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Archive for March 3rd, 2012

Man left family and comfort in the US to help reconstruct motherland

Posted by Administrator on March 3, 2012

The scene was just what you would expect on a quiet evening in suburban Milwaukee. Mohamoud Farah Egal, a social services worker, was seated in one room with one of his sons, Mohammed, 12, helping him with his homework.

Across the room, Mohammed’s younger siblings Hussein and Aisha were watching television.

Suddenly the patriarch heard the two children in front of the TV shouting: “Daddy! Daddy! Come and see what your people are doing!”

“I went over to check what was on television and found they were watching a documentary about the (American-led) Operation Restore Hope in Baidabo, Somalia in the 1990s. Baidabo in the show was described as the “City of Death”. On the screen were images of children dying of starvation and others that had been caught in the crossfire of the fighting in the country. I turned to my children and said, ‘these are your people, too”. But they retorted, ‘No! Dad, we are Americans. These are your people.’”

Mr Egal was stunned. “It was very painful. The children I am raising felt they were not part of my community. They were growing up thinking they are not African. I made the decision to come back to my country and make a contribution in 2006. Since then I have been back here.”

Mr Egal told this story at his office in a newly constructed building at the Aden Abdulle Airport in Mogadishu, where he now serves as Deputy Director General of the Somalia Civil Aviation Authority. In many ways, Mr Egal’s life story mirrors that of many Somalis who like him came of age in the 1960s when Somalia achieved independence.

His is a story of displacement and dislocation, confusion over identity and the ever present conflict over clan and nationalism which cost him his job.

Mr Egal was a fighter pilot in the Somalia Air Force and, he says, a proud patriot. He recalls with nostalgia how he flew one of the first missions into Ethiopia during the Somalia-Ethiopia war in 1977.

Things changed after the war. An officer, Col Cabdullaahi Yuusuf Axmed, led a failed coup against Mohammed Siad Barre.

The result was a purge of the army to rid the military of nearly all members of the sub-clan to which the failed coup leader belonged.

By the accident of his birth, Major Egal was one of those caught up in the operation and he was barred from flying. He fled the country and joined the opposition in Ethiopia before they were expelled from there. He then found his way to the US after a short stint in Kenya.

Mr Egal landed a job as a translator at a social services centre and earned a degree at the University of Minnesota.

Felt guilty

He was comfortable in the US until his children’s words stung him into action. “I came back because I felt guilty. I was associated with people who created the problem. Both the government and the opposition are to blame for the mess in Somalia and we have to give back what my generation destroyed.”

Mr Egal has seen many changes since the time when he arrived back, when the Transitional Federal Government was nestled in a small corner of Baidoa while militants and warlords controlled the rest of the country. But he had to take time to adjust to the new environment.

“Baidoa was an emergency refuelling stop for the Air Force. It was a beautiful, peaceful land. The people were very friendly. When I came back in 2006 Baidoa was not there. What was there was a carcass. Historic buildings had been destroyed and the law and order situation was very bad. A people who had been very friendly in the 1970s and 80s had become hostile. The environment changed the people. After 20 years of war and death, the people had to be affected psychologically. Human beings are animals. If you put an animal in a cage and treat it to a non-stop barrage of deaths and abductions, it will change. Humanity goes out of the window.”

People are crazy

Mr Egal’s shock did not last long. “When I came to Mogadishu and Baidoa, I was saying to myself these people are not normal. They are crazy. After a few months I felt the people are normal. That means I am crazy, too. I had rationalised and accepted the environment. Just like a tree, if you bend it one way it grows like that. The aftermath of war is worse than war.”

Mr Egal is happy to see that Mogadishu is slowly coming back to life and there is a glimmer of hope for the future. Above all, though, he is happy that as his children have grown older they have forgiven him for abandoning them in the US and began appreciating their homeland.

“They are changing. They have learnt Somali and they call frequently to ask how Mogadishu is. I know I have been a bad, absent dad. But I tell them they are privileged to have got an education in the US and I hope one day they will play a part in the reconciliation efforts here.”

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Man+left+family+and+comfort+in+the+US/-/1064/1358896/-/v8guqu/-/index.html


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Moi endorses Uhuru for top job

Posted by Administrator on March 3, 2012

President Kibaki with Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and close family members during the burial of former Defence minister Njenga Karume at his Cianda home in Kiambu on March 3, 2012.

