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Archive for November 5th, 2009

Mungiki leader killed in Nairobi

Posted by Administrator on November 5, 2009

Mungiki spokesman Njuguna Gitau Njuguna was on Thursday shot dead in Nairobi. He was gunned down by an unknown assailant inside a mobile phone shop in the city’s Luthuli Avenue at 4.15pm.

A sales girl said there was a heated argument between four men. “They walked in side by side and I thought it was the normal harassment by city council askaris (security officers). So I ignored it,” said the girl, who did not want her name disclosed. “The other men held Mr Njuguna like a prisoner,” she said.

“They were holding his shirt and trousers and they had sandwiched him,” she explained. Mr Njuguna in trying to break free, jumped on to the counter and held on firmly, the witness said. She said she thought the men were arguing until she realised that Mr Njuguna was begging for his life, pleading with the men not to kill him.

“One of the men, dressed in a polo shirt, drew a gun and shot him in the eye and stomach. By that time we were all on the ground,” she told the Nation at the scene. The killers casually walked away. His death comes a day after Mungiki leader Maina Njenga, recently released from jail, said his life was in danger. Mr Njenga claims to have converted to Christianity.

The government on Thursday quickly said the shooting was not done by the police. On Thursday night Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia said: “Police are on full alert and they will track down and know who did it. It is very easy to blame the police but let the law enforcers investigate the matter first.”

Mr Kimemia said reports from officers on the ground were that Mr Njuguna had been arguing about money with two other men. Mungiki has been accused of waging a campaign of bloodshed and extortion, including the massacre of dozens of villagers in Mathira in April. Mr Njenga was tried and set free over those killings.

A UN investigator said police had formed a death squad to eliminate alleged gang members. But there have also been reports of internal wrangling and gangland killings within the criminal sect.

On Thursday, Mr Paul Muite, one of the lawyers who defended Mr Njenga, said that Mr Njuguna on Friday expressed fears for his life, allegedly after being approached by members of the Kwekwe Squad, a police squad established to deal with the Mungiki.

The government announced that the squad was disbanded earlier in the year. Mr Muite said that Mr Njuguna informed partygoers at the home of Mr Njenga that they would kill Mr Njenga in a month, then spread propaganda that he had been killed by sect members, unhappy with his conversion to Christianity. It was not possible to corroborate Mr Muite’s claims.

Mr Muite said the killing, during a visit by ICC prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo, was “striking”. “It is an extra-judicial killing ,” said Mr Muite. Mr Njuguna’s body was taken to Kamukunji police station where an officer said in Kiswahili; “This is the guy who has been disturbing us.” The body was later transferred to City Mortuary.

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MKU STAGES A MASSIVE GRADUATION CEREMONY TO REMEMBER

Posted by Administrator on November 5, 2009

Mount Kenya University in Thika

Mount Kenya University in Thika

THE sweltering sun rays threw an endless glare at the site of the ceremony, but the huge crowd-the biggest ever witnessed in Kenya in recent times, was determined to remain in attendance without any strand of their hair being shaken.

The heat of the sun would not keep the curious and attentive crowd at bay.

People of all walks of life braved the sun´s biting rays to the logical conclusion of the all-important event.

It was a big day indeed for retired Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi who was the recipient of a honorary doctorate at the Mount Kenya University (MKU).

It was also a big day for the MKU itself, staff and students; the institutions chairman Simon Gicharu, the local community and the education fraternity.

Yes, it was a ceremony to behold!

Most of Kenya´s crème de la crème in the education industry availed itself at the university located in Thika town-Central Kenya.

What a great and lovely day!

No doubt, intellectual Gicharu-looking composed, elegant and vivacious, was in one of his happiest moods in life.

Sited besides the retired President Moi, Gicharu-now a household name for starting the Mount Kenya University from humble beginnings, was the face of the much-talked-about institution and its history, and needless to say, the solace in people’s hearts over his legacy that is bound to live on for generations to come.

And before the ceremony kicked off, an elated Gicharu was seen engaged in a palatable tète a tète with the equally jovial Moi.

The two cracked intermittent jokes in the course of their private conversation at the guests stand, and occasionally burst out laughing in fresh outbursts of mirth as the sun shone overhead.

It was also one of the best moments for Moi as he was the one who was being honored.

Another significant aspect of the event was that Gicharu came face to face with Moi who, during his protracted 24- year reign, wielded stupendous political power and influence.

The colorful Mount Kenya Rover was later to scream: “GICHARU MEETS MOI”

Like Gicharu, Moi is a believer in the aphorism that Education is the Recipe for Success.

