Kenya 2014 Cricket Tour to S0uth Africa: A Review


It has been a good week for Kenya’s men’s’ national team. In fact it has been a very good week. In my previous post I previewed the participation of the men’s national team in the Africa 6s challenge and the ACA cup. So now it only makes sense to review their performance in said tournaments.

Kenya made it to the final of the 6s challenge, after beating Namibia, Tanzania and Uganda, only tome up short against South Africa in the final. In the round robin Africa Cup, their three wins, tied match (there are no draws in limited overs cricket), and one loss were enough to win the tournament ahead of Uganda and a Zimbabwe Invitation XI.

The successes of the tour were built on the fine form of the batting line up. Collins Obuya’s 127 against South Africa’s Invitation XI, was the cherry on the cake, as he Rakep Patel, Narendra Patel, Alex Obanda, and Morris Ouma, all managed 50+ scores at some point in the ACA cup and the 6s challenge. On the whole the batting unit showed a resolve and determination which has not always been there in the past two or three years for Kenya.

The most encouraging thing was Alex Obanda bullied most of the attacks he faced while opening Kenya’s batting (Source:Streamjunction.blogspot.com)

The bowlers were also, for the most part incisive. Except for the ‘death overs’ when, it seems a slight lack of execution meant opponent like South Africa and Namibia were able to force the pace, despite being down to their last two batsmen. The Ngoche brothers (Nehemiah, Shem and James were the star performers in this regard)

Nonetheless on the whole the tour was on the whole, a plus for the men’s team, and bodes well for the World Cricket league Division II matches in February next year. The competition will be stronger, as in addition to Namibia, Netherland and Canada (teams with recent World Cup exposure) will be there and they will be contesting two promotion slots to get back into Division I, and the Intercontinental Cup.

Kenya Cricket Tour to South Africa 2014 Preview


Well, in all the hub bub about the changes, or no changes at the top, it almost escaped this blogger that the Kenya national Cricket team will be in South Africa for the Inaugural Africa sixes challenge, and the re-launched Africa Cricket Cup. Kenya will face South Africa, as well as Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

The 6s challenge is a 6-a-side (5 overs an innings) format game, while the Africa Cricket Cup will be the standard 50 overs a side games.The sixes challenge will run over the course of the weekend (6-7th September 2014) and the Cricket Cup will run the week after (8-13th September 2014). These tournaments for all intents and purposes should be considered as a stepping stone in preparing for the Division II World Cricket League tournament, set for Namibia in February next year.

Aside from Captaining, Rakep Patel’s Batting will be crucial to Kenya’s success (Source: thestar.co.ke)

The 6s challenge is organised by Global Softech (a South African corporate), while the Africa Cricket Association is in charge of the Cricket Cup. The Cricket Cup has been brought back (Possibly) in light of how similar tournaments in Asia and Europe have been so successful in stimulating cricket growth in hitherto weak associate countries like: Ireland, Netherlands, Nepal, Afghanistan and even Hong Kong, whether or not it will catch on is the big test.

From the squad, Kenya will be sending what appears to be a full strength squad to contest the two tournaments. Narendra Patel is the only brand new cap, while Dhiren Ghondaria and Gurdeep Singh hang on to their slots, having both joined the national team in the last year.Also of note is the return of left arm pace bowlers Lucas Oluoch, while the highest profile absences are that of Tanmay Mishra and Irfan Karim.

As for the opposition, the information I can dig up indicates that for the most part Uganda, and probably Tanzania, and Namibia will be fielding the full national team, while I have no idea what the South Africa and Zimbabwe teams (who are currently in Zimbabwe for a tri-series with Australia) will look like. Either way, given the relative depth of the game in these two countries relative to the rest of the competition, whatever squad they field will definitely be very strong.

The Kenya team: Rakep Patel (c), Shem Obado Ngoche, Alex Obanda, Collins Obuya, Nelson Odhiambo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Narendra Patel, Morris Ouma (wk.), Elijah Otieno, Hiren Varaiya, James Ngoche, Dhiren Ghondaria, Lucas Oluoch, Gurdeep Singh,

Coach: Steve Tikolo
Strength & Conditioning/Manager: Joseph Asichi,
Assistant Coach: Thomas Odoyo,
Physiotherapist: Joseph Mutisya

Jackie Returns and other stories


Having rushed to do a piece on the reports that Jackie Jan Mohammed was stepping down as chairperson of Cricket Kenya, I am now rushing to do a piece indicating that said resignation has been withdrawn. Strictly speaking, this is just a ‘rumour’ on social media as neither the mainstream press, not Cricket Kenya has published confirmation of the event on the public domain through any of their official channels.

