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Archive for February, 2010

Revealed: Plot to end Annan’s mandate

Posted by Administrator on February 28, 2010

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga signed a power sharing agreement on February 28, 2008. Photo/FILE

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga signed a power sharing agreement on February 28, 2008. Photo/FILE

Peter Leftie,

A powerful lobby within the government has hatched an elaborate plan aimed at pushing the African Union (AU) to end chief mediator Kofi Annan’s mandate in Kenya, according to well-placed sources.

The carefully calculated plan involves top government officials and Foreign Affairs people who want the AU to stop Mr Annan’s involvement in the country’s reform agenda, citing “undue intrusion”.

One of the options being explored by the architects of the plot is to push the AU to censure the former United Nations secretary-general for allegedly overstepping his mandate while overseeing Kenya’s reform process.

A consultant attached to the Cabinet Office at the Office of the President, Prof Peter Kagwanja, confirmed that the government was determined to seek the termination of Mr Annan’s mandate. Prof Kagwanja, who is also a political strategist for the Party of National Unity (PNU), told the Sunday Nation:

“Kenya is seeking, at the minimum, that the AU censures him. Their lobbying will get very good reception at the AU because members feel he overstepped his mandate on the ICC issue at a time when members are already dealing with the Sudan crisis.”

A senior official at the Foreign Affairs ministry, who cannot be quoted discussing confidential matters, confirmed that the government was determined to push Mr Annan out of the Kenyan process.

“We are going to push for an end to his engagement in Kenya because we feel he is taking it too far. He is almost micro-managing Kenya, and people like Raila (Odinga) think he is our headmaster. We can handle our own problems,” the official said.

But Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula adopted a diplomatic approach to the issue when contacted. “As far as the government is concerned, (Mr) Annan was sent here by the African Union, alongside President Mkapa and Graca Machel by the then AU chairman John Kufuor.

They were obviously inherited by the subsequent AU leadership of President (Jakaya) Kikwete. As a government we are very grateful and appreciate their efforts in ending the turmoil that rocked our country.”

He added that it was only the AU which could end Mr Annan’s mandate. “I’m in constant communication with the African Union and, as far as I know, they are yet to communicate to us any intention of disengaging Mr Annan because they are the only ones who can do so. When they do, I’m sure they will communicate the decision to us,” he said.

Mr Wetang’ula welcomed President Kibaki’s opening of the fourth session of the Tenth Parliament on February 23 when he urged Kenyans to resolve their own problems instead of turning to “outsiders” for help. This was a thinly veiled reference to recent calls by Prime Minister Raila Odinga for Mr Annan’s urgent intervention to resolve the dispute between the coalition partners.

Mr Wetang’ula added: “We must have confidence in ourselves. While we welcome Mr Annan’s assistance in the past, we should not keep on running to outsiders to help us sort out even small differences because we emerge more respectable in the eyes of the international community when we handle our own problems.”

But ODM’s second in command, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, warned that Kenya risked international isolation if it dares push for Mr Annan’s disengagement. “We should not even contemplate it. We risk burning bridges with our international friends because of that single move. Our friendship with the international community should not be one of convenience. When we were in a crisis, they came to our rescue, so we should not start rubbishing them simply because we now have relative tranquillity,” Mr Mudavadi warned. 

As a first move towards achieving their goal, the anti-Annan group pushed for Kenya to join the AU Peace and Security Council during the recent AU summit in Addis Ababa. It is from this position that they intend to lobby for Mr Annan’s censure, a move they hope will culminate in the termination of his mandate.

The new countries elected for three-year terms to the crucial AU organ include Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. Countries elected for two years include Burundi, Chad, Djibouti, Rwanda, Mauritania, Namibia, South Africa, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali.

The outgoing AU Peace and Security Council played a major role in ending the bloodbath that rocked Kenya in the aftermath of the 2007 General Election and which saw Mr Kufuor summon Mr Annan and his team of eminent personalities to mediate between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga.

But there are those within government who feel that the new AU Peace and Security Council ought to remain focused on the Kenyan situation and that the mediation panel led by Mr Annan should remain in place since there is still some distance to be covered to full implementation of the mediation agreement and entrenchment of the reforms. Part of Mr Annan’s mandate is to ensure that the reform process initiated under Agenda 4 of the National Accord is fully implemented.

