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Saturday, August 11th, 2018

 

I am now the official opposition leader, declares Moses Wetang’ula

By VIVERE NANDIEMO
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Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula has once again slammed ODM chief Raila Odinga for “abandoning the opposition to join the Jubilee government”.

Speaking at Kegonga Town in Kuria East in Migori County during the homecoming ceremony of Nyabasi East MCA Mwita Motangi (Ford Kenya) on Saturday, Mr Wetang’ula declared that he is now the official opposition leader.

“ODM and Wiper Party have crossed over to the government after my brothers Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila joined Jubilee. I am the only Nasa principal committed to opposition,” said Mr Wetang’ula.

BETRAYED PRINCIPALS

Mr Wetang’ula maintained that Mr Odinga betrayed the other principals in the coalition when he agreed to have a political truce with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“My brother Raila betrayed us. He went secretly to State House and cut a deal with President Kenyatta. He did not even have the courtesy of letting one of us know. Do you trust such a person?” said Mr Wetang’ula.

The Bungoma Senator maintained that while he supports the political agreement between the President and Mr Odinga, he took issue with how it was initiated.

“We do not oppose the handshake but it should include all Kenyans and not just a few individuals,”

He further said that Ford Kenya will seek to chart its own political direction in the run up to the 2022 General Election.

SELFISH GAINS

“Ford Kenya will be in the race to capture the presidency come 2022. We will not be working with people who are hell-bent on betraying us for their own selfish gains,” added Mr Wetang’ula.

Kitutu Chache South MP Mr Richard Onyonka, who accompanied the Bungoma Senator, said that the Opposition should not be allowed to fizzle out because of the handshake.

“We need a strong Opposition to check the excesses of the government. We cannot allow the Jubilee government to swallow all the Nasa affiliate parties. Ford Kenya will be a formidable Opposition outfit moving forward,” said Mr Onyonka.

Kuria East MP Marwa Maisori Kitayama, who also attended the function, said that the handshake should not be used to destabilise Jubilee succession plan and revive the political ambitions of “some individuals”.

WAR ON CORRUPTION

“We know that President Kenyatta’s term ends in 2022 and thereafter DP William Ruto takes over. This should not change even with the handshake. We are solidly behind the DP,” said Mr Kitayama.

Mr Wetang’ula said that the war on corruption should not stop at “people being taken to court only”.

“We need to see people behind bars and the money they stole being recovered. That is when we will know we are winning the war, ” added Mr Wetang’ula.


Day when time stopped in Nairobi, and memories left

By KAMAU NGOTHO
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At about eleven the day before the bomb blast, I casually walked past the American embassy building, Ufundi Co-operative House, and the Co-operative Bank Building, to the office where I worked at Cannon House few metres further up on Haile Selassie Avenue.

Had I been at the same place, the same time, the day that followed, chances are high you wouldn’t be reading this today. And my name would have a prefix, the late.

As I celebrate being ahead of almost certain death by mere 24 hours, I remember lives of two girls I had come to know just few months before the blast and who went to be with the Lord on the fateful day.

I was driving down Kikuyu Road just past Kikuyu Campus of the University of Nairobi in early 1998, when a beautiful girl flagged me down and asked for a lift.

I was a young man and can’t possibly think of any reason I would have declined to give lift to a lady who, in the words of novelist Mark Twain, would have set a river on fire. As we rode to Nairobi, she told me her name was Terry Wairimu and she was attending college in the city where she studied accounts.

GREAT HOPE

I dropped her in town and gave her my contacts with great hope she would honour me with a call.

She did and we’d lunch and agreed to meet later. But in absence of modern ways of communication – mark you that year you could count with fingers of one hand Kenyans who owned a mobile phone! – I lost touch with the girl.

The next time I met Terry was a month to the bomb blast. We accidentally met outside the Co-operative Bank Building.

Our excitement was unstoppable and there and then we decided to have lunch at the Berbers Restaurant, opposite the Co-operative Bank Building.

As we’d had lunch she told me she had just been from the American embassy to follow up on processing of her visa to travel to the US where she intended to settle.

She offered to invite me to join her in the US once she got settled. Being a gentleman, I politely accepted her kindness without telling her I wasn’t, and have never been, interested in living anywhere else outside Kenya.

FAREWELL PARTY

She also invited me to attend her farewell party at a date she would be informing me soon. A week later the bomb blast happened.

Leafing through obituary pages I saw her picture and my heart sank. I attended her burial where I learnt she was on the queue to enter the embassy building when the blast came.

Like with Terry, I had come to know Ms Pity Mwihaki, hardly a year before the blast. She worked with Consolidated Insurance Brokers which was housed at the fifth floor of the Ufundi House. Her employer and owner of the company Mr P.G. Mureithi, was well known to me and I would go to see him from time to time. In the process, Ms Mwihaki, who was his secretary and I became friends.

Only days to the bomb blast, I also bumped unto her at same place I had met Terry few days earlier.

There and then, we also decided to have lunch at the Berbers Restaurant. She too, had a disclosure. She was getting married and was in process of organising a pre-wedding fundraiser and where I was invited. I happily accepted her invitation and promised to attend.

