Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson

In October 24th 19 days after Job’s death, the official biograpy of Steve Jobs was released with records on sales. The author Isaacson is co-founder of Apple.

Am looking foward to read his life more.

Published in: on December 15, 2011 at 7:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Book Review: It’s Our Turn to Eat: A Story of Kenyan Whistle Blower

Book Review by Adam Jackson Foya.
Title: It’s Our Turn to Eat: A Story of Kenyan Whistle Blower
Author: Michela Wrong.
Publisher: Fourth Estate, UK
Year of Publication: 2009.

In her book It’s Our Turn To Eat, Michela Wrong explores the political history of corruption in Kenya including the multifaceted features of ethnic (tribal) division. Wrong delivers vivid, raw details about mechanism of corruption in goverment. Her restrained use of embellishments make for a candid, insightful read. Wrong tells the story of John Githongo, a former head of anti-corruption in Kenya, who turns out to be a whistle blower and one of Africa’s success stories in fighting corruption. .

The book gives a primer on tribalism in Kenya, and sparingly provides the reader with the necessary tedium to access the nuances that divide one tribe from another. When a certain tribe is in power, it becomes their “Turn to Eat’’. Wrong has done a good job in tracing change of power and tribal division from pre to post colonialism. After Kenya’s independence from Britain, Jomo Kenyatta, a Kikuyu became the first president. During his presidency, Wrong uses Githong’s recounts to describe how it was the Kikuyu’s “time to eat”. Kenyatta was followed by ‘Professor of Politics’, Daniel Arap Moi, a Kalenjeen who was president of Kenya for too long-more nearly for 30 years. The account given shows all of the pertinent details relevant to decades of corruption under Moi’s leadership, and methodically calculates the audacious and absurd indulgences of his (the Kalenjeen’s) administration. It was indeed the Kalenjeen’s time to eat, and Wrong gives a matter of fact account of how they feasted at the expense of Western investers and ultimately of the Kenyan people.

In 2002, Kibaki with the Kikuyu-led NARC government came into power, with high promises and people expectations that “corruption will cease to be a way of life in Kenya”. It did not took longer before the same government was involved in procurement scandal of $ 751 million, involving Anglo Leasing and Finance Ltd which remain to be a ‘ghost firm’. Tanzanian readers may be interested to find out how Richmond scandal is almost ‘copy and paste’ of Anglo Leasing ghost company. On his appointment Githongo was very optimistic with the regime and hoped for better change. He made it very clear to the President: “we can set up all the anti-corruption authorities we want, spend all the money we want, pass all the laws on anticorruption, but it all depends on you. If people believe the president is ‘eating’, the battle is lost. If you are steady on this thing, if the leadership is there, we will succeed.”It was not too long that, he came to realise those who he trusted were now involved in the scandals and even the President was also ‘eating’. Evidence from the network of informant whom he had to setup was implicating ministers, Permanent Secretaries, famous business people and probably the President. All these evidences secretly collected, like voice recording and documents from the network of informant in his payroll, were his insurance and base for blowing the whistle.

The book shows the systematic corruption which involves people on power and business. For instance, Anglo Leasing which involved eighteen contracts classified as ‘sensitive’, military – or security in nature. They included among others; a digital multi-channel communications network for prison service, new helicopters, a building a forensic laboratory, state-of-the-art frigate, a top-secret military surveillance dubbed ‘Project Nexus’. The value for 18 contracts amounted to 5% of gross domestic product, over 16% of the government’s gross expenditure in 2003-04 and the money was outstripping the country’s total aid ($521) and were enough to supply every HIV-positive Kenyan with anti-retroviral for the next ten years.

