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Archive for October 20th, 2010

Suffering without bitterness: Kenyatta’s prison letters

Posted by Administrator on October 20, 2010

By Kamau Mutunga

This is the first Kenyatta Day that is not Kenyatta Day. It is also, courtesy of the new Constitution, the first Mashujaa Day, set aside to honour the heroes who fought for Kenya’s independence.

But it would never have been Kenyatta Day in the first place had plans to murder the future president while in prison succeeded. Kenyatta, whom London’s Daily Telegraph had ignorantly described as a “small-scale African Hitler”, was arrested together with Fred Kubai, Kung’u Karumba, Achieng’ Oneko, Bildad Kaggia and Paul Ngei under what was called “Operation Jock Stock” on October 20, 1952.

It was the same year that Elizabeth Alexandra Mary learnt she would be England’s Queen Elizabeth II while on a holiday in Kenya.

Kenyatta & Co are famously known as the “Kapenguria Six”, and Judge Ransley Thacker, who tried them, received a £20,000 (Sh2.8 million at current exchange rates) bribe from the colonial government to ensure they were imprisoned, according to Imperial Reckoning by Harvard historian Caroline Elkins.

In a trial that had no jurors, Judge Thacker found them guilty of jointly managing the Mau Mau, a proscribed society that had “conspired to murder all white residents of Kenya.”

“You have persuaded them in secret to murder, burn and commit atrocities which will take many years to forget,” Judge Thacker told Kenyatta, who had all along denounced the Mau Mau.

All six were sentenced to seven years’ hard labour at Lokitaung Prison, which Ngei called the “St Lucifer’s Monastery of Lokitaung” as there were no “women, alcohol and cigarettes”.

Kenya’s history has invariably centred on the Kapenguria Six. Lokitaung, however, had other inmates, and one of these was Kariuki Chotara, a convicted murderer who almost killed Kenyatta; and Waruhiu Itote, who saved his life.

Kenyatta never had a rosy time. First were the age disparities: Kubai was 35; Karumba 32; Oneko 32; Kaggia 30 and Ngei, the Alliance High School and Makerere University graduate, the youngest at just 29. Kenyatta was in his 60s.

Due to age, he was excluded from crushing boulders and digging graves on rocky ground and made the camp cook. This fuelled the inmates’ simmering hatred for him.

Kenyatta’s only contact with the outside world was through letters, which helped keep his sanity inside the 12-by-20-feet cell of bare stone floor, with a sisal mat and single blanket, as his biographer Jeremy Murray-Brown informs us.

The bare stonewalls had a window so high he could hardly peer out and see the thorn covered hillsides.

Prisoners were required to write letters in Kiswahili or English. Kenyatta’s, which sympathetic guards sneaked out, were in Kikuyu. Most of the letters were exchanges with Margaret, his eldest daughter whom he reassured: “Your great love for me consoles my heart.…”

The letters were censored. So politics was avoided. Most dwelled on requests for vitamin pills and special items to improve his diet, and the latest news about Kenya.

But one inmate came across Margaret’s address and began penning her letters detailing the prison’s maddening solitude in “flowery and passionate language full of neat Kiswahili phrases”, Murray-Brown writes.

The correspondence continued until one day when Kenyatta was handed Margaret’s “replies” by mistake. Murray-Brown tells us that Kenyatta read the letters, but on realising he wasn’t the addressee, turned to Ngei.

“Hi, what are you going to say now. I’ve caught you, ehee! You’ve kept mum for a long time and you are a son in-law… and never said a thing, hey?” Murray-Brown quotes Kenyatta as having told Ngei.

In a letter to Margaret, Ngei wrote: “Sister, every one of my friends here nearly passed out when I told them the story.”
Margaret had moved to Nairobi at the time, and she was living under the care of an Indian bookbinder who supported the freedom struggle. She wrote to daddy, and Kenyatta replied in January 1956.

My dear child, Wambui,
“…. When I got your letter, my heart was filled with joy to know that you are in good health…. As you know, the last letter I sent you was about the end of 1954. When I didn’t get an answer I was full of fear. I just put my hope in Almighty God, for He knows all.”

Kenyatta’s farm in Gatundu had then been grabbed by the colonial government and allocated to an agricultural college.

He wrote to Margaret:

“Everything that is being done there is according to the will of the Almighty God, so I see it as good, especially the way the shambas are being used for teaching agriculture and animal husbandry. This is very useful for those who are learning to help improve the life of the people. Let us thank God to guard us and keep us in his grace, with mercy and kindness.”
Au revoir.
I’m your loving father, J.K.

By then, Kenyatta’s family had split up, and his Hudson car left rotting in a shrubbery.

My dear child,
“…. As you say, I know it’s very hard for the children to be separated with their parents and to be left desolate and orphaned to face the troubles of the world…. I have no doubt all this has happened according to God’s plan to teach his children to forsake the evil of hatred, and to follow goodness according to the righteousness and faith in God.

Greet all those at home, and the children and the womenfolk. If you write to Muigai (his son), give him my greetings. God willing we shall meet again.”

Health problems posed constant danger to Kenyatta’s life as he refused medication from government doctors, preferring what Margaret sent.

The then North Eastern DC P de Robeck, in his 1955 Annual Lokitaung Report, wrote that Kenyatta’s heart rate was so high that he was expected to “snuff it” at any moment.

