Sunday, 30 June 2013

Obama refusal to visit Kenya will have consequences

Posted  Friday, June 28  2013 at  18:57

US President Barack Obama is no friend of Kenya. Consider that when no other country ever declared a public holiday to celebrate his election victory in 2008, Kenya did. The Senegalese had no idea and the Tanzanians and South Africans were green with envy.
Consider also that when President Obama needed good genes to get into Harvard Law School, a Kenyan contributed 50 per cent. When Mr Obama needed pictures of himself carrying cassava to the market to get through a bruising campaign, Kenya obliged.
In fact, Kenya provided the story of his African ancestry — complete with the heroic role his grandfather played in the Mau Mau struggle for independence. He even visited the country as a junior senator for Illinois, and was welcomed with open arms.
Now that he is President, Kenya is not good enough to visit.
The excuse for his refusal is laughable. Fears of being photographed at State House in the company of the country’s two leaders who face crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court have apparently forced him to skirt his father’s homeland as if it were a leper colony.
Did the country not conduct peaceful elections this year that the Supreme Court passed as the cleanest in the country’s history? He has permitted a little domestic quarrel about power to prevent him from taking a mere photograph with the legitimate leadership of Kenya just because of claims that 1,133 people died and 600,000 others were displaced as a result of their combined genius.
Has Kenya not recovered from the violence that nearly tore the country apart in 2008, passing a modern and progressive Constitution?
Only this year, Mr Obama pretended to care for Kenya by promising that those willing to walk the path of progress would “continue to have a strong friend and partner in the United States of America”.
Instead of holding up Kenya as a beacon of democracy and prosperity that has survived 50 years of independence, Mr Obama has gone looking for examples in Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa. He should know that Kenya wrote the encyclopaedia of African democracy.
It is incongruous that Mr Obama would want to discuss good governance with toddlers in African democracy. Anyone who needs a manual on how to run elections needs to look no further than Kenya.
Anyone who is keen on creating a youthful leadership on the backbone of integrity need not look further than Nairobi. Mr Obama wanted to discuss political parties? Kenya has over 50. It can teach Africans not just about democracy, it can also instruct them on justice.
For all its exemplary political conduct, what does Kenya get? Bad press and a presidential snub! Other than having Nelson Mandela, South Africa has nothing on Kenya. The lions in Tanzania are all Kenyan.
Mr Obama seems to be oblivious of the numerous sacrifices many Kenyans have quietly made to bring him to where he is. Numerous Kenyans, working as immigrants, have lifted the American economy from the ignominy of the world economic crisis.
Kenya has allowed thousands of Americans to work as spies, marines, teachers, researchers and what-not just to cover Mr Obama’s vulnerability in failing to create jobs at home. His truancy in dodging the call of his ancestral home invites punishment commensurate with his mischief.
Mr Obama should think long and hard about the effect of Kenya demanding the repatriation of all its resources stolen to benefit America – starting with six pints of his blood, 16 of his teeth and 50 per cent of his brain. The rest should follow in due course.
Choices have consequences.

Raila: Jubilee won’t force me to quit politics

The Former Prime Minster Raila Odinga at  Capitol Hill Square Offices Nairobi on June28,2013. Raila said Jubilee won’t force him to quit politics. PHOTO/WILLIAM OERI 
The Former Prime Minster Raila Odinga at Capitol Hill Square Offices Nairobi on June28,2013. Raila said Jubilee won’t force him to quit politics. PHOTO/WILLIAM OERI  
Posted  Saturday, June 29  2013 at  21:03
At a hotel in Ivory Coast’s largest city Abidjan 10 days ago, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa bounded across the lobby to greet Cord leader Raila Odinga.
Mr Mkapa is well known for his bubbly, jovial demeanour but this time he had a concerned look on his face.
“Raila,” he said. “Ni jambo gani hii nasoma kwa magazeti ati wewe huwezi tumia VIP (lounge) JKIA? (What is this I hear that you cannot use the VIP lounge at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi?).”
“It is true,” Mr Odinga said. “You and (Frederick) Sumaye (former Prime Minister of Tanzania) can use the VIP lounge in Kenya but I cannot.”
Mr Odinga told that story with a chuckle in an interview with the Sunday Nation on Friday.
But he was making a more serious point. The ODM party leader has in the recent past become the target of what appears to be a campaign of intimidation and bullying by elements within the government, including the withdrawal of most security personnel assigned to him and the vehicles they used.
One of the country’s most senior political figures now travels around without a police escort and his personal security detail has been cut down to the bare minimum. He and his family were also notoriously subjected to humiliation when they were barred from using the VIP lounges at the airport three weeks ago while on trips to Kisumu and a second time before Mr Odinga travelled to the US.
The disputes Mr Odinga has engaged in with the authorities and the repeated security breaches at his offices have raised questions about the maturity of the nation’s democratic culture.
In stable democracies on the continent such as Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Mauritius and Tanzania, former presidents, vice- presidents and prime ministers are offered state security and reasonable levels of compensation after leaving office.
Mr Odinga said the Jubilee administration should borrow a leaf from those countries although he was at pains not to blame the treatment to which he has been subjected directly to either President Kenyatta or Deputy President William Ruto.
“I am ordinarily not the complaining type,” Mr Odinga said. “I recognise that there is another government in power and they are entitled to their attitudes. But I think we should be a civilised country that respects its citizens. Everybody has rights: children, the sick, the disabled, the infirm, the aged, everybody. At every stage of life people should be treated with respect. It’s a culture we should institutionalise.”
The Cord leader pointed to the almost total withdrawal of the security personnel assigned to him to illustrate his point.
“In my home (in Karen) there is only one person. When he is asleep, I have nobody there. The guards assigned to my home are not provided with transport. That leaves the question whether they are supposed to carry guns in a matatu. I was a Prime Minister who was an equal partner with the President.
That’s why I had 20 ministers and Kibaki had 20 ministers. They say I’m not entitled to anything. I am not a VIP. Look what they do for the others. Nyayo (former President Moi) is given six cars. Kibaki has 25 guards. He has been given a budget of Sh250 million for an office. What about me? Don’t I have things to do? I have not been paid even a single cent in pension since I left office. Yet I served as an MP for 20 years, as a minister and prime minister. How am I supposed to survive for the rest of my life?”
Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia declined to comment and asked that all inquiries be directed to Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo. When Mr Kimaiyo was reached, he said he was in meetings and could not discuss the issue.
Key leaders in government, including House Majority Leader Aden Duale, have demanded that Mr Odinga retires from politics before he can receive any retirement benefits but the former PM dismissed this out of hand.
“I am not their subject. I can’t be ordered around by the spokesmen of people. They never brought me into politics and they can’t force me to retire. I will not be held to ransom because of benefits.
It’s a carrot they are dangling before me but they should be more civilised. I have a mission in politics and it is to serve the people. Only they can tell me to retire and not some government functionaries.”

Home Opinion and Editorial Comment Comment Murder, she wrote... and attached stamped copies of PIN and ID

By Joachim Buwembo

Posted  Saturday, June 29  2013 at  11:30

I have always wondered why Kenya has the biggest economy in the East African Community when it is really poor in natural resources compared with Uganda and Tanzania, and is not extremely far ahead in human skills development either.
But rewinding the conversations I have held over the years with people from the three countries, some pattern started to emerge in my mind.
There are certain words that are common with ordinary Kenyan folk that you can go years without hearing in Uganda and Tanzania, unless you work on court premises.
English words like “injunction,” “caveat” and “affidavit” are used by ordinary Kenyans while even educated Ugandans and Tanzanians may not readily define them.
It is possible that one of the factors slowing down progress in our countries is the failure to legalise relationships and transactions. But Kenyans appear to know their interests and are ready to defend them. They invoke the law at every opportunity.
Those who say America is a highly litigant society should try Kenya.
Kenyans will go to court to sort out a family dispute, they will call a lawyer where Ugandans call the priest and Tanzanians consult an elder. This resorting to the law can be a good thing for modernisation.
With globalisation closing in fast on us, it is high time we stopped assuming that everybody will treat us the way they want us to treat them.
It could be that due to lack of “free” food and “free” land in Kenya, people have to think twice as fast as their neighbours to stay alive.
In Uganda, if you fail to make in town, you return to the village where there is free food. I doubt if there is a village in Kenya where you can get free food, so you may as well remain in town and think hard.
Even in the village, you must be alert to anybody threatening your means of survival and quickly run to the law to secure your interests. So, if someone wants to transact on a piece of land in which you have an interest, you quickly lodge a caveat. If your brother wants to sell property and you disagree, you get an injunction.
The first real person I ever knew to use an affidavit was a Kenyan shamba boy working some 130 kilometres north of Nairobi.
He had wormed his way into the heart of his lady boss and quickly persuaded her to swear an affidavit attesting to the formality of their relationship, when her feelings for him were still quite warm. A few years later he had become a rich man.
I think Ugandans and Tanzanians need to get a bit more legal in this world where traditional values are disappearing.
We need to learn to sign contracts even with family members whom we employ in our small businesses so we can hold them to account. We should learn to take friends and relatives who take advantage of us to court. We should stop listening to uncles and aunties who plead for their thieving children and let the law take its course.
Once the culture of holding people to account takes root, we can start taking officials and leaders to court for failing to deliver services, or for outright theft of our resources.
Joachim Buwembo is a Knight International fellow for development journalism. E-mail:

In the words of Raila Amollo Odinga:Best untold stories About Raila. (WISDOM).

