Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
A bimonthly newspaper by the Media Diversity Centre, a project of African Woman and Child Feature Service
Army and community in land tussle By EKUWAM ADOU
Nakeny Lenapangai, 50, forlornly sits in front of her thatched house, lost in deep thoughts in dilemma and uncertainty over ownership of ancestral land looming large. She has to contend with constant threats of eviction by the Kenya Army hanging on her head like the proverbial swords of Damocles. Not even the grave of her husband — a stone’s throw away from her house is proof enough to demonstrate to the soldiers that she does not have any other place to call home. With a lot of pain, she reminisces the earlier days when they had invited the army to come and practise in the area. “I vividly remember those early days in 1965 when the Kenya Army soldiers came for training exercise in the area. I was still young, the community welcomed them with open arms. They were friendly to the
locals giving them food as well as sweets and biscuits for the children,” she recalls. “However, the relationship started deteriorating in 1990s, after the introduction of cafeteria system where the soldiers paid for their meals. The children who were used to feeding on leftovers were chased from the barracks. From then on the soldiers developed a cold attitude towards the local Chokaa community,” explains Nakeny. This manifested in many forms, starting with disconnection of water to the tap serving the locals and restriction to shopping at AFCO canteens located in the camp. The locals were worst hit when they were issued with an eviction notice. The fate of Nakeny and over 3,000 residents of Chokaa village about 40 kilometres from Isiolo, residing adjacent School of Combat Engineering (SOCE) Kenya army training facility lies in balance following a protracted land
ownership dispute. On one hand, Kenya Army claims ownership of large piece of land in the area and accuses the local community of squatting on the land they claim legal ownership of. The local community, on the other hand, says the army wants to disinherit them from their ancestral land, claiming it was a typical case of the proverbial camel owner and the tent. “You cannot purport to evict me from my land, after being offered a space to carry out training exercises. You cannot turn around and evict the owner, if anything, the Kenya Army ought to pay lease for use of community land,” pointed out Paul Lenapangai, a teacher who was born in Chokaa Village and still lives there. Across the western side of Isiolo, seven kilometres away in Burat Location, the situation is also replicated, with close to over 11,000 Continued on page 5
The Kenyan Army at a parade and showing off their military power. The forces have been involved in a tussle over land with the residents of Chokaa Village in Isiolo County. Pictures: Reject Correspondent
Clockwise: Women from Chokaa Village adjacent to the School of Combat Engineering pondering over their future during a recent community meeting held to chart the way forward over the military eviction threats. Kenya Army officers during a training session. Below: A villager with his herd of camels at a watering point. A section of Isiolo town. Pictures: Ekuwam Adou and Reject Correspondent
Read more Reject stories online at www.mediadiversityafrica.org
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Accident victim wallows in misery after family abandons him By PAUL OLALE
A man who had a near fatal accident at a factory has been abandoned by his next of kin at a house in the outskirts of Mumias Town. The bed ridden man is famished and alone. His wife died and his three children disappeared after their mother’s death. Relatives no longer visit him and it seems he has just been left to die. “I can’t figure out why I have been rejected at a time when I really need support. I need food, help to bathe, change clothes and to relieve myself,” he said. David Kotia, 46, a resident of Shibale Estate, Mumias, hangs onto life courtesy of sympathetic neighbours and members of the area Seventh Adventist Church (SDA), who occasionally bring him food. There are also some children within the locality who bring him sugarcane that has fallen off tractors as they are being taken to the sugar factory. However, this is not working for him as he cannot chew because disease has ravaged his jaws. Kotia’s rural home is Mulambo Village, Butere District, about 30 kilometres from his current home. However, he cannot get help from there because his father, 70, is also bedridden. His mother is frail and his brothers, who are cane cutters, say poverty hinders them from helping him. “My in-laws from my wife’s side have also cut links. I suspect they are linked to the disappearance of my children,” he says. Kotia narrated how he was seriously injured in 1987 when a boiler burst and spilt acidic content on him at a factory in Industrial Area, Nairobi. He was then working as a plant
technician at a soap making company, San Manyatta. “I found myself two days later in a hospital bed. I was told I went into a coma following the severe burns and shock,” he explains. He was taken to MP Shah Hospital, Nairobi by a sympathetic engineer at the company identified as Davies Bill. Four months later, he was transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital, because the bills had accumulated beyond his means. Some relatives collected money and cleared the bills.
In 1989, Kotia’s father James Oriro, sought compensation from the factory owner through advocate Francis Etole. According to an insurance assessor, the compensation was evaluated at about KSh3million. Kotia alleges the advocate was unwilling to part with any money after they heard that the company had issued a cheque, though the exact amount could not be ascertained. This forced Oriro to involve the police who prevailed upon the advocate to oblige. The advocate said he was given only KSh405,000. He gave Kotia’s father KSh395,000, arguing that the balance was his legal fee. A dissatisfied father decided to pursue the matter, and engaged another advocate Ojwang’ Agina, of Sane and Company Advocates. However, the family members do not know the fate of the case to date. Part of the compensation money was spent on Kotia’s treatment at various hospitals that include Kenyatta, St Mary’s Mission Mumias, Alupe and Busia District.
SMS monitoring to curb drug stock outs By CHARLES NJERU A new SMS system has been launched in five Kenyan districts to monitor malaria drugs stock. This new system was launched this September by Novartis, a multinational drug company. The initiative aims to avoid drug stock outs which have been common in the past. The Norvatis programme director Jim Barrington says that the new system is working well. “An SMS is sent to one health worker at a health facility every Thursday by 2pm. The health workers are asked to reply with information on the drugs available in stock. The SMS is programmed with a message. “The worker also gets a reminder to send data within 24 hours,” says Barrington. “Please send your stock data of AL (Coartem) and RDTS,” the programmed SMS reads. The information is then sent to the District Commissioner who then takes action during meetings every Monday morning. The new SMS service also gives incentives for each reply with airtime valued at KSh50. The system is available in Machakos, Manga, Musambweni, Vihiga and Ijara districts at no cost. Kenya is the second country in Africa with such a service after it was first initiated in Tanzania last year. It is available in 4,000 Tanzanian health facilities. “This system is so far doing well. We hope it will increase in other Malaria endemic areas of the country before the end of the year. We hope to make more malaria drugs available and make the history of drug stock outs a thing of the past,” says Barrington. “The new SMS system seems to be working well in our facility. We rarely experience stock outs,” says Joshua Onyango, a senior nurse at the Bugamangi Dispensary in Vihiga.
In 1990, Oriro used some of the money to help the son buy a plot and put up five two-roomed semi-permanent rental houses at Shibale Estate, Mumias. Kotia, his wife and three children then settled in one of the houses. The wife later died in 1999. Six months later, the children then aged nine, seven and three years mysteriously disappeared from the house. He has not heard of them since. His late wife’s family in Yala, Gem District denied they were linked to the children’s disappearance. Kotia said the money he had is long gone and he cannot pay for treatment nor fend for himself; more so because one of his legs was amputated at Busia District Hospital. Kotia’s skin is unnaturally black, scaly and with some chronic gaping wounds. He is evidently frail and cannot leave his bed without help because of the amputation. However, despite the wasting away of the body, slurred speech and limited mobility; the man’s memory is clear. His white sunken eyeballs spell loneliness and desperation. “Even when I relieve myself in the bucket, it has to wait for someone to come around to empty it for me,” he says. Another problem is that his houses have become dilapidated for lack of maintenance. The tenants have also taken advantage of his condition to default on rent in the last three years, denying him what was his only source of income. “I appeal for medical assistance, re-union with my children, follow-up on my full compensation and funds to renovate my houses and action taken on the obstinate tenants,” he
“I can’t figure out why I have been rejected at a time when I really need support. I need food, help to bathe, change clothes and to relieve myself.” — David Kotia said. He can be reached through the Secretary of Shibale SDA church, Aggrey Musindalo, mobile phone number 0720-453188.
Explosives leave village under siege By EKUWAM ADOU Dozens of the victims allegedly maimed by unexploded military ordinance at the British Army training grounds in Samburu East were paraded before the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations. The House committee led by the chairman Adan Keynan came face to face with the gravity of the matter when they heard from the victims who attributed their injuries to military explosives carelessly left behind at the training range by British Army soldiers undertaking the exercise in the area. Pauline Lemiyok, 33, and Kapua Lemokon, whose hands were chopped off recounted how they separately picked an unknown metallic object which exploded in their hands, leaving them writhing in pain. “I fell and only woke up after some minutes to find my body soaked in blood. I also lost my right arm,” said Lemokon who was looking after his family’s herd of calves that stepped on an explosive device lying on the grazing lands.
Paul Leakono 45, recounted how he was lucky to have survived. He curiously hit a seemingly shiny harmless object with a walking stick and the next thing he heard was thunderous explosion that left him with burns all over his body. He also lost his testicles. Leakono survived by the grace of God after he underwent extensive treatment at Wamba Mission Hospital. Joseph Lepartobiko, 65, who suffered burns on the abdomen, recounted events leading to his injuries after he accidentally stepped on a rusty metallic object.
Stanley Lenyakopiro moved the committee members when he claimed that there were increased cases of induced abortions and miscarriage by pregnant women in the area due to toxic explosives that are used during the training. “We have lost many children due to miscarriage and still-births among pregnant women affected by levels of toxicity of explosives used,” lamented a bitter Lenyakopiro. Hearing impairments among the area residents have increased due to excessive noise pollution generated by bombings and shootings at the range. Community leaders of Lessosia and Learata group ranches complained bitterly of increased loss of lives and injuries of herdsmen attributed to unexploded military munitions left behind in the training field. We have been left to graze our cattle in confined grounds. When they leave training, they leave behind live bombs which have so far killed and maimed hundreds of our people,” lamented Leariwala, the Losesia group ranch chairman. “They now use helicopters to chase away our cattle and even shoot people,” he added. Led by the Member of Parliament Raphael Letimalo, they demanded unconditional withdrawal of British Army soldiers training in the area. This will allow for fresh negotiations over the use of the land arbitrarily given by the Government without consent from the local community. They argued that the Kenya government erred by unilaterally entering into a moratorium with the British over training of their soldiers in the area without seeking approval from the local community who legally own the land in form of group ranches. Letimalo told the Parliamentary Com-
mittee that was on a fact finding mission at the training ground that there has been a systematic and deliberate expansion of the military training area leading to encroachment on private community held sanctuaries at Lesosia and Girgir. Aloise Leariwala, chairman of Girgir Group ranch called for compensation from the British government for the loss of lives and injuries besides paying for environmental degradation. Britain has in the recent past acknowledged and paid compensation for injuries and deaths caused by munitions left at the training field in Samburu East.
The last such payment was in 2002 when millions were paid out to victims and relatives of the affected in an out of court settlement led by a London law firm Leigh and Day Company. The house committee fact-finding mission comes against the backdrop of the deaths of four boys in Ngong area after an explosive device they were playing with went off. The children aged between six and nine were taking care of cows at a grazing field in Ole Maroroi village, Ewaso Kedong about 25 kilometres from Ngong town when they found the device. The area is routinely used by Kenya Army to conduct training and the device was one of many unexploded military ordinance left behind by the soldiers. Kenya Army personnel have since initiated a thorough mop up exercise to rid the area of any unexploded munitions left behind by the soldiers. The mop up exercise led by experts deployed to detonate explosives has already retrieved 11 live bombs from the area.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Kenya’s own dog whisperer By JOSEPH MUKUBWA For many, dogs are just petty animals but for a man in Othaya, it is his business, pride and joy. As one approaches the dilapidated gate to his two bed-room house, one is immediately confronted by huge dogs who are barking all over. Their size is enough to scare anybody away. One two-year-old German Shepherd weighs 54 kilogrammes. At the banks of River Thuti on the outskirts of Othaya town one finds John Kagombe, 46, alias wa Ngui (ngui is the Kikuyu word for dog), a man who has dedicated his life to dog-keeping for more than 30 years. His life is all about dogs. He eats, sleeps and dreams dogs. Wa Ngui is also educating his two children with income from the dog business. His dogs are for commercial purposes and they are his joy and pride as they provide for their daily meal. He passionately narrates how he sold dogs to pay dowry for his wife. This man who holds a diploma in Building and Construction says that because of his love for dogs, he abandoned his career to keep the canines. Every year, he sells about 20 dogs. One trained dog goes at KSh60, 000 while the biggest dog is worth KSh150, 000. One puppy goes for over KSh10, 000. As other men tether cows and goats to the market, Kagombe waits for his dog customers at home. Most of his dogs are booked while still young. The farmer cum businessman from Othaya has made a kill in his business and sold many dogs that have found a home in almost all parts of the country. He has even sold some as far as Uganda and Tanzania. His major customers are security firms and the Kenya Police Dog Unit. He also sells to individuals.
His 20 dogs, down from the previous 60 go by names among them Simba, Maggie, Diva and Docks. Their breeds include German Shepherd, Roberman, Rottweiller, Japanese Spins and Jack Russell. “As other Kenyans count their wealth in terms of plots, livestock, buildings, land and vehicles, I’m busy counting mine in terms of the number of dogs in my kennels,” explains Kagombe. When a dog litters, the man is then assured of paying school fees and house rent as well as feeding his family. He is proud of being associated with dogs. The former police reservist says that dogs have made him travel far and wide. “I have visited Germany, South Africa and Sudan just because of dogs. Most of my clients have paid for my air ticket for me to accompany them to their countries to help select the best breeds,” he says. Kagombe is a director with a Nairobi-based security firm which was started recently. He plans to start a dog training college in future. “I love my dogs very much. Sometimes when clients come to buy them, I feel as if it is a family member I am giving away,” he says. Kagombe’s interest in dogs developed when he was nine years old, something that brought him into conflicts with his parents from time to time. He recalls how he raised KSh6, 000 later after selling two dogs while in Form Three in 1985. He was then aged 16. He does not regret having several bites and scratch marks on his hands and legs from the dogs. His love for dogs started when he was at Mtopanga Primary School in Mombasa as his father also loved dogs. “I was close to my dad and so I came to like dogs, I was given two dogs when I was leaving Mombasa. That’s where I started.” The two dogs started breeding and they sold the puppies to the neighbours. He started training the animals and would fetch more income. The father of two trains the dogs on obedience, socialising with people, attacking, tracking, swimming, defending and detecting poison. The dogs are also taught to avoid food from suspicious sources.
He has read many books on dog training and learnt more from friends. More than 30 years later, he is still pursuing courses related to dog training. The training includes tracking, attacking, defending and even swimming across River Thuti without the aid of the owner. The dogs undergo poisoning training, which is vital especially when guarding compounds where criminals have a tendency of poisoning dogs using raw or cooked meat. Kagombe emphasises that the poisoning training is important as it dismantles the criminal’s possibilities of killing the guard dog.
“This training involves starving of the dogs for two to three days after which they are released from their kennel to find meat and other foodstuffs thrown all over the compound,” he explains. Kagombe adds: “Unknown to the dogs, the foods are smeared with very bitter substances. After weeks of training, the dogs become aware that anything thrown around is bitter.” They are then fed on cooked John Kagombe playing with one of food comprising of meat, maize the dogs he is training at his farm. flour, wheat flour, omena and indigenous greens collected The dogs are his best friends and from bushes adding that some source of income. of the greens are assumed to Pictures: Joseph Mukubwa be herbs that contain and protect dogs when they litter and breastfeed. Kagombe would later start training security groups and acre peace of land which individuals who would come with their dogs. he was given by GovernToday, he charges KSh30, 000 for an individual ment after occupants dewho wants to be trained. serted the 30 houses due to He acknowledges that a bitch lacking calinsecurity. The dogs now cium, which is mostly found in bones and omhelp to maintain security ena would automatically eliminate most of its in the area. puppies by ‘eating’ them after delivery. Puppies are to be deHis advice to others in a similar field is that wormed two weeks after a dog lacking vitamins E and K, which are delivery, an exercise that found mostly on wheat and green vegetables is repeated every two is likely to bleed excessively while giving birth weeks until they are three as the vitamins aid in clotting during delivery. months old. Most people feed the dogs with maize that Vaccination of Parvo has been rejected for being unfit for human viruses is also done after consumption. The maize is likely to find its way two weeks from the time of delivery where the to the posho mill and hence be fed to the dogs. virus is rampant though it can be done at the fifth and sixth week of birth. This must be re-administered three weeks “This results to aflatoxin (condition wherelater after which the puppies are administered by moulds form in the liver affecting the dog’s with the final dose of Distemper Hepatitis Lepdigestive system resulting to death). This has tospirosis and Parvo (DHL). caused deaths to so many dogs in big farms and From there, the puppies are ready for market. individuals,” he cautions. One dog gives birth to between five and eight During mating, some dogs need assistance puppies twice per year. They start giving birth as males are most likely to be heavier than the after reaching 18 months. bitches and hence lack penetration. After 62 days, the bitch is likely to deliver To avoid such a situation, upcoming farmits puppies. A place must be prepared one ers are encouraged to seek assistance from an week before birth so that it can be accustomed expert. He cautions farmers against oppressing to the surrounding. Since dogs are animals, the dogs. they are likely to dig a hole in an uncemented “I have started small businesses like a barber house where chances of survival of puppies shop after I got the funds from these canines. are minimal because of predators that include I have done much due to dogs. At one point, I safari ants and snakes. Kagombe’s advice is helped to clear may father’s bank loan of over spreading of the sand in cemented kennels up KSh1 million,” Kagombe says while cleaning one to about three inches from the floor. of the puppies. Though popular in Othaya and other parts Kagombe’s business is situated on the oneof the country, Kagombe’s updated lifestyle has
“Unknown to the dogs, the foods are smeared with very bitter substances. After weeks of training, the dogs become aware that anything thrown around is bitter.” — John Kagombe
remained a puzzle to many. His efforts to appear a simple common man are betrayed by his expensive and modern clothes. Only those who have visited his kennels especially during the dog training session know Kagombe better. Like in any other business, the Kagombe admits that the business also has its challenges. He has to drive to Nairobi to get vaccines and some of the feeds. He gets the omena fish from Gikomba market at exploitative prices. For the maize flour, he travels to Meru where he owns a maize farm solely for the dogs. He purchases wheat from farms along Nyahururu Road. Kagombe has to vaccinate the animals by himself due to the high charges imposed by the Ministry of Livestock Development. In most cases, the local offices are not stocked with vaccines and other necessary supplies. Scarcity of training facilities has also been a barrier. He says that training is important to enable the farmer keep up with modern dog technology. Most of Kagombe’s customers prefer a down payment for the puppies from the time of birth to the time of taking them to their new home. One day before collection, the puppies are starved to avoid vomiting during transportation. Kagombe urges youths to invest in the business since it is not costly and has quick returns. He is truly a darling of dogs.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Who owns the Kenyan Coastline. . . By REJECT CORRESPONDENT Kenya’s Coastal strip is a goldmine. Everyone who wants to be a land owner would like to have just a piece of it. While it cannot be divided equally among the 40,000 Kenyans, this strip of land that stretched about 10 miles to the interior, is unfortunately owned by a select few. The Kenyan Coastline can be divided into various segments. There is the general coastline as well as the North and South Coast. Kenya’s coastline stretches some 480 kilometres from Tanzania in the south to Somalia in the north, this beautiful stretch is made up of a tranquil of white beaches, golden sand dunes, warm turquoise water, archaeological treasures and idyllic secluded islands. In the 9th Century, the Coast was a central stop. Indian, Arabic and African traders settled to create a Swahili culture that is still thriving today. The influence of Kenya’s rich trading history is still very much a part of the area’s unique and lively culture, which makes a holiday to the Kenyan Coast more than a simple enjoyment of the sun and sand. Palm fringed beaches with calm inviting waters of the Indian Ocean and wide creeks have made the Kenyan coastline a popular point of call for the international yachting circuit. The Kenyan coast is divided into four regions: the North Coast covering the beaches from Mombasa to Kilifi, South Coast stretching from Mombasa to the Tanzania border centering on Diani Beach, including Chale Island. Malindi, Watamu including the Tana River Delta and the Lamu archipelago. The beaches of the North Coast comprise Nyali, Vipingo, Kikambala and Shanzu that are home to a wide range of world class resorts with fine cuisine and services while the beach havens of Mtwapa and Takaungu offer an ideal escape from the outside world, with endless deserted beaches. The offshore reefs are alive with coral, myriad fish, sea turtles and dolphins. Both outer and inner reef walls offer world class diving with spectacular coral gardens and drop offs. The coastline south of Mombasa is a tropical paradise of palm fringed white sand beaches, where the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean meet beautiful coral reefs. The protective reefs have created ideal beaches with calm, inviting waters. Days are filled with sunshine and nights are balmy and warm with gentle sea breezes.
