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Michelle Obama: From slavery to US First Lady

Michelle Obama
So proud: First Lady, Michelle Obama.

By Reuters, Oct 9 2009
New York Times reports the fascinating story of Michelle Obama's slave heritage back to a 6-year-old slave girl named Melvinia in pre-Civil War South Carolina.

A genealogist working with The New York Times has traced Michelle's family tree back five generations to a 6-year-old slave girl named Melvinia who was valued at $475.

The White House said first lady Michelle Obama had not known many of the details of her family history and enjoyed reading it. She had declined to comment on the story for The New York Times because of the personal nature of the subject.

“I don’t believe she knew or had known all of this, but enjoyed reading about her family history,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The slave girl Melvinia initially appears in the documentary record in 1850, the property of South Carolina landowner David Patterson, who owned 21 slaves.

After Patterson died in 1852, Melvinia was sent to a smaller 200-acre farm in Georgia, the home of Patterson’s daughter and son-in-law, Christianne and Henry Shields. She was one of only three slaves on the farm near Atlanta.

Sometime when she was a teenager, possibly as young as 15, Melvinia became pregnant by a white male. The father is unknown, possibly Henry Shields, then in his 40s, or one of his four sons, aged 19 to 24.

Melvinia gave birth around 1859 to a boy, Dolphus. She and the father of her first-born son are Michelle Obama’s great-great-great-grandparents, genealogist Megan Smolenyak says.

Three of Melvinia’s four children are listed on the 1870 census as mulatto. One was born four years after emancipation, raising the possibility that the relationship with the original father continued even after the Civil War.

After being freed, she worked on a farm adjacent to that of Charles Shields, one of Henry Shields’ sons.

In her 30s or 40s, Melvinia reconnected with former slaves she had known as a child on the Patterson estate. She moved with the couple — Mariah and Bolus Easley — to a spot near the border with Alabama.

Dolphus married one of the Easleys’ daughters, Alice. The couple are Michelle Obama’s great-great-grandparents.

Melvinia, who took Shields as her last name, died in 1938 in her 90s.

Dolphus and Alice moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where he was a co-founder of First Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Trinity Baptist Church.

Dolphus, a carpenter, thrived in Birmingham, but he split up with Alice. She moved around, working as a seamstress and a maid.

Their son, Robert Lee Shields, married Annie Lawson in 1906 and worked as a laborer and railroad porter. Robert Lee disappeared from the public record when he was about 32 years old.

He was Michelle Obama’s great-grandfather.

Robert Lee’s son, Purnell Shields, was the first lady’s grandfather, her mother Marian Robinson’s father. He moved to Chicago as part of the great migration north and worked as a painter.

Source: Reuters


Halala plans a mobile clinic in Western

By Felix Makachia, March 5 2009
Over the Weekend HalalaMD held there monthly meeting, which was to foster and carpet the upcomming Halala USA AGM in August. They invited Prof. G. L. Wajackoyah who together came handed with Dr. Wambulwa MD, Dr Ennanuella Cherisme MD, and Immigration Lawyer  James Shaw PhD.

Dr. Wambulwa and Dr. Ennanuella said that they are pleased of HalalaUSA's plan of a mobile clinic in western Kenya. "This is a good idea due to the growing population and economical dificulties that the residents face. A large population of western Kenya not only are unable to afford health but lack means to get to hospital, and with a mobile clinic many will benefit and lives will be saved."
The two said that health is the key element to all beings and it is so hurting to see the less unfortunate losing lives that can be saved with a good plan like the mobile clinic. They challenged and warned the Halala community not to worry about who gets the credit of the plan but how good and effective the plan is. Working      together as Halala and crediting the group is the most important basic element of Halala's future.
 
Mr. James Shaw an Immigration Attorney joined the HalalaMD at the meeting, he said that, "it's a high time that we (Halala) as a community encourage our kids the importance of education and what subjects to pick." Mr. Shaw said that nation wide the percentage of students enrolling to science subjects has dropped drastically and yet it is the number one paying field. If we mentor and assist our kids by guiding them to put more emphasies on science subjects they will eventually come up as liking the subject but if we don't encourage them they wont care or pay attention to the subject said Mr. Shaw.
 
Prof. Wajackoyah at the meeting said that he was so pleased with the idea of a mobile clinic, "this is a good step forward to lighten and give back to the community that made us proud." Prof. Wajackoyah also challenged the Halala community by saying that, "lets not be satisfied for what we've done or where we are but let's be proud of what the unfortunate benefit from the hope we give them." 
 
Prof. Wajackoyah was happy and thankful for the recieption he and his friends got from the HalalaMD and said that he is confedent that the august AGM hosted by HalalaMD will be successful. Prof. Wajackoyah donated soccer balls to be used in the Mulembe Tournament that will be held during the August AGM in Maryland.
 
HalalaMD president Pracky Ilamaha and his vice Frank Malala said that they were so honored to have Mr. Shaw PhD, Dr. Wambulwa MD, Dr. Ennanuella MD, and Prof./Lawyer Wajackoyah. They promised to work together and make sure that HalalaMD is a strong force and will be a hard fist to be recognised. They praised newly born HalalaTexas, whom they spoke with there president Mr. Luta on the phone. 

By Felix Makachia (Former player Gor Mahia)

Obama and the stranger - 20 yrs on...

By our correspondent, Nov 10 2008
The Norwegian newspaper VG has reported a truly amazing story about a newly-wed trying to get to Norway to be with her husband, and the stranger who helped pay an unexpected luggage surcharge. The blog 'Leisha's Random Thoughts' has translated the story. It was 1988, and Mary Andersen was at the Miami airport checking in for a long flight to Norway to be with her husband when the airline representative informed her that she wouldn't be able to check her luggage without paying a 100 surcharge:

When it was finally Mary's turn, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness. -You'll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway , the man behind the counter said. Mary had no money. Her new husband had traveled ahead of her to Norway , and she had no one else to call.

I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions, says Mary. As tears streamed down her face, she heard a 'gentle and friendly voice' behind her saying, 'That's okay, I'll pay for her.' Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.

He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man? Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man. -He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary. She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back.

The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her. Who was the man? Barack Obama. Twenty years later, she is thrilled that the friendly stranger at the airport may be the next President and has voted for him already and donated 100 dollars to his campaign: He was my knight in shining armor, says Mary, smiling. She paid the 103 dollars back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway .

At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker* in Chicago , and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university. Mary even convinced her parents to vote for him: In the spring of 2006 Mary's parents had heard that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time, they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.

And Obama replied: In a letter to Mary's parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped 'United States Senate, Washington DC', Barack Obama writes**: 'I want to thank you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I'm happy I could help back then, and I'm delighted to hear that your daughter is happy in Norway . Please send her my best wishes. Sincerely, Barack Obama , United States senator'. The parents sent the letter on to Mary.

Mary says that when her friends and associates talk about the election, especially when race relations is the heated subject, she relates the story of the kind man who helped out a stranger-in-need over twenty years ago, years before he had even thought about running for high office. Truly a wonderful story, and something that needs to be passed along in the maelstorm of fear-and-smear politics we are being subjected to right now. UPDATE: Thanks for the recommends, folks! Also, remember this was 1988, when 100 dollars was quite a bit of money, compared to today's value.


Millenium disability conference a landmark

By Phitalis Maskhwe, September 22 2008
This week Kenya hosted a landmark, but belated first ever conference on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focusing on persons with disabilities. 200 leaders of persons with disability from across Africa were in Kenya’s capital, not only be trained on how to engage the Millennium development goals debate, but to reflect on these goals with a view to taking stock on the extent to which they include, relate and impact on their lives.

But, surely, why now and not earlier? Is it because there were no disabled persons when these global goals were formulated and agreed upon by the international community and world leaders? Suffice to say the Nairobi meeting has come at a time when another High Level meeting on these goals is scheduled for next week on the 25th in New York, United Nations Headquarters. 

In September 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, world leaders agreed to a set of time-bound and measurable goals and targets for combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women. Placed at the heart of the global agenda they are now called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Summit’s Millennium Declaration also outlined a consensus road map for how to proceed, with a stronger focus on human rights, good governance and democracy. 

Africa with an estimated 80 million persons with disabilities is largely classified as a poor struggling continent. This is one continent where the MDGs dialogue resonates more than anywhere else. Africa has the notorious distinction of “manufacturing” the fastest number of persons with disabilities, its wanting capacity to support them, notwithstanding. This is owing to her propensity for bad governance, intolerance, human rights abuse and corruption all leading to incessant conflicts and war, which leave many maimed.
It is therefore interesting and indeed a scandal for one to talk about MDGs particularly in Africa without mentioning persons with disabilities. It just doesn’t add up, make sense! And that was the genesis and gist of the Nairobi meeting, organised by the African Decade of persons with disabilities secretariat, Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network, UN Millennium Campaign Africa office and assorted stakeholders.

