Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wambui Otieno passes on

I was a bit shocked to hear on news that Wambui Otieno died in Nairobi Hospital yesterday, she’s not been well with a heart problem. I came to know about her in 1987 with her case against Umira Kager clan over the burial of her husband the late Criminal Lawyer SM Otieno. It was a hot case because Wambui Otieno wanted to bury her husband on their land in Upper Matasia in Ngong Kajiado and the clan insisted it is against Luo Customs to bury a man away from his ancestral home, unless there was a written will.
Wambui Otieno tried her luck in Politics in North Kajiado and Kamukunji but was not successful. She made news again in 2003 with her controversial marriage to a young man Mbugua when she was 67 and Mbugua at 25 and said men have been marrying younger women and people say nothing about it but when women marry younger men it is news. By marrying Mbugua she was giving women the courage of marrying younger men publicly. After a few days of the marriage Mbugua’s mother died and it is believed it was as a result of the shock from her son’s marriage.
As much as this marriage may have been a way to get even with men who marry younger women and making history, I believe many mothers cannot allow their son’s to marry or live with an older woman especially with that big age gap. Wambui Otieno was not young and with her health she needed a helper but the choice was shocking. May be she also thought about what would happen to her after she dies, just like the case of her husband and imagined Umira Kager clan coming to claim the body of the wife of their son to bury in Nyalgunga in Siaya County? Now she can be buried on her Upper Matasia land where she wanted her husband to be buried because she was legally married to Mbugua in a civil wedding in 2003 and this year she had a Church wedding.

Monday, August 29, 2011

2012 race getting interesting

As we are nearing 2012 the year for Kenya next elections, candidates have started campaigns, political alliances like G7 have been formed, some presidential hopefuls have launched their bid and the most interesting part is that more and more presidential hopefuls are coming up. The list is long and still getting longer; we have PM Raila Odinga, MP Martha Karua, DPM Uhuru Kenyatta, VP Kalonzo Musyoka,MP William Ruto, MP Eugene Wamalwa, MP Mutava Musyimi, MP Wetangula, MP Bonny Khalwale, MP Najib Balala and many more Members of Parliament showing interest so far only one woman.

The Latest entrant in the race is former MP Raphael Tuju a very interesting candidate who is likely not to get much support from his own people. It would be interesting for trusted opinion polls like Infotrak and Synovate to tell us how much Tutu can get in Luo Nyanza first. May be things have changed with time and he is now sure of getting support. Opinion polls Company like Smart Octopus is not likely to give accurate information in such cases, they should instead get a real octopus.

It seems like every region has a representative or more and many more to come. It is an interesting game of serious candidates,haters, distracters, spoilers and mockers. What a show! (As Jeff Koinange of K24 says on his Bench), what a movie it will be come 2012. Kenyans are watching, this time it will be full of surprises and more drama, the Hague issue may also affect the race and the climax will be the ballot box where Kenyans will decide.

The show continues.

Amos Wako finally retires

The ever smiling long serving Attorney General of Kenya, who has served two Presidents, Daniel Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki has finally retired after serving for over 20 years. A lot has been said about him mostly criticized and accused of being an anti-reformist, blamed for delay in constitution implementation and injustice but with all accusations one can never tell whether he is annoyed or happy because he is ever smiling.

Anti-reformist or not, biased or not, he served his masters devotedly, because they never complained about him and only extended his contract until we got a new constitution. Prof. Githu Muigai takes over from him.

Fare thee well Mr. Wako.

Kawethei accident victims condoled by RMS director

Bad accidents caused by bad driving and police allowing drivers/conductors who flout traffic rules to rule our roads. The latest accident in Mbooni in Eastern part of Kenya is the worst this year with 23 people dead and around 30 injured, the victims who were from paying dowry in Machakos were from Kawethei in Kagundo county are yet to be buried.

