Sinking in tradition, with a Glass of Mursik.

mursik

Mursik is sour milk with a sharp almost bitter taste popular among the Kalenjin community. To the newbies mursik may look “dirty” until they get a good taste of the beverage.

When hit on the palate by the sweet crispy flavor most overlook the “dirt”, which is actually a herb that is burnt and ground to charcoal powder and blended in the milk during fermentation. The milk is typically served from colorful gourds or sotet, a tradition that has fast been elevated to the national psyche as a ritual in honoring Kalenjin heroes and athletes for astounding achievements.

Due to widespread awareness on hygiene standards and changes in lifestyles, pasteurization of milk as a first step is requisite. Earlier on direct milking was done into a treated gourd then the milk would be mixed with blood and stored in a cool place to ripen.

Fresh boiled milk is covered to avoid contamination and allowed to cool down before pouring into a treated sotet. The sotet is then corked tightly with a treated lid and stored in a cool place for several days, usually three but can be up to one week, to allow it to ripen.

New and old gourds are first cleaned and left to dry in the sun for a few days. Cleaning is done using bow shaped branches of palm trees or sosiot whose edges have been pounded until they become brush-like. The inner linings of new gourds and the coating of previous milk stored in old gourds are removed to prevent passing bitter taste to mursik.

Treating the sotet is the hard part and requires extreme care and skill. The skill is passed from generation to another.  Cassia didymobotrya (acacia) or sertwet is the preferred tree for imparting preservative and aromatic effect to milk. The sertwet herb added to the milk helps in quick fermentation and has medicinal value.

Other popular ones include simotwet and wattle but Senetwet is by far the most commonly used because of its availability. Burning embers of sticks from the tree branches are put inside the clean dry sotet and shaken vigorously to drop the charcoal formed and to avoid burning the gourd.

Using the iitet, a tool used as a mortar in many mursik preparation sessions, the embers are methodically pressed and ground against the wall of the sotet in a circular in and out motion of the hand, an action described as suutet. This action is repeated until the charcoal powder is evenly distributed on the walls of the gourd. Excess and large particles of charcoal are discarded and the gourd is allowed to cool down. The sotet is now ready for the freshly boiled cool milk.

The gourd can be filled in one or several portions depending on availability of milk. One portion filling is however the most preferred because it avoids many problems related to milk quality, flavor and exposing to harmful bacteria.

Serving mursik

serving

Shake the sotet to stir the mursik into fine sour milk with smooth and uniform consistency.  White globules of butter occasionally float at the top of the gourd when milk is ripe. A good ripe sotet should produce a popping sound upon tapping the lid, allowing excess air to escape. Mursik can be taken on its own or served as a supplement cold with hot ugali.

Mursik has been around for the last 300 years as a traditional method of preserving excess milk. Popularity of mursik has surpassed all the other versions of sour milk and has become part of the national heritage.

The growing market for traditional foods puts mursik as one of the products that can be harnessed and value added to fetch stable income for the producers.  Issues on quality and acceptability of the “charcoal” by a wide range of consumers can be sorted out.

If you happen to be in Kalenjin land, you have to follow my footsteps, sink in this tradition with a glass of Mursik.


Learning Organic Farming in Eldoret.

 

A welcome to Eldoret takes me through the maize plantation, few miles drive and the home is waiting. Countryside is different, maybe unique in many ways. People live easy life, they have little to worry about pollution, weather carbon or noise. They eat organic, drink organic and breathe the same. This is Eldoret, the home of the famous Kenyan long-distance athletes. Here is the town where Kenya began to cultivate her greatest claim to international fame. Here Kipchoge Keino, Moses Kiptanui and Paul Tergat honed their natural talents, to become colossuses in their fields

There is not much to do here, to be honest. Eldoret is an extremely functional town, filled with agro-vet shops and wholesale dukas run by descendants of south Asians brought in as cheap labour during the building of the “Lunatic Express”, the railway that was to link the coast of Kenya to the rich hinterlands of Uganda. There are no galleries, no parks, no theatres, or museums. There is a vibrant nightlife, however, and Kenyans here do not disappoint, night clubs like Spree and Signature competing for custom with typical gusto and verve; drinks and meals are affordable, at $3 for an ice cold beer and about $5 for a full meal at a decent cafeteria.

 

Under this trees 54 different species of birds dwell. They have mastered the art on community coexistence. They live and work in common grounds, and do it with high level of efficiency. Weaver bird is what they are called, they design and build intricate nests. When the nest is complete, the male will announce an open house by fluttering his wings. He invites a female home and hopes she approves. If she does, there will be eggs in the nest within days. If she doesn’t, the nest is usually abandoned. A male will often make multiple nests over the course of the mating season. In most instances, most weaver males never become parents.