SIX COLLEAGUES GONE

Then the bomb blast came. I learnt the same day she and six of her colleagues were gone. My only consolation is that Terry and Mwihaki were nice girls, so they must be with the Lord in heaven.

Today I also like to celebrate another unsung hero of the Nairobi bomb blast. His name is Joash Okindo. I met him seven years after the bomb blast and the first thing he asked is that we thank God he was still alive.

On the day of the blast he was standing guard at the rear underground entrance to the American embassy building, when a pickup truck pulled up and it’s driver and passenger demanded that he pull up the barrier for them to enter.

He declined and demanded they first identify themselves. Defiantly the pair jumped out and hurled a grenade at the barrier as they ran away.

GRENADE ATTACK

He followed in chase but couldn’t go far with injuries from the grenade attack. Then the big bang came.

Architects and geologists interviewed later said that had the terrorist bomb exploded from the underground of the American embassy building, it would have pulled down the entire building. Worse, it would have caused and earthquake effect very high on Ritcher scale and which would have brought down several other buildings in the neighbourhood, and not just the seven story Ufundi House.

 Another hero I request you to celebrate with me today is Israel Army officer called Gil Wiener.

He is the man who rescued the last survivor to be pulled from the rubble, the banker Sammy Ng’ang’a. I call him a “boy” because that’s how the Israeli officer struck me and colleague Sammy Wambua when we met him at the Hotel Ambassadeur where the Israel Rescue Team was accommodated.

BOYISH LOOKS

He was a happy go-lucky charming man with boyish looks. We requested him to join us at our table which he did with relish. We’d carried enough money to drown him but, luckily, he like us, had capacity and we did justice to the products of the Ruaraka people.

A thing I have never forgotten is that the boy-looking officer was so delighted that they had saved that single life.

This is how he put it: “In Israel, we are born expecting to be blasted dead long before the first suckle. For us even one life living is a great joy!”

A happy Mr Ng’ang’a had echoed almost similar words as the young solider held him immediately he was pulled from the heap of death. Ng’ang’a had said: “Now, I will live to remember what you’ve done for me.”

GREAT KENYANS 

But maximum tribute goes to the great Kenyans who showed that we are, after all, brothers and sisters, and that what unites us as brethren is much more than the little that divide us especially when incited by politicians during elections.

On that day, Kenyans demonstrated great love for one another than can never be told by words. The picture of Cabinet minister Joseph Kamotho carried shoulder high and rushed to hospital by a PSV vehicle perhaps is best reminder that we are all our brother’s keeper.

HEROINE OF ALL TIMES

But the heroine of the day we shall never forget is Ms Rose Wanjiku. For six days she kept us hoping that she was still alive and would be pulled from the rubble.

Her cry for help under the rubble for days encouraged the rescue teams with hope that one more person would be found alive.

She was finally found dead but her spirit lives.

The cover words of the Daily Nation on August 13, 1998, couldn’t have put it better. It read: “This is Rose Wanjiku: Kenya’s Candle in the Wind”. She taught us to be strong against all odds. We shall overcome.


Fight against graft unstoppable, says DP William Ruto

By DENNIS LUBANGA
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Deputy President William Ruto on Saturday threw his support behind the renewed crackdown on illegally acquired property saying constitutional offices charged with fighting corruption will get undivided support from the Jubilee government.

Speaking on Saturday during the launch of the Kesses Constituency Youth and Women Empowerment Programme at Eldoret Sports Club grounds in Uasin Gishu County, the DP said there was goodwill from the Executive adding that adequate resources would be allocated to all the agencies charged with fighting graft.

“As the Executive arm of the government, ours is to ensure that all departments charged with oversight and the Judiciary are well financed so that they can effectively undertake their mandate,” he said.

Mr Ruto, who earlier in the morning presided over a mega groups fund-raiser at Kamusinde High School in Kimilili, Bungoma County, said the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions would be allocated more to enhance the fight against corruption.

FIGHT AGAINST GRAFT

“We want to see to it that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is well financed so that it keeps up its good work in the fight against graft and other criminal activities,” added the Deputy President.

Mr Ruto reiterated that the election period was over and that it was time for all leaders to work for Kenyans. He said that the only way to take Kenya forward is through development and not propaganda.

“Let us stop spreading propaganda and instead start working for Kenyans. I want to ask all leaders to do their job so that they can be judged by what they have done for this country,” said Mr Ruto.

TRANSFORMATION

During the event, 700 students were recruited to join the Eldoret National Polytechnic and the first phase of the Cow program launched courtesy of the area MP Dr Swarup Mishra.

The Deputy President was accompanied by, among others, the Cabinet Secretary for Education Amina Mohamed, Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang and Dr Kevit Desai, the Principal Secretary in the State Department of Vocational and Technical Education (TVET) in the ministry of Education.

He noted that technical training institutions will play a big role in the implementation of the Big Four Agenda.

“As a country we want all our programmes to be channelled to Big Four to make it a success. Every county leadership must align their plans and strategies with the Big Four agenda so that we can take our country’s transformation to another level,” he said.

