Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Inter-marriages in Kenya

One positive thing that is happening in Kenya after post-election violence is the rise of inter-tribal marriages. This is one thing that many Kenyan’s like me thought would reduce or be restricted after the terrible tribal clashes ever experienced in Kenya since independence.

I never imagined tribes like the Luo and Kikuyu will marry one another in such big numbers or Kikuyu and Kalenjin because these were the major tribes that participated in the clashes. Luhya also participated but not in big numbers as the Luo, Kikuyu and Kalenjin.

However the clashes seems not to have deterred the young generation of Kenya to intermarry along tribal lines, instead they have decided not to follow tribal paths as those in politics and instead decided to intermarry more as a way of reducing this terrible enemy of Kenya’s progress ‘Tribalism’!

One can see these trends in the weddings that have taken place since the clashes from December 2007 to early 2008 and the ones coming up. Also while watch The Wedding Show on Citizen TV one would notice that most of the weddings are of different tribes.

If this is a way of solving the problem of Tribalism in Kenya, then let us encourage it.

Women are more caring in sickness than men

One time I accompanied a lady friend to visit her relative who was sick, I thought it was just normal sickness and it was just to check on how she was doing. To my shock we found the lady was seriously sick, in bed and could not walk or talk comfortably. This really shocked us because she looked like she was in a bad state and needed to be hospitalized. We found out that the husband preferred home based treatment than taking her to hospital, so a doctor was coming to check on her in the house. It seems she needed more than this because she looked dehydrated and needed better treatment. She struggled to whisper that she has been begging the husband to take her to hospital but the husband ignored her pleas.

After a lot of intervention from my friend who works in a hospital the husband finally allowed her to be taken to hospital, were they realized she didn’t even have enough blood. To cut the story short this lady had not been taken to the hospital earlier, she would have died in the house due to the husband’s attitude and not getting the right treatment.

This is not the first case I have encountered where men keep or treat their sick wives in the house instead of taking them to hospital. This is very common with people who are HIV positive. Normally the man seems to know what the problem is and does not want the wife to get to hospital where she may get to know what is ailing her. Many women have died in the house due to such practice by their husbands or die in hospital when taken there when it is too late. The lucky ones survive due to intervention from relatives, neighbors and friends.

In times of sickness women act differently, most women would rush their sick husbands to hospital to get treatment and promptly visit them in hospital, feeding them, helping them in many ways until they get well. However the case is different when it is the wife who is sick, many men ignore their sick wives, they would rather use female relatives or friends to deal with the wife, take care of her at home, take her to hospital and most of the time they would not visit the wife promptly in hospital. One can notice this in hospitals, when you visit male wards you will find mostly women visitors and at the same time when you visit female wards you will also find most of the visitors are women.

This is one attitude in majority men I have noticed, we were discussing this issue with my lady friends who also agreed, so we wonder do men who behave like this want their wives to die, to pave way for them to marry again or to be free. In many African traditions people believe that if a person dies annoyed they can come back and haunt those who annoyed them, as a Christian I normally do not want to believe such things happen. However such men should be haunted by the wives they mistreat to death.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thank you Mr. Annan for handing over the envelope

It caught us Kenyans and particularly our politicians unawares when former UN Secretary-General Koffi Annan decided to hand in the envelope containing the names of those who participated in post election violence, to ICC Chief Prosecutor Louise Moreno Ocampo before August. Most of our politicians who are suspects are not happy but majority of Kenyans are happy because we do not trust our Judiciary to try the “big fish”, so Hague is the only option for them. For the “small fish” who were used by them to cause chaos and to perform all the evil that was done on innocent citizens of this country, a local Tribunal should handle their cases.

Our politicians are very good at delay tactics and just like Annan said, justice delayed in justice denied. They forgot that the envelope was not in the hands of a Kenyan who could be bribed. Corruption is the root cause of all this if Kivuitu (former chairman of Elections Commission) acted like a patriotic citizen and refused to be bribed, then we would not be talking of post election violence, the Hague, a local tribunal and a truth and justice commission. Kenya would have had a democratic elected president and may be President Barrack Obama would have also visited Kenya after Ghana. Hence President Obama was very right when he boycotted Kenya his father’s country in his Africa visit plan and also when he mentioned in his speech Corruption, tribalism and nepotism as part of problems facing Kenyans.