 

Our stay at the Water Crest Guest House was full of fun. The rabbits danced to us every morning and all day long. The walk freely on the green lawn looking for food and interacting with nature. They are very beautiful to watch. We also enjoyed good hospitality and a wonderful breakfast.

I have a close relationship with Lel-met who is now a mother to Baraka turned 5 days today and Lel-gina. Baraka is trying to adjust to his new life. He sleeps alot and when its time to play, he loves to do that. he also jumps to eveny opportunity to have his share of milk from his mother.

The dwelling of the bees is in the hives, but finally I found the place where they are spending all their time, here at the sunflower garden. Bees see all colors except the color red. That and their sense of smell help them find the flowers they need to collect pollen. Not only is pollen a food source for bees, but also some of the pollen is dropped in flight, resulting in cross pollination.

Honeybees produce honey from pollen and nectar of the plants they pollinate. They store the honey in honeycombs in their nests, which they use to feed their young in colder months.

Considered by animal behaviorists to be smarter than dogs, pigs are clever animals who are also friendly, loyal, and intelligent. They are naturally very clean and avoid soiling their living areas. When they are not confined on factory farms, pigs spend hours playing, lying in the sun, and exploring their surroundings with their powerful sense of smell. On this picture, the story is almost the same, the female are seen here comforting each other with warmth as they enjoy an afternoon nap while the men on the other hand fight for food.

If you look at Surgoi, you might think that he is the mother to Chepkorgen. But the truth is that Korgen lost her mother a few days after she was born. The story is that after she was milked, she just collapsed and died, yea. For the months that followed, she had to depend on milk from other cows for her development. She can now graze on her own, and her health is getting better.

Kasuye also just got a new baby days ago. We named him Andeso, it means small……really small. Together with their friends they feed along the maize plantation. Sometimes they get naughty and get themselves to areas they are not allowed to occupy, its always a push and pull scenario.

Long time ago this was bubblegum for my wife. They loved to play around this tree and feed from the glue it produces. Things have now changed for her, I married her and took her to the store. Now she knows where to get bubblegum. When she was here, she reminded herself of those good old days.

The things that make an animal farm work are simple….or sometimes complex mechanical, civil contractions. The shade for milking, the place you stop by every morning and evening to earn them milk. The borehole, you need a constant supply of water, my father told me that water translates to milk……..he wasnt wrong one bit. Fences act like fire walls, if you don’t have on, are not planning to invest in one, you will always have hackers in the animal farm and once the data is invaded, you will need sometime to recover from the lose……..time is always precious. Last you need accessibility, controlled movement with small gates that can close at a small human effort. Now it’s closed…..now it’s open.

The tree is under siege, with caterpillars all over it, not the shoes but the insects. Caterpillars that defoliate trees in your home landscape can be invasive and sometimes require control measures. The first option is to do nothing. Healthy deciduous trees usually survive defoliation and grow back a second set of leaves.

Manual control on individual trees includes hand removal of egg masses, inhabited tents and pupa, and installation of sticky tree wraps on trunks to capture caterpillars as they move up and down trees. Do not leave egg masses on the ground; drop them in a container of detergent. Do not attempt to burn tents while they are on trees. This is hazardous to the health of the tree. But still here we see insects overpowering the caterpillar on ground….today, you are our food.

 

Navigating the animal farm is tricky, the ground is always maddy especially when it rains and covered with animal  remains……cow, pig, sheep goat, chicken all combined, every morning you wake up. My father-in-law has found a perfect shoe that fits the job. Looking at them, they has seen better days, they rest on dry ground after a morning of duty and they know, another day awaits. It reminds me of a song “ask my shoes” they always have a story to tell. My wife walks the ground with her pink espadrille……yea I thought so too. She is not on a spanish holiday.

The rewards of organic farming are very evident, if you stop for one minute and enjoy, you gather strength to wake up tomorrow and push some more. So there I was, leaving Eldoret with a pack of all goodies from my mother-in-law. Sour milk with black charcoal AKA mursik, Fresh lemons and more than enough cereals, all from the organic farm.

#OrganicFarming


Meeting ‘Jotto’ at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

 

The David Sheldrick is a haven for orphaned elephants. Born from one family’s passion for Kenya and its wilderness, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is today the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of the pioneering conservation organisations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa. Everyday the gates open to the public from 11am to noon and with a small fee of $5 per visitor, you are able to see the young elephants up close, touch them and listen to their stories.

There are few places left on the planet where the impact of people has not been felt. We have explored and left our footprint on nearly every corner of the globe.  As our population and needs grow, we are leaving less and less room for wildlife.