The beaches are bordered by lush green coastal rainforests with prolific birdlife and variety of wildlife including baboons, rare Columbus monkeys and even leopards. A wide range of world class resorts, centred around Diani Beach allow visitors to relax and enjoy this natural paradise with the best standards of accommodation, service and cuisine. The South Coast also has many smaller quiet getaways such
Scenic sites along the Kenyan Coast where land ownership is an issue of concern. Most of the prime land along the Coast is owned by a few elite families and foreigners leaving natives of the area landless. Pictures: Reject Correspondent
as Tiwi Beach, ideal for travellers looking for a low key break. Inland, the fertile hinterland of Kwale District consists of small villages inhabited by the Kamba, Digo and Duruma tribes. Further south, the small fishing village of Shimoni is home to a series of deep mysterious coastal caves that stretch from the sea to deep into the jungles. Historically, these caves were long used as a refuge for Dhow Sailors, Arab slavers and explorers. Shimoni is also an excellent base for big game fishing in the waters of the Pemba Channel. The people of the Coast have lost control of the rich natural endowments bequeathed by their ancestors. Hundreds of thousands are landless or squatters, with access to neither land nor water, since routes to the ocean have been blocked by land demarcation and private fences. Fishermen have a problem getting access to the ocean. Native observers of the coast’s land problems believe that although there has been an undesirable trend since independence, things started getting out of hand around 1988. Only people who have access to the higher echelons
of government are allocated plots, which really mean people who are from outside the province. Among the locals it was only the ruling party officials who have benefitted. The decree promulgated in the 1970s requiring presidential consent for all allocations and transfers of land near the beach still stands, making it even more difficult for the vast majority of the people to transact in such land. A welcome development is that whereas after independence allotees came from mainly one tribe, since 1978 the range of beneficiaries has been
The history of land ownership in Mombasa dates back to the Sultan days when select class of people could own land. Some influential families within Mombasa controlled almost all the land. How they came to possess such huge chunks of land remains a mystery to many natives.
widened to include other tribes, although this could hardly be consolation to coast people. These historical sites and monuments include isolated ruins of houses, mosques, tombs, townships such as, Gede Ruins and fortified areas such as the Fort Jesus. They also include monuments like the Vasco da Gama pillar in Malindi, and urban areas of historical and architectural importance, such as Mombasa Old Town and the Lamu Archipelago. The North coast beauty and ancient culture that blends well with its hot climate has made regions such as Mombasa, Kilifi, Watamu, Malindi, Tana Delta and Lamu a gem to many local and foreign investors. Though many locals and natives are believed to own almost all prime lands, very few with influence and money have so far managed to secure documents for their lands. However, a large number of the coastal people still live as squatters in their ancestral land. The history of land ownership Continued on page 5
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Who owns the Kenyan Coastline. . . Continued from page 4 in Mombasa dates back to the Sultan days when select class of people could own land. Some influential families within Mombasa controlled almost all the land. How they came to possess such huge chunks of land remains a mystery to many natives. The Mazruis were at one time the ruling elite in Mombasa and by extension the coast of Kenya. Together with other Arab families, they owned large tracts of land in Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi areas. Other wealthy land owners included the Busaidi family, other Omani families and Swaleh Nguru. In 1931, the authorities registered a trust of 2,716 areas in Kilifi for the benefit of the Mazrui. Fittingly, the colonial administration passed the Mazrui Lands Ordinance. This latter became the Mazrui Lands Act which was repealed in 1989. What was changed when the law was repealed? The MijiKenda, the dominant African tribe of the coast apart from the Taita, initially settled by the sea shore. They were gradually pushed further inland to pave way for Arab settlements. The term MijiKenda describes the settlement pattern, which was based on the nine sub-tribes of the people. They settled in nine fortress villages. The MijiKenda practised a blend of communal ownership with recognition of individual title to cultivated land. The Arabs who displaced the Mijikenda from parts of the seashore were predominantly Muslims. Islam recognises individual tenure to farmland and land in trading centres; pasture, forests and water points are the properties of the community and are sustained from the bounties of God. Pastoralist tribes in the arid and semi-arid zones have their own traditional systems for sharing pastures and water in wet and dry seasons. Tana River District for example has a large livestock population. Who owns the North Coast beaches? The North Coast beach front starts all the way from the Nyali Bridge to Lamu. Mombasa old Nyali is an excluded spot of its own. The old Nyali starts from the bridge to the English point. Here, beach plots are prime and exclusive only for the Kenyan elite and influential class of tycoons and businessmen. Unlike the new Nyali, the old Nyali is spacious and not crowded. The location is serene and private with crystal clear sandy beach. His Highness the Aga Khan is alleged to own land here, with other few rich persons from European countries. Bamburi is a small Miami in Africa. The place is crowded with world class beach front hotels. Very few residential homes are found in this location. Hotels such the Nyali, Reef, White Sands as well as beach clubs and expensive restaurants stretch all the way from the main Malindi-Mombasa road to the beach. These hotels are owned by Kenyan elite and businessmen.
However, the foot paths to the ocean in these classy establishments have been blocked by land demarcation and private fences. Mtwapa is one town that is growing fast due to increased tourism in the area. The presence of foreigners in this town has made the value of land extremely high. From the creek, basking in the sun is a fleet of boats and yachts for water sports that are mainly owned by the foreigners. Hotels, villas and rental apartments along the creek are owned by German nationals while the famous Africa Safari club that stretches all the way to Shanzu Beach is owned by a local politician. If one is looking for a retirement retreat, Kilifi is believed to be an ideal place for such excursions. According to property agents, retirees, mostly British settlers have put up holidays homes along the beach front. Watamu and Malindi is another Rome in Africa, villas have flooded the beach fronts. The region’s economy, ranging from the hotel industry and tourism is controlled by Italians and very few Europeans. Malindi and Watamu has over 20 tourist hotels situated along the beach. In many circles Malindi and Watamu are referred to as playgrounds for Italians. Italian billionaire Flavio Briatore owns the Lion in the Sun Resort in Malindi. Last year it was said that he was going to build a club worth 500 million euros. The Lamu archipelago beauty and tranquillity has wooed many investors heart. The Kenyan elite, crown princes and billionaires from Europe have bought chunks of land in these seven islands of Lamu.
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Army and villagers in land ownership battle
Women in deep thoughts wondering where to go, with uncertantainity hanging in their over their future settlement. Picture: Ekuwam Adou Continued from page 1 peasants farmers living in fear of eviction by army commanders from adjacent School of Infantry (SOI), military barrack. The DOD has on several occasions given quit notice to peasant agro-farmers at Maili Nane, Maili Tano and Kambi Sheikh following massive expansion and encroachment of settlement area. The situation has not gone well with locals. The farmers supply more than three quarters of fresh produce consumed by Isiolo residents. Tonnes of onions, tomatoes, beans and maize are produced by farmers throughout the year through irrigation from water tapped from Isiolo River.
The people settled in the area way back 1912, according to Emmanel Achuka, human right activist affiliated to Isiolo Human Rights Network (ISIOLO-HURRINET), while presenting a memorandum to Truth Justice and Reconciliation commission (TJRC) sitting in Isiolo recently. By the Second World War, the population grew due to the demand of migrant workers and soldiers. Later after the war, the people remained and their population has been growing. In 1952, the Anti-Poaching Unit was established in the area and recruited the first 40 game rangers from the local population who are now retired and their children are now employed in the same unit. The army came to the area in 1981 and was allowed to build a temporary tented camp just beyond Lewa River. They approached community elders who showed them where to locate their tented camp. The elders were Mzee Lekwale, Mzee Ewoi Kalasinga, Mzee Emmal Mekede, Mzee Mbogori and the late Mzee Billow among others. “Unfortunately the shoe is on the other foot by the army claiming that the old men and the entire community who welcomed them have encroached on their land,” laments Achuka. Currently, the army is claiming ownership of the community land and is threatening to evict people. The land grabbed by the Army which is under contention is estimated to be over 10,000 hectares covering a whole sublocation/ward. Achuka says people are appalled by the sheer disregard of all procedures and protocol of land allocation by the Kenya Army saying the move will displace over 11,400 people
who will rendered homeless and destitute. “The land allocation should be nullified in face of new constitutional dispensation that recognises community ownership of land as spelt out in the new document,” argues Achuka. Mzee Emmal Mekede who has a five-acre farm producing vegetables and fruits, says he settled at Maili Nane 45 years ago and was part of the group of elders who met army officers when they first arrived. “They told us they would establish a training base between the hills and River Lewa. That is an area of about 2,500 hectares. Now they want to extend it to include land up to Isiolo River,” observes Mekede. Apart from farms on the western bank of the river, the settlement area houses seven public primary schools, Kenya wildlife headquarters and health centres. At the Eastern side of Isiolo town, two kilometres away sits 78 Tanks Battalion which occupies large swathes of land, displacing over 5,000 residents living as squatters at makeshift Kisima village which has not been developed over a land ownership controversy. Peter Losuu a resident says lack of clear-cut land ownership impasse has impeded development activity in the area. “You cannot build a permanent house in the area because of the land ownership problem,” observes Losuu. At Kiwanja and Epiding area in Ngaremara location, barely three kilometres away from Isiolo town, located along the great Trans-Africa Isiolo-Moyale highway, the military has annexed large tracts of land through establishment of School of Artillery (SOA) training camp, leaving over 2,000 residents as squatters. Across the bridge on Samburu East side, thousands of hectares of are being used as training ground by British army troops on high altitude military exercises. Deaths and injuries caused by undetonated munitions carelessly left behind in the fields have been reported. The voracious appetite for land by the military, which has led to the coordinated expansion and encroachment of settlement area has raised concerns among the local residents.
Isiolo County Council recently petitioned Deputy Prime Minister who is also Minister for Local government Musalia Mudavadi, to ask the Government relocate the army train-
ing camps currently surrounding the town. Civic leaders through council clerk Maurice Ogolla asked the Government to move away the military training bases within the environs of Isiolo town, following plans to elevate it to a resort city as envisioned in Vision 2030 economic blueprint. “You cannot have military training bases in ever expanding town commercial hubs. The camps were established when Isiolo was a small trading centre,” argues Ogolla. “SOI must be relocated because it is a farming and settlement area. It is also the site of the proposed abattoir and close to the proposed resort city,” notes Councillor Paul Mero, immediate outgoing game committee chairman. Mero observes that SOCE, occupies land that is within the wildlife migratory corridor used as conduit for wildlife from northern Kenya, Meru, Mt Kenya and the Aberdares. The Council held in trust all community land under the old Constitution and have been at loggerheads with the military on land issues. The Department of Defence (DoD) top brass have dismissively been ignoring the Council directive on land matters, saying they were allocated the land by central Government and are not answerable to the civic authority. A case in point was when Chinese firm constructing Isiolo-Merille Bridge sought to build it headquarters on the land adjacent to School of combat Engineering (SOCE), they consulted the Army instead of the council. The Army claimed ownership of the land, and therefore went ahead into agreement with the Chinese firm China Wu Yi, to handover the buildings upon completion of their contract. The former military spokesman Bogita Ongeri has been quoted claiming legal ownership over contentious swathes of land held by the military. “The land was surveyed and we have a title deed. I don’t know where the claim is coming from. What has happened is that people have encroached but we know where our land lies,” retorted Ongeri. A parliamentary departmental house select committee on Defence and foreign relations led by Wajir West MP Adan Keynan visited Isiolo and Samburu East to investigate and report back issues related wide ranging conflicts between the community and the military.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Citizens reclaim Park from grabbers By OLOO JANAK
Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city is often in the news when its restive youth population gets involved in political skirmishes. For a long time, the youth and their propensity for agitation have been viewed negatively, painting the city as a place akin to violence. However, this is all changing and many people have begun to appreciate that public agitation and advocacy is after all for public good. They also feel that it can help kick life into lethargic government structures to respond to public demands and improve service delivery. This was recently demonstrated in the city when a sustained campaign led by the youth and which eventually brought in other stakeholders, led to saving a public recreation park from the jaws of powerful land grabbers. Taifa Park, located within the Central Business District next to the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, is one of the oldest recreation facilities in Kisumu town. Up to around 2009, the Park, though largely unattended, with tall grass and uncollected refuse, remained accessible to the public. It had beautiful, though aging flamboyant trees and some bougainvillea flower hedges around it that provided shade for hundreds of the town residents who chose to relax there or ordered food and drinks from the kiosks around it.
This suddenly changed one early morning in mid-2009 when the town residents woke up to find all the huge trees cut down by people power saws. Crowds of curious and outraged residents quickly gathered around the park. The town population was outraged as information filtered that the Park had been taken over by “a private developer”, which without doubt meant that the place would soon see the construction of some high-rise building. There were demonstrations and demands that those who had cut down the trees and were attempting to take over the park be punished. A campaign, led by the Nyanza Youth Coalition (NYC) spanning more than six months, was immediately launched. This helped reclaim the park, now under rehabilitation, for public use again. “It has not been easy and Kisumu residents have had to sustain a campaign to save the park from the powerful grabbers,” says Joshua Nyamori, Coordinator of Nyanza Youth Coalition (NYC). Property speculators had linked up with corrupt elements at the Kisumu Municipal Council, transferring its ownership to wealthy business people through an intricate chain of fraudulent means. These included faking the loss of the original title deed and processing a new one through the Ministry of Lands to aid the transfer to the private developers. The beneficiaries of this fraudulent allocation proceeded to sell of the Park to other parties and were not about to relent easily. They mounted both legal and political manoeuvres complete with intimidation of NYC leaders and other stakeholders in an effort to shake off the mounting public pressure.
The NYC secured a three-month in-kind grant in January 2010 from the Kenya Transitional Initiative (KTI) through the Kisumu office to scale up the public campaign, through non-violent means and restore the park to public ownership. The campaign was also meant to send a clear message to potential buyers and sellers of public land in Kisumu that impunity would not be tolerated. KTI later gave additional support that led to the current phase of physical rehabilitation and beautification. Residents of Kisumu through their organised stakeholder groups led by NYC were convinced that the fraudulent acquisition of Taifa Park by private developers, if left unchallenged, would set stage for the grabbing of all the other surviving public utility plots in a town which had since the 1990s lost a substantial chunk of prime public plots and property to both corrupt public officers and private individuals.
The grabbing of Taifa Park became a test case of how the public could protect their property and stop impunity through a sustained non–violent campaign with broad based support from all sectors and estates of the town. “The campaign involved a series of activities and utilised a number methods which included public awareness and public mobilisation, investigation and data collection to help drive a credible and fact driven campaign. We also got into negotiation and engagement meetings with the new claimants of the Park to get them to raise any issues and shed light on the process of property acquisition,” reiterates Nyamori. He notes it was important to “communicate the public’s resolve to get the Park back to public ownership” through sustained public education, mobilisation and organisation through public forums and rallies, neighbourhood meetings, press releases, radio talk shows and adverts, IEC materials such as teeshirts, fliers, stickers, banners and flags; theatre, door to door campaigns, phone calls and text messaging.
