.

A sigh of relief will join you however, as you make your way back to the boys whom by now will have joined the dance floor (They make bad dancers haha) but not after realising they are already ahead of you with three beers. You’ll clearly appreciate you can never catch up with them since you are such a light drinker. Okay I just made that up. There is no term as that. Yaani, you understand your body can’t just allow you to gulp alcohol all at ago like water! It will frown, rubble and protest. It will pull a CORD demo on you for 24 hours which can be embarrassing no matter how much teargas you spray it with. In your defeated situation courtesy of one Githendu, will wish them well and a safe journey ahead as they enjoy what 7 beers can do to a man who last tasted food a whole 10 hours ago. Meanwhile, yours will be to continue sweet talking your body to have it easy with this drink. On the sidelines, you will consume some considerable time chairing meetings with your stubborn Lungs and the moodless Pancreas and the Liver with its intimidating personality attempting to convince them whatever you are having for the night is not Kenya Cane (KC) or Kibao or illicit liquor that makes men impotent. Hell No. This is beer made by a company listed in the NSE…for crying out loud! It doesn’t deserve such contempt from influential stakeholders like the Pancreas and the rest. Surely!

Anyway, two hours down the line you’ll order for a kilogram of tender beef meat, ugali for three and Pilipili kwa ubali (A bit of pepper) certainly not for you. Interestingly, it will take another two hungry hours to be ready, meaning; By the time it lands on the not so spacious table, you’ll already have hired two lawyers and sued the waitress in charge of your table one Ms. Philomena and her sympathetic eyes, the Chef of the night, Chief Supervisor and the Man at the Decks for either causing confusion, engaging in lies, obstructing justice of your order being delivered, for exercising unprofessionalism in their line of duty and willingly failing to address your hunger. By the time the food lands, your stomachs will have stormed with anger leaving no space for meals served at 1:30pm. In fact the stomachs will have already cleaned the rooms (Intestines) and closed shop and checked out. By the way, you will also spend time wondering why a lady with name such as Philomena would wish to be a waitress. No pun intended. But Philomenas look like they work in courtrooms as judges or advocates or courts clerk. Is there a female kuyu by the name Philomena? Forgive me.

As you would guess, the night will not be short of more drama. A 29 old overweight boy in a usual oversize T-shirt and sagging pants will demand you create space for him and his girlfriend of two days which as you guess; his pleas fall on deaf years. He will curse the ten of you in that seat and walk out. That will certainly not raise your eyebrows apart from wondering what overweight boys and oversize T-shirts and sagging pants have in common. You’ll make time though, for some souls that will steal the show with their A game dancing styles. It will feel like the cultural festivals or you being Judge Ian where the dancers will try to persuade you indirectly to be their fan. Meanwhile, you will wonder where guys donning suits emerge from, at 2:29 am complete with a slim tie, hand in hand with a lass carrying along a waistline the size of a fist and high heels longer than the Fourteen Falls waters. She will have dressed in this free flow faint blue dress that will seem to flatter her toned belly but again giving way to vast hectares of uncovered grazing legs. You will let that pass and watch them in their drunken mood ordering for Heineken to stamp the night. They will have one each and crawl out with the same agility they came with.

There will always be the troublemaker who will sink the 10 page bill, hehe in his glass of beer. How smart! This will leave Ms.Philomena shivering with this unexpected turn of events. The troublemaker will scare his Bukusu girlfriend and the rest of the entourage before he gets whisked away by the mean looking, bald headed men keen to prove that they abide by the spirit of the contract they signed with the the management of this club.

Of course there will always be representatives from the Phony-Community parading their pricey phones and taking a thousand selfies. The imageries will make their way in the streets of social media in their infant stages of life at awkward hours of the night. Some of you will feature in this photos unwillingly but let that slip out. This community though, drools at their phones from the time they walk in to the time they walk out, a space of 7 hours. Worthy to note; you always envy the patience of their phones and the longevity of their battery life.

Happy hours and the beautiful feelings have a way of being robbed from the patrons by the likes of Ms.Philomena when they drop that bowl filled with bills and other intriguing features. This is always the time for soul searching, playing difficult and learning the art of reconciliation even if you didn’t see light of the day in an accounting class. One by one you will interrogate every transaction jogging your mind to have a screenshot of that order. By the time you are done, you will have sobered up and ready to drive home a very sober man scared to hell by whoever invented bar bills.

The next day you’ll remember jumping to Ali Kiba’s new jam Aje, how so! And passionately dancing to Unconditional Bae by Sauti Sol with such vigor. Actually, you have never thought of yourself that fit to go down in those dance moves for some minutes. You will also have wondered why Hip hop music feels exceptional to listen to in these places than in your digs! Is it about the beer?

 

KENYANISM, DEADLINES & NUMBERS

CompliantWhat brings us together as Kenyans majorly lies with Football and Deadlines. Kenyans love Deadlines and Deadlines love them back. They love working with each other most of the times too. Speaking of Deadlines they should be part of our National symbols and even entrenched in the Loyalty Pledge. Wait! Do kids still recite the loyalty pledge in school parades? Why did it sound difficult to us then, hehe. Anyway, aren’t we just loyal to deadlines?

