A relatively rural ward with an easy-to-forget name is rapidly becoming an household name, thanks to the stellar exploits of her representative at the Meru County Assembly. This is Abogeta West Ward, made global by her MCA – Hon. Dmk Kiogora – one of the brains behind the highly successful Kenya Airlift Program.

The Kenya Airlift Program is an award-winning program structured to alleviate financial challenges Kenyans face when pursuing dreams of furthering their studies in the US.

Hon. Dmk Kiogora in an undated image with two of his students (file image)

Not only does the program enable access to affordable American schools to study, but also facilitates funding for Masters’ Degree programs. This includes tuition, living and relocation expenses in the US.

The other person of interest in The Kenya Airlift Program is Bob Mwiti, the mercurial Managing Director of a US-based consulting company known as Appstec America. This firm is committed to helping immigrants secure education & IT job opportunities in the USA.

Both are Meru natives, but this partnership was borne of their experiences abroad.

Bob Mwiti moved to the USA in 2009, for college – and faced lots of challenges securing employment as an immigrant. He’d later land a job as a Systems Analyst/Consultant in a Fortune 500 company in the US – and later found the organisation to help ease transition for other immigrants.

Dmk Kiogora would become an MCA in Abogeta West, and join a bench marking trip to the US – ends up meeting Bob Mwiti. They’d agree on a partnership, make an effort to Airlift brilliant Kenyans who wish to study IT-related master’s programs at select Universities in USA.

Kenya Airlift Program Co-founder Bob Mwiti (file image)

The prolific politician has since become the face of the Kenya Airlift Program.

To help finance the program, he facilitated registration of The Airlift Sacco (TAS). The program has since weathered teething problems, and as at August 2022, managed to secure sponsorship – tuition, accommodation, travel and Visa – for over 50 scholars recruited across the republic to the USA.

There’s an autonomous application process via the program’s portal, with a detailed qualification and vetting process.

Minimum academic requirement to join this program is an aggregate of a B (plain) in KCSE and a Bachelor’s degree in any field. You must be willing to study an IT-related master’s degree in USA regardless of your Bachelor’s major.

It’s never been easier to study on scholarship, secure work and live in the USA.

An upsurge of global affiliations in education and business circles has prompted local stakeholders in banking and finance industry to adjust with relevant money transfer solutions.

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Some friends referred me to a travel agent, but I was hesitant. How do I trust an agent with zero presence on social media? He’s old school, they said.

I visited his office, in the Nairobi CBD. He seemed quite elderly, but with the infectious enthusiasm of a young man nursing the first strands of his beard.

At first glance, you’d dismiss him as a mere hustler riding bareback on a reputation straddling ‘Three Decades of Experience‘. He didn’t even have a secretary, after all.

Boy, wasn’t I wrong.

A speed boat in Lamu – mostly used for excursions around the island (file image)

A few minutes in, I realized the reputation is solid.  Three decades worth of experience in the travel industry meant he probably had every back road, thicket and Baobab tree etched somewhere in his mind.

I’d mention a random destination in Kenya; the old man would start rattling off facts. Think of Wikipedia in a pinstriped suit and orange bow tie. I said I’ve always wanted to visit Lamu.

Aaaah, Lamu.

The old man paused, leaned back in his seat. He swiveled a little.

It’s not a young people thing – even elderly men in swivel seats like to swivel. Its clear Lamu is one of his favorites. But, I didn’t want him to start rattling off facts.

I’d been saving heavily, spending weekends indoors – agonizingly broke with nothing to do but read about Lamu. I wanted to lead this pitch.

“I want to visit Lamu, sir, but I’m an equinophobe”. I said.

“A what?”

The old man leaned forward, elbows on his desk. If he had glasses – it’s at this point that he’d take them off and absently rub them with a soft cloth. He didn’t. Suddenly his hands didn’t have a thing to do.

In three decades, no one had him in a tight intellectual corner.

“I don’t know what that is…”. He’s wise, better to admit than fumble through.

“I fear donkeys – and, I’ve heard Lamu is literally Donkey Island.”

He smiles warmly. He’s back in the picture. Like he never left.

“No! No! There are people in Lamu, too!” He says, bursting in laughter.

I wasn’t kidding. When I was little, I saw a donkey kick the lights out of a man at the market. Since, I’ve had recurrent nightmares.

Plus donkeys pack a nasty bite if you play idiotic games with them. Or, near them. Donkeys don’t like idiots.

As it is, Lamu Town is known for her ridiculously narrow streets – perhaps, four or five feet wide – with high walls on either side. The streets are always in shadow, and cool.

In every ten pedestrians on these streets, seven are donkeys. Or, on donkeys.

There are no vehicles on the island, which I think is surreally romantic – till I learnt that all transport is via donkeys and donkey carts.

“If you meet a donkey in the narrow streets, just flatten yourself against a wall. It won’t hurt.”

“What if he bites?”

“He won’t bite if you don’t. Don’t carry a carrot in your hand”. The old man was teasing.

I felt small. A grown African man living in fear of donkeys; while other men keep pythons as pets. I had to face this. To kill the teasing, I ask him what else makes Lamu tick.

Aaaah, Lamu. Again.

Old man re-schools me on Lamu. Ignore the little that comes up online.

Lamu town is the headquarters of Lamu District – inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2001 for her unique Swahili traditional architectural vibes.

Lamu is Lamu – but, there’s more.

There’s Lamu Archipelago – a small group of Island situated on Kenya´s Northen Coast line. This is made up of Lamu, Manda, Pate and Kiwayu islands.

If you don’t like donkeys, my old friend says – can catch a boat and explore the islands.

An image of the beautiful Lamu Beachfront (file image)

It’s enticing – imagine a conversation with an 80-yr-old who’s spent their entire life on an island – no cars, no electricity or WiFi.

I can use a day skimming across the Must See’s: Lamu Museum, Lamu Fort, German Post Office and Siyu Fort. Then, I can try the islands – especially Pate.

Pate Island is a lobster stronghold. If you didn’t know, lobster is best known as a vitality booster. Now you know.

More luck, is that Lamu holds lots of cultural festivals. The biggest is the Maulidi Festival, thronged by Muslims from around East Africa.

It’s iconic, with entertaining events such as dhow races, a donkey race, bao games, henna painting, kofia making, swimming competitions and a football match organized by the locals.

A donkey race? Yaani, people risk bites and kicks to race donkeys! I need to travel, and see Lamu.

I’ve been saving for a vacation at the end of the year, but something rare caught my eye and changed plans.

I bumped into an amazing off-season travel deal between Magical Kenya, Jambojet and Hotels across the Kenyan Coast, Rift Valley and Lakeside region.

This is a vacation deal covering flight and accommodation costs. It takes advantage of low off-season traffic to offer a soft financial landing for travel enthusiasts.

P.S: I’ll be walking around Lamu with nothing on. Ok, just a Kikoi wrapper. Just about time, I hate jeans!

It’s not an easy time to be a gospel artist in Kenya. The gospel niche comes with a strict code of societal expectations. Fans hold gospel idols to a high moral standard. As an artist grows, following the straight and narrow gets harder; what with an adoring legion of fans, groupies and followers.

Besides, it’s twice as hard building a gospel fan base. Fans are choosy – a gospel artist has to surpass boring adoration and praise songs. Fans demand the type of songs King David wrote about in Psalms!

The musical landscape is rapidly shifting, with countless gospel artists switching to secular content. Some artists make silent, no-fan-fare moves. The bold ones effectively torch the gospel bridge to the ground with grand declarations. It’s no longer news.

It’s different, though – when an artist abandons secular trappings of stardom to fully embrace gospel music.

US-based Kenyan secular artist, Msanii Foreman has evoked critical attention with a career switch to gospel music.

Foreman has established a solid secular portfolio in dance hall circles with a string of hits to his name: Simanyi ft. Berine Koroso & Faith Stan, Kiboko ft. Moabi Kotu and a satirical Fresh Barida Cover ft. Mungai Eve & Stevo.

In the new realm, Msanii Foreman has done two gospel video releases: Jango, featuring Jimmy Thee Artist & Flex Muziki and his latest single – Mkaribie.

Do you know why gospel artists are switching to secular music? Here’s why…..