Robbeck even kept a ready-written telegram in his drawer to secure the immediate visit of a high-powered doctor “and an unprejudiced post-mortem,” Elizabeth Watkins’ writes in her book, Jomo’s Jailor.

Kenyatta also suffered from eczema, a persistent skin condition that was aggravated by his duties as a cook. He went down with eczema, a situation worsened by a smallpox vaccination that made him even more ill.

He wrote Margaret after recovery in 1956.

“… My whole body was filled with much pain and constant itching as if someone were covered all over his body with ‘stinging nettles’…. The intense itching almost drove me crazy. Remember, in this world, God sends to men trials of various sorts, and he who overcomes is he who endures with a pure heart free from anger and complaining.”

It is unclear whether it was Kenyatta’s discovery of Ngei’s correspondence with his daughter, or their frequent arguments over food rations and tasks that triggered the rift that saw fellow inmates gang up against him.

“They would ridicule him and shout obscenities when he went to the latrines” writes Murray-Brown.

The Lokitaung Annual Report for 1954 mentioned the inmates’ long drawn antagonism. Part of it reads: “Ngei was arraigned for having shouted at Kenyatta that he was a thief and had been nothing but an agricultural labourer in England.”

Ngei had complained about some money the inmates’ relatives had sent during the Kapenguria Trial, and which Kenyatta received but, allegedly, never delivered. “There was only circumstantial evidence,” Watkins writes, “Kenyatta’s account with the authorities was full and those of the others were empty. The hatred between the prisoners was serious.”

Kenyatta described himself as an “author and anthropologist” in prison records, and his fellow inmates spent idle time tormenting him about “his eight degrees” and how he managed to write Facing Mount Kenya.

The prisoners even formed a party — the National Democratic Party — held elections and distributed positions: Kaggia (president), Karumba (VP), Kubai (Secretary), Chotara (Treasurer) and Ngei as Assistant treasurer.

Lokitaung got a new prisoner in 1954, a “cheerful old-fashioned Kikuyu” named General China (Waruhiu Itote). The 32-year-old was arrested sporting a turtleneck pullover, sandals and khaki shorts on July 15, that year.

He had a bullet wound in his throat. Two years earlier, China had sought Kenyatta’s blessings in his Gatundu home before taking to the forest to join freedom fighters Dedan Kimathi, General Stanley Mathenge, General “Cargo’ and Field Marshal Musa Mwariama.

Colonial police officers Bernard Ruck and Ian Henderson arrested China after a bungled raid for guns at a police station in Nyeri.

A deal was struck out. General China was to convince Mau Mau chieftains to surrender. He wrote 26 surrender letters, but the Mau Mau generals didn’t budge. The British hoped to win with words what 6,000 regulars and 24,000 police had failed to win by war.

Having failed his end of the bargain, General China was tried and sentenced to death by Judge J L Mac Duff, even though he maintained that he was planning to surrender in response to the government’s amnesty to forest fighters.

China’s plea was not accepted, and his sentence was commuted to “indefinite detention”. At Lokitaung, Gen China was held in solitary confinement for a year, and had to sing to announce his arrival to Kenyatta who, in the songs, was instructed to clear his throat to acknowledge he got the message. Kenyatta would then sing a reply, writes Murray-Brown.

When General China was released from confinement in 1955, Kenyatta became his tutor, teaching China the spelling, usage and pronunciation of two English words a day.

While schooling in England, Kenyatta had met Dinah Stock, the secretary of the British Centre Against imperialism at a rally he attended in Trafalgar Square.

Murray-Brown notes that the friendship — with Kenyatta holing up in her flat in Camden County — “lifted Kenyatta out of his student world of petty debt and into political maturity”.

Stock edited Kenyatta’s essays contained in Facing Mount Kenya. At the outbreak of World War II, they moved from London to West Sussex, where Kenyatta met Edna Grace Clark, a school teacher.

He married her in 1942. Their son, Peter Magana — now 67 — was born in 1943, sharing a birth year with English rocker Mick Jagger and American film star Robert De Niro.

Kenyatta kept contact with his English family and a 1957 letter from Edna states that “the news from you gave great comfort and consolation to my soul”.

Facing Mount Kenya had sold some 9,000 copies, and Stock suggested that a portion of royalties be used for Magana’s tuition.

In a letter to Stock, he wrote:
“I entirely agree with you that the money should be used to help Magana with his education. I will certainly make the necessarily arrangements with the people concerned.”

Although Stock sent the letter to Edna, no money arrived, writes Murray-Brown.

Stock visited Kenya in 1953 from India, where she was teaching. Kenyatta would renew contacts with Stock, who later graced Uhuru celebrations as a guest of the state. He wrote to her on March 15, 1955, the year scrabble became a game:

Dear Friend,
Just a few lines to send my salaams and to let you know that I am keeping well. I live hundreds of miles away from home; the prison is built on a small village called Lokitaung, an isolated kind of place in the heart of Turkana. The surrounding country is very dry and totally useless for cultivation — it is in fact a desert. We have a few books and reading helps break the monotony of prison life.
I would like to hear from you and to know that you are well.
Yours,
Jomo.

Stock sent him books on the world’s major religions that Kenyatta described as the “only means available to satisfy intellectual hunger” in a January 1956 letter in which he requested for the English translation of the Holy Quran, which Stock duly sent.

