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Sunday, April 15th, 2018

 

PS is plotting to wreck my office, claims Sonko

By DAVID MWERE
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Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko has defended his administration against accusations that it’s chaotic and unfocused, saying he is committed to delivering on his election pledges.

He pointed a finger to “outside forces unhappy with his leadership,” and specifically accused Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho of undermining his leadership.

“I want to tell this PS, who has been fighting me, that he will not succeed in his attempts to put me at loggerheads with the Kikuyu community,” he said during a “Doing Good” day celebrations, an international day that recognizes remarkable contributions made by individuals to society, at City Hall, Nairobi.

His comments came against a backdrop of multiple reshuffles in his county executive and claims of spying on his staff.

Part of the problems facing Mr Sonko’s administration is his failure to nominate his deputy more than a month since the Supreme Court gave an advisory opinion,  allowing governors to nominate a deputy whenever a vacancy arises.

The Senate has also adopted amendments to the County Government Act, allowing governors to appoint deputies whenever there is a vacancy.

His former deputy, Mr Polycarp Igathe, resigned on January 12, barely six months after assuming office, citing failure to earn the trust of his boss to enable him to deliver services to the people.

On Tuesday last week, the governor sacked the county executive committee member for Finance Mr Danvas Makori barely two months  after he appointed him, accusing him of working for his political enemies.

Mr Makori, who was replaced by Lands CEC member Charles Kerich in acting capacity, is said to be a relative of nominated MP Maina Kamanda, whom Mr Sonko has accused of undermining his administration.

On Sunday, the Sunday Nation carried a detailed story about Mr Sonko’s administration, portraying a governor with little regard for order and protocol. The governor is said to report to office as early as 5am and leaves late in the night.

What he does in the office during those hours, remains a matter of conjecture for keen observers. 

However, Sonko defended his performance, blaming Mr Kibicho and other senior government officials who he accused of “working hard to wreck his administration’s track record.”

“Mr Kibicho and other individuals have been fighting me since the 2017 campaign period and they are still doing it. But I want to tell them that they will not succeed,” he said, adding that he was confident of the support of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto.


Nothing wrong with our traditional drinks

By HENRY MUNENE
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A most disturbing observation that one makes about the youth in Nairobi and parts of rural Kenya is that we are slowly sliding into an alcoholic country.

Besides the trend of youth getting high on cough syrup for babies, and hopelessness borne of joblessness, there is a proliferation of highly concentrated substances that reduce many otherwise productive young men and women to zombies.

In some places, a group of youth huddles at a pub at dawn, some shivering, waiting for the joint to be opened so that they can ‘unlock the system’.  This ‘unlocking’ business is a peer-induced habit of warding off the hangover from the previous night’s reveling by drinking one or two “for starting the day off”.

This has spawned a culture of full-time drinking that gets many hooked on poisonous substances sometimes packed in containers that don’t give the details of the manufacturer.

No, this is not another rant about the lack of regulation by State agencies, some so useless they deserve no mention here. While I have heard that there is keg beer, which is said to be cheaper, we are still saddled with a colonial mindset that frowns on traditional African drinks, which were healthy.

When our people freely drank some of these brews, before the White man banned them in his greed for free labour, there were no cases of drunks going blind as they swore, as one famously did in a tragic incident in Embu: “Even if you switch off the lights we’ll not stop drinking.”

Take busaa, that maize-based ale favoured in western Kenya. No one ever developed gout or went blind as men dipped their straws into a common pot. It was perfect social bonding.

In central Kenya, where drinking has broken many a dream, muratina, which was fashioned from sugarcane juice, honey and other natural ingredients, played a crucial part in marriage ceremonies.

Ditto mnazi, the palm wine that is a favourite at the Coast.

Even Nubian gin (chang’aa), if prepared well by people who are not looking over their shoulder for fear of the police, is much healthier than some of the concoctions being sold to hapless youths under the nose of corrupt State officials.

And now that conventional beer is way beyond the reach of ordinary Kenyans, and given that the reinstatement of keg has not fully fixed the problem of cheap and deadly drinks, we must change tack. We must make it easier to get healthier and cheaper drinks in an arrangement that reinforces their cultural heritage.

INDUSTRIAL

I have attended one or two investment fairs organised by county governments and what strikes one as comical is the far-fetched ideas and mindboggling figures bandied as having been mooted at the expensive fetes.

One would expect that a county where cheap drinks are all the rage would invite innovative investors who can produce, on an industrial scale, healthy drinks that resonate with the cultural heritage of the people they serve.

