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Edition 12




When it comes to the ambience you desire, where do you really draw the line? ROBERT YAWE interrogates.

While sitting at a bus terminus recently, I suddenly realised that fares were different yet the vehicles were travelling to exactly the same destination and this got me thinking.

The process was initially uncomfortable. However, after a while, I was at home with it just like one would get used to bike pedals after trying it out after a long break in cycling. It was clear that even though the destination was the same the passengers were very different in terms of expectation.

It became obvious that younger generation preferred those with darkly tinted windows and playing very loud music, those of my age (past use by date generation) were more interested in those which looked clean and the staff not too threatening, another group that transcends my age were only interested in the amount of the fare being charged.

Socio-economic divides

A similar situation can be noted across the various socioeconomic divides ranging from products to services.  Which is a clear indication that the appreciation and expectation of value exists across the various divides and so too is the emphasis on price.

From my basic anthropological research at a bus terminus, it is clear that Maslow’s Law (hierarchy of needs) misses out on the high possibility that one can comfortably exist at multiple levels and that, unlike a ladder, one does not need to pass by each rank.

Due to this many of us exist across multiple domains. We use top of the range mobile devices but take our cars to road side garages. Yes some of us own Prado(s) but have untrained and underage house helps sourced from our rural homes, have smart television sets but place them on waste paper based cabinets. Amazingly, some of us also use synthetic oils to improve our vehicle’s engine performance but still have that energy owning a guzzling and ozone unfriendly freezer in the house.

All of the issues raised above relate to the words price and value. Many of us unfortunately have a problem appreciating and differentiating between them and use the terms interchangeably.

One of the descriptions of intelligence is the ability to make finer distinctions which explains why a nation becomes more intelligent with talents such as artists (painters, sculptures, composers and craftsmen) who become better appreciated and rewarded.

Level of consciousness

Surely, a brand painting cannot be valued based on the cost of the canvas and paints but in its level of detail and attention put into its production. Even if it was given away with no monetary exchange (price) it will still retain its value but unfortunately only among those who have reached a certain level of consciousness.

The last point is clearly seen when you visit a rural area and find the trees totally destroyed and the impoverished population busy burning and selling charcoal or in an urban neighbourhood where people drive the latest cars but yet have garbage dumps within smelling distance of their houses.

To both groups; what emerges as important is the price of the sack of charcoal and that of the cars they drive and the houses they live in. hardly do they take time to think about the larger environment in which they exist. As you read this I am sure you are wondering where I am going with this line of thought. You must surely be as well flabbergasted by what I have written so far.

Intrinsic value

Well, all the previous articles I have written in Ideal Interiors magazine since its inception culminate with this one as the main reason why I think we as a nation are becoming more mediocre is because we are obsessed with the price of items as opposed to the intrinsic value to be relished from being in its presence.

When the office of the Deputy President reported that they would spend Kes. 100M (US $ 1.14 M) to refurbish the official residence many of us were up in arms screaming and yelling about the price tag.  At no time did a single reporter or commentator across the various media platforms ask about what was to be done.

Many of us were irked by the fact that the entire development had cost Kshs. 383M (US$ 4.35M) therefore there was no logical explanation, to them, as to why the finishes and furnishings such as natural wood flooring, tapestry, painting and tiling would cost such a high price.

It was clear from the arguments put forward that all were based on price not the value to be derived from the improvements.  If the Deputy President is uncomfortable in his surrounding when he rises to face the day’s work, then be sure that his effectiveness will be compromised.

Authentic experience

His wife’s desire to entertain foreign dignitaries in the home would be reduced forcing her to use hotels and other establishments which deny us as a nation the opportunity to provide a truly aesthetically authentic experience.

I would have been amidst the dissenting voices if they raised the issue about the source of the furniture and the artworks and insisting that all this must be local and clearly marked as such.

It might have even helped in lowing the cost as to many local furniture designers, manufacturers and artists the value of having their pieces in the Deputy Presidents house would be priceless and invaluable.

It is my sincere hope that having read this article to this anticlimactic conclusion you will think value rather than price the next time you need to add an item to your house, office or self as if you reduce your emphasis on price you get something priceless but if you reduce the same on value you get something that is valueless.