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Monday, 29 March 2010


Inside Anfield Stadium, Copyright Agachiri 2010
The aura of a celebrated champion's tradition is unmistakable. It's Anfield after all. Where the legend that is Liverpool Football Club lives on. A true icon of a global sports brand.

As I make my way to my seat at the famous Kop, 20 minutes before the kick-off, of the club's English Premier League match against Sunderland, thunderous cheers from home supporters reverberate across Anfield. At this point it is very hard to imagine that Liverpool has not been having the best of seasons

The atmosphere generated is almost unbelievable and has the effect of enveloping one into the eras gone by that have cemented the reputation of this great footballing club, which is the most successful English team boasting 5 European Championship titles, 18 league trophies and numerous other domestic cups.

My initial affection towards Liverpool was nurtured by an admiration of great players like Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Jan Molby, John Aldridge, Bruce Grobbelaar, John Barnes and later the Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen generation.

                                            Liverpool vs Sunderland, Copyright Agachiri 2010

As a little boy in the eighties, I used to catch snippets of the Liverpool glory years, mostly in a black and white television set, either ours or the neighbours.

It never once crossed my mind that my steadfast passion for the club would one day lead to watching Liverpool play live at Anfield.

Steven Gerrard's Corner, Copyright Agachiri 2010

Yet 25 years later, that is exactly what comes to pass. That my team has been faring pretty badly in the 2009/10 season in no way dilutes my experience of the game against Sunderland.

The joy is almost overwhelming and I soak it all up, while reflecting on how long my journey to Anfield had taken and thankful that it finally happened.

Torres lights up Anfield and a Liverpool resurgence

And what better way to welcome me to Anfield, than an early Liverpool wonder goal scored by none other than Fernando Torres? Exquisitely taken from long distance and at a tight corner, it underlies his status as one of the world's top rated striker.

The mammoth roar from the fans almost shakes the stands and the chorus of, 'Ooh when the Reds go marching in...,' hits a crescendo. I instantly join in, mumbling my delight at the opportunity to cheer my team first hand.
                           Bemused at The Kop, Copyright Agachiri 2010

The singing at the Kop never stops and Liverpool respond with a goal by Glen Johnson and another by man of the match, Fernando Torres.

The energy exhibited by the home supporters still perplexes me and the winning display by Liverpool, caps a glorious piece of personal history for me.

                   Liverpool Merchandise Shop, Copyright Agachiri 2010

I was there. And truly, 'You Will Never Walk Alone,' as a Liverpool fan.

Friday, 26 March 2010


You are unlikely to encounter unregulated nudity in the media. So what if a TV programme is deliberately designed to focus on health issues around private parts of the anatomy? Can the eye or mind of the viewer be trusted to remain within the confines of the medical context? 

Channel 4's Embarrassing Bodies series, on the face of it, can be said to be playing a useful role in encouraging people to seek medical help, even when the problem is located in intimate parts of their bodies.

Indeed, a patient visiting a gynaecologist should not have a problem baring it all in order to get proper diagnosis and treatment. Whether it's a male or female doctor is largely immaterial though preferences exist. 

That the producers manage to convince many patients to let their sessions to be recorded on camera and later broadcast to all and sundry, in itself is a testament of the noble intention to showcase why being shy about seeking treatment could be catastrophic.

But as a viewer of the programme, I am uncomfortable about following the conversation between the doctor and patient up to the examination room, where courtesy of the camera, I am accorded copious close ups of another person's nether regions.

I am also not exactly sure every male viewer will be looking at such explicit clips without straying into the terrain of impure thoughts, or for that matter, whether all the female viewers will be able to resist the urge to mentally do comparative analogies of the male anatomies on display.

Of course the objective here has nothing to do with exhibitionism but the subjective mind cannot be fully trusted to view the programme from a medical point of view.

So, editing out some scenes is prudent and would not erode the overall appreciation of the message, in my prudish opinion.

Vista Repair Software

Friday, 19 March 2010


Journalists often go to great lengths to get an exclusive story or scoop. The pursuit of big stories at times puts them in grave danger. But it should not always be about their own safety. News contacts too need to be reassured that no harm will come their way.

It is rather unfair for a reporter to only concentrate on getting a story without a thought of the possible risk they could be putting the news sources in, by putting the story out.

A BBC report of a missing Chinese lawyer for example, scored highly in tracing a relative of Gao Zhisheng. But very poorly in leaving the brother quite vulnerable after securing his interview.

The BBC team managed to trace Ghao Zhiyi deep into Central China. Despite obviously being aware of the strict Communist regime, the subsequent story did not make any attempt to conceal the identity of the brother to the fiery critic of the Chinese government.

If the Chinese authorities take offence with regard to this story, which was aired in the UK and is still posted on BBC's website, they might easily direct their anger at the poor brother to the missing lawyer.

Once when I attended a media workshop organized by CNN in Cape Town, South Africa, I remember how speaker after speaker took a swipe at the repressive regime of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

Then a Zimbabwean photojournalist took the microphone and asked the participants to tone down their anti-Mugabe sentiments. The auditorium was soon after inundated with shouts of 'why...why...why?'

The young man's disarming argument was very simple. The more the international media criticised Mugabe, the more the local Zimbabweans' lives were made more miserable.

This might seem like an extreme example but it does make you think about how easy it is to mistakenly assume that the pursuit of stories ought to be the ultimate objective for a journalist.

Thursday, 11 March 2010


                                  Forever Living profits share, Copyright Agachiri, 2010

Scenario one. Thousands of people lose their savings after investing it in dubious pyramid schemes. Scenario two. Tens of people get a share of the huge profits of a global multi-level marketing company totalling over half a billion Kenya shillings, (6.2 million Euros).