The timeless hit ‘Memories’ by Maroon 5 is a global favorite. It’s a great band, no doubt – except; their lead singer Adam Levine is an unapologetic buffoon. When the band broke out, he bragged of dating a model in an interview, rating it as “one of the perks of being a rock star”.

The crowd laughed it off, but, really – it’s what music stardom is mostly about – the pursuit of fame, money and sex. Gospel artists crave a slice of the pie.

Above all, music is about business – no sales, no income. For independent gospel artists, business gets hard. There’s need to sign up a deal with a recording company. It’s akin to making a deal with the devil. The deal comes with strings attached.

A recording label contract finances recording, seeks concerts, distributes, advertise and promotes. It’s far fetched for a lone ranger gospel artist. So, for business’s sake the contract is binding: wholly controls the artist’s life. The decision to switch is more business than ideological and not for the gospel artist to make.

It’s easy to figure out Msanii Foreman’s strategy in gospel, going by his new singles: Jango and Mkaribie.

First off, there’s an innate desire to serve gospel values. He’s perfected an artistic style that spices up gospel by infusing Afro beat and Dance hall styles to native Swahili lyrics. Lastly, Msanii employs a content angle that steers clear of cliché song patterns of gospel music.

To clinch a larger audience, Foreman uses music to talk about life experiences, emotions, self-worth and relationships – with a divine undertone. Such songs are appealing even to non-Christians. Good music is universal.

 

Mkaribie throws off an easy, Sunday-afternoon feel – with easy, sing-along Swahili lyrics. The videographer is great, employing stunning camera angles, and a rich, vibrant color background. The artist freestyles, in a typical Kenyan pastor’s costume of ill-fitting bright suits and a well-thumbed Bible in his hand!

Mkaribie is the first of many gospel hits the gospel fraternity is sampling from Msanii Foreman. Besides, the artist has grown a solid Swahili audience in the US, largely to the Arizona Swahili Radio franchise.

What are your thoughts? I’d love your feedback.

Here’s the link to the gospel single Mkaribie, Msanii Foreman:

I feel the grit of warm, fine sand in the soft spots between my toes. Curiously, a blurred image of the planet’s diced cross-section in elementary Geography crops up.

It shows the strata – from the layer of white sand massaging my toes to the red hot core. There’s an almost tangible sense of connection with nature.

A blast of wet, salty wind hits full on the face. It breaks my reverie.

Koko regains my attention. Koko has a tiny sharp knife in his right hand, curving away with short practiced strokes at a green coconut. He’s mid-20’s, quite lanky with a couple of thick, brown locks on his head.

School kids frolicking in the white, sandy beaches in Malindi, Kenya (file images)

Koko dons a stained pair of combat shorts with hemline miles above visibly-scarred knees. At his feet, there’s a bunch of green coconuts – he sells Madafu – the overrated coconut water drink. He’s a career beach boy. He sells Madafu in the low season.

I point to his feet. He’s barefoot.

“Koko, unavaa kiatu number ngapi?”

I ask, with a relaxed familiarity seemingly built over a long period of friendship. Wrong. I’ve known him inside the half an hour I’ve been on the beach. He ain’t offended, like it certainly would to a large swab of upcountry people.

Watu wa bara. Sic.

“I don’t know. Sijawahi vaa kiatu, kaka brazza.” Koko says, good naturedly.

I wait for the rejoinder. Most people quickly follow a joke on themselves with a redeeming rejoinder. Koko has none.

I take my eyes off a bare-chested man walking perhaps a quarter mile in the ocean – its low tide – and, look at Koko. A straight face – like you’d have on a recitation of the Apostle’s Creed

I survived a shoeless phase in our rural primary school days, but – striding through three decades of life without a shoe? Hard to take that in.

Koko’s feet – like most local lads stomping by – were heavily webbed. Yes, like a duck’s.

See how your favorite (ugly) Crocs are web-shaped? They were meant for the beach. Not for the mall, and certainly not with socks.

Here, it’s not entirely useless. Career beach boys literally swim better than ducks.

I ask for a second Madafu. Koko is interesting. It beats staring at an empty seabed. Low tide is underwhelming. The banter comes easily.

To be honest, I hate the drink. For taste, Madafu is neither here nor there – a quite bleak affair. It’s not sweet, or sour – oh, wait – it tastes like a yucky version of ORS.

That oddly-tasting salt and sugar mixture used to treat diarrhoea. No (yes) offense, Coasterians.

Like you’d offer a whiskey shot to a benevolent bartender in a new town, I offer Koko a drink of his own. He settles down flat on the sand.

Koko is native Digo – one of the nine constituent Mijikenda sub tribes. He was born and bred in Likoni. Storytelling comes naturally to this tribe. Perhaps, the trait that makes Coastal Kenya so appealing and homely.

Koko vividly narrates of his early life, starting school. He’d drop out in sixth class, and not for lack of want.

His father was a fairly successful fisherman, and schooling was inexpensive. He just says – ‘the beach called’ – and, ever since Koko has been on Shelly Beach. Its barely a mile from Likoni Ferry.

Koko is super fluent in English and Swahili, but he doesn’t know, or get to write.

On the Swahili adage ‘Mugala muue na haki umpe’,  he’s double fluent in German, French, Italian and a bit of Swiss. But, if humanity depended on it – Koko cannot read or write any of their syllables!

Of paradoxes in life – Less is more, You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t – I bumped into the biggest paradox of my life.

How does a man speak six of the biggest global languages and lack the basic skill to write his own name?

I’m now on my third Madafu. The taste kind of grows on you – I guess taste buds just slump out, resigned to their fate.

“How did you learn all these languages?” I ask Koko.

“Hapa tu kwa beach na tourists. Miaka kumi na tano kwa beach sio mchezo.” Koko says, and shrugs.

There’s a faraway look in his eyes. The tide is coming in.

Koko is happily married to an age mate, a beautiful Digo lady.

Aside, in conspiratory tones – Koko lets slip that he’s been thrice married before, as he says ‘in my younger years’.

To a German, a French and lastly to a Swiss lady – before ‘cruel pandemic’ had cut short the romance. They’d been prepared to travel to Switzerland, but Covid 19 happened.

Koko digs out a dog eared pamphlet wrapped in a polythen paper from his side pocket. It’s his passport.

Dear Lord, its colorful – end to end stamped with arrivals and departures in cities across the world. If you have a travel bucket list, Koko has most probably ticked off three-quarters of it.

A group of youth in an exercise run at a beach in Mombasa, Kenya (file image)

Wait, barefoot.

Well, fancy a nonchalant stride through cobbled streets in Munich – barefoot, and webbed.

Suddenly, my world felt so small. Not unlike a translucent lizard on the wall in my servant quarter rental house. I’ve always felt like a snobbish brag when I say I live in Karen, up-market Nairobi.

A beach boy hawking bland-tasting Madafu on Shelly Beach has been there, and certainly done that.

I’ll have to travel more. I’ve started baby steps.

This year, I couldn’t resist incredible off-season travel plans in a deal between Magical Kenya, Jambojet and Hotels across the Kenyan Coast, Rift Valley and Lakeside region.

I didn’t see dolphins, learn surfing or attempt drowning with a snorkel on my two-day stay-cation. But, I did meet Koko – who served an unapologetic juxtaposition to personal ideals about life.

See you soon, Koko.

#TembeaKenya

For enthusiasts ticking off destinations on their travel bucket list in Kenya, there are two must-visit places in Kenya. The first spot is Iten – famous as the ‘Land of Champions’ for the plethora of global marathon legends with roots here. It’s often packed, and easy to find.

The other spot is Wasini Island. This is a serene, exotic island a few miles to the Kenya-Tanzania border. That’s the furthest end of South Coast, Kenya, but – certainly the most interesting.

A young boy learning spearfishing skills in Wasini, Kenya. (file images)

Iten and Wasini Island are on opposite ends of the country, but have exhibited a similar phenomenon. There’s an interesting fusion of man and nature in a naturalization sequence that has brought out extreme, extraordinary abilities for the natives.

In Iten, the natives are natural athletes. It’s a high altitude zone. As the visitors often run short of breath at the slightest incline in their path, natives are effortlessly cresting hills. Observing a measured, even stride uphill – you’d be forgiven to assume packing an extra pair of lungs.

