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Thursday, February 8th, 2018

 

FAO requests $1.06 billion to fight back against hunger in 26 countries

With conflict and climate-related shocks sending global hunger numbers marching back up after declining for decades, FAO is asking for $1.06 billion to save lives and livelihoods and address acute hunger in 26 countries.

With donor support, FAO is hoping to reach 30+ million people who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods via a range of interventions that seek to rapidly restore local food production and enhance nutrition. These include, for example, providing seeds, tools and other materials for crop farming, safeguarding livestock through lifesaving veterinary care, organizing trainings in improved production, processing, and land and water management, and giving at-need families cash so they can immediately access food.

Escalating humanitarian needs are largely the result of the persistence, intensification and spread of violence and conflict – the impacts of which are often being amplified and aggravated by climate-related shocks. “The reality is that while the lives of millions of people were saved thank to rapid humanitarian response in 2017, millions more remain on the very edge of starvation. Maintaining food production and rebuilding agriculture are fundamental to preventing loss of life from severe hunger and to providing a pathway towards resilience in the midst of humanitarian crises,” said Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division and Leader of FAO’s Strategic Programme on Resilience.

“This is why FAO focuses on transforming vulnerability into resilience – so that when something bad happens families are better able to cope and feed themselves, people don’t have to sell off their assets or flee, and communities can rebuild more quickly after the crisis passes,” he added.

Key needs

FAO’s 2018 humanitarian appeal focuses on assisting crisis-hit, vulnerable people in 26 of the world’s most food insecure countries.

These include Yemen, the country with the largest overall number of people in acute food insecurity, where the Organization aims to reach 5.7 million people. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, FAO plans to assist almost 2.8 million people. In South Sudan, 3.9 million people will benefit from emergency livelihoods support. In Syria, where three-quarters of rural families continue to produce their own food, FAO will provide 2.3 million people with the means to do so. And in Somalia, the Organization will assist 2.7 million people facing severe hunger.

(To see what other countries FAO is targeting for assistance and to learn more about the Organization’s planned humanitarian activities in 2018, click here

A firewall against famine

The latest UN report on global hunger found that after years of steady declines, the ranks of the malnourished are once again on the rise and now totals a troubling 815 million people.

Continued conflict in Iraq, South Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen and other places as well as new outbreaks of violence in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Myanmar have played a major role in driving hunger up. In the Caribbean, hurricanes Irma and Maria left lives – and livelihoods – in tatters, while in the Horn of Africa ongoing drought has taken a heavy toll. Across all of Africa, the Fall Armyworm pest is threatening the crops of millions of farmers.

Last year, discouraging trends like these saw famine – widespread death resulting from severe hunger – break out in parts of one country, South Sudan, and emerge as a real risk in three others: Yemen, Somalia, and northeastern Nigeria.

Famine was contained in South Sudan and averted in the other three at-risk countries thanks to a massive response by the humanitarian community on multiple fronts – including large- large-scale support to agricultural and pastoral communities that played a key role in tilting the balance away from the worst-case scenario.

Highlights of FAO interventions undertaken as part of this joint effort:

  • Provision of seeds, equipment, fertilizer, and training that enabled some six million people in Nigeria, Somali, South Sudan and Yemen to plant and harvest crops.

  • 43 million animals in the same four countries – mainly cattle, goats, and camel – received veterinary care, feed and water thanks to FAO, allowing millions of pastoralist and livestock-dependent families to feed themselves and remain self-sufficient.

  • Some 2 million poor, high-vulnerable families benefitted from FAO cash transfers (adding up to $42 million in total). These payments helped people avoid selling off household seeds, animals or other assets to buy food and bought them time and breathing room to resume their own agricultural production.

    Click here for a complete overview of FAO’s work in 2017 to respond to food crises and build rural resilience.


Tourism growth laudable

By EDITORIAL
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As the country struggles to come out of the difficult electioneering period that has been characterised by violent protests and mayhem, the good news from the tourism sector is a breath of fresh air.

We have held elections without fail every five years, but do not seem near shedding the image of a deadly conflict.

Elections have for too long been synonymous with death and destruction of property.

