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Archive for March 19th, 2012

Funeral Politics in Kenya

Posted by Administrator on March 19, 2012

As Kenya prepares for fresh elections slated for late December or early January, politicians are leaving nothing to chance. Funerals have become hunting grounds for votes.

As Kenya prepares for fresh elections slated for late December or early January, politicians are leaving nothing to chance. Funerals have become hunting grounds for votes.

On a hot, sunny afternoon in the remote village of Nangili in western Kenya, a mournful crowd has gathered. The mood is somber and only a muffled whimper or two can be heard amidst the hushed tones.

Occasionally a scream cuts through the air from mourners who are unable to restrain themselves after looking at the remains of a young man in a brown casket. The coffin lies beside a fresh mound of earth by the open grave. Then a burly man in an ill-fitting suit stands to address the crowd.

A message The man introduces himself as Maloba. “You know the work I have done as a councilor. This is an election year,  so vote for me again if you want me to continue with the good work I have been doing. Look at my development record. It speaks for itself. I have almost single-handedly brought the rural access road in this area. It’s not actually my job – it should have been done by the municipal council – but I did it anyway, because I am your servant.”

He then proceeds to deliver a “message” from a Mr Enock Kibunguchy, a former area member of parliament hoping to recapture his seat in the upcoming elections.

“He sent me to give you 2,000 Kenyan shillings [18 euros] to help pay for the funeral expenses, so please remember to vote for Enock. When he was member of parliament, he did far better than the current one who is just sleeping on the job,” he says, before leaving in a huff, probably headed to another funeral.

Bereavement with insults The trend is especially notorious over the weekends, when established politicians will negotiate roads in expensive rough terrain vehicles to the remotest ends of the country, to apparently mourn with the bereaved families of people they barely knew.

When they get the chance to step on a podium to address the gathered mourners, they will go ballistic. It’s all politics taking centre stage. They will tear into the policies of their opponents and insults on their character are not uncommon.

The phenomena has become so widespread that Kenya’s Internal Affairs minister Orwa Ojode banned the turning of funerals into political forums in January, threatening the arrest of politicians who ignore the directive. A politician has yet to be arrested as the practice continues.


“It is wrong from whatever angle you look at it from, “moans Pastor Emmanuel Muhanga of the Iliva Pentecostal Church in western Kenya. “Here is a family in mourning that needs closure and consolation. Then a selfish politician comes preaching politics. These people need to be sensitive to the plight of those who have lost loved ones. It is unfair. I remember this one funeral where badly tempered politicians from the Orange Democratic Movement and the G7 Alliance openly disagreed, each criticising the other for lack of vision and poor ideals. At a funeral! What a shame!” A lucrative trade Elections in Kenya like in many parts of the world are highly competitive. Kenyan members take home an estimated 114,000 euros annually, ranking them amongst the highest paid politicians in the world according to a report by British weekly The Economist. Hence anyone eyeing a seat will go to great lengths in order to secure it.

Source: http://www.rnw.nl/africa/article/funeral-politics-kenya



Posted in Kenya | 6 Comments »

Alarming divorce rate among diasporans

Posted by Administrator on March 19, 2012

There is no doubt in the mind of Kenyan Bishop Manasseh Man-kuleyo that the scattering of the sons of Africa into all corners of the wind, and especially in Europe and the United States has created a severe strain on their marriages.

While the divorce rate among the natives hovers around 60 percent, the bishop thinks that the rate is nearer 80 percent among diasporans. The bishop is so certain of his figures and calculations that he can tell, on the day a lovely family arrives from Africa, and their obedient children, how long they will last as a family.

The bishop has a first hand experience. One day, after a prolonged evangelical journey in which the harvest was great, he arrived home, back in California to find the devil, his wife, supported by white feminists, ready to serve him “papers” and wipe his bank account clean.

It was a battle which drove him from the pulpit for years as he wondered in the wilderness until he was rescued by the prayers of the faithful. The cause is not money, though the bishop says that the devil dangles these pies in the sky before the African woman. She will automatically have the matrimonial house, she will have half their savings and other bank deposits, and mother of all sins, she will have alimony and child support for the foreseeable future.

The devil adds a juicy bit; the possibility of throwing the husband in jail if he fails to come up with the money. “No, no, Ken, it is not about money,” the bishop told me. “It is about power.” Take the case of another Kenyan, Reverend Jonah Kusolo (name slightly changed). Going to seminary, working for a plumbing company in the evening, and working at Wal-Mart during week-ends, the black pastors in my district sought help on his behalf, so he could bring his wife and five children from Kenya.