Also present were Governor Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) and his Trans Nzoia counterpart Patrick Khaemba.

130 NEW COLLEGES

The Deputy President at the same time said that the National Government was closing the gap on vocational training to produce graduates with the right technical skills required in the job market.

“The Jubilee Government has so far constructed 130 new colleges since it came into office and these institutions will admit 120,000 students from September. Each student will be offered Sh30,000 in terms of bursaries and Sh40,000 loan as we ramp up enrollment,” said the DP.

Ms Amina told the 700 beneficiaries to take advantage of the programme to improve their livelihoods. “This programme will make technical training possible to more Kenyan youths.

BECOME PRODUCTIVE

Mine is to urge the beneficiaries to fully take advantage of it so that they can become productive in the society,” said Ms Amina.

Political leaders present at the event pledged their support for the Deputy President ahead of the 2022 General elections.

They included MPs Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu), Sabina Chege (Murang’a Women Rep), Daniel Rono (Keiyo South), Joseph Tanui (Kuresoi South), Patrick Munene (Chuka) and Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, among others.


Day time stopped in Nairobi, and the memories left

By KAMAU NGOTHO
More by this Author

At about eleven the day before the bomb blast, I casually walked past the American embassy building, Ufundi Co-operative House, and the Co-operative Bank Building, to the office where I worked at Cannon House few metres further up on Haile Selassie Avenue.

Had I been at the same place, the same time, the day that followed, chances are high you wouldn’t be reading this today. And my name would have a prefix, the late.

As I celebrate being ahead of almost certain death by mere 24 hours, I remember lives of two girls I had come to know just few months before the blast and who went to be with the Lord on the fateful day.

I was driving down Kikuyu Road just past Kikuyu Campus of the University of Nairobi in early 1998, when a beautiful girl flagged me down and asked for a lift.

I was a young man and can’t possibly think of any reason I would have declined to give lift to a lady who, in the words of novelist Mark Twain, would have set a river on fire. As we rode to Nairobi, she told me her name was Terry Wairimu and she was attending college in the city where she studied accounts.

GREAT HOPE

I dropped her in town and gave her my contacts with great hope she would honour me with a call.

She did and we’d lunch and agreed to meet later. But in absence of modern ways of communication – mark you that year you could count with fingers of one hand Kenyans who owned a mobile phone! – I lost touch with the girl.

The next time I met Terry was a month to the bomb blast. We accidentally met outside the Co-operative Bank Building.

Our excitement was unstoppable and there and then we decided to have lunch at the Berbers Restaurant, opposite the Co-operative Bank Building.

As we’d had lunch she told me she had just been from the American embassy to follow up on processing of her visa to travel to the US where she intended to settle.

She offered to invite me to join her in the US once she got settled. Being a gentleman, I politely accepted her kindness without telling her I wasn’t, and have never been, interested in living anywhere else outside Kenya.

FAREWELL PARTY

She also invited me to attend her farewell party at a date she would be informing me soon. A week later the bomb blast happened.

Leafing through obituary pages I saw her picture and my heart sank. I attended her burial where I learnt she was on the queue to enter the embassy building when the blast came.

Like with Terry, I had come to know Ms Pity Mwihaki, hardly a year before the blast. She worked with Consolidated Insurance Brokers which was housed at the fifth floor of the Ufundi House. Her employer and owner of the company Mr P.G. Mureithi, was well known to me and I would go to see him from time to time. In the process, Ms Mwihaki, who was his secretary and I became friends.

Only days to the bomb blast, I also bumped unto her at same place I had met Terry few days earlier.

There and then, we also decided to have lunch at the Berbers Restaurant. She too, had a disclosure. She was getting married and was in process of organising a pre-wedding fundraiser and where I was invited. I happily accepted her invitation and promised to attend.

SIX COLLEAGUES GONE

Then the bomb blast came. I learnt the same day she and six of her colleagues were gone. My only consolation is that Terry and Mwihaki were nice girls, so they must be with the Lord in heaven.

Today I also like to celebrate another unsung hero of the Nairobi bomb blast. His name is Joash Okindo. I met him seven years after the bomb blast and the first thing he asked is that we thank God he was still alive.

On the day of the blast he was standing guard at the rear underground entrance to the American embassy building, when a pickup truck pulled up and it’s driver and passenger demanded that he pull up the barrier for them to enter.

He declined and demanded they first identify themselves. Defiantly the pair jumped out and hurled a grenade at the barrier as they ran away.

GRENADE ATTACK

He followed in chase but couldn’t go far with injuries from the grenade attack. Then the big bang came.

Architects and geologists interviewed later said that had the terrorist bomb exploded from the underground of the American embassy building, it would have pulled down the entire building. Worse, it would have caused and earthquake effect very high on Ritcher scale and which would have brought down several other buildings in the neighbourhood, and not just the seven story Ufundi House.

 Another hero I request you to celebrate with me today is Israel Army officer called Gil Wiener.

