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Archive for January 11th, 2012

As long as murders go unpunished Africa will never have political reform

Posted by Administrator on January 11, 2012

A nun weeps at the spot where the body of Fr John Kaiser was found, a year after his death. Hundreds of people gathered for Mass in his honour. CNS photo from Reuters

A nun weeps at the spot where the body of Fr John Kaiser was found, a year after his death. Hundreds of people gathered for Mass in his honour. CNS photo from Reuters

I have just been asked to review, for another publication, a book about the late Fr John Kaiser, entitled You Will See Fire, by the American journalist Christopher Goffard. As far I can see this is the first book length investigation into the case of the Mill Hill missionary priest, who was murdered in Kenya back in 2000.

At least that is what most people think, that he was murdered, and they have a fairly strong suspicion about the author of the deed. Fr Kaiser was something of a turbulent priest, and has spent years campaigning against the human rights abuses perpetrated by the government of President Moi. He had received death threats. So, when his corpse was found by the side of the Naivasha road, with a gunshot wound to the back of his head, people drew their own conclusions.

However, the FBI, which flew in to help the Kenyan police with their enquiries, came to the conclusion that Fr Kaiser had committed suicide. And indeed there is a history of well-known opponents of the Kenyan government killing themselves, if we are to believe the Kenyan government. One such was Dr Robert Ouko, the then Kenyan Foreign Minister, who allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself, breaking his leg in two places, and setting himself alight, back in 1990.

In fact, the theory that Dr Ouko killed himself has been treated with the same disdain as the FBI’s conclusions about Fr Kaiser, and recent enquiries have concluded that both men were murdered, though in the case of Fr Kaiser, no names have been named. Kenya remains a land of mysteries.

Goffard’s book is an important one, because this case must not be allowed to die. There are far too many people murdered in Africa and elsewhere for political reasons who are then conveniently forgotten. As long as this happens there will never be political reform in Africa, nor will there be any economic progress either.

Books about murky political murders and the resulting cover-ups make good reading, and Goffard’s book reminded me of an excellent book I read some time back, namely, The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop? by Francisco Goldman.  It is a brilliant book, and it reveals just what a terrible country Guatemala is. The Bishop in question was Juan Josè Gerardi, a well known human rights campaigner. Incidentally, the original verdict of the investigation into the Bishop’s murder claimed that he had been killed by an elderly arthritic Alsatian dog. It took an awful long time for the truth to come out, namely that he was murdered by army officers, assisted by a priest.

Both Goldman and Goffard’s books underline to me the one thing that makes a country a third world country – the unreliability of the police force, and the absence of a rule of law.

Post Script:

Miss Mary Kenny, the distinguished journalist, and currently Master of The Keys, the Catholic writers’ guild, has invited me to talk to the guild. I will be speaking on: “Kenya – Dream or Nightmare? Faith, conflict and problems in an African state.” The evening, including dinner, is open to non-members, but please contact mary@mary-kenny.com if you would like to attend. It takes place on the evening of the 19th January.

Source: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2012/01/11/as-long-as-murders-go-unpunished-africa-will-never-have-political-reform/

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Kenyan woman caught up in slave trafficking is California

Posted by Administrator on January 11, 2012

“You are a useless house girl.”

The sentence echoed daily in Sarah’s ears. Her employer, a Kenyan woman, had brought Sarah (not her real name) from Nairobi to the San Francisco Bay Area to take care of the woman’s toddler and her house. Sarah, in her 20s, had believed life would be better in the United States.

There was no food in her village. She worked cleaning houses in Nairobi to support her small daughter and her parents. When her employer asked her to come with her to the United States, Sarah felt a leap of hope.

“I was convinced life would be good. When we landed at the San Francisco airport, everything looked so beautiful,” she told an audience of Burlingame Mercy sisters in 2005.

