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Saturday, February 10th, 2018

 

In Iraq, years of violence and conflict leave 4 million children in need

In Iraq, years of violence and conflict leave 4 million children in need

At the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, UNICEF and UN-Habitat call for urgent investment to restore basic infrastructure and services for children and families

Download the UNICEF-UN-Habitat assessment, “Committing to Change – Securing the Future” and Fact Sheet and multimedia material here

AMMAN/CAIRO/BAGHDAD, 11 February 2017– Violence may have subsided in Iraq, but it has upended the lives of millions across the country, leaving one in four children in poverty and pushing families to extreme measures to survive.

Without investment to restore basic infrastructure and services for children, the hard-won gains to end conflict in Iraq are in jeopardy, according to a UNICEF and UN-Habitat assessment, Committing to Change – Securing the Future.

The conflict turned Iraq’s major cities into war zones with significant damage to civilian infrastructure, including homes, schools, hospitals and recreation spaces. Since 2014, the United Nations has verified 150 attacks on education facilities and 50 attacks on health centres and personnel. Half of all schools in Iraq now require repairs and more than 3 million children have had their education interrupted.

“Children are Iraq’s future,” said, Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “The Kuwait Conference for Iraq this week is an opportunity for world leaders to show that we are willing to invest in children – and through investing in children, that we are willing to invest in rebuilding a stable Iraq.”

As displaced families return, many find that their homes require major repairs, exacerbating pre-conflict housing shortages in the country. In the city of Mosul, over 21,400 homes have been damaged or destroyed. The poorest families have no other choice but to live in the ruins of their homes, in potentially hazardous conditions for children. Some have taken their children out of school and put them to work. Many children were forced to fight an adults’ war.

Children are hardest hit in times of conflict, and Iraq urban crisis recovery and reconstruction should be prioritized, adequately supported and quickly implemented, with special attention to vulnerable people, including children” said, Zena Ali Ahmad the Director of Arab Region of UN-Habitat.

At the Kuwait Conference for Reconstruction in Iraq, from tomorrow to 14 February, UNICEF and UN-Habitat are appealing for firm commitments to restore basic infrastructure and services for children, including in education, psycho-social support, health and water, sanitation and hygiene, and housing.

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For more information please contact:
Laila Ali, UNICEF Iraq, laali@unicef.org, +964 780 9258 542
Juliette Touma, UNICEF MENA Regional Office, jtouma@unicef.org +962 79-867-4628
Tamara Kummer, UNICEF MENA Regional Office, tkummer@unicef.org, +962 797 588 550 Alan Miran, UN-Habitat Iraq, alan.miran@unhabitat.org, +964 750 342 7036
Salma Mustafa, UN-Habitat Regional Office for Arab States, Salma.Mustafa@unhabitat.org, +20 2 37618812

About UNICEF
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit http://www.unicef.org

Follow UNICEF on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

About UN-Habitat
UN-Habitat is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future. Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.
Website: www.unhabitat.org/iraq
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram


Persistent civil unrest disrupts livelihoods in Central African Republic

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  • Reduced production for 2017 crops due to generalized decline in planted area as consequence of persisting civil insecurity

  • Food access continues to be severely constrained by disrupted livelihoods, reduced production and sharply-curtailed market activity

  • Food prices have risen sharply in conflict-ridden areas

  • Dire food security situation for large segments of population, strong livelihood support required

Reduced production for 2017 crops

Harvesting of the main 2017 cereal crops was completed in December 2017, while the harvest of the secondary crops is still underway in some southern bi-modal rainfall areas.

According to satellite-based information, vegetation conditions during the cropping season were generally favourable. Average to below-average rainfall prevailed from March until the first dekad of June 2017 in both the southern maize-producing areas and in northern millet/sorghum-growing areas. However, persisting civil insecurity continued to disrupt agricultural activities and limited the available crop-growing areas thus having a negative impact on the final outcome of the cropping season. In fact, it is reported that smaller areas were planted particularly in conflict areas due to the limited access to cropland and seeds. In 2017, a slightly reduced aggregate output was recorded for the fifth consecutive year.

In conflict-affected areas, food prices increased sharply in recent months

Food prices have increased sharply in recent months in the northwest, southeast and central conflict-affected areas mostly due to below-average market supplies, sharply-curtailed market activity as well as the degraded state of roads and road harassment (illegal check-points, ambushes).

The average annual inflation rate declined in recent years and fell to 3.7 percent in 2017 compared to 4.6 percent in 2016. The general decline in prices was mostly demand-driven as disrupted livelihoods, reduced employment opportunities and limited availability have severely curtailed households’ purchasing power. In 2018, the average annual inflation rate is expected to remain similar to the 2017 levels.

