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Archive for September 30th, 2009

Kenyan Man jumps into the Thames River in the UK

Posted by Administrator on September 30, 2009

The body of  Kenyan man  living in Slough, Berks who jumped into river Thames on Thursday 17th September, 2009 has been released to the family by the coroners.  Mr. Raphael Kabathi Mangae 32, passed away on Thursday 17th September, 2009 after jumping into Thames River at Windsor Thames Bridge. The deceased has been in the UK for several years and he came to study. He is the son of Mr. Faustin Mangae Kabathi and Mrs. Theresa Njeri Mangae who has been living in the US but a now back to Kenya. The deceased is a nephew to Mr. John Gaitho Gichu of Borehamwood, London. Friends and well wishers are meeting for urgent funds to transport the body of Raphael to Kenya at  2 Charlton Close, Slough, Sl1 9HD and also at Woodhouse pub, 230 Woodhouse Road, London N12 0RS as from 7pm to 9pm. Those unable to attend the meetings can send their contributions to the following account number: Natwest Bank, John Gichu Gichu, Account  no. 99001292, Sort Code 602423. For further information please ring John Gaitho Gichu on 07908806036

Earlier Story:

A Kenyan man living in Slough, Berks, has passed away in the UK. Mr. Raphael Kabathi Mangae 32, passed away on Thursday 17th September, 2009 after jumping into Thames River at Windsor Thames Bridge. The deceased has been in the UK for several years and he came to study. He is the son of Mr. Faustin Mangae Kabathi and Mrs. Theresa Njeri Mangae who has been living in the US but a now back to Kenya. The deceased is nephew to Mr. John Gichu Gaitho of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. Thames Valley Police and Kenya High Commission in UK have been trying to trace the family in vain and it was not until Kenya embassy contacted Mr. Seed on Thursday 24th September, 2009 that it took us few hours to trace the family.  The man was seen jumping into the river by a passer-by who tried in vain  to help the man with  other people. They alerted the police and the police fetched the body out of water. The body is now with the coroners awaiting identification. Windsor Bridge or Windsor Town Bridge, is a road bridge over the River Thames between the towns of Windsor and Eton in the English county of Berkshire. It now only carries pedestrian and cycle traffic, and crosses the Thames just above Romney Lock.

SOURCE: Misterseed.com

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ICC vows poll riots trial

Posted by Administrator on September 30, 2009

Raila Odinga supporter during riots in early 2008  

Suspected perpetrators of weeks of violence following polls in Kenya in 2007 will be tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the court says.

The ICC announced the move after Kenya’s government missed the deadline to set up a local tribunal.

Head prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo promised that Kenya would be a “world example” on how to manage violence.

More than 1,300 people died in the worst rioting in decades following the December 2007 presidential election.

Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee their homes over weeks of unrest.

‘Three-pronged’ approach

International mediators led by former UN chief Kofi Annan were brought in to resolve the crisis – and brokered a power-sharing government.

But repeated attempts by mediators to coax the government into setting up a tribunal have came to nothing.

In July Mr Annan handed to the ICC a list of those suspected of orchestrating the violence.

The names on the list have not been made public, but correspondents say they are likely to be prominent politicians and businessmen.

The BBC’s Will Ross, in Nairobi, says some politicians have been widely accused of doing everything possible to evade justice.

But he says the ICC’s statement indicates that is no longer an option.

In an ICC statement, Mr Moreno Ocampo said he supported a “three-pronged” solution to the problem.

He said he would prosecute those who bear the most responsibility for the post-election violence. Other perpetrators would be tried in Kenya, and local officials should also set up a truth commission to examine other events connected to the violence.

“Decisive consultations between the prosecutor [Moreno Ocampo] and the Kenyan principals will take place in the coming weeks. Justice will not be delayed,” said the ICC statement.