Wasini Island by virtue of being on the border, hosts an interesting mix of Swahili and Arabic culture. The language, the complexion of the residents is neither Arabic, nor Swahili. They, however exhibit an overly-friendly disposition akin to Lamu Swahili culture. They have a natural gift: their affinity to the ocean.

Spear Fishermen of Wasini Island.

Spear fishing is interesting, and an extremely dangerous vocation. Oh, wait – spear fishing is a form of fishing where the fisherman is swimming in the water with a spear gun. This is a contraption used underwater with the basic bow-and-arrow concept but the arrow or spear has a thread attached.

The fisherman dons a pair of swimming goggles, grabs his spear gun and gets into the water. The trick is to swim as quietly and as close as possible to the fish – then spear them. Once a fish is hit, it’s threaded along the line. The fisherman has to ready the gun’s trigger system rigged with a strong rubber band that launches the spear.

It’s all good, except – all this is done – while still doing your best not to drown!

If you sit on the beach at Shimoni – the gateway to Wasini Island, you’ll notice bright colored buoys moving through the water. That buoy marks the spear fisherman underneath the water, for boats and dhows on the surface.

Shortly, you’ll behold a man emerging from the water. He’s armed with nothing fancy in diving equipment, just a pair of goggles and a snorkel.

Spearfishing off Nuakata Island.

As the athletes in Iten break world records in distance running, spear fishermen are facing off sharks, shallow water blackout, heavy seas, strong currents, jelly fish, and risk drowning as a result of line tangles. Spear fishing by its very nature is an extreme sport and few activities can rival the excitement and thrill of landing a quality fish.

Both of these skills are innate, shaped by locality and honed by practice.

It’s an eerie feeling watching a man wade and disappear into the ocean. Then, watch him resurface with a stringed-up bunch of fish.

Travelling exposes one to experiences beyond their regular circle.

Lately, it’s become easier to reach most vacation spots across the country, thanks to an incredible off-season deal between Magical Kenya, Jambojet and Hotels across the country. The deal covers exotic vacation spots on the length of the Kenyan Coast, to Rift Valley and Lakeside region.

The package covers return flight tickets and accommodation costs in affordable off-season rates. It’s not limited to hanging out with athletes or snacking on roast fish on a beach with spear fishermen. There’s much more.

It’s time to create new memories and experiences. The Jambojet-Magical Kenya deal has more to offer, even to other parts of the scenic country.

Click here, to sample endless amazing offers.

If you are #NowTravelReady, here is your chance to #TembeaKenya!

 

How Do You Know it’s Time to End a Long Friendship?


The tired phrase “We’ve known each other a long time” is not a good reason to stay friends with someone. In a way, you never end a friendship, the friendship fizzles out by itself – a slow, agonizing death.

It’s a thorn that has been pricking flesh for eons – testing family ties, business, and ruling alliances. So much, that Aristotle would pen a candid essay titled “On Friendships”, that tables a 3-pronged ‘friendship-meter’ system:

Friends hanging out in the hood (file image)

Pleasure Friendships:

This kind is fickle, and superficial. These are the people in your gang – often meet up at the local for a fun drink or the mbogi that call you for the soccer derby.

This group will easily pool resources for an odd road trip out of town – but, not pool resources to pay a member’s hospital bill. But, they hardly know your family, kids or what business you do – if you are in business.

If you don’t turn up for Karaoke Wednesday, and miss a couple more – they’ll move on without as much as a call.

Useful Friendships:

Well, this is based on material benefits. It may be work-based, same employer. It may be business-oriented, same business circles.

It’s loosely principled on money, special favors – perhaps, you work in a firm that offers periodic gifts or vouchers that someone leeches off.

This suffers a blow, when one of the parties is no longer as useful. Do not invest emotionally in it.

Virtuous Friendships:

It’s ideally grounded by a common desire for good, and prosperity. It’s all rounded – family, business – and often generational. College friendships may grow on, to form family-level bonds.

However, when the friendship cookie starts to crumble, it leaves a bigger emotional mess in its wake.

The secret for longevity lies in making efforts to nurture it. There are tell-tale signs, however, when a friendship has outran its viable phase.

Here are two common reasons most friendships die a slow death:

Social Status

Friendships are built around social circles. A promotion at work may come with a sudden change of income. A friend moves into an upscale neighborhood, hanging spots……

Slowly communication starts to fade and die out. Little effort is made to call, meet or share an evening as you used to.

If a friend starts to miss important family dates or events you previously marked, well – that’s a sign.

Communication

This is crucial in a friendship. Tight friends are usually up on each other’s call logs, social media timelines and frequent meet-up’s.

Theme nights are a thing – Karaoke, Fun Fridays….. then, it dies out.

When you try to call or chat, the other is busy, or driving, or cooking – and, can they call you later?

That ‘Call you Later, Bestie’ happens a few weeks down the line. You are alone in that friendship.

Well, it’s apparent that communication nurtures the bond in every friendship. It matters, too, how heavily friend banter weighs down on their respective budgets.

Presently, this needn’t bite to reach a fiend for some juicy grapevine – thanks to the timely Nyoosha Shilingi factor.

Communication is now much cheaper.

Nyoosha Shilingi is a brainchild of leading communication provider Safaricom to help their clients navigate harsh economic times with more on offer (calls and data) for the same amount.

Simply put, for the same price, Data, Calls and SMS offers are extended by between 40% and 100%.

Nyoosha Shilingi has made using Whatsapp, for audio and video calls a viable option. For offline friends, regular calls are asking for much less in billing.

For example, Safaricom has introduced All-in-One packages. There’s a choice of three. Well, say – Ksh550.

Initially, this would get 1.5GB+100 min+500 SMS+Free WhatsApp, but with the Nyoosha Shilingi rate, users now enjoy 2GB+100 min+500 SMS+Free WhatsApp.

More fun video calls for friends wishing to stay in touch.

The new data rates have hit really well with the youth, on daily, weekly and monthly bundle packages.

For example, the Daily bundle at Ksh10 now fetches 35MBs and 15 SMS, up from the previous 15MBs and 15 SMS. It also lasts longer!

On weekly data package rates, Ksh99 would fetch 350MB and Free WhatsApp but Nyoosha Shilingi presents an incredible 500MBs and Free WhatsApp!

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Nyoosha Shilingi is available to all Safaricom users – Prepaid, Postpaid and Hybrid. It’s normal play in the purchase of the bundles, through Mpesa, airtime cards and redeeming Bonga Points.

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It’s time to indulge yourself by streaming your favorite series!

Like a fruit that doesn’t fall far from the family tree that delighted in a generational line of teachers – I studied education in college.

However, on the hustling trail that precedes formal employment, I stumbled into the tours and travel industry – purely by chance. I was hooked.

A tour guide, a profession that largely mirrors my passions: travelling, wild living and culture.

The Masai Mara Reserve would be my on-job-training hub and career launch pad.

Tour guiding came easily to me. It’s a bit of a craft, and mostly an innate personality-driven vocation. Are you a good storyteller, passionate about a place you are showing? That’s a thing.

A cropped image of the Mara lion Sikio Kali, showing his nipped left ear (file images)

For example, the Mara Reserve enjoys huge coverage online –  visitors would probably have read the text. As their guide, my job is to give stories and anecdotes they won’t learn from the web.

Don’t be boring. Do not roll off facts like a robot – throw in a joke to break the ice.

As a rule, try to learn everyone’s name. Make new networks, new friendships. I have made lifelong friends from abroad, through our excursions in the Mara.

These friendship bonds have been made bolder through human-wildlife interactions.

In June 2021 as a newbie, I was assigned a group of tourists from the United States. They’d been following a pride of lions in the Mara known as The Four Musketeers, for years.

Tragically, one member of the lion pride – Scarface – had then just died, from natural causes on 11th June, 2021.

Scarface, the lion – had earned the moniker by a slash across his right eye – from a territorial fight.

That episode cemented in me the seriousness of my job. Locally, few people knew about a lion pride that ruled Mara like a kingdom, named “The Four Musketeers”.

Fewer still, cared that a lion had died. Yet, I’d meet a bunch of Americans visiting to commemorate the passing of the “World’s Most Famous Lion”.

That pride had three other lions: Sikio Kali, Hunter and Morani.

I’d make life-long friends in that expedition. They’d keep in contact from the USA, checking up on me – and, of course, keeping tabs with the surviving members of The Four Musketeers.

