"CEOs can't wait to read Sunny Bindra's articles every week."

Nov 07, 2004
Prodigals abroad can transform this land

Ngugi wa Thiong’o is Kenya’s best-known literary figure. He is a novelist, playwright and essayist of worldwide repute. He is a professor of English and Literature, and has held positions in leading American institutions. He is the winner of an array of literary prizes. Prof. wa Thiong’o chooses not to live in Kenya. Ali Mazrui […]

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Oct 31, 2004
Beware the lure of the ad-man

You are asked to believe some remarkable things these days: that a foodstuff can “give your children the confidence to face the future”; that a toothpaste will make very attractive members of the opposite sex flock around you in helpless abandon; that once you buy a certain type of life assurance you are protected from […]

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Oct 24, 2004
Strong values underpin economic success

What does the word “globalisation” mean to you? In the minds of most people these days, a host of negative connotations emerge spontaneously. We think about “exploitation” – that we are being stripped naked by the rich countries and their storm troopers, the multinational corporations; about “volatility” – that we are being sucked into the […]

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Oct 17, 2004
What does Wangari’s prize really mean?

When the news broke last week, Kenya experienced a collective swelling of the chest. The Nobel Peace Prize, no less! What an accolade, what recognition, what a tribute! What an honour for Kenya and Kenyans. It was almost as though the country had won the prize, not a woman called Professor Wangari Maathai. As my […]

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Oct 10, 2004
Economy carries cost of moral collapse

What is it with Kenyans and Other People’s Money? As soon as we are asked to handle money that is not our own, we become spendthrifts at best and outright criminals at worst. A sweeping judgment, you say? Unfair? The record is not good, people. You would all agree for a start that our politicians […]

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Oct 03, 2004
Inequality makes us all poorer

We live in a poor country with an economy that’s still limping along. Yet this economy keeps throwing up some startling phenomena. Consider just a small sample. Even though real GDP per capita has been in decline for several years now, top-of-the-range vehicles keep selling like hot cakes on a cold day (and enjoy a […]

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Sep 26, 2004
How to reverse Nairobi’s crime epidemic

New York City, 1990: The unofficial crime capital of America, averaging over 2,000 murders and 600,000 serious felonies per year. A place where violence had become a way of life, where you took your life in your hands if you dared venture into the ‘no-go’ zones. A city reeling under the violent repercussions of a […]

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Sep 19, 2004
Everything’s for sale in Kenya

Britain was once called a nation of shopkeepers. If so, then Kenya can only be a nation of hawkers, vendors, and peddlers. Not to mention hucksters and spivs. For everything is on sale in Kenya. I’m not referring to the normal range of goods and services. In Kenya, you can buy anything – including things […]

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Sep 12, 2004
An interview with Kenya’s new Spin Doctor

Following on from the appointment of the official Government Spokesman some months ago, the Government this week announced the formation of a new office – that of the Government Spin Doctor. Dr. Abunwasi bin Uwongo was appointed to this important new post yesterday, and he granted the Sunday Nation an exclusive first interview. He explains […]

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Sep 05, 2004
Do Good Samaritans still exist?

There can be few of us who do not know the biblical story of the Good Samaritan – of the traveller who was beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. You will recall that two pious and supposedly God-fearing men – a priest and a Levite […]

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Aug 29, 2004
Another bad August for Kenyans

August, we all know, is traditionally a bad month for Kenyans. It is the month in which our leaders die, our trains crash, our ferries sink and our buildings are bombed. It is the month in which catastrophe chooses to strike, in which we are rocked back onto our heels by some monumental disaster. Most […]

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Aug 22, 2004
Is this famine an excuse to feel good?

The way the country has responded to the ongoing famine is wonderful, is it not? Every day we hear of new donations of food and money. Every day a new company steps forward to announce its own initiative to help those in need. Donors, too, have put their shoulder to the wheel; for all their […]

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Aug 15, 2004
Why we are all slaves of delusion

Imagine this: some prisoners sit in a cave, chained by the neck, hands and legs. They have been this way since birth and so have no conception of any other way of life. Shadows keep appearing on the wall in front of them. The shadows are caused by jailors who stand behind the prisoners, unseen. […]

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Aug 08, 2004
Only growth will pull us out of poverty

We must grow! There is only one solution to entrenched poverty such as ours, and that is economic growth. It has been proved again and again: growth has to be the principal strategy for raising the incomes, consumption and living standards of the poor. Consider this: a recent study by Xavier Sala-i-Martin, a Columbia University […]

