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November 16-30, 2010

ISSUE 029

A bimonthly on-line newspaper by the Media Diversity Centre, a project of African Woman and Child Feature Service

Invoking Maslah: Alternative to statutory courts By ADOW JUBAT As the country moves towards implementing the new constitution, eyes remain focused on the country’s judicial system. However, in northern Kenya, the statutory courts are hardly used as the people prefer to use the traditional courts. These they find to be expeditious, just and more reconciliatory.

Therefore, while Kenyans are now looking at vetting judges, the community in the north long decided that they would rather use the ways of their forefathers in handling matters of justice. The Somali community would, therefore, rather abandon all other traditions but not the Maslah, which means reconciliation. Maslah courts are presided over by elders who are powerful and respected by the community.

And that is why when Kenyans in other parts of the country are grappling with how best to reconcile communities whose relations were poisoned by the bungled general elections of 2007, their North Eastern counterparts are living in peace, thanks to Maslah. Maslah is a cultural practice coated with religious teachings that has been in existence to forestall such incidents for generations.

Elders converge to arbitrate disputes in Mandera. The sitting is called Maslah which means solution in Somali language. Picture: Adow Jubat

Under a tree shade, the traditional mechanism of delivering justice is often a common sight in the North-Eastern region predominantly inhabited by Somali pastoralists. Maslah is an application of both the Somali tradition and Islamic teachings. Serious offences such as murder, fornication, adultery and inheritance are handled through Islamic teachings. Continued on page 5

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ISSUE 029, November 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Tribulations of children born to single mothers in the slums By PAUL KIMANZI When 29 –year old single mother, Peninah Mwinzi, gave birth to her third born baby, Joseph Munyoki in 2009, she did not imagine how she could rise to the challenge of bringing up her family. Her first born, Jane Faith was four years old and the second born, Muu’wo Mutavanya was two. Mwinzi was unemployed but knew the family responsibility was in her hands.

Sacrifice Before giving birth to the third child, Mwinzi from Mui location, Mwingi East worked as a casual labourer in Mwingi town. However, the moment she went into labour, she was forced to quit her job. The fact that she could not afford a baby sitter to take care of her children as she resumed work, gave her sleepless nights. Seven days after the delivery, she decided to leave the baby under the care of four year old Jane Faith and went away the whole day searching for available job opportunities. She was lucky to find a job at Kitui Millers Limited. “I had boiled enough milk to take the baby for the day. I had confidence that my four-year-old daughter would feed the baby,” she says.

Irate neighbours When Mwinzi came back in the evening, the neighbours were baying for her blood. They demanded explanations as to why she left the baby under the care of another baby, four year old Jane Faith. “They all wanted to beat me up but I explained to them that I had to leave her with the baby because I had no option,” Mwinzi explains. She worried that something may have happened to the children and that is why the neighbours were angry with her. But when she entered her room, she found everything in order. The baby was safe in Jane’s hands.

“My daughter fed it. When it cried she cheered it up, and when it felt sleepy she laid it on the mat,” explains Mwinzi. The following day Mwinzi had to wake up again at dawn to go for work after cooking enough food for the day. Jane was given the same responsibility to feed her siblings.

Sibling sitter All the neighbours were opposed with the idea of leaving the now days old baby under the care a four year old girl. This is the norm with many single mothers who have no proper source of income. In many instances, it is the elder children who suffer child abuse as they are forced to play mother and father. While Mwinzi sees her daughter as a hero, she fails to understand that she is actually breaking the law. At four years, when she is supposed to be playing with dolls and jumping over ropes, Jane Faith has been busy playing mother to her siblings. Every day Mwinzi leaves home at dawn and comes back at around 5:30. Apart from a few days when she can rush back home during lunch hours to breastfeed, she has to stay away the whole day. At the flour mills where she works, she is paid according to the amount of work she does which earns her between KSh100 and KSh250 per day. Unfortunately, Jane has to sacrifice her time to play with the other kids and ensure safety of her siblings. She has also missed joining early childhood education classes to lay a foundation for her primary schooling. “The same neighbours who criticised me are now praising my daughter for being a hero,” says Mwinzi. Jane’s case is the story of many girls in the developing world, in rural and slum areas who sacrifice their childhood to take up their mother’s responsibilities. “I even doubt whether my daughter responded to calls of nature,” Mwinzi jokes. As Jane took care of the baby she also had to make sure that her two-year-old

Jane Faith baby sits her younger brother as her mother goes for casual labour. The mother while commending the five year old girl, has failed to realise that this is a case of child labour. Picture: Paul Kimanzi

brother ate to his satisfaction the food that their mother cooked for them before she left for work.

Struggle While women like Mwinzi will never get fulfilling employment, they have to struggle every day to make sure that their families do not go hungry. Mwinzi is now working as a maid at Kalisasi location, Mwingi district, about three kilometres from Mwingi Town

where she lives with her family. She is charged with the responsibility to perform house hold chores. The baby is now one year old. Muu’wo is three and Jane is now five and still taking care of her brothers. “I have been feeding my young brother Jose (short for Joseph) while my mother is away at work,” says Jane. Mwinzi feels safe with her job as a maid, she is happy because her new employer provides them with food and pays her KSh2,500 per month.

Call for more research on anti-retroviral therapy     Sexual violence hits Kenyans hard By KEN NDAMBU Hundreds of HIV-Aids patients put on AntiRetro Viral (ARV) drugs in Kitui district  have reported serious side effects and called for more research on the medication. Scores of People Living with Aids (PLWA) interviewed on the impact of the drugs complained that they suffered skin diseases and stomach pains after taking the drugs. In Mutito District, Sister Florence Rita of the Catholic Diocese who coordinates a group of 45 PLWHA said most of them complained of side effects. One of the PLWHAs who has come open on her status, Ms Caro Kamene complained of suffering from skin itches and stomach pains after taking the drugs. Another survivor, Mr David Kithuka said he losses appetite and also develops rashes in the face whenever he takes the drugs. Sister Rita attributes the problem to lack of proper nutrition as the patients largely depend on grains obtained from Government relief food rations.

She said: “HIV-Aids patients are usually put on proper diet that includes green vegetables and proteins but due to famine in the region caused by persistent drought, the patients cannot get the correct diet.” The area Public Health Officer, Mr Cosmus Kinyumu admitted that the patients suffer side effects after taking the ART drugs and called for more research on the drugs being administered. He said despite the scale up in condom uptake, voluntary counselling and testing services, antiretro viral therapy and increased co-ordination among stakeholders to reduce HIV-Aids prevalence, proper nutrition for PLWHA remains a challenge. “Antiretroviral therapy must go with proper diet, an aspect overlooked by many stakeholders as they find a common front to fight the deadly disease scourge,” explained Kinyumu. He said HIV-Aids stakeholders should come out strongly to advocate for proper nutrition for people living with Aids through the use local resources from agriculture and commerce to mitigate and improve health for producers including the HIV-Aids victims.