It is the foundation upon which the country develops and on the strength of this, it should be enhanced at all costs.

To many a staff and students of MKU, it was like a dream come true when they staged a massive graduation ceremony.

Even old universities were surprised how a young university such as MKU could out do them in organizing a world-class graduation ceremony.

The highlight of the day was the conferment of a honorary doctorate to former President Moi by the Chancellor, Prof Victoria Wulsin.

The former President accepted the award and commended MKU for the giant strides it had made in joining elite universities.

Among guest dignitaries present included: Permanent Secretary, Prof Crispus Kiamba, who represented Dr. Sally Kosgei, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, former First Lady, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, Higher Education Loan Board CEO, Mr. Benjamin Cheboi, former Kenyatta University Vice-Chancellor, Prof George Eshiwani, Thika Mayor, Councilor Johnstone Muriuki, chairmen of and vice-chancellors of various universities, businessmen and thousands of parents, guardians and well wishers from both Kenya and foreign countries from where MKU draws its students and staff.

Also present at the lively ceremony was Gicharu’s beloved wife Mrs Jane Gathoni. Behind every successful man is a woman, so the saying goes.

Those invited but could not make it to the event sent apologies to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Stanley Waudo.

The congregation which numbered about 10,000, braved the scotching sun to keep abreast with the proceedings of the ceremony and were not disappointed.

Apart from listening to nicely packaged and delivered speeches, they were also treated to heart-rending melodies by various groups which included: Kayamba Africa, Kabarak University Choir, Daystar University Choir, Municipal Council of Thika, Prisons Band, Mount Kenya University Choir, among others.

Those honored by Mount Kenya University for their contributions to the country included: Joseph M.Nthenge, the GSU cop who used diplomacy to stop destruction of property by a group of rioters during the post-election violence in January 2008 in Nairobi, Municipal Council of Thika for the services and facilities it has improved in Thika, the home of Mount Kenya University.

Also not to be left behind was Mr. Vimal Shah, the CEO, Bidco Limited, a man whose business acumen has created jobs (both directly and indirectly) to thousands of Kenyans and contributed immensely to Kenya´s economy.

At the end of it all, the university staff and students who had been anxious about the ceremony, congratulated themselves for the job well done and promised to make it even better next year.

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Soldier kills 11 in shooting rampage at Fort Hood army base

Posted by Administrator on November 5, 2009

By Chris Baltimore

Members of a local law enforcement SWAT team deploy at Fort Hood, November 5, 2009.

Members of a local law enforcement SWAT team deploy at Fort Hood, November 5, 2009.

HOUSTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Army major firing two handguns killed 11 people and wounded 31 others in a shooting rampage on Thursday at Fort Hood base in Texas, a prime point of deployment for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army said the gunman was killed. U.S. broadcast media identified him as Major Malik Nidal Hasan, and said he was a psychiatrist who was facing an upcoming deployment to Iraq. There was no immediate official confirmation of his identity.

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas told FOX news: “I do know that he has been known to have told people that he was upset about going (to Iraq).” U.S. military officials say the shooter’s motives were still unclear.

The incident at Fort Hood, the largest military installation in the world, was one of the worst killings reported on a U.S. military base. In May a U.S. soldier at a base in Baghdad shot dead five fellow soldiers.

It raised new questions about the toll that six years of continuous fighting in Iraq and nearly eight years fighting in Afghanistan have taken on the U.S. military and on individual soldiers, many of whom have been on several combat tours.

In Thursday’s incident, the shooter opened fire at about 1:30 p.m. CST at the Soldiers Readiness Processing Center, where soldiers were getting medical check-ups before leaving for overseas deployments, the Army said.

The shooter was killed by police, but not before he killed one civilian police officer, Cone said.

Initial reports said two other soldiers had been detained as possible suspects.

OBAMA CONDEMNS ‘HORRIFIC OUTBURST’

U.S. President Barack Obama called the event a “horrific outburst of violence” and promised “answers to every single question about this horrible incident.”

“It is difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas. It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an army base on American soil,” Obama said during an event in Washington.

Fort Hood is home to about 50,000 troops, although Senator Hutchison said only about 35,000 were on base at this time. The fort, established in 1942, stretches across 339 square miles (878 square km) in central Texas and is the largest single employer in Texas.

It’s the only military post in the United States capable of supporting two full armored divisions — the 1st Cavalry Division and the 4th Infantry Division.

Base personnel have accounted for more suicides than any other Army post since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, with 75 tallied through July of this year. Nine of those occurred in 2009, counting two in overseas war zones.