For months, there were demonstrations and public rallies within the town and at Taifa Park to keep the matter alive and show public participation. This alarmed the authorities, who at times From top: Taifa park which is undergoing rehabilitation after public agitation. A signpost declaring deployed the police to try to the success of the campaign to reclaim the park from grabbers. Volunteers assemble tools at the break up the demos. Park to begin the rehabilitation work. Pictures: Oloo Janak In fact, the government and the Kisumu Municipal Council have, though belatone morning to find all the trees had been cut also held several major public rallies and muedly, now become converts and advocates of sic concerts at the Taifa Park which attracted down. I brought my camera and captured the the park’s rehabilitation efforts. They have now thousands of town dwellers. destruction. I didn’t know what to do but I am joined the members of the public in tree plant“The Council also realised the issue needed now happy that many people came out to caming and other rehabilitation activities at the park. attention and joined in efforts to find out what paign and get it back.” One of the most far-reaching methods used had exactly gone wrong. There are many of us John Otieno, 26, a bicycle repairer staby the youth and stakeholders to campaign for at the Council who supported reclamation of tioned next to the Park mourns both the loss the reclamation of the park was the targeted the Park,” says Councillor Caroline Owen of of business and shade for his customers. His product consumption boycott and threat of Nyahera Ward. garage was located at a corner of the Park from stopping tax payment to the council. They sent petitions to the District Comwhere he used to serve his clients. This involved non-violent campaign to missioners, Kisumu, the Provincial Commis“They destroyed my shed and the big tree boycott buying and consuming bread, wheat sioner, Nyanza, United Millers, the Municipal under which my customers used to rest as I and maize flour and a host of other products Council, the Ministry of Lands and Parliaworked. I am one of those who participated from United Millers whose owners were alment over the grabbing of the park. They also actively in the campaign to ensure we got the leged to be associated with the grabbing of the conducted clean up and trees planting activipark back. We will not allow them to destroy Park. ties at the park, to keep the matter alive. it again, never!” he says waving a clenched fist, The protesting population, led by NYC and as if he is ready to hit the grabbers. a stakeholder committee issued a threat to the For 32 year old Jane Achieng’, reclamation Municipal Council that they would mobilFinally, the voices of the people were heard and rehabilitation of the park holds the promise ise town residents to stop paying rates to the and the campaign has yielded dividends. The council. of better business. fake title deeds were revoked a new one was “We were serious and the Council knew “I used to sell groundnuts, uji (porridge) and issued in the name of the council to hold the this. It has happened before and they knew other small items but grabbing of the Park and plot in trust for the public. we were not joking on this matter of grabbing cutting down of trees disrupted my business. With support from USAID under the Keof Taifa Park,” says Dan Otieno, a boda boda Now you can see I have come back but I sell from nya Transitional Initiative (KTI) rehabilitation (motorcycle) taxi operator who was part of the outside as the rehabilitation continues,” explains of the Park is awake again. Clearance of the campaign. Achieng. ground has been done and landscaping and Initially, there was an attempt by the GovNyamori, head of the Nyanza Youth Coalitree planting is on going. ernment and the Council to intimidate, harass tion who led the spirited campaign to reclaim Interviews with various stakeholders reveal and arrest the leaders and kill the campaign. the park says the fight is far from over. a sense of triumph, relief and satisfaction that However, the support for the campaign, “The masses, when mobilised and organised public effort has saved the park from powerful dubbed “Returning Taifa Park to the Public” are a powerful tool against impunity, corruption and well connected individuals who hitherto, was so overwhelming that any attempt to disand bad governance but the corruption networks thought they were untouchable. perse the crowds meeting would have degenin Kisumu are powerful and vicious. So we must “As young people who have been using the erated into violence. remain vigilant,” observes Nyamori. park to rest and eat ‘air burger’ during lunch, The success of the non violence approach we feel proud that our struggle to reclaim the among the youth and other Kisumu stakePark has not been in vain, ” observes Vincent Throughout 2010 spilling over to this year, holders in agitating for change opens a new Ochieng’, a member of the Park Reclamation the campaign has been on, vigorous but nonchapter and method of engagement within Steering Committee. violent. A number of activities were undertaken Kisumu Town. David Munyasia who works at Auto Exduring the campaign which included private “Leaders and the business community now press, a business firm next to the Park could not investigations to establish the status of the Taifa know the people have the power to change hide his joy as he watched the ongoing rehabiliPark block 7/240. tation work. He says: things peacefully and that they must be listened The steering committee, drawn from dif“Two years ago, I wept when I woke up to,” notes Nyamori. ferent stakeholder groups but led by NYC
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Hope for the children of Vilwakwe By ELIZABETH AWUOR A woman’s passion for children has seen more than 350 children from poor families get education at Vilwakwe Children Centre in Mombasa. Mary Kopulo, the founder of Vilwakwe Children Centre started a school feeding programme in 2006. Based at a local church, she used money from her pocket to feed the seven pupils she had then, just to keep them in school. Today, Vilwakwe Centre has grown to host 395 children, with 206 in primary school which goes up to Standard Six. With assistance from the US government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Education for Marginalized Children in Kenya (EMACK) in partnership with The Aga Khan Foundation, the centre now has a new face following recent renovations. The US ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration visited the centre in September 2011 to join children and staff members celebrate the new classes and rooms that a KSh300, 000 grant had funded. During his visit to the centre, the envoy applauded the founder and her team for ensuring that children from poor families got education. Gration who was accompanied by his wife Judy, said providing education to children was the best way of assisting the future generation. “The brain never grows old, it always keeps getting better and what you are doing to the kid’s brains is a lifetime investment,” said Gration. While appreciating the US government’s assistance, Coast Provincial Director of Education Mr. Alex Majani expressed concern that there are children within big cities in Kenya who still cannot access education. Majani said there cannot be equality if some children cannot access basic education. Also present during the function was The Aga Khan Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer Mr. Arif Neky who appreciated the local community’s uptake of education programmes. Apart from the new face, the centre, through the US government, now has a School Development Plan (SDP) with a committee entrusted with the duty of coming up with development programmes such as buying land enough for the expansion of the centre to enable it admit more children. “The land we are in now belongs to the Bohra Community. We need our own permanent piece of land so that children who are still in the villages such as Bombolulu, Kazandani and Kagulo get education,” said Mary Kopulo. Mary, who is currently undertaking an early childhood teaching course believes that the Centre will be able to train more teachers who will be able to administer quality education. Other than basic education, the Centre also runs forums where girls and boys speak about the challenges that they face in school and within the community. “We encourage children to use the forums to express concerns that they fear sharing with their parents at home,” she added. The centre has another project of teaching parents on good parenting since this is a crucial element in the academic success and social well being of the children. The founder said that poverty combined with some cultural beliefs that do not promote the education of girls and ignorance about the importance of education are some of the reasons that see children within that area remain illiterate. “We hope to drive all those children into school within the next three years,” she stated.
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Honey pots of Korogocho Putting food on the table knows not the source of the money By BEATRICE GITAU Martin Okello and John Ndegwa make their way to a latrine they have been emptying the whole morning. Ndegwa pushes the handcart massively bending forward while Okello pulls from the front, appearing as if the handcart has curved his back. His rough hands, spotting thickened veins and huge blisters, portray images of hard work accomplished with each passing day. The path they are taking wounds up and they enter a shanty through a wooden gate. Immediately Ndegwa embarks on the job, as Okello stands by. Armed with a five litre stringed container, Ndegwa throws it into the stinking squat hole of the communal latrine and pulls out the excreta. He empties the thick greenish marsh into a 20 litre bucket that Okello lifts up and dumps in the larger drum attached to the handcart. The locals sarcastically call the handcart “gari ya choky” (chocolate vehicle) “mahindra” or “the honey pot”.
Lack of protective gear
None of the two men is using gloves or any other protective gear. They do not have face masks to protect them from inhaling the poisonous fumes. After a few minutes Ndegwa’s hands are wet with putrid faeces and urine. The dissimilar shoes are tattered beyond description. There is no difference between him and someone who is barefoot. His feet were soaked too. The spills have over time soiled his clothes such that it is hard to make out what colour they were originally. “We don’t wear any protective clothing like gumboots or gloves because it’s a waste of time and effort,” explains Okello. He adds: “We tried wearing gumboots but they got soaked which made it difficult for us to walk, whereas the gloves would burn us because of the gas emitted.” Ndegwa elaborates: “We prefer to work as we are and when we are done with the day’s work we take a bath with detergent and when we can afford with an antiseptic.” “Sometimes when the excrement is too thick we are forced to go down the latrine and scoop the sludge with a spade,” says Okello. While any normal person would suffer inexpressible terror of this work, Okello and Ndegwa are both unmoved and continue with their job fast. The two men are among more than 50 young men who make their living in the most horrid and unimaginable way. They are probably doing the dirtiest job in Nairobi if not Kenya. In the absence of any sewer system in the Korogocho slums, these men have to remove the human waste with their hands and dispose of it in the nearby river. Public defecation and use of flying toilets is a common scenario in the slums. Privileged residents of Korogocho use shallow latrines, forcing them to regularly hire the services of these men to empty the toilets manually once they fill up.
Without wearing any protective gear, these men risk their lives to ensure a sense of sanitation in the slums as well as fend for themselves. Locally they are known as ‘makairu’, ‘exhausters’ or simply ‘watu wa choo’ by the locals. The story is no different for Waweru Mburu and Joseph Kariuki. Kariuki derives comfort in the midst of his filthy job from the few shillings he hopes to take home at the end of the day. Married, the 37-year-old father of three lives between his house and the latrines in the slum. “This is an utterly unrewarding job. I sometimes take home KSh100 at the end of the day,” says Kariuki. He poses in a tone of sympathy: “How do I divide that to meet the needs of my family?” During our conversation I gather that at the heart of these sewage collectors situation lays a search for acceptance in the community a longing to make ends meet. Joseph Irungu who owns and hires out the handcarts that the sewage collectors use for their work emphasises how the business curbed crime in the area.
John Ndegwa and Martin Okello at work pushing the handcart with sewage. They do not use protective gear in their work. Below: John empties one of the toilets. Pictures: Beatrice Gitau This special handcart was introduced to the locals by a Catholic missionary many years ago. “What Father Alex gave us was too bulky to move around,” says Irungu. Kariuki adds: “It was entirely made of metal and the drum had a lid. It required five men to move it.”
Irungu explains: “People dismantled it and sold the scrap metal. We made ourselves these wooden ones, and they have been efficient.” He adds: “Some of these young men were involved in crime before they started doing this.” Irungu is also the chairman of Uchukuzi SelfHelp Group, an organisation for the sewage collectors which caters for their welfare. For these young men, the natural human hunger for survival urges them on despite the debasement, ridicule from society and serious health risks that they face each day. Irungu says the alternative “is between crime and risking our lives in this job to put bread on the table”. The third alternative, namely the Government intervention to improve the situation is a funny statement to them. “We don’t see the government here,” Irungu explains adding that they only see the administration police and local authorities when they come to harass them because of what they do. “Recently they drilled holes in the drums so that we do not work,” says Waweru. Kariuki interjects: “They are making our work difficult and yet when the latrines at the Chief ’s camp fill up they plead for our services.” The local authorities are enforcing regulations set by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) in attempts to rehabilitate and restore the Nairobi River. The river which passes through many other slums in Nairobi and Industrial Area is already heavily polluted with industrial effluent and raw sewage by the time it flows through Korogocho. “They warned us against dumping the waste in the river but they do not show us where to dispose this waste,” says an incensed Kariuki. According to Waweru, they used to dispose the waste in a manhole in the neighbourhood but this was closed after cases of people drowning in the hole increased. The work of collecting sewage carries social stigma in this community. These sewage collectors are habitually despised and demeaned by some residents. Their services have been unap-
preciated and their humanness smothered. “Others do not understand that what we do is our source of livelihood. They pay us too little,” says Okello repeatedly. Their suffering is perhaps hailed with the greatest joy by individuals of local community based organisations that dot the area. Waweru explains that these people use their situation for their own benefit. “They come here and talk to us about our work, they take pictures of us at work, write and send proposals to foreigners soliciting for funds,” observes Waweru reaching for his bucket. He whispers: “When the help is out we never get to know about it, they use us to enrich themselves.”
A stop over at a nearby non-formal primary school called Big Pen Academy only magnifies the situation. The pit latrines are filled almost to the brim and need the services of the sewage collectors. According to a teacher at the school Fredrick Kadima, the latrines despite the deplorable condition are a great relief in the institution. The latrines were built last year courtesy of African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) and UN Habitat under a programme promoting sanitation in the area. The school is recognised as a health promoting school and is frequently supplied with water which is a rare commodity in the area. Kadima, however, noted that successful teaching and learning can only thrive in a healthy and peaceful atmosphere. “It is very difficult for us when the waste is being dislodged from the school’s latrine, the smell is very awful,” he observes.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Samburu sets pace for county assembly By MUKTAR ABDI
With the devolved governments, there are going to be County assemblies that will look into the interests of specific regions. However, while county assemblies may look new, there are communities that have been holding their own special Parliaments. One such assembly is to be found among the Samburu. Having started many centuries ago, it is an assembly of its own kind where elders occasionally meet to make binding decisions that affect the entire community. Due to the importance attached to this assembly of elders, it has gained the honour of being called a parliament. This Parliament in Samburu Naapo has existed for ages and made many decisions on how cases such as those of cattle raiders from neighbouring communities are dealt with. However, for the last three years, Naapo has changed drastically with its main role being promoting peace with other pastoralist communities. Locals are now accrediting Naapo for the reduced armed raids which were almost a fortnightly occurrence. Pastoralists are known to own guns which they mainly use to repulse attackers out to steal their livestock despite it being illegal that they be in possession of arms.
Raids against the neighbouring Pokot, Borana and Turkana communities have been organised at the Naapo where elders have given blessing to the Morans (warriors) to steal livestock. However, in recent times, Samburu elders have started weighing the gains they have made from the raids compared to loss of lives and displacement. “We lost many of our people after several wars broke out between us and the Pokot in the last two decades,” says Mzee Nguti Letukei. Letukei is the respected elder of Lorora Village and acts as the Speaker of the local parliament. Lorora Village is located in Laikipia West District and here 300 families reside. These are families that have been displaced over the years by conflicts related to competition for natural resources, mainly water and pasture. The homesteads belong to nine clans that arrived from Samburu, Isiolo and parts of Laikipia District at the height of armed conflict. Since their arrival at Lorora, Naapo has played a crucial role of promoting peace and avoiding situations that would lead to retaliatory raids.
Absence of women
Though it is an open ground surrounded by thorny twigs laid in a circular shape, it is the symbol of unity among the nine clans. In the middle of the Parliament stands a fireplace while beside it is a mud-walled hut where valued guests can spend a night. A Naapo can be put where people from different clans reside in a manyatta and there are several elders who can meet and consult on issues affecting the community. The Parliament, however, remains biased and is not gender sensitive as women are not allowed into the assembly. It is purely a men’s affair and affirmative action plays no role here. Ezekiel Sikuku, the assembly’s secretary says women are not allowed in the Parliament because it brings bad memories of an event that happened in the 19th Century. “Our forefathers told us that initially women could be invited into the Naapo but one day, raiders struck and as men ran away to get their weapons and fight back, women were killed. From then on, women are not allowed to step into the Naapo,” explains Sikuku. He adds: “In case their contribution is required, a meeting is normally held a short distance away.” The assembly has rules and anyone who dares break them pays a fine. “If one jumps over the wall or a woman enters the Parliament, one is fined a sheep which is slaughtered and
From top: A Samburu woman addresses a gathering outside the Naapo at Lorora village. Ezekiel Sikuku blows the Kudu horn. The horn is used to call men to a meeting. Mzee Nguti Letukei, the parliament’s speaker outside the Naapo. Pictures: Muktar Abdi the elders feast on it,” says Sikuku. He explains further: “If an elder is late for the meeting, he has to pay a fine in monetary form which the older men in the Parliament use to buy sugar for their tea.” Young girls are allowed into the assembly but once they are circumcised they can no longer enter the Naapo. However, Mama Namaris Lemuna says it is not good to lock the women out as the killing was part of history. “Women too have voices and should be involved in decision making in the Naapo. Men should not use the killings as a way to lock them out,” argues Lemuna. She says the work of women is to cook tea for the men when they meet but they are not allowed to go in and serve it. They leave the tea at the entrance and the men serve themselves. Whenever there is a meeting, Sikuku blows a kudu (antelope) horn two times which warns the elders that it is time for them to assemble. The horn has a special resting place on a tree in the middle of the village and only a few people are allowed to blow it to call for a meeting. At times, men are called to the Naapo to share stories of the day like clarifying rumours. “Some people with bad intentions call to say that the Pokot are preparing to raid us. Such calls are normally made by other communities living nearby and are aimed at causing panic. It is after these kinds of rumours that we call a meeting to defuse building tension,” explains Sikuku. The number of times the horn is blown determines the meeting that will take place. When the horn is blown three times the Morans (warriors) are called to a meeting. If it is blown nine times, it means there is danger, like impending attack by raiders. “Nine times and more tells the villagers to take shelter as the village is about to be attacked and the Moran and elders to get ready to defend their families,” he said. Once in the Naapo, the Morans are assigned
different duties like who is to take care of the animals and who is to shield the village from the enemy. The Samburu have been fighting with other pastoralists over decades where tens of people and animals lost their lives. Jane Meriwas, a women’s rights activist was in Form Four when the 1995-1997 war broke at Kipsing area of Isiolo District. Meriwas, who is the founder of Samburu Women for Education and Empowerment Organisation (SWEEDO) says she and her schoolmates escaped death by a whisker. “Our car was sprayed with bullets as we were leaving school for the holidays but luckily we survived without injuries,” says Meriwas. Conflict among the pastoralists has been going on in Laikipia and only recently more than 30 people among them children were killed in Kanampiu Village by raiders. However, in recent times community based organisations from the region have been spearheading the revival of traditional peace building mechanisms after Government administration structures failed to achieve the desired results. According to Northern Kenya Indigenous Pastoralist Alliance (NKIPA) director Joseph ole Shuel, his organisation has been using the Naapo as a place to make peace among the warring communities. The communities have been using their indigenous and cultural understandings to build peace. “They are the ones who know where war starts and they are the ones who are greatly affected,” says Shuel.