Fast forward, to June 2022 – I was at the coast on my annual leave.

Sikio Kali, the surviving leader of The Four Musketeers lion pride – is in trouble. Oh, wait. Sikio Kali was born in 2005, and earned the name due to his most distinguishing feature – a severed left ear. He lost most of it in a territorial fight.

I got a call from one of the American friends, from the initial 2021 expedition. He’d learnt from a park ranger’s social media page that Sikio Kali was in trouble.

It’s a dangerous life for a predator in the Mara, even for a lion. It’s a life or death affair catching dinner.

Now, Sikio Kali had got on the wrong business end of a warthog’s tusks in a dinner operation gone awry. He’d suffered nasty gushes from the warthog’s tusks.

Warthogs, alongside buffalo and wildebeest – are very dangerous prey – tusks and horns.

Luckily, hawk-eyed Masai Mara rangers spotted the ailing lion, in the nick of time. Sikio Kali’s wounds had already gone septic, filled with maggots.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Mara Mobile Unit found the lion. The team manually cleaned, disinfected, sewn him up and administered antibiotics.

Sikio Kali is well on the way to recovery.

The lion’s friend in the US couldn’t travel to witness the operation. He’d asked me to chronicle the whole process for his collection on The Three Musketeers pride.

As I was on leave, he’d offered to facilitate my movement back to Nairobi, and purchase basic video equipment. A flight ticket, and a few day’s stay in an hotel in the city.

I felt like a global photographer!

I realized it’s as easy as ABC to send money globally, instantly and safely through a Co-op Bank account, via Wave.

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It was fun learning colors back in elementary school. Remember belting out that catchy tone “Richard Of York Gained Battle In Vain“? That’s to name the color spectrum on the rainbow, from the red at the top to violet at the bottom.

All good. Except, the basic spectrum mutated into a thousand other variations that makes color identification an impossible exercise.

Kenyans are generally poor with colors.

I have suffered on my delivery runs for orders made from my online business. I sell second-hand kids clothing from my house. Online business model is great, and the weakest part in that chain is the human factor.

Delivery is a total nightmare, if you remember that Kenyans also share a collective inability to give directions properly. In a day’s work, expect a mix of hilarious and equally frustrating experiences.

My business has pages on all social media pages, but activity is highest on Facebook and Twitter pages. On a daily basis, I take photos of clothes available with my phone at different angles, and upload. From my page, I share the posts on other Facebook pages and groups for more visibility.

I log into Twitter, check top trends of the day and tag along. On average, depending on the day of the week, and date – I engage with a different number of clients. There are direct referrals by past clients, and general queries. I spend six to seven hours online every day, engaging with clients.

If you’ve ever tried to fish, this is it. The item is the bait, but – will the clients bite? Out of 10 possible clients making an inquiry, 5 will ask the price of the item, and go silent. Three will ask possible date for the next ‘Bale Opening’, and so on.

Two out of 10, will make an order, and pay. I have a Safaricom Till Number displayed on the page. Now comes the delivery part. I deliver free within town, and a small fee out of town. I live in Nyeri.

Client 1: Kuja tu na Kimathi Street. Hapo kati kati kuna junction ya Waridi Supermarket. Chukua hio njia. Utapata shop ya viatu imepakwa green karibu na taa ya tatu ya Mulika Mwizi... (I’m on a green-painted shoe shop on a road off Kimathi Street, at the Waridi Supermarket Junction).

Well, I find out it’s a four-way junction and each of those roads has a series of County Council floodlights. I’m lost. When I later find the shop, it’s not green-painted, it’s mint. Close.

Client 2: I’m a teacher at St.Michael Preparatory School, on the end of Koinange Avenue. I’ll meet you, I’m in a red top.

Easy, right? Teachers are precise and articulate. Wrong, they are Kenyan! First, there’s no Koinange Avenue, and worse, the school has a plethora of branches. The teacher is in a maroon top!

All these cases mean a great deal of to-and-fro with clients. Mercifully, most of my clients are on WhatsApp, so there’s a bit of online calls and chats. Sometimes, the clients are offline. It’s down to regular calls on Safaricom.

In the beginning, calling and data rates would eat heavily into profits. It took a while to break even, but lately its easier with Nyoosha Shilingi, the new Safaricom data and calling rates plan. I’ve even started video calls with clients. Kids are now more proactive in choosing colors and styles of their clothing.

It’s easier with online video calls, which means no returns and more referrals from happy clients.

Safaricom has activated Nyoosha Shilingi, timely offer that shields their clients in the present harsh economic times with new and revamped data bundles. For the same price, Data, Calls and SMS offers are extended by between 40% and 100%.

This means, unlike before when I’d use Ksh20 to buy 50MBS, now the amount fetches me 100MBS. That’s double!

What’s better is that the data doesn’t run in the middle of a clients call. It’s not as rushed as before!

Since I’m a daily internet user, I prefer daily data packages. I’m now purchasing 300MBs daily bundle, for just Ksh50. Previously, this would buy just 150MBs. I usually purchase data plans from MPesa, though – one can still purchase bundles by loading airtime or redeeming Bonga Points.

I have clients who prefer the weekly package, of which Ksh99 gets 500MBs, instead of the usual 350MBs. That’s an almost 50% increase.

Clothes move more when school closes, so I expect more client engagement. I’m budgeting for the Nyoosha Shilingi offer of 2.5GB+Free WhatsApp for Ksh500 bob, so that I don’t need to log out between sessions.

All Safaricom customers: Prepaid, Postpaid and Hybrid can access new Nyoosha Shilingi data plans.

There’s more really, on offer on the Safaricom website. Some good deals. What wouldn’t you stream on the 7GB+Feee WhatsApp bundle? It’s just Ksh1000. It’s time to chill and watch a movie after work!

Only specific bundles come with free WhatsApp. It’s easy to check the new data plans. Just dial *544#, *555#. Also, plans are displayed on My Safaricom App, Blaze App and on the official Safaricom website – www.safaricom.co.ke/bundles.

It’s a whole new experience on Safaricom’s seamless network.

Pro Tip: It’s always a better experience with your gadget if their apps and software is up to date. The new data plans are ideal for this purpose. There will be plenty of leftover data for fun!

When people meet DJ Afro Amigos for the first time, they pause. Unspoken questions hang in the air like clouds before a downpour.

Is this really DJ Afro? Is this the super commentator?

Well, DJ Afro doesn’t look like a comedian on the street. But, then how should comedians look like?

He’s probably the most unassuming person you’ll ever meet. A polite, friendly demeanor conceals an extremely creative, hilarious mind.

DJ Afro and TV Presenter Larry Madowo in an undated interview on NTV (file image)

I met DJ Afro circa 2006 in Rongai, a dusty backyard in the outskirts of Nairobi. I was in high school, then. Rongai wasn’t much a posh party spot.

The favourite hangout spots atleast for student gangs was in ‘Pay-per-view’ video dens. We’d spend weekends watching King Fu and Vietnam War flicks.

Except, DJ Afro was a live commentator. The creative now credited as the pioneer of an entire industry was starting out. A broke chap, he didn’t have equipment – he’d headline movies ‘live live’.

It was mad fun! He’d later move to Nakuru, and start recording.

Ten years later, I’m done with college, and on my first job as an insurance broker. Nairobi is ruthless to chaps on their first jobs, especially a vocation based on commission.

It’s a tightrope between starvation and God’s mercies in dark, cramped bedsitters.

Two things happened, mere coincidences that ultimately shaped my entire life.

One, DJ Afro re-appeared into life, albeit by sheer providence. My brother would gift me his old TV, and VCD machine and his prized VCD collection.

Two, I got a new neighbor – a bubbly, chatty girl with long legs and a gap on her upper teeth.

Well, a student and a chap on their first jobs in Nairobi share the same life of penury. Nothing brings souls together than a shared enemy.

Hunger was our mutual enemy.

She’d fall in love. But, she first fell in love with DJ Afro – featured heavily on my VCD collection. I’d say we curl up on the coach, but we didn’t have a coach.

We’d sprawl on a thin mattress and watch Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren single handedly devour entire armies, Kung Fu protège’s avenge their master’s deaths…..