"When Mkapa asked me about this (being denied the use of the VIP lounge), I told him the story of the tortoise. Somebody met the tortoise on the path and decided to punish it. He picked it up and threw it into the river. He didn't know that the river was the tortoise's second home. The tortoise was happy. It began to swim and enjoy its new environment. They say I am not a VIP and thrown me to the public. They don't know that's where I am the happiest." end of quote.



Why Kethi is the chosen one for Makueni Senate seat

Posted  Saturday, June 29   2013 at  17:56

Let me tell you something you already suspect, and can take to the bank. Star lawyer Kethi Kilonzo is the Chosen One. That’s because she has the goods – the whole works. I mean the entire kit and caboodle – the brains, pedigree, and the looks.
That’s why she won’t need any kamuti – the legendary Kamba sorcery – to scoop the Makueni Senate seat. This is what her opponents – who are political desperados – must concede. She’ll crush them like the proverbial bugs.
Methinks the great Makueni people know a good thing when they see one. That’s why they will send the apple of the late Mutula Kilonzo’s eye to the Senate. Her foes are spent, and belong to yesterday. She’s Kenya’s tomorrow.
Ms Kilonzo will face off against two politicians with a checkered history. One is former Kilome MP Harun Mwau, whom US President Barack Obama once accused of involvement in a drugs-related crime.
But Ms Kilonzo’s main opponent is lacklustre former MP Philip Kaloki, the Narc-Jubilee candidate.
Mr Kaloki has many questions to answer, which he can’t – and won’t. His claim of the title of “professor” from an American college needs further scrutiny. Which college was it, and is it accredited? How and when did he become a professor? Has he ever published any academic papers? What did he teach? Does he hold any earned degrees, and from which university?
He must tell the people of Makueni the whole truth. But let me tell you why Ms Kilonzo is a child of providence. In William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, there’s a pithy truism that’s entered the annals of history. It says “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them”.
Born great
Rarely has one person been blessed with all three. Very few people who are “born great” and “have greatness thrust upon them” ever “achieve greatness”. But Ms Kilonzo has.
Most princes and princesses are defined by mediocrity, or utter ineptitude. They live on the family name, never to achieve anything of substance on their own. They undeservedly – and scandalously – inherit treasure and power just because of their family name. Ms Kilonzo has earned her stripes.
In March, Ms Kilonzo struck Kenya like a thunderbolt. We know the father, a Senior Counsel, was a larger-than-life figure in legal circles.
He laid to waste many an opposing counsel before the bench. He did it with panache and the old fashioned way – by cutting them up with a razor sharp legal mind and merciless wit.
Little did most Kenyans know that he had sired a replica, except for the gender. It’s true the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In the biggest stage of her life, Ms Kilonzo wowed the country with her masterful debut performance at the Supreme Court as lead counsel for Africog, the NGO that sought to nullify Jubilee’s victory.
Ms Kilonzo was eloquent and charismatic. She not only showed a command of the law, but demonstrated – beyond the shadow of a doubt – that she understood what democracy is all about.
Even ardent opponents applauded her brilliant performance. She outshone – and outwitted – every lawyer in that courtroom. That the case didn’t go her way is neither here, nor there.
Even Mr Kilonzo, the old maestro, couldn’t conceal his pride as he watched his daughter “slice and dice” seasoned colleagues from a few seats back. We knew then that we were watching history in the making. A star had been born. We knew instinctively that this wasn’t the last we would hear of this human rights champion. We were right.
It’s clear that political intriguers are out to snatch the Makueni seat from under Ms Kilonzo’s nose. I’m sure Jubilee and its affiliate parties – especially Narc – would love nothing more than to stick it to the late Senator.
He was, after all, a fierce opponent of the Jubilee duo of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. He vigorously opposed their candidacy, and insisted that the Constitution barred them on account of The Hague trials for crimes against humanity.
His voice on the International Criminal Court was resolute, clear, and unwavering. There was no love lost between him and Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto. Ms Kilonzo’s passionate argument against Jubilee at the Supreme Court put her in her dad’s political shoes.
Then we got a doozy. Mr Kilonzo’s widow – Ms Nduku Kilonzo – was temporarily prevailed upon to challenge her step-daughter. I think we all smelt a rotten rat there. This would have been tragic and shameful. The late Kilonzo would have abhorred such subterfuge. I am also sure he would have wanted his favourite daughter – not his second wife – to succeed him if the people of Makueni so wished.
Some “dark forces” tried to split the family, but the ground in Makueni was too hostile. That’s why Jubilee shelved the “attempted coup” and went for Plan B. Ms Kilonzo’s election would be a first – she would be the only woman elected to the Senate. That’s worth all the gold in the world.
I am glad Mrs Nduku Kilonzo realised that parents aren’t supposed to “eat their young”. Opposing her step-daughter would have been a “fool’s errand” to nowhere. She must now wholeheartedly get behind Ms Kilonzo.
I don’t even have to invoke my crystal ball to see that Ms Kilonzo will devastate both Mr Mwau and Mr Kaloki. Of the three, she is the only one with the timber to effectively represent Makueni in the Senate. Ms Kilonzo has all the tools – she’s the Chosen One.
Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC. Twitter @makaumutua

Old Cambrian Society: In Memory of Geoffrey W. Griffin, OGH, MBS, OBE (Founder of Starehe Boys Centre)

Geoffrey W. Griffin, OGH, MBS, OBE

House: Grigg/Junior Prefect
Years: January 1945 to July 1950

    A Note by Webmaster Steve Le Feuvre (Clive 1970-1975)
    It has been my wish for some time to post an obituary on the web site for Old Cambrian, Geoffrey Griffin who died in Nairobi in June 2005. Griffin was clearly one of the better known Old Cambrians living in Kenya, quite a number of whom have contacted me about the need for a web site recognition. Thanks to contributors such as Peter Hays and Paul Heim, and particularly to Brian McIntosh who volunteered to coordinate and write this piece, that long-overdue goal is now accomplished.

    Starehe in Kiswahili means be at ease. Geoffrey Griffin was the founder and Director of the Starehe Boys Centre which began nearly fifty years ago as two tin huts sheltering a handful of homeless boys. Since then it has grown to become the famous Starehe School with over a thousand pupils and a counterpart school for girls. At Griffin’s funeral in Nairobi on July 8th 2005, Kenya’s President delivered the eulogy and thousands of Kenyans turned out to show their respect and appreciation.

    I never had the pleasure of meeting Geoffrey Griffin, but I remember him coming to a couple of events at Nairobi School when I was there, including one speech day. I invite anyone who knew him at school or during his years at Starehe to contact me with their personal memories of this remarkable and renowned Old Cambrian.

    Geoffrey Griffin, OGH, MBS, OBE13 June 1933 - 28 June 2005
    (Obituary appearing in The Times, August 18, 2005, and reprinted in the Kenya
    Regiment Association’s mini-SITREP XXVIII, June 2006.)
    While the G8 summit leaders were focusing their minds on Africa, the world lost a man whose inspiration and dedication made poverty history for thousands of young Kenyans. In 1959 Geoffrey Griffin rescued a handful of destitute boys, found roaming the streets of Nairobi. It was the time of the Mau Mau freedom fighters, when orphan children, forced to flee ravaged homes in the countryside, headed for the city. From this simple action grew the Starehe Boys' Centre, an institution that became one of the most successful schools in Kenya, if not in all of Africa.

    Geoffrey William Griffin was born on June 13 in 1933 in Eldoret, Kenya, the son of an English police officer, who went to serve in Kenya in 1919, and an English mother, born in India. Griffin was educated firstly at Kitale Primary School and then the Prince of Wales School where he ended up as the school editor and headed the school's scout troop, later qualifying as Kenya's first King's Scout. When he left school he became a cadet for training in the Survey of Kenya.