Wildlife are under threat from many different kinds of human activities, from directly destroying habitat to spreading invasive species and disease.  Most ecosystems are facing multiple threats. Each new threat puts additional stress on already weakened ecosystems and their wildlife.

At the heart of the DSWT’s conservation activities is the Orphans’ Project, which has achieved world-wide acclaim through its hugely successful elephant and rhino rescue and rehabilitation program. The Orphans’ Project exists to offer hope for the future of Kenya’s threatened elephant and rhino populations as they struggle against the threat of poaching for their ivory and horn, and the loss of habitat due to human population pressures and conflict, deforestation and drought.

To date the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has successfully hand-raised over 150 infant elephants and has accomplished its long-term conservation priority by effectively reintegrating orphans back into the wild herds of Tsavo.

This place has now become famous for visitors, since I first came here, the number of visitors have continued to grow by the day which is a good thing for the foundation. Visitors who wish to adopt a baby elephant are welcomed to do so. Having placed a donation to help the elephant, they receive monthly updates about their baby and any time with an appointment, they are allowed to visit without any additional charges.

So today I took my two nieces for a treat, at this place. First Imani was fascinated by the fact that the baby elephants will be very close to her and she will want to touch them. Ningala, wasn’t talking much. We were at the gate a few minutes past 10am, everybody had worked up for this much treasured hour. Most of the crowd were tourists, and others were Kenyans visiting from the United States……..ask me how I know about that, and a few of us including tour drivers and guides. It was dusty, auto machines were taking over the whole parking.

The DSWT is located on the Kenya Wildlife Workshop Gate off Magadi road, about 20km from the city centre. Its accessible by car because you have to drive through the park to access the Sheldrick gate. The elephant Nursery is located in Nairobi National Park. In addition, there are 3 reintegration units are located in the Greater Tsavo Conservation Area at Voi, Ithumba and Umani Springs in the Kibwezi Forest. At the notice board, we could see all in pictures and their stories well written, and we fell in love with Jotto and we wanted to know more about Jotto.

Jotto was rescued on the 21st March 2016, having fallen down a well in the Namunyak Conservancy in Northern Kenya. He was found by herdsmen who had taken their cattle for water at the well on the morning of the 20th of March. They reported the calf to Namunyak Conservancy staff who later sent their scouts to extract the baby. He was rescued at around 10am and the team remained with the calf at the scene, whilst rangers attempted to locate the mother for the rest of the day.

March is always the hottest time of the year in Kenya, particularly at lower altitudes, and this last year due to the equinox combined with unpredictable weather patterns due to global warming, ambient temperatures countrywide were a lot warmer than anyone can remember, with advice to people at sea level to remain indoors and take regular cold showers in order to avoid heat stroke. For this reason, they named this little well victim “Jotto” (in Swahili spelled ‘Joto’ and pronounced “Injoto~ – the word that describes such hot conditions).

The babies were taking milk in two groups, first one with younger elephants and the second, those who are a little older. Jotto was in the first group, but we kept guessing who Jotto was, we were all wrong. After they had taken their milk they played around and with the visitors. A gentleman who I have encountered all the times I have visited here, who speaks really good english and carries the history and the names of all the baby elephants in his head takes the microphone and commands the stage and the visitors listen keenly. Then he introduced us to Jotto, standing at the far end from where we were standing.

Jotto is now one year and six months. His ordeal maybe behind him, but they say elephants have a great memory so its safe to say he hasn’t forgotten why he ended up here and he will not forget years after he has left the orphanage and taken back to the wild, to create a new family….something that takes well over six years.

If you are in Nairobi, maybe catching a flight later or whatever, this is a must visit. It will be a day well spent, with opportunity of up close with this lovely playful babies. Adopting or just donating to the foundation that is doing much more for this vulnerable ones. This place is also good for those who want to keep their minds off work, at least for one hour, doctors say………that can increase productivity.

Am not a doctor, am just a lover of nature, so my advice has no basis or reliability that my own meandering experience.

 


Creating Happiness.

“Reflection is an important part of happiness, and pausing to reflect on a positive event from each day cultivates gratitude”.

Our homes are an extension of who we are: what we do within the walls of our abodes shapes our mood, affects our productivity, and influences our outlook on life. Scientific studies have shown that we can have an impact on our happiness by adjusting the tiny little habits and routines that constitute our daily lives — we are, in fact, in control of our outlook on life.

It’s amazing how a few tweaks to our daily habits can become a catalyst for meaningful, positive change. Here are a few simple things you can do every day to feel happier at home. I will share with you small things that have helped me enjoy my life and enhance my happiness.

