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The bizarre writings of a fake book blogger: Rwanda genocide revisited

By Khainga O’Okwemba, Nairobi, February 4, 2017
Let every pen now go to war
And let us laugh at their lack of wits
Those who despoiled a tradition
-Khainga O’Okwemba

A. Bartlett Giamatti has written in the foreword to the pioneering African American literary critic Charles T. Davis’s book, Black is the Colour of the Cosmos: Essays on Afro-American Literature and Culture, as follows: “while Charles’s work has the poets and the profession at its core, it embraced worlds as well - of people and plans and purposes. He was always connecting, which is why, while I often saw him in repose, I never saw him still.” What Giamatti is telling us is that Charles T. Davis was an essential component of the African American literary movement of his time; he would at any one given time be involved in the literary activities of the day, and oftentimes, offered himself to support his peers.

In 2011, I invited the celebrated Kenyan literary scholar Prof Chris Wanjala and the distinguished Kenyan linguist Prof Mohamed Hassan Abdulaziz to lead the PEN Kenya team going to Mombasa to conduct the annual PEN Kenya creative writing workshop with secondary school students in Mombasa at Mama Ngina Girls High School. Among that impressive team were writers Tony Mochama and Jacob Oketch. On the flight from Nairobi I handed Prof Wanjala the manuscript of my poetry book, Smiles in Pathos and Other Poems, and requested him to spare some time and look at the poems. It was during this visit to Mombasa that Prof Wanjala wrote the foreword to Smiles in Pathos and Other Poems, with the title, Refusing to be Didactic, where he described me flatteringly as “gentle and romantic,” and “quiet and lacking in hysteria,” and as “sophisticated.” Then he referred to my work at PEN Kenya, “holding together an association” and concluded with a quote from one of the poems in the book:

With a deadly assegai
We proclaim victory
But decry the trophy
Let the wounded die

Khainga O'OkwembaJames Murua
Khainga O'Okwemba (right), KBC's Book Cafe presenter and book blogger, James Murua. Mr O'Okwemba explains that the criticism by Mr Murua in his blog over his moderating at a recent book launch at the Goethe Institute, Nairobi is misguided.

Thus there is the hint of the unafraid, of the militant and of the an uncompromising soul in that poetry and the essay, that is often time lost to the pretentious book buff James Murua, a man with a fancy title to himself: “book blogger,” but who in truth is struggling to be relevant in Kenya’s exciting 21st literary environment. Yes, James Murua - known for hypocrisy, gossip and malice, as he has tried it on Mochama and been rebuffed by that brilliant poet at a public function - has been around for a very long time now, but he has nothing to show in terms of literary production; either as a writer of fiction or as a critic. James Murua proclaims his literary deficiency self-evident from the middling posts he puts on his blog. It’s therefore expected of Murua to confuse a poet’s quiet deportment for an easy target. And yet if Murua had read “Refusing to be Didactic,” he would not have exhibited such hysteria as to disturb that quietness, repose, and gentleness in me with the kind of his mediocre blogging. Why is James Murua intimidated in my presence, especially, when I cite another writer’s work to give context to a text under scrutiny? The distinguished Nigerian literary critic Prof Abiola Irele does it in The African Imagination.

Any writer worth their name should strive to read and be able to reflect on the works of others - the writers they have read.

Having set the tone of this essay, I hasten to say that it pains me that I should waste my useful time to respond to a scribbler’s evidently spiteful post on ‘his own blog.’ Not long ago, I was invited by Goethe-Institut to moderate a panel discussion during the launch of Oduor Jagero’s novel, The Ghosts of 1894. This was one of many panel discussions I have moderated at Goethe over the past few years. The names of the panelists, printed on posters, and circulated ahead of the launch, were the following: Oduor Jagero, Dr Tom Odhiambo and Khainga O’Okwemba. But James Murua scraped himself through on to this panel at the very last minute. Murua was very keen to have himself noticed that he went and sat himself smug, on the ‘high table,’ way before the discussions began, and long before our host Eliphas Nyamogo, Head of Library and Information Department at Goethe-Institut, walked into the auditorium to introduce the programme and hand it over to the moderator! As the moderator, I read The Ghosts of 1894, which deals with the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and in my preparation for the discussions I revisited other texts I have read that deal with an almost similar subject: My Command: An Account of the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (whom I have interviewed); There was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe; and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie (whom I have interviewed, and discussed her book in an essay).

In my introduction to the discussions, I made a brief comparison between these texts, especially, Jagero’s and Chimamanda’s because theirs are fictionalised accounts of a historical fact, as opposed to Achebe’s and Obasanjo’s which are autobiographical accounts, but which are still important comparisons because the authors approach the same subject from distinctive standpoints. I then gave a contextual definition of writing as an “act of protest” as it was taught me by the distinguished Egyptian Professor of Political Science Ezzedine Choukri Fishere. I began the discussions by interrogating not the author, but Murua and Dr Odhiambo, to establish whether or not they had read The Ghosts of 1894, and if they had any critical issue they wished to raise against the book or the author. They had none. Turning to the author, I sought to know the kind of research he had done to write the book; how he created his characters: were they based on real people? His response was that his characters are not based on actual people. As a digression I asked in jest how the launch of the book was received in Kigali. Very well, he said, and added that in fact, senior government officers graced the launch. Do we get the drift? In Half of a Yellow Sun, Christopher Okigbo is represented by Okeoma, and we see Chimamanda even take a stab at poetry. Chimamanda follows this great poet to his tragic death in the battlefront. From my prosecution of the case before me, gentle and systematic, I was able to establish, that both in terms of research and characterisation, these two contemporary African writers are different. What then can we make of Jagero’s and Chimamanda’s approach to writing about political history, conflict, or civil war?

