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Thursday, October 11th, 2018

 

Rhumba legend Franco's music still rules the roost

By AMOS NGAIRA
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Nearly 30 years since his death in a hospital in Belgium, legendary Congolese musician, the grandmaster Franco Luambo Luanzo Makiadi’s legacy lives on in the many hit songs that his TPOK Jazz churned out in more than three decades of a hugely successful musical career.

As his fans and lovers of the popular Congolese rhumba music throughout the world mark the 29th anniversary of his death in a Brussels hospital, today, in Kenya, the connoisseurs of his mercurial compositions will be reflecting on some of his timeless songs with deep social messages.

Those who understand Lingala have danced to the beats and savoured the poetry and the lyrical counsel.

Franco’s death marked the end of an era of a legend who had, for close to three decades, been in the front line of making immensely alluring music.

FRANCO’S POPULARITY

Franco’s music was loved in DR Congo and beyond, with the burly composer, guitarist, singer and band leader enjoying frenzied adulation in East and Central Africa and also in southern Africa.

He was also popular in West Africa, enjoying a hero’s following in Cameroon and other West African nations.

From 1956, when he formed the TPOK Jazz band alongside the equally vastly talented Vicky Longomba, Armando Brazzos, Essous, Celestian Kouka, Rossignol and Edo Nganga, Franco was a giant on the vast African musical landscape.

Later, he would bring into the band other stars, including Lutumba Simaro Massiya, who would later serve as the vice-president of the orchestra until Franco’s death. Others were Kwamy Munsi, Jose Mujos Mulumba, Youlou Mabiala, Lola Checain, Michel Boyibanda, Sam Mangwana, and Josky Kiambukuta.

These stars added their great vocals to the compositions that were danced to in many African capitals and the rural areas, with adoration.

Being a member of his mighty TPOK Jazz at any one time was the pride of most of the musicians.

FAMILY VALUES

One of his most popular songs was “Matata ya Muasi na Mobali Esila te”, which was released in 1975 (loosely translated to mean the differences between husbands and wives will never end in this world).

This one dominated the airwaves in radio stations this week across many countries in the run-up to the death anniversary.

But from Friday and throughout the weekend, Kenyan FM radio stations will dedicate rhumba sessions to Franco’s music.

Typical of most of Franco’s songs, which dwelt on family values, this timeless hit remains one of the real favourites of rhumba fans across the world.

With the current upsurge in domestic violence and an increase in crimes of passion, the song “Matata ya Mwasi na Mobali Esila te” is an apt reminder and sound advice to those going through tribulations in their love lives.

Other songs that touched on family values include “Lisolo ya Adamo na Nzambe” (dialogue between Adam and God), “Mbanda Akoti Kikumbi”, “Mario”, “Tokoma ba Camarade Pamba”.

There were also many love songs and, at times, some with political undertones in his expansive discography.

Franco, according to many of the musicians who performed with him, had carved a niche for himself in composing songs that touched on domestic matters, especially those relating to husbands and wives.

Also to couples who are either dating or living separately, there was a long list of songs full of advice.

Speaking to the Daily Nation on the phone on Thursday, London-based veteran guitarist Mose Sengo Fan Fan, of the Papa Lolo and Dje Melasi hit songs fame, said he will always feel honoured to have performed with Franco and recorded some of the hit songs with him.

“Every year as we celebrate the life and times of Franco, I also cherish the times I performed with the group as it was an eye-opener for me on entertainment and the launch of my long career,” he said.

Mose, who joined TPOK Jazz in 1968 and left in 1973, is reputed to be among the few solo guitarists who were able to play Franco’s uniquely distinctive guitar style.

The other soloist, who was able to occasionally stand in for Franco was Thierry Mantuika Kobi. He joined TPOK soon after Mose left in 1973.​


MSF uses new medical approaches to contain Ebola outbreak in DR Congo

NEW YORK, OCTOBER 11, 2018—As the Ebola outbreak in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to spread, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has begun using novel medical approaches to prevent new infections and improve survival chances for those infected.