President Kibaki with Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and close family members during the burial of former Defence minister Njenga Karume at his Cianda home in Kiambu on March 3, 2012.

Retired President Daniel arap Moi caused a stir at the funeral of businessman and politician Njenga Karume on Saturday with another endorsement of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta for the country’s top leadership.

Mr Moi’s political statement and euphemism changed the tone of the proceedings and marked the highlight of the funeral at Cianda near Kiambu attended by the who is who of Kenyan politics, business, the civil service  and the entire top commanders of the Kenya Defence Forces.

Although there was an allusion to the politics suggested by Mr Moi, the majority of the leaders dedicated their speeches to eulogise Mr Karume, who was cosy with all three Kenya’s Presidents.

President Moi’s endorsement echoed his unsuccessful bid to have Mr Kenyatta replace him at State House when his term ended in 2002.

Yesterday, he suggested that with the deaths of John Michuki and Mr Karume, and the impending retirement of President Kibaki, there was a gap to be filled in the political leadership, and Mr Kenyatta is the man to take over.

“It is now upon the councilors and MPs to support the President (Kibaki) because Central Province has suffered a great loss with the death of these two men. They should get someone to fill that position and the person who can lead here is Uhuru Kenyatta,” said President Moi to cheers from the crowd.

He did not say much more, and none of the other leaders who spoke spent time discussing politics.

In his autobiography, Mr Karume says he entered politics reluctantly and it was perhaps fitting that there was only a little of it at his funeral.

In his speech, delivered entirely off the cuff, President Kibaki said his interest was not in politics, as it was not the topic of the day, and Kenyans know very well how such matters play out.

He said the current MPs would continue to work for the good of Kenya.

Each speaker recalled their relationship with Mr Karume, who died on February 24 at Karen Hospital after a short but painful battle with prostate cancer.

He has been out of the limelight since his coronation as a Kikuyu elder at the Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga shrine in Murang’a in November 2011.

Unlike many politicians, Mr Karume was a man of business before he became a political man, and those who spoke emphasised on his hard work and dedication to peace and national unity.

Mr Karume was born in Elementaita to parents who worked on the farm owned by Lord Delamere and started his business life selling charcoal.

He eventually became the first African to own a shop in Kiambu’s Indian Bazaar and the first to have a cheque book issued in his name.

His casket was in gold and black colours, representing his rise from a charcoal dealer to a wealthy and influential businessman whose assets could easily be compared to gold.

Justice Paul Kihara moved the crowd when he complained, in Kikuyu, of the rampant drinking culture in Kikuyu youth that is said to render young men impotent.

Mr Karume’s last born son by his wife of six years is three-year old Emmanuel Karume.

Perhaps as a reflection of his respect and influence, yesterday’s mass was celebrated by 16 priests, with Bishop David Kamau, Archbishop John Njenga and Archbishop Ndingi Mwana’a Nzeki also in attendance.

The Anglican Church the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, African Independent Pentecostal Church of East Africa and a variety of other denominations were also represented.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Moi+endorses+Uhuru+for+top+job+/-/1064/1358954/-/13es2lz/-/

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UPDATE: Though she cannot speak to her mum, tears from Kenyan woman in coma in UAE says it all

Posted by Administrator on March 3, 2012

Mother and sister of woman in coma after Dubai assault optimistic about her recovery

Hannah Mwikamba (second from right), mother of Esther Wanjiru Mwikamba, interacts with members of the Kenyan community in Dubai. When she is not by Esther’s side, she reportedly sits in the lobby and weeps silently.

Hannah Mwikamba (second from right), mother of Esther Wanjiru Mwikamba, interacts with members of the Kenyan community in Dubai. When she is not by Esther’s side, she reportedly sits in the lobby and weeps silently.

GULF NEWS: Dubai: Though she could neither speak nor respond cognitively, coma patient Esther Wanjiru Mwikamba’s “tears’ said it all.

The Kenyan assault victim’s condition has “improved” these past few days, her family said. Esther’s mother, Hannah, arrived from Kenya early morning on Friday to be by her bedside.

“It [mom’s presence] makes her better. It’s positive because you can see Esther crying,” Lucy, Esther’s younger sister, told Gulf News during a visit at the Intensive Care Unit in Rashid Hospital.