An element of competition is okay, as it allows the voters to choose the best.

But, unfortunately, our elections have been reduced to tribal clashes that only erode the gains made before the time to choose new leaders comes.

It is therefore heartening to hear that a sector, which contributes a lot to the economy, has defied the doom to post impressive results.

Tourism sector leaders and the key players deserve kudos for coming up with strategies to revive the industry, which are bearing fruit.

Posting a 20.3 per cent growth last year, raking in Sh120 billion despite the election chaos, is commendable.

It is a huge improvement from the Sh99.69 billion earned in 2016.

However, we need to do a lot more work to enhance security in the tourist attractions and offer more incentives to boost international arrivals.

That foreigners came to enjoy our tourist attractions despite the heated electoral contests is a good sign that more can be achieved.


Nasa MPs skip vetting of Uhuru Cabinet nominees

By SAMWEL OWINO
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By DAVID MWERE
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Legislators allied to the National Super Alliance on Thursday boycotted the vetting of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nominees to the Cabinet, living up to their threat not to participate in the exercise.

None of the opposition MPs who sit on the Parliamentary Committee on Appointments showed up for the exercise, leaving the task to their Jubilee colleagues.

Minority Leader in the National Assembly John Mbadi had said last week that opposition MPs would not take part in the exercise since they did not recognise President Kenyatta’s victory in the presidential election.

PUBLIC SERVICE
The exercise however went on under the chairmanship of National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

During the vetting of outgoing Public Service Commission head Margaret Kobia, the committee heard that President Kenyatta did not flout the Constitution when he created Cabinet Administrative Secretary positions.

Prof Kobia, the nominee for the Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs docket, defended the move, saying that article 132 (4) (a) of the Constitution empowers the president to establish any office in the public service in consultation with the commission. 

“The creation of these positions was done in consultation and with the recommendations of the Public Service Commission.

“We did the recommendations in writing to the President,” Prof Kobia told the committee after National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale sought clarification. 

STRAIN ON ECONOMY
Prof Kobia said CSs are usually overwhelmed by duties and therefore the CASs will help them in giving services to the people. 

The opposition and a group of civil society organisations have opposed the creation of the positions, saying that they would be an unnecessary burden to the economy that is not doing well. 

They also accused the President of violating the Constitution by trying to reintroduce the defunct assistant minister positions through the backdoor and dishing them to his cronies, politicians who contested but lost in the August 2017 general election.  

John Munyes (Petroleum and Mining), Dr Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs and International Trade), Ms Farida Karoney (Lands and Housing) and former Meru Governor Peter Munya (East Africa Community and the Northern Corridor Development) were also vetted. 

OIL REVENUE
Dr Juma told the committee that Nasa activist Miguna Miguna, who was controversially deported to Canada on Tuesday night after spending five days in detention without trial, is a foreigner. 

Mr Munyes did not give his clear position on the Petroleum Bill that seeks to divide oil revenue between the national (75 per cent), county government (20 per cent) and the local community (5 per cent) following the discovery of oil in Turkana. 

Mr Munyes was opposed to the Bill during his time as Turkana Senator and on Thursday, when prevailed upon by Mr Duale to state whether his position has changed following his CS nomination, he promised to implement the law as passed by Parliament. 

CARTELS
Ms Karoney warned cartels in the ministry of Lands and Housing that their days are numbered should she confirmed as the CS.

She told the committee of appointments during her vetting that she is determined to break the vicious cartels at Ardhi House.

Top on her agenda if confirmed, Ms Karoney said, is the digitization of all land records to cut out middlemen who have caused mayhem and swindled innocent Kenyans money through bribery and title deeds.

Mr Munya on his part asked the committee to dismiss an affidavit filed by Kennedy Lubengu questioning his suitability to be appointed as CS for East African Community, saying it is baseless and lacks facts.

“The issues raised on the affidavit have not been done in good faith and I request this committee to dismiss it summarily,” Mr Munya said.

EACC PROBE
He also dismissed allegations raised by Lubengu that he is under investigations by EACC and therefore should not hold a public office.