Some beer brands are native to some countries. Think of the value and pride that Scotland attaches to Famous Grouse — named after the most famous bird in the land. How about if muratina or busaa or mnazi from Kenya were packaged in the healthiest and highest quality standards and sold all over the world as our own brand that is affordable, healthy when consumed responsibly, and a good alternative to the death portions.

UNIQUELY KENYAN

Make no mistake, the need to fight against alcoholism is not lost on this writer, but half-hearted efforts such as parading law enforcers pouring out barrels upon barrels of good old busaa while collecting Sh50 notes every evening from unregistered back-alley joints selling deadly concoctions does not help anyone.

As a matter of honesty, let us admit that alcoholism will not be solved by raiding chang’aa dens and having muratina sellers fined Sh500-1,000 while still allowing poisonous concoctions under the cover of darkness is like peddling a bicycle while still struggling to apply the brakes.

Even the behemoths of the local brewery sector should be incentivised to invest in uniquely Kenyan brands not as corporate social responsibility, but as potential income streams as they have the potential of adding to their top-line more cash than drinks with formulae borrowed from elsewhere. 


Kenneth Matiba: A man of many firsts

By JOHN KAMAU
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Kenneth Matiba was a man of many firsts. From becoming one of the youngest permanent secretaries to climbing the Himalayas, Mr Matiba was well-grounded in what he did.

On May 18, 1963 – and aged only 31 – Mr Matiba was summoned to the office of the colonial Permanent Secretary for Education, Mr David Gregg, who had good news for the young man: he was to be appointed the new PS in the ministry.

“I was astounded,” Mr Matiba later remarked.

As the first black PS in the ministry, which was then housed at Gill House, Mr Matiba was to oversee the africanisation of the education sector.

The next morning, Mr Matiba was taken to Government House (now State House)  where he met Duncan Ndegwa and Kitili Mwendwa. They had also come for their letters because in just a month, Jomo Kenyatta was to take over as the new Prime Minister.

“For that privilege I felt that I had to commit myself to serving all Kenyans and show my gratitude in a tangible way,” he wrote in his autobiography, Aiming High.

At first, Mr Matiba had thought of following his father’s footsteps as a teacher  and after leaving Makerere in 1960, he had decided that he wanted to teach in north eastern Kenya before moving to teacher training college. That was his ambition.

But this plan never worked after the Ministry of Education turned down his choice and he was posted to Kangaru Secondary School in Embu. But after only six months he was appointed deputy officer in charge of higher education at the Ministry of Education.

“My position was so crucial that no passport could be issued to any student going overseas without my signature,” said Mr Matiba

It was at this position that Mr Matiba met many students who would later be influential.

It was when he became a permanent secretary for Home Affairs that he got to work with Daniel arap Moi who was the minister. The two were bosom friends and when Mr Moi decided to jail Mr Matiba for his stand on multi-party politics, his friends were perplexed.

But it was at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives that Mr Matiba started dealing with investors and he was thrown to various boardrooms where the government had interests.

While Mr Matiba deliberately refused to buy shares in companies where he could have conflict of interest, he watched as his friends made wealth through kickbacks. Rather than stay, he decided to quit and go into business.

JADINI HOTELS

It was in 1968 after he joined Kenya Breweries that he bought the Jadini Hotels in Mombasa. By this time, he had learnt about the hotel industry having been the director of Kenya Tourist Development Corporation which also gave him an opportunity to be on the board of Panafric Hotel in Nairobi.

At Jadini, Mr Matiba tested his survival skills in the hospitality sector. Every weekend, together with his business partner Stephen Smith, he would arrive at Jadini at 3am and the site meeting would start at 7am. They would then start the journey to Nairobi at 2pm!

But it was his climbing of the Himalayas — when he was Minister for Works — and walking from Nairobi to Muranga to raise funds, that catapulted Matiba to new heights. Mr Matiba managed to plant the Kenyan flag at the Island Peak, becoming the first Kenyan to do so.

At the Cabinet, Mr Matiba was known as the hard-working minister. Once, when he was Minister for Health, he ordered a clean up of the headquarters.

“I cannot tolerate filth wherever I am. I would personally clean toilets rather than leave them dirty,” he once told a reporter.

Before he joined politics, Mr Matiba was also an astute farmer.

“The farming I undertook at Limuru was something like a hobby,” he says in Aiming High.

Mr Matiba had first tried a pig project in Limuru and was at one time one of the largest African pig producers in the country, specialising in the production of porkers. The pig project collapsed after one of his workers overfed the animals and they all became too fat.

