Saturday, January 22, 2011

KPLC's emergency numbers.....

Though, I'm not in Mombasa at present, I do get to hear of umpteen numbers of complaints and incidences regarding our redoubtable 'power' company from my various friends and acquaintances all over.

Last Thursday, 20th January 2011, (they had advertised earlier that the Nyali area in my neighbourhood, at least), they were going to do maintenance from morning till 5.00 pm when the power would be back.

But, this being a banana republic where few people including KPLC, have scant regard for keeping time, the residents continued suffering in the dark and extreme heat of Mombasa. At least one suffering resident decided to call KPLC's emergency numbers to no avail. Not one of them was being answered.

So, he called me and asked me what to do. This was at around 8.30 pm and the power still had not returned. I advised him to call Ms. Faith Njuguna's number and also to let me know asap the results of that call.

Fortunately, for everybody, as soon as he had hung up after talking to me, the lights came back (somewhere between 8.30 pm and 8.45 pm), and so he did not have to call Ms. Njuguna.

Now, this matter of KPLC and it's emergency numbers is a long standing grouch of the Kenyan public (this disease seems to pervade KPLC in other towns, too, including Nairobi).

If the latest complaint had not reached my ears, I would not have shared a recent experience of a friend, but, I think I will have to in the hope that KPLC and it's minions take their customers more seriously and treat them with some respect.

The following are the misadventures of some Tudor residents at night and while Ms. Njuguna promises in her email to my friend that KPLC will take the emergency crew to task, nothing seems to have changed. And therefore her email was of the cosmetic variety and a window dressing.

Please, read the whole email and then think about who would have been responsible if there had been loss of property and lives? Does KPLC sound like a responsible company


On 1/14/2011 3:30 PM, Amira wrote:

Dear Raziya

Aslamo aleikum

Just to keep you in the “loop” see below my correspondence with Faith. Thanks so much to have forwarded me her no – she seems to be an exception!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let’s see what the outcome will be

Take care & have a nice weekend


From: Faith Njuguna []
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2011 12:26 PM
To: Amira
Cc: Joseph Mkomba
Subject: RE: Incident at Tudor

Dear Mrs Khan,

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your email below ,dated 13/1/2011,our telephone conversation on 13/1/2011 and my subsequent visit on 14/1/2011. On behalf of KPLC, Coast Region and on my own behalf, I wish to convey our sincere apologies for the distress that you and your neighbors’ underwent on the night of 12th January 2011, following the fire incidence on our transformer.

We regret the service breakdown on our part and wish to thank you for taking your time to bring it to our attention. We assure you that the matter is being handled with the seriousness it deserves and corrective measures have been put in place to avert a similar occurrence in the future. We value you as our esteemed customer.

In our strive to improve and delight our customers, we have adopted ‘CUSTOMER FIRST’ as our key value in driving change towards focusing on delighting our customers. Despite the mishap on 12th January 2011, we wish to assure you of our commitment to serve you diligently and to keep growing together with you as we all drive the economy.

KPLC mission is “POWERING PEOPLE FOR BETTER LIVES” of which we are dedicated to and shall keep correcting where we go wrong.

I have copied this email to our Regional Manager

Once again, we apologise

Yours Sincerely

Faith Njuguna

Principal Customer Relations Officer

KPLC,Coast Region

From: Amira
Sent: 13 January 2011 14:05
To: Faith Njuguna
Subject: Incident at Tudor

Dear Ms Njuguna,

Our telephone conversation of just now refers.

Kindly note the following statement:

10:23pm I noticed that the transformer outside our house is on fire

10:25pm made my first attempt to call KPLC emergency no: 2224533 - NO ANSWER

10.29pm I called 020-2074846 apparently another KPLC contact no but once again – NO ANSWER

10.30pm I pressed the 911 alarm button of our house

10.33pm I called the 4911 number to report the incident and to ask them to help us to get in touch with KPLC

In the meantime the fire was ranging and most of the neighbors were on the road worrying about their properties

10.43pm 911 security armed car arrived as well as Crest Security & Texas Alarm

Collected sand and tried to extinguish the fire – which resulted in a huge bang!

