I had the honor to bump into our very hardworking ‘Kanjo’ the other day. Now, kanjo is the local slang for the men (and women) of our city council. Here we were in Industrial Area for a client meeting, parked outside their gate, and asked the guard at the gate whether it was in order for us to leave some cash in case they ‘yellow boys’ came. He insisted that it was safe, and these guys were a rare occurrence anyway. Assured of our vehicle’s safety, we strolled in to the meeting. That was mistake number one.
After an intense three hours, we were politely interrupted by the news that our car was in the process of being clamped. We literally sprinted to the scene, to find some two fellaz who looked older than my old man. So, with all due respect, I enquired as to the nature of their ‘visit’. They were quick to inform me that we had no parking ticket, thus, they had to lay down the Law by ticketing us with a fine of Kshs. 2 100. Due to their advanced age, I politely informed them that we had followed all due protocol required, of which the guard at the gate was witness of. We requested to pay the standard parking charge, seeing that they were not there when we first arrived. They would hear none of that, and promptly ripped the ticket, and stuffed it at the windshield.
Okay, there was still room to salvage this. Since the deed had already been done, we asked whether we could pay right there and get it done with. Again, we were met with the nonchalance so typical of our public service, “Endeni kwa ofisi mlipe, kisha mtutafute”. Question, where and how do we get to this office, bearing in mind we were in the heartland of Inda?
So there we were, car-less on a Friday afternoon, and time was not on our side because past 3 p.m., the car would be towed away for the weekend, at an additional cost. Funny enough, this was one of those days you leave your wallet in your coat at the office, knowing that you are popping into a meeting and coming straight back to the office. For once in my life, I wished I knew People! I texted a pal and just prayed that the Vision 2030 wipes out all manner of inefficiency from our systems, for my kids’ sake.
Apparently, these guys normally hide from view, lying in wait to clamp the car as soon as one enters an office. They do not answer to anyone but themselves, are a force to reckon with, and possess the foulest mouths ever. All this despite their being senior citizens, who in my view, are the ghost workers yet to be dealt with; as they have perfected the disappearing act when most needed.
Haiya! To cut a short story even shorter, we waited for one of our own to get done with his meeting, after which he drove us to the offices to pay. The dilapidated state of the so-called HQ was a sight for sore eyes. In a corner there was a lady selling mandazis, no computer was in sight, and guys generally looked like their office. Upon payment the call was immediately made to unclamp the car, which we observed upon return. Talk of efficiency when money changes hands! Our boys in yellow had the audacity to wave at us as we passed by them, and I waved back, wishing them God’s blessings in all their endeavors as they are very hard-working members of the public service.
In a recent workshop, Dr. Nzilu Musyoki, Director of Marketing, Brand Kenya Board shared the following insights on country branding. Kenya turns 50 years old in 2013, and execution of plans should be the underlying factor as it achieves this milestone. We have done enough in developing strategies, manifestoes and the like. Country branding is meant to provide a fresh image of Kenya to its citizenry, investors and development partners. A critical mass of citizens is required to actively engage in, and believe in the structures established, so as to realize The Vision 2030.
The 5 dimensions that shape a Country Brand Index (CBI) are:
- National identity and image
- Public attitudes
- Basic services and infrastructure
According to Future Brand, Kenya is 8th in Africa and 77th in the world in fulfilling these dimensions. A sharp contrast to East African neighbor, Tanzania; who happen to be 7th and 68th, in Africa and the world respectively.
Nitakuwepo is a Brand Kenya Board initiative to rally citizens to actively participate in the development of their Towns and Cities, and the Nation ultimately. A study done recently revealed that negativity and cynicism about the country permeated through the fabric of the citizens. Is it a question of misinformation or promises broken continuously by those in authority? After my experience with these venerated members of the public service, I ask another question, what is the role of the Public Service, and is anyone holding them accountable as they harass hardworking Kenyans?
A whole two and a half hours was wasted on ineptitude, ignorance, incompetence, innuendo and all other ‘ins’. My belief in BrandKenya is that we are slowly, but surely, wiping off the spirit of mediocrity from our systems, and to quote Victor Hugo, no army on earth can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come. We have a clear roadmap spelt out in the Vision 2030. This is our country, our Brand, let’s claim it, and give it the respect it deserves.