All along, DJ Afro would be doing his signature thing: Arrrrrrrrrrrrrright, Asanta sana……

She’d become my girlfriend, and partner in life and crime.

To date, nothing evokes fonder memories than rainy evenings in our cold bedsitter – listening to hilarious, cracking side shows by DJ Afro!

We had one luxury – when an occasional client bought my insurance policies, or a benevolent relative sent her some pocket money, we’d splurge on a 1ltr Fanta soda and a packet of cakes.

We are marking our sixth anniversary, and like all others – we have a Fanta tradition.

Purchase a 1ltr Fanta soda, and a packet of cakes for an outdoor picnic.

Turns out, this Fanta tradition could win us amazing prizes in the FIFA WORLD CUP 2022 ™ TROPHY TOUR BUY AND WIN PROMOTION.

The Promotion is open till 30th June to participants over the age of 18. It’s quite simple, really.

Purchase Coca‑Cola®, Fanta® and/or Sprite® in the 1Lt Returnable Glass Bottle, 1.25Lt PET and 2Lt PET bottles easily identifiable by a lime green crown.

Peel off the crown to reveal an eight (8) digit alphanumeric (ANN) code under the crown of the bottle, which consumers will activate by sending an SMS to the short code number 40111 thereby entering a draw.

There’s the Grand Prize of a trip to watch a FIFA World Cup™ match in Qatar – 5 prizes up for grabs. Fancy a rare chance to grab a A VIP FIFA World Cup 2022™ Trophy viewing experience.

Here’s your cue!

Besides, there’s assorted daily cash prizes between Ksh50, Ksh100 instantly sent to the winners via either M-Pesa, Airtel Money or T-Kash.

Oh, wait – there’s airtime, too! Ksh 10 or Ksh20 for your Airtel, Safaricom or Telkom lines.

While the FIFA WORLD CUP 2022 ™ TROPHY TOUR BUY AND WIN PROMOTION” closes on 30th June 2022, the prize redemption window is open till 31st July 2022.

It goes without saying that Nairobians love to look good. That is why songs are sung about how fresh one’s drip is. It’s also why people like Nairobi West Nicur have been making a killing off threads. And you can jump right in and use his gameplan to make mad money.

Previously, we had spoken about his example; he has found a way to leverage his huge social media audience to sell his clothes but how do yu grow to his level? That’s what we are looking at today and looking to demystify that.

Well, apart from having to grow your social media audience, you also can find a way to get clothes from China and other markets. A simple way of doing this would actually be for you to move your focus to Gikosh. Why Gikomba you ask? Because 2nd hand clothes or Thrifting as the cool kids call it has never been as popular as it currently is.

And there is an opportunity to brand yourself as the go to “thrift stylist”. We all know that Gikomba always has more than enough gems right? Well, one way of taking advantage of this would be for you to get to know a broker. Networking is the uptown way to describe what I am referring to. Let’s face it, most of us would not have the time or drive to get to Gikosh at 5 AM as the bales land so why not get acquainted with a broker who can get you the best of what has landed?

From there, you can actually use IG as an online stall. Sort out the best shoes, the best jeans and shirts and then you post them on your page and grow your clientele from there. But what if you get to the point where you need a brick-and-mortar shop? When you decide that you need to expand to having a physical shop, there is a partner you can work with: I am talking about Mco-op Cash.

WHAT IS MCO-OP CASH AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

MCo-op Cash is a mobile banking service which enables you to access a variety of banking, money transfer and payment services.

All you need is an ID card and a registered mobile phone number; it doesn’t matter which mobile phone network you are on. You may register for the service by dialing *667# on your mobile phone or download the app from the Play Store or App Store. Follow the menu and receive an SMS confirming registration.

For pin registration, you can also reach out to us by calling 0703 027 000, 020 277 6000

Sign up for MCo-op Cash  and go global today.

 

If I could live to a ripe old age, say three hundred years, one memory would stick. The memories of my first flight. The irritable dementia may blur names and faces of family and friends, but not this first flight.

It came quicker in life than I had thought, thanks to a considerate client. I had grown up in a tiny village we can rightly term as a ‘non-flying’ backyard. I didn’t know anyone who had ever been on a plane. That’s the kind of excitement. I was making history!

It was a local flight to review a waterfront resort in Lamu. We had a short stopover in Mombasa.

I didn’t sleep much for two weeks. I’d wake up in cold sweats – check mail for date and time of travel. I’d not miss my first flight!

An aerial view from an airplane overflying the Kenyan Rift Valley (file image)

On D-Day, I left home at 1100 Am. Take off was tagged at 0300 Pm. I realized later it was a little too early. I hadn’t been to Wilson Airport before. I took a cab from town. Once I spotted the airport entrance, I asked to end the trip. That’s number two mistake.

I didn’t know the firm’s office was three miles further. It was a maze. I kept walking in circles, with the relentless Nairobi sun on my back! Bless the random guards I asked for directions, a growing patch of sweat on my lower back.

The lounge was big – and for my three-hour wait – read everything that could be read in that lounge. The glossy magazines, wall posters – my seatmate’s Whatsapp chats, everything.

The clearance was easy. The normal security check through a scanner, and boarding documents.

I had my ID card, passport, birth certificate, yellow fever vaccination and a copy of my father’s ID card – just in case. Turns out, only my identity card was necessary for a local flight.

We emerged onto the tarmac, with a small plane lined up and a couple of bigger ones on both ends of the horizon. I was pretty nervous. With me, there were maybe ten, fifteen or a hundred people. I was too busy looking to count.

An unseen dilemma came up. I needed a boarding photo. I needed evidence if my village would take me serious. On my turn, instead of the ticket, I handed the lady my phone – and moved back a couple of paces back – with the plane on my background.

The lady had to come take my photo, showing the firm’s signage at the back.

A bemused line of passengers stood back, gawking at me. For a minute, corporate executives had to wait!

We board, but I don’t know how to look for my seat number. I was either blocking or obstructing the way, till someone offered to help. We got take off clearance, I felt motion and soon – lift off. Butterflies!

My first flight, I felt a mixture of apprehension, angst, & overwhelming happiness. I WAS FLYING!

A minute of climbing, and we leveled out. I settled back, and looked out the small window – the airport seemed like a kindergartner’s clay mock up. I realized that it feels exactly like a car ride, except that the car is thousands of feet aloft!

Occasional bumps! How now? It was frightening, and absolutely fantastic. I saw someone burp and lurch into a paper bag across the aisle. I had already tucked my sickness bag into my pocket – that’s a souvenir!

A few minutes in, a saw an hostess – absolutely stunning – is wheeling a cart down the aisle. It’s packed with coffee, sandwiches and assorted snacks – and soda!

Well, with the turbulence – I wasn’t risking it with hot coffee. I pointed to a 1ltr Sprite in a returnable glass bottle. It’s halfway. The hostess, though – they have a knack to spot first-time flyers.

“Have fun, brother.” She says. She points to the lime-green cap on the bottle.

“Perhaps, it’s you lucky day. Unaeza shida flight kwenda Qatar ya World Cup!”

Somewhere in the clouds, I got an entry into the FIFA WORLD CUP 2022 ™ TROPHY TOUR BUY AND WIN PROMOTION. I’d send it after landing.

The Promotion is open till 30th June to participants over the age of 18. It’s quite simple, really.

Purchase Coca‑Cola®, Fanta® and/or Sprite® in the 1Lt Returnable Glass Bottle, 1.25Lt PET and 2Lt PET bottles easily identifiable by a lime green crown. Peel off the crown to reveal an eight (8) digit alphanumeric (ANN) code under the crown of the bottle, which consumers will activate by sending an SMS to the short code number 40111 thereby entering a draw.

There’s the Grand Prize of a trip to watch a FIFA World Cup™ match in Qatar – 5 prizes up for grabs. Fancy a rare chance to grab a A VIP FIFA World Cup 2022™ Trophy viewing experience? Here’s your cue!

Besides, there’s assorted daily cash prizes between Ksh50, Ksh100 instantly sent to the winners via either M-Pesa, Airtel Money or T-Kash. Oh, wait – there’s airtime, too! Ksh 10 or Ksh20 for your Airtel, Safaricom or Telkom lines.

While the FIFA WORLD CUP 2022 ™ TROPHY TOUR BUY AND WIN PROMOTION” closes on 30th June 2022, the prize redemption window is open till 31st July 2022.