The cruel reality was that Sarah had been labor trafficked by the Kenyan employer, brought here to work as a household slave, imprisoned by threats of harm to her family back home if she didn’t obey. Her employer took her passport and told her that her pay of $50 per month would accumulate toward paying her ticket home. She was not to go out alone or to speak to anyone.

Sarah’s story is one of a pattern which many believe is the largest international criminal operation after drugs. Because victims like Sarah are so well hidden, statistics of human trafficking are difficult to verify. The U.S. State Department estimates that each year more than 600,000 men, women, and children are brought across international borders for both forced labor and sexual exploitation mainly from Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America, and more than 14,000 are trafficked into the United States.

“We in the San Francisco Bay Area are one of the largest receiving areas with our borders and coasts,” said Sister of the Holy Family Caritas Foster, who has dedicated her ministry for four years to educating the public on trafficking. “The fallacy is that anyone illegal comes in through our southern borders,” she said. “Transnationals come into our state at our airports and docks. The lure of a better life is powerful.”

Sister Caritas is tireless in telling the powerful story of people often hidden in plain sight, working in restaurants, nursing homes and even private homes. She has spoken to Rotary clubs, Soroptimist groups and parishes, describing the power that traffickers hold over the workers they have brought to the area. They take away the workers’ documents and threaten them with deportation.

Isolated by their lack of English and often prohibited from ever leaving their work site, many victims have no idea where they are.

In 2000 the U.S. government first recognized trafficking as a crime with the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The law funds identification and support of victims through coalitions of law enforcement, the courts and nonprofit organizations. The act is up for reauthorization, and Congress has not yet acted on it.

In 2007 the U.S Bishops Committee on Migration called trafficking “a horrific crime against the basic dignity and rights of the human person.”

Women religious in the Bay Area have been working quietly for years on trafficking. Some have housed victims as they made slow steps toward gaining the protection of a visa designating them as trafficked immigrants. The sisters asked that neither they nor the location of the housing be identified: Traffickers are ruthless in trying to regain control of their victims and could harm their protectors as well.

A note of hope is that the Holy Family Sisters Caritas and Elaine Marie Sanchez are part of a new Cross Bay Collaborative, funded six months ago by the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

The organization Standing Against Global Exploitation in San Francisco applied for a grant partnering Alameda district attorneys, Newcomers Health Program SF, Bay area Women Against Rape and the sisters. The groups work together to train providers of services, educate people about trafficking and ultimately identify more victims.

Many skills are needed to help trafficking victims. “We need to be patient, continue to work together and partner,” said Caritas.”We must realize (the solution) is going to take a long time.”

Sarah’s case contained a surprising twist. She begged her employer to allow her to go to church, where she pleaded with a priest for help. He called on Sister of Mercy Marilyn Lacey, then Catholic Charities’ director of immigration and refugee services in San Jose. With their encouragement, Sarah ran away from her employer.

Sister Marilyn found a shelter for Sarah and connected her with social services and legal counsel, then referring her case to the justice department for an application for a visa giving her protected status and support as a trafficking victim. With the generous support of a local volunteer who paid for her professional training, Sarah eventually became a medical technician, and her daughter is with her, doing well in school.

An ironic twist is Marilyn’s discovery that Sarah’s abusive employer was on a fellowship at a local university – in the field of human rights.

From January 13, 2012 issue of Catholic San Francisco.

Source: http://www.catholic-sf.org/news_select.php?newsid=23&id=59372

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Woman evicts her mother from family land

Posted by Administrator on January 11, 2012

 

A 60-year-old woman and her four grandchildren have been evicted from her parents’ land by her daughter.

 

Lydia Wangeci Macharia and grandchildren aged between 4 and 10, are sleeping in the cold after they were ejected from their home at Gwotongurio village in Waitaluk, Trans-Nzoia County.

 

Dorcas Nyambura alleged that she is the rightful administrator of her grandparents’ property and accused her mother of neglecting her since childhood.

 

There was a confrontation between the two women when Wangeci returned to pick her belongings.