Food security situation remains dire, strong livelihood support continues to be required

Violent clashes and inter-communal tensions have continuously increased since 2017 resulting in widespread disruption of agricultural and marketing activities as well as exacerbated the massive displacements, with a severe negative impact on both food availability and access. According to UNHCR, as of end-December 2017, the IDP caseload was estimated at about 689 000 people, with a nearly 15 percent increase since the end of October 2017 in the Ouham-Pendé and Haute-Kotto regions. The conflicts that led to the displacement of the populations is also restricting humanitarian access and disrupting agricultural activities.

Five consecutive years of reduced harvests, compounded by access constraints due to market disruptions and declining purchasing power, result in an alarming food security situation across the country. The 2017 lean season (from April to July) was particularly harsh and extended with most households facing serious food constraints. In addition, not only the quantity of food in-take was reduced but the dietary diversity was also drastically diminished by the substitution of more nutritious cereal and vegetable staples with cassava and the sharp reduction of animal proteins intake. This widespread dietary deterioration raises serious concerns of having a dire effect in terms of nutrition and health. According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), valid for the period from February to May 2017, about 1.1 million people (30 percent of the total population) were in need of urgent assistance (IPC Phase 3: “Crisis” and IPC Phase 4: “Emergency”) of which more than 315 000 people who faced IPC Phase 4: “Emergency”. Eight out of the 15 prefectures were in IPC Phase 3: “Crisis”. A timely and effective support to the agricultural sector is required to mitigate the extent of the impact of the protracted and widespread insecurity on the agricultural sector.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.


Raila accuses Jubilee of blatant violation of the Constitution

By DERRICK LUVEGA
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Nasa leader Raila Odinga has accused the Jubilee leadership of blatant violation of the Constitution and human rights through disobeying of court orders and harassment by police. 

Mr Odinga also accused the government of holding hostage various government bodies, leaving citizens helpless. 

The opposition chief, who was sworn in as the “people’s president” on January 30, said that among the bodies held hostage by Jubilee include the Judiciary, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Parliament. 

Mr Odinga was speaking in Vihiga during the burial of Justus Etale, the father of ODM Communications Director Philip Etale. 

The former Prime Minister said the Jubilee government had resorted to disobeying court orders and using police to violate people’s rights. 

Mr Odinga was making his second public address since he was sworn in as the “people’s president”.

GRABBED POWER

His first address was when he attended the funeral service for Yvonne Wamalwa, widow of former Vice-President Michael Kijana Wamalwa, in Nairobi.

His “oath” has led to the government cracking down on opposition politicians close to him. 

But, speaking in Vihiga, Mr Odinga said: “This is my first engagement party with the public after being sworn in. We are relying on Article 1 of the Constitution that says sovereignty lies with the people of Kenya,” said Mr Odinga. 

He went on: “The people can exercise it directly or indirectly but our competitors are doing the opposite. They have grabbed power and held government bodies hostage.

“The State has become rogue.  They are blatantly violating court orders and using the police to intimidate people,” he said. 

Mr Odinga, however, told his supporters that he had been sworn in and that “things are going to change”.

“We are going to hold the people’s convention soon. I will discharge my duties as the people’s president without fear,” he said. 

DEPORTATION

He accused the police of arresting political leaders and decried the recent deportation of the self-declared National Resistance Movement (NRM) “general” Miguna Miguna.

He criticised Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet for saying  that the crackdown on Nasa leaders will continue. 

“We have seen them (government) arrest and deport a Kenyan. When people agitate for their rights, they are brutalised by the police and some killed,” said Mr Odinga.

He added: “The IG is threatening politicians. Police are civil servants.  If there is a breakdown in law and order, the police and the army will not manage to control the people.”

He defended NRM and said it is an idea whose time has come. 

Aware that the ongoing crackdown on his allies might lead to his possible arrest and prosecution, Mr Odinga said he had faced similar threats in the past and prevailed. 

“I was arrested in 1992 and detained for six years. There is nothing new (Attorney-General) Githu Muigai can threaten me with,” he said. 

ELECTORAL JUSTICE

He said electoral injustice was deep-rooted in the country and that he had been a victim in 2007, 2013 and 2017.

He said the country should not discuss the 2022 elections until electoral justice is restored. 

Other leaders present at the funeral included Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo, Senators Amos Wako (Busia), Cleophas Malala (Kakamega) and George Khaniri (Vihiga).

Luanda MP Chris Omulele, Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi and a host of ODM officials also attended.

The leaders vowed to stick with Mr Odinga with former Attorney-General Wako asking the government to respect human rights and honour court orders.

“Chapter Four of our Constitution is on human rights. I want to tell Jubilee that the rule of law is fundamental. When I served as the Attorney-General, I ensured that rights of everyone were observed. I also participated in the drafting of the new Constitution. What is happening now is a replica of the 1980s and 1990s,” said Mr Wako.

Mr Etale eulogised his father as a man who cherished values.


On a fruitful mission to make better men

By SONI KANAKE
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The two men hugged and cried, then hugged and cried some more. It was a father and his son who had fallen out for a decade.

Graduation days are emotional but this one had more reasons for the copious amounts of tears. The father struggled to find words to explain the how and the why on things not working out. The son, too, was lost for words.