Guess who’s back! (picture from: gulf news)

It seems that the board simple was not ready to move on without Mrs Mohammed and persuaded her to hand in in there for the time being. The decision is said to have been confirmed at a full board meeting in Mombasa a few days ago.

While all this was happening (or not happening) we are now into the month of September without any communication (even of the rumour variety) as to what the fate of the East Africa Premier League and Cup. Over the past few years, they have normally been held in the August-September period, following the conclusion of the provincial leagues.

It is through these competitions that the likes of Irfan Karim, and Lucas Oluoch really burst on to the limelight. Have they been postponed? Cancelled? Or are they being staged, as you read this, in secret at an undisclosed location? What is going on?

Anyway, be that as it may be, the ICC has finalised structure of the new World Cricket Leagues, through which Kenya will begin the path back to relevance on the world stage. The men’s team will play Namibia, Canada, the Netherlands, and two promoted teams from Division 3 in Namibia, in February next year.

The top two teams will be promoted to Division One, from whence the qualification for various World Cups will be contested, as well as becoming party of the newly restructured Intercontinental Cup, from whence they should get a shot at test cricket.

I’m not going to dwell so much on previewing this upcoming tournament, except to say that on recent head to head records against the opposition at this tournament, Kenya are not the favourites to come through.

Anyway, that is the latest in Cricket in Kenya, maybe some of the question raised will be answered, maybe they won’t. That’s life

The Merry Go Round, she turns and turns


On Sunday Afternoon on the 2nd of August 2014, Kenya Harambee Stars were due to face Lesotho needing to win by 2 clear goals, to stave off elimination from Africa Cup of Nations qualification at the preliminary round. They were unable to do so. The match ended goalless. The only way Harambee Stars will be at the 2015 Africa Cup of nations it seems, will be as ‘observers.’
Within minutes of the game, Football Kenya Federation had dismissed the team’s entire technical bench, and ‘disbanded’ the playing squad. Within days they had grabbed, the very well reputed Bobby Williamson, winner of 4 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup trophies, and the man who ended Gor Mahia’s 18 year Premier League title drought, as Harambee Stars new head coach.
And so the merry-go-round called head coach of Harambee Stars continues to roll. Though there are likely promises that have been made to Mr. Williamson over Job security and a bunch of other things, this blogger doubts there will be much seriousness in keeping them.

Bobby Williamson , takes the hot seat (Source: in2eastafrica.net)

The man himself is clearly qualified for the job, but is the employer ready to deal with him long enough for his ability to make a difference? Does it matter how good the man in the head coach’s role is, if the rest of the structure (youth development and scouting, logistics and friendly matches planning etc) is virtually non-existent? Harambee Stars have been through an inordinate amount coaches over the past decade with only marginal variation in the outcomes on the pitch. As far as I believe the head coach’s position is hardly where the problems Harambee Stars have lie.
CV aside there not is much difference between this appointment, and that of the last man shown the door, Adel Amrouche. A big name, that’s hired on hype of recent success, to single-handedly be the magic pill that ends all of Harambee Stars woes. Sprinkle in some token local management and apparently you have a winning formula.
Granted Bobby Williamson, as I stated earlier in the post has an amazing resume, and reputation, the cynic in me reckons, that when push comes to shove his appointment is simply more window dressing on FKF’s part.
Without real substantive changes to the way FKF runs football in Kenya, then most likely outcome is, Bobby Williamson will struggle to get any more out of Harambee Stars than Adel Amrouche did.
At the end of the day either he will resign in a huff, or get made the scapegoat for all of Harambee Stars shortcomings, and some other high-profile ‘miracle worker’ will take over and the cycle will start again. That is how FKF rolls!

Change Cometh, and Cricket Kenya must deal with it


Cricket Kenya has a new chairperson. This blogger understands that Jackie Jan Mohammed has very recently stepped down from the position of Chairperson of Cricket Kenya, citing personal reasons, and her deputy chairperson, one Mr. Anil Patel has taken over.