It was a lovely family until the feminists got to his wife. “He makes me make tea for him,” the woman told me bitterly. I was asked by my church to investigate his material needs, with an offer of US$10 000 as first installment.

The bitter accusation was that the Holy Bishop had raised his voice (legally considered an assault here), was forcing his wife to cook ugali (sadza) against her will (considered slave labour, punishable with imprisonment) and committing infidelities by talking to the chairlady of the Women’s Miss-ionary Society in Kenya through the phone. “You see Ken,” the bishop told me, “Mrs Bukolo, by imitating white women, she has reversed the role of the husband.

Bishoop Bukolo must now cook ugali  when the wife is resting, and he must ask for permission to communicate with men and women in his church. It is about power.”

The African woman sees the free wheeling American women; they can “throw” their husbands out of the house, force him to sleep on a couch, and if she tells the neighbours: “He is going to kill me!” the law comes heavily on the husband. The racist equation considers a black man a danger to himself and to his family. He is locked up without trial for assault. Remember assault means raising one’s voice and causing fear. It is illegal for the husband to withhold money or food. Brother Choga, listen to this one.

Any unwanted sex can be reported to the police six months after the event. God forbid that the wife remembers when last she was an unwilling partner. But the bishop says there are other weapons within the devil’s reach. Children cannot be rebuked.

A Zimbabwean extremist who punished his son had a telephone call from the Secretary of State. The kids are armed with the telephone number 911  and schooled in how to contact the police. “If your daddy touches you,” the teacher tells them, “you must report it.” My daughter stopped her car to spank Master Miles who had refused to use his seat belts. A passer by reported the vehicle number. The Sheriff came to visit. Thus, the African husband is faced by a liberated wife, non compliant children, and every attempt to instill discipline can lead one to a jailhouse.

Differential incomes favouring the wife have brought untold humiliation on African men. A registered nurse can command in excess of US$80 000 per year, day one after graduation. A Nigerian brother with two doctoral degrees found himself a figure of ridicule. The wife, whom he had put through school, snatched a job as a professor soon after graduating with an MBA. She left their matrimonial house. The man was devastated.

African women are more likely to secure jobs than their African husbands. The differential inc-omes which favour the woman play havoc with the man’s ego. Add to this is the fact that he is no longer master of his own house.

To be blunt, a wise man must play second fiddle to his wife. Add the fact that his children are no longer respectful of his status as father (baba) of the house. The bishop says a wise man must replace his own headship of the family with a God-centred one. All members of the household take their respective positions in God’s house. The Nigerian solution is to send children to Africa for primary schooling.

Source: http://www.financialgazette.co.zw/comment/11979-divorce-rate-among-diasporans.html

Posted in Diaspora News | 29 Comments »

Kenyan bands Sauti Sol and Just a Band thrill at the SWSX in Austin, TX

Posted by Administrator on March 19, 2012

Kenya’s Sauti Sol thrilled crowds in Austin, TX over the weekend when they brought a power-packed set from Nairobi. With cool shades, flashy clothes, and provocative dance moves, Sauti Sol gave us a taste of what native Kenyan performance art is all about.

The spirit of their performance was very masculine and aggressive. The men sang with their chests erect and eyes locked on the crowd. They had choreographed dance moves that ranged from full-body to pelvic-only, daring the audience to peel their eyes away from the stage. It was very flashy. Check out a video below.

Another Kenyan band who showcased their music at SXSW was Just a Band. We will get you the video of their performance at the SWSX festival a little later. In the meantine, listen to the single that put them on the map, “Ha He.”


Posted in Diaspora News, Kenya | Comments Off on Kenyan bands Sauti Sol and Just a Band thrill at the SWSX in Austin, TX

Kenya Plans ‘Silicon Savannah’ to Build on Tech Growth

Posted by Administrator on March 19, 2012

It is hard to escape the images of “Konza City” in Kenya.  Advertisements promoting the future high-tech hub, or “technopolis,” appear daily in the country’s newspapers and show regularly on the state television network.

The ambitious plan is the work of Dr. Bitange Ndemo, the permanent secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information.  A scale-model in the corner of his office shows off the grand scheme.  Konza City will have its own international financial district, office buildings for technology companies and innovation labs, as well as manufacturing plants, artificial rivers and eventually homes, schools, churches and mosques.

The Kenyan government bought a 2,000-hectare plot of land for the project about 60 kilometers from the capital, and is now seeking to hire a master developer to find investors and arrange the construction.  The project will come together in two phases and will take about 20 years to complete.