“In the end, the pig project had to close down. By then I was losing money. Luckily, it was not too difficult to sell the pigs…at give-away prices. I discovered that many entrepreneurs felt embarrassed and uneasy about a failing business,” Matiba would later say.

VEGETABLES

From pigs, Mr Matiba moved to growing vegetables in his Limuru farm where his wife, Edith, had been experimenting with capsicums and courgettes. It was this business that led them to the export business. The Matibas then learnt there was market for French beans and he investigated how the fruit, vegetable and flower business worked. Soon, he became a direct exporter and at one point he was the largest producer of French beans.

His only disappointment then was with the East African Airways which was going through serious problems and at times his cargo would be left behind. This forced him to rethink the vegetable business which was not making money. 

The cargo problems persisted to an extent that Mr Matiba decided to start an air freight airline. He even registered a company known as African International Airways and invited Mr John Michuki and Mr Charles Njonjo into the venture. This was during the days of East African Community and all the three countries operated a single airline.

65,000 POUNDS

Mr Matiba and his group managed to get an aircraft, a Britannia, and it was flown to Nairobi for inspection.  It was to cost them 65,000 pounds. But the matter was leaked to a Tanzanian paper which claimed that the Kenya government had overthrown East African Airways and wanted to register a new airline. The group decided not to go ahead with the project because it was complicating relations within the East African Community.

Mr Matiba was encouraged to go into flower farming by his two friends across the valley in Limuru who were exporting them to Europe. He had to convince the Agriculture Finance Corporation to give him a loan to start the project. It was this business that thrived and Matiba became one of the leading flower farmers in Kenya.

12,350 ACRES

Mr Matiba also took the lead in the 1970s when he helped form Wangu Investments Company Limited.

The initial aim was to buy shares in various public companies which they could then sell and buy land.

In 1977, Mr Matiba learnt that a Timau farmer, Mr Robert Wilson, was selling his 12,350-acre piece of land. But because many cooperative groups bought land and ran them down, Mr Wilson was not willing to sell to a group. The farm was good. It had 22,600 head of sheep, 2,500 beef animals and 700 pigs.

STILL THRIVES

The selling price was a staggering Sh34.4 million.

When Mr Matiba said he did not have that kind of money, Mr Wilson told him that he hoped that he would not organise for a co-operative to buy it. Mr Matiba assured Wilson that it would be a public company and that the farm would be run as it was.

Wangu is still surviving to date and still thrives – when all other big farms have collapsed. It was Mr Matiba’s gift to his Kiharu residents.


As an icon for multiparty democracy, Matiba had his day

By JOHN KAMAU
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Being the first Cabinet minister to ever resign in Kenya, Mr Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba became the symbol of defiance of Kanu’s brutal years and for the last 26 years, he carried the weight of that brutality in person.

The Daniel Moi regime not only wrecked his health, but his business empire, and by the time he died on Sunday, aged 86, he had disappeared from the limelight having lost to auctioneers all the hotels and schools he had built in his youth.

Mr Matiba not only lost his Alliance Hotels but also the prestigious Hillcrest Group of Schools – all worth billions of shillings.

Last year, the High Court ordered that Mr Matiba be paid Sh945 million compensation for damages and violations he suffered and for expenses incurred for his medication.

DEMOCRACY
Born in June 1932 in Kahuhia, Murang’a, Mr Matiba was daring in all things that he did.

And of all the icons of the multiparty democracy, he stood out not because of his wealth, but because of his charisma.

Unlike his Makerere University friends, Mr Matiba was a late entrant into politics and had also surprised many by leaving the civil service at a young age.

Actually, Mr Matiba had been approached to run for the Kiharu seat in 1961 but he felt he was not in a position to unseat the late Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano.

In 1963, he was again under pressure to run against Dr Kiano but he had just been appointed a permanent secretary.

Kenneth MatibaMr Kenneth Matiba (left) with politician Raila Odinga during a past function. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

EABL
But rather than join politics, Mr Matiba quit the civil service and joined Kenya Breweries in August 1968, first as personal assistant to Managing Director Brian Hobson and in his third year, he was appointed the general manager.

Mr Matiba’s leadership role was realised in 1977 when Michael Blundell, a veteran of settler politics, was set to retire as the chairman of East African Breweries and Mr Matiba was asked to take over.

His entry into politics in 1979 was the most dramatic and the race in Mbiri, as it was then known, was the most watched. 