Fort Hood is halfway between Austin and Waco, about 60 miles from each city.

(Additional reporting by James Vicini and Phil Stewart in Washington and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles)

(Editing by Mary Milliken)

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE5A454F20091106

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Do Kenyans Kiss? An Afternoon of Candid Conversation

Posted by Administrator on November 5, 2009

OPINION

Do Kenyans kiss? This was the question posed to a group of about thirty ladies, young and old, from all walks of life on a pretty Saturday afternoon. As you can imagine, the women laughed and threw out various answers:

‘Of course!’

‘Why not?’

‘Even in public!’

This was the beginning of a rousing discussion entitled ‘Sexually Speaking’ held on 17 October at the Storymoja premises in Spring Valley.

Storymoja organises a Women in Leadership forum every month, with a view to providing a comfortable space for women to get together, exchange ideas on topics that concern them, and network. Previous sessions have been held on balancing work and personal life, social etiquette and doing a life audit, to name a few. Participants said they enjoyed these talks very much. The Sexually Speaking session was no exception, as it was an afternoon of candid conversation on how various issues of our lives affect our sexuality.

The moderator of the session was Storymoja’s MD, Muthoni Garland, who introduced the guest speaker, Valentine Njoroge, a columnist with the Nairobi Star.

Back to the all-important question: ‘Do Kenyans kiss?’

A lady in blue jacket pointed out that Kenyans do kiss, but in private because Africans generally are uncomfortable with public displays of affection. A popular radio MD was of the opinion that Africans should start kissing more in public. She added that kissing should be depicted in African movies, plays and books so that people get used to it. If this happens then most people will find it a normal act of affection and not off putting.

However, an editor at the meeting disagreed. She asked why should we as Africans, copy the white people and kiss in public?

‘Africans have their own way of showing affection!’ She emphasised.

The younger ladies in the group were surprised to know from the older ladies that sex gets much better when you grow older!

‘You gain more confidence sexually when you get older.’

A former MP said: ‘It’s like you find yourself!’

A retired banker and counsellor agreed: ‘When you get older you have a broader idea of what you want from life and you know how to get it.’ She added that not only does sex get better with age; it also gets better after birth! ‘You are more accepting of your body and loose inhibition.’

She summed it up for us: Age doesn’t matter, if you have confidence in your body, and yourself, you have no reason not to have great sex!

One lady lamented that young Kenyan girls don’t have sexual confidence from a young age. The only guy brave enough to attend the session concurred and said a big example is women having the mistaken assumption that the vagina is ugly! It is because from a young age, most Kenyan girls are taught not to look, touch, or even think about their vagina. Valentine talked us into loving all our body parts, including the vagina. ‘You should examine the vagina, and love it and in fact it, give it a name!’ She recommended.

We realised that most of us did not know the equivalent of the word vagina in our local dialects. From the session I learnt that ‘vagina’ in Kikuyu is ‘keino.’ That’s why Kikuyu who know this don’t dare call athlete hero Kipchoge by his second name! So what you do call it in your mother tongue? If you don’t know, find out. Along the way, you will learn more about your traditional sexual practices. It was noted that these practices are not necessarily bad, as we have been taught to believe.

The session was not all play; we became very sombre when we discussed sexual health. Valentine and Muthoni concurred that sexual health is a very serious matter and we should have a ‘sexual health conversation’ with any one we have sex with. How do you ask your sexual partner whether he has ever had an STD? Or that you need to go get tested for HIV together?

A lady with a lovely afro hair-do complained that it usually is a very difficult conversation because men are not engaging. She told us that most of the times she has brought up the subject of getting tested, her sexual partners have not been co-operative. ‘They say something like, “I already tested for HIV”. Then I ask, but can’t we go together?’ she said. This is not an easy conversation to have. But Valentine stressed that you must this conversation with anyone you intend to have sex with because it’s a matter of life and death. If a man doesn’t want to discuss a healthy sexual relationship, then he probably is not worth risking your life for!

A small-bodied girl in red pointed out that the ‘let’s get tested’ conversation is way up there with the ‘meet my parents’ conversation. So ladies don’t discuss HIV and other STDs with people they have casual sex with. If you have such a conversation, you automatically make the relationship serious. This brought about such a hue and cry among the ladies regarding casual sex. Is the Kenyan woman today engaging in casual sex? Or has she always kept it ‘on the down low’ because she feels that the society will judge her as loose?