Murua shot up saying that ‘it’s time people stopped talking about Chimamanda,’ and instead talk about other writers. What a dumb quibble! From the foregoing, you notice I had “talked” not just about Chimamanda, but, Okigbo, Achebe, Obasanjo, and Ezzedine. In the introduction I had also talked about David Maillu’s, Ka: The Holy Book of Neter, whose point of departure is that although Africans cannot lay claim to having produced a spiritual book like the Bible or the Koran, it does not presuppose that they did not practice religion. The context of Dr Maillu’s reference is to be understood in light of the Egyptian scholar Prof Ezzedine. How could James Murua forget my mention of this author that soon when I had even read Prof Elizabeth Orchardson-Mazrui’s poem, Troubled Sleep in Kigali! I did not mean to mystify Murua as to make him fidget by pointing out flaws in the book which he had failed to notice. Did Murua actually read this book? Or did he just look at the synopsis? One would have expected Murua to engage in debate on the book from the floor of the Goethe-Institut. There, and on his vanity blog, James Murua does not cite any section of Jagero’s book whatsoever; instead, he chooses to drag Khainga’s royal name into his middling posts: “Now those who know anything about moderating panels acknowledge that Khainga O’Okwemba is one of the weaker ones around.” I do not do social media, but Murua cannot escape the wrath of my pen with this ad hominem nonsense. For even South Africa’s national poet laureate Prof Keorapitse Kgositsile would say: “Those who shit on the road will meet flies on their way back!” I have read many African writers, old and new, and I have met and interviewed just as many on panels, and I could, when the occasion demands, relive my encounters as every writer should.

In 2016 alone I moderated literary panels at the Goethe-Institut in Nairobi with Nigerian writer-diplomat Ambassador Ifeoma Akabogu-Chinwuba and Prof Elizabeth Orchardson-Mazrui; Joe Khamisi, Edgar Manasse and Dr Mshai Mwangola; Ambassador Ifeoma Akabogu-Chinwuba and Molara Wood (Goethe-Institut, Nigeria); Chuma Nwokolo and Tony Mochama (Rift Valley Institute, Nairobi); Hilda Twongyeirwe and Elizabeth Kabui (Goethe-Institut, Nairobi).

I have been privileged to interview some of the most distinguished public intellectuals and writers from the continent: Prof Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Prof Chris Wanjala, Prof Micere Mugo, Prof Okello Oculi, Prof Theophile Obenga, Prof Arif Khudairi, Zein El-Abdine Fouad, Sir Mohinder Dhillon, Prof Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Dr Waveney Olembo, Muthoni Likimani, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Lola Shoneyin, Amma Darko, Zahra Jibril, Quman Jibril, John Sibi-Okumu, Prof Kithaka wa Mberia, Prof Egara Kabaji, Prof Austin Bukenya, Prof Taban lo Liyong, Prof F.E.M.K. Senkoro, Prof MM Mlokozi, Prof Helmi Sharawy, Dr Yusuf K. Dawood, Prof Mongane Wally Serote, Prof Jama Musse Jama, Prof Sabelo J Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Dr Saad Ali Shire, Prof Simphiwe Sesanti, Prof Kayode Animasaun (late). The youngest of these writers is the 19 year-old Nigerian novelist Diekara Oloruntoba-Oju, author of the novel When Lemons Grow on Orange Trees. I noticed Diekara at a literary event I was moderating at Goethe-Institut, Lagos, and that is when I invited her on The Books Café. I have sat down with each one of these writers and interviewed them, and each one of them would have had their own account of our encounter!

Dear Murua, do you know of any other Kenyan writer who has done this? Put differently, what has stopped James Murua from interviewing - let’s start from home - some of Kenya’s finest literary minds for his blog? How easy would it be for a Murua to put up an interview with these significant actors – say Kiswahili scholar and Lamu poet Prof Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed Nabhany? Does Murua discuss the books that are being published in Kenya today? Prof Wanjala once told me on the premier literature programme, The Books Café, on KBC English Service that “a literary critic needs to be a lover of literature and ultimately a practicing debater on books as they arrive and on issues literary as they emerge.” You might envy somebody’s position, but it helps to know what it takes to be where they are. Two days after the launch of Oduor Jagero’s The Ghosts of 1894, I returned to Goethe to moderate a panel discussion of Ugandan writer Hilda Twongyeirwe, Executive Director of FEMRITE, and Kenyan young adults author Elizabeth Kabui. Hilda would write: “Khainga, I had been told that you are brutal when it comes to literary interviews.” I am afraid those who attended Jagero’s launch would agree with Hilda!