Finally, Mr Matiba managed to defeat Dr Kiano by polling 20,135 votes against Kiano’s 16,628.

It was in 1983 that he joined Moi’s Cabinet when he was appointed minister for Culture and Social Services.

“At no time had I ever aspired to be a Cabinet minister,” Mr Matiba would later remark; after all Mr Moi had not even consulted him on the appointment. 

He was then transferred to various ministries, Health, Transport and Public Works.

Kenneth MatibaKenneth Matiba died at Karen Hospital on April 15, 2018. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

SUPREMO
As Mr Matiba rose, there was fear in Kanu that he was eclipsing many of the politicos.

Mr Matiba was always afraid that he would become the victim of rigging and in 1988 he complained rather loudly about rigging in Kanu elections.

It was this 1988 rigging in Kanu that spawned the fallout between Mr Moi and Mr Matiba and on December 9, 1989 when President Moi was about to receive guests for the Tenth anniversary of Nyayo era, Mr Matiba drafted a resignation letter and had it dropped at Office of the President.

It was a first for a Cabinet Minister who was protesting an attack by Mr Peter Oloo Aringo, then-Kanu chairman, and Mr James Njiru, the Minister for National Guidance.

Mr Matiba was angry that his fellow ministers had started a campaign against him.

“On my way home that evening, December 8, after thinking over all these things, I made up my mind.

“I was going to resign my Cabinet post. Clearly, I could not see myself sitting at the table with Aringo and Njiru,” Mr Matiba later said.

DETENTION
While he had thought of keeping a low profile, security agents followed him everywhere and was constantly interrogated.

“I had kept a low profile and refused to engage in politics, yet I was being harassed. I had to make public my feelings about politics in Kenya,” Mr Matiba said on why he joined the call for multiparty politics.

It was this call that landed him in detention, where he suffered a stroke on May 26, 1991 but state officials were not bothered to get him medical help.

When they did – and they booked him as Mr Muchiri – it was too late. Mr Matiba had been in detention without medical care for a week.

Kenneth MatibaPresident Uhuru Kenyatta visits former Cabinet minister Kenneth Matiba at a Nairobi hospital. FILE PHOTO | PSCU

Although he would return to run for the presidency and came second to President Moi, Mr Matiba achieved little success as an opposition leader.

His Ford-Asili party, once the official opposition was wrecked by defections and internal wrangles and finally Mr Matiba lost hold of the party and opted to form Saba Saba Asili, which was a shadow of the former party.

Matiba’s attempt to return to politics were futile and performed dismally. But as an icon for multiparty democracy, Mr Matiba had his day.


Kenneth Matiba stands tall among Kenya’s liberation heroes

Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba was a technocrat, sportsman, businessman and politician par excellence.

But for doing the “diabolical” thing to call for multipartyism at the height of the Kanu dictatorship, Matiba and Charles Wanyoike Rubia are among a politicians who paid the heaviest price in Kenya’s political history.

Matiba held many firsts. He became one of three permanent secretaries before independence at only 28; was first black chief executive officer of East African Breweries Ltd; was first African to head Kenya Football Federation; and was the first minister to break taboo and resign on principle during the Moi regime.

Still, he took on gigantic tasks in the most difficult political circumstances, baffling friend and foe.

MP KIANO
In the 1979 elections, shortly after Jomo Kenyatta’s death, Matiba took on and fell a giant in then-Mbiri Constituency in Murang’a — Gikonyo Kiano, a cabinet minister who was one of the blue-eyed boys in Jomo’s regime.

The second herculean task is what Kenyans owe it to him for having risked his life to speak out against Kanu tyranny when no one would dare.

For taking on the regime, Matiba paid a heavy price of detention without trial where a stroke struck, disabling a once vibrant energetic mountain climber.

But he had lit the logs which fired what has become to be famously known as Second Liberation.

Matiba leaves behind a rich history. He was a man with conviction, a conscience, bold and ready to die for it.

HEROES
Matiba lived and fulfilled them one after the other, culminating in formation that became known as the nine heroes of the Second Liberation.

The others were Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Masinde Muliro, Martin Shikuku, Phillip Gachoka, Salim Ndamwe, George Nthenge and Ahmed Salim Bamahriz.

Matiba travelled a long and torturous political road.

In 1990, he fired the bullet that flowered the Second Liberation, sparking ugly fights for re-introduction of multipartyism.

Riots broke out in towns all over the country.

The high moment came on Thursday May 3, 1990 when he and Charles Rubia called a press conference at Hilton Hotel.

