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Archive for February 1st, 2011

Kenyan artiste Stella Mwangi thrills in Norway

Posted by Administrator on February 1, 2011

This weekend marks the last chance for contenders to qualify for this year’s Norwegian Eurovision final, known as Melodi Grand Prix. The winner of this past weekend’s qualifying heat sang part of her song in Swahili.

Kenyan-Norwegian singer Stella Mwangi charmed the voters at the latest Melodi Grand Prix song contest in Norway, the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest in May. PHOTO: Stella Mwangi

Kenyan-Norwegian singer Stella Mwangi charmed the voters at the latest Melodi Grand Prix song contest in Norway, the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest in May. PHOTO: Stella Mwangi

This week’s winner in Skien was Kenyan-Norwegian Stella Mwangi. She and the runners up, The BlackSheeps, are therefore cleared for the finals at the Oslo Spektrum Arena on February 12.

Third- and fourth place went to the rockabilly band The Lucky Bullets, and the metal band Susperia. Susperia was allowed a second attempt when technical problems spoiled their first performance.

But it was Stella Mwangi who won the hearts of the audience in Skien and state broadcaster NRK’s television viewers with African rhythms and words of wisdom. Her song Haba Haba was partly sung in Swahili.

The BlackSheeps from Finnmark were already known to the audience as they had won the 2008 junior Eurovision competition both in Norway and the Nordic final. Three years later they showed that they could also appeal to adult listeners. It was the first time that a contestant from the junior competition has reached the adult final, reported  news website abcnyheter.no.

In previous heats Helene Bøksle, Babel Fish, Hanne Sørvåg and the duo Åste and Rikke qualified for the finals.

The remaining acts that will try to win a place in the finals are, in addition to The Lucky Bullets and Susperia, Sie Gubba, Mimi Blix, Use Me and Endre.

There was some drama after Saturday’s show as well, when a semi-trailer carrying Melodi Grand Prix’ stage gear was stolen, reported NRK. A tracing device on the trailer, however, showed that it had been driven across the border to Sweden.

Stage crews were already  trying to improvise a new set, when Swedish police managed to locate the vehicle a few hundred kilometers south of the border. The props for the show were being taken from last Saturday’s show in Skien in Telemark to Sarpsborg in Østfold, where the final qualifying round will be held this coming Saturday. A full recovery of the stolen equipment was expected.

Views and News from Norway/Sven Goll


Posted in Diaspora News, Kenya: Entertainment | Comments Off on Kenyan artiste Stella Mwangi thrills in Norway

K24TV: Untold Story_Washed Away

Posted by Administrator on February 1, 2011





Posted in Features, Kenya | 1 Comment »

I wish I hadn’t ignored my child’s sore-throat

Posted by Administrator on February 1, 2011

Muraya has to take blood-thinning medicine daily. The tablets prevent stroke-inducing blood clots from forming in his artificial heart valves. PHOTO I JENNIFER MUIRURI

Muraya has to take blood-thinning medicine daily. The tablets prevent stroke-inducing blood clots from forming in his artificial heart valves. PHOTO I JENNIFER MUIRURI

Lucy Njeri first noticed her son’s frequent sore throats in 2003, but she was not troubled. He was eight years old then. The remedy, she thought, was the good old gargle with warm salty water.

This treatment seemed to work because after a while, her son’s sore throats would fade away.

However, what Lucy did not know was that the seemingly harmless sore throats would be the beginning of the deadly and costly rheumatic heart disease.

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is characterised by damaged heart valves. It begins with a sudden strep sore throat. A strep sore throat is the most common bacterial infection of the throat. It is caused by the extremely contagious streptococcus bacteria, which are spread through the air and contact with an infected person. Strep sore throat occurs mostly in children between five and 15 years.

If left untreated, the strep sore throat develops into rheumatic fever. The fever develops two to three weeks after infection with streptococcus bacteria. Thereafter, it develops into rheumatic heart disease, the disease that Lucy’s son, Christopher Muraya, was diagnosed with.

“After the sore throats disappeared, Muraya developed a persistent cough and became too weak to even play with friends,” Lucy recalls.

