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‘I used to have sleepless nights over e-books’



Way back in the 1960s when I was a student of literature at a university in the United Kingdom, some academics were predicting that the rapidly increasing use of computers would mean that, though global communication would be easier and faster, the language they were using, particularly English, would be stripped bare. It didn’t happen.

Recently, it was predicted that the coming of e-books and audio-books – along with the proliferation of other electronic media entertainments – would mean that print books would go into a serious decline. It isn’t happening.

Last year, on the CNBC business news channel, Meryl Halls, Managing Director of the Booksellers’ Association in the UK said: “ I think the e-book bubble has burst somewhat; sales are flattening off. I think the physical object is very appealing.”

So why is this? For me, e-books are a boon when travelling. You can pack a library of them in a tablet of only six by four inches. They are easier to read on a plane – much easier to read in bed. So why do I still buy and appreciate the real things – print books?

It must be something to do with collecting. I like to own books; I like to see them on the shelves. One of the things I have done while staying home, protecting myself from the coronavirus, is to move my books – rearranging them, clustering them according to themes and authors.

(As I was doing it, I remembered, now with amusement, how when I was a flight cadet at Cranwell, the Royal Air Force College, we had to arrange our books, as we arranged ourselves on parade: tallest on the right, shortest on the left.)

I like to have books around me in my study. I like to show off a few on the bookcase in the guest room. I assume there is a status thing involved.

You must have noticed that many people being interviewed remotely on the BBC or CNN, say, often have well-stacked book shelves behind them.

But there is also something pleasurable about the look and feel of a book – the attraction of the cover design, the choice of fonts, the relief of white spaces, the quality of the photographs – even the act of turning the pages.

I went along to chat about all this with Chan Bahal at his BookStop at Yaya Centre, Nairobi.

‘Yes, I used to have sleepless nights when the e-book thing came along,’ he said. ‘I felt sure that books will be things of the past. But it never happened. I think that print books became more aggressive and fought back!’

I asked Chan what he thought was the reason why many people still like having a physical rather than a digital book. ‘I guess it’s something to do with childhood,’ he said. ‘Books were among our earliest birthday presents. We enjoyed the thrill of turning a page and finding something new. We grew up with books.’

I went on to ask him about the impact of the coronavirus on his BookStop business. He explained how he closed the shop for just a week. And when he reopened there was an immediate surge in sales. People needed something to do, as well as watching TV, when confined to the house, and many people took up reading again.

‘One interesting factor is the age range of the people who are buying books these days,’ Chan said. ‘They are youngsters in the range of 18 to 30. That’s a good sign, isn’t it? And most are young women rather than young men.’

As he was saying this, a man came up to the counter to pay for two novels he had selected. ‘Are these for you?’ Chan asked.

‘No, they are for my daughter,’ the man replied.

Chan turned to me with a smile. ‘You see!’

The writer is the Chairman of iDC


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Keeping our family coffee business picking



When 41 -year-old Gitau Waweru Karanja was a boy, he recalls spending his school holidays in his grandfather’s coffee farm with his cousins. His late grandmother would push them to pick berries to earn pocket money. Though he took up his parents’ passion in interior design and studied Interior Design in Kwa Zulu Natal University in South Africa, he did he know that one day he would wake up and smell the coffee and participate in running his grandfather’s coffee farm.

Gitau is the third generation of his family to manage Karunguru Farm, which belonged to his late grandfather Geoffrey Kareithi. Kareithi had bought the 300-acre farm in Ruiru, from a white settler in 1972. Gitau is married to Wangeci Gitau who grew up in Maragwa, in Murang’a where they also had a coffee farm.

Values instilled

For Wangeci, despite growing up in the coffee fields, she was more passionate about tourism and was a travel consultant before becoming a tour manager at a local company.

In 2012, she got an ectopic pregnancy, which put her on bed rest and thus was compelled to quit her job. When she recovered, she began assisting her husband. “By that time, my husband was selling modern house doors, but the business took a while to pick. Then we began selling milk from Karunguru Farm, but the milk production went down in 2016. The management, comprising of family members, told us to address the issue by becoming dairy managers. But when we joined the management of Karunguru Farm, we saw an opportunity in coffee tours,” she says.

Taking cue from South Africa where they do wine tourism and also export wine, Gitau and his wife sought to use that knowledge in their coffee farm. “We started Karunguru Coffee and Tours after we found out that despite it being our main export, it was being underutilised when it comes to tourism. So, here we take visitors through the journey that coffee has to go through before getting to your cup,” explains Gitau. Everything is done in Karunguru Farm— including value addition such as processing coffee, drying and even roasting. “We have our very own packaged Karunguru Coffee, which is available in the market,” he adds.

Their late grandfather instilled in them a love for each other and every holiday it is the family culture to meet and bond as a family. The grandpa also ensured that the farm management is shared amongst all his seven children who meet every week to discuss the business of the farm. Once they come to an unanimous decision, it is then passed on to their children, who implements their decision.

Before one is given any role, you have _ . to be qualified for the position. “It’s not about being favoured, but your qualification. I am in tourism, so I handle the tourism aspect, my husband is in operations. In fact, one applies for the position and then you are interviewed. If you qualify, you are placed on probation until the management is satisfied that you can handle the role well,” says Wangeci.

No entitlement

What makes family business go down is the fact that people who are less qualified are employed. Other people have to cover up for their messes and this creates bitterness and conflict. Gitau sometimes watches his nephews and nieces in the farm, giving them roles to check out whether they have interest in the farm or not before beginning to mentor them. Everyone begins from the lowest level and must know how to roast, pack, as well as prepare a cup of Karunguru coffee. This is to en inculcate the spirit of appreciation and value for the workers employed to do the role.

“My uncles always tell us that we didn’t come in the business because we are their children, but because of the passion we had in the business. With that, entitlement is killed and we ensure that we do our best to take the farm to higher levels,” says Gitau

They don’t entertain gossip,  ‘‘ but if someone has an issue, I then the person is invited ‘ to a meeting where one is confronted and told in love where they have missed the mark.


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VIDEO: Inspiring Journey Taking Shape at Kiambu’s Top Gated Community



Amani Ridge the Place of Peace was extremely busy today as the Engineers set their focus on achieving the very best in preparing the roads to murrum standard, ready for cabro when time comes.

The following activities will follow:

1. Storm water drainage

2. Piping water along the main lines (those building will only need to pay for water meter)

3. Underground power will follow

4. Installation of solar street lights will be the next step

5. After this, planting of 2, 000 trees will follow along all the roads in the estate

6. The sewerage systems will be replaced by Water recycling technology as initially promised

We are committed to #GoingGreen

Become part of the Amani Ridge family today


Call: 0790 300 300 | 0723 400 500


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Big Smiles on the way for Garden of Joy Owners



A big announcement concerning the Garden of Joy gated community is set to be made this coming Friday, 23rd October 2020.

The planned announcement will be a cause of great joy for clients who have already made a decision to make the Garden of Joy their joyous home.

Those joining the success train later, will pay slightly higher for this property. We call it the ‘waiting-to-see-expense.’

If you are reading this message, go ahead and call your relationship advisor today to save the waiting cost and to become part of the joyous brigade.

Check us on FB Live on the 23rd October at 4PM as we unveil the greatest news at the Garden of Joy.

Secure your jewel today
Call us on: 0790300300 | 0723400500

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