Saturday, January 31, 2009

At least 113 people die in tragic tanker explosion in Molo (Kenya)

A collapsed tanker has exploded near Molo while people were collecting free fuel from it after it had had a road accident. At least 113 people have died and about 200 have been injured. A few of the injured have been discharged from hospital, but most of them remain admitted at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital (86) and the Molo District Hospital (31). Apparently, most of the victims are children and women. Local hospitals are overwhelmed and some of the victims have been airlifted to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). Among those killed and injured are some policemen who were trying to refrain the public from stealing fuel from the leaking tanker...

"The people went to scoop up the oil, then something lit the fire, maybe someone dropped a cigarette," Kenya Red Cross spokesman Titus Mung'ou told Reuters of the disaster. "More than 50 people have died." Dozens more sustained life-threatening burns in the explosion which occurred near Jolly Farm on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway at about 7.30 pm on Saturday. Two hours after the fire started there had not been an effort to put it out and a Sunday Nation writer could still see bodies burning away from a distance of about 50 metres.

"My two sons ran home, picked some jerrycans and ran to get some petrol. I tried to stop them but they did not listen, they told me everyone is going there for the free fuel," said one distraught woman, who would not give her name. "Now I cannot trace them," she said, sobbing as she looked at the skull and bones of one corpse nearby.

An eye witness told the Sunday Nation that Officers from a nearby GSU camp were the first to arrive at the scene after the tanker crashed. According to the witness, the Officers began demanding a fee from those who wished to scoop petrol spilling from the tanker. “I heard someone saying that they were going to avenge the fee by starting a fire and left the scene fearing for my life,” the eyewitness said. “Moments later, I heard the explosion.” In the confusion a PSV bus driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed. It is suspected that some of those who burnt were passengers on the bus.

Oh my God, what a very sad week for Kenya! We had the Nakumatt Downtown fire blaze on Wednesday in which at least 48 people died according to some reports, and now we have this 'accident' in Molo where another 113 or more lives have been lost.

My prayers go to all the family and friends of those who lost their lives in these two extremely tragic events. 

Let's now all work urgently on disaster preparedness. This week was really too much to bear. Kenyans are angry. Kenyans are shocked. Kenyans are too desperate. Where are our brains? Why don't we ever learn from previous disasters? What are our lives really worth? My fellow blogger Mama has some interesting thoughts on what is wrong with us Kenyans.

P.S.: Relatives of missing persons can call +254 722 300701 or contact Red Cross officials on the ground on +254 720 460438 and +254 720 430455. 

Michelle Obama may be pregnant

The celebrity blogger Perez Hilton has reported a 'rumour' that Michelle Obama is pregnant. Though Hilton admits the story is ‘completely unconfirmed’, it quickly spread across the internet.

Hilton said: ‘This is completely unconfirmed and at this point just a ‘rumour’ but … we’re hearing the talk in DC is that Michelle Obama is pregnant. Could this be true????? It’d be happy news! Hopefully it’s a boy!’ The White House has made no comment on the rumours.

Several photos of Michelle sipping on a glass of bubbles have been uncovered, but this failed to stop the gossip mill: she could have been drinking something that had no alcohol...

So, what do you think? Is she or is she not? Obama was saying 'yes we can', so maybe they did it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is Novida really winning this war?

With only a couple of hours left to vote, our Alvaro vs. Novida poll on the right side of this amazing blog seems to be tilting towards Novida, which currently gets about 60% of your votes. Let's wait and see whether Alvaro is still in for a last minute sprint...???

UPDATE with the final result: Novida wins the war:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Amazing what you can do with a few condoms

This short video just gave me some brilliant ideas:

Anything else these things can be used for?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia

Some more Obama news. A toy company has launched dolls named 'Sweet Sasha' and 'Marvelous Malia'. The Sasha doll has pigtails and wears a white and pink dress with hearts. The Malia doll has a side ponytail and a long-sleeve shirt with capri pants.

Michelle Obama has termed the launch of these dolls as inappropriate: "We feel it is inappropriate to use young, private citizens for marketing purposes." The doll manufacturing company, however, said these dolls are not based on Obama's girls and are not a replica of the First Daughters - rather the names were chosen because they're beautiful... Other dolls in the collection include Lindsay, Paris and Hillary. 

