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Archive for February 13th, 2011

Kenyan correspondent shows icy skills

Posted by Administrator on February 13, 2011

Michael Kaloki is Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s correspondent in Kenya. Next to being a journalist, he is alto a talented ice sculptor. Michael wrote the following report about his adventures at this year’s Helsinki Zoo International Ice Sculpture Competition.

By Michael Kaloki, Helsinki

“What do you mean by ice carving?” This is a question that I have been asked countless times by my colleagues, friends and relatives in Nairobi. It seems that the concept of carving ice is not understood by many of those I know.

One of my friends once asked me, “Can ice be carved?” One even said, “That is crazy!” The answer to that (the first question that is) is ‘yes’. There are sculptors in various European and North American countries who focus on bringing out their artistic visions by using ice as a medium.

This year, I am attending the Helsinki Zoo International Ice Sculpture Competition, in Finland. One question I am almost always asked at events is, “How did you get into ice carving, yet there is no ice in Kenya.” I would often reply by saying that ice is just like any other medium.

Although I would not attest to being a professional carver – in fact I would consider myself still a novice – I believe that ice should be understood as a medium of expression for a sculptor. While studying in Canada, I had the opportunity to visit the famous Quebec Winter Carnival, where I saw a number of magnificent ice and snow carvings.

Upon my return to Kenya, I decided to try and find out what carving ice and snow was all about. I found a local Kenyan artist who was also interested. We formed a team and began participating at a number of events.

But this year I travelled alone to the Helsinki Zoo International Ice Carving Competition. The organizers had arranged for me to join a Finnish ice carver to form a team. We are required to carve two sculptures during the four day event. First, we carved a spider web. Our next piece will depict a bee on a flower. I am the only African taking part in the event. The other competitors are from Europe, Asia and North America.

Although some might feel that ice is only for use in soft drinks, there is more to it than just being another name for frozen water. Ice enables you to stretch the limits of sculpting. Not many mediums provide the sculptor with an opportunity to use the weather as an assistant.

For example, one can fuse ice pieces together by using the cold weather as a sort of ‘gluing factor’. ‘Just add a bit of water’ as many recipes say, and voilà, you can sculpt a tree with branches. Or any other object.

Another interesting aspect of ice carving, is that in order to be successful in carving one’s piece, chances are that you have to endure freezing temperatures. Minus 15 degrees Celsius and below are temperatures that many ice carvers enjoy working in. After all, you do not want your work of art melting even before you are able to finish it.

However, working in such conditions often involves covering yourself in bulky winter clothing and sometimes enduring cold icy winds. While taking part in competitions, you have to sometimes look away from throngs of spectators who sip large cups of warm tea and coffee.

This situation is similar to working in the hot Kalahari Desert while talking to someone sipping a cold glass of milk. The temptation is to stop working and enjoy the milk too. However, at the end of it all, the harsh weather is but a mere small challenge in achieving the overall goal: a gracious piece of art.

I am fascinated by the way ice sculptures tend to bring out a blend of elegance and splendour. After, you have the opportunity to enjoy these works of art, albeit for a brief moment. They melt away and return to their original form: water. In turn, the water will one day freeze again and give a chance to another sculptor to show his or her skills.

Source: http://www.rnw.nl/africa/article/kenyan-correspondent-shows-icy-skills


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Pair celebrates a love cemented by the gift of life

Posted by Administrator on February 13, 2011

Charity Nyakeo and her younger brother Paul Muigai during the interview on February 13, 2011. Paul donated a kidney to his sister Photo/JENNIFER MUIRURI

Charity Nyakeo and her younger brother Paul Muigai during the interview on February 13, 2011. Paul donated a kidney to his sister Photo/JENNIFER MUIRURI

The cord of love between two siblings is so strong that one put his life on the line to save the other.

Paul Muigai was willing to do anything for love; just like St Valentine put his life on the line by secretly performing marriages against the decree of Emperor Claudius II of Rome hundreds of years ago.

Mr Muigai, 31, took up the selfless task of saving his sister, Charity Nyakio, when he donated his kidney two years ago.

Nyakio and Paul have given the day a tag of new meaning; unconditional love. Today the pair joins the world in celebrating the day of love, Valentines’ Day.

“I love my sister and becoming a donor was the least I could do to express it,” Mr Muigai said in an interview on Sunday.

Ms Nyakio was diagnosed with high blood pressure 15 years ago and had managed the condition until four years ago when her kidneys started failing.

“I spent Sh12,000 weekly on dialysis for one and a half years and could no longer sustain it,” Ms Nyakio says.

After a battery of medical tests, she got two matching donors who could donate a kidney for her to resume a normal life. But one pulled out at the last minute.

“She feared the transplant surgery so my brother was the only willing donor who stood with me through the treacherous journey,” Ms Nyakio remembers.

After a successful surgery in India in 2009, the mother of two has resumed her business and is grateful to her brother for the “gift of life”.

On this day, a woman’s dream of a candlelight dinner, chocolates and romance may come to pass while for others the day is one of the occupational hazards of modern day dating.

Boyfriends and girlfriends

But according to this pair, Valentine’s is a day to show love not only to spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends but also to be shared among siblings, friends, school mates and even colleagues.

There is much to be grateful for every day, Ms Nyakio says. The special love between siblings was also evident last year when two sisters took part in a landmark operation.