The Agenda 4 reforms include establishing a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), electoral reforms and the successful prosecution of those who planned and carried out the post-election violence that left more than 1,300 people dead and thousands displaced. Those pushing for the termination of Mr Annan’s mandate argue that Kenya has stabilised and no longer needs Mr Annan’s involvement.

-Daily Nation

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The day Israeli commandos raided Nairobi

Posted by Administrator on February 28, 2010

Eleven years ago, Kurdish fugitive Abdullah Ocalan was tracked down to Kenya and captured by Mossad in a spy drama worthy of Hollywood. Photo/FILE

Eleven years ago, Kurdish fugitive Abdullah Ocalan was tracked down to Kenya and captured by Mossad in a spy drama worthy of Hollywood. Photo/FILE

By Muriithi Mutiga

The six travellers arriving at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport looked like any other tourists on safari. They were casually dressed and carried huge jungle green backpacks.

Nothing betrayed the fact that this party of five men and a woman were Mossad agents whose mission in the country would thrust Kenya into the international spotlight, expose its close ties to Israeli security services and cause a diplomatic row that saw then Foreign Affairs minister Bonaya Godana order all Kenyan embassies closed for a day.

The Israelis came to town 11 years ago this month because of the presence in Nairobi of Abdullah “Apo” Ocalan, at the time one of the world’s most wanted men.

Ocalan was a terrorist to some and a liberator in the eyes of others. He led the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which was engaged in a long struggle to secure an independent state for the Kurdish people — an oppressed minority spread across a number of countries including Turkey, Iraq and Syria.

Ocalan’s group was particularly active in Turkey, the country of his birth. Turkey blamed him for the murder of between 29,000 and 37,000 people in a 15-year campaign of violence.

A baby killer

“Wherever he goes in the world, we will pursue him,” Turkish President Suleyman Demirel had vowed. “Those who befriend him are the partners of a baby killer.”

Unfortunately, in the same fashion that Kenya found itself stuck with controversial cleric Abdullah el Faisal recently and, if US reports are to be believed, with Rwandan genocidaire Felicien Kabuga, Ocalan turned up in Nairobi after being rejected everywhere he sought asylum in Europe.

The circumstances under which he gained entry into the country remain a mystery, but suspicion falls on corrupt immigration officials. He was cleared for entry at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport despite being a wanted man in many countries around the world.

The fact he carried a rifle with him and was accompanied by armed bodyguards did not prove an obstacle to the Greek embassy officials who facilitated his entry into the country. Greecehas long had difficult relations with Turkey and has been accused of supporting the PKK.

They were reluctant to give the fugitive asylum in Greece but settled on Kenya as a hiding place where they would keep the Kurdish leader while trying to help him get asylum elsewhere. Ocalan timed his arrival in Nairobi in January 1999 poorly.

The US Embassy had been bombed only a few months earlier and, according to a New York Times report, there were more than 100 US investigators in the country. The Americans were the first to realise Ocalan was in town, just as they did recently when Sheikh Faisal turned up in Mombasa.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives tracked Ocalan to the Greek ambassador’s residence in Nairobi’s upmarket Muthaiga estate. The Americans did nothing. But there was also another team tracking Ocalan’s every move.

Secret service

The Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, was brought into the search for Ocalan in November 1998. The story of how they tracked Ocalan down in Nairobi is detailed in journalist Gordon Thomas’ history of the Israeli secret service, Gideon’s Spies.

According to the book, Israel was drawn into the saga following a phone call that Turkey’s Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit made to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, asking for help in tracking Ocalan.

Turkey, one of the few democracies in the Near East, is a key ally of Israel, and Mr Netanyahu quickly agreed to help them capture Ocalan as long as the Turkish secret services would agree to claim all credit for his arrest and keep the Mossad role secret. The then head of the Mossad Efraim Halevy was briefed by Mr Netanyahu and assigned a team of six agents for the operation.

The effort was given the codename ‘‘Watchful’’ presumably because, unlike the Mossad team which is suspected to have murdered a Hamas leader in Dubai last month, the brief for this group was merely to track Ocalan but do nothing until they were instructed otherwise.

The search began in Rome. Six agents, including two technicians (yahalomin as they are known in Mossad circles) and a bat leveyha (female agent) set up a surveillance centre near Ocalan’s apartment not far from the Vatican. The female agent’s brief was to attempt to make contact with the fugitive. But Ocalan abruptly left Italy.