He is the man who rescued the last survivor to be pulled from the rubble, the banker Sammy Ng’ang’a. I call him a “boy” because that’s how the Israeli officer struck me and colleague Sammy Wambua when we met him at the Hotel Ambassadeur where the Israel Rescue Team was accommodated.

BOYISH LOOKS

He was a happy go-lucky charming man with boyish looks. We requested him to join us at our table which he did with relish. We’d carried enough money to drown him but, luckily, he like us, had capacity and we did justice to the products of the Ruaraka people.

A thing I have never forgotten is that the boy-looking officer was so delighted that they had saved that single life.

This is how he put it: “In Israel, we are born expecting to be blasted dead long before the first suckle. For us even one life living is a great joy!”

A happy Mr Ng’ang’a had echoed almost similar words as the young solider held him immediately he was pulled from the heap of death. Ng’ang’a had said: “Now, I will live to remember what you’ve done for me.”

GREAT KENYANS 

But maximum tribute goes to the great Kenyans who showed that we are, after all, brothers and sisters, and that what unites us as brethren is much more than the little that divide us especially when incited by politicians during elections.

On that day, Kenyans demonstrated great love for one another than can never be told by words. The picture of Cabinet minister Joseph Kamotho carried shoulder high and rushed to hospital by a PSV vehicle perhaps is best reminder that we are all our brother’s keeper.

HEROINE OF ALL TIMES

But the heroine of the day we shall never forget is Ms Rose Wanjiku. For six days she kept us hoping that she was still alive and would be pulled from the rubble.

Her cry for help under the rubble for days encouraged the rescue teams with hope that one more person would be found alive.

She was finally found dead but her spirit lives.

The cover words of the Daily Nation on August 13, 1998, couldn’t have put it better. It read: “This is Rose Wanjiku: Kenya’s Candle in the Wind”. She taught us to be strong against all odds. We shall overcome.


Disquiet in Wiper as party awaits Governor Mutua’s fate at top court

By KITAVI MUTUA
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Residents of Machakos County will have to wait longer for the outcome of the appeal case on the election of Governor Alfred Mutua after the Supreme Court proceeded on a 45 days vacation.

Judges at the top court started the annual vacation from August 1 and will resume on September 14, according to a Gazette Notice No. 7645, issued by Chief Justice David Maraga on July 6.

“The August vacation of the Supreme Court shall commence on Wednesday, August 1 and terminate on Friday, September, 14 both days inclusive. A judge will be available during the vacation to deal with matters that are urgent or require prompt attention,” reads the notice.

FINAL OUTCOME

But as the county awaits the final outcome of the dispute, the political dynamics are fast-shifting with each camp weighing the possible scenarios and what they portend for them.

Initially, Ms Wavinya Ndeti saw the nullification of Dr Mutua’s win as her best chance to prove that her victory was stolen but recent happenings in the Wiper Party suggest a house divided by her candidacy, with former Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama openly rejecting her bid.

Mr Muthama has demanded that the Wiper ticket for the seat, which features Ms Ndeti as the candidate and former Eala MP Peter Mathuki as her running mate changed, to avoid a third loss for the party.

BREAK RANKS

He has threatened to break ranks with the party if it insists on fielding Ms Ndeti to face Dr Mutua arguing, “He’ll come in to find a solution for Machakos people if the lineup is not set up properly”

The party led by Mr Kalonzo Musyoka is in a tricky position because the basis for the anticipated election will be Ms Ndeti contesting the results of last year’s election and cannot, therefore, pick another candidate.

It must calm down Mr Muthama – a major political voice in Machakos, who believes it would be pointless to retain the same ticket and expect different results.

However, even after the court resumes business mid next month, the petition lodged by Governor Mutua against the nullification of his election by the appellate court will only be heard as from October because the court’s dairy is full.

FRESH HEARING

The appeal is not among the matters listed for hearing by the court until September 21 in the case list published by the National Council for Law Reporting, meaning fresh hearing dates will have to be fixed.

Governor Mutua, who obtained stay orders against the execution of the Court of Appeal ruling that ordered a repeat election, will thus remain in office as the matter drags on.

On the other hand, his long time political rival Ms Ndeti, a former MP for Kathiani who successfully petitioned his re-election, is hoping for a faster determination of the case and has urged her supporters to brace for another contest. The two, who have been the main candidates for the Machakos gubernatorial seat in last two general elections – 2013 and 2017, are busy preparing for the possible eventuality of facing each other again on the ballot for the third time.

The fresh disagreement in Wiper Party is, however, music to the ears of Governor Mutua because if Mr Muthama makes good his threat, he’ll be acting as the perfect spoiler and almost guarantee him an easy win, in the event of a by-election.

RECONCILIATION

Last week, Dr Mutua reached out to his former party boss in the spirit of reconciliation saying they had agreed to meet “for a cup of tea”.

The governor, who heads the Maendeleo Chap Chap party, posted several pictures of him dancing and chatting happily with Mr Musyoka on his Facebook page claiming they enjoyed moments of laughter as they discussed life.

“It was great to reconnect with H. E. Kalonzo Musyoka. We enjoyed moments of laughter as we discussed life and agreed to call each other this coming week to find time to share a cup of tea” Dr Mutua said.

