Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Mavuno Church defends ‘explicit’ poster

LEFT: Pastor Mureithi Wanjohi of Mavuno Church in South C after Sunday’s service. RIGHT: The controversial poster 
LEFT: Pastor Mureithi Wanjohi of Mavuno Church in South C after Sunday’s service. RIGHT: The controversial poster. Photo/ Denish Ochieng, NairobiNews   

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
By Nation Reporter
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A city church has defended its use of a poster that caused uproar on social media at the weekend.
Pastor Mureithi Wanjau of Mavuno Church on Sunday told Nation.co.ke that his church was simply confronting issues affecting the youth.
“We want to connect with teens using the language they are using. We always start with where people are in culture and we lead them to where God wants them to be,” he said.
The poster which was posted on the church’s Teenz Konnekt Twitter page was criticised for being too explicit.
It shows a man embracing a girl whose legs are raised and bears the names of controversial songs plus the title of an erotic novel that contains scenes of sex.
It appeared in an announcement of an event the church hosted on Sunday evening for the youth to speak about sex. And Pastor Wanjau argued they could only get them talking if they use their language and the titles of music they are used to.
But Twitter ‘police’ took it to mean the church had turned into secular sex talk centre. One Comedy central tweeted: “#Mavuno church, seriously!!!! next tutaskia u will be holding a kesha at club…”
Another, Idler Mata, accused Mavuno of behaving like an organisation other than a church.
“Mavuno is an organisation not a church!!! Those kind of posters are not depicting anything to do with a church…”
Then there were photographic spoofs. One El Chapo posted a picture of a naked man carrying a cross, running. He said: “Me: Ruuning to Mavuno Church.” Other pictures showed fictitious ushers of the church in dresses with long slits and bras only.
The idea of the announcement though received support from a number of people. Maina Kageni of Classic FM tweeted that the “truth of the matter is that Mavuno Church has dared go where the church doesn’t like to go.”
Dr Githinji Gitahi accused the critics of a holier-than-thou attitude, saying he supports the church’s “different approach to the teen question.
The emergency of evangelical churches has meant that churches which compete to attract the youth have incorporated modern music, language and other social trends to avoid looking boring. Many of the churches even have their pastors preach using power point, and have teams that prepare DVDs and blogs for sermons.

Motorists to buy Sh2000 security number plates

Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau (left) with samples of the new number plates that were made at Kamiti Maximum Prison when he toured the facility on February 24, 2014. Photo/BILLY MUTAI 
Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau (left) with samples of the new number plates that were made at Kamiti Maximum Prison when he toured the facility on February 24, 2014. Photo/BILLY MUTAI  NATION MEDIA GROUP
Monday, February 24, 2014
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All vehicles will be expected to have new-look number plates which contain security features by the end of the year, the government has said.
Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau on Monday said the equipment to be used in the manufacturing of the new number plates is expected to arrive in the country by mid-next month.
“Production of the new-look number plates is expected to begin immediately the equipment for manufacturing them arrive from Germany by mid next month,” he said.
The cost of converting the plates will be Sh2,000 which is the current cost of buying a new pair but this will come with an additional fitting for the windscreen.
“We do not have to increase the burden on our motorists and they will get enough time to make the adjustments,” the minister said.
The new-look number plates will be engraved with microchips containing the security features of the vehicles.
Those interested in having special number plates will be required to pay Sh1 million and Mr Kamau said the figure could even be more.
Engines form part of the security details to be contained in the microchip and motorists who would want to change their car engines will have to make the same alterations with the registrar of vehicles who will in turn adjust the security features of the number plates to reflect the same.
This, the minister said, will help in tracking the vehicles. “It will be difficult for somebody to just interchange the number plates because police officers will be able to easily detect it,” he added.
He also warned rogue vehicle owners against using their vehicles as collateral when borrowing loans only to change registration and dodge repayment.
“It has been happening in the past but those are some of the things the security features will bring to an end,” he said.
“If decide to issue just a hundred such number plates and more people are interested then we shall be forced to go the auction way,” he said.
The government had approved the manufacturing of the new-look number plates in 2006 and Mr Kamau attributed government procedures to the delay.
Meanwhile, night travel could resume in the next few weeks with some three bus companies on the verge of being allowed to conduct the business.
Mr Kamau said the three companies, which he did not name, have formally applied for the license to ferry passengers at night and that the ministry is winding up their inspection of the companies’ fleets.
“Their buses already have a tracking system and we are still doing a few inspections before we can grant them the license,” he said.