The role of development partner in corruption is well demonstrated in the book. It reminded what Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemy, but the silence of our friends”. Four days after John Githongo released his dossier, World Bank announced $145 million loans to Kenya. The same was done by DfID Britain’s Department for International Development, when announced a £ 58 million grant few days before John’s leak. Its only IMF which refused to follow the schedule of lending and it was only Netherlands which stopped aid in grounds of corruption. The most vocal ‘friend’ who Kenyans will remember the most is Sir Edward Clay, British High Commissioner to Kenya from 2001-05. In one of his speeches against corruption, he aptly said: “Those in government were now eating ‘like gluttons’ out of combination of arrogance, greed and panic. They may expect we shall not see, or notice, or will forgive them a bit of gluttons, but they can hardly expect us not to care when their gluttony causes them to vomit all over our shoes”.

From the book, one can see some similarities between Kenya and Tanzania. Systematic corruption, where dubious high value contracts with ‘ghost’ and dubious companies are signed by the government to siphon public funds. For instance, corruption scandal at Bank of Tanzania (BoT). Where several ‘ghost’ companies were paid large sum of public money under External Payment Arrears (EPA). Disappointingly funds from EPA and Anglo Leasing are alleged to have been used to finance elections.

But are whistle blowers enough to fight corruption in Africa? Yes we need whistle blower, but what we need the most as the author is quoting Hussein Were: “You don’t need any more bodies, you don’t need more laws, you need good people and the will”. Lack of political will to remains to be the challenge in fighting corruption in African countries. A need for good people who have political will to establish institution and take actions against corruption and not just paying some lips services. Moreover we need informed citizens to hold the government accountable on public funds.

Published in: on July 13, 2011 at 6:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How literate is Tanzania’s literate?

There is good debate going on in Wanazuoni Network on literacy issues.

Below are some basic statistics from Standrd Seven 2009 Results, where 50.6% have failed with worse performance in English and Mathematics. Chambi Chachage and other Educational Stakeholders, suggest with should declare ‘Education Crisis’ and come up with ‘Stimulus Package’

Waziri wa Elimu Prof Maghembe jana ametangaza Matokeo ya darasa la saba kwa mwaka 2009.Waliofeli ni 505,737 ambao ni nusu ya watahiniwa yaani asilimia 50.6. Waliofaulu ni 493,333 ambao ni asilimia 49.4. Takwimu nyingine za matokeo haya, hizi hapa kwa ufupi:

  • Jumlya ya watahiniwa ni 999,070. Wasichana 502,624 (asilimia 50.3) na wavulana 496, 446 (asilimia 49.7)
  • Waliofeli ni wasichana 285,374 (asilimia 56.4) na wavulana 220,363(asilimia 43.6). Wamepata chini ya asilimia 100 za jumla ya masomo yote
  • Waliofaulu ni wasichana 217,250 (asilimia 44) na wavulana 276,083 (asilimia 56).
  • Walio changuliwa kujiunga na shule za serikali ni 445,954 sawa na asilimia 90 ya waliofauli, lakini ni asilimia 45 tuu ya watahiniwa wote. Mchakato wa wengine kuchaguliwa shule za kata unaendelea.
  • Alama ya juu kufaulu wa wasichana ni 233 na wavulana 235, ya chini kwa wote ni alama 100.
  • Walio tarajiwa kufanya mtihani ni wanafunzi 1,024,488 ambapo 25, 418 walishindwa kufanya mtihani, lakini Waziri hajeleza sababu kwa kushindwa kwao.
  • Wanafunzi wajawazito waliruhisiwa kufanya mitihani. “Tangu mwaka jana, tuliagiza kwamba hata kama mwanafunzi atakuwa mjamzito, aruhusiwe kufanya mitihani,” Profesa Maghembe
  • Somo la Hisabati walio faulu ni asimilia 21 wakati Kiinfereza ni asilimia 35.4. Waliofeli Hisabati ni asilimia 79 na Kiingereza ni 64.6% Je kwa takwimu hizi na mpango wa serikali kufundisha masomo yote kwa Kiingereza kuna tija yoyote?
  • Somo la Kiswahili matokeo ni mazuri kwani kiwango cha kufaulu ni 69.08% likifwatiwa na Maarifa 59.46% na Sayansi 53.41%
  • Mkoa wa Dar Es Salaam ndio uliongoza kwa kufaulu kwa 68% ukifuatiwa na Arusha 65.7% na Iringa 59.65%
  • Shinyanga ndio ya mwisho, imefaulisha 31.88%, Singida 36.13 na Tabora 39.80%.
  • Wanafunzi wasioona waliofanya mtihana ni 78 na wenye uono hafifu ni 164. Japo matokeo yao hajatajwa, lakini Serikali inastihili pongezi kwa idadi hii ndogo, naamini miaka mingine idadi ya kundi hili litaongezeka.
  • Kwa taarifa zaidi unaweza kusoma MwananchiTanzania Daima.

