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Friday, October 11th, 2019

 

Uhuru call fires up Kipchoge as attempt to run marathon under two hours

ELIAS MAKORIBy ELIAS MAKORI
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President Uhuru Kenyatta Friday called Eliud Kipchoge to wish him well as the world marathon record holder attempts to be the first man to run the race in under two hours today.

Combined with the fact that Deputy President William Ruto is here accompanied by, among others, Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, President Kenyatta’s call goes to show how huge the 34-year-old Olympic champion’s attempt in the Austrian capital is.

Besides, over 200 countries have signed up to broadcast the race, dubbed the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, live from The Prater Park in the heart of Vienna.

Viewers can also follow the challenge on the INEOS 1:59 Challenge YouTube channel.

On Friday, organisers announced that the race will start at 8.15am local time, which is 9.15am Kenyan time.

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The late announcement was due to the fact that scientists and the weatherman wanted to get the best possible conditions for the challenge, with the right temperatures and wind conditions combining with Kipchoge’s mental and physical shape to beat the odds.

“We took into account all the different parameters and the decision has been made that the INEOS 1:59 Challenge will start at 8.15am, central European Time,” Fran Miller, the Team INEOS chief executive, announced yesterday afternoon.

HUGE DEMAND

Kipchoge did a light morning workout before spending the rest of the day resting in his room at the Marriott, by Courtyard Hotel, which has been taken up by his team and support staff.

It was while he was resting that President Kenyatta put through the call to wish him and his support team well.

“The fact that President Kenyatta called to wish Eliud well shows just how much support the athlete has from his country,” Athletics Kenya President Lt Gen (Rtd) Jack Tuwei, who is also in Vienna, said. “Eliud has done a lot to promote the sport and the country.”

Patrick Sang, Kipchoge’s coach of 19 years, was in huge demand here, with journalists seeking to know how he had prepared the Olympic champion for Saturday’s attempt.

“Of course it’s natural to feel the pressure now,” he said. “But I always try to be strong.”

In 2017, Kipchoge attempted to dip under the two-hour mark for the first time but fell just 26 seconds short, running two hours and 25 seconds in Monza, Italy, in an attempt dubbed Breaking2 and organised by American sportswear giant Nike.

The current attempt is bankrolled by British chemical company INEOS, which is owned by Sir Jim Radcliffe, one of Britain’s wealthiest persons.

The Vienna course was considered because it is flat, fast and shielded from the wind by trees, making it possible to improve from the Monza performance that was held on the famous Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the famous Formula One race track.

“Before we went to Monza, there was a big debate on whether it would be possible to challenge the two-hour barrier. But after Eliud ran 2:00:25, athletes have become more confident because someone has knocked on that door and shown it’s possible,” Sang, himself a steeplechase silver medallist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, said. “After Monza, many athletes have run two hours, two minutes; and two hours three minutes.”

In today’s race, Kipchoge will be supported by a group of pacemakers who will follow a laser beamed from a lead car, targeting to run a steady pace of two minutes and 50 seconds per kilometre. This will translate to a finish time of one hour and 59 seconds.

Among the 41 pacemakers is USA’s Kenya-born former world 1,500 and 5,000 metres champion Bernard Lagat and Kenya’s former Commonwealth 5,000 metres champion Augustine Choge.

Lagat said Kipchoge’s attempt means a lot more to the world than just breaking the two-hour barrier.

“It tells the world that if you have the willpower you can break any barrier,” Lagat said.

“We are about to witness history. We don’t see ourselves as pacemakers but as being part of this history,” the Washington State University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology alumnus said.

“Pacemakers are crucial in making Eliud achieve the target,” Choge added. “We will be following a car with laser lights that will indicate what pace we should help Eliud run. The pace that has been projected is two minutes and 50 seconds for the entire 42 kilometres, which will make Eliud run one hour 59 minutes,” he explained.

The 41 pacemakers have been assigned to cover different distances, with some setting the pace for three kilometres and others for about five.

There will be five pacemakers running ahead of Eliud and some others behind him.

“After every 4.8 kilometres, new pacemakers will come in, but those running behind Eliud will run 9.8 kilometres, which is a full lap on the course,” Choge explained.

Kipchoge arrived in Vienna on Tuesday morning on a private G280 jet owned by Sir Ratcliffe.