MSF launched its intervention, within the response plan of the Congolese Ministry of Health (MoH), soon after the outbreak was registered in Mangina, a small town to the northwest of Beni Province, in early August. In addition to the traditional “six pillars” of Ebola response—including caring for those who are sick, carrying out health promotion activities, and conducting infection prevention and control activities—MSF is using more innovative approaches and new tools to best meet the needs of patients. For example, MSF has started testing blood samples of suspect cases in laboratories within the Ebola Treatment Centers (ETCs) themselves rather than in an outside lab, which allows the teams to react faster to changing medical conditions of patients.

“While the number of confirmed Ebola cases is not skyrocketing, the situation remains worrying,” said Laurence Sailly, MSF emergency coordinator. “There are confirmed patients in big cities like Beni and Butembo, but also in places far away from the epicenter, close to the Ugandan border. That makes it difficult to contain the epidemic. Like all Ebola outbreaks, it’s difficult to predict how it may evolve, but we are ready to react and support the ministry of Health whenever new cases appear.”

To date, 181 cases have been reported—of which 146 have been confirmed by laboratory tests—80 people have died, and 50 have recovered.

MSF is currently working with the MoH in ETCs in Mangina, Butembo, and Tchomia, close to the Ugandan border.

For the first time during an Ebola outbreak, five developmental drugs are being used to treat people. The presence of on-site testing capability means people who test positive for the virus are offered these new treatments within 24 hours of their confirmation. Mortality among those infected is very high, at roughly 50 percent, so administering the new drugs quickly may have the potential to increase the chance of survival.

“It’s very positive to have a treatment that seems promising, even if there is currently no scientific evidence that any of these drugs work for people with Ebola,” said MSF doctor and Ebola expert, Hilde De Clerk. “But it’s a good step forward. We can offer Ebola patients access to potentially lifesaving drugs while preparing for a clinical trial implementation that will hopefully determine efficacy and safety.”

The outbreak has occurred in a densely populated area of DRC, marked by conflict and regular population movements, making it difficult to identify and track active chains of transmission and trace contacts of those infected with Ebola.

“A potential key to successfully control the outbreak is to react fast,” said Sailly. “Whenever a confirmed Ebola case is found, a small, multidisciplinary rapid response team (nurse, epidemiologist, logistician, health promoter, medical doctor) is sent as fast as possible to work on this new hotspot and prepare for a potential bigger intervention.” MSF sent such teams to Luotu and Tchomia immediately after a confirmed Ebola patient was detected in those areas.

Immunization activities with the Ebola vaccine (rVSVDG-ZEBOV) quickly followed the declaration of the epidemic as the World Health Organization and MoH began providing the vaccine to people who had contact with someone with Ebola. Soon after, MSF began offering vaccinations to frontline health workers, people involved in burials, and religious figures, who run a higher risk of becoming infected. So far, 13,750 people have been vaccinated.


Farmers, millers make headway in revamping sugar sector

By VICTOR RABALLA
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Representatives of farmers and millers have agreed on key proposals in the sugar regulations, drawing the industry closer to adopting a new policy that could end perennial cane poaching wars.

In a deliberation led by the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) chairman Wycliffe Oparanya and his Kisumu counterpart Anyang’ Nyong’o, the stakeholders agreed that regional zoning should be introduced.

According to the new deal, farmers will now not be restricted to one sugar miller but will be put in a regime where there are two or three millers.

Mr Oparanya noted that the move will be beneficial to both the farmers and the millers who will be segmented into five major regions.

“While appreciating that we cannot have a complete free market, regional zoning is necessary to both the players as it will ensure that the millers also develop their own sugarcane to meet their milling capacity,” Mr Oparanya, the Kakamega governor, said.

The plan indicates that sugarcane farmers based in Kisumu, Siaya, Kericho and Nandi counties will take their produce to Chemelil, Muhoroni and Kibos sugar companies.