To the best of my knowledge she was the only woman to have ever headed a national sports body in Kenyan history, and will likely the only one who may have the privilege and responsibility to do so for the foreseeable future.

Jackie Janmohammed (Source: imgci.com)

It would not be fair to pass judgment on Jackie’s tenure at the head of Cricket Kenya without first coming to grips with the situation the organization was in leading up to her tenure. Her reign began as part of a settlement to put a stop to a bunch of litigation that had dragged the process of replacing Samir Inamdar, her predecessor, out for two years.

Her predecessor had himself been come to be in charge of Cricket Kenya at the tail end of even more litigation, through which the old Kenya Cricket Association was dissolved and replaced by Cricket Kenya.
In between there were, a whole bunch of other intrigues that saw Kenya’s senior players on strike on several occasions, the site for a proposed national academy repossessed and turned into part of a super highway, and pretty much all structure in the game slip away
In that context her time could therefore be seen as the facing the consequences for the past decade’s stagnation.

On the field Kenya’s men’s national team failed to qualify for the 50 over World Cup for the first time since 1992, were relegated out of Division 1 of the World Cricket League, and lost the One Day International Status, upon which a lot of the support that Cricket in Kenya was getting from the International Cricket Council was being channeled.

However, on the domestic, though she did preside over the settling in and expansion of The East Africa Premier League and Cup, to the extent that the T20 competition was even able to attract some serious international level talent in its most recent edition.

Both tournaments have been in a way ‘cursed’ by their own success, as the extra revenues generated seem to have just become another avenue for the same old back door power games, and intrigue rather than a vehicle for the overall growth of the game.

Her successor, Mr. Anil Patel, has a very full plate once he gets into the swing of things. The last time I checked, Cricket Kenya did not have a Chief Executive Officer, the East Africa Leagues season is around the corner, and the board is certainly looking at a cut in funding from the ICC, as well as a truncated schedule of fixtures (from the ICC’s programs for associates) to keep the national teams at all levels active.

So in the short term those will be the challenges.
The national team have February’s World Cricket league Division II to begin their rehabilitation, and earn the right to be in the next edition of the Intercontinental Cup.

The women’s and youth national teams do not even have the certainty of that, until the full implications of the cuts by the ICC to regional youth and women’s cricket become fully known, at least.
In the medium to long term there is continuing to build trust among the corporates and institutions that have invested in Kenyan cricket so far. There is the need to work out how to get additional resources from wherever and whomever they can get onto the band wagon of making Kenyan cricket grow.

And of course, the resident pachyderm in the building called Kenya’s tiny player base. I have called for this many time before and will call for it again. Cricket Kenya needs to get a formula to get cricket into public schools and institutions in a sustainable way. We are talking about getting a portion of the ~97% of school going children countrywide.

That is a story for another day.  For now, its to wish Mr Patel, and the remnant of the Cricket Kenya board installed in 2012, all the best as they steer the game forwards.

A commonwealth games Primer, for y’all


Well they are here, and they kind of snuck up on me this round! The club games are set to start in Glasgow, and as usual Kenya has sent a large contingent of track and field athletes looking to continue the gold medal rush from 2010. Believe it or not Kenya has 8 (yes eight!) representatives in the lawn bowls competition!

Anyway this post will start with the stuff Kenya is more known for and drift towards the not so known stuff. So we start with the track, and field events, and the middle and long distance events. This is what Kenya is widely known for as a sporting house all over the world. To the point everyone from spoof energy drink adverts to the Muppets has played on the ‘Kenyans are good at running’ idea.

apparently… ( source: chzbgr.com)

I digress. The bulk of Kenya’s gold medals at the Club games have come on the back of dominating all the track events from 800 metres to the marathon. With the absence of some of the sprint powerhouses (USA) we have even won the odd medal at the 400 metres events.

This round a lot of the usual suspects will be at the Glasgow event. The headliners are obviously David Rudisha (current world record holder) at the 800m, Silas Kiplagat in the men’s 1500m, as well as Milcah Chemos a perennial force in the women’s steeplechase event.