SH1.3 TRILLION

He was accompanied by his coach Sang, physiotherapist Peter Nduhiu, Choge and another pacemaker, Gideon Kipketer.

“Flying in the jet as opposed to commercial flights definitely made a big difference for Eliud, and most importantly it was a good gesture by INEOS. That is very important to us,” Sang said yesterday.

On missing the Nike Breaking2 Project target, Bernard Lagat said: “I couldn’t sleep that night, thinking Eliud was just 26 seconds short. But to me, he had nailed it, and it even encouraged me to take up marathon running just to see how it feels.”

Lagat was among Kipchoge’s supporting cast in Monza.

After the Monza attempt, Kipchoge ran the world record two hours, one minute and 39 seconds at last year’s Berlin Marathon before deciding to have another go at the sub-two hour marathon in today’s race against the clock.

INEOS owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, an athletics enthusiast whose worth is estimated at about 10 billion pounds (Sh1.3 trillion), told the Saturday Nation in Vienna that “Eliud is the greatest-ever marathon runner and the only athlete in the world who has any chance of beating the two-hour time”.

SPORTING HISTORY

“We are going to give him every support and hopefully witness sporting history. Eliud has a great part to play. We can just facilitate it. But however good we are at getting the details right, it’s (running a sub-two hour marathon) still a super-human feat.”

INEOS have taken up about 14 rooms at the Marriott Courtyard hotel here for about two weeks. With rooms going for about 500 Euros (Sh57,000) each, bed and breakfast alone, INEOS have forked out Sh161 million, before even counting the meals.

But Kipchoge wouldn’t be drawn into discussing the money issue, and it’s not in the public domain just how much he will earn from today’s venture.

“Money is not important. I’m running to make history, but if you have a price, you can give me,” Kipchoge joked when asked by journalists how much he’s making out of the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.

“If I break the barrier, I will be a happy person because I will inspire millions of our generation.”

But Kipchoge is one of the wealthiest athletes in Kenya, having earned $250,000 (Sh25 million) just two weeks ago after winning the World Marathon Majors title in the series in which athletes accumulate points in the Chicago, New York, London, Tokyo, Boston and Berlin marathons.

Rough estimates say he could hit close to the billion shilling mark in income from the INEOS 1:59 Challenge should he dip under two hours today.

WHY VIENNA?

“Vienna was chosen to host the INEOS 1:59 Challenge after an extensive search that started with a map of the world and ended with a pinpoint in the Austrian capital,” organisers explain.

Their decision was based on scientific research and a deep study of weather patterns of the Austrian capital which is 165 metres above sea level, quite a drop from the 2,400 metres at Kaptagat, Kipchoge’s training ground.

Going down to run close to sea level will be a huge advantage for Kipchoge whose speed and endurance will be optimal.

Basically, training at high altitude, where the air is thinner, helps the body accumulate more red blood cells that in turn carry more oxygen, which is an advantage for endurance sports.

Vienna is also just one hour behind Kenyan time which means travelling to the Austrian capital would not have a big effect on Kipchoge’s eating, sleeping and training patterns.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that he (Kipchoge) is given the best change,” Sir Jim adds.

Kipchoge’s wife Grace Sugut and three children have travelled here, accompanying the Olympic champion for the first time to a major race.

“I want them to be part of history,” Kipchoge said on Thursday.


Africa will have to harness the power of the youth to develop

By RAPHAEL OBONYO
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With 70 per cent of Africa’s population under the age of 30, the continent has the largest youth population that presents immense potential for growth.

But it depends on how we look at the large youth population. Is it a glass half full or half empty?

With the largest youth population in history, the continent has a great opportunity because with each young person, we have new ideas and new energy. Africa must invest in youth to secure the future.

Across the continent, there are great examples of achievements of exemplary young inventors and innovators that represent the very best of what happens when we partner and invest in young people.

A good example is M-Pesa, the Kenyan innovation that has revolutionised financial services, and is now being replicated elsewhere on the continent.

There are also solutions like m-Pedigree, an application invented by a young Ghanaian to enable consumers identify counterfeit drugs.

INNOVATION

If the 2019 Global Innovation Index (GII) is anything to go by, a poor standard of education, low investment in research and uneven adoption of innovative processes, products and solutions by businesses have held back innovation in many countries in Africa.

Speaking recently at the Youth Connekt Africa in Rwanda, President Paul Kagame reminded Africa that to develop, we must innovate.