Upper western region – which involves farmers from Kakamega, Trans Nzoia and Bungoma counties – will deliver their cane to Nzoia, Butali and West Kenya sugar companies.

On the other hand, those from lower western will take their cane to Mumias, Ole-Pito and Busia sugar companies.

“Sony Sugar, Sukari Industry and Trans Mara Sugar companies will cater for farmers drawn from Homa Bay, Kisii, Nyamira, Migori and Narok counties,” the proposal by reached by majority of millers said.

Kwale Sugar Company, which has since been closed, will however enjoy the monopoly of getting the cash crop from farmers in Tana River and Kwale counties.

In the meantime, the stakeholders agreed that growers who have a capacity to plough, plant, harvest and transport their produce should be free to deliver to any factory of their choice.

The agreement reached by the 13 licensed millers and farmers’ representatives also indicated that millers must engage in contractual model.

To ensure that the contracts are not violated, Sony Sugar Company acting managing director Bernard Otieno said enforcement of contracts between millers and growers should be done.


Sale of public firms overdue

By EDITORIAL
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The height of irony is that the government, which badly needs funds to provide vital services to the people and cater for other needs, is just staring at billions of shillings that it can easily fetch.

We are talking about the long-overdue sale of some public companies that it has no business running.

One of the most ridiculous is that the government has for years owned a company that makes just a little alcohol but imports liquor for sale.

The government is, thus, a small-time trader instead of concentrating on formulating policies to create an enabling environment for such enterprises.

It would then just collect taxes from the businesses.

The government should now leave the marketplace. This is what prompted the establishment, in 2008, of the Privatisation Commission to advise on the sale of its stake in various companies.

Though there has been some progress, with the State’s shareholding in some of the firms being reduced, it is still holding onto others.

It should now let go, among others, the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC), Kenya Wine Agencies Limited (Kwal) and the Agrochemical and Food Corporation at Muhoroni in Nyanza.

The KMC is a particularly bad business as additional funds have in recent years been injected into the firm to revamp it, but it remains moribund.

To rub salt into the wound, the hobbling firm has also been looted in the past. Kwal’s privatisation is at an advanced stage with a South African firm buying a stake into it.

In the early 1960s, when indigenous Kenyans lacked the resources to run enterprises, it made some sense to have the State invest in some key industries.

But that is no longer the case. The government’s core business is not to trade, but to govern the country. It must divest from the remaining public firms.


Punish those behind audit queries at IEBC

By EDITORIAL
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The audit questions being raised over the financial performance of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission are quite alarming.

The Auditor-General reports that the electoral commission cannot account for some Sh9.5 billion spent on various contracts last year.

On the face value, audit questions do not automatically mean that money has been stolen or lost, but that the sum in question cannot be accounted for.

But it is a signal of serious lapses. For this reason, it is incumbent on IEBC to provide evidence to clear itself or it is surmised that the money was actually lost.

Quite fundamentally, the audit has exposed grave financial indiscretions.

It captures contracts and purchases that cannot be justified. Several items were bought in excess quantities, which means they were not needed.

Others were delivered either late or too close to the elections and, therefore, not put into use as intended.

All these are manifestations of massive wastage of public resources, for which the culprits must be punished.

First, failure to provide election materials on time or procuring unnecessary items compromised administration of quality poll.

It is not lost on Kenyans that this was part of the contestation during the petition on the outcome of the presidential elections, where it was averred that the elections were marred by massive infrastructural and logistical failures, which undermined the results.

In effect, the IEBC is culpable for messing up the elections.

CREDIBILITY

Secondly, the financial irregularities are horrifying. A huge amount of money was supposedly put into purchasing excess data bundles, SIM cards and modems that were never used.

The cost of ballot boxes was inflated. Large quantities of lamps were bought but cannot be physically verified.

It is a narrative of a rogue institution that was on a buying spree, without due regard to value for money. Prudence and integrity were sacrificed at the altar of other interests. This is not acceptable.

As an institution, the IEBC is suffering a serious credibility crisis.