In the meantime neighbors were trying to get hold of KPLC too – BUT IN VAIN!

In the meantime 3 policemen from Central arrived who were called by one of the neighbors. Their attempt to get in touch with KPLC through their so called “hotline” was left un-answered too.

10.53pm called once again KPLC emergency no: 2224535 - NO ANSWER

Fire calmed down

Approx 11pm huge bang with big sparks! AND STILL NO FIREBRIGADE OR KPLC IN SIGHT!!

11.10pm Neighbor got hold of the KPLC call centre. Reply from the gentlemen on the phone:”I’ve just started the shift – don’t know anything about this! Please give me your account no!” instead of attending to the lady’s stressed call and acting appropriately

11.13pm I gave instructions to the 911 security team to go to Mbaraki to get KPLC maintenance team.

11:27pm I called 0717 – 703331 given by another neighbor but it was “mteja”

11:28pm than I was given the no. 0711-031680 (KPLC NBO) when we called we reported the incident once again and asked them to help us getting the maintenance team from MBA

11:30pm 911 security team arrived back. They’ve reported that they did not get anybody at Mbaraki but went to Electricity House where they reported the urgent need of help.


We waited till 12am for KPLC to come BUT IN VAIN!! 911 Security team kindly offered to stick around to watch the transformer and to see if anybody from KPLC will report.

It is now 1.53pm the next day and we have not seen ANYBODY from Kenya Power & Lighting Company! We find this ridicules! Thank GOD Almighty the fire went off by itself and no sparks hit the nearby tree. GOD FORBID what could have happened! Please note, that I’ve addressed this on Facebook and will inform the media accordingly.

I will send you pictures in a separate mail – taken just now.




Sunday, January 9, 2011

Muslims who saved Jews during World War II

And now, how are the Jews/Israelis paying back their debt to the Muslims...? Muslims who saved their lives and were not the cause or perpetrators of the Holocaust. These Jews are doing the same that was done to them and worse to the innocent Palestinians. All in the name of a so-called 'homeland'. What a way to thank them!

"Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews During World War II" Now On Exhibit in NYC

Where memory fails us, art lives on, like little frozen moments or time capsules that speak to our eyes rather than our ears. Where words fall apart, images live on, taking on their own lives without the need to decode or translate or even define. And sometimes the narrative of human courage and dignity, often overlooked in the face of tragedies and vice, are best told as they are today: captured vignettes, documented moments, preserved portraits that, when strung together, tell us the histories we crave to hear, but feel unprivileged to impart.

It's been said that "the story of Albania's Muslims, and what they did during World War II, is one of the great untold stories of the world." In recent years, these private heroisms have been revitalized through the lens of Jewish-American photographer Norman H. Gershman and his collected images and oral histories that make up the traveling portrait exhibit called Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews During World War II, now currently on display in New York's Soho Photo Gallery until January 29th.

The story is quite an extraordinary one. When Hitler's troops began invading the Balkan States in the early 1940s, Muslims across Albania took an estimated 2,000 Jewish refugees into their homes en masse and welcomed them not as refugees, but as guests. They disguised these Jews as Muslims, took them to mosque, called them Muslim names, gave them Muslim passports, hid them when they needed to, and then ferried them to inaccessible mountain hamlets. "In fact, Albania is the only Nazi-occupied country that sheltered Jews," says Gershman. The Jewish population in Albania grew by ten-fold during World War II, and it became the only country in occupied Europe to have more Jews at the end of the war than at the beginning. Records from the International School for Holocaust Studies show that not one Albanian Jew or any of the other thousands of refugees were given up to the Nazis by Albanian Muslims. "They did this in the name of their religion," Gershman said. "They absolutely had no prejudice what so ever."