By BONIFACE MULU Men and women have been asked to respect one another to reduced the number of cases of gender based violence which stands at over 95 percent of victims being women, with men taking up only five percent. Speaking to women from Kitui Central Constituency during a one day gender based violence training seminar organised by the Kenya Women Parliamentarian Association (KEWOPA) at the Kitui Central constituency’s CDF office, Mrs Beatrice Elachi, Executive Director League of Kenya Women Voters said sexual violence remained the worst gender based violence in Kenya. “When we talk of sexual violence, we talk about rape, defilement and sodomy,” Elachi explained. She added: “Sodomy is

very high in the country’s learning institutions. And we hope to introduce education programmes on sodomy in the schools.” She reiterated: “Each administrative location in the country should have a gender based violence committee to monitor domestic violence in the families.” Elachi pointed out Naivasha as one area with the highest sexual violence cases in Kenya. She reminded the women that the Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers (FIDA) was initially started to protect women against harassment by men. “But FIDA is now for both women and men. It serves both women and men in terms of legal matters.” She also spoke out about the effects of alcohol consumption, a practice had destroyed very many families in the country.


ISSUE 029, November 16-30, 2010

E-learning gets to rural areas By NICK ODHIAMBO The need to be computer literate is catching up with everyone including those in rural areas making electronic learning a major component of the country’s development agenda. E-Learning as it is commonly referred, is important and is being encouraged not only in the country but globally. It is on this basis that thousands of students and youth in Rachuonyo North District, Homa Bay County are going to benefit from about 730 computers that will be distributed to different institutions. In Karachuonyo Constituency, elearning has gone to the villages where youths and even the elderly are being given opportunities to learn. So far, about 80 computers have been supplied to learning institutions such as Mawego Girls’, Ogenya Secondary, Oriwo Boys’ schools as well as Pala and Nyangweta Community Centres. Distributing the computers, area Member of Parliament, Engineer James Rege challenged the community and youth to take advantage of the opportunity to be computer literate. The MP said that apart from the 80 Computers he has taken to the institutions, another 350 are expected from Netherlands. The government is also expected to send another 300 computers to the remaining institutions by June, next year.

Advanced planning “We are serious with the programme and we want to ensure that the youth, and anyone who would wish to learn computer is advantaged. The courses will be done here,” said Rege. Area District Education Officer Mr Chepkwai Limo welcomed the move saying it was going to help a lot in terms of learning anything related to information technology. “This is going to turn the normal learning into e-learning, making learning easier, which is the policy of the government,” he said. Limo said in this era where there are not enough teachers in schools, the programme could soon be used to teach students using teachers in other schools. “It will enable schools with staff shortage to use teachers in other schools to teach for them different subjects electronically without them being physically to the schools,” he explained. The introduction of computer training in the institutions will enable students learn alot on science oriented subjects where they will practically observe things displayed on the computers. “This is a move that will even see students performing well in science subjects because they will be seeing these things practically on the computers during practical sessions,” Limo explained.

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Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Multi-billion industrial park set for central Kenya

Women traders at an open air market in Kiganjo. This space has been targeted for the construction of an Industrial Park. Picture: Joseph Mukubwa

By JOSEPH MUKUBWA The larger Nyeri district will have one of the biggest industrial zones which will start at a cost of KSh88.4 billion from cash and value investors. The industrial town, to be known as Batian Industrial Zone Limited will be built in Kiganjo. It is one of the ten special economic zones planned for the country and will serve the whole of Central Kenya. Kiganjo has been selected for its good infrastructure, availability of suitable land and the general development around it.

Development It will consist of 7,200 industries. Out of these 3,200 will be small scale, 3,000 medium and 1,000 large. The zone which is expected to kick off early next year will create direct employment for 350,000 people by first estimates. There will be another 500,000 employed indirectly. Eventually, the industries will create a metropolis of approximately two million people. The zone will create a production capacity of about KSh120 billion per year. “There will be a minimum of 2,000 industries. The industrial facilities will provide more than six million square feet of industrial space. It will also consist of industrial infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water sewer and telecommunications,” says Mr

Samuel Wamae, the project’s coordinator. The development will serve as a test case in large scale public-private partnership. It will establish the necessary practices in pooling available resources for the purpose of development. The development is estimated to take ten years and during implementation could expand and take 15 to 20 years. It will be set up in the 7,000 acres for industrial facilities totalling to KSh490 million spreading to Chaka and Mt Kenya Forest. Proper infrastructure like power, water, sewer and telecommunications will require KSh19 billion. “About 40 per cent of the industrial facilities for sale or lease will require KSh25 billion. The remaining 60 per cent of the facilities will be owner developed. All development costs will be spread over six phases,” explains Wamae.

Financing The Batian Industrial Zone will be financed through value investments. The development company will invest KSh12.6 billion from cash and value investors. The industrialists are expected to invest a total of KSh75.8 billion. “Various stakeholders will leave some of their contribution as equity. Land owners will put in 60 per cent of their land value, infrastructure contractors and other suppliers

will leave in 70 per cent of their work as equity,” said Wamae. He added: “About KSh13 billion of infrastructure and KSh294 million of land value will be invested as equity.” The negotiations are going on so that the Government will commit itself to providing land and infrastructure.

Foreign aid The balance of infrastructure, land value and cost of putting up the facilities will be paid for KSh30.8 billion. The zone plans to borrow 60 per cent of this land value. The balance of this will be sourced as cash equity. During an investor’s workshop held at a Nyeri hotel and organized by Export Processing Zone, Wamae said a loan of KSh18.5 billion will be sourced as a long term low interest loan. A US firm has offered to syndicate for them KSh30 billion loan and this is being pursued. “The same firm offering to source funds for us has offered to look for a foreign investor. All loans will be paid in 10 years. It will continue to collect levies both from rates and management services,” explained Wamae. The whole programme is meant to make the country achieve Newly Industrialized Country (NIC) status by year 2020 as per the Government’s sessional paper No 2 of 1996 and Vision 2030.

Money allocated for proposed wholesale market By JOHNSON NDOLO The proposed modern wholesale market under construction in Mwingi town will be completed in December this year. Speaking after touring the model facility in Mwingi, Director of Markets Development in the Ministry of Local Government, Mr Mutua Nzoka expressed satisfaction with the construction work adding that the project will be completed in December 2010, nine months ahead of scheduled time. The KSh97 million market will accommodate over 3,000 traders both retailers and wholesalers once completed. The objective of the project was to create employment and

wealth generation to enhance revenue collection to the councils. About 10 more markets will be constructed in the larger Kitui County under the economic stimulus programme to a tune of KSh250 million. Nzoka who also addressed staff at the Mwingi council offices said a borehole will be sunk at the market site to ensure sufficient water supply at the facility. A 30,000 litre water tank is under construction so as to ensure water was available at the market to maintain hygienic standards. Nzoka instructed the town council clerk, Mr Eugene Kituku to start staff recruitment of the team that will manage the facility and ensure sufficient stationeries were printed

before December when the market opens its doors to the public. He was also accompanied by the Mwingi Town Council Chairman, Mr Festus Musya, business people and nine civic leaders among others. Musya said about 2,000 traders operating in non-designated areas in town will be moved to the new site once the market was completed. Traders dealing with fresh produce will be expected to sell high quality products to meet market demand. Kituku hailed the project noting that it will go a long way in decongesting the already existing market which was overcrowded.