Make your bed. One of the most popular saying by my Dad when I was growing up was “early to bed and early to rise makes someone healthy, wealthy and wise” but when you do, make sure you don’t suck in your first task of day, making your bed. The three minute task is one of the simplest habits you can adopt to positively impact your happiness. When this task is completed, it sets you on a path of completing other tasks,…….. it might be taking a shower, finally leaving the house, attending a meeting and maybe finally signing the contract. (I heard that in some commencement speech, I have forgotten where) And if your day will not be as fun as you anticipated, at least you go back to a made bed. – okey, that was Chimamanda Adichie.

Display sentimental items around your home. One reason that experiences (and memories of those experiences) make us happier than material things is due to the entire cycle of enjoyment that experiences provide: planning the experience, looking forward to the experience, enjoying the experience, and then remembering the experience. Make your home a gallery of positive memories. Items you value most, make sure they are displayed, well where your eye can reach.

Start a gratitude journal. I always say, one problem about journaling is that those secrets that lied safe in your heart are now out in a book, and their safety is threatened. My wife always wants to know what is in my Journal, but that is besides the point. Before bed, simply jot down one happy memory from that day. (If you have kids, you can ask them, “What was the best part of today?”) Reflection is an important part of happiness, and pausing to reflect on a positive event from each day cultivates gratitude. (An added bonus: Later, when your memory is defunct, you will already have all of your meaningful adventures recorded!) Well if the above is difficult for you, just know you are not alone,…..just journal in your own way. Just like me.

If you can’t get out of it, get into it. This tip comes from The Happiness Project. I love the message: The dishes are not going to clean themselves, so you will do it, and you will like it! (Unless, of course, you can outsource this job, in which case I say: Nice work!) Otherwise, get into doing the dishes. Feel the soothing warm water on your hands. Enjoy the tickle of the tiny bubbles. Crank your favorite album at an unusually loud volume, do a couple fist-pumps while shouting “Can I get a hell yeah for the dishes? Hell! Yeah!” and pretend you love it or just maybe, Love it.

Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day. In The Art of Happiness, the Dali Lama says “”Every day, think as you wake up: today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.” Wow. What a wise man. I tend to wake up with a strong visceral reaction that says, “Attention human beings: Be afraid of me before coffee. Be very afraid!” Setting a daily intent makes a huge difference. Your daily intent could be something like “be productive” or “enjoy today’s delicious moments” or it could be something more specific like “say thank you to my wife today.” But it should not be another “to do” item on your list. Be intentional.

Spend money on things that cultivate experiences at home. Save money for a new grill for parties or a new DVD for family movie night — something that will encourage you to have people over and entertain. Plan a barbeque, invite your closest friends, kick back and relax. (And don’t forget to print out the pictures to remember the good times.) I will say this the most nicest way, Internet, that thing that connects you to the world,…..that you are so happy to have, destroys more relationships than it builds. Internet is like the devil crawling at you, and you must master it.

Spend a few minutes each day connecting with something greater than yourself. In my case, I am a born again Christian, I read the bible everyday and pray, fasting is not my strength…..I am being very honest so be kind.  Whatever your spiritual beliefs — or non-beliefs — may be, studies show that connecting to a high power is correlated with happiness. No man is an Island…….that’s from Bob Marley’s song but am sure you get the point. “But thou shalt remember Jehovah thy God, for it is thee that giveth power to create wealth” Deuteronomy 8:18 Just stepping back to realize that we are part of an enormous power of our creator can put some perspective on your life.

Before bed, spend just a few minutes contemplating something larger than yourself, read the bible, pray and have moments of meditation. Enjoy Quiet Personal Time.Take a walk in nature, the one place that connects us to the creator or in other cases the universe. The place of utmost peace, the place if you ask me, that should be everyone’s portion. Write in a journal. Buy flowers, and cherish them, place some art on the walls. Create a sacred space in your home (Or if spirituality is really not your thing,…….try to make it your thing and if 1,2,3,4,5,6 times doesn’t work, create a home spa: light some candles, soak in a hot bath, delve into a good book… are you feeling better yet?) If not, repeat.


Bike Riding Karura Forest.

WhatsApp Image 2017-03-26 at 20.22.37

I have cycled to the mountain top, through the Aberdare National Park, I have cycled on the crazy roads, in the City of Nairobi, 50 km everyday for five days. I have cycled downhill in record speed, sometimes, many times thinking that my heart could pop out, could stop. I have cycled to the lake, and beside Longonot, down the rift valley in the pouring rain, and I couldn’t stop. I have been in places that has changed my life, I have been here and there, cycling down Florida road to Moses Mabhida, to Durban Waterfront.