Source: www.bbc.co.uk

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Kenyan Economy Grows in Quarter 2, inflation slows

Posted by Administrator on September 30, 2009

By Helen Nyambura-Mwaura

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya said on Wednesday its economy grew in the second quarter of 2009 after two consecutive quarters of decline, underpinned by a rebound in the tourism sector, while headline inflation eased to 17.9 percent.

Gross domestic product rose 2.1 percent in the second quarter of 2009 from a year earlier after a revised 4.0 percent increase in the first three months of the year, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, second quarter GDP increased 1.5 percent from the first three months of the year — the first quarter-on-quarter increase since the third quarter of 2008.

“There’s a bit of growth happening but what is key is what happens to agriculture,” said Ignitius Chicha, head of treasury at Citi. “If we have sufficient rains as opposed to floods in some areas and drought in others, then it will be good.”

Post-election violence at the start of 2008, recurrent drought and the global crisis have curbed growth in east Africa’s biggest economy. It expanded by a mere 1.7 percent last year from 7.1 percent in 2007.

“Sectoral performances varied considerably with the hotels and restaurants achieving the highest growth of 24.2 percent reflecting a recovery in tourism while the drought caused electricity and water to record the largest contraction of 5 percent,” the statistics office said.

The agriculture and forestry sector, which is mainly dependent on rain, declined 2.7 percent in the second quarter, following a 1.9 percent drop in the same period of 2008.

Despite the relatively better performance in the tourism and construction sectors, growth is largely hinged on farming, which accounts for about 25 percent of GDP.

Meteorologists forecast a mild version of El Nino weather in seasonal rains starting in October. The phenomenon is caused by changing sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean bringing drought to some places around the world, heavy storms or harsh winters to others.

The government has forecast more robust activity in the fourth quarter and forecasts growth of 3 percent in 2009.

The central bank said last week that while risks to growth had “significantly increased” in 2009, a stimulus package unveiled in the June would spur spending and create jobs, rains would reduce power rationing and higher tea and coffee prices may boost spending.

The bureau of the statistics also reported that the consumer price index rose 1.1 percent in September from a month earlier, leaving the headline year-on-year rate at 17.9 percent, down from 18.4 percent in August.

Core inflation, which excludes food items, also eased to 3.2 percent from 3.5 percent in August, well below the central bank’s 5 percent target.

Food and non-alcoholic drinks prices rose 1.4 percent in September from August, driven by increases in the cost of kale, milk, sugar and cabbages. But there were notable falls in the price of maize flour, onions, tomatoes and potatoes.

Food and non-alcoholic drinks make up 50.50 percent of the consumer price basket. However, this is likely to be reduced when a new series is released next month. Analysts expect the headline inflation rate to drop with the new calculation.

Source: www.reuters.com

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Aaron Ringera Finally Resigns

Posted by Administrator on September 30, 2009

  • Xan Rice in Nairobi
  • guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 30 September 2009 17.55 BST
  • Article history
  • Aaron Ringera
     Aaron Ringera has resigned from Kenya’s anti-corruption committee. Photograph: Khalil Senosi/AP

    The head of Kenya‘s anti-corruption commission resigned today after the country’s parliament rejected his reappointment by President Mwai Kibaki.

    Retired judge Aaron Ringera, whose £20,000 a month salary made him the top-paid civil servant, is widely viewed as having failed to tackle high-level graft and to recover hundreds of millions of pounds in looted funds. His two deputies, who were similarly reappointed without reference to the KACC’s board or parliament, have also quit.

    The resignations are embarrassing for Kibaki, who has a history of making public sector appointments with little reference to the candidate’s suitability. It is also a sign of his diminishing presidential powers, something civil society activists say is essential for the country to move forward.

    With donors piling on the pressure – the US last week listed corruption as one of the reasons for threatening 15 top Kenyan officials with a travel ban – Ringera said he was stepping down in the best interest of the country.