Life will conspire and shatter basic tenets that kept you grounded on the straight and narrow.

This is what ‘adulting’ is all about.

As I write, I’m trying not to exceed the recommended daily quota for painkiller tablets. I’m nursing sore ribs.

I belong to a Facebook motoring group. It’s a tight mid-30’s group, young professionals united by love for flashy cars and adventure.

There’s been talk of organizing a charity drive. That’s one of the group’s initiatives. One of the active members, Makau – from Machakos – said he had a Ruracio planned, and invited us all.

He had asked if someone on the group could make a decent elder. Well, what for? We had Group Admin – with all powers bestowed by the hallowed cyber gods.

I ticked YES to the invitation. So did thirty other guys. On the Friday, I’d join the convoy on the outskirts of the city for the long drive to the bride’s rural home in Timau.

But, hey – have you been to a Kenyan Ruracio

It’s a little like upcountry funerals we attended back in campus. It’s basically an excuse for a road trip, and endless partying.

Waiting to receive us was a group of sour-faced elders.

Turns out, Patience is not necessarily a virtue. It can be milked to such an extent that it becomes a source of endless pain and antagonism patience.

In the case of this Ruracio – an empty, cold bed for aspiring love birds.

We didn’t know that a long convoy of flashy cars would be a fly in the soup. All the elders saw was opulence – the dowry quadrupled.

By God, didn’t they re-define stubborn? To make matters worse, we didn’t have elders.

We had Group Admin, a talkative chap in khakis, a Stetson hat and a million tattoos on his arm and neck.

The elders couldn’t even agree to a sit down.

How could we explain that we are an online family escorting our brother? Evening crept in fast – and, it was called for the next day.

No worry, the gang says – let’s hit town!

Well, Timau Town is a sleepy farm town on the navel end of Mt. Kenya.

As a town, it’s painfully lethargic, with that excruciating, ethereal way farmers choose to lead their lives.

I mean, an average farmer in Timau lords over a hundred acres of wheat and potatoes, with tractors and assorted dozers with a net worth in the millions. Yet, he dons a patched leather jacket, and cheap gum boots.

We broke rank and flooded Timau, the town. No arranged accommodation, we mostly had to tuck up in our cars overnight.

Hey, Timau is a furnace hot by day and as cold as a witch’s tit by night. I almost shivered to death, and woke up with painful cramps.

We regroup on Saturday morning. With creased khakis, sour moods and bad breaths.

The elders took time. The first one arrived at noon.

They’d waste no time in inflating ten-fold, the agreed dowry, with reasons.

Oh, she has a degree.

Oh, her poor mother used to piggy bank her to a clinic 30 miles away for her Polio jabs.

By evening, the elders still insisted on a million.

Half the group peeled off and started the drive back to Nairobi. I decided to wait up. A few other guys, too. We called the groom aside, and issued an ultimatum.

If they cannot agree to existing terms, we are leaving. The now gloomy groom, in turn, texted that ultimatum to his bride – whom he hadn’t yet seen.

Well, the father-in-law suddenly thawed out. I’ll probably never know what the daughter told her dad.

The million-bob shilling demand was suddenly flipped to seven shillings, in sparkling silver and, unbelievably – a cold Coca Cola.

Brethren, as people scrambled in their glove boxes looking for one-shilling coins, I drove out to Timau Town CBD, to get a cold Coca Cola drink.

Ultimately, it had to be the 1.25ltr bottle – as cold as they had wanted. Our de facto elder, the Group Admin, handed it over.

The elders made a sullen show of handing over the bride, shrouded in colorful lessos, accompanied by her mother.

Towards 6pm, we drove out of Timau, like bats out of hell.

As I drove alone, listening to the drumming of the tires on the road, I had a nagging query in my mind.

Our belligerent Father-in-Law, does he know of the ongoing FIFA WORLD CUP 2022 ™ TROPHY TOUR BUY AND WIN PROMOTION?

Who knows, he was within reach of awesome prizes……

The Promotion is open till 30th June 2022 to participants over the age of 18. It’s quite simple, really.

Purchase Coca Cola, Fanta or Sprite in the 1Lt Returnable Glass Bottle, 1.25Lt PET and 2Lt PET bottles easily identifiable by a lime green crown.

Peel off the crown to reveal an eight (8) digit alphanumeric (ANN) code under the crown of the bottle, which consumers will activate by sending an SMS to the short code number 40111 thereby entering a draw.

There’s the Grand Prize of a trip to watch a FIFA World Cup™ match in Qatar – 5 prizes up for grabs. Fancy a rare chance to grab a A VIP FIFA World Cup 2022™ Trophy viewing experience?

Here’s your cue!

Besides, there’s assorted daily cash prizes between Ksh50, Ksh100 instantly sent to the winners via either M-Pesa, Airtel Money or T-Kash. Oh, wait – there’s airtime, too! Ksh 10 or Ksh20 for your Airtel, Safaricom or Telkom lines.

While the FIFA WORLD CUP 2022 ™ TROPHY TOUR BUY AND WIN PROMOTION” closes on 30th June 2022, the prize redemption window is open till 31st July 2022.

Hey, get a cold Coca Cola drink and check under the crown. You may win a ticket to watch the World Cup in Qatar!

The 16th edition of the African Banker Awards Gala Ceremony took place on 25th May 2022 at the Kempinski Hotel, in Accra, Ghana.

The event was held under the High Patronage of the African Development Bank, being part of the programme of the Bank’s Annual Meetings.

Two women won two of the most prestigious awards: the African Banker Icon and Finance Minister of the Year.

Ms Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, was awarded the African Banker Icon Award for her tireless work in providing governments with the fiscal ammunition to deal with the impact of COVID-19.

Angola’s Finance Minister, Hon Vera Esperança dos Santos Daves de Sousa, was recognised as the Finance Minister of the Year for her stand-out work in restoring stability and market confidence to her country.

Another notable recognition was for Michael Atingi-Ego, the Deputy Central Bank Governor, Uganda, who won Central Bank Governor of the Year.

In his speech, Omar Ben Yedder, Chair of the African Banker Awards Organising Committee and Publisher of African Banker magazine, said that it is time we focused our efforts on strengthening our domestic capabilities to finance growth.

“We need strong institutions and we need to start with our commercial and development banks. If we have learnt anything from the past two years, and even more so these last two months, it is that we need to achieve financial sovereignty if we are to own our growth agenda.”

Other winners include legendary Nigerian banker Atedo Peterside, founder of IBTC Bank, which he merged with Stanbic 15 years ago, who won Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to banking.

The Regional Bank of the Year Award for East Africa was given to the Co-Operative Bank of Kenya for overall excellence in banking in the region.

This is the breakdown on main winners of the African Banker Awards 2022:

Energy Deal of the Year Temane Thermal Power Station – Absa Mozambique and International Finance Corporation

Agriculture Deal of the Year – US $200 Million corporate facility (the “Facility”) to BUA Industries Limited (“BIL”)
Africa Finance Corporation

Infrastructure Deal of the Year – The Luanda Bita Water Supply Project African Trade Insurance Agency

Deal of the Year : Debt – Bank of Industry €750 Million Debut Senior Note Participation Notes due 2027 Bank of Industry

Deal of the Year – Equity Prosus’ c. US$15 Billion Accelerated Equity Offering in Tencent Citi

Sustainable Bank of the Year – Trade and Development Bank

FinTech of the Year – Interswitch

Award for Financial Inclusion – Tugende Uganda

SME Bank of the Year – Ecobank

DFI of the Year – Trade and Development Bank

African Bank of the Year – The Standard Bank Group

African Banker of the Year – Benedict Oramah

Yaw Kuffour Award for Trade Finance – Coris Bank

Central Bank Governor of the Year – Michael Atingi-Ego (Deputy Central Bank Governor, Uganda)

Minister of Finance of the Year – Hon. Vera Esperança dos Santos Daves de Sousa, Angola

African Banker Icon – Dr. Vera Songwe (Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa)

Lifetime Achievement – Atedo Peterside CON, Founder of IBTC Bank

Best Regional Bank – North Africa National Bank of Egypt

Best Regional Bank – Southern Africa Mauritius Commercial Bank

Best Regional Bank – West Africa Fidelity Bank, Ghana

Best Regional Bank – East Africa Co-op Bank of Kenya

Best regional Bank – Central Africa Raw Bank, DRC

Co-operative Bank of Kenya today virtual held its 14th Annual General Meeting.