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ISSUE 029, November 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Entrenching tradition among the Somali

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By ABJATA KHALIF

orth Eastern Province is commonly known as hot bed of conflict and the banditry menace that is associated with killings and highway robberies. However, there are many good things that happen in the Province not known to outsiders. The region has shown that it can produce talent including traditional Somali music among other practices that are of interest. Among the Somali women, the Bismillahi Gargaar Group has taken the initiative of using songs to archive and showcase traditional practices for future generations.

Activities They are involved in other activities such as building huts, cooking food and using traditional objects in farming along the Tana River. Their objective is to enable upcoming generations will to harness and nurture traditional knowledge. Group leader Ms Lulu Bashir says: “We decided to start the group and educate Somali communities as well as others living within Garissa town on importance of preserving traditional practices and passing it over to young generations so we do not lose it.” As women they decided to form a group and use traditional music in reaching out to all brackets of society. The group is geared towards and engaging the community in preservation of culture and furthering dialogue on local culture through music and exhibitions.

Reviving tradition “We saw that the Somali have shunned their traditional ways as modern practices have taken over. All the traditional activities that were done during the weddings or cultural days started to diminish. We thought that was the end of the traditional practice and the beautiful activities that come with it,” explains Bashir. The Bismillahi Gargaar Group has changed the perception that Northern Kenya is a region with a rich heritage of conflict and violence to one that educates the community on importance upholding and nurturing their traditional practices. The group has moved outside the province with a mission as cultural envoys educating other Kenyans on the rich and little known Somali cultures and traditional foods that they offer. The group first took the stage using music after they composed traditional Somali songs and used various forums like national days and special occasions such as International Women’s Day to showcase their talent. They were able to sing traditional songs with messages encouraging communities to uphold their culture and practise traditional way of life that is simple, beautiful and less costly.

Women from the Bismillahi Gargaar group perform a traditional song. Inset: Lulu Bashir, the band leader. The Bismillahi Gargaar Group is educating the community on its tradition including cooking food and constructing houses. Pictures: courtesy of Ketebul Records and Abjata Khalif

“We saw that the Somali have shunned their traditional ways as modern practices have taken over All the traditional activities that were done during the weddings or cultural days started to diminish. We thought that was the end of the traditional practice and the beautiful activities that comes with it.” — Ms Lulu Bashir

Dubbed Bismillahi Gargaar, the group derived its name from the word Bismillahi meaning God’s and Gargaar meaning assistance. The words were specially picked to seek God’s intervention in changing the community’s attitude and have them embrace their culture and also be able to take a leading role in nurturing and showcasing their culture to other Kenyans.

Unifying The word Gargaar is meant to show that the community needs to join hands and they must assist each other in learning traditional practices such as building traditional huts in their compounds and also introducing traditional foods to their children. The group first came into national limelight through the Kenyan music star search 2008 where they were voted one of the best groups. They never took a break after receiving the honour and two years down the line they have packaged and launched the Somali music album entitled Garissa Express. Their music CD is currently being sold in Garissa and Nairobi. Bashir says during weddings, women from the bride and the bridegroom’s families would join hands and erect huts

in the compound where the wedding ceremony took place. The women would also decorate the hut with traditional threads and colours extracted from trees. Bashir says: “I remember when we would join hands and build traditional huts. We could take two days to assemble the carefully selected trees, threads and woven covers to set up the huts.” She explains: “We would set up two huts, the main one belonged to the bride and bridegroom while the other one belonged to the women who would beautify the bride with traditional clothes and heena.” The traditional huts meant for the women organisers during weddings came with a lot of orientation on how the bride is supposed to treat and take good care of her husband, family and home so that the marriage can last. “We would educate the bride on her role as a wife and her passage from girlhood to marriage. Older women educated the bride on the traditional way of entertaining the man in bed and feeding him with traditional food cooked with made ghee.” The Bismillahi Group has opened an office in Garissa which they use as focal point to reach communities at the village level and educate the Somali culture and Continued on page 5


ISSUE 029, November 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

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Traditional dispute resolution preferred in the North Continued from page 1

Other issues such as land disputes, disrespect to elders and political wrangles are handled culturally. When Parliament enacted an act to form the National Cohesion and Integration Commission to encourage mutual coexistence among Kenyans after the disputed 2007 elections, pastoralist communities in the north have already learnt from experience the need for alternative conflict resolution mechanisms to speedily redress issues likely to disrupt peace. A case in point is one aimed at resolving a bitter internecine war between Murule and Garre clans at the border district of Mandera which has been the epicentre of bitter internecine war between Murule and Garre clans.

Compensation The conflict left more than 2,000 people dead and hundreds displaced. The two clans have been discussing compensation details for the families that lost their loved ones and property. “We are all aware that the mourning period is over and tempers abated. We are gathered to compensate for deaths and injuries,” says Mohamed Birik, 62, sweeping his eyes across the hall at Mandera DC’s residence. “Tradition dictates that the families who have lost their loved ones be compensated with camels or an equivalent of cash. The compensation is blood money to clean tears of the bereaved families,” he explains. Unlike other parts of the country where courts and police crime reporting desks are overwhelmed with criminal cases for redress, residents of the North Eastern Province rarely rush to police stations or courts to seek justice for the numerous killings, injuries, assaults, rape, defilement, land disputes, marital problems. Accident victims in other provinces will go through the rigorous cat and mouse game with insurance firms and lawyers for compensation. Their counterparts in Northern Kenya that comprises Garissa, Mandera, Ijara, and Wajir only need to wait for 40 days set aside for mourning before going to Maslah courts to get compensated. “The high and low, powerful and mortals can be summoned to the panel and they must appear in person,” says Hussein Jafar.

Maslah summons are slapped through an individual and his/her clan members. If one fails to honour the summon his or her clan is forced to produce the accused within two weeks. The statutory courts in North Eastern Province are very far from the people and the local communities have learnt to live with the pristine tradition through the well-embraced Maslah. Although it is an individual who is accused of committing a crime, the clan to which he belongs shoulders the crime. And when it comes to actual compensation it is a communal affair where each sub-clan of the larger family has to contribute. “If it is a community shouldering the crime of an individual, the one who repeatedly commits a crime will be ostracized. If an individual becomes untenable we then resort to formal legal system which people don’t want,” says Shariff Sharmarke, 65, from Ijara District. Maslah also does investigations. “The accused and accuser are sworn under the holy Quran and investigations commence. No one can lie under the holy book because the consequences are severe to contemplate,” explains Sheikh Ahmed Hussein during an interview in Mandera. Those in the Maslah panel are the trusted and respected elders with vast knowledge on clan history, culture and tradition. The panel should have some religious leaders for guidance. Cases involving clan clashes, reference is made from incidents that happened before and how they were dealt with. Some of the cases used for reference date back to hundreds of years. The punishment can be lenient depending on the previous conduct. Hundreds of cases are withdrawn from the police and the hands of magistrates. They end up being sorted under the Maslah system. During the intermittent clashes in Mandera, clan members have intercepted suspects on the verge of being hauled before court arguing it will take time to solve and create further tensions between the clans. Maslah panel only has men in its ranks. They should have families. Unmarried young men can attend to listen but cannot contribute as they are seen to be immature. “When someone is fined 100 camels or cash equivalent for a death it is beneficial to both parties. If the individual is incarcerated

Elders holding court under a tree to listen to disputes in Hadado area of Wajir using the traditional courts commonly known as Maslah. Communities from Northern Kenya prefer this system of justice to the conventional courts. Picture: Adow Jubat

to what benefits is it to the deceased family?” poses Khalif Abdi Farah, coordinator Northern Forum for Democracy.