What do you think? Completely inappropriate or just some random dolls?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Putting Kogelo on the map

The Official Google Africa Blog had an interesting post today about mapping Kogelo.

Some people at Google's office in Nairobi thought it would be great to literally and physically put Kogelo on the map, given the recent historic developments of a son of Kenya becoming the first President of the World.

In Kogelo, the Googlers were greeted by a big sign board of 'Senator Barack Obama Secondary School'. The challenge lying ahead was not apparent until they got to the Chief's Office. The letter expressing their intentions had to be translated to the local language before they could proceed. It contained various words such as 'Internet', other Google jargon, and other words requiring explanation. The Chief was finally convinced and gave a nod permitting them to capture GPS coordinates, photos and videos of the schools, dispensary, administrative offices, shops and open air market places.

They then did some technical magic, and as a result the first maps of Kogelo can now be found online. What about you, can your ancestral home already be found on Google Maps? I tried it out, and I was able to trace my roots.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Malia Obama capturing history

Malia Obama was capturing history earlier today, with the First Daughter filming her father as he made his first speech as President of the World.
Malia - who was dressed in a striking blue and black coat - is regularly spotted with a camera in hand at her father's events. She has been busy documenting her father's historic days with a small digital camera. Reports indicate that Malia Obama's "camera of choice" is actually the Kodak EasyShare M893.

Malia may be the most promising White House historian: she seems to have been recording every moment with her camera, from her father's inauguration speech to Beyonce's performance on Sunday. Malia is surely getting a better than average angle on many of these occasions. President Barack H Obama has another photographer to watch out for now...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obama: What a sweet letter to Malia and Sasha!

I have now gone through all of Obama's great and inspiring speeches, but I have just discovered something even better than all of his speeches combined: his recent letter to his lovely daughters Malia and Sasha. Heartwarming words, and I must admit that I had to shed some tears while reading this. So here it comes:
Dear Malia and Sasha,

I know that you've both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn't have let you have. But I also know that it hasn't always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn't make up for all the time we've been apart. I know how much I've missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.
When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me-about how I'd make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn't seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that's why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.

I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential-schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college-even if their parents aren't rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.

I want us to push the boundaries of discovery so that you'll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.

Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country-but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free-that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.

That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something.

She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better-and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It's a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.

I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you've had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much-although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.

These are the things I want for you-to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That's why I've taken our family on this great adventure.

I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.

Love, Dad

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wetang'ula may have to ride a bicycle

Kenya's Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang'ula and his crew of accompanying Ministers and MPs have been insulting fellow Kenyans by travelling to the US for a party using public money at a time Kenya is facing a huge hunger crisis and begging for foreign aid. Well, it looks like God is trying to punish this crook called Wetang'ula for his stupid decision: Wetang'ula may have to ride a bicycle in order to get to the venue of the bash. The Washington Times reports:
African ambassadors are in a panic about their inauguration ball in Arlington because all bridges to Virginia will be closed and they expect 1,200 guests to attend a festival designed to highlight President Barack Obama's Kenyan heritage."This is a major issue," Ambassador Roble Olhaye, the dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, said Thursday. "I don't know how we will get there. This is a gigantic blockage.""If you have a way to get there, I'd like to know," he told Embassy Row. "All roads are closed. All bridges are closed. Do they expect us to walk or ride bicycles?" He cringed at the image of ladies in expensive ball gowns riding Metro subway trains, which are expected to be crowded. 
Well, I seriously hope that Wetang'ula falls off his bike and gets injured or something. I would also like to wish Hon. Prof. Helen Sambili an enjoyable subway ride in her expensive ball gown...

Meanwhile, Kalembe Ndile wants the officials to watch the ceremony on TV at home, the BBC and the Daily Nation report. The former MP has given a 21-inch TV to the officials going to the US, saying they should watch the inauguration ceremony at home. Kalembe Ndile said the trip was a waste of taxpayers' money. “Why should we fund a delegation when it has been made clear that only our ambassador in the US is invited?" he asked. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wetang'ula insulting starving Kenyans

Kenya's Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang'ula will head a government delegation for a pre-inauguration bash organised by African diplomatic missions in the US. "It is a big fete that will be attended by delegations from many African nations," Wetang'ula said. What a jerk! Doesn't he realize there is a food crisis in the country? Kenyan children are starving! He didn't even know how much his trip would cost, referring journalists to his accountant instead... Other members of the delegation include Ministers Najib Balala (Tourism), Prof Anyang Nyong’o (Medical Services), Helen Sambili (Sports) and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Farah Maalim. Others are MPs Hassan Joho, Eugene Wamalwa and 2004 Nobel Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai.