Government officials visited the injured in hospital, condoled the families and offered to foot hospital bills are burial expenses. Yesterday a service for the victims was held at a Catholic Church in Kangundo. It was very impressive to see Royal Media Services staff and Director participate and offered each family Kshs 75,000 and other donations. Royal Media Services is a media that is loved by many Kenyans for offering mostly local programs and radio stations of Kiswahili and other Kenyan vernacular. At least one can listen to their vernacular station anywhere in the Country unlike before when we could only get our vernacular stations when traveling to the rural areas.

I can say S. K. Macharia the Chairman for Royal Media Services is a leader who cares for the needs of other Kenyans and should be emulated by our leaders.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sugar shortage in Kenya

Just when we are recovering from shortage of maize and high prices of maize, now there is no sugar in the supermarkets and shops, when it is available customers can only buy one packet. A pack of 2kgs Mumias sugar that we are used to is what most supermarkets have and it is now selling between 400 and 420 depending on where one buys the sugar.

Whatever the cause we’ve really felt it this year, drought, weak shilling, high prices of fuel, high cost of living etc… Didn’t they see this coming and plan in advance, it is also said the factories close at this time for maintenance; it is always the common citizen to suffer the consequences.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Should women be “given” a third of seats in parliament?

According to the new constitution there will be 290 members of parliament and a third of which must be woman. Read more

In the news it was said that Cabinet hit deadlock over women seats, and said it will be practically impossible to achieve a third gender representation. Women MPs and lobby groups have demanded implementation of this section and requested to be given maximum number of seats and jobs in public office.

It is right for the women who can be heard to demand for the rights of women especially now that it is in the constitution. I also partly agree with the Cabinet that it is practically impossible to achieve this because it is like forcing leaders on people. For public jobs I believe it is possible because it is the Executive who appoints and if women are equally qualified and apply for public jobs, they should give women a third or even half of the jobs in public office. However I still maintain it is not practical for Kenyans to be told to elect women in certain constituencies. It is for us Kenyans to elect who we want whether man or a woman.

For it to be possible it is for us women to accept ourselves first because I have heard many of us say “I can never elect a woman”. Many of us have never even elected a woman councilor let alone electing a member of parliament. We say some women can be very proud and nasty when given high posts, some of us have had women bosses who are so terrible that one cannot imagine electing such a person into a public office. Yes we have women who have been elected as members of parliament, but they are few and they were connected to the right people hence got nominations for the right party so how could they lose.

I said I partly agree with the Cabinet that it is impossible because on the other part it is possible. Many women do not get the chance to get to the top because of corruption during political party nominations. A woman can be very famous in a constituency, even a mama mboga (selling vegetables) or just a housewife but when she decides to get a nomination from a popular political party, she will get nowhere because she is not known by the highly placed politicians or their representatives, she is not a member of big women groups that meet in big hotels, she is not from a family that has been in politics since independence, she is only a member of local chamas or micro finances that brings together women in an area to empower them financially. This way women in an area know each other well and know who can lead them, but still this woman or women cannot get far in their political quest even becoming a councilor is difficult.

Therefore I believe the only way the Government and Elections Commission can help more women to get more seats in Parliament is to ensure political party leaders and officials conduct free and fair elections at the grass root, stop victimization of potential women candidates by men aspirants, prosecute leaders who use their money to get what they want. Women leaders who lobby for this part of the constitution to be achieved, should also educate women at the grass root to realize our potential and appreciate one another. If this could happen, then women leaders and lobby groups will not have to demand for their rights and possibly we could be on the way to electing a woman president. Otherwise we are still far from achieving this.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mr. Ahmed Ibrahim (Johnnie) is the man to beat in Kamukunji

Kamukunji by-elections are on today, Kamkunji has a big population of Somalis concentrated in Eastleigh estate therefore most votes are traditionally going to go to a person who is one of them. Most votes will be those of Kenyan Somali community, therefore I believe the battle is between ODMs Ahmed Ibrahim (Johnnie) and PNUs Yusuf Hassan Abdi.

