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Archive for March 27th, 2012

Police defy Raila as slum in Nairobi brought down

Posted by Administrator on March 27, 2012

Government officers yesterday defied Prime Minister Raila  Odinga and proceeded to demolish Nairobi’s Mitumba slums. The demolition was conducted only a week after squatters returned to the disputed land. The village was first demolished in November last year as the Kenya  Airports Authority moved to reclaim  the land  near the  Wilson airport.

Bulldozers from the Ministry of Public Works descended on  the  slum dwellers yesterday morning under the watchful eye of more than 400 regular and administration police.Efforts by Raila who is area MP to intervene bore no  fruits as police stood their ground saying they were effecting orders from the Office of the President.

Raila who arrived at the slum in the morning was seen  consulting with senior police officers even as the bulldozers continue flattening  some structures erected by the residents. He later left after addressing  the villagers. He told them that he would return after consulting with the President. By last evening, the squatters were still waiting for the PM  to address their plight as hundreds of them staged a demonstration along  Mombasa Road. “The PM who is our MP was here this morning, but police  defied him. It was shocking that junior officers could defy the Prime Minister,” said Mitumba village chairman Ezekiel Ombaso.

Ombaso said the squatters returned last week to the  land after the PM told them to do so during a public rally in Kibera recently. “The PM addressed a rally recently in the presence of the PC  Nairobi and other senior police officers where he asked us to return here until  alternative land is found for us,” Ombaso added.

He said, a similar operation on Friday to evict them aborted  after the Pm arrived and ordered the police to leave us as the government was looking  for a lasting solution. “On Friday, they listen to him and left but today, it was a different  situation. It seems now politics is at play yet we are suffering,” Ombaso  added.

By last evening, hundreds of families were camping near the  plot as tractors dug trenches for the construction of a perimeter wall. KAA has maintained the residents of the village had  built on the flight path and ignored repeated quit notices issued to them but residents  accuse the state of teting them in inhumae way. “The constitution of Kenya guarantees all Kenyans a right  to descent treatment and housing yet the state is depriving us of the same by government,”  Kenya slum dwellers association chairman Bernard Ominde said.

Source: http://www.the-star.co.ke/national/national/68623-police-defy-raila-as-slum-in-nairobi-brought-down


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Mobile Applications: A Weapon Against Violence

Posted by Administrator on March 27, 2012

The bloody aftermath of Kenya’s 2007 post-election violence left victims, observers, and participants with a lingering feeling of horror and an instinctual “what just happened?” reaction. Initially, the actual reach of the violence was virtually impossible to track.

With a huge proportion of incidents unreported and unquantified in the wake of the violence, many Kenyans were unaware of the proximate danger and gravity of post-election violence. Those who experienced or participated in the public riots certainly had some picture of what the turmoil looked like, but those not directly involved (especially those in the international community), remained in the dark as to the full effect, for what seemed like a reporting eternity.

Then suddenly, conflict-awareness spread like wildfire, at least in Kenya. How? Credit a website and mobile application called Ushahidi Kenya.
Ushahidi, meaning “witness” in Swahili, enabled people all over the country to report and read about real-time conflict incidences. The brilliant scheme allowed individuals (including those in remote areas lacking internet access) to text in information and photos which were then verified by Ushahidi and posted on the site for general viewing.

Quantified loci of incidences are reported in the following categories: riots, deaths, property loss, sexual assault, internally displaced people, government forces, civilians, looting, peace efforts, extra-judicial killings, and extra-judicial linked disappearances.
Since the 2007, post-election violence has cooled and the use of Ushahidi in Kenya has temporarily declined. There are, however, still urgent and pressing needs for its victims: catharsis, awareness, and prevention.

Photos 4 Peace is an up-and-coming mobile application that may be exactly what Kenya needs. With its highly anticipated release on the horizon, Photos 4 Peace will start as a Nokia phone application. Like Ushahidi, users will text in photos relating to conflict resolution and peace. The application will eventually be available on various basic phones and smartphones around the world. It will most likely be free within Kenya and available for purchase internationally.

Developed by Muva Technologies, Ltd., as a means of promoting peace in the areas in which it operates (East Africa), it will be a much needed platform for image commentary. Its timing could not be better as Kenya gears up for elections in December 2012. The application will be a sure catalyst for information sharing, awareness, tolerance and, hopefully, increased collaboration between political groups and peace organizations.

Partnering with peace initiative NGOS, secretariats, and educational institutions itself, Photos 4 Peace will provide accurate, real-time reports with a meaningful reach. University students far from home will be some of the primary beneficiaries, as they will have access to information about potential conflicts in their area. They will also most likely account for the highest number of submissions, considering heavy social network engagement of that population.

“We are looking forward to working with like-minded organizations to aid in the development of the complete version” says muva founder Evans Ndugwa. After its pilot test in the Nokia’s Ovi Store in Nairobi, the application has already reached 50,000 downloads.