Kwa takwimu hizi, serikali itachukua hatu gani za kurekebisha kasoro?
Rais J.Kikwete, tarehe 5.11.2009 alipokuwa MovenPick anahutubia mkutano wa Raundi ya Pili ya Mazungumzo ya Wachumi (The Economist Conferences Second Roundatable) alieeleza hatua ambazo serikali yake ilichukua baada ya matokeo ya ripoti ya Benki ya Dunia ya Ufanywaji ya Biashara (Doing Business Report 2010). Benki ya Dunia iliiondoa TZ kati ya nchi 10 bora kwa kurekebisha/kulegeza mazingira ya biashara (10 top reformers) . Katika ranking, TZ ilishuka kwa nafasi TANO toka 126 (mwaka 2009) mpaka 131. Rais alichukulia swala hili kwa binafsi yake na umakini mkubwa (personaly and a matter of serious. Aliitisha mkutano wa wizara na taasisi zinaohusika na ‘poor ranking’ hiyo. Kisha Kikosi Kazi-Task Force iliundwa ili kuchambua sera za biashara na uwekezaji na taratibu mbali mbali.
Kama haya yote yalifanywa kutokana na ripoti ya WB kuishusha Tanzania nafasi 5, kwa kufeli asilimia 50.6 naamini kubwa zaidi lipaswa kufanywa na serikali.

Published in: on December 15, 2009 at 1:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Africa Unchained-The Blueprint for Africa’s Future by George B.N. Ayittey.

I am so greatfully and thankfully to Mama Demere Kitunga for borrowing me AFRICA UNCHAINED:THE BLUEPRINT FOR AFRICA’S FUTURE by George B.N. Ayittey who is also a Ghanian Economist and President of Free Africa Foundation. The book is very challenging and thought provoking. To some is very controvesial because Ayittey is criticing allot of convetional thinking and taking a different position from what many (possibly of us think). For example he criticise people like Nyerere, Nkurumah, Kenyatta and Kaunda for failing to look at the traditional settings when they embarked in post independence National Development Projects.


Prof.Ayittey conclude that: “Africa is poor because she is not free” and classifies Africa generation between the ‘Cheetahs’ and ‘Hippso’. Cheetahs being the young generation which has decided not to play blame game of saying Africa is poor because of slave trade, colonialism or neo-colonialism. But have decided to find solution to African problems. The Hippos are the ruling ‘vampire’ elite rulling class who are corrupt and sucking the wealth of their people for personal benefit.  For some clarification you can watch and download Prof.Ayittey  Video from TED while speaking on Cheetahs vs Hippo.

What I agree with Ayittey is that, future of Africa lies in the heart, mind and hand of young generation which is ready to focus more on finding African solution for Africa problems. However, his classification between Cheetah vs Hippo is still unclear to me.

This is the book I am reading now and I expect to write full book review after finishing reading it. Next week I hope to meet James Shikwati, Director of Inter Regional Economic Network (IREN) who is among the ‘Cheetah’ commended by Prof Ayittey in his book. IREN is organizing Africa Resource Bank Meeting from 11th to 14th November 2009 at Kibo Palace, Arusha Tanzania.