Inspired by his visit to Silicon Valley in the United States, the home of the U.S. high-tech industry, Ndemo says the project aims to attract international investors who either cannot find space in overcrowded downtown Nairobi, or who cannot find buildings that meet their standards.  Underscoring the urgency of his point, on the day he spoke to VOA, a blackout had hit downtown Nairobi and the building housing the Ministry of Information was running on a back-up generator.

“It doesn’t take much to understand this project if you have lived here longer, because working in the city center here is such a mess,” he says.

Silicon Valley in Kenya?

Promoting the information technology (IT) industry is one of Kenya’s key development goals in the coming years – part of an ambitious agenda known as Vision 2030.

“We said, ‘why don’t we do a Silicon Valley here,’ which has all the facilities such that when you get to work you know you would have power, you would have water, you would have electricity,” says Ndemo. “Konza City will be the first smart, green city in Africa.”
Kenya’s IT industry has been on a major upswing in the past few years, driven largely by advances in mobile phone technology. The World Bank says mobile phone subscriptions in Kenya rose by more than 25 percent between June 2010 and December of last year, while Internet users increased by 60 percent. Kenya is also the birthplace of the world’s first mobile money transfer service, M-Pesa.

As in the original Silicon Valley, much of Kenya’s homegrown innovation is taking place inside small tech communities and social groups.  The most well-known is called iHub, a meeting space, coffee shop and workshop in Nairobi where software developers, engineers and other creative minds come together to brainstorm new ideas.

In a sense, Konza City is an attempt to capture the creative community spirit on a larger scale and to include some light manufacturing capacity as well.  Erik Hersman, the founder of iHub, is cautiously optimistic about the plans.
“I think it is viable, but its not just about building it and they will come.  It’s providing all the other incentives that are needed to make it a really attractive location,” he says.

The other challenge, Hersman says, will be keeping it “tech focused.”  He says that when developers get in there “they’re going to start selling space to whoever will pay them.”
Konza City is expected to cost about $10 billion, which will be funded mostly through public-private partnerships, with the Kenyan government footing up to $1 billion of the bill for new infrastructure.
Who Will Come?

Some major technology companies have announced plans to expand their businesses in Kenya.  The U.S.-based computer company IBM announced plans this month to establish an innovation hub in Nairobi to increase its exposure in Africa.  In February, Finland’s Nokia said it too would fund a research center to support local developers.  Ndemo says companies like these have expressed interest in Konza, but it is a little too early to say who, if anyone, has actually committed.

The general manager for Microsoft in East and Southern Africa, Louis Onyango Otieno, has been on the job for 15 of Microsoft’s 16 years in Nairobi.  He fully supports the idea of Konza City, but says Microsoft has not decided whether it will buy in.
“We haven’t got to a point where we’re sitting back and saying ‘Are we doing that or not?’  We’re pretty much doing what we’ve been doing and if that’s where it goes, that’s where it goes,” he says.

Otieno has no doubt that innovation will continue to thrive in East Africa, Konza or no Konza, and says attracting investors is like collecting iron with a magnet.
“If that facility, or that initiative is designed to enhance the goals of a private investor, it’s a no-brainer, they will go,” he says.
Konza is not the first attempt at a planned city in Kenya.

A $5 billion residential project called Tatu City was supposed to break ground last year.  But the deal has been held up in court by a lawsuit between developers and shareholders.

Konza City was supposed to break ground in April of this year, but it will also be delayed as the government continues to look for a master developer.  It will be at least a year before the first buildings go up.

Source: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/east/Kenya-Plans-Silicon-Savannah-to-Build-on-Tech-Growth-143301086.html

Posted in Kenya | 2 Comments »

Kenyan woman in Sweden convicted of drowning her two sons

Posted by Administrator on March 19, 2012

Grace Nyambura Kamau who was convicted of murdering her two sons in Sweden.

Grace Nyambura Kamau who was convicted of murdering her two sons in Sweden.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, March 19 (UPI) — A  31-year-old mother who admitted pushing her two young sons into a lake and  watching them drown was convicted of murder Monday in Stockholm, Sweden.

Grace Nyambura Kamau of Kenya was sentenced to closed psychiatric care and  deportation.

The Attunda District Court ruled she was guilty of murder rather than  manslaughter because she had planned the killings a week before pushing  4-year-old Elias and 8-year-old Tevin into the water in a swimming area near  Sigtuna last September, the Swedish news agency TT reported.

