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Archive for December 30th, 2010

Kenyan Canadian puts together a portable FM radio station

Posted by Administrator on December 30, 2010

A Kenyan Canadian has put together a portable FM radio station that fits in a briefcase that he hopes to use to reach remote parts of Africa.

Peter Onguti helped develop and is bringing to Africa the 18-kilo FM radio kit that can be powered by solar, battery or conventional electricity

He got the idea for a portable radio station after Kenya’s last election, when violence erupted across the country. People in rural areas especially were experiencing an information blackout.

Onguti turned to a Canadian friend and business partner to design a portable radio station with good range.

“I asked him — he’s a telecommunication engineer — if he could come up with something which was suitable for this market, especially Kenya and the rest of Africa,” Onguti told CBC News.

Then he used his own savings to build and market the portable radio stations.

The government of South Sudan will be using about a dozen of the units to educate rural voters in the upcoming referendum on separation from North Sudan.

And dozens more are being used to broadcast health and education programming in Western Africa.

Depending on the unit, the stations can broadcast anywhere from 30 to 100 kilometres.

“You can do a lot with this unit, not necessarily just focus on war and violence and such,” Onguti says.

He envisions his portable radio stations in use all over Africa. Radio is a good choice for Africa, where many people are illiterate and cannot afford television.

He has yet to turn a profit on sales, with units ranging from $10,000 to $70,000, but that doesn’t discourage him.

“It’s not about the money actually — it’s just about information, that is the key drive for me. It’s just that I want people to have access to information.”

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/media/story/2010/12/29/portable-radio-africa.html#ixzz19bXNZJM1

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Posted in Diaspora News | 5 Comments »

US Issues Travel Advisory For Kenya Over Terror Threats

Posted by Administrator on December 30, 2010

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya.  U.S. citizens in Kenya and those considering travel to Kenya should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime. 

This replaces the Travel Warning of July 24, 2009 to note areas of concern now include portions of Lamu district and provide additional cautions to U.S. citizens regarding potentially threatening circumstances.

The U.S. government continues to receive information regarding potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya.  Terrorist acts could include suicide operations, bombings, kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation as evidenced by the 2002 attacks on an Israeli airliner, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports.  Many of those responsible for the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in 1998 and on a hotel in Mombasa in 2002 remain at large and continue to operate in the region.  Travelers should consult the Worldwide Caution for further information and details.

In July 2009, three NGO workers were kidnapped and taken into Somalia by suspected members of a terrorist group that operates out of Somalia.  In November 2008, armed groups based in Somalia crossed into Kenya near the town of El Wak and kidnapped two Westerners.  The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi has designated a portion of Kenya bordering Somalia and Ethiopia as “restricted without prior authorization” for purposes of travel by U.S. Government employees, contractors, grantees, and their dependents.  Travelers should be aware that U.S. Embassy security personnel recently expanded the restricted area to include portions of Lamu district.  This designation is based on reports of Somali-based armed groups known to have crossed into Kenya to stage attacks or to commit crimes.  This restriction does not apply to travelers not associated with the U.S. government, but should be taken into account when planning travel.  The restriction is in effect for the following areas: 

-All of Mandera District.

-The entire area north and east of the town of Wajir, including travel on Highway C80 and areas east of C80 and an 80-kilometer (about 50 miles) wide band contiguous with the Somalia border.  Travel to and within the towns of Wajir and Moyale remains unrestricted.

-Within Garissa District, an 80-kilometer (about 50 miles) wide band contiguous with the Somalia border.  Travel to and within the town of Dadaab remains unrestricted.

-Within Ijara District, an 80-kilometer (about 50 miles) wide band contiguous with the Somalia border; Boni National Reserve.

-Within Lamu District, a 60-kilometer (about 40 miles) wide band starting northeast of Pate Island to the Somalia border.  Towns and resorts within/contiguous to the Kiunga Marine Reserve are now included in the restricted area.

Violent and sometimes fatal criminal attacks, including armed carjackings, home invasions/burglaries and kidnappings can occur at any time and in any location, particularly in Nairobi.  As recently as spring 2010, U.S. nationals were victims of carjacking and kidnapping.  In the short-term, the continued displacement of thousands of people by the civil unrest of 2008 combined with endemic poverty and the availability of weapons could result in an increase in crime, both petty and violent.  Kenyan authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate such acts or prosecute perpetrators.