However, Mr Musyoka’s camp quickly dismissed the suggestion as an attempt by Dr Mutua to spin details of the meeting to intimidate his rivals.

Mr Mathuki downplayed the meeting saying people should not read anything political in the “mere bumping into each other” of the two leaders.

ELEVATE WIPER

Dr Mutua and Mr Musyoka met at Karen Community Church in Nairobi where they had attended the wedding of Mr Robert Kibwana, the son of Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana last weekend.

The stakes are high since it would be a huge embarrassment for Mr Musyoka if Wiper party doesn’t wrestle the Machakos governorship from Dr Mutua.

A win for Ms Ndeti, which could make her the fourth woman governor will not only be seen as Mr Musyoka consolidating his grip in the region but will also elevate Wiper to the league of political parties that qualify for state funding.


By honouring our heroes, we deepen our democracy

By PETER KAGWANJA
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“A nation that does not honour its heroes is not worth dying for.” This adage highlights the inextricable link between honouring heroes and democracy deepening, especially in emerging democracies.

On August 10, 2018, Murang’a University of Technology awarded an honorary degree, its first ever, to Charles Wanyoike Rubia (95), one of the most influential makers of modern Kenya, for his contribution towards the growth of the institution and in recognition of his push for multi-party democracy.

“It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed”, goes the cliché. This is true of Charles Rubia’s career as the first black mayor of Nairobi (1962-67); a member of parliament (1967-1978); cabinet minister (1978-1988); a multi-party crusader, and a peace maker.

REPRESSION

Debate on the icons of democracy in Africa like Rubia reflects the continent’s struggle against repression at three phases.

The first phase is Africa’s struggle against colonial and racist regimes that produced the first generation of heroes—and villains.

Colonialism created its own ‘imperial heroes’ — both natives and foreigners —credited with military conquest and subjugation of Africa. Anti-colonial resisters were condemned as terrorists, and jailed or hanged.

But colonialism crumbled. Rubia and others presided over the dismantling of colonialism’s racist legacy. As Nairobi’s first black mayor, Rubia helped create Nairobi as a modern City with integrated settlements for all races and the “Africanisation” of the inherited civil bureaucracy.

NEW INSTITUTIONS

However, Rubia and his generation also created new institutions. In the 1970s, Rubia was part of a team of Murang’a elite in Nairobi, who conceived the idea of a Murang’a College of Technology.

The second phase is the post-colonial era. A salient feature of one-party regimes was a pervasive “personality cults”, which suppressed genuine heroes and champions of anti-colonial struggles.

The one-party regimes either sidelined or viewed leaders of Nationalist movements such as the Mau Mau with disdain.

It took Nelson Mandela, an anti-apartheid hero who had been in jail for 27 years, to remind the Kenyan political class to honour its nationalist heroes.

FREEDOM FIGHTERS

On July 11, 1990, speaking to Kenyans at the Moi International Centre Kasarani, Mandela proclaimed his utmost respect for freedom fighters Dedan Kimathi, General China (also known as Waruhiu Itote) and others who had paid with their lives for Kenya’s freedom.

Kimathi was “a man who led the armed struggle against the British very excellently and for which he paid with his own life.

Kimathi died but the spirit of the liberation remained alive and that is why the people of Kenya are free today”, Mandela said.

Even as Mandela was making a case for the recognition of the heroes of the “first liberation”, the KANU regime wielded a heavy stick against the heroes of the “second Liberation”.

In 1990, Rubia joined hands with Kenneth Matiba to call for multi-party democracy. Moi’s government came down hard on the two among other multiparty crusaders.

On July 4, 1990, Rubia was arrested and detained together with Kenneth Matiba, Raila Odinga, John Khaminwa and Gitobu Imanyara. Indeed, on the day Mandela arrived, the government formally announced the detention of Nairobi lawyer Mohamed Ibrahim. One-party regimes created new pro-democracy heroes, among them Rubia.

The third phase coincides with the “Third Wave” of democratisation that, in the African context, followed the end of the Cold War after 1989.

The expansion of democracy in recent decades has seen a trend towards celebration of heroes.

Things changed after the 2002, when the opposition swept to power. The Mwai Kibaki administration officially recognised Kimathi and his fellow Mau Mau rebels as heroes in the struggle for Kenyan independence.

The administration officially registered the Mau Mau Movement on November 11, 2003, unveiling of a Kimathi statue in 2007 along Kimathi Street in Nairobi CBD, build a house for his family 2009, and the Kimathi University of Technology was named in his honour.

SECOND LIBERATION

Voting for a new constitution on August 4, 2010 referendum was widely seen as the way of rewarding the fallen heroes of Kenya’s second liberation. The New Constitution in 2010 expressly provides for recognition of national heroes, creating the Masujaa (Heroes) Day.

During Masujaa Day on October 20, 2016, President Uhuru Kenyatta honoured Rubia among other heroes of the first and second Liberations. In October 2016, the Nairobi County Government named the Cross Road from Nairobi Central to Kamukuji after Rubia.