Looking at them from a distance was Mr Simon Mbevi who, together with a team of facilitators, had made the reconciliation possible.

“There is nothing like two men hugging and crying as they release the pain of the past,” says Mr Mbevi as he relives events of that day.

The reunion had been made possible through a programme he runs, called Man Enough. Though the father and the son had gone through the programme separately, when they met for graduation they felt the time was nigh to bury the hatchet.

Mr Mbevi recalls some of the messages they exchanged.

“Dad, this is why I hated you,” one said.

“Son, that was not what I really intended. I’m sorry you misunderstood me,” the other replied.

MAN ENOUGH

Mr Mbevi’s programme, Man Enough, is among the few thriving initiatives focusing on men and nurturing boys to be upright and productive people in society.

There is also Hodari Boys Club, Mother’s Delight and Boys to Men — all based in Nairobi — that offer different types of support for men to fit more effectively in society.

The Man Enough programme, under the Transform Nations company founded by Nairobi-based Mr Mbevi, encourages men to come together and be real with each other. The men share their experiences and exchange their experiences.

“Men do not naturally open up about their issues like women,” says Mr Mbevi.

“For a man to open up, he needs a safe place where he doesn’t feel judged to talk about the pain of his past,” he adds. This, he says, is therapeutic and men really value it.

Giving the example of the man who reunited with his son, he says one of the highlights of the programme is to help men deal with whatever ghosts are plaguing them.

“When men know how to handle their pain and how they deal with it, they are better people,” he says.

He cites another case where a man in one of the programmes was violent to his wife.

“After one of our classes that we call “wounded warrior” where we encourage the men to walk back in time to face their buried emotions, he realised that the pain was inflicted on him by his parents as a child. He reached out to his wife with whom they had separated and opened up to her and explained his violent behaviour. The couple reconciled and are together to date,” says Mr Mbevi.

“Unresolved pain is likely to show up unless it is dealt with,” he explains.

James MuriithiMr James Muriithi and his son Ethan having father-son fun at a camp in Sagana recently in a programme organised by Mothers’ Delight. PHOTO | COURTESY

Man Enough also focuses on reviving the traditional values where men get to sit together and talk about their masculinity and the challenges they face.

“I’m a firm believer that men are made among other men,” says Mr Mbevi.

A good number of men have “father wounds” as a result of passive, absent or dads that were too harsh, explains Mr Mbevi.

The majority, he says, are “unfathered” — where the dad abandoned or is deceased; “underfathered” — where the father barely has time for them or “misfathered” — where a father is abusive, angry or a drunkard.

MOTHER’S DELIGHT

This programme usually runs during school holidays and focuses on holiday camps. Its founder Mr Bonnie Kagiri wanted to design something where he could give mothers a break from parenting.

When Mr Kagiri decided to go camping with his two sons, seven and five years, he had no idea that it was the beginning of something bigger. Having done physiology in college, he perfectly understood the role of a dad in the lives of his children and was keen on imparting them.

“It was during their holidays and I wanted to spend some time with them in a different environment far from home,” says Mr Kagiri. But when he mentioned this to his friends, they all wanted to join and this first camp ended up having about 20 dads and their children, thus Mother’s Delight was born.

“When you get out of your comfort zone, it not only helps you see how your children can deal with challenges but it also helps them to grow and learn some skills and lessons they would never learn at home or school,” explains Mr Kagiri.

He adds: “You cannot fully understand your child when at home. However, when you have to pitch up the tents at camp together and make breakfast together, you begin to observe various traits in your child.”

SHARE THE MOMENT

Mr Kagiri’s sons Henry, 7, and Ndung’u, 5, are always looking forward to the holiday camps.

“I enjoyed swimming in the river and helping dad make breakfast,” offers Henry. “I also did zip-lining though I was scared the first time I did it,” says the youngster.

One of the people who have previously made use of the programme is Martin Karuga. He went camping with his five-year-old son and says the experience encourages dads to share the moment as they bond and have fun.

“Parenting is more sharing and seeing than telling them ‘not to’,” says Mr Karuga. “When the children see how you react in different circumstances, they learn patience, creativity and resilience.”

He notes that his son has become a very independent little adult “and has learnt to speak his mind”.

Mothers’ Delight programmeMr Martin Karura and his son Nickel make breakfast together under the Mothers’ Delight programme. PHOTO | COURTESY

“Camping breaks some barriers and your children learn to trust you and are more open with you,” he says, adding that the boy has also become courageous after seeing his dad jump into a river.

Mr Karuga encourages other dads to create memories with their sons.

“The only memories I remember were my dad playing football with me or when he took us for walks at arboretum,” he reminisces.

“You stop being a sponsor to your children and actively contribute to character building.”

QUALITY TIME

His wife Wachuka is excited that her son gets time to go out in the wild and spend quality time with his dad.

“Today my dad and I don’t have much to talk about because this bond wasn’t strengthened in childhood. This is a good avenue for sons to open up and create a lasting bond with their fathers,” she says.

