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Archive for March 16th, 2012

Neema Community Church in Kansas has music and language that makes the congregation feel right at home

Posted by Administrator on March 16, 2012

The Rev. David Nzioka led a recent Sunday service at the church, which provides an opportunity for Kenyans to worship in their culture.

The Rev. David Nzioka led a recent Sunday service at the church, which provides an opportunity for Kenyans to worship in their culture.

Hellen Waithuki of Lenexa left Kenya and all of her family two years ago to study nursing in the United States.

Her mother knew the pastor of the Neema Community Church in Overland Park and told her to look up the Rev. David Nzioka, who also is Kenyan.

The Presbyterian church quickly became the 21-year-old’s “family away from home.”

Waithuki said she doesn’t feel alone.

“If I need something, I can call on someone at the church,” she said. “And I have made some really close friends.”

She was one of the singers at a recent Sunday service where the congregation meets, a building at 9900 Mission Road. Village Presbyterian Church provides the space, which despite the rain and the daylight saving time change, was packed.

What started with six people in 2004 as a prayer group in the apartment of Nzioka and his wife, Dorothy Ndavi, now has between 250 and 300 members and visitors. All ages came dressed in a variety of styles, African and American.

Before the service, attendees greeted one another and caught up on the latest news. Swahili music, native to Kenya, played in the background.

The praise team began the worship, mostly singing in Swahili and moving to the beat of the instruments. Worshippers joined in, singing, clapping and swaying to the rhythms. Song lyrics appeared on two large screens.

Even the opening prayers were sung before Nzioka, 42, gave the welcome.

In between Scripture readings in English, a large choir and two smaller groups sang. Then Nzioka sang “Kumbaya, my Lord,” explaining that it means “come by here, my Lord.” The message to follow was positive and encouraging but also challenging.

After more singing and the final blessing, a line of members formed toward the hospitality table filled with Kenyan treats.

“It may seem that there’s no order to the service, but there is order. Only I am led by the Spirit,” Nzioka said. “If the Spirit tells me to sing, we sing.

“I want people to feel accepted and want to come back.”

‘We feel community here’

Members say the biggest plus is that the church brings Kenyans together in an environment that “feels like we are back home,” said Purity Nzioki of Olathe.

And “we feel community here,” said Lorna Muroka of Lenexa, a nurse who in May will marry a fellow Kenyan.

“This is where my heart desires to be,” said her fiance, Dennis Nguutu of Shawnee, who is a pharmacist. “The pastor understands you as a person and meets our religious needs.”

Martha Eastwood of Lenexa said the church gives Kenyans a sense of belonging even though they are far from home.

“We understand each other culturally,” she said. “You can’t get that at other churches. At other churches, there is a barrier you have to break.”

Music plays a big role in the worship at the Neema Community Church.

Music plays a big role in the worship at the Neema Community Church.

Muroka also said the church allows the people an opportunity to freely express their culture — even in the way people dress. And the services are “more energetic than at other churches,” she said, reminiscent of worship in Kenya.

Anthony Kisivo, a real estate broker, said members help one another, especially new immigrants who are trying to get settled.

Kevin Auld of Olathe, who tries to greet every new face he sees, has been attending the church for three years, ever since a Kenyan invited him to visit.

“The people are really sincere,” said Auld, who has learned some Swahili. “The service has a special spirit, and it’s an awesome experience.”

‘A mission church’

Nzioka’s story starts in Kenya, where he was an ordained Presbyterian minister and a musician. Young and full of energy, he was in charge of 30 churches in different villages, conducting six services a week for five years.

By the time he came to the United States in 2002 to study at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, he had trained two other pastors to take over the work.

He heard about Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, and he and his wife started attending right after their arrival from Kenya. They had one child then and now have three.

“We were well-received and felt we had found a church home,” he said.

Despite that, he realized that people coming from Kenya needed a support group, as they had received from Village.

In 2004, the couple started the prayer group in their seminary apartment to bring Kenyans together for fellowship and prayer.

As the number of people grew, they briefly moved to a nearby church. Soon afterward, Village offered the Overland Park location.

There are at least three other local Kenyan congregations, but with the Kenyan population growing, Nzioka believed there was room for one more. He estimates there are 10,000 Kenyans in Kansas City area.

Nzioka’s mentor has been the Rev. Dwight Tawney, administrative pastor at Village, who also serves as a leader for Heartland Presbytery.