Indeed, governments in Africa must foster an enabling environment for youth innovation and participation in development — meet their innovation needs, promote and support required legislation and policies, mainstream youth in all relevant aspects of development, and work with them as partners and not mere beneficiaries.

At the same time, young people should be equipped with the education, innovation skills and confidence to innovate and be competitive globally.

Governments should set up innovation hubs to provide working spaces and research centres on technology trends, knowledge and strategic innovation.

As recommended in the “World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2018”, low-income economies that are looking to innovation for employment should prioritise the creation of a favourable education system, extensive ICT adoption and domestic market competition.

Make no mistake, young people are key to the success of development plans in Africa.


Turkey’s Syria offensive could spark another catastrophe, warn humanitarians

Airstrikes and a ground offensive by Turkey in northern Syria against Kurdish forces have left civilians dead and forced tens of thousands to flee, UN agencies said on Friday, amid fears of another “humanitarian catastrophe” in the war-torn country.

Expressing concern about the military campaign launched on Wednesday, the UN’s emergency relief chief Mark Lowcock noted that the Turkish Government had “assured me that they attach maximum importance to the protection of civilians and the avoidance of harm to them”.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that Thursday had seen “intense shelling all along the north-eastern Syrian border with Turkey, from Jarablus, to the west of the Euphrates, to the Iraqi border”.

Highlighting the potential for further suffering for Syrians caught up in more than eight years of war, Christian Cardon de Lichtbuer, from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that “we have there all the ingredients for unfortunately yet another humanitarian crisis in Syria”.

UN human rights office confirms eight civilian deaths

As of Thursday evening, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, reported that seven civilians, including two women and a boy, had been killed in the first two days of the Turkish operation.

A male civilian man was also reported killed in Jarablus on Wednesday, OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said, adding that a woman and a boy were injured yesterday, during “counter-attacks and ground strikes” by Kurdish non-State armed groups.

In response to the mass displacement of people from the northern border area, mainly to Al-Hasakeh district, the World Food Programme (WFP) has provided ready-to-eat meals to around 11,000 people there, with the help of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC).

WFP supports close to 650,000 people in north-eastern Syria via a field hub in Qamishli; around 580,000 are currently in areas under Kurdish control, it said in a statement.

“Mass population displacement has been reported since the escalation of violence”, said WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel. “Over 70,000 people from Ras al-Ain and Tal Abiad have been displaced so far.”

UN food agency ‘will cover’ needs of the displaced

Several thousand more have move to Raqqa governorate since the beginning of Operation Peace Spring by the Turkish military on Wednesday, Mr. Verhoosel added, while many other were on their way to shelters in Raqqa city, “where WFP will be covering their food needs”.

Although UN humanitarian staff remain in Qamishli, “their ability to operate and provide relief is severely restricted” by the hostilities, OCHA’s Mr. Laerke explained, adding that local authorities were also reportedly “imposing some quite strict security measures at checkpoints”.

Linked to the military campaign, Marixie Mercado from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that the Alouk water pumping station reportedly came under attack early on Thursday.

“This is a station that provides safe water to at least 400,000 people in Hassakeh governorate, including displacement camps,” she said

In Tal Abiad, two schools have been reportedly taken over for military use, Ms. Mercado added, while child protection programmes have been suspended in Ras al-Ain, Mabrouka camp, Tal Halaf, Sulok and Tal Abiad.

Health and Nutrition response in Ras al-Ain and Mabourka camp had also been put on hold, while schools in these areas have closed and the water supply has been affected.

Asked whether any Syrian refugees had been seen returning to a so-called safe zone either side of the Turkey-Syria border, Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), said that he had “no information” of any Syrian refugees doing so.

Any such buffer zone would have to set up “with full international humanitarian law safeguards in place, including the consent of the Government and warring parties and the zone being of civilian character, the safety of civilians would be hard to guarantee”, the UNHCR spokesperson added.

So-called ‘safe zone’ is not managed by UN

Echoing those comments, OCHA highlighted the vulnerability of those displaced by the conflict and the uncertainty surrounding a so-called buffer zone cleared of Kurdish fighters on the border, reportedly proposed by Turkey.

“It’s not something that’s been set up by humanitarians, it is a zone that has been set up by military planners in Turkey,” said Mr. Laerke. “We do not control it and we have not been involved in the planning of it.”

