Friday, 25 October 2013

Leaders condemn Kimaiyo’s attempt to silence reporters

Lawyers and human rights groups Thursday condemned police threats on journalists and vowed to oppose proposals by the government to stifle freedom of expression.
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK), the government’s own Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), the Editors Guild, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) led the condemnation.
Their rebuke comes a day after Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo warned that action would be taken against journalists whom he accused of inciting Kenyans against the authorities.
“You cannot provoke propaganda and incite Kenyans against the authorities,” Mr Kimaiyo said on Wednesday.
Thursday, the police summoned the Standard Group chief executive Sam Shollei and KTN investigative reporters John Allan Namu and Mohammed Ali for interrogation over their coverage of the Westgate rescue operation. However, the summons were later cancelled.
The summons come against the backdrop of an attempt to silence the media through the enactment of the Media Council (Amendment) Bill and the Kenya Information and Communication Authority Bill.
KNCHR termed the threats by the police boss to arrest the three as “irredeemably erroneous.”
The commission also noted that the rights provided for in the Constitution and international instruments ratified by Kenya were guaranteed, and were not enjoyed by Kenyans at the pleasure of the State or any agency.
“The attempt to harass journalists is an indication that certain individuals are yet to reconcile themselves to the changed environment ushered in by the Constitution,” the commission’s acting chairperson Ann Ngugi said in a statement.
LSK chairman Eric Mutua also dismissed the threats to the media. He called for the security chiefs to resign and an independent commission to probe the attack formed.
“We hope it is not a coincidence that the statement was issued when there is an attempt to further muzzle the media through the recently introduced Bills” he said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists also warned that the police threats and proposed laws were indications that Kenya’s media risk losing their freedom.
“Kenya has a statutory media council designed to handle media disputes. Mr Kimaiyo should follow his nation’s procedures,” the international body said in a statement to newsrooms.
The Kenya Editors’ Guild also expressed its “shock and dismay” over the threats by the police boss.
The editors asked Mr Kimaiyo to file a complaint with the Complaints Commission within the Media Council.
Uhuru’s example
“President Kenyatta himself has once sought the indulgence of the commission over what he felt was reportage prejudicial to his reputation. So, why shouldn’t Mr Kimaiyo follow the President’s example?” the statement read.   
The KUJ also condemned Mr Kimaiyo’s move, terming it an attempt to limit media freedom in Kenya.
Through its secretary-general Jared Obuya, the union maintained that the journalists aired what was eminently objective and fair.
He accused the government of issuing misleading and contradictory information over the Westgate attack.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Kenya unsafe for US child, rules court

A section of volunteers who were feeding the rescue team on September 22,2013 at Westgate Mall Nairobi.  Photo/WILLIAM OERI 
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An American judge Tuesday stopped a Kenyan mother from travelling back home with her 22-month old daughter, saying, Kenya was not safe enough for the child.
Ms Waithira Kamau had intended to travel to Kenya with her baby to visit the child’s grandparents and other relatives.
But Judge Diane Price of the Napa High Court said the child cannot be guaranteed security while in Kenya.
She said security has remained unpredictable following last month’s Westgate Mall terrorist attack in which 70 people were killed.
She barred Ms Kamau from taking the baby with her to Kenya following an application by her former husband, Mr Austin Stewart. Ms Kamau and Mr Stewart are divorced.
The earliest that the ruling can be reviewed is June next year.
In his papers filed before the court, Mr Stewart argued that Kenya was an unsafe place for his daughter to visit and cited last month’s attack in Nairobi.
Kenya, he said, was not only dangerous, but home to terrorists, child traffickers and kidnappers and was a place where 34,000 children die annually from malaria.
He also expressed his fears that his ex-wife would not return to the United States, thereby denying him the chance to be visiting his daughter.
Ms Kamau had won an earlier reprieve when the Napa High Court ruled that she could take her daughter to Kenya for not more than three weeks at a time and not more than two times before the minor turns six years old.
A few weeks later, after the terror attack on shoppers at Westgate, Mr Stewart rushed to court again seeking a review of the earlier orders in the face of what had happened in Nairobi.
When Judge Price issued her new ruling, Mr Stewart, a Napa tour guide, who appeared in person, presented pictures and stories from press cuttings showing the mall shooting incident.
“Based on new facts related to the (Westgate) Mall incident in (Nairobi), any travel request including passport signatures for the minor child to go to Kenya has been denied, subject to reconsideration in June 2014,” Judge Price said.
She also appointed an attorney to represent the child in upcoming court appearances with the attorney’s fees to be borne by both parents.
The court also directed that a comprehensive report be tabled in court next year in June on the health and safety risks the child could suffer, “including any act of terrorism, if permitted to travel to Kenya.”
The judge added that the girl is also prohibited from travelling to any area that US embassy personnel are prohibited from visiting.
A jubilant Mr Stewart noted that by June, his daughter will be old enough to be able to receive inoculations against some of the common diseases in Kenya and to enrol in the Smart Traveller Enrolment programme, a free service that updates US citizens on travel warnings, alerts and other information.
Neither Ms Kamau nor her attorney could be reached for comment.
This summer, Ms Kamau, a nurse, said she did not know when she would travel to Kenya to visit her relatives.
She said she wanted to make the trip so that her daughter could see her immediate family. She also refuted Mr Stewart’s assertions that Kenya was a dangerous country.

Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o bags her first Hollywood award

By Antony Karanja
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Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o bagged her first award on Monday night at the 17th Hollywood Film Awards held at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles California.
Ms Nyongo who was rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème of the film industry, was honoured with the New Hollywood Award for her breakout role in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave which debuted in select theatres in the US, UK and Canada over the weekend.
The Hollywood Film Awards ceremony is considered as the first stop of the award season and plenty of A-Listers packed the full banquet room.
The newly minted Hollywood wonder girl was introduced by actress Angela Bassett who paid glowing tribute to the newcomer.
Ms Bassett said that movie goers will be treated to a “breakthrough performance that they will not soon forget"
Ms Nyong’o has been billed as one of the top contenders for the best supporting actress Oscar award.
The actress broke down in tears as she made her acceptance speech thanking Ms Bassett for her kind words and all those who had made the moment possible.
“As you can tell, I am terribly overwhelmed, but I also feel extremely blessed by all this,” Ms Nyongo said tearfully.
The audience erupted in applause when Nyong’o thanked her mother who was also in attendance.
“And to my family especially my mummy who is here with me today, words cannot express how grateful I am for always believing in me,” she said emotionally.
Towards the end of her speech which very well received, she broke down again while thanking the film director Steve McQueen for giving her the opportunity to be a part of the film.
“..And now Steve…..I will never forget this opportunity you’ve created for me. Your thoughtful and complex direction will stay with me always. I love you,” she said fighting through tears.
McQueen was honored with the Hollywood Breakout Director Award.
She also recounted her first rehearsal when one of the lead actors Michael Fassbender turned to her and told her “you are my peer.” And standing here now, I truly feel that,” Nyong’o concluded.
Fassbender plays the role of Edwin Epps, a brutal plantation owner who is obsessed with Patsey (Lupita Nyong'o), the slave who picks more cotton each day than any other slave and whom he regularly rapes. Edwin's wife (Sarah Paulson) becomes aware of their ''relationship'' and the situation blows up into eerie “love” triangle.
Other honorees at the award ceremony included Sandra Bullock ("Gravity"), Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club") and Julia Roberts ("August: Osage County") .
12 Years a Slave opened in 19 theatres across Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta and Toronto, Canada on Friday.
It will be released to additional cities namely Boston, Dallas/Fortworth, Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia and Baltimore on October 25.
It will be released in all US cities on November 1.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

ARUNGA: State wrong on move to train bloggers

By Abigail Arunga
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Bloggers are to undergo journalistic training?
In another grandstand move, we are deflected from the need to focus on actual issues (the government, health issues, security threat) and divert our attention to idiocies like training bloggers.
Bloggers are not journalists. The two words are not synonyms. Bloggers CAN be journalists, but it is not a default setting. In the same way, journalists are not bloggers.
Now that that has been clarified, why is it that bloggers – who are not journalists – should undergo journalistic training – unless they want to be journalists?
Which is a different article all together.
By definition, a journalist is allowed to write whatever they like, and thank God for freedom of expression.
The government, police, citizens, organisations and the press don’t have to like it, and should not be at liberty to control it – unless, of course, it abuses the freedom by spreading hate, intruding into other people's privacy among other unacceptable practices.
In fact, if everyone likes what you write, you’re probably doing it wrong.
A blogger serves as the voice of the people – unfettered, unbound by script (and sometimes even grammar) or convention. Which is why they can write about things a journalist will not touch.
It is a blogger’s choice and a blogger’s right.
Can you imagine the circus they want to create?
A commission to track down and register all bloggers.
Devising a curriculum to teach.
Paying for ‘compulsory’ training of those training the bloggers.
Housing the said bloggers (where will they learn? Or will we just shove them at the back of mass communication classes?).
Buying the learning material.
Registering them under the Media Council of Kenya. The list is endless. And all involves money. Money that could be used to do useful things.
Who else will point out what the media is missing if not the alternative media?
Training bloggers is a silly and downright laughable idea – although an excellent idea if money is what you are meaning to waste. Even if it is not a silly idea, is now really the time to be focusing on this agenda?
In case you were wondering, the answer is NO.
And we are forgetting the most important factor: Training does not a journalist make.