Since last year NKIPA and SWEEDO has been holding peace meetings in identified trouble spots called “battle fields”. Meetings have been held at Damu Nyekudu, Tuale, Kipsing and Lorora. In most of those meetings, the Pokots and the Samburu have been called to interact and speak about peace.
A Naapo can be put where people from different clans reside in a manyatta and there are several elders who can meet and consult on issues affecting the community.
Besides talking to the Morans and elders, the meetings have also been used as a forum to encourage women to take an active role in decision-making. In these meetings, women have danced together and warriors from both communities have shared a meal and conversations have concentrated on forgiveness and reconciliation. Shuel says involvement in Naapo has contributed greatly to cultivating peace among the warring communities. “Prior to our interventions, efforts by the provincial administration had not borne much fruit but when we started using traditional institutions like the Naapo, at least we can happily say conflicts have reduced and after the Kanampiu incidents, the guns have gone silent,” he observed.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Women find their way into construction jobs By HENRY KAHARA For a longtime construction work has been perceived as a male field where the work is too heavy for women. However, things are changing and now women are defying all odds and claiming their share in this field. Today, hardly will one visit a construction site and fail to find women contributing in one way or another to the building work. Many may think women who are found in construction sites are only there to sell food to the contractors. However, for Purity Wambui, a common face on the construction site the story is different.
Lack of fees
Having been raised by peasant farmers from Eldoret, Wambui’s parents were not in a position to pay her secondary school fee resulting in sudden termination her education. “I reached Form Two since my parents were not in a position to pay for my school fees,” says Wambui. Like any other girl who drops out of school at young age, she got a job as a househelp but due to mistreatment from her bosses she left after a short while. When she left her job as a house girl two years ago, her aunt linked her up with Gragab Companies Limited. The company deals with
construction work. Although she admits that the job caters for her daily needs, Wambui is quick to mention that loneliness is one of the major challenges she faces. “Sometimes I find that I’m the only woman who is doing this and I cannot share some of my secrets with men,” she says. Wambui, 24, says that for the time she has been with this company, she has contributed to building many houses including General Service Unit headquarters at Ruaraka and Kenya Wildlife Service flats. “I move with this company from one area to another so I have Women at work at a construction site in South B, Nairobi. Women are defying all odds by gained a lot of experience now. I engaging in the once male dominated field. can tackle any challenge I encounPicture: Henry Kahara ter,” reiterates Wambui who confesses that she will not be in this job ties in the house,” observes Mueni. She notes not in many places that one will one get such an for long. that her supervisors are often humane and give amount at once,” she observes. Another woman in the construction industhe female workers lighter jobs like watering the A mother of three, Mueni says she still has to try is Ann Mueni. Although new in the field, building. do her duties as a woman to both her husband she was attracted to it by the ‘huge’ amount Although many people still maintain that and children, therefore fatigue due to multiof money that one gets from it. She also saves gender equality will never come to be, many tasking is the major challenge she faces. transport costs by walking to work. women today maintain that they too can do “For a woman, this job is not easy but we “For now I walk to work and at the end of what men can and therefore find their way into don’t have an option for we are supposed to the day, I will get KSh500. I enjoy my job. It is the male dominated field of construction. look after our children and do some other du-
Dilemma of being a girl child in Mwingi By JANE MUTUA
While we could say that we are living in the 21st Century, there are communities that still firmly hold onto traditions that are oppressive to the girl child. A spot check by the Reject shows that majority of rural girls in Ukambani are becoming mothers at a very tender age. Most of the girls aged between 10 and 15 years have given birth to at least one child. Some become mothers after being forced into marriage by their parents when they are barely into their teens. A 10-year old girl in Standard One from Mandongoi location of Kyuso District, Mwingi North Constituency recently found herself in a marriage situation.
“I got information from the area chief who was informed by the public about the minor who had been turned into someone’s wife for four days,” said Peter Maina, Kyuso District Commissioner. He added: “We rescued the girl from the early marriage which had apparently sanctioned by her parents.” At the time he acted, arrangements to settle the dowry for the “young bride” were already in place. Maina arrested the 28-year old husband and his would be father-in-law. During an interview, it emerged that most parents in Kyuso area were not even taking their daughters to school. Instead, they encouraged them to go into early marriage in return of dowry. A good number of girls who get married or gave birth have had children at the very early age in life lead a very miserable life. The Reject spotted a 16year old girl who got married at the age of 14 but the marriage did not last leading to separation. ”I just met that man two years ago and he requested me to be his life partner. It was my first time
to be approached by a man and without much ado, I agreed to his request and within months into the marriage I realised I was pregnant,” said Nancy Mwende. Married life was partially good for Mwende until she was thrown out by her husband. “When my due date approached and I went into labour, instead of taking me to hospital my husband took me to my parents home and dumped me at the gate. He never came back for me,” explained Mwende.
Her mother took her to the Nguni Dispensary where she was eventually referred to Mwingi District Hospital. Mwende delivered a baby boy through a Caesarean section. “I am extremely bitter with this man since he has been staying with my daughter as his wife only for him to leave her when she is in labour. Since then no one knows where he went,” says Mary Kilonzi, Mwende’s mother. She adds: “Their marriage was not even forGirls walk home after school. Majority of the malised, it was just a come we stay arrangement.” school girls in Mwingi drop out of school due to Mwende dropped out of school when she was early marriage. Picture: Reject Correspondent in Standard Six. The mother says she was good ened with death should they spill the beans. In in class. After dropping out of school she was search of peace and refuge, they drop out of school forced by her father to get married immediately. “Most girls in the larger Mwingi region are and go into the streets.” Mwinzi accused parents of not playing their role. abused at a very high rate. I have been getting cases of young girls who have been sexually abused by She said if all parents were to provide the girl child their biological fathers. Due to fear of retribution with basic needs like sanitary towels, food and sethey keep the acts secret but the psychological curity, there would be negligible cases of girl child trauma remains,” says Jacinta Mwinzi, Mwingi Chil- abuse and school drop outs. “Lack of provision of basic needs to the girl child dren’s Officer. She says sexual harassment at the home has been by parents has been a great challenge. Mothers should be on the forefront in ensuring the girls’ sethe leading cause of girls dropping out of school. “Majority of the young girls seen in streets are curity by being close to the child, offering counselnot orphans. They were sexually harassed by their ling and supporting their education as well as probiological fathers or close relatives and are threat- viding them with basic needs,” reiterated Mwinzi.
Cashier arrested with fake money By CAROLINE WANGECHI Police in Mwea town in Kirinyaga County have arrested a mobile phone money service cashier dispensing fake KSh1, 000 notes and impounded KSh25,000 in fake currency. The cashier and proprietor of the M-Pesa outlet were arrested after giving a customer KSh9, 000 in fake notes. Mwea OCPD Apollo Onyonyi said the client who was driving from Nairobi to Embu town stopped at the M-Pesa outlet to withdraw cash and made a request to get the KSh9, 000. The OCPD went on to say that the client, Anthony Ng’ang’a received the cash and only realised it was fake after close scrutiny after leaving the outlet. Ng’ang’a went back to the agent who denied giving fake notes. Ng’ang’a then called the police who conducted a search at the premises. Onyonyi said out of KSh104, 000 at the outlet, KSh25, 000 was found to be fake with three different serial numbers. Police gave the serial numbers as BF 323 9560, BF 323 9641 and BF 323 9576 and warned members of the public and traders to be careful when handling KSh1, 000 mostly from M-Pesa agents in Embu. The teller was released on a cash bail of KSh200, 000. Investigations on the case are still ongoing.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Climate change leaves traditional healers in the balance By ABJATA KHALIF Before the recent rains, the prolonged drought ravaging arid and semi arid areas of northern Kenya continued to affect various activities with the latest casualty being traditional healers and medicine men. Traditional healers are a respected group of people in northern Kenya as they use locally available plants to treat various ailments. However, circumstances changed following the biting drought that led to the drying of trees that give roots, leaves and tree barks for traditional medicine. Usually pastoralist communities travel from various villages to reach Dadajibula along the border in search of traditional treatment, blessings from traditional healers and advice on various ailments. Due to depletion of medicinal plants that have been affected by effects of climate change, the border town known in the region for bustling trade in traditional treatment is now a ghost town.
Traditional healers are not giving into their tribulations as they hold regular meetings to evaluate the problem bedevilling them. They continue to search for traditional divine intervention that will turn things round by appeasing mother nature to open up the skies. The healers through their traditional council have met to consult their ancestors to know where they went wrong and how to appease their master. They have come up with a verdict that traditional healers have not made a sacrifice to the ancestors for certain medicinal plants harvested from the village to treat fertility. This has forced them to appease their angered ancestors in style as the elderly traditional healers converge in one of their shrines to shout, dance, jump and make offerings. However, climate change experts have warned the healers that such moves of appeasing their ancestors through traditional means will not assist or reverse the situation but they should admit the problem is caused by changing climate patterns accompanied with severe shocks. Executive director of Kenya Climate Forum Benjamin Akavasi said the healers need to join the worldwide bandwagon of admitting climate change is causing weather patterns to change. “We should expect severe shock and other changing patterns,” said Akavasi. He admitted that the changing weather patterns will affect many activities and traditional healers should come up with a clear way of adapting to the changes so they are not be thrown out of business.
“These changes will affect traditional healers everywhere in the world and they are not the only group to be affected. However, the most important thing is that they should go back and take advantage of indigenous knowledge available in coping with the problem,” observed Akavasi. He added: “We should not ask ourselves what causes the changes but we should focus our attention on the problem and how they should adapt and mitigate the shocks and suffering.” Traditional healers hail from communities rich in traditional knowledge which show how the same communities predicted weather and prepared for big shocks like the one being experienced in northern Kenya.
Most of them stored medicines to be used during the long drought while others stored seeds using traditional methods of preservation and planted them during the start of rains. According to the head of the Traditional Healers Council Daud Abdi: “We are facing a big crisis and may be out of business. We have never witnessed such problems before. We suspect that we may have done something wrong or our ancestors are not happy with what we have been doing.” He added: “Right now we have reached dangerous levels as there are no materials from the trees. We don’t know where to go and look for plants to make traditional medicine. Our hands are tied and our trade is gone.” The shrine is only opened for the healers and their style of appeasing their ancestors is heard some kilometres away in Dadajibula village as each one of them makes loud cries, singing loudly, clapping in an attempt to appease the ancestor for not offering sacrifices for the plants collected in the area. Prolonged drought hitting the northern area has caused a humanitarian crisis with pastoralist communities moving from one village to another in search of water and pasture due to the hostile weather changes getting worse. The situation has forced other pastoralist communities to move with their livestock from to neighbouring Somalia where they believe they can get the resources in areas along River Shabelle. The human traffic to the traditional medicine and healing village of Dadajibula is no more as community members lack means of transport and paying for the services as they have lost all their livestock which they use as a means of payment for treatment and services rendered. Pastoralist communities offer the healers goats and cattle as payment based on the type of disease and period of treatment.
Area resident Sirat Olow claimed the problem is a blow to local small scale businesses like hotels in Dadajibula as most patients in search of traditional treatment seek food and accommodation from local hotels. “My business is completely down. I am almost closing my hotel. I have no customers and for the last two months I have seen only 20 customers from this village. The business I used to get is no more due to problems facing the traditional treatment,” Sirat said. He observed: “I pray everyday for rain to come so that healers can get medicine and customers come back to this empty village.” However, other community members with few remaining herds cannot seek the services as they are aware of the prevailing situation where the traditional healers have been thrown out of business by climatic shocks that
“We don’t know where to go and look for plants to make traditional medicine. Our hands are tied and our trade is gone.” — Daud Abdi
From top: Hunger stricken woman console her grand child after missing treatment from traditional healer in Dadajibula border village. A deserted traditional healers clinic in the village. Affected traditional healers attend a meeting in Modogashe, Garissa to discuss the effects of climate chage in their work. Pictures: Abjata Khalif have decimated hundreds of livestock and displacement of people from various villages to main towns. According to Maryam Bishar, a patient in nearby Sabuli Village: “I have been sick for three months now and I am suffering from yellow fever. My family wanted to send me to Dadajibula village for treatment but they received information from traditional healers that there is no medicine to treat patients and we should wait for the rains to come.” Maryam’s father Rashid Gesey said: “My daughter was scheduled to receive her treatment by the third week of December last year. I was waiting for a go-ahead from the healer so that I could take her to Dadajibula village. However, I was informed that the plant used to treat yellow fever is not available now due to the drought.” Head of the healers, Daud Abdi said: “We were aware that there would be a prolonged drought as we witness it every ten years. The last prolonged drought did not affect our work. We went on with business though the harvest of medicinal plants was minimal compared to
other seasons when we make big harvests.” Abdi explained:”We are shocked with what we are seeing. The problem is not prolonged drought anymore but our failure to make sacrifices and offerings to our ancestor. We have repented and offered sacrifices. We hope things will turn around soon.” Community belief and trust in traditional medicine is contributing to patients suffering in remote villages as their relatives refuse to let them seek treatment in hospitals located in main towns like Wajir, Garissa and Mandera. The same sentiments were echoed by local health officials that the traditional tendency of seeking treatment might contribute to human death in the grazing areas and remote villages. According to Abdi Bashe, a local medical official in Wajir district: “Communities in these remote villages prefer traditional medicine to the modern prescribed ones. We feel that prolonged drought coupled by lack of medicinal plants might lead to death. We have created awareness for the pastoralists to bring their patients to health centres and hospital but the situation is not changing.”
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Herders turn to farming to mitigate drought By JOY MONDAY When a severe drought ravaged Turkana District in 2004, herder Elimlim Lomusia lost all his 500 head of cattle. He suffered the agony of poverty so much that he was been forced to embrace a new lifestyle. Today Lomusia does not have any animals and no longer moves up and down the valleys in search of pasture and water. He decided to engage in crop farming. The rough palm of his hand is testimony to the tilling he has been doing at the Lokori Irrigation Scheme along the porous Turkana-Pokot Central border where 5,000 farmers who dropped their nomadic lifestyle have turned to agriculture. “I never thought I would be a crop farmer. It is a lifestyle that I always looked down upon,” says Lomusia. “I once refused to marry off my daughter to a farmer because I had little regard for any person without large herds like me before the rustlers drove them away,” he says remorsefully. For Lomusia, his cattle were his wealth and everyone in the community respected him for that.
“Everyone in the village respected and held me in high esteem. I was picked to represent our kraal [manyatta] in meetings with rival clans. However, things have since changed. Today nature is forcing us into a strange lifestyle,” observes the 55 year old father of five. Lomusia notes that climate change is a real threat that can no longer be ignored. He is calling for urgent intervention to mitigate its impact to ensure food security and sustainable social and economic development. Esther Ekiru, a milk vendor in Lokichar town whose lifestyle has also changed remembers the days when she lived happily with her husband and six children in Kapitir area with their livestock. Ekiru remembers with nostalgia the abundant milk produced from large herds of cattle kept by local herders. The milk, meat and ghee that were in plenty in gourds are no longer there. Ekiru, 48, holds her head in
apprehension as she labours to come to terms with realities of the changing world. She says all the land where their herd would graze has since withered due to persistent drought. Lifestyle in this part of Kenya where most households are deeply rooted in nomadism has changed as food insecurity looms large. Elizabeth Etabo, tilling her farm along the banks of River Turkwel in Turkana East District turned to crop farming after the family lost all its livestock to a grinding drought two years ago.
Due to the climate change, pastoralists are changing their way of life. “Life without the sight of large herds of cattle, sheep, camel and goats is a life of misery and a curse,” laments Etabo. She is not alone in the despair. James Ekiru, riding a bicycle and transporting commercial water to Lokichar town was displaced by the drought in 2005. He claims pastoralism is facing death and urges fellow pastoralists who still keep large herds for pride and wealth to read the signs of climate change. According to Ekiru, global warming is threatening lives and livelihoods of a once vibrant nomadic community. Ekiru, who was displaced by drought from Gold Village in Turkana North District owned 250 heads of cattle but drought forced him to shift with his animals to Kotido District, Eastern Ugandan in search of water and pasture. “My entire herd was driven away by armed Karamojang warriors who ambushed my three sons after we crossed the border in search of water,” he explains. His neighbour who had also gone with another herd surprisingly succeeded in coming back safely with only ten heads of skinny cattle out of 70. Ekiru claims the animals were lost as they trekked between Oropoi water point and Katiamboi grazing fields, about 105 km from Gold Village. On arrival at the Katiamboi water pan the animals succumbed to death
Embu residents clean up town By KARIUKI MWANGI Embu residents in collaboration with Tenri, a charitable organisation in the area recently took part in a clean-up exercise of the area as part of giving back to the community. Tenri country director Yoshio Shionjiri said that the exercise of cleaning the town was being held in the town for the tenth consecutive year since the start of the charitable organisation in Embu saying that its main aim is to ensure the public live in a clean environment. According to Shionjiri, the initiative is part of educating members of the public on the importance of keeping the environment clean which he said ensures a society free from diseases. Shionjiri said that there is the
need for all the members of the public to join hands in ensuring an environment that is clean so as to prevent diseases. “It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we keep our lovely environment clean,” he said. Shionjiri also pointed out that pointing fingers at one another on environmental conservation will not solve the environmental crisis that we are facing saying that everyone should play his or her part in conserving it. He said that currently the country has only two per cent forest cover down to the recommended United Nations percentage of 15 per cent forest cover adding that all should unite in planting trees. During the exercise over two thousands tree seedlings were planted in the town.