This is the third time the meeting has been held virtually following amendments to the law governing annual general meetings, following the Covid-19 epidemic.

Co-op Bank Group Managing Director Gideon Muriuki during the virtual meeting

The overwhelmingly successful meeting was attended by over 16,000 shareholders from across the globe.

Shareholders welcomed the dividend payment scheduled to hit their accounts on 17Th June 2022.

The shareholders were appreciative of the Board of Directors’ divided policy that balances between the need for additional capital and shareholders immediate interest for earnings.

They particularly commended the Group Board for the kes 100billion retained earnings the bank has accumulated for future growth through this policy.

Kingdom Bank – one of the best performing Co-op Bank’s subsidiaries.

Speaking at the meeting the Group Managing Director, Dr. Gideon Muriuki pointed out to the shareholders that the bank was confident of a good performance in 2022 full year.

The MD estimated that the bank will surpass the over 22Billion profit registered in 2021, “ already in the first quarter of 2022 the bank has registered a profit before tax of kes 7.8Billion which is an indication of better days ahead.”

The meeting was chaired by the Bank Chairman Mr. John Murugu and was also attended by the Vice Chairman Mr. Macloud Malonza among other board members who attend virtually.

Co-op Bank Group is pleased to report a Profit Before Tax of Kshs. 7.78 Billion for the first quarter of 2022, a commendable 56% growth compared to Kshs. 4.98 Billion recorded in the first quarter of 2021.

This represents a strong Profit after Tax of Kshs. 5.8 Billion compared to Kshs. 3.5 Billion reported in 2021. The performance delivers a competitive Return on Equity of 23.8% to our shareholders.

The strong performance by the Bank is in line with the Group’s strategic focus on sustainable growth, resilience, and agility.

Key highlights;

Financial Position: The Group has registered sustained growth as follows;

Total Assets grew to Kshs. 597.0 Billion, a +8% growth from Kshs 552.9 Billion in the same period last year.

Net loans and advances grew to Kshs. 324.5 Billion, a +9% growth from Kshs.298.2 Billion.

Investment in Government securities grew to Kshs. 183.4 Billion, a +10% rise from Kshs. 166.2 Billion in 2021.

Customer deposits grew to Kshs 410.8 Billion, a +4% increase from Kshs. 393.8 Billion.

External funds from development partners stood at Kshs 43.3 Billion from Kshs.46.9 Billion in 2021.

Shareholders’ funds grew to Kshs. 102.7 Billion, a +10% increase from Kshs. 93.7 Billion in 2021 enabling us to continue pitching for big ticket deals.

Comprehensive Income

Total operating income grew by 17% from Kshs 14.4 Billion to Kshs 16.8 Billion.

Total non-interest income grew by 41.7% from Kshs 4.5 Billion to Kshs 6.4 Billion.

Net interest income grew by 6% from Kshs 9.8 Billion to Kshs 10.4 Billion.

Total operating expenses declined by 3% from Kshs 9.3 Billion to Kshs. 9.0 Billion.

Cost Management

Excellent gains from our various initiatives with a Cost Income ratio of 44.6% in Q12022 from 59% in FY2014 when we began our Growth & Efficiency journey.

Credit Management remains a key focus area by way of the following interventions;

The Credit Risk Adaptation Project dubbed ‘Project Kilele’ supported by a Global consulting firm, now in the implementation phase.

The Decentralization of Loan Portfolio Management to the Branches, Lending Units and Relationship Management teams. The successful project, aimed at enhancing collection activities, has advanced to Project Connect & Build (CB). The project is aimed at:
Identifying more business opportunities for loan book growth.

Engaging existing & potential customers with a view to establishing/enhancing their needs and co-create solutions.

Increasing customers’ product holding.

Sustaining the best practices learnt under the Decentralization of Loan Portfolio Management and Project Kilele above.

The Group prudentially provided Kshs. 1.5 Billion compared to Kshs 2.3 billion provided in 2021 indicating improving quality of our asset book as businesses and households continue to recover from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

Our Gross Non-Performing Loan (NPL) Book has reduced by 5% from last year, with our NPL ratio improving to 13.3% against 15.2% in a similar period last year. This affirms our Credit Quality and Growth strategies and will continue to improve to single digit pre-pandemic NPL levels.

A Strong Digital Footprint

Through our digital channel strategy, the Bank has successfully moved 94% of all customer transactions to alternative delivery channels, an expanded 24-hour contact centre, mobile banking, 541 ATMs, internet banking and over 27,000 Co-op Kwa Jirani agency banking terminals.

We have successfully migrated our customers to the Omni-channel, integrating accessibility and user experience. Our omnichannel interfaces online banking through personal computers, mobile phones and USSD availing our services to all customers through their preferred channel yet retain the same experience from wherever they are.

A successful Universal Banking model and the implementation of Sales Force Effectiveness has seen the Group serve 9 million Account holders across all sectors.

Key focus on digital banking, with the all-telco Mco-op Cash Mobile Wallet continuing to play a pivotal role in the growth of non-funded income with 5 Million customers registered and loans worth Kshs 19.9 Billion disbursed year-to-date, averaging over Kshs. 6.6 Billion per month.
Over 151,500 customers have taken up the MSME packages that we rolled out in 2018, and 23,363 have been trained on business management skills.

Year to date, we have disbursed Kshs. 4.3 Billion to MSMEs through our Mobile E-Credit solution. MSMEs are a critical part of economic recovery post-covid and contribute up to 16% of our total Loan Book.

Our unique model of retail banking services through Sacco FOSAs enabled us provide wholesale financial services to over 464 FOSA outlets.

Subsidiaries

Co-op Consultancy & Bancassurance Intermediary Ltd posted a Profit Before Tax of Kshs 316.9 Million as at 31st March 2022, riding on strong penetration of Bancassurance business.

Co-operative Bank of South Sudan that is a unique joint venture (JV) partnership with Government of South Sudan (Co-op Bank 51% and GOSS 49%) returned a profit of Kshs 43.9 Million in Q12022 compared to a loss of Kshs 89.1 million in Q12021.

Co-op Trust Investment Services contributed Kshs. 53.7 Million in Profit Before Tax in Q12022, with Funds Under Management of Kshs. 190.2 Billion compared to Kshs. 128.4 Billion in March 2021.

Kingdom Bank Limited (A Niche MSME Bank) has contributed a Profit Before Tax of Kshs. 199.3 Million in Q12022 compared Kshs. 126.7 Million reported last year representing a 57% Growth year on year.

Long Term Financing: MSME, Sustainable Agriculture & Health sectors.

In 2020 the Group secured a long-term financing facility from the IFC (International Finance Corporation) amounting to Kshs. 8.25 Billion for on-lending at affordable terms to MSMEs involved notably in climate-smart projects, sustainable agricultural practices, and clean energy.

Partnered in the US$ 300 million IFC-led Africa Medical Equipment Facility and Philips (a leading health technology company) to support Africa’s health sector operators purchase essential medical equipment and strengthen their response to COVID-19 and other medical technology needs.

The Group secured a US$ 10 Million credit line in partnership with Eco.business Fund to finance Sustainable Agriculture.

Environmental Social and Governance (ESG)
The Bank has a dedicated ESG Unit that will see the enhancement of our ESG strategies as we take up emerging opportunities and manage ESG risks.

ESG remains a critical pillar of our strategic focus and the Group is determined to make positive contributions to the Economy, Society and Environment.

Co-operative Bank Foundation, a key social investment vehicle, has provided Scholarships to gifted but needy students from all regions of Kenya.

The sponsorship includes fully paid secondary education, full fees for University education, Internships, and career openings for beneficiaries.

The foundation is fully funded by the bank and has supported 8,368 students since the inception of the program.

Conclusion

The Co-operative Bank Group continues to execute a proactive mitigation strategy anchored on a strong enterprise risk management framework, to enable uninterrupted access to banking services.

We shall, riding on the unique synergies in the over 15 million-member co-operative movement that is the largest in Africa, continue to pursue strategic initiatives that focus on resilience and growth in the various sectors as the economy continues to recover.

