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Archive for December 25th, 2011

Childhood Friends Find Enduring Love After War and Exile

Posted by Administrator on December 25, 2011

Kakuma Refugee Camp — As children they played hide-and-seek in their village. They told stories about the animals in the forest. They mimicked the way the lion attacks. They were not of the same blood, but during those moments they felt themselves to be as brother and sister.

Now Francis Akech Dol, 32, and his wife Elizabeth Yon Anpei, 27, are married and living in the protection of the Kakuma refugee camp in north-west Kenya. Their story is about two people who fell in love in defiance of the forces of war, exile and family violence.

Their journey was not an easy one. In 1991 war arrived at Yeru in South Sudan. Elizabeth fled with her parents across the border, first to Ethiopia and later to Kakuma. Her father was killed during the journey. Francis stayed in southern Sudan for another decade, enduring more attacks before fleeing south into Uganda in 2001. From there, a trader took him to Malaba on the Kenyan border.

He made his way in 2002 to Kakuma, where he met Elizabeth again and fell instantly in love. At first she didn’t remember her childhood friend, but Francis couldn’t forget. “I felt very delighted by her,” he said. “I asked her to go out with me. We shook hands and watched a football game in the camp. My heart was beating so strongly I could not control it.” Elizabeth too was delighted. The couple could not see enough of each other.

Francis arrived just in time for Elizabeth. The previous decade had suffocated her. She was forced to marry at age 14 in exchange for 12 cows. By age 15 she had her first child. She describes her husband as a drunkard who beat her frequently. She had a second child by him and the beatings grew worse. “He used to beat me every day. He came home and he beat me,” she said. “He just came and started slapping and kicking for nothing.”

Finally the man discarded her and Elizabeth returned home to her family, broken physically and mentally. “My heart was a stone,” she said. “But then I saw Francis and it became a very new flower. It was blooming again.”

“What would you do for the love of another?” asked Francis, in front of his mud brick home. During the three years that he dated Elizabeth, her family threatened him. He came from a poor family and didn’t have money to pay the 300-cow dowry her family demanded. In fact he had no cows.

Meanwhile Elizabeth’s family put pressure on her to marry someone else. “My parents said, ‘This man is a poor man. We will give you a rich man.’ I told them that love is not money and I love Francis.” But they ignored her words and warned Francis that if he came together with their daughter, he would be killed.

The couple secretly married in 2006, but on their first night together Elizabeth’s family beat her so severely she was hospitalized. Her uncle held a stick in his hand and hit her in the face and her teeth fell out. Meanwhile her brother kicked her. She was knocked unconscious. Then they turned their wrath on Francis, beating him as well. UNHCR moved the couple to the camp’s protection area where they now live under constant security.

In 2007 the couple had their first child. They named him Boston, named because of Francis’s fondness for the North American city he has never seen. Since then they have had two other children and a fourth is on the way.

After South Sudan declared its independence last July, Francis and his wife had the opportunity to go home. But it was an impossible dilemma. He could go back to the freedom of home and the protection of his family. But to do so would invariably lead to violence. “My parents will fight against her family. There will be destruction and people will die. My wife could die,” Francis said. “I do not want that for any of us. I refuse.”

Now the conflicted father works teaching English and mathematics to children in the camp. His family has applied for resettlement in a third county. During his free moments he likes to paint different figures on the side of his mud-brick home. There are paintings of elephants, lions and cattle. “I want to teach my children about the animals in the forest,” he says. “I want to teach them the way the lion attacks.”

Source: UNHCR Press Release

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Bombay High Court upholds sentence of Kenyan held with heroin

Posted by Administrator on December 25, 2011

The Bombay High Court has upheld the 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment given to a Kenyan woman who was caught smuggling heroin at the Mumbai international airport in 2002. In his order, Justice J H Bhatia partly upheld the order of the trial court which had held Agnes Odhoch guilty under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, as well as abetment and conspiracy. While the High Court upheld the conviction under the NDPS Act, it dropped the charges of abetment and conspiracy.

According to the prosecution, the Narcotics Control Bureau on May 5, 2002, received an intelligence report about two women who were to smuggle substantial amounts of heroin in their baggages or on person. After the information was received, a team of NCB officers apprehended the accused, along with another woman named Josephine Funsani. However, the two cases were subsequently found to be separate and were delinked.

