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Archive for September 9th, 2010

Child of two worlds

Posted by Administrator on September 9, 2010

Koki Muli with her husband

Koki Muli with her husband

By Billy Muiruri-Daily Nation

What does it feel like to give birth to two children in your own country but they have to live with you on an immigration permit? Once the permit expires, you have to renew it as fast as possible, lest they be deported to “their country”.

Your husband is not spared either. He lives in your country on a similar permit. This is the dilemma Kenyan women who have a foreign spouse have had to contend with — They have had to live with their families in their own countries at the mercy of immigration conditions.

With more and more Kenyan women marrying foreigners, it had become a daunting task to manage this kind of arrangement when the relationship reached the level of settling down and starting a family.

But the new law on citizenship has swept all this agony under the carpet.  Kenyan women are now able to pass their citizenship to their children thus discarding the tag that the children are “foreigners”.

We talked to a few women who are married to non-Kenyans and discovered why they are still in a celebratory mood, a week after the new laws were promulgated.

Koki Mulli

For this charismatic women’s rights crusader, the new laws were long overdue. For 14 years, Koki has been married to Dr Francois Grignon, a Frenchman she met while both were studying at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

Together they have two children aged 10 and 8, both born  in  Kenya.
According to the old constitution, her children could only be French as she could not pass her citizenship to them.

Her husband, in the same vein, could not acquire Kenyan citizenship even though they are legally married.
But the situation could have been different had husband been the one who was Kenyan and she French.

The just discarded law allowed children of a Kenyan father and a foreign mother be recognised as Kenyans but not the other way round.
The new constitution has, therefore, come as a major reprieve.

Now, her children and husband will acquire Kenyan citizenships, meaning all the hustles she had to undergo for living and travelling with them outside the country are now over.

“It is a great relief to me. It pained me that the law was treating my children as outsiders. Sometimes I felt very bitter about it, “ says Koki, a renown women’s rights advocate.

Koki’s nightmare as “a mother of foreign children” would start immediately  she was set to travel outside the country. “The children and their father would queue in the queue reserved for Europeans while she had to line up on the “All Others” queue.

“They would be sorted out faster than I and had to wait for me for even an hour and they would be very fatigued by the time I finished the screening,” she says.

Every time the family travelled, the children asked her why she was never with them when the documents are checked. “It was traumatising as it was difficult to explain to them about the constitutional provisions,” she says.

“The French government itself invited me to apply for citizenship which would have meant me relinquishing my Kenyan identity,” she says. Had she yielded, her travel and lifestyle would have been smoother but only if she relocated to France. 

But Koki was not willing to drop her Kenyan citizenship. “There is that something that makes one proud to belong to your country of birth. I could not let it go,” she says.

And when she was involved in extensive civic education in seven districts in her native lower Eastern Kenya, Koki falls short of admitting that she was very keen for the Yes vote to carry the day.

“I was not supposed to be partisan but on many occasions, 98 per cent of my time was spent on enumerating all the reasons why the proposed law was good.  

“We are human, and faced by such situation which touches you personally, many people would do the same,” she adds. The citizenship clauses that start on Article 14, she says, will fundamentally change her life and that of the entire family.

When Saturday Magazine interviewed her early this week, she was very optimistic of a New Kenya.
“ I now feel I belong to the world. It is a breakthrough for women.

They can now relate freely with people from across borders,” she says. She also expresses her optimism about investing in both countries without worrying about legal hurdles.

“It was like there were two families – The French one and the Kenyan one. Now we are one and we shall move fast in that direction,” she says.

Saida Ali

Equally elated by the citizenship clauses is this young mother of one.  Only married for a couple of years to a Briton, Saida’s brush with the law came as soon as she gave birth early last year.

It took three months of unnerving visits to Sheria House in the company of her husband for the little baby to get a birth certificate. “There was a lot of comments that bordered on racism from the staff and I think everyone wanted to make each step more difficult,” she says of her experience under the old law.