“When they are away, I can breathe,” confesses Ms Wachuka adding “They are with someone I trust 100 per cent and I am also able to do my thing.”

Another man who has seen the benefits of the Mothers’ Delight programme is Edmund Ndegwa, a consultant on health and safety systems. He normally camps with his nephew, Jelani.

“After I attended my first camp with my son I knew I had to tag my nephew along,” explains Mr Ndegwa. “I took it upon myself to be the father figure in his life since his mum is a single mum.”

He asserts that masculinity is transferred and boys need to spend time with father figures who can influence them positively.

“My nephew is seven and his environment is mainly a woman’s world. I realised he needed to be out there with men that could impact him and teach him to be a man,” says Ndegwa who picks him up every weekend to spend time with him.

“Children tend to learn from what they see rather than what we tell them,” he adds.

HODARI BOYS’ CLUB

This initiative focuses more on boys doing their work as required.

Mr Andrew Ritho, an administrator of the club, was enlisted into the club from his days in primary school all the way to university. He told Lifestyle that the club was founded by parents who were looking for a place for boys to study and do their homework.

The Hodari Boys’ Club has daily activities, especially for the older boys who are able to make their way home in the evening.

“The boys come to the club after school to do their homework and also get mentored on character formation,” says Mr Ritho.

“The younger ones come to the club on Saturday for various activities and mentorship,” he adds.

Hodari Boys’ Club is founded on the Opus Dei school of thought and `caters for boys of eight to 18 years and offers various activities like football, karate, piano and guitar lessons, basketball among other games.

“The club also organises father-son camps every holiday where they enjoy bonding sessions as they go fishing, hiking or jumping off cliffs,” explains Mr Ritho.

When the boys are away being mentored and learning to be men, their mothers can take a break.

BOYS TO MEN

This is another initiative under Mr Mbevi’s Transform Nations. But unlike Man Enough, this one focuses more on young boys and its core activity is having fun.

Boys to Men holds monthly events where boys are taken through different events ranging from skating, community service and gp-karting.

They are also taught how to overcome the wounds of their childhood to taking them for movies that call out the masculinity in them.

“We also have holiday editions where we have three to five day events,” says Mr Mbevi.

The boys are taken through lessons where they learn time management and self-awareness as most boys suffer from self-esteem more than girls.

Boys to Men targets boys in schools, churches and provides alternative fatherhood through male mentors.

“The five key roles of a father are summarised in 5Ps: Presence, Providers, Protectors, Priests and Prophet,” explains Mr Mbevi.

“Boys struggle with who they are as men and do not understand their roles in society and suffer from an identity crisis,” he adds.

SHOWING EMOTIONS

He himself grew up without a father, meaning he lacked a role model to guide him.

“Like the typical boy, we grow up and were told boys don’t cry and that showing emotions as a man was weak,” explains Mr Mbevi, who lost his father at a tender age. “We learnt to bottle up our feelings from a tender age.”

Unfortunately, these caged emotions come out through violence, not being relational or substance abuse, says Mr Mbevi. That is why he started the Transform Nations company to help out boys in various aspects.

“I started it so that boys would not have to go through what I went through,” says Mr Mbevi, a lawyer by profession.

“When boys grow up without a father, it makes them feel incomplete as they have no one to show them what it means to be a man. We started a mentoring programme, Boys to Men, where we would encourage men to mentor young boys in schools and church,” explains Mr Mbevi.


Special police unit schemes arrests of Nasa leaders

By SUNDAY NATION TEAM
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Security agencies have embarked on a new phase to intensify the crackdown on those who played a role in the January 30 mock “swearing-in” of Raila Odinga as the “People’s President”, multiple confidential sources familiar with the high-level strategy have told the Nation.

Revelations of the plan that includes using special elite teams could involve getting search warrants to not only raid the homes of the opposition leaders but also cynically using as much force as possible to cause maximum damage.

A team of at least 20 police officers drawn from the Flying Squad and the Special Crimes Unit is behind the crackdown on Nasa leaders. Elements of the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit are also said to be involved.

The elite Flying Squad unit is currently being reconstituted but Mr Said Kiprotich is leading the operations. Politician Miguna Miguna named Mr Kiprotich and a Chief Inspector Njoroge as among those who were behind his arrest. The officers, who come in at least six Subaru vehicles, have the leeway to take those arrested to far-flung police stations. Mr Miguna, for example, was taken to Githunguri and Lari police stations in Kiambu County, among others, despite being arrested in Nairobi. 

HOUSE PLANS

“We have mapped out the Nairobi homes of the key people we are targeting for arrest. We have also been studying their house plans to guide us when there is a raid. The idea is that these people should not live in comfort while causing trouble,” said the security official, who spoke in confidence.

Part of causing the “personal discomfort” or “punishment” was seen last week when plainclothes police officers stopped the Leader of Minority in the National Assembly John Mbadi and the Minority Whip Junet Mohammed in the middle of the road and impounded their vehicles. Opposition leaders are also challenging in court the withdrawal of their bodyguards and firearms licences. 