Intelligence officer Kanta Tejwani told the trial court that on her request Agnes removed her belongings from her suitcases. However, they were still found to be unusually heavy, after which more than 5 kg of heroin were recovered from the false bottom of the suitcase. The woman was subsequently held guilty by a special court in 2007.

Justice Bhatia, while upholding the conviction, said, “It is established beyond reasonable doubt that she was found in possession and was also found to have attempted to export heroin from India… I find the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence.”

The judge, however, reduced the sentence to be undergone in default of payment of the fine from one year to six months.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/hc-upholds-sentence-of-kenyan-held-with-heroin/891990/

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Is there a lion in the train?

Posted by Administrator on December 25, 2011

By Michael Kaloki, Nairobi

On 19 December 1901 the construction of the railway line between the Kenyan towns of Mombasa and Kisumu (back then named Port Florence), via Nairobi, was completed. This made goods and passengers transport between Kenya and Uganda much easier.

The railway line became well-known around the world after John Henry Patterson published ‘Man-eaters of Tsavo’ in 1907. The book is centered around the tale of lions that killed a number of workers involved in the construction of the railway line.

Dowry negotiations For many decades after its construction the Nairobi-Mombasa railway acted as a life line between the coastal area of Kenya and the interior. When my father was a young boy, he used to ride the train between his home in Mombasa and the Machakos area, where he would spend Christmas with his relatives.  He later took the same train to his high school further north in Kikuyu.

After she had decided to marry my father, my mother travelled on the same train from her rural area to where he lived. Many of my relatives used to ride the train on their way to dowry negotiations for their weddings. Therefore the train holds great significance for my family.

Hurried goodbyes As a young boy, my parents would send me and my siblings to Mombasa to spend Christmas. They would take us to the train station in Nairobi and put us on the night train to Mombasa. I remember the hustle and bustle on the station platform. People hugging each other and shouting hurried goodbyes. The sound of the train guard blowing the whistle before the train slowly began to make its way out of the station.

We would eat our packed dinner on the train before finally falling asleep in our compartments. Many times I would wake up in the middle of the night and realize that the train had stopped. I would ask one of the train staff where we were. Tsavo!

Mental health Tsavo National Park was the very place where the railway workers in ‘Man-eaters of Tsavo’ had been killed by lions. The European tourists on the train, making their way to the beautiful beaches of Mombasa, must have wondered about the mental health of the young lad running around, making sure all doors on the train were locked.

I was always worried I would wake up one night and find a lion in my compartment. It became a constant thought in my head, so much so that until this day, I find it hard to sleep whenever a train guard tells me that we have stopped in a place called Tsavo.

Today the era of railway passenger transport seems to come to an end. More roads have been built and many people now prefer buses to travel to the coast and the interior. Those who can afford it might decide to take a plane. However, for me and my family, the train will always be dear to our hearts.

Source:

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Why the Africa lion stayed poor and the Asian tiger became rich

Posted by Administrator on December 25, 2011

Why did Asian tigers and not African lions become economically successful? The answer is simple: agriculture. In the sixties, newly independent African countries had more potential than their South East Asian counterparts. The reason why Africa is still poor is that it failed to invest in rural areas, a comparative study by the Tracking Development project shows.

The study, that took five years to complete, researched the development of four pairs of countries: Nigeria/Indonesia, Kenya/ Malaysia, Tanzania/ Vietnam and Uganda/Cambodia. The pattern that emerges is clear, says David Henley, Indonesia expert and one of the leaders of the project, which was funded by the Dutch Foreign Ministry: agriculture is the only effective tool for development.

He says that African countries can learn lessons from South East Asia’s effective development track record. This is what is required: 1. pro-poor, pro-rural public spending; 2. economic freedom and market access for peasants and small entrepreneurs; and 3. low inflation and stable currencies.

Political threat South East Asian governments had good reasons to invest in rural areas, because that’s where their most serious political threats came from. The rural masses were poor, vocal and well organized. Rural insurrections were looming. “In Africa, rural masses hardly have a voice. An African leader doesn’t need to be afraid of them,“ explains Dutch africanist Kees van Donge, Henley’s fellow project leader.