After more than eight years of war in Syria, needs are “significant and widespread”, Najat Rochdi, Senior Humanitarian Adviser to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, reiterated in Geneva on Thursday.

Over 11 million people require some form of humanitarian assistance, she said, including 4.7 million living in areas of high severity of need.

Amid uncertainty about how the military campaign will develop, the ICRC reiterated concern about the lack of basic services available to those displaced in the coming days and weeks, in towns and cities levelled by bombardment and shelling in a bid to drive out ISIL forces.

“People are moving inside Syria, so we can assume, yes, they will go towards (the) south,” said the international Red Cross committee’s Mr. de Lichtbuer. “With the complexity and so areas like Deir-Ez-Zor, and Raqqa, which are not necessarily places that can welcome thousands of people, we will see how it evolves in the coming hours, because it is moving very fast.”


Likoni tragedy: Navy, SA team tussle delayed recovery efforts

MOHAMED AHMEDBy MOHAMED AHMED
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ANTHONY KITIMOBy ANTHONY KITIMO
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The 13-day recovery operation to retrieve the bodies of a woman and her daughter whose car slipped off the ramp of the ferry in Likoni Channel was not all rosy. Interviews with team members revealed intrigue and friction, which were blamed for the delays.

The bodies of Mariam Kighenda, 35, and Amanda Mutheu, 4, were pulled from the Indian Ocean on Friday afternoon.

SERIOUSNESS

The vehicle, which the victims were in when it slipped off MV Harambee on September 29, was found following efforts by a multi-agency team.

But an official in the multi-agency team involved in the operation told the Saturday Nation that the Kenya Navy was involved in the mission only for “the family to see that something was being done”.

Kenya Navy divers would go into the water for a few minutes and come up as others circled in boats while the family waited eagerly, the Saturday Nation was told.

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“It was when the family showed seriousness in getting private divers that the operation became serious,” said the official.

Eight divers from South Africa joined the Kenya Navy on Tuesday in an effort to retrieve the vehicle and the bodies. They were contracted by the family after earlier efforts by local divers bore no fruit.

The family had earlier paid local divers Sh100,000 but they pulled out of the operation.

SH2 MILLION

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho gave the family Sh2 million to hire the South African divers.

They hired five divers from SubSeas Services. The government reportedly brought in three others from South Africa despite assurances that the Kenya Navy was capable of the job.

During the operation, our source revealed, lack of cooperation between the Kenya Navy and other agencies stalled the operation.

Multiple sources revealed that at first no planning meetings were held.

“What we were going for was just like a breakfast meeting where we shared information on locations that we had found using our machines,” said one of source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

FRUSTRATED

At no time did divers from the Kenya Navy, Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute and the county government plan the exercise together.

“The Kenya Navy was commanding everything, leaving out the others, and that’s why Musa (a local diver) pulled out because he was frustrated,” said our source.

Though the Kenya Navy lacked the appropriate equipment, “they wanted to be seen as the ones doing everything and did not want to recognise efforts by the other agencies, thus frustrating them,” the source said.


Lack of certified seeds hampers sorghum growing, report reveals

FRANCIS MUREITHIBy FRANCIS MUREITHI
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Lack of certified seeds varieties is a major challenge to sorghum production in Kenya, a report has revealed.

Sorghum is a staple food in many Kenyan homes. It is also a key raw material in the brewing of beer by Kenya Breweries.

The latest report by Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development has revealed that Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) accounts for 46 per cent of improved sorghum varieties released into the Kenya market.

39 VARIETIES

A report by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service says local researchers had developed a total of 39 varieties by 2017.

Kalro released 18 varieties while ICRSAT had released eight, Rongo University had developed four, while Agri Seed Co limited, Egerton University had developed three verities. Kenya Seed Company had two while Leldet had one variety. Many farmers also have difficulties in accessing fertilisers.

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“There are also liquidity awareness and distribution constraints,” added the report.

To overcome these challenges, the report recommends contract farming, an interlinked system that is gaining traction for commercial sorghum production.

Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) has embarked on a partnership with local academic and research institutions to contract farmers in a bid to supply high quality seeds for industrial sorghum production. Sorghum processing is in two fold mainly for milling and malting.

“For milling, processors will mill sorghum for food products with the bye-products being used for as animal feed,” said the report.

The recent entry of sorghum malting has expanded the opportunity for processing of the crop in Kenya.