    “He had lost the confidence of public and parliament so he had to go,” said Mwalimu Mati, executive director of Mars Group, an anti-corruption organisation. “It’s a positive step for Kenya, even if the motives of parliament had more to do with politics than fighting graft.”

    Parliament is controlled by opposition politicians, who say that under the coalition government structure Kibaki has an obligation to consult them on key appointments.

    Ringera, who has argued that the KACC does not have sufficient powers, yesterday defended his record, saying that he had recovered about $60m since 2003. Though no senior government official has been successfully prosecuted for corruption during his tenure, Ringera said he had recommended that cases be opened against least 12 MPs. About a quarter of MPs have also been under investigation over inflated mileage claims.

    Source: www.guardian.co.uk

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    Ithaca rallies around tragedy-stricken Kenyan family

    Posted by Administrator on September 30, 2009

    ‘We can really take care of each other in this town’

    By Stacey Shackford



    SIMON WHEELER / Staff Photo:The Okumu family are finally back in Ithaca after delays while recovering from injuries sustained in a June 20th automobile crash in Kenya that killed Nancy Okumu, Ben’s wife and the mother of their four children. From left, Fiona, 10, Brian 14, Ken’s brother Geoffrey Okumu who is visiting from Kenya to help, Ken Okumu, Elvis, 17, and Registered Nurse Carolyne Khamasi holding Esther, 5.

    If Nancy Okumu could gather her family up in a great big hug, tend to their myriad wounds and send them off with smiles, she surely would.

    But the mother of four was there in spirit only as her broken brood descended into Ithaca, still reeling from the June 22 car accident that claimed her life and changed theirs forever.

    Luckily, her embrace has been replaced by the welcoming arms of the family’s adopted community, which raised more than $20,000 to bring them home.

    There were cheers and tears as the Okumus arrived at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport on Wednesday, three months after their intended return from a long-awaited trip to Kenya.

    Father Ben Okumu, 42, recalled the immense relief he felt when he got the phone call from Sahara Byrne, whose daughter Bella is a close friend of his 10-year-old, Fiona.

    Confined to bed in an overcrowded Kenyan hospital, his shattered leg lifted in traction, all he could do was worry and wait, helpless to fix a situation quickly spiraling out of control, physically, financially and emotionally.

    “You can’t imagine lying there, having lost your wife, running low on funds, not knowing how this thing is going to work out,” he said. “And then Sahara calls and tells me the amount of contributions that were coming. It was very touching.”

    An environmental economist, Ben is a consultant who does work for the United Nations, trying to apply computer models he developed as a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University for use by agencies like the World Wildlife Federation to promote environmental conservation while stimulating economic development in third-world countries.

    He was meant to start field work in Mexico in August, and had moved his family to a temporary home in Texas in January, while still keeping the Ithaca property they had called home for 10 years. They decided to take advantage of the summer break for a trip to Kenya.

    Ben had not been back to his homeland in six years, and the children in 10. Five-year-old Esther had never been there, and did not know her grandparents or other relatives.

    Not trusting himself to drive on the left side of the road with a manual transmission car, Ben hired a local driver. About a week and a half into their trip, they left at 6:30 a.m. to make the 300-mile drive to his parents’ village. They made it 100 miles.

    Ben nodded off and woke up in hospital about 10 hours later, vomiting blood, his blue suit being cut from his body and his concussed mind muddled in a pain-induced haze.

    “I have no memory at all about how it came to be,” Ben said.

    His left femur was shattered, the foot pierced through by metal. His right arm hung limp by his side, broken at the shoulder, and his tongue was bitten through when his head hit the dashboard.

    Emergency surgery was performed, but he lost so much blood that he spent nearly a month in traction before he was stable enough to undergo further operations. He had another setback when he contracted malaria from a blood transfusion.

    “To me it didn’t really matter; I just wanted to make sure the kids were well taken care of,” he said.

