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Monthly Archives: July 2014

5,500 ft >> 26,000 ft >> 4,265 ft Kenya – Zambia

How would you like to have your breakfast, vegetarian or non-vegetarian?  I know I eat meat, I know I am not vegetarian but here the question is thrown at me threw me off-balance. I take long to think “what am I vegetarian or non-vegetarian?” and ask the lady to repeat what was on offer… I say vegetarian, I think the stewardess could hear my thoughts and gave me that “are you sure” look and I give her “yes I am” to confirm. Wandia hands me the warm plastic bearing vegetarian food, I open it to find potatoes, peas and some fried sweet potatoes! “Who eats this for breakfast? This is not what I wanted!” is what I am thinking, the guy behind asks for non-vegetarian and once he opens his food can I am assaulted by the smell of sausages and bacon, those warus and gwacis did have a hard time going down my throat, I try to imagine they are something else to make them more palatable… I make a strong mental note “Mackel, you are non-vegetarian, get that in your thick skull, NON-VEGETARIAN!” Boiled potatoes and peas is not how you kick-start your morning, unless you are diabetic (no hard feelings if you are diabetic, I now empathize with what you go through), the fried sweet potatoes were tasty though.

Two hours later we touch down at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka. I find the client’s driver waiting, apparently my second name means something else in Nyanja, one of the 72 Zambian local languages they mispronounce it and they give me a name which they think I should be called, their local version of my name. From now I think my first name will do. The first striking thing about Zambia for a first time visitor is the space, there is so much space, no storey buildings crowded, there are standalone bungalows, I came to learn they have a population of about 14 million! I get to the guesthouse I will be staying and as the housekeeper is going to get some groceries I accompany her to the mall so I can change some Shillings to Kwacha. Shock on me, since Kenya does not engage in reasonable trade with Zambia, they do not change Kenyan Shilling, this is where your visa card saves the day.  The local tv station ZNBC (Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation) has programs in the local languages i.e. Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga… Imagine KTN broadcasting in Meru, Luo or Borana!

Zambia is very large and sparsely populated and to visitors from more crowded lands the sense of space and stillness leaves vivid memories – Zambian Guide book

The guesthouse

Zambia has beautiful women.

Most are apple bodied no pears, if you love cute faces and nice boobs I just gave you a hint where to look.

Zambians are friendly, way friendlier than Nairobians. You will notice the ladies curtsying when greeting you, some even kneel. Same happens when you are buying stuff, you get the feeling like your money is gold-plated, I think instead of having too many workshops on customer service companies need to take their staff to Zambia they learn first-hand how to crown their customers and make them feel valued.

Zambia is in a rapid development state at the moment. If you are a company looking for the next frontier in business, Zambia should make your “to prospect list” and more so if you are in manufacturing, power systems and construction industries, but carry your own SWOT and PESTEL beforehand this is not to be taken as professional advice. Interesting to note was that Zambian do paint their trees, they paint them white to enhance their beauty! Crown paints should pay me for that heads up to an awesome opportunity, Peter Marangi would have quite the experience painting trees!

So should you find yourself in Zambia here are some things to note;

Visa

Zambia does not require business/tourist visas from citizens of Comesa and SADC. You should however confirm with their consulate before travel in case of changes. I found visahq.com very handy too.

Currency

The Zambian Currency is called kwacha. They had it revalued last year where 1,000 kwacha became 1 kwacha and 1,000,000 became 1,000 kwacha, I was teasing my hosts how they came from millionaires to thousands haha I am sure they were not too pleased but we laughed through it anyway. One kwacha is about 14 kenyan shillings. If you want to carry cash, ensure it is in dollars or pounds otherwise you will have tough time trying to change the other currencies, otherwise carry your VISA or MasterCard.

Culture

Zambian’s as I had mentioned are a friendly lot, you will receive Mulibwanji? (How are you?) which you respond with bwino bwanji? (I’m fine and yourself?)

I was surprised how freely I could walk in and out of the malls. In Kenya you have to pass through at least one security check before getting in any building. I would love it if Kenya would get to this level of safety and become a place you can walk without looking over your shoulder every so often.

Time

Lusaka is one hour behind of Nairobi. So remember to readjust your watch.