This is supposed to be a private party, but who will pay for the tickets (not to The Hague, but to Washington...) and travel allowances which will amount to a few millions of shillings? The Kenyan taxpayer, that is you and me. Using public money for a private party in the US, while 10 million Kenyans are facing starvation... Enjoy the thought!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Kenyans 3 times sweeter than Tanzanians and Ugandans

If you're a Kenyan, chances are high that you are a sweetie. Actually about three times sweeter than a Tanzanian or a Ugandan.
Why? Because we consume too much sugar! In 2005, per capita consumption of sugar in Kenya was 22.6 kg, while in Tanzania it was only 7.2 kg and in Uganda 9.7 kg. Why are Kenyans consuming 3 times more sugar than their neighbours? I don't know. But I know sugar is not healthy. Dr Nancy Appleton has identified 146 Reasons Why Sugar Is Ruining Your Health, one of them being the fact that high refined sugar diet reduces learning capacity. Do we want Kenyans to become dumber than their Tanzanian and Ugandan friends? And something even more worrying can be found here: a person who consumes too much refined sugar can become impotent or have sexual problems and sex related diseases at the age of forty or younger.
We have all made very nice New Year's resolutions for 2009. My resolution is to cut down on sugar consumption: a ban on soda's (after seeing the amount of sugar in Coke here), no sugar in my coffee, and less sugar in my tea. It's been working out very well, at least for these first 10 days of 2009. Let's keep it up.
Are you a sugar addict? Are you a sweetie? And how are your New Year's resolutions doing?

Friday, January 9, 2009

"Awash in human effluvia"

The Bathroom Diaries lets you search through lists of more than 12,000 bathrooms all around the world. Each entry gives the restroom stars for cleanliness, safety, accessibility, aesthetics, facilities etc.

I was quite amused to find the following entry on the Nairobi page of the site:
Modern Green Day and Night Bar, Latema Road
Rating: Horrible
Hours: 24 hours
Gender: long drop
Fee: Free
Comments: May have had running water at one time. Virtually awash in human effluvia. Whilst labeled gender specific, in actual fact men, women and ?? all come and go as they please. Also used for sex by the resident prostitutes. Quite simply, the most disgusting toilets I've ever had the misfortune to encounter.
Although this may look funny at first, it does not really portray a good image about Kenya, does it? Fortunately, there is also a restroom in Kenya which is rated as excellent, namely the one at the Norfolk Hotel:
Norfolk Hotel, near the University
Rating: Excellent
Hours: 24 hours
Gender: Western
Fee: Free
Details: clean, safe, celebrity sightings: Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn) was seen using this restroom.
Comments: The Norfolk is one of the main stopping points for tour groups heading out to the game preserves. The restrooms are just beyond the main desk. Just walk in like you are staying and you'll be fine.
If you happen to find another excellent washroom in Kenya, feel free to add it. It could help rebuild our image abroad while giving fellow Kenyans some good tips.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Nairobi strip club 'Chillers' raided by police

Capital FM had an interesting New Year's Eve celebration story in their headlines today: at least 15 people were arrested when police raided a popular strip club in View Park Towers in Nairobi (anyone familiar with Nairobi nightlife will tell you the club is actually named 'Chillers').
The detainees, including barely-dressed girls, scrambled to escape jostling journalists and cameramen intent to grab their images.
Amazingly, none of the other media houses seem to have covered the story so far. I find the action by police really timely as entertainment is becoming a bit too raunchy in Nairobi these days.
Nairobi provincial Police chief Njue Njagi vowed the crackdown on night spots deemed to promote prostitution. “I will not allow such clubs to continue carrying out these acts of prostitution. My officers are under strict instructions to raid all of them because I understand they are quite a number in town”.
So it looks like more joints may follow soon. I'd better stay out of places like Lido's, Pango F3 and Apple Bees for the time being. Happy New Year!