Thank you once again Mr. Annan, we await justice from Mr. Ocampo.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Previous and present state of Government Hospitals in Kenya

There was a time Government hospitals in this country were dreaded for the rate of deaths caused by mostly negligence, pathetic conditions of the institutions and in some cases bad diagnosis.

Kenyatta National Hospital the biggest referral hospital in this region was like a death chamber where people feared for the lives of their relatives or friends if hospitalized, some even claimed there were demons or evil agents working in the Hospital because of the high number of deaths occurring in the hospital. The hospital was known for long queues starting early in the morning till night and patients would die on the queue even when the medical staff watched. As a child I came to fear the hospital when a relative died, he was in a ward with 11 other patients. My mum and aunt would visit him everyday, they would find his condition getting worse daily, they complained of poor treatment the patient was not able to go to the bathroom so he would be socked badly by midday when they visit him, before they gave him food to eat they would have to clean and change him first. Patients very ill had to wait for their relatives to feed and change them, therefore many patients died one by one. The stories of the hospital those days scared me and I swore as a child I would never get hospitalized in that hospital.

The hospital is now different from what it was those years. I think the situation changed because of freedom of the media and also when opposition came into power in 2002, the issues started getting highlighted and dealt with. One person who brought a major change to this institution is Prof. Meme, the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, he would disguise himself as a patient, then go to every part of the hospital and in the process catch the medical staff in action, neglecting, mistreating or abusing patients. He would then fire the person there and then. The media highlighting the cases also helped the institution prompting the administration to deal with their staff accordingly. There are still a few cases of poor patients being detained for not being able to clear their bills and lack of some drugs but generally they have improved.

Pumwani Maternity hospital also the biggest Maternity hospital in the region, was also notorious of babies disappearance, careless handling of patients and also being in a pathetic condition. Many women went there because it was affordable compared to other hospitals and some did not know what the hospital was like until they got there. I have never been to this hospital but the stories I heard about the state was scaring. Mothers would be told their babies died while the babies were alive at birth then a still-born child would be shown to the mother, this was common to mothers with twins or who lost consciousness after delivery. Babies disappearing or switching of babies was a common occurrence in the hospital. Just like Kenyatta Hospital things changed when the opposition came into power, being run by the City Council under the Local Government. The then Minister of Local Government the Late Hon. Karisa Maitha paid surprise visits and dealt with the medics in charge.

The stories were the same and worse in district hospitals all over the country. Pathetic conditions of the hospitals, lack of water, congestion in the wards, patients sharing beds. Patients sleeping on the floor, lack of medicine and supplies, shortage of staff, patients being turned away, poor patients being detained due to lack of money. I started with the two major hospitals in the Capital City Nairobi because they are the biggest referral hospitals and the biggest in the country. They are now in better conditions and the services have improved. However the situation is different in other hospitals in the rural areas. Many district hospitals are still in bad conditions and the services are very bad. It seems this government since 2002 concentrates on changes in its capital Nairobi.

One such notorious hospital is New Nyanza Hospital also known as Russia, this week I saw protests in the news about this hospital, a man had been left on a stretcher for hours without being attended to and later died. The next day on Citizen TV news they showed a comparison on how Kenyatta National Hospital handled their emergency cases and compared with New Nyanza Hospital. The stories I have also heard about this hospital and experienced with relatives and friends from the Lake region are terrible and annoying. An aunt operated badly during a C-Section her wound opened causing her intestines to protrude, she ended up with a bad scar in her tummy. Many friends and relatives lost due to lack of medicine, negligence, patients staying in the ward for long before being seen by a doctor, doctors giving wrong diagnosis this happened to someone who is a medic in a Nairobi hospital and knew what was ailing her relative. The lady tried to explain to them that what her relative is suffering from is not what they have diagnosed and tried to advice what should be done. They ignored her, she looked for the tools and medicine to save her relative but it was too late and watched her relative die.

Most of the staff are rude, corruption is rampant with some of the staff asking for bribe openly before offering other services, only those who know someone working there get served well and faster, some doctors would not even touch a patient, the stories are many I cannot write all. The Ministry of Health has 2 ministers one Hon. Anyang’ Nyong’o comes from the region; he should investigate this institution and bring changes. This is a big referral hospital in Western Kenya that should have appropriate services, well trained and disciplined staff. There is no need of those from Western Kenya coming all the way to Nairobi for better treatment.