Ibrahim has a lot of support from Eastleigh because he has lived with them, so they feel he is one of them and understands their problems better. Even though the other candidates are of different tribes and Kenyans like voting for their own, it has been said and it is a fact that as we are heading to elections next year for the moment the two choices that voters have is between ODM and the G7 group. So those who support ODM will vote for Ahmed Ibrahim and those who support the G7 alliance will vote for Hassan Abdi.

Let’s wait and see.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

London is burning

When I was a small girl my mum would sing this song about London and sung something like this “London’s burning London’s burning look yonder, look yonder fire, fire, fire, fire pour water, pour water but we have no water”. During their school days they were taught by the British who colonized Kenya and taught them such songs.

The shocking riots in London have reminded me about this song, I can now sing it to my kids when watching fire caused by rioters in London. I say it is shocking because we in African have looked at UK a member of G8 as a super powers who cannot have ugly riots like has been seen lately. It seems like the youth have been boiling about some issues and exploded after police shot a man.

It is strange the riots took days and in the process a lot of property damaged, hence police had to use extra force. Many people having been asking what if it happened in Africa were riots are so common, there would have been a lot of uproar from them and other superpowers that police are using a lot of force on innocent citizens or they would have said the cause of the riots is political and should be investigated properly. The messages would have been passed through their diplomats, so now why can’t African leaders change roles and advice the UK.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The crazy Kenyans

I normally do not like the theatrics of Makadara Member of Parliament Mike Sonko, but now with the drought situations and the happenings, I agree with one of his statement “Serikali ni kichwa maji” (The Government is a thick head). The Government has been blamed for years for not solving the situation, house speaker also said yesterday someone has been sleeping on his job and by the way congratulations to our MPs and Parliament for contributing over 8m for drought.

Incidents that happened recently that confirms the Government to be “kichwa maji” is the statement of Government spokesperson Alfred Mutua saying the Government has no statistics of Kenyans who have died of starvation, I will not dwell on that because I have written about it in a previous post below. Then he was contradicted by a Chief in Kalapata in Turkana South who shows a news reporter his book were he registered five deaths and shown graves of his people who died of starvation. Then someone in the Government gets mad at the chief for spilling beans and sends warning letters and gave him 21 days to explain his action. The chief of Kalapata is not the only one who has been asked to explain his actions, another chief who talked to media about the difficulty of reaching Turkana people in the remote areas due to logistics was also given a letter. The media has also been criticized for the way they reported the hunger situation and giving Kenya a wrong image. If the media and the government representatives did not report the situation the way it is, how many more would have died? Would the response be positive like the one by Kenyans for Kenyans and other donors?

I tell you without a free media, terrible things can happen in a country. Yesterday I watched on NTV a cereals businessman in Kawangware being arrested for offloading at NIGHT bags of relief maize and beans (packed in sacks labeled GOK NOT FOR SALE) from a lorry into his shop, it is the public that tipped that authorities about the incident. This are goods meant for starving Kenyans, that were diverted by a corrupt Government official and sold to a Greedy businessman, this are the crazy Kenyans who do not fret or shade a tear when they watch pictures of hungry babies feeding on the breast of hungry mothers, old people who are so frail to walk because of the many days they have had no food and those that died. While some Kenyans, Corporate and other donors contributed from as little as 10 bob to millions for the hungry, for the Greedy Kenyans it is business as usual and a time to take advantage of the situation. There were other incidents of stolen relief food found food found in homes of people and many more that have not been reported. SHAME ON THEM!

If there are people in the Government with “vichwa maji” then the Government should clean its house to improve its image.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What an irony

While Kenyans in Turkana have had no rain for a long while resulting in the worst drought in years; there is rain in Western Kenya and other parts of the Rift Valley.

While they are waiting and scrambling for a share of relief food mainly maize; people in Transmara county have a bumper harvest of maize and those in Kinangop are harvesting a lot of potatoes that some are rotting before they sell. We have also seen on news that Turkana central, Naoros Scheme are able to produce food through irrigation started by World Vision Kenya they have plantations of Sorghum and is green compared to the other parts of Turkana that is very dry. This shows that the country is able to produce enough food through irrigation and rain water harvesting during rainy season.