A rosary lies on top of Esther’s chest for continued protection. She has been on life support since February 18 after being brutally assaulted by a man in a parking lot in Dubai. The case is still under police investigation.

While Esther’s brain activity has diminished, according to the doctors, Lucy believes that her sister could still hear them.

“Even if her eyes are closed, you’ll see tears drop. But when you ask the nurses, they’ll tell you it’s just fluid. But we believe it’s tears,” Lucy said. “It started when I arrived. Like yesterday, the whole day she was crying. I know she’s in too much pain.”

Mother’s arrival

When Hannah arrived past midnight on Friday, she did not waste time and headed straight to Rashid Hospital which granted the family’s request to see Esther.

“They only gave us 10 minutes, but it went for 30 minutes. It was very difficult [for our mom to leave the room]; I had to beg her,” Lucy said.

Hannah’s first words to Esther were still fresh in Lucy’s memory. “She talked to her, begging her to wake up. She told her, “You are my daughter, my first born, it doesn’t matter how you are, and how you’re gonna be after waking up. But we love you so much and the moment you wake up, I’ll take you back home,” Lucy said, adding that they prayed together and anointed Esther with oil before leaving her side.

Lucy has not stopped believing that Esther, who put her through college and the family’s sole breadwinner, will soon wake up.

Hope lingers

“By the grace of God, the situation is okay. We are just waiting for God’s time for her to eventually wake up and we’ll all go back home to Kenya,” Lucy said.

Hannah has been emotional since she saw Esther. When she’s not by Esther’s side, she would sit in the lobby and silently weep. Her hands remain clasped all the time and she would whisper prayers for Esther.

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Kenyan assault victim still in coma, mother arrives

Posted by Administrator on March 3, 2012

Esther Wanjiru Mwikamba

Esther Wanjiru Mwikamba

Dubai: The case of a Kenyan woman who went into a coma after allegedly being beaten up by three men continues to draw the attention of Kenyan diplomats and nationals. The latest visit was of the Mayor of Mombasa, who came with the mother of the victim.

The 26-year old Esther Wanjiru Mwikamba is still in the intensive care unit of Rashid Hospital in Dubai. There is no improvement in her condition.

Esther’s mother, Anna Mwikamba, arrived on March 2 on a ticket offered by the Kenyan Airways and is staying with another daughter, Alice.

The Kenyan Welfare Association will bear the expenses of her stay in the UAE.

Every day nearly a dozen Kenyans come to see Esther at Rashid Hospital.

Esther was assaulted by three men on Feb.18 outside a nightclub on Sheikh Zayed Road near Crowne Plaza.

A local newspaper had earlier reported the police had arrested three Emiratis in connection with the incident and that two had been released on bail while another was still in custody.

The Kenyan community is worried over the deteriorating condition of Esther.

A week ago the Kenyan Ambassador to the UAE, Mohammed Gello, visited her. Gello said: “The most important thing now is to see she recovers from the illness. And it does not matter people of which nationality beat up her. What we want is the culprits are brought to justice.”
He told The Gulf Today that they are ready to offer minimum legal fees.

“We have full faith in the Dubai Police and we are happy the way they have handled the case.”

An official of the welfare association of over 30,000 Kenyans living in the country, Haarith Shahbal, told The Gulf Today: “We are sharing the pain one of us is going through. And we are always there all the time. The Kenyan community’s response has been very encouraging. We are happy that Esther’s mother has arrived.”

Source: http://gulftoday.ae/portal/76d2a865-cd72-49bc-b138-62edf5ce2bae.aspx

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Coast hotel denies slamming door on Kenyan visitors

Posted by Administrator on March 3, 2012

A tourist hotel in the South Coast is at the centre of a storm over allegations of discrimination.

Baobab Beach Resort, which does not market itself as an exclusive club, has been accused of locking out local visitors, including tour operators picking up guests.

Mr Duncan Muriuki, the managing director/CEO of Destination Africa dmc Limited, who said he was denied entry to the resort last week, has threatened to sue the hotel.

“I cannot believe that in this day and age, some beach hotels at the Kenyan coast will not allow locals to enjoy the services they advertise,” said Mr Muriuki.

“As a former chairman of Kato (Kenya Association of Tour Operators) I fought against this issue for years and I thought it was over. I am sad that some hotels still discriminate against people based on colour,” said Mr Muriuki.

