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

Jan 16, 2005
Tragedy of education by numbers

After 30 years of neglect, 6,000 rats were reportedly killed at Wakulima Market recently, with another 6,000 allowed to escape. After 30 years of neglect, our education system now annually allows 350,000 children to proceed to secondary education. Another 350,000 are told “Sorry, house full”. Why am I comparing our children to rats? Because as […]

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Jan 09, 2005
Let Tsunami teach us something big

On Boxing Day 2004, the word “tsunami” was imprinted on our collective consciousness forever. The sea, exploited and polluted by mankind for aeons, bit back. On that day, we finally understood the cruelty that nature is capable of. The giant waves came crashing in all over the Indian Ocean, destroying everything in their path. The […]

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Jan 02, 2005
Kenya must get its act together in 2005

How does a country develop? Much in the same way a successful company does. First, a few visionary men and women get together and think deeply about what they want the country to be and stand for. Then, they define the common values that hold the country together as a nation. Next, some specific, measurable […]

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Jan 01, 2005
Time to rethink our approach to job creation

What comes first: jobs or economic growth? Put another way, should we create jobs directly, so as to inject purchasing power into the economy and stimulate growth? Or should we put the right conditions in place to enable the economy to grow, and let more jobs be a desirable by-product? It was lack of clarity […]

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Dec 26, 2004
Predictions for Kenya in 2005

It is fashionable at this time of year these days to offer predictions for the year ahead. So allow me to chance my arm, climb the prophecy tree, go out on a limb and look into my crystal ball, all in one smooth movement. Here’s what I think 2005 portends for Kenyans. Let’s start with […]

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Dec 19, 2004
Achievement lies in work, not reward

What is achievement? When should we recognise people’s accomplishments? As a society, what do we appreciate in the work of our people? The notion of achievement in Kenya has taken on some rather strange shapes and colours. We clearly value the acquisition of great wealth, position and status above all other things. The need to […]

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Dec 12, 2004
A letter to Kenya’s youth

Dear Young Kenyans, It’s good to be young, isn’t it? The skin is vital and the eyes bright, and raw energy courses through your veins for 24 hours a day. Hope lights the road of life ahead, like a spectacular flare in the darkness. You can be anything, do anything! What is it you actually […]

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Dec 05, 2004
Time to think calmly about health

Professor Jeffrey Sachs was in town this week and, as usual, he made waves. Our health minister’s much-debated, much-maligned NSHIF Bill was listing dangerously, having been breached below the water-line by employers, employees, hospitals, insurers and actuaries. Just as it was about to capsize, the famous professor came to its rescue. He praised it in […]

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Nov 28, 2004
A focused mind brings success

We’re all very busy, aren’t we? At least those of us with jobs and businesses are. This is the paradox of modern Kenya: a large number of citizens sit idle, unemployed or under-utilised; simultaneously, a small number of workers are buzzing around like deranged bumble bees, seemingly carrying the weight of the entire economy on […]

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Nov 21, 2004
Why we must stop joking about jobs

Yes, we need new jobs – half a million of them every year. Yes, we need to boost average incomes and purchasing power in this economy. But we do NOT need to create nonsensical “non-jobs” in order to achieve these goals. This should be obvious but apparently is not, even amongst the powers that be. […]

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Nov 14, 2004
What can Obama do for us?

Kenya appears to be in the throes of “Obama Fever”. One of “our sons” has just become a senator for the state of Illinois in the USA, and the news seems to have triggered the onset of a strange affliction. The malady first cropped up in a small group of family members, but has rapidly […]

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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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