They lead a host of names who have built a name for themselves among something of a ‘golden generation’ for Kenyan athletics in track events all over the world in the past decade in particular. Did you know that only one non-Kenyan has won a medal of any kind in the men’s steeplechase at the club games since 1994?

In addition to them there are the upcoming talents of Jarius Birech (who has dominated in this year’s diamond league events) and Mercy Cherono.
In the field event, perhaps Julius Yego, the YouTube man could deliver on his immense promise and medal. He has a top 3 finish in diamond league, so I will be keeping an eye on that.

Then there is boxing. Kenya has a tradition in producing high quality of amateur boxers that have scored medals on a regular basis, at commonwealth and other global competitions (RIP Robert Wangila). However with several decades of neglect, even downright cynical exploitation of boxers, the idea of a Kenya boxer, medalling at these games would be more a welcome relief than a serious expectation. This year’s squad features young men who have shown some fight ‘pun intended’ at international competition.

There is lot of expectation (they have a nice hype machine) being placed on Kenya’s rugby sevens squad. Not surprising because of how they have delivered beyond rational expectations on several occasions, against the world’s best on the IRB circuit, but also because they are generally the most well ordered team sport administration in Kenya behind them.

However, whereas, in some vents (LOOKING AT YOU TRACK AND FIELD) the commonwealth games can be said to be a dilution of talent, on the rugby field it’s more like a concentration of the best in the field. New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, England, South Africa, all have very well funded fully professional rugby machinery behind their teams, not to mention the hosts Scotland are no slouches at rugby.

In the Jason Dunford swimming event, Kenya has a host of fresh young talent, who this blogger hopes will be more than just escorting the Dunford men to gold medal glory.

Some months ago a certain South African minister insinuated that Kenya (or countries like Kenya send swimmers out to global competitions to drown in the pool. Now is the chance to tell Hon Mbalula with actions as well as words where he can go put his words.

On to the lesser known events I spoke of ‘fighting’ earlier in this post Kenya will also have representation in the Judo, event, for the first time in 12? Years, there will be Kenyans in the triathlon ands well as in the road and mountain biking events.

Maybe there is another Chris Froome in the making? These events may to the casual (read cynical) fan seem to be excess baggage on the road, but with a bit of vision just being there may be the beginning our nation becoming really good at the global stage. As the good book says, plant both in the morning and in the evening, for you do not know which will produce a harvest (or something like that)

Anyway in wrapping up this post, I want to wish the men and women flying the flag all the best, timely allowances and kits and mostly that the record haul of medals in Delhi 2010 may be surpassed.

FIFA Mirrors Life? Or a Blogger Seeing Their Own Things


It has been more than weeks since that spectacle of football called the FIFA World Cup took over, not just our television screens, but most of our social lives as well. Whether or not you are into football (at one point known as sokker by the New York Times) the ongoing World Cup has been just, everywhere you turn.

Anyway, I am a football fan, and I was digesting the exit of Nigeria and Algeria, from the competition at the first knockout level, it struck me that when seen from a certain angle, the level of performance of a nation’s football teams can be a mirror into the wider issues of how well (or badly) that nation gets things done. I am not talking just plain score lines here. I am referring to things such as squad selections, match preparedness, even dispute resolutions

Stay with me here as I run through some parallels. Let us take Nigeria for example. They have been one of the more exciting to watch African teams at any FIFA World Cup with several second round exits to show for it. They are a large footballing nation with lots of raw talent that was one of the first nations which the European leagues started to really scour with their talent scouts.

 

 

Many of the national teams’ players have been playing in Europe since their teens. On the other hand, since its independence Nigeria has been one of Africa’s more resource rich countries with big multinationals like Shell moving into to pump crude oil out of the country and the import it back as refined petroleum products. Where’s the connection there. Oil goes out crude, comes back refined, footballer goes out raw and untrained talent, comes back a professional.

Here’s another parallel that got me thinking. Since the 1990 edition, the World Cup has steadily been increasing the number of teams that participate in its finals tournament. The main beneficiaries have been Africa and Asia, whose allotted number of places has gone up from 1 each (I think) to 5 and 4 places respectively.

Let us take a look at what teams from these continents have done with these slots. In 1990, Africa had Cameroon’s miracle run to the quarterfinals, while all of Asia’s representatives got drummed out of the tournament at the first hurdle.