The committee is on Friday expected to vet four more nominees, Mr Keriako Tobiko (Environment and Forestry), Simon Chelugui (Water and Sanitation), Mr Ukur Yatani (Labour and Social Services) and Mr Rashid Echesa (Sports and Heritage).  

It will retreat over the weekend to write its report to be presented on the floor recommending the appointment of the nominees or rejection. 


Canada conveys discontent over treatment of Miguna

By MAUREEN KAKAH
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Details of frantic but fruitless efforts by the Canadian government to intervene in the Miguna Miguna saga using diplomatic channels have been revealed.

In correspondence seen by Nation, the Canadian High Commission wrote to the Foreign Affairs ministry expressing concern over the government’s handling of the self-declared “general” of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

Dr Miguna holds both Kenyan and Canadian citizenship.

In the letter dated February 5, the Canadian High Commission protested that it was not only notified of Dr Miguna’s arrest and subsequent detention in police custody but was also denied information and access to him.

VIOLATION
This, the commission noted, was in blatant non-compliance with the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations.

“The High Commission of Canada is concerned that such actions prevent the Canadian government from monitoring the health and wellbeing of its citizens, the embassy seeks assurances that future consular visits will not face similar restrictions,” the letter reads.

The Canadian government demanded assurances from Kenya that none of its citizens would be mistreated while living and working in the country.

The letter details how officials from the Canadian High Commission wrote to Kenyan authorities seeking authorization to visit Dr Miguna at Lari police station in Kiambu on February 4, only for the officer in charge to decline to identify himself or confirm the lawyer’s status.

INVESTIGATION
The Canadian diplomats also sought to know his wellbeing following reports that he had suffered an asthma attack besides being denied access to his lawyers.

The envoys also raised concerns over the fact that they attempted to call the police service number 911 but it was never received or returned.

They further demanded immediate consular access to Dr Miguna as per the Vienna diplomatic relations.

“The government of Canada takes allegations of mistreatment of a Canadian citizen very seriously.

“The High Commission would be grateful for ministry’s assistance in ensuring an official investigation is conducted and in providing it with updates on the progress as well as results of the probe,” the letter read.

DEPORTATION
The letter was presented before court on Wednesday by State lawyer Duncan Ondimu while Dr Miguna’s battery of lawyers protested over the turn of events that had seen him deported even after a Kajiado court had ordered that he be presented before High Court judge Luka Kimaru.

Following the deportation, Justice Kimaru ordered that Immigration director Gordon Kihalangwa files an affidavit explaining under what circumstances his office took custody of the Nasa activist and deported him in blatant breach of an existing order that he be produced before the High Court.

He also ordered that Inspector General of police Joseph Boinnet and Director of Criminal Investigation George Kinoti appear in person on February 14.
The judge also directed that the duo swear affidavits and file them by Friday 9th, explaining how Dr Miguna was handed over to immigration officials who oversaw his deportation.

RELENTLESS
Dr Miguna arrived in Canada on Wednesday afternoon and immediately declared the struggle to unseat the Jubilee government had just began.

The lawyer who touched down at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport almost two hours late because the flight from Amsterdam had been delayed by a winter storm battering the North East, said he was safe and sound because the Jubilee government could not break him.

“I’m safe. I’m alive. It’s not easy to kill a revolutionary,” He said adding, “They tried but they can’t.”

Assuming his bombastic posture, Dr Miguna said his recent trials and tribulations at the hands of the Jubilee government had only increased his resolve to dislodge the administration.

The Nasa activist was received by a crowd of supporters living in Canada.

Speaking to a group of supporters and members of the Press who had gathered at the arrival lounge to welcome him, he said he was wrongly deported because he had not renounced his Kenyan Citizenship.

Additional reporting by Chris Wamalwa in Philadelphia


Jimi Wanjigi wants to drive probe into obituary saga

By FRED MUKINDA
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Tender billionaire and Nasa strategist Jimi Wanjigi has told of the anguish his family went through after his photograph appeared in a death notice published in the Daily Nation on Wednesday.

