SAM WAKIAGA HELPS KOCHIA WHIRLWIND VICTIMS.

Most Homa Bay county residents will confirm that when it comes to philanthropy, nobody does it like Sam Wakiaga. He is a man on a mission to help the needy and his way of doing it is unmarched.

When news that a major whirlwind hit Kochia reached him, he definitely showed up and in a very extraordinary way decided to help those who were most affected and the most needy.

He offered to cater for the full cost of rebuilding the houses that were hit by the ‘tornado’. A spot-check through the areas that were affected revealed that construction had already begun and very soon, everything will be back to normal.

Wakiaga’s help will most certainly boost his political life as he is rumoured to be having ambitions of challenging the current area governor Hon. Cyprian Awiti.

Little help however, has come from the county government. Governor Cyprian Awiti was only reported to have said that he will pay the victims a visit-which has not happened so far. Yesterday he didn’t show up at a meeting that was to take place at Tala despite keeping the area chief and assistant chief waiting for more than 3 hours.

The county women rep Hon Gladys Wanga offered the victims of the disaster blankets and 3kgs of rice and beans and promised more support. The Red Cross has also offered important support as well.

Governor Cyprian Awiti Changing Homa Bay County.

Since elections, only a few counties have changed positively. In fact, wananchi from some counties have started complaining that they don’t feel any impact of devolution. Some political commentators who are anti-devolution have said that the new system of governance has only fuelled corruption at grassroot level.

In Homa Bay County, the narrative is different as people from this lakeside county are happy and in support of what their governor is doing. Since the elections, majority of the people have witnessed massive development projects, some of which have been completed and helping people.

Take for example the lighting project- ‘okonyo welo’ or ‘help for the visitors’ which was done within Homa Bay town and its outskirts.
Businesses within the town today operate 24hrs making the town among the few which operate round the clock. As a matter of fact, in western Kenya, it’s only Homa Bay and Kisii town that operate under 24 hour economy.
John, a boda boda operator and a resident of Homa Bay town is very pleased with the project and says that it has reduced the level of crminal acts which took place at night rapidly. “We are nolonger worried of our security at night because there is light everywhere. The police have also intensified their patrols and therefore we feel safer than before” he says.

Roads have also been tarmacked with the latest being Kendu Bay-Oyugis road. This has opened up the interior parts of the county hence making movement of people and goods easy. A farmer in Kobuya today, is not worried about how fast he’ll reach Kendu Bay in order to sell his fresh produce as the road network has been improved.

Real estate industry is also growing at a faster pace in Homa Bay county. New and modern buildings are coming up daily as the demand for offices and houses also keeps rising.

The CBD has also undergone a major face-lift as the county government funded the construction of a better bus station. A plan is also underway to build a modern market for the business operators within the town.

If one therefore conducts a simple poll and ask how the residents feel about the county government under the leadership of Cyprian Awiti, 98% of the respondents will say they are satisfied with how the cointy is run and would even suggest that the governor be elected for another term.

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Photo: Sonyanco plaza in Homa Bay town