But “The continuous bullying of Kenyatta resulted in his depression, and it was China, alone among the convicts, who provided him with friendship,” writes Watkins, detailing how the prisoners went on a two-day hunger strike protesting about “the filthy habits of Kenyatta, who is a cook”.

The inmates were also agitating for prison reforms, and sent a letter to the Observer newspaper, which was published on June 8, 1958. It read in part:
“We the political prisoners of Lokitaung are desirous that the world and Her Majesty’s government in the United Kingdom (should know) that we are being subjected to treatment which we think is not given to any other human beings in any part of the world.”

Comparing the prison to a Nazi concentration camp, the letter outlined, among others, brutal beatings and ridiculous food rations.

Kenyatta and General China didn’t sign the Observer letter, further escalating the rift that pitted them in one camp, the other five in another.

Watkins writes that they refused to share room with him, and Kenyatta had to be allocated his own cell.

General China got even closer to Kenyatta when he informed the DC of a plot fellow inmates were hatching to kill Kenyatta.

The plot was scuttled and from that day, China became Kenyatta’s bodyguard, besides that small duty of throwing government medication meant for Kenyatta down the latrine pit, writes Murray-Brown.

A new inmate brought the number of prisoners to eight in March 1957, the year Dedan Kimathi was executed. He was Kariuki Chotara, who had been convicted of three murders but could not be hanged as he was only 16.

“His arrival was to give the other convicts another opportunity to attempt to murder Kenyatta. The attempt was nearly very successful,” notes Watkins.

The Lokitaung Annual Report of 1957 states how, during the last week of July, the convict Karioki Chotara (sic) attacked Kenyatta in the compound.

He went for him with a knife during breakfast as Kenyatta went to fetch water, luckily the attacker’s trousers was caught in a splinter of wood on the table. Kenyatta caught his attacker’s arm.

He shouted to China, other inmates tried to restrain China from saving Kenyatta, but he threw them off and grabbed Chotara’s knife.

Chotara’s trousers upset the table, spilling their breakfast porridge over them as they struggled on the ground until the wardens ran to separate them.

“The potential murderer was incited by the others; since he was too young to receive the death sentence. What difference would another murder make?” Watkins poses.

Chotara was transferred to Lodwar and sentenced to solitary confinement, penal diet and 12 strokes. This would explain why Chotara languished in the equivalent of political Siberia during Kenyatta’s presidency, only to reappear during Moi’s reign as a rabid Kanu supporter.

News of the attempt on his father’s life reached Margaret. Kenyatta wrote her:

“Envy and hatred had no mercy… now, calm your heart, for although the attack was planned secretly and craftily, it didn’t achieve its aim. Almighty God brought me out of this danger…. I was not badly injured…. I think you are aware that envy, desire and ignorance are a trouble to many people in the world.”

Surprisingly, General China, in his biography, Mau Mau General, mentions neither how the inmates almost killed Kenyatta nor how he saved the future president’s life.
In April 1959, Kenyatta was released from Lokitaung and put under house arrest at the hillside market town of Maralal, 144 kilometres South of Lodwar.

He was to report to the DC, never enter private buildings, and he was to shop for only three days a week for two hours from his £6 (Sh864 at current exchange rates) monthly stipend.

In 1961, Margaret and Mama Ngina visited Kenyatta in Maralal, with fresh supply of provisions. It was the first time he saw his family since 1952.
Kenyatta later wrote that her visit made it “the first really happy Christmas for eight years. This teaches us that nothing lasts forever, events come and go as night succeeds day.”
He wrote to Edna in July 1960, the year Kenya’s State of Emergency was lifted: “It is comforting to see that there are clear signs everywhere that Kenya is slowly and surely marching to her freedom.”

And sure it did as Kenya gained her independence three years later, with Kenyatta as Prime Minister and later president.

Source: Daily Nation

Posted in Features | 1 Comment »

US Citizenship for sale?

Posted by Administrator on October 20, 2010

Every day investors around the world choose to put their hard-earned cash into the U.S. Billions of dollars flow in the form of foreign direct investment, as when a group of Brazilians bought Burger King, and foreigners purchase hundreds of billions of U.S. stocks and bonds, as measured by the Treasury’s TIC data.

But a small number of investors show up on these shores drawn by something more valuable than financial returns: the prospect of U.S. citizenship.

You can’t simply purchase an American passport (at least not legally). But since 1990, foreigners with as little as $500,000 in cash have been able to invest their way to a quick Green Card, putting them on the path to citizenship. Quick, somebody call Lou Dobbs!

Yes, the U.S. government lets people with cash to jump the line for a Green Card through the EB-5 program.

Starting in 1990, 10,000 visas have been set aside each year for the EB-category. The program was designed to encourage foreign investors to create jobs by starting a new business or preserve jobs by investing in money-losing businesses. If they agree to invest $1 million, foreigners can get a visa, apply for Green Cards, and become conditional permanent residents.

After two years, provided they’ve made good on their promise to invest, created 10 jobs (family members don’t count), and the business is still an ongoing concern, they can apply to have those conditions removed. And after five years with a Green Card, holders can apply for citizenship.

Of the 10,000 visas in the program, 3,000 are set aside for “targeted employment areas” — rural areas, or places with an unemployment rate that’s 150 percent or more of the national average. For these visas, the threshold is lowered to $500,000.

Another 3,000 visas are set aside for investments in “regional centers” — areas or industries designated by states. (A full list of regional centers can be seen here.)