This comes after the hotel wrote him a letter of apology “for the unpleasant experience at our resort’s main gate on Tuesday last week.”

The letter, seen by the Saturday Nation reads: “We regret any embarrassment caused by our security personnel and inconvenience caused to the clients.”

The letter attributes the stringent rules to the Al-Shabaab threat and the Kenya Defence Forces operation in Somalia.

It says the measures were taken to protect its guests and “are not in any way intended to discriminate against any client or agent.”

“This unfortunate incident has made us realise that we need to change these guidelines,” the letter reads. Mr Muriuki, however, is not the only unhappy person.

Sales representative Evelyne Ndege said she and her husband were late last year denied entry into the hotel after driving all the way from Nairobi.

“On getting to the hotel, we were told we could not go in. When we asked to speak to the manager, we were told he was not in and we had to leave,” said Ms Ndege.

Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association chairman Mohammed Hersi, said though some hotels may be exclusive, he did not see anything wrong  in letting people come in and make inquiries at the reception.

Writing on his Facebook page, he said: “Some of these resorts must revisit their policy about people accessing the hotel. Letting someone into the reception to explain their mission is simply not asking too much.

“Many claim they are all-inclusive …hence controls at the bars becomes a problem but surely it’s your business as a hotelier to deal with that.

“I have been stopped in three places in South coast yet I am a fellow hotelier. I want to assure everyone that I have spoken to management at Baobab and they know that they need to sort out accessibility issues at the main gate.

“It is humiliating and totally unacceptable for anyone to be stopped at the gate. It is demeaning. I have spoken to the management of Baobab  hotel and expect them to quickly address the matter,” he said.

Mr Muriuki said staff from his company had to wait for their customers from Europe outside the hotel’s gates. The clients were forced to walk the few hundred metres to the gate with their luggage, he said.

“We had to wait outside the gates for the visitors, travel agents from Lithuania who were in the country to see what Kenya has to offer.

“And here they were being forced to tote their luggage all the way to the gate because of this hotel’s discriminatory policies,” said Mr Muriuki.

He said even the security manager whom he spoke to on phone stood his ground, so did the receptionist.

“If I could experience this as a tour operator, and not even once but twice, what about common Kenyans?” asked Mr Muriuki.

Mr Solomon Kores, a tour operator with Maniago Tours, said he was denied entry to the hotel without explanation by security guards.

“It was a very bad experience and I call upon the Tourism ministry and all other stakeholders to take stern measures against such actions or people who impose such rules,” said Mr Kores.

In his protest letter to the hotel’s general manager, Mr Adam Sheik, Mr Muriuki contends that the two incidents he was subjected to at the hotel were clearly discriminatory. Mr Muriuki is seeking damages for infringement of his constitutional right to non-discrimination and freedom of movement.

Mr Muriuki has threatened to sue and in a protest letter to the hotel’s management, he contends the two incidents experienced at the hotel were clearly discriminatory.

“As a direct consequence of your company’s discriminatory policy, our client’s fundamental right to equal treatment and his freedom from direct or indirect discrimination under Article 27 of the Constitution were violated.

“His right to freedom of movement was also violated as he was denied the right to enter your hotel, which can only be denied for a lawful purpose,” reads the letter written by Mr Muriuki’s lawyers, Nderitu and Partners.

Last month, Tourism minister Najib Balala directed his Permanent Secretary at a press conference after announcing of the 2011 tourism results to crack down on hotels which practised discrimination and warned that they risked being blacklisted.

He said it was insensitive and unconstitutional for any hotel to discriminate against guests on racial, nationality, tribal or religious grounds.

Mr Balala said there had been complaints from some Kenyans and nationalities that they had been denied access to some exclusive hotels and apartments.

“We are not going to condone this and we have sounded a warning that we will not hesitate to revoke their licences,” he said.

Coast branch executive officer of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers Sam Ikwai said his organisation had not received any official complaints about discrimination though he had heard some people calling in  to radio stations.

“Those complaints must be isolated cases. There are security concerns and hotels have tightened security, including screening, and this should not be taken negatively. Furthermore hotels have right of admission,” said Mr Ikwai.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Hotel+denies+slamming+door+on+Kenyan+visitors+/-/1056/1358170/-/item/1/-/lh7k3dz/-/index.html

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