CABINET
When word filtered about what they were going to say, government-compliant news organisations skipped it for fear of being associated with “trouble-makers”.

And at the press briefing, the two dropped the bombshell.

They were bold in their edict, passing a vote no-confidence in the single party rule, and demanding the repeal of section 2(a) of the Constitution to allow formation of other political parties.

KANU
They called for the dissolution of Parliament, scrapping of the infamous 1988 mlolongo (queue-voting) system, and elections devoid of rigging.

US ambassador Smith Hempstone was addressing a parallel gathering of Rotarians in Nairobi where he said there was a tide in Congress to direct aid to countries which “nourish democratic institutions, defend human rights and practice pluralism.

They accused Kanu of intolerance and leading the country to a political eclipse akin to Romania’s dictator Nicolae Causescu.

The two were arrested and detained on July 5, 1990, leading to riots across the country and sparking condemnations from the clergy.


Why ‘unattractive’ brown sugar is better than white

By AG AWINO
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Since we love class and opulence, we go for the most expensive products.

With increased disposable income, the middle class, who have gladly embraced consumerism in a bid to make up for what they had missed, is busy putting poison into their bodies for lack of information. We even feed our children burnt sausages to show our ‘love’.

The kind of food that we eat changes significantly in tandem with our economic status. We also eat more and do less since we become too busy to exercise. Most potbellies you see around are nursed by rich men and women pumping unnecessary foodstuff into their system.

LOCAL MILLERS

So, when I recently saw a newspaper article in which the writer lamented that one has to put several spoonfuls of white imported sugar into a cup of tea instead of one, I knew that many Kenyans may not know what to look for when choosing between white and brown sugar. What makes one type sweeter than the other?

The sugar in the market is either white or brown but the white one is largely deemed by consumers to be of better quality. Far from it. Consumers also associate most unfamiliar white sugar brands with foreign origins while, indeed, some of them are from local millers.

Local manufacturers usually have to make the choice of making brown or white sugar. But the brown sugar that you ignore on the shelves is much sweeter and healthier than your preferred white one — though it also has its purpose.

All sugars manufactured within the parameters of statutory standards are safe for human consumption. If you are wary about your health though, you need to make a more conscious choice between brown and white sugar.

Sugarcane, the raw material from which sugar is made, is naturally sweet. The processing of cane to make sugar is a simple process that involves evaporation of the juice to form granules. Glucose and fructose are components in sugarcane that make it sweet. So, in terms of nutrition, brown sugar has more nutrients than white sugar because most of the sweetness components are not removed. Brown sugar is, hence, sweeter.

SWEETER ELEMENTS

White sugar, on the other hand, is more refined to remain with only the sugar. The refining removes the sweeter natural elements, thus making it less sweet. To make white sugar even more appealing to the eye, some companies add a clarifier — a bleaching component that makes it even whiter. That also introduces non-harmful chemicals into the sugar to keep it white.

White sugar is normally more expensive than brown sugar — as it is meant for a certain economic class — because of the cost of making it. It also contains more sugar than brown sugar.

It is you who is pushing the manufactures to make white sugar because you like class.

Of course, the more sugar you put in your tea, the more you deplete the quantity you bought; hence, more sales and profit for the manufacturer. And that tea is no sweeter than if you had used brown sugar; neither does it necessarily mean that you are consuming less sugar. You are simply consuming sugar whose sweetness elements have been removed as impurities!

MORE SPOONFULS

White sugar, and more refined sugar, is usually meant for industrial use — such us making energy and soft drinks.

While Kenyan firms make sugar from sugarcane, countries such as the United Kingdom and Brazil, which, of course, also export theirs, produce it from potato-like plants called sugar beet. Their sugar is ordinarily whiter than ours.

Kenya produces 600,000 tonnes of sugar yearly against a demand of 800,000 tonnes. Until the quantity of imported sugar  — mostly white — is reduced or the majority opt for brown sugar, many Kenyans will continue to put more spoonfuls in our tea in pursuit of that elusive, delusive taste.

Mr Awino, a member of Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK), is a sugar expert based in western Kenya. [email protected]


Government defends plan to pilot health coverage

By PATRICK LANG’AT
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A government plan to pilot its 100 per cent universal health project in Kisumu, Machakos, Isiolo and Nyeri, will go on despite opposition from governors.

State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said on Sunday the rest of the counties will be initially be limited to 10,000 homes in plan which is one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda that also includes food security, manufacturing and affordable housing.