Charles Taylor is leading comfy life in prison

PHOTO | VINCENT JANNINK In this file picture taken on August 5, 2010 Liberia's former president Charles Taylor is seen at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam. 
PHOTO | VINCENT JANNINK In this file picture taken on August 5, 2010 Liberia's former president Charles Taylor is seen at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam.  AFP

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Many of my Sierra Leonean friends are unhappy that people convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity during their country’s 1991-2002 brutal civil war are “living in luxury in foreign jails”. They would rather have them roughing it in Freetown’s notorious Pademba Road jail or, if it came to that, in Kamiti in Kenya.
Kamiti Maximum Security Prison is rated in some websites among the 25 most brutal prisons in the world. That aside, my friends were taken aback by Charles Taylor’s request to serve his 50-year sentence in a Rwanda, rather than a UK jail.
Life in a Rwanda jail is not as comfortable as in a British jail. Does Charles Taylor know something my friends don’t? In a letter dated October 10, 2013, to the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), the former Liberian president said serving his sentence “in my home continent of Africa, would be substantially more humane.”
But the court did not listen. He is now serving the remainder of his jail sentence – some 43 years — in an English jail. There are eight others who have been found guilty by the SCSL and are serving their sentences in Rwanda. They would gladly switch places with Charles Taylor.
Some of them have complained about conditions at Mpanga prison in Kigali and want to be transferred to European jails. The SCSL has agreements with Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom, and Rwanda for prisoners to serve their sentences in those countries. Sierra Leone does not have the capacity to hold the convicts.
Though Taylor did not want to be incarcerated in the UK, the country has some of the cosiest jails in Europe. It is common for a prisoner in an English jail to have satellite television, a water basin and toilet in his cell, as well as access to libraries and computers. Prisoners also receive wages and cash bonuses for good behaviour.
Conditions in a UK prison, however, are unlikely to be as good as those Charles Taylor experienced in Scheveningen jail in The Hague, where he was detained for seven years after his arrest in March 2006. He had a personal computer in his cell, his own toilet and washing area, and access to a gym.
He was permitted conjugal rights and it’s reported he fathered a child with his wife during his stay in Scheveningen. He was more than comfortable.
But it’s also reported that he complained “the food which is served is completely Eurocentric and not palatable to the African palate”. He was probably missing goat meat stew in a tomato-based sauce flavoured with hot chilli peppers, a popular Liberian dish.
My Sierra Leonean friends bear a grudge because they believe prisons should not be holiday homes but centres of punishment. If Charles Taylor and company were incarcerated in congested and brutal Kamiti, or King’ongo’ Prison, they would not be so begrudging.

Pathologist with a knack for embarrassing government


Children love accompanying their parents on tours. They are often crestfallen when they have to remain behind. Of course they are excited when parents return after days of absence.