One proud Luyha woman was adamant that she couldn’t have sex with just anyone! ‘I have stayed celibate for two years because I cannot have casual sex!’ she insisted, sending the whole group into fits of laughter. ‘I can’t let any man just come to pour things into me as if I were a toilet!’ She told us it is not that she doesn’t have sexual urges, she does have a good sexual appetite, but she manages it by going to the gym.

But the lady with the afro hair-do said that such judgements are what make women who have casual sex feel as if they were immoral. The pointing of fingers and the disapproving looks from people is what makes some girls shy to come out and say they do enjoy casual sex. She argued that sometimes the body just wants sex! Yes, just sex, without the emotional connection or the relationship. And if that is so, we should be okay with that, and either have protected sex at all times or learn how to control the urge. The ladies remained divided on this heated point.

Another major discussion that came up was how we should speak to our children about sex. Most us don’t know how because we were never spoken to about it by our parents. A lady banker said, ‘When we were young, we were just told you should wait till you’re married to have sex, and that sex before marriage is bad because you could get pregnant.’ Valentine told us that parents should be in the loop regarding their children’s sexuality. The conversation should be two-way, and should be informal and frequent. A parent in the meeting said her ten-year-old son was already going to the internet for information on sex, and so today parents need to have this conversation early on. She said she talks to her son to learn what is going in with him, and what he knows, regularly and very casually, for instance in the car on his way to school.

The session was quite animated, spirited and enthusiastic. We even ran out of time and were not able to discuss all the scheduled topics. Valentine concluded by telling us that modern Kenyan women can change their sexual behaviour. It is possible to have a healthier sex life, a confident sex life, and an educated sex life. One step is by attending sessions such as this one, with informed, opinionated women who are willing to share their knowledge.

The Storymoja forum was not only informative and entertaining, it was loads of fun! After the session, participants chatted together over cups of tea and cake and continued discussing the hot topic with much enthusiasm. Women made new friends and contacts. A number concluded that this particular topic was pertinent and very broad so we should discuss it some more in future. Please check our website to find out when the next session will be held for this and other topics for Women in Leadership

This article first appeared on Storymoja. 

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Scared Wanjiru pleads for security

Posted by Administrator on November 5, 2009

 

Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the Chicago Marathon October 11, 2009. By winning Sunday’s race, Wanjiru topped the lucrative, five-race, World Marathon Majors series which comes with a jackpot prize of Sh38 million ($500,000). Photo/REUTERS

Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the Chicago Marathon October 11, 2009. By winning Sunday’s race, Wanjiru topped the lucrative, five-race, World Marathon Majors series which comes with a jackpot prize of Sh38 million ($500,000). Photo/REUTERS

Olympic, Chicago and London Marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru is considering relocating to Japan because he fears for his security, especially at his rural home in Nyahururu, which has been raided twice by thugs.

 

On return from New York on Tuesday night, where he was crowned the new World Marathon Majors champion, fetching a prize pack worth Sh38 million ($500,000), Wanjiru asked the government to improve security.

 

“What is the government doing to honour sportsmen in this country? It is very little. But that is maybe why some of them are sneaking out to Qatar. I have a big name in Japan and if I go there I will be comfortable,” he said.

 

It was the first time that Wanjiru was accorded a hero’s welcome upon his arrival, having won four of the five marathons he has run in a short three-year span.

 

Wanjiru recently added the Chicago marathon jewel to his illustrious crown when he won in 2:05:41.

 

The time was one second under the previous course record and thus earned him an additional Sh7.6 million ($100,000) alongside the Sh5.7 million ($75,000) prize fee. His appearance fee was estimated at Sh19 million ($250,000).

 

Wanjiru and Irina Mikitenko of Germany won the 2008-2009 World Marathon Majors series. Wanjiru collected 90 points over the two-year series, winning at the 2008 Olympics, as well as in London and Chicago in 2009. He was also a runner-up in London in 2008.

 

“This is inspirational and a morale booster for me and other athletes. I have never been received like this,” he said.

 

In the WMM series, the world’s top runners score points for winning and top placings at the five events – London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago and New York.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Nation

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Hellish ride on ‘The Lunatic Express’

Posted by Administrator on November 5, 2009

Passengers aboard a train in Nairobi. Journalists and other passengers braved a 26-hour journey by train from Kisumu to Nairobi because of a breakdown. Photo/FILE

No wonder they called it The Lunatic Express. What was meant to be a promotion fun trip for the development of local tourism in the western Kenya circuit turned out to be a nightmare.

The first leg of the tour by train for a group of journalists from various media houses was a delight.