Some organizations, professional service firms, and companies promote the program as a whole, or market investment in particular projects as appropriate for EB5 aspirants, such as a ski resort in Vermont. Other entrepreneurs having a tough time raising cash are now seeking to use the program to tap into new sources of financing. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that developer Bruce Ratner is seeking to use the program to help raise funds in China for his massive, controversial Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Now, many may view the prospect of giving favorable immigration treatment to investors as problematic. The phrase “bring us your moneyed investors yearning to breathe free” doesn’t have the same poetic heft as the inscription about the tired, poor, huddled masses etched on the Statue of Liberty. From its inception, the price of citizenship has traditionally been a willingness to leave behind the old world and work hard — not write a check to support the construction of a bunch of ski-in, ski-out condos.

But I happen to think this is a very good thing. If it were fully utilized, the EB5 program would bring at least $7 billion annually and create or preserve 100,000 jobs per year. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things — there are currently about 130 million Americans with payroll jobs. But given the trauma inflicted upon American workers in the past three years, every little bit helps. And this is something the U.S. should be doing more of.

One cure for the vast overhang of excess housing would be to offer expedited citizenship to people willing to purchase vacant homes in places in like Las Vegas or Detroit.

In fact, it’s surprising that more people don’t take the U.S. up on its offer. Consider the changing shape of the world’s economic geography: We’ve got American companies with lots of cash that are reluctant to invest at home because they see better prospects abroad. Thanks to that same dynamic, millionaires are being minted by the millions in China, India, and Brazil, and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the EB5 program has never come close to maxing out. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in 2009, just 1,028 people applied for EB5 status and 966 were approved, up from 776 applications and 485 approvals in fiscal 2007. Applications and approvals rose sharply in fiscal 2010, to 1,727 and 1,271, respectively.

I’m guessing the lackluster numbers can be chalked up to a failure of marketing rather than the limited attraction of the underlying product, or of its expense. In fact, the investment-related Green Card should probably be priced higher. Here’s a thought experiment: Ask how much you’d have to be paid to give up American citizenship for you and your family and assume that of a randomly chosen foreign country. Something tells me the bidding would start at a point much higher than $500,000.

Daniel Gross is economics editor and columnist at Yahoo! Finance.

Follow him on Twitter: @grossdm. Email him at grossdaniel11@yahoo.com.

Source: http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/111069/citizenship-for-sale

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KABB Fox San Antonio :: Top Stories – Teen Dies After Shooting- Christina Coleman

Posted by Administrator on October 20, 2010

KABB Fox San Antonio :: Top Stories – Teen Dies After Shooting- Christina Coleman.

Posted in Crime, Diaspora News, Obituaries | Comments Off on KABB Fox San Antonio :: Top Stories – Teen Dies After Shooting- Christina Coleman

Kenyan teenager shot and killed in San Antonio, Texas

Posted by Administrator on October 20, 2010

killed at the home of his friend Jassjeet Singh, also 17, in the 11600 block of Sweet Pea Run on Friday afternoon.

killed at the home of his friend Jassjeet Singh, also 17, in the 11600 block of Sweet Pea Run on Friday afternoon.

A high school community is dumbfounded at the weekend shooting death in West Bexar County of a senior track star and the arrest of his friend.

Bexar County Sheriff’s Office detectives are at a loss to explain why Brian Odipo, 17, was shot and killed at the home of his friend Jassjeet Singh, also 17, in the 11600 block of Sweet Pea Run on Friday afternoon.

Odipo, shot in the right buttock and in the head, was flown to University Hospital, where friends said the numbers of visitors made the waiting room resemble a Stevens High School gathering. He died Sunday night.

Singh, arrested at the scene, remains in Bexar County Jail on one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and also is under an immigration hold, officials said. He’s being held without bail.

Sgt. Jose Trevino said he expected Singh to be charged with murder this week. Singh became angered at Odipo, but didn’t give deputies any clue as to why, Trevino said.

By all accounts, the boys were friends. Both attended Stevens in the Northside Independent School District. Although Odipo’s mother, Mary S. Odipo, never met Singh, she wasn’t surprised he was at a friend’s house Friday.

“He was an outgoing kid, but also respectful and well-mannered,” she said at her home Tuesday. “He was a friend to the old, to the young; it didn’t matter what race, age or sex.”

Odipo was at Stevens’ alternative school, where a district spokesman said he’d been placed after breaking into a vehicle on campus Oct. 7, but his mother claims he chose the smaller class setting because it allowed him to work in the afternoons. He left after lunch Friday and was expected to pick up a friend from school later, Mary Odipo said.

Instead, he, Singh and another school peer were at Singh’s two-story brick house when shots were fired. The third boy witnessed part of the incident, Trevino said, but he didn’t know what caused the apparent rage.

“The shooter was just upset; he became upset and he says he just shot the victim,” Trevino said.

The witness left and Singh went to pick up a friend from work and admitted the shooting to him, deputies said. Then Singh drove the two of them back to his home, where Odipo still lay bleeding on the kitchen floor. Officials said the boy Singh picked up called 911.

Jassjeet Singh, 17, is suspected of shooting 17-year-old Brian Odipo, also 17, in the head Friday. The injured teen remains hospitalized in critical condition Sunday.

Jassjeet Singh, 17, is suspected of shooting 17-year-old Brian Odipo, also 17, in the head Friday. The injured teen remains hospitalized in critical condition Sunday.