Cycling is now a way of life, NO, its my way of life. Its not something I plan to do but something I have loved doing. Being on a bike is everything for me, almost everything, I live there and I am happy there. Riding a bicycle is one of the best ways to explore nature and experience the world that we live in as well as a pleasurable, environmentally friendly and economical way to get around, get exercise and to meet people or to become closer to friends and family.

Traveling through towns or into the country at bike riding speeds is invigorating and allows you to cover more ground than you could by walking and to enjoy and explore the world more personally and in more detail than you could by driving in a car. This is the spirit I woke up with today. I have a bike rack that makes it easy to carry my bike on my car, so the dark days I believe are behind me. Today, am going for the forest, but first its a drive to Karura forest,…….the place where magic lives.

Karura is a place I have failed to master, when i am here, I just look at the bike track and speed, cutting through the wind, my bike taking on the earth and roots and still being able to conque. What gives me the most enjoyment or pleasure from bike riding is, of course, going to be personal and will be dependent on your own riding style and preferences. As for myself, I love nature, being outdoors whenever possible and a long bike ride on a beautiful day. The love of bike riding is the wind on your face and the sweet smell of flowers in the spring as you glide down a gentle hill.

In summer……like today, it’s finding and exploring new places, the cooling effect of a gentle breeze as you ride through a canopy of trees, a bike path bridge over a stream or even the sound of thunder and the smell of the coming rain. The love of bike riding is a fast ride along a winding bike path, the smell of dried or burning leaves, the color of the trees in the distance or right alongside the bike path that you are on and a scenic sunset at the end of a long ride. This is what makes this day special, because Karura gives you all that.

The first time i biked here, I met two guys and together with my wife, who then was my girlfriend made great memories together. It was a long day for us trying to find the waterfall, the caves which we couldnt find despite them being a walk away from the waterfalls….a real walk away. So we asked, for the way….and that helped. But everytime I come here I discover something new, something I havent seen, and I have always wanted to keep it that way. I don’t need to master where everything is, I want Karura to remain a mystery, that place that is different everyday I bike here.

So for my day out today, for the first time I used the Kiambu road gate, 15 minutes into my cycling I way in the caves, peaceful and quiet, it was also cool very cool. The trees were tall, very tall. The walk down was steep very steep, at some point I had to carry my bike. I crossed different bridges…small and tiny. The the waterfalls was infront of me, infront of my eyes, and it was all new to me. I had approached it from a different point, and that did not remind me the last time I saw it.

Then I had to make it to the picnic field, where food, cold drinks and water was waiting, and event with that motivation, I still got lost….in the woods again. That is why I have to keep coming, not to master the forest but to get lost, because I love being lost…….

when i am lost….that is when I find myself.


Drought and Hunger hits parts of Kenya.

drought

My last article was about spicy food, something i am really passionate about. Then came my post on Facebook, “Hunger is now a national disaster, all this time we’ve been telling hungry people to register as voters”. One of my friend wanted to know more about that, and since I could not have explained it in a few words, I decided to write this article.

Over 80 per cent of Kenya’s population of 40 million derives their livelihoods from agriculture and pastoralism. Four million small farm households produce three-quarters of the country’s food. Yet Kenya’s farmers face massive challenges. Their landholdings are small, productivity is low and most have little access to inputs, financial services and markets to sell any surplus produce. Poverty and hunger remain deep and persistent. Around 48 per cent of Kenyans, especially subsistence farmers and pastoralists, live in poverty and over 40 per cent – around 16 million people – lack sufficient food. This is graphical I know, but true.

By end of 2016, five coast counties were ravaged with drought and hunger. The situation threatened 1.3 million lives in Kenya, according to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA). Kilifi had been identified as having the severest vegetation deficit. Kinango in Kwale and Lamu West sub-counties are also in the severe vegetation deficit band. But thats where it all ended, today, this figures are a reality.

Today, more that 2 million Kenyans are facing hunger and starvation because of prolonged drought. People and animals’ lives are at risk because they have not had a chance to recover from drought in 2014 as rains were also poor in 2015 and 2016. The 2016 long rains were poor, leaving 1.3 million Kenyans in need of food aid, according to the government, which has started distributing maize, beans and rice to hungry people in the worst-affected northern and coastal regions.

Generally, responses to drought or crisis are too little and too late, it can take several months for emergency aid to reach people on the ground. Most of the worst hit area have poor road network, None if not little access to communication, and very limited representation. Kenya has declared the ongoing drought affecting many parts of the country a national disaster, calling for aid to counter the situation which is posing a major risk to people, livestock and wildlife.

The Kenya Red Cross estimated about 2.7 million people were in need of food aid after low rainfall in October and November, with the next rainy season not due before April. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called for “local and international partners to come in and support the government’s efforts to contain the situation”.