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Lupita’s rise from Kenya to Hollywood

Lupita Nyong’o visits Late Night With Jimmy Fallon at Rockefeller Centre on January 22, 2014 in New York City. Photo/AFP
Lupita Nyong’o visits Late Night With Jimmy Fallon at Rockefeller Centre on January 22, 2014 in New York City. Photo/AFP 
Friday, February 21   2014 at  12:56
In Summary
  • As the March 2, Oscar Night approaches, the buzz created by Kenyan Hollywood newbie Lupita Nyong’o has gone into overdrive from Hollywood to London. Her Oscar nomination in the category of Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role in ‘12 Years a Slave’ is a culmination of a career that started in childhood.
  • Whether she wins or not, she has made history. But who is Lupita and how did she get here? Kingwa Kamencu spoke with family, friends, peers and mentors of the actress in Kenya.
Sometimes in life, people struggle to find their calling or what spiritualists call their true path. Others, on the other hand, are born with a single-mindedness, as if they had been handed a “life-map” at birth.
Interestingly, such people come to excellence in life early, something social science author Malcolm Gladwell explores in his book Outliers, where he puts forward the “ten thousand hour rule” as the secret for such achievement.
Good examples in popular culture would be the late king of pop Michael Jackson, who grew up singing and dancing with his brothers in The Jackson Five from the time he could talk.
And now there is Lupita Nyong’o. Those who know Lupita before she took the world of movies by storm with her performance as Patsey in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, believe that nothing could have stopped her from hitting that pinnacle in her career.
The 30-year old actress is the “It” girl of Hollywood, her success having created today a buzz from Hollywood to London, making her life-journey an interesting exploration of the question of what makes some people major achievers.
Is it chance? Opportunity? Hard work? Personality? Being in the right place at the right time? Or is it perhaps, a combination of all of these?
Talking to people who know Lupita from childhood she certainly clocked her “ten thousand hours,” Gladwell style. And it is because she earned it the hard way that she seems so unfazed hugging Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio among other Hollywood stars, and calmly engaging interviewers on camera.
Lupita’s father, Kenyan politician and Senator for Kisumu in Nyanza region, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, avers that, her interest in acting started from early childhood.
“She started acting very young, right from kindergarten and even at home with just the family, she would come up with make-believe stories and perform them for us. She was always imaginative and creative.”
Prof Nyong’o recounts how this interest continued in primary and secondary school, propelling the young actress into the local theatre scene at the young age of 14, when she joined Phoenix Players, playing Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Nevertheless, the family did not imagine she would go so far, so early.
“We did not see this coming; it really all came up after training at Yale,” he says. (READ: The life and times of Hollywood ‘It’ girl Lupita Nyong’o)
David Opondoe, the general manager of Phoenix Players in Nairobi, on the other hand says that even though Lupita started acting early, it was not something she did simply to pass time.
Rather than spending evenings swooning over boy bands or letting her hormones loose in rebellion like most teenagers, she was cramming lines. He remembers Lupita’s first rehearsal. “One notable thing about her was that by the time the cast was doing its first read-through, she had all her lines, unlike many of the professionals then.”
He laughs out loud as he recalls, “People noticed it and were surprised. At first, it looked like the usual teenage excitement and many thought the steam would cool off. But we later realised that that’s how she was, she was very ambitious.”
All along as well, there had also been an innate talent.
Opondoe who co-starred with her in her next performance at Phoenix, There Goes the Bride, remembers that even though director James Falkland honed her acting, she was a natural at it and did not give him much trouble.
“She pulled off very tricky parts, like acting as the invisible lover to someone possessed. It’s a very tricky part, because you are there yet you’re not supposed to be there. She did a brilliant job and still surprised people,” he says.
Indeed, Lupita’s two major performances so far have seen her in roles that are at two extremes, revealing her versatility. In the much acclaimed 2008 soap Shuga, she plays Ayira, the go-getting, hard-nosed, street-smart, career climber, while in 12 Years a Slave as Patsey she is innocent, retiring and timid, more victim than vixen but with a stubborn streak.
Shuga is a sex and relationships urban drama — produced as part of MTV Base’s Staying Alive Foundation funded by Unicef and Bill and Melinda Gates, whose objective is to reach young people through popular culture. The production started in Kenya and is now in Nigeria.
Early days
By the time Lupita joined St Mary’s School (in Nairobi) for a two year IB course in the year 2000, she was well into her element.
