Kenya vs SA – Resilience

The FM Global Resilience Index is an effort to show resilience at a national level (although it sometimes splits a country up into regions such as USA – coasts are vulnerable to flooding compared to mainland USA).

The results from 2019 are interesting – Kenya ranks 99th (just dropping into the 4th quartile) vs South Africa’s 47th (hitting the middle of the world rankings after some poor performance leading up to the rankings themselves).

From my experience this difference makes sense. Infrastructure is one of the most obvious difference in the two countries for me (SA scores 59 vs Kenya’s 39) – a factor with direct impacts on resilience. For 30 years or so, Kenyan governments almost refused to invest in infrastructure. For a variety of reasons, roads went to pot(holes) and electricity became a punchline. This can’t be good for a country’s resilience and as a boy arriving in SA I would be astounded at the smooth highways, the lack of power cuts. It bears mentioning that SA is heading down the same path. Watch this space.

In 2019, South Africa fell eight places in the overall Index (from 39th to 47th), in part due to its 20-place drop in the corporate governance ranking (from 14th to 34th). Those state capture cases are biting the country hard. Kenya is hardly able to gloat on this though – fraud and corruption has blighted the East African country for decades.

So the obvious test of these rankings is now upon us. Which country can respond better to the COVID 19 pandemic? There’s a positive spin on things – let’s see this damned virus as a “test of resilience”. I hope both these beloved countries can make it through relatively unscathed. I fear for the worst though.

To all in SA and Kenya – Keep healthy and well – then let’s rise up the ranks.

Play Games

Playing games is important to me. In my life, Games come up all over the place.

If I find something difficult then it helps me to think of it as a game. This approach makes things less stressful and lowers my anxiety. Elon Musk says we might all just be living in a simulation. Sometimes it helps to think of life in that way. A few examples of play as it manifests in my life:

  • Playing with the kids at whatever game they have going
  • Treating menial parenting tasks as a game
  • Comedy and conversation with friends
  • Computer games
  • Sport and exercise including data on health
  • Social media accounts
  • Music – listening and playing music is a beautiful game
  • Work
  • Podcasts
  • Blogging ūüėČ
  • More and more I see life as one big bunch of games to play.
  • Some people are not good at playing. Doodling, Riffing, Games, Jokes, Humor are seen as a waste of time. I can’t understand this approach to life.
  • Happy Wednesday, chimps.
  • Pixies

    The pixies as a band passed me by. I was a little too young and a little too stuck in east Africa for their first few albums to make any impact on my life. However, the beauty of music streaming services now is that I can dig into all the rich history.

    I sometimes wonder why as a society we make all this new music when there is so much to discover in the back catalogues. Maybe they should put a moratorium on new releases until everyone has caught up with listening to everything ever released to date?

    Just an idea.

    Valentines day post

    Or as my daughter puts it: “Ballet-tines day” – she wants to wear a leotard and tutu all day in honor of this special occasion. I’m sticking with my shirt and pants combo.

    Valentines day is supposed to be romantic.

    So is travel to a far away land. More so, when you travel to be with the person you love. Alas, it is not all sunsets and roses.

    Tune in to the podcast tomorrow to see how Rachel has managed a massive move from Africa to Scandinavia.


    It’s a strange existence sometimes in Africa.

    We’re on our last night of a two week holiday. I just took out a plate of food for the guard who’s been patrolling our holiday house at night time. He’s a young Zulu chap. He smiled and thanked me for the bryani. Then I got a call from the security company at home telling me our home alarm system has triggered – Is everything ok? Shall we come and assist?

    We’re hundreds of miles away I tell them, but sure please go and have a look. Be nice to my dogs.

    They found nothing except my grumpy dogs. We never actually put the alarm on. I think it was a power cut causing all the commotion. Guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

    It is so easy to cause havoc if you really want to, but we still try to control the risk. Some countries don’t have this issue.

    But they also don’t have whales and zebras and sunshine and snakes and zip lines and beaches like I experienced this holiday.

    Pros and cons. The grass is always greener.

    Malaria and hijacking

    Where I come from, malaria is seen as something pretty manageable. Treat it once it hits you – sort of like a bad cold. Obviously you will feel grim if you catch it, but the trick is not to let the risk escalate after you got the disease. Treat it quick. No worries.

    Risk versus reward.

    Murder and hijacking rates in Johannesburg are high – the risk is all around you, and yet millions of people live their lives accepting the pros with the cons. Make money, socialise like mad, good restaurants, events, culture atmosphere and the risk of getting shot.

    At the end of the day we all die, so the risk vs. reward equation is important because it answers the question of why we do what we do.

    But it is completely subjective. My comfort zone is another person’s crisis.

    Birthdays and surprises

    I am a fan of surprises. My wife has booked us a trip away for my birthday tomorrow and I have no idea where we are going, but it’s in a plane so it ain’t close!

    Some people hate surprises and moan about birthdays….I like em both.

    Media – an African perspective

    Seth’s latest is about the most succinct and important post¬†I have read this year. Give it a read:

    What interests me is the perspective that Seth has on the issues he raises Рnamely he is American and is at the heart of the most developed, sophisticated economy in the world Рand the media he is exposed to is a reflection of that. On the other hand, I live in Africa.

    In many ways, we Africans are leapfrogging Americans and Europeans in terms of consuming media – we are keen to use technology. We get the latest TV shows, movies and sports from all over the world. Premier league soccer games are passionately followed even in the poorest slums in Nairobi. We have access to Twitter, Facebook and the internet. Mobile telephones have been taken up far quicker here than they were in the developed world – so there is a case to be made that the surplus of the internet and the ‘race to the bottom’ trends Seth speaks of are likely accelerating quicker here than in the USA.

    There is also huge scarcity in Africa – however rather than an artificial scarcity controlled by the FCC or its local equivalent, African scarcity is driven largely by poverty. Unfortunately poverty combines very neatly with any media agenda that is pushing us to think short term – to care about now and not later. I think Africa’s environmental degradation and lack of investment in culture or education is in part a reflection of this. Scarcity is in conflict with the ubiquitous internet. I am still getting my head around how this plays out locally in terms of media consumption. The pace of change and media consumption is slower because of scarcity. Access is restricted. Africans cannot contribute as much to their own media and culture because of poverty. We are influenced by other continents far more than we should be. Just ask a local if he’d watch South African or English soccer. My bet is England any day of the week because of the exposure it has gotten through the TV networks.

    Despite these differences between geographies, Seth’s ending point is still completely true the world over: “We’ve been willing participants in this daily race for our attention and our emotions. But we don’t have to be.”

    Every now and then we must get out and do something other than consume.


    Sci-Fi @home – Bitcoin

    I have a little bit of money invested in Bitcoin, using BitX as my exchange. It’s a bit of an investment in a possible future.

    Today i got a note from BitX telling me about all the stores in South Africa accepting Bitcoin.

    The fact that I can trade in a virtual currency and not use a bank is amazing to me. All these options online for me to use the Bitcoin – It’s sci-fi come to life.

    Africa is adopting new technologies quickly and will likely leapfrog some older infrastructures as new developments take hold. That is what happened in Kenya with MPesa. It is happening in Rwanda with drones. Maybe it will happen with Bitcoin too.