Janet Ekidor tends her vegetables at her farm in Ille Spring in Turkana Central district. Below: A Turkana herder with his wife admire sorghum on their farm in Lokori. Pictures: Joy Monday after taking excess water due to dehydration. “The longest a cow can go without water is four days and any other additional day in the dry spell without abundant green grass means death,” observes Ekiru who is currently hawking water to eke a living. Due to the vicious cycle of drought in north-western Kenya, food security remains a challenge for the pastoralist community whose livelihood depends largely on livestock. Over the years, pastoralists have been reduced to relief dependency while others have turned to subsistence irrigation farming along the Turkwel and Kerio rivers. “Climate change is slowly forcing them to abandon their traditional economic mainstay of pastoralism to the much abhorred economic activity of crop farming which most regard as an activity of the less fortunate,” explains Richard Onyango, area District Agricultural Officer. Residents of the large Turkana District can easily diversify their
economic activity and venture into crop farming along the banks of rivers Turkwel and Kerio.
The residents, formerly with no reliable source of water can smile, thanks to government initiatives through Arid Lands and Drought Management for their innovation in maximising the underground water resource to bring hope to the distraught herders. “They have come up with the latest technology to harness underground water from boreholes and shallow water wells channelling it to a greenhouse through drip irrigation. The greenhouse drip undertaken in Turkana is expected to transform the underutilised plains into food producing baskets,” observes Onyango. Moses Kiptugen, World Vision Kenya manager Lokori says on realising the state of food insecurity in the region, the organisation em-
barked on introducing new methods of diversifying its activities to reach many farmers. “Currently we have 5,000 farmers growing maize and sorghum in 2,500 acres under irrigation farming and produce 14 bags of maize from an acre. Farmers plant sorghum thrice a year,” explains Kiptugen.
Seed farmers frustrated By JOY MONDAY Poor prices, theft and bad infrastructure are frustrating maize seed growers in Trans-Nzoia County as the country reels from seed crisis blamed on drought. Consequently, the Government has banned export of maize seeds following shortage of the commodity in the country. Seed growers have demanded that Kenya Seed Company increase the price to cushion them from high costs of production. The growers contracted by Kenya Seed Company said the KSh52 offered per kilogramme is unfavourable owing to production costs. Latipa Babuh, a farmer said there was rampant theft of the crop from farms. She urged the Government to deploy security patrols to stop the menace. Babuh told the assistant minister Gideon Ndambuki who visited her 700-acre farm
on seed production that they are losing their crop to thieves and appealed for help.
“Bwana minister we have invested millions of shillings on seed growing but we are worried about incurring heavy losses unless the theft is contained,” Babuh lamented. Another farmer Johnston Kituyi cited bad roads in the area as a major challenge to farmers. “The roads are impassable and we find it difficult to deliver our seeds to Kenya Seed Company on time especially during the wet season,” explained Kituyi of Rengecha farm. He added: “Sometimes crops rot on the farms subjecting us to huge losses.” The farmers want the seed Company to buy the seed at KSh60 per kilogramme arguing that they spend a lot to produce the seeds.
They asked the minister to ban roasting of maize in the area to curb the menace arguing it has fuelled stealing of the crop. Ndambuki who was accompanied by Kenya Seed Company Managing Director Willy Bett and the deputy Alfred Taabu Busolo said the Government will not allow export of seeds until the local demands are tackled. “There is no seed for export until our farmers are adequately served. We don’t want a repeat of this year’s scenario where farmers missed the seed,” Ndambuki directed. Bett said they have contracted 150 farmers in the area to grow maize seed to enable the firm produce enough for the country’s requirement. He said the company has put 143,000 acres of land on maize seed production and assured farmers of enough seed next year.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Peace and unity agenda restores hopes in Mt Elgon By ABISAI AMUGUNE When Kenyans were at the centre of peace negotiations over the 2007 post-election violence (PEV), Mt Elgon District had already been ravaged with fire for nearly two years. What started as a small dispute over land ownership and poor political representation melted into a bonfire among different clans of the Sabaot community. If one was not being butchered in the broad daylight, then they would be in a local traditional court facing war-like crimes. One such victim who will want to erase memories of the conflict fast is James Mayiek, a former civic leader who was allegedly tortured at the hands of security agents deployed to calm the war. During the skirmishes in Mt Elgon, the residents could no longer plough their farms. They could no longer enter forests for hunting and gathering firewood. There was suspicion among couples intending to marry. The situation was just intolerable.
This was not enough. The Free Pentecostal Fellowship in Kenya (FPFK), being coordinated in Kitale mooted a programme for intervention through the spiritual and faith-based approaches. The Peace and Rights Programme (PRP) opened dialogue for the six clans of the Sabaot community living both in Mt Elgon and TransNzoia regions. The clans include NdoroboOgiek, Koony, Sabiny, Bang’omek, Bokeek and Someek. Also involved in the four-day peace talks held at Mabanga Agricultural College in Bungoma was a former Ugandan MP Peter Kamuren and a retired Kenyan army officer Major
General John Seii who are renowned peace negotiators and moderators. The Sabiny clan has family roots spread in Uganda, and this therefore necessitated the need to integrate them. According to PRP programme coordinator Festus Mukoya, the initiative was determined to involve representatives of the six Sabaot dialects to declare an end to hostilities and embark on development. The initiative that kicked off at Kopsiro involved Sabaot elders, professionals, politicians and youths and women representatives. It aims at addressing issues that sparked off the twoyear conflict.
From the two conferences at Mabanga and Kopsiro, it emerged that discrimination, intolerance, injustices and abuse of public offices were among the major factors that sparked off the violence that claimed over 1,000 lives and left scores of others injured and displaced. It was also discovered that boundary disputes, neglect of the Sabaot cultural values, illegal poaching and destruction of forests had put youths from the various clans at loggerheads. Dorothy Chebet from Trans-Nzoia said cultural morals among the youth had eroded to the extent of couples marrying from one clan and dowry being ignored. “It is imperative that our cultural by-laws be amended to allow for certain practices to be observed while the negative ones get discarded,” observed Chebet. According to Francis Chemwor, chairman of the Someek clan, his group had fairly been blamed for producing majority of the Sabaot Land Defence Forces (SLDF) members who wrecked havoc on the residents. In a single incident at Tuikut village, 714
Mt. Elgon residents who turned up in style for the peace talks held in Bungoma. Picture: Reject Correspondent people were killed by raiders suspected to have links with SLDF. Michael Kittiyo, spokesman for the Sabiny people said the conflict which was meted on vulnerable women and children had adversely affected delivery of public services like education, health, water and sanitation. Reuben Butaki of the Koonyi clan noted that the root cause of the war had been identified as erosion of culture and poor leadership and governance.
However, Francis Sangula representing the Ndorobo-Ogiek group was candid. He said: “Recognising the low levels of education and poverty among our Sabaot youths made them vulnerable to manipulation by selfish elements.” Participants narrated how brothers killed their cousins and fathers took on their children and mothers. Rev. Sikowo Chongin asked for forgiveness among the warring clans, families and individuals. Chairman of the Mt. Elgon County Council, Ruphas Siyoi lamented that 153 families from the Ndorobo clan were left out of the settlement exercise at Chebyuk at the expense of the Someek people. Mukoya led the over 230 participants in
directing the formation of a taskforce backed by Sabaot professionals to implement the resolution of forgiving one another for the past wrongs without conditions being laid out.
It was resolved that the elders council document the Sabaot culture and heritage, an environmental management plan for Mt. Elgon be put in place and that the Chepkitale Trust Land be fully reverted to Ndorobo-Ogiek community as per the UN resolution 45/164 of 1993. The participants passed that the Sabaot appointed or elected to public offices be leaders of integrity and that as marginalised community they be compensated for their farms from which they were evicted by British colonialists and other influential people. For the proliferation of illegal firearms, the Mabanga forum called for education on community policing and that the government should disband all militia groups as well as grant amnesty to all those surrendering firearms in illegal possession. Attempts to abolish the name of Sabaot as a community was resisted by majority of the participants who argued that it was a unifying umbrella of its people across East and Central Africa.
Case of evictions beyond Mau By ABISAI AMUGUNE On a visit to Trans Nzoia County after the 20072008 post election violence, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Head of Civil service Ambassador Francis Muthaura came face to face with the reality of what internally displaced persons are going through. They stumbled upon a body that could not be buried for lack of space. The shock only left the duo to order that the body be interred within the neighbouring forests. What the two senior government officials came across started 24 years ago when Moses Ndiema was evicted from the Kiboroa Forests on the slopes of Mt Elgon by the Government which sought to protect indigenous trees from destruction. Thirteen years earlier, Ndiema’s cousin Peter Ngeiywa also faced similar action when together with his family, they were evicted from Kiptogot Forest adjacent to Kiboroa forest land. And in 2007, Kisiero’s relatives who have been “co-existing” with plant species within Teldet forests in the larger Trans-Nzoia County from time immemorial were shown the “door” in the continued campaign by the government to curb illegal logging. The Teldet evictions brought to the realisation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Trans-Nzoia County who have been staying in camps or market centres while others have sought shelter with their relatives. While the government gave much hype to
IDPs evicted from Mau Forests within the Rift Valley Province, little did it realise it would spark fierce reactions from Trans-Nzoia when it sought to resettle victims of post election violence. According to the Kenya Red Cross Report of 2010, camps that are still in existence include Kiboroa, Teldet, Patwak, Kalaha, Sosio and Rest House. Saboti and Endebess subdistrict hospitals, situated over 10 kilometres away are the only health institutions providing medical care. Patrick Kisiero, chairman of Kiboroa Squatters Self-Help Group says several people had succumbed to death due to lack of immediate medical health care services. Head teacher of Teldet Primary School Geoffrey Kirui says his school which accommodates most of the pupils from the camps was experiencing high drop-out cases as a result child-labour. While Kirui concedes the ratio of pupil to teacher was 6:1, Kiboroa councillor Gilbert Kittiyo calls on the Ministry of Education to intervene and address teacher retention as most of
them are seeking for transfers. The Government through the Forestry and wildlife minister Dr Noah Wekesa is adamant that the evictees entered the forest land when it had already been gazetted as public property. His sentiments are echoed by those of TransNzoia District Forest Officer (DFO) Simon Wahome who says some of the evictees had been conned out their money and settled on government land. However, according to a report dated October 7, 2009, prepared by S.K. Mburugu, an official at the Ministry of Lands, the Government was currently vetting the landless to authenticate genuine cases. Independent investigations, however, indicate that there are three groups of the victims who include genuine squatters numbering 731, former workers of the British colonialists who are 381 as well as those whose identity could not be immediately established and are more than 4,000. Those ordered out of Kiboroa Forest alone stand at 1,062 following instructions from the
The Trans-Nzoia issue is so complex that when the Government finally identified Kitalale Settlement Scheme and the former Hillbrook farm to settle the squatters, the allocations were diverted to intruders, outsiders and politicians.
then Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner Yusuf Haji, currently the Minister for defence. Chairman of Kokwo Cooperative Society Captain (Rtd) Francis Koti has documents indicating deposits made to the Government Treasury intended for purchase of public land in Tran-Nzoia. “Members of the society continued to stay in camps and open-air markets while the Government prodded us on collection,” says Koti. The Trans-Nzoia issue is so complex that when the Government finally identified Kitalale Settlement Scheme and the former Hillbrook farm to settle the squatters, the allocations were diverted to intruders, outsiders and politicians. Which is why the Teldet, Patwak, Kiboroa, Kalaha, Sosio and Rest House cry that their continued stay in the cold for over 10 years is enough reason for the government to consider them for permanent resettlement. “It is shameful for the Kenya Red Cross and other relief agencies to concentrate their energies on the squatters when they can produce food for themselves once settled,” Kisiero says. His sentiments are echoed by Councillor Pius Mzee arap Kauka who concurs that it has become difficult and a taboo for the Sabaot community to share accommodation in the worn-out camps. While the situation has forced many school going girls to resort to prostitution and early marriages, the number of single mothers, widows and orphans had continue to rise because of poverty in the camps.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Woman helps residents ensure food security By EUTYCAS MUCHIRI As others spend their weekends and vacations resting or attending to domestic chores at home, the situation is different with a 40-year-old woman from Mukurwe-ini District, Nyeri County. Lucy Njeri from Thiha Sub-location uses her time to boost food security in her home area, travelling from Othaya where she works as a District Crops Officer to Mukurwe-ini to offer technical advice to residents free of charge. Njeri started the voluntary work in 2009 through churches, advising them to form a group to enable her assist them easily. She first approached Redeemed Gospel, Gospel Outreach and End Time Message churches among others who formed a group that they named The Redeemed Agricultural Entrepreneurs (TRAE) Self Help Group. She trained them on how to propagate yam seedlings using a method known as minisett technology and the multiplying of sweet potato vines population. The group sells the prepared planting materials to locals. Njeri not only teaches the group members but also individuals willing to undertake the projects. This knowledge was taught to her by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Embu during a training of trainers workshop.
Farmers want government to protect their harvests By ERIC MUTAI
“We were trained on how to propagate yams through the Minisett Technique as well as propagating and adding value to orange fleshed sweet potatoes which are rich in vitamin A,” explains Njeri. The group has managed to propagate and sell over 100,000 sweat potato vines to locals and thousands of yams seedlings at reduced prices in less than two years. It aims to raise 10,000 yam seedlings through Minisett Technique within one year. The group owns a variety of sweet potato vines which include Nars pot, Tainung, SPK 004, Bungoma and Kembu 10 all of which take about three to four months to mature. A single variety can yield a harvest of about 80-90 bags per acre. A vine goes for two shillings. They have earned over KSh200,000 through sale of seedlings. “My objective is to see farmers make flour out of yams and sweat potato tubers which can be stored for a long time than the fresh harvested roots. The flour can cushion them from hunger during dry spells, while the surplus can be packed and sold in supermarkets,” she explains. Njeri argues that campaigning for the revival of root crops is the only sure way to fight hunger in Nyeri County. To propagate yams through the technique, one needs a mature flesh yam unlike the traditional way where bones are used. Yams propagated traditionally take about two years to break dormancy and germinate, while those grown using the technique take two months.
Members of the Trae self help group work in one of their sweet potato farms. Below: Lucy Njeri inspects some tomato plants in Margaret Muthoni’s green house in Mukurwe-ini. Pictures: Eutycas Muchiri five years during which she will have earned about KSh800,000. The improvised green house cost her KSh65,000, which is about half the cost of the recommended green house. This is done by using tree posts and rafters to substitute metal ones. It also uses strings which are cheaper compared to wires. Elizabeth Wanjiku, is also expecting to start harvesting soon. She uses bucket irrigation to water plants because currently she cannot afford to install drip irrigation. However, she is confident that they will be in a position to use it in future after selling their produce.
The fleshed yam is kept in a dark place for a month to break dormancy after which it is sliced and dissected into small sizes of about two inches. The pieces are then planted in a nursery. According to Njeri, this method is not expensive and multiplies the yam population very fast. A nursery of about one square metre can hold about 100 minisetts. A medium size yam of about a kilo is capable of producing 30 to 40 minisetts. An acre of yam, therefore, can produce seedlings for tens of acres. While in the traditional method only one to two bones per plant can be attained. The new method is, therefore, ideal for farmers who would like to commercialise yam farming as bones can not be relied on. “Bones are scarce and take long to grow to maturity. This is a problem because young farmers are not patient. Both yams and sweat potatoes are drought resistant and are not susceptible to diseases and pests that attack other types of food crops,” observes Njeri. If taken care of properly, a single yam plant can produce 40 kilogrammes of yield. A kilogramme sells at KSh100 which translates to about KSh4,000 in returns per plant. A yam
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
takes about one and a half year to mature. After the success of the two root crops, Njeri has now introduced the use of simple green house farming. About five farmers already own green houses with about 500 stems of tomato plants according to Simon Gikunju, chairman Trae Self Help Group. Some of the tomatoes have matured and are now generating income for farmers while others are about to mature. One of the famers. Margaret Muthoni, 50, is optimistic that she will make 10 kilos per plant, which will add up to over KSh100,000 worth of harvest. “I am optimistic that by the end of the season, I will earn a good sum of money that is not less than KSh100,000. The tomatoes are already carrying healthy fruits and are still flowering,” explains Muthoni. She expects the green house to last for about
Njeri advises other farmers not to shy off if they have trees in their farm for posts and rafters and can afford an ultra treated polythene paper. She is ready to offer technical assistance to any willing farmer. “If farmers have trees for production of posts and rafters and can manage to buy quality ultra treated polythene paper, they should not shy off from constructing green houses,” explains Njeri. She observes: “However they should be wary of second hand polythene sheets being sold by cons as these can frustrate them. They cannot survive the five years as expected.” Central Provincial Director of Agriculture Joseph Gachingiri is among senior agricultural officials who praised the work done by Trae self help group. “They are playing a pivotal role in the fight against hunger in the County,” observed Gachingiri. Last year, he catered for transport for two of the group’s members from Mukurwe-ini to Kabiru-ini show grounds in Nyeri where they showcased their farming techniques.
Farmers in Eastern Province want the Government to establish food storage facilities to help in the fight against hunger. The farmers who spoke to the Reject said lack of facilities has led to post harvest losses to weevils and aflatoxin. “We were lucky to receive rains in the area and although the yields are not promising, I have to sell my grains at cheap prices to traders to enable me purchase other commodities,” explained Martin Njagi. He said lack of storage facilities and increased cost of living is pushing peasants to poverty adding that farmers may not be able to afford the foodstuff later. Embu West District Commissioner Maalim Mohamed discouraged farmers from selling their meagre harvests saying that a lot of cereal buyers will be invading the area for the maize and beans. The farmers are harvesting their beans as the Embu and Meru regions received rains and are now harvesting as drought ravages the lower and upper parts of the province. Sara Marigu called on the Government to monitor its agricultural programmes to conclusion saying that most of them are left halfway done. “When the Ministry of Agriculture brought the farmers inputs, there was a bumper harvest but the Government did not see to it that the harvested grains were properly stored,” Marigu said adding that most of the grains were lost to weevils.