He helped Nzioka’s congregation through the process of becoming a part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Last year, Neema — which means “grace” in Swahili — formally was accepted as a Presbyterian church by Heartland Presbytery.

“David is an extraordinarily gifted pastor,” Tawney said. “He came to this country to get more formal education and received his doctorate last year from (University of) Dubuque Theological Seminary.”

Nzioka just returned from a two-week mission trip to Kenya, along with two other pastors from Heartland, three nurses from his church and a Kansas City lawyer.

They visited villages, preached, commissioned a well that recently was completed and provided a free medical clinic that treated 840 people in two days in his village.

“Our church is a mission church,” Nzioka said. “We want to go out and reach people for Christ, and we want to help people as much as possible. Although we don’t have a lot of money, we want to do what God has called us to do.”


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Mercy Ministries Outreach-Special programme to distribute clothes, toys, Bibles and food-March 25, 2012

Posted by Administrator on March 16, 2012

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East African Chamber of Commerce-Investment opportunities for the African Diaspora-March 31, 2012

Posted by Administrator on March 16, 2012

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Government develops policy paper for Kenyan Diaspora

Posted by Administrator on March 16, 2012

Early this year the Government released the Draft Diaspora Policy. This signals the government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for Diaspora engagement, and an opportunity for the Diaspora to determine how they wish to engage with the government in shaping the future social, economic and political destiny of Kenya

The Embassy in Washington, D.C, wishes to encourage Kenyans in the US to critically review the draft policy, discuss it, and provide your input before the policy is finalized. It has taken a long time for a Diaspora policy to be formulated. However, the policy will be meaningless if it does not incorporate the considered views of the Diaspora. It is a Diaspora Policy, which means that the Diaspora is the key stakeholder for this policy.

We propose that the Diaspora groups convene meetings/workshops to discuss the draft policy and send your ideas in writing to the Embassy for forwarding to Nairobi. This policy is domiciled in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), and it is the intention of the Ministry to have it finalized and published by June 2012. Time is therefore of essence!

In reviewing the policy we suggest that you consider the following:

  • Are the outcomes of the policy clearly stated?
  • What assumption does the policy make?
  • Is the policy in line with the general direction      that Kenya is headed, e.g. Vision 2030, the Constitution, etc?
  • Has stakeholder involvement been incorporated      throughout the policy development?
  • Has Diaspora interest been given a high      priority?
  • Are the policy outcomes measurable?
  • Are there resources to implement the policy?
  • What is the accountability structure and      mechanism for the policy?
  • Does history inform the policy?
  • Is the policy in line with the current      constitutional dispensation (and the spirit of the new constitution?)

These are but ideas that may assist in your conversations. You are welcome to adopt any other approach in reviewing the policy.

Please note that the review of the draft policy and the ideas to be incorporated should be conducted in a participatory and inclusive manner. Individual blogs in response to the draft policy are not likely to be considered. Remember, there are close to half a million Kenyans in the US!! It is therefore incumbent on Diasporas groups to convene themselves, have discussions, and submit a written report, clearly indicating the participants involved in the discussions.

Please submit your reports to the Embassy not later than 15th May, 2012 to diaspora@kenyaembassy.com. Ms. Nairimas Ole Sein, Counselor/DEP is the contact at the Embassy in Wasshington DC.

Please see the document here… http://www.kenyaembassy.com/pdfs/DraftDiasporaPolicyofKenya.pdf

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Inside the Dark Trade of Child Sex Tourism in Kenya

Posted by Administrator on March 16, 2012

Slowly but surely, paradise is changing. On any given afternoon in the tourist season, a hotel owner at the coast only used to worry about power cuts, malfunctioning air-conditioners, “the German Problem” (towels used to book pool chairs) or any of the other small headaches of the hospitality business.

Now, in the wake of terror advisories and stiff competition, making the stay pleasant ranks well below getting visitors in the door.

Dress codes are no longer enforced as more Eastern Europeans check in. More and more cash is forked out for live bands and animators in attempts to outdo the next establishment.

And when it comes to a guest’s new friends, ushered into the room late in the night, it is often best not to ask too many questions.

Walk through Diani or Ukunda townships in the late afternoon, however, and you will see reasons to ask a few questions. A recent visit by The Standard on Saturday brought us face to face with the dark secret ofKenya’s tropical paradise.

Scanty dresses

From around4pmon any given day, you can see dozens of scantily dressed girls, some in their teens, loitering around shopping centres or in local bars as they prey, or wait to be preyed upon, by tourists.