Out of Kenya’s 47 counties, 23 have been deemed to be facing disastrous drought. Early this month, residents in drought-struck northern Kenya said at least 11 people were killed and a tourist lodge torched due to conflicts when armed cattle herders flooded onto farms and wildlife reserves. Our nation has faced this situation before and efforts to create a permanent solutions have not yielded fruits.

With a score of 21.9 in Global Hunger Index, Kenya is ranked among the top 50 countries failing to provide their people with enough food. Kenya is ranked marginally ahead of conflict-prone Iraq which has a score of 22 and is outpaced by Egypt with a score of 13.7 which has in recent years been faced by conflict.

Ending global hunger is certainly possible, but it’s up to all of us that we set the priorities right to ensure that governments, the private sector and civil society devote the time and resources necessary to meet this important goal. I feel sad when I witness what is going on in our nation, my soul and prayers goes to those affected and in my little way, I contribute with kindness to the people affected.

We continue to hope, We continue to pray and we continue to fight.


My BMW Is for Sale.

1280px-bmw_525i_e34

If you are planning to buy a BMW, you should read this article. I have always had this strong thoughts that “my BMW is not for sale”. That thought has changed. My 1988, 520i M20 Engine went on sale in December 2016. It was 29 years old, out of those, nine years under my custody. I was the third owner. A car this old if it’s driving  Europe they say “it’s living on borrowed times”. If it’s driving in Africa, it has it’s whole life ahead of it, just like the road.  I will admit that I knew very little about BMWs except for the fact that “the Germans make car”, good cars.

While living in Mombasa, I got a tender to supply stationary in one of the leading hotel which had one policy, that they would not accept any delivery if you didn’t show-up in a car. Cars were not common then and deliveries made using other modes of transportations were very common. I desired to have a car, and living in the Henry Ford dream, I wanted a car I could afford, and that would be a beetle.

If you have been around for awhile, you might be enjoying the luxury the auto industry provides today but to speak the truth, when cars were made, the VW Beetle sent out a good statement. The need for this kind of car, and its functional objectives, was formulated by the leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, who wanted a cheap, simple car to be mass-produced for his country’s new road network. Hitler contracted Ferdinand Porsche in 1934 to design and build it. Porsche and his team took until 1938 to finalise the design. The influence on Porsche’s design of other contemporary cars, such as the Tatra V570 and the work of Josef Ganz remains a subject of dispute.

The result was one of the first rear-engined cars since the Brass Era. With 21,529,464 produced, the Beetle is the longest-running and most-manufactured car of a single platform ever made. My dream to own one of this beauties did not mature and on January of 2007, I managed my first ever car, 1988 BMW sedan, it was a 520i with an M20 engine. I was the third owner. The BMW E34 is the third generation 5 Series, launched in February 1988. It had a stiffer body and was more streamlined than its predecessor.

The E34 was among the most reliable luxury cars on the market, earning the best-in-class ratings from Intellichoice in 1991, and still considered one of the most reliable BMWs ever made. It was also one of the safest cars on the road during its production, providing airbags, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, and a very rigid body structure to protect occupants in the event of an accident. It was also equipped with automatic stability control (ASC) or traction control (ASC+T) in later years on higher-specification variants.

The past nine years behind the wheel of 5series have been full of emotions, we traveled the roads together.  We went East, where the sun wakes up with a smile, bringing the earth to life. We went West, where the sun goes to bed handing over duties to the moon and the stars and the hungry wolfs. We went North, to the mountains, the mighty and not, the Soysambu Conservancy touching the dry grass, and the rocks a head and the dust to the horizon. We went south, to the beaches, to where God put all the waters of the earth. We have been together during the day and during the night, with the sunroof open the sun kissing my head and in the middle of the pouring rain. This old folk son of a beach, has been faithful.

Are there some disappointing days? of course yes, a few of them. Like when she blew the fuel relay and I couldn’t figure out what. The accident at 4am when she couldn’t remember home because I was drunk. The day I picked up pieces of my broken shock 300 km away from home. The overheatings, sometimes on traffic, sometimes on the highway, sometimes early in the morning and sometimes late at night. But all the same, am sorry to say that this has been a good experience for both of us, we took care of each other. We were faithful friends. So today “Kasuye” as I have often called her IS FOR SALE and the next buyer is looking forward to create his memories, just like me.

But for you out there, if you are thinking of buying a BMW 5 series, please read this article. The 5 series BMW’s second best-selling model after the 3-Series (where I am headed next) and in 2010 produced about 50% of the BMW’s profits. I do not know if I will come back to the 5 series again only time will tell, for now I want to experience what is in store for 3 series club members and when am done here an SUV would be my ideal choice of the future.

