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Archive for March 15th, 2011

Kenyan woman’s life changed when husband returned HIV positive

Posted by Administrator on March 15, 2011

For 10 years Amina Hassan (not her real name), 37, trusted her husband and had a happy married life in Nakuru, in Rift Valley Province, western Kenya. Even if her religion allowed him to marry other wives, he had always assured her that she was enough, and he would have no reason to marry anyone else. But she told IRIN/PlusNews that life changed when her husband went to work in the port city of Mombasa and he returned a different man.clearpxl

“I got married in 1994 at the age of 20 to a man who was five years older than me. Every time we talked, he assured me of his love for me and his commitment to making me happy all the time. He said he was faithful to me even though as a truck driver he traveled for long distances and many days.

“In return, I remained faithful to him, I would miss him when he traveled but kept off the temptations of having another partner. He had rented a house for us in Bondeni, Nakuru, and I made sure no man, even a relative, visited in his absence, lest speculations start spreading around.

“In January 2004 he told me he would be working around the costal town of Mombasa for three weeks but… he did not return as promised and told me on the phone that he would take a little longer, as he had been assigned more work.

“When he came back in July the same year, it was a joyous moment for me and our children. But unlike before, the joy did not last over the night.

“He had never before asked to have anal sex with me, but on that particular night he demanded that it had to be done ‘the modern way’. When I resisted, he threatened to leave me, saying I and the children would soon die from starvation as he would no longer provide for us.

“He even asked me to return 6,000 Kenyan shillings (US$75) that he had given me to shop for the house and children the following day. On that night I gave in, only to keep the money and avoid confrontation.

“I hoped that he would calm down and I would explain to him that it was not my preferred way of having sex. It was so painful, both in my heart and body, but it was a sacrifice I would make for my children.

“It later became the order of the day, though sometimes we would have sex the normal way, he preferred anal sex, claiming he derived more pleasure in it. I suffered bruises but had to bear the pain. I would cry during and after sex, but I still had to stick to this man, who provided and still provides for me and my children.

“Four months later my situation deteriorated. The wounds were more painful than ever and even started producing pus – that’s when I went to a government hospital.

“Though I felt hurt by the inquisitive nurses, I had to bear also with their sarcasm as they mocked me due to the nature of my injuries.

“Worse still, it was then that I tested HIV positive. I felt so betrayed, the first thing that came to my mind was that I should commit suicide.

“I still had sex with him, yet I could not disclose my findings as yet. I wondered whom I would share with my problems, but still I wanted to keep them to myself – it was the safest way.

“Later I met an old friend who had been open about his HIV status, and was running an organization for the infected. It was Paul Ndegwa, the founder of Ambassadors of Change organization who advised me to start ARV [antiretroviral] treatment.

“Though Ndegwa advised me to stop having anal sex and enlightened me on the dangers associated with it, I still cannot avoid it – it has become my way of life. My husband still insists on it, and threatened to abandon his own family.

“I do not have a job, I want to keep my promise to live with this man. I see no need of divorcing him when I am already infected. If only for my children, I will remain in this man’s house, being obedient and submissive. I know he hurts me, but I have already forgiven him.

“I keep going to hospital for the ARVs, which I take secretly and for treatment of anal injuries. For me sex is a punishment, no longer pleasure I would want to enjoy.

“I joined Ambassadors of Change as a member without his knowledge. I disclosed my status to him, but he just kept silent, just as if I had said nothing.

“I tried advising him to go for a HIV test, but he insisted he was sure that he was negative, and need not be tested. But I suspect he knows his status and is taking ARVs secretly because he still looks healthy.”

Read more: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/briefs/articles/90038383?Kenyan%20woman’s%20life%20changed%20when%20husband%20returned%20HIV%20positive#ixzz1FfM5hYNY


Posted in Kenya_Health | 6 Comments »

Money floods in to fly woman found dead in Coundon flat home to Africa

Posted by Administrator on March 15, 2011

Nancy Wataku Kiongo

Nancy Wataku Kiongo

Coventry city’s African community has received a flood of donations to fly the body of a Kenyan woman, who was found dead in a Coventry flat, back to her native country.