But let’s get to the wire. To start with, Murua does not get the title of Oduor Jagero’s book right. He does not attempt a critique of the book. His misguided intention, it is obvious, is to attack Khainga. Is Murua envious? Here is our bizarre book blogger Murua in his failed effort to say something useful about the book: “Ghosts of 1894 is the sophomore book by Kenyan writer and it follows Habineza?” Murua exposes his mediocre writing in a most spectacular manner when he shouts, quite hysterically about Jagero’s reading of “a wonderful sex scene!” Alas! Here as in the earlier failure to remember the writers and the books I had talked about apart from Chimamanda’s, an intellectually deficient James Murua exhibits yet again, his paucity of memory - in a span of just one hour. Murua does not remember that ‘in fact,’ it was ‘Khainga,’ whom he blogs as “bizarre moderator,” who selected that particular excerpt of “wonderful sex scene” to respond to novelist Stanley Gazemba’s question: could readers expect a romantic novel from Jagero as opposed to the grim subjects he seems to delight in? Yet my intention was not to expose Murua’s inadequacy in studying The Ghosts of 1894 when I highlighted some flaws in the book. But a befuddled Murua felt I had painted him badly before the crowd with that systematic questioning so he retreats into the comfort of his idle blogging to attack a ‘gentle’ Khainga. A ‘book blogger’ should be serious. Where are the essays on books and writers that Murua has written? Which Kenyan writer or scholar has Murua interviewed? Can he? I get the feeling that Murua is trying to be relevant by posing as a book blogger? But few people will be taken by his pretentiousness. Oh, what discourse does delight, that mine wrath will wrought the purblind. Writing was supposed to be purposeful, to awaken a nation, to enrich society!

I have articulated a style which is now becoming standard orientation in Nairobi. When I agree to moderate a literary session, I will have read the author’s book and selected sections of the book to be read during the discussion. The motive: firstly, I wish to draw the attention of the audience to something profound in the book; secondly, I enjoyed the section and wish to point it out to the reader. I will also ask the author to read their own section of choice. Hence, an article, book, or documentary on the Rwandan genocide of 1994 will inspire interest. The genocide remains an ugly scar on Post-Independent Africa. Yet politicians on the continent seem not to have learned anything.

The 1994 Rwandan genocide is still a foraging ground for writers, historians, researchers, and students. The official narrative of the genocide has been contested. Those who challenge that narrative are branded “genocide deniers” and their discourse labeled “genocide ideology.” The penalty prescribed is as severe and prohibitive. The suppression of independent voices in and outside Rwanda that has forced many of her sons and daughters into exile, into hiding, is a portent for another explosion. Thus it would be a tragedy for any Kenyan writer to exhibit their ignorance of the issues at play when writing Rwanda. A monumental tragedy arises when a writer of conflict plays propaganda. A healthy literary and cultural environment is where “debates and disputations” or simply, intellectual discourse flourish.

In 1993, Prof Anyang Nyong’o, then Secretary General of African Association of Political Science, edited a book by the African Academy of Sciences, Arms and Daggers in the Heart of Africa. In this book, there is a long essay, Pride and Prejudice in Ethnic Relations: Rwanda, by Dixon Kamukama. Kamukama takes a holistic look at the history of Rwanda: pre-dynastic, monarchical, colonial and post-colonial, attempts to dissect the problem, and warns of the imminent disaster hovering on Rwandan sky. If only the world had read this book! Which begs the question, what is the role of the intellectual in Africa? Kamukama looks at the 1959/1960 Revolution that overthrew the Nyiginya Dynasty. From the 16th century when this monarchical superstructure began to take shape, the Tutsi became overlords, and would continue to enjoy privileges during the colonial era, collaborating with the Belgians as their compradors, to the chagrin of majority Hutu and the less talked about pigmy community, the Twa. The Belgians supported the monarchy, fanned tribal stereotypes, and denigrated Hutu and Twa.

However, when a predominantly Hutu government swept into power in 1960 after centuries of subjugation, and abolished the monarchy, this leadership was less concerned with building a cohesive nation; instead, it presided over “revenge attacks” against Tutsis as in the prognosis of Voice of America journalist Barkhad Kaariye: “the post-conflict era is where everything gets lost.” Hence, the mass exodus that saw the family of Habineza, the protagonist in Oduor Jagero’s The Ghosts of 1894, fleeing Rwanda to Uganda. But Habineza is not a cadre in the ‘clandestine guerrilla bands, the Inyenzi (cockroaches) born in the Ugandan refugee camps that began visiting attacks to the government in Kigali in early 1960s. These guerrillas were the progenitors of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF). Jagero’s genocide story lasts for 14 years (1994-2008)! Jagero must tie the Rwandan genocide story to Kenya’s post-election violence by domiciling Habineza in Eldoret following his fleeing in 1994. It is just as important to note that whereas Chimamanda’s Half of a Yellow Sun is told by a Nigerian houseboy, Jagero’s The Ghosts of 1894 is told by an American journalist. What is the significance of Africans telling their own stories? Chinua Achebe has articulated this point in his book, Hopes and Impediments, to dialogue.

What was the immediate cause of the genocide? Who were the perpetrators? Who were the victims? Does Jagero take sides in the Rwandan conflict? Or to put it differently, from what standpoint does Jagero tell this story? Oduor Jagero is a good storyteller. However, one of the things I found objectionable, is Jagero’s uncritical perpetuation of an already contested ‘official’ narrative that he parades in his novel, and in so doing makes it impossible for the various groups in Rwanda to see any point of convergence.

In the BBC documentary, Rwanda’s Untold Story, Jane Corbin avers that in the heat of the conflagration in Rwanda, there were not many Tutsis left in the country. Using Rwanda’s population of 7.5 million, 14% of which were Tutsis, and many of whom had either been killed or fled due to persecution, there were about 500,000 Tutsis left in the country in 1994. From this figure, some 300,000 survived. Corbin then makes the controversial finding: that in fact, Hutus who make 85% of the population are the ones who were killed in their thousands by the marching RPF rebels as they stormed Kigali. Therefore, Hutus make 800,000 of the 1million Rwandans who perished in the 1994 genocide.