Denied asylum

The team followed him frantically to Spain, Morocco, Tunisia, Syria and Portugal where Ocalan kept turning up and leaving as fast as he had arrived after being denied asylum. A breakthrough came when a Dutch official told the Mossad chief in Amsterdam that Ocalan had taken a KLM flight to Nairobi.

On February 5, 1999, the ‘‘Watchful’’ team arrived at JKIA. They were in friendly territory. The Mossad and Kenya’s National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) and its forerunner, the Special Branch, have always had a special relationship.

Mossad routinely shares intelligence information with Kenya as part of what the book calls an “understanding” between the two countries. Mossad is also allowed to operate a safe house in Nairobi and to work closely with the NSIS.

The Mossad team tracked down Ocalan to the Greek ambassador’s residence, presumably after sharing intelligence with the Americans.

Constant surveillance

They kept the house under constant surveillance before a call from Mossad head Halevy changed everything. He ordered the team to capture Ocalan as soon as possible. The team decided to infiltrate Ocalan’s security team by tracking down one of Ocalan’s bodyguards while he was having a drink near the Norfolk Hotel.

One of the agents approached him and spoke to him in fluent Kurdish to win his trust. The pair established a rapport and Ocalan’s bodyguard told the agent that Ocalan was increasingly uneasy because all his applications for asylum, including the most recent one to South Africa, had been rejected. The Mossad agents already knew this because they were intercepting all communication from the Greek embassy in Nairobi.

A few days later, the agent who had made friends with the Ocalan bodyguard was instructed to meet him and relay a message that his (Ocalan’s) life was in danger and he should leave the ambassador’s residence immediately. The pair of ‘‘Kurds’’ agreed that the best option was to smuggle Ocalan to the mountainous Kurdish region in the north of Iraq, where it would be difficult to capture Ocalan.

Phone calls

The Israeli made this suggestion because the intercepted phone calls at the embassy had indicated this as an option Ocalan was considering. When the deal was sealed to smuggle Ocalan out of the embassy, his days as a (relatively) free man were numbered.

On February 14, 1999, a Falcon-900 executive jet arrived at Wilson Airport. The pilot indicated he had come to pick up a group of businessmen in Nairobi. Later that afternoon, a team of NSIS operatives and Mossad agents went to the Greek ambassador’s house and surrounded it. They knew Ocalan had packed up to leave for northern Iraq.

But, according to a senior NSIS official with knowledge of the operation who spoke to the Sunday Nation on condition of anonymity, they did not wait for Ocalan to make his way out of the compound. They burst into the residence, arrested him and whisked him off to Wilson Airport.

There, Ocalan was blindfolded, his fingerprints taken and faxed to authorities in the Israeli capital Tel Aviv and Ankara, Turkey. The drama was only beginning. Kenyan authorities had agreed to cooperate on the capture of Ocalan apparently without understanding the diplomatic crisis his arrest would trigger.

Over 12 million Kurds, among whom Ocalan enjoys almost messianic status, were outraged. Kenyan embassies in Europe were quickly surrounded by protesting mobs. Two officials at the Kenyan Embassy in Paris were kidnapped and later released. Three protesters were shot dead in the chaos.

The situation was not helped when Ocalan, apparently unaware of Mossad’s role in his capture, placed the blame squarely on Kenyan authorities. With the crisis getting out of control, Dr Godana issued an order shutting down all Kenya’s 34 embassies abroad.

Then the questions began. How had Kenya allowed Ocalan into its territory? Had money changed hands between the agencies which helped to capture Ocalan and Kenyan authorities? A report by the French news agency AFP alleged Dr Godana, appreciating the possible consequences of Ocalan’s capture, had opposed the decision to authorise his capture but had been overruled by President Moi.

Greece was equally embarrassed. It was quick to distance itself from the arrest of Ocalan, saying it had no role in handing him over to his captors. Facing hostile questioning from Kenyan authorities, George Costoulas, the country’s ambassador at the time, retreated to the country’s embassy on the 13th floor of Nation Centre and did not leave for three days.

Kenya demanded that he be recalled to Greece. On Wednesday, February 16, a senior Greeke government official Pavlos Apostolidis arrived in the country to apologise. He said the country had referred Ocalan to Kenya because they thought the “situation in Kenya was better… In the final analysis our decision to send Ocalan to Kenya did as much harm to Greece as it would have done if he had been in Greece.”

