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Archive for December 14th, 2011

Letter To 18-Year-Old Girls Leaving High School

Posted by Administrator on December 14, 2011

Dear form four leaver,

Congratulations on completing four years of high school education; of going to class, taking part in every aspect of school life (I hope you did) and I hope you made good friends along the way and also learnt a lot more than the chemical formulas.

I hope when you look back at the four years you spent in high school you will miss them dearly. Those were the best years of your life – you just don’t know it now. What lies ahead is built completely and absolutely on how you spent the last four years.

Even as I pen this letter to you today, I must apologise because I feel it may be a little late. I hope it’s not. You see, I believe that huge fun-fair of career day for fourth formers is ill-timed – that day should have been given to you in form one, to allow you to create a basis on which you will deal with the next four years and having built that foundation, be ready for what comes next.

As you kick back and think to yourself “no more school!” know this, your parents and teachers are hoping they raised a strong, independent woman. In the same breathe, they are hoping that you are and will be happy. I also hope that you know that you cannot be happy all the time but that you realise happiness is a state of mind you control.

Take this letter my dear, keep it somewhere and read it again in four years. You don’t have to take everything I say to heart today – however do keep it in mind. Here’s what I need you to know as you go forward:

Don’t be in such a hurry to get older and do all the things your parents and teachers wouldn’t let you do. There’s a reason we say there’s a time and season for everything. Take it slow, you’ll be 30 in no-time.

If you don’t have the money for something, do without it and don’t get someone else to buy it for you. Those shoes, earrings, hand-bag or phone aren’t worth your dignity or the drama.

Don’t derive your self worth from which guys or girls you’re seen with or which man’s car you’re seen stepping out of. Get your own. Remember you are the average of the five people you hang out with. I know you may not want to hear it right now, but mum does know what she’s talking about.

If you’re asking yourself if you should have one more drink, the answer is no. I’m not even going to address the fact that you aren’t 21 yet – I’m not stupid.

Before you take that picture of yourself, put on that outfit, or do that “crazy thing that everyone else is doing” ask yourself – would you want to show or tell your dad, the President or your future boss about it ? If it was plastered on the front page of the Star would you be proud? If the answer is no, don’t do it.

It’s okay to say you don’t know. We don’t expect you to know everything. No one knows everything. Pretending to know everything just makes you an ass at this age. As long as it is legal, moral and ethical, there is no job that is beneath you – I was a messenger, I waited tables, I’ve served tea.

You only get one body. Love it and take care of it in every way. You don’t have to let boys win. I hope you know that you can be both pretty and smart. It’s called competitive advantage. Get it. Some things are your own fault. Deal with it. It’s the scary decisions that really matter. Seek God above all else, and he will provide.

Lastly, my 18 -year-old, grown up sister, remember: this is your one life. You will mess up. You will get second chances. But you don’t get a “do-over.” From here on, the rest of it – this life – is your journey. Make it a good one, that you can be proud of.

Wishing you the best and God-speed as you step out into this crazy world. Take it a step at a time, but whatever you do, hit the ground running. I was blessed to have a mother who had me working a week after fourth form and much as I didn’t appreciate it then – I love her dearly for it today.

Be well, be bold, be smart, be blessed.

Fondly,

Caroline Mutoko

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Posted in Features | 6 Comments »

Journey from boda boda to hearse operator

Posted by Administrator on December 14, 2011

“]Daniel Kamau has overcomes a myriad of challenges and proved to be a proverbial self-made man, starting off as a boda boda to a respected business magnate in Nyahururu town. [PHOTO: JOHN KARIUKI]
Daniel Kamau has overcomes a myriad of challenges and proved to be a proverbial self-made man, starting off as a boda boda to a respected business magnate in Nyahururu town. [PHOTO: JOHN KARIUKI

In some businesses, operators frequently fail to take a hard look into the future or to put a timeframe for quitting or diversifying.

Often, many such operators are lured by a false comfort zone of assured daily cash. Take for example the boda boda industry. Many young people come, dazzle with their shiny machines, but fail to anticipate the seasonal nature of the business.

They melt back to whence they came from when their motorcycles break down.

But Daniel Kamau has overturned this jinx, proving to be a proverbial self-made man. While the going was still good, he ditched his motorcycle and took a gargantuan decision to venture into the hearse business. And he has never looked back.

Having done some odd menial jobs for several years, Kamau plunged into the bicycle boda boda industry in 2001. He would ferry people and goods between Nyahururu and Maina village, in the outskirts of the town at Sh10 per trip.

It was a donkey’s life and he would make Sh800 a day. His entrepreneurial side showed early and he bought a second bicycle, which he would rent out to other operators at Sh200 a day. A year later, he ditched this job and worked as a cook in a secondary school. “I would earn Sh3,500 a month,” he says.