Dear Kenyans, since when did Papa (Shirandula) appear on our TVs soliciting us to file our tax returns? Typically, we turned a deaf ear, blind eye and moved on to more important things ignoring the fact that Karma was alive and kicking and that a day would come when we will waste days hinged on stagnant queues begging for assistance. Those days have come home to roost. Just this week, here we were taking off days or closing down our businesses to rush to Huduma Centers and I Tax support centers to impatiently line up pulling remorseful faces and going back home having not got any assistance. We stared at those tired and demotivated faces from KRA personnel taking a century to find letters Q & F in the dusty keyboard and waiting even longer for I Tax website to process a single command. The elderly staff donning those multicoloured fat ties and oversize suits clearly looked overwhelmed by the crowded halls of humans who seemingly have a soft spot for deadlines. But seriously who still strangles his neck with a fat tie the size of a mother’s union kitambaa. We complained and threw tantrums in these stuffy halls together with hundreds of other laidback taxpayers because misery loves company, and demanded to be explained as to why there were clouded inefficiencies in these offices.

But to be fair to KRA, they took about 5 months sensitizing us to file our returns. The very educated Kenyans but perceived to be busy too (really) didn’t care a thing nor have time for such flimsy requests from government. We dismissed Papa’s ads and got submerged to more family talks at that crucial time before 9pm news. We went ahead browsing on our phones if not preparing supper or catching up with the day’s newspaper or retiring to bed early. We laughed at the poor bachelor who missed on marrying the love of his life for not filing his returns. The shocker he got from Papa is the same shocker that compelled us to make frantic calls to a Mr. Chris, the only accountant we know of to help matters. Unknown to us, Mr.Chris was making a kill from our procrastination-mentality and casual reasoning. Of late he has been laughing all the way to the bank cashing in from many of us who have a genetically modified problem of working with deadlines.

The very peculiar Kenyans who have each, half a dozen briefcase companies for no apparent reason, stare at the reality of paying sh.10,000 penalty of every company that didn’t file a tax return by 30th June this year.  Moreover, we will also have to pay an extra sh.1,000 unnecessarily for the Individual returns we failed to file querying how worse can be the consequences of defaulting to file! I even know of people who woke up at 12am or made it to the office by 6am to file their returns. From where I’m seated, that’s the shocker the Bachelor in Papa’s ad was battling with. We were not any different, caught flat footed by a Mr.Njiraini (KRA MD) who didn’t bulge or show any sympathy for those who hadn’t made it to the deadline. In any case, KRA put it on record they were targeting 2 million taxpayers (only), meaning the rest will have to prepare to pay penalties. Some crossed their fingers for Mr. Njiraini to extend the deadline but to their shocker (The same in Papa’s ad), that was a non-issue.

We are the same funny taxpayers who sabotaged the I Tax system this week. Predictably, we waited for the very last week and suddenly started running helter skelter to cybers to login to the system. How wouldn’t the system servers not get shocked too if suddenly millions of Kenyans bullied the KRA website with millions of attempted log-ins? Being an accustomed user of I Tax system by virtual of my career, I could tell it would disappoint taxpayers at the very last days. In any case, KRA officials disclosed that 28th June was the only day they witnessed the largest number of successful filed returns where the numbers stood at about 100,ooo. That’s tells you how complacent the system is, meaning, many would-be taxpayers were locked out which wouldn’t be the case if all took Papa’s ad seriously.

But what are consequences of not filing tax returns in Kenya? That’s the elephant in the room and the million dollar question. Arguably, there are no harsh consequences especially to individual taxpayers than they are to companies. Many will not lose sleep for a mere sh.1,000 haha. Call it mere but isn’t it not painful to part with a one thousand shillings note due to negligence and our very typical Kenyanism? The other consequence would be for those who apply for Compliance Certificates. But how many apply and when is it needed in the first place? I’ll come to that shortly. The shocker though comes from the news that KRA has been in active engagement with banks operating in Kenya to cooperate and release bank details of tax payers. If that succeeds and essentially have it that KRA will have powers to demand banks to deduct monies of defaulting taxpayers, that alone will be a game changer. Word has it that KRA is banking on a new law that will give it unfettered access to taxpayers bank accounts to improve revenue collection. If this succeeds one will be put to task in explaining the sources of incomes that find their to your bank accounts that probably don’t reconcile with what you disclose in the Income Tax returns.

They even went ahead to approach Safaricom salivating on millions of Mpesa transactions that process billions of monies, though Safaricom won the first knock out stage citing breach of confidentiality. Pundits have it, KRA will be back at Bob Collymore’s doorstep better armed with a law that will leave Safaricom a helpless opponent. This again is where the can of worms live and prosper. Mpesa will be the next battleground. According to Safaricoms 2015 Annual Reports; Mpesa active customers stood at 13.9million, 6 times more what KRA was targeting. You sense the disconnect. The devil lies in the numbers. This is where the cookie crumbles. If KRA storms Mpesa, millions of Kenyans will have to part with staggering penalties. As back as 2014, Kenyans moved more than Sh.1 trillion in 6 months. You can imagine how much more is moved in 2016!

I promised something about Tax Compliance certificate; you will need it as a requirement for some government jobs, County and Government tenders. The validity of a TCC lasts for 12 months, nowadays applied exclusively via I Tax and normally rejected if you have pending tax returns or have accrued penalties and interests.