This alarmed her enough to take the boy to a missionary clinic in Kariobangi, where he was given a dose of antibiotics. However, Muraya did not respond to treatment, prompting Lucy to take him from clinic to clinic in search of an elusive diagnosis.

In a desperate attempt to solve her son’s health riddle, Lucy took him to a VCT centre for an HIV and tuberculosis test.

“I felt helpless. I could hardly sleep at night. I was tired of watching my son suffer and was willing to try anything to get to the bottom of his illness,” Lucy says, tears clouding her eyes.

Both tests were negative, and though she was relieved, Lucy remained disturbed and uneasy because this meant that she couldn’t get help for her son.

“I felt I had done everything I could for him — all what was left was to comfort him and pray for a miracle.”

It was now almost five years since Muraya first fell ill and the mysterious disease had taken its toll. His breathing was laboured and any movement was a chore for him. He could not attend school or play with his friends. He also had a poor appetite and had become weak.

It was only after a friend directed Lucy to Baraka Medical Clinic, a charity in Mathare run by German doctors, that Muraya’s condition was finally diagnosed. The doctors at the clinic informed Lucy that her son had a “serious” heart condition. Treatment would cost of Sh3,500. However, she could not raise even a fraction of the amount.

“It almost killed me to know that I couldn’t afford this kind of money — God had finally answered my prayer for a diagnosis, yet I couldn’t afford the treatment. I have never been so frustrated in my life.”

Lucy, a single parent, makes a living by collecting plastic bottles at the Dandora dumpsite, which she then sells to factories for recycling. The most she makes is Sh130 a day, which is too little to cater for her family’s needs and pay for the drugs that keep her son alive.

With no one to turn to, a dejected Lucy took her sick child home and waited for the worst.

A few weeks later, a programme on a local vernacular station, Kameme FM, caught her attention, and renewed her hope for Muraya’s treatment. The station was hosting the Kenyan Heart National Foundation (KHNF), which happened to be discussing the symptoms of rheumatic heart disease.

Muraya’s Sunday school teacher was listening to the programme as well and recognised the RHD symptoms as the ones he had observed in Muraya. He immediately called Lucy and offered to take the child to the foundation, which assists poor heart patients to get treatment.

Unfortunately, Muraya had already developed rheumatic heart disease, which is incurable and fatal if not managed well.

His heart valves had already been damaged and surgery was needed urgently to save his life. To Lucy’s relief, KNHF offered to cover the cost of the treatment required to prepare Muraya for surgery, as well as the surgery itself. It cost Sh500,000, an amount that Lucy wouldn’t have been able to raise.

The surgery, which was performed in 2008, replaced Muraya’s damaged heart valves with artificial ones and mended those that had not been damaged beyond repair.

The surgery was successful, but Muraya has to be on medication for the rest of his life.

He has to take blood-thinning medication every day to prevent stroke-inducing blood clots from forming in his artificial heart valves. A month’s dose of the thinning medicine (Waarfarin) costs Sh600. He also requires a monthly penicillin injection to protect his other heart valves from getting infected. This costs Sh100.

This amount might seem little to many but to Lucy, it is an overwhelming amount, bearing in mind that she has to pay rent, cloth and feed her son, and cater for her basic needs as well.

“It hasn’t been easy. There are days when he goes without medication because I’m unable to raise the money,” Lucy says. When he has taken his medication, Muraya is an energetic and friendly 17-year-old who enjoys playing football with his friends. But he is a different person when he misses a dose.

“I become weak and my legs swell and ache. I also feel exhausted, so I can’t go to school or even move around,” says Muraya, a Standard Eight pupil at James Gichuru Primary School, in Dandora.

He says that as long as he is on medication, he can do everything other children his age can, although he has to be careful not to strain himself.

“I enjoy playing football with my friends, but I can’t run for more than two minutes at a time. I have to take short breaks because I get exhausted and run out of breath easily,” Muraya explains.

He would like to be a cardiologist so that he can help heart patients, especially children. Lucy says she shared her story so that other parents can learn from her ignorance.