For instance, KBL, has an estimated capacity of 60,000 metric tonnes per annum.

Following the growth of the sorghum beer market, KBL is developing a second processing plant in Kisumu with a view to increasing the volumes from farmers.

COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION

KBL says the opening of commercial sorghum production has created an opportunity to produce more for the expanding beer market.

“The emergence of sorghum beer and the projected beer consumption has expanded the sorghum market,” said the report.

The report states that models such as contract farming guarantees the sale price and provides farmers with the incentive to reduce their cost of production.

Private companies in Kenya have a market for sorghum production of syrup, bio-ethanol and animal feeds. Haphazard market strategies are derailing sorghum production.

 “The market remains largely unorganised and characterised by inconsistent quality of products, inadequate marketing resources and strategies, lack of competitiveness and inability of market participants to exploit economies of scale,” added the report.


People devise ways to watch retrieval of bodies, car at Likoni

SIAGO CECEBy SIAGO CECE
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Hundreds of Kenyans gathered at the shores of the Indian Ocean in Likoni Friday morning to witness the retrieval of a vehicle that plunged into the Indian Ocean 13 days ago.

Onlookers caused chaos in the ferries as they refused to alight from the vessels at the Likoni Channel.

Those who spoke to Nation said they are curious and want to witness as the multi-agency team retrieves the vehicle that sunk with a woman and her daughter in it.

“I cannot stay home and watch from the media or listen to what people are saying, I have to watch how the vehicle will be removed,” said Faith Kwamboka, who has camped at the Likoni Channel fro two days now.

Shadrack Katila, another witness, said he was making endless trips on the ferry because he wants to watch a glimpse of what is happening.

He added that he was safe in ferry, because on the ground, police were were dispersing crowds.

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On Friday morning, security was beefed up at the channel.

A ferry official told Nation that idlers on the ferry will be forcibly ejected.

“We have asked police officers to help control the crowd for us, because a slight commotion of such huge number of people can cause can be fatal,” he said.

The government announced Friday that the retrieval process will not interfere with ferry services.


Team Kipchoge waiting for big moment

ELIAS MAKORIBy ELIAS MAKORI
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Patrick Sang and Peter Nduhiu hardly like being thrust into the limelight, but these two gentlemen will be facing massive pressure on Saturday.

Sang is world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge’s coach of 19 years while Nduhiu is the Olympic champion’s physiotherapist.

On Friday, as they paced up and down the lobby at the Vienna Marriott Courtyard Hotel, one could hardly see the tension they are enduring.

Together, they were part of Kipchoge’s initial attempt to run the marathon in under two hours in Monza, Italy, two years ago when the Olympic champion fell agonisingly close, just 26 seconds off the mark.

Together, they have regrouped and worked over the two years to see just how to knock off these 26 seconds.

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ANOTHER TRY

From 9.15am Kenyan time (8.15am Vienna time) Kipchoge will make his second stab at the iconic barrier, backed by a convoy of 41 pacemakers split into six groups.

“The idea to break the two-hour barrier came in 2016 after the Olympics,” Kipchoge explained to journalists on Thursday in his only pre-race interaction with media.

“All limits are set in people’s minds and what I’m trying to do is to remove that ‘click’ from the mind.

“To achieve your goal, you should be physically and mentally fit,” the Olympic champion added.

Sang and Nduhiu are part of a team that’s been pushing to make sure that Kipchoge, 34, is physically and mentally fit.

“We had a long period of preparation, preparing the muscles, taking care of the risks that could bring in injuries and taking care of those little things that could pop up during training and in general making Eliud cope with the training stresses,” Nduhiu, one of Kenya’s leading sports physiotherapists told Nation Sport.

“It is mandatory for a serious sports person or sporting team to have a professional physiotherapist.

“The body is not made up to take all the pounding that occurs, and with sports the stresses are much higher, you expect the body to complain, and you must be ready to address these complaints.”

Nduhiu has been essential in putting up programmes that reduce the chances of Kipchoge picking up injuries and he’s confident that the Kenyan running legend is fit for Saturday’s challenge.

“I’m optimistic that what we have done is enough to carry him through.”

These sentiments are shared by Sang.

“The conditions have been predicted to be good for running,” Sang said Friday.

“We tried in Monza two years ago and came very close. This time, we are crossing our fingers hoping that he will be able to achieve the target.”