I ALMOST GOT RAPED IN MY ROOM

Mary*(not her real name) was innocently resting in her room unawares of what the evening had in store for her on that fateful day.
As is normal in Soweto hostels, her room was experiencing electrical problem which consequently affected the lighting. Their nights were unusually dark. In fact, she says, “we used to cook at our friends’ room and only come back to sleep”
Since her room-mates were out, she felt bored being alone and decided to get some sleep. At least that would make her mind relax and avoid imagining weird things that could happen in the dark.
No sooner had she started to dozz off than she heard a knock at the door. From her sleeping position, she stretched her hand and opened the door. It was Jonny*(not his real name), a student with whom she comes from the same faculty. A coursemate to be precise.
After exchanging pleasantries, she asked Jonny what brought him to her room at such ungodly time in the night. A question, she says, motivated by fear since it was dark. “I….mmmh….was actually looking for you.” He said. With a lot of hesitation. Mary Immediately became terrified. “Here is a person i have never talked to telling me that he is looking for me. How could it be? As a matter of fact, the closest we’ve ever been to each other is when we sat together during a lecture. Something was definitely wrong.” She concluded. Her instincts have never misled her.
She recalled a time when, after attending a lecture, Jonny followed her at a distance to her hostel only to pass by her door. “He was definitely stalking me.” She adds. The memory of that past incidence raised her fears more.
Since her phone’s charge was down, she decided to try to connect it to a socket. As a new student who never before came into contact with the exposed live wires of the vasity hostels, she obviously experienced difficulties connecting the phone. At this point, Jonny decided to be a ‘gentleman’ and offered to help her. She agreed after a slight protest. An action she would live to regret
Jonny* saw that as an opportunity. Very much cognisant that it comes once, he decided to grab it. He immediately went for the kill, grabbed Mary* by her hands and pulled her towards him even-though she protested.
“Let me go!” She shouted, managing to release her hands from him. “Get out of my room!” She ordered him. At that point, Jonny* decided to be a little polite. A well calculated move to ensure that Mary didn’t shout again. “Why are you doing this to me?” He posed. ” I have for long admired you. “Si tufanye tu hata mara moja” (let’s just do it once), he added. Hoping to convince her
“Please leave me alone!” Mary shouted again. This time raising her voice even higher. Sensing that she was not going to lower her voice, Jonny quickly pounced on her and this time, more aggressively. What ensued was a fierce struggle which can only be likened to that between an Antelope and a Lion. One committed to devour the other, while another, hopelessly trying to survive.
At this point, Jonny* grabbed her by her neck and tried to strangle her in order to silence her. As they struggled, he was saying,”you know i can rape you?” She recounts. “I have never been more scared in my life” says Mary. He had managed to lock the door and put the key in his pocket. Mary’s hope of survival remained on the balance.

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Photo: courtesy

Suddenly, and out of the blues, someone knocked at the door. God heard her cries and responded. Help finally arrived. Jonny* quickly let her go and pretended that nothing was going on in the room.He gave her the key to the door and voila-her room mates at last came back.
Scared of the unknown and being a naive young fresh-woman in campus, she decided to keep quite. She was not willing to open up to her friends about what happened while they were away.
That’s how she escaped from the cruel hands of a devil-possessed rapist.
Her nightmares were far from over as Jonny* insisted on staying and refused to go back to his room. He attempted to climb onto Mary’s bed but she refused. Fearing her friends, he obeyed.
“I didn’t sleep a wink that night.” She says, gazing at the horizon. Asked how she would feel had Jonny* gone ahead and raped her, she becomes silent and takes a deep breath. “I would have hated myself forever.” She says, in a rather low tone seemingly overwhelmed by emotions. “I think it’s God who saved me. He is a strong man and i don’t know how i managed to wrestle him without running out of power.” She concludes.
Mary’s situation is not an isolated case. There are many others out there. Some ladies have most certainly undergone what Mary experienced, and maybe some of them ended in a bad way-being raped. Because of being naive and scared, they are not willing to report the matter to the relevant authorities for actions to be taken against those social misfits.
The university rules are very clear on aggression of any manner. No one is above the law as we are all equal under the same law and by extension, the constitution the country.
It is advised therefore, that if you are a victim of any form of violence, don’t hesitate to report it to the security office situated at the administration block, room 31.  Afterall, they say, “where there is society, there is law, and where there is law, there is remedy”

MWALIMU HAKULIPWA

Uliponiajiri wewe, malipo bora kuniahidi,
Ulifikiria nini, hadi sasa umenigeuka,
Unajifanya hunijui, wewe maji mie mafuta,
Mimi Mwalimu, Mnyonge kilio changu atasikia nani?

Sasa umekuwa kama nguva, yule wa baharini,
Kichwa chake binadamu, kiwiliwili samaki,
Yaani ukidhani ni mrembo, ngoja hutaona miguu,
Mimi Mwalimu, Maskini sina haki.

Uliponiajiri wewe, Ulisema unafahamu yangu kazi,
Hakuna tofauti na yule, wa jua kali na sulubu,
Mimi mmoja darasani, wanafunzi mia kuningoja,
Mimi Mwalimu, Mnyonge kilio changu atasikia nani?