Brand Kenya grows as personal exploits by Kenyans living in the diaspora keep filling pages in history books.

This past weekend, US-based Kenyan singer Msanii Foreman led a group of musical peers and associates in a charity drive seeking to uplift lives of the homeless, in Arizona.

This charity drive was a celebration to mark the success and first anniversary of Arizona Swahili Radio – a flagship project and one of it’s kind online radio founded by Msanii Foreman in 21st May 2021.

This is unique. It serves heavy contrast to red-carpet fanfare events common in the media and entertainment circles. It’s a reflection of humility borne of humble beginnings, and innate desire by the Kenyan artist to uplift lives of the less-fortunate.

Arizona is hard hit, with homeless people statistics rising, exacerbated by Covid-19 pandemic.

In the 21st May event, Msanii Foreman was accompanied by celebrities and fellow artists. Monique Hasbun, the star singer currently riding high with her banger Latin Mona Lisa was there, accompanied by her mum.
Unconfirmed rumors branded the two artists as lovebirds.

Also present was South African artist Moabi Kotu – who’s featured heavily on Amapiano concerts.

Phoebe Njeri, aka Sherrie Bunnie – one of Arizona Swahili Radio top rated presenters running the popular Sunday Skul Edition program and public personality Bilha Biyaki.

The raisin in the event’s pudding – excuse the pun – came from Pizza Heaven Bistro Phoenix who donated assorted foodstuff. This is a local fast food franchise in Arizona.

Besides foodstuff, the homeless people received bundles of warm clothing and sneakers, some on designer level.

These items were collected in a local church after Msanii Foreman lobbied for community involved in the charity drive.

The artist is a member of the church and has previously held Arizona Swahili Radio awards. This is a youth initiative that builds and mentors youth gifted in performing arts.

In an interview, Msanii Foreman says:

At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or accomplished. It’s about who you’ve lifted, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.

King Kaka is a testament of the truth that motivation comes from different variables in life. Sometimes, actually, a lot of times, it comes from poverty. When you lack money, you lack ven basic esteem and respect.

6 of the most expensive schools in Kenya

Growing up, the rapper didn’t have a lot. Infact, when he tells his own story, he paints the picture of just how acutely aware children usually are of the lack their family deals with.

And King Kaka knew he wanted to change things. While most people who grew up around him would turn to crime, he decided on a better, albeit tougher strategy.

Schools have re-opened and all eyes are on Trio Mio. Here’s why!

King Kaka who was formerly known as Rabbit decided to focus on his books. And he hit them so hard, that he managed to earn himself a scholarship.

And the result of that hard work? He managed to pay for his own education. What do I mean? He got a full scholarship… At a public high school. Let that sink in. Talk about being a young high achiever.

Kenyan celebs who attended the most expensive schools in Kenya

But in truth, you shouldn’t want to have your child struggle to pay their own way through school. Unlike King Kaka’s situation, you should free up your child from all the anxiety that comes from knowing they cannot afford school fees by planning ahead.

Partner with Co-op Bank to help your child become the best version of themselves. Why? Because school fees are all about planning. You should not wake up to realize that fees is due tomorrow and you had not planned for this eventuality even though you’ve lived large for some long holiday weekend. You need a partner who can help you map out the entire financial plan and ensure you get the best possible option for your child(ren).

With the Co-op Bank innovations and partnerships, you can pay school fees and buy new uniforms without having to bear the risk of carrying huge sums of money around. I mean, it would really be a comedy of tragedies if you misplaced that money or it was liberated from you right?

In addition to this, you can also load up your child’s pocket money to their Co-op Bank Pre-paid.

What are the benefits of a Co-op Bank Prepaid card?

  • No need for your child to carry loads of pocket money as they head to school, you can simply load it in the Co-op Prepaid card which is safer than carrying cash.
  • The student will be able to pay for items at their school canteens at No Extra cost.
  • Parents will be able to track their students sending by getting a Mini statement of the card at a Co-op Kwa Jirani agent or via SMS alerts.
  • You no longer need to travel all the way to the school to hand over money to your child, you can simply load the card at any Co-op Kwa Jirani agent.
  • The students are also able to withdraw money using the card from any Co-op ATMs or Co-op Kwa Jirani agents outside school.
  • You dont need an account with Co-op bank to enjoy the benefits of the card.
  • No extra charges will be incurred in transactions using the card.

Click here to find out more.

Is it possible that a school’s motto has an impact in the overall turnout of its alumni? Oftentimes, this slogan is drilled into young entrants every morning at parade.

It’s like an indoctrination phrase into the school’s culture. It’s plastered in bold on every available space from school’s entrance, stationery, to blazers and shirts.

A school’s motto is an organ of pride, in every alumni association meet. It creates an addictive euphoria that stirs fond memories! Here’s a random list of 10 most creative motto phrases!

Meru School entrance in a past photo (file image)

Meru School: In Understanding, Be Men

A cursory perusal of history books sheds some light to the origin and relevance of this motto. Meru School is presently commands mention as on the country’s glorious institutions.

But, it’s grown from a humble existence, since inception in 1956. It’d grow, from learning under trees – drawing male students from the larger Meru and North Eastern Provinces – regions known for volatile temperaments.

They’d often be protests, due to harsh learning and living conditions. To counter this, the missionaries coined the phrase: In Understanding, Be Men!

Machakos School: ‘Ui wi Mbee’

The phrase ‘Ui wi mbee’ is an ode from the local language Kamba, which loosely translates as ‘Wisdom ahead’. The school is central to the regions cultural and social dynamics, and has historically produced some of the country’s most iconic figures straddling politics, academia, industrial and other fields.

The phrase is unique, as it’s a derivative from a local language, as opposed to schools with phrases from foreign languages.

Mang’u High School: Jishinde Ushinde

The name Mangu rolls off the tongue as a strong bragging high school favorite. Their motto, in Swahili – “Jishinde Ushinde” is simple, catchy. It loosely translates to “Conquer Yourself to Conquer” in English.

This is an ideal demonstrated in the school’s stellar performances, over several decades. It also helps that the school only admits the country’s best performers in KCPE.

Nairobi School: To the Uttermost

Well, in everything you wish to do, do to your uttermost. Give all it takes. There’s no holding back. I’d imagine the phrase ‘To the Uttermost’ would be an apt rallying call for an advancing army, and would be very encouraging to high school students.

Beyond high school, Nairobi School’s alumni would still find power and resolve, as they face cut-throat corporate and entrepreneurial sectors. It defines excellence.

Nairobi School – To the Uttermost (file images)

Kenya High School: Servire est Regnare

The Latin Phrase ‘Servire est Regnare’ is shared by Groton School, a private boarding school in USA. The English translation, as often occurs with complex Latin, several outcomes. But, in essence – “To serve is to rule”, or “For whom service is perfect freedom”

Kenya High is one of the best performing national schools in Kenya, and has very tight admission requirements. Only the country’s top KCPE performers attain admission.

Whichever high school your child attends, they all face the same challenges. Top of this agenda, is handling cash.

Luckily, digital banking has taken over and it’s much easier, and safer.

Co-op Bank has availed an innovative, safe and easy way to safeguard your child’s pocket money from risk of loss to marauding bullies – or wayward street-level thieves

The Co-op Bank Pre-paid card allows a parent to load cash into a card which a student carries to school.

Whichever your choice of bank is, all one has to do is walk into the nearest Co-op Bank branch and sign up for the card, and your child’s needs are handled.

What are the benefits of a Co-op Bank Prepaid card?

  • No need for your child to carry loads of pocket money as they head to school, you can simply load it in the Co-op Prepaid card which is safer than carrying cash.
  • The student will be able to pay for items at their school canteens at No Extra cost.
  • Parents will be able to track their students sending by getting a Mini statement of the card at a Co-op Kwa Jirani agent or via SMS alerts
  • You no longer need to travel all the way to the school to hand over money to your child, you can simply load the card at any Co-op Kwa Jirani agent.
  • The students are also able to withdraw money using the card from any Co-op ATMs or Co-op Kwa Jirani agents outside school.
  • You don’t need an account with Co-op bank to enjoy the benefits of the card
  • No extra charges will be incurred in transactions using the card.

It’s a good idea to visit the nearest Co-op Bank branch to learn about Co-op Pre-paid card, or click here.