    While Esther emerged unscathed, 14-year-old Brian dislocated one of the lumbar in his spine and 17-year-old Elvis suffered broken femurs. Fiona had to undergo multiple operations on her legs, and subsequent infections led to fears one of them might have to be amputated.

    Ben hardly had time to mourn. His first trip upon release from the hospital was to the morgue where Nancy was being kept, 200 miles away. She, too, had hit her head in the accident. All her ribs had been broken and they punctured her lungs, which led to fatal internal bleeding.

    “When I saw her, I took consolation in the fact that her death had been fast,” he said. “Even if she had survived I don’t think she would have had a comfortable life.”

    He’s still uncertain as to what happened that day other than the Peugeot 405 veered off the road and smashed into a wall. Nor does he know what became of the driver, who suffered injuries similar to Ben’s.

    “All I know is that I have suffered a big loss, and it will take me a long time to recover, if I ever do. Losing a wife of 20 years is not something you can just get over. She is a part of you, and while she is gone, a part of me is dead,” Ben Okumu said.

    He said Nancy was a loving, sacrificing woman who put her own career on hold to support him as the family hopped from England to Ethiopia, Cornell and Columbia so he could pursue his research. Only recently was she able to return to school, enrolling in the nursing program at Tompkins Cortland Community College.

    “It’s not easy to forget a person of that caliber,” he said.

    Her funeral was an emotional one. Elvis delivered a eulogy in which he promised to carry on her legacy. But the reality of the occasion didn’t sink in for Fiona until halfway through the ceremony, when she started weeping and asked to see her mother for one final time. She couldn’t reach the coffin by wheelchair, so she was placed on a mattress and taken there.

    “They opened the coffin and she looked at her mom. From that moment on, she stopped crying,” Ben said.

    Ben is undeniably proud of his children. Given the opportunity, he will gladly brag about Elvis’s prowess in the pool, Brian’s math skills, Fiona’s strength of character and Esther’s singing talents. He said they have done incredibly well so far, and he is determined to remain strong for their benefit.

    “I am like their compass. They look at me and if they see I am happy and smiling, they think everything is all right,” he said. “It would be a lie for me to say that we are out of the woods yet, but I believe we are in the process.”

    He is eager to start earning an income again and needs to do so as soon as possible to cover what could soon become a mounting debt, but currently he cannot walk and can barely type.

    Savings the Okumus set aside before the trip were quickly depleted by the medical expenses, and Ben found out too late that his health insurance did not cover any injuries sustained abroad.

    Those injuries are now considered “pre-existing conditions,” so their treatment may not be covered now that they have returned. The rod in Ben’s shoulder has shifted and must be replaced. With the exception of Esther, all are also facing physiotherapy and extensive dental treatment.

    “You wonder if there’s anything better you could have done. But I don’t think so. I think it’s just bad luck,” he said. “God had a purpose when he spared me. He could have taken me too, but he had mercy. He left one of us to live. I don’t see how the children would have come back without one of us. ”

    Ben said he will be eternally grateful to all who sent contributions and those who helped in other ways after reading about his plight last month in the Ithaca Journal.

    The family was greeted at the airport by staff from the Franziska Racker Center, who helped them into a special disability van provided by Cornell University. They were then transported to the Homewood Suites, which is putting them up at a discounted rate while their Maplewood Drive home is outfitted for their return, with help from the Finger Lakes Independence Center.

    Not only does the home have to be made wheelchair accessible, it will have to accommodate Ben’s brother Geoffrey and a nurse who accompanied them from Kenya. Many of their belongings are in Texas or in storage. While readying the home, it was discovered the furnace had failed, necessitating a costly repair.

    “Everyone that we have ever asked for help has gone so far out of their way to help them. In these hard economic times, without question, people gave more than they could, and more than what you could ever expect,”Byrne said.

    Byrne said several medical providers have offered their services, including orthopedic surgeon Stephanie Roach and physical therapy practice McCune and Ainslie.