Sasa umekuwa kama popo, yule hutatanisha,
Ukisema ni ndege, kweli hu’ruka,
Yule asema ni mnyama, hajakosea ni mamalia,
Mimi Mwalimu, maskini sina haki.

Uliponiajiri wewe, tulikubaliana kwa ufasaha,
Sahihi nikatia, kuwa wewe mwajiri utanitunza,
Sasa wataka kandarasi, uweze kunifuta utakapo,
Mimi Mwalimu, Mnyonge kilio changu atasikia nani?

Sasa umekuwa kama kinyonga, yule anayebadilika,
Huchukua rangi ile, ya mazingira alipo,
Yaani ukidhani yupo, hataonekana utashangaa,
Mimi Mwalimu, Maskini sina haki.

Dinner or Dignity: Expecting the Poor to Remain Moral

Real facts and truth

KINFOLK KOLLECTIVE

A few days ago my son and I went grocery shopping. As a general rule, I do not take my baby with me to grocery shop because as any mother of young children – my son turns seven next month – will tell you, a trip for groceries with the children turns into an event laden with begging, tantrums and running through the aisles. This day, however, I wanted to be close to my boy for no other reason than the fact that I adore him, so I let him tag along.

Standing in aisle 5 as my son grabbed oatmeal, an older black woman approached selecting a box of oatmeal, then looking at the price, and finally replacing it. She walked away turning back to advise me, “If you have a car, you need to go to Walmart. Their prices are way cheaper.” I started to say, “I know…

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MKE BADO

Sitaoa mimi, sababu zangu ni za kibinafsi,
Ndoa itanifunga, nitakuwa kwenye jela,
Mke akiwa polisi, anilinde nyumbani,
Bado nangoja naogopa kuoa.

Akiniona na yule, mke wa jirani mara mbili tatu,
Faraghani tukizungumza, mambo ya kawaida tu,
Atanishuku aniulize, katu langu jibu hatakubali anisomee,
Bado nangoja naogopa kuoa

Nikimchosha weye, hatasita asilani,
Mahakamani kunipeleka, kunishtaki kutofanya wangu wajibu,
Hakimu akimsikiliza, kifungu nitapewa nakwambia,
Bado nangoja naogopa kuoa.

Hukumbuki yule rafiki, alizirai siku kuu,
Bibi harusi katoroka, na bwana mwengine tofauti,
Maajabu hayo jameni, aibu za mke naogopa mie,
Bado nangoja naogopa kuoa.

Kelele zake ja kasuku, jikoni nikikosa kumsaidia,
Eti sote sawa atasema, hata nguo zetu nifue nianike,
Nikikataa eti mi si mume, ampigia yule wa kando,
Bado nangoja naogopa kuoa.

Kisha talaka nimpe, mali yetu adai tugawe bila shaka,
Anishushe hadhi jamiini, wazazi wakose imani nami,
Baraza la wazee pia wao, kesi kutofuata mila desturi,
Bado nangoja naogopa kuoa.

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Photo: courtesy.

Limetungwa Na Mwalimu Emmanuel Odira

END ETHNIC-BASED COMEDY.

I am always saddened by comments that when we make stereotypic tribal jokes, we can help fight tribalism in Kenya.

The disappointing truth is and has always been that the jokes only reinforce the negative perceptions.

What we have always failed to recognise is that the younger generation, especially children will always learn and pick up our utterances.

Nothing has ever been good with and about tribalism. It’s practise has only done damage to our country.

Picture a situation where a comedian talks about an accident that has involved a matatu going to Kiambu and the conductor instead of asking and ensuring that everybody is okay, asks for fare from those who had not yet paid.

It might sound funny but when analysed critically, two things emerge: that people from Kiambu (used figuratively) have no regard for human life and that they only care about money.

To adults who may be in a position to understand that the remarks are merely for making fun and entertainment, the impact may not be much. Little if any.
The worries should be on that little kid who doesn’t care about the context of the statements. That child who will consume the joke wholly and maybe grow up with the opinions of the comedian written all over his mind.

How will that child be helped? Which methods can the government use, now that the citizens failed to prevent the forthcoming ‘disaster’, to detribalise the minds of the people at tender age?