Trevino declined to describe the murder weapon, but said deputies found it hidden in Singh’s attic.

For hour after hour, Odipo’s mother, his father — El Paso-based U.S. Army chaplain Steven Odipo Siaji — and siblings Linda, 19 and David, 5 — didn’t leave his side.

Linda Odipo said she can’t fathom life without her brother.

“He’s my other half,” she said. “We would tell each other everything, and he was always with me.”

Raised in Kenya, the Odipos moved to Bexar County when Brian was 5 to join Siaji, who already was in the United States.

Brian adjusted to America easily, excelled in sports and was a good student, his mother said. He already had committed to joining the Marines upon graduation in May.

“He was real determined and motivated, and he was a great teammate,” said Randy Lighteard, who coached him on the San Antonio Blazers track and field team. “He was always so happy.”

Brian Odipo worked at the Wash Tub on Bandera Road and was meticulous about keeping his own powder-blue Jeep Cherokee clean, using it to shuttle friends around.

He knew people all over town, Mary Odipo said, and many of his friends met each other for the first time at his hospital bedside.

“In Kenya, when a child is born, it’s everybody’s child. Here, it’s just one family’s,” she said as her face quivered with emotion. “I learned at the hospital he was everybody’s son and everybody’s brother.”

Source: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/teen_dies_of_gunshot_injuries_105268888.html?showFullArticle=y

UPDATE: FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS BY ODIPO’S FAMILY IN SAN ANTONIO

Thye family of the slain Kenyan teen in San Antonio is requesting your prayers. Brian Odipo who was shot in San Antonio was the son of Mary and Stephen Siaji. Brian was a senior at Stevens High and passed away on Sunday October 17th.
Family and friends are meeting at the family’s address on:

15019 Peoples Dr,

San Antonio, Texas 78253.
Please keep the family in your prayers.

Posted in Diaspora News, Obituaries | Comments Off on Kenyan teenager shot and killed in San Antonio, Texas

The secret to our happy marriage

Posted by Administrator on October 20, 2010

JOSEPH KANYI | NATION: A couple, Charles Githinji, right, and his wife Ann Nyambura read a copy of a constitution for their family. In the wake of men being beaten in Central province, Githinji, 35, a resident of Mweiga in Kieni, has resolved to write a constitution for his home.

JOSEPH KANYI | NATION: A couple, Charles Githinji, right, and his wife Ann Nyambura read a copy of a constitution for their family. In the wake of men being beaten in Central province, Githinji, 35, a resident of Mweiga in Kieni, has resolved to write a constitution for his home.

There is nothing remarkable about the man we find busy re-painting the timber house, his navy-blue workman overalls splattered with paint. He is the kind of man who would effortlessly blend into any crowd.

To be honest, we are somewhat disappointed because we had expected to come face to face with a man whose presence was nothing short of intimidating – burly, ferocious-looking and a booming voice that would put the fear of God into just about anyone.

But no, Charles could be any other man walking down the street. He is of average height, average build and speaks and acts like most of the men you know.

However, just a few minutes into the interview, we realise just how deceiving looks can be. Beneath the nondescript image that he projects, is a firm and no-nonsense administrator who rules his home with an iron fist.

As one would expect of a man of such characteristics, his wife Ann Nyambura cuts the perfect image of the submissive wife, content to do the house work, look after their children and let her husband do the talking.

Looking at them seated side by side in their home in Mweiga, Central Kenya, one gets the impression of a couple that has already basked in the initial marital bliss, the honeymoon long gone, and is now immersed in the thick of the challenges that come with nurturing a family.

By now, you must be wondering what makes Mr Githinji and his wife special; after all, they seem to mirror many other married couples in our society. However, the fact is that they are nothing like other couples.

You see, their marriage is governed by a 10 page ‘constitution’ the 35 year old Mr Githinji crafted a few months ago.

The bound document screams, in bold letters, ‘Mundurume Ni Mugambo’ (A man’s authority is in his voice).

Going through the document, it is obvious that the laws, which are laid down in the couple’s mother tongue, unashamedly favour Mr Githinji, and expose his ill-concealed chauvinistic side.

The first chapter starts by declaring him the sole owner and head of the homestead and the one in charge of making all the decisions pertaining to the family.

It recognises his wife as the second in the command, but this privilege is immediately watered down when the second clause goes ahead to stipulate that she is expected to strictly stick to the traditional roles of women which include “preparing food, washing clothes and dishes as well as farming.

She is also expected to look after the couple’s children and ensure that the home is always spotlessly clean.

The ‘constitution’ also demands that she obey her husband without question and follow the religion of his choice.

But that is not all; a clause that is bound to have women up in arms is one where Mr Githinji forbids his wife from travelling or visiting family and friends without his consent.

“Travelling at night is out of question unless I accompany her or unless she is in the company of someone that I trust,” Githinji explains in measured tones, a serious look on his face.

If by now you think that this man is crazy, or have already dismissed him as the worst chauvinist that ever lived, you would have to understand that Mr Githinji has one failed marriage behind him.

A marriage, he says, that brought him so much misery and heartache, he decided that he would never trust a woman with his happiness or peace of mind again.

That day in 2006 when he and his first wife parted ways, he vowed that should he marry again, he alone would dictate the terms of that marriage.

