Thursday, 28 February 2013

Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi seized

Posted  Thursday, February 28  2013 at  00:30

Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi was on Wednesday night taken into custody by anti-corruption agency detectives.Mr Mwangi was picked up from his office on Harambee Avenue and taken to Integrity Centre for questioning over claims of abuse of office.Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission vice-chairperson Irene Keino said Mr Mwangi will be charged with four counts of abuse of office relating to the Tokyo Embassy scandal and other issues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Charged this morning
She said last night Mr Mwangi would answer charges of conspiracy to commit corruption, wilful failure to comply with the law and applicable procedures relating to procurement.The EACC alleges that Mr Mwangi, deputy director of administration Anthony Muchiri, and Mr Allan Mburu, the Charge d’Affaires at the Kenyan Embassy in Tokyo at the time the scandal erupted two years ago, would be charged this morning with making decisions outside their mandate.It was not immediately clear what other allegations the officials face besides the alleged illegal procurement of the Tokyo embassy, but sources told the Nation the EACC has been conducting investigations into the ministry’s expenditure.Mr Mwangi, sources said, would spend the night at Integrity Centre but would be allowed to speak to his lawyer.
The other officials could not be traced last night, but the detectives were reportedly targeting more officials who have been working at the ministry for the last four years.The Sunday Nation first broke the Tokyo embassy scandal story in 2010 after investigations revealed that officials allegedly chose to buy the property from a private seller instead of the Japanese government which had offered a lower price.A Parliamentary Committee discovered that there had been two agreements on the purchase of the Tokyo land, one purportedly signed by Mr Mwangi and another by Mr Mburu.Mr Adan Keynan, the chairman of the committee at the time, asserted that Mr Mburu did not have the authority to sign an agreement on behalf of the Kenya government.
Mr Mwangi and then Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula stepped but were later reinstated before investigations were completed. Mr Wetang’ula later moved to the Trade Ministry.MPs questioned the move to reinstate Mr Wetang’ula and Mr Mwangi before they were fully cleared in the matter.In 2011, anti-corruption agency detectives flew to Japan and re-opened the investigations.The detectives secured documents from the Japanese government indicating how the ministry might have flouted procurement rules.But the investigations might have been weakened by the dissolution of the then Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission led by Prof Patrick Lumumba.

Driver sought after bus rolls and kills 34

Posted  Thursday, February 28  2013 at  00:30

The wreckage of the bus is seen near Mwingi town on the Thika-Garissa highway February 27, 2013. 34 people were killed 50 others were seriously injured in the dawn accident. STEPHEN MUDIARI

Thirty four people died on Wednesday when a bus they were travelling in crashed near Mwingi town on the Thika-Garissa road.More than 30 others were seriously injured and were taken to the Mwingi District Hospital for treatment.The accident occurred at about 3.15am after the Mandera-bound bus lost control and rolled at a bend as it approached Mwingi town, killing 11 passengers on the spot. Twenty-one others were pulled out of the bus wreckage by police and rescuers. Two died while undergoing treatment.Mwingi District Hospital superintendent, Dr Samson Mungane, said the hospital received 34 bodies, although the police put the number at 32.Dr Mungane said that 35 people were treated at the hospital and another four were referred to the Aga khan University Hospital in Nairobi.Survivors who spoke to the Nation said that the bus known as Modern Desert Cruiser had extra passengers who stood throughout the journey, heading home to vote.All the youths who perished were Muslim and were buried later in the day at the Mwingi Muslim Cemetery.Mr Ahmed Mohammed Bule, a student at the United States International University, last spoke with his brother Faruk Ali Mohammed Bule on Tuesday night before he embarked on the journey. He would never see his brother alive again.“This is sad to the family. I had to travel all the way from Nairobi to come and witness the burial,” Mr Ahmed said.
And speaking through a translator from his hospital bed, Abdirashid Issack said the bus was speeding when the brakes failed as the bus approached a sharp corner.According to Ahmed Hassan, one of the passengers who escaped with slight injuries, the bus whose carrying capacity is 60 passengers, left Nairobi at 1am with more than 80 passengers on board.Mr Hassan said the bus driver who escaped after the accident, lost control while negotiating a sharp corner just past Mbondoni market. The bus veered off the road, hit a huge rock and rolled two times. Its front tyres and the roof were ripped off by the impact.Blood stains and personal effects littered the scene.“I saw the driver jump from his seat running towards the passengers screaming. In a matter of seconds, the bus hit a huge rock then rolled two times before landing on its roof. Some of the standing passengers were hauled out of the vehicle” Mr Hassan said.According to the Kenya Red Cross, two of the injured passengers were in a coma while 17 others had broken limbs.At 8am, some of the dead and injured passengers were still trapped in the vehicle as police mobilised tractors to lift and pull away the wreckage.
Mwingi OCPD Kipkemboi Birir, who led the rescue operation, said that among the dead were 28 men, three women and a young girl. “It is one of the worst accidents along Mwingi-Garissa road in recent times. It is obvious that the bus was overloaded with more than 80 passengers on board,” Mr Birir said.The OCPD said the circumstances of the accident were not clear, but suspected that the driver fell asleep before losing control of the bus.

“The bus driver sustained slight injuries but fled from the scene. We are looking for him to shed more light on the circumstances that led to this grisly accident,” Mr Birir said.Police had a difficult time controlling a huge crowd that swamped the accident scene.Defence assistant minister David Musila cut short his senatorial campaigns and rushed to the scene to help with rescue efforts and console the bereaved families.“It is disheartening to lose such a big number of people in a road accident. The traffic police should strictly enhance traffic rules to curb the carnage,” Mr Musila said.Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka sent condolences to the friends and relatives of the victims.Last year, another bus from the same company rolled at Mutwang’ombe area, also on the Mwingi-Garissa road, killing 13 people on the spot and injuring scores of others.

Last-minute intrigue in city governor race

 By NJERI RUGENE nrugene@ke.nationmedia AND EMEKA-MAYAKA GEKARA 

Nairobi governor candidate Jimnah Mbaru of APK in the campaign trail. PHOTO /NATION

 TNA candidate for the Nairobi governor seat Ferdinard Waititu on Wednesday accused unnamed individuals of pushing him to drop out of the race.This followed a dramatic decision by his close allies — outgoing MPs Rachael Shebesh and Mike ‘Sonko’ Mbuvi — to shift their support to his rival, Mr Jimnah Mbaru of the Alliance Party of Kenya.Mr Waititu defeated Mr Mbaru in the TNA primaries before the latter decamped to APK, the party associated with Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi.For the past four months, the three city candidates had been part of a formidable alliance seeking to grab the Nairobi county seats for the Jubilee Coalition.Sonko is vying for the senate seat while Ms Shebesh is seeking to be the women’s representative.But Mr Waititu appeared unperturbed on Wednesday by the desertion, saying he was confident that the people would vote for him.“The votes are with the people. They are not in the pockets of any individual,” he said in response to the move by Sonko and Ms Shebesh.According to the last opinion poll published on Wednesday, Mr Waititu was second to Dr Evans Kidero of ODM in the gubernatorial race.Dr Kidero had 53 per cent support against Mr Waititu’s 32 per cent. Mr Mbaru ranked third with six per cent.Mr Waititu told the Nation that some people, who he did not name, were uncomfortable with his presence in the race for the powerful city seat.The move was a culmination of several meetings by top city business people and professionals who are uncomfortable with Mr Waititu’s candidature. 

Better position
The latest of such meetings was on Tuesday night at a Nairobi hotel and was attended by Ms Shebesh and Sonko.Sources said it was argued that Mr Mbaru was in a better position to beat Dr Kidero compared to Mr Waititu, who is largely seen as “unrefined”.They also argued that the former chairman of the Nairobi Stock Exchange was capable of transforming Nairobi into a regional business hub.Now the challenge will be on whether Mr Mbaru will attract the support of Mr Waititu’s and Sonko’s supporters, mostly in the slums, who accuse him of being elitist and out of touch with them.Sonko has also accused Mr Waititu of campaigning for his main opponent, ODM’s Margaret Wanjiru.TNA said it maintained its support for Mr Waititu, describing as unfortunate the difference among the three candidates.Addressing boda operators at her Nairobi home on Wednesday, Ms Shebesh said Mr Mbaru was “the stronger candidate”.Mr Mbaru pledged to give unemployed youths loans to buy motorcycles to expand the sector and create employment.