The disabled Africans best epitomize the face of poverty, human rights abuse, exclusion and bad governance, core issues that are the heart and soul of the Millennium development goals! By the way, what are these goals? They are halving extreme poverty and hunger by the 2015, achieving universal primary education, empowering women and promoting equality between women and men.  Others include reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds and maternal deaths by three-quarters, reversing the spread of killer diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria. The last two goals are on environmental sustainability and global partnership for development, with targets for aid, trade and debt relief.

A synopsis into the world and situation of the disabled and an analysis of their needs and issues against the so called MDGs may help.

More than 113 million children around the world do not attend school, majority of which are children with special needs. How then can one imagine of achieving universal primary education by 2015, without clearly and comprehensively addressing the educational needs and challenges facing disabled children ?

How on earth, can we talk of empowering women and promoting equality between men and women; when disabled women and girls constitute a disproportionate number among the two-thirds of the worlds illiterate who are women?  And talking about child and maternal deaths makes a mockery about the health situation of disabled people! How many children with severe and multiple disabilities, especially in Africa live to celebrate their fifth birth day? The disabled in developing countries die in droves for lack of basic rehabilitation and health services, and few are even lucky if they access a bowl of porridge a day, you know! How many women and girls with disabilities have access to sexual and reproductive health, safe and friendly gynecology and obstetric care and support services, and leave alone safe motherhood?

We all know that diseases have erased a generation of development gains. But, how much have the disabled featured in all major initiatives aimed at reversing the spread of killer diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria? What about access to water and sanitation facilities, how inclusive and accessible are current products and services in these sectors, for instance?  And to what extend does global partnership for development take cognizance of the innumerable needs and concerns of the global disabled?  The list of questions and gaps on this subject of MDGs and disabled people are infinite.

And so after serious deliberations and reflection, delegates resolved to:

  • communicate the outcome of the meeting to their governments to review,  prioritise and include issues of disability in their country statements during High level meeting on MDGs in New York
  • lobby their governments to move and support a motion during this year’s UN general assembly, calling for the establishment of a new UN special agency on disability; to provide leadership, harmonisation, coordination and enhanced monitoring and reporting.
  • Engage governments to ensure that the disabled are protected from adverse effects from rising costs and related vulnerabilities and participate and benefit from existing social protection schemes
  •  lobby governments through the African Development Bank and related partners  to establish an African disability equity fund to support economic empowerment, entrepreneurship and business of people with disabilities
  •  Encourage the use of professional campaigners including goodwill ambassadors in promoting disability inclusion.
  • Review through their governments the Accra development plan of action and cause its implementation for the benefit of PWDs in Africa 
  • Advocate  to ensure that disability issues are mainstreamed in all  government, UN agencies and development partners policies, plans and programmes  particularly those related to MDGs
  • Advocate  development partners to include disability as a requirement / condition for funding development programmes 
  • Build own capacity to engage with governments on the commitments and agreement at national and international levels
  • Ensure that whatever is agreed at regional or national workshops cascades downward to the grassroots and rural areas.
  • Restructure and reform their internal (DPOs) governance structures to adopt modern management and good governance systems and increase transparency and accountability to their members
  • Nurture and mentor youth with disabilities into leadership succession plans and support them towards social economic empowerment
  • Strategically engage with media for both awareness and advocacy and built their capacity to engage with media
  • Sensitise and capacitate the media to various disability needs and to urge them to be inclusive and sensitive in their presentation and reporting 
  • Link with African Universities to promote evidence based disability research and to promote disability inclusive academic programmes
  • Establish a programme to develop human resource capacity for policy analysis to act as a watch dog in monitoring disability inclusion
  • Calls on African governments to ratify, domesticate and implement the new UN treaty on disability rights.
  • African governments to work with DPOs in nominating the members of the panel of experts on the said treaty 
  • Recognise DPOs as agents of change and therefore as partners in development planning and programmes
  • African governments to include the disabled and disability in poverty reduction and development programmes.
  • To put into place affirmative action to enhance participation in political social and economic sectors.
  • Include disability data collection within the general national data collection systems recognising diversity in disability.
  • Highlight and include disability in the existing MDG indicators in partnership with the disability movement.
  • Delegates have called on development partners to prioritise disability as a tool for planning and analysis in overall international cooperation and development assistance (aid, debt relief and trade)
  • Include and consult the disabled and their respective organisations in planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting
  • To include disability as a requirement / condition for funding development programmes 
  • They have urged the UN through member states to establish a specialist agency on disability in the league of UNICEF or UNIFEM to provide leadership and global accountability on matters related to the disabled people
  • To prioritise, include and partner with the disability movement in its entire millennium campaign initiative
  • At the African Union level, the delegate want a  Disability Desk within all African regional bodies to monitor the implementation of both the convention and human rights violation of the disabled within the respective regions.
  • Mainstream  disability and self representation of the disabled into all AU programmes, leadership structures, performance management including peer review mechanisms and systems

 

  • Work with DPOs to urgently review the structure and mandate of African Rehabilitation Institute (ARI)
  • Renew the African decade of persons with disabilities for another ten years by means of a proclamation by the meeting of the heads of state planned for January 2009

The writer, a sociologist with a physical disability is a regular commentator on disability rights and development and works for Leonard Cheshire Disability- International. He can be reached on Phitalis@lcd-enar.org/mphitalis@yahoo.com.
 


THE GOVERNMENT OF KENYA
APPOINTMENTS IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE
April 21, 2008

 

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

Cabinet Office
Permanent Secretary, Secretary to the Cabinet, and Head of Public Service Ambassador Francis Muthaura

Private Secretary/Comptroller: Mr. Hyslop Ipu

Public Communications Secretary & Government Spokesperson: Dr. Alfred N. Mutua

Secretary, National Economic & Social Council: Dr. Julius Monzi Muia

Principal Administrative Secretary: Mr. Sam Mwale

Secretary, Presidential Press Service: Mr. Isaiah Kabira

 

Ministry of State for Internal Security & Provincial Administration

Permanent Secretary: Mr. Francis Kimemia

Secretary, Provincial Administration: Mr. Kenneth M. Lusaka

Ministry of State for Defence

Permanent Secretary: Amb. Nancy Kirui

OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

Ministry of State for Home Affairs

Permanent Secretary: Dr. Ludeki Chweya

Ministry of State for Immigration and Registration of Persons

Permanent Secretary: Mr. Emannuel Kisombe

Ministry of State for National Heritage & Culture
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Seno Nyakenyanya

Secretary, Culture: Mr. Said Athman

 

OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER
Permanent Secretary: Dr. Mohammed Isahakia

Secretary, Administration: Mr. Caroli Omondi

 

Ministry of Planning, National Development and Vision 2030

Permanent Secretary: Dr. Edward Sambili

Ministry of State for Public Service
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Titus Ndambuki

Permanent Secretary, Public Sector Reforms & Performance Contracting: Mr. Richard Ndubai

 

OFFICE OF DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTRY OF TRADE
Permanent Secretary: Dr (Eng) Silas Njiru

Secretary, External Trade: Mr. Simon Chacha Nyangi

 

OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTRY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Samuel Kirui


Ministry of East African Community
Permanent Secretary: Mr. David Nalo

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Thuita Mwangi

Ministry of Finance
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Joseph Kinyua

Finance Secretary: Mr. Mutua Kilaka

Investment Secretary: Ms. Esther Koimett

Economic Secretary: Dr. Kamau Thuge

 

Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs
Permanent Secretary: Amb. Amina Mohammed

Secretary, National Cohesion: Dr. Kithure Kindiki


Ministry of Nairobi Metropolitan Development
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Philip Onyango Sika

Secretary, Physical Planning: Eng. John Ndirangu Maina

Ministry of Nairobi Metropolitan Development
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Philip Onyango Sika

Secretary, Physical Planning: Eng. John Ndirangu Maina

Ministry of Roads
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Michael Kamau

Ministry of Public Works
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Mark Bor

Secretary for Works: Mr. Gideon Mulyungi

Ministry of Transport
Permanent Secretary: Eng. Abdulrazak Aden Ali

 


Ministry of Water and Irrigation
Permanent Secretary: Eng. David Stower

Ministry of Information & Communication
Permanent Secretary: Dr. Bitange Ndemo

Ministry of Energy
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Patrick Nyoike

Ministry of Lands
Permanent Secretary: Ms. Dorothy Angote

 

Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources
Permanent Secretary: Prof. James Ole Kiyiapi

Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Kombo Mwero

Ministry of Tourism
Permanent Secretary: Ms. Rebecca Mwikali Nabutola

Ministry of Agriculture 
Permanent Secretary: Dr. Romano M. Kiome

Ministry of Livestock Development
Permanent Secretary: Dr. Jacob Ole Miaron

Ministry of Fisheries Development 
Permanent Secretary: Prof. Micheni Ntiba

 

Ministry of Regional Development Authorities

Permanent Secretary: Eng. Carey Orege 
Ministry of Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands

Permanent Secretary: Dr. Hukka Wario

Ministry of Education
Permanent Secretary: Prof. Karega Mutahi

Secretary, Education: Prof. George Godia

 

Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology

Permanent Secretary: Prof. Crispus Kiamba

Secretary, National Council For Science and Technology: Prof. Abdirazak Shaukat

 

Ministry of Cooperatives Development 
Permanent Secretary:Mr. Patrick Khaemba


Ministry of Industrialization
Permanent Secretary: Prof. John Krop Lonyangapuo 
Secretary for Industrialization: Dr. John Musonic


Ministry of Housing
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Tirop Kosgey

Ministry of Special Programmes
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Ali Dawood

Ministry of Gender & Children Development
Permanent Secretary: Ms. Leah Adda Gwiyo

Secretary for Children Affairs: Prof. Jacqueline Oduol

Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation
Permanent Secretary: Dr. James Nyikal

Ministry of Medical Services
Permanent Secretary: Dr. Hezron Nyangito

Director of Medical Services: Dr. Francis Kimani

Ministry of Labour
Permanent Secretary: Ms. Beatrice Naliaka Wasike

Ministry of Youth and Sports
Permanent Secretary: Mr. Murugu Kinuthia, BS

Secretary, Sports: Mr. Daniel K. Maanzo

Office of the Attorney General
Solicitor General: Mr. Wanjuki Muchemi


Luhya shelf life like Simon Makonde's

By Shad Bulimo, March 25 2008
Recent events in Kenya have called into question the role of ethnicity in Kenya’s development and in particular the position, place and role of the Luhya in Kenya. “We think we are generating wealth by working but actually we are doing it for others,” said Prof David Kikaya, the academic and UN consultant

Prof Kikaya, who contested unsuccessfully for Saboti Parliamentary seat in last year’s general election, was briefing Abeingo Community Network committee members in London yesterday. He urged the community to take control of their economic destiny by accumulating wealth through savings and capital creation. He said, if you plot the life of a typical Luhya, you’ll find the bare facts chilling. He lives his village in shimalabandu, boards a matatu (owned by a Kikuyu) to Kakamega to board a bus (owned by a Kikuyu) on his way to work in Nairobi. On the way, he stops at the local kiosk (owned by a Kikuyu) to buy soda and biscuits. If he is too tired to walk to the bus stop, he hires a boda boda (owned by a Kikuyu but rented to a Luhya rider).

When he arrives in Nairobi, he boards another matatu (owned by a Kikuyu) to take him to Kawangware. On the way to his house (rented from a Kikuyu), he stops at a street market to buy sukumawiki, onions and tomatoes (from a Kikuyu trader) and a local shop (owned by a Kikuyu shopkeeper) to stock up on some groceries. He then stops a local butchery (owned by a Kikuyu) before arriving at his rented house (owned by a Kikuyu). In the morning, he goes to work either for a Kikuyu or a Mhindi. Over the weekend, he decides life is worthless if you don’t enjoy yourself. His way of enjoying life is to go the local bar (owned by a Kikuyu) to drink some tuskers. If he is religiously-inclined, he might go to one of the evangelical churches (owned by a Kikuyu or Nigerian) where tithe is emphasised more than spiritual nourishment. When he dies after a life of “hard” (read manual) work, his remains are transported to his ancestral home in a coffin (bought from a Kikuyu) and bus hired from (you guessed it … from a Kikuyu).

You don’t have to be an actuarist to realise that a typical Luhya does not accumulate any meaningful savings to take ownership of capital or the means of production. “In other words, we shall continue to be pawned as slaves on the economic conveyor belt unless we start developing risk taking and thinking of owning rather than renting the tools and means of economic production,” he said.

Prof Kikaya, who is transiting London on his way to New York, said a group of Luhya have come up with an investment plan that targets transport, finance, food security and share trading at the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Membership will be rolled out to any Luhya who wants to buy shares shortly after registration.

 


Bounce not handshakes signals new Kenya

By Shad Bulimo, London March 19 2008
Forget the handshakes between President Mwai Kibaki and ODM Prime Minister-designate, Raila Odinga; instead, watch the bounce of the man in the street. Important though they are the handshakes between hitherto political enemies are useless if they cannot inspire confidence of displaced Kenyans to quickly return to their homes and businesses.  “The speed at which this happens will signal that Kenyans have learnt the bitter lessons of ethnic chivalry and embarked on a new road to peace, justice and equal chance to economic opportunity, “ said former Permanent Secretary for Ethics and Governance, Mr John Githongo.

Addressing members of Kenya Society in London yesterday, Mr Githongo, the self-exiled anti-corruption czar, said that yes the political class on both side of the political divide must come together and demonstrate that a new spirit to embrace diversity without acrimony is truly here and they are part of the lot that are writing a new chapter for Kenya but the agreement must be backed by genuine warmth of the heart and spirit that should be seen to flow in the veins of mama mboga who should feel free and safe enough to plough her trade in Karatina or Kisumu.

Dubbed “Stepping Back from the Abyss”, Githongo regretted that the Kofi Annan Accord, while diffusing an explosive situation, was externally imposed and in a sense Kenya has lost its sovereignty. “Our sovereignty has been sucked away and we need to start thinking about how we can regain it,” said the burly anti-corruption campaigner. He said post election violence was a result of decades of injustices and perceptions of economic inequality which has been simmering for decades and the rigging of the elections was merely the trigger that ignited the great fire of ethnic anger.

To regain our sovereignty, Kenya needs a new road map that addresses the plight of the poor and de-ethnicizes the presidency and appointments to the judiciary, parastatals and the civil service. He said Kenyans need to reflect on whether a benevolent president is better for them or devolution of power. Before the elections, he said, the only debate that came closer to addressing devolution of power was majimbo versus centralised government. “My own take is that it should not be simply a matter of dividing power but diffusing power so that never again should one person have the power to hire and fire the cabinet, judiciary and civil service.”

Githongo, who has been appointed the vice president of World Vision, said that what happened to Kenya has vital lessons for other countries in Africa where similar symptoms of conspicuous consumption among the elite are evidently causing resentment among the majority poor. He paid tribute to Annan and his team of Eminent African Persons (Graca Machel and Benjamin Mkapa) and said that whatever number of medals Kenya has, Annan should get them all.

Also present was Mr John Small, the chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.

Shad Bulimo is the editor of www.abeingo.org, an online portal of the Luhya community


AFRICA FORUM

MISSION TO KENYA

PRESS RELEASE

January 11, 2008 - Disturbed by the post-election violence in Kenya, which resulted in the loss of lives, destruction of properties and displacement of people, the Africa Forum, composed of Former African Heads of State and Government and other African leaders, took the initiative to effect a mission to the Republic of Kenya from January 07 – 12, 2008. The aim of the mission was to assess the situation and offer advice on the modalities and mechanism for the resolution of the crisis that engulfed the country soon after the announcement of the results of the Presidential Elections. On behalf of the General Assembly of the Forum, the Chairperson of the Forum former President H.E. Joaquim Chissano, requested the following former Presidents to join him as members of the mission: H.E. Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda, the first President of the Republic of Zambia; H.E. Sir Ketumile Masire, Former President of the Republic of Botswana; and H.E. Mr. Benjamin William Mkapa, Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The mission met with national leaders including H.E. President Mwai Kibaki, H.E. Mr. Daniel arap Moi, former President of the Republic of Kenya; Hon. Raila Odinga, Hon. Kalonzo Musioka and representatives of other political parties as well as other stakeholders, namely, the AACC and other Religious leaders, the Commonwealth Observer Mission, Domestic Observer Group, African Ambassadors accredited to Kenya, the Peace Ambassadors and Civil Society Organisations.  The mission also held consultations with H.E. President John Kufuor of Ghana and Chairman of the African Union.

The mission visited areas of the country affected by violence in Eldoret and Nairobi and held discussions with affected and displaced persons, community leaders and local authorities.

On the basis of what emerged from the meetings and consultations at different levels, we former Heads of State and Government on this mission strongly urge all concerned parties to –

  • Acknowledge the magnitude of the national crisis and move speedily towards constructive dialogue for durable solution to the crisis, promotion of a process of national healing and engendering national reconciliation and peace;
  • Take urgent steps to stop the killings, end the violence and address their root causes;
  • Put a decisive end to all forms of hate campaign and promote a culture of tolerance and national unity;
  • Recognize that the post-election violence, though essentially political, has exacerbated ethnic and social polarization which in turn undermines national unity and efforts towards further consolidation of democracy in Kenya;
  • Give top priority to the resumption of the constitutional reform process;
  • Chart a way forward with follow-up procedures and mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of progress on what was agreed upon in the dialogue process.