Take time to watch his Video and read the book, as I beleive, there are alot to learn on how Africa, can become Self-Reliant.

You can read some comments from Baha and Chambi from Marafiki wa Vitabu Group. Also you can read its review in The African Executuve by Emeka Okafor

Published in: on November 6, 2009 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Importance and Pleasure of Reading By Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere

[Speech during opening Printing Works and Books Warehouse, Arusha, 29th November 1965]. Excerpt from Nyerere on Education, Volume II, Edited by Elieshi Lema, Issa Omari and Rakeshi Rajani, published by Haki Elimu and E & D Limited.

…Now let me confess to a special pleasure that is a book store and book printing works which we are today opening in Tanzania. Book production is economically important to us. We spend a lot of money on education and greater number of necessary books which can be printed and published within the country, the less will be in the short-term cost in investment in people. We shall save foreign currency if our schools can be supplied with books which are printed here. When we pay for these books we shall also be paying wages to our own people and thus promoting further development within our territory rather than abroad. These are important factors and it was not without design that the Government, in Mr. Curtis’ words, dropped ‘certain broad hints’ to the printing company to encourage them to expand their operations in this country.

At the same time I have to admit to a personal pleasure at the thought of a good book production taking place in our country. Stored in books is accumulated knowledge of man and the earth he lives in, as well as the literature of different civilizations. In time I hope that our own African traditional stories and cultures will also be fully available in this form, and I was pleased to hear Mr.Moshi say that new books are being encouraged on these subjects. But in the meantime the books which are available can teach us, can inspire us, or can refresh our minds with pleasure of good story well told. Books can break down the isolation of our lives and provide us with a friend wherever we may be.

I think we have to try hard in Tanzania to cultivate literate citizens. It is a fact which we must recognize, that in dealing with modern world, children in Europe have two advantages over our children. One is the familiarity with mechanical things; the other, and perhaps even more important one, is familiarity with books. Too often in our society a person who sits down to read is accused of being lazy or being unsociable. This attitude we must change. When we get to the position where a man and his wife sit together in the evening each reading or reading to teach other, and when children are encouraged to learn out of school by reading books which are easily available, then we shall have made a big break-through in our development….

There are many ways which we can celebrate and honour life of Mwalimu Nyerere. I am doing so by reflecting and promote literacy. For today, let reflect on Pleasure of Reading (RP). Almost everyone understands the importance of reading in life, in the excerpt above Mwalimu says: “Stored in books is accumulated knowledge of man and the earth he lives in, as well as the literature of different civilizations”.

Through reading, one can acquire knowledge which can and should be used for personal and society development. Knowing the importance of education and reading, Mwalimu made them one of central pillar in his development policies. But Mwalimu is expressing a bit of different point of view which is the Pleasure of Reading. Normal we miss this point of view when we advocate for literacy and reading. “Reading for pleasure refers to reading that we to do of our own free will anticipating the satisfaction that we will get from the act of reading. It also refers to reading that having begun at someone else’s request we continue because we are interested in it. It typically involves materials that reflect our own choice, at a time and place that suits us”. (Clark & Rumbold ,UK National Literacy Trust 2006).

Research proves that RP contributes to among other things: improving skills on writing, grammar and text comprehension, vocabulary. It also improves our thinking and communication abilities. One factor for success of reading for pleasure from childhood is availability of Print-Rich Environment, this means people can get a book or anything which they like reading. Readers should have wider range of choice as people have different taste when it comes to reading.

My call for honoring Mwalimu’s life, let’s create Print Rich Environment and make reading a family and community activity.
Mwalimu, what was buried 10 years ago was your body but your ideas and philosophy lives forever.
We remember and miss you!!
Adam Jackson Foya
Rafiki wa Vitabu.

Published in: on October 9, 2009 at 10:48 am  Comments (2)  
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