The return trip was a nightmare; as a six-hour journey stretched to 26 hours.

Hundreds of passengers had to endure a hellish ride when the Rift Valley Railways train from Kisumu to Nairobi broke down twice — once in the middle of a forest.

Limped into Nairobi

The passengers waited in the train while replacement engines were brought in. A journey that started at 4am on Monday in Kisumu only ended on Tuesday morning when the locomotive limped into Nairobi.

The fiasco started at Kisumu when departure was delayed from 7pm on Sunday to 4am on Monday.

The first delay was caused by an accident involving an oil tanker and a train engine at a railway-crossing in Kisumu on Sunday evening. RVR technicians spent hours repairing the engine.

Although the railway officials assured travellers that the problem would be fixed in a few hours, that was not to be.

An hour gave way to another; hunger pangs started biting; the midnight cold set in, and both the children and the older passengers fought off sleep in the cold second and third class cabins.

Those strong enough braved the cold and the hunger by singing and listening to impromptu sermons.

The group of journalists on a domestic tourism promotion trip were lucky to have been booked in the comfort of the first class cabins, which had a room for each passenger, complete with a warm comfortable bed, a restaurant and toilets.

But a walk to the other sections of the train where “the masses” were, referred to as “wananchi class”, revealed stark contrasts.

It was cold; children slept uncomfortably on the seats; some women slept on lesos spread on the floor; and a strong stench of urine hung in the air.

“These people took our money yet they knew the train was not ready for the journey. I have been in this train since 3pm. Why only us? ” a passenger, who had seen us with a camera, complained.

So, when the train finally set off in the wee hours of Monday, it was a relief, especially for the “wananchi”. Those that had slept on the floor got up took up their seats.

But the relief would be short-lived. Around 8am (Monday), the train ground to a halt after Fort Ternan station, at a section where the railway line lies at the bottom of a valley, with a forest escarpment on either side.

Passengers tried making phone calls but the area did not have any mobile network coverage.

After hours of hopelessness in the middle of the forest, an official on aboard informed the Nairobi station that the train had stalled; and another engine was sent to the rescue from Fort Ternan.

But the rescue did not come that fast. When it finally arrived, it was attached at the rear end and started pulling the train back to where we had come from!

Passengers were told that the replacement engine could not haul the train all the way to Nairobi and could only tow it back to Fort Ternan where another engine would be fixed.

And the journey took reverse gear. At Fort Ternan, the engine that had returned us was removed, another one fixed and the forward gear was engaged.

Misfortune struck

On reaching Molo, another misfortune struck. The replacement engine had “poured out all the water” and it had overheated. The remedy initially meant simply waiting while the engine cooled off. Later, it was decided to despatch another engine from Nakuru station.

That was around 3pm, and another round of waiting. Some passengers who were transporting sacks of fresh farm produce decided enough was enough.

They alighted and intercepted Nairobi-bound matatus from the nearby road, loaded their wares and jumped in.

When the new engine from Nakuru arrived and got fixed to the train, it was around 5pm. The new leg of the journey form Molo started.

It was around midnight when the tired passengers reached Nakuru, and another six hours before the weary souls woke up at the Nairobi Railway Station around 6am, Tuesday. That was 25 hours after departure from Kisumu, not counting the initial eight-hour delay.

Source: Daily Nation

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Always sisters, forever friends

Posted by Administrator on November 5, 2009

Twins Shilla Makena (left) and Sheila Kageni during the interview. PHOTO/ JENNIFER MUIRURI

Their graduation from the Catholic University of East Africa in Karen last month was a milestone in the lives of twins Sheila Kageni and Shilla Makena, whose lives have been marked by stiff but friendly competition.

It was a moment of pride for the sisters as they as they marched just a few steps from each other in the queue, thanks to the narrow difference — less than a point — between their final marks. It was not the first time the two have been so close to each other in academic rankings.

Competition between them began in primary school, with each working hard to beat the other in the end-term examinations.

“It is not that one of us was brighter than the other, but we wanted to keep the difference in marks between us narrow because there was some comfort in that,” says Shilla, the bigger of the two who, ironically, is younger.

So when they sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary School Education (KCPE) finals, there was only a two-point difference in their marks. Due to this stiff competition, whenever either of them performed badly in a certain subject, they would both be punished.

“Dad always found a plausible reason to punish us both. For instance, if one of us made a ‘serious’ mistake, he would look for something wrong the other person had done to justify punishing her as well. This curbed jealousy between us and made us feel he was treating us equally, besides encouraging us to work hard,” says Sheila of their father, Moses Naivasha, an engineer.