The strategy also played out over one week ago during a dawn raid on the self-proclaimed “general” of the National Resistance Movement Miguna after pictures emerged of damage to his house in Runda. Mr Miguna, who was later controversially deported, claimed his house had been “bombed”, something police Spokesman Charles Owino denied.

According to a member of Mr Miguna’s legal team Edwin Sifuna, the officers who stormed the activist’s Runda residence and arrested him on Friday, February 2, were armed with a search warrant issued by a Nairobi magistrate.

“In the morning when they came to arrest him, they had a search warrant from a magistrate’s court in Nairobi but the magistrate’s name was missing so we suspect it was a forgery.”

Similar damage was inflicted on the house of Nasa financier Jimi Wanjigi when police raided his Muthaiga house. During the raid, plainclothes officers were captured by television crews smashing into Mr Wanjigi’s house with axes and machetes, destroying valuable property in the process.

After failing to get Mr Wanjigi or to recover the alleged weapons, the officers left. But they had made a point, said our source. “The penalty for sabotaging the State will come down swiftly and heavily. Make no mistake about that,” he said.

The listing of NRM – a wing within the National Super Alliance – as a banned organisation and using the charge of treason and organised crime has apparently provided the police with the latitude to crack down on those involved in the “oath”. The ban has since been temporarily lifted by the High Court and it will be interesting to see if the police will back down.

On Friday, Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet said the crackdown on “rogue leaders” will continue.

SIMILAR TACTICS

“We are serving people in a constitutional manner. Break the law and face the consequences,” Mr Boinnet said at Kiganjo Police Training College in Nyeri.

On Saturday, ODM secretary for Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi criticised the language used by the Inspector-General to refer to opposition leaders.

The experiences of those arrested by the elite police paint a picture of similar tactics.

After Mr Miguna was arrested on Friday February 2, he found himself dealing with police officers who, in his own words, “looked rough”. “Some of them were bearded, while others had dreadlocks.”

“I was abducted from my house by people who did not even identify themselves as police. They detonated a grenade at my house,” the lawyer said.

“My purported ‘deportation’ to Canada followed a violent invasion of my home by more than 34 hooded criminals who used detonators to gain access to my residence at about 5.30 am,” he said, adding that they did not identify themselves or the reasons for such violent entry.

SIX VEHICLES

The same squad is said to have arrested Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang at the Milimani courts only days earlier and driving him to the Nairobi Area police station in six vehicles. He was later charged with treason and released on a Sh50,000 bond. Normally, an ad hoc team of experienced police officers is assembled any time there is a “special operation” that needs to be carried out with precision.

The operation, on many occasions, entails arresting a VIP, a high-profile suspect or taking on a dangerous, armed criminal gang. The team draws its officers from two main conventional police units: The Flying Squad and the Special Crime Prevention Unit, which are under the command of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

On a need basis, undercover officers from the DCI at regional and national headquarters are incorporated. Upon completion of a task, the officers retreat to their units. The length of the mission varies; it can be hour-long assignments  or can be extended for months, even years.

For instance, the Kwekwe squad was formed in 2007 to fight the Mungiki menace and was disbanded in less than a year after the outlawed sect, which was notorious for macabre killings and imposing illegal taxes, was suppressed.  

WEAR UNIFORM

And at the height of daring bank robberies and carjackings the previous year, an ad hoc team christened November squad was created. It operated mainly in Nairobi and its environs and was disbanded after the crime levels went down.

Mr Miguna was right, because while police officers in regular duty are required to maintain a clean shave and wear uniform, it is a stark contrast with those in special units who are often seen in baggy trousers, trendy T-shirts and some are allowed to grow dreadlocks and long beards.

It is their way of camouflaging especially when they go under cover to gather intelligence. 

And the team usually consists of a handful officers, ranging between 12  and 30 depending on the nature of their assignment.

The cars deployed to the units are painted with the usual blue police colours but look like civilian vehicles. The cars are not fitted with GK number plates and sometimes they bear foreign registration number plates.

COVERED NUMBER PLATES

When the unit raided the home of Mr Wanjigi, the vehicles used had their number plates covered with sheets of paper.

The fleet used by special units also consists of new and fast cars, which are the latest models. Models in the unit are changed from time to time and their current favourite is the Subaru Forester and Subaru Outback, which were used in the arrest of Mr Miguna and Mr Kajwang.

Compared with other units, they are a cut above, especially in authority. Apart from their direct commanders, they do not take orders from their seniors in the regular formations.

These officers are usually ruthless because they operate on stern instructions; take as little time as possible to execute a mission. They have also been involved in controversial missions.

When the Artur brothers – Margaryan and Sargsyan – raided the Standard media group, they were backed by a team of the special officers.


Why new curriculum roll out likely to face hitch

By SUNDAY NATION TEAM
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The rollout of the new curriculum scheduled for next year could face major hitches if the government does not urgently address the major hiccups facing the trial of the 2-6-3-3-3 syllabus.