Many Kenyans have become victims of deceptive yet well-crafted get rich quick schemes that promise hefty returns only for them to collapse with millions of deposited money, after miniscule early payments of supposed dividends.

The strategy of such a systematic swindling nearly always depends on a continuous recruitment of fresh investors, who are led to believe that any new people they sign up will translate into a direct bonus for them.

What is not made apparent is that the same fresh entrants also generate much higher bonuses for those who joined in first. To help keep suspicions at bay, a line of products is usually thrown into the whole set up and their marketing and sale thus provides the cover for the underlying aggressive recruitment.

But such is the level of sophistication of pyramid schemes that even people in advanced economies fall prey to such scams, with an alarming regularity. It's as if the public never will get to learn from past examples.

Pyramid schemes vs multi-level marketing 

As reported Reuters, a Briton has just been found guilty of defrauding thousands of investors through a series of pyramid schemes in the UK. The amount quoted is a staggering £34 million or nearly 4 billion Kenya shillings.

Forever Living profits share , Copyright Agachiri 2010

But still in the UK, Forever Living, which is a multi-billion dollar multinational company, has just organized a Profit Share European Rally, attended by 9,000 members, in which millions of pounds were dished out amongst qualifying top performers.

The striking thing is that although the company prides itself as the world's largest producer, manufacturer and distributor of aloe vera products, as well as other natural health supplements, many of their members were actively pitching and trying to convince non-members to join, during their London convention.

And upon being accused of operating a pyramid schemes, many Forever Living members were quick to defend their mode of multi-level marketing using terms such as team networking, sponsoring or mentoring.

Quite confusing.

Thursday, 4 March 2010


Me, posing at the imposing Wembley, Copyright Agachiri 2010
It is an architectural masterpiece. It hosts major English football cup finals. England plays its international matches here. It is Wembley Stadium, in North-West London.

I became aware of this great football venue back in the mid eighties, through the Road to Wembley FA Cup ties, screened by the then Voice of Kenya television, which would always culminate in an electrifying cup final at Wembley.

Fast forward 25 years later and my temporary residence in the UK, of all possible places, happens to be in the neighbourhood of Wembley Stadium. Almost each day as I go to college, I make it a ritual to spend a few moments gazing at the giant Wembley Ring not so far away.

Then almost inevitably, fate hands me an opportunity to actually get to witness firsthand, an international football match at Wembley, pitting England against Egypt. Although I would have wanted to cheer my fellow African team, my ticket stipulates otherwise.

As I make my way to entrance D, I encounter a boisterous group of Egyptian supporters. I can't help but admire their sense of patriotism, the distance between Cairo and London notwithstanding. Many are draped in their national flag and others don their team's colours                                                                      

Playing of team national anthems, copyright Agachiri 2010

The escalators lead me to a vomitory that in turn ushers me into the magnificent playing arena that is Wembley Stadium. Absorbing the beauty of this awesome citadel of English football takes my breath away.

In a matter of minutes, the tens of thousands of seats begin to fill up and the atmosphere soon gets an injection of such an enormous theatre-like sound, I silently wonder how the players get to keep their concentration.

An African fan of English football inside Wembley

A strange feeling suddenly engulfs me. It's an overwhelming realization that I am a foreigner. After a good ten minutes of scrutinizing my neighbouring spectators, I give up trying to find another person of African descent.

The roar from the crowd almost triples upon the entry of the two teams. For a moment or two, I almost forget I primarily came to watch a football match and spend most of the time taking pictures.

Egypt vs England match, Copyright Agachiri 2010
Never in a million years would I have imagined it would be possible to watch the likes of Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney or John Terry play before my very own eyes.

But it is the reigning African football champions, who take the lead against the run of play. The counter-effect of this, is a barrage of nasty abuses that assaults my ears from some of the agitated home team supporters. Suffice it to say I have now heard enough F-words to last me a lifetime.

I really struggle to give the impression that I am supporting England, knowing too well that deep down I'm hoping Egypt would inflict an unforgettable defeat on the home side. I find myself occasionally cheering a move by the Pharaohs, which is virtually outlawed courtesy of the ticket I purchased.

England start the second half strongly boosted by the introduction of Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Crouch scores twice and Shaun another to give England a commanding lead and restore sanity in the area around my seat.

View of Wembley Stadium at night, Copyright Agachiri 2010

In the end, despite the loss by Egypt, I'm in a celebratory mood. Extremely happy to have been a part of the 80, 600-strong spectators, who watched the match.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


The BBC announces a drastic decision to close two radio stations. Two employees of the affected stations confront their boss in a live TV interview in ITV's Channel Four News!

The C4 presenter Jon Snow even goads the two BBC employees to challenge their boss's decision and publicly discredit the reasoning behind the planned closures.

And then the host turns to the BBC Director General Mark Thompson and attempts to pin him down with the points raised against the envisioned realignment of the giant public service broadcaster.

And all this is not happening at one of the BBC's news channels. It's playing out at what could loosely be termed as a rival TV station, in the sense of competition for the same audience.

BBC employees free to openly question their boss

I cannot even begin to imagine what nasty fate would befall, for example, an employee of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, if he or she criticises a decision by the Managing Director to close down some KBC radio channels, and challenge the MD at a live interview during the NTV prime news.

Either, there is a clear understanding that both the BBC boss and the two employees are answerable to the licensing paying British public in an equal measure, and with it comes the bold open defiance of conventional staff- manager protocol.

Or questioning the decisions of your boss, (publicly or in his/her face) does not amount to gross insubordination, likely to lead to summary dismissal.

But the professional maturity exemplified in this particular situation is admirable and highly desirable as it rises above the level of personalities involved and instead focuses on the issues at play.