    When the State of Emergency was declared in 1952, Griffin completed NS training with the Kenya Regiment, served in the Special Police Reserve and was later commissioned into the 3 KAR as a 2Lt. But after fourteen months he became sickened by the brutality of the struggle, increasingly impressed by the justice of the rebels' cause. When his commission expired he returned home, a soldier no more.

    “He joined the Kenyan Civil Service, and in 1964-98 he was the founding director of the National Youth Service. Starehe started in two tin huts, donated by Kenya Shell and BP. The early days of the centre were extremely difficult, with the country in turmoil and suspicion rampant over the criminals in Griffin's care. For a short time he even lost his government job which was the only source of income for the school.

    Griffin was, however, skilled at attracting support. ‘Save the Children’ was an early supporter and when in 1971 its president, Princess Anne visited the school, it was her first overseas visit on behalf of the Fund. The visit was filmed by Blue Peter, the BBC children's programme, which later raised £3,000 for the school. Through its sponsorship programme, ‘Save the Children’ was able to pay for the education of thousands of boys.

    In 1990, Griffin and his school joined the Round Square organisation. Starehe's value to the community was proven during flash flooding in Nairobi, in which the school's boat service saved many lives. Many Starehe boys spend their holidays in the bush, helping in small medical clinics, and none of them lose the sense of belonging to Starehe. When the Olympic athlete Paul Ereng won gold in the 800m event in Seoul, he asked to have his medal presented to him again, in front of his school, by his revered headmaster and father. Griffin's work brought much recognition including Moran of the Burning Spear in 1970 from President Kenyatta, Order of the Golden Heart in 1986 from President Moi, and he was appointed an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in 2002.

    The two original huts still stand at the centre of Starehe School, now a beautiful campus with hall, chapel, library, dormitories and class¬rooms. Three quarters of the 1,056 boys are paid for by sponsorship from around the world. Griffin lived to see his other long-held dream realised; the founding of the Starehe Girls' Centre in 2004. In his book School Mastery (1994) Griffin writes: "It is not enough to give shelter, food and medical care to a poor boy unless one also educates him to stand on his own feet in life." (Peter Hays, a contributor to this obituary feature, points out that the school acquired a reputation for excellence throughout Africa, resulting in many prominent people from other countries, including General Gowon the President of Nigeria, sending their sons to Starehe.)

    Griffin never married - being boss of the National Youth Service and Starehe was very demanding and took up all his personal life and time. It was for this reason that his fiancée had left him in 1967, for when she learnt of his 16 hour-a-day commitment to these two jobs, she realised there would be no time for a family.

    Upon hearing of his death on 28 June 2005, the Kenya Parliament finished its business so the Deputy Speaker could pay tribute to Griffin. Griffin's funeral, a joyful procession of more than 15,000 Kenyans, was attended by President and Mrs. Kibaki.”

    Geoffrey Griffin, OBE, Headmaster, was born on June 13, 1933. He died on June 28, 2005, aged 72, and is buried inside the chapel of the Starehe Boys School. Thousands of old boys of the school, some of whom had flown in from overseas, were in attendance.
    G.W. Griffin on the occasion of his being awarded the honorary Degree of Doctor of Education by Kenyatta University for his services to the Starehe School and to Kenya education in general. A copy of this photo appeared in the Kenya Regiment Association’s mini-SITREP XXVIII, June 2006, which is reproduced here by kind permission of the magazine’s editor, Bruce Rooken-Smith.

    Extracts from the speech by His Excellency Hon. Mwai Kibaki, C.G.H., M.P, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kenya, during the burial ceremony of the late Geoffrey Griffin at Starehe Boys’ Centre, Nairobi on 8th July, 2005.

    “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a sad day for all of us, as we gather to pay our last respects to our dear friend and teacher. The late Dr. Geoffrey Griffin was indeed a true patriot and a great friend of Kenya’s youth. Dr. Griffin had a vision and a calling to help destitute children. He was faithful to this calling, and today, we are witnesses to the remarkable legacy that he has bequeathed to the youth of this country. As we pay homage to his departed soul, this is an opportune time to celebrate his life, his achievements and his dedication to our country

    “The greatest honour we can bestow upon the late Griffin is to continue with his noble efforts to provide Kenyan children with an education and to ensure the sustainability of this institution. Equally important, we must also uphold Griffin’s concept of training the whole person. As many of you will agree, Griffin’s philosophy of giving maximum trust and responsibility to students themselves and his emphasis on the intellectual and character development of students, is education in its best and widest sense.

    “This tradition must be upheld if Starehe is to continue to be a center of excellence that produces outstanding graduates. Personally, I have had the privilege of serving with Griffin during my 35 years as patron of Starehe Boys Center. During this period we shared our vision for the future of this country. Indeed, during this period I closely interacted with a man who showed great courage in the face of many challenges. In him lay a solid passion, undivided attention and love for Kenya’s youth.

    “We must not forget that it was Griffin’s dream to see Starehe grow into a vibrant, internationally acknowledged institution of higher learning. We must not allow this vision to pass away with him. I challenge the Board of Directors of Starehe, the Old Boys association, well-wishers, corporate firms and charitable institutions to explore the possibility of establishing a Griffin Trust Fund dedicated to the education of destitute children and the realization of the noble dream of a Starehe University. On its part, my Government will continue to partner with Starehe with a view to keeping the late Griffin’s vision alive.” (For the President’s entire speech, Click here).

    Brian McIntosh (Rhodes, 1953-59), writes:
    Like Webmaster Steve Le Feuvre, I never met Geoffrey Griffin, but I was certainly aware of the existence of the Starehe Boys Center during my years in Kenya. After coming across his obituary in the Kenya Regiment Association’s mini-SITREP XXVIII of June 2006, I was astonished to realize that no mention of him existed on the Old Cambrian website. (Griffin’s Regimental number, by the way, was KR4233.) But thanks to the Herculean accomplishment of Martin Langley (Nicholson, 1956-61) in producing the Impala Magazine CD in 2006, I was able to dig up the following information about Griffin both as a school boy and an Old Cambrian.

    Although he joined the Prince of Wales School in January 1945, G.W. Griffin does not appear to rate a mention in the school magazine until the June 1948 issue when he was listed among the boys who passed the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate. This is perfectly normal, given that prior to School Cert one was either a lowly rabble or a spotty-faced adolescent whom nobody bothered to notice. It was even worse if one was also a stinker or day boy, as Griffin appears to have been, a Mr. and Mrs. Griffin having attended a luncheon for parents of day boys hosted by headmaster Phillip Fletcher on June 13 1948.

    Yet Griffin’s day as a leader was about to dawn. In the December 1948 Impala we read that:
      “A Scout Troop was formed here when the School began, but it had disappeared before the war. During the August holidays, however, it was revived in the fertile and energetic mind of G. W. Griffin; and at the beginning of term he started a Troop among the Juniors and Intermediates. There are now 40 boys in the Troop. A Senior Patrol of eight boys has just been started in New House, and it is hoped that the same thing will happen in other Houses in the near future. We particularly congratulate G.W. Griffin on the revival of the 2nd Nairobi Scout troop.

    Further achievements and recognition were soon to follow, as reported in the scouting section of the July 1949 Impala:

      “The Group is making extremely good progress, and several notable events have taken place. In April the first King's Scout Badge to be gained under the new regulations in Kenya was won by Group leader G. W. Griffin, and the Group was officially congratulated at the Scout Council meeting at Government House. During last term two seats on the Nairobi Scout Executive Committee were given to J. L. Beecher and G. W. Griffin, probably the first time that non-adults have sat, on it. On May 3rd the Group took a leading part in the Annual Scout Council Meeting. A detachment was inspected by H.E. The Governor, the G.O.C. and the Air Officer Commanding. The School fete on June18th was opened by Sir Godfrey Rhodes, the Chief Scout Commissioner who inspected the Group.”

    By December 1949 Griffin had been promoted to Assistant Scout Master with two troop leaders under him. In his report he talks about having had a most successful and enjoyable year, and makes a special point of expressing the Group’s “sincere gratitude to Mr. P. Fletcher for all his help and encouragement”.

    1949 was also the year in which Griffin became a prefect in Junior House whose Notes for the year observe that “The Scouts under G. W. Griffin are a small but select community,” mentioning also that Griffin was the prefect in charge of the dayboys.

    In the July 1950 edition under Band Notes, we learn that “the school band appeared before the governor Sir Philip Mitchell on the occasion of G.W. Griffin’s appointment to King Scout.” We also note that Griffin, now in Form VA, decided that university was not what he wanted to pursue, and so he left to join the Kenya Survey Department at the end of the second term. The Scout group he had so ably led said farewell in the December 1950 Impala:
      At the end of last term G. W. Griffin left school and the Group lost the second of the boys who had helped to re-found the Scout Troop in the School. (The other re-founder was J.L. Beecher.) So long as Scouting remains in the school, Griffin's part in its development will be remembered, and our thanks are due to him for all the hard work he put into the Group. It is good to know that his connection with Scouting in Nairobi is continuing.