Expert warns of delays at polling stations

 By Kevin J Kelley in New York  

Posted  Thursday, February 28  2013 at  13:20

The time needed to cast six separate ballots on election day could result in long delays at many polling stations, a US-based expert on Kenya politics warned on Wednesday.Unless the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) effectively addresses this issue, "tempers will flare and violence could follow" among some voters, cautioned Prof Joel Barkan.Prof Barkan said that only eight voters can be processed per hour at a single voting booth going by IEBC's estimate of 7.5 minutes needed for the average voter to complete all six ballots .Accordingly, close to 100 voters could vote in one booth over a 12-hour period, he added.An average polling station has between 450 to 500 voters.Prof Barkan reckoned that at least six voting booths will be required at every average polling station for the voting process to be conducted smoothly."That would solve the numbers problem," he said, "but now another question arises as to whether each station will have a suitable number of staff assisting the presiding officer to keep the process flowing."

The IEBC has announced that everyone joining a queue prior to the 5 p.m. closing time for polling stations will be permitted to vote.But if the commission does not provide a suitable number of voting booths, some Kenyans could still be waiting in queues at midnight, according to Prof Barkan.In a "contingency planning memorandum" he wrote last month for a US think tank, Prof Barkan criticised IEBC preparations for the March 5 voting.He cited delays in acquiring essential equipment and training polling station workers.But on Wednesday the professor, who has written extensively on Kenya, struck a more optimistic note."My fears about the IEBC being able to pull off the election are far less than what I expressed in my piece, and thought even two weeks ago," Prof Barkan said."All the equipment, ballots, electronic notebooks, etc appear to be in order."

Judiciary ready for election disputes, says CJ Willy Mutunga


Posted  Thursday, February 28  2013 at  11:35
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga (right) confers with Chief Registrar Gladys Shollei during the launch of a report by the Judiciary Working Committee on Election Preparations at the Milimani Law Courts, Nairobi February 28, 2013. Dr Mutunga said the Judiciary was ready to handle any election-related disputes. EMMA NZIOKA

The Kenyan Judiciary has said it is ready to handle any electoral disputes that may arise from the General Election.The elections, scheduled for Monday, will be a test for Kenya. The country’s last elections in 2007 was marred by violence after a disputed presidential vote.The Orange Democratic Movement whose candidate Raila Odinga was competing against the Party of National Unity’s Mwai Kibaki, rejected the results alleging fraud. The party also refused to go to court claiming the courts were biased.Some 1,133 people were killed and 650,000 displaced during the 2007/08 post election violence.Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said Tuesday the Judiciary is now reformed and prepared for any electoral dispute.“Never again shall we be seen as the bottleneck to electoral justice that nudges the country towards violence,” he said.“To the new Judiciary, no case is too difficult or delicate to determine. No number of cases is too high to dispose of efficiently and competently.”

Dr Mutunga spoke in Nairobi where he received a report by the Judiciary Working Committee on Election Preparations, where he outlined measures that the Judiciary has taken to ensure that it will handle electoral disputes efficiently, impartially and within the constitutional set deadlines.The working committee, which was appointed in May 2012 to oversee preparations for electoral disputes, has trained all judges and magistrates on how to speedily resolve election disputes, the Chief Justice announced.“I want to give an undertaking to the country that we shall meet the constitutional deadlines of resolving all presidential election disputes within 14 days and all other election petitions within six months, if and when they arise,” he said.The Judiciary has also published both the Supreme Court Rules on Presidential Petitions and the High Court Petition Rules for other electoral offices.

UN boss Ban urges peaceful Kenya General Election


Posted  Thursday, February 28  2013 at  12:22

President Kibaki (left) and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in this file photo. Mr Ban has appealed to Kenyans to ensure that peace reigns during Monday's General Election February 28, 2013

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to Kenyans to ensure that peace reigns during Monday's General Election.The UN boss said Kenya had come a long way in preparing for the polls, the first elections after the bungled presidential vote in 2007. Mr Ban telephoned President Kibaki Wednesday and expressed “his sincere hope and belief that Kenyans working together and putting the collective interest of their country above any other consideration can ensure that the upcoming elections will be peaceful and credible".President Kibaki will hand over power to the next Head of State after the March 4 elections.In a statement, Mr Ban also gave a thumbs-up to efforts made to strengthen “Kenya’s democracy and its electoral system since the last general election".“He (Mr Ban) trusts that efforts made at many levels to prevent a repeat of past violence will be redoubled during the remainder of the campaign” the statement said.The Secretary General underscored the importance of respecting the independence of the Judiciary and the authority of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) entrusted with organising the free, fair and credible elections.He also praised the presidential candidates "for reaffirming their commitment to a peaceful and tolerant campaign and also for appealing to their supporters to do the same including rejecting inflammatory and fraudulent actions".

Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi out on Sh2m bail

Posted  Thursday, February 28  2013 at  13:54
Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi (right) and ministry official Allan Mburu (left) in court February 28, 2013. The two were released on a Sh2 million cash bail. PAUL WAWERU
Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi (right) and ministry official Allan Mburu (left) in court February 28, 2013. The two were released on a Sh2 million cash bail. PAUL WAWERU   

Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi and the Charge d’Affairs at Kenya Embassy in Tokyo Allan Mburu were Thursday arraigned in a Nairobi court.They, however, did not plead to the charges of abuse of office, conspiracy to commit fraud and willful failure to comply with procurement rules in purchasing the Kenya Embassy and Ambassador’s residence in Tokyo.Their co-accused, Kenya’s ambassador to Libya Anthony Mwaniki Muchiri did not turn up in court and summons were issued for him to appear on March 14.Mr Mwangi and Mr Mburu through lawyers Evans Monari, Katwa Kigen and Wifred Nderitu opposed the charges being read arguing that they wanted the matter referred to the High Court for constitutional interpretation.

Mr Monari submitted that the particulars of the charge sheet related to matters that took place between January and October 2009 and it would be unfair to bring up criminal charges on events that took place four years ago.“There has been several inquiries in Parliament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and Treasury all which cleared Mr Mwangi and we don’t understand why charges are being brought up now,” said Mr Monari.Mr Kigen argued that the PS had been mistreated by the EACC in the manner in which it arrested him in his office and want to take the matter to constitutional court for redress.

According to Mr Kigen, storming Mr Mwangi’s office at 4.30pm and arresting him in front of his staff was inhuman treatment meant to humiliate and inflict maximum embarrassment on him.“The PS even stepped aside for ten months to allow investigations into the scandal and only came back after all indications was that he is innocent. There is evidence of ulterior since the interest of the prosecution is not justice but a way to punish Mr Mwangi,” said Mr Kigen.Mr Nderitu defended Mr Mburu saying that it was regrettable that a matter investigated in 2009 would be dealt with in such a haste and indecency, terming it an abuse of the legal process.Senior assistant Director of Public Prosecution Kioko Kamula bitterly opposed their applications and urged the court to let the accused answer to the charges.

Mr Kumula argued that there was nothing illegal in the manner in which the two were arrested since they were treated like any other suspect and that it would be a miscarriage of justice if the plea was deferred without an application having been filed at the High Court.“The defence has not said the charges are defective and the court cannot act on speculations. They are free to go the High Court if there are issues of constitutional violation but that cannot stop answering the charges,” said Mr Kumula.He denied claims that the DPP’s office had refused to supply copies of evidence saying the trial only begins when a person has formally answered to the charges and that they will do so once Mr Mwangi and Mr Mburu take the plea.Acting chief magistrate Doreen Mulekyo said both sides had raised weighty issues which she needs to consider and will rule whether the two will take a plea on March 8. She released them on  a cash bail of Sh2 million each.