Celebration

As expected, the mood in Turkey was one of celebration. Prime Minister Costas Simitis, in keeping with his agreement with Mr Netanyahu, claimed credit for the capture and thanked the Turkish security forces. Turkish newspapers lavished praise on their security forces and published detailed accounts of what they thought had happened.

“When a Turkish officer grabbed his wrist and said ‘You’ve come to the end of the road, we are going to Turkey, Apo froze in horror,” reported the Sabah daily. Details of Mossad’s role would only emerge later. But Ocalan is unlikely to leave the remote Turkish island prison where he is serving his life sentence any time soon. 

mmutiga@ke.nationmedia.com

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Kenya sued in UK over Sh121m deal

Posted by Administrator on February 28, 2010

Gitau wa Njenga

A Kenyan lawyer based in the United Kingdom has become the first person to sue a Commonwealth country in a British court.

Mr Ronald Onyango, 36, enjoined the Republic of Kenya and the Kenya High Commission in London in a suit over Sh121 million (£1 million) allegedly owed to him.

Mr Onyango set the legal precedent after the UK High Court ordered that Kenya be named the second defendant in a civil suit he had brought against the High Commission in London on May 28, 2009. The mission is named as the first defendant.

The lawyer accuses the High Commission of breaching a contract for legal consultancy services, according to court documents made available to the Nation.

During the hearing of the case before Mr Justice Holman at the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division in Manchester on Friday, the proceedings were halted as intense legal arguments ensued over the identity of the defendant – the Kenya High Commission.

Mr Sebastian Clegg, counsel for the Republic of Kenya, argued that the Kenyan mission was “just a building” and therefore could not be sued despite having entered into legal contracts with Mr Onyango and other third parties.

Mr Clegg submitted that Mr Onyango’s claim be struck off because the High Commission was not a legal entity and for the purposes of bringing the civil action could not be sued.

Privileges

The counsel further submitted that the Kenyan mission enjoyed privileges under the State Immunity Act 1978.

Responding, Mr Simon Hilton, appearing for Mr Onyango, said the mission had entered into commercial contracts with external suppliers and was responsible for honouring any legally bidding contracts.

Mr Justice Holman, in his ruling, termed Mr Clegg’s submissions as “utter nonsense”.

The defendant’s application for injunction will be heard on Thursday this week.

-Daily Nation

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Man Who Killed Former Girlfriend’s Daughter to Die

Posted by Administrator on February 27, 2010

Nairobi — A man who killed a seven-year-old girl after being denied sex by her mother has been sentenced to death.

John Irungu Macharia lost his last chance to save his life when three judges rejected his appeal and upheld the death sentence that had been imposed by Mr Justice Muga Apondi on January 22, 2008.

The jilted lover differed with Catherine Njeri’s mother, Ms Elizabeth Nyawira, a day before he picked up the girl from school, then killed her on March 11, 2005, in Nairobi. His sexual advances had been turned down.

“It is obvious he killed her to punish the mother,” ruled Mr Justice Erastus Githinji, Mr Justice Philip Waki, and Mr Justice Alnashir Visram. “A week later her body was found floating in sewage with broken legs and missing upper teeth. “She was still in her school uniform,” they noted.

Ms Nyawira and the convict had an affair which blossomed between August, 2003, and October 24, 2004, when he attempted to commit suicide. The judges said the appellant visited his former girlfriend on March 10, 2005, and insisted that he sleep in Ms Nyawira’s house.

She refused. When she rejected his advances, he assaulted her in the presence of her cousin, Ms Jane Wanjiku, and her daughter.

He only left after he was told that a security guard would be called to eject him. Ms Nyawira dropped her daughter at school and the convict later picked up the Standard One pupil. That was the last time she was seen alive.

Efforts by her mother, school authorities, and the police to trace her did not yield any results until a local TV station announced that the body of a school girl had been found in a sewer in Pangani.

Daily Nation

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My enemies should shut their loud mouths!

Posted by Administrator on February 26, 2010

On a serious note with BMJ Muriithi

Life in the United States can be humbling. Before I came here, I had heard all manner of tell-tales.

An enemy of mine, who I now believe had a ulterior motive and really wanted me to leave Kenya, told me that contrary to what I used to see on TV, streets in the US are paved in gold and green bucks grow on trees.