Roaming

For the first time I saw the usefulness of Airtel’s expansive network, they have a roaming service called one network, you do not need to activate it before leaving Kenya it picks the local Airtel carrier automatically. My Safaricom line refused to register to the MTN network. So remember to divert your calls too before leaving so you do not miss out on important events. Do load sufficient airtime, my three-minute call to my mom when I got there was charged at KES 255 (KES87.70 per min) it is cheaper if the other international party (see what I did there? :-D) calls you when roaming. You will receive 100 free minutes on all calls received after which you will be charged 45.73 per min. Data is charged at KES 45 per mb. So your KES 1,000 airtime won’t cut it if you have people to meet and deals to seal.

Remember to say thank you when you get good service. I learned to say this in three major languages depending on the region you are;

Twatotela sana – Bemba

Zikomo Kwimbire – Nyanja

Twalubanga bati – Tonga

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5,500 ft >> 26,000 ft >> 4,265 ft

How would you like to have your breakfast, vegetarian or non-vegetarian?  I know I eat meat, I know I am not vegetarian but here the question is thrown at me threw me off-balance. I take long to think “what am I vegetarian or non-vegetarian?” and ask the lady to repeat what was on offer… I say vegetarian, I think the stewardess could hear my thoughts and gave me that “are you sure” look and I give her “yes I am” to confirm. Wandia hands me the warm plastic bearing vegetarian food, I open it to find potatoes, peas and some fried sweet potatoes! “Who eats this for breakfast? This is not what I wanted!” is what I am thinking, the guy behind asks for non-vegetarian and once he opens his food can I am assaulted by the smell of sausages and bacon, those warus and gwacis did have a hard time going down my throat, I try to imagine they are something else to make them more palatable… I make a strong mental note “Mackel, you are non-vegetarian, get that in your thick skull, NON-VEGETARIAN!” Boiled potatoes and peas is not how you kick-start your morning, unless you are diabetic (no hard feelings if you are diabetic, I now empathize with what you go through), the fried sweet potatoes were tasty though.

Two hours later we touch down at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka. I find the client’s driver waiting, apparently my second name means something else in Nyanja, one of the 72 Zambian local languages they mispronounce it and they give me a name which they think I should be called, their local version of my name. From now I think my first name will do. The first striking thing about Zambia for a first time visitor is the space, there is so much space, no storey buildings crowded, there are standalone bungalows, I came to learn they have a population of about 14 million! I get to the guesthouse I will be staying and as the housekeeper is going to get some groceries I accompany her to the mall so I can change some Shillings to Kwacha. Shock on me, since Kenya does not engage in reasonable trade with Zambia, they do not change Kenyan Shilling, this is where your visa card saves the day.  The local tv station ZNBC (Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation) has programs in the local languages i.e. Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga… Imagine KTN broadcasting in Meru, Luo or Borana!

Zambia is very large and sparsely populated and to visitors from more crowded lands the sense of space and stillness leaves vivid memories – Zambian Guide book

The guesthouse

Zambia has beautiful women.

Most are apple bodied no pears, if you love cute faces and nice boobs I just gave you a hint where to look.

Zambians are friendly, way friendlier than Nairobians. You will notice the ladies curtsying when greeting you, some even kneel. Same happens when you are buying stuff, you get the feeling like your money is gold-plated, I think instead of having too many workshops on customer service companies need to take their staff to Zambia they learn first-hand how to crown their customers and make them feel valued.

Zambia is in a rapid development state at the moment. If you are a company looking for the next frontier in business, Zambia should make your “to prospect list” and more so if you are in manufacturing, power systems and construction industries, but carry your own SWOT and PESTEL beforehand this is not to be taken as professional advice. Interesting to note was that Zambian do paint their trees, they paint them white to enhance their beauty! Crown paints should pay me for that heads up to an awesome opportunity, Peter Marangi would have quite the experience painting trees!

So should you find yourself in Zambia here are some things to note;

Visa

Zambia does not require business/tourist visas from citizens of Comesa and SADC. You should however confirm with their consulate before travel in case of changes. I found visahq.com very handy too.

Currency

The Zambian Currency is called kwacha. They had it revalued last year where 1,000 kwacha became 1 kwacha and 1,000,000 became 1,000 kwacha, I was teasing my hosts how they came from millionaires to thousands haha I am sure they were not too pleased but we laughed through it anyway. One kwacha is about 14 kenyan shillings. If you want to carry cash, ensure it is in dollars or pounds otherwise you will have tough time trying to change the other currencies, otherwise carry your VISA or MasterCard.