One sure way to work towards peace is to acknowledge, document, and condemn every breech of individual and national security as it occurs. Those who want to prevent larger conflicts must not allow even small acts of meaningless violence to go unreported. This will be impossible if it is left solely up to governments, international organizations, or a legion of soldiers in blue. Peace, in a familiar frame of revolutionary activism, will be the work of people, with phones.
Keep your eye out for Photos 4 Peace, and “become an ambassador for peace in your own community,” as the organization suggests, by downloading the application when it is released.

Source: http://www.africa.com/blog/blog,mobile_applications_a_weapon_against_violence,609.html

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From SOS Child to Lawyer

Posted by Administrator on March 27, 2012

Caroline becomes the first female laywer from the SOS Kenya family.

Caroline becomes the first female laywer from the SOS Kenya family.

SOS Success Story: Caroline, now 26, graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Law degree from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, one of the local universities in Kenya. She has been doing an internship at one of the Nairobi law courts, where she has been gaining experience. “I am not only a lawyer now,” she proudly says, “I am also an advocate. I’m already representing people in court.”


Caroline’s mother died when she was two and she was placed in the care of her grandmother. Her grandmother struggled looking after her so Carline was admitted into the SOS Children’s Village in Buru Buru, Nairobi.

She recalls how help by SOS Children’s Villages has not only given a meaning to her life, but has also given her the chance to become a confident and successful young woman.

“My SOS Mother has always been very supportive. She gave me love and affection, encouragement and comfort. She was always there for me, through good and bad times.” She points out how education played a big role in her young years. “When I was about ten years old, I used to engage in school debates. All of us students and the teacher would discuss issues like women’s and girl’s rights. I loved it. I remember it like yesterday when my teacher said to me that one day I would be a good lawyer. During those years at school, I acquired a sense of discipline, which helped me a lot during my studies.”

In the past, Caroline used to suffer from Keratoconus, a progressive eye disease. “Even then, SOS Children’s Villages helped me out,” she says. “I was successfully operated on in both my left and right eye and SOS Children’s Villages paid for everything. My eyes are now perfect and I don’t even use my glasses anymore.”

Quite often, Caroline goes back to the village to meet her younger siblings. “They look up to me as their mentor,” she says. “Now many of them tell me they want to become a lawyer like me.”

During Christmas and Easter time, she also goes upcountry, to visit her mother and a few relatives.

“I always think about my past. Had it not been for SOS Children’s Villages, I would have been a destitute child, with no future ahead.”

Caroline’s dream is to do a master’s in human rights. “I want to become a well-known lawyer and I know I am good at standing up for people’s rights. I want to pay my debt of gratitude to my SOS Mother and the Village community for the precious care they gave me. The time I spent with SOS Children’s Village will never be forgotten.”

“In a few weeks,” she proudly adds, “I will be a practicing barrister lawyer. Wait and see, I will be the first female lawyer in the whole of SOS Kenya’s youth family.”

Source: http://www.sos-usa.org/newsroom/press-releases/Pages/From-SOS-Child-to-Lawyer.aspx

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Newly discovered oil fuels hope and fear in Kenya

Posted by Administrator on March 27, 2012

Kenya has struck oil, a discovery that has fueled hope and fear in the East African country. President Mwai Kibaki broke the news Monday, telling Kenyan media that although the country was still years away from producing oil and that its commercial viability is uncertain, “it is very good news for our country.”

The Tullow Oil company said that a well in Turkana, an arid region in northwest Kenya, had turned up oil much like “the light waxy crude discovered in Uganda.” At least four exploratory wells are expected to be drilled this year, Bloomberg News reported.

“To make a good oil discovery in our first well is beyond our expectations,” Tullow exploration director Angus McCoss said in a statement Monday. “We look forward to further success as seismic and drilling activities continue to gather pace.”

The discovery elated some Kenyans.The Turkana people in the region where the oil was found are an ethnic minority that has had to contend with drought and hunger, relying on aid to survive.

“We will have provision of services that will mean schools, networks, bursaries; it will mean everything that an ordinary Kenyan will need for their lives to move on,” Lion Lepalo, executive director of a Turkana nonprofit group, told Kenyan radio station Capitol FM.

One television report from Kenyan-based Citizen News showed Turkana people breaking into song and dance as they learned of the oil. “The black gold could be the ultimate game-changer,” the report said.

But others were wary, fearing that oil wealth might be exploited without returning the profits to the Kenyan people. Almost half of Kenyans live in poverty, according to the most recent World Bank figures.

“With the discovery of oil, Kenya is at a crossroads where it must take the highway to heaven or hell,” opined Tim Wanyonyi in the Daily Nation. In Russia, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, he wrote, “instead of this black gold helping them improve the quality of life for their people, it has caused suffering.”