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Aug 01, 2004
A very special cabinet meeting

The government had been in power for exactly two years. The President had convened a special cabinet meeting to commemorate the event and to reflect on the highs and lows of the tumultuous past 24 months. He looked around at the men and women sitting around him, and leaned forward to speak. “Ladies and gentlemen”, […]

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Jul 25, 2004
Self-help is the only help we need

It is now widely acknowledged that waiting for the government to do anything for you is an epic waste of time. If you are a rural Kenyan waiting for services to reach you, you may well be required to wait until Kingdom Come. The government, you see, has many more pressing things to preoccupy itself […]

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Jul 18, 2004
This famine is a failure of men, not an act of God

So it’s official: we are facing famine in Kenya. The first acknowledgement of this was made when, during a state luncheon for ministers and assistant ministers, the President asked other countries to send us “maize and beans”. I was not, of course, present at the luncheon, but I am willing to bet those present ate […]

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Jul 11, 2004
We’re not going anywhere if we keep fighting on the streets

So we’re back on the streets again, hurling rocks and breaking each other’s skulls. The teargas returns – coordinated via helicopter and supported by water cannon this time. Kenyan is turning on Kenyan. Tribal positions are more entrenched than ever. Shots are being fired in anger. The state has turned on its citizens, and the […]

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Jul 04, 2004
Meet a rare creature: the humble leader

It is easy to be cynical about our leaders. Watching them is like watching some theatrical farce, one that begins as a comedy but will, we fear, end as a tragedy. The average Kenyan, who sits among the wretched of the earth, watches these leaders as they try to convince us why they need to […]

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Jul 01, 2004
Dance your way to growth – one step at a time

The Tanzanian and Ugandan economies have been growing at a brisk pace for five years or more. Kenya, long in the economic doldrums, is showing signs of an ever-so-gentle upturn (shhhh…don’t frighten it). CEOs around the region are bracing themselves for a period of growth. It’s an exhilarating feeling – to be focusing on growing […]

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To transform your company – think small!

Once upon a time, an East African corporation of substance had precisely that: plenty of physical substance. A major company would own, amongst other things: a resplendent corporate headquarters, complete with flags, statues and fountains; huge manufacturing or assembly plants; conference and training centres; vast fleets of vehicles; clinics and medical centres; kitchens and restaurants; […]

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Jun 27, 2004
A special Sunday quiz: how “Kenyan” are you?

1. When you vote for an MP, do you vote for: a. The candidate with the experience, skills and nature to bring development to your constituency b. The candidate with the loudest voice and the biggest car c. The candidate who gives you the biggest bribe? 2. When you vote for a political party, do […]

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Jun 20, 2004
If we fail to become authentic, we fail at everything

Here’s a story often told in management circles when discussing culture and change. It concerns an experiment involving some chimpanzees in a cage, a bunch of bananas and a hosepipe: Five chimpanzees were put in a cage. In the middle of the cage was a step-ladder with a bunch of bananas placed on top of […]

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Jun 13, 2004
How a national campaign is attacking those who waste the time of others

How much time do you waste every day because of the tardiness of others? Waiting for a meeting to start, when the other participants have not shown up? Sitting around at a doctor’s clinic where you had booked an appointment for an hour earlier? Awaiting a report that was due last week, and without which […]

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Jun 06, 2004
Why economic development alone cannot deliver happiness

We are on the road to economic development. At the end of this road we will find some wonderful prizes: affluence, freedom from hunger, higher life expectancy and enhanced quality of life. Right? Before you accept the truth of that statement, allow me to take you on a brief tour of the developed world. Let’s […]

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Jun 01, 2004
These days, the business of business is social responsibility

This is the era of good corporate citizenship. As governments are rolled back all over the world, big corporations are rushing in to fill the void. Business is now the principal engine of growth and development the world over, and society demands that corporations contribute to the social, environmental and economic goals of the communities […]

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Here today, here tomorrow: is your company in for the long run?

You lead a large, long-established, obviously successful East African company. It is a veritable behemoth, looming large over the corporate landscape. Its products are household names, loved by consumers. It is a profit machine, churning out handsome dividends to smiling shareholders. There is every reason to feel confident about the future. Allow me to send […]

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May 30, 2004
Our media industry can build this country – or pull it down

Few countries in history have enjoyed meaningful economic development without having a vibrant media sector. Why? Because the instruments of mass communication are one of the key enablers of political freedom, which in turn is one of the keys that unlock economic growth. The best development happens in an environment of freedom and transparency. We […]

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