At the governance level, it has only three commissioners, the rest having quit in protest over alleged mismanagement and poor leadership.

The commissioners and the secretariat have perpetually been fighting, leading to a paralysis. As currently constituted, it cannot deliver on its mandate.

When, now, questions arise over financial probity, then, clearly, we have an institution that is not only dysfunctional but a veritable hub for resource pilferage, wastefulness and mismanagement.

In the circumstance, the logical step is for Parliament to hand over the case to investigative authorities to dig deeper, determine the real culprits and institute criminal proceedings against them.


Teachers’ union threat to call a strike during exams abhorrent

By LETTER
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News that the teachers’ union once again intends to call a strike to coincide with the forthcoming national examinations is, in my view, proof of a society that has lost its conscience, sacrificed it at the altar of greed for wealth and the good things that come with it.

We no longer care about one another and, above all, our children.

This is demonstrated by the many stories in the media of macabre actions against minors — neglect, torture, starvation, assault, sexual abuse and even murder.

Teaching is considered a noble profession, perhaps only second to medicine.

Teachers would therefore be expected to stand above everyone else in the way they conduct themselves — with civility. This has not been the case lately.

Not to say that teachers have lost their place and worth in society. My beef with them is with regard to the way they push their demands for better remuneration and other conditions of service.

Indisputably, teachers, like other workers, deserve fair compensation for the services they render and are within their constitutional right to demand it.

However, their timing for going on strike has assumed a familiar and rather ritualistic pattern.

The union seems to have a strategy for keeping a litany of grievances and waiting until this critical period in the country’s calendar to strike.

Consider the synonyms of this word, “strike”. They are: Affect, afflict, attack, hit. Does this ring a bell?

CANDIDATES

The teachers, or their union leaders, fathom that the pain they inflict is widespread and engulfs the entire nation and not just the State.

This is perplexing not only to the candidates, whose future they place on the chopping board, but to us all.

That our children become the trump card in the war of the Titans — State versus teachers — is immoral and illegal.

With this mooted action, the usual chest-thumbing is back and it points only to one thing: The union and its charges do not care because, in all likelihood, none of them has a child in the public schools that suffer these painful disruptions.

Their age-old teacher-parent role is lost. All they care about is “better pay”. They ignore the fact that the economy is doing badly.

The government is on cost-cutting measures — no wonder the demand for a constitutional review to address unnecessary financial burdens on citizens.

Ironically, the same teachers are among the best-paid civil servants in the country.

It is high time that we, as a nation, sought an effective solution to the perennial strikes in important socio-economic sectors such as education and health.

Kenyans experience untold suffering as a result of standoffs during industrial actions, especially when these run into days and months.

Our candidates in the national examinations are already worried about the potential strike.

Kaima D.M. Ruiga, Nairobi.


UNICEF appeals for US$26.6 million to support emergency and recovery activities in Sulawesi and Lombok, Indonesia

On 28 September, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia triggered a tsunami, affecting approx. 1.5 million people in Sulawesi. Around 71,000 are displaced and access to remote communities is challenging. In Central Sulawesi, some 500,000 people need urgent access to water and sanitation services. Prior to the disaster, Palu, the main urban centre of Sulawesi, had a low Measles Rubella (MR) immunization coverage at 49 per cent and a high prevalence of wasting and stunting. The recent disaster exacerbates these pre-existing vulnerabilities, increasing the risk of disease outbreaks for thousands of children and their families. More than 2,700 schools have been affected, directly impacting the education of 270,000 children in Central Sulawesi. There are approximately 5,000 separated children and 100.000 children require of psycho-social support. In addition, UNICEF continues to respond to the August 2018 Lombok earthquakes, which displaced 340,000 people.

