Three weeks ago, the story of Jean Munene, a retired teacher and farmer from Kanyekini ward in Kirinyaga County appeared in the local dailies.
Jean, like thousands of other farmers mainly from across Meru, Embu, Kirinyaga and Embu counties had considered themselves lucky after Twiga Foods approached them with an offer to buy their bananas at an above market rate, only to betray the trusting farmers and stop buying their produce early this year. After being encouraged to plant more bananas, the farmers suddenly found themselves with no market for their bananas.
What many didn’t know is that this was just the tip of the iceberg of the Twiga Foods story, a story that is eerily similar to the one in The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King, a book that reflects on the worst of American business dealings in the banana trade.
Twiga Foods is the company started by Grant Brooke an American researcher and Peter Njonjo, the former president of the Coca-Cola Company West Africa and American Chamber of Commerce, Kenya Chapter President.
Just like the cunning scoundrel King Leopold hid under the guise of charitable work while exploiting the Congo and in the process masaccering ten million people, approximately 50% of the population in the Congo at the time, Twiga Foods fronted the mission of helping poor farmers and mama mbogas, with their intentions being the exact opposite- exploitation in a bid to control Africa’s food prices.
8-4-4 education messed Kenyans big time if an American, together with the head of an American company that poisons Africans with sugared water (and hoards the continents water resources) can be believed to be benevolents working for the good of Africans. Instead of teaching useless subjects like Christianity and other Medieval religions, African universities need to start departments of white studies to understand better the cunning and exploitative nature of Mzungu and his white monopolistic capital.
Equally important is to make Africans understand the role black turncoats and opportunists who work side by side with the white man play in undermining the quest for dignity by black man. Twiga Foods has many local proponents (present day homeguards and collaborators in exploitation of the black man) including the mzungu ally and opportunist extraordinaire, Ory Okolloh Mwangi who sits on Twiga Foods advisory board. Without such collaborators and opportunists, the white man would not have had the opportunity to inflict the near irreversible damage he has on Africans.
The poor farmers realized almost too late that they were pawns in the capitalistic game that is played in far off Western capitals, and no one is here to save them, only to exploit them. Who will teach Africans that no white man will save them from their problems – only themselves have that divine obligation.
To borrow from the holy prophet of Africans, Fela Kuti, “You Africans please listen to me as Africans: You have to work out your own salvation, Oyibo will only confuse you so that you remain Shuffering and Shmiling with the encouragement of the opportunistic pastor and Imam”.
In simple, what Twiga Foods was trying to pull here is the Uber Model for food in the local market. Increase the prices to farmers, lure the farmers to exclusive contracts, and by so doing, push out all the other players, thus effectively creating a food distribution monopoly. Once in control of the market, they would subsequently lower the prices offered to farmers as no one else would buy from them, just like the infamous Brookside. On the side of the banana buyers, they would sell bananas and other produce at the price they would so wish to sell at in the local market as no one else would be supplying the produce.
To create this monopoly, they needed a war chest. The grand vision of controlling Africa’s food prices made white capitalists salivate and Twiga assembled the mother of all war chests from the deep pockets of white monopoly capital totaling over KES 3 Billion from including others Adolph H.Lundin owned by billionaire Ian Lundin. For those in the know, Lundin was late last year indicted in Sweden for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity in South Sudan. Africans need to do away with religion and empty worship of white man and start using their heads. How can someone be financing the murder of tens of thousands in South Sudan and then saving poor farmers in neighbouring Kenya at the same time?
With the deep pockets, and as part of the strategy, they also waged a misinformation war. To do this, they found all too willing hungry brown envelop journalists in the Githeri media fraternity to regurgitate whatever they were told. Acres and acres of articles were penned by Daystar University degenerates of how Twiga foods was saving mama mbogas from 4 am trips to Marikiti. Never mind that 4 am is the best time to distribute fresh produce anywhere in the world- no much traffic and moving from Marikiti to various estates is off-peak time and the empty Matatus could at least carry something on their way back to Kangemi or Syokimau to carry commuters for a fraction of cost instead of going back empty.
Heck, the world’s largest Marikiti, Rungis in France is open between 3 Am and 9 Am. But according to the Mzungu, poor Africans should not wake up at 3 am to create opportunities for themselves and feed their families.
Even bootleg intellectual, Konza City illusionist and Government mouthpiece Bitange Ndemo was part of this well-oiled PR machinery and no article of his between 2017 and 2018 would end without him saying how Twiga Foods was transforming informal food supply chains.
Now, if you board any Matatu to Meru from between 1 am and 4 am to Embu and Meru, you’re guaranteed to have Mama Mbogas majority. These women go to Mitunguu, Kariine and other markets in the Embu – Meru circuit to source bananas, bring them to Nairobi, ripen them naturally and then distribute themselves around Nairobi. End product? Naturally ripened, sweet and not so perfect looking bananas you could buy in any kibanda for 5 bob circa 2014. These were the target mothers on the receiving end of the 3 Billion War Chest by Twiga Foods.
What Githeri media never told us is that in place of the Marikiti mothers bananas, Twiga Foods would bring us industrial detergent -cleaned (am not kidding you, as one caller to a local station recently confirmed), bananas with chemically induced ripening. The bananas would be near perfect looking but awfully tasting. The price? Kes 7-10 bob a piece.
Twiga faced one major hurdle : unless you supplied everything that a mama mboga sells, either way she would have to go to Marikiti for the one item that is not on your produce list. So this was a winner takes all or nothing scenario: Twiga Foods would either have to push all food suppliers out of the market or close the shop altogether.
When all these came together,Mama mbogas stopped accepting Twiga poisoned, beautiful looking bananas. Instead, the mama Mbogas started buying bananas only from fellow mothers who had sourced them directly from Meru and ripened them naturally. Twiga sales nose dived. And they could no longer pay their dollar-denominated loans.
Twiga foods has now replaced the CEO with Peter Njonjo to try and employ the same ruthless underhand tactics by Coca Cola to at least stay afloat so that they can do another major fundraising round and hopefully push through with the exit strategy of listing just like the greedy and opportunistic fake African company Jumia.
But they won’t be as lucky. The mothers have already inflicted fatal injuries and it is only a matter of time before Twiga goes under and their backers leave Africa licking their Savannah sun scorched wounds.
For now, the paid for articles about Twiga will keep coming, hopefully delaying the inevitable. All you are going to see are versions of “Twiga Foods: The disruptors in the ‘mama mboga’ market”. These will be stories glorifying a wounded hunter in battle with African Lionesses in Lesos and Kikois.
Fellow young men and women, now be inspired by these mothers and fight the choke-hold the Kenyatta Inc empire and white monopoly capital has on your lives. To borrow from Muthoni Nyanjiru, if old mothers in lesos can fight oppression, you young oppressed should. Follow your Sudanese neighbours and reclaim your right to a life of dignity.
It is tough but don’t give up and end your life at the end of a rope, better take a bullet fighting for a better life than drown in Mediterranean sea in search of an elusive good life as an unwanted refugee while you leave behind a continent full of plenty that the mzungu keeps plundering.
Yes it is tough with all the merchants of death and agents of white monopoly capital that supply the tools and brute force necessary to keep you oppressed in your own land while they control and exploit the resources of your motherland. Give up not! Viva the spirit of Mekatilili, Nyanjiru and Josina Muthemba Machel ! Viva the spirit of Otenyo Nyamaterere! Viva the spirit of Mama Mboga, Viva!
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