    And no doubt, Griffin returned to observe the ceremony during the third term of 1959 at which I. C. Rodger and G. J. Beers received their King Scout Certificates from the visiting Chief Scout of the Empire, Lord Rowallan.

    As evidence of his continuing involvement with scouting, Griffin is mentioned in the 1957 Impala as having re-formed the 2nd Nairobi Scout Group, Combined European Secondary Schools District, in January that year, with meetings being held each Sunday at the Duke of York School.

    Being the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lord Baden-Powell and the 50th anniversary of the founding of scouting in Britain, 1957 was a busy year for scouts. At a very personal level, one event that remained imprinted on scouting memory was “a camp in Embu district which became known as Caterpillar Camp, due to the number of hairy caterpillars which abounded there, adding enormously to the discomfort of the campers!”

    Another notable event of 1957 was when “G. W. Griffin (1950) combined scout-mastering with big game shooting and disposed of one of a pride of lion which was molesting a cattle manyatta.”

    Now a civil servant, Griffin’s involvement with Kenya African youth had become his life’s mission. The 1958 Impala talks about his being the Colony Youth Organizer and running camps for Kenya Youth, and it notes his appointment as an Inspector of Children under the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to, and Neglect of Children Ordinance.

    In 1959 Griffin established the Starehe Boys Center. In 1960, the Impala states that “He left for the USA in August to take part in social welfare and community activities in New York City, having been awarded a specialist grant under the United States international educational exchange programme. Griffin Is Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Association of Youth and is responsible for the operation of 127 training centres dealing with more than 20,000 children and young people throughout the colony.”

    It was already an impressive record for one who had left school barely ten years earlier to join the Survey of Kenya. Even greater accomplishments lay ahead.

    Geoffrey Griffin, a man who gave so much, and who is regarded with esteem and affection by so many, belongs in the company of earlier distinguished Head Masters such as Dr. Carey Francis of the Alliance High School and Philip Fletcher of the Prince of Wales. As Fletcher used to do so well, Griffin too would send school leavers out into the world with an inspirational message of hope and encouragement. In his own words:

      “This world is full of people who do their duty half heartedly, grudgingly and poorly. Don’t be like them. Whatever your duty is, do it as fully and as perfectly as you can. And when you have finished your duty go on to spare some of your time and talent in service to less fortunate people, not for any reward at all, but because it is the right thing to do. Follow my advice in this and I promise you that your lives will be happy and successful. May God bless you all.”

    Geoffrey W. Griffin By Those Who Knew Him

    Peter Hays (New House, subsequently renamed Grigg, 1945-1949)
    When Geoff and I went to Kitale School at the age of six as day boys, we were neighbours. His father was a policeman and mine the Postmaster. Always in the same class, we progressed to the POW after the Kenya Preliminary Exam. I was a boarder and he a day boy as his Dad had been transferred to Nairobi in the Railways Police and they lived in Railway quarters in Parklands.

    Our parents had become good friends in Kitale so I used to be invited to their home on Sundays and Mrs. Griffin and the two boys would visit and stay with us in Kisumu where my father had been transferred. After school our paths diverged for the first time in over ten years when I joined the Customs in Mombasa and he went on to achieve much glory. I last saw him when we visited Kenya from the UK in the late 1970's and he gave us dinner and a conducted tour round the school for my wife and me and our three children.
    In this photo, taken at Starehe in 1972, the Head Boy is on the left, then Geoff Griffin, then me, and then a teacher at the school. In front are the Hays children of whom the little boy in the centre is Graeme, Nairobi born, and now Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Wales, Swansea!

    I remember Geoff at school as bright but not brilliant, a great reader of adventure stories, but totally disinterested in all forms of sport. But what stood out was his inventiveness and single-mindedness. He was always willing to try something new such as smoking our first cigarettes at about the age of eight or nine in a culvert under the Kitale/Eldoret railway line. They were from a packet of ten Scissors cigarettes! Funny isn't it that useless information sticks in the brain but more important things are forgotten.

    Geoff had a younger brother Don who also attended the PoW. He was working for the Landing and Shipping Co in Mombasa in the 1960's when he had a tragic accident at his home at Port Reitz and electrocuted himself. He left a young widow and two children. The widow subsequently remarried in the UK but Geoff told me when we last met that he was assisting financially with the upkeep of his nephew and niece.

    There was a CNN programme on Africa which featured Geoff extensively and was shown a couple of years before his death. The reporter noticed a cane on the wall behind his desk and on enquiring was told by Geoff that he had discontinued caning some years before, finding it far more effective to make offenders don their 'street' clothes and then send them back to the slums where they came from for a day or two! He was a great man who I am proud to have known as a good friend.
        (Webmaster’s note: we owe Peter Hays a special debt of gratitude, not only for his personal reminiscences, but also because it was he who got the ball rolling on this Griffin tribute by submitting the Times Obituary both to us and to the Kenya Regiment Association’s mini-SITREP magazine.)

    Paul Heim (Hawke/Scott, 1946-1950)
    Geoffrey Griffin and I were prefects in Junior House at the Prince of Wales School at the same time in 1950. My recollections of him are slender. He was more of the quiet type, not quite a loner, but reflective. There was at that time no sign of the visionary teacher and educationalist he was to become, nor of the obvious sympathy he felt for the underprivileged, nor of the great things he was to do for the Starehe boys home.

    He was a conscientious prefect, anxious that things should be done right. He obviously thought about his duties, and tried to have a system in what he did; the rest of us made it up as we went along. Perhaps school was not as fulfilling for him as it could have been, and he clearly left the classic path of school and government service as soon as he could. It is obvious from his great success in creating Starehe that the reflective single-mindedness he practiced at School became a highly successful and convincing method.

    It is gratifying that he was so honoured by the country and the people he served so well all his life. The Prince of Wales School can be proud of having produced a man who put the ideals of service which we learned into practice, a man not in the common mould.

    Keith Davies, Duke of York School (Elliot House to 1958)
    In 1957 I was privileged to be a member of a scout troop run by Geoffrey W. Griffin. Unfortunately I cannot remember it's name, however we prided ourselves on the fact that we were " bush " and not " town " scouts! We still respected all the scouting principles and tried to improve ourselves and our abilities by achieving the various badges under Mr. Griffin's guidance.

    As the pictures that follow show, we were a motley bunch made up of young European scouts and African youngsters. The latter came from what I believe were called "approved" schools. I seem to remember that Mr. Griffin had a lot to do with saving them from becoming involved with the adult “Mau Mau" suspects in detention camps like the one at Manyani. He was a tolerant, trustworthy, and decent man who was always willing to give the benefit of doubt to those around him. He was well respected and admired.

    Of course for a 15 year old living in a suburb of Nairobi, I was thrilled to be taken on adventures into the wilds of Kenya even though at times it was very hard work setting up camps etc on our journeys. We also had to endure all types of weather including intense heat and tropical thunderstorms. Looking back, all this enhanced our adventures, especially as on one trip we could not return home across a river due to flash floods - so we had a few more days on "safari".

    For your interest I have attached a few photos of the lion mentioned in your website feature that had been "molesting" cattle in 1957. I have no clear memory of exactly where the lion was shot or who was present at the kill - I was not. However as you can see in the photos, I and other poseurs did our best to get in on the aftermath.

    Geoffrey W. Griffin with the lion he shot in 1957.

    (Readers may recall that in legend and in heraldry, the Griffin or Gryphon is a
    creature with the body of a lion and the head of an eagle.)

    Keith Davies, pictured here with Griffin’s lion, writes, “I have a lion skin hatband
    and woggle somewhere - presumably acquired from this incident!”

    Scout troop with the lion. Keith Davies in white tee-shirt stands in rear row.

      Keith Davies, pictured here with fellow scouts, writes, “Mr. Griffin was the only member of our party with a rifle and I believe he did have hunting experience. Besides shooting the lion, he
      also provided fresh game meat, when required, such as the Impala in this photo.”

    Geoffrey Griffin, in a quiet, reflective moment, with his scouts in 1957.

    The foregoing photos were submitted by Keith Davies who attended
    the Duke of York School until 1958.

    (Webmaster’s note: other contributions from Old Cambrians, and anyone else who knew Geoffrey Griffin, will be posted here as they are received.)
    click here for details 

Koigi Wa Wamwere: Nudity Of Our Top Leaders Has Persuaded President Obama Not To Visit Kenya.