WELL RESTED

Sang thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta and all Kenyans for rallying support for Kipchoge who spent Friday relaxing after a brief morning run.

“Eliud has been resting mostly and looking forward to the event,” Sang added.

“For those who are not familiar with marathon running, in the last few days before a marathon we do what is called “carbo-loading” which is trying to have your body take more carbohydrates because it’s ideal for the energy when you are running the marathon,” Sang explained.

Scores of Kenyan fans arrived in Vienna with Deputy President William Ruto and governors Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) and Stephen Sang (Nandi) leading a strong Kenyan delegation.

Sports Kenya chief Fred Muteti is also in the mix.

RECORDS TUMBLE

Entry to the event is free with about 8,000 fans expected to fill up the tree-lined Hauptallee, a long, straight avenue that runs through the heart of Prater Park in this city famous for bringing forth classic music legends Mozart and Beethoven.

Global records by Kenyans have been set here before with Henry Rono shattering the 10,000 metres world record on the track in 1978, running 27 minutes, 22.5 seconds, then paced by Dutchman Jos Hermens who happens to now be chief executive at Global Sports Communication, the Dutch sports management company that manages Kipchoge.

On Thursday, Rono sent a message of goodwill to Kipchoge from his base in New Mexico, USA.

“Vienna is where records are broken, and Eliud can do it,” Rono, 67, who hails from Kipchoge’s Nandi County, said.

Kipchoge has been running about 200 kilometres a week in training at Kaptagat, an effort he hopes will bear fruit on the Hauptallee.

His wife Grace and children Griffin, Jordon and Lynne are also here to see their head of family make history.


Deadly car bomb rocks Kurdish town in Syria: officials

AFPBy AFP
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Three civilians were killed Friday when an explosives-laden vehicle detonated in a busy neighbourhood of Qamishli, one of the main Kurdish towns in northeastern Syria, officials said.

The attack, which wounded nine others, came as Kurdish forces pushed to hold off a massive cross-border assault by Turkey and its proxies.
“A car bomb targeted a restaurant at a time when civilians, including journalists who came to cover the offensive, were inside,” the Kurdish internal security services known as Asayish said in a statement.

A video distributed by the Syrian Democratic Forces — the autonomous Kurds’ de facto army — shows firemen trying to put out flames at the site of the blast, where at least five completely destroyed vehicles could be seen.

Qamishli has been hit by several car bomb attacks in recent months, usually claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

IS has not controlled fixed positions in the area since an SDF-led operation eliminated the last bastion of the jihadist “caliphate” earlier this year.

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BOMB ATTACKS

But it has conducted regular deadly operations in remote areas with bomb attacks carried out by sleeper cells.

Analysts and officials have voiced fears that the White House’s plans to pull American troops out of northeastern Syria would create a vacuum that could spark an IS resurgence.

A Kurdish official blamed the latest bomb attack on IS but no statement from the jihadist group claiming responsibility had yet been published.

Security responsibility in Qamishli is shared between the Kurds and regime forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.


A superhuman feat unravels in Vienna

SITOTO LOPOKOIYITBy SITOTO LOPOKOIYIT
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Today marks a great day for all Kenyans and for us at Safaricom as we celebrate and recognise an extraordinary, well achieved, and iconic Kenyan, the mighty Eliud Kipchoge.

Kipchoge is not only Kenya’s greatest marathoner and one of our greatest athletes, he is also the greatest marathoner to ever walk on earth. Race after race, Kipchoge has gone ahead to accomplish one achievement after another.

ADMIRATION

This streak of success has greatly endeared him among Kenyans of all walks of life. To us, he exemplifies determination, resilience, ambition and, most of all, hard work.

We are not only proud to share in his achievements as fellow countrywomen and countrymen, but also note with great admiration that Kipchoge motivates us and gets us going with every challenge he takes on.

At Safaricom, we are proud and humbled to be associated with, and to have a partner in, a giant. For more than a year now, Kipchoge has been our brand ambassador, bringing out the spirit of Twaweza, which we launched in our last rebrand.

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Just this week, we had the privilege of deepening our relationship with Kipchoge by further extending our partnership and welcoming him on board as our M-Pesa brand ambassador.

Through him, we stand on the shoulder of a giant to reach even higher heights as we take the service to the world.