He adds that he was able to save enough money to buy his first motorcycle in 2005 and put up a shop for his wife in Maina village where they live up to now.

“I had saved some Sh20,000 and the cheapest motorcycle was retailing at Sh65,000,” he says.

But a trader in Nyahururu guaranteed him for a bank loan to bridge the difference. “The bank staff did not think I could pay the loan,” says Kamau.

But luck was on his side. His motorcycle taxi was an instant hit with customers in Nyahururu.

“I would often make up to Sh3,000 a day and I repaid the bank loan within a year,” he says.

“In 2006, I sold this motorcycle and bought a new and more powerful one to cope with the changing customer taste,” he says.

With a rare gut feeling that the boda boda field would be crowded, Kamau made yet another bold move by purchasing a second hand van, which he converted into a hearse.

“I sold my motorcycle and with Sh200,000 savings, I approached a friend who was disposing of a Toyota Hiace van at Sh500, 000,” he says.

This seller agreed to extend credit to him and he would pay the balance with monthly installments until it was fully settled early this year, adds Kamau.

He has since sold the older van and acquired a much stronger 4WD van at Sh1.5 million. “I am still servicing the loan for this vehicle and I am confident I will fully own it soon,” he says proudly.

One-stop-shop 

He operates the hearse services in Nyandarua and Laikipia counties. “My hearse packs a one stop shop with the coffin lowering gear, trolley for putting the coffin and a public address system,” he says.

In addition, he has a side business of selling coffins with showrooms in Nyahururu and Ol Kalou towns.

This soft spoken businessman says that the greatest lesson he has learnt in his long journey is to be open with people at all times.

“From the boda boda to where I am, people have been giving me invaluable business tips,” he says.

“I have learnt that the beginning of financial misery is when one earns, for example, Sh100 but spends Sh110 the same day,” he says.

This can lead to permanent debt. He has seen many boda boda operators fail to see this trap.

“And the cost of a motorcycle’s frequent wear and tear drives such operators out of job when they have no money even to change the shock absorbers or tyres,” he says.

One should save a little everyday regardless of what they earn, he adds.

He advises people to be content with whatever little they earn and learn to plan around it. This entrepreneur, who sat his KCPE in 1997, is a father of two.

And his stint at the hearse business has taught him to keep time.

“In this business, I deal with bereaved people and the last thing they want is the inconvenience of a hearse arriving late,” says Kamau.

One must understand some client’s impatience and tendency for making many demands, he adds.

Kamau charges each contract by its own merit.

“Often, the distance to where a burial is to held determines the actual charges, but I can say that Sh6,000 to Sh8,000 is a standard fee,” he says.

But he is quick to add that often, he takes into account his clients’ unique conditions.

Kamau adds that a hearse must always be neat and in good mechanical condition.

“It is bad for business to raise the price, like matatus, because it has rained or when the roads to a destination are impassable,” says Kamau.

“And the ultimate sin that a hearse operator can do is to break a contract because another more paying deal has come in late,” he says.

“Satisfied clients often recommend me to new customers and therefore there is no small or big contract in this business,” he adds.

Source: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000048359&cid=689&

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Kirima family property tussle emerges again

Posted by Administrator on December 14, 2011

The saga surrounding the wealth of the late city tycoon Garrishon Kirima played out  again  yesterday when a group of hired thugs stormed the town office to eject one of the siblings. The former assistant minister died last December in a South Africa hospital where he had been undergoing medical care. His family came on the spotlight after a tussle between his children and his third wife Terresia Wairimu broke over the onwership of family property.

According to one of his sons yesterday, their elder sister Ann Wangari Kirima and his uncle James NJunguna Kirima allegedly conspired to eject their other sister Alice Njeri Kirima from the town office. “My two sisters and my uncle have been mandated by the High court to oversee my late father’s estate, but it seems that the latter two have ganged up to intimidate her,” said Stephen Kirima.

A group of 10 machete wielding heavily built men descended on the Kirima and Sons Building opposite Jevenjee Gardens yesterday morning, as a group of administration police who have been manning it watched helplessly. The group, led by Ann had threatened to unleash terror to anyone standing in their way, before three of them were arrested after members of the public raised an alarm. They were however released by the time we were going to press.

Two months ago, family division judge Mr Justice David Maraga gave an order authorizing Ann and James to collect rent from Tumaini Estate in Embakasi. Maraga said the order appointing the two  as rent collectors at the estate and other properties would not be reversed and barred Mr Kirima’s third wife, Ms Teresia Wairimu, or anyone else from interfering with the estate.