The advert was placed by a man who was captured on CCTV, in what is shaping into a carefully planned operation to plant the photo with the aim of causing suffering to the businessman and at the same time embarrass the publisher, Nation Media Group.

Describing it as a “death promise”, Mr Wanjigi said: “I don’t take it lightly and I must say it was horrific what they did.”

He went on: “If you think that is a very human thing to do then really we are in a different world. Kenya right now is going through what I would like to say is a twilight zone, anything can happen to us any time.”

INVESTIGATION
The businessman spoke at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters on Kiambu Road.

However, Mr Wanjigi has not filed a complaint with the police as he was there on a different issue.

The NMG reported the matter to Central Police Station, Nairobi, and detectives are investigating it.

Mr Wanjigi said he has consulted his lawyers. “It is a death promise. That is what it was. What action are we going to take? My lawyers are taking up this matter.”

INTENTIONAL
Mr Wanjigi revealed that NMG acting chief executive officer Stephen Gitagama visited him at his home in Muthaiga on Wednesday.

“He came to my home to apologise. I told them if you are going to be genuine about this, tell me who the individuals who received that advert are.

“If my photo was provided, my face is well known to the entire NMG. They cannot say they don’t know my face so somebody mistakenly put it,” he said, adding that those involved should have been taken to court.

Although NMG has reported the matter to police, Mr Wanjigi said he wants to drive the investigation.

“I have my own capacity and that of friends who would like to investigate this matter,” he said.


Bigger plan emerges in Nasa as State toughens stand

By PATRICK LANG’AT
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By SAMWEL OWINO
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The opposition National Super Alliance is planning six rallies in the run-up to a national convention at the end of this month in response to the government’s crack down on key players in Raila Odinga’s symbolic swearing-in ceremony as the people’s president.

At the same time, Nasa plans to continue with its product boycott, on top of a new threat that it says could include “wilful disobedience of the law” this weekend.

Since the January 30 Uhuru Park event, the government has gone on an arresting spree, with Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang’, his Makadara counterpart George Aladwa, and firebrand activist Miguna Miguna being the key targets so far.

Mr Miguna was on Tuesday evening deported to Canada.

PASSPORTS
The government has also revoked the passports of 14 Nasa politicians, including Siaya Senator James Orengo, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama, and businessman Jimi Wanjigi.

“There is no government and there is no opposition right now,” National Assembly Minority chief whip Junet Mohamed summed up the Nasa position on Thursday.

“We just have rulers and servants. What is going on, really, has made the life of anyone thought to be pro-opposition very difficult.”

Mr Mohamed, who is also Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) director of elections, said President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government has negated the “huge strides we had made after the 2010 Constitution, the doctrine of the separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, and devolution”.

FIREARMS
The Opposition has been rattled by a ruthless, unforgiving crack down that Mr Odinga has described as the return of the dictatorial Kanu regime, especially after Jubilee leadership confiscated firearm licences of Nasa co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi, and Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati.

In Parliament, the government has recalled vehicles belonging to National Assembly minority leader John Mbadi, Mr Mohamed, and other opposition figures.

To counter these “affronts on their rights”, the Opposition plans to push the anti-harassment card in its rallies, but it has a more lethal weapon hidden in its collective armpit: A national referendum.

The rallies will be held in Suswa, Narok for the Maa region; Wajir Town for the northern frontier; Meru for upper eastern, Eldoret for the Rift Valley region, Kisii for the Gusii region, and a yet-to-be-named location for Central Kenya.

REFERENDUM
At the end of the rallies, the coalition’s people’s assembly planning committee said, delegates will converge in Nairobi at the end of this month for a national convention.

“The resolutions of the convention will be validated by the people through a referendum,” Nasa lead strategist David Ndii said of the grand plan.

“Our goal is to see the people’s assembly process culminate in a presidential election under a new electoral regime no later than August 2018.”

To cement the plan and iron out differences arising from the January 30 Raila “oath”, Nasa has called a meeting of its elected leaders on Friday next week.

Mr Musyoka, Mr Mudavadi, and Mr Moses Wetang’ula have all faced a barrage of criticism for skipping the Uhuru Park ceremony, and Wiper chairman Kivutha Kibwana says those accusations could have been informed by the “moment of anger” soon after their no-show.

