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

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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May 23, 2004
India’s election has a big message for the Narc government

Our MPs are very fond of going to the coast for workshops – usually sponsored by donors. If a well-meaning donor can be found again, I have a suggestion: that all MPs be sent back to Mombasa. The task this time, however, would be to sit on the beach and stare across that beautiful expanse […]

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May 16, 2004
Road deaths are predictable and preventable

Of all the systems you and I have to deal with every day of our lives, one stands out as the most dangerous. Systems are, of course, all around us. Most things we deal with can be defined as a set of connected parts: your home, your office, the government. All of these systems present, […]

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May 09, 2004
Institutions, not politicians, will deliver us from poverty

Here’s something to think about: it is not in Kenya alone that politicians are an utterly untrustworthy breed! As we continue to look upon our political leaders with suspicion, irritation and frustration, we can console ourselves with the news that we are not alone. Politicians are held in very low public esteem all over the […]

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May 02, 2004
Why we all have to learn to set high standards

Reading Kenyan newspapers these days tends to be distressing pastime. Consider the following news items that appeared over the past few weeks: Forty-one people were injured, two seriously, when a train rammed into a speeding bus in Athi River town. How did this happen? Because the bus driver approaching the railway crossing, in a mindless […]

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Apr 25, 2004
There will be no winners in the Iraq war

A few weeks ago, I wrote of the lies told to justify the Iraq War. Since then there has been a relentless barrage of revelations by former insiders, whistleblowers and journalists, showing the true (and shocking) extent to which the US president and his advisors peddled falsehoods. Last month, the US House of Representatives published […]

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Apr 18, 2004
The proper role of government in our development

Successive governments since independence have, in varying degrees, been devoid of vision, devoid of ethics and devoid of competence. In other words, as they took charge of the bus called Kenya, they drove us round in circles, failed to maintain the vehicle until it collapsed, and ran away with all the passengers’ money. Given this, […]

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Apr 11, 2004
This high-decibel culture is retarding our progress

“Before you speak, ask yourself: is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?” These words are attributed to Sai Baba, the celebrated saint who lived in Shirdi in India at the turn of the twentieth century. Today in Kenya, I find myself wondering: would we have any political […]

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Apr 04, 2004
How to succeed as a politician in Kenya

This week I would like to continue my occasional series offering free career advice to the young and ambitious. Last time I outlined the sure-fire ways to make money in this country. This time I’d like to focus on the big one: becoming a politician in Kenya. So pay attention, youngsters – you could make […]

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Mar 28, 2004
We cannot develop if we leave the poor behind

Last Sunday I found I suddenly had a distinguished neighbour: a ‘whole’ ambassador, as we say in Kenya. No, I haven’t moved to one of those affluent suburbs where the diplomatic classes spend their weekends in stately repose. I refer to the fact that Bo Goransson, Sweden’s ambassador to Kenya, wrote a thought-provoking article on […]

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Mar 21, 2004
Use the City Hall fire to start again

What was the defining moment of the recent City Hall fire? Was it when shadowy arsonists (allegedly) sneaked in to do their dirty work? Was it when we found that the much-derided Nairobi City Council was utterly unable to put out a fire in its own headquarters? No. For me the defining moment was altogether […]

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Mar 14, 2004
Our culture of violence degrades us all

You may have seen a very disturbing scene on our TV screens earlier this week. A local TV station carried the story on its prime news slot, and a very distressing one it was. It caused a cabinet minister to condemn Kenyans as “vulgar hooligans” the next day, and it was hard to disagree. This […]

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