He went on to tell me that as soon as I landed at the airport, some Americans would be waiting for me with my keys to a free brand new car after which they would usher me into my new apartment in which I would live happily thereafter.

I would have believed him, but something urged me not to. First of all, I am not so daft to believe that kind of nonsense.

Second of all, other than having a loud mouth and know-it-all attitude, this enemy of mine didn’t have much going for him. As far as I know, the poor fellow has spent all his life in Kanyuambora. Not that there is anything wrong with Kanyuambora.

But when a man is born and raised in Kanyuambora village, goes to Kanyuambora primary school and is thereafter admitted at the neighboring Kanyuambora Mixed Secondary School after which he takes a carpentry course at the adjacent Kanyuambora intermediate College, then you need to think twice when he, all of a sudden, becomes an expert on matters related to the land of the free.

Anyhow, I ended up in the United States and came face to face with the reality of Bushland (George W. Bush was the president at the time). It didn’t take me long to realize that this was not my idea of a nice place.

The big chasm between reality and fantasy was unfolding right in front of my eyes. I worked all manner of jobs, applied for admission at many colleges, applied for a number of credit cards, ran a number of red lights and ended up in court.

There were no Makutis to go to for Nyama choma and moja ya baridi, people were cold and smiles were few and far between. I missed my life in Kanyuambora more than ever before. The society was nothing close to the one I had been accustomed to in Kanyuambora.

But it was not all gloom as there was another side of the life here that I loved and still do; the society is fairly classless and nobody really cares about what you do – or don’t do, what you drive, etc., as long as the dollars keep coming. And that would have remained the case had I not developed some new enemies in the new land.

You see, I was naïve to think that I had left all the loud mouths in Kenya. As a matter of fact, it turned out that some of the loudest Kenyan mouths live here. And had this particular enemy done the right thing and kept his big mouth shut, I would not be boring you with this. But obviously, he did not and therefore, you have to read on. But not before you promise me that you can keep a secret.

You see, I recently received a disturbing phone call from a village clan elder named Mbiti (whose name literally means Hyena) who said that someone who lives here in Atlanta has been calling home (Kanyuambora ) and spreading extremely malicious rumors about me.

He has been telling all who care to listen that since I came to the land of Obama, I have become a totally different person and an embarrassment to our clan.

“We are very embarrassed after hearing what you have done”, he said and added, “we hear that your wife is the one who wears trousers nowadays and that you have been relegated to the kitchen. We hear that you are the one who does the cooking nowadays. What a shame? Those are not our ways. Those are not the virtues we taught you”, he said faintly.

The old man sounded disturbed. But how I wish he could understand me. You see, owing to the realization of how hectic life can get here, coupled with the fact that it is next to impossible to afford a technical assistant (house girl or house boy), my wife suggested that I should every so often help with cooking and doing other chores.

I agreed on condition that the arrangement did not leave the four walls of my house. I made her swear that my kinsmen in Kanyuambora would not get a whiff of it.

You see, I summoned my wife-to-be into my simba one evening and made it crystal clear that there were some things she would have to put up with should she decide to get married to me.

The Kitchen issue featured prominently in our conversation. I told her as clearly as I could that as a man from Kanyuambora, I would be shaming my clan if I behaved in a manner likely to suggest that the kitchen was my domain. I explained that I belonged to a clan that was not known to encourage the behavior.

I told her that my people consider it bad manners for a man to be hovering around the kitchen especially with the intention of doing chores therein. My wife-to-be just sat there, staring blankly at me. I did not know whether she understood what I had just said and I therefore went on to clarify further. “You see”, I said, “I am a descendant of a long line of ancestors who never condoned a man’s activity in the kitchen”. I told her a true story about my late grandfather who had divorced his aging first wife simply because she had asked him to get into the kitchen and help her get her huge milk gourd onto her back.

But even as I told her those stories, I knew at the back of my mind that she would say yes to anything I said at the time. You see, when a woman is truly in love with a man, she can do anything to make him happy. So I went on to spell out all the dos and don’ts, Key among them being the issue of exempting me from kitchen-related activities. It was not until she agreed to the arrangement that I agreed to take a beehive full of live bees as bride price to her people.

