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November 22, 2018

Real issues that call for national dialogue

When Baba (Cord leader Raila Odinga if you don't know Kenyan politics) came back after a very long (two-month) sojourn out of the country he demanded “National Dialogue” from the President.

The President in his Madaraka Day speech was happy to agree that we need this hitherto unheard of “National Dialogue” creature. So what is it? Without a definition from these two guys, then it only makes sense that we as the citizenry push forward our own versions of this dialogue so that our voices are heard. We too have issues that need looking into, that need dialogue from all Nairobians.

Lets start with the big things. The price of food is frightening to say the least. I wanted to make a sandwich so I went to my local mama mboga to get some fresh tomato and onion. I nearly collapsed when I gave her Sh20 for tomatoes and this lady wrapped up two tomatoes in a plastic bag.

Ten shillings for one measly tomato? When did the rain start beating us? These prices bring closer to home the pain that families in this town have to cope with everyday.

You know how already people don't appreciate it when you visit them just as a meal is being served as you now have to be served? Soon families will have designated visitor welcoming shifts.

The job of the person on duty will be interference should you come visiting without prior notice. This is by giving you long stories at the door, as everyone scoffs down the little food they have.

Then there is the issue of fashion. Kenya has been doing very well in recent years with the fashion industry finally making a dent in our lives. With the internet being easily accessible to anyone with a phone the fashion trends from around the world filtering into our society, people are learning that some clothes are not to be worn at certain times.

For example, it doesn't make sense to go to the beach in Mombasa with a woolly winter jacket that was bought at Toi market. However, even with these tips filtering through, some of the less attractive ones are also making it into our society.

Take for instance the strange obsession young women have with shaving their eyebrows then drawing a line where the eye brows were. Whoever came up with that idea must have done it as a joke but young women took it seriously.

Also, who came up with the idea that because boots are in fashion and open shoes are popular Nairobi ladies should wear open toe boots? It’s not just the women that need to look hard at themselves where fashion is concerned as even the guys aren't doing that well either.

Sagging jeans for a teenager is sad but explainable as they are trying to follow their rapper heroes from the music videos. For anyone above the age of 20, sagging jeans and going around pulling up one's trousers is one of the worst fashion faux pas imaginable.

These fashion trends and many others need to be at the top of any national dialogue, if we are to stand up with pride in the family of nations. Perhaps the cell phone and its use also need to be at the top of the Kenyan national dialogue.

Kenyans use their cellphones for many reasons nowadays. It has become the tool to pay bills, to lend and borrow money to family and friends and even to track one's trucks as they move goods across the country.

A line has to be drawn where their use applies though. When did having a phone define a Nairobian so much that one nearly has a heart attack when they forget their phones at home?

Eating meals with family and friends nowadays includes this little gadget and no one has any apology for it. If you follow what this person is doing that is so important, you will find that they are just adding their voice to the latest Twitter trend, be it #BabaWhileYouWereAway or #SinceArsenalLastWonATrophy.

Also top of the list will be folks laughing at memes like an image of our poor internal security CS with the caption “I think Makaburi was killed by poachers, kwa sababu alikuwa amemea pembe.” Cellphone use needs to be at the top of national dialogue for all of us.


Venue Review

Westyard Pub, Lusaka Road

The bars and lounges for the well heeled are coming up by the day with the most basic alcoholic drinks going for Sh200 and above. Those who read the reviews on this page might assume that these are the only ones available in the great city of Nairobi.

Nothing could be further from the truth as there are many pubs with drinks at more reasonable prices all over the city. Take for instance the Westyard Bar on Lusaka Road which I visited on Madaraka Day evening to have a quiet drink before heading out to my humble abode.

The first thing I noticed as I walked in were the seats at the entrance which had canvas covers. The seats were long, pink and white and very comfortable. To the left of the entrance, the seats were more of your usual Nairobi-four-seats-around-a-table fare.

I walked past this area to the counter where there were more seats, but of the “sinatabu” variety. I sat down and ordered for a cold Tusker. The drink was going at Sh150. This is extremely fair if you consider that I buy the same drink at a supermarket for Sh130.

The décor of the place was not the best, with the sign above the counter almost looking like it was written by an amateur sign writer. But with these beer prices, you wouldn't see me wailing about anything.

Present in the pub at the time was a crowd mostly made of men in their 20s and early 30s. The crowd didn't look like your typical spending Sh10,000-a-night one; the individuals in the crowd were honest hard working Nairobi folk looking for a good time.

There was a couple of TV screens above the counter showing some movies but the friendly waiter informed me that I could follow the World Cup there when it starts in Brazil in a few weeks.

Behind the counter, there was also one of those posters you see sold by hawkers with “Arsenal Team 2014” which made me feel quite at home.

No worries escaping in an emergency as there are exits all over the place. One downside though is the washrooms as one has to ask for keys to access them and they are not the cleanest I have experienced in town.


A quick recap of the venue


Central location, reasonably-priced drinks, great service, TV for the sport fanatic


Dirty washrooms, décor needs work.

My verdict

 If you are looking for a pub with reasonably-priced drinks, this is the place.

Poll of the day