Governors have opposed the selection of the four counties, saying the programme should be rolled out across the country and the Sh1.7 billion budget allocated equally.

NATIONALLY

But Mr Esipisu said the programme must be piloted to provide an opportunity for adjustments before it is rolled out nationally.

“The pilot is important because it allows the national government and county governments to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of facilities and institutions that are key to delivery. It will also make it possible to assess the availability of human resources, logistics and how citizens are engaging with the programme,” Mr Esipisu told journalists at State House during his Sunday weekly briefing.

He added:  “This is not about just who is running the programme or under whose mandate it is supposed to be. This is about ensuring that the Kenyan citizens get the services they expect from the government.”

The official said Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki will soon be travelling to Cuba, which prides itself on having eliminated malaria, for lessons on the efficient use of preventive measures against common diseases.

CUBAN SPECIALISTS

With the help of Cuba, Mr Esipisu said, the government hopes to launch a malaria vector control project in Busia, Kakamega, Bungoma, Siaya, Kisumu, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisii and Nyamira.

“Cuba’s methods, their medicines and their technology is proven and we are collaborating with them to ensure that we can adopt their methods,” Mr Esipisu said, adding that the government will go ahead with a plan to bring in 100 specialist doctors from Havana despite opposition from doctors.

“The plan is very much still to bring in 100 Cuban specialists in areas such as ontology, nephrology and dermatology. There is a massive shortage of specialists in these areas. The Cubans will also be expected to mentor Kenyan doctors they are working with in various counties,” he said.


Time to clean house in higher education

By EDITORIAL
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The publication of the list of university admissions last week has triggered public debate over the status and future of higher education in the country.

It brought to the fore issues that lie masked in the growth of universities and high school performance.

On the surface, some of the glaring issues exposed were the inability of certain universities or academic programmes to attract students, signalling that they are irrelevant and perhaps ought to be scrapped altogether.

But underneath was the question of strategic direction and thinking about the entire education sector.

In the quest to expand university education in the 1990s and early 2000s, the government set up institutions all over the country without thinking about their long-term viability.

Paradoxically, they were never properly funded, compelling them to mount parallel degree programmes to generate income to sustain themselves.

To raise the numbers, however, the universities lowered the admission criteria, taking on board students who had flunked but sanitised them through so-called bridging courses.

It was until an audit last year by the Commission for University Education (CUE) lifted the lid on universities that flouted cardinal academic rules and threw quality standards out of the window.

On the supply side, the country had perfected a system of exam cheating at Form Four that fed the morass in the universities.

ADMISSIONS

But arising out of the stringent rules introduced to curb cheating, the number of university qualifiers fell sharply.

And here again was a problem: The pendulum unrealistically swung to the extreme.

The drop in Form Four performance is questionable.

Although cheating was eliminated, it does not mean that our children have become so daft that a cohort can only produce 142 As and 2,714 A-s out of more than 600,000 candidates as happened last year, and that just about 70,000 qualify for university admission.

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed must initiate a review of the education practice and administration.

We see signs of deeper malaise and the cure must be strategic; neither reactive nor political.


I fear my third marriage is failing as I cannot sire children

By PHILIP KITOTO
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Hi Kitoto,

I have been reading your column for more than five years, and now I need your advice.

I am a man aged 32 years, and I have gone through a lot in love and marriage. I was brought up by my mother after my father died when I was four years old. My mind is so full and I don’t know how to fully express myself for you to understand my situation. I am a man who has seen God’s favour in terms on making it in life, but when it comes to children, I cannot say I have been blessed. I am in my third marriage, without children of my own, and I feel I am heading for the fourth.

The first woman came into my life with a baby boy aged one year. I accepted him and we got married. But after three years without a child, we went our separate ways. The second woman came with a two-year-old baby boy but after three years, we split up. This third woman, with whom I am with now, was a business friend in an abusive marriage. We had a lot of similarities, so she left her husband to marry me and bear me children. She is five years my senior and has three children – two boys aged eight and five respectively, and a 22-year-old orphan she adopted, who is in university. I accepted her without any conditions, as long as she was ready to bear me kids. We have tried for three years, in vain.

We have spent more than Sh800,000 on medical consultations, part of which she contributed. After visiting four hospitals, I was told I’m the one with the problem.