Maize in Transmara is sold at Kshs 2300 but when it gets to Nairobi the same bag is sold at Kshs 4000 a difference of Kshs1700. One just needs to get 1000 bags of maize and sell in Nairobi at around Kshs 4000 to become a millionaire. This is why the government should also control price of maize to stop traders from exploiting citizens in these hard times.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Saving image can be costly

Last week Dr. Alfred Mutua Government Spokesman nicknamed Spin doctor/master annoyed Kenyans by saying the Government does not have statistics of anyone who has died of starvation. By this statement he meant the local and international media coverage of the starving Kenyans in Northern Kenya was nothing to worry about. It was not a question of whether they had died or not, it was about getting them help before we lost many. I was so annoyed with this comment from a man who has been on the bad books of Kenyans since he was appointed on June 22nd 2004.

Yesterday we were told he spent 2.5m to save his image by placing full page colored ads on local dailies, this at a time when Kenyans for Kenyans are raising funds to save Kenyans from starvation. This could have bought over 700 (90kg bags) of maize if sold at 3500/bag. This time he has added injury to the wound we have in the Country. He has ashamed himself locally and internationally and no matter how much he spends to save his image, it will not change anything. I believe it is time this man just quit his job or gets a sack. I think activist Okiya Omtata (a very aggressive Civil Society Activist) and 30 others who participated in demanding resignation of Minister of Education for corruption in his Ministry are still in remand. Otherwise they would have demanded the spin master’s to resignation for his silly remarks.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tribulations of the Turkana people

Every time when drought affects Kenya, Turkana County in the Northwestern part of the Country is amongst the most affected region together with Northeastern part. Now with Kenya and the Horn of Africa going through the worst drought in years, everyday we see images on TV and newspapers of the Turkana people’s suffering.
One amazing thing that I have noted is the people are very different from other Kenyans, most of them especially those living in the very remote parts are still backward in development. Most of them are half naked and the children are completely naked, the structures they live in are sticks joined together to make something like the Maasai Manyata, they are not safe at all. It is not like they are in Kenya where even the Maasai communities who wore their shukas for a long time and were considered backward are now very developed. Even though some still wear the shukas, they wear them covering most of their body and do it as a tradition wearing the latest designs.
The case of the Turkana people is very sad yesterday after watching Citizen TV news I was shocked and said OH MY GOD! There was a newscast on people walking over 10 km to get food from the “nearest” local authority, after trekking nearly the whole day they go back home with only one 2kg tin (gorogoro) of maize, those lucky to get more go home with 3 tins. Some even end up going home empty handed. One person at the office said there are people who are 25 kms away who have not been reached. Imagine what will happen before the message gets to them that there is relief maize at the local authority 25 kms away, if the others took nearly a whole day to walk around 10 - 11kms, they will have to spend a night or two, too and from the chief/district office where they get the maize. The worst is there is no guarantee they will get the maize and may collapse going back home.
This is shocking for us Kenyans to see there are people in our country who leave like they are in their own world. This is a real Food for Thought for the Government to work on because there is no way life in Turkana will improve with poor infrastructures. On this news a messenger was sent on foot to announce to the villagers to collect maize from the authorities’ office 10 - 11kms away. This means even the local authority does not have the capacity like Government vehicles to distribute the relief food or the roads are bad. Therefore apart from thinking of Agricultural methods to improve food security, they have also to put in place proper infrastructure in Turkana County. We have seen trucks of relief food stuck for days on the way to deliver food some have also been attacked. The Government is now using the military aircraft and the military to deliver food in Turkana.
Thank God for initiative Kenyans for Kenya, God bless us Kenyans, many local and international organizations for willingly contributing towards saving lives. It is also good the Government took up their duty to distribute food to the affected areas using the military. The Military should also now be deployed in such affected regions to work on infrastructure and security because the aircraft can only offload the food at an airstrip.
Lastly as I looked at the half naked Kenyans and the naked children I just thought may be after the drought, people should also donate clothes.