Despite this, in societies sharply divided along ethnic, religious, social, political and class fault lines, identifying and honouring public heroes (or heroines) is a tall order.

The handshake on March 9 has made it possible for all sides in the political divide to celebrate heroes such as the late Matiba and Rubia.

NOBLER IDEAL

NASA Leader Raila Odinga attended Murang’a University 2nd Graduation Ceremony, where Rubia was honored with honorary doctorate. Mr. Odinga reiterated call for Murang’a University of Technology to be renamed Kenneth Matiba University of Technology.

This set the stage for the next generation of heroes as those will cleanse our nascent democracy of corruption and evils.

The on-going war on corruption risks being dismissed as vindictive if it is not linked to a morally higher ideal. That nobler ideal is the deepening of our democratic culture.

Prof Kagwanja is a former Government Advisor and Chief Executive of Africa Policy Institute.


Here’s why going on a diet is making you fat

By ESTHER DINDI
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Janet was so excited when she called me late last year. She told me how happy she was that she had finally found a diet that she was sure was going to sort out the weight challenges she had struggled with for years.

“I just have to stop taking carbohydrates in the evening and ensure that I start my day with a smoothie”

As I listened to her I thought about the many people that have been in her exact same position. Out of desperation, when someone hears of certain diets that are touted as the magical solution to weight loss then one is keen to give it a try.

The script is always the same, a few kilos shed quickly at the beginning of the diet, then a plateau period that is then followed by regaining of all the weight lost.

GAIN MORE WEIGHT

Sometimes people even gain more weight than they had at the start.

For my friend Janet, her heartbreak came after one month of trying the new diet.

She called me frustrated at the weight she was regaining after the initial drastic weight loss.

To answer Janet and many others who are perplexed by this phenomenon, let me explain why going on that diet will make you fat.

Every time we go on a diet to restrict the number of calories we consume, the body’s metabolism slows down. Loosely speaking the metabolism rate is how quickly the body burns up the calories consumed.

The slowing of metabolism is an adaptation by the body to prevent excessive weight loss, the body literally gets into survival mode.

SLOWED METABOLISM

Once one is done with the diet and gets back to normal eating, the body still has slowed metabolism.

This means that for the same amount of food eaten, less energy is spent, and more calories are stored as fat by the body.

The net effect becomes weight gain, initiated by that effort to lose weight through a diet.

The other trouble with the restricting our caloric intake through diet is that we will quickly lose some weight, but it is not fat loss, it is water weight that is lost.

When we do not get sufficient energy from the food we take in, the body starts to utilise energy from a substance called glycogen, which is a stored form of glucose in the body. Every gramme of glycogen utilised results in loss of 3 to 4 grammes of water associated with it. This is what we call water weight loss.

GLYCOGEN STORES

Once the diet is done and we go back to normal eating habits, the body starts to replenish its glycogen stores, and with it the water molecules associated, thus all the weight is back with a bang. This fact is lost to many who go on crash diets promising to facilitate weight loss in a few days.

There is no way that fat accumulated over many years can be lost in a few days.

One of the other things that happens to those who love fad diets is that one is always on the lookout for this one silver bullet that will be the answer to the fat loss problems. The problem here is the mindset that is hoping for one magic solution that will not require any much effort.

The focus is then lost from important aspects like consistent exercise and mindful eating.

Meanwhile as one shifts from diet to diet, the weight is on a yo-yo ride, up and down with every new fad diet in town.

WEIGHT PILES

Ultimately the battle is lost, as the person who has done so many diets finally gives up on even trying, and the weight piles on with its accompanying lifestyle diseases.

When it comes to real weight loss solutions that work, lifestyle modification has been shown to work best.

Up to 95 per cent of people who lose weight through dieting regain and even exceed the initial weight within the first five years.

The people who keep the weight off are those who make lifestyle changes and look at the nutrition with a long-term mindset.

Do not go on a diet that you cannot sustain as a lifestyle for the rest of your life.

Instead of focusing on excessive restrictive diets, get on to the principles of healthy nutrition, understanding portions and proportions.

Dr Dindi is a consultant physician and corporate wellness expert. She is the CEO and founder of Doctor Fitness.


We must all support the war on graft

By DOMINIC WAMUGUNDA
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The arrest of the former governor of Nairobi and the demolitions that have started, in my view, seem to pronounce that the war against corruption is truly on.

Of course as President Uhuru Kenyatta says, government officers who gave those certificates ought to be held accountable. The war better be on because many of us Kenyans thought it would never start. That is why many of us keep talking about the political class against the rest of us.

At least now we can say that something has started happening. The appointment of a new Director of Public Prosecutor seems to have brought a new spirit into the game.

FIGHT CORRUPTION

When we passed a new constitution in 2010 — of course many of us did not quite read it — we sanctioned a lot of things.

One of them is that we established a commission that we hoped would fight corruption.

Up to this time, that body has not done much but they seem to be moving this time round. Why now?

There must be a new resolve on the part of the top leadership of this country.

That resolve is an initiative that every genuine Kenyan must support because it is the only way our nation can survive. But how possible is that?