Tumaini Estate, registered in the name Kirima & Sons Co Ltd, has over 300 housing units with a monthly turnover of more than Sh6 million. The judge made the order when lawyers Fred Ojiambo and Jonathan Arwa said they had filed a suit seeking to wind up Kirima & Sons Company Limited, which they alleged, was set up to diminish the estate.

Source: http://www.the-star.co.ke/national/national/53842-kirima-family-tussle-emerges-again

Posted in Kenya | 2 Comments »

Politicians Harambee ban starts tonight

Posted by Administrator on December 14, 2011

ASPIRANTS for political office have until midnight today to conduct their last harambee or risk being disqualified before or after the election. The Elections Act 2011 prohibits anyone aspiring for political office from participating in a fundraising eight months before the election. This applies to all levels of office from president, governor, senator, MP, women representative to councillor.

The election date is still officially August 14 according to the new constitution. Therefore the eight-month cut-off date takes effect today. The government wants to change the election date to December 17 but the Bill to amend the constitution is currently before Parliament and the High Court is yet to rule on the matter. “The polls officially and legally are in August 2012. The matter of aspirants being banned from harambees is so serious that some politicians have already bought recording equipment and video cameras to record their opponents who will conduct or send contributions to harambees after this Wednesday,” a politician from Central province told the Star.

The recordings can then be used in evidence to disqualify their opponents before or after the elections, either through the IEBC or the courts. Chairman Ahmed Isaack Hassan has said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will be monitoring harambees and fundraising events.

He warned those contesting political office not to violate the Elections Act. “The Commission has a role to ensure that the rules are followed. For example, candidates must not participate in public fundraising or harambees eight months before the general election,” said Isaack in a statement on Monday detailing the time line for 2012.

Political aspirants are banned from attending harambees for funerals, weddings, school fees, development projects or any other fundraiser that is not directly connected to politics. The aspirants are however free to organise a fundraising to raise money for their own campaigns or for their political parties.

Clause 26 (1) of the Act provides that, “A person who directly or indirectly participates in any manner in any public fundraising or harambee within eight months preceding a general election or during an election period, in any other case, shall be disqualified from contesting in the election held during that election year or election period.” The ban on harambees was introduced in the Act after some ministers and MPs complained that their rivals were embarrassing them by contributing huge amounts of cash just before an election.

In September some ministers argued that the ban on harambees might antagonise schools and churches but they were dismissed by their colleagues. “Our names are put on cards as guests of honour without our knowledge and sometimes we are very embarrassed especially when we produce little in the form of donations,” said a Cabinet minister yesterday. “In most cases, our rivals often have more funds in store as they are aware of the events ahead of time and sometimes they are the main instigators for such events,” added the minister.

The ministers and MPs also argued that some churches had started organising harambees just before an election and including the names of elected leaders on the invitation cards without their knowledge or consent. Former Cabinet minister and Nyeri senator aspirant Mutahi Kagwe said yesterday that the Elections Act was still unclear on several key issues. “Harambees are banned in an election period, according to the Act. But what is an election period? Is it the eight months before the polls? Is it the three months between Parliament being prorogued to the election day? Is it the 21-day campaign period? The Act talks of an election period but nowhere does it define what this period is,” he said.

Kagwe raised questions about the Act’s ambiguity in the clause banning candidates from hosting their supporters. “The Act allows that a candidate can raise money for his campaign. But what is that money for? What can you spend the money on? If people come to my house and I give them tea, which is normal, is that an offence?” he asked. “How do you define who got tea as my guest and who drank the tea in order to vote for me? Under what circumstances will it be regarded as treating guests and bribery?” he added.

Fisheries minister Amason Kingi predicted that many politicians will be disqualified. “The Act is clear but many candidates have not read the law. The door is closed to harambees unless the law is amended to push the elections to December 2012,” he said. “You have your campaign team and even your supporters coming to see you. You cannot make them wait the whole day and give them nothing. It is remuneration for work they have done for you. The problem is when you induce someone to vote for you,” Amason added.

Lawyer Paul Muite, the likely presidential candidate for Safina, said the harambee ban was fine but still had loose ends including the election date. “The recent by-elections are example of how to buy electoral victory. What Kenyans and electoral agencies should be concentrating on is establishing how these aspirants have got the money,” he said. “Stopping aspirants from contributing to harambees is window dressing. They will just circumvent this by using their friends and relatives to launder the money,” he said.

Source: http://www.the-star.co.ke/national/national/53817-harambee-ban-for-politicians-starts-today

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Raw Video: Immigrants Targeted in Italy Shooting

Posted by Administrator on December 14, 2011

In footage provided by Sky Italia, an Italian man with right-wing views opened fire in two markets in Florence on Tuesday, killing two Senegalese immigrants and critically wounding three others before killing himself, authorities said.