 

Wangeci claimed that on Sunday night, her married daughter arrived home with five men to harass her but she took refuge at a nearby school.

 

Re-married

 

“The men you brought here were after our lives. Why do you despise us? We have nowhere to sleep after you evicted us,” the woman pleaded with her daughter.

 

But her daughter insisted that her mother has no right to live in that home. She alleged that her mother abandoned her and her brother and re-married.

 

“Where were you when we were growing up and going to school? I was handed over the right to own this land by my grandmother and I have the necessary documents to support my claim,” responded Nyambura.

 

Wangeci accused the local Provincial Administration and police of siding with her daughter to deny her the right to her parents’ home.

 

“It is all lies. How can you inherit my parents’ property and I am still alive? You are selfish. Why don’t you want to share it with your other siblings?” the elderly woman lamented bitterly.

 

She said her grandchildren are out of school following the eviction and appealed to the Government to come for her rescue.

 

Area chief Isaac Lusweti said Nyambura had secured a Letter of Administration after family members endorsed the will of her grandmother, the late Elizabeth Wangui.

 

“It was resolved in a family meeting that Nyambura becomes the administrator of the six acres while her mother takes over another 8 acres in Kijabe, as per the will left by Wangui. Wangeci has no right to claim land at the farm since she has hers,” said the chief.

Source: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000049794&cid=159&


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Government bans politics in funerals

Posted by Administrator on January 11, 2012

The government has banned politics in funerals and ordered chiefs, assistant chiefs and district officers to arrest politicians who flout the directive.

Politicians have been directed to notify the police if they want to hold a political rally instead of turning funeral into political forums.

Internal security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode said the government does not send security officers to funerals, as they are not political platforms.

“Let politicians be warned that we will arrest them and stop their political speeches in funerals. Let them hold political rallies instead of using funerals to chart their agenda,’ he said.

Ojode asked the Church to take a leading role in ensuring that politicians do not turn funerals as political podium.

The move follows last weekend’s incident in Oyugis where Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang, Kasipul Kabondo MP Oyugi Magwanga among others were caught up in chaos at a funeral.

The leaders fled as stones and other crude weapons were hurled during the funeral service of immediate former Oyugis County council mayor.

Anglican Church of Kenya, Maseno West Bishop Joseph Wasonga welcomed the move saying it was prudent to respect the deceased and the bereaved families.

“We as a diocese we had banned politics in funeral. We are happy the government has seen light at the end of the day,’ he said.

Churches such as Seventh Day Adventist, Catholic, ACK among other churches have already banned politics in funerals.

Nyakach MP Ochieng Daima supported the ban saying it was long overdue and would bring sanity.

Ochieng said those interested in selling their policies should call rallies instead of taking advantage of funerals to champion their political objectives.

” We are concerned that funerals have been turned into political podium and a lot of time is wasted. We must respect the dead and stop politics,” he said.

Source: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000049811&cid=4&

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Caught on Video: KDF thwart deadly ambush by Al Shabaab and kill six

Posted by Administrator on January 11, 2012

Kenyan Defence Forces have killed 6 Al Shabab militants who had ambushed them earlier Monday during a fierce firefight, which was captured exclusively on camera by our Citizen Tv crew, embedded with the Kenyan military. One KDF soldier died in the exchange and another two were injured, according to a statement issued by Military Spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir. Our reporter Franklin Macharia and cameraman Mauritius Oduor were in one of the armored personnel carriers that came under attack and witnessed the Kenya Defence Forces repulse the Al Shabaab attack on the ground as military choppers pursued the attackers from the air. Abdi Osman has that exclusive report.

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Latest poll shows Uhuru gaining on Raila

Posted by Administrator on January 11, 2012

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 11 – A new opinion poll shows that Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta are now only four percentage points apart in popularity.