So when a couple returned to Nairobi from a six-day road trip to South Africa, their children were happy they were finally home.
As they narrated their experiences, the children’s joy turned to taunts when they realised how exhausted their parents were. They gleefully told their parents that their exhaustion was punishment for leaving them behind.
Such a trip had never crossed the couple’s minds. That was until the husband, Dr Moses Njue, won an award for the best Master degree thesis, Acute Leukaemia In Children at the University of Nairobi in 1995. The award came with a Sh100,000 token ­­— all that was needed to lure out the adventurer lurking somewhere within.
“To say we were exhausted is an understatement. I swore never to embark on such a journey again,” he says.
As the story is unfolding in his office at Kings Medical College in Nyeri, he orders lunch - chapati and tea.
He speaks calmly, laughs easily and is all concentration when on phone. As a consulting forensic pathologist, he is regularly on the move to handle tough cases.
But his life is not all about the morgue. “My best pastime is preaching. Sunday is probably the only day I can say with certainty where I will be,” says the doctor whose favourite drink is warm water.
Deeply religious, his life and work are defined by the desire for honesty.
“I’m driven by the love of God and mankind in everything I do. When you cherish these, there is no room for dishonesty in your work as public officer,” he says.
He worked for the government when everybody danced to carefully crafted official scripts. In cases where people died at the hands of security agents, pathologists conveniently found victims to have died of natural causes.
So when six King’ong’o prison inmates died at the hands of warders on September 4, 2000, a cover-up plan was launched by prison’s authorities aided by the police.
Initially, the police said the six had been shot by prison warders while trying to escape. In the course of the day, the story mutated with prison authorities throwing a second spin: the prisoners had plunged to their death from a 24-foot perimeter wall while attempting to escape.
The media on their part launched their investigations and revealed that the prisoners had been bludgeoned to death. The story was picked up by foreign media and flashed around the world.
What the government had hoped would die quietly was evolving into a monumental public relations disaster. That the dead had been swiftly and secretly buried in a mass grave pointed to an elaborate cover-up.
The pressure to unearth the truth continued to pile up. Finally, the government buckled and agreed to exhume the bodies for post-mortem examinations and investigations.
On September 24, the same year, government and independent pathologists representing family and human rights groups converged at the Nyeri Provincial Hospital where post-mortem examinations were carried out. Dr Njue was the provincial pathologist based in Nyeri.
The State team was led by Chief Government pathologist Kirasi Olumbe. The lead pathologist concluded that the injuries sustained by the prisoners were consistent with a fall. That should have been the end of the story.
But, Dr Njue threw a spanner into the works. “I almost dropped dead in shock. Personally, I had observed broken skulls, gouged out eyes, broken teeth, broken limbs and nails that had been pulled out. I insisted that the deaths had nothing to do with falling. I recorded my findings and made a report.
“The authorities were upset with my disclosure. I was summoned to Nairobi and severely reprimanded. I was warned to never again contradict the findings of my seniors,” he recalls.
With the matter settled, Dr Njue channelled his efforts to his work. If he had hoped that was the last time he was going to get engaged in a public confrontation with his employer, he was wrong.
In September 2002, officers at Endarasha police patrol base arrested a young man, Paul Kimani Wambiru. He was accused of stealing money from a complainant who was never named.
What followed was yet another pack of lies. According to the police, Wambiru was transferred from the patrol base to Mweiga Police Station. After complaining he was unwell, he was taken to the provincial hospital. Later he was reportedly taken to the provincial police headquarters from where he was released without charges.
The story would have ended happily for Wambiru only that a few hours after his release, he dropped dead a few metres from the provincial police headquarters.
Wambiru’s family raised questions about the manner of his death and sought help from the Independent Medico Legal Unit, a local human rights NGO. Dr Njue, the provincial pathologist, was requested to perform what was supposed to be a routine post-mortem examination.
His findings and bold report threw the local police and government into a spin, “The deceased had died of massive blood in the chest and abdominal cavity, a burst bladder, ruptured small intestines, crushed testicles and bruises,” he says.
The police could not prevail upon him to temper his findings. Despite threats and intimidation, arrest and nights in cells, Dr Njue stuck to his guns.
Something had to give. A policeman was arrested and charged with the murder.
“As far as I was concerned, that was the end of the matter. I immersed myself in my work.”
The defence for the policeman sought a second opinion on Njue’s findings. The body of Wambiru was exhumed and this time, the defence hired the Chief Government pathologist to perform the post-mortem in his private capacity. He concluded that Wambiru had died due inflammation of the brain most likely caused by meningitis.
“Once again, I was in for another reprimand. The chief pathologist berated me for coming up with ‘misleading’ conclusions,” he recalls.
The Attorney General rejected the second findings and a third post-mortem was ordered. This time, the post-mortem was performed in the presence of many witnesses including experts in pathology and Dr Njue was happy. If he thought the report had vindicated him, he was wrong. Four days later, he was summoned to Nairobi, accused of all manner ills and suspended. His attempts to resign were rejected in a protracted process of a cat and mouse game with his bosses. Eventually he was dismissed. He sued.
Even as he embarked on suing the government for wrongful dismissal, he had to put his energies in realising his other dreams. Though he could have secured a job anywhere in the world, he chose to slug it out in Kenya.
“I had always wanted to be a teacher. I had hoped I would one day teach medicine at the university. But with all my problems at the time, it occurred to me that I could start my own medical school and that is how Kings Medical College came about.”
Situated in Nyange-Lusoi plains on the Kiganjo-Nanyuki Road, the college opened its doors to the first 50 students in 2003. It offers certificate and diploma courses in medical laboratory and clinical medicine. More than 600 students have graduated from the college to date.
“We are expecting to have the first Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory, Nursing and Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery students next year. We are corroborating with other institutions towards this end,” he says.
As the college grew, Dr Njue was looking for an exit plan from the government.
“When Narc came to power, there was change. There was tolerance and an effort to redress some excess of the previous government. I was summoned in Nairobi and offered my job back as long as I dropped the case against the government.”
At the time, the chief pathologist had left government service for a job overseas. As things stood, Njue was the senior-most pathologist and it naturally followed that if the government was to offer him a job, it was to head the department. For Dr Njue, rising to become chief pathologist was an achievement. The job came with perks which he rejected.
“I refused an official driver and a bodyguard. I like and live a simple life. I enjoy living just like other ordinary Kenyans.”
He retired from his job in 2010 at the age of 50 to concentrate on running his college and doing private consultancy. Other high profile cases he has been involved in include those of the late Senator Mutula Kilonzo and Olympic Marathon champion Samuel Kamau Wanjiru. (READ: Mutula lungs ‘had blood’ and Wanjiru kin demand report of death probe)
The pathologist says he chose to be different and stick to the truth because he is a firm believer in justice and fairness.
“In criminal cases, pathology is a key component for justice to be delivered. We have people walking around free yet they should be in jail. Similarly there are people in prison who should be free because a pathologist somewhere failed in his duty as an advocate for justice,” he says.
The father of three lists preaching in church on Sunday’s among his hobbies.
Born in Embu, Njue studied medicine at the University of Nairobi. He holds a Master’s of Medicine in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology from the same institution.
His other qualifications include Diploma in Cancer Prevention, USA and Diploma in Forensic Pathology, Stellenbosch, South Africa among others.
He is currently putting final touches to his memoirs, Reflections Of A Forensic Pathologist.

