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Old Dog learns a new trick

Mzee Kiko | A Septuagenerian view

I am seated outside my house on the Ngong’ Hills over looking to one side the planes that spread flat eastwards and southwards to Nairobi and beyond, over the Nairobi national park, in which i see from a distance, the vague shapes of herds of animals moving about.

From my vantage point, i can see the skyline of Nairobi and closer to me, I see, in what used to be a lush, green subsaharan plain, the emerging skyline of the many new houses and buildings that are fast coming up in this area.

I am, in the context of the demographic (age) of the average reader of this blog, an old man. I was born at least two and a half decades before Kenya attained its independence and I grew up in the turmoil of the insurgence against the Mubeberu. I went to school and I have somewhere a primary school certificate called the Kenya Advanced (We always wanted to think it was African) Primary Education (KAPE), which I received as a 15 year old boy, just out of Standard 4 – or Primary 4, as we called it then.

I smoke a pipe as you may have gathered from the picture above and I have been smoking this ancient ivory pipe, since 1953, when in the midst of the emergency period, my older brother decided he would join the Forces in the forest, by then called the MauMau. As he left, he handed me the pipe, which he had stolen from some settler in the white highlands and he asked me to learn the ways of the white man, to seek and get his education, because Kenya will not go back to our ways.

He believed, he said then, that Kenya would be a western oriented country – very much like the land ruled by “that woman”. And so I did. And this pipe, for me, represents my re-civilization from an “African traditionalist” to a “modernist”. These two concepts have for a long time dogged the African intelligentsia especially in the first three decades of independence. The former have consistently seen the latter as “sell outs”, while the modernists have viewed the traditionalists as “backward”.

It is just as well, I sigh, that these divisions are fast being eroded by the twenty-something year olds, who are more confident of their place both within the cultural setting and the modern world, in which there is so much more confusion bourne out of the increased individualism.

But I digress. I am now retired upon this hills and I have recently discovered the internet thanks to my grandson, who at a young age, was already doing things with technology, I could not even percieve. He has over the past two years been teaching me how to use a computer and the Internet and now, I have discovered blogging.

When I was invited by some young people to write this column “as often as i pleased”, I was gratified because I do not have the strength to run my own blog yet, I wouldn’t know what to say. Here, however, I believe that my role would be to simply reminisce and put things that you, young people, rush over, in perspective.

I received an email today, forwarded to me by a journalist friend of mine, that said that Al Jazeera, the middle eastern answer to CNN has began broadcasting in English, with the intent of reaching 80 million people in Asia, Africa and Europe. As I understand it, the new TV station is broadcasting via Cable and Satelite and that it features a star studded TV personality base.

The most interesting person among these star TV broadcasters, is a man who is around my age – if he was in Kenya, he would be in my age group – who has joined the station. Sir David Paradine Frost has, in my mind at least, been a BBC ‘institution’.

I first encountered him in the 60s, when he would host a satirical show on BBC TV called That was the week that was. He hosted for ITV the frost Programme, which interviewed many people. During the entire time I was in the UK, first in the early sixties as a fresh faced student and then in 1966 when I went back to further my studies, I never missed a Frost show.

Now, the 1939 born, Sir David has joined Al-Jazeera English Service. Certainly, this are heady times for the media but I believe that CNN, will now get a run for its money.

Unlike him though, I have chosen to simply take my retirement seriously and do what young people call “lounge”. Using this forum to record my considerations as I watch the smoke rise from my pipe will be interesting.

One of the first sayings that I picked in school, is that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. This old one is the exception, I suppose.

The image above looked good and seemed to represent what i feel like, so that will be my avator (i speak the lingo too!)

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