Nancy Wataku Kiongo was found dead in her Coundon flat by a friend last Friday – weeks after she was attacked by teenage yobs.

Friends say the 50-year-old, who has no relatives in this country, was never the same after she was beaten by youths at the end of last year for refusing to buy cigarettes for them.

They say it resulted in serious injuries to her arm and back and she was receiving ongoing treatment.

A campaign was launched by community leaders to raise £4,000 for the repatriation of Nancy’s body, which is proving a success with £600 already donated to the appeal.

A memorial service is also being planned in Nancy’s honour.

Pastor Samuel Kinuthia, minister of Gethsemane Global Church Ministries pentecostal church, in Woodway Park, says he has been inundated with calls.

He said: “The phone hasn’t stopped ringing with people offering to donate funds and support, asking what they can do to help.

Read More http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/2011/03/03/money-floods-in-to-fly-woman-found-dead-in-coundon-flat-home-to-africa-92746-28273203/#ixzz1GhqfOIAd

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Slices of Hope: Sick friends, A blessing in disguise

Posted by Administrator on March 15, 2011

Frankly, it’s hard not be thankful for sick friends. Even before my current age (it is a surprise when nothing hurts) I had started thanking God for people who have faced or suffered from the same health issues that were new to me. Further, I thank Him for making those dear suffering fellow travelers share details of their journey with pain and the remedies that they prescribe with authority.

It just seems natural for my friends to help me. Some even provided tips on how to conceive a baby boy — after “natural” experts learned that we had three daughters and no son. They advised about the best hour to shower, the temperature of the water and just-before-bedtime activities were prescribed in addition to some information I consider adult material.

Yet, the how-to-get-a-son experts were amateurs compared to my experts on health issues. Take the Minneapolis airport cart driver, a native of one of the Horn of Africa countries. Knowing that I came originally from Kenya was enough for him to prescribe the physical activities I needed for my knee (the reason I was on his cart). His final admonition was, “My brother, never let your body be operated. Trust me. I can come to where you live and teach you those exercises.”  I could not trust his advice. I had seen the X-rays of my knee.

I admit. I am ignorant of many things. So when the doctor said, “Your chest pains are due to acid reflux,” my life began to be enriched by ideas and recommendations. That is when I was led to the miracles of a rare natural juice called Noni (millions have never heard of it) mixed with Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother (no kidding) by a fellow Kenyan suffering in Texas.

As well as learning of a myriad of medications, vitamins and herbs that have kept my friends alive, some comfort comes with knowing you are not alone. Aging pains are non-discriminatory. I have heard wisdom on how to ease mine from a homeless man and from a top-elected official. You can’t believe my relief when a doctor said, “I don’t know if there is medicine for that yet, but this is what my mother used to do …” God bless mothers.

My own mother was the first natural doctor (add psychologist) to not only prescribe what she thought would cure her son but also administer a barrage of remedies. Ash mixed with sap extracted from sisal paper (same family as yucca) leaves were believed to cure my stomachaches. I endured the ash and sap treatment for 17 years without improvement. Eventually, a real doctor’s laboratory analysis revealed why.

My mother’s handbag was mobile pharmacy. Even if you don’t believe in God, know that He is real. Who else would you credit for our survival (my siblings and I) from the unprescribed medicine that came from that handbag? I still see her opening it and hear, “Muli nyua mbeke isu na kiwu” (Muli take that tablet with water).