Among Jane’s authorities is the extensive research done in Rwanda just four years after the genocide by two American academics from the University of Michigan: Prof Christian Davenport and Prof Allan Stam. President Yoweri Museveni’s autobiography, Sowing the Mustard Seed, has a chapter on Rwanda, and therein he puts the population of Rwanda at 7million, thus corroborating the findings of Prof Davenport and Prof Stam. In the Nigerian civil war the number of Igbos who perished is a foraging ground for contestation; so is the holocaust; so are the Africans dead during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade; so are the Africans dead during the Arab Slave trade as Joe Khamisi (himself a slave descendant) observes in The Wretched Africans.

What is lost to many is my abiding contestation against any form of single narratives, for even when I quoted Prof Ezzedine Choukri Fishere; it was to warn writers to be wary of hegemonic discourses anywhere and at any given time in history: “writing is an act of rebellion. In societies rife with hegemonic projects, the writer is among those few who have the opportunity to escape political controls, and either from within or without, ridicule, unmask, and sabotage the hegemonic discourses. The writer is a self-appointed voice of the marginalised. Writing after all, is an act of protest!” Perhaps there’s folly in retributive justice. But history teaches us that no group can dominate another forever. Hence, my innocent question to the author of The Ghosts of 1894, at Goethe, where do you stand in the Rwandan story? Khainga O’Okwemba is the President of PEN Kenya Centre and Presenter of The Books Café on KBC English Service. Khainga is a poet, journalist, and essayist. His collection of essays, ‘Mama, I Too Want to Write’ is forthcoming.

Khainga O’Okwemba is the President of PEN Kenya Centre and Presenter of The Books Café on KBC English Service. Khainga is a poet, journalist, and essayist. His collection of essays, ‘Mama, I Too Want to Write’ is forthcoming

'Mwana Mbeli' chorister Mzee Ingosi is dead

Mwana Mberi William Ingosi Moshi
The man who popularised the Luyia national anthem, William Ingosi Moshi performs at an environmental awareness campaign event at Shaviringa in Kaimosi Forest. PHOTO: NATION

By Anthony Njagi, September 14 2016
The man who popularised the vibrant Luhya folk tune Mwana wa Mbeli (the firstborn) is dead. Mzee William Ingosi Moshi died early this week at his home in Kamulembe Village in Tiriki, Vihiga County, after a short illness. Mzee Ingosi has been a Luhya and Kenyan cultural ambassador for more than five decades. He composed Mwana wa Mbeli in honour of Kenya’s first Prime Minister and President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, after the latter was freed from detention. He performed the song for Mzee Kenyatta at the leader’s Gatundu home in Kiambu County. The song is about a man praising his first-born child who delivers him from suffering and misery. It was composed as a metaphor depicting Mzee Kenyatta as the man who had delivered Kenyans from the yoke of colonialism.

The tune has since become nearly the artistic identity of the Luhya peoples. Sung at almost all celebratory ceremonies, it has also been recorded by dozens of local and international artistes. The simple, danceable tune has proved popular even among non-Luhya peoples. It is the unofficial Luhya anthem. Mzee Ingosi has represented Kenya at many international forums, singing Luhya folksongs and playing traditional instruments. His favourite instruments were the stringed eshiriri and litungu, although he spiced his performances with others, such as jingles and the occasional flute.

The artiste’s career did not happen in the age of ‘celebrity worship’, however, and he chose to live a low-profile life at his rural home, performing at schools, colleges, churches and social gatherings. Although he did not gain money and fame for his efforts, he was not bitter about it. In his long career, Mzee Ingosi released only three albums - Mwana wa Mbeli, Varende Vapelei and another one recorded in France - preferring the stage to the studio. “He was in his element when he was performing in front of people,’’ recalled his long-time friend Silverse Anami, the Shinyalu MP. “He would entice them to join in the song and dance and, soon, the venue would be electrified.”

Over the long time that Mr Anami was Director of Culture, Mzee Ingosi’s star soared. Mr Anami invited the artiste to many important cultural events and organised his performance at international cultural festivals. Mr Anami said Mzee Ingosi mentored and trained many musicians — including aspiring musicians and instrumentalists at Kenyatta University, Kaimosi and Eregi teachers training colleges and Bomas of Kenya — in making and playing Luhya musical instruments.

He was awarded a Head of State Commendation by President Mwai Kibaki along with other celebrated musicians such as Emmy Kosgei, Juma Odemba of Kayamba Africa. Mzee Ingosi performed in France, Scotland, London, Japan and a number of African countries. He cited performances for Mzee Kenyatta at the Independence celebrations and Emperor Akihito in Tokyo, Japan, as his most memorable. “I was amazed at how much the Japanese appreciate the arts,’’ Mzee Ingosi told the Nation then. “The Emperor himself presented me with a gown of honour.” The grand old master of luhya folksong and dance will be buried on Saturday.

Source: NATION

Votes for maize scandal in Bunyala

banyala voters
Mzee John Wasike (left) from Lusumu Burachu village, is registered as a voter for the first time by Gabriel Waswa, an election clerk, during the ongoing voter registration exercise. Tens of villagers in the ward attested to the fact that they would not have registered were it not for the maize incentive. PHOTO: CHRISPEN SECHERE

By Robert Amalemba, March 15 2016
In Bunyala West ward, every person registered as a voter walks away with two tins of maize (gorogoro). Thanks to this initiative by local businessman, Mark Njogu, over 400 locals have registered. Tens of villagers in the ward attested to the fact that they would not have registered were it not for the maize incentive. Mr Njogu came up with the idea to encourage locals to register as voters in the ongoing nationwide exercise that ends tomorrow. Gabriel Waswa, a polling clerk at the Bunyala West centre, told The Standard that the incentive had led to an increase in registration. “I have so far registered 260 persons in seven centres in the ward since the exercise began on February 15. And the numbers could rise to 400 by the close of the registration period largely because of the maize incentive,” he said.