The benefit “Maslah is cheap unlike the state courts which involve expenses in travelling, accommodation and hiring lawyers,” argues Farah. “In Maslah one just needs to inform the elders. Occasionally the committee are served with tea which is optional really,” says Ali Kalil, a resident in Masalani. He has been summoned by the panel on numerous occasions for various reasons. “Although many are left in grief at least justice is done,” says Mrs Rukia Abdille. She adds: “Deaths are God’s will. The little compensation is meant to wipe tears and prove that the accident was not intentional.” There are no persons to take minutes or record the events. However, there are elders who have memories of how certain cases were handled in the past. These are shared from generation to generation. Each case has its own punishment. The rules were set years ago and are not recorded. The knowledge is orally passed on from one generation to another. “To wrong a woman either by battering or touching her against her will is a crime second to murder,” says Hassan Abdullahi. There is a law that a woman is always right in her accusations. If a woman takes you before the panel out of malice or otherwise there is no defence.

The complainant can appeal if an elder in the Maslah being partisan. Of late the system has lost some glitter that was associated with it traditionally. In Maslah, forgiveness is accepted without a fine. The offended can also withdraw their complaints. Before actual seating, there is the exchange of Sabeen-xer, meaning token to the offended family in form of cash equivalent as sign of good faith. The second part is xaraarsimo where the injured is presented with a ram for slaughter. Ganaax is the conclusion where judgment is made. Then the warring clans bond by eating together. “After the judgment one party may be offended. To eradicate the grudge the parties eat together,” explains Aliow. Those who seat in the Maslah panel are from both parties but they can choose a moderator from a neutral clan. The killing of a man warrants 100 camels or cash equivalent at the current rate, while it is 50 camels for a woman or child. Manslaughter is 50 camels for a man, 25 for women. When the compensation is made, the victim’s family gets 30 percent with the remaining being shared by clan members. The reason? Another day they might come to each other’s help. Apart from bonding, intermarriage is encouraged to strengthen good relationships. Maslah starts with prayers and ends in prayers.

Entrenching tradition among the Somali Continued from page 4

traditional way of making food and building huts. Bashir says so far they have made huge progress as many residents in Garissa have embraced the traditional way of living like building huts in their compounds and also teaching their children, especially girls how to cook traditional Somali foods. “Our efforts have borne fruits as we get various invitations from residents who want us to educate their children on tradition and also teach girls how to build huts and learn our ways during weddings,” explains Bashir. The group is using the songs to educate the community on dangers of HIV/Aids, Female Genital Mutilation and the importance of keeping peace in the region.

The group participated in the local talent search, Spotlight on Kenya. They have since recorded an album Garissa Express. Picture: Courtesy of Ketebul Records.


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ISSUE 029, November 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Mystic Lake Simbi to benefit from gazettement as a tourist facility By CAROLYNE OYUGI Once upon a time, a very old woman in tattered clothes visited Kalondo Village, Kendu Bay Town, Rachuonyo District. She was very tired and hungry when she came across some men who were drinking in celebration of their harvest. She asked for food but continued drinking without listening to her. When she persisted, they scolded her for being mannerless and disruptive. They even asked her to clean herself up and wear some decent clothes.

Shunned The woman then went to other homesteads and asked for food. She was chased away several times before she arrived at the house of a kind woman who gave her food and some water to clean up. After her bath, she asked the woman to go and call her husband. Coincidentally, the woman’s husband was one of the men who had refused to help her at the drinking place. As was expected, the man scolded his wife and chased her away. Before leaving, the old woman advised the lady to take her belongings and her children and follow her. The woman obeyed. As they were leaving, dark clouds started gathering and it started raining heavily, the land that they had left behind was completely submerged under water. The old woman disappeared and no one has ever seen her since. As weird as this story sounds, this is how Lake Simbi, commonly known as ‘Simbi Nyaima’ in Dholuo, was formed. According to the locals living around the lake, the lake is be-

lieved to have supernatural powers. Rosalina Owino who has lived near the lake for the past 60 years has many tales about it. For example, there are times when sounds can be heard from around the lake. These are sounds of human beings making merry. According to Owino and her 93 year old husband, “these are sounds of the people who were buried while drinking”. Though they cannot prove this, they are convinced that the spirits of the people who were buried are still around the lake area. The lake’s water levels have been receding over the years. Next to the lake is a cemetery. A local church uses the grounds to bury members of its congregation. Women who die unmarried are also buried here. Luo tradition dictates that a woman who dies before being married must be buried outside her father’s compound. The lake is respected and feared at the same time. For example, the water from the lake cannot be used for domestic purposes as it is dirty and covered in green algae. Second, it contains a lot of sodium bicarbonate commonly known as ‘magadi’. Last, people fear that one might be swallowed into the water if he dares touch it. Villagers, therefore, fetch water from an inlet beside the lake. The moment it

touches the main lake, no one dares touch it, even the livestock do not drink from it. Members from the Legio Maria Church, however, fetch water from the lake for their spiritual nourishment. According to the followers of the sect, the water is blessed and can cure many ailments. No one really knows how deep the lake is because no scientific research has been carried out to determine its depth or anything else about it. A European researcher drowned when trying to determine the depth of the lake. His body was never found. The lake is also known to attract flamingos that migrate from lakes Nakuru, Baringo and Natron once every year. The community has formed groups that take care of the flamingo habitat while also taking visitors and tourists around the lake for nature walks. The group, however complains that, with no set fee for the nature walks, tourists exploit them and only give what they deem fit, some do not pay anything at all. “The tourists only give us money when they wish to since there is no set fee that is required from them. This makes it hard for us to fully benefit from the lake,” says John Osewe, a member of the group that conducts the nature walks. He adds: “The lake should be fenced

Members from the Legio Maria Church fetch water from the lake for spiritual nourishment. According to the followers of the sect, the water is blessed and can cure many ailments.

Women drawing water from an inlet of the mystical Lake Simbi. People from this area believe the Lake is sacred and hence do not draw water directly from it for fear that they will drown. Picture: Caroline Oyugi

off and a standard entrance fee charged for anyone wishing to access the it or view the flamingo habitat. This is the only way in which people from the locality can benefit from it.” Women also collect magadi or bicarbonate soda from around the lake and sell the mineral. They complain that middlemen buy the mineral, which can also be fed to livestock to increase milk production at throw away prices. A two kilogramme container (locally known as ‘gorogoro’) is sold at KSh150 while it is bought from the women for KSh20. Magadi is also be used for cooking vegetables because it makes them cook fast and soft at the same time.