“During those eight years that we lived together, I never had peace, we could never agree on anything; She would have her own plans, while I would have mine and we would end up having never-ending disagreements over this.”

One of the factors that was perhaps their greatest source of disharmony is the fact that they belonged to different denominations.

While Mr Githinji’s first wife went to church on Saturday, he would go on Sundays.

“How do you live in the same house then go to Church on different days?” he wonders.

He says that the only good thing that emanated from the marriage was the son they have together, and whose responsibility of bringing up they share.

When the marriage ended, he was plunged him into months of agony and loneliness.

It is while nursing his wounds that he begun to toy with the idea of coming up with a set of rules and regulations that would govern his next marriage – should he decide to give love a second time that is.

“I wanted to come up with something that would assure me of a firm grip on my marriage, something that would ensure that I had authority,” he explains.

His wife Nyambura seats by his side quietly, breastfeeding their two-month old baby girl.

Once in a while, she looks up at her husband, seemingly unperturbed by what he is saying.

By the time Kenyans were voting in the referendum for a new constitution, Mr Githinji was busy working on a draft of marital rules and regulations.

“I knew that this was the only way I could the stability and peace of mind my first marriage denied me,” he explains.

Before he started working on it, he deliberately provoked Nyambura so that she could go back to her parents. He wanted to get a chance to draft the rules without any interruption, he explains.

During the two months that she was away, Mr Githinji labored night and day to develop the laws, which are divided into 27 chapters.

After completing the constitution, the Mweiga electrician went to get his wife at her matrimonial home, apologised profusely, and brought her back to their home.

But when Nyambura opened the wooden-door to the home their share; the first item her eyes fell on was a blue bound document on the table.

On perusing it, she realised that it was a written set of rules to guide their marriage. Shocked to the bone, she flatly rejected it.

An 11-month stand-off ensued between Mr Githinji and his wife as she demanded that some clauses, which she felt were harsh, be amended.

Among the contentious clauses was chapter 24 of the document, which states that Mr Githinji cannot go for his wife if she decides to run away from her matrimonial home due to “petty disagreements” or to visit her parents without his approval.

If she refuses to return, the document continues, Mr Githinji can go ahead and marry another woman.

But her protests fell on deaf ears, and when it was clear that her husband would not back down, she relented and broke the deadlock by appending her signature.

When Githinji flips to the second chapter of one-man ‘constitution’ which boldly states that he is allowed to marry a second wife should Nyambura disobey him or violate the other laws in the constitution, we cannot help wondering why Nyambura, who has already appended her signature on the document, did not oppose it.

She says, “Initially, I rejected it, but after going through the laws several times, I realised that the document protects me and my children more and this is when I agreed to sign it,” says the 25-year-old.

She points out that she has witnessed many marriages go down the drain due to lack of guidelines and clear division of roles and the last thing she wants is her young marriage to fall by the wayside as well.

Another reason she accepted the ‘draconian’ document, is the fact that she loves Githinji, who she describes as a loving man who does not like to quarrel and who is a good provider.

“I don’t want my husband to suffer as he did with his first wife, I am ready to follow the laws he has laid down if this is what will assure us of happiness,” she reasons.

If you’re wondering, the constitution can only be amended after 20 years commencing on the date that Nyambura assented to it. Githinji admits that the document favours him, and has no apologies to make for it.

“Yes the constitution favours me because I am the one who has married Nyambura. She would have had her way if she is the one who took me to live in her home,” states the father of three.

Githinji explains that he is tired of quarrelling with a person that he loves and is convinced that the constitution will ensure that peace reigns in his home. So far, it is working.

Nyambura says there is no conflict of roles since each of their duties is clearly stipulated in the document. This means that disagreements are non-existent in their relationship.

Now that Nyambura has assented to the laws, the couple is planning to take the constitution to a lawyer for ratification.

While it may seem like a ridiculous idea, this couple’s marital laws underpin the desire for peace and stability within the contemporary marriage, which is facing a barrage of challenges.

The Githinjis say it is working for them, therefore it might not be such a ridiculous idea after all.

Source: Daily Nation

VIDEO: FAMILY CONSTITUTION

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Kenya to build heroes’ monument

Posted by Administrator on October 20, 2010

Kenya has paid tribute to its heroes and heroines as President Kibaki announced a national monument will be erected in their honour next year.

The National Heroes Monument will be established at Heroes Corner in Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, he said.

“We are planning to erect the monument by the end of next year,” the President said during celebrations to mark Mashujaa Day at the Nyayo National Stadium Wednesday.

For the first time, Kenyans who have rendered selfless service to society were recognised.

The national holiday is the first since the promulgation of the new Constitution in August.

The new laws transformed Kenyatta Day, which had been marked since independence in remembrance of the struggle for freedom, to Mashujaa so that all those who participated in the fight and those who have made a mark in the lives of other Kenyans could also feature.

“Mashujaa are men and women who have made a lasting mark in the lives of fellow Kenyans and in the history and development of our country. They are men and women who have taken great risks in service to save, advance and protect their fellow citizens.

“These are also men and women whose hard work, courage and perseverance have had a great impact on the socio-economic well being of our people,” said President Kibaki in his speech.

The President also saluted Kenya’s heroes and heroines who resisted colonialists.

Among those remembered were: Mekatilili wa Menza, Koitalel arap Samoei, Harry Thuku and Muindi Mbingu.