In March 2010, Mary and Peninah Nginyo were among the first patients to undergo a kidney transplant using new technology known as laparoscopy.

Ms Mary Nginyo, 32, was diagnosed with kidney failure two years ago. It almost proved fatal when she became pregnant at the same time.

But her sister Peninah’s love proved far more powerful as the two women underwent the first surgery of its kind in Africa, performed by a team of Spanish and Kenyan doctors at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

Their sharing signals a bold new direction for Kenyan patients with kidney failure. The first kidney transplant in the country was done at KNH in 1978, but it was not until 1988 that the procedure became available on a regular basis.

Pre-transplant analysis and the transplant cost about Sh520,000. Previously, the operation cost Sh800,000 at the public hospital, or Sh1.1 million in private health institutions.

The introduction of this relatively low-cost transplant technology could reduce the burden on Kenya’s scarce dialysis facilities, and help discourage medical travel to other countries where such procedures are more routine.

Laparoscopic surgery is a kind of keyhole surgery in which operations in the abdomen are performed through small incisions (usually 0.5–1.5 cm).

Also called minimally invasive surgery (MIS), the procedure uses images displayed on television monitors for magnification of the surgical elements.

The procedure has led to a decrease in pain and scarring and swifter recovery for the patients.

Ms Nyakio and her brother will today join other donors and recipients for an awareness walk at Impala Club from 9am to celebrate the gift of life.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Pair%20celebrates%20a%20love%20cemented%20by%20the%20gift%20of%20life%20/-/1056/1106994/-/dh625r/-/

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Kenya university rankings drop as South Africa colleges shine

Posted by Administrator on February 13, 2011

A graduation ceremony at a public university. Photo/FILE

A graduation ceremony at a public university. Photo/FILE

Kenyan universities have dropped in academic rankings compared to their peers in Africa and beyond, a new research shows.

The latest study by Spanish research firm Webometrics shows that Kenya’s top universities dropped several places in the January 2011 Africa rankings compared to similar ratings in
July last year.

University of Nairobi and Strathmore University dropped to position 27 and 38 in Africa from position 26 and 22 in July last year.

Moi University was placed at 90 having dropped from position 74, according to the rankings which are based on an online measure of visibility and generation of research.

On the global front, all Kenyan universities have slipped out of the top 3,000 category since January 2009 when Strathmore was ranked at 2,404 worldwide.

No Kenyan university made it in the top 1,000 list in a more comprehensive ranking by the Academic Ranking of World Universities released in August last year, reflecting the low standing of the country’s institutions.

Lower prestige

The drop in the rankings means that Kenyan universities are relatively slow at adapting modern teaching technologies, a move that threatens critical skill base of graduates needed for competitiveness in the local and global labour market.

The poor ranking also means a lower prestige for Kenyan universities on the international stage, slowing down scholarly partnerships and funding from the top league universities and donors.

Though the choice of a university in Kenya is largely affected by cost considerations, prospective local and international students from wealthy families have started paying attention to the league tables.

“There is enormous attention given to every league table that is published as well as its quality ranking. And they are taken seriously by students, government and especially by the media,” said Ms Ellen Hazelkorn, the main author of a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which studied the influence of university rankings.

Kenyan universities have in the past two years gone big on physical expansions, opening several constituent colleges without a commensurate spend on academic staffing and learning
resources such as libraries.

The universities are yet to offer local degrees on a pure online platform, citing high initial costs and a deep-seated culture of classroom teaching.

The latest Webometrics rankings, however, show improvements among upcoming Kenyan universities.

United States International University (USIU) and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) burst into the top 100 Africa list for the first time, standing at 78 and 89 respectively.

Kenyatta University moved up 29 places to stand at 51.

South Africa houses the best universities in the continent, chalking up the top nine places in the Webometric rankings, with University of Cape Town emerging tops.

Egypt is another major player in tertiary education, accounting for 16 of the top 100 slots in the Africa rankings.

Globally, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reclaimed its pole position from Harvard University.

Source: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Corporate%20News/Kenya%20university%20rankings%20drop%20as%20South%20Africa%20colleges%20shine/-/539550/1107030/-/feuuwn/-/

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Residents lynch teenager in mistaken identity

Posted by Administrator on February 13, 2011

A 19-year-old boy was attacked and killed in a mistaken identity incident in Nairobi’s Umoja Innercore Estate.

The victim was attacked by a group of youth who were attending a party at a private residence in the area after mistaking him to be a thief at about midnight on Saturday.

Police and witnesses said the deceased was walking to his residence that was about 500 metres away and had stopped to relieve himself when he was killed.

He had stopped besides a car to relieve himself when some of the youth who were partying at a next house saw him and thought he was stealing from the car.

The youth attacked him with sticks and blows leaving him for the dead. He was identified by the neighbours yesterday morning long after those who are believed to have been behind the incident had left.

The victim sat Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) last year. Buru Buru OCPD Jecinta Wesonga said yesterday a team of detectives was pursuing the incident with a view of taking action. The body was removed to the mortuary. Neighbours of the boy identified him only as Philip.

“Some of these parties that take place in estates should not be allowed because people get drunk and commit crimes that are grave,” said a neighbour Gideon Otieno, as police removed the body.

City police boss Anthony Kibuchi warned that those arrested over such incidents will face charges that may include murder.

Source: http://m.standardmedia.co.ke/newsM.php?id=2000029010

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