Meanwhile, their mother, Violet Muthoni, who was a teacher, ensured they were disciplined.

So as they received their Bachelor of Commerce (second class honours) degrees, with family and friends applauding, it was a dream come true for the 23-year-olds, who have had a passion for the subject since their high school days at Kyeni Girls’ High School in Embu.

They both loved commerce but were in different streams, so when one felt her teacher was not as good as the other’s, she simply took advantage of their resemblance to attend her sister’s class.

Major disadvantage

Their fellow students and teachers had a difficult time telling them apart, and teachers had to refer to the class list to tell which of the two they were teaching.

“We would answer to whichever name we were called, which only added to the confusion,” offers Shilla, the more talkative of the two.

But she quickly adds that their resemblance was a major disadvantage when it came to paying for each other’s mistakes. She says a fellow student would give Sheila something, for instance, but would come to demand it back from her.

“Convincing her that I was not the one she had given the item was a problem,” she says.

Given their love for commerce, it is not surprising that they took the same course at university. “It was a foregone conclusion,” Sheila says.

When they joined university as day scholars four years ago, their parents proposed that they move from the family home in Nairobi’s Fedha Estate and rented a two-bedroom house in Lang’ata for them so they could be close to the institution. But they say it took them a while to get used to sleeping in separate rooms.

“Look, we’ve always shared one big bed and taken showers together, so we found it difficult to get used to this new arrangement,” explains Shilla.

Mischievous

Over the years, the sisters have grown very dependent on each other’s company. In primary school, they would land in trouble together because they kept the same company.

“We were very mischievous and whenever a teacher or our parents caught Sheila doing something wrong, they would automatically assume I was also guilty,” Shilla explains.

As a result, their parents asked that they be placed in different classes when they joined Kyeni Girls’ for their secondary level education.

“That was the only time we’ve been separated. Still, there was some consolation in that we shared the same cubicle and locker in the dormitory, where we also slept on adjacent beds,” offers Sheila.

In secondary school, the sisters were active members of the drama and commerce clubs, and also participated in music festivals.

“But Sheila is the sporty type and played volleyball while I would just watch,” offers Shilla.

“Oh yes, she would not come anywhere near a ball but she sure was an enthusiastic cheerleader!” her sister responds.

When it came to dressing, they wanted identical clothes, or else they would fight.

“Our parents knew this and bought us identical clothes or none at all if they couldn’t find the same thing,” explains Sheila.

Dressing alike

And even as adults today, they prefer dressing alike.

“If one of us goes shopping with a friend, she has to keep calling the other to confirm the design specifications, brand and colour, so she ends up wasting a lot of time and money on airtime. As a result, we prefer shopping together,” says Shilla.

However, their individuality is now more obvious because, although they still wear similar clothes, they choose different colours. Sheila says this has helped reduce the attention they draw in public. Nevertheless, they still tend to dress alike, even if they are leaving the house separately.

“Sometimes we bump into each other in town wearing similar clothes. It just happens,” says Sheila, adding that the only notable difference in their dressing is that she prefers high heels while her sister prefers flat shoes.

“I wear shoes with high heels only when it is absolutely necessary, say for a formal occasion. I later give them to her,” acknowledges Shilla.

As with their dress sense, the sisters have a lot in common when it comes to hobbies.

“We enjoy the same kind of movies and listen to the same kind of music. We also enjoy dancing and just talking to each other,” Shilla says. “As a result, we are each other’s best companion.”

So it is not surprising that they share the same circle of friends. As Sheila explains, “When we’re out together, we are likely to be introduced to the same people by our friends.”

Despite their remarkable closeness, as with most siblings, Sheila and Shilla have their differences.

“When we were kids, the name Shilla sounded so nice that I used it up to Standard Three. I had to be forced to accept the name Sheila. I would fight my sister whenever I saw the name written on her books,” Sheila says.

The sisters acknowledge that they still have disagreements, but they quickly resolved them.

“We don’t always agree on issues so we get mad at each other but cool down quickly when we realise we cannot do without each other. That’s why our friends do not bother to intervene in such situations,” Sheila explains.

She adds that whenever she spends long periods away from her sister, she feels a certain emptiness. “I am tempted to call her every 30 minutes or I feel so uncomfortable that I just have to go back to her. She understands me without much explanation and I can tell her just about anything.”

What about relationships? Neither imposes her choice of boyfriend on the other, although they can influence each other’s decision.

“We do consult and listen to each other’s views, but most of the time we seem to think alike and notice the same things,” Shilla offers.