U.S. citizens in Kenya should be extremely vigilant with regard to their personal security, particularly in public places frequented by foreigners such as clubs, hotels, resorts, upscale shopping centers, restaurants, and places of worship.  U.S. citizens should also remain alert in residential areas, at schools, and at outdoor recreational events. 

U.S. citizens should avoid demonstrations and political rallies of all kinds.  Most political gatherings are peaceful, but they can turn violent with no notice.  In the run-up to the constitutional referendum in June 2010, six Kenyans were killed and 100 injured at a prayer meeting/political rally in Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Kenya are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information.  By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.  The U.S. Embassy is located on United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya; telephone (254) (20) 363-6000; fax (254) (20) 363-6410.  In the event of an after-hours emergency, the Embassy duty officer may be contacted at (254) (20) 363-6000.  Travelers may also consult the Embassy home page for more information.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for Kenya and the Worldwide Caution, which are located on the Department of State’s website.  Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

Posted in Diaspora News | 1 Comment »

Sacrifices that made room for more

Posted by Administrator on December 30, 2010

"The suffering that we have gone through and what we have done for other people was like sowing a seed. It is now time for us to reap,” Stanley Mureithi

"The suffering that we have gone through and what we have done for other people was like sowing a seed. It is now time for us to reap,” Stanley Mureithi

“I have gone from one challenge to another, but in almost all of them, I have come out stronger,” the outspoken woman says in a matter-of-fact way.

She’s referring to her long and hard journey to financial freedom that began right after she completed her secondary school education in 1994. 

Wangui recalls her first job as a 21-year-old salesperson in Kiambu town, a job that fetched her Sh20 a day. She was only able to negotiate her pay rise four years later. All this time, what the single mother took home on payday left her with more month at the end of the money. Her salary was finally raised from Sh600 to Sh700.

Handsome

Perhaps what cooled her heels was the everyday sight of a handsome young man who would come by the market where she worked. Stanley Mureithi, now 36, worked as a turn-boy for a pick-up that regularly delivered fruits and vegetables to business owners in Kiambu town. 

 “He carried the bags of fruits and vegetables from the van and that is how we met at the market,” Wangui says.

And he certainly had a way of lifting Wangui’s spirits every time he showed up. So much so that he managed to get her attention and keep it all through their humble dates in the market mkahawas.

 “He would occasionally take me out for tea at hotels. It cost about Sh5. But in 1996 he took me to Thompson’s Falls in Nyahururu for our first outing,” she says flashing an ageing photograph that recorded their time together.

Wangui had no way of knowing that Mureithi would be her husband but that did not stop her from enjoying his company.

In 1997, they got married and the following year, the couple had a baby girl. Wangui had to stop working for several months when she realised that she wasn’t juggling things so well.

Later that year, she and her husband decided to start their own fruit business with the little savings they had stashed away.

“We did not have enough capital and this appeared to me to be the only way we could start earning steady income since I had some expertise in it,” says Mureithi.

And so when they heard about a businesswoman with a vacant stall to dispose off, they were quick to approach her. The woman offered them the stall for free, allowing the couple to spend their money on stock.

Their business flourished and Wangui was able to join several women’s groups. Her husband continued to participate in several saving schemes.

Little did they know that they would come to suffer one blow after another. When Wangui’s ailing mother died in 2001 after three years of illness, the couple found that they had burial expenses to take care of.

“We consulted on the need to give our mother a decent burial even if it meant making sacrifices,” Mureithi explains.

Months later, the couple decided to do something for themselves, and their children. Through their savings and credit society, they managed to purchase a plot which they were to pay for in instalments.

That was in 2002. Four years later, they had a four-bedroom house for them and their children Alice Wamuyu, 12, Joan Wacuka, 10, and Anthony Ngugi, six.

Wangui describes the house as a big blessing.

“We had initially begun life in a rented room for which we paid Sh100 a month. Then we moved into a two-bedroom house for Sh600 rent before living in an old three-bedroom house that saw us pay Sh3,000 a month. We will eternally be grateful to God that we have a place not far from Nairobi to call home,” she explains.

But her smile quickly fades with the memory of losing her father. Once again, the couple had to dip into its pockets to cater for the burial expenses.

Then came another blow. Wangui’s younger brother, a diabetic, died.