According to the charge sheet, Mr Mwangi and Mr Mburu conspired to commit fraud by approving the purchase of a property known as 3-24-3 Yakumo Meguro-ku in Tokyo for the Chancery of the Kenya Embassy and Ambassador’s residence.It alleged that the two purchased the property at 1.75 billion Japanese Yen (about Sh1.6 billion) while aware that a fair market price could have been obtained had they adhered to proper procurement procedures.They were also accused of abuse of office and willful failure to comply with procurement rules. It was alleged that on June 30 2009, they used their offices to improperly confer 318,700,000 Japanese Yen (Sh302.7 million) to Nobuo Kuriyama for the purchase of the property.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Key witness was bribed: Bensouda

 ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Photo/FILE

Posted  Wednesday, February 27  2013 at  21:47

International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said she has evidence of bribery of a key witness in the Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s case.In her submissions, Ms Bensouda claims the critical Witness Four, a former Mungiki leader, who withdrew his testimony after the confirmation hearings was paid to do so.This is the witness who said he was present at meetings in State House and the Nairobi Club where Mr Kenyatta and former head of Public Service Francis Muthaura allegedly planned violence.In a later statement to the ICC, the witness said he lied about his presence in the two meetings.

“Witness Four revealed in an interview in May 2012 that he had been offered and accepted money from individuals holding themselves out as representatives of the accused to withdraw his testimony and provided e-mails and records that confirmed the bribery scheme,” said the prosecutor.Ms Bensouda was responding to an application by Mr Kenyatta’s and Mr Muthaura’s defence calling for dismissal of the case because of the withdrawal of evidence by the key witness.Mr Kenyatta, the Jubilee Alliance presidential candidate and his running mate, Mr William Ruto, are charged with crimes against humanity. The other accused is journalist Joshua arap Sang.
The prosecution maintains that despite the withdrawal of the testimony, it had sufficient evidence of Mr Kenyatta’s alleged participation in violence planning meetings at Blue Post Hotel in Thika and Nairobi’s Yaya Centre.According to Ms Bensouda, the prosecution also has direct evidence showing Mr Kenyatta financed Mungiki youth for retaliatory attacks and his alleged phone call to Mungiki founder Maina Njenga who was then in prison.The prosecution argues that it has more evidence against the accused that was collected after the confirmation hearing.
“The fact that evidence relied by the Pre-Trial Chamber is withdrawn or new evidence is substituted cannot be sufficient to require a new confirmation process,” said the prosecutor.She argues that the law allows the prosecution to withdraw or add evidence after the confirmation hearing.Mr Kenyatta’s defence has asked the court to return the case to the Pre-Trial Chamber, saying it would not have been confirmed without the recanted evidence.But the prosecution says even without Witness Four, the evidence relied upon by the Pre-Trial Chamber at the confirmation stage was sufficient to commit Mr Kenyatta’s case to trial.However, Ms Bensouda has no problem if Mr Muthaura’s case was referred to the pre-trial judges for review following the development.Ms Bensouda also clarified that they had not withdrawn allegations that Mr Kenyatta attended a meeting at State House and at Nairobi Club.The defence teams accepted to have committed an error for failure to produce Witness Four’s recanting testimony to the pre-trial judges.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

ICC suspect Sang endorses Raila

 Former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang during a past appearance at the International Criminal Court. PHOTO / FILE

 By PMPS - Prime Minister Press Service 

Posted  Tuesday, February 26  2013 at  11:36

International Criminal Court suspect and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang has endorsed Cord's presidential candidate Raila Odinga ahead of the general elections next Monday. Mr Sang, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's office, dismissed the Jubilee coalition between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto as incapable of bringing peace between the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin who have fought during elections since 1992.The endorsement marks a breakaway between Mr Sang and his fellow suspects at the International Criminal Court Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. The three face various counts of crimes against humanity committed at the height of the 2007 - 2008 post-election violence.In a recorded message to air on radio, Mr Sang says that it is only a president who is not a Kalenjin or a Kikuyu who can bring peace between the two communities.

Mr Sang says he recorded the message because of “heavy feelings in my heart.”.In his message, Mr Sang also dismisses as lies the perception in Rift Valley that it was Mr Odinga who sent him to The Hague. He claims that senior government officials who were in office before the formation of the coalition had coached witnesses to testify against him and Mr Ruto in the case at the ICC.“We are away in a foreign land with my brother because of allegations made against us. The truth must be told. In my opinion, the people who masterminded and planned to have me and my brother taken to The Hague did not include Raila Odinga,” Mr Sang says in the recorded message.Mr Sang appeals to the Kalenjin community not to trust the power sharing deal in the Jubilee coalition, saying such agreements have twice been disowned after elections.
He cites the MOU signed between Mr Odinga and Mr Kibaki in 2002 and the 2007 power sharing deal that brought the Grand Coalition Government into force as instances of broken promises that should make residents of the Rift Valley wary of the deal between Mr Ruto and Mr Uhuru.“Today, some of our people want us to enter into an MOU again through Jubilee. They never respected the MOU signed in 2002 and the power sharing deal agreed on in 2007. Why should we expect that the one our community has signed in Jubilee will be respected,” Mr Sang says in a recorded message set to air on radio.According to Mr Sang, the doubts whether the pact between Mr Ruto and Mr Uhuru will fare any better.He says that although President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga were supposed to share power on a 50-50 basis, it never really happened and only one side of the coalition ran the country.

Samuel Kivuitu dies in Nairobi aged 74

Samuel Kivuitu's widow Priscilla Kivuitu (in glasses) and other family members moments after viewing the body of the late Kivuitu at the Lee Funeral Home, Nairobi February 26, 2013. WILIAM OERI

By NATION Reporter  

Posted  Tuesday, February 26  2013 at  08:16
The former chairman of the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) Samuel Kivuitu dies in Nairobi aged 74.Mr Kivuitu died while undergoing cancer treatment at the MP Shah Hospital in Nairobi.He was in and out of hospital for the past two years and recently sought treatment in India for throat cancer.The body was removed to the Lee Funeral Home.The late Kivuitu’s Garden Estate residence was deserted, save for one of his sons and a houseboy, who identified himself as Nzomo Mbongoyo.Mr Mbongoyo fought back tears as he recounted the last moments with his departed boss.“I’ve been leaving here with Mzee. I had just finished washing him yesterday (Monday) when his condition suddenly deteriorated forcing us to rush him to hospital,” he stated.His son, who declined to be identified, interjected at this point saying the family would issue a statement at the MP Shah Hospital.“We are not granting any interview here. The larger family will issue a statement at MP Shah in the next one hour,” he stated before leading Mr Mbongoyo to the house.Prime Minister Raila Odinga mourned the late Kivuitu saying he was "a forthright man who often spoke his mind, without fear or favour". 

"I do know for a fact that Mr Kivuitu did not hesitate to speak his mind about the problems we faced, even as we embarked on the 2007 elections, particularly when it came to the controversial appointment of the Electoral Commission in a manner that most flagrantly violated the Inter-Parties Political Agreement (IPPG) spirit as had been negotiated prior to the 1997 elections," said Mr Odinga."How nice-it would have been, had God extended Mr Kivuitu’s life a little longer, just to witness the new transition that we are all expecting during the forthcoming 2013 on March 4, under a brand new Kenyan Constitution and new electoral laws!"In all, I have no doubt that Mr Kivuitu rendered most valuable service to our nation and made enormous personal sacrifices; including of health to steer the elections. Indeed, there is no doubt that his tenure at the Electoral Commission offers important lessons for all of us in Kenya, and we do certainly pray that his soul rests in eternal peace. May his family have the courage and fortitude to bear their loss during this very difficult time," said the PM.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka condoled Mr Kivuitu's family saying he was saddened by his death and suffered "deep sorrow" and "sense of loss".Mr Musyoka said he had known the late Kivuitu as a close parliamentary colleague, lawyer and friend.He described the deceased as "a humble, stoic, philanthropic and a social person who always strived to give his best to humanity and in particular to his country".As ECK chairman, Mr Kivuitu presided over disputed 2007 General Election.The disputed poll led to the post election violence in which 1,133 people were killed and 650,000 displaced.In a past interview with the Nation after weeks of treatment in India, the former elections chief said although the effects of the disease had slowed him down, he hoped to participate in the March 4 General Election as an observer and document his expertise in election management in a book.
In the interview, Mr Kivuitu blamed President Kibaki’s appointment of members of the electoral commission for the bungled elections. He maintains that he did nothing wrong.He said the skewed appointment of electoral commissioners deprived his team of public confidence.President Kibaki ignored calls by the opposition, then led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, to involve it in filling positions in the defunct ECK.“Commissioners were appointed in a way that I disapproved. President Kibaki should have consulted the opposition. I was not in full control of the commission because I was working with people who were uncomfortable with me,” he said.