“Tevin didn’t scream but Elias screamed for a long time. It was loud and he  shouted ‘no, no, no,'” the mother said during interrogations.

The single mother, who had moved to Swden a few years earlier and allegedly  was experiencing financial problems, had become emotionally unstable prior to  the incident.

She also said she had planned to drown herself.

“We were all supposed to die,” she said.

The court ordered her sent to a psychiatric hospital where, held since her  arrest, medical examinations confirmed she has serious mental health problems,  TT reported.

Source: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2012/03/19/Mother-convicted-of-drowning-2-sons/UPI-43971332198300/#ixzz1pcGbYz1X

Posted in Diaspora News | 12 Comments »

Mother of assault victim suffers stroke upon be told “nothing else can be done” for her daughter

Posted by Administrator on March 19, 2012

Lucy Mwikamba (left) with her mother Hannah and visitors at Rashid Hospital. The mother of attack victim Esther is under treatment after suffering a mild stroke.

Lucy Mwikamba (left) with her mother Hannah and visitors at Rashid Hospital. The mother of attack victim Esther is under treatment after suffering a mild stroke.

Dubai: For the past three weeks, assault victim Esther Wanjiru Mwikamba’s mother, Hannah, had stayed by her daughter’s bedside in the intensive care unit of Rashid Hospital to make sure that once Esther woke up from coma, mum would be there. But on Saturday, things took an unexpected turn when Hannah learned of her daughter’s latest medical report.

At 2.30pm on Saturday, Hannah suffered a minor stroke and was admitted to Rashid Hospital upon learning of her daughter’s medical condition. Esther, a Kenyan national, has been on life support in the intensive care unit of Rashid Hospital since February 18 after being brutally assaulted by a man in a car park in Dubai. The case is now with the public prosecutor.

“My mother had a minor stroke and high blood pressure when she received Esther’s latest medical report which was not good at all,” Lucy, Esther’s sister, told Gulf News during a visit to the hospital.

“The doctors said they still have to observe my mother’s condition. She will have to be confined for three to four days to keep her blood pressure under control,” Lucy added.

Hannah, 45, said she has no history of hypertension or diabetes. She was at Esther’s bedside when she began to feel unwell. She immediately called Lucy for help.

“Problem,” Hannah told Gulf News, as she pointed to the machine that showed her blood pressure. She said her left cheek, left hand and leg were numb. But instead of talking about how she was feeling, she asked for more prayers for Esther.

Lucy said doctors had told them that there was nothing else they could do medically to bring Esther out of her coma. A medical report issued at the Mwikamba family’s request stated that Esther’s condition is “beyond any neurosurgical intervention on her arrival at the hospital, confirmed to be brain stem death.”

But Hannah and Lucy’s spirits would not be defeated.

Esther Mwikamba who was attacked in Dubai and now in a coma.

Esther Mwikamba who was attacked in Dubai and now in a coma.

“We are still hoping that she would wake up. We are hoping for another opinion from another doctor,” Lucy said.

Asked how she was coping with two family members now confined to the hospital, she said: “It’s very difficult. I go up and down, up and down [the hospital to check on both of them].”

Hannah arrived in Dubai from Kenya on March 2 to be by Esther’s bedside. She joined Lucy who arrived days before to take turns in taking care of Esther.

Month-long wait

The month-long wait for Esther to emerge from her coma must have taken a toll on Hannah’s health, a friend said.

“When she [Hannah] arrived in Dubai, she was not 100 per cent fit. With all this happening, she’s bound to go through [a tough time herself],” Michael Ogolla, secretary of the Kenya Welfare Association which has supported the Mwikamba family from day one, said.

Hannah broke her right leg in a road accident ten years ago. She has since had difficulty walking. In a previous interview, she told Gulf News: “I had an accident before and I broke my leg. I have a metal in my leg, which is between the joint of my knee and in my ankle.”

Hannah added that Esther was supposed to bring her to India this year so that doctors could remove the metal in her ankle.

But that will have to wait, as Esther, the sole earner of the family, is the main focus of the family at the moment.

Source: http://gulfnews.com/news/mother-of-assault-victim-suffers-stroke-on-hearing-medical-report-1.997031

Posted in Diaspora News | 5 Comments »

One on One with Casper- Diaspora voting and proposal

Posted by Administrator on March 19, 2012

One on One with Casper explores how to get Kenyans living abroad to vote

Posted in Diaspora News, Kenya | Comments Off on One on One with Casper- Diaspora voting and proposal

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