A Nation survey found that many public and private schools are yet to receive the text books for Grade One and Two nearly halfway into the first term.

Most of the schools have now been forced to extract the right content from the 8-4-4 text books to impart knowledge to pupils in pre-primary to Grade Two.

Known as Competence Based Curriculum (CBC), the new system, which seeks to replace the current 8-4-4, focuses on skills instead of knowledge. Most schools are yet to see the books.

“The text books are yet to reach the bookstores in Kisumu. However, we have to make do with the old text books where we extract the relevant material,” said Mrs Elizabeth Mutua, Golden Elites school head teacher.

“It has been challenging getting the required text books for the classes which are being piloted and we are afraid that we might not achieve much in this kind of environment,” Ms Dorice Owiti, the deputy head teacher of Manna Academy in Seme sub county told the Nation.

LEARNING MATERIALS

In Mombasa, private schools in slums are yet to start offering the new CBC to learners due to lack of learning materials.

“We were not fully sensitised. It was rushed. Children from slums are suffering because their schools are yet to start offering the new curriculum,” Juma Kioko, a Kibarani slum parent lamented.

Meanwhile, alternative Providers for Basic Education and Training  secretary general Juma Lubambo said the new syllabus is expensive for schools.

“The government should provide the basic materials for private schools in the urban slums to provide quality education for all learners,” he insisted.

In Uasin Gishu, Little Lambs Academy Principal Gideon Mukosi, whose school was one of those picked for  pilot programme, welcomed the system.

CHALLENGES

“Any new system may face challenges at the beginning but in the long run it will boost competency among learners,” said Mr Mukosi.

In Nakuru, at least 2,000 teachers have been trained to handle the new curriculum.

“I am happy with the progress and I would like to report that so far there has been no hitch reported in all the 11 sub -counties,” said the county Director of Education Isaac Atebe.

KICD chief executive officer Dr Julius Jwan told Nation that there was no cause for  alarm over the proposed curriculum and assured teachers that the government was on the right track with regard to its implementation eventually.

 Reports by Ouma Wanzala, Winnie Atieno, Francis Mureithi, Wycliff Kipsang and Dennis Lubanga


Resist Valentine’s Day hype

By CHRIS HART
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Not looking forward to Wednesday? Well, you’re not alone. So what’s wrong with St Valentine’s Day?

Well, it certainly creates unrealistic expectations and arguments, and has you spending money you don’t have on gifts your partner doesn’t really need. And creates a load of unnecessary anxiety and stress.

St Valentine’s Day also reinforces outdated gender roles. Putting pressure on men to be the one taking the initiative, and encouraging women to passively expect expensive gifts. And how you look at it, it’s all just way too tacky, cute and feminine for most red-blooded guys. 

Who’re expected to plan a once-in-a-lifetime experience, be better looking, better lovers and to wear expensive clothes because “everyone” says that’s what your partner wants. While being single or in an unhappy relationship on Valentine’s Day can make anyone seriously depressed.

LITTLE ROMANCE

We didn’t always make such a fuss. Marriage used to be a very practical matter, and although many cultures put a lot of emphasis on sex, there was very little romance. Like the ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia on what’s now St Valentine’s Day. But that was a pretty wild fertility ritual, most of which hasn’t survived into the present day. And a good thing too, because it also involved chopping goats into small pieces and running naked through the streets!

There really was a Valentine though! An imprisoned Christian priest in third century Rome, who we’re told fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. And sent her letters signed “From your Valentine.” He was executed on February 14, and as they say, the rest’s history.

And the red roses? That also started in Rome. The story goes that some men romancing a reluctant woman became so rowdy that the goddess Diana got annoyed and turned her into a rose. And the men into it’s thorns…

RESIST HYPE

So this year, why not resist the hype and do something different? Like instead of buying half dead red roses on your way home, why not give her some really nice local jewellery? And why not go to your local place, where they’ll serve real food and have a live band, instead of going downtown to eat overpriced food from a ‘special St Valentine’s Day menu’ – code for less choice, slow service and small portions?

Or send the children to grandma’s and take a picnic into the bedroom. Complete with scented candles, romantic music and a big bottle of wine. And girls, to make sure the evening really goes with a bang, try being bad! Put on something skimpy, look him straight in the eye and tell him he has to do whatever you want. Or really wake him up by telling him you’ve been naughty and what’s he going to do about it? It’s a special night, so indulge your wildest fantasies.

Get the idea? St Valentine’s Day isn’t really about expensive gifts and restaurants. It’s a wonderful opportunity to let your hair down and create beautiful memories.


MY WEEKEND: Is it normal dozing off when full concentration is expected of you?

By CAROLINE NJUNG’E
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I don’t remember whether I have ever told you this, but for some reason, I immensely enjoy action-packed movies: you know, the ones with big loud guns that do lots of damage and a larger-than-life protagonist who pulls off the impossible — fight off, with ease if I might add, 30 brutal-looking men with guns, an assortment of other mean weapons and karate skills to boot. Think Lee Child’s fictional character, Jack Reacher.