Njogu told The Standard that he came up with the initiative upon realising that the exercise would be a total failure in his home area. See also: NCIC plans to vet candidates for 2017 general elections “I consulted with the registration clerks and they told me that one or two people register in a day. This disturbed me, making me to think of a way to help save the exercise,” he said. He went on: “I remembered that we Luhyas love food and I thought of making a meal at the registration centre, but it would have been tedious. It is then that I resorted to giving two tins of maize to everyone who registers.” The freebies have been on for four days now and villagers are keen to collect the very important voting documents. Saleh Okumu, a resident of Lusumu Sub-location, said the incentive was a brilliant idea and was the reason why he registered. “I am seeing this happen for the first time since I began registering as a voter in this village in the early 1990s. I got the tins of maize and I will vote in August next year,” he said at the registration centre.

Will he need more tins to vote in 2017? “I believe registering is a big deal. When time for voting comes I will have gathered enough momentum to vote without any influence,” said Janet Munyoso, a voter in the ward, confirming that apathy was a real issue when it came to registration. “We don’t register because the centres are far, but when good things like maize come by, we can brave the distance and go to register,” she said.

Source: The STANDARD

Sirisia's Mr Moneybags gives shs1,000 to each registered voter

moses nandalwe
Moses Nandalwe, the youthful lawyer aspiring to become Sirisia MP, is reportedly dishing out shs1,000 cash to registered voters. Photo; STANDARD

By Pius Cheruiyot, March 15 2016
The flamboyant Moses Nandalwe who has been making headlines lately with his cash generosity is at it again in Western Kenya. The 29-year old lawyer is said to be encouraging youth to register as voters by giving them Ksh 1000 to any youth who produces their voters’ card and a national ID. “This initiative has really worked as more youth are now rushing to register with the IIEBC in Bungoma county.” said the youthful politician who loves fashion and finer things in life. The youthful politician who is said to have dished-out hundreds of thousands of shillings in a party recently, said he wanted to use his big influence in the Western Kenya region positively since he is a role model to many youths in the region. Moses who lost Sirisia parliamentary seat election in the year 2013, is said be running for the same seat come the next general election, 2017. “I currently command a huge support in Sirisia constituency, which gives me the confidence that I will win the next election” said the former Dar-es Salaam law student. Moses,who has been nick-named Aliko Dangote by his fans, is said to be stealing shows wherever he goes, thanks to his grand entry either by chopper or a huge motorcade comprising of several guzzlers.

Cholera outbreak in Busia as schools, hospitals, churches, and residents go without water following power disconnection

Jane Apiyo
A Busia resident, Jane Apiyo washes her utensils at River Nzoia in Ulawi area. The water from the river is suspected to be responsible for the spread of cholera in the region. Photo: TOM OTIENO

By Linet Wafula, March 5 2016
A severe water crisis has hit Busia County forcing residents, businesses and institutions to travel long distances in search of the precious commodity. Hospitals, schools and churches have been the worst hit as taps and boreholes have run dry in the county that borders the world's second largest fresh water lake. Households in Budalang'i, Funyula and parts of Teso Sub-county are suffering due to the acute lack of water. “We are shocked that we don’t have water yet we pay bills on time,” said Mary Okumu. Ms Okumu said that residents are forced to buy water at Sh20 for 20 litres, and those who cannot afford have to rely on unclean water sources predisposing them to water borne diseases.

When Nation visited Budalang'i, students from St Cecelia Namenya were fetching water from Lake Victoria despite the outbreak of cholera in the region. Sources have revealed that Sigalame High School administrators intend to close the institution due to water scarcity. There are reports that students in some schools go for up to a week without bathing. In the 2015/2016 financial year, the county government set aside Sh250 million for the department of water and natural resources.

However, reports indicate that the problem has been exacerbated by the county’s failure to pay power bills. Kenya Power disconnected electricity at the main water supply points at Sisenye and Busijo. Since then, a cholera outbreak has claimed two lives with scores admitted to hospitals. County Kenya Power manager Mr Hicks Waswa said power was disconnected at Sisenye water supply due to an unpaid bill of Sh4 million. Mr Waswa said he informed the government over the accumulated electricity bill before disconnecting power adding that electricity supply was restored immediately it was reported that there was cholera outbreak in Budalang’i.

Speaking to the press in his office, the manager said the county paid part of the bill amounting to Sh2.5 million and promised to pay the remaining balance of Sh1.5 million. Mr Waswa revealed that the company also disconnected power at Busia County Referral hospital due to an unpaid bill of Sh2.1 million. “The company has embarked on a revenue collection campaign exercise by making sure that all their clients pay electricity bills promptly otherwise power will be disconnected in the houses and businesses premises” said Mr Waswa. When contacted, Executive member for Water Gregory Odeke admitted that there was water shortage in the county. Mr Odeke said as the department has started an emergency programme to supply relief water to some residents, hospitals and schools. “We will use our two boozers to supply clean water to schools and hospitals. We want our people to use clean water to prevent water borne diseases,” Mr Odeke said.

Source: NATION

St Joseph's High School Kitale leads in Western with 73 straight A's in KCSE exams but it's Chavakali that steals the show

St Joseph's High School, Kitale
St Joseph's High School in Kitale posted the highest number of candidates with staight As in Western.