But Sheila is quick to point out that she can, however, influence her younger sister’s decisions on personal matters. “I play a part in many of the decisions she makes because she takes my views seriously,” she explains.

Despite their strong bond, the twins remain distinct individuals with different traits, and they acknowledge as much. “Although we are very sociable, Shilla is more patient. She’s what I call a peace-maker while I get annoyed and fed up very easily,” says Sheila.

Besides, Sheila loves reading novels while Shilla says that she cannot read for leisure. “I find it ironical that someone can relate very intimately with a book while ignoring me when I’m sitting right next to her. “We constantly fight over this,” she reveals.

Their favourite dishes are pilau, mukimo and red meat. But Shilla also enjoys rice and beans and cannot stand chilli while Sheila enjoys Ethiopian cuisine, some of which is really hot. However, she does not take milk or milk products and whenever she suspects a certain dish contains milk, she asks her sister to taste it first and confirm.

The twins, who have a 13-year-old sister, Michelle Mwende, and a 12-year-old brother, George Mutai, say they found it hard to accept their sister after 10 years of enjoying undivided parental attention.

“It was a struggle for us to accept sharing our parents’ attention when Michelle came long,” acknowledges Sheila. And before they could adjust, along came their brother. “Mum and Dad told us they wanted four children. We wondered why since most of our friends came from three-children families. Anyway, before long, we were ‘forgotten,’” she says with a laugh.

But all that is in the past, and the twins have formed alliances with their younger siblings. Shilla is very close to Mwende while Sheila gets along better with George. Says Shilla: “If Michelle is in trouble, I am the person she’s likely to call first while if George is in a similar situation, he will call Sheila immediately.”

The sisters are concerned that people close to them have never given them the chance to be individuals. “They refer to us as “nyinyi (you [plural])” or “wale (them)”, especially when one of us is at fault, Sheila explains. “But if it is something positive, they will single out the person who did it. I don’t understand such people.”

Any secrets? “We don’t have any secrets,” says Sheila, “and our friends know this,” she adds with a laugh. That’s why whenever their friends share a secret with either of them, they invariably add, “Don’t tell anyone else, apart from your sister.”

Sheila has a job with a logistics company while Shilla works with a non-government organisation. But they will always find time to be together after work. They cannot imagine being separated, saying coping would be difficult.

What about marriage? Perhaps that will separate them, they acknowledge, adding that even then, they would be more comfortable living next door to each other. “This might sound outrageous, but it would give us a chance to meet and talk every day. We could never get bored of each other,” Sheila chips in.

mmwololo@nation.co.ke

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American Set to Meet Her Kenyan Granny After 28 Years

Posted by Administrator on November 5, 2009

Tremaine Chelangat and her father

Nairobi — The American woman who this week reunited with her Kenyan father after a 28-year separation prepared on Wednesday to meet the rest of her family.

“They expressed interest for me to meet the rest of the family and friends,” Ms Tramaine Chelang’at Hugie said.

Her father, Anderson Obare Atuya, has set a date for his daughter to visit Magwagwa Village in Nyamira District.

Ms Chelang’at will meet her grandmother and other relatives who, according to Mr Obare, are ecstatic about seeing their long lost daughter.

Mr Obare said that because of the excitement of the reunion on Tuesday, he did not get much sleep that night. “I received more than 100 calls… I was not able to sleep.”

Ms Chelang’at said she has received about 50 phone calls from around the world and numerous text messages and e-mails.

She says her mother, Ms Terri Lea Hugie, is equally overjoyed about the memorable reunion: “She is thrilled that I have found my father.”

Her story mirrors that of US president Barack Obama. Both their fathers are Kenyan — from Nyanza Province — who sired American children.

However, unlike the US president, Ms Chelang’at’s father is alive, making such a reunion possible.

On whether Mr Obama’s story inspired her, she said: “I would not say his story inspired me, only his book — Dreams from My Father — this was about me.”

She reconnected with her father after placing a classified advertisement in the Daily Nation on Friday.

Plans are also underway to make a short film about their reunion, Ms Chelang’at told the Nation.

Mr Obare was in the US for four years at the Baptist College in South Carolina on an athletics scholarship he secured while studying at Egoji Teachers College in Meru.

“I met Terri Hugie while on my normal races, and she was my greatest supporter,” Mr Obare said.

He acknowledged that he deserted his family.

However, Ms Chelang’at says she is not bitter with her father.