Significance The Luo communities attach a lot of importance lake Simbi due to its related narrative. They believe that it was formed as a punishment to people for their lack of kindness to a helpless old woman. Geologists and other experts dispute this and claim that the lake is a crater formed as a result of tremor movements and volcanic activity believed to have taken place around 1680. The six centuries old lake is said to be the deepest and is also claimed to be connected to Lake Victoria. According to the area District Wildlife Officer, Mr. David Cheruiyot, the lake has been gazetted as a tourist attraction and will soon be fenced for proper management. The lake will, however, belong to the community and will be managed by the locals in order to generate income.


ISSUE 029, November 16-30, 2010

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Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Tero buru: Using cattle to drive away spirit of death

Public asked to be involved in CDF projects                           By BONIFACE MULU

By OLOO JANAK A week or few days after burial, clansmen and sons of the deceased person wake up early at dawn and drive their herd of cattle to a lonely spot away from the village, usually to the edge of a boundary with another, often hostile clan, or a designated venue at the edge of a jungle, near a river. Top: A young man blows a horn during a tero buru ceremony accompanied by his peers. Below: This was called tero buru. Mourners covered in twigs perform the tero buru, a cultural practice that is intended to drive Tero buru was a revered cultural away the spirit of death. The tradition is performed three days after burial. ceremony among the Luo and Pictures: Oloo Janak. although not very evident now, is still practiced in some rural homestead. Everybody would be chantOdede’s clan still practices the ritual parts of Nyanza. It was performed in hon- ing or singing, with the women mourning but on a reduced scale. “Many people have our of the dead, especially for the middle loudly, again to send off the deceased. been converted to Christianity which conaged and was more flamboyantly done for The men would sprint forward, driv- demns such practices and also we no longrespected elders. ing their favourite bulls and stage a mock er have enough space as before since most The tero buru team would dress in rags fight with death, daring it to come back forests and open spaces have been turned and don some traditional regalia that in- and take any other member of the com- into farm lands,” he says. cluded animal skin, caps, garlands of climb- munity. The bulls would be driven right Recently, I bumped into a tero buru team ing plants and twigs as well as carry along into the houses as well as around the that was returning home at Pala Market in weapons such as spears, clubs, shields. compound and grave. This would last less Koguta, South Kabuoch, Ndhiwa. This was Those carrying out tero buru would do than an hour before the team would settle a small band of youths and women drivit in any outfit that would make them look down to eat and drink what the women ing back their equally small herd of cattle. extraordinary. had prepared much earlier. But they caused a stir at the market as they

Celebrations

Musical groups and clowns in the village would put on or carry their regalia including the sisal skirts, headgear, horns and other musical instruments. It was a show and an occasion to be both sad and to celebrate the virtues of the dead, depending on his status in the clan. The group would, on arrival at the thim (jungle), stage mock fights with death amid bull fights as the elders lit a fire and roasted a cock which would be chopped into pieces and passed on to as many of those in attendance as possible. The team would stay out at the thim, till around mid day before heading back home amid music, chants (sigweya) and horn blowing, driving their herd of cattle with some singing praise songs in honour of the dead. At home, the women and elders who could not make it to the jungle would be on hand to receive them, just outside the

This was the last major mourning ceremony that would free the sons, daughters and other relatives to thereafter pack up and go from the following day. From then on, it is just core members of the family who would be left to take care of the occasional guests or late mourners. “It was an important ceremony among the Luo but now, it is fizzling out and is done on a very small scale and by young men for fun”, says Mr Christopher Ogone Odede, an elder from Kaguria clan, Ndhiwa District.

“It was an important ceremony among the Luo but now, it is fizzling out and is done on a very small scale.” — Christopher Ogone Odede

passed through.

Dying practice “It has been long since I last saw people going for this ceremony,” said Mr Vincent Otieno, a school leaver at the market as he moved on to watch the spectacle. “Ne wadhi tero buru Aora Kuja (We had gone for the tero buru ceremony at River Kuja),” explains a young man in the party when I catch up with them as they are leaving the market for the deceased’s home not far away. The clans living in Ndhiwa include Kaguria, Kamenya, Koguta, Kabuoch, Kanyamwa, Kwabwai, Kanyikela and Kanyidoto still practice the ceremony but with varying degrees of intensity depending on which area as most have been influenced by the churches. How strictly the culture is followed depends on the clan’s level of influence from western education, Christianity and other factors related to modernity or exposure.

The Government has been called upon to remove Members of Parliament from managing the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). Speaking recently at the Kitui Catholic Cathedral hall during the official launch of the Kitui Central Constituency Social Audit Report by the Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRCE), Mr Richard Tuta said MPs and CDF committee officials do not have proper and meaningful programmes for the utilization of the funds for public benefit. “The MP is supposed to be the CDF patron and not the chairperson. The MP should be a person to monitor the programme. The MP also appoints the CDF constituency level committee instead of leaving it to be done by the community,” said Tuta, who is a programme manager with the CHRCE. “We find most of the CDF-funded projects incomplete when we go to the field. We have seen that the record keeping by the CDF committees is poor. The committees must ensure that the projects are complete before jumping to initiate new projects and they must comply with the CDF Act,” Tuta explained.

Information He said CDF committee officials at the constituency level enhance methods by which people get information on the funds. The CHRCE has successfully managed to undertake social audit of CDF in Mwingi North, Mwingi South, Kitui Central and Kitui West constituencies within the Kitui County where eight projects have been audited. The social audit was done by 80 trained community social auditors in the four constituencies. Area CDF manager, Mr Nicholas Kimanzi said the kitty funds different activities and that it cannot fund all the projects in the same year. He said the projects to be funded by the CDF office are approved by the CDF Board. “We deal with many projects. We are given the list of the approved projects from Nairobi. Each project has its number and identification from Nairobi,” explained Kimanzi. Area MP, Mrs Charity Kaluki Ngilu was represented by the Kitui Central Development Association (KICEDA) chief executive officer, Mr Joel Nzioki Ndingi who said every MP has a responsibility of implementing development projects in his or her constituency. Ndingi said Kitui Central is the only constituency in the Kitui County that had constructed a CDF office. “We need people to involve themselves in public fund matters. If they don’t involve themselves, the money will get lost,” Ndingi said.


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ISSUE 029, November 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Education PS issues stern warning on teachers By KARIUKI MWANGI Education Permanent Secretary Professor James Ole Kiyapi has issued a stern warning to teachers who will be found molesting students and pupils that they stand to be interdicted. “Security of pupils is solemnly the responsibility of teachers while they are in school and when they are at home their security is in the hands of the parents,” said Kiyapi. He added: “Both teachers and parents are responsible for the security of pupils while between the school and home.” The PS said it is unfortunate that teachers who have been given the responsibility of educating and protecting

Teachers cautioned against compromising learning standards By MWANZA MBUVI A teacher who also doubles up as an evangelist has been transferred with stern warning after he failed to priorities his responsibilities. The warning issued by Mwingi South MP, Mr David Musila was also sent to other double dealing teachers in the region. Mr Kilonzi Illai who heads the Globe Deliverance Church in Mwingi South Constituency was accused of having had the habit of skipping class lessons at Musuani Secondary School and instead going to offer sermons. He was accused of failing academic standards and got a compulsory transfer to neighbouring Yatta District. Musila who is also an Assistant Minister for Defence warned he would not compromise with anyone who compromises academic standards in the constituency. He cautioned over the habit of multiple occupations saying it is better for a good master to take one career and surrender the other to avoid inadequate delivery. Musila was addressing parents, teachers and students at Migwani Boys’ Secondary School where he led prize giving to the best performing teachers in the District. Musila asked the Education office in Migwani District to strategise on better ways of improving the low grades in the area.