A while ago, she told me she doesn’t want to be ‘sat on’ (nisimkalie), and it is now two months since we had sex. The last medical facility we visited, an IVF centre, suggested that we get a sperm donor, but it didn’t work out. And after undergoing the procedures, she felt she didn’t want to undergo any more. She has been a good wife, supporting me fully. Her ex-husband has been on-and-off in our life, occasionally taking the boys with him.  I have realised that they will never recognise me as their father, and they behave as if I came to their mother’s life because of her money. As a result, I don’t like them like I used to.

I am contemplating leaving this woman because I hate myself although I don’t show it. I don’t care what anybody says but I’ve started worrying. Since the day she told me not to sleep with her, I have been turned off sexually. I recently met another woman, a high school teacher with a baby girl, on Facebook. Will she also not leave me?

I have never met a woman without a child and I feel I should look for a younger woman without one and get on with life. But considering what God has done for me, I am not just hoping, but also believing, that God will give me a child of my own. But I am in a dilemma, I don’t know what to do. The decision I make now will affect my future. At my age I don’t want to take chances anymore. At the moment, I’m looking for a marriage counsellor. I want to meet three before I make a decision.

I am a very patient, hard-working, God-fearing man, adorable and handsome. I don’t believe money is everything in life and I have never abused any woman. I parted company peacefully with those who left me. They told me they would rather leave than deceive me with another man’s pregnancy, leaving me worried.

I have attempted suicide but was saved, and nobody knew why. My mother has turned to the bottle, and I believe it’s my situation that is making her do this, since I am her only son and in a polygamous family with 10 step-brothers. I have tried to understand why she’s doing this but I just can’t.

I empathise with you regarding the loss of your dad at an early age. I believe that, if you are a God-fearing man, God has not abandoned you. I understand when you say that you are patient but are beginning to get anxious about the future, considering your mother’s situation. Of course, parents worry about their children, but it is up to you to make choices that will make your mother also have faith that you are seeking to be at peace with God.

Your visits to the doctor have given you the diagnosis for your situation. I also feel that there is a great deal you are going through that will require processing so that you do not keep moving from one woman to the next. I agree that you need to sit down with a counsellor as part of your inner healing. Being suicidal will only complicate your life. I have met men and women who are happily married despite not having children of their own. I have also met some who have adopted children.

In fact, I firmly believe that, as much as children are important to a marriage, they do necessarily guarantee happiness and the longevity of the marriage. Happiness in marriage comes from finding joy in each other. It must be about becoming friends and each other’s hero. It is sad to see a great couple separate because they cannot have children. As a Christian, you know that children are not guaranteed, and should not be the thread that holds a marriage together.

Your love and affection for each other must be strong enough to weather the storms of life. Determine for yourself what you should focus on. My prayer is that it will be in finding a companion you can enjoy life with without focusing on the temporal benefits of life such as children, money, property, etc. These are great, but in most cases, they are short-lived and fail in themselves to provide satisfaction.

My husband has refused to accept that our marriage is in trouble

Hi Philip,

I often read your articles, which are very helpful.

Now my marriage is not doing well. My husband has refused to work on our relationship but provides for us financially. He is an accountant and often pays for ICPAK courses to sharpen his skills. At one time I told him I was ready to pay for us to go for counselling, just like he pays for his courses.

He is in denial that there is a problem. I love my family and would not wish to do anything to affect our children. I find him selfish, and he does not care about my feelings and the effect he has on our children. He only talks about financial matters and property, even to children who don’t understand. For the sake of the children, I paid for our three-day Christmas vacation, which he had initially rejected. I need to speak to a counsellor.

Of course there are spouses who will not accept that there is anything wrong with their relationship. In a marriage, one spouse might be active in one area while neglecting almost all the other aspects of the marriage. Some value education and investment while others see the upbringing of the children as the most important thing. To this end, some husbands ask their wives to be stay-at-home mums.

In your case, I see a man consumed by the need to firmly secure the family’s future through education, good careers, and investment. This, in itself, is not bad. However, there is a need for a balance. You took the family on holiday, and although you did not share much about its outcome and impact on the children and the family as a whole, it was commendable. Every spouse must bring to the marriage an aspect that will in the end help the relationship enjoy the various facets of marriage.

I suggest that you use wisdom and not condemnation to seek a common understanding on the issues troubling you. There are many relationships in which other issues like the ones you care about are met by the man while his partner cares little about economic advancement. This has been the cause of friction in many relationships. I encourage you to see a counsellor alone first to see how you can deal with your inner turmoil. Clarity has a way of helping us gain proper understanding of issues.

Right now, there is no way you will see anything good in this man. However, talking about what you feel will reduce the inner stress burdening you. This will also give you a better perspective of the ways in which you could approach issues.