One day a friend of mine told me that I love my car too much, I give her too much attention, and too much time. I believe men who invest in toys have mastered the art of praising their toys. But my answer to my friend was that “when you own the same car for nine years, you become companions.

 


Ending the Debate.

img_1897 img_8909

With the widespread adoption of the 29er mountain bike in manufacturing and the mountain bike community, the growing debate of 29er vs. traditional 26″ mountain bikes is getting hot amongst riding groups. If you are in the market to upgrade your current mountain bike or get into the sport, your options are wider than ever which is a good thing for the sport but can be debilitating when looking to purchase a new rig.

For  years, I have been riding a 26″ while wishing for a 29er, it has been a long journey taken considering the fact that I wanted to be sure before I blew the bank for my next purchase. A road bike has never worked for me, and our roads are not polite to her……trust me, when you are on a road bike in Nairobi, half of your ride will be filled with sadness. I am an adventurous person, I like to be in the woods, cycling into Karura forest, Arboretum and to the Gilgil hills, many times I commute to work on my bike between 30km to 80km, depending with the errands.

After a test on different bikes, ..you can name them, my body and my heart settled on the 29er, my body because am a tall guy, I wanted the luxury the 29er provides for guys like me. My heart because am passionate about cycling, I commute a lot on my bike and trust me, when you are sitting on a 29er, you get this feeling that you are on top of everything, you are under control, the bike gives you control. When confronted with the woods, the rocks, the roots and the sliding floor, the 29er is on top of it all, helping you manage the task at hand. I do not mean to say that the 26″ can’t do this, don’t get me wrong, but when you are on a 29er, the terrain belongs to you.

In the short travel and hard tail mountain bike market, the 29er mountain bike has almost completely taken over. This recommendations are used in conjunction with the height recommendations below.

  • HT and 100mm travel and under: 29er or 650B
  • 120mm to 130mm: 29er or 650B
  • 140mm: 650B (27.5) or 26″
  • 150mm to 160mm: 650B (27.5) or 26″
  • 160mm+: 650B (27.5) or 26″

While on my honeymoon in South Africa, I visited this small restaurant at the Durban WaterFront, its home for cyclist and dog lovers. While  enjoying coffee, I picked a flyer for a bike shop that was literally five blocks from where we were staying, and I visited them. Good news is that it was christmas and they had something on offer, something I was looking for, a 29er bike. The moment that followed was just me trying to get financing for the bike and since my wife is also the family accountant, I had to go through her. I left Durban with my bike and managed to send it to Nairobi before I left South Africa, and sixteen days later, it arrived.

I have since assembled the bike ready for its maiden ride, I can tell you, everything is worth every Rand I put on the bike. The Giant 29er comes with all the comfort and performance that a cyclist would love and want to enjoy. It’s luminous green colors makes you visible from a while distance, the tyres keeps you on the ground and with the wide handlebar, your control is not compromised and if you enjoy the benefits of being tall, cycling a 29er gives you room for your height and comfort.

As mentioned before, 29er mountain bikes do take more to maneuver through tight single track. If all of your riding is filled with tight turns in trees, you will want to try out a 29er on your own local trails before making a decision. On the other side of the spectrum, if your trails are more open and rocky, the 29er wheel size can really excel and bring more speed as you can hit sections faster.

As of 2016, the 26″ wheel is seeing its way to the “remember when” category. 27.5″ wheels have essentially taken over that market to the point that you rarely even find a 26″ tire on a long travel bike. We’ll now just refer to the 26″ tire as the size dedicated to Walmart bikes. With 27.5, 27.5 plus and other new standards, the 26″ wheel is officially dead.


Emerging green workspace

whatsapp-image-2017-01-08-at-19-03-46
United Nations Office at Nairobi

Greetings from Nairobi, Kenya. I am back to my small desk in Westlands, for those who like scheduling holidays and travel, you will agree with me that there is the beginning and the end. And the end is always filled with memories and both good and bad experiences. In case you are wondering, you are not alone. To bring myself to speed being back, I took a tour that was pending – visiting the United Nations Office at Nairobi. I am not new to this place but I hoped that this tour will be an educational one for my future of 2017.

The main point of interest for me then became the environment. The office sits on a hundred and forty six acres of land donated by the government of Kenya. It neighbours Karura forest and the United States Embassy. Its surrounded by the love of trees, fresh air, birds and water. If that would be the requirement for a healthy working space, I would say, UNON have succeeded. The environment created to encourage living and working in a clean, renewable and sustainable. My ‘icing on the cake’ of the tour was the United Nation Environmental Programme office, which also houses the UNHABITAT. While every other new building in town prides itself on being the latest to add green features, it is only prudent to find out how UNEP’s own headquarters in Nairobi have been designed as a model for other buildings.