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PNU, ODM wars kill Ocampo meeting with Kenyans scheduled for New York

Posted by Administrator on December 14, 2011

Pressure by Kenya Government and Party of National Unity activists in the United States has led to cancellation of Friday open forum with Kenyans by The Hague Prosecutor and his successor.

The much-publicised Diaspora meeting with Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo and his successor, Fatou Bensouda, who are key pillars of the case against six high-profile Kenyans at The Hague was to take place on Friday in New York. Discussions would have centred on Kenya’s post-election violence and next year’s transitional elections from President Kibaki to Kenya’s fourth ruler.

Shamiso Mbizvo, Co-operation Advisor for the Kenya Teams, who was co-ordinating the meeting, sent out an e-mail statement on Tuesday morning that said the meeting had been cancelled because the response to the event had been overwhelming and so the organisers were rescheduling it to a later date, “in order to accommodate broad interest”. She did not say exactly when the meeting would be held despite the fact it had generated a lot of interest among Kenyans in the US.

“Thank you very much for your interest in the December 16, event on Peace and Justice in Kenya in 2012: How Kenyans in the Diaspora Can Contribute. The response to this event has been overwhelming. To fully accommodate interest in this event, the meeting is being rescheduled; we aim to have the event in January. We regret any inconvenience caused. We will let you know when details become available about a new date for this event,” she said.

But The Standard established the event that was to be also addressed by Prof Makau Mutua, a leading US-based Kenyan law academician, was unceremoniously canceled because of intense pressure from the top leadership in Kenya and their operatives in the US who saw an Orange Democratic Movement’s hand in organisation of the meeting.

In an urgent letter sent to Alan Rothstein, a manager at New York City Bar, where the event was to take place, John Kamau, a PNU activist from Arizona, said the organisers of the meeting were either known ODM activists or imposters.

“The group in question is an imposters’ team known for several other sensational scams for political purposes in support of a presidential candidate,” he wrote. The letter was copied to Macharia Kamau, the Kenyan Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UN in New York who, it is believed, contacted Moreno-Ocampo to express the Government’s displeasure with the meeting.

Speaking to The Standard on the phone from Arizona, Mr Kamau said the organisers of the meeting as advertised are perceived to be partisan. “Charles Kodi is a well known ODM activist. Ms Nyong’o is the daughter of a senior ODM functionary, Prof Mutua as key spokesperson, is a known ODM sympathiser.

Though some facts could be wrong, the public perception could not be redressed after Charles Kodi selectively sent out the e-mails,” he argued.

Kamau said the ICC process should be divorced from political maneuvering. A source at the City Bar, who sought anonymity so he could speak, told The Standard that pressure notwithstanding, the game-changer for the meeting was the story in the Monday edition of The Standard newspaper that went viral when the Diaspora picked it up.

“The story in The Standard just exploded and by 10am on Monday, our phones were jammed by hundreds of Kenyans calling to inquire about the meeting. Initially, our understanding was it was just a small meeting of not more than 50 people. When we heard that there could be thousands, we panicked,” the source said.

Moreno-Ocampo and Bensouda’s date with Kenyans living in US had been set to take place on Friday at New York City Bar Association, Stimson Room, 42 West 44th Street. It was to be hosted by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the New York Bar African Affairs Committee, and the Vance Centre of the City Bar.

According to the organisers, the event was to feature a lively and interactive discussion between a diverse group of guest speakers including Ocampo, Bensouda, Prof Mutua, Lupita Nyong’o, a Kenyan actress and movie-maker, and Mwashuma Nyatta, a Kenyan musician in US.

Though there have been several such meetings in US between Ocampo and Kenyans in Diaspora, this meeting wrangled many people in Government especially supporters of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta who saw it as ODM’s move to either embarrass him or influence ICC ruling on Ocampo Six expected by January 21.

Uhuru is one of the top six Kenyan politicians and officials ICC has charged over the unrest after Kenya failed to set up a local tribunal to try the perpetrators of 2007-2008-post poll violence.

Others are former Cabinet ministers William Ruto and Henry Kosgey, former police commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, and Kass FM’s head of operations and presenter Joshua arap Sang.

Four US-based Kenyans – Joseph Lister Nyaringo, Barrack Abonyo, Jimmy Onkangi, Sammy Mweberi Abuga, and Denzel Musumba – issued a joint statement criticising the cancellation. “This was not a meeting to implicate any of the six suspects, but a forum of solidarity to support fighting impunity in our land,’’ they said. “It was not going to be a court, but a congregation of Kenyans living in USA and their friends who are interested to share ideas and get Moreno-Ocampo’s view on the way forward with The Hague trials,’’ they added.

Source:  http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000048333&cid=4&ttl

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