Dr. Vincent Muli Kituku is a motivational speaker and author. He can be reached in care of the Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Argus Observer

Source: http://www.argusobserver.com/articles/2011/02/20/news/us/doc4d60bce170130161529352.txt

Posted in Analysis and Opinion | 1 Comment »


Posted by Administrator on March 15, 2011

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A Kenyan Dies in Seattle Washington

Posted by Administrator on March 15, 2011

Sunrise- 1st September 1954 SunsetMarch 11th 2011

Sunrise- 1st September 1954 SunsetMarch 11th 2011

Kenyans in Seattle are mourning the death of Grace Nyambura Wainaina which occurred on March 11th 2011 after a short battle with Cancer. Grace was the sister of Eliud Ngige Ng’ang’a of Richmond, VA, Margaret Waithera Ng’eera (Seattle/Tacoma, WA formerly of Boston, MA)

She was the daughter of the late Joseph Ng’ang’a Chege and Esther Njeri Ng’ang’a, beloved wife to Musa Wainaina. Loving mother of Samuel Kimemia, Joseph Ng’ang’a (Boston, MA USA), Hosea Ndugu, Tabitha Wangari, Esther Njeri, and Serah Mwihaki. Mother in law of Richard Macharia, Sister of the late Peter Chege Ng’ang’a, the late Elizabeth Waceke, and Molly Wambui Ngugi (formerly of World Concern). Grandmother of Nina Neema, Teddy Wainaina and Gracie Nyambura.

Friends and Family are meeting daily at Margaret Waithera Ngeera’s Residence at 1717S 84th St. Apt. A II Tacoma, WA 98444.

There will be a funeral service at Emmanuel Celebration Center (9244 Pacific Avenue Tacoma, WA 98444) and burial at Mountain View Funeral Home (4100 Steilacom Blvd. SW, Lakewood, WA 98499) on Friday 18th March, 2011.

Contact Persons:

Margaret Ng’eera 617-642-1481

Peterkin Ng’eera 978-457-3829

Pastor P. K. Muigai 253-929-4545

Eliud Ngige Ng’ang’a 804-334-8922

Alice N Ngige 804-334-3724

Mjr. Geoffrey Wariuki Kimani 804-426-9604

The Bank details are as follows



Routing No. 325081403

Account No. 3583826737

Account Name

Margaret W Ng’eera

Posted in Diaspora News | 1 Comment »

No Sex Please, We’re Kenyans’

Posted by Administrator on March 15, 2011

Karen Rothmyer

It didn’t take long for the complaints to start pouring in after the Star on March 8 ran a photo on Page 3 of a couple engaged “in the act” (as the caption put it). The photo was one of two accompanying a story about police efforts to put an end to the use of a park in Kakamega as a place to have sex.

One of the earliest came from Amanda Khamati, who wrote: “Page 3 in today’s paper has the story of a ‘sex party’ in Muliro Gardens. Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the story. However, the picture of a couple having sex was absolutely unnecessary.”

Other readers were also quick to weigh in. Lynesther Mureu wrote: “That was not moral and responsible journalism.” Sam Karanja said that he objected to being taken by surprise, since the paper “is not positioned as a sleaze rag.” And Muriithi Muriuki criticized the photo showing a “lack of taste in a newspaper that wants to be seen as [a] decent publication.”

In short order the Media Council, citing a legal prohibition on publishing obscene material except in cases of overriding public interest and its own Code of Conduct, referred the matter to its complaints commission.

Let’s start with a little background. The offending photo and a number of others began making the rounds of Kenya blogs in late February. When I did a web search for the last month on the words “Muliro Gardens” and “sex” I got almost 850 hits, and when I checked out a few of the sites, I found not only photos but also dozens of comments from Kenyans ranging from shock (“such vice portrays a wicked society”) to enthusiasm (“seems Kakamega is my next holiday destination”).

On February 24, the Standard published a story about the goings-on in the park and the fact that photos had been posted on the Internet. But perhaps because no graphic photo accompanied the story, the piece got little if any attention.

Star CEO William Pike says he learned about the photos on March 5 from a Kenyan acquaintance who later emailed him the URL for one of the websites. Pike then asked that the paper’s Kakamega correspondent be instructed to do a story on police reaction to sex in the park. Pike said the objective was “to cover the problem.”