    “If there is anything good that has come out of this, it’s seeing that we can really take care of each other in this town,” Byrne said. “I don’t think it would have happened anywhere else but Ithaca.”

    Additional Facts How to help

    Donations, made out to the “Okumu Family Fund” are still being collected at all Tompkins Trust Company branch locations, or through the mail at:

    Tompkins Trust Company
    c/o Sue Lason
    PO Box 460, Ithaca, 14850

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    N.J. teachers show Kenyan educators ways to work with blind students

    Posted by Administrator on September 30, 2009

    By Brent Johnson/For The Star-Ledger

    September 29, 2009, 8:05PM

    Lillian Rankel and Marilyn Winograd boarded a plane last month armed with eight 70-pound suitcases.

    Packed inside was a horde of specialized science equipment: beakers with Braille numbers, talking thermometers that read measurements in electronic voices.

    The New Jersey teachers were headed for Kenya. Their mission: to teach teachers in the impoverished African county how to better educate blind students — without upheaving the curriculum.

    They held a week-long workshop at a high school for the blind there, demonstrating how students without sight can conduct chemistry experiments and learn about physics using touch and simple household items.


    Marilyn Winograd, left, and Lillian Rankel, second from left, teach Kenyan educators ways to work with blind students.

    “We want to raise the expectations of people who are blind,” said Rankel, a science teacher at Hopewell Valley High School in Pennington.

    Rankel and Winograd have spent the past few years spreading that message. They’ve trekked across the U.S., paying their own way to peddle their methods.

    But the 7,000-mile trip to Kenya was the farthest they’ve traveled. There, they say, teachers make little money, and aren’t trained to educate the blind. Very few blind students even attend school there, they say.

    “They go back to their villages and beg for money,” Rankel said.

    Winograd, an Edison resident who spent 27 years as a teacher with the state Commission for the Blind, met Rankel a few years ago while working with a blind student at Hopewell Valley High.

    Rankel, a Pennington resident, never had a student without sight in her science class before. But together, she and Winograd developed ways the boy could participate in experiments using touch.

    The result was the Tactile Adaptation Kit, a collection of science equipment tailored for blind students. Included are magnetic letters to assemble equations. Pipe cleaners to make molecules. A glue gun to paste number markings onto beakers.

    The teachers sold the kits at $149 apiece, using the money to pay for trips to teach their methods at conferences in New York, Philadelphia, Texas and Wisconsin.

    “It’s the teacher in us,” Winograd said. “We realized we had all the information. We needed to share it with other teachers.”

    Then, two years ago, Rankel traveled with a school club to Kenya, and stopped at the Thika High School for the Blind in Keroka.

    She said she learned that the Kenyan government didn’t allow blind students to take chemistry and physics.

    “That’s all Lillian needed to hear,” Winograd said. “She decided to change that.”

    So, she brought the school’s principal to New Jersey to see what blind students are able to learn here. Then, they set up the workshop in Kenya.

    Rankel and Winograd raised $3,000 in grant money from the New Jersey Lion’s Club to buy equipment for the schools.

    When they arrived, they found villages with dirt roads and teachers who had never seen safety goggles.

    Rankel and Winograd taught one experiment where they put Alka Seltzer in a Zip-Lock bag, so blind students can hear and feel the pill dissolving.

    “We had to teach them what a Zip-Lock bag is,” Winograd said of the workshops, attended by 16 Kenyan teachers and administrators. “Not one person in the room had seen one.”
    Apparently, it made an impression.

    “This opened new horizons for us,” Alfred Kamau, principal at Thika, said in a thank-you letter to the teachers. “Already, history has been made, for this is the first workshop in this usually forgotten/ignored area.”

    Now, the pair are working on a book called “Out Of Sight Science Experiments.”

    “You don’t need to be trained as a teacher for the blind to adapt to these methods,” Winograd said.

    © 2009 NJ.com. All rights reserved.

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