Former ECK chairman Kivuitu dies

By Cyrus Ombati
Former Chairman of the now defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya Samuel Kivuitu has died.

Mr Kivuitu died on Monday night at 10 pm at the MP Shah Hospital in Nairobi where he had been admitted for almost a week.Mr Kivuitu, 74, has been battling throat cancer for the last two years. In December, he was admitted at a Nairobi hospital for treatment.Kivuitu’s wife, son and brother were at the MP Shah Hospital on Tuesday morning for preparations to transfer the body to the Lee Funeral Home. The family will issue a statement later.Dr H.R Khoda said Kivuitu was a private patient referred journalists to a cardiologist, Dr Kasyoki who was the former ECK chair personal doctor for further information on his death Kivuitu’s death comes seven days before the March 4 General Election.

Kivuitu was appointed to ECK boss by former President Daniel Moi to replace Zacheous Chesoni who was the head of the Electoral commission during Kenya's 1992 General Election.Kivuitu served as elections boss in 1997, 2002 and also oversaw the constitution referendum in 2005.He was reappointed as ECK chair by President Kibaki ahead of the 2007 general election.Kivuitu went to school in Uganda (1959–61) and Tanzania (1961–65). He was elected MP for Parklands in 1969 and served until 1974. He served in the same area MP between 1983 and 1988.Kivuitu, during an interview with KTN’s Joe Ageyo said he had been treated for cancer of the esophagus and that he was declared cancer free by Kenyan and British doctors.

Monday, 25 February 2013

AU lauds IEBC for elections preparedness

By BENJAMIN MUINDI  ( email the author )

Posted  Monday, February 25  2013 at  17:25

The African Union (AU) on Monday said it was satisfied with the preparedness of the electoral agency to conduct next week’s General Election.AU’s elections observation mission to Kenya headed by former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano expressed confidence that the March 4 elections will be open, free and fair.Mr Chissano said the team was impressed by the readiness of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) especially the rolling out of new technology in conducting the elections.“We are impressed by thorough preparations by IEBC and how the agency has conducted itself professionally. We have confidence that the elections will be conducted very well,” Mr Chissano said. 

Mr Chissano spoke to journalists after his elections observation group met commissioners of the IEBC at their offices in Anniversary Towers, Nairobi who gave them a detailed brief.He asked political parties and their supporters to moderate their campaigns and avoid inciting the people.“Let all think about the future of Kenya. It is not just the future of Kenya but also that of Africa, to shed the bad image that African elections have been associated with,” he said while praising the unity that the presidential candidates showed on Sunday during a prayers meeting in Nairobi.“I have never before happier to come to Kenya and witness such an event given the dramatic turn of events witnessed in 2007. It was joyful to note the unity of the presidential aspirants,” he said.Mr Chissano’s team will monitor the elections and will release a final report after the announcement of the results next week.
Speaking during the same forum, IEBC chairman Issack Hassan allayed fears that the elections will extend to a second day.Mr Hassan noted the IEBC had increased the polling booths in areas where the number of voters had exceeded 500 per station, adding that such areas were few and far in between.“Most of the polling stations have less than 500 voters meaning that even if the voters were to take ten minutes casting their votes, by five o’clock all will have voted,” he said.He also said claims of rigging were unfounded because biometric voter identification technology to be used during the elections will be used to reconcile results and the votes cast in each of the station.However, the official cautioned against reports that some political parties were buying Identity Cards (ID) from voters in some areas.“Such cases must be reported to the commission immediately,” Mr Hassan said.On Sunday, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) secretariat accused their opponents of buying identity cards from voters in Kitui, Kakamega, Nyamira, Mombasa and Nairobi to weaken the support of the coalition during the elections.
“We are asking voters not to be persuaded to sell their identity cards. It is the right of every Kenyan to vote during the General Election,” Cord’s campaign secretariat chairman Franklin Bett said.Mr Bett however did not specify which political parties were purchasing the identity cards from voters in those areas.“How can one trust these politicians to run the country when they are buying IDs from Kenyans denying them their right to make a choice of the kind of leadership that they want?” he said.Mr Bett was speaking at the launch of a campaign meant to increase awareness among Kenyans on the need to vote during the March 4 elections.He said there were reports of leaflets being circulated in some parts of the country asking people from certain communities to “go where they belong.”
“These warnings are not only primitive but an infringement to the Constitution and the right to live and work anywhere in this country,” Mr Bett said.He called upon the police to ensure that all Kenyans were assured of security now and after the General Election.

Woman in Ruto land case says signature was forged

Posted  Monday, February 25  2013 at  18:28

A woman has claimed her signature was forged and used to transfer land belonging to a post-poll chaos victim to Jubilee running mate William Ruto.Ms Dorothy Jemutai Yator told the High Court in Nairobi on Monday that 100 acres of land belonging to Mr Gilbert Adrian Muteshi were subdivided and sold to Mr Ruto using the forgeries.Mr Muteshi fled the farm in Uasin Gishu during the 2008 chaos and, on his return, found it occupied.He accuses Mr Ruto of grabbing the land and Ms Yator of fraudulently selling it to the politician.Ms Yator disowned documents produced by Mr Ruto as evidence of her involvement, saying they were forged.“Mheshimiwa Ruto is responsible,” she said when asked by her lawyer. “I am a victim.”

She said she had hired a document examiner who confirmed the papers were forged.The witness said the matter had embarrassed her as even her church had asked her to “step down”.Mr Ruto has said he did not know the seller had acquired the land fraudulently.He says Ms Yator approached him with an offer to sell the land and that he bought it after she produced documents purporting she was the owner.Ms Yator said she and her husband Daudi Kiptugen did not know or had met Mr Ruto, Mr Bethuel Kipsang and Mr Peter Kosgey.Last week, Mr Ruto’s witness said Mr Kipsang and Mr Kosgey negotiated the land sale on behalf of Ms Yator and her husband.The witness said acting as an agent for the then Agriculture minister, he dealt with Mr Kipsang and Mr Kosgey who presented themselves as agents of Ms Yator and her husband.
The two received Sh600,000 as the final instalment of the price on behalf of Mr Yator, the witness said.On interrogation by Ruto’s lawyer, Mr Katwa Kigen, Ms Yator confirmed the names on the land titles presented to Mr Ruto were hers.She also confirmed she was married to Mr Kiptugen and that her husband, not Mr Ruto, would ordinarily have access to her ID and photographs.Mr Kigen asked her why she did not report the forgeries to the police.“You did not because you were protecting your husband,” the lawyer said. He said Mr Ruto suspected her husband had made the forgeries and reported this to the police.The hearing continues.

Ecologist, journalist killed in Mt Kenya plane crash

Posted  Monday, February 25  2013 at  16:42

A renowned Laikipia conservationist and a journalist were killed when a light aircraft they were travelling in crashed near Mt Kenya.Dr Anthony King was piloting the plane when it came down.Also killed in the mishap was a Canadian journalist who was the only passenger on board.Mt Kenya national park senior warden Simon Gitau said the aircraft, which was owned by the Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), crashed on Sunday afternoon about 14,500 feet above sea level near Lake Michaelson.The aircraft had been reported missing before it was traced near the mountain lake where a similar accident occurred in 1976.The proprietor of Tropic Air Jammie Roberts, who worked closely with Dr King, said the accident could have been caused by strong winds.“The two-seater plane was mechanically okay when it left for the mountain,” he said.Dr King once served as the LWF executive director and was recently involved in the development of a wildlife conservation strategy for the county.He was also the manager of Ngolale ranch in Rumuruti.Members of Mt Kenya tourist circuit association eulogized him as a real hero and champion of conservation who will be remembered by many.

