One of the things that I, as a newspaper columnist, do whenever I visit another country is to check out the newspapers. When I was in Nigeria I bought three of the leading papers, each retailing at 200 Naira (Sh100) and looked through them with a fine tooth comb. One feature in the Sunday Sun interested me no end – there was a full page of classifieds where ladies who had been married would announce they now had a new name. A typical classified notice went like this:
“EZUNU: I, formally known as EZUNU CHINWOKE EUCHARIA, now wish to be known and addressed as CHWINYI CHINWOKE EUCHORIA.”
When I enquired about this to a Nigerian friend called Eghosa Imasuen, he explained this was just so that the lady in question would use the newspaper notice as a legal tool to allow her to go through a court process. I marveled at this as here I was seeing a whole page in a newspaper dedicated to ensuring the needs of one section of the population was catered to.
As I thought about this I wondered if perhaps we in the Kenyan newspaper industry needed to do a lot more for our people and their needs. While it might be welcomed by women who want to show the man she is married to is not just their roommate, I suspect many men will not welcome being shown as being married. Also feminists groups will start a campaign to complain that men do not seem to have jump hoops to prove they are married.
With that kind of newspaper columns being a non-starter in East Africa, we will have to find different types of columns to cater to our different markets and demographics. Some of the specialist pages we want to seriously consider include in future newspaper editions. Here are a few different that win sure winners.
a) The drill page
Many organisations have been known to do drills with their staff so that they know what they would do if ever a fire broke out. Typically, the drills involve staff leaving their office block in an orderly manner led by a fire marshal of floors so that they will know how to react in case a real fire broke out.
The events at the Strathmore University this past week made many of us realise we need to start giving notice when an organisation is about to go into drill mode.
The drill at that university wasn’t for fire as we are used to, but for an attack that could happen that we have seen some universities – like it happened at the Garissa University. While other people ensure their students know how to react when there is an attack, Strathmore opted to do a drill using live ammunition.
The negative repercussion was that one person died, and dozens went to hospital with different injuries. If there was a page announcing there would be a drill at the school, no life would have been lost. How would that announcement look? It would simply read:
“We STRATHMORE UNIVERSITY famous for our high quality education and ensuring that students come to college appropriately dressed would like to announce there shall be a drill on school property. This drill will be on how students can cope with a terror attack – so expect to encounter real bullets. Don’t say you weren’t warned."
b) The Mafisi Sacco page
We all know about the Mafisi Sacco. And if we are using social media at all, then we should at least have a clue about this organisation. It isn’t a real organisation in case you are wondering.
The Mafisi Sacco is a term that was introduced to many of us in the last year, and refers to those people who sneak up on women like a hyena sneaks up on unsuspecting prey. Think of mafisi as men and women who like playing with those of the opposite (or even the same) sex for purposes of carnal pleasure.
Those who belong to this sacco will use their page for one or two reasons. One of these would be to share where their prey can be found for feasting. The other would be to warn fellow mafisi of the danger of approaching prey that has violent boyfriends, husbands, and/or fathers.
Venue review: The Heineken Bar, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos
I spent 10 days in Nigeria while on assignment tasting various alcoholic brands that I had never encountered before like a true adventurer. They included the Star Lager, which is the biggest seller; Gulder Lager Orijin, a drink that billed itself as having herbs; and Star Radler, a cider. Throughout this period I was getting to a point where I was marveling at the beers of Nigeria, which are the strongest I have ever encountered on the continent.
You can imagine my surprise on my flight back home having been entranced by these beers when I got to the Mohamed Murtala Airport. Having gone through immigration, I decided to have one last drink to toast to a memorable trip to Africa’s largest economy. We all know the power of brands is very strong yet we always seem to believe we are an exception to the rule, but I realised I am just as susceptible. This is because as I walked through the airport a few hours in advance, I espied a bar which was very much designed as a Heineken bar. There was no sign outside but after drinking beer I got curious – I opted to try something I was more familiar with.
We are familiar with bars that claim they sell one brand. In recent times, for instance, we have seen a proliferation of 'Tusker Malt' bars from the biggest brewer in our region, or even a popular hangout joint that specialise in whiskey. These bars while making this claim tend to have large signs proclaiming the bar as one thing, but when you head there you will find they have the same typical mix of drinks that you would find in any other bar.
At the Heineken Bar at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, however, here you will encounter a brand-specific offering. At the counter just behind the entrance which opens as you approach it, there are many varieties of the brew from the Netherlands. One had to pass through a few high tables and chairs to get to the counter with all the goodies. I made my way there and looked at the menu and saw Heineken was the main offering. I opted to have a main brand retailing at 1,000 Naira (Sh500) for 33cl (330mil), which was quite high. This is a premium. I noticed one cannot escape when drinking at airports the world over.
Looking around I noted the décor here was really good with a section on the right where one could have a drink quite comfortably. As it was early in the day, I didn't expect to see many punters – there were only two white men being served by a very friendly waitress.
A quick recap of the venue
Good: Clean washrooms, decent service, great décor, clearly marked emergency exits, disability friendly
Bad: Pricey, not in Kenya
My verdict: Although pricey, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the Heineken brand while out of town.