Category Archives: life

We can’t call it…

I’ve been cooking for friends again on my return to the states and slowly creeping back to mostly Vegan cooking. Most recently I made some¬†Tempeh Chili Con Frijoles for some friends.

It was good but because there was a lack of good guacamole/avacados (how I miss going to the market and buying some ripe for today (leo) and some ones for later (kesho) from our official avacado supplier in Kisumu) I though that sour cream might be a nice topping.

I made the mistake of buying some “We Can’t Say It’s Sour Cream“, as that was the only vegan sour cream available from Whole Paycheck. Its one of those products that gives vegan food a bad name, its got an odd gritty complexion more akin to grits than cream and the taste is definitely sour but closer to off-yoghurt than sour cream. Everyone thought it was one of the most unpleasant things that had been in their mouths for a while.

The mere fact its called “We can’t call it sour cream” really seems like a cruel joke, as well, you can’t call it sour cream as its pretty unpleasant in texture and flavour. Seems so strange when Tofuti make a pretty decent sour cream so its not as if this is a revolutionary product.

And apparently I’m not alone in this, which is also odd and the sheer fact I now have a giant tub of something I can’t stand to eat just makes me sad and a little angry. I hate wasting food but unless there was a huge donation to Kulisha on the line, theres no way anymore of this is going inside of me.

So please don’t judge vegan food from this, or from the smell of Chicagos finest vegan cheese¬†(which is definitely better than it smells but not as good as Sheese). There are definitely better options out there.

Piracy and Ecportingrubic

In Kenya you generally only see bootleg DVDs for sale (the only original DVDs I’ve seen have been in very-large supermarkets and typically are religions or self-help style DVDs). Many of the knockoff DVDs are camcorder copies of blockbuster movies from Russian and Eastern European Cinemas, often with hilarious bored audiences and fighting couples.

However, one of my favourite things about these discs is the language used on the packaging to discourage ‘piracy’ and ‘counterfeiting’. For example discs often have the following text, on the front:

“NB original disc cover is embossed be aware of locally burnt counterfeit [sic]”

Because your should only buy original pirate movies , obviously.

But on the back is where it gets truly fantastic, especially as the same copyright text appears on many many discs in Kenya (blindly copy from one DVD sleeve to the next):

“PLEASE READ TJOS [sic] WARMONG CAREFULLY BEFORE OPENGING THE SEALED PACKAGE. By copenring The licensed the film (including its soundtrack) comprised in this kinitial video disc (DVD) for sale and private home viewing only, all unauthorized use includes selling, relling, ecportingrubic, performance, broadcasting and/or trading any part of this copyright material without obtaining prior written License….”

Thats some fantastic new words:

  • Tjos
  • Warmong
  • Copenring (its a place in Guinea as well)
  • Kinitial
  • Relling
  • Ecportingrubic

I wonder what they mean? Any suggestions? Maybe ‘Kinitial’ should be the peak of excitement when loading a new Kinetic game, before 5mins of gameplay crushes any chance you’ll ever play the game again.

A pretty depressing week..

Its been depressing mostly because I’ve been writing factsheets for Kulisha (more about that some other time), and have been encountering some really sobering statistics. For example:

  • The HIV/AIDS infection rate for the Luo community in Nyanza province is over 20%, according to the UN. Even sadder is that there are fake ARVs now in Kenya (Daily Nation, 29th Sept)
  • Average life expectancy in Nyanza is approximately 40 years for men and women, according to the Institue of Social Development. This is almost ten years less than the national average.
  • Kenya has over 1.1 million children that don’t attend any school (even though primary school education is supposed to be free), ranking it 7th in the world behind Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Niger. (Standard, 30th September 2011).

And this week just too add to the fun feel of it all, the Kenyan shilling pretty much collapsed against the dollar, so we now have:

  • A currency that has lost 23% of its value this year, from around 81Ksh to the dollar in January, to 104 Ksh to the dollar on wednesday the 28th September .
  • An official inflation rate of over 17% for August.
  • Food Inflation rate of almost 24% this month.

And so people are really struggling just to get by.

And then when you want to escape a little, the International Criminal Court Preliminary hearings into post-election violence in 2008 are on TV, all afternoon and evening, recounting the horrific destruction of life & property.

I think Kenya could do with a good laugh right now…

An interesting week

Horned Melon

Picture of Horned Melons


  • Horned Melons are now in season in Kenya. They’re a pretty curious fruit with a pleasant cucumber, lime taste and a lot of seeds. I’m still not 100% sure when they’re at their ripest but I’m really enjoying them.
  • I’m really impressed how much time is devoted to the ICC pre-trial hearings. At least three of the main television channels are showing the ICC stream live for over 8hours a day and people really seem to be watching. There were even conflicts between people who wanted to watch the ICC and those that wanted to watch the World Athletic Championships. Its a shame that just as it gets interesting, they often make the session confidential and thus unavailable to viewers.
  • The Harambee Stars dug deep and have hauled themselves into contention to qualify for the African Cup. They just need to beat the Ugandan Cranes by a few goals when they meet and they will have finally turned the corner (having slumped from a FIFA ranking of 68th in 1998, to 133rd today). The match against Guinea Bissau definitely wasn’t pretty, fans invaded the pitch briefly when Bissau equalised but the Stars managed to run out winners.
  • Suzanna Owiyo and her band stayed in our compound! I have to confess that I recognized her more because of her hair, as she appears in a cleaning product commercial currently on Kenyan TV. She seemed very nice.


Real Kisumu do exist

We’ve been in Kisumu for a while and we’d heard that Kisumu had a team in Nationwide League One (the league below the Kenyan Premier League), that they played regularly games in Kisumu but we hadn’t seen a lot of concrete evidence.

Kenya’s newspapers give scant coverage to football that this not in one of the glamour leagues of Europe or the Kenyan Premier League. In such a football crazy country it seems a little odd. Scouring websites didn’t yield much about when and where games actually took place.

So we looked around, asked around, even visited Moi Stadium a few times to see what we could learn or because we’d heard whispers of a game happening. But we only found things that definitely weren’t football, like Christian Crusades or political rallys.

Finally, we managed to be at Moi Stadium on a day where Real Kisumu were playing at home. Although at first we thought we were out of luck again, when the gates of the stadium looked firmly closed. But then we noticed a small trickle of people entering via a wee little gate and decided that we should at least peak inside.

And yes, there actually was a game and even a decent, small crowd so we joined in. Moi Stadium itself is somewhat run down, the pitch is very uneven, the grass long in places, just bare mud in others and if the wind comes in from the wrong way, you get quite a whiff of the city’s rubbish dump next door.

But the game itself was entertaining; even with the pitch making things tough and with the game involving a lot of thumping and scrambling around the ball. Slowly the crowd got into the game, including a pretty annoying chap with a Vuvuzela.

Real Kisumu at first looked at little shaky as their opponents came at them. But then after a few very fortunate bounces they were 2-0 up and the opposition started looking stretched. By the end Kisumu ran out 4-0 winners, which is even more impressive as they hit the woodwork twice and had a goal disallowed for offside.

Next year the city will finally start rehabilitating Moi Stadium and hopefully Real Kisumu can use this result to revitalize their Nationwide League One campaign and avoid relegation, so they can finally play in a somewhat decent facility. However, right now Real Kisumu are bottom of the league and staring relegation in the face.

But someone should also put a little more effort into promoting the team and its matches (along with the league as a whole) as people would come but they have to know when and where.