“He had lost his eyesight. Because of this, I was responsible for him. When he died, we took care of all the burial expenses,” she says.

By this time, the couple was going through what seemed like a devastating cycle of saving up only to spend all the money on loved ones’ funerals. Still, they continued “trusting that God will provide”.

Soldiering on, Wangui and Mureithi picked themselves up after each blow, strengthening themselves and their business, smiling in front of the children with a “this-too-shall-pass” attitude.

And just when they thought that their business was picking up, the Kiambu County Council demolished their stall to pave the way for road reconstruction.

Suddenly the month of July was a lot colder with their only source of income reduced to ruins.

But something had happened before the demolition that would help the couple rebuild their lives.

 Wangui recalls one morning when a man visited her stall. He wasn’t interested in their fruits. He said he had been sent by the makers of the washing detergent Ariel to carry out product research.

“I could have easily dismissed him, but I found myself agreeing to be interviewed,” she says. After a series of phone calls, interviews, and rehearsals, Wangui ended up being the woman in the Ariel television advertisement who shows off her neatly dressed husband.

“To take part in this contest, I had to commit my time and leave my family whenever need arose,” she points out. The seven-month preparation period was demanding.

The Sh3,000 allowance Wangui got during the interviews motivated the otherwise jobless couple to go on.

“That’s what we survive on. Had we missed out on this opportunity, we would have had to return to the village as city life would have been too costly,” Wangui explains.

Mureithi soon joined in the final preparation stages and when it became obvious that the couple was the best among the other contestants, the shoot began.

To their surprise, the contract offered Sh150,000 for the on-air advertising and another Sh100,000 for the billboards. Mureithi recalls how surprised he was as he signed the contract. But upon cashing the cheque at the bank, his family’s changing fortunes dawned on him.

The couple took some time to decide what to do with the money.

“We settled for investment as this seemed to be the option that would create a steady income for the family. And from a list of options, we decided to buy a passenger vehicle because we saw it as a reliable source of daily income,” Mureithi says.

He topped up with some of the money he had invested in a savings scheme to enable them to purchase a 14-seater vehicle that now operates between Kiambu and Nairobi.

“I went for a second-hand Toyota and I am giving it my all, determined that one day, I will be in a position to purchase a bigger one,” an optimistic Mureithi says.

On her part, Wangui now has a new kiosk where she sells fruits. She plans to set up another retail stall to stock household  items. 

We are now settled and can do something for ourselves. My wife did not get it (the advertising contract) by chance. I think it is God’s time to bless us. The suffering that we have gone through and what we have done for other people was like sowing a seed. It is now time for us to reap,” concludes Mureithi.

Source: Daily Nation

Posted in Features | 1 Comment »

Olympic champion Wanjiru charged over threat to wife’s life

Posted by Administrator on December 30, 2010

Olympic marathon champion Samwel Wanjiru has been charged with threatening to kill his wife, Tereza Njeri, using an illegal firearm December 30, 2010. FILE

Olympic marathon champion Samwel Wanjiru has been charged with threatening to kill his wife, Tereza Njeri, using an illegal firearm December 30, 2010. FILE

Olympic marathon champion Samwel Wanjiru has been charged with threatening to kill his wife, Tereza Njeri, using an illegal firearm.

The two-time Boston marathon winner was also charged with threatening to kill their househelp, Nancy Njoki, and wounding a security guard, William Masinde.

Mr Wanjiru denied the charges in a Nyahururu court and was released on a bond of Sh300,000 with a similar surety.

He is said to have been committed the offences on Wednesday at his Muthaiga estate home in Nyahururu town.

Prosecutor John Ruto told the court that the renowned athlete hit Mr Masinde with a rifle butt on the cheek and on the right hand.

The court heard that investigations were complete and five witnesses would testify.

The firearm has been forwarded to ballistics experts for analysis to determine whether or not it was used to commit other offences.

Senior Resident Magistrate Alice Mong’are set January 9, 2011 for mention and the hearing on March 14.

The athlete, who is also the Chicago and London marathon champion, said through his lawyer Ndegwa Wahome that he had been framed.

Mr Wanjiru spent Wednesday night in custody as a special team from Central Provincial Police headquarters conducted investigations.

Source: Daily Nation

Posted in Kenya | 3 Comments »

 
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