Professor James Ole Kiyapi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education. Picture: Correspondent

the pupils are the ones who are molesting them. He said private tuition by teachers was banned. “The ministry will only allow tuition to more than five students adding that any teacher found tutoring one pupil will be suspected of having ulterior motives,” he explained. Kiyapi who was speaking at Mayori Secondary School in Mbeere South during a prize giving day said the Government is on the process of formulating policies in which teachers who get interdicted will not be allowed to teach even in private schools. Currently interdicted teachers have only been temporally relieved off their duties on administrative measures and will

be dismissed if found guilty by a court of law. They will not be allowed to teach in any school. He also called upon parents to be responsible for taking their children to school. “Education is the only valuable inheritance that a parent can give to their children,” said the PS. He called on teachers to introduce lessons on safety measures so students can understand how to protect themselves from accidents and other vices when they are moving from school to their homes. Eastern Provincial Director of Education, Mr Boniface Gitau urged the parents in the province to cooperate with teachers so as to promote education in the province.

Falling education standards in Northern Kenya decried By HUSSEIN DIDO Education stakeholders in Eastern Province have been challenged to come up with modalities to improve poor performance in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) Examination. Director Human Capital Development in the Ministry of Northern Kenya, Dr David Siele decried the poor performance in last year’s examination where the province was ranked poorly. He said: “This province managed to produce only 56 A plain students out of 60,000 candidates who sat for the examination while in Alliance Boys and Starehe Secondary schools students scored double the number of A

plain in the province.” He added: “The two schools are national but the students are not national and schools in Eastern Province used to do better than those in national schools.” Addressing stakeholders during the provincial education day in Isiolo, Siele called on education stakeholders in the province to go back to the drawing board and set targets that will ensure students get quality education. He said: “Quality education and good grades will help prepare students to be competitive in a cross section of tasks beyond the academic realms.” Eastern Province Director of Education, Mr Boniface Gitau attributed poor performance to private schools which he said

continued to post poor results. “Appropriate measures have been put in place to ensure better performance in examinations across the province,” he said. Gitau attributed poor results to shortage of teachers and child labour as well as shortage of administrative and quality assurance and standard officers. The enrolment rates in free primary education in the province went up from 1,149,902 in the year 2002 to 1,485,619. In the secondary sub-sector, the enrolment stands at 297,755 currently following the opening of more day secondary schools and provision of free secondary education. Eastern Provincial Commissioner, Ms Claire Omolo, di-

rected administrators at district level to ensure that pupils were retained in schools. Omollo said: “The Government had introduced mobile schools in Upper Eastern to ensure that children in the region access education as parents migrate from one region to another in search of water and pasture for livestock.” The region has 11 mobile schools with enrolment of 459 pupils with six non-formal education centres in Marsabit South district. She added: “Students must uphold discipline, dignity and good reputation by desisting from engaging in vices that may deter their performance and achievements in education.”

Farmers to benefit from new cotton variety By JANE MUGAMBI

riod from 12 times to thrice a month. The crop takes 10 months in Mwea and Meru The Kenya Agricultural Rebut five months in Western search Institute (KARI) has and Rift Valley. come up with a new cotton va“The growth is also deterriety that will benefit farmers. mined by the climatic condiSpeaking at the Mwea tion in the regions,” said MaMbeere, a researcher at the charia. KARI centre, Mr Julius MaThe variety will give a charia said that six new varifarmer 3.5 tonnes if well eties have proven to be fit for maintained and will be selling growth in the area. at KSh32 per kilo. He said that the varieties However, he called on all had shown to be high yieldfarmers who had stopped ing and are going to be given planting the crop to restart to farmers in Pakela, Mpekesaying that the Cotton Develtoni, Meru, Mwea, Kitui and opment Authority will be reArupe. sponsible for the produce. “The research is geared at Mwangi Kombo, a researcher at KARI centre in Mbeere displays the new The organisation will also improving cotton production cotton variety that will be distributed to farmers. Picture: Jane Mugambi create farmers’ field schools in the region which has gone where facilitation will improve down,” explained Macharia. the cotton quality and come He said: “The variety has have reduced production over the years.” proven to be resistant to cotton pests that The variety has reduced the spraying pe- up with the constraining factors.


ISSUE 029, November 16-30, 2010

Orphans get a chance to tour Australia By JOHN KINYUA Ten years ago Faith Wanjiru lost both her parents. She had lost all hope to a good life as immediately she lacked access to basic needs. Dreaming of education was not anywhere near the nightmare she faced each evening. Her only option was to become a street child in Nyahururu town. But if she prayed, then God answered her prayers because a good samaritan came calling and transformed her life tremendously. Today, Wanjiru and five other orphans are expected to travel to Australia where they will represent Kenya in a gala night hosted by friends of the school. It is the second time they will be showcasing Kenya in Australia after another  similar  event last year. The group will present dances and comedy to Kenyans abroad. These friends of the school have been standing with them since its inception. They have been providing the students with books, uniforms and salaries for teaching and non-teaching staff. The most  conspicuous  among the friends is an Australian based NGO, African Equity whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education and creation of employment opportunities. The NGO supports the surrounding community in Nyahururu contributing to the establishment of medical facilities and vocational training centres where youths attend computer lessons, welding and mechanic courses.   Wanjiru’s case is evidence that education is the key for the betterment in this world. Failure to get education is, therefore, the beginning of one’s miseries. This philosophy has well been understood by Heroes of the Nation (HTN) - a children’s home in Nyahururu. The 500 children are under the care of Dr Weston Gitonga and his wife Violet Gitonga, who are both educationists.  The children reside in the school and none of them goes to another school.

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Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Health facility loses equipment to robbery By JANE MUGAMBI

Violet Gitonga joins the girls at the Heroes of the Nation children’s home in Nyahururu in celebrating after they received gifts from donors. Inset: Dr. Weston Gitonga, who runs the school together with his wife Violet. Picture: John Kinyua

Heroes of the Nation was founded by Andrew Sievright, an enterprising Australian national.  He began the process of buying land, hiring staff and began construction. He the couple in the leadership of the HTN campus.  They now carry his vision to create a campus that would equip and empower future leaders for Africa. The Heroes of the Nation campus has grown to be the largest orphanage in Kenya. Government officials have applauded the successful model of HTN, recognizing its impact on orphans and in community.  Andrew continues to offer insight into the growth and development of an orphanage prototype that is truly revolutionary in its scope. The Home caters for destitute orphans and street children from Nyandarua and Laikipia counties where it provides free education. The couple retired from their teaching professions to start the home after witnessing the problems faced by destitute children in the area. Today, ten years after it was established, the home has been recognised as an academic giant in Laikipia County. It provides education to orphans up to tertiary level.