It is not only this New Nyanza Hospital that has poor services, other Government hospitals in the country are also in bad shape and the kind of treatment being offered is poor. The Government should start investigating the operations of its hospitals and health centers all over the country. You meet people coming from all over the country, they will tell you tales of Government hospitals and one would only hope not to find themselves in these hospitals under any circumstances. Its not that only those with low in-come who can find themselves in these hospitals, many people traveling and having been caught up in an accident find themselves rushed into these hospitals. When you hear tales of other district hospitals, Kenyatta Hospital which many of us in Nairobi thought was very bad is now far much better. I normally wonder is it about salaries? Are they paid differently from those in Nairobi or is it that the most qualified medical staff are employed in Nairobi?. I believe there a few medical staff that are good and have a heart to work in the institution but the bad ones are spoiling for them. May be the Government needs to use the same tactics used by Prof. Meme and the Late Hon Karisa Maitha to deal with these institutions before more people die due to negligence.

Current events in the Country

Kidnappings and crime

Kidnapping has taken a new twist, it is not only children who are in danger, thugs are now kidnapping anyone they can get hold of. It is also not only the rich, it is anyone who can give some money. Some use the victim to demand money from their relatives through mobile phones services ZAP and MPESA this way they can collect money from relatives using the victims mobile. Police are now blaming Mungiki for the kidnappings, if it is true this group is very dangerous and ruthless and should be dealt with seriously if caught, assisted by the help of Mobile phone companies to track the culprits.

Carjacking are also on the rise mostly in estates where security is tight. Muggings in the streets of Nairobi have also increased. At least the government has embarked on installing CCTV cameras in the City center.

Water shortage

Nairobi residents have no water because Nairobi Water Company is claiming it is due to low water levels in the supply dams and due to poor rains. People now have to walk or drive to places they can find water and buy, some buy from vendors with handcarts or vehicles selling water. Some vendors are now selling the water at Kshs50 per 20 liter plastic container, this is ridiculous, life is tough, price of foodstuff are high. Maize flour is about Kshs.90 and now people have to also buy water at high cost. How do those living on a dollar/day survive? The other worry is where do these vendors get their water from and how safe is it? They are not willing to tell, it is either the customer takes it or leave it, many are left with no option but to take and pray it is ok. At least the Government has come up with a solution to dig boreholes in the City. Those in the outskirts of the City (where many people are now building homes), do not experience this shortage because many depend on borehole water pumped by electricity and can connect to their homes.

Facelift of the City Center

The government through the City Council is giving the City center a face lift by planting new grass and flowers, the roads are being painted, CCTV are being placed to improve security and the most interesting part is numbering buildings, this one is a very good idea because one can easily locate a building by the number not the name. It was difficult to locate buildings by name when written high up the building, one sometimes has to cross the street to look up or keep asking while walking the street.

Political situation

Hague or a Local tribunal, this is the debate going on now the blame game has taken a new turn when President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila are also being blamed. The International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo could put the two leaders to task to explain what they knew about the violence, others are advocating for a Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission. So daily news is about The Hague, Local tribunal, Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission and Ocampo this and that. Meanwhile as the Coalition Government drags its feet, MPs advocating for different options depending on which side they are and others are in the middle. Now former UN-Secretary Kofi Annan has handed over the envelope containing names of who participated in the violence (as per Waki report) to the ICC read more. Many of us are curious to know who are in the Waki List. As a citizen caught up in the middle of this I watch and wait to see what the out-come will be, all I want and many other Kenyans want is Justice and Peace.

Sugar shortage and Maize flour price may go up again

The price of Sugar has gone up by Kshs.20 (from Kshs78 to 98) or more depending on where one buys it and some stores have run out of sugar because of some import issues in the government. Now we hear that Unga (Maize flour) price may go up again because there will be shortage due to inadequate rains and harvest because the areas that used to produce most of the maize were affected by post election violence. This is very bad news already people are suffering because the Kshs.90 for Unga now is very high for many Kenyans. Please sort out this fast we have enough problems.