From here on, accounts of what happened get a little murky. There is general agreement that at the 3pm news meeting on March 7, it was decided that the story would be used the following day along with a photo of two policemen and a (seemingly fully-clothed) couple to whom the police appear to be talking.

The Star photo editor was out that day, leaving one of the staff photographers to sit in for him. The acting photo editor says that he came late to the meeting and doesn’t recall any definitive decision to use only one picture. “What I heard is that if you use the picture it needs to be blurred” (to protect the couple’s identity),” he says. After examining the layout, he concluded that the photo of the couple and the police, on its own, didn’t tell the story. So he looked through the possibilities and came up with the second photo showing the same couple, but without the police and with the woman straddling her seated companion. “We are not in the old times now,” he says, explaining his choice. “The public is learning.” He consulted with the news editor who recalls, “I said okay. I didn’t think more about it.”

Editor Catherine Gichuru says she was unaware of the added photo when she left the newsroom a little after 6pm. Pike says that he saw it at about 6.30pm, just before the page was sent to the printer. At that point, he sought a second opinion, asking the production editor whether he thought it was okay. “He said yes and I left it at that,” Pike says. The production editor confirms this account.

One final query on the photo came from the sub-editor handling the page, who says that when she saw it, she checked with the news editor and the acting photo editor to be sure they’d approved its use. She also consulted the revise editor, who suggested that the faces be blurred further, which was done.And that was it-until the paper hit the streets on the morning of March 8.

It wasn’t only readers who were upset. Vendors also complained. So did circulation and advertising staffers. And so did a number of reporters and editors. At the 9am news meeting that morning, one of the political reporters argued, “It’s important for the public to know that this is happening. How many children pass this park every day?” Countered another, “Can you take this paper to your house?” The debate continued through the day.

There’s no question, I would say, that the photo was outside of current Kenyan norms for national publications. The expressions of outrage attest to that. Still, as the many ribald comments on the websites illustrate, standards are changing. Moreover, the Star has tried to establish itself as unafraid to challenge the status quo in the political sphere, so one could make the argument that it should do the same in other areas. Reader Christopher Kims commented in a supportive email that he is grateful to the Star “for always being fearless and putting things as they are and not as they should (have) be(en).”

On the matter of news value, the defenders of the photo are on shakier ground. If the Star’s concern was to highlight the social value of attractive public parks, as its first-day editorial claimed (in what struck me as an effort at pre-emptive justification) a photo of garbage-strewn grass might have done just as well. It also seems to me that to argue for the “public interest” in a case like this is to cheapen a journalistic defence that should be reserved for the gravest occasions. (The Star, to its credit, didn’t claim such a defence in its second-day editorial, falling back instead on a rather weak claim that one role of newspapers is to “provoke debate.”)

My own opinion is that the Star, which I admire for its iconoclasm, this time went a bit too far. But I also think that the reaction was more than a little overheated. Couples having sex in a public park is not an issue that threatens the foundations of the nation, and nor is a picture of such activity.

What concerns me more is the ad hoc way in which the decision to run the picture was made. Newsroom pressure to make judgments quickly and keep the process moving, especially as the deadline approaches, is intense. Nonetheless, I would advocate a procedure for making potentially controversial decisions-something as simple as a five-minute private meeting involving three or four senior people-that could be triggered by any editor. That would allow the paper to say that it had exercised considered judgment. It would also lessen the chances of the Star becoming the story.

Source: www.nairobistar.com

Posted in Kenya | 1 Comment »

Ocampo: Muthaura must leave by April 7

Posted by Administrator on March 15, 2011

A new battlefront is opening up between Kenya and the International Criminal Court following demands by Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo that Mr Francis Muthaura step aside from office immediately.

Mr Ocampo also says his evidence reveals “shoot-to-kill” orders were in place during Kenya’s post-election violence. In his evidence, Ocampo will argue both Muthaura and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta met, organised and got Mungiki sect members deployed to Rift Valley for reprisal killings.