Nyong’o STUDY leave raises queries about role of Kenya’s Public Scholars Posted in: News|October 18, 2013

Nyong’o STUDY leave raises queries about role of Kenya’s Public Scholars
Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, the ODM party Secretary General and Kisumu County Senator is already in the USA to attend one semester as a visiting Go Brutland Scholar at Harvard University School of Public Health; and peculiar kenyans did not disappoint when the public sphere got wind of the information.
It is confusing.
“Will he resign?”, “I thought senate was a full time job”, “is he going to be paid during the time”, “Why can’t he be paid when other people are getting paid for attending ‘small personal matters’ offshore?”, “I have always thought Prof Anyang Nyongo is in the wrong place as a senator or in an elective seat. Dude should keep his peace in academia where he seems to thrive” the debate continued. . .

You see, in a country where intellectuals in politics are as sycophantic and base as most seem to be here, Prof Nyong’o, and indeed many true scholars of his generation have often taken a back seat to watch the country progress out of sheer myopia. This is why the above reactions could easily be fathomed by people who truly think they are contributing to public discourse.
Trouble is, other professors are too willing to join the political bandwagon, idiocy notwithstanding. For instance, where does one place the current Education Secretary, Prof Kaimenyi? With his intellectual ‘weight’, that’s if any, he has been pushing a laptops programme which quite clearly is white elephant project in a country where the physical hardware for technology, especially in the education sector, is still in the precambrian age.
Then Nyong’o is a member of a ‘senate of everyone’. Unlike the senior common rooms where professors trol with knowledge, wisdom and experience gained from age and learning; our two institutions of public debate and deliberative politics – the National Assembly and Senate -house some of the dumbest and clueless people in Africa and the world.
The debates in parliament can proceed from any other social place, including bars and brothels. No much thinking is given to talking nowadays in parliament. The man, or woman of political drama and hubris appear to catch the country’s attention more.
Then there is the elephant in the room. Ethnicity. Or, negative ethnicity. Today, more than ever, the cancer of ethnicity has clouded minds to the point that everything proceeds from this single pedestal. It has everything to do with the media creation (or division) of Kenyans into ‘publics’ and ‘niches’ for readership and viewership.

This explains why queer characters like Jeff Koinange and David Matsanga have become the custodians, and experts, in so many public events and political issues, including ‘Pan-Africanism’, ‘International relations and Diplomacy’, ‘global justice’ etc. The type of music a society plays informs the pace of the dance.
Now, let’s be clear. This writer does not mean the mentioned character have no mettle. What this writer is convinced on is that the series of interviews currently ongoing serve only one disingenuous purpose: To engineer public opinion so as to pass public judgement on the ICC and reify President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy William Ruto as ‘sacrificial lambs’ accused wrongfully, being tried in a kangaroo court with no possibility of justice being delivered. But this is a digression.
Professor Nyong’o remains Kenya’s foremost scholar in economics and political thought. When public appointments, especially ministerial appointments were pegged on merit, Nyong’o landed at National Planning and the country riveted to the path of economic progress after years of KANU wastage. The credit, of course, went to Kibaki! This was the much touted period between 2003-2006. The 2005 referendum and the politics of ‘us’ vs ‘them’ would axe the professor together with others.
Since then, the place of the intellectual in Kenya’s politics has been replace by people referred to as ‘government functionaries’. The mandarins at Treasury or Harambee House or Statehouse. So many other public scholars have decided to concentrate in Academia, or are out of the country, teaching the youth of other nations in top world universities, especially in the western world.
However, it is time a new debate is opened on the place and role of the intellectuals in solving society problems. Even as the Hague debate proceeds, so quiet are the intellectuals that the bashing and the praising of this new world phenomenon has been left for pedestrians and quacks of all shades.
This writer pushes for the formation of public opinion based on informed knowledge. It is not bad to listen to sideshows. But when important public issues are discussed from the sentiments of jokers and ‘ignoramuses’, a society weakens its collective efficacy.
Public intellectuals in Kenya ought to regain their rightful place. There is need for respected scholars in education, public health, governance, sociology, history, science, and even religion to come out and share with the Kenyan society the new challenges borne by this century – the 21st century now in its second decade.
I mean, a new public conversation is needed.
As the professor heads to Harvard, maybe, another scholar should head to Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, the third to Moi University and Egerton. Some how, the debate needs to begin again. An enlightened rant is long overdue.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