-Daily Nation

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Kenya police to get hefty pay rise

Posted by Administrator on November 5, 2009

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 5 – The final Task Force report on police reforms handed to President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday recommends a substantial pay increase for all police officers by July next year.

It recommends the lowest ranking officers in both the regular and Administration Police earn a basic salary of Sh18,000, up from the current Sh11,000 while sergeants will be paid Sh26,000 up from Sh19,000.

If implemented, Police Inspectors who currently earn Sh23,000 will take home Sh48,000. This amount excludes other benefits like house and hardship allowances among others.

The highest paid police officer who is to be called Inspector General of police will earn Sh269,000 from the current Sh127,000 basic salary for the holder of that office.

The report seen by Capital News advises President Kibaki to put in place structures that will ensure the salary increment is implemented within a period of two years, from the day it was handed over.

Sources at Harambee House told Capital News “there is immense political will to implement much of the recommendations in the report” which was prepared by a team led by Justice (Rtd) Philip Ransley.

It is estimated the salary adjustments would cost the government a whooping Sh18.9 billion annually.

The Task Force report cites low morale amongst the low enforcement officers and the harsh economic conditions both locally and internationally as some of the major reasons to justify the pay increase.

It calls for an accelerated plan to ensure all officers are housed within police stations or in houses not very far from their places of work, for purposes of efficiency and effectiveness in tackling crime.

Another major recommendation in the voluminous report is the controversial proposal to have all police officers holding ranks of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and Assistant Commandants respectively be subjected to a stringent review by the Public Service Commission.

It states that most of the officers holding such high ranks do not deserve them, as most of them were hurriedly promoted without following the due process and regulations governing promotions as set out in the Force Standing Orders of both security forces.

The report calls for the change of the Kenya Police Force into a Police Service which will be headed by an Inspector General, with a deputy and assistants to be deployed to the General Service Unit (GSU) and Kenya Police Training College in Kiganjo.

The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) which it recommends be transformed into a Directorate of Investigations, will also be headed by an Assistant Inspector General.

Currently, the CID is headed by Gatiba Karanja, a Deputy Commissioner of Police.

Justice (Rtd) Ransley recommends the AP to be headed by a Commandant General of Administration Police Service.

Source: Capital FM (Bernard Momanyi)

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Ocampo says ICC to seek Kenya probe

Posted by Administrator on November 5, 2009

The International Criminal Court prosecutor Moreno Ocampo addresses a press briefing outside Harambee House, Nairobi where he said he will request The Hague to allow him open investigations into the post election violence. He is flanked by President Kibaki (right) and Prime Minister Raila Odinga (left). Photo/STEPHEN MUDIARI

The International Criminal Court will seek to begin investigations into the Kenya post election violence, its prosecutor said on Thursday.

Mr Moreno Ocampo told a news conference at the end of a closed door meeting at Harambee House, Nairobi with Kenya principals President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga that he had explained his mandate to the leaders and how he plans to execute it.

“I have informed them that the crimes committed in Kenya are crimes against humanity and the gravity is there, therefore I should proceed,” said the prosecutor.

He said that he will request the Hague to allow him open investigations into the chaos.

“So I informed them, in December I would request to the judges of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation and that is the process established by the Rome Treaty,” he said.

Mr Ocampo added that he was “pleased to see the support of the Government of Kenya to solve the problem.”

In a joint statement with the PM, President Kibaki said the Kenya Government remains committed to cooperating with the International Criminal Court as it seeks justice for post election violence suspects.

“The government is fully committed to discharge its primary responsibility in accordance with the Rome Statue to establish a local judicial mechanism to deal with perpetrators of the post election violence,” said President Kibaki at a news conference after the meeting.

“We also remain committed to cooperate with the ICC within the framework of the Rome Statue and the International Crimes Act.”

The President described the talks with the ICC prosecutor as “frank and candid.”

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said that the government will work hard to introduce reforms to avoid a situation that will take the country back to a similar position as last year.

He said the government will cooperate with the court so that “those who bear responsibility for the post election violence are brought to justice.”

The Harambee House meeting between Mr Ocampo and the principals started shortly after 11 a.m and was attended by Attorney General Amos Wako, ministers Mutula Kilonzo (Justice), Prof George Saitoti (Internal Security), James Orengo (Lands) and Moses Wetangula (Foreign).

The post election violence that rocked the country was sparked by a disputed presidential election in 2007 that left at least 1,300 people dead and a further 650,000 uprooted from their homes. The latter were forced to live in camps, which the President ordered closed in September.

A peace deal negotiated by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan saw Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga agree to share power under a coalition government.

Source: Daily Nation

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