Humanitarian strategy

UNICEF responds to the earthquake-tsunami disaster in Sulawesi and Lombok under the leadership of the Government of Indonesia, and in partnership with local and international NGOs, focusing on life saving service delivery and early recovery. The tsunami response is fully aligned with the Central Sulawesi Earthquake Response Plan released on 4 October. In Sulawesi, UNICEF’s response focuses on strengthening sectoral coordination and on provision of critical life-saving support across all sectors by building on existing capacities. The provision of child protection services including for separated and unaccompanied children, as well as education, are key priorities. In Lombok, UNICEF is scaling up recovery activities across all sectors.

UNICEF supports the Ministry of Health in charge of the Health Cluster, leading on nutrition and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for hygiene promotion, as well as maternal, child health and immunization. UNICEF also provides coordination support to the Ministry of Public Works as the lead on WASH infrastructure. UNICEF and YSTC (Save the Children national chapter) co-lead the coordination support to the Ministry of Education, leading the Education cluster.

UNICEF and Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Center co-lead cluster coordination support to the Ministry of Social Affairs, leading on Child Protection under the National Displacement and Protection Cluster.

Results from 2018

As of October 2018, UNICEF has achieved the following results in Lombok. Child protection support has been provided through the Ministry of Social Affairs and in conjunction with the Ministry of Education for psychosocial activities. Key results are:

• Education in Emergency and CPiE integrated training for 60 education officials.

• GBV trainings for 50 to 60 women’s groups and community leaders.

• 50 social workers and volunteers are working on child protection responses reaching 1,500 children.

• Training and support for social workers and members/volunteers of local CSOs provided in Lombok covering 20 – 30 displacement sites.

• Joint secretariat on child protection has been established and is operational – serving as a coordination mechanism for emergency response.

• Initial plan for Child Protection Sectoral Assessment has been finalized with the national and provincial social affairs department, Yayasan Sayangi Tunas Cilik (Save the Children), Wahana Visi Indonesia (World Vision), Plan International Indonesia.

In Sulawesi, Government-led initial assessments at the inter-agency level are still ongoing. UNICEF has sent a second wave of personnel to the earthquake-affected areas to support assessments and initial response.

Funding Requirements

UNICEF requires US$26.6 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children affected by the earthquake in Lombok and the earthquake – tsunami in Sulawesi. To ensure a timely scale up of UNICEF’s humanitarian response in Sulawesi, UNICEF HQ advanced a loan of US$4 million from its Emergency Programme Fund (EPF). Adequate, timely and flexible funding is essential to enable UNICEF to provide life-saving support to affected children and their families in both Lombok and Sulawesi islands. Sixty percent of the resource requirements sought in this appeal will be for Sulawesi response and forty percent for the Lombok response.


Youth risk blacklisting in digital borrowing craze

By JAMES KARIUKI
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Many young and tech-savvy people are at an increased risk of ruining their credit scores and reducing future access to loans by falling for easy-come digital loans.

A study by the non-governmental Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) says young people could be doing it for fun or short-term gain oblivious of the repercussions of being declared bad borrowers for defaulting on as little as Sh50 spent of airtime.

“The transaction data show that first-time borrowers are much more likely to default, which may reflect lax credit screening procedures. This can have potentially long-lasting negative repercussions when these borrowers are reported to the credit bureau,” it says.

It says lenders should be wary of borrowers applying for credit at between 1am to 2am terming them the worst defaulters.

“This is a worrisome side of digital credit that, at best, may help borrowers to smooth consumption but at a high cost and, at worst, may tempt borrowers with easy-to-access credit that they struggle to repay,” the report says. About a quarter (25 per cent) of the digital borrowers who sought small loans were aged between 18 and 24 years and ended up defaulting, indicating that they were likely jobless and were seeking ‘cheap’ money to meet an immediate need without knowing where they will get money.

CGAP’s data says another 25 per cent of this group did pay, but about 16 per cent of this group borrowed from another digital lender to repay the first loan.

Various strategies were used to raise funds for repayment of debt with about 20 per cent reducing food consumption, 16 per cent borrowing to repay the loan while six per cent, notably students, used part of their school fees to settle loans.