It is the general impression of the mission that all national stakeholders yearn for the resolution of the crisis and restoration of peace in the shortest time possible. Encouraged by the disposition of all concerned parties to engage in constructive dialogue in the search for durable solution to the root causes of the crisis, the Africa Forum is therefore committed to:

  • Support efforts on bringing all concerned political parties to the table for national dialogue in order to resolve the crisis;
  • Promote full participation of civil society organizations, Faith Based Organizations and other community leaders in the national dialogue process;
  • Support all initiatives and processes aimed at national healing and reconciliation at all levels.

 

The Africa Forum further commits itself to support efforts at all levels that are aimed at restoring normalcy and constitutional order in Kenya. The Forum is grateful that its concerns and those of other friends of Kenya about the crisis are valued and appreciated by all parties it consulted, including people in the affected areas it visited.

The mission acknowledges the excellent support and cooperation received from all parties, in particular, H.E. President Mwai Kibaki, H.E. Mr. Daniel arap Moi, former President of Kenya; Hon. Raila Odinga, Hon. Kalonzo Musioka,  representatives of other political parties, Religious leaders, African Ambassadors accredited to Kenya, the Peace Ambassadors and Civil Society Organizations.  The mission encourages these stakeholders to continue to support and contribute constructively to the process of dialogue, peace building and national reconciliation. The mission also wishes to acknowledge the excellent logistical and substantive support of the UNDP Country Office in Kenya.

Nairobi, 11 January 2008

Rigging whistleblower flees Kenya

By a Correspondent, Jan 12 2008

The civil servant who alleged vote tallying irregularities at the Electoral Commission of Kenya has fled the country, the Nation has learnt. Mr Kipkemoi arap Kirui, an employee of the National Assembly who had been seconded to the ECK to help tally last December’s General Election votes, claimed he left the country for fear of being harmed.

It has been impossible to reach him on his phone since he spoke of the alleged tallying anomalies. Mr Kirui sent e-mail to some of his friends, including our staffer, informing them that he had left the country. He said: “This is to officially inform you that I am in Europe on some special status after some people threatened my life.”

However, Mr Kirui did not name his host country, who had threatened him, or the date of his departure from Kenya. His one-paragraph note was also quiet on the status of asylum he had sought in the host country. Asylum is a form of protection that allows individuals to live in another country, provided that they meet the definition of a refugee and are not barred from either applying for or being granted asylum, and eventually to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident.

People seek asylum because they have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. In most countries the world over, however, genocide suspects are not granted asylum. Mr Kirui stunned the country when he appeared on live television, saying his conscience could not allow him to keep mum about the alleged vote tallying irregularities at ECK.

He spoke at a sideline news conference convened by the ODM at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre on December 31 last year, following a stand-off between the party members and ECK over the presidential results. ODM presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his Orange colleagues had insisted that the tallying had been tampered with in favour of President Kibaki, while the PNU dismissed the claims.

“I am speaking to the people of Kenya. My conscience would not allow me to see what I have seen and not speak about it,” Mr Kirui said, after being introduced to the audience by ODM Pentagon member William Ruto and Mr Odinga.

Source: Nation

Abeingo Chair tells Luhya to think money

jj shiundu

xmas

Seasons Greetings
A message from the Chairman of the
Abeingo Community Network (ACN), Mr. Juvenal J. M. Shiundu
 

Mirembe Mwesi Abeingo!

It is that time of the year when we wish one another compliments of the reason and in that regard, I wish to take this opportunity to wish all ACN Members, their families, relations and ACN potential members “A Merry Christmas and, a Happy and Prosperous New Year”.

As we come to the end of 2007, I wish to recall that ACN was officially launched on 7 October 2006 in London where an interim Committee was established to run the affairs of ACN.  In establishing ACN, our objective was: first to have a charity arm to address welfare and issues of social exclusion here in the UK through programmes that target health, education, employment, skills training, information, guidance and advice; and secondly, to set up a cooperative movement to target business start ups and investments here in the UK and in Kenya with a view to inviting members to buy shares.  So what has been achieved to date?

Since its launch 14 months ago, the charity arm of ACN and Abeingo Housing Association have been registered in UK, the Committee has held eight meetings, a portal and content website www.abeingo.org was launched in April 2007 and has to date received 2.5 million hits, 60 members have joined ACN, a summer party was held on 30 June 2007 at one of  the members residence, Abeingo Lottery Syndicate and Abeingo Money Transfer have been launched, and registration of the Kenyan Chapter and an investment company in Kenya is at an advanced stage.  Considering the short time that ACN has been in existence, members would agree with me that a lot has been achieved, thanks to the dedicated and hard working Committee and in particular Shadrack Bulimo, the Secretary/webmaster to whom I express my appreciation. Having said that, a lot still has to be achieved and this can only be done with active participation of all members. There are various sub-committees to which I urge members to volunteer to serve on. Please contact the Secretary for further information. I also urge you to join the Lottery Syndicate and make more use of Abeingo Money Transfer services (details on the website).

Looking ahead, we expect to have the first Annual General Meeting (AGM) during the first quarter of 2008. We are also liaising with Halala of USA with a view to organizing a joint Luhya Global Conference in Western Kenya in the third or fourth quarter of 2008.  Overall, there is no doubt that the ACN is making a slow but steady progress towards achieving its objectives. Nevertheless, it is of crucial importance that all members play a role in strengthening ACN. Those of us who attended the summer party will recall the three questions I posed in my speech:
How does the Luhya community fare on in adjusting itself to the demands of modern Kenya?
How progressive are the Luhyas compared to other communities?
Where does the Kenyan economy pinch Luhya community most?
One would expect that the second largest community in Kenya has second position in the economy of Kenya. As you all know that is not the case.  In fact, a small community like the Kisii is industrially miles ahead of the populous Luhya community. Why? Because too many of us are still in the bondage of our traditional values, which are outdated or have very little commercial value in the modern world ruled by money economy. Outsiders, unfortunately, are snatching business opportunities in Luhya land, which should be taken by the community. The Luhya population is increasing fast to occupy the same land in Western Province. That spells doom to the future of the community if there is no intervention.
Poverty, a lot of which is self-manufactured, is the plague devouring our community today. There are too many people who are poor simply because they are too lazy to work, they don’t want to be creative or if one family member has made it, we all sit back and expect hand-outs. Laziness, some people have claimed, is a rampant disease in Luhya land. If we have to succeed in the 21st century money-economy culture, we or ACN have to take a lead to facilitate the economic empowerment of our people. I was disturbed with a report in the Daily Nation of 17 December 2007, quoting Mr. Matu Wamae, Chairman of the new Kenya Cooperative Creameries statement to the effect that milk worth Sh4 billion was bought from farmers this year but that Western Province did not get a single cent of this cash. He further stated that most of the milk in the province ended up in the hands of middlemen!
If the ACN’s objectives and aspirations are to be achieved, we will all need vision, foresight, co-operation, “obulala”, patience, purpose and strength of will. It can be done; but it will not happen unless we all take up the challenge and act together, pro-actively, positively and with due sense of responsibility towards our community and the children of our children.  
On behalf of the Committee, I thank you all and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
 

Wanyonyi declares himself God

Jehovah Wanyonyi: "many shall come in my name, but..."

god

Wanyonyi declares himself God

By Kipchumba Some, Dec 16 2007

He is branded a blasphemer and a worshipper of evil, and has even been ostracised by his community. And his controversial sect, in which he claims to be “God the Father of Jesus”, has not won him many followers. Instead, it stirs feelings of anger and hatred wherever he goes.  At one point, Mr Jehovah Wanyonyi’s house was set ablaze at night as he and his family slept. This and other incidents have forced the spiritual leader of the Lost Israelites of Kenya sect of Kitale to shift several times over the past few years looking for a safer haven. 

But despite all this seeming setback, Mr Wanyonyi soldiers on, saying that his message is the biblical truth, and that he is being sought for persecution just as Jesus was. But he is not just another mortal capable of sinning and dying, he says.  And, because many people do not recognise him as the creator, he promises to punish the human race. To visitors, he introduces himself as “the ancient of days, the creator of heaven and earth and all therein, the Lord of Abraham, Moses and Jacob... 