“Don’t take chances like I did — had a known that a sore-throat could be the beginning of such a serious condition, I would have taken my son to hospital immediately.”

Rheumatic heart disease can be prevented.

According to the World Heart Federation, rheumatic fever/rheumatic heart disease is a leading cause of cardiovascular ailments, which often lead to death in developing countries. However, the disease is rare in most developed countries.

Medical researchers say that the disease is common among the underprivileged because of poor living conditions.

Overcrowding makes it easier for the airborne and contagious disease to spread. Moreover, poor people lack money to seek early treatment or even proper medical care. They usually use ineffective home remedies to treat strep sore throat, which can only be cleared using antibiotics.

No comprehensive studies have been done on the prevalence of the disease in Kenya. However, the Kenyan Heart National Foundation (KHNF) estimates that about 200,000 children develop rheumatic heart disease in the country every year.

Dr Naomi Gachara, a paediatric cardiologist at Kenyatta National Hospital, says the cost of treating RHD is beyond the means of the average Kenyan.

At the Kenyatta National Hospital, one heart valve costs Sh150,000 for those covered by the National Social Health Insurance Scheme. Those without health insurance cover have to part with no less than Sh200,000 for the valve. In private hospitals the cost is even higher. For instance, at Karen Hospital a heart valve costs Sh500,000.

This does not include other hospital costs such as bed, doctor’s fee, and other charges.

Dr Gachara notes the stark contrast between the cost of treating patients at the strep throat level and that of treating and managing RHD.

“Strep throat infections clear within 10 days when treated with penicillin. A penicillin dose costs between Sh20 and Sh40 at government hospitals. It is cheaper to treat and clear the infection at the strep throat stage,” she says.

KHNF chief executive officer Elizabeth Gatumia says there are 60 children on the foundation’s waiting list. They are waiting for funds to cover the cost of heart surgery to replace or repair damaged valves.

While they wait, their hearts continue to degenerate. Prevention, Ms Gatumia says, is the only way to avoid this serious disease.

“Rheumatic heart disease is preventable but its consequences are disastrous and lead to a slow painful death,” she says.

Most of the patients that the Kenyan Heart National Foundation has helped have not lived to see their 30th birthday. However, Ms Gatumia explains that with good nutrition, proper medication, hygiene and reduced exposure to new infections, an RHD patient can live much longer.

The Kenyan Heart National Foundation can be reached on: Tel: +254 2 4452214 / +254 3005084, Cell-Phones: +254 729625741 / +254 735408784, elizabeth@kenyanheart.or.ke www.kenyanheart.or.ke

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/Living/I%20wish%20I%20hadnt%20%20ignored%20my%20childs%20sore-throat%20/-/1218/1099592/-/91il6oz/-/index.html


For those who want to help Muraya, please use these contacts and make sure you specify that you want to help Muraya with his medications.

You can reach KHNF through Elizabeth on:

Personal Mobile Nos: +254 733907112 / +254 726143317
Personal Email: elizabeth@kenyanheart.or.ke
Office Tel: +254 2 4452214 / +254 3005084
Office Cell-Phones: +254 729625741 / +254 735408784
Office Email: kenyanheart@wananchi.com

Also if you want to reach Muraya’s mum-Lucy for ADDITIONAL HELP, email me at tgkaranja@jambonewspot.com and I will give you her cell phone number.

Posted in Features | 6 Comments »

Here’s why marriage fails

Posted by Administrator on February 1, 2011

By Winnie Kitetu

I have often heard it said that it’s easy to single out a married couple in traffic — they’re the ones who ignore each other.

I bet that when the marriage is young, couples always have something to talk about, and even when they don’t, the silence is a comfortable one. What changes?

When people get married, there is the exciting honeymoon stage. Many people make the mistake of assuming that life will always be like this — a bed of roses. They forget that roses, though beautiful, and a joy to smell and touch, come with thorns, which must be handled with care.

Traps to avoid as your marriage matures.

Master/servant roles: Marriage is about shared responsibilities and equal partnership.

Each one of you should play a role towards the nurturing of your marriage and growth of your family.

If one person ends up doing everything, he or she will suffer fatigue and will end up feeling resentful of the idle partner.