Yesterday Ocampo declared he also wants to ensure Uhuru, who doubles up as Finance minister, has no influence over local processes relating to the ICC.

He threatened the six suspects with detention if they interfere with his witnesses or subvert investigations when ICC investigators come to seek witness testimony in Kenya.

The abrasive lawyer, who shot to fame after trying the Argentine military junta in his country, also boasted he has got more witnesses and evidence to support his two separate cases against the six Kenyans. Ocampo insisted the Head of Civil Service has to let go of his office because it allows him undue influence over witnesses and police — given that he chairs the National Security Advisory Committee.

Speaking on a teleconference with journalists, Ocampo, who has vowed he would make Kenya an example to the world on impunity, said he wants to present his new evidence on April 7 when six individuals appear at The Hague. He also announced he would file appeals against some of the findings of the two judges who agreed to issue summons for the ‘Ocampo six’.

Ocampo, who could easily ask for a warrant of arrest against Muthaura if he deems it necessary at this stage, gave him three weeks to quit — the deadline being April 7 when he is expected to show up at The Hague to be read to his Miranda Rights and the crimes against humanity charges facing him. He, however, seemed to suggest to the President, whom he announced he would write to this week, to move Muthaura to a position where he would not be in direct contact either with witnesses or police.

The conditions given by the Judges to Muthaura, as well as the other five suspects are clear they should “have no contact directly or indirectly, with any person who is or is believed to be a victim or a witness,” and must “refrain from corruptly influencing a witness, obstructing or interfering with the attendance or testimony of a witness, or tampering with or interfering with the Prosecution’s collection of evidence.”

No control over police

“I shall ensure that Muthaura has no connection with the police. We will send a letter to the Kenya government on this… Before we take testimonies in Kenya we should be sure Muthaura is not in charge of the police. If he remains in charge (of anything) he should (at least) not be in charge of police,” he declared.

But signs President Kibaki would not easily let go his right-hand man in Government, a man often seen in diplomatic circles as Kenya’s “shadow-President” or “the enforcer”, emerged when the Government Spokesman maintained Muthaura won’t leave office. Dr Alfred Mutua, who takes his orders directly from the President or through Muthaura, who is his immediate boss, accused ICC of belittling Kenya by communicating the prosecutor’s desire that the Civil Service chief step aside, through the media.

“We want to be sure that should Mr Muthaura remain in power, he has no power over the police service,” Ocampo said. He disclosed he would gather new evidence from Kenya, subject to the condition Muthaura and Uhuru were not in control of the police and the Witness Protection Programme.

While one judge totally rejected Ocampo’s case, the other two who agreed to issue summons also rejected some of the accusations made by the prosecutor. In the videoconference with Kenyan journalists, Ocampo enumerated his plan of action including his intention to meet Kenyan tribal elders to “explain to them the ICC process”.

“The Government finds it strange and un-procedural that it would get communication first through the media. The Government wishes to inform the world that we understand, appreciate and respect the Rome Statute, the Rights enshrined by the United Nations and the ICC process,” declared Mutua in his official website.

Status quo prevails

“It is important to note that individuals summoned by the ICC have not yet been charged, and are not guilty until the Court finds them guilty after the hearings of any charges are brought against them,’’ said Mutua in a bid to justify Muthaura’s continued service to Government and the President, whose Cabinet he is the Secretary, in his present capacity.

Mutua was explicit: “In the meantime, the status quo prevails, as the Government awaits to receive the letter alluded to by ICC Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo. Thereafter, the Government will state its position.”

For emphasis he put the words ‘status quo’, which means ‘current state of affairs’, in capital letters.

As the head of National Security Advisory Committee, Muthaura’s role includes monitoring and advising the Cabinet Security Committee and the President, constantly reviewing threats to security, designing and preparing a national security plan, and contingency strategy.

