Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Milele Beach – “Forever” Seems unlikely with such Crap Service

Milele Beach - Nyali

I recently spent a weekend in Mombasa to visit our boy in school there. I tend to have a love-hate relationship with the coastal town depending on how brutal the sun is on me…made up of course by relaxing in the sea water.

In my times there, I stay in a lovely apartment by the beach and enjoy lovely Swahili dishes from prolific Mzee Hamisi who can rustle up a banquet with very little effort. There is also apparently an agreement to swim next door at the Milele Beach swimming pool that makes the place a deal breaker.

My last experience in Milele Beach though went terribly. Apparently the accountant had the pool attendant eject me without establishing first whether I was entitled to use the facility. What was worse was the effort his colleague made running after me as I reach the door of the beach house saying,

“Oh we confirmed you can go ahead and swim please come back, sorry about the confusion.”

OK, people, I can hardly call myself a proud person (!), but I will be damned if I return to a pool that I was so publicly ejected, I do have some semblance of self-love. And that gesture felt somewhat insulting.
Why even bother Milele Beach? Sheesh! You’d think they would have thought to find out first before troubling themselves (and me!) with the whole ejection from the pool drama!

So this incident got me thinking about how much abuse and disrespect local tourists take from Mombasa beach resorts. I am pretty sure none of that would have happened had I been say, European, or perhaps American…what is this mindset we have that instinctively looks at Africans at a beach hotel with contempt and suspicion first – guilty till innocent kind of perceptions!? The same kind of notion that distinguishes perhaps whether you are going to get good service or not…

Needless to say, there are too many chlorine pools along the Nyali beach to feel that I need to ever have to fraternise Milele Beach ever again… perhaps the larger point that the chief accountant and the staff in Milele Beach would need to understand is that they will never really fully emancipate from the problems that affect tourism in Mombasa.  Milele beach and other resorts will always be a shaky kind of business that will place peoples livelihoods on the balance. The truth is clients do not return to resorts because of the beaches and the pool…clients return because of staff who illustrate friendliness, respect and professionalism the rest is added value!

The power of referrals is the single most important key to the success of any enterprise. The power of word has broken and built mankind. Each encounter with a client (big, small, European or not), has the potential to grow your business and spread goodwill.

I don’t see Milele lasting forever as its name suggests….not with that level crappy attitude and service.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

of Picketing and Personalities...

Dear Kenyans

Let me share with you a lesson I learnt recently from my life partner...in all my time living in Kenya, I slinked around perosnalities and individuals who were carrying the mantle of so called "leadership." My opinions and my sentiments were based on the personal characters of these leaders. This influenced my choices in voting and in my expressing who I felt was a better pick from the bunch that place themselves for office...

I didn't realise up until the 48th year of "celebrating madaraka" that my anger and my fight against impunity, corruption and infringement of basic human freedoms is misplaced. Its not about the individuals in positions of power but rather in the systems  and structures in which those positions are created. Laws are not remote things we that do not know about until we are in trouble...laws are our guardians and our protectors from a state state of chaos, fear and oppression. We have stayed so long without law protecting us that impunity is normalised in our lives. We have been repressed for so long, many of us born and many will die without realising our basic human freedoms....this is unacceptable, untenable and if it means drumming this lesson and detoxing our minds to truly seeking freedom then it must start somewhere no matter how small.

A Kenyan citizen in Nyayo Stadium during the Madaraka festivities was peacfully protesting against the high cost of basic commondities. The new contitution that we put into place protects his rights to protest and yet we all witnessed on National TV plainclothes policemen (about 6!) whisking him out of the stadium in the most undignified manner.

So, let us remind ourselves about our Bill of rights pertaining to the right to protest:

'Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to 
assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public 

Kenyans, we have laws and systems in place that protect us! These rights are not negotiable and they take effect the minute we born in this country.

This fellow Kenyan has rights and he can exercise them. Part of our struggle to have a better Kenya is to challenge powers that flout the law...today its this manilla picket fencer, tomorrow it will be you or I, the next year it will be a whole nation!

Let us fight for our rights to express a voice of dissent! We need to take action now!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Treasure of Time

Lake Nakuru National Park

Walking through some childhood memories takes me to my early primary school (Moi Primo!!!)..Where I was a chipmunk (don’t ask) brownie and a rather fake girl guide. I basically used the uniform to enter the Nakuru show for free. To be honest my frustrations on being Girl Guide were  mainly because those blasted snotty class 7’s and 8’s never let us “raise the flag” on Fridays (this was of course my single top ambition!)