Others are: first Kenyan leader Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Achieng’ Oneko, Paul Ngei, Bildad Kaggia, Kung’u Karumba and Fred Kubai who were referred to as the Kapenguria Six after being detained by the colonialists.

“We also pay tribute to Dedan Kimathi and his comrades. These great Kenyans, through courage and determination, galvanised the struggle for Kenya’s independence,” President Kibaki said.

He said while the Kapenguria Six and many others were in detention, the flame of independence was kept burning by nationalists among them Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Ronald Ngala, Masinde Muliro, Tom Mboya, Martin Shikuku, Jean Marie Seroney, Bernard Mate, Lawrence Sagini, James Gichuru, Pio Gama Pinto and former president Daniel arap Moi.

Post independence Mashujaa whose service to the nation has contributed to the social and economic progress and greater democratic space were also celebrated.

“Our present day Mashujaa are those who, through hard work and perseverance, are creating agricultural, industrial and service enterprises that have created jobs and increased incomes for Kenyans,” the President said.

Companies that have made regional and global impacts through innovation and export of goods and services were also given a thumbs up.

The firms include national carrier Kenya Airways, Equity Bank, Co-operative Bank, KCB Bank, Bidco, East Africa Breweries, Safaricom, as well as Kenya’s world class tea and flower farms.

Scholars including scientist Thomas Odhiambo, historian Bethuel Ogot, political scientist Ali Mazrui, author Ngugi wa Thiong’o, public health specialist Miriam Were, as well the Nobel laureate and environmentalist Wangari Maathai also featured in Mashujaa list.

Kipchoge Keino and Naphtali Temu’s winning of gold medals in the Mexico Olympic Games of 1968-the first feat for the African continent was recognised at the colourful celebrations.

The President also paid tribute to women runners Catherine Ndereba and Tecla Lorupe.

“Today, Kenyans are dominating Olympic, Commonwealth and continental athletics and our rugby team continues to shine. These are some of our modern day Mashujaa. They are making us proud and confident that we have the ability, the will and courage to win. Indeed, we are a country of winners,” the President said.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Mashujaa Day “captures the journey of national renewal that we have embarked on”.

“We are focusing on our togetherness and the togetherness of those who struggled for this country before us,” said Mr Odinga.

The PM told Kenyans, especially the youth, that they need not resort to violence to be recognised as heroes.

“To be a hero in Kenya from here on, what you will need most is to be a good and responsible citizen. That will be heroic enough.”

Turning to the new dispensation, President Kibaki said the new law had created institutions that will facilitate checks and balances to ensure democratic governance.

“The new constitution also provides a legal framework for gender equality and women empowerment,” he said.

The President said Kenya had made great strides toward the realisation of Vision 2030, which seeks to transform the country into a middle-income country with a high quality of life.

He enumerated government successes including free primary education, expansion of tertiary education, food security and infrastructure development.

“We are also modernising our airports and sea ports. These investments are intended to make our country globally competitive as well as a regional hub for investment, services and commerce.”

The Head of State directed the Kenya Forest Service to expand its tree nurseries and urged Kenyans “to reserve 10 per cent of our land for tree cover as stipulated in our Constitution”.

He also extended his best wishes to students sitting for their national exams.

Source: DAILY NATION

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Safaricom slashes international call charges by 90 p.c.

Posted by Administrator on October 20, 2010

Safaricom has cut its international calling rates by nearly 90 per cent in an effort to defend its market share after its rivals made similar reductions in a move that looks set to further pile pressure on its profitability.

Kenya’s largest mobile telephony operator reduced its international call tariffs to Sh3 a minute from Sh25 for calls headed to USA, China and India, putting it at par with rivals Zain, Orange and YU.

Zain Kenya threw the first salvo by reducing its international tariffs by 70 per cent to Sh3 per minute on October 1 to be followed by Essar’s Yu that reduced its by 98 per cent to Sh2.50 a minute on October 5.

Orange followed suit on October 7 by lowering its charges for the three markets to Sh3 per minute from Sh8—putting Safaricom on the spotlight.

US, China and India accounts for the industry’s largest international traffic, making calls headed to these market a key battle front for the operators.

Analysts say the move by Safaricom will not hurt its earnings significantly given that international traffic accounts for a smaller share of its revenues.

“Safaricom must have taken longer to negotiate with the rest of international operators for a termination rates, but we don’t expect the international price cut to significantly affect Safaricom,” said Eric Kimathi, senior research analyst at African Alliance Kenya.

“The company must, however, protect its share of the market and be at par with the competition, and ignoring any front will be costly at this time.”

Safaricom’s rivals have operations in other markets and this made it easier for them to cut the international tariffs speedily compared to the market leader which only operates in the Kenyan market.

Zain Kenya, for example, said its international tariff cuts have been made possible by Bharti Airtel’s lower roaming rates in foreign markets.

Bharti Airtel — India’s largest mobile operator by subscribers — bought Zain Africa for $10 billion in June.

However, the operators have made minimal price cuts on traffic heading to Europe and Africa, save for Orange’s cut on calls for Sudan, hoping to tap into the growing traffic between Kenya and Juba—which now hosts a number Kenyan companies and business people.

Orange is charging Sh20 per minute down from Sh30, compared to Safaricom’s Sh50, Yu’s Sh40, and Zain’s Sh30.

Shaping up

Already, local tariffs have halved as the players race to grow and defend their market shares, and the operators warn that the price war is shaping up as the biggest threat to the industry’s earnings.