“It is home for the children who do not have anywhere to go during the school holidays,” explains Gitonga. Gitonga recalls how 10 years ago he came across children roaming the streets of Nyahururu town and welcomed them to his new home situated a few kilometres away. He started with seven children because that was the number he could feed. Since then, together with his wife, they have never looked back as the family has grown bigger and bigger. Three of the home’s children have since joined university after completing their KCSE examinations. But the success of the home has not come without challenges. Gitonga says: “Many times we have had to spend all our savings on the children. I would like the Government to support raising street children and orphans.” He observes: “Helpless children should also be considered as the Government awards students education bursaries.” As such a huge number of needy children get a chance to get basic education, Gitonga urges the Government to provide employment opportunities once they complete their education. 

A health center is counting its losses after a robbery attack that saw it lose important and expensive medical equipment. According to a Clinical Officer attached at the Kang’aru Dispensary, Mr Eric Gatheru, he had left the nurse-in-charge to run the hospital so that he could attend to an official matter. The nurse later called Gatheru to say that she had lost her keys but did not report to the police. He said that the doors were not broken but had their padlocks opened. In the laboratory a microscope was stolen, in the pharmacy all drugs were taken. The clinic also lost a gas cylinder that is used to cool the injections, a safe where the weekly collection of KSh50,000 is kept was found open but with the money missing. Gatheru believes this was an inside job since the nurse did not report the matter to the police or the necessary authorities. Kirinyaga Medical Officer of Health, Dr Jorum Muraya said investigative officers have been sent to the facility. The nurse has also been suspended to pave way for further investigation. “We are treating the matter seriously and anything that is serious will be referred to Kerugoya,” Muraya said. He added: “We have sent for more drugs since the hospital does not have enough to be supplied to the health center.” He regretted that most patients will be forced to have their tests done elsewhere since the hospital has lost a microscope saying that it is the second to be stolen. Nairobi metropolitan minister Njeru Githae said that he will lobby for another microscope that will be sent to the facility to minimize transport costs for patients who are travelling long distances.

Girls advised on how to better their career choices By AGGREY BUCHUNJU A medical officer has under scored the importance of girl child education saying it has seen tremendous growth in all spheres of life over the years. The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) Medical officer, Dr Brown Mapesa noted with appreciation that women have scaled the heights of education and profession in Kenya. Mapesa spoke recently at Sisokhe Girls’ High School in Kakamega County during the institution’s annual general meeting (AGM) where he was the chief guest.

He reminded the girls that success does not choose gender and urged them to identify their talents as success depends on one’s mind set. “Success has ceased to be a preserve of men. All you need to do as girls is to identify your talent, then work hard, maintain discipline and remain focused on what you are looking for,” advised Mapesa. The medic challenged the girls to fight on equal basis with men in fields such as leadership and management, medicine, architecture, engineering, actuarial banking and law. He told the girls that once they identify

their careers they need to work hard at school particularly in relevant subjects. “It is at this point that you need to know which subjects you are best at and you should also appreciate that English and mathematics are a requirement in all courses,” he said. He advised the girl that doing well in any subject including mathematics and sciences depends on one’s attitude. Mapesa asked the girls to be in constant consultation with their teachers or mentors to guide them in subjects of their choice. “The career master will give you counsel on the field you have chosen and iden-

tify someone who has excelled in that field and help connect you to them,” he explained. Mapesa at the same time cautioned the girls against engaging in truant vices particularly during the December holidays. Consequently, he advised parents to keep students positively busy by allowing them to volunteer to work for Christian institutions and women’s organisations. He observed that this will make the girls to stay way from vices like drugs, alcohol, early marriage unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections that include HIV.


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ISSUE 029, November 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Prison turns out to be a major correctional facility

Esther Wanjiru, 28 an inmate who has become a hairdresser. She has gained life development skills while serving a jail term at the Murang’a Prison that will enable her operate and manage a hair salon. Picture: Ryan Mathenge

By RYAN MATHENGE Charged to serve a year in jail turned beneficial to Esther Wanjiru, 28, after she managed to learn skills to operate and manage a hair saloon. Wanjiru is now the talk of town after many of the people wishing to have a hair do tend to seek an appointment with a woman convict for the latest styles within prison’s perimeter fence. Thrown to serve a jail term last year, Wanjiru a mother of one is thankful to Murang’a Prison for having made her pursue a life time dream.

Second chance She was left in the dark after her parents failed to raise enough money to enable her pursue her dream career upon completing primary education. During the Africa Correction Service Day, the 28 year old narrated how she has benefitted from skills she continues to get from the prison administration. “From now I am a new person since my jail term has turned to a blessing instead of punishment,” said Wanjiru as she explained to Maendeleo ya Wanawake officials who visited the facility. The officials from women’s organizations were part of group of leaders who turned up to make merry with convicts in marking the Africa Cor-

rection Service Day. “I am now an empowered woman ready to face the world with skills that I have been dreaming of but the community should also help us with tools of trade,” she said. Officer in charge of the Prison, Mr Ali Athman said the facility has managed to correct and rehabilitate former criminals by introducing courses of their interest. “Many are convicted without having any skills but we are proud that when they are released they leave as improved persons,” said Ali. Murang’a Prison offers convicts with lessons in farm management, saloon, textile, nursery management among others. As the prison marked the day, pomp and dance featured as within the perimeter fence, the convicts mixed with gospel dancers as hawked eyed warden’s ensured safety. Prison warden Boniface Ndirangu thrilled the convicts and guests as he released his five song album in the event which the officer-in-Charge Mr Athaman described as successful.

Exhibition Earlier, the guests were taken through exhibition stands where convicts highlighted on goings in the industrial and agriculture sections. Kiharu District Officer, Mr Edward Leglo who was the chief guest

called on the public to employ convicts once they are released from prison. He said many of the convicts leave the perimeter walls rehabilitated, ready to co-exist with other citizens. “The Government has employed officers with skills to train the convict reform rather than living in the criminal life,” said the administrator. Murang’a East District Youth Officer, Mrs Esther Maina said her department was ready to help the youth leaving prison get funding from the Youth Enterprise Fund. “Many of the youth unless guided to seek for financial assistance will just end up in crime,” said Maina. Maendeleo ya Wanawake officials led by Mrs J. Ng’ang’a visited the women wing where they shared a cake to commemorate the day.