Let’s black out our politicians

Posted  Saturday, February 20  2010 at  17:42

Here we go again. The headlines say it all: the coalition government is crumbling, the principals have fallen out, the shilling is sliding, investors are nervous, we are facing another meltdown.But I ask you: what exactly has changed since last week? What cyclone has hit Kenya that our prospects look so suddenly bleak? Have we lost hundreds of thousands of people, like Haiti? Are we impossible to govern, like Somalia? Are we perpetually at war with ourselves, like Congo?No, none of that applies in Kenya. Yet the transformation in public opinion is dramatic. That is how fickle our opinions are.The economic fundamentals, as pointed out last month on this page, are exactly the same. We are a strong, resilient, diversified economy in an enviable location, powered by enterprising people. None of that has disappeared.So what exactly has happened?The two sides of the coalition have had a spat, that’s all. For that we are back on international TV screens, the subject of much analysis and debate across the globe, not least in our own bar-rooms.

Most worryingly, Kenya’s angry young men are being marshalled and are giving warnings about protecting “their own.”Do you not have better things to do, Kenyans, than discuss the internecine and infantile arguments of politicians?How does getting involved in these squabbles advance your own life one inch forward? So leaders’ egos are bruised and they are issuing ultimatums and warnings.So what? When are we going to realise that our personal development has nothing to do with these things, and everything to do with ourselves?The current machinations are about both sides of the coalition manoeuvring for unshared power.Neither side is appreciating that the deep political divisions in the land would not allow one side to rule unchecked. In other words, our leaders need to learn to get on, collaborate, share, consult - just like most of us do in our lives. 

But that is alien to their natures, and so they are about to throw us all into turmoil yet again.Too difficult?But I ask again: is it so difficult for you to ignore these people? Why are you so fixated on reading every pointless headline, relishing every inane ultimatum, following every accusation and counter-accusation?Do we not have children to educate, personal development to worry about?Some of you may be tiring of reading it in this column - but what the hell, I’m going to say it again. Most of the personal success you achieve in your life is going to come from within you - not from the outside world.You could do so much better, for yourself and your country, if you invested time and effort in yourself. 

Look around you in the world: who attracts your admiration and respect? It is not these politicians, certainly: you may follow their every deed, but it is only a macabre fascination.The people who truly influence others and who leave a legacy of respect are different. Their character shines through.Real success is only available in life to those who work relentlessly hard and who position themselves to stand out in a crowded world.So, if you want a modicum of success for yourself and your children, can you really afford to be distracted every day by the antics of others?I have an idea for you. Why don’t you make a resolution to ignore politicians? Why don’t you deny them the “oxygen of publicity”, in Margaret Thatcher’s words?If newspapers are filled with political intrigues, stop buying them. If news bulletins highlight rabid politicians, switch them off. If a politician, any politician, holds a rally in your area, ignore it completely.If we all give politicians and their intrigues a blackout, we will force them to follow our agenda, not theirs. Their agenda is personal power. Our agenda is personal and national development.
Let them understand that we only give them power if they use it to do all the things we want and desperately need: unite the country, build its infrastructure, and terminate grand corruption. Anything else is a sideshow we are not interested in.The second step is to give most sitting politicians a kick in the teeth during the next election. Refuse to give them your vote, and resolutely vote for someone new or fresh.Of course, the new person may be no better, but that is not the point. The point is to penalise non-performance, and to create a perpetual people-led agenda and a tradition of bowing to what the people want.That will transform this country like nothing else will.

Retraining The Kenyan Public on Issue-based Politics

- A reaction to call by Sunny Bindra on Kenyans to "blackout Politicians"
My Photo   
By Ochieng Akuno (email the author)

I have just read the article posted by one SUNNY BINDRA on Sunday 21.02.2010 in DAILY NATION NEWSPAPER urging Kenyans to blackout politicians and instead concentrate on personal development. While the article highlighted a number of brilliant ideas that Kenyans actually need to embrace, there were however a number of misleading calls on Kenyans that are likely to be detrimental to the country if embraced by readers. As a peace-loving Kenyan who is keen to see his motherland progress to full democracy, I do hereby, in this spirit, write to avert this possible poisoning of the minds of millions of Kenyans reading the newspaper and pursuing what was good for their motherland.

If a politician, any politician, holds a rally in your area, can you afford to ignore it completely? In the 21st century, can we afford to stop buying newspapers just because they highlight stories from political scenes in the country? If television news bulletins highlight reports on our politicians, can we afford to switch them off? These are some of the proposals put forward by SUNNY BINDRA to Kenyans amid efforts to contain the impasse that befell the ruling coalition. However, for any rational Kenyan of sound mind, the answer to these questions is “NO” and by answering “YES”, we will be neglecting our common responsibility bestowed upon us by virtue of our citizenship of The Great Motherland-Kenya. I salute all Kenyans for their increasing public awareness and public consciousness on how the country was performing. The increasing public bickering in the political scenes, peaceful demonstrations and general keenness on following public scandals and other corruption matters are indicators of how well we execute our collective role of determining what becomes of Kenya tomorrow – this will go a long way in deciding whether tomorrow Kenya  becomes a failed state or not.

Therefore attempts to convince Kenyans to ignore politicians and instead rather concentrate on personal development can only be seen as a backward move and an attempt to detour a citizenry on the right track, pursuing what was good for their motherland – more so in determining the political future of this great nation.
However, I should not be misconstrued and here we read with Mr. Bindra from the same script: Escalating individual interpersonal violence between Kenyans in the name of holding different political opinions, to the extent of killing each other as witnessed in the 2008 post-election violence, must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. The fact that I support candidate A while you support B does not provide us grounds to go violent against each other – Kenyans must mature and stand for good ideals rather than show emotions while taking political decisions.

“Man muss das als gegeben hinnehmen: Demokratie ist nie bequem”-Theodor Heus (1884-1963): These are German words meaning: “One has to put up with it as it is given: Democracy is not comfortable”- The words of Theodor Heus (1884-1963). This is the fact that Kenyans have not fully understood; they are however making every attempt to do so.

Merriam Webmaster dictionary defines democracy as a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections. Therefore “free and fair elections” and “majority rule” are two integral elements of democracy. These two integral components make the realization of democracy always elusive especially in a multi-ethnic environment like Kenya. Determining the “majority” by way of election has often boiled down to ethnic violence resulting into dictatorship of the “minority” by the emerging “majority”.

As Kenyans strive to understand and embrace democracy, they need good guidance and supportive policies and institutions with mechanisms to promote ideals of democratic practice and good governance before they take part in any voting exercise. This is what Kenya needs - not misusing the youth to dictate the way people vote or at its worst, scare Kenyans from participating in the voting exercise. As highlighted above, democracy is not comfortable either, what therefore means that, to be able to live with the weaknesses of democracy as a system of government, we must train our citizens on true meaning of democracy and what it requires of the citizens to have a fully democratic system in place.

That Democracy is not comfortable means it takes a lot of give and take between the “majority” and the “minority”- this calls for tolerance between the two. As the minority nurse their wounds having lost the election, the majority must understand and appreciate the existence of the minority as they take over the government and the running of public affairs.

In my opinion therefore, Kenyans shutting their ears to politics is not the best solution in addressing political impasses whenever they arise. What Kenyans need is maturity in the manner they express their discontent on public matters. This maturity will only be realized if we strengthen our democratic institutions. This calls for everybody to play their part, it’s a task that cannot be entrusted exclusively on any individual or institution, not the police, not the Kenya anticorruption commission, not the judiciary, not the attorney general, not the parliament, not the provincial administration, not the civil service, not the teachers, not the NGOs, not ordinary citizens, not the rich, not the poor…neither is it the Ogiek nor the Maasais but ALL KENYANS.

We need a government that will understand and respond if its citizens hold peaceful demonstrations for that is a wakeup call on public discontent in the way the public affairs are run. If an ordinary citizen steals Ksh. 100,000,000, he will be immediately arrested, taken to police cell and charged in court. However if a minister steals the same amount from the taxpayer - from a kitty meant for providing education to our children - a commission of enquiry is set up on the matter and Kenyans must therefore wonder what the courts are meant for. It becomes even more frustrating when the implicated minister finally goes scot-free and the taxpayer has lost additional funds to the commission that was set up to investigate the matter. It’s therefore time for Kenyans to demand equal treatment, if setting up the commissions of inquiries is the way to go then let it apply to all Kenyans. We are not more criminals just because we are not ministers: a thief remains a thief and MUST be charged!

