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

Sep 14, 2003
Kenya: the poor country that spends lavishly

Meet John: he is a sensible sort of chap, but he’s going through a rough patch economically. His finances are in disarray, and he cannot currently meet his obligations. What does John do? For one thing, he makes sure that his spending goes down to an absolute minimum. This means focusing on the absolute basics: […]

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Sep 07, 2003
Oh, what a letdown these politicians are!

On Monday 30 December 2002, I sat amongst several hundred thousand people at Uhuru Park as our new president read out his oath of office. The joy of the crowd could almost be touched. It grew to a crescendo, and as the president reached the end, the final lines were said in a rousing chorus […]

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Aug 31, 2003
Let public servants first declare their competence

This week I would like to invite you all to a comedy show. Welcome, and please take your seats! Sketch 1: Phase 1 of the National Constitutional Conference is underway. Some interpreters sit in the middle of the auditorium amidst the clamour, translating the proceedings all day long using sign language for the benefit of […]

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Aug 17, 2003
Miriam – the little lady with a lesson for us all

Have you heard of Miriam Wanjiru? If you watch Nation TV or tune in to Nation Radio, you certainly will have. Miriam is not your normal celebrity. She is not a film star. She is not a pop singer. She is not a beauty queen. She is not a hip and go-getting yuppie. She is […]

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Aug 10, 2003
Let us teach self-belief to our children

Last week I wrote a mock ‘travel advisory’ for Kenyans travelling to the UK. Baiting the British in this way is great sport, particularly because they are so smug and self-righteous in their dealings with Kenyans of late. But having fun does not really take us anywhere. Every time we find ourselves turning on outsiders, […]

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Aug 03, 2003
Travel Advisory for Kenyans travelling to the UK

As one who has spent considerable amounts of time in both countries, I thought I should issue a personal travel advisory to those Kenyans contemplating travel to the United Kingdom. Enjoy! COUNTRY ADVICE – United Kingdom Current at: 3 August 2003 Getting there As a Kenyan wishing to visit the UK, you will find your […]

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Jul 27, 2003
Assaulting the poor is unspeakable folly

We are bedevilled by violence in this country. I have asked the question before: where does it all come from? Who teaches us this savagery? From the events of last week, the answer is obvious: our leaders. The pictures on our TV screens last Saturday were gruesome, to say the least. Hulking bulldozers met flimsy […]

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Jul 20, 2003
How much economic growth is chronic insecurity costing us?

If you give a man a gun, ask him to risk his own life in order to protect you, and then proceed to pay him just KSh 5,000 per month, the outcome is certain: sooner or later, he will turn the gun on you. Why the government is unable to see this self-evident truth remains […]

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Jul 13, 2003
In Africa, Big Brother watches us all

Unless you’ve been in serious hibernation for the past three months, you will be aware of a phenomenon called Big Brother Africa. In case you’ve just woken up, however, here’s what you need to know: twelve contestants, each from a different African country, are holed up in a specially adapted house in South Africa. They […]

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Jul 06, 2003
The travel ban was a wake-up call for Kenya’s tourism industry

So, the travel bans and nasty advisories are virtually gone. The European tourists are beginning to trickle back. Industry bigwigs, mayors, and beauty queens are usually at hand at the airport to welcome them back, dollar signs visibly gleaming in their eyes. The smiles are back. We can treat the whole episode as an ugly […]

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Jun 29, 2003
Money madness will produce many more Goldenbergs

Why are we so fixated on money? It appears to be the measure of everything we do. It is the reason we get up every morning and start working. It seems to make our world go round. Even the Leader of the Opposition was in full flow recently, attacking the former vice-president. He dismissed him […]

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Jun 22, 2003
If we want performance, we must value ability

Are we serious about becoming a ‘performance-orientated’ nation? Do we mean it when we say we’re looking for results? The president has taken a strong lead in the matter: he’s exhorted us to roll up our sleeves and get working. He’s warned us that there are no more handouts. He’s asked us to take charge […]

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Jun 15, 2003
The lost art of speaking plainly

Do you understand the following words? “The government is committed to developing innovative, proactive and goal-focused policies that reflect the aspirations of all Kenyans and meet the expectations of key stakeholders. We will focus on efficient and effective service delivery in an environment of transparency and accountability.” Or consider the following typical ‘mission statement’ from […]

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Jun 08, 2003
The aid circus is back in town

The shilling did its dance of joy last month, in anticipation (I’m told) of wonderfully large aid flows that will wash up on our shores in a matter of weeks. Our currency, like us, waits with begging-bowl outstretched. In business and government circles, the talk is the same: we’ll be OK because aid is on […]