“Jesus Christ of Nazareth is my own son,” he declares. The inscriptions on the huge, red cap atop his grey head prominently proclaim: “I am Almighty God Jehovah Wanyonyi.” Mr Wanyonyi, 82, is also the sect founder, and whereas many Christians would cringe in fear at the thought of elevating themselves to the position of God, he has no such qualms. He believes he is the God talked of in the bible.  The sinful ways of humans, he says, angered him so much that he decided to come down from his abode in the high to save them from his

impending wrath.“The world rejected my son whom I sent to save them,” he points out. “Now I have decided to come down myself to earth to see if I can redeem the wretched human race from eventual destruction.” But he says he is saddened that, like his “son” before him, the world has rejected him.  He laments that people take him as just another human being, and fail to see “God” beyond his imposing human frame. “But let them remember that I said in the Bible that I would come as a thief among them and they would never know the day or the hour of my coming,” he adds. 

Mr Wanyonyi was born in 1925 to Mzee Paulo Wanyonyi and Mama Khatundi Wanyonyi at Kuywa Village of Bungoma District. He was named William, but later changed to Jehovah when he began his ministry in 1957.  However, he is quick to point out that he was there long before his birth — in fact, from the dawn of time - although in a spiritual form. “I humbled myself into a human form so that humankind could interact freely with me, their creator, and so that I could save them from sin,” he said during an interview at his Chemororoch Israel Camp in Nangili, 30km from Kitale Town.

He began his ministry at Kimalewa in Bungoma District. In 1960, he was jailed for three years for his religious beliefs, which basically contradict all the tenets of the Christian faith.  The colonial government, he says, tried several times to get him killed. “I was a feared man in prison,” he adds. “None of the soldiers ever dared to lay their hands on me like the other prisoners. Even lions and cobras would not come near me; instead they would run away.” 

After his release in 1962, numerous attempts were made on his life by both the Government and people opposed to his mission, he says. Eventually, in the same year, he fled into exile in Uganda for two years. Upon his return in 1964, he founded and registered the Lost Israelites of Kenya sect, and became its spiritual leader.  Although he does not have any official documentation to back his claim, he says his followers number 3,000.  To him, these are the chosen few who will inherit the kingdom of heaven after he has won the great battle against the devil.  Black people, he adds, are the true, pure-blood Israelites spoken of in the Bible, and that those in the Middle East are mere imposters. 

“White people are the offspring of Esau whom I cursed in the book of Genesis,” he says confidently. “I will destroy their dominion along with other heathens in the fullness of time.”  Red is his favourite colour, and his flowing robes are red, as are many of his household items. This, according to him, signifies the human sins he is burdening himself with.“That is how much I love humanity,” he declares. “I have taken all your sins and dirt upon myself, yet people refuse to acknowledge me as their God.”

Every morning, a large, red sword is brought out and displayed prominently on a red table outside his house. With it, he claims, he protects the world from major conflicts, but unfortunately, not from “small conflicts” like the Mt Elgon and Kuresoi ones.

Mr Wanyonyi has 10 wives and 35 children, and despite this seeming unique feat, he regrets that he did not marry more when he was younger. “Who will repopulate this world after I destroy it?” he poses. “Isn’t it they, from my blood, who are pure like me, their father? “I should have married even 200 women. Then, I would have had enough children to eat the fruits of this earth after I wipe out the heathens in it.”  Although he has no formal education, Mr Wanyonyi insists that all his children must get the best education he can afford to be able to interpret the Bible.

The eldest, Rehema, is a local museum curator, while three others are pursuing higher education at various tertiary institutions in the country. Most of his children, however, are young and still in primary school.  Under his keen stewardship, the sect followers conduct their Sabbath on Saturdays. He is the only preacher at these services and, unlike the others, he does not refer to the Bible in his teachings. “I know everything in it (Bible), he declares. “Nothing in it is new or foreign to me.”

Source: Nation


FORMER VOLLEYBALL CAPTAIN DIES

The late Doris Wefwafwa at Campbellsville University in Kentucky. Centre: Relaxing with a friend. Right: Striking it out in confidence
doris
doris
doris


By Shad Bulimo in London, Bryan Blair and Joan McKinney in Kentucky, Dec 11 2007
A former Kenya Women Volleyball Team captain, Ms Doris Wefwafwa is dead. Ms Wefwafwa died yesterday in Kentucky, USA where she was an assistant volleyball coach at Campbellsville University. A former All-American for the Lady Tigers Volleyball Team, died unexpectedly at Hardin County Memorial Hospital after a short illness believed to be pneumonia.
Ms Wefwafwa, 34, from Trans Nzoia District, was to graduate this week with a bachelor of social work degree. She transferred to Campbellsville University for her senior year in 2006 after playing at Columbia College, Columbia, Mo.
During her life, Ms Wefwafwa won many sporting accolades. She was named the Mid-South Conference Volleyball Player of the Week six times last season and the NAIA Region XI Volleyball Player of the Week four times. She was the Mid-South Conference Volleyball Player of the Year at the conclusion of last season.  She was also an NAIA All-Region XI selection and was Second Team NAIA All-American last season.
Wefwafwa was ranked second nationally in kills per game in the NAIA last season, averaging 5.63 per game. Campbellsville University finished last season with a 35-7 record en route to the program’s first ever Mid-South Conference Regular Season title. During her career at Columbia College, Wefwafwa was selected as an 3rd Team NAIA All-American in 2003 and a 1st Team NAIA All-American in 2004.
In 1998, while captaining Kenyan Women’s Volleyball Team, Wefwafwa was recognized as the best attacker in the world and was ranked 21st overall in the world.
Randy LeBleu, volleyball coach at Campbellsville University, said, “Doris was an amazing person. Many of us knew her as a great volleyball player, but she was even a better person.
“In her short time with us at Campbellsville, she touched many people. Even if your day was not going very well, she could make you smile or comfort you with a hug. A hug from Doris was not just courtesy; she had feeling with every hug. “She will be missed, but we will all remember how she could light up a room with her smile. I am just deeply saddened by her leaving us so soon.
Wefwafwa was a student employee in the physical plant at Campbellsville University. “Doris was a special person who became a friend to everyone she met,” said Jo Ann Harris, secretary in the physical plant. “She immediately loved them unconditionally without ever knowing them. She saw everyone as a brother or sister in Christ and that was good enough for her. Her capacity to love was phenomenal.”
Shannon Thomas, instructor at CU, had Wefwafwa in class and said she was “always smiling and wanted to learn. She was always positive, always glowing. She was always so respectful, and worked really hard in class. I smile when I think about her calling me ‘Madam.’ She taught us a lot.”
Wefwafwa did a field practicum in social work at Medco Center of Campbellsville. “She had a sincere heart,” said Karen Moore, director of the center. “Everyone loved her. She was very, very diligent with the patients.”
Wefwafwa was the daughter of the Rev. Moses Wanyama Wefwafwa and the late the Rev. Rose Nabucha Wefwafwa.  She is survived by her children, Sammy Halai Wefwafwa, 18 and Rozzy Naomi Wefwafwa, 16.


Kenya London News wins court case

By Shad Bulimo, London, Nov 29 2007
Kenya London News, the internet media house, has won a case against a previous employee who had confiscated company equipment and shut down the website over claims he was owed money. A Judge at a Maidstone court, UK, ruled last Wednesday that Mr. Isaac Amke return the camera he was holding in custody back to Ms Agnes Gitau of KLN by 4pm on 28th November 2007. Mr Amke has appealed against the ruling.

This follows a dispute in which Mr. Amke a former part-time employee with Kenya London News confiscated the camera demanding dues (£1400) he claimed he had incurred while working with Kenya London News from June 2006. Agnes Gitau a Director Kenya London News had filed the case in the small claims court asking the court to grant the camera back to her, following a failed out-of-court mediation conducted by Rev. Tim Wambunya of Emmanuel Church, North London.

The agreement, seen by INGONEWS, states that KLN owes Mr Amke the said dues and would make arrangements to pay once cash flow improves.  The Reverend would keep the camera as a mediator  and release it after the terms of the agreement have been honoured which included, inter alia, Ms Gitau withdrawing the court action. The parties were given one week to honour it. However reached for comment, Agnes acknowledged the agreement but said she did not sign it as it was imbalanced and heavily skewed in favour of Mr Amke.

The Reverend Wambunya said he found himself in a position where each party was accusing him of favouring the other. “I gave up actually,” he said. “One month in between, nothing had happened so I returned the camera to Isaac.”

On his part, Mr Amke said he worked for KLN with the understanding that he won’t be paid any wages but he would get shares in lieu and have his expenses re-reimbursed. “When the contract came to an end I asked if I could get my expenses paid and shares formally allocated but the directors of KLN decided to keep quiet,” he said. “I have never claimed the camera was mine. It was in my possession and I only retained it in lieu of payment owed to me.”

Besides Ms Gitau, the other director of KLN is veteran TV journalist, Mr Topi Lyambila. As we went to press, it was not clear whether Mr Amke had returned the camera, worth £3,500 or was waiting until the appeal is determined.