Now I know from personal experience that anything negative happening within the boundaries of a nation does not simply end within those boundaries but do have far reaching consequences beyond the boundaries of a nation. In his article, Mr. Bindra talks of Kenya’s strategic location making it suitable for investment. However, to my surprise he adds that nothing has changed: In a country where government ministers are looting the economy and citizens are demonstrating to stop the crisis – an adult of Mr. Bindra’s calibre can’t see what has changed! That is very disturbing and obviously "disturbing" is an understatement. Maybe the word scandal has become so popular in Kenya to the point that it’s nothing new ( it's normative and we need to start by stigmatizing it if a change for the better is anything to expect ). I can only recommend that the media should stop referring to stealing public money as SCANDALS, let them use the word STEALING so that the thief can be brought to book e.g. Ksh 100 million has been stolen from the ministry of education instead of a scandal of Ksh 100 million has occurred in the ministry of education. If Mr. Bindra lost Ksh 100 million am very sure he will not sleep until the culprit is brought to book but if Kenyans go demonstrating on the streets over their stolen money, just because their country has reduced them to that level, it appears Mr. Bindra finds that offending!
I want to bring it to the attention of citizens like Mr. Bindra that Kenya’s strategic location makes it a suitable business destination only as long as it’s a country in which the rule of law is observed – no businessman of sound mind would wish to do business in a country where corruption is the order of the day! To this end Mr. Bindra, you therefore realize personal development which you urged Kenyans to concentrate on can only be pursued if good governance and the rule of law is observed, which unfortunately is not the case! For nobody will pursue personal development successfully if they were unemployed – the same unemployment results from misappropriation of public funds and the associated negative image sending investors away from Kenya. I therefore salute Kenyans who made their voices heard by taking part in peaceful demonstrations against public officers involved in corruption. To these Kenyans you earned my respect and made Kenya proud by ensuring the demonstration was peaceful and free from acts of violence.

To Kenyan public officials involved in corruption please it’s time we realized that we are not doing justice to our motherland! Kindly listen to my plea and let’s move the country forward – stop corrupt practices! The negative image we are sending of our motherland is far reaching and affect Kenyans not only in Kenya but also abroad, you are painting us black please stop it!.

Finally I am very saddened to report that our motherland, Kenya is ranked among the 10 worst countries in the world in a recent study on Democracy Ranking 2008/2009. Campbell, David F. J. and Georg Pölzlbauer of The University of Klagenfurt, Faculty for Interdisciplinary Studies (IFF), Institute of Science Communication and Higher Education Research (WIHO) Vienna, Austria conducted the research assessing democratic performance of countries through a two year period. The study conducted by Campbell, David F. J. / Georg Pölzlbauer (2009) put Kenya position 94 for the years 2002/2003 and position 86 in the years 2005/2006 in a sample of 103 countries worldwide. Among the countries trailing the list during the 2002/2003 years were: Lebanon (position 96), Guinea-Bissau (position98), Burundi (position 102), Mauritania (position 95), Ethiopia (position 99), Central African Republic (position 101 ), Zambia (position 97), Nigeria(position 100) and Yemen Republic (position 103). Our neighbours Uganda and Tanzania took positions 80 and 89 respectively. Among the top 10 best performing democracies worldwide were countries like: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Austria, Australia, and Germany in that order.

The report therefore implies that an investor would therefore prefer Uganda or Tanzania as destinations of investment as opposed to Kenya. This is a perception that all Kenyans must endeavour to change in order to win back the international confidence when it comes to peace and political stability in the region. I have an idea for Kenya on the way forward as far as building of a strong democratic system is concerned. Countries that have attained full democracy status have made it a culture and an integral part of the day-to-day life of their citizens. Maybe we could borrow a leaf from these countries and on this note I have a leaf from Germany to suggest to Kenya. In Germany there are institutions known as Landeszentrum für politische Bildung – State centres for Political Education. This is a country that knows and appreciates the fact that sending an illiterate/uninformed voter to go and make a decision at the polling station is not doing justice to the country. So, Germany as a country runs these centres to train her citizens on political matters throughout the year whether there are elections or not. Among the duties bestowed on these institutions are: To inform the citizens about political events taking place, present decisive criteria on political issues, make political and government policies understandable and shed light on the background/basis of political matters so as to secure the critical consciousness of the citizens. In other words, the German government trains the citizens to be critical and not just loyal.

In Kenya, the duties named above are scattered between the provincial administration, politicians and the electoral commission and how effectively they are performed leaves a lot to be desired. I would like to inform Kenyans that German laws are written in German – which is the mother tongue of the citizens and despite that, they still run centres to train their citizens on political matters. This just highlights how badly Kenya needs such centres because Kenyan laws are written in English which is not the mother tongue of Kenyans and nobody is going to make any constructive political decision without understanding basics of Kenyan law and generally how government functions.

I am quite sure that the taxpayers money spent on running the commissions investigating scandals would be well spent if Kenya hires lawyers to simplify and synthesize the basics of Kenyan laws and train citizens on politics at various stations countrywide.This will go a long way in realizing the much needed critical conciousness of Kenyans and will reorient the Kenyan public towards issue-based politics, a people who will not take on arrows, bows and spears but rather the pen and the ballot paper in shaping their destiny!


What to expect in the final presidential debate

By MACHARIA GAITHO  ( email the author)