On the street, their hungry eyes lock on any posh fuel-guzzlers driving by, hoping to be picked up and whisked off to lavish beach homes, villas or hotels.

Almost a third of all tourists coming intoKenyahave sex with a local during their stay, a recent study found. People who would normally not enter a brothel in their home country hunt for sex openly when abroad.

This has bred a culture of sexual servitude that affects not just the hundreds of thousands of sex workers in the country, but also tens of thousands of school-age children.

Areas such as Ukunda and Diani on the south coast, and Mtwapa, Kikambala and Malindi on the north coast, have become notorious for sex tourism.

On a recent Friday night in one of Diani’s beachfront resorts, we found half-naked and drunk girls, some of them teens, engaged in lively dancing contests deep into the night.

Aware of how young they look, they advertise their availability through their exposed clothing, heavy smoking and drinking. This, we are told, is the norm here since many sex tourists prefer “loose” or “wild” girls who are likely to do what they want.

Members of the audience could be seen selecting some of the girls from the stage and ushering them to pubs and rooms in the dimly-lit backyard.

The sex tourists, who include Kenyans from upcountry, business people, transport workers and military personnel, often get away with their crimes. If caught, many can expect to bribe their way out of trouble.

As we later learned, there were adult guardians and parents accompanying some of the underage girls to the dance contests. Their job is to act as informal pimps, striking deals with clients who pick their daughters. Our guide spotted one girl who is a Class Six pupil in a local primary school.

Attempts to confront her mother were met with a vociferous admonishment.

“Mwataka nimtoe hapa, mtanipea mimi nini nile? (What will you offer me if I take her out of here?),” the woman exclaimed before walking off into the dark.

The dancing contests, we are told, are one of the events devised to camouflage and advertise underage sex tourism. The local District Officer recently stormed this very resort to pull a half-naked schoolgirl from the stage.

The destructive trade has distorted the social mores of the coastal region beyond recognition.
Mwaroni village in Diani, from which some of these girls come, is one of the many struggling to end the sex trade. Village elder Juma Bavu says he is horrified at how quickly the previously unthinkable vice has engulfed the community.

“When we were young, this was totally unheard of,” he says. “I worked in almost every resort in this region, but I never let any tourist corrupt me.

This is no longer the case with our children.”

Chairman Swaleh Mwero says banning traditional dances for tourists at night has only moved the trade out of the villages into area discotheques.
“We are shocked by what is happening. This is an issue that cannot be ignored anymore,” he says.

Money factor

Mwero adds the huge amounts of money generated by this trade have made it impossible to suppress.

The evidence is clear in many villages, he says, pointing to vehicles and property he claims “sponsors”acquired for the families of abused minors.

He says underage girls have been vanishing from the villages and travelling abroad with tourists, disguised as family friends.

He says elders are threatened when they attempt to keep minors away from tourists. “Many children drop out of school to court tourists,” he laments. “Others do it while still in school. Unfortunately, most parents support this vice.”

The sexual exploitation of children is not limited to coastal areas or to tourists, however. It can be found in communities acrossKenya. Most of the two to three thousand full-time prostitutes in the region have migrated to the coast from other parts of the country, where they were “inaugurated into sex work”.

Part of the problem is that older youths who have courted white tourists are seen as role models. There is even a popular local saying that behind every successful family there is a “mzungu”(white person). This creates social pressure on parents

with young children to push them into this line of work.

George Njaramba, a member of a Diani advisory committee on child rights, says it all comes down to economic incentives.

“Here, many people who focus on education end up struggling to make ends meet. Some of those who hook up with tourists, however, often end up relatively rich. They may even offer to pay school fees for age-mates still in school.”

Njaramba claims local authorities are aware of the problem but choose not to act.

“Government officials here know what is happening, but I believe they turn a blind eye either because they have been bribed or do not want bad publicity on Kenyan tourism,” he says.

The Government first publicly addressed the problem in 2003, at a child protection workshop.

Several measures to deal with it were implemented. However, the growth of the tourism sector, even as other economic activities in the coast region remain depressed, has drawn even more children into the trade.

Hard to come by

Ibrahim Makanzu, the chief for Diani location, says concrete evidence is hard to come by. He does, however, concede the social effects of sex tourism are evident: While the use of antiretroviral drugs has reduced Aids-related deaths, the HIV prevalence rate has shot up in recent years. High school dropout rates in the region are also unusually high.