“It took quite some defiance from me to make things happen. I needed the birth certificate for other documentations and  we had to explain our case to very senior officers,” she reveals.

The problem was that the baby’s third name was not local. Although the father’s name was finally accepted on the certificate, Saida’s pain mainly emanated from having to explain that the child was Kenyan and deserved be treated like other Kenyan children.

Another of Saida’s challenge would arise in April this year when she had to go to Canada to attend a board meeting of the Association of Women Rights in Development where she is an elected member.

“My husband had to give me a letter to allow me to travel with the child. It is demeaning for women to be subjected to this. It has a lot to do with gender discrimination that our old law inherited from colonialists,” she charges.

For her, the new reprieve the law gives her family is “very personal and emotive”. “I am passionate about this new law. It  will change life for many women,`” says the founder and chairperson of the board of trustees of the Young Women Leadership Institute.

Due to the old law, the couple had to set up to two homes, one on Kenya and another in Britain, because as it were, “We could not really have one home in either country and be home and dry”, she says.

As a country opening up to the world, Saida says it was archaic for the old law to restrict citizens from engaging in whatever productive manner with people from any nationality. “It is a big score for women in relationships with non-Kenyans, “ she says.

Different game for state officers

ODM Nominated MP Millie Odhiambo-Mabona is in her fifth year of marriage to Magugu Mabona, a Zimbabwean. 

Although she can pass the Kenyan citizenship to a child out of this marriage, she herself cannot acquire Zimbabwean citizenship even if the country allows it — She is a state officer.

The same case applies to Kathiani MP Wavinya Ndeti who is married to a Nigerian. Both husbands being non Kenyans, they can now acquire Kenyan citizenship on application. But like Millie, Wavinya, an Assistant Minister, cannot acquire the citizenship of her husband.

But that is not stealing the thunder of the gains Millie says are bestowed on women in the new constitution. The new law bars state officers from having dual citizenship. In addition to MPs and Ministers, state officers according to Article 260 include judges and magistrates, governors and senators, heads of security arms, President and his deputy, head of public service and cabinet secretary.

Her immediate reprieve is that her days of being married to a “tourist husband” are over. “It is not funny that you can only have the man in your life for a restricted period of time. An ideal couple should be together as  much as possible,” says the MP.

Her husband, a hotelier in Harare, often makes journeys to the country and as Millie puts it, it has cost implications. With the new law, Mr Mabona will quickly apply for Kenyan citizenship. We shall now be able to stay longer together and plan our lives,” she says.

Although the couple does not have children, Millie says her five-year marriage just got an instant boost. “It can only get better for me and other women in similar relationships,” she quips.

bmuiruri@ke.nationmedia.com

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Five signs you are going to cheat

Posted by Administrator on September 9, 2010

By LILIAN KITHIA

Infidelity is like an epidemic that has infected many committed men and women across the world. As a result, so much has been written on the topic including such pieces as, ‘Tell tale signs that your man is cheating’ and ‘How to catch a cheating spouse’ – all these done in an effort to ensure that innocent men and women do not get fooled by their cheating partners.

One truth about it however, is that, except for the very insensitive and completely selfish philandering blokes, cheating is never a random act. Cliché as this may sound, one thing always leads to another and then before he or she knows it, a committed man or woman finds him or herself stuck in a compromising situation.

But just as it is possible to spot a cheating spouse from the vibe they give off, it is equally possible to know that you are going to cheat on your partner long before you do.  

Here are five signs to look out for:

1. You feel lonely or trapped: For most committed people, the process towards cheating always begins with a feeling of being completely ensnared and lonely.  You feel alone and you’re not even sure how it happened. One moment you were happy with your relationship, the next you feel trapped or lost.