Regardless of the side from which you look at ethnic-based comedy, the end result will always be very negative.
The remedy is simple, the comedians should avoid the tribal jokes at all costs, and like they say, words are like seeds. Be careful what you utter.

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Photo: courtesy

TERRORISM: FIGHTING THE SCOURGE

Terrorism in simple terms is the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes. In this century, terrorism or acts of terrorism have become a global challenge. Nearly every continent or in some situations,countries are facing the massive danger posed by terror groups.
In Asia, there are the Taliban, Al Qaeda and now, the latest lethal and unforgiving group known as Islamist State In Syria (ISIS). In Africa, we have Boko Haram operating in Nigeria, The Touregs in Mali and Nothern parts of Africa and in Kenya, we are in constant fight with the Al Shabaab.

Kenya has experienced damages that cannot be quantified under the arms of terrorists. The attacks date back to the Kenyatta regime where terrorists known as The Shiftas staged a seccesionist movement. They however met with a brutal and ruthless government force and with time disappeared into the thin air. In late 90s and specifically 1998 August, the frequency and proportion of terrorism increased when the bombing of USA embassy building took place. This marked the beginning of vicious terror attacks. Countless grenade and sporadic attacks on government security installations like police posts increased.

The scale of attacks consequently increased in the year 2013 where a number of terrorists stormed the West Gate Mall and held people hostage and shot indiscriminately at the innocent and unarmed civilians. Mpeketoni attack later followed and again, innocent citizens had to pay the price. Before dust settled, another vicious attack was launched at Garrisa University where terrorists attacked and killed atleast 147 students. One police officer also lost his life.

In between the highlighted unfortunate events, there were other attacks on Kenyans ranging from attacks on security installations to abduction of foreign nationals. These prompted the Kenyan government to launch an incursion in Somalia under the name “Operation Linda Nchi” to deal with the millitants accordingly.

To understand this vice therefore, it is better to unravel the causes or reasons why acts of terrorism are rampant in Kenya and ‘Horn of Africa’. A matter which led to Kenya being refferred to ‘Hotbed of Terror’ by the Cable News Network thereby causing an online uproar from Kenyans on Twitter AKA KOT. One and the most flaunted reason worldwide is ‘Jihadism’. This, according to Islamic religion is the war against non believers otherwise known as ‘Kafirs’. This ideology has led to massive exodus by muslim youths to join Al Shabaab so as to fight the ‘Holy War’. The reward for those who die fighting this war is allegedly 12 virgins and a free entry into paradise. Those who die fighting this war are branded as matyrs or ‘mujaheedins’.

This exodus to join other millitants has been fuelled by what is refferred to as Radicalization. This is basically feeding the minds of people with untrue and baseless teachings with an intention of causing hatred towards other members of another group. This has been attributed to rogue Imams and Sheikhs who take advantage of hopeless and jobless youths to encourage them to join Alshabaab. The government, while fighting this menace has been criticised for targetting the alleged Imams and Sheikhs and killing them without giving them an opportunity to face trial in a court of law. In his documentary ‘Wagigisi wa Mauaji’ Mohammed Ali of Jicho Pevu brought onto the surface how these Imams have been killed by government forces leaving their families hopeless and without bread winners. He shows how the government committs extra judicial killings without any respect to human rights.
Moha presents the government as incapable of dealing with the controversial Imams like Sheikh Aboud Rogo and Sheikh Makaburi and therefore set up a hit squad mainly made up of GSU officers from Reecce and specially trained at eliminating targets precisely, to kill the suspects.

His claims have also been supported by a documentary by Al Jazeera dubbed ‘Inside Kenya’s Death Squads’ where they further point an accusing finger at the western nations like United Kingdom, The USA and Israel say that they offer training and funding these squads. Al Jazeera further claims that Kenya is used to fight a proxy war and these nations are only involved in training and gathering of intelligence.