And we would have lived that way happily ever after until we came to the US where the matrix changed. And I would have live with our little secret until my enemies got wind of it and started tarnishing my name right, left and center. But I take consolation in the fact that I am not alone in this predicament. Almost all my men friends here have confessed that the frequency with which they are burning their fingers kitchen is worrying. In the meantime, I have launched a manhunt to try and identify those “friends” of mine who come to my house to “spy” on me. Thanks to them, I am now the talk of the village albeit in absentia.

 -Kimmediagroup.com

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Alarm over rise in Kenya drugging cases

Posted by Administrator on February 26, 2010

A lady is assisted by the public in Nairobi on February 2, 2010 after she was found unconscious and seemingly drugged by unknown persons. Criminals have been known to drug their victims before robbing them. Photo/JAMES NJUGUNA

A lady is assisted by the public in Nairobi on February 2, 2010 after she was found unconscious and seemingly drugged by unknown persons. Criminals have been known to drug their victims before robbing them. Photo/JAMES NJUGUNA

By GATONYE GATHURA

Next time you find your drink has suddenly developed a strong uncharacteristic flavour, do not drink it. Somebody could be trying to drug you — a crime that is on the rise in many social places.

While local criminals have been known to drug their victims before robbing them, in other countries, the drugs are used on date rape victims.

Some of these drugs, such as ketamine, are manufactured for medical use but fall into the hands of criminals. Ketamine has hypnotic (sleep producing), analgesic (pain relieving), and amnesic (short term memory loss) effects, making it the drug of choice for criminals.

The use of drugs in crime has become so widespread that it forms the central theme of the International Narcotics Control Board’s annual report released on Wednesday.

The board has asked the pharmaceutical industry to develop formulations with safety features, such as dyes and flavourings, to alert possible victims to the contamination of their drinks or food.

“What is alarming is the unscrupulous way in which those drugs are used on unwitting victims. The drugs, which are usually disguised in food or drinks, are introduced in dosages that are significantly higher than the dosages used for therapeutic purposes — a practice which entails serious health risks for the victims,” says the board.

If the board gets its way, drug makers could introduce a brightly coloured dye that would alert a consumer of possible contamination or alternatively introduce a foul flavour for the same purpose.

Justifying the added cost to manufacturers, the narcotics board said the use of drugs in crime activities was reaching alarming levels.

Drugging had been associated with the sex trade, socialising in bars, and long distance travellers until about two years ago when reports of people made to empty their bank accounts and give away their cars without any recollection started to emerge.

The board singled out a family of chemicals called benzodiazepines. “Victims have been known to make purchases, sign cheques, charge credit cards, give away a motor vehicle (along with the key and registration papers), and even perceive being raped as a pleasurable experience.”

Daily Nation

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Who Killed Lilian? Why the Government Must Concentrate Resources on Reproductive Health

Posted by Administrator on February 26, 2010

Opinion

Lillian Musomi, 17 years of age, was a victim of early pregnancy. She was impregnated by a young teenage guy of the same age. As the boy could not support her he was forced to drop Lillian and deny the pregnancy.

Lillian was raised by a sick, single mother who suffers from hypertension and is always bedridden. Born in a family of six Lillian were the first born and a primary school class eight dropout.

Lillian was unable to pursue her secondary education even though she had performed well in her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) she had managed to score 289 points out of 500. Due to poverty, Lillian’s mother could not raise money to enroll her in form one.

Lillian’s mother’s health worsened, which forced Lillian to work as a house maid so that she could assist her younger siblings and also get money to pay rent of the small shack they lived in, in Kiamaiko village.

Lillian was also a founder member of Kiamaiko Young Women, an organization based in Kiamaiko working with young girls and women in sensitizing young women on their reproductive health rights. During the time Lillian was in the group, she remained active and devoted herself to the group work and helped the group in translating Martin Luther King Jnr’s speech ‘I have a dream’ into Abaluhya. After Barrack Obama became the first back American president the script was played in a local FM station that airs in Abaluhya language. But she ceased from attending group meetings when she started working in order to support her sick mother.

As Lillian’s mother has told the story: Lillian decided to be attended by a mid wife when she was in labour. When we asked why, her mum told us that she had not enough money to go to a maternity clinic. A midwife in Kiamaiko village charges seven hundred shillings, while a hospital like Pumwani, which is a government institution, charges 3500 shillings for a normal delivery.

After struggling so much in labour nothing positive was realised. Lillian lost energy and could not breathe which made it difficult for her to push the baby out, she had been asthmatic. The midwife advised her mother to rush her to the hospital so she could get proper medical attention.