REFORMS
In the referendum push, the opposition is dangling the carrot of a rotational presidency, an expanded Executive with the option of a prime minister, and a strong devolved system.

The team is also proposing the strengthening of the Judiciary and reforms to the police service.

But what remains unclear — opposition leaders the Nation has been talking to have been non-committal — is whether that referendum push and the new demand to have a fresh election by August 2018 will go together.

Mr Odinga told the BBC earlier in the week that Nasa wants “a third election”, referring to the annulled August 8 election and the October 26 rerun he boycotted.

PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY
On electoral justice, the opposition is training its guns on what it calls a culture of impunity, abuse of power and electoral fraud, and through the people’s assembly wants every vote counts in an election.

On Thursday, Dr Ndii said the national people’s assembly will determine whether Executive authority should rotate to different regions of the country, but also stated that the issue of self-determination remains alive.

In the corridors of justice, Nasa has adopted a prevent-an-arrest strategy, with a battery of lawyers on call.

On Thursday, Orengo, Wanjigi, and Aladwa were turned away at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations when they presented themselves for questioning after they acquired anticipatory bails.


Universal healthcare a worthy goal

By JOY WANJA MURAYA
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In a world where one out of every two people is faced with the tough choice between buying food or medicine, Kenya needs to prioritise the achievement of universal health coverage early enough.

Whereas both food and medicine are essential for human survival, the attainment of universal healthcare will save thousands of Kenyans from having to make this tough decision.

Universal health coverage is entirely a political choice for all countries.

AFFORDABLE CARE

Sadly, the lack of essential health services is driving more people into extreme poverty as unexpected illnesses push more families to sell their livestock, empty their life’s savings or borrow from their equally financially troubled neighbours.

A global call for countries to achieve universal health coverage, where everyone has access to affordable healthcare, requires a fundamental shift in the delivery of health services.

Kenya signed the global pact to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030, which will allow everyone to obtain the health services they need, when and where they need them, and without facing any financial hardships.

PRIORITIES

However, new inventions, effective public health campaigns and novel treatments mean nothing if there are no robust healthcare systems to deliver them. 

Kenya needs to move more swiftly by strengthening health systems at the national and county levels.

Leading the pack in Africa are Rwanda and Ghana, through innovative and realistic health financing packages setting them on the path towards early attainment of universal health care.

Kenya needs to get its priorities right to strike the right balance in healthcare management.

Sadly, there isn’t a one-size model that fits all.

Kenya needs to come up with an imperative road map.

County governments need to have an epitome rollout that suits their demographics.

Makueni County is setting the pace to make universal health coverage a reality, a journey that began in October last year, targeting to enrol all the 180,000 households at an initial cost of Sh500 per year for every household.

NHIF
The Makueni model is built on the fact that 74 per cent of the population is under 35, which is 988,586, making it a relatively young population.

Those aged above 65 are on a free-healthcare initiative.

The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) is well-positioned as the public organisation to provide accessible, affordable and sustainable quality health insurance for all Kenyans.

However, the fund’s performance has been dismal and achieving the vision to deliver UHC is doubtful, if it remains business as usual at the NHIF.

AWARENESS
Universal healthcare does not mean free healthcare, but a tax-funded healthcare system is possible by astutely reforming the NHIF.

A national campaign to reach 13 million principal members from the current six million is an optimistic move for this premier position for the largest single health insurer in the country.

The NHIF also needs to be more proactive and transparent in communicating its products and services to all.

This will build more public confidence in the institution’s capacity to take care of the members’ health needs.

PUBLIC SUPPORT

And as the hordes of optimistic Kenyans wait for these reforms to finally take root, the county governments need move quickly to put in place essential structures that will anchor and enable the attainment of universal health coverage.

Their package should offer a continuum of health services, ranging from prevention, promotion of health, treatment, rehabilitation, to the management of diseases up to the palliative care component of healthcare.

The general public needs to be assertively involved in demanding universal health coverage to protect the people from the pinching costs from the out-of-pocket health expenditure.