HIV Scientist’s wife to undergo major surgery

By Shad Bulimo, London, Nov 29 2007 The wife of eminent HIV scientist, Prof Joab Bwayo from Bungoma who died in a carjacking incident in Nairobi last February, Mrs Elizabeth Bwayo is to undergo another major surgery in the US in December this year. If everything goes to plan, Mrs Bwayo could be back in Kenya in August next year. She was shot alongside her husband and another passenger, Carol Briggs but narrowly escaped death. She has been receiving surgical treatment in Oregon, USA where she has made tremendous progress and is now able to write and update her family and well wishers on her progress. In the past, this task was left to her sister, Grace Kuto and Pastor Dan Cammack.

Mr Wangula Khasiani, of the Quaker’s Friends Church in London, is appealing to church members to help defray the expenses.

She reports that the last major surgery in August was somewhat miraculous. The surgery team was supposed to take a bone from her hip to use to close the nasal fistula but before the doctor could do so, he discovered that an extra bone had grown on the cheek bone, so it was not necessary to remove it from the hip.  “I really thanked God for this miracle,” said in a letter.

Often whenever there is good news, bad news is never too far away. Since the august surgery, Mrs Bwayo has received two major set backs which have affected her speech and eating. Thankfully, the medical team has re-assured her this will be corrected.

Mrs Bwayo is due another surgery on December 5 2007 on her check bone where she was shot. With proper healing after the December surgery, completion of treatment is forecast for early summer 2008.  “That’s when I can hope to return home to Kenya,” she wrote. 


IDA ODINGA ADDRESSES UK KENYANS

By Shad Bulimo, London, Nov 26 2007

The debacle over the nominations of ODM parliamentary aspirants will be addressed in a special conference to be held in Nairobi this week. Addressing hundreds of Kenyans in London over the weekend, Mrs Ida Odinga, the would-be first lady said ODM had 2,000 candidates vying for 200 seats which means 1,800 candidates knew they would lose.

Mrs Odinga said ODM is a home which accords equality and protection to everyone, young and old, victor and the vanquished. Hence the losers should never see themselves as losers in the first place – they participated in a process in which the outcome could go either way.

Mrs Odinga likened political evolution to a small fish the Japanese keep as a pet called koy which is rather like omena. Most Japanese keep it a small bottle where it grows to a maximum size of one inch. But if you keep it a bigger bowl, it can grow to three inches. Still, if you keep it in a fish tank, it will grow to six inches and further still in a pond, it can grow to up to six feet.

What does this mean? The size of the fish is in direct proportion to the space in which it operates. In relation to politics, Mrs Odinga said Kenyans had been bottled up like koy where their political aspirations were limited to the controlled mechanics of the small bottle. An ODM government will free koy to swim and prosper in a larger pond called Kenya where there is enough food for everyone to grow to a size that suits their circumstances.
“Growth doesn’t always come from outside. Like koy, Kenyans can grow and prosper economically given the right conditions,” she said.

She said Kenya is a unique country blessed not just with abundant wildlife but a diversity of cultures. The 45 tribes of Kenya is a source of strength not a weakness, she said and an ODM government will commit to tap into the strengths of all the 45 tribes.

Among other things, she said, ODM commits itself to delivering a new constitution within six months and has put together an economic blueprint that guarantees universal healthcare, education and infrastructural improvement.

On majimbo, she said, Kenyans should not be confused by rival political parties out to score cheap points. “Majimbo does not equal balkanisation; it simply means equal distribution of resources,” she emphasised.

Mrs Odinga said there is an estimated 1.8 million Kenyans living and working abroad whose remittances account for 3.8% of national income. She said an ODM government recognises this important constituency and measures are in place to enhance these efforts.

Besides legitimising dual citizenship and according voting rights, an ODM government will have special initiatives to help Kenyans who wish to relocate or start businesses in Kenya through tax waiver schemes.

Mrs Odinga said she is disturbed by constant reports in the media concerning Kenyan women being battered, tortures or killed by their foreign spouses.  She said, an ODM government will put in place measures to help such women return to a welcoming home.

Quoting her husband, ODM presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga she said “Our word is our bond.” Details of the ODM manifesto can be accessed at http://www.raila2007.com

Mrs Raila was a guest of the ODM UK Chapter Women’s League headed by Ms Rose Ochwada.  Other speakers included Mr Charles Konyiego Bosire, the Chairman of ODM UK and Doctor Mary Thompson, the ODM UK Youth Coordinator. The Master of Ceremony was Doctor Abdi Greek.


Kenya wins IMO position

By Shad Bulimo, London, Sunday 25 2007

Kenya has been re – elected to the decision making organ of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Kenya saw off stiff competition from countries such as Nigeria to clinch the coveted position during the 25th General Assembly of the IMO that ended in London over the weekend.

This is the third time that Kenya has been elected to the Council. It was first elected in 2001 for tenure of two years but lost in the subsequent elections of 2003-05. It bounced back in the elections of 2005-07 and has been lucky to retain the seat.

So what swung things for Kenya? In June 2007, for the time in its history, a major IMO conference was held in Nairobi to discuss an issue that had been on the agenda for the last 35 years. “The International Conference on Wreckage Removal which adopted the Nairobi International  Wreck Removal Convention may have been the turning point for us,” said an ecstatic Mr Gerrishon Ikiara, the permanent secretary in the ministry of transport who was heading the Kenyan delegation.

Besides sitting on the IMO Council where it has a chance to influence maritime decisions, the country also benefits directly from a technical cooperation fund.

The Council has 40 members  tiered in three categories – A, B and C  on account of tonnage and shipping fleet.

Among other things, Kenya has used its position on the Council to advocate successfully for changes in the configuration of the Council. For instance countries like Singapore were sitting in category C rather unfairly because they have one of the largest ports in the world.

“ They were competing for resources with less endowed countries like Kenya but we have argued successfully and now Singapore is in category B,”  said Mr Ikiara.

Kenya’s presentation was brilliant. During the Nairobi Conference, they had Kayamba to entertain guests. Apparently the guests were so were thrilled Kenyan delegates thought they would capitalise on it  and charm their way into the delegate’s hearts. So they organised for Kayamba to come to the UK and perform at the Kenya Reception Party.

Sadly, group members were denied visas by the British High Commission in Nairobi but in their place a Congolese group based in the UK stepped in and rescued the night.

The high powered Kenyan delegation included, Mrs Nancy Karigithu, the Director General of Kenya Maritime Authority, Mr AH Mwaruwa, the Managing Director of Kenya Ports Authority, David Ojwang’, the Managing Director of Kenya National Shipping Line Ltd, Mr John J Ria, the Managing Director of Kenya Ferry Services Ltd, Captain TA Khamis, Harbour Master and Chief Operations Officer, KPA and Peter Thuo, Director of Shipping and Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Transport.

Shad Bulimo is the editor of www.abeingo.org


KENYA OWNS NO SHIP - OFFICIAL

By Shad Bulimo, London Sunday Nov 25 2007,

Few may know it but as a country Kenya has no ship of its own either public or private. The Kenya National Shipping Line only buys slots at ports. The shocking news was revealed by Mrs Nancy Karigithu, the Director General of Kenya Maritime Authority. Speaking in London over the weekend, Mrs Karigithu urged Kenyans abroad to go a notch higher and think of investing in sea going vessels rather than just vehicles. She said the bulk of world trade is carried out through shipping and mercantile processes and it was a shame that Kenyans have not spotted the opportunity to invest in this lucrative area. “We fritter away resources  in freight and insurance yet what a difference this would make to the national economy if all the money was retained in the country,” she said during a victory party to celebrate Kenya’s re-election to the Council of International Maritime Organisation hosted by Mr Juvenal Shiundu, the IMO’s Head of Africa (Anglophone) Technical Division.

Mrs Karigithu, a lawyer by profession said that the era of Kenyans merely buying cars or lorries to ship home is no longer profitable as everyone is doing it to the point the market is saturated. Smart money should now be on innovative areas of investment and shipping is one such area. Her sentiments were echoed by the permanent secretary in the ministry of transport, Mr Gerrishon Ikiara. Mr Ikiara   said that his ministry will push the next parliament to revive the Mercantile Shipping Act which has been lying dormant in order to streamline all areas of mercantile trade and investment

The former economics lecturer at the University of Nairobi said that countries like Liberia and Panama rip huge profits for holding the largest shipping registry and there was no reason why Kenya could not invest in this area. “This would actually compliment cruise tourism, a key aspect of Kenya’s tourism package,” he said. But Kenyans need not wait for new laws as they can still invest within the existing legal and administrative set up. He said there is lucrative potential for leisure boats in Mombasa and Malindi, the traditional tourist resorts. He urged prospective investors to contact his Ministry and Kenya Maritime Authority for further information.