That is because these Muslims held themselves accountable to what Albanians call Besa, which is still upheld as the highest ethical code in the country. "Besa is a code of honor deeply rooted in Albanian culture and incorporated in the faith of Albanian Muslims," the gallery explained in the show's press release. "It dictates a moral behavior so absolute that non-adherence brings shame and dishonor to oneself and one's family. Besa demands that one take responsibility for the lives of others in their time of need. This Islamic behavior of compassion and mercy celebrates the sanctity of life and a view of the other- the stranger- as one's own close family member."

"Most remarkably, this was all done with the consent and support of the entire country. Thousands of Jews, hidden in plain sight- everyone knew- and no one told."

And no one told for a long time "because of the shutters that went down on Albania so soon after 1945 and the draconian Communist regime," Holocaust historian Deborah Dwork told Jim Axelrod on CBS's Sunday Morning. "For the next half century, Albania was completely cut off from everyone, even from other Communist regime countries. And by the time the shutters lifted, what happened half a century ago was not so urgent as people's everyday needs right then and there."

"When I first learned of the World War II rescue of Jews in Muslim Albania and Kosovo, my reaction was visceral," Gershman said, who learned about the story from a member of Israel's Yad Vashem, a memorial dedicated to Jewish victims of the Holocaust. "Muslims who saved Jews? I must record this forgotten event with my camera and tell the story through the various family histories I was to meet. As a Jew and a Sufi, my spiritual connect with the beauty of Islam and Judaism is seamless."

Over a five-year period that began in 2002, Gershman traveled to Albania to document these surviving Muslim families and collect their stories, both through pictures and words. A man who worked for the Albania-Israel Friendship Society carried a small notebook with the names and addresses of these Muslim families, and with that, an interpreter, a driver and an assistant, Gershman crisscrossed the country, finding these families in cities, villages, even at the end of gravel roads. Yad Vashem knew of 63 families on record, but Gershman's trek led him to more than 150. "I travelled all through Albania and Kosovo where I met the rescuer's children, who are in their sixties or even older, the rescuers' widows, and in some cases the rescuer himself." He took their portraits and began with the same question: What is your story?

"I asked them, 'Why did you do this? What was in the Quar'an that you did this?' They would only smile. Some of them said, 'We have saved lives to go to paradise."

"There was no government conspiracy, no underground railroad, no organized resistance of any kind-" Gershman said, "only individual Albanians, acting alone, to save the lives of people whose lives were in immediate danger. My portraits of these people, and their stories, are meant to reflect their humanity, their dignity, their religious and moral convictions, and their quiet courage."

The saddest part of many of these families' stories were the endings when Soviet communism cut off all communication between the Jews that fled to Israel or their native countries and the Muslims that stayed. Many of them ended with "... and then all contact was lost. We never heard from them again. Please help us find them so we can return items they left in our trust."

"I came back with pictures and stories that are different from the ones you read in the papers every day." Together, the images say more than words can about courage, compassion, faith, and intercultural companionship. "They're not perfect pictures," he said. "But what's important is for these people to reflect themselves." It's a message he believes needs to be understood now more than ever.

"The paranoia that's sweeping the country regarding Muslims is absolutely nuts," he said. "I defy of anybody sees my pictures, especially in the West, and say that these people are militants or supporters of violence. These photographs show quite a different story."

It's a story that has gone on to reach further than Gershman could alone. Since a 2006 endorsement from former President Jimmy Carter and its first showing at Yad Vashem in 2007, the world has seen more than 75 exhibitions of Besa, including at the United Nations. In 2008, Syracuse University Press published the images and stories in a photobook that shares the same name as the exhibition.

When its showing at Soho Photo Gallery wraps up at the end of this month, it will travel to a new one in England's House of Commons. Gershman attributes much of the show's success to the fact that it contradicts popular misconceptions of not only Muslims, but also of intercultural relationships between Muslims and Jews.

"The exhibitions," a press release said, "were shot in black and white, fittingly chosen as each of the subjects and their families understood that when it comes to saving a life, there can be no shades of grey."