The report proposes that regulations be put in place barring lenders from submitting the first-time defaulters’ names to the Credit Reference Bureau as this would dent their credit history and adversely affect their chance of ever getting a loan

According to Central Bank of Kenya data, as at March 2017, the volume of new mobile loans approved monthly by commercial banks had increased by 53 percent, while the value of new mobile loans approved monthly increased by 81 percent.

The regulator says that non-performing loans (NPL) ratio for digital loans extended by banks is consistently higher than that for the entire bank loan portfolio, pointing to high risk of default and eventually blacklisting. In 2016, the NPL ratio for bank digital loans averaged 26.98 per cent as compared to 8.53 percent for all bank loans. In 2017, NPL ratio for digital loans dropped to 11.4 per cent, which is still higher than the 9.69 per cent NPL ratio for all bank loans.


11 muertos por deslizamientos en Marquetalia, Colombia

Avanzan las labores de búsqueda y rescate en la zona de Marquetalia, conocida como los andes, en donde esta madrugada, alrededor de las 2:35 am se presentó un movimiento en masa en un sector residencial que hasta el momento deja un saldo de 11 personas fallecidas y recuperadas, 29 personas rescatadas, 4 personas lesionadas y 1 mujer desaparecida (por confirmar).

Igualmente desde el Puesto de Mando Unificado ratifican la destrucción de 6 viviendas, 1 vivienda averiada así como un centro comunitario que funcionaba como inquilinato.

Entidades de Socorro y Operativas de Sistema Nacional de Gestión del Riesgo- SNGRD (Defensa Civil Colombiana seccional Caldas, Cruz Roja Colombiana seccional Caldas, Bomberos Caldas, el Grupo PONALSAR de la Policía Nacional, Consejo Municipal y Departamental de Gestión del riesgo de Caldas y Marquetalia, así como miembros de la UNGRD) se encuentra desde tempranas horas desarrollando operaciones de búsqueda y rescate, así como asegurando la zona para que los demás habitantes del sector evacúen y se ubiquen en lugar seguro.

Entre tanto, la Unidad Nacional para la Gestión del Riesgo de Desastres – UNGRD envió a través de un avión de la Fuerza Aérea Colombiana un cargamento de Ayuda Humanitaria de Emergencia para atender a las familias afectadas, que incluyen paquetes alimentarios, de aseo, cocina, colchonetas y frazadas para mitigar el impacto generado por el deslizamiento en las familias damnificadas.

En este momento tanto el Hospital municipal de Marquetalia como el Instituto Nacional de Medicina Legal adelantan el proceso de identificación de las víctimas, entre las que se encuentran 4 menores de edad.

Director(e) de la UNGRD, Gerardo Jaramillo; así como el Ingeniero Guillermo Escobar, Subdirector de Manejo de Desastres de la UNGRD se unirán al equipo técnico y operativo que se encuentra en la zona, para establecer un plan de acción especifico que permita superar en el menor tiempo posible este lamentable hecho.


Kenya helps Tanzania ferry disaster victims

By NATION REPORTER
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Kenya has sent Sh5.5 million in donation to help families of Tanzanian victims of the ferry disaster that occured two weeks ago.

The money was channelled through the Foreign Ministry for the the families of more than 200 people who died when a ferry sank of the shores of Lake Victoria late last month.

Kenya’s High Commissioner to Tanzania Dan Kazungu presented the money to President John Magufuli this week in Dar es Salaam.

The money, equivalent to Tsh125 million, is part of Kenya’s contribution to support survivors and families of victims of MV Nyerere ferry disaster, Mr Kazungu said in a statement.

“Kenyans are standing with their Tanzanian brothers and sisters,” he said.

The ferry, said to have been overloaded  official sank as it approached the island of Ukerewe in Lake Victoria. It reportedly had only a capacity was 100 people, but might have been carrying more than 400 passengers when it capsized killing 209 people.

It operated on a busy route, crossing eight times a day between the Ukara and Ukwerewe in Mwanza. But like many other vessels in the Lake, overloading and poor safety were never far away.