CELEBRATION

The world’s greatest athlete and the world’s most successful mobile money service is a perfect coming-together to inspire, motivate and change the lives of more people. Kipchoge is a befitting ambassador for our M-Pesa Global service, which now enables anyone to send or receive money anywhere in the world.

In a race against the clock, Kipchoge will today take on the 42 kilometres that make a full marathon in a time of 1 hour and 59 minutes. This is a super-human feat that takes great talent and effort to even attempt. It is an accomplishment that needs much more than the usual celebration. At Safaricom, we are showing our respect by also becoming Kipchoge’s ambassador.

To show our commitment and respect to our legend, we rebranded M-Pesa for seven days. Our new logo is the five letters that spell Kipchoge’s first name, Eliud, and the numbers 1:59 to denote the challenge.

For Safaricom, it is an immense honour and privilege to have the opportunity to dedicate our iconic M-Pesa brand to a befitting icon.

Just as Kipchoge is the first human being aiming to conquer the sub-two-hour marathon, M-Pesa is similarly a mobile money service in a world of its own.

Equally, we remain committed to providing Kenyans with one of the best networks in the world, one that they can always count on.

Kenyans run the world. It is therefore an honour that more than 33 million of you have chosen Safaricom to connect you as you take on the world.

Mr Lopokoiyit is the Chief Officer, Financial Services at Safaricom.


If brain defines a man, what does  a woman lack?

PHILIP OCHIENGBy PHILIP OCHIENG
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What is a “nearly man”? The Nation explained it as anthropoid,  including one “nearly man” species. It and its relatives are what are described as anthropoid, a Latin-rooted adjective meaning “humanlike”. Yet man has lost many of its original gender constraints. In biology, “man” now refers to both genders.

SWOLLEN-HEADEDNESS

But even that poses one question. What does the term “Isle of Man” mean? It lies just off the Atlantic system, which contains England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Yet the term “Isle of Man” implies that there is no human female on it. The problem, in other words, is that the word “man” has recently become also gender-specific.

Even the related German term menschkind has only recently come to refer to the whole species, gender notwithstanding. The words “mankind” – and indeed, even “man” – now include grandmothers, mothers, aunts, nieces and sisters.

That is perhaps why nowadays nobody attempts to pluralise the word “man” by adding an “s”. For, if you had no mother, even your male swollen-headedness would be spectacularly stupid. Indeed, upon what does the human male base his extraordinary gender arrogance?

If the brain is what defines humankind, then, mentally speaking, what does the human male possess that the human female does not? The problem is thus composed merely of extraordinarily empty-headed male conceit.

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MALE CONCEIT

In human society, it is a kind of gender arrogance, which stems from extraordinarily wrong-headed upbringing.

That, indeed, is the answer to the question. It is the only reason that such brainless male gender conceit continues to thrive even among the most educated and most civilised human societies all over the world. It is that the female has for such a long time been mentally and culturally repressed into surrendering to the status quo.

Now, the female even serves as the chief exponent of that example of the tiny-headedness of the “educated” class of the male gender. The question is: Why has such a brainy species allowed such stupidity to be its social torch? The answer: In order for the female herself to gain access to certain essential life-supporting materials.

HORN-HEADED

Numerous such materials have been locked up in social cupboards tightly controlled by horn-headed male social bigots called fathers and uncles. That is the greatest fight that faces humankind from now onwards. As a male, If you have a functioning brain, it may soon occur to you how urgent it is to help liberate your aunts, cousins, mothers, sisters and other kinswomen.

Yet a time is coming, and – as the English version of Jewry’s book puts it – “now is” when your empty-headed male conceit will be reduced to greatly less than nothing. Yet even that raises one metaphysical question: A coming time? No, the Christian book stresses that now is. It says that the crucial time has actually come. As our national Swahili cousins would put it, the time might, indeed, have gone zamani zile za Harun.

SUPERSTITIONS

That is how the Swahili would have put it had they had written the Bible, the book that profoundly facilitated Europe’s capture and enslavement of the human mind. For the book was written zamani zile za Harun, a phrase by which our own Swahili natives seek to stress the fact that it occurred extremely long ago.

If the judgment time came and went, all the blessings which it carried will — in William Shakespeare’s celebrated phrase — have “vanished into thin air”. However, the choice would have remained wholly our own. Had we rejected the “blessings” allegedly tied to it, we might have rejected also Europe’s ethnic superstitions that pass as world religion.

Philip Ochieng is a veteran journalist.