Responding to questions from journalists, the Harbour Master and Chief Operating Officer of Kenya Ports Authority, Captain TA Khamis said that a medium sized ship costs between £20-30m which on the face of it is not an awful lot of money. But if you can’t buy outright, there is the option of leasing, added Mr Peter Thuo the Director of Shipping ad Maritime Affairs in the Ministry of Transport.

Shad Bulimo is the editor of www.abeingo.org


Arungah calls for selfless leadership

By Shad Bulimo, London, Sept 26 2007
The MP for Khwisero, Mr Julius Arungah, has urged Luhya leaders to shun senseless individualism and work in unity to bring economic development to Western Province. Mr Arungah, in London attending the International Coffee Organisation Conference, said he personally has tried to bring together Luhya parliamentarians to work out a joint development strategy but was cold-shouldered by self seekers who thought that if they bought into the idea, they would boost his profile.

“It is not about Arungah. It’s about the people. I would join anybody else with good ideas. We risk remaining a community that grumbles unless we see the big picture and work as a team regardless of who the leader is,” he said.

Mr Arungah was speaking to Abeingo Community Network officials in London yesterday. He applauded the efforts of ACN in pushing for economic empowerment of the Luhya and offered himself as a vehicle to advance the ACN agenda at the grassroots. “You need to tell me what to do because we can only get there by interacting with the people.”

ACN Chairman, Mr Juvenal Shiundu said that one of the key objectives of ACN is to foster kinship and promote economic empowerment of Western Province by working with all leaders despite their political affiliations. He invited Mr Arungah to join as a member and explained that ACN is home from home. 

The MP said ACN in return can help source equipment and tools such as computers in Europe to donate to schools in Western. ICT is a major plank in the development agenda but in Luhyaland, there as still basic issues of infrastructure that need to be overcome, for example electricity and computer literacy. In this regard, Mr Arungah said all the market centres and secondary schools in Khwisero now have power. “We are now opening up cyber cafes and training schools. We are targeting teachers who would then disseminate computer skills to their pupils and the rest of the community.

Mr Arungah heeded the chairman’s call and joined Abeingo Community Network as fully paid up member. Present at the meeting were Shadrack Bulimo, ACN Secretary, Neccy Kikaya, Treasurer, Aggrey Kikaya, Organising Secretary, Dr Musa Ndengu, founding ACN Chairman and committee members: Topi Lyambila, John Baraza, Boni Wanda, Fred Oula, Bernard Watsulu and Eric Obanda.


 

Dr Lusigi calls for Luhya trust

By Shad Bulimo, London Sept 17 2007
Luhya people must learn to trust one another in order to overcome deep rooted suspicions and petty jealousies that have caused disunity among the Luhya people. Speaking in London over the weekend, Dr Walter Lusigi, a consultant with the World Bank’s GIF in Washington DC, said that divisions among the Luhya sub tribes and clans is self destructive.

He said that it’s easier for a Kikuyu to start a business and succeed in Bukusu than a Maragoli not because the Maragoli does not have the business acumen, but because the Bukusu have a negative attitude towards Maragoli.

Dr Lusigi said that one way forward is to encourage community based programmes and initiatives like cooperatives. For instance, he said the annual Maragoli festival should be expanded to become a Luhya event and be held at Bukhungu Stadium. “Let us look at our roots and get back to basics as the first step in eradicating ignorance and underdevelopment in Western Province,” he said.

“We have one of the highest literacy rates in Kenya and our people are some of the most educated but we keep squandering all that intellectual capital on stupidity and negativity.”

“We need to look at the bigger picture and start investment programmes to generate income and profit.”

Dr Lusigi hailed the work of Abeingo Community Network, an organisation that seeks to empower the people of Western Province take control of their economic destiny.

He said the task of uniting the Luhya is not easy and suggested that each clan elect its leaders who would represent its interests at the sub tribe level and each sub tribe then elect credible leaders who would be spokesmen at the Luhya plenary.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Little Sophie Akasa bridges tribe and generation

By Shad Bulimo, London Sunday 8 Sept 2007
The riddle of what little Sophie Akasa told her grandfather, Raila Odinga Saturday week was finally decrypted on last Friday. “She was wishing me luck,” Mr Odinga told INGONEWS this weekend in London while transiting to the USA.

More than luck, Sophie Akasa, from Bunyore District, Ebusikhale sub location, Epang’a village may also symbolically have been asking weighty questions about the future of Kenya and particularly that of the youth to the man who is 50-50 from the Presidency. Sophie is the daughter of Raila’s daughter married in Bunyore.

Armed with the good omen brought to earth through Sophie, Raila went ahead to bag the ODM presidential nominations at Kasarani, Nairobi in a landslide sweep. He is now within a whisker of bagging the ultimate prize. Odinga exudes confidence that verges on the scriptural mantra “what God has ordained, no man shall man put asunder”. He is well aware that although the battle for ODM leadership has been bruising, the bigger battle remains to ascend to State House tenancy. He is pitted against the incumbent, President Mwai Kibaki whom he describes as a Goliath (meaning well endowed with resources) and sees himself as David, fighting the poor man’s corner.

If Odinga indeed becomes Kenya’s 4th President, it will be the culmination of a journey that may have started long before he was born. His father, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga fought for independence alongside other Kenyan revolutionaries and when independence was won, he wrote “Not Yet Uhuru.” He disagreed with Jomo Kenyatta over ideological as well as economic issues; the spat for which he suffered many years in political exile and detention.

Sadly Jaramogi is not with us to witness and celebrate his son’s achievements. Nevertheless his spirit lives on – in Agwambo (who revealed yesterday that he has been baptised with more Masaai and Kalenjin  names). And so, apparently does the spirit of Masinde of the Dini ya Msambwa fame. In today’s Standard, we read that Masinde prophesised that a Luhya shall ascend to national helmsmanship through alliance with the Lakers. Intellectuals and religious scholars may argue about the merits and demerits of mystics and mythical personas but their influence in the psyche of the people, particularly the Babukusu is real.

Going by the alleged Masinde prophesy, the extrapolative prism is one in which the Luhya support the Luo like they did in the elections of 1992 and the Luos return the favour in subsequent elections. Some have called it a Western Alliance. Whether mythical or scientific, if political unity were to be achieved between the Luo and Luhya, that would be a portend force in Kenya’s political dispensation.

Through the eyes of little Sophie Akasa, a bigger political image may be on the horizons. She represents a bridge to the future and is also a bridge between the neighbouring Luo and Luhya. Just what the future might bring through her, only time will tell.

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Budalang'i floods disrupt education

Busia, Sept 7 2007
Weeks after flush floods swamped Budalang'i, residents are still reeling from disruptive effects. Besides health fears, education has been another major victim. Hundreds of pupils may miss school if temporary classrooms are not provided after floods swamped their institutions.

The district education officer, Mr Kilonzo Musilu, said schools in the area needed about 15 tents for use as temporary classrooms. “Mukhobola Primary, which has 606 pupils, is hosting a number of pupils from other schools which have been submerged,” he said.  Besides hosting the pupils it was also being used to shelter other flood victims.
According to Mr Musilu, 536 pupils of Makunda Primary and 405 students from Makunda Mixed Secondary School had been relocated to Mukhobola Primary and St Anne’s Girls’ Secondary schools respectively. An estimated Sh5.5 million is needed to rehabilitate seven schools affected by floods in Budalang’i.
Area MP Raphael Wanjala last week said that floods had weakened the foundation of classrooms in Makunda, Bubamba, Bulwani, Lugare, Maduwa Primary and Makunda Secondary School and needed to be rehabilitated to ensure that the more than 2,500 pupils in the schools learn in acceptable conditions.
Mr Wanjala, who is also Water and Irrigation assistant minister, urged the Government to move fast to check the situation since the conditions under which KCPE and KCSE candidates from the area sit the national examination would not be considered when grading them.
According to him, Maduwa Primary School needed Sh2.1 million for reconstruction.  A boat was also needed to enable pupils from Bukhuma to attend classes at Maduwa.

 

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Budalang'i boat people wait for help in vain

By Ouma Wanzala, Busia, August 23 2007

Gabriel Osanya watches blankly as a team of divers search for his son’s body in River Nzoia. His hopes of ever seeing his son alive have faded and now, even getting the body for a decent burial is becoming nightmare.

budalangi
A family uses a canoe to leave their village in Makunda, Budalangi after it was submerged by floods.Photo /Jacob Owiti
Five days ago, his 13-year-old son was among five people who died when a canoe they were in capsized. And yesterday, two bodies of the victims were found in Lake Victoria but it was not clear if that of Mr Osanya’s son was one of them.

Before yesterday’s discovery, villagers from the area in Budalangi had been waking up early since Monday to search for their missing relatives. The desperate relatives had been watching from the river banks, hoping that the bodies were not swept away by the river which recently burst its banks, displacing several thousand people. 