Culture

Zambian’s as I had mentioned are a friendly lot, you will receive Mulibwanji? (How are you?) which you respond with bwino bwanji? (I’m fine and yourself?)

I was surprised how freely I could walk in and out of the malls. In Kenya you have to pass through at least one security check before getting in any building. I would love it if Kenya would get to this level of safety and become a place you can walk without looking over your shoulder every so often.

Time

Lusaka is one hour behind of Nairobi. So remember to readjust your watch.

Roaming

For the first time I saw the usefulness of Airtel’s expansive network, they have a roaming service called one network, you do not need to activate it before leaving Kenya it picks the local Airtel carrier automatically. My Safaricom line refused to register to the MTN network. So remember to divert your calls too before leaving so you do not miss out on important events. Do load sufficient airtime, my three-minute call to my mom when I got there was charged at KES 255 (KES87.70 per min) it is cheaper if the other international party (see what I did there? :-D) calls you when roaming. You will receive 100 free minutes on all calls received after which you will be charged 45.73 per min. Data is charged at KES 45 per mb. So your KES 1,000 airtime won’t cut it if you have people to meet and deals to seal.

Remember to say thank you when you get good service. I learned to say this in three major languages depending on the region you are;

Twatotela sana – Bemba

Zikomo Kwimbire – Nyanja

Twalubanga bati – Tonga

 

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Tell me a story

You know you are in Migori when you see a clinic named Mama Fridah clinic and not Dr. so and so it tells you where priorities are here…

I am in Migori County to carry out an evaluation and I need to visit at least ten respondents per day in select regions which are far apart, some over 30 km apart and have to ride a motorbike to the most interior. During this stay two people stood out, the first was the sixty year old lady (she didn’t want to tell me her age in the first place I should probably not say it too…). When we got to her home after the preliminaries I went on straight ahead with the questions. She is elusive and thinks my questions have a hidden (she had her daughter in-law pick one of my questionnaire just to confirm, you start picking up new words and can understand the basics after interaction with a community donge?). I see Ben Carson’s Gifted Hands in Swahili “Mikono iliyobarikiwa”,

Have you read that book?

Which church do you attend?

A.I.C

Not SDA?

No, you are avoiding my question!

Well, the book was recommended by our pastor and the congregation bought to go and read it, it is a church book.

No it’s not a church book, see I have read it but I am not SDA, but it a good book.

But we were told to get the book and read it from church! (Hey authors see that? Write motivational books or those palatable by the church and if your marketing is right get a bestseller! Okay did I bring business to the house of God? I take that back I don’t want Jesus to kick my ass.)

This soya and mandazis are delicious

My daughter makes them. Thanks. You should tell me stories, not just ask me these many questions. Tell me what is going on in Nairobi, that way this process becomes lively and more people like me will be more receptive to your questions and I won’t feel like I am in an exam!

I thought my mom had told her to say that, you see my mother is the conversational type and over the years I have learned to listen not just hear, however I can’t say the same applies on my side because I do not have much to say. But this has been changing she asks those calculated questions meant to open you up, but I still  find that I give what’s just enough or less.

The second was a gentleman in his late forties. We are mid interview and he stops me, goes inside and calls his eldest daughter, she is 20. He brings her to greet me, which I found amusing. I find myself thinking is he pulling strings? I say hi and when she returns to attending to some other guests we continue. He starts telling how his daughter can answer everything I need to know even when She is not the respondent I am looking for.  He derails me with every question I ask, dances with his answers returns questions back at me and finds ways to give me stories, I reckon this is what the other lady wanted, since he is the last person I need to see for the day I let him, very coy indeed. When we are through with the interview he goes to his farms and harvests several maize cobs for me, this is the true African hospitality not what Nairobians are used to, I share them with the driver and the hotel chef agrees to boil them for me, I must have surprised with my request for him to say no. Maize cobs with wet fried fish are not such a bad combination 🙂 but you have to ignore the shocked looks from other guests and dig into it like it was your last meal.

So who can teach me how to tell stories and lie a bit to give the stories some punch, I have this feeling that this skill may be the missing ingredient making me lose out on something which I haven’t put a finger on…

 

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