A rights-driven campaign will cushion millions of families from the unforgiving and intolerant healthcare costs that drive thousands of Kenyans into poverty.

To be able to make these great strides, the perfect cocktail should be brewed on good governance, efficient health informational systems, motivated health workers and a public that is well-versed in their health rights.

We need to begin the journey today by building a strong, efficient and well-run health system.

Ms Muraya is a journalist and a health communication expert. [email protected] Twitter: @joywanjaz


Re-imaging banking in 2018 and beyond

By JOSHUA OIGARA
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Justifiably, 2017 was a year that can be summarised in three words: Uncertain, changing and challenging.

Looking at the East African region, economic conditions deteriorated largely in Kenya and South Sudan, with the other countries closing the year with a not so favourable story to tell.

A prolonged electioneering period in Kenya slowed down expansion across the region.

We however see some recovery coming through during the first half of 2018.

The full effect of the law capping interest rates marked by a slow business environment as the elections hit the economy.

The rate cap subdued private investment, owing to the drop in lending rates.

As such, overall credit growth to the private sector reached its lowest levels in mid-2017.

In South Sudan, hyperinflation impacted on business, but we remain optimistic that the political situation will improve, creating a conducive operating environment.

Rwanda elections passed uneventfully, which was a positive indicator for business and investment.

RESURGE
Most business executives would report that conditions for the financial services industry have worsened over the past 12 months.

But the shockwaves have not solely been external.

Financial institutions have also been looking inward, implementing changes to their core operations — from shortening transaction times to integrating sustainable innovation into their product offerings — re-evaluating the entire system itself.

This year will unleash its own challenges. The general outlook for 2018 is favourable with an expected improvement in economic conditions and a pickup in investments across the region.

CREDIT RISK
Two things will define the financial services sector this year — a new regulatory environment and increased investments in technology (Fintech) space.

The global financial system has got into a new regime — the International Financial Reporting Standards 9 (IFRS9) — which took effect on January 1.

Under the IFRS 9, the most fundamental change is recognition of credit risk losses.

Previously, financial institutions would recognise a risk at the point of default.

They will be expected to recognise this at the beginning and during the loan’s life cycle and make the necessary provisions.

We do not anticipate a shrinkage in credit or any major shock to our business as we have over the years been preparing for this.

The KCB is adequately capitalised to fit in the new guidelines.

INTEREST RATES

The future lies in leveraging technology to drive efficiencies in operations to serve our customers better.

Since the introduction of the caps, growth in credit to the government has averaged 15 per cent compared to the 2.3 per cent to the private sector.

We are glad that the regulator has indicated a willingness to reassess the interest cap.

Given the technological and market changes roiling the industry, the coming two to three years may well bring even greater disruption to banking.

STABLE RATING

To play the long-term game, each organisation needs to determine which developments to prepare for and how, based on its particular assets, business model and operating model.

The KCB’s growth prospects are strong. Rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) last month affirmed KCB Group’s B+ stable rating.

Our business fundamentals remain strong. We are focused on devising new forms of enhancing long-term corporate projects, or structuring that benefits SMEs.

Success stories are most likely to come from those already planning for the years ahead. And this is a sign that this year holds vast opportunities to break new ground in business, especially in the financial sector.


Why editors mistakenly print obituaries of people still alive

An obituary in the advertising pages of the Nation is referred to as a death and funeral announcement.

It’s a tribute to a loved one as well as a notice of their death.

Most of the obituaries in the Nation read the same way except for details about the deceased and their family ties.

They mostly begin with the words: “It is with deep sorrow that …”

The controversial “James Richard Wanjagi” announcement began with the same words.

But for the portrait, it could have passed for a genuine announcement.

DEATH ANNOUNCEMENT

However, Jimi Wanjigi, his family and friends must have been surprised to read the thinly disguised announcement of his death and funeral in the Daily Nation of Wednesday this week.

They may also have been distressed. Mention of death of a family member is emotive.

All the same, Mr Wanjigi has joined a long list of famous people who have been erroneously killed off by the media.

They include historical figures such as Pope John Paul II, Marcus Garvey, and Alfred Nobel.