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Jun 01, 2003
We collectively blew Kenya’s tourism away

What ails Kenyan tourism? Why does it go reeling from disaster to crisis? Is it really all to do with bombs and clashes, terrorists and politicians? These are merely smokescreens; when you look through the miasma, an ugly picture of complacency, giant-sized egos and misguided strategies emerges. Look first at the product. There’s no doubt […]

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May 25, 2003
Tourism and terrorism are now inextricably entwined

So, Kenyan tourism takes another body blow. An industry that has taken a frightening number of knocks over the past 10 years is put to the sword again. Already, we are told, the damage done by travel warnings, flight re-routings and conference cancellations runs to billions of shillings. Reeling from the bang, the tourist industry […]

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May 18, 2003
The frightening loss of common decency

Whatever happened to decent behaviour? Where along the rocky road we have been travelling did we lose our civility? What became of the ancient virtues of kindness, gratitude and courtesy? I only ask because I fear they may be lost forever. You think I exaggerate? Read on, and decide for yourself. Are you a worker […]

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May 11, 2003
A tale of two countries

In 1963, two countries in different parts of the globe emerged from turmoil and entered a new era of hope. Country A had just freed itself from the yoke of colonial rule and was breathing the fresh, heady air of self-determination. Country B was coming out of a debilitating war with an aggressive neighbour. Both […]

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May 04, 2003
Freeing ourselves from the prison of self-centredness

As we embark on rebuilding this nation, we mull over the losses we have incurred over the past two decades. What exactly did we lose? We certainly lost law and order; economic investment and growth; institutions and governance; roads and power lines. All of these can be reclaimed. Indeed, we are embarking on a journey […]

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Apr 27, 2003
To the victor the spoils

I grew up in Kenya, and believed in America. It was easy to do in those days. To a child’s eyes, America seemed to stand for freedom and liberty, for the power of the individual, for wonderful affluence. On the other side were arrayed a bunch of undesirables: dour Russians intent on taking away everyone’s […]

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Apr 20, 2003
Demand and deliver the Kenya we want

Kenyans have started to dream again. Up to last year, dreaming was a dangerous pastime in this country. How many of us would try to imagine a better country, and be left holding the shattered pieces of that vision in our hands? How many of us would hope for a safer city, only to find […]

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Apr 13, 2003
Economic growth is about mind, not matter

100 days is a ridiculously short period in which to start evaluating the performance of a new government. I guess it’s a nice round number, and gets public attention. But it is absurd to expect any real outcomes in just three months. Have new jobs been created, is inflation coming down, has forest cover increased? […]

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Apr 06, 2003
What our cricket team says of us

On Thursday 20th March 2003, Kenya’s cricket team was doing a lap of honour having just lost a match in South Africa. Why? Because our cricketers had just been beaten by India in the semi-final of cricket’s World Cup. The crowd – South Africans, Indians, Kenyans – was on its feet applauding. And those of […]

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Mar 30, 2003
They see no blood; they see only a chessboard

And so we have a war. If you listen to George W. Bush, this is a noble war indeed. It is about freeing Iraqis from the shackles of a cruel dictator. It is about creating a model for democracy in the Middle East. It is about eliminating terrorism from its roots. Don’t listen to this […]

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Mar 23, 2003
A whole country to rebuild, and all we can do is play political games

The emperor Nero, it is said, played the fiddle while Rome burned. In Kenya today, our new leaders are showing a frightening propensity for doing the very same thing. The Narc government swept into power on a wave of huge public sentiment. The people had had enough of entrenched poverty, enough of poor services, enough […]

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Mar 16, 2003
Kenya must embrace her prodigal sons and daughters

I want to tell you about a country I know. This country has a population of 20 million people. Its citizens include doctors, scientists, technologists, industrialists, shopkeepers, salespeople, artisans and housewives. The average income of this group is approximately 8,000 US dollars per annum- more than 20 times that of the average Kenyan. This country […]

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Mar 02, 2003
The private sector must also embrace good governance

For years, Kenya’s corporate sector was in denial. Everything was the government’s fault: rotting infrastructure; imprudent monetary policies; corruption and malfeasance in public institutions. And, of course, that old favourite: the lack of a ‘level playing-field’. Meaning that while ‘we’ did things by the book, our competitors dodged taxes, maintained illicit relationships with power brokers, […]

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Feb 23, 2003
Good governance is the measure of our civilisation

A new song is on every politician’s lips these days: good governance. Every minister, every permanent secretary, every technocrat, in the new government can be heard singing it for the cameras. The president even made it the cornerstone of his address at the state opening of parliament, and announced the creation of a special department […]

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