Koigi Wa Wamwere: Nudity Of Our Top Leaders Has Persuaded President Obama Not To Visit Kenya.
By Hon. Koigi Wa Wamwere via Facebook
As we continue to ask why President Obama will not visit Kenya, we Kenyans have the answer though very uncomfortable to accept.
A king once walked naked through the main street of his city. As he did so, the people cheered and praised the exceptional beauty of the suit of his nudity. However, a child on the shoulders of his father blew up madness of the people when he asked: why is the king naked? The father and others who heard the child dared not answer but knew he was right. Like the king, our leaders are naked after the ICC took off their clothes with their indictment for crimes against humanity. Our top leaders are also nude since they supported one party dictatorship as youth leaders of KANU party.
Deputy President of Kenya William Ruto is even more naked since a local court here found him guilty of grabbing 100 acres of land from an IDP of another community during or after Post Election Violence.
With our leaders naked, how can President Obama easily visit the country they lead? Equally, how can our naked leaders visit other countries? And can anybody allow himself to take a picture with leaders who are naked? Here let us remember we are not talking about nudity of not having clothes on. We are talking about nudity of lacking morality, values and taboos that give leaders credibility and legitimacy.
Here, let us remember clothes however expensive can never cover the nudity of morals and taboos. However expensive the suits our leaders wear, they remain naked. However white their shirts and red their ties are, and imitative of Obama, our leaders remain naked and unacceptable to world community. When will the nudity of our leaders end and make them acceptable to the world? It will end when judgments of their cases in the ICC will declare them innocent. Their nudity would also end if they could resign and allow leaders unassociated with corruption, crimes against humanity and negative ethnicity to assume leadership of the land. Our problem is not from Obama but self-inflicted. Only we can end it.
Those who pretend that Obama’s visit would only affect us negatively should remember without America’s Marshall Plan, Japan, Europe or South Korea would not have reached their level of current development and even China, our new found savior, needs the American market more than they need our market. America or no America, China or no China, Kenyans will never get anywhere with their current mindset that puts leaders above criticism. To criticize a leader is not to insult or disrespect them.
Further, to develop we must need a renaissance and vigorous debate to get the best ideas and leaders for the country. An elected leader is not anointed and should be criticized if he decides to walk naked among people. We are not a monarchy and shall not allow ourselves to be taken back to the days of Kenyatta and Moi.
The point I am raising is above my person or the leaders we are talking about, whether they were elected by a million people or not. Here we are talking about ideas not personalities or popularity. Kenyans should read the book titled: Enemy of the People. One person can be right and a 100 million people wrong. Let no one wave numbers of bribed voters to scare others.

Ruto house upgrade to cost Kenyans Sh100m

The Deputy President's official residence in Karen Nairobi. The government will refurbish the official residence of Deputy President William Ruto in works which will cost taxpayers upwards of Sh100 million. PHOTO: SALATON NJAU
The Deputy President's official residence in Karen Nairobi. The government will refurbish the official residence of Deputy President William Ruto in works which will cost taxpayers upwards of Sh100 million. PHOTO: SALATON NJAU 
Posted  Saturday, June 29   2013 at  21:02
The government will refurbish the official residence of Deputy President William Ruto in works which will cost taxpayers upwards of Sh100 million, the Sunday Nation can reveal.
According to tender documents released last week, the new changes to improve the finishing of the imposing structure in the prestigious Karen neighbourhood of Nairobi will raise the total construction cost of the residence, which was inaugurated barely eight months ago, from Sh400 million to Sh500 million.
Then Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka was the first tenant but he did not have much time to spend in the complex as he had to vacate the compound soon after the Cord coalition lost the March 4 elections.
Initially, the refurbishment was projected to cost nearly Sh200 million, but it is said to have been scaled down to around Sh100 million after some components were removed. One such component was bullet proof windows which were left out on cost considerations.
The Sh100 million budget is a conservative estimate based on the scale of the works involved but the companies which have been invited to bid may pitch a higher amount once the process is complete.
News of the refurbishment is likely to generate debate among Kenyans considering that the complex is newly built and the fact that the government is currently reeling under the weight of demands for higher pay from public sector workers.
The latest group to go on strike are teachers in public schools. Their boycott enters the second week Monday.
Tender letters
Tenders inviting companies to bid for the project went out last week. The tender letters were privately offered to 10 companies in a process known as “restricted tendering” which does not involve public advertising.
The tender documents are expected to be returned on Friday July 5, with renovation work scheduled to begin in August.  The winners will be expected to finish construction in three months so that the Deputy President can move into the facility by the end of the year.
Key components of the work on the building are the installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras around the compound and the building of an electric fence. The residence is guarded by elite General Service Unit (GSU) officers and is adjacent to a military installation on Karen South Road in Nairobi.
Although the building was completed in September last year and inaugurated two months later, the main house has remained vacant.  Mr Ruto, who was elected Deputy President in March, is yet to move in and only uses the offices and gym facilities there, like his predecessor, Mr Musyoka did. “The initial estimate was downsized because of costs.
However, the residence is supposed to be constructed to his taste and style. That is why he has taken a keen interest,” said a source who spoke to the Sunday Nation on condition of anonymity.
“I do not think he intends to permanently reside there. Once in a while, yes, he will use the building especially when he has visitors,” stated the source.
Among the companies invited to bid for the contract are city construction firms NK Brothers and Epco Builders. Iltalbuild Imports, which completed the house in 2008, is not among them.
The tender documents show that works will be done in the sitting room, bedrooms and offices.  Mr Ruto wants the size of windows reduced, an apparent compromise after the bullet proof glasses proposal was shelved. The windows delayed completion of the house last year when the Parliamentary Accounts Committee was told that they had to be imported from China.
“The initial proposal was to have bullet proof windows in these rooms but the idea was dropped because of the cost involved,” stated our source.
The construction work will also cover floor finish in the sitting room, main lounge, bedrooms and the Deputy President’s office reception area.  While the reception will be fitted with a carpet, the rest will have timber blocks.
“The floor finish in the sitting, main lounge and bedroom areas will be done using timber blocks.”
Inside the main house, the contractors will remove the existing flash doors and replace them with hard-wood panel mahogany doors. 
The tender documents show that the tiles around the swimming pool will be changed from ceramics to Mazeras, a rough stone.
Contractors will also be expected to construct shades around the parking area. However, a proposal to increase parking area for visitors was shelved.
The Chief of Staff in the Deputy President’s office, Ms Sheila Keittany, and the director of administration, Mr Abdul Mwasera, led the team that met officials from the Public Works ministry who will supervise the construction. Mr Ruto is said to have attended the first few planning meetings.
It is expected that the Deputy President’s office will foot the cost of furnishing the house when construction is completed.
The Sunday Nation also established that one of the masionettes earmarked for the caretaker in the compound will be refurbished and converted into an office for the Deputy President’s wife, Mrs Rachel Ruto.
Last week, Mrs Ruto hosted First Lady Margaret Kenyatta at the residence.
“The Deputy President seems to like the place. He goes to the gym there and uses his office before driving to town,” the source said.
It is expected that the offices will eventually be expanded to accommodate more staff from the deputy President’s office. Currently, the residence is fully fledged with secretaries, security personnel, procurement officers, finance and human resource people.
The main house has a master bedroom en suite, four bedrooms, family room with a kitchen, study room and a private room. It has a covered drive way, two lounges, dining room, kitchen and breakfast area, a two bedroomed guest house,  three servants quarters, swimming pool and laundry area. It also has a fully equipped gym with a sauna and jacuzzi.
The residence has been dogged by controversy since inception. Construction started in 2005 when Mr Moody Awori was vice president. Then the government considered constructing the residence around Lavington and Muthaiga areas before settling on Karen. The land on Karen South road initially belonged to the military.
In 2006, tenders were floated at a projected budget of Sh179 million. Dimken Kenya won the tender. It was projected that Dimken Kenya would complete construction in 2007.
However, the work stalled and the contractor was kicked out for non-performance. By then, the company had been paid Sh70 million. The contract was cancelled on October 21, 2008 and awarded to Italbuild Imports for Sh383 million. 
Mr Kalonzo Musyoka was vice-president when work restarted in 2008. The new contractor was asked to add new staff houses, security houses, and caretakers house. He demolished defective works and redesigned sections of the main house. Construction was eventually completed in September last year and the residence handed to Mr Musyoka. 
President Kibaki officially opened the house on November 15, last year and Mr Musyoka opted to use the office space only. The new plan for renovation means Kenyans will spend yet more money on a project which has proved a major drain to taxpayers.