After independence, African governments were hoping that the benefits of their industrial investments would trickle down to rural populations. That never happened. In South East Asia, by contrast, measures to boost agriculture eventually benefited urban populations as well.

Van Donge says the rationale is simple: “You should focus on agriculture because most poor people live in rural areas; it’s easier to reduce poverty there. This, once it is achieved, gives rural populations the possibility to engage in productive work. The returns from agriculture are much higher and provide a foundation for industrialisation, not the other way around.”

Corruption At the project’s inception, it was believed that corruption did not have a major impact on development, as two notoriously corrupt countries, Indonesia and Nigeria, had achieved different levels of development. But in Indonesia, corrupt money was reinvested in the local economy, says David Uchenna Enweremadu, who did research in both countries. “And in Nigeria the money is taken outside to Switzerland and Britain, so you end up with a very negative type of corruption that is more harmful to development.”

The researchers also examined governance in both regions. Akinyinka Akinyoade, for example, found that with longer tenures in office, ministers in Indonesia had sufficient time to implement their policies, compared to Nigeria where the political turnover was high. When Nigeria had six finance ministers in 15 years, Indonesia had only one. “In Indonesia, ministers are appointed not because of their political or ethnic background, but because they are ready to deliver, and they get government support to get the job done,” says Akinyoade.

Public relations Bethuel Kinuthia compared development in his home country Kenya with that of Malaysia. One key issue, he found out, was finding foreign investment. He says Malaysia was able to attract foreign investors by improving the country’s infrastructure, and by setting up offices worldwide to promote itself as a place to invest. “What Kenya has done can barely be called PR,” he says.

David Henley says there is no reason why the Asian model could not be replicated elsewhere, decades later. “In any kind of developing country, I see agriculture as the only area in which interventions by governments or development agencies can do the job.”

All say they have gained new insights into the motors of development. For Kees van Donge it’s the realisation that African leaders and policymakers tend to focus on what they do not have. “They want to have factories like in Europe, while the Asian policymakers ask themselves what resources they do have and what they can do with them. I think Africa could benefit from that approach.”

Source: http://dailytimes.com.ng/article/why-africa-lion-stayed-poor-and-asian-tiger-became-rich

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Kenyan man gets life term for murder in Dubai

Posted by Administrator on December 25, 2011

DUBAI: A Kenyan administrative officer has been convicted and sentenced to life in prison after the Dubai Criminal Court found him guilty of smothering his Chinese girlfriend and dumping her body in a manhole on the Dubai-Al Ain Road in August last year.
Meanwhile, the convict WO, 30, a former administrative manager at an airline, claimed that his lover, WJ, 26, a sales executive, was forcing him to marry her.
In a confession before investigators, the convict was quoted saying that he could not marry WJ because as a Christian he was not allowed to have two wives.
“I am not entitled to have two wives, besides my wife is here with me,” he said, adding that as the argument grew more heated, WJ threatened to inform police that WO had raped her.”
“I was mad with anger and prompted to strangle her for about seven minutes,” he said. However, during the first hearing, the convict denied the murder was premeditated. “I did not mean to kill her, she collapsed and died,” he said.
According to CID sources, the police arrested the suspect after a missing person report was filed at Al Rashidiyah police station by a friend of the deceased on August 19 last year. The friend informed the police that WJ had called her and said she was going to meet her Kenyan friend.
WO initially revealed to CID personnel that he met WJ at around 10pm and had dinner with her at a fast food outlet at a petrol station on the Dubai-Al Ain Road.
Meanwhile, during preliminary investigations, an Emirati officer quoted WO claiming that he picked up WJ from her place in Nad Al Sheba and later dropped her back at around 8.30pm.
The convict allegedly attempted to deceive the police that the deceased left him on the ground that she was going to carry out some business.
The police then demanded that he bring his car for further legal procedures and during investigations, WO was suspected of involvement in the disappearance of WJ.  The investigators noticed that he looked nervous during questioning.
When WJ died he drove his car with her body in it to the Dubai-Al Ain Road. WO dragged the body out of the car and disposed it off in a manhole, after throwing her purse and mobile phone as well.
The decomposed body was found 50 metres away from the main street as a strong stench was coming out of the drainage.

According to forensic reports, the body had some fractures that might have resulted from the dumping. “It was totally decomposed,” reports revealed.

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