Lillian was rushed to one of the many local private hospitals that have mushroomed in response to the crisis in public sector. Most of them are owned by doctors and other medical staff working in the public sector and they have created a game of chances because many of these private clinics in Kiamaiko do not have necessary facilities in cases of emergences like Lillian’s.

Lillian and her unborn baby died in Sister Lucy Nursing Home in Huruma. The hospital had no capacity to attend to her as they had no theatre services.

Kiamaiko Young Women and Bunge la Mwananchi women’s movement and Mathare Mums live in memory of Lillian, a young promising sister who could have had a brighter future if she had an opportunity to pursue her education. We feel it’s not morally right, neither is it acceptable that mothers should die while giving life. For how long will a grassroots woman continue to be penalised for doing what is natural to womanhood. We feel it is offensive that our government can find 40 million of taxpayers’ money to take somebody like Al Faisal, who was disowned by other countries, back to Jamaica instead of providing for citizens, especially women who badly need reproductive health services. We fail to believe that it’s due to lack of resources, but it’s because of lack of people friendly priorities that women continue to die and continue to be detained in governments hospitals. Lillian’s case is one of the alarming cases in Mathare and Kiamaiko of women who continue to die while giving birth or as a result of pregnancy complications. Many of these deaths are preventable if correct measures are taken and services brought closer to the people.

This report is written by Ruth Mumbi of Kiamaiko Young Women and of Bunge la Mwananchi. It was approved by Victoria Atieno from Mathare Mums.

-Pambazuka

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Gays in Kenya: Not safe to come out

Posted by Administrator on February 26, 2010

Jody Clarke,

Kenya’s first same-sex wedding has brought gay rights out of the closet. But many think it needs to get right back inside. Jody Clarke reports from Nairobi

‘Are you looking for the second floor?” the security guard asks. But he already knows what the answer is. Why else would someone drive 15 minutes from the centre of Nairobi to an unmarked warehouse surrounded by spare car-part dealers and junk merchants? I am ushered up four flights of stairs and through a security door. It’s white and featureless and gives no clue as to what is inside.

It’s no spy organisation, no home to international arms traders or drug traffickers. This is the headquarters of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (Galck). And, given recent events, the level of obscurity isn’t all that difficult to fathom.

Two weeks ago Kenya’s first gay wedding provoked mass unrest in the seaside town of Mtwapa. Christian and Muslim leaders united in their opposition, with an angry mob taking to the street under the banner “Operation gays out”. Three people, known to locals as “notorious gays”, had to be rescued by police just outside the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), where services are offered to more than 400 male and female sex workers, including those who are gay. Several people were also arrested, including employees of Kemri.

Poring over the details of this event and others like it, you’d think Solomon Wambua, the head of Galck, would be weighed down with worry. But sitting at his desk, the 28-year-old doesn’t seem overly concerned. Yes, gays still suffer from intimidation and attacks in Kenya. But, in advancing gay rights in the country, these tribulations are inevitable.

Wambua isn’t your typical gay Kenyan. In a country where gays are often forced into sham marriages to avoid public humiliation, he actually came out to his parents. At first they didn’t take it well.

“I asked my mum: if you knew I was gay, would you have paid my school fees? She said no. We didn’t speak for three months. Then slowly she came around. She still can’t tolerate it but now we talk, although about other issues.”

Most aren’t so broadminded. “I hate them,” says one man, leaning out the window of his 10-year-old Toyota Corolla. “It’s no wonder they hide, otherwise they would be beaten. If my son was gay, he would be my enemy for life.” As a Christian, does he not think this is at odds with the tenets of love and understanding inherent in the faith? He shrugs and defiantly flips his palms skywards. “It’s just not in our culture.”

“The whole notion of homosexuality is considered unAfrican,” says Maurice, a 24-year-old gay Kenyan who asked that his surname not be used. He hasn’t come out to his parents; he doesn’t want to risk becoming an outcast. And while there are no openly gay bars in Nairobi, the city is far more tolerant than the rest of the country. “There is one club in town where the balcony is specifically for the gay community. Other nights, such as Sundays, are specifically aimed at gays.”

Flaunting your sexuality is frowned upon here. Gays are regularly beaten and male sex workers are harassed for bribes by council officials, according to Galck. This makes its work quite difficult.