“But not all oil producing nations are cursed and Kenya has a chance to choose which way to go,” Wanyonyi concluded.

Source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/03/kenya-oil-discovered-turkana.html

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Kenya Cabinet Reshuffle Changes Presidential Race

Posted by Administrator on March 27, 2012

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki

Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday reshuffled cabinet ministers they saw as a threat to their own political futures. The biggest target was Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo one of the top legal experts and outspoken supporter of the International Criminal Court process.
President Mwai Kibaki on Monday moved four ministers aligned with his Party of National Unity (PNU), while his grand coalition partner, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, replaced one minister from his own Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
Political observers say the reshuffling of the cabinet is a big boost to two politicians – Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto – accused before the ICC of perpetuating post-election violence in Kenya in 2007 and 2008. The two suspects now have one of their allies, Eugene Wamalwa, appointed as Justice Minister, replacing the outspoken Mutula Kilonzo, who will be in charge of education.
Kenyan political analyst Adam said the reshuffling was initiated from the president’s side of the coalition government and it had to do with solidifying support ahead of the upcoming general election in 2013.
Oloo says the most significant change took place in the Justice Ministry, controlled by President Kibaki’s PNU party.
“Since they were in control of that ministry, it belongs to Kibaki’s side of the coalition, they had to at the minimum to remove Mutula Kilonzo, because he was proving to be a bottleneck for them, and therefore they got in place someone who they clearly believe is loyalist and who is ready to play political ball with them,” he said.

Kenya's Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo (2010 file photo)


Kenya’s Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo (2010 file photo)


As Justice Minister, Mutula Kilonzo, argued that the constitution forbids any ICC suspects from running for president, a swipe at Kenyatta and Ruto, who have both declared intentions to run.
Wamalwa, on the other hand, has been critical of the ICC process.
In handing over the portfolio to the newly appointed justice minister, Kilonzo joked that he would be safer in the position because he is part of the G7 – a coalition of parties aligned with President Kibaki.
“They will threaten you, intimidate you, they will harass you implement this document [constitution] its your future,” he said. “Do not accept the harassment the political meanderings of the Gods of tribalism, be firm. At least you are lucky you belong to G7 which I don’t, you will have a smoother ride.”
Eugene Wamalwa praised his predecessor. He said he was well aware of the challenges ahead.
“His record as he walks out of this ministry today, we know he walks with his head held high, but I also walk in today well knowing the immense responsibility that this office places on my shoulders,” he said. “Where Mutula has left we will pick up and we will move forward but without hesitation, without fear or favor, as a lawyer and as a lawmaker, my fidelity is to the law.”
In accepting the position, Wamalwa vowed to fight corruption. He did not mention how he would rule on a constitutional challenge to ICC suspects running for president, but it is clear that the two accused politicians now have a political supporter in the Justice Ministry.

Source: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Kenya-Cabinet-Reshuffle-Changes-Presidential-Race-144391015.html

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Obama uncle admits facts in Mass. drunken driving case; charge will be dismissed after a year

Posted by Administrator on March 27, 2012

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — A Massachusetts drunken driving charge against President Barack Obama’s uncle will be dismissed if he stays out of trouble for a year, officials said Tuesday.

Onyango Obama, 67, admitted to sufficient facts at a hastily scheduled hearing. That means he didn’t plead guilty but acknowledged Massachusetts prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him.

Onyango Obama is the half brother of the president’s late father. He was arrested in Framingham in August after a police officer said he made a rolling stop at a stop sign and nearly caused the officer’s cruiser to crash into Obama’s sport utility vehicle.

On Tuesday, the judge ordered him to give up his driver’s license for 45 days. But he will be allowed to drive to and from his job as the manager of a liquor store in Framingham. Two other traffic violations were dismissed.

“He felt it was in his best interest to put this behind him,” said his attorney, P. Scott Bratton. “He wants to return to his normal, quiet existence in society.”

Obama, who is from Kenya, is also appealing a deportation order that dates to 1992, when he failed to renew his application to remain in the U.S. Bratton called it a technical error. He moved here as a teenager in the early 1960s to live with a host family and attend high school.

Bratton said Obama has had no contact with the White House about the drunken driving case.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/obamas-uncle-enters-plea-in-mass-drunken-driving-case-charge-will-be-dismissed-after-a-year/2012/03/27/gIQAztmMeS_story.html

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Kenya PM Raila Odinga to Hold a Town Hall Meeting in Atlanta, GA on Thursday, April 26th

Posted by Administrator on March 27, 2012

The Prime Minister of Kenya, The Right Honorable Raila Odinga will be in Atlanta, Georgia for an official visit.

He will hold a Town hall meeting on April 26, 2012 from 6:30pm-10:00pm at Doubletree Hotel (off Windy Hill Rd), 2055 South Park Place, Atlanta GA 30339.

For more info, call 770-272-9441.

Posted in Diaspora News | 2 Comments »

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