Policeman role: Trying to police each other is a recipe for disaster. There’s nothing as annoying as when you make a point of finding out where your partner is every hour, what he’s doing and with whom.

When you get to the point where you snoop through your partner’s phone, wallet and handbag, then there’s something terribly wrong with your relationship. A mutually satisfying marriage is based on trust.

Lack of communication: There’s more to communication than updating each other on your day-to-day progress. It calls for sensitivity.

I always say that if you don’t have something constructive or uplifting to say, don’t say it.

If you’re angry, it’s advisable to wait for the anger to fade away because you might say something that has the potential to destroy your marriage.

Always keep your cool and be selective with words.

Competition: If your marriage is to thrive, you need to speak in one voice and make an effort to find common ground in all important issues.

These issues include where to live, where to take your children to school as well as discipline, otherwise your children can easily manipulate you.

Involving a third party: There is nothing that has the potential to kill a marriage faster than allowing other people to interfere with your relationship. Marriage is a sacred union between two people. No one should come in between — not your parents, siblings, or friends.

There is a need to set clear boundaries with your relatives to maintain privacy, peace and tranquillity. It is also important to always portray your spouse in good light. They may have weaknesses like everyone else. However, as a partner in the marriage, it is your duty to cover his weaknesses.

Marriage is an enterprise that should be run with proper skills. It demands give and take and should be entered into with solemn deliberation. A healthy family allows individuality, and each member should be allowed to pursue his own interests even as they seek to operate as one.

Remember that making mistakes is part of life. Within a healthy marriage, mistakes are allowed. My take? The year is still young, therefore resolve to work on your marriage by being more open to your partner’s suggestions, engaging in more meaningful and healthy communication, and helping each other grow.

The writer is a clinical psychologist

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Studying abroad

Posted by Administrator on February 1, 2011

Every year international colleges hold career fairs in a bid to tap into the Kenyan student market attracted to the glamour of overseas study. SHIRLEY GENGA finds out the real life experience of Kenyan students abroad.

Martha Maneno

Martha Maneno

Martha Maneno

University of Warwick, UK.

Did you experience a cultural shock?

Yes. People are polite unlike Kenyans who are aggressive and courtesy words such as ‘yes please’ and ‘no thank you’ are commonly used. The transport system is also highly organised and precise, so if I miss one train, the entire day’s schedule changes.

Is the cost of school and living expensive?

Very expensive. I would receive a monthly stipend of £825 (Sh103,950). About £494(Sh62,244) catered for accommodation and the remaining was hardly enough for food, transport, laundry and other necessities. The tuition fee was £10,900 (Sh1.7m) annually, which is very expensive.

Other challenges?

It was very lonely especially during Christmas. It is winter around this time and everyone is home with their families. There are also no trains operating and we were stuck in the hostels with no TV to watch because we could not afford the license required to own it. The license is more expensive than the TV.

What did you like about studying there?

Shopping in the UK is memorable. The standards of education are also very high. It taught us to be creative and to think outside the box.

What advice would you give someone intending to study in the UK?

You need to be focused, disciplined and remember why you are there.

Alvin Okello

Alvin Okello

Alvin Okello

University of Maryland, US

How was your experience?

It was very different from what I was used to. Although my parents are US citizens, I studied in Kenya. What I loved about the university was the forum they created to enable people of different cultures to express themselves and to interact. There was a Black Student Association, which enabled Africans from all over the world to meet, organise festivals, eat African food and other activities.

Is it costly to live and study in the US?

Very costly, especially if you are an international or out of state student. Citizen students paid US$16,000 (Sh1.3m) while the rest paid US$56, 000 (ShSh4.5m) annually. Only in private universities like Harvard does everyone pay the same amount.

What do you love about it?

I did electrical engineering and my university was among the top 15 engineering universities in the US, so it was a plus. The social life was wonderful. The university was also keen on promoting heritage and sports and there would always be basketball and football matches where the whole campus gathered to cheer.

Advice for those hoping to study in the US?