Nation’s Managing Editor for Special Projects Macharia Gaitho gives his own take on what to expect from the second and final episode of the Presidential Debate 2013. The participants are listed alphabetically by surname
The surprise late entrant into the presidential race was one of the undoubted stars of the first debate. However, he provided a comic relief rather than dealing with solid policy proposals or grasp of issues.Mr Dida tended to wander-off into irreverent monologues before delivering pithy one-liners on his philosophy and beliefs that had the audience in stitches.During the dreary second half of the debate moderated by Julie Gichuru, it was probably Mr Dida’s performance that kept everyone awake.While he will not make a dent in the presidential race, he has made some significant inroads in the North Eastern Kenya vote.
The feisty Narc Kenya candidate performed strongly in the first debate; impressing with the grasp of issues and the forthright manner in which she expounded on the core tenets of her campaign.She came out strong on reform, empathy for the common man, and an approach that stresses the issues that should unite Kenyans rather than divide them into ethnic blocs.The key contenders leading large ethnic blocs are Cord's presidential candidate Raila Odinga and Jubilee's Uhuru Kenyatta, but the plaudits she earns for standing above ethnic politics has not translated into any notable surge in her popularity.If a key issue at the debate on Monday evening is land, Ms Karua should again come out strongly, and might also use the opportunity to hit back at Mr Kenyatta who delivered some slurs in her direction as he announced withdrawal from the debate.
The Eagle Alliance flagbearer is another marginal candidate who performed well in the first debate, but to no significant surge in popularity.He came out strong on host of issues, impressing with his grasp of facts and figures when it came to specific policy proposals on areas as diverse of the economy, health and security.But he also sometimes appeared to be too smug, too rehearsed, trying too hard to impress.He can be expected to put in another good performance, particularly with his sure grasp of economic and development issues, but that might hardly register a blip on his poll ratings a week to the elections.
A famous moment in the US election campaigns was when veteran tough guy movie star Clint Eastwood ‘addressing’ President Obama on an empty chair during the Republican convention.If Mr Uhuru Kenyatta makes good on his resolve to stay away from the second Kenya presidential debate, the other contenders might have a field day hurling brickbats at his empty lectern.One of the key issues lined up for debate is land, and that is Mr Kenyatta’s weak point because he is forever on the defensive about the former first family’s massive land holdings and how they were acquired.The issue has been hammered relentlessly by Mr Raila Odinga’s campaign, and surely will be gleefully seized on if there is no room to respond.Absence might also indicate that Mr Kenyatta is simply running away from an issue that he finds too hot to handle.A little-noted fact from the campaign policy documents is that on the sensitive land issue.Mr Kenyatta come out far stringer than Mr Odinga repossession of grabbed land without compensation and punishment for land grabbers.
The academic-turned State Bureaucrat-turned politician is yet another fringe candidate who performed impressively at the first debate.He came out particularly strong on his areas of expertise, education and environment; and also debated with ease on health and security.However, Prof James ole Kiyiapi did little to suggest that he can make the transition from scholar and administrator to skippering the ship of state.The Restore and Build Kenya presidential candidate has on the final campaign forays been expressing a growing frustration that his bid is not getting traction.He has been blaming the media, opinion pollsters and even rival candidates, and it will be interesting to see whether he brings his grouses to the debate.
For a candidate touting his experience in leadership and the middle-of-the-road stance that should make him safe pair of hands and a unifying factor, the Amani coalition candidate came across rather flat in the first debate.Mr Musalia Mudavadi would have been expected to put on a flawless performance on economic, development and governance issues.Instead he seems to have drifted-off very early. When it became a rather fluid debate in the second half when the participants were competing to catch moderator Julie Gichuru’s eye, Mr Mudavadi became very much the forgotten man.He hardly raised his hand or came up with any interjections, being overshadowed by all the candidates he outranks in the opinion polls. If he wants to remain the Third Force, he will definitely have to up his game.
The former Kikuyu MP and fabled crusader in the campaign for democratisation almost threw a spanner into the works ahead of the first debate.Mr Paul Muite and Mr Abduba Dida were late entrants in the presidential race and thus had not been included for the debate until the former went to court.Once in the debate Mr Muite did not disappoint, putting in a powerful and assured performance.The surprise was when he almost came out as an advocate for Mr Kenyatta on the ICC and eligibility issues.If Mr Kenyatta will be absent on Monday evening, it might provide another opportunity for Mr Muite to try and catch the eye of central Kenya voters.
If his chief rival Uhuru Kenyatta stays away, Mr Raila Odinga will be the man in the spotlight during the debate.That will not necessarily be a good thing because the focus will shift to the negative issues that blight his candidacy.Land is an issue that Mr Odinga has relentlessly hit Mr Kenyatta on, but it might be his turn to explain the controversial acquisition of the Kisumu Molasses factory.Mr Odinga might also find that while the land issue excite his base and has Mr Kenyatta cowering, it cuts both ways.Thus it was not surprising that on a campaign jaunt in the Rift Valley just days to the debate, he was forced to clarify that he was not for land and property seizures.In the constituencies that Mr Odinga needs to woo, his campaign on land is interpreted as indicative of a radical socialist out to grab land and property.If the other contenders want to make a mark in the debate, it might be by putting Mr Odinga on the defensive. He will have to be at his nimblest to a parry the blows that will come his way.

The Kikuyus: Kenya's largest ethnic tribe

Kikuyus: Kenya's largest ethnic tribe

  Kikuyu woman harvesting tea 
The Kikuyu tribe is a Bantu tribe that neighbors the Embu, Mbeere and Meru tribes around Mount Kenya.

They are Kenya's most popular and the largest ethnic tribe, making up 22 percent of the country's population.The Kikuyus, also known as Gikuyu or Agikuyu, have been known since the colonial times as a tribe that wields a lot of political and economic influence in Kenya. Kikuyus speak the Kikuyu language, and most of them live around the fertile central highlands and Mount Kenya where they mainly grow tea and coffee.

History of the Kikuyus

Kikuyus are believed to have come from West Africa along with other Bantu tribes. They finally settled along Mount Kenya where they began their main activity of farming the fertile volcanic highlands. Kikuyus were good friends with the Maasai and the two tribes often traded goods and inter-married. However, when the British came to Nairobi, they confiscated some of the Kikuyus' fertile land, leaving them with only a small piece to cultivate. Frustrated with the loss of their land and the colonial rule, the Kikuyus formed a rebellion group, the Mau Mau, and entered into war with the British. This war eventually led to Kenya's independence.

Although many Kikuyus have migrated to the main urban city of Nairobi and other towns, their territories still remain along Mount Kenya and the central highlands, including Nyeri, Muranga, Kiambu, and Kirinyaga regions of Kenya.

Kikuyu language, culture & lifestyle

Today, a majority of the Agikuyu are found in Nairobi and Kenya's Central Province. Many have also migrated to other Kenyan towns and cities where they're involved in small business ventures, while others work in other areas. A good number of Kikuyus have moved onto the west side of the Rift Valley, into what was traditionally Kalenjin territory. There they work as large-scale farmers growing major cash crops of tea and coffee.

Due to their history of economic success, the majority of Kikuyus are well educated. Their ability to adapt to new realities has resulted in the Kikuyu, including those who live in the rural areas, adopting many aspects of modern culture.
Prof. Wangari Maathai from the Kikuyu tribeFoto: Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai

Traditionally, a Kikuyu husband could marry more than one wife if he could afford to care for them. Paying a dowry (bride price) is still an important aspect of their culture. Although some of the Kikuyu culture has eroded, the Kikuyu language is still predominantly spoken, especially in the urban areas where a majority of people speak English and Swahili. The Kikuyu language has almost become Kenya's third language of choice.

When it comes to food, music, marriage ceremonies and everyday family life, most Kikuyus still uphold their cultural traditions. In addition to maintaining their economic stability, the Kikuyu tribe have continued to dominate leadership and politics in Kenya.The first Kenyan president, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was a Kikuyu; Kenya's third and current president, his Excellency Emilio Mwai Kibaki, is also a Kikuyu and so is the late Professor Wangari Maathai, Africa's first female Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The River-Lake and fishing tribe of Kenya (The Luos)

The River-Lake and fishing tribe of Kenya

The Kenyan Luo tribe is a subgroup of the larger Luo community that spans across Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Congo and Ethiopia.
Luo fishing in Kenya
The people of Kenya are comprised of 42 ethnic groups or tribes, each with its own unique values, skills, language and cultural practices. The luo tribe is the third largest community in Kenya and makes up close to 13% of the entire population. History suggests that the Luo travelled along the River Nile from Sudan. They made entry into Kenya around 500 years ago and established settlements in the lands surrounding Lake Victoria- Africa’s biggest fresh water lake. Their arrival took place in phases. The first groups to arrive were:
  • The Joka-jok who were closely followed by Jo-k'Owiny.
  • Jok’ Omolo came in third and the Luo Abasuba made the final arrival.

Did you know?

  • The Luo Abasuba are as a result of intermarriage between the Luo and Ugandan Bantu. Currently, the Luo community has 26 sub groups.
  • Luos, a Nilotic people, also live in smaller numbers in Uganda and Tanzania. In Kenya, the Luo reside in the regions around Lake Victoria. The Lango and Acholi tribes of Uganda are considered to be clans of the Luo tribe since their language is similar to the Luo language, Dholuo.

Luo Culture, Lifestyle & Religion

Luo people are among the few Kenyan tribes that do not traditionally circumcise their males as an initiation to manhood. Instead, in Luo traditions, initiation involves the removal of six teeth from the lower jaw. 

Another unique Luo custom is wife inheritance whereby, if a man dies, one of his brothers or close relatives inherits his widow and must meet all of her marital requirements. The Luo mourning ceremony, tero buru, is still widely practiced. This is a unique, elaborate and dramatic ceremony that symbolizes the departure of a loved one.

While most Luos are now Christians, many still uphold most of their traditional cultural customs. This is especially true for those living in the rural areas. However, some of the Luo cultural practices now regarded as retrogressive are slowly fading away, such as wife inheritance. As well, recent efforts have been made to promote male circumcision among the Luo, Teso and Turkana people, to help curb the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Perhaps one of the most interesting and noticeable attributes common among the elite, educated or urban Luo people is their flamboyant character and sense of style, in addition to their polished and eloquent command of the English language, otherwise known as The Queen's English.