Obama's snub within his rights, says Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto addressing a congregation at St Gabriel’s Catholic Church, Maili Kumi in Nakuru county on June 30, 2013. Photo/SULEIMAN MBATIAH
Deputy President William Ruto addressing a congregation at St Gabriel’s Catholic Church, Maili Kumi in Nakuru county on June 30, 2013. Photo/SULEIMAN MBATIAH  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Posted  Sunday, June 30   2013 at  16:41

Deputy President William Ruto on Sunday said US President Barack Obama was within his rights to skip Kenya during his Africa tour. Read (I will visit Kenya before my term ends, says Obama)
Mr Ruto also noted that Kenyan leaders were not spending sleepless nights over the matter and that bilateral relations within the two nations will not be affected. He also said that Kenya will still maintain good relations with other global partners.
“We respect the United States but let them also respect Kenyans,” said Ruto.
Mr Ruto was speaking at St Gabriel Catholic Church in Bahati, Nakuru county where he joined the congregation for Sunday mass.
Mr Ruto further stated that the Jubilee government had deepened trade ties with other friendly nations that have been visited by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“The President will be proceeding to Burundi this week on a similar mission,” he said.
Mr Ruto also noted that Kenya is a God fearing nation which will not accept alien mannerisms that were in conflict with Christianity and African practices.
"We are a God fearing nation and will not cooperate with those who believe otherwise,” he added.
On devolution, Mr Ruto said that the national government was ready to transfer power, resources and responsibilities to the county governments to ensure they deliver on their mandates.
“We shall soon have a meeting with governors concerning legislations that will ensure the success of the county governments,” he said.

Obama says 'timing not right' for Kenya trip

US President Barack Obama (left) and South African President Jacob Zuma (right) give a press conference at the Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa, June 29, 2013.  President Barack Obama said Saturday the "timing was not right" for him to travel to Kenya. AFP 
US President Barack Obama (left) and South African President Jacob Zuma (right) give a press conference at the Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa, June 29, 2013. President Barack Obama said Saturday the "timing was not right" for him to travel to Kenya. AFP 
Posted  Saturday, June 29   2013 at  14:21
US President Barack Obama said Saturday the "timing was not right" for him to travel to Kenya, his father's homeland, during his current Africa tour, but he expected to go there many times in the future.
Obama said the new government of President Kenyatta was still finding its feet after an election in March, and that Nairobi was "still working out issues with the international community".
He was referring to a looming trial for President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto at the International Criminal Court for their alleged roles in deadly violence that killed more than 1,000 people after 2007 polls.
"The timing was not right for me as president of the United States to be visiting Kenya when those issues need to be worked on," Obama said.
But the US leader said he had visited Kenya multiple times before he was president and expected to return.
"My personal ties to the people of Kenya, by definition are going to be strong and will stay strong," he said.
Obama's Africa tour started in Senegal, and he is currently in South Africa. He will wrap up his week-long journey in Tanzania.

Kalonzo, Ngilu renew rivalry in Makueni

Former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka (right) speaks with Ms Charity Ngilu.  Photo/FILE
Former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka (right) speaks with Ms Charity Ngilu. Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP
Posted  Friday, June 28   2013 at  23:30
The race for the Makueni Senate seat has taken shape after the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission cleared four candidates for the July 22 by-election.
Former Senator Mutula Kilonzo’s daughter, Kethi, former assistant minister Harun Mwau, former MP Philip Kaloki and newcomer Jane Kitundu were given the nod by the commission after two days of nominations.
Mr Mwau lost to the late Kilonzo in March. It will, however, be the fight between Cord and Jubilee coalitions that will grip national attention.
For former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who is the Cord pointman in Ukambani, it will be a test of whether his Wiper Democratic Movement is still the dominant political force in the area.
Jubilee, on the other hand, will be seeking to discover if the area can become an electoral battleground in the next election.
Fight to pit old political hands with greenhorns
Jane Kitundu
Party: Labour Party of Kenya (LPK)
Profile: Mrs Kitundu spent most of her years working in the US as a nurse. She has a degree in nursing. She returned to the country to participate in the March 4 General Election but lost the race for Makueni women representative’s position.
“I want my people to get out of the socio-economic bondages which has bedevilled them for more than 50 years’, Mrs Kitundu said after she was cleared on Wednesday. A native of Mbooni constituency, her husband is a pilot in the US.
John Harun Mwau
Party: Party Of Independent Candidates (Pick)
Profile: A father of two, Mr Mwau is a seasoned politician having participated in elections since 1997. He is flamboyant and articulate in matters concerning business. Before the March 4 polls Mr Mwau was the MP for Kilome. He also served as an assistant minister before resigning.
Mr Mwau contested the Makueni Senate seat three months ago but lost to Mutula Kilonzo. He was the second to be cleared on Wednesday. He said he is banking on his track record to win the votes.
Philip Kaloki
Party: NARC
Profile: Prof Kaloki vied for the seat of governor of Makueni in the March 4 election but lost to Prof Kivutha Kibwana. He was a close ally of former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka but defected to Charity Ngilu’s party Narc last month. The father of two is facing a tricky situation in the by-election. In the run-up to the March polls, he and the late Mutula Kilonzo campaigned together.
“I have no ill-feeling with the late senator’s family, politics is a game of numbers. It is voters who will decide,” Prof Kaloki said.
Kethi Kilonzo
Party: Wiper Democtratic Movement
Profile: While she was being unveiled to the voters of Makueni last week, lawyer Kethi Kilonzo confessed that politics was not her usual cup of coffee. It was on that day that she addressed the first political rally in her life. Present were Cord luminaries led by Mr Raila Odinga.
While making her political debut Kethi, a mother of one , will have to prove herself as a politician capable of leading her own crusade. She is the daughter of Mr Mutula Kilonzo, who until April 27 was the area senator.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Of class and what the word really means

Posted  Friday, June 28   2013 at  18:55

What class did the correspondent have in mind when he said that Kethi Kilonzo “…is in a class of her own …”?
For I know a handful. The word class includes:
(a) a group of pupils or students being taught together or a meeting of university students for special tuition;
(b) one of the taxonomical groups (containing more than one order) into which a phylum is divided.
(c) a group of people inside the same socio-economic brackets — such as the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, the proletariat and the peasantry;
(d) a group of people or things sharing certain characteristics — such as the fixation with money which chokes members of our “middle class”;
(e) a standard or quality of attainment — such as a first class degree and the third-rate performance of our MPs;
(f) excellence or elegance in taste, dress, design and personal conduct.
To be in a class of one’s own is to stand above the category to which one belongs. But in which of them does Miss Kilonzo excel?
Unfortunately, our mutual friend was speaking only in the context of elective politics, where we have not yet seen Miss Kilonzo in real action. And, in Kenya, I have never yet heard of any politician of class.
The adjectival phrase “of class” is synonymous with the adjective classy — meaning sylish, sophisticated, well-dressed, measured in speech and, above all, graceful in behaviour — the last one the very antonym of the conduct of many a Duale, a Khalwale, a Midiwo, a Shebesh, a Sonko, what-have-you.
The adjective classic refers to:
(a) anything which, by its quality, serves as a standard or model of its kind and epoch – the “ work that wakes...” (in Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poetic phrase);
(b) a work definitive of its times and climes;
(c) a work of a widespread and lasting interest; and
(d) an artist at his zenith of creative excellence.
That is why such masterpieces of European literature as Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura, Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Dostoievsky’s Crime And Punishment, Goethe’s Fautus and Dickens’ David Copperfield are called classics.
For its part, the adjective classical refers to that work which tends to conserve the popular ethico-moral assumptions of the epoch concerned.
One overriding myth in all intellectual upbringing in the Western European and North American cultural continuum is that classical Greece and Rome were its culturo-intellectual taproot.
That is why all university studies in ancient Greek and Roman literature, language and fine art are called “classics”.
That, too, is why the adjective classical also denotes that time’s Helladic (Mediterranean ) civilisations — the period from a few centuries before to a few centuries after Anno Domini (“year of the Lord”), the supposed date of Jesus’ birth.
Thus the noun classicism refers to the assumption that the Greek and Roman art, literature and thought of the period represent what Shakespeare calls the nonpareil, the height and inimitability, of humanity’s intellectual creation.
This persisting assumption by the Euro-North American intelligentsia is, of course, the purest water.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Sustainable development goals will replace MDGs: Role Africa must play