By our correspondent, March 4 2016
In Luyia country, St Joseph's High School in Trans Nzoia had the largest number of candidates who scored straight As (73) followed by Musingu High School in Kakamega County (26), Chavakali Boys (21) and Booker Academy Mumias (12) and St Peter's Mumias (12). The bulk of the candidates who scored straight As in last year’s Form Four examinations came from the top national schools.

However, it's Chavakali who stole the limelight. Last year the school's results were cancelled following allegations of exam irregularities forcing all the students to repeat. This means the school had a double offering. At 633, this was largest number of candidates from one school in Kenya. All but four of the 633 candidates achieved the cut off point for university intake thus redeeming the honour of the Vihiga based national school. Although initial reports, which were however, inaccurate, indicated that Chavakali High School had 300 students scoring straight As. The deputy principal, Mr Job Mudevi, clarified that they only had 21 As. “All our students, except four, have qualified to go to university. The school posted a mean grade of 9.8 with 21 A plain, 172 A minus, 202 B plus, 143 B plain, 64 B minus, 21 C plus and 4 C plain. We have proved that numbers don’t matter. If we work smart, we will do much better,” Mr Mudevi said on Friday.

The results released by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i on Thursday show that traditional giants Alliance High School, Moi High School Kabarak, Maseno School, Kapsabet Boys and Mang’u High School accounted for almost half of the 2,636 candidates. Kabarak had the highest number of As, at 202, Alliance High had 200, while Maseno had 140. Kapsabet had 94 ahead of Mang’u, which bagged 89. Others were St Joseph’s High School from Trans Nzoia County, with 73 As, Maranda High of Siaya County (68), Nairobi‘s Lenana School (60), Rang’ala Girls in Siaya County (59), Asumbi Girls in Migori County (58) and Starehe Boys Centre from Nairobi (55). Kagumo had 50 As, Kapsabet Girls and Sacho high schools, 38 As each, while Litein Boys High School had 36. Mukaa had 28 As, Sheikh Khalifa (27), Chavakali (21), Chogoria Girls (21), Musingu High (26), Pioneer School (26), Alliance Girls (25), Kisumu Girls (16), Booker Academy (12), St Peter’s Mumias (12), Wamy (11) and Meru School (11).

source: NATION

Maseno: Akaranga revives 70 year old dispute between Luo and Luyia

maseno university in bunyore
Maseno University, a landmark institution in western Kenya whose geographical ownership is a source of simmering dispute between the neighbouring Luo and Luyia tribes.

By Derick Luvega, February 28, 2016
Vihiga Governor Moses Akaranga has appointed his deputy to lead a 10-member taskforce to prepare a report on a border row pitting Kisumu County on the location of Maseno Township. The Caleb Amaswache led taskforces is also mandated with drafting a motion on the disputed location for debate in the County Assembly. Mr Akaranga claimed Maseno Township in May last year but toned down after the Francis ole Kaparo-led National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) warned it would prosecute any leader perpetuating hatred among Maseno locals.

But while unveiling the task force at the county assembly buildings in Majengo on Sunday, Mr Akaranga who insisted that Maseno belongs to Vihiga, said the taskforce would offer a lasting solution to the problem. However, the governor did not specify the timeframe under which the task force will be required to complete its work. Once the motion is approved, Mr Akaranga said, a petition will be sent to the National Assembly and the Senate seeking a boundary review to determine the exact location of the disputed Township. “Maseno people have for a long time fought for their rights and inclusion in the former Western Province and presently in Vihiga County where they rightly belong were it not for the colonial boundaries which placed them in a neighbouring county,” he said.

The cleric turned politician further noted that he had personally visited the area to restore peace and calm emotions whenever provocation was high. “I appeal for patience and support as Maseno dispute is now a county Government issue,” the governor said. In May last year, Governor Akaranga said his administration was losing millions of shillings in local revenue to Kisumu County which he accused of taking over markets in two locations in Maseno. He further said that residents of the area who are mainly members of the Bunyore community faced discrimination from Kisumu County despite paying taxes. “There is urgent need for a boundary review to avert any trouble in future,” he said at that time adding that the matter needed to be resolved amicably before the situation got out of hand. The township hosts Maseno University, Maseno School, a Mission Hospital and several other institutions and market centres. Kisumu leaders have accused the Vihiga governor of making inflammatory statements on the issue.

Death of a young Luyia US naval officer

Brendah Masinde
Ms Brendah Masinde, the young US naval officer who died of an undisclosed illness in California February 16, 2016.

By BMJ Muriithi, February 27 2016
A Kenyan woman who has been serving in the United States Navy for six years has died in California. The 36-year-old Navy officer, Ms Brendah Masinde, succumbed to an undisclosed illness last Tuesday. Ms Masinde joined the US naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces, one of the seven uniformed services of the US, in 2011 and served in various duty stations until her death on February 16. Speaking to Nation, Ms Masinde’s mother said the death was a blow to the family and the entire Kenyan community on the West Coast region. “But we are strong in the Lord,” said Ms Janet Masinde, who is a California-based Church minister. “She was an amiable person and will forever remain in our hearts,” said Wanza Mavuti, a close friend of the Masinde family. A statement released by the family Friday said Ms Masinde would be buried in California and the funeral committee was working on modalities to have family members travel from Kenya for the burial ceremony slated for next week. “The casket and the general cost for the funeral have been taken care of by the Navy but we still need to raise funds to bring some of her close family members to the US and give her the send-off she deserves,” read the statement. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, February 28, 2016 at Four Corners Chapel 125 W Ash St., Brea CA 92821 starting at 4:00 PM Pacific time.

