Saturday, August 27, 2011

Live Blog Kenyans for Kenya Concert - a Teeniez Perspective

So I am watching the Kenyans for Kenya concert with my younger teenage brother and asked for his thoughts on why it looks like such a flop and why he would not attend. Here are his top 5 thoughts:

  1. The event wasn't publicized enough. He only heard about it yesterday.
  2. The presenters (Julie Gichuru, Anne Kiguta, Jeff Koinange) are too old to be hosting a show targeted mainly at young people (from the music being played)
  3. The Citizen TV studio and the formal talk of the presenters make it feel like news read boring.
  4. The line up of the artists should alternate good and not so good, that way the tempo and excitement can remain relatively high
  5. The stage is too far from the audience.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Brush with Al-Qaeda - Part II

Continued from

One day earlier....

"Kindly spell the name for me sir"

"AL HAZEEF, A-L-H-A-Z-E-E-F, come on you have my passport why don't you just read it, I need to check in and go about my business"

"I'm sorry for the inconvenience sir, with passports in Arabic we always confirm the English translation." the pretty hotel receptionist Njeri looked up from her computer at the middle-eastern man impatiently tapping away at her desk. She hated this type: young, filthy rich with petrol dollars and ready to throw insults if things weren't done their way. Njeri started to sigh but caught herself midway - that would only aggravate the situation. She was glad that her shift was almost over, Mike would be at home by now and she couldn't wait to curl up in his arms and tell her about her morning.

A small light flashed on Njeri's computer bringing her back to reality. She had only been told about this situation in her training but never experienced it. Her heart faltered a bit, the color was amber which meant there was a significant threat level. Protocol demanded that she inform her manager immediately.

With a slight tremor in her voice she spoke to Hazeef "Sir, kindly give me a moment as I confirm your check in with our manager" she spoke the words that she had been trained to say.

"Is there a problem?" Hazeef asked, as a multi-lingual speaker he was very attune to vocal tonality and he could instantly tell that hers had changed.

"No, sir. Please give me a moment." Njeri almost stumbled as she turned abruptly to walk to her manager's office. "Damn it!" Njeri cursed under her breadth. The renovations they'd been doing meant that the intercom she could have used to call her manager was still out of order. Three more steps and she was at the manager's office and she barged in even though she could tell through the glass wall that he was with a visitor.

Hazeef watched the girl almost trip, half-running, half-walking into the back office. He could see her gesticulating as she entered the office, her agitation visible from where he was.

After two minutes Njeri and her manager came out of the office but Hazeef was no longer in the lobby.

"Ametoroka?" the supervisor asked no one in particular as he walked out of the hotel to see whether he might see him. The valet outside just shrugged his shoulders as he noticed his boss' menacing scowl.

"Okay Njeri, you need to file a report immediately. Also call the Israeli embassy and speak to Mr. Amit Benayum. He should be here in a few minutes to take questions. Damn it! These are just problems." the manager plodded back to his office reserving his choicer curses for the privacy of his office.

Njeri grudgingly trudged back to her desk. She didn't care about Hazeef, Benayum or reports. She was just upset though that she would not be going home soon and seeing Mike.

Read about Achieng, Hazeef, and Harry in Part III coming next week.

Friday, August 05, 2011

My Brush with Al-Qaeda - Part I

We were all laughing heartily as we reached the hotel lobby, one of my arms around Achieng's shoulder and the other holding my ribs which ached from the night full of humor. My younger sister Loizer was recording everything with a hand-held video camera which surprisingly was still on. Kibe my cousin could barely make it down the last flight, he was not used to so much liquor and humor. Just a few minutes back, a joke from Shiko my other cousin had destroyed all his remaining inhibition and whiskey sprayed from his nose as he was reduced to a cackling mess. The sight of Kibe uncontrollably guffawing while spraying liquor from his nostrils had in turn raptured any remaining decorum we had and we entered the lobby a riant mess.

I figured the hotel staff were accustomed to tourists behaving badly so initially I was not surprised at the lack of attention as our company reached the lobby. It didn't take long to realize however that the staff were not indifferent but rather all their attention was directed at four men at the receptionist desk. The lead man was speaking gruffly holding up a photograph to the receptionist "Is it this man?" he bellowed.

Ominously two of the other men were in full police uniform, with Heckler & Koch MP5 rifles held with one hand tightly against their hips. On their white arm bands, I could make out the words "Anti-Terr"

"Shit" I loudly and unconsciously cursed, simultaneously causing everyone else to stop laughing and sober up. We all turned towards the unfolding drama at the reception desk. The receptionist was nervously typing at her computer "Please give me a minute I confirm sir"

"Come on, what's wrong with you! Do you just book anyone? Hii ndiyo shida ya Waafrika, tunapenda pesa tu sana" The gruff man who I now deduced to be a detective with the anti-terrorism police unit kept bellowing, the menace in his voice only increasing as he switched to Swahili.

The young lady at the reception was now visibly agitated, she wiped her brow as beads of sweat formed on it despite the fact that the lobby was fully air-conditioned.

I turned to Achieng and whispered "do you think they're looking for him?" Achieng's expression was not reassuring and I feared that she was thinking the same thing, that the answer to my question was yes.

"I've got to go, Harry" she mumbled, and started off as if to go back to the apartment.

"No!" I grabbed her arm, stopping her and with a low but firm whisper. "If it's him you'll be in as much trouble, come let's go outside and then you can call to warn him"

---check back tomorrow for Part II