The poll by Insight Strategists Solution Africa (ISS Africa) shows Prime Minister Raila Odinga as the most popular presidential candidate at 34 percent, followed by his deputy Uhuru Kenyatta at 30 percent.

ISS Africa Director for Research and Analysis Idy Pembere said Odinga’s popularity had declined since their last poll in October due to the Miguna Miguna and ODM elections fiascos.

“People thought they were losing confidence in him based on Miguna’s recent outbursts in the media,” he said.

Pembere added; “Then there was the allegation of misappropriation of funds meant for Kazi kwa Vijana (KKV) project. He lost some ground from the youth particularly many who felt that someone in his office was stealing from something that should have benefited them.”

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka comes in third with eight percent approval rating; William Ruto is fourth with five percent, followed closely by Martha Karua (three percent), Internal Security Minister George Saitoti (two percent) and Assistant Minister Peter Kenneth at one percent.

He says Kenyatta’s rise in popularity might have been as a result of sympathy he has received due to charges he’s facing before the International Criminal Court over the 2008 post-election violence.

Pembere also says his efforts towards stabilising the shilling also won him favour among those sampled.

“The shillings had actually gone south, trading at about Sh107 (to the US dollar) but then with Uhuru Kenyatta’s intervention, we were able to see the shilling recovering strongly,” he said.

The pollster added; “Remember the shilling is a very vital element to the economy. Most of those polled said if he makes it recover then he could be trusted with the leadership of the country.”

A section of those polled also cited his efforts to unite the warring factions in KANU and revamping it as their reason for supporting the Gatundu South MP.

ODM remains the most popular party with 37 percent, while PNU Alliance and KANU follow closely with 35 percent and 10 percent respectively.

The poll also shows that a presidential runoff is inevitable after this year’s general election.

ISS Africa Researcher Evans Alala says that none of the candidates aspiring for the top seat will be able to garner the 50 percent plus one vote required to win the presidency in the first round of the poll.

Alala added; “The runoff cannot be avoided and it’s also going to be determined by how possible the PNU Alliance can hold, and the strength of KANU because if they go into the second round together they can be a force to be reckoned with.”

Kenyatta’s support is mainly drawn from Central and Nairobi Provinces while Odinga is popular in Western, Nyanza, Coast and North Eastern Provinces. Musyoka draws his support from Eastern and Ruto from Rift Valley Province.

Those researched opined that the candidates should focus their campaign towards netting 8.8 percent of the undecided voters who could swing the outcome of the election

The research highlights that the women still lag behind in taking part in politics and making decisions.

The poll was conducted among 2,300 Kenyans aged between 18-49 years old.

SOURCE: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2012/01/latest-poll-shows-uhuru-gaining-on-raila/

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Agony of pilot shot by buddy at friend’s wedding

Posted by Administrator on January 11, 2012

Pilot Shane West was injured at a friend's wedding

Pilot Shane West was injured at a friend's wedding

NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 11 – An Australian pilot is confined to a wheelchair nursing a bullet wound sustained when his friend, who is a licensed gun holder shot him during the wedding ceremony of a colleague -also a pilot- at a resort in Naivasha.

Shanne C. West 47, an accomplished pilot with lofty credentials having accumulated more than 11,000 flying hours is recovering at home in Nairobi’s Valley Arcade after being discharged from the Aga Khan Hospital recently.

At the time of the incident, he had taken time off his assignment for the UN aid mission in Sudan to attend the exclusive wedding.

His latest assignment in Africa was as a Captain of the B737-500 series for UTAir Ltd under United Nations operations.

The shooting occurred on November 11, 2011 at Sopa Lodge, the venue of the 100-guest list wedding between West’s friend Andrew Little and Maureen Wanjiku.

The incident was booked at the Naivasha Police station vide OB Number 87/11/11/2011.

Police records indicate that the shooting involved one Saavan A. Shah who is a licensed firearm holder. He was one of the guests invited to the wedding and Capt West admits that they had been friends with Shah for a few months.