Source: NATION

Budalang'i gets first university campus

budalangi university
Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba (right) and MMUST Vice Chancellor Fredrick Otieno (left) during the launch of the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Budalang’i campus at Mundere, Bunyala North on Friday. Photo: BENJAMIN SAKWA

By John Mondoh, February 9 2016
Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) has opened a campus in Budalang'i. Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba said the opening of the campus will change the image of the constituency following the establishment of the first disaster management training centre in the great lakes region. "The opening is set to boost the economic dynamics of the region that has for decades (been) perceived as flood prone," Mr Namwamba said.

MMUST and the Budalang'i Constituency Development Fund signed a memorandum of understanding that will see the latter oversee infrastructure development at the campus. MMUST Vice Chancellor Fredrick Otieno said: "Disaster management is a field that will be taught at this campus. It will therefore attract students from the East African region and beyond as the only institution that offers that kind of study in Kenya." Namwamba disclosed that discussions were underway to have the University of Nagasaki partner with the MMUST Budalang'i campus to ensure the latter offers relevant training in marine sciences, disaster management and fisheries technology.

"We have already engaged the Japanese government and talks are at high level, soon the high commissioner will visit the constituency," said Namwamba. Butula MP Michael Onyura said the institution would change the academic face of the county. He urged both the national and county governments to help fasten the institution's growth rate.

Special Programmes Secretary Salim Ali challenged residents of Bunyala to forget about their historical suffering and take advantage of the university to benefit themselves economically. "We have invested a lot of money in this institution and so the locals must take advantage and grow economically, Budalang'i must not be the same again," Mr Salim said.

Source: THE STANDARD

Wanga gets first university college

Wanga college Lubinu
Government officials and Wanga leaders witness the ground breaking ceremony of Wanga Technical University College at Lubinu in Mumias subcounty. PHOTO: STANDARD

By Alex Wakhisi, February 9 2016
The Government has released Sh100 million for the construction of Wanga University College of Science and Technology in Mumias East. The institution, which will be equipped with modern equipment, will be the first public college in Mumias region. Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony at Lubinu, MP Benjamin Washiali said the college would offer technical skills to hundreds of youths to improve education in the county. He said some youths have been idling on the streets due to lack of skills to help them get jobs. "Our constituency is a top performer in national examinations. We have constructed over 40 schools but we have been lacking one important institution to facilitate transition from secondary school to higher learning," said Washiali. He welcomed the Government's move to invest in the education sector by disbursing funds for the construction of the institution.

Washiali asked residents, especially the youth, to take advantage of the institution. "Let residents support the institution by taking their children to there. It will benefit the whole region. The Government has done a lot of investment in this region and we should appreciate it for supporting our community," he said. Deputy Governor Philip Kutima said the county government will support the college to ensure it becomes a university in future. He said the county government has started programmes to help all children in the county get education. "We have many programmes geared towards boosting education in the county. Currently, we are supporting county polytechnics," said Prof Kutima. Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said technical institutes in the country have a vital role to play in the economy by providing technical skills. He said technical institutes should not be converted into universities because it kills technical skills needed to achieve Vision 2030. "The Government is committed to opening technical institutes in all constituencies. In Kakamega, four constituencies have already benefited from the technical institutes," said Wamalwa.

Source: STANDARD

Ghosts of YK'92 return to haunt Jirongo as he battles shs50m fraud case

Cyrus Jirongo
Cyrus Jirongo, the former Lugari MP is accused of shs50m fraud in a land transaction involving Jonathan Moi. PHOTO: Jared Nyataya

By Vincent Agoya, February 9 2016
Former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo has been summoned to court to answer to charges in a Sh50 million fraud case in which former President Moi’s son was implicated as an accomplice. Nairobi chief magistrate Daniel Ogembo on Monday signed the order requiring Mr Jirongo to appear personally in court on Friday, February 12.

The former Youth for Kanu ’92 (YK’92) chairman is accused of giving false information, forging land documents and obtaining “execution of security” by false pretences. The prosecution says that on September 25, 1992 in Nairobi, Mr Jirongo induced Postbank Credit Limited to accept a bank charge in respect of LR NO 209/11151-IR 47029 registered in the name of Soy Developers Limited to secure an overdraft facility of Sh50 million to Cyber Project International as valuable security.

He is also accused of giving false information regarding Mr Jonathan Moi in the fraud case. It is alleged that Mr Jirongo on March 27, 2015 at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters in Nairobi told Sergeant Maxwell Otieno that he paid Sh7 million to Mr Moi as a balance of payment for the purchase of Soy Developers Limited “which information he knew or believed to be false, intending thereby to cause the police officer to arrest Mr Jonathan Moi as an accomplice in the alleged fraudulent purchase of the company which he ought not to have done if the true state of facts were known to him.”

The former legislator is also accused of making a document “with intent to defraud”. The prosecution says he forged a bank charge in respect of the plot in question purported to have been signed by Mr Sammy Boit Kogo. A fourth charge against the businessman-cum-politician states that on September 25, 1992 in Nairobi he presented a fraudulent document to a credit manager at Postbank Credit Limited purported to have been signed by Mr Kogo and Mr Davy Koech. Mr Kogo is listed as the first prosecution witness with others to be stated later. The case is filed at the criminal registry at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi.