What strikes you upon entering the new offices in Gigiri are the airy walkways full of plants, coupled with natural lighting coming down through the central atrium that runs the entire length of the building. This is made possible due to the building’s North-South orientation that not only helps it achieve maximum light intake but also mitigates against solar gain. About 6,000 square metres of solar panels that cover the rooftop are able to generate enough energy for the building’s 1,200 users. The water features at the entrance of each block are fed by harvested rainwater from the roof. Excess waste water is treated at an on-site aeration facility that is then used to maintain the expansive gardens. “This building is beautiful, comfortable and efficient. But more than any of that, this building is a living model of our sustainable future,” were the words of Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary General, on the official opening of the building.

whatsapp-image-2017-01-08-at-19-09-10 whatsapp-image-2017-01-08-at-19-03-53 whatsapp-image-2017-01-08-at-19-03-51 whatsapp-image-2017-01-08-at-19-03-44
Countries all around the world are powering towards a low-carbon future by embracing solar, wind and geothermal energy. Thanks to its unique geography and commitment to environmental preservation, small but mighty Costa Rica meets a huge amount of its energy needs (99% in 2015!) using hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, wind, and other low-carbon sources. Next on the horizon: Costa Rica aims to be entirely carbon-neutral by 2021.

Nicaragua saw renewables comprise up to 54% of all electricity production in June 2015. How’d they do it? In 2007, the then-president began emphasizing renewable energy investments. By 2012, Nicaragua invested the fifth-highest percentage worldwide of its GDP in developing renewable energy. Next on the to-do list: The country is aiming for 90% renewables by 2020, with the majority of energy coming from wind, solar, and geothermal sources.

Over the years, the UN have turned their working space to be clean and sustainable with the GREEN ONE UN House being an important component of the UN’s climate change advocacy. Professor Wangari Maathai said “In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now”.

#RenewRecycleReuse

 

 


Wedding Day

 

15310960_10157786085100075_457214629_o
Enkishon Garden – Limuru

Friends of mine from Europe and other places not Africa have always asked to know about the African Wedding. I am not sure about that, but for me, a wedding is just a wedding. There is not much difference, if you are doing a wedding in Africa or in Europe or somewhere in Asia, the plan is that the groom gets to leave with the bride. So my friends where here for my wedding, Hagen, Christine and Joerg, and it was a wonderful time.

By many standards, our wedding was really simple. By simple i mean that we tried as much as possible to do everything within our budget and since we are not rich, trust me, that was simple enough. The last week of the wedding is usually very busy for the couple, I spent my week touring around in and out of Nairobi. The day before the wedding we went to Stella’s house, my sister…..and for the time we were there attended a Garmin workshop by Joerg…….(not a real workshop) played Bao game with hagen and carried the table to my apartment. Then we went to the Helipad of Jomo Kenyatta Convention Centre, and we could see from far how fast the rain was running towards the city. I later went for a shave, which ended up taking a lot of evening time which is always a problem when you have white people around you and are not sure about the time estimates.

I woke up at 5:45am to the singing of the birds, what a day. It was a wet morning and the earth was still recovering from the pour of last night. My errand of the day  mainly to get married that day, but there were challenges I needed to win to get there. First I had to return Stella’s car, I have been using it for some days and this day she needed it, which meant I was without transportation and I had to look for alternatives. I also needed to know how my mother will get to Westlands, the place where she was supposed to pick the lady I was marrying. I needed to be in Limuru without defects, the venue of my wedding and for some reason, everybody’s eyes were staring at me so I had to be at my best behaviour.

I always want to keep my head busy, especially on a day like this being busy takes my mind out of stuff. Today, I chose to be in my leaders meeting, which for a reason is being held in Limuru. I was surrounded by love from many people as I prepared for this day. Breakfast, prayer and fellowship started the day. Then I was in my suite with my best man, best friend on my side and when I looked outside I could see the car carrying the bride parked. A few steps outside was the grounds, looking amazing and decorated, and the guests were starting to walk in, others already seated. So I had to do a loong walk to the altar,before the bride could follow later.

There infront of people we exchanged our vows, and we were married. Together with our loved ones we enjoyed a day of dancing, eating and talking, something really common in an African wedding. So when you ask me how an African wedding is like, am still not sure, not different from Asia, or a village in South of France or downtown Zurich. For me, a wedding is just a wedding. I have been married seven days now, I have an early morning flight tomorrow for my honeymoon so please, allow me to catch some sleep.

 

#NaomiWedsDavid