The Star (Nairobi)

1 September 2012

Kenya: The Destroyer Shuttle Tries to Make It to Space

opinion

It was a sad day this past weekend as American astronaut Neil Armstrong passed on. Armstrong had the honour of being the first human being to set foot on another heavenly body in 1969. That was a special day as it made us think of higher ideals, moving faster and becoming better.

The promise of a new dawn has disappointed since then as there have been noticeably fewer journeys to the outer space from the initial countries in the space race, that is the USA and Russia. In the last few years, a few other countries have started aiming at the sky. The Chinese have already taken someone into the earth's orbit and it is likely they will be sending someone to the moon soon.

The prospect of the Chinese heading to the moon is instructive for Kenya. We see ourselves as a leading developing country with a national policy guided by Vision 2030 which should transform us into a middle income country by then. As the country gets more advanced, it is only a matter of time before Kenya decides to show its new-found might by organising its own delegation to the moon.

This project will start when the Kenyan Cabinet decides to take it on as a strategic Vision 2030 project. This will lead to an inter-ministerial committee that includes permanent secretaries from The ministries of Finance, Transport, Foreign Affairs, Energy, Defence and Special Programmes to oversee matters. After many months of tendering, canceling, re-tendering and other intrigues, Kenya's first space ship will be developed and supplied by the Chinese on time but at an inflated price.

Meanwhile, there will be the matter of the staff to go up and bring Kenya glory. There will be a recruitment exercise that will see the "Moon Trip Committee" go up and down the country at a great cost to the taxpayer. They will go through many tribulations as they encounter recruits who are drunk or have smoked substances that cannot be described as legal in any civilised society.

Eventually recruits will be whittled down with both sides of the bickering coalition government of that time giving their preferred nominees from the pool. They will then be presented to a vetting board to see whether they pass the integrity test before being presented as the nominees of those going to represent us in the skies. The public will be asked to vote for the nominees by sms or on Facebook and twitter.

After the final nominees, also known as the "Face of Kenya" are chosen, controversy will break out as one of the failed space nominees will decide to publish a tell-all book and go on to rubbish the space trip. The book will discredit whoever will be the leader of the country at the time and when he goes to the grassroots to popularise the book, he will meet rowdy youth in green Gor Mahia shirts with the word "Destroyer" on the back wielding catapults.

With the success of the "Destroyer squad", the space craft called MV Mwezi will be given the code name "Destroyer" by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of Kenya. After all the drama, the day will come when the country will witness Kenyans finally go to the skies. The day will have Kenyans led by the President and his Cabinet at the launch site with others watching live on TV.

When all systems shut down, there will be the usual countdown from the launch site... "10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and.... we seem to be suffering from a blackout here in Embakasi..." Yes you have it right. There will have been a huge blackout courtesy of the power company followed by a power surge destroying systems. It will have to take off several days later.

The second take off will be less loud as no one will want to be embarrassed again. The people at the site will be mainly permanent secretaries and the like. Eventually, Shuttle Destroyer will go off into space with its human cargo. They will go with their rations that include frozen nyama choma, githeri, ugali etc.

Nothing will be heard of the Destroyer shuttle until a week later when it crashes in Siberia and we will be forced to go through the whole circus again. This time with better map makers on board. Meanwhile the Ethiopians in true Olympic tradition will zoom off into the skies as we flounder in Siberia.

Venue review: Tamasha Langata, off Lang'ata Road

The football season started recently, much to the joy of guys and sadness of wives and girlfriends as the excuse to watch the game over Saturday comes back into full effect. I recently used my visa to go to the Tamasha Pub on Lang'ata Road to watch the opening match of the English Premier League season. For those going to the venue, you will notice a huge tarpaulin covering a large section adjacent to the Uchumi Lang'ata Hypermarket.

When I got in, I noted there were two options for those who wanted to enjoy its pleasures. To the left inside the larger building, with the hypermarket, was more of a lounge type area with a counter and brown leather lounge seats. To the right was a larger facility which was tarpaulin covered. I was attracted to the right and sat down in the centre where I could catch the game.

I sat at a chair with a round metal table and ordered my cold beer from the friendly bar man which came to Sh150 which can't be considered too bad in Nairobi. With some cold beer in my belly I looked around and was impressed with the layout. The place was "green" with several plants around. There was an area to the left of the entrance with a large raised stage with a band setting up to perform.

The waiter informed me that he band that was perform that evening was called The Heroes. I was less interested in the upcoming band and my attention was concentrated on the TV screens to watch the first matches of the season. What I loved was the abundance of TV screens that allowed someone to follow the games from wherever they sat.

Those in the pub were an interesting mix of older and younger punters with more guys, no doubt, influenced by the sports element of the bar. The washrooms have water and tissue but there is an unfriendly smell coming from there which made the absence of women in the bar more clear. Escape in an emergency is probably a good bet; the pub is on the ground floor and one could probably make it out of here should some untoward occurrence happen.

A quick recap of the venue;

Good

Location is pretty decent as is the public transport user access to it, live entertainment in the evening, decent service and décor, emergency exits sorted, reasonably priced drinks, sports fans can get their fix very well.

Bad

Washrooms should be worked on to curtail the bad smell. They are, however, not dirty.

My verdict

Ideal place to catch the game with the boys.

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