If you’re feeling trapped, like any trapped animal, you are likely to resent your lack of freedom and are anxious to return to the wild. If you’re feeling lonely either because your partner is not paying attention to your emotional needs or is himself cheating on you, it is only a matter of time before you cheat.

2. You are suddenly forgiving of your cheating friends: One time you hated people who cheat, but now, rather than condemning your buddies for cheating on their partners, you find reasons to empathise.

Sure, your best friend might be having an affair, but his girlfriend had it coming to her for putting on 10 kilos.
So what if she was pregnant? You share your friend’s motivations and find yourself able to rationalise even their most caveman-like behaviour. The moment you start to think ‘it’s okay’ you could be heading towards your own affair.

3.You keep your girlfriend/boyfriend a secret: You used to talk about your partner all the time and whenever you met someone who showed signs of being even remotely attracted to you, you found a way to sneak your partner’s name into the conversation; but now, when speaking with other men/women, you find yourself concealing the fact you are in a relationship, even lying about the existence of your better half.

You enjoy receiving attention from other people and are reluctant to bring the conversation to a halt by admitting that you are spoken for. If you want to be seen as single and available, you are definitely looking for an affair.

 4.You develop a close relationship with another person: You find yourself seeking out a sympathetic friend and telling him or her all about your crumbling relationship.

Soon, you’re texting your friend more often than your partner and even spending more time with them than you do with your better half.
It’s only a matter of time before you start checking him/her out and wondering what their lips taste like.

Be forewarned: Most emotional affairs like these are only one crying session and a couple of tequilas away from becoming a full-fledged physical fling.

 5.You lie and give excuses and stories about things that don’t really matter: You never leave the house without an alibi. You spent an innocent afternoon with your newfound friend but you lie about spending it elsewhere even when there’s nothing going on between you two.

You lie to your partner that spouses were not invited to the office party just because you wanted to go alone and soon every night of the week turns into girls’ night out.

You haven’t done anything yet, but you’re clearly preparing yourself for the day when you do.
But before you embark on cheating, remember that any relationship worth saving can be saved through open and honest communication.

Talk to your partner about your relationship needs instead of looking for a solution outside the relationship because affairs, however tempting they may be, have the potential to blow up in your face. Your relationship may survive it, but once trust has been lost, it can never fully be regained.

Daily Nation

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Govt: 2012 politics threat to Kenya’s new law

Posted by Administrator on September 9, 2010

By WALTER MENYA

The succession politics of 2012 and the high expectations among Kenyans may hinder the effective implementation of the new Constitution, the government has said.

“Many politicians will consider the new Constitution good or bad depending on its impact on their 2012 political ambitions,” the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Secretary Gichira Kibaara told a symposium Thursday.

“They are likely to be tempted to include in proposed legislations provisions that favour their ambitions and resist those that would give advantage to their opponents.”

The country goes to polls under the new Constitution in 2012 with politicians already positioning themselves for the Kibaki succession.

This has led to talk of camps such as the KKK alliance that revolves around Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Higher Education minister William Ruto.

Mr Kibaara cautioned institutions and individuals who will be tasked with the implementation process to expect even more challenges along the way.

Creating the regional governments has been identified as the one that would face severest test as politicians go out in such of votes.

He said the government was working round the clock to bring all the stakeholders together so that these challenges can be addressed at the drafting stage of the new bills.

The symposium that ends Friday is organised by the Society for International Development to explore ideas on implementing the new Constitution.

According to Mr Kibaara, the challenges that could impede the process of getting the new order in place would also stem from resistance to change especially within the bureaucracy and those who voted against the new Constitution at the August 4 referendum.

“It will be naïve to assume that those who opposed the new Constitution on the basis of personal and group interests will give up their positions overnight. We all have to work extra hard to overcome these interests,” he said.

Other impediments the Ministry of Justice expects stem from religious intolerance, inadequate capacity locally, political patronage and culture of bad governance entrenched in the Executive and Legislature.

Source: Daily Nation

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