No One Untouched in Nairobi

Grace Lesser

It's hard to find the words to respond to the acts of horror that took place recently in Nairobi. I am safe, my loved ones are safe, and for that I am thankful. Everyone I know knows someone personally who has been affected by the acts of terror -- friends who escaped the attacks, friends who were shot, friends who were killed. For those who haven't been to Nairobi, Westgate was not your typical African market -- it was a "worldclass" shopping mall, with three shiny floors of stores, elevators and escalator between each one. It had a multi-screen movie theatre, a European-style café with double iced cappuccinos and butternut squash prosciutto pizza, a burger joint, a frozen yogurt chain. My office is close by, I used to live right around the corner from it, and I would go there to do my shopping a few times a week. It was a mall commonly frequented by expats and wealthy Kenyans, but also represented development and modernity, a landmark of the direction Kenya is moving. Saturday mornings was generally the busiest time there, and last weekend the mall was hosting a children's event on the first floor.
I tend to have a pretty high threshold for danger -- I feel safe in most situations, I generally trust people, I enjoy pushing the boundaries of my own comfort zone. But I've never been so close to such senseless acts of violence and evil, and the aftershocks are deep and intense. When I first heard there was "a hostage situation" in Westgate on Saturday morning I didn't think much of it - I promised my concerned colleague that I would stay away from malls for the day, but ate french toast for breakfast on my porch and headed to the huge outdoor secondhand market for the morning. There was a slight fever of tension in the city, but I felt pretty much untouched. I've never really been one of those people who stopped to stare at car accidents or obsess over trauma, and figured this too would pass. But over the next 24 hours, and in the several days to follow, the magnitude of the attack slowly set in. My phone buzzed constantly with text messages from friends scouting the safety of our community. I found myself glued to the BBC's constant updates. I refreshed twitter every ten seconds for news about the hostages still inside the building, the extraordinary ongoing violence. A colleague's ex-boyfriend was missing. A photograph of an American acquaintance running from the mall towards his pregnant wife, gripping his two year old daughter, was plastered all over the news. A friend's coworker, eight and a half months pregnant, had been found dead, cradling her deceased husband. The stories coming out of the mall from survivors were horrific. And it was ongoing.
Nairobi is not a safe place -- commonly called Nairobbery, you wouldn't be wise to walk 500 meters outside after dusk, and you always lock your doors while driving through the daily hours of traffic. But this has taken danger to a whole new level. The attack feels somehow different than a grenade, or even a building collapsing (though that too, happened at Westgate): This is the story of human beings, adults to toddlers, "face to face," making the choice to ruthlessly end lives and ruin futures, to act on unspeakably senseless evil. I'm finding the scariest part of an attack like this one is that it can too easily regenerate hate, the saddest part is that it really makes one reconsider the existence of humanity.
I was one of the lucky ones, but I think it's also wise to remember in a time like this that it seems this kind of horror can happen anywhere -- and does. Earlier this year the Boston marathon bombing affected tens of thousands of people; just a couple weeks ago, the Navy Yard shooting killed 13. Even last weekend, as we were deep in the heaviness of the Westgate attack, a bomb in a historic church in Pakistan killed 70 people. This seems to be the world we're living in, this is the world we'll raise our children in, and my hope is that we remember that it's our job to try to slow the deepening of this kind of hate.
I'm not planning on leaving Nairobi because of the Westgate attack, though I think a lot of people will. I am still haunted by the photographs and the stories of death, and I now live in a city haunted by the horror. No one has been untouched. But I'm also reminded in these times of trauma and terror that the human spirit is strong. I'm beginning to hear stories of heroism: A plainclothes police officer was caught on camera rescuing a mother and her two children from underneath a coffee counter inside the mall. Benson, the taxi dispatcher that many Nairobi expats call, sent all his drivers out on Saturday to scour the hospitals for a customer that he'd dropped at Westgate that morning. People used twitter to share real-time information and escape routes during all four days of the attack. Last weekend I stood in line with thousands of Kenyans from all classes, backgrounds, tribes for hours - everyone quiet, with their children in tow, reading the paper - to donate blood. Volunteers passed out donated biscuits and soda at the blood drive, while a male acapella group serenaded the people closest to the front of the line. Of all the countries I've visited in Africa, Kenya has a markedly strong spirit - Kenyans have hustle and sass, humor and resilience. The country is broken, no doubt, but there is recovery and unity, too.
This morning, when I passed through the airport on my way to Rwanda, the customs officer asked me what Rwanda is like.
"Oh, it's niiiice" I said. "Clean, green. Safe."
He held my eyes for a moment, and asked, almost rhetorically: "They don't have any Al Shabab there?"
I shook my head, slowly.
"Enjoy your weekend in Rwanda. Forget what you saw here."