TRUSTING LOT

For the longest time in our existence as a nation we have been a trusting lot and accepted what our “leaders” did and said. We now know that many of those “leaders” were doing what they did for themselves and not for us.

My worry and fear is that there is a generation that has grown up in the last twenty thirty years that knows nothing else about leadership or how to be Kenyan.

If corruption is not demolished in the shortest period possible then the future of our nation and the younger generation are in serious danger.

But then it has become a culture and it is common knowledge that corruption fights back and will most definitely use those younger people.

This is where the three arms of government come in.

WORK TOGETHER

The resistance by corrupt people comes mainly in spending the money they have made through the same corrupt root. A corrupt person can pay anything to anybody — policeman, judge, government officer — or whoever in order to survive and continue with what they do.

All government arms must work together in honest and with the will to save this country. Looking at the way things have been going, one may want to ask whether these arms of government are, in spite of their individual independence, actually agreed on which way this country must go in this matter of corruption. It was a delight listening to the Chief Justice the other day, taking a tough stand in support of the war on corruption.

 The writer is dean of students and sociology lecturer at the University of Nairobi; [email protected]


Caning in school to blame for our violent society

By EGARA KABAJI
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It is interesting to note that some Members of Parliament are among the groups and individuals pushing to legalise corporal punishment in schools.

But more disturbing are reports which indicate that corporal punishment is widespread in our schools of late.

I must say that this is not only against the law, but it is also an affront on the rights of children and a dent on the progressive methods of bringing them up.

It is ironic that we are being made to debate the place of corporal punishment in education of children long after we had concluded and legislated against the practice.

One does not need to go far in establishing what corporal punishment is. Looking at the Bill of Rights in our Constitution suffices. We have to call this what it is: A barbaric act and abuse that has no place in a modern democratic society.

 Those of us who have spent most of our adult life in the academy and specifically as educationists have seen the harmful nature of corporal punishment and its associated emotional and physical complications

We know that teachers who often use the rod are reluctant to try progressive alternatives to disciplining children. Yet in training teachers, we equip them with all the alternatives that they should explore. The infliction of pain upon the body of a student as a punishment for doing something, disapproved of by the school is counterproductive to the child’s development. It is humiliating as it erodes the child’s self-esteem.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

It is no wonder that Kenya has been criticised in many forums over corporal punishment. During the recent World Conference on Education for All in Dakar, Kenya was singled out for institutionalising violence and promoting child abuse through corporal punishment.

But even external chastisement aside, let us not forget that corporal punishment has been blatantly abused by some teachers which this has led to serious injuries to pupils. We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand.

It is a fact that for most children, in this country, violence is a regular part of the school experience.

Teachers use caning, slapping, and whipping to manage discipline and to punish children for poor academic performance.

In essence, the use of corporal punishment is simply routine, capricious and, to some extent, malicious.

Use of violence has other ramification in our society. Have you ever wondered why our country is in general state of indiscipline?

This is partly because of the wrong assumption that we can solve our problems through the use of force.

Because of this mind set, we are prone to abuse of power. It comes so naturally to brutalise the poor and the weak.

When we brutalise children, we lower their self-esteem and teach them poor self-control. This leads them into acrimonious relationships with others in society.

Today’s child is the adult of tomorrow who will not see any problem in the use of violence to solve problems. It is no wonder that we are by all definitions an extremely violent society.

CONTROL CHILDREN

Those who resort to corporal punishment see it as the best way to successfully control children. They argue that it has been the tried and tested way of disciplining children since time immemorial. However, the major issue that parents and teachers should consider is how corporal punishment interferes with the process of intelligent socialisation and character development in children.

As Bettelheim Bruno, the great American psychologist would say, it does not help children find meaning in life. The Society for Adolescent Medicine also reported that the caned child learns the wrong message.

 We cannot look at discipline only in terms of how children can be controlled. This is, to say the least, a wrong paradigm because it does not help us to instil a sense of responsibility, adventure and innovativeness in children.

VULNERABLE

The use of corporal punishment in schools promotes a very precarious message that violence is an acceptable phenomenon in our society. It sanctions the notion that it is meritorious to be violent toward the weak, defenceless and vulnerable. It encourages children to resort to violence because they see their authority figures or substitute parents using it. This is a dangerous message to promote in our society. The uncontestable fact is that violence begets violence and is not acceptable in a civilised nation.

Psychologists have long asserted that corporal punishment inhibits the accomplishments of children and undermines trust. It erodes the youngsters’ basic trust, stimulates mistrust, anger, and resentment. It also undermines the teachers’ ability to interpret a pupil’s basic needs and to provide an environment of mutual trust conducive to learning

By school going age, the child should have developed a feeling of autonomy. The teacher has to accept this development and learn to delegate some control to the child while guiding every step of the way.

PHYSICAL HARM

 There are many reports on physical harm that we cause children by beating them. There are a number of ugly recorded incidents of severe physical damage, lower spinal injuries, nerve damage, and even blood clots due to caning of students.

There exists a wide range of orthopaedic complications, which result from striking the hand of a child with a cane, ruler, strap or other such tools.