Anyway once inside the show I was home free, I usually sneaked into the women’s domestic science and crafts display (gosh I cant believe we did this!) and changed into something more fun…
One year me and two other friends decided to try and shoot for the local disco. We were like 11 years old. I remember pinching my sister Ciru’s 6 inch heels just like Tina Turners!…and I picked some controversial mini skirt I got from my Uncle Kamanzi from South Africa which was promptly packed away by mum (with no intention to see the light of day)…its was all the range – what we called “luminous pink” (fuchsia) and a tumbo cut (belly top)...for this we had to change in a public toilet near the club not to risk getting busted by mum’s friends…we used my mums “Irene lipstick” yes…that one that was green and magically painted the lips a deep maroon…Ciru’s luminous green eye make up (she was off in boarding school thank God)…and we were set to go…

So there I was tagging along with my friends who stuffed socks in the bosoms to sprout some cleavage…I stuffed tissue on Ciru’s heels and tried very hard not to wobble. We were trying to pull off 16 since 18 would have been ambitious…the plan was to talk our way past the ticket booth… Once we got tickets, we didn’t have to worry about anything other than been busted by cops…
Somehow I was nominated as the primary ticket buyer…

“Because you speak English better” they said.

Eisshhh…I wondered about my stammer for a second…jeez how does a 16 year old talk anyway? Well seeing as there seemed to be no choice I gathered myself and walked confidently to the booth like big sister Ciru would…she was very sophisticated learning those Nairobi ways in a school called “boma”…

“Three tickets please!” I said with a bit of wen’go, flutter of my eye lashes and I swung my braids shwish and shwash the way I saw it done in the Princess Patra advert….hmmm sophistication this wasn’t so hard.

But I tell you, nothing prepared me for what happened next.!

“You! aren’t you Mama Jimis daughter...Eeh? Chiqy? What are you doing here at the disco? Weeewe! Where is your mother eh?? Is this what you come to the show ground to do…haiyaaaa and what are you wearing…is this make up? Haiya and you have high heels! And you have friends…wewe nyinyi! Kujeni hapa! Hebu give me your names so I can report you to Mrs Gichiri on Monday! Tabia Mbaya Nkt!”

I looked in horror only to realise the ticket seller was in fact our teacher Mr Gichangi  and my friends simply fled…I remember seeing them scuffle off shoes and socks and extensions falling all over as they snaked away in swallowed in the crowds….

I was paralysed. And I couldn’t talk.

My heels had dug into the soil deep…I needed to think fast. I couldn’t leave the shoes, if they disappeared I risked sure death from Ciru…but the fear man! that paralysed me…Ngai!

Then I started hearing the laughter from the disco…boys had come out to see what the fracas was about. I suddenly I saw myself in their eyes…terrible make up put haphazardly in a dark toilet and stuffed shoes…clothes that showed more than hid…and that’s what got me kicking into my exit plan. I grabbed my shoes and ran barefoot.

I ran and ran and ran…by the way, those days I could run eh! forget all these curves you see  now…with the right motivation, nothing could stop me!

I finally slowed down at the cow shed and found a corner to settle down and gather my thoughts…At that point , I took out my guide’s dress and wore it on top of my mini tumbo cut ensemble. A few people stared but I was past caring.

When I calmed down I reorganised myself and used the tissue and the taps near the water trough to wipe off the make up. Patted down my wild afro and walked down to the domestic crafts exhibition. Lots of mum’s friends were there and recognised me. I looked beat. Everyone thought it was all the volunteer work that must have done as a Girl Guide made me look so tired. They directed me to where mum’s stand was. She was there chatting up with the other women. They formed a small crafts group and they had won an award from the judges for their crotchet work. The badge was displayed proudly and they were beaming. I ran into my mums arms and hugged her.

She asked me about my day, I told her it was tiring and was glad to be there to see her work.
“Chiqy why don’t you learn to knit and crotchet, who knows maybe next year you can bring along some of your work here. You could even win something. I can teach you.”

I hugged her again. The day’s drama took its toll. She had this look of mild concern and asked if I was ok.

“Yeah am ok, that’s a great idea mum will learn how to knit and crotchet thank you. Congrats on your prize you deserve it.”

Mr Gichangi “forgot” about the incident and we never got called out in assembly but I tell you I still have the willies thinking about that day.

Well I did learn to knit and to crotchet and Mum was a patient teacher. I never made anything that could make the cut for the show exhibition; in fact I never made anything I would want to show in public for that matter. But I did learn my knit and purl. I did get to spend several Saturdays with mum looking at patterns and unknotting wool and buying needles….

As I look at this today and I really treasure those Saturdays…if I knew I would never have traded that with time at the disco with Tina Tuner stilettos that were not mine and didn’t fit.

As we celebrate mummy’s birthday, she would have turned 68 today...I think of the little treasures of time she gave me. Wonderful memories of her are neatly tucked – readily remembered, fondly cherished.
Happy birthday Mum. I do love you. Always.

Love, your baby,