Monday, April 04, 2005

Banker’s Holiday

Have not left Nairobi this year, and the stink of the heat is getting to me. Office had a retreat this weekend and they picked Naivasha for the trip. It’s a working holiday, but I need the re-charge so am taking the trip. Feel so re-charged, thoughts are running

Raila Should Resign
This is not a political statement, it’s a logical . Our destination today is Lake Naivasha, which is surrounded by resort hotels and flower farms (big exports of Kenya) and the road from Naivasha town is a 10 kilometre long pothole full of rocks. Two years into Narc’s term no significant urban or national road has been built, let alone repaired (but when I was in Mombasa in November, I visited some relatives in Shanzu, who showed me the late minister Maitha’s homestead which had got a new and very smooth road when he became minister – and I assume it’s the same in other ministers and leaders home areas, as these things are expected in Kenya) Raila’s political wars have damaged his relations within government to an extent that there’s no way they (i.e. Finance Minister) will give him cash to build any roads – and which he can use as future election ammunition. So he’s been reduced to making promises about roads to Sudan and Ethiopia that will never be completed. He should step aside now as this will lead to a win-win situation for all – Raila can focus his energies on the Constitution and 2007, he’ll get mileage for being the first minister to resign, and Kenyans will get roads built overnight – as the toadie, politically-correct minister who replaces him will be given all cash and resources to repair all major roads - and to embarrass Raila at the same time. Otherwise, if Kibaki ever wakes up tomorrow and decided to fire ministers’ for non-performance, not many tears would be shed for current Roads minister - Raila

Kenya is Beautiful
Our destination is a Lodge on the shores of Lake Naivasha. The place is beautiful, expensively done resort, which few Kenyans have ever heard of - It used to be called Safariland Lodge and was previously one of Somaia or Pattni's properties. The hotel is first class, quite full of tourists, pricey (rooms are about 10k($130)/night), - so they probably don’t have to market themselves to Kenyans. Of the 8 satellite TV channels, 3 are in Hindi.

Celeb Watch
Glanced at the visitor’s book while at the reception, which was signed by one Kamlesh M. Pattni (Paul) two days before I arrived. He has acquired one bad habit that our parliamentarians have – while hotel guest sign and comment on a single line of the visitor’s book, MP’s - like wekesa, wetangula, uhuru, ruto, godana, njoki, kiraitu – all sign an entire page of the visitors’ book, making their rhetorical lame comments on the hotel service visible to all.

I want to be Minister
I’d never have visited this resort and paid out of my pocket, but the company is paying – so am here. I now realise the beauty of being a Kenyan cabinet minister. You acquire mysterious wealth, people forget briefcases of cash in your office, you have all your bills paid for (limousine, bodyguards, house, cell phone, fuel, other benefits), you get a bonus every two years for being loyal to your boss, and most important whenever you need to go on holiday, there’s always someone (taxpayer or lobbyist) willing to pay you for that (first class accommodation & airfare, daily pocket allowances)

There was so much to write about over the weekend, but I’ll have to wait till mid-week. The hotel has no internet access, though I did see one complaint (4 pages long) by a French tourist in the visitor’s book – he was mad about the room& dining service, he hadn’t seen a hippo during his stay, his bathroom floor was wet bathroom and he was charged $1 for two minutes internet access. .

Dumbest Move
Going swimming alone after sunset in the Hotel Pool – swimming in the deep end, I forgot that I had my glasses on and they sunk to the bottom of the pool. I had to spend 15 minutes searching the bottom of the pool until the pool boy was called – he found my glasses after about 3 dives.

Best move
Taking a one-hour boat-ride across Lake Naivasha. Saw dozens of hippo herds and birds, and learnt so much about life around the beautiful lake from our boat pilot. One day, Kenyans will stop building houses in shags, and they will come and build waterfront houses around Lake Naivasha.

Was a great weekend with beautiful sight, despite some office politics. I even came up with an idea for a new company – hopefully it will provide my retirement package in 30 years – then I can return here.


Afromusing said...

wow, this was entertaining, and the story about your glasses was too funny!

Anonymous said...

I love the way you combine banking business with occasional insightful and observational posts. Thanks for this account on Naivasha - almost felt like I was there:-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks all so much

- send the $$ and i'll make the trips

- Kengen should be available by the Q4 of 2005. Look out for Equity Bank though, they are much farther ahead in the IPO process (but quietly)

Anonymous said...

Forget minister! Go for presso and then you can appoint all of us to your cabinet and send us on retreats!

Magaidi said...

Very interesting. The bit about ministers signing visitors' sign in logs is very funny. I know safariland, been there a coupla times. I am yet to hear of anyone going to Naivasha and complaining or is it just me? It's that nice.

Anonymous said...

Bankelele for prezzo, seriously its great idea, he can be our very own Howard Dean, tutakuchangia pesa utashangaa.

Anonymous said...

Ahh... how refreshing. One request though, comment more often. Even though we'll get more nostalgic


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