Take advantage of the activities because they are avenues not only to connect with others, but also to get scholarships. You must also maintain an average of grade C or above otherwise you are put on academic probation (suspension), which requires reapplication. Also, do not work more than the hours required for an international student because it can land you in trouble. The Kenyan Embassy on the East Coast is also very helpful especially if you want to extend your visa or meet other Kenyans.

Wendy Macodawa

Deakin University , Melbourne, Australia.

How was it when you got there?

I experienced slight culture shock, but managed to quickly adapt, thanks to my previous exposure to different cultures.

How is it different from Kenya?

Melbourne is a metropolitan city that is spread out hence one requires a bus or taxi to move from one point to another. Melbourne is also located along the coast and a trip to the beach is less than 20 minutes. If you don’t want to go to the beach, you can enjoy the many beautiful shops, cafÈs, museums and restaurants.

What are some of the challenges?

Adjusting to the different seasons, especially winter.

What do you love about Melbourne?

I love the fact that it is a multicultural city and the residents are friendly. The city is also famous for its art, festivals, musicals and exhibitions throughout the year.

What would you tell someone aspiring to study in Melbourne?

Research will reduce the culture shock. Get information from the Australian Embassy in Kenya or from the Aussie Institution in Westlands. When you get to Melbourne, pick the leaflets distributed in most public places because they contain maps, important numbers and locations of social amenities. Though I have been there for one year, I still carry my information guide everyday.

Agnes Okello

Nagpur University, India.

Did you experience a cultural shock?

Totally! There would be crazy traffic jams not because the president was passing, but because a “revered” cow (a qualified cow) had decided to nap in the middle of a highway and police had to divert traffic!

The food, dining habits, fashion, etiquette and religion are so different from Kenya’s.

How is the cost of living and education?

The cost of tuition was lower compared to Kenyan universities. Basic needs are affordable and available.

Any other challenges you faced?

Coping in a new environment was hard and the weather did not help. I experienced the hottest summers of up to 50 _C. Language was a problem, as very few locals speak English.

What did you love about it?

The whole experience made me who I am today. I’m self-reliant, go-getter, hardworking, and flexible. It also improved my perspective of life. I began to appreciate the things we take for granted like being born a Kenyan!

Also, India truly is a developing country and for the five years I was there, I saw gradual improvement in the infrastructure, economy and service delivery.

What advice would you give someone intending to study there?

Go with an open mind and study the environment before letting lose or curling up into a tight ball in a corner. Focus on your mission to ensure you achieve it.


Jackie Wasonga

Natal University and University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Was the culture there different?

Yes. I had never experienced racism. There were no rooms on campus for white South African students. White students got rooms only during summer break when the university hosted exchange students. The South African blacks were not very friendly to foreign blacks because they felt we were taking over their opportunities.

What are some of the challenges?

Dealing with racism among the black, especially in Durban. There was also a lot of crime in Durban. I once saw a man being knifed and robbed near the beach. On many occasions, people assumed I was a local, but when they realised I don’t speak the local language, they insulted me. This forced me transfer to Cape Town, which was more cosmopolitan and friendly.

What advice would you give someone wanting to study in South Africa?

Try to connect with Kenyans living or studying there and get information about the university, particularly those who have been there. Have an open mind and enjoy the beauty and fun, especially in Cape Town, but don’t forget what took you there.

Alma Midega,

Kuban State Medical University, Russia.

How is it different from Kenya?

Many times I had to stop myself from gaping because of the cultural shock. I felt like the true African. I was also amazed at how they loved and invested in their country. Another thing is the absence of street urchins only gypsies once in a while during summer. There is racism in a few areas, but it was mostly fun. I made close friends and many contacts, which are still beneficial.


Communication was a big problem, as most people speak Russian. Oh, and the first winter is the true meaning of “baptism by fire.”

What do you love about it?

The people, the food and the fast life. The streets are also very beautiful. A walk at the end of a long day is just what anyone needs to unwind.

What advice would you give someone interested in studying in Russia?

Be focused because it is easy to lose to be derailed, but have fun.

Source: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/sports/InsidePage.php?id=2000028001&cid=616

Posted in Kenya | 1 Comment »

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