Marigu said religious organisations, the provincial administration and all other ministries related to food production should be involved for a long term solution to food shortages. Last season most parts of the province experienced low rains which resulted in only about 1.7 bags of maize being harvested as opposed to the projected 2.9 million bags. Agriculture officials have warned that if the poor weather condition prevails, then a much more reduced crop yield will be experienced in the coming season. They called for proper plans on water harvesting for irrigation purposes as a long term measure noting that the Government must learn to deal with climate change. The Government recently promised to provide farmers in the province with mobile drying services for their grains during the harvesting season through the National Cereals and Produce Board. Last season, maize in 29 districts within the province was said to be infected with aflatoxin but due to lack of rapid testing kits, the farmers consumed their maize untested. At the same time fish farmers are calling on the government to set up cold storage facilities to cushion them against losses. The farmers who started rearing fish last year under the Economic Stimulus Programme are harvesting their stocks but lack of a strong market is leading to losses due to their perishable nature. “Fish farming is a new area and has cushioned farmers against losses especially with the current erratic rains. They now need a cold storage facility to encourage large scale fish farming,” said a fisheries officer who did not want to be named because he is not allowed to speak to the media on behalf of the ministry.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Uncontrolled logging threatens forest By JANE MUGAMBI A ten-acre forest in Kirinyaga East District of Central Kenya is in danger following increased logging amid conflicting claims by two government agencies over licensing of loggers. The Kamweti Forest is also used by more than 6,000 wild animals which migrate from Shimba Hills during drought. The forest mostly has exotic trees which were planted during the colonial times but also a significant presence of indigenous vegetation. There has been a heightened logging activity which has depleted sections of the forest sparking fears that it may be no more unless the uncontrolled logging is checked. Two government agencies, Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), which is in
charge of the wild animals and the Forestry Department have been trading accusations over the legality of the logging activities.
Recently, KWS personnel arrested five loggers who were found operating in the forest at night and impounded two trucks and six power saws believed to have been used in cutting down the trees were also impounded during the raid. Mt Kenya Region Senior Warder Robert O’Brien says members of the public have been helpful in alerting government officers about activities of illegal loggers. “KWS is worried that uncontrolled logging will affect the migration patterns and life of the animals
including elephants that inhabit the forest or periodically migrate from other areas to take shelter and grace during dry seasons,” observed O’Brien. He said there was suspicion of possible collusion between the loggers and some forestry department officers, a claim that was denied by the area forestry officer Francis Misonge. “Timber millers operating in the forest are licensed and have paid the Government KSh8.83 million,” said Misonge. Local leaders and residents have expressed concerns over the rate at which the forest was being depleted. They called on the Government to take steps to conserve the forests.
A KWS guard at the Kamweti forest in Kirinyaga. Picture: Caroline Wangechi
Monkeys giving farmers nightmare By OMONDI GWENGI William Owino is a disappointed man. He is desperately trying to come to terms with what he has to endure. Almost all the food crops that he has been tending to the last three months on his farm have been destroyed by monkeys. The animals have made his life and that of other residents who depend on farming unbearable. As their fishing fortunes tumbled, the fishermen resorted to farming. However, as things stand today, they will soon become beggars and dependants of relief supplies. Owino, a farmer in Usigu Division, Bondo District says the monkeys are a thorn in the flesh. The havoc they are wreaking, the residents say, is worse than that being inflicted by the hippos. Agnes Atieno Otip is one of the many farmers bearing the brunt of persistent human-wildlife conflict in the area. She says monkeys have become a nuisance in the area as they raid farms as well as homes. “We have no peace on our farms and homes.
We cannot plant tomatoes because of the fear that they will be destroyed by monkeys and hippos,” explains Otip. However, she blames the people concerned — KWS/Government — for dragging their feet in handling the wildlife menace in the area. “We have complained but we are being told that we’ll be arrested if we attempt to kill them,” she observes. This now leaves her and other farmers pondering on how their lives will be.
As a way of overcoming this problem, farmers in the area are now using their dogs to scare away the monkeys, but this is still not enough. “We can only keep them off by keeping our dogs in the farms which they sometimes overlook and continue with the destruction,” says Owino. Even as they tie the dogs, they must also be there. He adds: “It is very cumbersome because we have other duties to perform rather than spending all day in the farm.” Samuel Abiero now uses a sling to scare the
monkeys away. “Since I do not have a dog, I use a sling to scare them away. They will run away but will come back after one has left the farm,” says Abiero. Over the years, residents have suffered huge loses occasioned by herds of marauding hippos and monkeys that invade their farms and destroy crops, besides threatening their lives. “We have suffered a big blow because of the destruction caused by wildlife. We have also tried to address these issues in the chief ’s baraza but no action has been taken,” observes Owino. Some residents, especially women and children are now living in fear given the fact that the monkeys terrorise them. “We cannot go to the lake in peace because we fear the monkeys may attack us,” says Owino. Residents say that the escalating wildlife invasion and massive crop destruction is largely to blame for the rising level of famine and poverty in the area. “We cannot get food because of the kind of crop destruction caused by the wildlife,” notes Otip.
Hague chord strikes on Mt Kenya By ELIUD WAITHAKA As six prominent Kenyans appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the post election violence others may find themselves in the same court 20 years from now facing charges of environmental destruction. A mural erected in Karatina town on the slopes of Mt Kenya by United Nation’s COMPACT, shows the ICC prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo with some suspects in court, charged with environmental destruction. And with the Ocampo Six at The Hague’s trial proceedings in September, the community in Mt Kenya has taken the symbolism of The Hague criminal case to caution destroyers of forests and natural resources on the potential danger of being arraigned in court. This has been done by painting a full wall mural in the town next to Ibis and Star Buck hotels. The painting raises public awareness of environmental con-
servation. The mountain is one of the tourist sites in the country that generates millions of shillings in the tourism industry. The reason for this is because Mt Kenya Forest has been declared a World Heritage Site and anyone with the audacity to abuse its environs will be in trouble. So serious is the fate of culprits that only an analogy of the Hague trials can closely depict judgement day. COMPACT coordinator Fred Kihara says the mural is meant to be an eye opener on greater things to come in the future, though it does not necessarily mean destroyers will be taken to The Hague. “This does not mean that people who destroy environment will be arraigned at the International Criminal Court but it is a precautionary measure,” explains Kihara. People living around the mountain engage in charcoal burning and firewood fetching
A mural of Louis Moreno Ocampo at ‘The Hague” with suspects who are alleged to have destroyed environment. The mural is in Karatina town at the slopes of Mt Kenya. Picture: Eliud Waithaka activities that occasion destruction of the environment. Pastoralists from as far as Samburu and Laikipia also con-
tribute to this vice by driving their animals into the mountain during drought as they search for pasture and water.
Dangerous bridge to be reconstructed By CAROLINE WANGECHI A bridge that has been posing a risk to residents of Kirinyaga is set for rehabilitation. The bridge is so dangerous that recently two women who were from Karira Mission Hospital drowned when they were unable to give way to a passing vehicle in a situation that left them falling into River Thiba. The Government has set aside KSh17 million to reconstruct the Karira Bridge in Kirinyaga south District. The bridge falls under the rural roads board that is under Kirinyaga rural roads Engineer Edward Mburu who said that the bridge needs to be reconstructed to enable residents access services easily. “The narrowed bridge only gives way to one vehicle adding that heavy commercial vehicles cannot use the bridge since it has a crack,” Mburu said. He added: “The emergency kitty has allocated KSh17 million for the bridge to avert more deaths and make it easy accessible for services.” He said that there are three schools and a hospital which people have to access using the bridge and if it is not constructed immediately, children will not be able to go to school and patients will not receive medical services. Mburu reiterated: “There is no other way to the facilities and the Roads Ministry has to act very fast.” Area MP Peter Gitau said that the road was constructed in 1964 and since then it has never been repaired or reconstructed. He observed that the guard rails that were on the bridge have all been stolen and sold making it very risky for users, who are mainly pedestrians. He urged the Rural Roads Board to reconstruct the bridge fast for effective service delivery citing that it might collapse anytime due to the number of vehicles using it. “The bridge serves three villages where farmers use it to get their rice from the fields,” explained Gitau. Mburu said reconstruction of the bridge is expected to start as soon as possible but will only be done once the rains have subsided. He observed that farmers and vehicles will have to find an alternative route as the crack on the bridge was widening very fast.
Medical camp benefits villagers
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Traditional lifestyles change as lake recedes By OMONDI GWENGI Once a staple food for the people living along the shores of Lake Victoria, fish has become a commodity that only a select few can afford. Today, the waters have receded and the fish stock has been depleted. The shores are dry and have been replaced by sand, naked stones and stunted shrubs. Mama Maria Nyandhala, 80, nostalgically remembers the good old days when there was plenty of food and few diseases. With the depletion of the lake, food shortage and hunger have become common in a community that was once well fed. “When I got married here, there were lots fish species but today we are not able to get even fish to eat unless you have money,” says Nyandhala. However, in a recent workshop held in Kisumu on investment and business opportunities under Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA), Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) Regional Manager Joseph Ocholla said that the region has raw materials which the residents must put into use.
“The lake is becoming polluted and can no longer support fish exports. The only safe source of uncontaminated fish is the pond,” explains Ocholla. A recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme listed Lake Victoria as being among African water bodies whose water level is falling due to environmental degradation and climatic changes. It noted that the loss of trees and wetlands, which form the
Lake Victoria water catchment was partly to blame for the receding shoreline. “Over 75 per cent of the wetlands have been significantly affected by human activities and 13 per cent are severely degraded,” UNEP noted. Water levels, it added, had started dropping considerably in 2002. Traditional lifestyles of lakeshore communities have been disrupted and are crumbling. Among the more than 30 million people One of the fishponds constructed in Usenge sub location-Bondo. Many people are now resorting to fish ponds as the fish ban has affected business at the lake. Pictures: Omondi Gwengi whose fate is tied on the lake are the once well-fed locals of Usenge Sub-location, Bondo District who have turned to agriculture and aquaculture to balance the situation. Jared Owuor, 25, who once eked a living from the lake, says that a few years ago, they could make an average of between KSh1, 000 to KSh2, 000 per night but today, one hardly gets KSh50.
“When I got married here, there were lots fish species but today we are not able to get even fish to eat unless you have money.” — Mama Maria Nyandhala.
“Fishing has been left to the rich. We cannot afford the fishing gears that are being used today,” Owuor notes. He says most of the boats that operate on the beaches belong to some senior officials and it is hard to compete with them. “When fishing is banned, they (officials) continue operating because they have money and can buy their freedom. For the poor man, you suffer because you cannot afford to pay the fine imposed,” Owuor observes.
Militia drive fishermen out of business By JOY MONDAY For Hesbon Ekiru, life will never be the same again. Four years ago, the father of five was a promising fisherman in Lake Turkana. However, the situation has changed and today Ekiru is out of business. In 2009, like any normal day, Ekiru left his Todonyang village for his daily engagements. Carrying his fishing gear, Ekiru jumped into a waiting motorboat and headed to the fishing ground, nearly 10 kilometres away. While in the waters, Ekiru noticed another boat coming towards them. Soon the people in the second boat started shooting and in less than 20 minutes the fierce gun fire was over. The enemies had overpowered Ekiru’s group and escaped with three weapons and all the fishing equipment. “I am lucky to have survived the attack but my AK-47 rifle and fishing gear all went,” recalls Ekiru of the vicious attack from Merille tribesmen from Omorete area in Jinka district, South Ethiopian Zone.
Left with nothing, Ekiru was forced to abandon fishing to take refuge in the safe area of Lwarengak, 14 kilometres from Todonyang. Since then life has become cruel for Ekiru’s family as putting food on the table has become a nightmare. “I used to earn good income from fishing. Putting food on the table was not a problem. I was able to send my two children to a high school in Lodwar,” he says. Sharing the same tribulation is Agnes Ekidor, a single mother of two who abandoned her fish business last year. “I made a living as a fish monger, but life has not been good since I abandoned the business,” explains Ekidor. She
missed death by a whisker when Merille warriors descended on Todonyang Village and killed ten people last year. The once bountiful lake in Kenya’s parched north-west has turned into a nightmare for local fishermen, forced into deeper waters and hostile zones in search of fish migrating from receding southern shores. Weapons, mainly AK-47 assault rifles, have been added to their usual gear alongside the poles and nets. Lake Turkana, the northern most part of Kenya’s Rift Valley lakes and fed mainly by an Ethiopian source, is also victim of a drought that is ravaging East Africa. Ngirokol Luchakula, a teenage fisherman, nurses a bullet wound on his right arm after surviving an attack by armed Ethiopian fishermen.
They killed six of his colleagues at a recent expedition to the lake’s north in search of food. “We were in the lake for three days but we had not caught any fish at all. At about 4am, we were woken up by gunshots,” recalls Luchakula, whose bandaged arm is suspended in a sling. Competition by local communities for resources of Turkana, which spans about 250 kilometres long and 50 kilometres wide has grown fiercer in recent months thanks to the drought that is threatening the lives of 11 million people. These are figures that have been given by the United Nations. Turkana’s tributaries from Kenya have dried up and fish mainly tilapia and Nile perch have ventured into deeper waters up north in search of food. However, even there, life has not been any easier. River Omo from Ethiopia, the main tributary feeding Lake Turkana has been diverted
to irrigate farms of people desperately in need of water in southern Ethiopia. In their bid to follow the catch, ill-equipped Kenyan fishermen who used to ply shallower waters are facing a double danger and are often confronted by armed Merille tribesmen trying to protect their own source of food.
“These days, fishermen have to go far and deep inside the lake to find fish but they have no deep fishing equipment,” explains John Munyes, a Member of Parliament from Turkana who is also Kenya’s Labour Minister. He adds: “The Turkana fishermen must also be well armed should they come across the Merille.” With fish supplies dwindling even in the northern lakes zone, competition for food has led to deadly skirmishes. “One has to stay for at least two to three weeks in the lake instead of three to five days as it was before the drought,” says Richard Emanikor, a fisherman. Although the situation in and around Lake Turkana is currently not as alarming as that in North Eastern Kenya, it could worsen. “When people choose to go far inside the lake, they have to go with the security forces,” observes Emanikor. Unfortunately security officials are usually not available to provide escort. The Kenyan fishermen now want the Government to beef up security along the fishing grounds to protect them from incursions. Area district commissioner Jack Obuo confirmed that peace at the border has become elusive and several fishermen have pulled out of the business. “We are trying to talk with our counterparts in Jinka to restrain the warriors from attacking the Turkana but revenge is another problem in achieving peace,” explained Obuo.
The government has put in place an annual three-month ban on omena fishing. However, it emerged that the practice has opened up a fertile platform for corruption to thrive. In a bid to defeat the law, fishermen go fishing illegally and collect money which is given to a beach leader who then forwards it to the fisheries scouts to buy their freedom. The money, therefore, ends in the pockets of senior officers from the Fisheries Department as protection fee. However, with the extinction of other fish species, omena, one of the few remaining species has also become an expensive commodity. Omena traders are frustrated and other fish species like mbuta (Nile perch) and ngege (tilapia) are now a rich man’s business. They are exported to Europe and Asia. The Government and other environment conservation organisations around the Lake must not only find a lasting solution but also look into the welfare of small fishermen.
Medical camp benefits villagers By BONIFACE MULU About 3,000 patients yesterday benefited from a free medical camp organised at the Kauwi Primary School in Kitui West District within the Kitui County by the Lions Club of Chania Falls Thika. A team of 25 medical staff from the charitable organisation, led by Dr.B.D.Vasisht, participated in the colourful event. Dr. Vasisht is the Governor of the Lions Clubs International District 411A that covers Kenya, Ethiopia and the Seychelles. Former cabinet minister Francis Mwanzia Nyenze was their host. They were assisted by a team of 20 medics from the Kitui District Hospital. They treated general ailments including malaria, hypertension, diabetes, stomach complications, nose problems, ear and eye diseases. They provided eye-glasses and wheelchairs to the needy. Addressing the patients after the ten hours exercise, Dr. Vasisht disclosed that the exercise did cost some 2.5 million shillings. The doctor said that they will continue serving the needy people through their organisation. “We are a charitable club assisting the needy people,” the philanthropist said. He said that every year they do more than 30 free medical camps in Kenya. Vasisht’s team thanked Nyenze for organizing the event and the patients for turning out in large numbers for the exercise. “I had requested them (the lions) to come do a free medical camp here for the area people who are poor. Their gesture is the service to humanity,” said Nyenze, who is the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) and also the National Irrigation Board (NIB) director.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Indian Ocean coastline main conduit for drug traffickers
Anti-Narcotics poorly equipped By KIGONDU NDAVANO Anti-Narcotics Department, the section mandated with the task to fight drug abuse and trafficking in the country lacks the capacity to deal with the menace. According to the police spokesman Eric Kiraithe: “The Anti-Narcotics Police Department is ill equipped to fight the drug menace in the country and the war against trafficking and abuse of narcotics will actually not succeed unless the Government commits itself fully to facilitate its officers with the necessary resources,” said Kiraithe in Malindi. He noted that cases of blame from the public were also on the rise and this discouraged hard working officers in the Anti-Narcotics Department. “Officers need to be encouraged when they do good work and also be motivated with rewards, especially the brave ones who manage to seize large hauls of drugs,” observed Kiraithe. In an interview with the Reject in Malindi, the police spokesman admitted that the anti-narcotic officers were presently vulnerable to corruption as their capacity to conduct thorough investigations devoid of compromise was limited. “Police officers lack resources for easy and fast mobility to confront the main traffickers who are mainly influential tycoons with a lot of resources,” noted Kiraithe.