Pope John Paul II was the subject of three false death announcements.

NOBEL PRIZE

Black nationalist Marcus Garvey was incorrectly reported to have died after suffering a heart attack.

But he died as a result of suffering a second stroke after reading his obituary in the Chicago Defender on January 1940.

In 1888, arms manufacturer and founder of the Nobel Prize, Alfred Nobel, was reported in a French newspaper to have died as a “merchant of death”.

It was his brother Ludwig who had died. But the condemnation in the premature obituary is reported to have caused him to create the Nobel Prize when he finally died in 1896 so as to save his legacy.

Big media including CNN, BBC, The New York Times and Times of London have all been caught up in publishing false death reports.

The BBC, for example, announced on May 17, 2010 that “Queen Elizabeth II has now died”.

In 2003, CNN accidentally released draft obituaries for seven world figures, including Nelson Mandela, who died in 2013.

FAKED DEATH

In 1969, The New York Times published the obituary of civil rights activist and political candidate Grady O’Cummings III, who lived for another seven years.

O’Cummings had faked his own death due to threats against his life.

In 1920, The Times printed an obituary of Lord Desborough, a famous sportsman and politician, instead of that of Lord Bessborough, a barrister who had died.

Lord Desborough lived for another 25 years.

In Kenya, media announcements of false deaths of prominent people are rare, the last one being that of politician-cum-business tycoon Njenga Karume who The Standard and NTV killed off in 2012 on their Facebook and Twitter pages, some 20 days before he died on February 24.

DUE DILIGENCE
There are many reasons why editors mistakenly publish obituaries of people who are still alive.

I shall mention only three. The first is when a person is a victim of a life-threatening accident or illness and the media prematurely publishes an obituary as a result of lack of due diligence as happened in the Njenga Karume case.

In such a case, they are entirely to blame for the premature obituary.

The second is when media accidentally release the obituary of a famous person before they die.

This is what CNN did in 2003.

News organisations worth their salt write in advance obituaries of famous people, especially those who are old or in poor health, so that when they die they can publish them immediately.

The media have no defence for publishing such obituaries prematurely.

The third reason is when somebody plants a false death announcement.

This is the most difficult one to deal with. This is what happened in the “James Richard Wanjagi” death and funeral announcement.

The best a newspaper can do is to apologise and retract. This is what the Nation did.

It promptly retracted its mistake and published a correction, preventing the false obituary from causing further harm.


Teachers avoid school as banditry persists

By WYCLIFF KIPSANG
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By OSCAR KAKAI
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Teachers working in schools in West Pokot County are now seeking transfer following attacks by bandits.

Some of the schools that have been closed are Kapushen, Kamelei, Ptsonu, Sopowen, Tarak, Tapach, Pialang and Kamonges primary schools.

Also affected is Kamelei and Tapach secondary schools.

West Pokot branch Knut executive-secretary Martin Sembelo on Thursday said more than 20 teachers from the schools have since been moved out of the stations after they sought transfer fearing for their lives.

“More schools risk closure due to the perennial attacks,” he said.

POLICE RESERVISTS

West Pokot County director of education Jarred Obiero said the attacks were affecting learning in the region.

“Gunshots have been the order of the day in the area, making teachers and learners to stay away from schools for fear of being attacked,” he said.

Pokot Central deputy county commissioner Geoffrey Kithinji said the teachers have kept off schools despite assurances of their safety.

“We deployed police reservists to these schools but the teachers are nowhere to be seen,” Mr Kithinji said.

DISPLACEMENT
Tension is high after two people were killed in the recent attack last week on Friday.

Residents are now fleeing the area after an unknown number of livestock were stolen and more than 250 houses torched during the attack.

The attacks have led to the displacement of more than 2,000 people.

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo and his Elgeyo-Marakwet counterpart Alex Tolgos have condemned the incessant attacks on the porous boundaries and urged the warring communities to embrace peaceful co-existence.

“This region is rich in agriculture because we have milk, Irish potatoes, pyrethrum and Merino sheep, but there will be no meaningful development without peace,” Prof Lonyangapuo said.