Nwankwo Kanu was my first football idol, because of Nigeria’s exploits at the 1998 World Cup. (Picture from Telegraph.co.uk)

In 1994, Nigeria showed up and played some beautiful football, on their way to an agonizing second round exit, which sort of covered up for the fact that none of Africa’s other participants really did much to write home about. Asian teams also went out in the group stages, but Iran won a game. 1998 same story for Africa, Nigeria into the second round.

By 2006, it was the same story for Africa. One team (this time Ghana) being respectable, pretty much for the rest of the representatives, whereas, the Asian Teams, two made the 2nd round and all four looked like they belong*. How much does this sound like that anecdotes the economist like repeating about how, in 1963 Kenya was ahead of South Korea, yet nowadays it is so very different. What is it about them that they seem to learn and get better at whatever they set out to do well, yet Africa it’s the same old same old?

Anyway, maybe I am reading too much into some random football tournament that comes around every four years. Maybe I should just enjoy the football for what it is, just football and let the other issues be. Pity that I probably won’t

DISCLAIMER: I am aware that 2010 was not a good year for the Asian teams, but I reckon my point stands

This article was originally written for the Storymoja Festival blog. The original can be seen here

More ICC (The cricket One) Shenanigans


It has been a while since International Cricket Council set about overhauling its global structure to better place it (at least according to the people running the changes) to tackle the challenges of keeping the sport of cricket viable, and relevant in the 21st century.

The initial ideas were based around the Woolfe report, which recommended much moreinclusivity, openness and support for the developing teams within the cricketing universe. What actually happened was the document was tossed out and the decision makers decided to head in the opposite direction.

Most of the widely debated changes touched upon the inner circle of full members (voting rights, revenue sharing, obligations to play one another and everybody else). Countries like Kenya, which is an associate member, were largely left in limbo: Waiting for clarification and structure to vague hints at promises that may or may not materialize from the ‘charity’ of the big boys.

The final version of the overhaul was agreed upon earlier last month. It generally is the tightening of overall control and moneysof the ICC to a cabal of 3 nations (India, England and Australia) and will see the ICC is presided over (initially) by a man who was barred from running his nation’s own cricket board by its supreme court.

On a how this is all relevant to Cricket in Kenya level, what it means is that rather than being accorded more support (in keeping with the idea that they might be developed into future powerhouses of the game), associates like Kenya will find it harder than before to become part of the cricket mainstream, and a lot easier to slip into oblivion if they do not work extra hard to keep the little access they do have.

A Summary of the changes that will affect Kenya, from avid cricket writer Andrew Nixon

 

No longer is a place at the showpiece 50 Over World Cup a guarantee (the one Kenya made the semi-finals of in 2003).Making it to the t20 version of the World Cup proper has had an additional level of qualifiers tossed in. The World Cricket Leagues and Intercontinental Cup (through which Kenya’s national teams kept busy) have been trimmed down, as well as the youth and developmental tournaments that used to support spreading the game.

It is true there has been an actual offer to provide a pathway to qualifying for test status, but it remains an unsubstantiated promise with no guarantee (at least from the way the ICC has backtracked on other things) of ever becoming reality.
Anyway, I have blown a fuse previously on the absurdity of the so called reforms with regards to how they hurt rather than help the game in countries like Kenya.

Lots of other bloggers have done the same, but for now it seem that even if the local administrators were to get their house in order and get the game in Kenya growing again, it may be for nought.

In short, If cricket stakeholders in Kenya didn’t know this befor they should now understand that ther is simply no future to being a small fish within the International Cricket Council.

On Jubilee and the pledges to Kenyan Sports


This post is little late, but be that as it may, here are a bunch of reflections on The Jubilee government’s fulfillment of the pledges it made towards sports in Kenya. On the whole this side of the government has been on the whole less controversy ridden than; say the laptops for class 1 pupils, or the standard gauge railway.

Also unlike in other sectors, many of the pledges actually depend on the competency of bodies that have some independence from government influence, so their success or failure, can not entirely be up to the Jubilee Government. Without much ado, here we go.