But this is not the only amazing feat this main character can achieve, he can also take suicidal jumps from skyscrapers and not even sprain an ankle, and always manages to walk away from fatal car accidents unscathed.

I know, it is unrealistic, but I cannot help being besotted by such flicks, probably because once in a while, we all need a break from reality.

Don’t ask me why my break has to be littered with violence though. This is just the way I relax, how I reward myself after a hard week’s work, my favourite down time.

I suspect some of you have read this and have been convinced that there’s something wrong with me. I mean, ideal down time is a weekend away, somewhere with a pool and room service, or at the very least, a night out with friends. I get it, but I have nothing to say in my defence, so deal with it.

SLUMBER LAND

Anyway, for the last couple of months, I have been unable to watch “my” movies at a sitting. Just 10 minutes in and I am in slumber land, only to jerk awake when the movie closing credits are rolling.

It reminds me of a relative who has a tendency to fall asleep seconds into the church sermon on Sunday, studiously snoring through the preaching only to wake up right after the preacher closes the Bible.

It is behaviour that puzzles even him because for the life of him, he cannot explain it. It is as if there is a timer that goes off his head when it is all over.

Recently, an aunt explained that it was the devil’s doing, that the evil one didn’t want him benefiting from the word of God, and so he put him to sleep.

Only prayer, she explained, could put a stop to this reaction, which she insisted was ungodly. Listening to her, it sounded like a plausible explanation, but it could also be that those who preach in that church are boring.

There was no way I could have voiced this in the presence of my aunt though, so I kept my wisdom to myself. I haven’t seen this relative for a while, so I don’t know whether he took this aunt’s advice or not, and if he did, whether her suggested solution worked.

But I digress. This development has me worried and I cannot help wondering whether this ovyo ovyo dozing when I should be having the time of my life is a sign of premature ageing.

It is bad enough that I get teased by those who know about my “abnormal” love for tea, which they describe as old-woman behaviour.

At my age, they say, I should be pining for more stimulating and exciting stuff, not drowning myself with my grandmother’s favourite beverage. And then this.

It is scary. What I need is consolation that I am okay, that this is just a passing phase, that there is someone, somewhere, my age, who is sailing the same boat.

Have a relaxed Sunday!

 [email protected]; Twitter: @cnjerius. The writer is the editor, MyNetwork, in the Daily Nation


We need love for fruitful co-existence

By ALLAUDIN QURESHI
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The big day that pronounces love is around. It is time for the young and young at heart to express their love for each other in the name of St Valentine and share the joys associated with this celebration. Relationships and marriages are proposed, gifts are exchanged as Cupid blesses the romantics associations.

St Valentine’s Day in these times is not just for the followers of one religious doctrine or for those who uphold the ancient Roman tradition relating to the celebration of love, but its message of love has spread the world over. It is fashionable amongst the young to display affection irrespective of their faith class or creed.

In India and the Islamic world traditionalists consider the celebration to be a cultural contamination from the west and alien to the norms of religious and cultural beliefs. Having said that the liberals argue that love lifts us up where we belong and the celebration is a unifying factor that fosters peace and understanding.

TRADITION OF LOVE

I was fascinated to read about the tradition of love in a couple of major cultures of the world and take this liberty to share it with the readers.

In India for centuries there was a tradition of adoring Kamadeva-the lord of love: this is exemplified in the erotic carvings in the Khajurao Caves and by the writing of Kamasutra– a treatise to love making. The tradition was lost around the Middle Ages. In modern India especially amongst the urban youth, Valentine’s Day celebration has taken over despite protests by traditionalists.

In Iran, Valentine’s Day has been criticised by religious heads who find it opposed to Islamic culture. Printing of cards, exchanging gifts and promoting Valentine activities were banned. 

AFFECTIONATE HEARTS

Love certainly is a many-splendored thing. Be it in the name of Saint Valentine or any other godman, Cupid’s arrows will continue to aim at affectionate hearts and Kamadeva will continue to bless those in love. All we need is love, peace and unity for a fruitful existence. May we be blessed during this festival of love.

 For pictures, visit the arts and culture section on www.nation.co.ke    Email: [email protected]


Why I may be forced to deport some teachers

By MWALIMU ANDREW
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When I, together with the headmaster of Mwisho wa Lami Secondary School, hired Tracy, Atlas and Agrippa, I was sure that we were not only temporarily replacing the teachers on maternity leave, but that I would also have more teachers on my side than Kuya, a man we have silently been competing with in the staffroom.

You see, despite my superior academic credentials and unrivalled experience, for some reasons, Kuya doesn’t consider me worth being his boss. He believes that he should actually be the deputy of the school.