By MNYAZI JOE Intelligence information within the police force indicates that the drug syndicate is rampant within the Indian Ocean which is being used by traffickers to bring in supplies into the country. When Police spokesman Erick Kiraithe visited Malindi recently he indicated that he was not happy with the rate at which drug trafficking was taking place within the entire Indian Ocean coastline. “Drugs pass through here (pointing at the Indian Ocean) when people are asleep,” he said. Even as Kiraithe spoke, the police recently impounded cocaine worth over KSh200 million in Mombasa. He said the trend was a cause of concern within the police force but expressed optimism that security agents were coming up with a strategy to net down traffickers of the illegal trade. “In Malindi and Watamu, the traffickers usually dock in the deep sea with large consignments of drugs. They use small but powerful boats through their middlemen to be brought on shore at night,” explained Kiraithe. The boats which are fitted with powerful communication gadgets and engine capable of going deep into the sea where they carry the drugs ashore.
When darkness falls very few vessels can be seen from a distance, and these are normally thought to be fishermen. However according to the police spokesman, the traffickers allegedly operate from the deep seas using small vessels operated by middle men to disperse the haul without being noticed by security agents. “Large vessels belonging to tycoons and major traffickers usually dock near Watamu or Malindi to bring in drugs using small canoes. Some local fishermen are used as middle men to do deliveries at a fee,” explained Kiraithe. “The war against drug is not easy because it involves tycoons who have money and operate in a luxurious lifestyle as opposed to the harsh conditions the officers undergo while investigating these cases,” observed Kiraithe. The officers operate in old vehicles and are not well facilitated to be at par with the drug traffickers which make them vulnerable to corruption as their capacity to conduct investigations without being compromised is limited. Officers assigned to conduct investigations lack resources for mobility while the main traffickers are tycoons who take advantage of their wealth to silence anyone attempting to block them from accomplishing their mission. ‘‘Those assigned to investigate drug traffickers vehicles and proper funding to be able to be
The Indian Ocean coast line. The ocean is used by traffickers to bring in drug supplies. Four of the 12 Malindi addicts who benefitted from a six day detox programme sponsored by the government at the Coast General Hospital after volunteering through the Malindi Maaruf Community Organisation being counseled by an expert, Twahil Abdulkarim (right) at Sheikh Nassor Mosque. Abdulkarim is also the vice chairman of the organisation. Pictures: Reject Correspondent and Kigondu Ndavano at par with the activities of the traffickers,” reiterated Kiraithe adding that investigating drug trafficking is not easy because one must have the resources to mingle with those involved and frequent the areas where they meet without raising any suspicion or running short of money. Kiraithe noted that any officer who joins the Anti-Narcotics Department gets absorbed into the lifestyle due to the ‘easy money’ from the traffickers. He noted that the trend is not only in Kenya but the same almost all over the world.
War on drugs
“No country has won the war on drug trafficking globally because there is no strong political goodwill in dealing with the menace,” he observed. The most trafficked drugs were cocaine and heroine. The packaging was usually done in the deep sea by people assigned to transport it ashore. The traffickers have a monitoring and tracking system to keep track of the haul until it reaches its destination. Other sources claim that the port of Mombasa is also another drug trafficking route which is used as an entry point. A government official who spoke on anonymity claimed the drugs are different and noted that heroine and white crest is usually transported by road using luxurious tinted vehicles. Once in Malindi, they are usually taken to a house before being distributed to diverse destinations in wholesale only to be repackaged
again for the final consumer. He said cocaine which was once recovered in Malindi does not have market in the resort town as the locals don’t consume it. Only tourists use it as the gateway. “A suspect who was recently nabbed had GPRS monitoring systems which the police believed was being used for following up on the drugs until their final destination,” he observed. The current budget allocated to the entire police force to facilitate its operations are not enough to deal with drug trafficking. “Officers also need to be motivated through rewards especially those who manage to seize large hauls,” stressed Kiraithe.
Lack of resources
At the Malindi Police Station, the anti-narcotics police have only one vehicle and two sniffer dogs. They have managed to cope with the little available resources at the police division. Malindi Police Deputy Chief Willy Simba said they have stepped up the war against drugs and hope they will win. Osman Mwambire, Chairman Watamu Beach Management Unit said fishermen should be facilitated to acquire speed boats to help in monitoring activities in the sea and report any cases of trafficking that may be going on in the Indian Ocean. He said that with such a boat it will be easy to work with the police and respond to cases of drug trafficking.
He added: “The traffickers take advantage of their wealth to silence anyone who blocks them from accomplishing their mission.” Police officers allocated tasks to pursue, identify and investigate drug traffickers require powerful vehicles and proper funding to be at par with the living standards of the traffickers. Kiraithe noted: ‘‘Investigating drug traffickers is not easy because one must have the resources to mingle with those involved and frequent the areas where they meet without raising any suspicion or running short of money.” He expressed fears that some officers could be easily compromised with huge sums of money and due to the poor working conditions. Kiraithe’s sentiments came soon after police arrested six suspects with heroine worth KSh200 million in Mombasa recently. Confusion reigned when questions were asked about the amount of drugs against weights differing between Mombasa and Nairobi. Despite the netting of the drugs which earned the police praise generally, questions still remain as to how the traffickers managed to sneak in the drugs with all the intelligence and security checks. The entry of the drugs raised queries about Kenya’s highly porous international boundaries especially in the Indian Ocean which appear to be poorly patrolled. In Watamu and Malindi, traffickers are said to be using cruise boats to transfer the drugs from the ships docked in the high waters and into the mainland.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Drugs wasting children in Malindi By FIBI DAVID For 18 years, Fatma Salim 48 lived on drugs like bhang, miraa and heroine. Salim from Barani within town of the Kilifi County lost her car, a luxurious house and family she loved due to the influence of drugs. Salim recalls of selling her luminous salon car in 1994 at only KSh80,000 so as to raise money to buy heroine. Today she is undergoing rehabilitation at the Coast General Hospital. Salim dropped out of school in 1981 when only in Standard Four at Sir Ali Bin Salim Primary School in Malindi due to peer influence. Her grandfather with whom she lived tolerated every decision she made as his only granddaughter. Immediately after leaving school, Salim would party in clubs and ended up engaging with wrong friends who later introduced her to alcohol. The alcohol binging marked the beginning of her disastrous life. Soon Salim fell pregnant and this did not go down well with her family. According to Swahili culture, a girl can only get pregnant when officially married. Salim delivered a baby boy and the family, especially her father, could not tolerate the shame she brought to the family and community at large. She was forced to surrender her baby to a well-wisher authorised by the court in Malindi under the family wish.
“My first born Issah Omar was taken away from me immediately he was born and given to a well wisher. I did not know since my family disregarded him for being borne out of wedlock. My culture does not tolerate children born before marriage. I was heartbroken,” she laments. Losing the baby left Salim devastated forcing her to seek solace in drugs. She started by chewing miraa before moving on to cigarette and bhang smoking and finally heroine. Before Salim got addicted to drugs, she turned to street prostitution and targeted tourists. She would get tourists from Germany and the ‘job’ led to her learn the language which she speaks fluently. It was during her life as a prostitute that she met a man from Seychelles’ tourist who bought her a salon car. The man also built her a house. He established for her a bank account where he would make sure that she had not less than KSh500,000 a month just to ensure that her life was comfortable even when he was away. “We got married and had two children within a period of four years, a girl and a boy. We stayed
together in a mansion around Eden Rock Hotel in Malindi where food, drinks and leisure was a common daily satisfaction,” explains Salim. This was not enough for her since she had tasted the killing but fizzling drug and could not fail to sniff or smoke on any single day.
Her stock was the biggest. She travelled all the way to Mombasa, a distance of 140 kilometres from Malindi to buy a huge stock of about KSh20,000 that she would keep in the house for at least a week before going out for more. Salim was born in 1962 in Barani area within the Malindi township to the rich family of the famous Mzee Salim Ahmed Nasor who owned the Old Lamu Hotel among other properties. Despite dropping out of school in Standard Four, Salim has a good command of the English language. She also speaks German and Kiswahili fluently. Salim has six children. Two born with her Seychelles’ boyfriend are in Britain; two in Mombasa, one is married in Arabia. She cannot account for the first child with whom she parted ways when he was born.
“I cleared my bank account to buy drugs. My children ran away from me because they could not cope with my addiction and my Seychelles account was frozen,” she recalls. Heroine is a killer drug that many youth within the Malindi and the entire Coast Province have fallen victim to. The drug sells for KSh2,500 a gram from the big retailers who later sell it to addicts in smaller amounts for as little as KSh250. A nail pick of heroine powder goes for at least KSh100 when business is low and as much as KSh250 when trade is good. Most consumers combine it with a bhang stick to make what is commonly referred to as cocktail. Others just sniff it directly to get the steam. Areas around Majengo, Barani, Kisumu
Fatma Salim at L’ALBA international drugs rehabilitation center in Malindi after an interview. Fatma claims to have sold her brilliant Nissan Datsun salon car at a throw away price only to purchase Heroine. Picture: Fibi David Ndogo, Maweni, Muyeye and Sabasaba as well as parts of Watamu within Malindi District have been identified as hot spots for drug consumption. Addiction is common among youth and some elderly persons.
Famau Mohamed, chairman Malindi Maaruf Community Organisation Against Drugs and Child Prostitution Famau strongly condemns the issue of drugs penetrating primary and secondary schools. He regrets that children are used by barons to transport heroine, bhang and others drugs in their school bags. “These drugs are finishing our youth and tomorrow’s generation. School children are engaging in drug peddling. We want thorough action from the government,” he pleads. Children aged 12 to 17 are engaged in the drug trafficking trade for a fee. Areas of Mbuyu Kusema have become fields for drug trade where children are sent by their mothers to sell mandazi sandwiched with heroine powder and sold only to specific customers. Barani area councillor Rua Matho Mwakim-
“These drugs are finishing our youth and tomorrow’s generation. School children are engaging in drug peddling. We want thorough action from the Government.” — Famau Mohamed
boyo has called on the security personnel in Malindi to conduct a thorough crackdown on children who engage in selling mandazi. Most of these children have dropped out of school to engage in the business. Several non-government organisations engaged in the campaigns against drug abuse have limited success because most of the who join their programmes end up going back to drugs when they fail to secure employment. L’Alba, an international drug rehabilitation organisation which was started by an Italian volunteer Rocco Mazoli in Malindi late last year has so far recruited over 50 youth from Malindi, Watamu and areas of Magarini. However, its efforts have partially come across as a stumbling block since they cannot afford food, full beddings and other requirements needed by the youth. L’Alba chairman Edson Mwambogo alias Bakari who is also the guidance and counselling teacher at The Omar Project Rehabilitation Centre in Msabaha within the district wants the government to provide programmes to generate income to reforming addicts with a view to change their lives. “Most drug addicts suffer from idleness, joblessness and stigma from the community and family among other problems. They are forced to go back to the vice for lack of support from the community,” says Mwambogo. “I want to tell the whole world that drugs are my lifetime enemy. I will not take any more drugs and call upon the police to secure me a special cell when I take any drug because I shall take myself there once I partake of any narcotic,” she says.
Street children get support from one of their own By KIPKIRUI CHEPKWONY Braving the scorching sun, Peter Njenga walks up and down the streets in Eldoret to meet a group of boys and girls. Though not living under favourable conditions, these children’s faces will always light up when they see him, a smile is registered on their scarred and contorted faces. The scars they have been inflicted on them by members of the public who find them to be a bother. Njenga is a former street boy who suffered in life until he realised the dream of unlocking himself from bitterness and frustration and is currently proudly giving back to the society. Born in a family of 12 that lived between a rock and a hard place, Njenga found himself responding to a call for life in the streets of Eldoret. Njenga never went to school but today he is the chairman of Ex-Street Community Children Organisation-United Kingdom (ECCO-UK), a centre operating within Eldoret town. The organisation caters for the welfare of the street children with emphasis on planning and offering long term solutions to their tribulations. With the assistance of a donor from United
Kingdom, Njenga together with a group of former street urchins founded the non-profit making organisation in an attempt to rescue children imprisoned in a hopeless situation. As the Rift Valley Provincial Children Officer (PCO), Sheikh Mohammed, puts it, the organisation is leading in its provision of quality services to street children.
“ECCO-UK is not like those other organisations that claim to have a concern for the children and yet they commercialise on their plight because of potential donors,” Mohammed observed during at a meeting held in Eldoret. Njenga castigated Treasury for sidelining street children in the budget. He termed it as betrayal and called upon Mohammed to forward their grievances to the concerned authorities. Njenga, who spoke upon arrival from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia where he had gone to represent the organisation said the number of street persons in Eldoret was growing at an alarming rate. “There are now about 3,000 and the figure is still rising,” he said. He called upon the Director of Children Ser-
vices to push the Government to amend Children’s Act so that the organisations commercialising on the plight of children can be vetted out. He said there are many organisations pretending to be catering for children that have mushroomed with a selfish motive. “They disguise themselves as caring when they are not,” he said. He insisted that the Government should encourage child participation other than Children Charitable Institutions (CCIs) in addressing issues to enable the children feel as part of the community. Njenga said that the growing figure of street persons in towns and cities can only be reduced by an improved economy. “Families earning less than a dollar a day propel children into prostitution, child labour and trafficking since their choices are squeezed,” he said. Two organisations have been a threat to the ECCO’s programmes due to a conflict of interests. Mohammed denied knowledge of one of the organisations that offers food to street children, alleging that it was formed without adherence to the formal procedures.
He said it was wrong and criminal to offer only food to children but also termed it as pretentious since food was only a myopic objective. “We need transparent organisations that focus on long term plans like education rather than temporary ones. It is better to teach children how to fish instead of giving them fish,” he said.
Mohammed applauded Ex-Street Children Organisation for their relentless effort to improve the lives of the street persons. “The fact that ECCO rehabilitates street children, teaches music, takes them to school and starts them on petty business among other things is remarkably good. I urge everyone interested to think and work along such lines,” he said. Mohammed promised to work with the Director of Children’s Services to ensure that Children’s Act is implemented. “The adoption process is discouraging people who are willing to take on children because of complex legal procedures. We shall do our best to ensure that the laws governing it are friendly and conforms to the wishes of the people,” he said.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Tourist settles in Kenya to support slum school By NICHOLAS ROBI Behind Wilson Airport in Nairobi is the Mitumba slums wherein lies a community school — Charanyab Mitumba Rehabilitation and Community Centre (CHAMRECC). The school is located along a dusty bypass road that divides Nairobi National Park and Wilson Airport. When I made my way to the school, I was welcomed by a white man who introduced himself as Major (Retired) Brian R. Willis. In my mind I thought he was touring the slums of Nairobi. However, following introductions, he told me that he was a teacher as well as UK Funding Trustee in the school. “I came to Kenya as a tourist in 1997 when I saw the plight of the children in the slum. I went back to my country to prepare adequately for a bigger task in Kenya,” explains Willis. In 2004 he decided to settle in Nairobi South C as a funding trustee and teacher at the CHAMRECC School. Alloyce Chacha, 35, the school director says he met Willis in the matatu on his way from town to South C. Minutes into their conversation, Willis decided to start a journey of changing the lives of children in Mitumba slum. CHAMRECC School has a population of 156 pupils, 11 teachers who teach from pre-school to class eight. With between KSh50 to KSh200 a month, parents can be assured of quality education for their children at the school. Orphans have a privilege of learning at no cost and even get accommodation thanks to the retired major who has decided to spend his retirement life in CHAMRECC teaching as well as offering financial support to the slum child. “I am a retired British Army Officer but in Kenya my strength is enough to give a poor child a bright future,” explains Willis.
According to Chacha, they stopped giving lunch to pupils due to high food prices, terming this year the most challenging since they started six years ago. The Kenya Red Cross, the main sponsors of school lunch has diverted support to other hungry Kenyans in the northern part of the country. He says that some pupils come to school barefoot, others rely on well-wishers to buy them school uniform, books and other personal effects. “The level of poverty in this slum is so high to the extent that a parent can fail to pay
school fees of KSh50 a month. That is why I am calling on Kenyans to donate clothes that can fit our children,” urges Chacha. Everyday the school receives a guest who comes to donate food, clothes, shoes, soap and other items to be used by orphans and other children whose parents are poor. The administration has an income generating project of selling water in the school compound. This is after one of the well-wishers bought a 10,000 litre water tank. The cash that is collected from selling water is used for buying food for pupils who stay in the school.
CHAMRECC School also pays KSh26,000 to the landlord. A church in the neighbourhood has been assisting the school to pay rent of KSh23,000, the school received a notice from the church that from next year they will withdraw from paying rent. Despite all the tribulations the pupils undergo, when it is break time, they play happily in the open field in front of the school. Those who are living with HIV and the orphans mingle freely with the rest of the pupils. The Standard Eight candidates were busy reading for their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam (KCPE) due at the end of the year. Fred Moses Ratemo, the best boy in Standard Eight wants to join Mang’u Boys School and eventually University of Nairobi to study Law. Mercy Chebet the best girl would like to join Alliance Girls’ School and later land in Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) to become a lawyer. “There is nowhere you can go without education and that is a song I sing for myself,” says Chebet.