First and foremost, a recap of the pledges that Jubilee made on the campaign trail. I cannot claim to recall everything they pledged so I will focus on the flagship promises. These were: the pledge to construct 5 stadia all over the country, a promise to deliver the World Athletics Championships, the Africa Cup of Nations the restoration of the Safari Rally to the World Rally Circuit, and the pledge to build youth development centres in all counties

I’ll start with the pledge to bring all sorts of international competitions in various sports to Kenya. Right of the bat, Kenya’s bid to get the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations was virtually sunk by the Football Kenya Federation, not bothering to actually submit a bid until one month past the deadline.To save face, they went for and got right to host the 2018 CHAN event instead.

Now to actually put together a credible (and I do not mean we somehow survived to the end one piece credible) event. Also I am hoping they give the ‘Dick Berg type ‘sports event promoters’ a wide berth and give us an open, transparent show.

And the Winner in the Tenderpreneurship relay event is…
(From Gadocartoons.net)

Off the football pitch, and on to the athletics track, it turns out, that you sort of have to build up towards hosting the IAAF’s flagship events (like the World Athletics Championships, by cutting your teeth with lesser events. Parable of the coins, he who was faithful with five dinarii shall be put in charge of 5 cities and all that.

So in keeping with that, Kenya will first aim to host the 2017 World Youth Championships. Nairobi’s competition will come from Buenos Aires, and Greensboro city in the USA, we hope the bidding team show some passion to convince the IAAF honchos to gives us the games.

As for the World Rally Championships, the Safari Rally was tossed out because of issues surrounding money guarantees, and tracks being properly closed off from wild animals, traffic etc) and so on. From the government side there has been very little noise, SO FAR, on the actualisation of a bid to restore the Safari rally and from the way the KNRC continues to face issues with stray traffic, pedestrians etc on its domestic rallies, it seems we still have work to do on that end also.

As for the pledge to construct 5 state-of-the-art stadia, there has been much more traction in this area. The sceptic in me would like clarification on just what ‘state-of-the-art’ is supposed to amount to. The most recent noise on that end has been the announcement by sports cabinet secretary Hassan Wario, that construction of these ‘state-of-the-art’ stadia will commence next year. Several County governments, both Jubilee and CORD controlled have done some renovations to their dilapidated municipal stadiums, so there is that

As for the youth centres, I’ll assume that they are also in the pipeline somewhere.

All in all, One year down the line and aside from the AFCON debacle, which with hindsight the sports ministry should have seen coming, its been steady as she goes. I would issue a grade but most of these pledges are mid to long term projects, which will take time to implement.

A Match Fixing Kenyan Cricketer!? Say it isn’t so…


Some of the more long term fans of Kenyan Cricket will remember the drama which effectively ended the International career of Former Captain, and all rounder Maurice Odumbe, in the early noughties . That saga happened as part of a wider global match fixing investigation was outing big fish such as South Africa’s Hansie Cronje, and India’s Mohammed Azzrahuddin (sp?) et al

Anyway fast forward a decade later and there has been a second global ‘outbreak’ if you will of players accepting inducements to tamper with match results with various convictions (including jail time) handed out to players involved in competitions varying from a Test series between Pakistan and England, through t the Indian Premier League, County Cricket and so on.

There have even been allegations that matches at the 2011 Cricket World Cup (incidentally the last one Kenya qualified for), were affected, with initial suspicion raised over the suspicious number of wides that Kenyan bowlers conceded in their group match against Pakistan, among other things. That particular investigation  ran out of steam but it seems t seems that story itself will not quite die just yet.

say’s Crickets ACSU

Britain’s Daily Mail recently broke a story where among other things a ‘former Kenyan captain’ if fingered in a conspiracy to fix games at that World Cup, from a leaked ICC Anti Corruption Special Unit (ACSU) Probe.

 Thanks to the revelations, the 2010 ODI series between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe fell on ACSU’s radar. These matches were the topic of discussion between JS, a former Kenya captain and a Zimbabwe-based bookie for over five months. More than a 115 calls were made, allegedly to fix matches.

The above quote is the relevant bit for Kenyan cricket in the Daily Mail story. Given that Kenya has a long list of ‘former captains’ very much still active in the game, many still playing, this cat amongst the pigeons is surely not the kind of revelation that the game needs now, never mind at any time.

Anyway lets wait and see if this goes anywhere

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