Divisional Officer Halima Duri adds that the large number of young girls with property but no visible means of income suggests sex in being traded, but adds there is little social pressure to deal with the problem.

“Not even a single case has ever been reported to me,” she says. “It is true some young girls are enjoying life with luxury cars and houses, but it is hard to intervene in a case where there is no complaint.”

Provincial Administration officials limit themselves to reducing opportunities for the sex trade to happen. The DO claims that Government pressure has reduced child prostitution.

“In the past, tourists would openly enter hotels with children,” she says. “Now, some use private cottages and massage parlours, while others visit the minors in their rural homes. This makes it difficult to catch them.” Unlike hotels and resorts, which are public places, the private cottages are far harder to monitor.

When the scale of the problem first emerged in 2006, industry players were outraged.

Then Tourism Minister Morris Dzoro and hotel association chief Lucy Karume raided one hotel where three schoolgirls aged between eight and 14 were abused.

It emerged their mothers had helped to hide the crime from the hotel by accompanying the children to meet with two elderly tourists. The two foreigners, it also turned out, were notorious child molesters who had been thrown out of another hotel in the area. Afraid of the negative publicity, hotel owners often turn paedophiles away rather than turn them in.

This merely moves the problem from one location to another. With more dangerous sex predators coming toKenya, it is an approach doomed to failure.

Hotel manager Mohammed Hersi, also an official of the hoteliers’ association, has proposed having the Immigration Department review aliens permits and make it difficult “for retirees and social misfits to come into the country”.

The challenge is that even convicted sex offenders are allowed to travel from their home countries toKenya. Sex offenders convicted of abusing children abroad often face relatively short travel bans. TheUnited Kingdom, which boasts the toughest travel restrictions, prevents travel for only between six months and five years.

Easily corrupted Immigration officials atKenyaborder points are also known to allow in prohibited and undesirable immigrants. Sex tourists are also making use of the Internet to make their crimes easier.

Calling themselves “sex mongers”, these groups of men congregate in forums where they share information about where to find prostitutes, how much to pay, where to do the deed and what to do if caught.

Step-by-step instructions are also offered on how to persuade victims to allow the monger to perform various acts and take photographs. Due to criminal law restrictions, The Standard on Saturday did not search these forums for any images that may prove underage prostitutes are being abused inKenya.

However, recent arrests in theUnited StatesandEuropeof member of child sex and child pornography rings with connections toKenyaprove the abuse is happening. This would not be possible if the sex trade had not become a glorified way of life and a key source of livelihood for some locals.

In some localities, those who crusade against child prostitution have to endure constant threats to their lives. The officer in charge at the Diani Tourist Police Unit base is quick to deny complacency or complicity by law enforcement on child sex tourism.

“We always hear of those cases, but they are never reported here,” he says, referring us to the officer commanding the local police division. “It is very guarded and there is never any evidence.”
This is a familiar line of argument from the unit, which serves mostly to protect tourists from local crime.

The brochures it issues to foreign visitors, for example, do not warn against the illegal use of prostitutes, whether underage or not. Instead, they offer “personal safety tips” for those who intend to “invite a friend” to their hotel room. Turning a blind eye to the sex work, however, means they fail to see the abuse of children going on under their noses.




Ethnical Violence: Understanding the Cycle of Violence inKenya

How does one come to the understanding of the cycle of violence that occurs inKenyaon a five year basis?  I hope to bring an inquiry of the madness that has been so deeply imbedded into the Kenyan psyche in order to configure the correct methodology by which we can rid ourselves of this unreleased able sin of ethnic violence, which has been an idea so venomously potent.  Therefore, the arguments that I will examine in the understanding of violence inKenyaare primordialisms, servitude mentality, political manipulation, indoctrination and lack of critical thinking and analysis.  With the coming election it is important to revisit this issue to avoid a rendition of 2007.


The New Kenyan System: Federalism

August 27, 2010, a new Kenyan constitution was signed into law by President Mwai Kibaki.  This new constitution brings about major change in the government structures within the Kenyan state. Kenyaemerges as a federalist system that hopes to tackle problems like impunity and extralegal actions by executives or elites in government without legal recompense.  Among the principles that the federalist system hopes to offer Kenyans is a system that has a devolution of power and that  has flexibility and adaptability and has an evolving equilibrium of balance and sanctions.   The new system hopes to offerKenyathe necessary checks and balances that will enable our nation to thrive.

Source: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000054242&cid=4&ttl=Inside%20the%20dark%20trade%20of%20child%20sex%20tourism

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