Political History of the Luo

Under British colonial rule, the Luo people did not have their land taken from them, unlike some other Kenyan tribes. The Luo community has been a key player in the Kenyan political scene since the pre-colonial times. Some of its favored sons in the pre-colonial and post-colonial period include.
  • Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
  • Ochieng Aneko
  • Tom Mboya
  • Robert Ouko
  • Raila Odinga
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
Being the first vice president of Kenya, he arguably was the biggest force in the Luo political landscape at the time. He was deemed to follow a communist approach and was an exact foil of the founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. His differences with the president later led him to pioneer the birth of opposition politics in Kenya. Interestingly, the Luo community still continues to stage opposition politics today. He died in 1994.
Tom Mboya
He was a trade unionist and active minister during the post-colonial period. His short political career saw him accomplish many feats. He not only had links with Obama [Senior], father to renowned U.S president, but also had an overwhelming support across the country. He was however assassinated in 1963.
Raila Odinga
Son to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, he is one of the current big wigs in the Kenyan political scene. Apart from being a prime minister of Kenya under the current grand coalition government, he is one of the core contenders for the presidential position in 2013.
Raila Odinga - Prime Minister of Kenya from the luo tribe
Foto: Raila Amolo Odinga - The Prime Minister of The Republic of Kenya

Kenya's other famous People from the Luo Tribe

Other well-known Luo people include Washington Jalang'o Okumu, James Orengo, Obama [Senior] - the late father of Barack Obama, the current president of the United States of America, was from the Luo tribe. The Luo tribe has traditionally produced many scholars and other educated persons, including some who have graduated from very prestigious colleges around the world. As a result, Luo professionals are dominant in nearly every area of the Kenyan economy, business and government, serving as university professors, doctors, engineers and lawyers.

Luo economic activity and Food

For Luos living in rural areas, freshwater fishing in Lake Victoria is the most important economic activity. The fish are consumed locally while some, especially the Nile perch, are exported to Europe and other countries. Fish and ugali (Kuon) are the staple foods of the Luo tribe. Agriculture, especially sugarcane and cotton farming, is also practiced in other areas where Luos live.

Where Luo people live today

Although many Luos are found in big cities and towns like Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru where they live and work, majority are still concentrated in the rural areas and in:
  • Kisumu city and surrounding areas of Kisumu County
  • Bondo town and surrounding areas of Siaya County
  • the fishing towns along Homa Bay beach in Homa Bay County
  • the Southern Migori County

Luo Tribe History and Culture

Luo Tribe History and Culture 

Guest Author - Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu

The Luo tribe is Nilotic tribe descended from pastoral nomads who migrated south from Southern Sudan to the land around Lake Victoria near the end of the 15th Century. They migrated in at least five waves starting approximately 1500 AD. The Luo gradually displaced the Bantu-speaking tribes living in the region that were the ancestors of the modern Luhya and Kisii (Gusii) tribes. By the 1840's the Luo had formed a tight knit society with ruodhi or regional chiefs or kings.

Hand Beaded Luo PurseThe Luo tribe currently lives in western Kenya, northern Tanzania, northern and eastern Uganda, and southern Sudan. The Luo tribe makes up 12% of Kenya's population and is the third largest tribe behind the Kikuyu and Luhya tribes. The Luo tribe consists of 12 subgroups or sub-tribes. They are also known as Lwo, Jaluo or Joluo.

The Luo generally speak three languages: Dholuo (their mother-tongue or tribal language) Swahili, and English.

Marriage and death are considered important rites of passage. At one time, polygamy was very common within the Luo tribe. Men were allowed to marry up to five women. Even today, dowry (in a ceremony called Ayie) is paid by the groom to the bride's family for the bride. The dowry usually consists of cattle and/or money. Traditionally, marriages were arranged by matchmakers, but this practice has also fallen out of favor.

Traditionally, the Luo believe in an afterlife and supreme creator, Nyasaye. They also have a strong ancestor cult. The Luo have many traditional rituals. The first major ritual is called "Juogi". This is the naming ceremony and occurs sometime between birth and age two. An ancestor will appear to a family member in a dream and the child will be named after that ancestor. Only good ancestors have the power to apper to family members in dreams. Children are rarely named after bad ancestors. Today most Luo tribe members are Christian.

The Luo tribe does not practice male circumcision. Instead the removal of the six lower front teeth is done in an initiation. This practice has fallen out of favor.

Famous members of the Luo tribe include:
Barack Obama - U.S. Senator from Illinois, U.S. President Elect
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga - Vice-President to Jomo Kenyatta from 1963 to 1966
Raila Amolo Odinga - Opponent to Mwai Kibaki in the 2007 Kenyan presidential elections. Currently Prime Minister of Kenya.
Ayub Ogada - Singer, composer and performer on the nyatiti also known as the Luo lyre.

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Joining hands for peace

By DAVE OPIYO  ( email the author)

Presidential candidates were on Sunday united in calling for a peaceful election and vowed that the country will never again witness a repeat of the violence that occurred after the 2007 poll.
A meeting that had been convened at Uhuru Park by charismatic preacher David Owuor to pray for peaceful elections also saw two of the country’s biggest political rivals, Cord flag bearer Raila Odinga and Jubilee running mate William Ruto reconcile.
The two have openly differed on various issues including the eviction of those who had settled in the Mau water catchment area and how the Prime Minister had handled the International Criminal Court (ICC) matter.
But on Sunday, the PM said the two met last year and agreed to bury the hatchet, revelations that were confirmed by Mr Ruto.
“I can confirm what the PM has said. We have indeed forgiven each other,” said Mr Ruto amid applause from the thousands of people who had attended the prayer meeting. “We have also forgiven all those who have wronged us and equally ask for forgiveness to all we have wronged.”
Mr Odinga also said he had repented all the sins he may have committed and said his wish was to see the March 4 election held in a peaceful manner.
“This is a great day for Kenya. We left Egypt more than 50 years ago and have been wandering in the desert since. We have now reached the shores of Canaan,” he said.
The country’s leadership has been under pressure from the international community to ensure that Kenya does not witness a repeat of the 2007 violence that led to the deaths of 1,133 people and led to the displacement of over 350,000 others.
Also present at the event was the Jubilee Coalition’s presidential candidate, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, Ms Martha Karua, the Narc Kenya flag bearer, Mr Peter Kenneth of the Eagle Coalition and Mr Mohammed Dida of the Alliance for Real Change.
Conspicuously absent was Amani Coalition’s presidential candidate Musalia Mudavadi and Safina’s Paul Muite.
Mr Mudavadi was at a Catholic church service in Voi while Mr Muite sent his running mate, Shem Ochuodho, to represent him.
Mr Odinga also sent apologies on behalf of his running mate, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, who was attending a Jesus Celebration Centre service in Bamburi, Mombasa.
The leaders later held hands and embraced before the thousands of people who attended the prayer meeting.
Mr Kenyatta said the violence that almost took the country to the brink in 2007/08 was a thing of the past.
“I, Uhuru Kenyatta, swear that we shall maintain peace in our campaigns. We shall also tell our supporters across the country to do so since Kenya is bigger than any of us,” he said.
Mr Kenyatta said the race for the country’s leadership should not create enmity between the candidates and promised that he would be the first to congratulate the winner if he himself loses.
Ms Karua and Prof Kiyiapi also made a pledge to preach peace.
“I am feeling humbled standing before all Kenyans and assuring them that we shall play our part in ensuring that these elections are held in a peaceful atmosphere. To all my supporters, please do the same,” said Ms Karua.
And Prof Kiyiapi said: “I join my other colleagues in also promising that we shall play our role in ensuring peaceful elections.”
Mr Kenneth said that since all the candidates, including himself, had made the pledge, Kenyans should now ensure that the leaders delivered on it.
“We have to be held accountable for all our pledges,” said Mr Kenneth while asking his competitors to ensure that whatever they say between now and the elections day promotes peace.
“We must never again allow a repeat of what occurred in 2007. After March 4, the real winner should be Kenyans.”
Mr Dida said it is only through peace that the country will prosper.
He said for those asking to be forgiven for the wrongs they might have committed must first own up and if they had illegally taken anyone’s property, it must be returned.
Dr Owuor said following the move by the leaders to preach peace, Kenya had been reborn.
“Today is a special day for the country. Kenya is now born again. It will now have peace…Kenyans will now have peaceful elections.”