The “Operation Linda Nchi” that was launched by the Kenya government in Somalia has also been blamed for the increased terror attacks in Kenya. During the West Gate Mall terror attack, victims were allegedly being told by the terrorists that they are killing kenyans as a way of retaliation since kenyan forces are also killing their brothers and sisters in Somalia. This was clearly presented in a documentary by HBO that focussed on West Gate Mall attack. These claims were futher supported by Dennis Okari in his documentary ” Children of a Lesser God” where he says that girls were cheated into believing that terrorists don’t kill women and when they came out of their hiding places, they were sprayed with bullets mercilessly. Dennis further allege that there were some students who were spared for being muslims. This was also witnessed during the West Gate Mall terror attack as presented by HBO. A parent to a student was also forced to hear her daughter being killed after the terrorists called him telling him to tell President Uhuru to withdraw KDF from Somalia.

Hopelessness, unemployment and poverty have also been cited as reasons behind the recent surge in terror incidents as youths, because of unemployment decide to join Al Shabaab. They are cheated into believing that they will be given money. Unemployment is a major factor because you may find that an individual has the required academic qualifications but because of massive tribalism and corruption, he/she may not find a job thereby making him develop feelings of recentment towards his/her country. Terrorists take advantage of such situations.

Politicians are also to blame since some of them sabotage government efforts to deal with terrorism. To fight this vice, there is need for collective support and unity but you find that when some operations are launched to fight or fish out terrorists from locals, politicians come out guns blazing saying that their people are unfairly targetted and accuse the government of violation of human rights and ethnic profiling. A case in study is when the government rounded up illegal migrants in Eastleigh and took them to Kasarani Stadium for verification of their documents. The politicians form Somali community cried foul and accused the government of failing to confront real issues and instead resorting to ethnic profiling and targeting members from their community.

To fight terrorism therefore, certain things need to be done. One, the media must come out and start avoiding the use of stereotypical words and use that plartform to foster unity and harmony and speak firmly against terrorism and radicalization. For a long time, the media has been accused of using terms like “Kenyan with Somali origin” to refer to criminals and terrorists. It is therefore time for the media to present these terrorists as they are and not drscribe them using a particular community. Even words like “Kenyan Somali” should not be used since the bottomline is that we are all kenyans and should not be identified with our origins or tribes

The citizens should also do their part of seeing one another as a brother and a sister and live in harmony. Incidents like getting out of the bus when a Somali or a muslim boards only fuels recentment among us. It makes the victims feel unwanted. Even looking at Somalis differently and suspiciously should be discouraged. In the documentary “Pillars of Terror”, a woman narrates how a person called her an Al Shabaab when something, allegedly a motobike’s tyre exploded behind them. Such acts should not happen.

Finally, the government has a very massive and crusial role to play. First, it should close all corruption loop-holes e.g bribe taking at the border which makes it easier for criminals to sneak into Kenya without being noticed. Identity Cards should also be given freely and without discrimination so that genuine kenyans of somali origin can have them. Cases of denial of ID cards or payment of bribes to obtain them should be dealt with since once someone has been denied the card, there is no way he/she can be employed. This further connects to the creation of job opportunities and using fair creteria when recruiting employees so that even the marginalised communities can have equal opportunities when it comes to employment.

The government should also scale up security patrols and improve security in areas that are prone to terror attacks like malls, learning institutions, government offices and bus stations. Improving security will therefore depend on the number of security personnel and the skills plus the quality of weapons they have. This means that the goverbment should employ more security officers and re-train the current ones on terrorism since the face of terrorism has changed over time and then give them adequate machinery. A case where the Reecce officers took 7 hours to reach Garissa University because of lack a  helicopter should not be witnessed again.

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Photo: courtesy

STATE OF AFFAIRS AT MOI UNIVERSITY.

We all saw it, when the former Prime Minister was complaining of being treated unfairly. That even the famous red carpet that is normally rolled out for senior government officials was ‘nusu mkeka’ . He wanted to be treated the same way as the Head of State.

These, probably are same things We the People should brace ourselves for if Langas and his team are co-opted in the Students’ Governing Council. For people who have been keeping tabs on the aftermath of the just concluded elections, it is no secret that Langas, Towett, Shangai and other election losers are vehemently pushing for a power shairing deal.

So serious are they, that they met with one of the top (if not the most senior) administrator(s) recently to table their complaints. Even though the resolutions of their meeting have not been made public, the atmosphere at the Dean of Students’ office clearly indicates that the union is inevitably headed for a power sharing deal.