The cost of voice calls fell by 50 per cent in August to Sh3 per minute and consumers can now send short text messages at a rock-bottom price of Sh0.20, more than halving each subscriber’s monthly budget for airtime.

Safaricom is set to feel the biggest heat with the price wars gripping the voice market, since it is the biggest player and does not enjoy the benefits of its rivals who are active in bigger markets and can subsidise their Kenyan operations.

Safaricom draws about 75 per cent of its revenues from the voice market and is now diversifying to the data market to cushion its earnings from the volatile voice market.

Analysts are expressing doubts on whether Safaricom can sustain its profitability in the face of a price war.

Safaricom’s share price has fallen 14 per cent in the last three months—making it’s the biggest drop among firms listed at the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) over the period— to Sh4.90, but is 29 per cent higher compared to past year.

Analysts led by Kestrel Capital East Africa, an investment bank, have downgraded the share.

“In all likelihood, we anticipate a downward rating of our valuations for Safaricom on account of lower revenue targets, contraction in EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) margins and lower ARPUs,” said Kestrel in a September brief to investors.

Evaluate performance

Falling revenues especially on voice calls that account for 75.5 per cent of the firm’s revenue would impact on ARPU (Average Revenue per User), a key financial measure used to evaluate performance in the telecoms industry.

But Safaricom is putting a brave face in light of the market onslaught despite admitting that the turf wars are not sustainable.

“Price wars erode value and eventually kill off industries and by extension, economies,” said the CEO Michael Joseph. “What we can say at this point is that all indications are that the results are likely to be in line with our expectations.”

Source: Daily Nation

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Ruto out of Cabinet to face fraud charges

Posted by Administrator on October 20, 2010

Eldoret North MP William Ruto was on Tuesday suspended from Cabinet as minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology pending the hearing and determination of a Sh272 million fraud case against him.

President Kibaki made the announcement Tuesday evening, ending days of speculation over the fate of the minister, who only four days ago swore not to resign from Cabinet over the case.

The President used the opportunity to reshuffle assistant ministers.

He should stand trial

Mr Ruto had gone to the Constitutional Court to challenge his prosecution over a land deal and the court last week ruled he should stand trial.

A dispatch from State House on Tuesday said: “Following consultations with the Rt Hon Prime Minister, His Excellency the President has stood aside Hon William S Ruto from office of minister with immediate effect.”

Prof Hellen Sambili, the East African Community minister, was appointed to act as minister for Higher Education, putting her in charge of two dockets for the time being.

A source at the Attorney-General’s chambers told the Daily Nation that Mr Amos Wako had advised Mr Odinga and the President that the law required Mr Ruto’s suspension until the fraud case against him is determined.

On Monday, Mr Wako held what one Office of the President official described as a lengthy meeting with the President at State House Nairobi, starting at around 5pm.

Earlier, he had met Mr Odinga, according to the official. And on Tuesday, President Kibaki received his co-principal at his Harambee House Office at 3pm and the two were holed up in a meeting for about an hour and a half.

Wanjiru back in ministry

According to the National Accord, Mr Kibaki cannot sack a minister from the Orange side of the government without Mr Odinga’s consent.

On Sunday, a top government official had told the Daily Nation that the President was very reluctant to be seen to act in defiance of the law, meaning that the moment the Court of Appeal committed Mr Ruto to stand trial, his goose was more or less cooked.

In Tuesday’s minor reshuffle, the President brought back Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, who has just successfully defended her Starehe seat, reappointing her Housing assistant minister.

Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu is now assistant minister in the ministry of Water and Irrigation replacing, Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiujuri who has been moved to the ministry of Public Works in the same capacity.

Kilome MP Harun Mwau and Bomachoge MP Simon Ogari swapped ministries. Mr Mwau will now be the new Assistant minister for Trade, a position previously held by Mr Ogari, who now takes over as the Assistant minister for Transport.

Mr Ruto’s ministerial position became legally untenable last Friday after the constitutional court’s ruling.

Section 62 of the Anti-corruption and Economic Crimes Act stipulates that “a public officer who is charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended at half pay, with effect from the date of the charge”.

Such a suspended public officer continues to receive the full amount of any allowances, says the law.

The minister’s ministerial career was thrown into a spin when the panel of three judges dismissed a petition he filed in 2005 seeking to stop court proceedings against him claiming that his rights had been infringed.

Following the ruling, Mr Ruto through his lawyer, asked for certified copies to enable him appeal. The court gave him permission to challenge their verdict but also directed the criminal case be mentioned on October 26. Judges Jeanne Gacheche, Leonard Njagi and Roseline Wendoh said that they were not convinced that any of Mr Ruto’s rights had been infringed because he was still innocent until the trial court proved otherwise.

Mr Ruto and four other persons face fraud charges over the alleged sale of a piece of land in Ngong Forest to Kenya Pipeline Company Ltd for a total of Sh272 million. The minister allegedly received Sh96 million at various times during the alleged transaction.

In the case, the Eldoret North MP and Berke Commercial Agencies, a company associated with him, Mr Joshua Kulei, a former aide of retired President Daniel Moi, Mr Sammy Mwaita (Baringo Central MP and former Commissioner of Lands) and two other firms were sued for allegedly obtaining money from KPC between August 6 and September 6, 2001.

DAILY NATION

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