Source: NATION

All 300,000 Vihiga residents to get piped water

Epainitous Akaranga
Eugene Wamalwa, the Water Cabinet Secretary (left) and Epainitous Akaranga, the Vihiga County governor (right) in a celebratory mood after bagging shs1.7b from Belgium toward water for all Vihiga residents project. PHOTO: STANDARD

By our correpondent, February 9 2016
The Government of Kenya has received a Shs1.7 billion funding from the Belgium Government for the implementation of the Vihiga Water Supply Project that will cater for over 300,000 residents of Vihiga County. Speaking at the signing ceremony at Maji House in Nairobi, Ministry of Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary, Eugene Wamalwa, lauded the project saying that it will go towards the improvement of access to water to residents of Vihiga County through the enhancement of various water supply systems in the county. “We are looking at a water project that is going to benefit over 300,000 residents of Vihiga County that will include works on the intake, construction of water tanks, piping and treatment plants in the larger Vihiga County covering various constituencies of Luanda, Hamisi, Sabatia, Emuhaya and Vihiga,” he said.

The funding will be used towards the improvement and rehabilitation of the Maseno, Kaimosi and Mbale water supply systems in Vihiga County; whose rehabilitation works will be completed in the next two and a half years and shall be implemented by the Lake Victoria North Water Services Board. Work on the Maseno Water Supply system will feature, among others activities, the repair and expansion of the intake at the dam, construction of a new horizontal treatment system whose capacity will 5000 cubic metres per day, a solar plant of 130 KwH and rehabilitation of the existing treatment plant.

Work on the Kaimosi Water Supply system will feature, among others activities, the repair and clearance of the dam, construction of a new horizontal treatment system whose capacity will 2500 cubic metres per day, a solar plant of 65 KwH and upgrade of the connection to the national grid. Work on the Mbale Water Supply system will feature, among others activities, construction of a new horizontal treatment system whose capacity will 5000 cubic metres per day, a solar plant of 195 KwH and adaptation of the intake at the dam.

Speaking at the same event, the Ambassador of Belgium to Kenya, H.E. Roxane de Bilderling, said that the project will go a long way in enhancing the livelihoods of Vihiga County residents. The Vihiga Water Supply Project becomes the fifth Belgium-Government-Supported water project to be launched in the country; the other four are the Kajiado Rural Water Supply project (Whose project contract cost is € 12 million), the Ithanga Water Supply Project (Whose project contract cost is € 11.4 million), the Sabor-Iten Tambach Water Supply Project (Whose project contract cost is € 15 million) and the Mavoko Drinking Water Supply Project (Whose project contract cost is € 10 million). Athi Water, Rift Valley Water and Tanathi Water Services Boards are the implementing agencies for the four projects respectively.

Source: THE STANDARD

Wetangula the man with nine lives survives yet again

Moses Masika Wetang'ula
Moses Wetang'ula, the Bungoma Senator, has survived the most serious attempt to end his political career yet. In a landmark ruling, a special sitting of IEBC delivered a decision that kept Mr Wetangula a registered voter and therefore eligible to vie for any elective office in future elections.

By STANDARD reporter, January 19 2016
IEBC Tuesday afternoon ruled that it will not expunge Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula’s name from the voters register. In their ruling the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission noted that there was no justification to strike out Wetangula’s name from the voters register. Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had formed a committee to accord Bungoma Senator Wetangula an opportunity to show cause why he should not be deregistered as a voter. The five member committee comprised of Thomas Letangule (Chairperson), Lilian Mahiri-Zaja (member), Mohamed Alawi (member), Crispin Owiye (secretary) and Moses Kipkogei acting as the assisting Counsel. CORD politicians expressed solidarity with the Bungoma senator and sat with him throughout the ruling at the Milimani law courts. Senator Moses Wetangula thanked members of the committee for delivering a fair ruling, he also thanked his CORD co-principles for standing with him during the trying times.

Kakamega boy is Kenya's best in 2015 KCPE exams

aggery wabuko akhanyinya
Aggrey Wabuko Akhanyinya, the top student nationally in 2015's KCPE. Master Akhanyinya has broken an 8-year record. The last time a student scored above 449 out of a possible 500 was in 2008. The clever boy from ingoland wants to be a neuro-surgeon. Congratulations young man. Photo: STANDARD

By our correspondent, December 31 2015
Aggrey Wabuko Akhanyinya of St Joseph’s Academy in Kakamega is this year’s top candidate in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education after scoring 449 marks out of the possible 500. “I worked very hard and you can see the results, when I grow up Iwant to become a neurosurgeon,” he said. He is followed by Wilson Muragu, Linus Munene Kirianki and Collins Kipkoech of Chelsa Academy in Bomet who tied with 446 marks. “I would like to join Alliance High School and my career aspiration is to become an Aeronautical engineer,” Collins said.

Felistus Onduso of Gilgil Hills Academy who scored 445 marks is the top girl nationally followed by Naomi Gakui of Happy Land Buru Buru came third with 442. Trezzor Birhange tied with Daniel Ngira with 441 marks. Tender Care Junior Academy in Komarock is among the schools that produced the top candidates, after Osman Ali scored 440 marks. Other schools that produced candidates with high marks are Consolata Primary School, Nairobi, St. Juliana Academy, Strathmore, Kitengela, Maryhill Stead School, Nyeri among others. More than seven thousand candidates scored 400 marks and above in this year’s KCPE results released on Wednesday morning by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.

A total of 937,467 candidates sat this year’s KCPE examinations which were dogged by widespread cheating across the country, raising serious concerns on integrity of the exams. Under the new ranking, school names are not given as used to be the case two years ago. Matiang’i said private schools performed better in this year’s KCPE results released on Wednesday morning, although he did not give the comprehensive results which are only given to the County Education Directors. He decried the decline in public schools’ Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination mean score, which went down by seven points. Candidates and parents interested in the results were asked to send their index numbers to 22252 to be able to get their scores.

Source: Capitalfm

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