Posted  Thursday, June 27  2013 at  19:00

A short 13 years ago, the world settled on a set of goals that at first appeared to have no political support and no popular resonance.
They appealed only to United Nations funds and programmes and, even when they got international endorsement, were thought to address themselves only to poor developing countries.
But over time, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) took on a life of their own and a centrality to multilateral development action that was unprecedented.
They became the benchmark for measuring progress on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) and for accounting for development actions and investment in developing countries.
What they lacked in initial acceptance and universality, they more than made up in relevance, applicability and utility.
The MDGs helped focus, direct and mobilise government and multilateral action in unprecedented ways.
More importantly, they had an impact, saving lives, improving health, promoting education and even reducing poverty.
Some say, probably partially correctly, that it was the commodity boom of the 2000s, together with the new-found ability of developing countries to mobilise domestic revenue, complemented by the infusion of billions of dollars from the surpluses of emerging economies, especially China, that truly made the difference.
Be that as it may, no one can dispute the fact that without the MDGs, the focus on health, basic education and poverty alleviation would not have been as determined, nor the development accountability framework brought to bear on governments and societies with the intensity with which the MDGs ensured it was.
Tens of millions of people were pulled out of ill-health, ignorance and poverty as a result of the MDGs.
Since 2000 when the MDGs came into their own, the world has learnt a few new lessons.
Among them is that irrespective of country, and no matter what stage of development, universal access to energy, health and education is central to broad development.
We have also learned that with universal access to health and education comes other benefits and drivers of progress such as reduced inequality and the opening up of transformative opportunities for all.
In the same period, the world has also come to realise that life on earth is a delicate, immutable balance.
It is a balance that requires that all of us, rich and poor, developing and developed, work together as one on a collective universal platform.
When it comes to climate and the air we breathe, water and the oceans we rely on, earth and the food we eat, our environment and our collective biodiversity, we either swim together or sink individually.
That is the lesson and the essence of sustainable development.
The intergovernmental group that commenced its work in March of this year at the United Nations and that has just completed its 4th session in New York, is the singular most important follow-up action that came out of the post-Rio+20 Conference.
The Open Working Group on SDGs, as it is called, is the first collective attempt by all nations of the world to realise the full potential of bringing together the historic challenge of poverty eradication and fuse it with the overbearing and equally urgent agenda on sustainability.
As co-chair of the working group, I have come to fully appreciate the following: That it is singularly imperative that African governments and civil society do not stand aside in this global, historic effort to design and adopt the SDGs.
Yes, the unfinished business of the MDGs must be completed in the next couple years; this is not negotiable. But after that, the world must and will commence on the SDGs.
The implications for our economies, societies and environment are immense. No country can stand aside and let other countries have the upper hand in determining the collective future global development agenda. Africa must play its part and be fully engaged.
The world needs a common, universal platform to help co-ordinate and hold accountable all nations of the world to attain poverty eradication and sustainable development.
The timeframe for achieving the goals has to be short –– one generation at most, or 25 years.
The counter-factual is simply untenable. What in the initial years would appear as intensification of social upheaval, violence and political instability accompanied by ever more disruptive, unpredictable and ruinous major climatic events, would quickly morph into a future we do not want, devoid of true universal peace and poverty-free sustainable development.
Mr Kamau is Kenya’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Why Obama has skipped Kenya in his Africa tour

Kenyans are deeply – psychologically – wounded that US President Barack Obama doesn’t give a damn about Kenya. But they are wrong – he’s actually very concerned about Kenya. That’s why he won’t stop in Nairobi – or Kogelo, his dad’s ancestral home – on his African jaunt next week.
He’ll snub Kenya but cozy up to Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa. He’ll “fly over Kogelo” on his way to Dar-es-Salaam. Ouch. Don’t let Kenyans tell you that doesn’t hurt. That snake-like hissing sound you hear is of Jubilee bloviators.
They are in complete denial – in la la land. But methinks their self-induced coma – more like a stupor – can’t last forever. Very soon reality will set in. I won’t say I told you so.
In his book, Dreams from My Father, Mr Obama professed great love and affection for Kenya. Some of the most gripping vignettes and tales come from his encounters with relatives and other folks in Nyanza. His insights on Kenya are tantalising and utterly seductive. It’s one of the best books I’ve read. Mr Obama last visited Kenya again as a US Senator.
But – and this is huge – he’s clearly vowed never to set foot in Kenya as long as the state is superintended by men of “questionable character and integrity”. Don’t shoot me – just take the whipping and ponder the implications of Mr Obama’s snub. It matters a whole bunch. Don’t just accept it – and “move on”.
The twisted narrative of the March 4 elections is that the vote was anti-West. Some half-baked academics have argued that the long suffering “little people” of Kenya finally poked Goliath in the eye. By gosh – they did so by “electing” a duo indicted for crimes against humanity. They did so to prove that – get this – Kenya was a sovereign state. What’s more, they wanted to underscore that Kenyans won’t kowtow to “white men” in Europe and America.
One can imagine hordes of Kenyans baying for the white man’s blood. And shouting – never again shall we be colonised! Except this is a false narrative. None of it is true – that’s not how the election went down.
The March 4 election was nothing but a return to the primeval – the primordial tribal de minimis. That’s the true meaning of the so-called “tyranny of numbers”. Herd the tribe together and whip it up into an irrational frenzy using bogeymen to “thumb” your opponent. That was one half of Jubilee’s basic campaign strategy.
But we know – even if we are willfully ignorant – that’s why Kenya almost descended to civil war after the 2007 elections. It was the mayhem – murder, looting, pillage, and rape – that landed Jubilee leaders Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto at The Hague. Let me tell you something – this is what President Obama sees when Kenya crosses his mind. That image is seared in his memory.
My crystal ball tells me President Obama won’t come to Kenya so long as Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are in charge. He refused to visit Kenya after former President Mwai Kibaki was re-elected. That’s because he viewed Mr Kibaki’s election as illegitimate.
Mr Obama seems viscerally – and intellectually – revolted by leaders who would use any means necessary to capture – and retain – power. Former assistant secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson warned that “choices have consequences”. Mr Obama is simply giving Mr Carson’s truism a nod.
He’s sending a message by visiting Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa. All three have set the pace for democracy in Africa. To him, Kenya must be worse than a laggard.
I’ve heard some Jubilee ideologues say Kenya doesn’t need America or Europe because China and the East will step into the breach. This is plain silly. You can’t swap one master for another and call that progress. Besides, Kenyans are “ideologically Western”. The pivot to China is a remote phantom.
The cultural barriers are too huge. India and Japan are easier cases, but they can’t quench the Eurocentric thirst of the Kenyan elite. Others in the Jubilee camp see Mr Obama as a “Luo” who favoured Cord leader Raila Odinga in the election. They feel that Mr Obama’s snub of Kenya is “tribal” and driven by pique that Mr Odinga lost. This is simply asinine. It’s ignorant and uninformed.
I call it psychological projection – where one “psychically expels” their negative thoughts onto others. They believe Mr Obama must be an irredeemable tribalist because they are themselves consumed by tribalism. It’s irrational and can’t explain Mr Kenyatta’s – and Kenya’s – isolation internationally.
It certainly can’t explain why British PM David Cameron denied Mr Kenyatta a photo-op in London. No democratic leader wants to be photographed with someone charged with crimes against humanity.
Former British PM Tony Blair is still haunted by those photos of him with the late Muammar Gaddafi. Mr Obama doesn’t need similar pictures on his resume. Nor can Kenya go mano-a-mano with America. What gives – will the Jubilee regime adopt a “laager” mentality? There aren’t good options.
Mr Obama’s snub of Kenya adds salt to the wound of his visit to Tanzania. It’s not gone unnoticed that President Jakaya Kikwete has been received several times at the White House by Mr Obama. Tanzania is now poised to replace Kenya as the indispensable state in East Africa.
That’s the signal Mr Obama is sending by camping in Dar. Expect investors to skip over Kenya and flock to Tanzania. I warned that Tanzania would be the biggest beneficiary if Kenya “elected” ICC indictees. Mr Obama has proved me right.
Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC. Twitter @makaumutua.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

That Strange Headline, "I'm A Gay"

That Strange Headline, "I'm A Gay"

My FB newsfeed has this past week been dominated by a particular post shared over and over, a Kenyan news article with the headline, “I’m a gay.” I wondered if the journalist was just grammatically challenged or he/she thinks that gay is just like an object, hence the indefinite article “a”. It’s like saying, “I’m a book”. If I made such a claim I’d require some psychiatric evaluation. I once read about a guy who though he was an egg. Turns out he was afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia. One day he rolled himself right in front of an oncoming train and cracked. True story. Very sad. Not meant for humour.

So the subject of that grammatically or conceptually awkward trending headline was one, Maina Kageni, a famous Kenyan radio talk-show host. I once caught his show on an early morning matatu-ride in Nairobi; he’s excellent. The comments that accompanied this post were varied. On one hand, acid hatred, god-waving bible-quoting slayers, “Africanist” gay-deniers… On the other hand, some thoughtful, calm and non-judgmental comments. The bad far out-weighed the good.