Are you married to the wrong partner?

A few days ago, I read an article in the The Telegraph about a research on relationships. “According to a survey of more than 1,600 divorcees, 49 per cent admitted that on their wedding day, they were worried that their relationship would break down, and two thirds considered leaving their spouse-to-be at the altar.” What makes many still pursue and end up marrying the wrong partner? Here are some pointers:

1. Do not be blinded by chemistry, base your love relationship on some facts

2. Your partner constantly belittles you and puts you down

3. Do not marry out of fear that you are getting older and might end up alone

4. Do not be blinded by temporal and material benefits

5. Do not overlook your potential partner’s bad values and behaviour

6. Do not be shallow; seek full disclosure

7. Learn to say no early enough. This could just be what will give you the boldness to deal with tough issues.


Leaders, residents disagree on how to end Mwea land dispute

By JOSEPH WANGUI
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The uneasy peace on the 44,000-acre Mwea settlement scheme has been shattered by the Friday chaos which left several people hurt.

For about 30 years, communities occupying the land have tussled over ownership as State officials, politicians and residents engage in blame game.

Close to 200 security officers were deployed to the area on Saturday.

Five people, including retired district commissioner Ireri Ndong’ong’i, were seriously injured when a group opposed to the demarcation of the land attacked them with pangas and knives.

They had gone to inspect some demarcated pieces when the young men attacked them.

The men also burnt Mr Ireri’s car before disappearing into the bush.

They then blocked roads with logs and dug trenches to stop security teams and “government-imposed strangers” from getting into the land.

The disputed land in Mbeere South Sub-County of Embu County is occupied by the Mbeere, Embu, Kamba and Kirinyaga communities.

“The land was initially given to 7,200 people but the number rose to about 9,000,” Mbeere South MP Geoffrey King’angi said.

Residents accuse some government functionaries of fuelling the violence “by importing strangers”.

“Imagine a situation where you have developed your piece of land and planted trees on it then someone with a posh car is brought in and you are ordered to leave. Where do you go?” Mr John Mwasya, a resident of Mwonjo township asked.

Mr Barnabas Mwangi from Karisa village said the delay in issuing title deeds had given grabbers a chance to descend on the settlement scheme.

“The government is the cause of tension. Hundreds of people have been camping at Makima divisional headquarters for four days waiting to be given allotment numbers. The government is oppressing us,” Mr Mwangi said.

DEMARCATION

A resident who requested anonymity said police had been brought in the area to scare them.

“Mwonjo has borne the brunt of the two-day operation. The officers are breaking into houses and destroying property. They have threatened to arrest any man or boy seen in the area,” he said.

Mr King’angi and Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru differ on how to end the dispute.

Ms Waiguru wants the demarcation and erection of beacons on the land stopped, insisting that the settlement scheme belongs to Kirinyaga residents and was wrongly moved to Embu County in the 1960s.

“Kirinyaga people will not exchange their birth right with an unfair and rushed solution to the dispute. The purported surveying and allocation of land to the 7,200 people was not inclusive,” she said.

10 PER CENT

“There was no public participation. The scheme residents and the nine clans of the Agikuyu who are the primary stakeholders were neither involved nor consulted.”

Mr King’angi insists that the allocation must continue “because the beneficiaries are genuine”.

“During division of the scheme, Kirinyaga was allocated 10 per cent of the land, Embu got 20, the Kamba had 30 while Mbeere people were given 40 per cent,” he said.

“It was mutual agreement under the watchful eye of the Interior Ministry principal secretary.”

The lawmaker added that more than 4,000 title deeds have been processed and issued to owners.

“The area is sparsely populated. All occupants were brought in from other areas and have a legitimate claim,” he said.

“The problem is in Kirinyaga and they should solve their differences. Some of them got titles but are hiding them.”

The lawmaker said the Friday attackers were incited by “wealthy individuals who fear losing their large tracts of land”.

Area OCPD Ahmed Mohammed said surveyors would not be withdrawn from the land, adding that government is determined to end the row.

“We are in the second phase of showing beneficiaries their parcels. A handful of hooligans hired by brokers and politicians want the process stopped. This land has been used as a campaign tool by politicians for long,” Mr Mohammed said.

He said two people have been arrested in connection with the attack, adding that some elders and religious leaders want them released. 

Deputy County Commissioner Beverly Opwora said phase one of the exercise was to identify public utilities in the land while Phase two involves showing allottees their parcels.

She urged those visiting the land to trace their parcels to involve the administration for provision of security.