Flooding is not new to the people of the region. And once again, the perennial phenomenon has struck, leaving death, destruction and anguish in its wake. Many area residents, who were only recently living in the comfort of their houses, have been forced to move to higher ground after their houses were submerged. Now, they live in makeshift dwellings. 

Outbreak of diseases

But that is not all. The government has warned of a possible outbreak of diseases. Many of the displaced go hungry as the crops in their farms have either been destroyed or washed away as have the stocks they had in their granaries.

This year’s floods have affected at least 40,000 people and displaced 18,000 after the dykes that were recently rehabilitated by the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation were overwhelmed after River Nzoia broke its banks.

The most affected areas are Bunyala central, Magombe and Khajula locations with Makunda primary and secondary schools being submerged.

Some learners in the two schools, who were on holiday tuition, had to cut short their studies.

Road networks have been destroyed with the floods cutting off communication between Makunda, Mau Mau and Bukoma.

Busia district commissioner John ole Kepas has assured the flood victims that the Government will do all it can to ensure that they are safe and are provided with food aid.

“The disaster management team will be sending relief food to the flood victims,” he said.

Late last year and early this year, about 40,000 families were displaced and 10,000 acres of land under crops destroyed when a dyke broke at Bwalwanga near Makunda.

Early this year Special Programmes minister John Munyes assured area residents that the problem of floods will be addressed. According to him, Sh10 billion would be used to build dams and plant trees in catchment as part of efforts to contain floods.

At the time, the minister said that the construction of dams would reduce water levels in River Nzoia which perennially bursts its banks whenever it rains heavilly in Rift Valley. The project will cover eight districts in Western Province and two districts in Nyanza.

However, locals have criticised the Government saying that it has not shown any commitment in addressing the problem of floods in the area.

Area MP Raphael Wanjala says that the proposed project should involve the local community and the money should not be used for planting trees but dam construction.

“We already have trees. What we want is the construction of dams or a permanent wall that will control floods,” said the assistant minister for Water and Irrigation.

And councillor Michael Congo said: “Since getting independence we have had the problem of floods and we wonder when the government will find a lasting solution.” 

He spoke after the director of medical services, Dr James Nyikal, issued an alert over possible outbreak of water borne diseases in areas affected by the floods.

Dr Nyikal said the water had been contaminated and asked residents to ensure that they treat it for drinking as well as water for domestic use.

Speaking at Mukhobola health centre where over 4,500 people were camping after their houses were submerged, Dr Nyikal said the government would send 10,000 treated mosquito nets to contain any possible outbreak of malaria.

“Those who have mosquito nets should not use them as pillows but sleep inside them,” said Dr Nyikal. Some of the affected families are living in schools and the Kenya Red Cross Society has started distributing relief aid to them.

Construction of River Nzoia flood control dykes in Busia district was started in 1977 by the then ministry of water development and was completed in August 1984 at a cost of Sh17 million.

The two dykes are 34.6 kilometre in length with 18.4-km on the southern side and 16.2 km on the northern side.

A resident engineer from the National Water and Pipeline Co-operation, Mr Victor Njeru says one of the dykes was not performing to expectation.

“The dyke is susceptible to breaches due to erosion by the waters as well as termites and ants, burrowing animals and seepage through the weakened embankments have affected the dyke’s stability,” he said. - source: Nation

 

 

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Media wins over offensive bill

By Patrick Nzioka, Nairobi August 22 2007
The media won a major victory yesterday when President Kibaki rejected a clause in the Media Bill that would have forced editors to reveal their confidential sources. President Kibaki described the clause as “offensive and a threat to democracy” as he returned the Bill to Parliament to delete the clause.

In returning the Bill to the House, the President sided with the tradition of media freedom in Kenya and rejected the wishes of some of his main political backers, including several Cabinet ministers who had voted in favour of the clause on the floor of the House. The offending clause, introduced by Ol Kalau MP Muriuki Karue, would have removed the protection enjoyed by the media against being forced to reveal confidential sources in courts of law.

The clause reads: “When a story includes unnamed parties who are not disclosed and the same becomes the subject of a legal tussle as to who is meant, then the editor shall be obligated to disclose the identity of the party or parties referred to.”  President Kibaki, who received the Bill from attorney general Amos Wako yesterday, sent it back to Parliament with instructions that the clause be deleted.

He said it was ambiguous and likely to cause problems in its interpretation because the expression “unnamed parties” as used in the clause had not been qualified or restricted.“The meaning ... can be construed to include subjects of a story as well as sources of information. This could act as a great inhibition of Press freedom and undermine the democratic strides we have made as a nation,” the President said.

After the Bill is taken back to Parliament, MPs can either delete the clause or reject the President’s proposal if 65 per cent (or 145 MPs) vote against it. Mr Karue introduced the offending clause late into the debate on the floor of the House. 

Clause to be deleted

In a statement, the Presidential Press Services said the President had written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Francis ole Kaparo, giving reasons for his refusal to assent to the Bill. He also advised that clause be deleted because it was “offending”.  Section 46(3) and 4 of the Kenyan Constitution gives the President powers to refuse to assent to any Bill. This means that Parliament will only deal with the mentioned clause and not any other part of the Bill because Parliamentary standing orders do not allow opening of debate on a matter that has been concluded.

The Bill had been criticised as retrogressive and meant to water down the democratic gains on the freedom of the media.   Critics argued that it would undermine the profession since it struck the core tenet in the media: Protecting sources of confidential information. The Media Owners Association first raised the red flag on the Bill and called on the minister for Information and Communications, Mr Mutahi Kagwe, to unconditionally withdraw it from Parliament to facilitate dialogue.


The association and the ministry held several meetings and agreed on key issues to be included in the Bill. But on the final day of debate, about 29 MPs passed the Bill and the controversial clause. The move was greeted with outrage with the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) vowing to go to court. 

But several MPs beat them to the tape when they went to court to question the legality of the Bill. However, the case could not go on since the Bill had not become law. Journalists from numerous media houses later held protest marches in Nairobi and Nakuru urging the President to reject the Bill. The silent demonstration in Nairobi begun at Uhuru Park’s Freedom Corner on Wednesday, August 15. 

Yesterday, the LSK praised President Kibaki for refusing to approve the Media Bill. In a telephone interview with the Nation, LSK chairman Okong’o O’Mogeni said there was an urgent need to review the Standing Orders of Parliament so that MPs are barred from introducing amendments on Bills that have been drafted after consultations with various stakeholders.

This, Mr O’Mogeni said, would ensure that contributions made by key players in the course of drafting the Bills outside Parliament are not disregarded when they are tabled for debate in the House. - Nation

 

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Kenya Commercial Bank to return to London

By Shad Bulimo, London August 19 2007

Kenya Commercial Bank is to make a dramatic return to London, the government has announced. Addressing hundreds of Kenyans in London yesterday, Vice President, Dr Moody Awori said the bank would open a branch in London and United States to harness resources in the Diaspora.

The Bank opened a service branch in London in the 1980’s but dramatically shut it down in mid 1990’s under unclear circumstances. At the time, it operated merely as a consultative vehicle; short of offering full fledged banking services. This time around, with an estimated 135,000 Kenyans in the Diaspora, the bank will offer full menu of banking services such as savings, current accounts and loan facilities. Kenyans in the Diaspora remit an estimated shs67 billion every year and the government is keen to facilitate banking services to make the process of economic and monetary transfer less cumbersome.

Dr Awori, who is also Minister for Home Affairs, said the government was responding to the wishes of Kenyans in the Diaspora. He said, KCB had already opened branches in East African countries and the overseas branches would form part of the expansion plan.

Establishment of a Kenyan bank was one of a raft of issues Kenyans in the UK had presented to the government in a memorandum. Other issues raised included the speeding and liberalisation of the Information and Communications (ICT) sector, waiver of duty on donated imports especially medical equipment; insecurity in Kenya and immigration.

Kenyans felt that the visa fees imposed by countries such as US and UK are far too extortionate and the fact that they are not refundable in case of unsuccessful application does infer that these countries are increasingly relying on visa fees from poor Kenyans as an income stream. Then was the issue of Kenyans who are not Kenyans. These are people who arrived here under cover and have received status in the UK based on the nationality they declared when they arrived.

The VP spent considerable time explaining Vision 2030, the government’s blueprint in economic management to bring Kenya to the level of an industrialised nation in 22 years time. He said the vision is being implemented in a 5-year tranche.

Accompanying the VP was the permanent secretary in the office of the vice president and ministry of home affairs Ambassador, Mrs. Nancy Kirui, a former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland. Also present was Kenya’s High Commissioner to UK and Ireland, HE Joseph Muchemi.