For me, two incidents came to mind: first, a brutal attack - with kicks, punched and broken bottles - of three ladies in Nairobi whose grievous “offence” was their sexual orientation. They were even thrown in jail. I recall wincing even more at the visceral string of “they deserved it” comments. Cold, cold I tell you. But I remained silent. My excuse? I was not in Kenya, too far away from my diaspora perch, I did not “identify”… This, like many other cry-for-justice incidents I read about, went into my not-my-battle bins. I should have said something then, even if only one person listened. 

The second incident that came to mind was a few years ago when I was asked to translate for a team of Tanzanian community health workers attending a National Institute of Health conference in DC. I knew it wasn’t necessary because Tanzanians understand and speak English, and I was far from as competent in Kiswahili as our Tanzanian cousins. They birth, eat, live Kiswahili. But the job was paying well, and so I took the week off work to do this gig. I was in for a treat!

A conference presenter used the term “gay community” a lot in one particular session. So here I was about to translate it to my team for the first time and I had no idea what to say. Every time I got stuck they had been my wonderful teachers, and I had learnt a lot of medical terms in Kiswahili. My role had switched from translator to student, and I was having a great time. But this time they watched me with amusement. The only term I knew was the word “shoga”, whose classical Swahili meaning is “friend”, but over time, it has become a derogatory reference to “gay.” I asked them what positive terminology they use for this community.

One of them helped me out and said, “watu wanaofanya mapenzi kinyume cha ubinadam.” I said nooo, really?? It directly translates to “people who engage in sexual activity against human nature.” This was a long phrase the community health workers had come up with to “compassionately” identify the gay community in Tanzania so they could provide services without discrimination. "But the phrase itself defeats the purpose!", I whispered loudly while the presenter went on humdrum about microbicides. 

The team was most puzzled by my reasoning. It was obvious to them what "human nature" called for. “Kwani wao si binadamu?” (Aren’t they human?”) I whispered even louder. “Wacha ukenya!” (stop your Kenyanness!), one of them admonished. Tanzanians characterize Kenyans as obnoxiously questioning of authority. I was questioning nature, the ultimate authority. I determined I'd rather be nature's student than nature's police. I think that nature, in all its dynamism, laughs in our faces all the time while we try to police it. We demand that we punish, ostracize or force-fit those who "don't fit in". I imagine that in Mother Nature's eyes, the ostracizer is the outcast.

My Tanzanian teachers still boasted of their work as bridge-builders to a shunned community. Thing is, their "against human nature" phrase was conceived from a negative meme, much like that Kenyan news headline, “I’m a gay”, with its indefinite article “a” that assumed gay is an object and could therefore be treated without humanity, with detachment, with kicks and punches, prodded with broken bottles… 

Throughout history, the objectification of a people has gone a long way in enabling the stripping of their humanity, permissible to damage and destruction. Silence destroys us all. 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

‘How I survived lift tragedy that killed my friend Fredrick’

Mary Muthoni at her home during the interview on June 18, 2013. Photo/JENNIFER MUIRURI 
Mary Muthoni at her home during the interview on June 18, 2013. Photo/JENNIFER MUIRURI   NATION MEDIA GROUP
Posted  Friday, June 21   2013 at  23:30
When Mary Muthoni went out last Sunday night, she counted on having a night of fun. But what she got was not what she bargained for.
Muthoni and her friend Fredrick Ochieng were on their way out of a Nairobi building and had opted to take the lift, which turned out to be a gaping hole.
While she survived, Ochieng, 21, died after falling from the third floor of Interfina House along Tom Mboya Street. (READ: Man plunges to his death in elevator shaft)
“I had joined him and his friends moments before we fell. And when we were ready to leave they pressed the lift button. When the doors opened, we thought the car had arrived,” 18-year-old Muthoni told the Nation.
All she remembers is falling into the dark passage which allows the lift to move from floor to floor.
She thought she was alone until someone shone a torch down the shaft when she noticed Ochieng’s body sprawled next to her.
Her shouts for help and Ochieng’s silence prompted their friends to ask if he was alive. She told them she suspected he was not breathing.
What followed was a two-hour frantic effort to pull her out of the hole.
“There was a cable hanging over me and I tried pulling myself using it. My right hand was badly hurt. The idea failed after giving it a brief try,” Muthoni told the Nation at her parent’s house in Dandora.
One of their brave friends used the cable to get down the shaft to help her out of the hole.
“He tried holding onto me and pulling us both up at first, but that did not work either,” she says. “Then I suggested they could use a rope and tie it round my waist for the others to hoist me up to third floor as the door on ground floor refused to open.”
She was lucky to get to Kenyatta National Hospital at about 5am where she received medical attention for her broken right hand, injuries on her face and leg.
In Kariobangi South, Ochieng’s mother recounted her last moments with her son.
“That Sunday we prepared lunch together and he later left to visit his sister who lives nearby. Later in the evening, he returned with his girlfriend and soon he changed his shoes and seemed to be ready to leave,” Ms Grace Wajewa says, adding that she had urged them not to go out that night because she had a hunch he would be safer at home.
“Later, he left when other friends came by and it was not till 3am when a call came through to his twin brother Derrick informing him that Fredrick had been injured in town,” she explains.
Confirming the incident, Central police chief Patrick Oduma said by the time the police arrived at the scene, Muthoni had already been taken to hospital.
“We have opened investigations to ascertain if at all the allegations she made regarding the incident are true,” he said.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Girls as young as 13 having sex

According to the survey carried out by research firm Consumer Insight, four in every 10 youth aged between 13 and 19 had engaged in sex. FOTOSEARCH
According to the survey carried out by research firm Consumer Insight, four in every 10 youth aged between 13 and 19 had engaged in sex. FOTOSEARCH 
Posted  Friday, June 21  2013 at  23:30
Boys and girls as young as 13 are having sex, exposing themselves to the risk of pregnancy and contracting HIV/Aids, a new study shows.
The study also found that some of the young people engage in sex with multiple partners, meaning that if any one of them contracts a sexually transmitted disease, it would spread faster among the population.
According to the survey carried out by research firm Consumer Insight, four in every 10 youth aged between 13 and 19 had engaged in sex.
However, the study does not indicate if the sex acts were conducted with suitable protection. It says the reported incidents of multiple sexual partners were much higher among boys than girls.
“Although the incidence of having sex grows with age, a significant proportion of teens have engaged in this act,” the study says.
Consumer Insight managing director Ndirangu wa Maina said there was a lot of sex in the environment, drawing youths to the act.
“There is obviously too much sex in the media — magazines, television, and the Internet. There is also a lot of texting with 47 per cent of youth saying they have received or sent a sexual text message. Two-thirds of them say they enjoyed it,” said Mr Maina.
Officially, Kenya’s definition of youth encompasses people aged between 18 and 35, meaning the study’s findings took a portion of the youth age bracket.
People aged below that age are considered children.
According to the study, youth aged between 20 an d 25 years are the more likely group to have engaged in sex, with 78 in every 100 admitting to have engaged in the activity over the past 12 months.
Many youth in the age group are in colleges and universities. A few of them would have graduated and are out in search of jobs.
The study found that half of the boys had sex with more than one partner over the past 12 months, while four in 10 girls had.
The findings differ from the current Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS), which only recorded first sexual activity for youth aged between 20 and 24.
According to the official study conducted in 2008/9, sexual activity starts earliest in Nyanza province (16.5 years) and latest in Nairobi (20.3 years).
The KDHS also established that the lowest median age at first sex for men is in Western province (16.9 years), while the highest median age is in North Eastern (24.3 years).
The study found that friends were the main and most trusted source of information on sex and reproductive health among the young population.
At least half of the youth sampled singled out friends as the main and trusted source, compared to 15 per cent of the respondents who cited television or radio.
Only one in every 10 youngsters said they consulted a priest/pastor for information on sex.
“Friends are filling a void in sexual information created by health professionals and parents,” the report said, referring to the failure by mothers, fathers and medics to attend to the younger population.
“Some of this peer-sourced information is via text, content that is enjoyed by many youth.”
Nearly half (47 per cent) of the respondents said they had sent or received mobile phone text messages with sex content — and were excited by it.
The majority of those enjoying the text messaging with sex content are the older age group, where only five per cent of respondents could be offended by messages on the subject.
It found that most young people spend their free time in public parks (35 per cent) shopping malls (27 per cent), restaurants (21 per cent), disco (17 per cent) and movies (12 per cent).
TV is the most frequently used media, although engagement decreases with age, while radio and Internet usage grows with age.
The study aimed at gaining an understanding of the lifestyles of the youth.