Isiolo set for major development plans By HUSSEIN DIDO Leaders in Isiolo County have been cautioned against politicising security matters but instead forge unity to embrace cohesiveness among the communities living in the area. Livestock Development Minister, Dr Mohamed Kuti, said insecurity has been experienced in Isiolo in the last past years due to armed hostile communities neighbouring Isiolo county. He said security forces must be given time to prune them out of these hot spots. “We must embrace each other as communities and learn to live together harmoniously to challenge the Government to provide our constitutional right and provide adequate security,” said Kuti. He assured the constituents that the Government was putting in place modalities to deal with highway bandits and cattle rustlers from the neighbouring counties. Kuti who is also Isiolo North MP appealed to his constituents to give peace a chance and embrace each other as brothers and sisters among divergent culture to open up Isiolo town to local and international investors. He said plans to make Isiolo town a major commercial and business centre in Kenya ahead of the proposed Vision 2030 were at an advanced stage and that this can only be achieved if there is favourable environment for investment. “We must discard outdated cultural practices that hinder development and prepare ourselves to take up positions ahead of the new development,” said the Minister. He said the Government was working out modalities to expand facilities and improve infrastructure to host major changes and improve services delivery to wananchi.

Growth and development “It is time we think broad and leave behind petty politics to others and embrace ourselves as Isiolo residents,” advised Kuti. Major international roads including the great North Road from  Cape Town  to  Cairo  and  a major modern railway  linking  the town and major towns in  Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan will reinforce Isiolo’s position as the country’s business hub. The town located at the middle of Kenya has already been approved to become a resort city and an international airport  would be constructed to help decongest Wilson Airport in Nairobi. The town is among one of the three proposed resort cities in the country with the other two based at the Coast. He said construction of a modern slaughterhouse in Isiolo was underway and thousands of jobless youths stand to benefit from the project once it is complete. The minister noted that pastoral communities from Upper Eastern region would benefit as the livestock and its products find its market in the greater region. The minister reiterated that the Government was committed to developing the region and urged the residents to embrace change and make insecurity a thing of the past.

Land grabbers steal cemeteries in Kitui By BONIFACE MULU Public land grabbers in Kitui town have been told that their days are numbered. Speaking in Kitui town a former civic leader, Mr Saidi Shaban, decried the rate at which public land in the urban centre had been grabbed.

He said the cemetery where European soldiers were buried as well as the Kitui Municipal Council cemetery had been grabbed. He urged the Town Clerk, Mrs Lucy W. Nzesya to repossess all the grabbed public land while highly lauding her for the excellent work. He asked the town’s residents to give her the necessary support.


ISSUE 029, November 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Pregnant mother cries for justice By RACHEL MUTHONI It is mid-morning at Flamingo Estate in the outskirts of Nakuru town. Women are busy here with some washing clothes outside their houses, others queuing to fetch water from the shared taps while others are cleaning utensils. But 18 year old Jacqueline Achieng is doing neither of this chores. She can only stare at those who are busy. Achieng would be doing what her neighbours are doing or working as a casual labourer at a textile industry in Nakuru’s Industrial Area were it not for a stray bullet shot by a police office.

A fateful day She vividly recalls the morning of September 12, when chaos broke out at the Nakuru Municipal Council owned estates, Flamingo being one of them. Tenants of the more than 10 estates had ganged up against police officers who had been deployed to evict them over KSh175 million rent arrears. The deadline that the council had issued to its tenants had long expired prompting the management to consider what is seen as excessive force to get them to move out. When she heard noise and gun shots being fired outside, Achieng’ went to her mother-in-law’s house, a few metres away. “We locked ourselves in the house thinking we were safer in there and hoped to open the door after calm returned,” she explains.

Bullet wounds But a tear gas canister hit the roof of the house and fell in the room where they thought was safe. “The smoke from the tear gas was too much for us to bear and we had to run outside for lack of enough air,” says Achieng. Barely a minute after they had left the house, Achieng’ was shot on her right leg, the bullet passed through her left leg leaving her unconscious and bleeding heavily. “I saw her bleeding yet I was helpless, I felt like I was the one bleeding,” says Ms Selina Owila, Achieng’s mother-in-law, adding she feared for both Achieng and the unborn baby. Achieng’ was to spend the next five days at Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital where she was being treated. By then, Achieng was eight months pregnant. She had kept her strength and

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would not only attend to all household chores but would also walk about three kilometres daily to a textile manufacturing industry, where she worked as a casual packager. Though she can now stand on her own, her life has taken an awful turn since that day. “For a month I was bedridden, helpless and in pain,” says Achieng. She feared for the life of her unborn baby as she feels the shock, bleeding and pain could have affected the infant’s development. Further, Achieng’ and her husband can no longer attend to their casual jobs. She can no longer walk alone or attend to either her home chores or casual job. “I had to stop working to stay with her at home,” says Joseph Musa, Achieng’s husband. He worked as a packer at a flour milling company. He now makes a living by cleaning carpets at between KSh200 and KSh500 per piece, but says there is less guarantee of getting clients.

Moral support He says his wife has changed since the incident. “She is no longer jovial and keeps asking why this happened to her. I try to give her moral support though I must admit that I am also affected,” says Juma. When she attended pre-natal clinic recently, Achieng’ was informed that her blood level was low, something she suspects could have been caused by the heavy bleeding from the shooting. She needs to eat blood building foods but her husband who is struggling to make ends meet cannot afford a decent meal for his wife. Juma says his wife may require special attention when it comes to delivering the baby but fears he may not afford. “This means we may have to dig deeper into our already empty pockets, I have no idea where I will get the money,” he laments. The couple had saved KSh5,000 for spending on medical and other expenses when the baby arrived but they have since spent the whole amount on Achieng’s

Jacqueline Achieng’ who is pregnant shows wound she suffered from a stray police bullet. Picture: Rachel Muthoni

treatment and food. To them, the future is dark, all because of a carelessly triggered police bullet. Worse still, the couple does not know how to get compensation. “We reported the incident to the police but no action has been taken. Who will fight for our rights?” asks Achieng. Though her wounds seem to have healed from outside, she often visits the hospital to have some watery liquid squeezed from

“We reported the incident to the police but no action has been taken. Who will fight for our rights?” — Jacqueline Achieng’, victim of police gunshot Executive Director: Rosemary Okello-Orlale Programme Coordinator: Wilson Ugangu Editor: Jane Godia Sub-Editors: Florence Sipalla and Mercy Mumo Designer: Noel Lumbama Contributors: Adow Jubat, Paul Kimanzi, Nick Odhiambo, Joseph Mukubwa, Johnson Ndolo, Abjata Khalif, Carolyne Oyugi, Oloo Janak, Boniface Mulu, Rachel Muthoni, Aggrey Buchunju, Ryan Mathenge, Hussein Dido, Jane Mugambi, Ken Ndambu, John Kinyua, Kariuki Mwangi and Mwanza Mbuvi.

her left leg, slightly above the knee. Sometimes the pain she experiences is too much to bear and she cries uncontrollably. She is due to deliver this month November and wonders if she will bear both labour and gunshot pains. “Not even taking pain killers relieves the pain, it is usually too much,” she says. Achieng’ was one among three people who suffered bullet wounds in the incident that left two dead. A 15-year-old class seven boy had his leg amputated after he was shot as he rode on a bicycle from the library. These victims are evidence of the police brutality that leaves many innocent Kenyans suffering and with more questions than answers.

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Highlights in this issue: * Invoking Maslah : Alternative to Statutory Courts * Entrenching tradition among the Somali * Tero B...

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