Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tribute to Paul Kapaya my taxi driver in Dar es Salaam for several years.

I met Paul Kapaya several years ago in Dar es Salaam. Selecting a taxi driver is important in most countries and especially in Africa.   It is as if Paul was given to me.  During the first trip I knew that we could work together!

Prior to meeting Paul I remember a driver we contracted for the day, being missing after the first meeting.  We had to get another taxi. Our day was fully booked.  Later this taxi driver that absconded insisted on 50% of the day’s fee!  He could not understand why it was important to keep the bargain and be available as soon as our meeting was over.   Many drivers change their mobile numbers, drive reckless or have horrible music (my interpretation of their preferences).
JD Buys, Leon Roux and Paul Kapaya at Dar es Salaam International Airport 18 July 2010
Paul was most punctual and a very safe driver.  He knew Dar es Salaam very well and could communicate well in English.  His general knowledge and insight made it a pleasure to talk to him when I did not have to prepare for a meeting while travelling.  He was most courteous as to giving other drivers way when needed and possible.  He had a small English – Swahili dictionary.  Something I have not seen elsewhere.

Paul told me how he obtained a drivers licence at the age of 17 in 1963.  He drove on the road from the airport to Dar es Salaam and was fined because the road was blocked for the president to pass.  It is something that happens often in Africa that the roads are blocked for dignitaries’ to travel fast and without any traffic on the road!   He noticed that the road was deserted, but did not gave thought as to the reason.  He had to appear in court. The magistrate gave him a fine, but also asked the traffic officer if he could drive well.  After the officer responded that he drove well, the magistrate ordered that he be given a drivers license.

On many occasions we spoke about business, the economy and why he could not own the car. The problem is he started with nothing and had to use a car belonging to somebody else.  Most taxi drivers do not own the cars they drive.  It is owned by wealthier people who earn an income by providing the capital for the industry. Paul always wanted to buy a car but as he put it “we are living from the hand to the mouth”. There is no chance of saving money to buy a car. In Africa there is also very limited access to credit. The end result is that he never owned a car.

Paul is my senior by 9 years and I noticed that his health was not good. About a year ago he was complaining and visiting the public hospital and doctors.  About 4 months ago I was very concerned for his health and it crossed my mind that he may have to retire. 

Retiring is not an option for a taxi driver in Dar es Salaam. There is NO pension or savings. How will he and his wife earn a living?  Their children are grown-ups with their own lives and responsibilities.

In December I visited Dar es Salaam and to my surprise he was much better and everything seemed to be improving.

On Sunday night Paul did not wait outside the airport terminal on my arrival.  I called and he was very apologetic.   Today he came to say goodbye.  The owner decided to take his car away since he is not earning much lately due to his health taking a turn for the worse.
Paul Kapaya with his grandson and his daughter at her home on the way from Dar es Salaam to Bagamoyo on 25 July 2010
I have some empathy with him as I am in the process of closing our office in Dar es Salaam. His complete business was taken away. His health is failing.

What we all can take along from this story is that heroes sometimes have insignificant positions in life. We need to plan for the future and plan for our eternal destiny.

I pray for Paul and his family.  His service to me was most outstanding.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Laymans' case studies in Security - Security Centre, Confidentiality, Phising, Hacking and Online Security Measures Part 1


In this series I would like to address security issues.  It is such a wide subject that it cannot be addressed in one short posting.  My layman's definition of a security problem or incident is:

 A security incident is when somebody or something take or access something without permission or authority.

It is a very short and possibly not accurate enough definition but, it will suffice for now.

The problems caused by security incidents range from trespassing to loosing assets or data. In serious cases it may cause physical or mental harm to human beings.

In this series I would like to focus on Online Security. The world changed from off-line prior to 1990 to on-line after 1990 with the advent of the Internet.  (Purists may debate the date  but  let's not go there now.)  With the ease of connection, transactions and access came risks, because the human being is and was never perfect.  Man is corrupt and self-centerred.

Locks, code words and secret languages have been developed as counter measures to prevent security incidents. 

We are now al used to identities and password to access on-line systems and services.  Way back in about 1997 I did a survey of voice mail users in Cape Town. To my surprise about 90% of users used the default PIN  which was 11111!  A small percentage used simple PINs like 12345, or a birth day etc.  Only a few would use a proper random PIN.  I believe, to some extent it is still the case today.

Incident One - Hackers accessed a friend's e-mail

Yesterday I received a very nasty immoral e-mail from a friend who would never send such material. It turned out that his account was hacked!   I tell the story as warning and learning experience for us all.

The question is how did the hacker get hold of his user ID and Password?   In this case it was a type of phishing scam.  He went to an online service who professes to provide information on motor cars. Since he is a motor enthusiast, he subscribed to the service. When he tried to get access to the system he was told that he entered his information incorrectly.  By mistake he entered his Gmail account details which the hacker captured. The hacker is most likely an employee or associated with the online motor information service.  The hacker then accessed his e-mail account and sent the imoral e-mails to everybody on the address book.   

It is such an easy mistake that can lead to serious damage. Imagine the consequences if he had confidential information like bank ID's and PINs in his e-mail history!


My advice is to use strong passwords and NEVER use the same password for two or more services.  It is very tempting to use the same password for example your Yahoo mail as well as your Gmail.   A strong password needs to consist of an absolute minimum of 6 characters and must contain alpha an numeric characters. 

We will discuss more issues and solutions in the next issues on this blog.


Disclaimer: Information is offered in good faith; you do not have to use this information., Any decisions you make - and their consequences - are your own. Under NO circumstances will you hold the author liable for any actions that you take. This does not constitue legal advice or a warranty. The material contained in this blog and on our websites is for general informational
purposes only. You should not rely upon it as advice about specific legal problems. It does not constitute the rendering of legal advice and does not create any attorney-client relationship. If you need legal or other professional advice, you should consult with appropriate legal counsel familiar with your particular facts and circumstances.