While Kenyan law does not criminalise being gay itself, it does criminalise sexual acts between men. Health information on gay sex cannot be openly distributed; groups would be accused of aiding a felony if they did, leaving many in the community unaware of serious health risks. According to a study by the National Aids Control Council, 35% of gay sex workers did not know that HIV could be transmitted during anal intercourse.

The picture is less bright in neighbouring countries. Three weeks ago a man was arrested in Malawi for hanging gay rights posters in the capital, Blantyre, and Agence France-Presse reported this week that Malawi’s constitutional court refused to hear the case of a gay couple arrested for “gross indecency” after holding the country’s first public same-sex wedding. Meanwhile, the Ugandan parliament is set to debate a controversial anti-homosexuality Bill that proposes the death penalty for men caught having sex with other men. The proposed law has been sharply criticised by the international community, with US President Barack Obama describing it as “odious”.

Still, there are signs of hope, although they are tentative at best. In October two Kenyan men became civil partners in the United Kingdom under the country’s Civil Partnership Act, raising public debate about homosexuality in Kenya. Anti-privacy laws prevent police from entering your house, so that means most of Kenya’s gay community can avoid conviction, as long as they stay out of the public eye.

Says Wambua: “If you don’t dump your trash on someone else’s yard, you can do as you please.”

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address: http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-02-26-not-safe-to-come-out

Posted in Analysis and Opinion | 1 Comment »

Is Kenya heading for a meltdown?

Posted by Administrator on February 26, 2010

 

By Jody Clarke

Barely two years after an election that left 1 500 people dead, Kenya is still on a dangerous road, say some analysts.

Last week a corruption scandal threatened to bring down the country’s unity government, after President Mwai Kibaki overturned a decision by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to suspend two ministers suspected of corruption. It took until Tuesday for the two leaders to finally meet.

However, even if the two men are intent on ironing out their differences, Kenya still faces enormous problems.

The country is young and educated, but youth unemployment constitutes 78% of total unemployment. If you want a job, say many school leavers, “you have to bribe someone first”. The problem is so bad that there is a significant risk the country will become a failed state, warned Transparency International’s Kenya chief in a recent interview.

“There are no investors willing to invest in the economy because it is structured on corruption,” said Job Ogonda, citing Liberia and Sierra Leone as examples of where this has happened before.

“Getting jobs is based on corruption and because of that people feel alienated.”

According to Ogonda, young people are increasingly turning to violence as the only means to further themselves, adding that the country is likely to face a meltdown in 2012. He points towards the controversial Mungiki sect, which has a stranglehold on the transport sector, and other groups who extort money to finance themselves.

“There isn’t a middle-class neighbourhood in the country where people aren’t forced to pay for security. You pay for it when you move into your house, then you pay a monthly fee and when you’re moving out you pay again. Otherwise, they won’t allow you to.”

Corruption is an ongoing problem in Kenya, which was once regarded as a beacon of stability for all of East Africa. For example, according to one NGO, the government has failed to build a proper water supply infrastructure in the country because government-connected companies make money selling water to people in drought-hit areas or poorly served slums.

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address: http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-02-26-is-kenya-heading-for-a-meltdown

Posted in Analysis and Opinion | Comments Off on Is Kenya heading for a meltdown?

Kenyan exotic dancer suspected of spreading HIV intentionally in Finland

Posted by Administrator on February 26, 2010

Judith Omondi-Mäkelä.the exotic dancer who is suspected of intentionally spreading the HIV virus

Judith Omondi-Mäkelä.the exotic dancer who is suspected of intentionally spreading the HIV virus

More men have come forward as possible victims of an exotic dancer who police suspect deliberately tried to spread HIV. Her picture and name have been publicized in an effort to find others who may have had sex with her.

Police are investigating Tampere resident Judith Omondi-Mäkelä for aggravated assault, believing she had sex with men in order to give them HIV. She has also gone by the name Rachel.

Before the police went public with her identity, they had already located seven men who had been in sexual contact with the suspect. Police inspector Antti Heijari says that at least one of them has been diagnosed positive for HIV.

Omondi-Mäkelä consented to having her picture released, in hopes that her other possible sex partners might have themselves tested for HIV.

According to investigations, Omondi-Mäkelä has probably had numerous partners, not all of whose identities remain unknown to authorities. Most of those who have been identified met the suspect in connection with Tampere night life.

Posted in Diaspora News | 6 Comments »

 
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