Curiously, the suspect was arrested immediately after the shooting, had his gun confiscated but he was released later and he has since had the gun returned to him under unclear circumstances. He was not charged in a court of law.

“We had completed the wedding and I was going to get some cash from an ATM. When coming back, I just heard a bang and he was nearby, and immediately I felt some pain on my upper part of the body, only to realise that Saavan had discharged a bullet which he later said was accidental because he was just playing with his gun,” the pilot said in an interview with Capital News on Tuesday.

“He had removed it from the holster and was holding it… I don’t know what he was doing with a gun at a wedding in the first place. This was a gathering of families, friends and children.”

“There was no confrontation with anyone, and he was just holding it, I don’t know why, and it discharged a bullet that hit me,” he recalls.

An initial police investigation showed that that there was no confrontation at the wedding, warranting the use of a firearm.

“It caused kind of a scene and police were called in and took away Saavan who was then locked up at the police station and his gun taken away. I was also rushed to the Naivasha District Hospital for emergency treatment,” he recalls, often stretching himself on the wheelchair.

Captain Little, who was wedding on the fateful day told Capital News; “immediately after the shooting the guy (Saavan Shah) told me he had shot at him accidentally. It threw the whole party into disarray and we were running up and down because of the emergency.”

Due to the deplorable state at the local hospital, West was quickly evacuated to Nairobi by ambulance and taken to the Nairobi Hospital and later the Aga Khan Hospital’s ICU.

At the Aga Khan, West underwent two surgeries, including one to remove the bullet which was still lodged in him, having entered his left shoulder, seared his spine and lodged itself in his right shoulder.

The fragments from the fracturing of his 1st and 2nd left ribs as the bullet tore into him, damaged his lung filling it with copious amounts of blood, according to medical reports.

He now has a nurse assigned to him round the clock because he cannot move on his own, having suffered injuries to the spinal cord.

The pilot says during his admission at the Aga Khan Hospital, the man who shot him visited him and pledged to settle the medical bills as well as compensate him for losses incurred during his stay out of work.

“We agreed when this should have been settled but to date he has only paid Sh1 million and the rest is pending. That is why I had to be discharged because the bill was really going high… to about Sh3 million,” he said but could not disclose the figure agreed on as compensation.

“I better not go into those details at the moment,” he said when prodded to reveal more about the terms terming it “more of a gentleman’s agreement” between him and the Shah family. Capt West said Shah had been to see him in hospital with his father on more than two occasions and sealed the settlement.

“The Shah’s promised to spare no expense in having West treated and promised as well to cover all medical expenses,” said Captain Little.

“To necessitate this, through their lawyers they drew up an affidavit and a settlement agreement to cover for loss of income and future medical expenses should West never recover the full use of his limbs again but the papers were not signed by Saavan Shah or his lawyers,” Capt Little adds.

Capt West and his friends accuse the police in Naivasha of acting too slow in dispensing justice.

But contacted for comment, Rift Valley Provincial Police chief Francis Munyambu told Capital News he was aware of the matter which he said will be subjected to a public inquiry.

“The case will be subjected to a public inquiry and that is up to the courts to initiate. The police did their work,” Munyambu told Capital News on telephone from Nakuru. He said the suspect was released on bond.

He could not state how long it will take to have the public inquiry in place because it’s not within his jurisdiction.

Capt West said the man who shot him has since lost touch with him and cannot be accessed whenever he seeks to discuss issues about settling his medical expenses in hospital.

“I am now sitting here, waiting to recover fully before I return back to my flying career. How long this will take is anyone’s guess,” Capt West says with a grim smile on his face.

“I certainly miss flying; it is my career which I started in the early 1984. I have spent much of my time in life up there and from one country to another, now I can’t move any more. I am here as you can see,” he adds.

Source: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2012/01/pilot-shot-by-buddy-at-friend%E2%80%99s-wedding/

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