SEARCH for Ruto Replacement Underway in Mt Kenya, Confirms Kalenjin fears

SEARCH for Ruto Replacement Underway in Mt Kenya, Confirms Kalenjin fears 
By Sospeter Otieno
Posted in: Opinion|August 31, 2013     

As Ruto heads to the Hague, I wish him all the best as Bensouda makes minced meat out of the Kalenjin tribal leader… oH how time flies fast, and soon his sentencing to life will come and pass…I pray that God will grant Kamwana the wisdom to pick a DP of his choice and without allot of strings attached.
Now after perusing though the evidence as possessed by Bensouda, Kamwana will be acquitted, 80:20 chances, as his DP gets jailed 95:5 chances, and that would be a game changer in Kalenjin politics, and Kenya as a whole. Uhuru’s government will go on without Ruto.
I know Ruto thinks, Kenya will collapse in his absence, Kamwana- once Ruto is jailed will continue to demonstrate that he is the man on the steering wheel, not his co-driver. So who do you suggest replaces Mr. Samoei? Keter, Mrs. Rachel Ruto, Isaac Ruto, Joshua Kuttuny, Gideon Moi, who?
My apprehension and comprehension is that as the ICC cases proceed concurrently, Kenya will fall to a mafia around the Presidency. That’s what I freak.
The duo even running for presidency is the most irresponsible thing that an unpatriotic duo can ever do to their country. Investors will soon begin to flee as the mafia begins to fight among themselves in the event of a vaccum. But- hopefully Mr. Muturi, the Speaker or the ringleader of MPIGs if you like will continue the work of his TNA leader, as the third in line to the throne.
Kenyans need to start scrutinizing the character and track record of Muturi, coz should Uhuru(whose chances of being jailed are infact very slim compared to Ruto’s who is certain of being jailed) end up in life in prison, then Muturi is certain to emerge as president, both in acting capacity as Ruto and Uhuru are on trial, or as the automatic successor to his TNA party leader.

REVEALED in RAILA’s New BOOK: RONO headed Moi Killer police gang which TERRORISED Odinga and others after the COUP

REVEALED in RAILA’s New BOOK: RONO headed Moi Killer police gang which TERRORISED Odinga and others after the COUP
By Daily Nation.