Trophies of glory
The school has won several trophies of glory. In a poetry competition among 150 community slum schools, CHAMRECC School scooped the top position recently. During the previous girls’ football tournament in Lang’ata Zone, it emerged the best. The school director says the Government has forgotten children in the slum. “The Gov-
Mwingi’s proclaimed idp’s By MWANZA MBUVI Dozens of homestead and Primary school occupants in Kaningu and Musavani locations have fled their homes in fear of the security threats by the neighboring heardsmen from Somali zone in Tana River District. The conflict which commenced six months ago in Ukambani left tens injured and several homesteads torched causing the victims to seek accommodation from the neighboring Tseikuru Location. Kisiuni Primary school is among the six Government institutes that were shut down in the six months. “They scared us away from school and warned against coming back. The School compound posses good pasture for camels,” said one of the class six pupils. Muthengi Kakutu 50, who is a farmer at Ngeteni sub-location discharged from Mwingi District Hospital, is now crippled. He lost his hands as he was beaten while protesting that Somali camels should not be fed from his maize and millet farm. Ms Masaa Manandu 40, another victim asked the Government to advocate for peace or register them in official camps for better treatment and daily necessities Munuve Musyimi, who owns a business empire in Mwingi and Nairobi, is the host and caretaker of the victims laments that the crew spends at his home- Ngeteni village amid insecurity which is high especially during the night. “The Local Tseikuru District commissioner sides with the notorious visitors than keeping peace and harmony to the area residences,” he complains. Speaking on phone, Tseikuru District commissioner Stephen Momanyi agreed to the presence of visitors and assured dialogue with his counterpart the Tana River DC in establishing peace soon.
Brian pointing a filled-up pit latrine in the school, the school lacks sanitation facilities for the pupils. Below: During a teaching session in one of the classes. Pictures: Nicholas Robi ernment of Kenya has forgotten community schools in the slum settlements. I am requesting them to stretch and reach out to the child in the slum,” pleads Chacha. He recommended that the Government
and non-government organisations develop a framework of paying teachers in community schools to ease from parents’ the burden of paying teachers. “We hope the Government will react soon,” he says.
Call for children’s holding cells By KARIUKI MWANGI Residents of Embu County have called on the Government to come up with separate holding cells for children at the various police stations across the country. They regretted that children who have been arrested are being confined in the same cells with adults before being taken to court. Speaking while giving their contribution to the task force on drafting of bills on the rights of persons detained, held in custody and imprisoned, women’s leader Sarah Marigu said children have suffered abuses when confined with adults. Marigu also pointed out that the Government should ensure that children whose mothers are confined do not share rooms with other inmates. “Women with children below four years end up being incarcerated with them. The children are forced to join their mothers in the prisons where there is no privacy and we end up with a generation that is not morally upright,” Marigu argued. She proposed that the Government comes up with policies that will see women with minor offences and who have children below four years punished with community service so as not to deprive the children their basic rights. Marigu said that they should also put in place an initiative in which children whose parents have been confined in the prisons are taken by other Kenyans of good-
will so that they are not abandoned and left to live in the streets. Embu Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson Rosemary Nthiga pointed out the need for policies that will ensure inmates who work at various government departments earn some money from the work they do as this will enable them support their families and themselves when released.
Nthiga called for strong prisons discharge boards that they are able to follow up and assist in the integration of ex-inmates into society. “The discharge boards as they are now have no capacity to even profile the status of the inmates, leave alone following up on them when they are released,” said Nthiga adding that they should be enabled to track the individuals for proper integration. “The Judiciary should formulate policies on the period of time inmates can stay in remand so as to avoid situations where they stay for as long as seven years only to be released without charges,” she observed. Embu North District Commissioner Joseph Bullut noted that the proposal to introduce conjugal rights in prisons is not practical and will set precedence that prisons are very comfortable. “The inmates have to miss some of the privileges that free people have so that they can change and yearn to be free,” said Bullut.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Tribulations of living with a terminal illness By JEFF MWANGI Cancer is one of the deadly diseases affecting most of the people within Africa and Kenyans has not been left behind. The disease remains a dilemma as there are people who associate it with bad omen, curse or even witchcraft. This has left the disease to claim many lives due to lack of information about it. Jacinta Karwitha from Kambakia in Imenti North district within Meru County was diagnosed with oral cancer two years ago and has been living in pain ever since. When the Reject visited her in her home place at Kambakia area, we found nurses from Meru Hospice attending to the wound on her right chin. Meru Hospice is a charitable non-governmental organisation set up to provide care to the terminally ill within the larger Meru and surrounding districts. Karwitha was taken to the Hospice after doctors at Meru District General Hospital found that she was suffering from cancer and referred her to Kenyatta National Hospital. However, due to lack of funds she never made it to Kenyatta Hospital but ended up at Meru Hospice.
According to Gladys Mucee, Chief Executive officer of the Meru Hospice, Karwitha needs radiotherapy and chemotherapy, treatment that requires a lot of money. Unfortunately the Meru Hospice does not have facilities to conduct the same. Mucee would like the Government to intervene and assist saying Karwitha’s case was just one among many patients the Hospice is handling. “I am appealing to donors to assist the Hospice to enable it handle patients who are unable to reach big hospitals for treatment,” pleaded Mucee. Karwitha’s daughter Anastasia Kajira whom we found preparing porridge for her mother says she has been taking care of her mother from the time she fell ill as she is the only family member around. Currently she is faced with a lot of challenges as she is married and has her own fam-
ily. However, Kajira has been forced to leave her home and come every day to cook and clean for her sick mother in addition to other household chores. Kajira says with the high prices of foodstuff, getting food to feed her mother is at times a problem. She now appeals to well-wishers to come to the rescue of their sick mother especially by trying to get better treatment for her as she (her mother) is in great pain.
Alice Kinya, a community health worker stationed at Meru District General Hospital says quite a number of people are really suffering from cancerous diseases not forgetting the high rate of HIV/Aids in the district. It will be important for the Government to assist these patients with drugs and foods since most of them have hardly anything to put in their stomach,” observed Kinya. A few kilometers from Karwitha’s home is another family which is living in pain. Grace Kathure is HIV positive and has 10 grandchildren left behind by their parents who died from Aids. We met some of the grandchildren at home, and when we enquired why they had not gone to school, Kathure who was from fetching firewood at a near-by forest. She was planning to sell the firewood to get something to buy food informed us that, they had been ordered by the landlord of the place they rented to vacate immediately.
Meru Hospice CEO Gladys Mucee attending to Jacinta’s wound. Pictures: Jeff Mwangi Kathure explained that as a result of debilitating poverty some of the grandchildren are not going to school. “My husband died about 10 years ago after contacting HIV. Two of my daughters and two of my sons also died of Aids leaving behind their children,” explained Kathure. Although she is living with Aids, Kathure is the only person left to care for the 10 grandchildren plus her own last-born daughter who is totally dependent on her.
“I have tried to get work as a househelp but most of the people willing to employ me find it difficult to cope with my grandchildren saying they are many.” — Grace Kathure
Although she has tried to get employment, it has been difficult considering the many grandchildren she has to take care of. “I have tried to get work as a househelp but most of the people willing to employ me find it difficult to cope with my grandchildren saying they are many,” explains Kathure.
She says that in various occasions they go without food especially when she falls ill and cannot work. Kathure’s last born is in Standard Four while agemates are in Standard Six and Seven. Lucy Nkirote though bright has been repeating some classes after failing to register for her examinations due to lack of exam fees. The girl goes to the near Gitoro Primary School. Faith Ngore, a nurse at Meru Hospice says that, there is need for the Government to see the suffering these people are undergoing and assist them. She says the Meru Hospice does not have the capacity to deal with some cases due to lack of facilities and money as they depend on donors. She called on well-wishers to assist Meru Hospice by giving some donations so that the organisation can be able to reach needy people who really need their services.
Love lost as woman suffers marriage heartbreak By OMONDI GWENGI It is said that there is a thin line between love and hate. This statement rings true for 26-year-old Jane Atieno. Her emaciated frame and haggard look speaks volumes about the kind of suffering she has to endure. Nothing better illustrates her destitution than her houseless situation. With the ongoing rainfall, she had to move to her grandmother’s house which is against the Luo tradition. At the time the Reject visited their home in Pala village, Bondo District, Atieno was not at home. However, she had left behind her eightyear-old son to take care of his other siblings. She had gone to hawk githeri around the village in anticipation that she would put another type of food on the table for her children who are oblivious to the suffering she is going through. Atieno and her husband are both orphans, the young woman doubles up as a mother and breadwinner for the family. She got married to Joshua Odhiambo five years ago. The mother of three recalls the early days of their marriage before her grandmother died. When she left her parents’ home in Alego, Siaya District, Atieno hoped to find solace in the arms of Odhiambo but things did not to work according to her expectations. Today, her marriage has inflicted more pain on her almost healing wound. “At first we lived happily when my grand-
mother was alive, but today, everything has just changed,” she explains. Her husband, a fisherman, has allegedly abandoned her for another woman and is no longer providing for the family. “He has inherited a certain woman at the beach and rarely comes home. He provides for the family once in a while and I can no longer rely on him,” she observes.
She has resorted to selling nyoyo (mixture of maize and beans) to support her family rather than relying on the husband for support. Her first born is in nursery school. The second born is five years old and is physically impaired. Atieno is also faces frequent assaults by the husband. She is now in a dilemma. A few months ago, her sister came to take her away from her husband but on condition that she would leave her children behind. “My elder sister came to take me away but I don’t know how I can leave my children behind because there’s no one to take care of them,” she says. Despite several meetings by family members to discuss their issue, Odhiambo has not changed. It has become difficult for Atieno to access her conjugal rights because she stays in her grandmother’s house. “I have not had sex with my husband for the last 10 months and it is difficult for me since I am still young and I have feelings,” she says.
Jane Atieno with her five-year-old child who is physically challenged outside her dilapidated house. Picture: Omondi Gwengi Living along the beach is challenging and Atieno is faced by the temptation of unfaithfulness. “I sometimes think of looking for another man who can take care of my needs rather than a drunkard man who cares less about his family,” Atieno observes. However, her fear is the HIV/ Aids scourge that is rampant along the beaches.
Atieno has been tested twice just to know her status in order to take another dimension in life. “I was tested in Mbita and Oele beach with mobile Voluntary Counselling Test (VCT) vans,” she says. Since then Atieno says she has never had sex with him. “I am not ready to have sex with him unless he goes for a test,” she adds.
ISSUE 047, Sept 16 - Sept 30, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Amplifying subdued consumer voices tion from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPUTR) which prohibits the use of editorial content in the media, including twitter, blogs and other social networking websites, for the purpose of product promotion where the promoter has been paid, unless such payment is clearly identifiable to the consumer. Service providers often hide undisclosed additional fees and surcharges over the advertised price, such as “service activation fees” on mobile phones, hidden in fine print so confusedly and obfuscated by ambiguous terminology that they are essentially undisclosed. Other tactics include unfair contract terms, for example, unstated consumer compensation, use of customer data for purposes other than they were obtained for, applying unfair fees, charges and penalties on transactions, artificial restrictions on the duration within which customers can submit claims. Legal Instruments.
By ALEX GAKURU What would you do after erroneously transferring mobile money to a recipient who immediately withdraws the cash? And the mobile money platform owner or operator regrets informing you, “there is nothing we can do to help you get your money back”. Infuriated customers undergo denial, anger, bargaining and depression before finally accepting loss of their money. The psychological dynamics of this customer’s predicament can be explained by the Kübler-Ross grief model as: Denial — “I feel fine. This can’t be happening, not to me”; Anger — “Why me? It’s not fair! How can this happen to me? Who is to blame?” Bargaining — “I will do everything to get my cash back.” Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” Acceptance — “I have lost and it is going to be okay. I can’t fight it. I should prevent it from ever happening again.” Frantic efforts to help the affected individual may range from sudden realisation or call for enforcement of tough consumer protection laws, demand for immediate reimbursement and culprits’ punishment among other strategies. However, a strategic approach is necessary to realise sustained consumer protection. The steps are quite a number and interrelated with the first one being able to define the consumer.
A consumer can be defined as one who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing. This is then followed by a methodical protection strategy. The methodical protection strategy is composed of three avenues open to pursue consumer rights protection. The most common but least effective is the ‘industry engagement’. It is an approach that involves background bargaining for resolutions of complaints with the ICT service providers. The second more powerful ‘firefighting’ approach is the occasional featuring through media highlights of the disastrous incidents. This will not only attract public sympathy or backlash but will also set the ball rolling for enhanced visibility thereby compelling speedy action by policy makers. The third and most effective option, involves review of government policies, laws and regulations and persistent engagement with the Government on consumer protection advocacy. The end results are: a) policy, laws and regulations changes; b) follow up on implementation and; c) recommending further policy changes that reclaim, protect and advance consumer rights and interests. These avenues must be used in complementary combinations not in isolation of others. This can be realised through a receptive, issue-oriented, dynamic relationship with the various stakeholders, consumers, businesses and government. Consideration must also be given to the interests of intermediary stakeholders to forestall skewed or biasness. Knowledgeable consumers are empowered and better armed to demand for their rights especially in complicated new Information and
A mobile subscriber making a phone call. Picture: Reject Correspondent Communication Technologies (ICTs) where service providers literally ‘speak down’ to their customers using terms that are difficult to comprehend. As such, many easily get away and cannot be held accountable. For example, on service level agreements, advertised quality of service and customer care service quality. Research has revealed that the total revenue realised from local media broadcast on radio and television, six major print newspapers, magazines and periodicals from January to June 2011 total KSh19.1 billion. While the total for January to December 2010 was KSh35.5 billion.
The communications firms advertisements on the other hand contributed KSh4 billion and KSh9.5 billion (or 21 per cent and 27 per cent) respectively. In 2009, advertisement expenditure across Kenyan media was KSh31.5 billion up from KSh21.4 billion in the previous year. According to media reports, top spenders were telecommunications companies, led by mobile phone firms. The foregoing data helps explain how lucrative advertisement revenue and competition among media houses threatens and results in toned-down to blocked-out consumer complaints on local media. Media enterprises threatened with cancellations for carrying editorial content deemed as ‘adverse publicity’ by top advertisement spenders would think thrice before publishing more of such illegitimate, dissatisfactory consumers’ expressions.
Experiences like these compel us to reflect on the direct conflict between commercial interests vis-à-vis consumer protection media obligation. Products goods and services purchase decisions are based on best available information, belief and trust of its accuracy and honestly. Therefore, relaying any misleading advertisements, misinformation, opinion manipulation and hosts of other misrepresentations rob consumers their fundamental rights and threatens democracy. Media tilting of public perception and opinion to favour big advertisement spenders subdues the legitimate consumer interests and down plays genuine complaints for commercial interests. Representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer qualify as deceptive acts. Instruments of mass communication, traditional media or modern ICTs can be abused to misinform consumers frustrating their constitutional rights. Consider the US Federal Trade Commission which fines bloggers up to KSh1 million ($11,000) for not disclosing payments received to praise products online. In July, 2010, UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigated online activities of Handpicked Media, (self-described ‘Collective of independent sites and blogs with a focus on publishers’) on suspicions of engaging and paying individuals for online promotional activity in circumstances where such remuneration was not clearly disclosed to consumers. OFT concluded that Handpicked was operating in breach of the Consumer Protec-
Media tilting of public perception and opinion to favour big advertisement spenders subdues the legitimate consumer interests and down plays genuine complaints for commercial interests.
Executive Director: Rosemary Okello Editor: Jane Godia
We must hail the Constitution for elevating consumer rights in Article 46. Notably, consumer’s right to the information necessary for them to gain full benefit from goods and services. Consumer’s Welfare, Part VI on Competition Act, 2010 provides offences and penalties for false or misleading representations, unconscionable conduct, product information standards, notice to consumers, role of Kenya Bureau of Standards and referral of complaints to government agencies. There is also notification by consumer bodies, among others. Clause 9.6 ‘Role of Consumers and Users’ on National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy by Ministry of Information and Communications (January 2006) states: “Consumers and users will be expected to participate in ensuring: a) Universal access and affordability of ICT services; b) Quality of services is maintained; and c) Continued review of Government policy in accordance with technological and consumer trends.” Furthermore, the Kenya Information and Communications Act, 2010 obligates Communications Commission of Kenya to protect ICT consumers. In doing so, the agency is subsequently expected to implement the purpose of the Act via various gazetted regulations.
Unfortunately, there are efforts to stop the Commission from implementing visibly working consumer protection regulations. Certain telecommunications services providers and, strangely, a new government agency — Competition Authority lack legal capacity to carry out the mandate. Due to the technical incompetence, they are unable to drive consumer protection agenda on Information and Communication Technology terrain. It will be interesting to find out whether the constitutional consumer rights requirements would be met, better, through cancellation of already gazetted Ministry’s ICT consumer protection regulations as demanded by the newly established government agency or not. In the event that they succeed, we should expect a return of prior existed environment of ICT consumer protection void, negating all gains made, offering rogue telecommunications services providers a fresh lease of life. I sit back and watch events unfold. The writer is the Chairman, ICT Consumers Association of Kenya
Sub-Editors: Florence Sipalla, Omwa Ombara and Mercy Mumo Designer: Noel Lumbama
Contributors: Ekuwam Adou, Paul Olale, Joseph Mukubwa, Oloo Janak, Beatrice Gitau, Elizabeth Awuor, Muktar Abdi, Henry Kahara, Jane Mutua, Caroline Wangechi, Abjata Khalif, Joy Monday, Kariuki Mwangi, Abisai Amugune, Eutycas Muchiri, Eric Mutai, Charles Njeru, Eliud Waithaka, Omondi Gwengi, Boniface Mulu, Mnyazi Joe, Kigondu Ndavano, Fibi David, Kipkirui Chepkwony, Nicholas Robi, Mwanza Mbuvi, Jeff Mwangi and Alex Gakuru.
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The Reject is a bi-monthly online newspaper produced by the Media Diversity Centre, a project of African Woman & Child Feature Service. The...
Published on Sep 15, 2011
The Reject is a bi-monthly online newspaper produced by the Media Diversity Centre, a project of African Woman & Child Feature Service. The...