I thought MPs should know this better as custodians of our freedoms!

 I have talked to a number of doctors who say the hand is particularly sensitive to injury because of the proximity of the ligaments, tendons, nerves and blood vessels to the skin, which does not have underlying protective tissue.

Younger children are even more susceptible to permanent deformity because of the possibility of injury to growth plates in the bones.

WRONG MESSAGE

The Society for Adolescent Medicine has also warned that the caned child simply learns the wrong message.

Those who advocate use of corporal punishment, including our MPs, need education more than anything else.

They have to learn that corporal punishment violates both Kenyan law and international human rights which we subscribe to. According to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, school corporal punishment is incompatible with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Teachers who practise this should not just be punished, but should undergo further training or better still be redeployed as zoo attendants.

Prof Kabaji is the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Planning, Research and Innovation) at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology and Chairman of Vihiga County Education Board. [email protected]


Young MPs and EU working to create safe spaces for youth

By JOHNSON SAKAJA
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By STEFANO- ANTONIO DEJAK
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The United Nations General Assembly in 1999 declared International Youth Day as a day when youth around the globe are celebrated.

The annual event, marked globally on 12th August, not only celebrates the innovation and energy of youth but also provides an opportunity for governments and other stakeholders to focus on youth policies.

The theme for this year’s celebrations is ‘Safe Spaces for Youth’. These safe spaces are needed to ensure the dignity and safety of youth to engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes, and freely express themselves.

Political instability, labour market challenges and limited space for political and civic participation have led to increasing isolation of youth in societies, from which Kenya is not exempt.

DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES

For instance, young Kenyans’ participation in democratic processes is often limited to pre-election campaigning, voting, and post-election agitation, which often leads to violence in the short run, and to poverty, disruption of education, unemployment, and disenfranchisement in the long run.

Kenya’s youth thus need safe spaces to, among other things, access proper healthcare and education, engage in productive employment and in the democratic processes, and access safe public spaces to enable them to interact in society.

Young legislators in the Parliament have been creating safe civic spaces for youth under the auspices of the Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association (KYPA).

Whereas more needs to be done, the association has provided a platform not only for youth to meaningfully engage with the legislature, but also for young members of county assemblies to be able to caucus both nationally and within their counties to replicate KYPA’s work at the county level.

MARGINALISED POLITICALLY

Youth are the majority of Kenyan voters, but rarely do they have their say in the state of affairs in this country.

Despite being a majority, they have always been marginalised politically, economically, and socially.

So, for the youth of Kenya, the Building Bridges Initiative should be not only an event but the first step that will provide impetus for more meaningful youth engagement and representation in the political process, helping to redress the demographic deficit in policy-making that is the reality in Kenya and indeed throughout the world.

For its part, the European Union recognises the need for widespread action in support of youth, both in Europe and in Africa.

BETTER OPPORTUNITIES

In recent years EU leaders have been increasingly committed to creating better opportunities for youth in Europe, for instance in the work towards a European Education Area. Meanwhile, at last year’s EU-African Union Summit in Abidjan, African and EU leaders focused on investing in youth.

This is a key priority for Africa and the European Union as 60 per cent of Africa’s population is under the age of 25.

Addressing youth at the EU-African Union Summit, EU President Donald Tusk said: “You rightly expect that we listen to you as we discuss priorities and actions for the next years, and that we include you in their implementation, because it is you who will take them forward in the future. Our task as leaders is to take decisions that will make the future safer and more prosperous for all of our youth, both African and European.”

Here in Kenya, the European Union’s greatest relevance to youth is through the jobs that are created by trade and investment relations between Kenya and Europe.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

The European Union is the biggest market for Kenya’s exports, and is also the leading source of foreign investment in Kenya’s economy.

The European Union is also an important source of funding to support regional security in eastern Africa, of financial support for Kenya’s development, of aid to alleviate humanitarian crises that affect the country and its neighbours, and of financial support for Kenyan students seeking to study in Europe.

Practically all such financial support from the European Union brings some economic and social benefits to Kenya’s youth, even if their effects are only indirect.

But, perhaps just as importantly as its economic and social roles, the European Union has political and cultural values that appeal to many of Kenya’s youth.

The European Union isn’t trying to impose these values on Kenya and its people, but rather to build on the choices that they make for themselves.

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

Indeed the values contained in Kenya’s Constitution match the European Union’s global commitments to promoting democracy, the rule of law, and respect for fundamental rights.

The European Union also has a wealth of political experience — both good and not-so-good! — that can help inform Kenya’s youth about some of the political challenges facing the country, such as devolution and political inclusivity.

Against that background, young legislators, with encouragement from the European Union, have begun to work together to spearhead youth’s contribution to the Building Bridges Initiative, whose objective is ensure true reconciliation and sustainable coexistence of communities in Kenya with the youth in focus.

This engagement is imperative for Kenya’s youth because they are custodians of the future that the Building Bridges Initiative seeks to create in this country.

Johnson Sakaja is the Senator for Nairobi County while Stefano A. Dejak is the European Union Ambassador to Kenya.