Raila Odinga was tortured and held in horrid conditions after the aborted 1982 coup.
He says in his autobiography The Flame of Freedom that he played only a “peripheral role” in the attempted coup designed by then Kenya Air Force officers to depose President Moi.
He would be detained again in 1989 and 1991 but his detention from 1982, following the attempted coup, lasted nearly six years.
He says of his role in the failed coup: “…we had been quietly engaged in operations designed to educate and mobilise the people in order to bring about the necessary and desired changes in our society — not through violence but through popular mass action. The full explanation of our efforts to bring about popular change will have to wait for another, freer, time in our country’s history”.
As shackled as ever
He refers to Raila Odinga: An Enigma in Kenyan Politics, a book by Nigerian author Babafemi Badejo published seven years ago, and says that what was said about his role in the coup in that book touched off what he considers inordinate umbrage.
“The publication of a biography of me in 2006, where the writer intimated a peripheral role for me in the coup attempt, caused a vindictive outcry — indicating that freedom of speech is, at the time I tell this, my story, as shackled as ever in our country,” he writes.
He then narrates where he was and what he was doing on August 1, 1982, the morning of the coup attempt. He says he was at a friend’s house in Parklands from where he followed the updates broadcast on KBC (then Voice of Kenya) radio.
On August 11, he was picked up from Prof Oki Ooko Ombaka’s house in Caledonia, Nairobi, by officers led there by his driver, whom they had picked up at Mr Odinga’s house in Kileleshwa.
What followed were days of physical and psychological torture at the hands of the Special Branch in their offices on University Way, across the road from Central Police Station, and later at Muthangari Police Station, GSU and CID headquarters.
Mr Odinga recalls the torture meted out by an officer of the Special Branch named Josiah Kipkurui Rono and his team, who were determined to extract from him a confession of what he knew about the coup attempt.
Mr Odinga refused to give in.
He says his adamant position that he knew nothing about the coup attempt enraged Mr Rono, who broke off the leg of a wooden table and slammed it repeatedly on to Mr Odinga’s head and shoulders.
“The blows to my head dazed me and I fell to the floor, and as I lay there, Rono and the others jumped on my chest and my genitals.
Through the blinding pain, I heard them cock their guns, then Rono’s voice: I was either going to speak and tell the truth or I was dead meat. I waited for the end… But it did not come,” he writes.
The beating stopped and Mr Odinga was returned to the cells. For the next few days, he describes agonising torture — including jail in cold water-logged cells, at the hands of the Special Branch. He would attempt to sleep by leaning on the wall but soon the chilling cold — his sweater and shoes had been taken away — would awaken him.
“That is when I learned how long the night is,” he writes.
When he was later moved to the GSU headquarters, Mr Odinga would learn that he had been incarcerated with the dean of the faculty of Engineering at the University of Nairobi, Prof Alfred Otieno, and with Mr Otieno Mak’Onyango, then assistant managing editor of the Sunday Standard.
The interrogations continued and, to demonstrate the gravity of the matter, the then Commissioner of Police, Mr Ben Gethi, came in person to question Mr Odinga.
The author says that Mr Gethi appeared to have had too much to drink and was “disgustingly” chewing away on a roasted goat leg. He ordered the prisoner to write all he knew about the coup attempt.
Mr Odinga slowly wrote out a statement, drawn from a rumour he had heard implicating the then Attorney General, Charles Njonjo, in the coup attempt. An angry Mr Gethi, who was Mr Njonjo’s friend, tore up the statement and demanded another. When he realised that Mr Odinga’s story was not changing, he left.
In the dramatic fashion that characterised the Moi regime, Mr Gethi was sacked two days after that interrogation and was himself detained for 10 months.
Mr Odinga would write more statements in the hands of different interrogators, until six weeks later, when the State decided it was ready to proceed with the case against him and Prof Otieno and Mr Mak’Onyango.
The charges were served to their defence lawyers and the suspects were remanded in custody to await their trial and subsequent fate.
“Remand was a rude awakening,” writes Mr Odinga. The suspects were issued with uniforms that were old and torn, especially between the legs, as part of a psychological scheme to humiliate the suspects. Their diet consisted of no more than half-cooked ugali and what Mr Odinga describes as “vegetable water with a few limp leaves floating around”.
They were not allowed to see anyone or talk among themselves and the uniforms they wore had a big ‘C’ printed across the front, to indicate that they were charged with capital offences punishable by death.
They each stayed in solitary confinement in cells with hardly any sunlight and were issued with one blanket to sleep on and another with which to cover themselves. The lightbulb screwed into the ceiling high above burned 24 hours day.
They would be escorted twice a day to the toilets and back, individually so that they saw and spoke to no one. The warders spied on each other to ensure that no one helped the prisoners to break the rules.
The three men spent two weeks on remand before they were allowed to have a shower. “The fact that we were on remand and, under the law, presumed innocent, mattered not at all,” Mr Odinga writes.
He captures the humdrum tedium of life in remand, which he calls the “endless sameness of the daily routine”.
“We were continually counted to make sure we had not absconded – counting, counting, counting, all day long. It never ceased.”
Engaging in risky adventures, they designed ways of writing notes to their relatives on the outside, concealing them in their socks or under their tongues, or in other other ingenious ways, with anyone going outside for a court appearance being a contraband courier.
Smokers, writes Mr Odinga, went to extreme lengths to smuggle in cigarettes. He says that, from what he saw, had he been a smoker, he would have quit rather than practise such desperation.
After the warders had gone to their stations at night, the remandees would shout to inmates in neighbouring cells, and in this way Mr Odinga discovered that some of those locked up nearby were Kenya Air Force men who had been arrested over the coup attempt and who faced courts martial for treason.
These prisoners firmly believed in their action against dictatorship and corruption, and they were willing to die for it. Mr Odinga writes that many of them were sentenced to death and that “It was terrible – terrible and heart-breaking.
“They would be taken to court in the morning and would return in the afternoon to tell us quietly that they had been sentenced to death. A few were acquitted and a few imprisoned but many paid the ultimate price.”
Finally the day came in January 1983 for Mr Odinga to face 13 charges in relation to the abortive coup of August 1, 1982.
The trial was then delayed and postponed by the prosecution several times, while Mr Odinga’s relatives and friends worked to set up for him the best defence team they could.
The day of the trial was finally set for March 24, 1983.
The prosecution was led by lawyer Sharad Rao (now chairman of the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board).
Suddenly, the day before the trial was due to begin, Mr Odinga and his two co-accused were asked to collect all their belongings from their jail cells. They were driven to the courts and taken before the then Chief Justice, Sir James Wicks.
Mr Rao announced that he had orders from the Attorney-General to enter a nolle prosequi – that the State no longer wished to prosecute the three.
What followed was dramatic. The three men were released and all the papers were signed, but police officers never left their sides, and as the three exited the court they were bundled into a waiting Special Branch vehicle. The thought of detention immediately crossed Mr Odinga’s mind.
They were driven via a roundabout route to Langata Police Station. At day’s end, they were taken to the Nairobi area police headquarters, where the then provincial police chief, Philip Kilonzo, served them with detention orders signed by then internal security minister, Justus Ole Tipis.
“We three detainees arrived at Kamiti about midnight, back where we had started the day – but now we had a new home: the isolation block, the detention camp, the prison within a prison. The next phase of the struggle had begun,” writes Mr Odinga.
He would remain in detention without trial, which was lawful at the time, until February 5, 1988, when he was dramatically released by President Moi.
He would survive the solitude by exercising when he could and reading numerous books that his wife Ida sent him (but which had first to be censored by the authorities). He writes that he extensively studied the Bible, the Koran and other religious material, in addition to numerous other types of books, any kind, he could lay his hands on.
He would also do some gardening in the prison plot when the authorities allowed, growing different vegetables. He would serve in Kamiti, Manyani, Naivasha and Shimo la Tewa prisons, all of which had gained brutish notoriety since colonial days.
Mr Odinga’s mother died while he was in detention and he would learn of this and of other deaths of relatives painfully, sometimes months after the event, and he would never be allowed out to attend their funerals, a grim testament to the torture meted out by the regime of the day.
The autobiography, The Flame of Freedom, is currently being serialised in the Daily Nation.