Yesterday, Langas and his team held talks with the Dean and their main agenda was how they can be absorbed into the new SGC. The other faction of elected student leaders walked out in protest swearing that they cannot and are not ready to share power. It should be noted that Langas enjoys support from Kalenjins (both students and the sorrounding community) and a smaller percentage of students from Gikuyu community. The Kalenjins are the majority when it comes to employees of the university.

While addressing comrades at the Students’ Centre, the newly elected Chairperson Mr. Jared Mogire Onchiri who enjoys support of the Kisii, Luo, Luhya and other minority groups, said that they are not ready to share power with election losers. He called on comrades who supported him and his coalition patners to stand united against such a move.

Langas and his coalition patners allege that most of his supporters were sent away by some rogue commissioners when they went to vote thereby giving their opponents unfair advantage. However, while speaking to the writer, a commissioner who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the seriousness of the matter,said that they realised some students from West Campus had come to Main campus and were voting illigally promting them to ask them for their transfer letter incase their names were not in the system that was used to verify students.

They are also raising questions at the manner in which elections were generally handled particularly the opening time and closing time of voting. They are also saying that the Students’ Electoral Commission (SEC), was partisan and not independent. That some commissioners were ambushed in a hostel room and injured by goons on the eve of elections confirms on the allegation. Further, they are demanding that the university should take care of the injured commissioners’ hospital bills.

After being defeated by Mogire, Langas refused to sign that he accepted the results and walked out of the tallying centre. A matter that they are now raising in their petition. His team has also faulted the swearing in of the new SGC saying that it was done contrary to the constitution. The constitution states that the ceremony should be done 1 week after elections and prefferably on Friday while this time round, it was done two days earlier. The chairman of SEC Mr. Salim Cheserem, who should be in attendance was also missing during the swearing in ceremony. This only worsen the controversy sorounding the entire electoral process.

The peace within the university now seems to depend on the decision that will be made by the Dean who obviously is in dillema because any decision he will make will definitely draw opposition from either of the warring sides. Recently, the university had to be closed after both sides engaged each other in running battles and hurled stones at each other and in the proccess destroying glass windows at the Students’ Centre.

It was reported at that time that there are political forces behind the latest stand-off. Area politicians are accused of having interests at the university’s Students’ affairs. They are hell bent to ensuring that all Universities in Eldoret are headed by their own people from students’ unions to universities’ administrations. A case in point, University of Eldoret formely Chepkoilel University (a branch campus of Moi University). Succession politics are also alleged to be in play as the term of the current Vice Chancellor Prof Mibey is coming to an end. Two Professors holding senior positions in the university’s admnistration are alleged to be eyeing the position of VC and they want to use the SGC to rise to the powerful position. Both of them had their preffered candidates for the docket of Chairperson of the Students’ union and when the other one lost, he has seemingly decided to interfere with the composition of the SGC and is out to ensure that his candidate gets into the union no matter what.

Power sharing deals normally ruin the smooth operations of any organisation/government. It leads to inefficiency and constant wrangles which affect service delivery. This is surely not the best road for students and even if they are co-opted, what roles are they going to be asaigned? Which creteria are they going to use to ditermine who should or not be co-opted? Such moves often lead to constitutional crises.

Elections are normally held every academic year and therefore if one lost this year, the most honorable thing he/she must do is to accept defeat and call for peace even if his/her supporters are feeling angry and dissappointed.

So far, nobody knows when all these issues will be settled. The security and peace within the university is at stake as some members of SEC cannot sleep or walk freely within the campus because of fear that they might be attacked by goons particularly from the losing faction. Among them is one Nathaniel Akadima who is a former Secretary General of Moi University Students’ Organisation (MUSO) who had to move out of his current residence because of the same reason. His shop, was also burned down as a way of retaliation by unkown goons on the night some commissioners were attacked.
As students prepare for exams which will commence on 10th, August, all that is important is that peace is maintained and as the saying goes,”There is no way to peace. Peace is the only way.”

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Moi University administration block. Photo: courtesy.