Not protecting his interests

“Before we disclose to the Kenyan Police about witnesses in Kenya, we should be sure Mr Muthaura is not on top of the police. We want to be sure the police will not be protecting his interests,’’ added Ocampo.

His demands came a day after Orange Democratic Movement, which is led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, wrote to the United Nations Security Council — which Kibaki’s side has been lobbying to secure deferral of Kenyan cases.

Curiously, Ocampo spoke a day after ODM in its letter wrote: “Because of the significant positions held in, and influence the suspects wield within Government, they are the ones spearheading the deferral request as a means of defeating the cause of justice. Ultimately, the six suspects the ICC has summoned intend to use the deferral, if granted, as the basis for perpetuating the culture of impunity in Kenya.”

The other individuals facing cases at The Hague are: Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey, Postmaster General Hussein Ali and Kass FM Radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang.

The Prosecutor announced he would file a fresh case against the former Police Commissioner over alleged shoot-to-kill orders issued against civilians in Kisumu, Kibera and other urban slums. The ICC judges had rejected the charge. This move appears a blow to Ali who seemed to have escaped with a lighter charge last week over security killings.

The Prosecutor declared ICC would not be deterred by political campaigns and shuttle diplomacy targeted at deferring the cases arguing they had no impact on the ongoing process.

He revealed he was confident of convincing the judges during the confirmation hearings that begin after April 7 that the six have cases to answer.

In his first application to the judges, Ocampo had requested the judges to order the suspects not to interact but the request was declined. If this order were issued, it would effectively have made Muthaura incapable of functioning since he would have been blocked from meeting Uhuru who is Finance minister.

 Source: http://m.standardmedia.co.ke/headlines.php?id=2000031202

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Kenya shilling hits new record low

Posted by Administrator on March 15, 2011

Kenya’s shilling fell further to a new low against the dollar on Tuesday a day after the Central Bank governor Prof Njuguna Ndung’u refused to intervene and stabilise the currency’s performance.

On Tuesday, the shilling traded at Sh86.45/55 against the dollar compared to Sh86.15/25 on Monday.

According to Reuters, traders have attributed the fall to Ndung’u’s comments, after he said there would be no intervention to support the shilling, which is down 6.7 percent against the dollar this year to date.


Posted in Kenya | 4 Comments »

‘Soul Boy’ Tells a Different Story of Life in Kibera

Posted by Administrator on March 15, 2011

Los Angeles — Soul Boy is a gem of a film. It takes us into the world of the Kibera slums of Nairobi, telling the story of 14-year-old Abila, who sets out to find what is wrong with his ailing father.

The father has lost his soul to a witch and the young boy sets out on an adventure to save him.

The film is at times comedic, for example during Abila’s run-ins with his friends in the neighborhood who gently tease him, a Luo, for having a Kikuyu girlfriend.

Samson Odhiambo plays the lead with reflection and honesty. Odhiambo’s portrayal takes us completely into Abila’s world, and through his facial expressions and embodiment of the character he allows the audience to empathize with Abila.

The breakout role in this film was definitely Shiku, played by Leila Dayan Opou. She is Abila’s friend and girlfriend who follows him around and often brings about many of the film’s comedic scenes.

The film used Kibera residents at all levels of production, and its imagery and photography earned it a best-director nomination at this year’s Pan African Film Festival.

The film makers did well. So often stories deal with rampant poverty or crime but ‘Soul Boy’ shows that is not the only story Kibera has to tell.

Msia Kibona Clark is an AllAfrica special corresponent who covered the 19th Annual Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, California. The festival screened more than 100 films made by and/or about people of African descent from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Europe and Canada. 

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201103150731.html

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New Documentary ‘Ni Wakati’ Brings American, East African Artists Together

Posted by Administrator on March 15, 2011

Los Angeles — The new documentary by Kenyan filmmakers Michael Wanguhu and Russell Kenya premiered at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles this year. It proved to be a good year for Kenyan film, with eight films set in the country.