Maybe he is right, but only if that means that I should be the headmaster, which I am for all intents and purposes – except in TSC records. You see, before the three new teacher’s joined, Kuya was almost beating me in the balance of things in the staffroom, with quite a good number of teachers on his side. Nzomo – Kuya’s acting girlfriend — is obviously on his side. So is Sella, who I believe is always attracted to Kuya’s muscles. Madam Ruth has always been in Kuya’s Corner and so is Erick, who is rarely in school anyway.

CRITICAL TIMES

In my corner has always been Mrs Atika, who is only with me so that her timetable can always suit her and Lena, her bad hair notwithstanding.

As for Saphire, it depended on which side he wakes up. In any case, he is never there at critical times, and therefore can’t be relied upon.

While the allegiance usually changes from time to time, in basic terms, Kuya has more teachers than I, and were it not for my great  Intelligence Quotient, I would never have managed to successfully run this the staffroom as I do.

So with the three teachers joining the staffroom, I was sure that I had advantage over Kuya. The first thing I did to win them was to exempt them from paying for lunch; I paid for them using school funds. Besides, I worked on the timetable so that they only were allocated classes they liked. And I would check on them so often in the staffroom, just to ensure they were ok. I had no doubt I had their support – until last Monday’s meeting.

“We have a great opportunity to start preparing the candidates early so that this year, we post great results,” I started off. This was after I had shared with the staff how (badly) our performance had been in the last few years. Every one was nodding in agreement, a sign that they were with me.

EVENING PREPS

“I have therefore made a timetable for morning and evening preps for class seven and eight,” I said, then distributed two copies of the timetable to everyone to review and give feedback.

“In the spirit of collaborative engagement, I would be willing to listen to you if you want your times changed,” I said. “But we must all turn out for preps.”

“Very correct Bwana Deputy,” said Agrippa, who teaches English. “’We have to teach these children.”

Erick also agreed but only requested for changes. It all seemed to be a closed matter, and we were geared to start the programme the next day, until Kuya spoke.

“Preps is a good idea,” he started. “And I thank Dre for this great initiative.” I could not believe that Kuya was supporting me on such a matter, I thought I was dreaming.

“However,” he went on. “From past experience, the pupils of Mwisho wa Lami have a very poor memory. If you want them to remember something in KCPE which will be done in November, you teach them in September or October.”

“You are right Kuya,” chimed in Nzomo, Kuya’s acting girlfriend. “It will be a waste of me to start serious preps now. I did that last year but nothing came of it.” She added that while she supported the preps programme, she would only participate if is started in September.

NEW TEACHERS

Despite my best efforts, I was outvoted, as even the new teachers, except for Agrippa, opposed me. Kuya and Nzomo went to the extent of saying that if I insisted on the programme, they won’t come to class. I however pasted the preps time-table on the staffroom notice board and directed that everybody follows it. For the next three days, only Agrippa turned up. None of the others attended any class, including Tracy and Atlas.

I called for another staff meeting on Thursday.

“Even TSC doesn’t recognise these lessons you are adding us,” said Kuya, telling me to forget about him attending such lessons. “We have an official time table in this school, please take action against me should I not follow it any day.”

Erick, who earlier agreed to the programme, but failed to attend to any of the classes said he supported the idea but had been busy. “You know my case – I was seeing someone at TSC for that issue of mine.” The issue at hand was him looking for transfer to another school. Bensouda had asked him to get another teacher to swap with. And he had been to TSC offices, trying to get such a teacher. Saphire came in as we were finishing the discussions, with Kuya opposing the plan. It was almost break time and we all broke for tea when Anindo brought it.

“Thank you Kuya for defending teachers against Dre’s illegal orders,” said Saphire. He was not taking any tea. I have never seen him take tea anyway.

“It pays to have teachers like you who care about the welfare of others.” He then looked at the three new teachers and told them never accept to be used.

A LOT OF MONEY

“Even if you are not receiving a lot of money, please stand up for your rights,” he said

Nzomo supported him: “Guys if you are not careful you will soon become a door mat for the big people here.”

“You are very right Nzomo,” added Saphire. And looking to the three he added. “If I were you I would listen to Kuya, the true teachers’ deputy!” There was laughter in the staffroom but the point had been made: that there were two centres of power in the staffroom, especially in the absence of Bensouda.

“Not really Saphire,” said Kuya. “I am not the teacher’s deputy, but I speak for the voiceless.”  This did not help much and by the end of that Thursday, everyone was referring to him as the teacher’s deputy.

A week earlier, we had set aside Friday afternoon as a cleaning day. All classes would be cancelled and pupils would be involved in thorough cleaning of the school, supervised by the teachers.

“We don’t have to be here Dre,” said Kuya. “The teachers on duty and prefect can easily manage this.” Once again, other teachers supported him. And come that afternoon, I struggled with the prefects alone to ensure that the cleaning happens. Even the new teaches did not show up.

As we go into the new week, I will have no option but to crack the whip, starting with the new teachers, who are not even valid teachers of this school. If they do not toe the line, I will deport them from this school back to  where they were languishing before!