Ni Wakati is a documentary that deals with issues including the state of hip hop, connections between Africans and African Americans, and the struggles between commercialized and conscious hip hop.

Woven into the story are interviews with American hip hop scholars and activists Davy D, Toni Blackman, M1 (of Dead Prez), and Umi (of P.O.W). Also featured are numerous hip hop artists and activists in East Africa, such as Binyavanga Wainaina, Kama (of Kalamashaka), Zavara (of Kwanza Unit), and former Black Panthers Charlotte O’Neal, Pete O’Neal, and Geronimo Ji Jaga.

The film follows African American hip hop artists M1 and Umi as they travel to Kenya and Tanzania to meet with artists there. The audience gains an understanding of the dangers East African hip hop faces if it follows the footsteps of the American scene. Socially-conscious artists from all three countries discuss the commercialization of hip hop and the values which artists from all three countries share.

Many of the Kenyan artists in Ni Wakati are familiar to viewers of Wanguhu’s first film, Hip Hop Colony, which dealt with the Kenyan hip hop scene.

Members of Kenya’s Ukoo Flani Mau Mau were featured in the first film and return in Ni Wakati, which, unlike Hip Hop Colony, focuses primarily on socially and political conscious artists. Ukoo Flani Mau Mau was founded by the pioneering hip hop group Kalamashaka and consists of several artists from the Dandora slums of Nairobi.

From Kenya, the film moves on to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where we also meet artists from that country’s hip hop scene. It culminates in an important discussion between the American, Kenyan and Tanzanian artists at the United African Alliance Community Center (UAACC) in Arusha, run by former Black Panthers Charlotte and Pete O’Neal.

According to the filmmakers, there are plans to organize fundraisers in the United States to help ongoing projects in East Africa. In Dandora, Ukoo Flani Mau Mau is in the process of building a studio, and funds are needed to help complete the project. In addition, the UAACC needs money to buy a bus to help with the services the centre provides in Arusha.

In an interview with one of the filmmakers, Michael Wanguhu, it was clear that one of their goals was to tell the story of hip hop in East Africa, not just as entertainment, but as a tool to empower and mobilize the youth and to give a voice to a segment of the population often overlooked.

Wanguhu himself grew up as part of a global hip-hop generation and has had an interest in art since primary school. His entry into documentary filmmaking was sparked by the 1997 documentary Rhyme & Reason.   After graduating from the New York Film Academy, Wanguhu returned to Kenya and was inspired to tell the story of the nation’s hip hop performers. 

Hip Hop Colony: The African Hip Hop Explosion, dealt with the changes occurring in the Kenyan scene at the time, where there was a split between commercial and conscious artists. Hip Hop Colony also dealt with class divisions in the Kenyan scene, where many of us first heard about Kalamashaka and their attempts to tell the story of Kenyans living in the slums.

The making of Ni Wakati dates back to an encounter with Black Panther Party founder Bobby Seale in Oakland, California and a later meeting with Charlotte O’Neal at the Hip Hop Colony premier in Nairobi. Michael then knew he wanted to bring conscious artists from the United States to East Africa. This quest led him to reach out to Dead Prez, who had been especially influential to the group Kalamashaka. With Dead Prez on board Michael was able to tell the story which would become Ni Wakati.

Both Russell Kenya and Michael Wanguhu, through their film company Emerge Media Films, rely on their experiences and background to make honest and thought provoking documentaries. Wanguhu believes it’s crucial that Africans have a voice. He feels it’s about ‘owning our image’, adding that one of the goals of Emerge Media Films is to ‘produce local stories with a global appeal’.

Next for Wanguhu is another documentary that focuses on an important part of Kenya’s history. It will take him away from hip hop, but the filmmaker, who is remaining silent on the details of the project, reveals that the new film tells the story of a little known part of the nation’s past.

Msia Kibona Clark is an AllAfrica special corresponent who covered the 19th Annual Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, California. The festival screened more than 100 films made by and/or about people of African descent from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Europe and Canada.

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201103150841.html

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