Dorothy Osir, the IB co-ordinator who worked with Lupita when putting up the school musical that year, says, “We remember her for her sterling performance in Cinderella in 2001 where she played the main character. It was then that we saw the talent. We didn’t know that she could sing, and already the school had many singers. When we gave her the role of Cinderella, she was new to us and we were taking a chance. But she didn’t let us down. That was one of the biggest and best musicals we have had in St Mary’s to date. She was taught by two teachers who deserve credit, Beatrice Bwali and Oloo Nyamwewa.”
Mrs Osir remembers Lupita as determined, pointing to the role of personality in the life journey. “I knew her as a tough girl. I mean you could see she was a girl that was going to go places. She was one of these extraordinary talented girls, people who never gave up on what they wanted to do.”
Among those in the acting fraternity in Nairobi who were close to Lupita is Antony Mwangi aka “AntoNeosoul,” who played the role of Kennedy against Lupita’s Ayira in Shuga and remembers some of the fears she shared with him over dinner in Nairobi mid last year, when 12 Years a Slave had already been shot and was in post-production stage.
“She told me there were already actors and actresses in the US, and the odds were against her. Her dark skin tone, her short hair, her Kenyan accent, her name. She didn’t have the traditional feminine look of long weaves. People couldn’t pronounce her name right; every time she spoke, people would be like ‘What? What did you say?’”
Her determination however saw her learn different accents to be more competitive during auditions. Mwangi says, “She didn’t want to be tied to only particular roles, she wanted roles that would blow people away, that they would forget she was African. She wanted to be seen as a professional before anything else. She told me that if someone came casting for a character with a British accent, she knew she could do it so well that she could nail it.”
Lenny Juma, an actor and international casting agent who has been in the industry in Kenya for over 40 years, recommended Lupita to play the main character in Shuga. He gives another angle to it. “Casting is not just about looking for a good actor, it’s about looking for a particular type of character. For Lupita, it is that certain things are made by God for certain situations in the world.”
Even as he points to fate, he also speaks of her acting ability. “That girl is talented. But God sculpts people to fit into a certain way; it’s he who makes us what we are. Sometimes we say we work hard but it’s not always that. If Lupita was in Kenya, she would never have got that part. All these things are things God put in her way. She was in the right school in the US, at the right time. It’s one of those things that are made for you and no one can snatch them from you.”
While many African parents may be afraid for their children in the precarious world of the arts, Lupita’s parents’ attitude was laid back and encouraging, rather than doubtful or fearful. They nurtured her ambition by encouraging her, supporting her and watching her plays, both in Kenya and the US.
This in itself may have played a big part in giving her the confidence to pursue her dreams and actualise herself. Says her father, “We were not afraid at all, we knew she was pursuing her interest and that’s what was important to us. You must understand that my family, and my wife and I are theatre lovers; we have ourselves acted in the past.”
In the meantime, her success has given Kenya’s acting industry a major boost and something to smile about.
“For a long time, people have taken acting as a waste of time. Now people are seeing it as a career they can encourage their children to pursue. We are also getting more people coming in to watch our plays, out of curiosity. It’s given us a boost, a good spotlight which we needed,” Opondoe says of Phoenix.
Lupita’s wild success has also thrown a challenge to other actors. Mwangi says, “She’s shown that if acting is what you want to do, you don’t sit on your laurels, go out and get it.”
How do parents nurture excellence in their children, how do we get our own children to “make it” and hit “the big time” in whatever field they are in?
Prof Nyong’o has some advice. “Support your child in what you think he or she is good at. Discuss with them, guide them, advise them, that’s what they need. The worst thing would be to impose on them your own ideas of what they should do.”
To date, Lupita has won almost 30 awards from film critics, producers and acting societies across the US.

The life and times of Hollywood ‘It’ girl Lupita Nyong’o

Kisumu Senator Anyang’o Nyong’o and his wife Dorothy Nyong’o at a church service to honour their daughter Lupita Nyong’o, at Baptist Church, Ridgeways in Nairobi on January 28, 2014. Photo/FILE
Kisumu Senator Anyang’o Nyong’o and his wife Dorothy Nyong’o at a church service to honour their daughter Lupita Nyong’o, at Baptist Church, Ridgeways in Nairobi on January 28, 2014. Photo/FILE 
Friday, February 21   2014 at  12:55
In Summary
  • Carol Odero has been following Lupita’s professional life from her days in Yale when she produced ‘In My Genes’ and interviewed her in 2009. Here she pieces together Lupita’s life and times.

I have met Lupita Nyong’o just once; at the premiere of her documentary, In My Genes back in 2009. She is indeed as stunning as she looks today on the red carpet.
Back then, when I asked her about her striking looks and whether people found her exotic, her response was “No. I wouldn’t use those words. People are intrigued by my back story. The fact that I was born in Mexico and grew up in Kenya, they are always intrigued by what on earth a Kenyan was doing in Mexico.”
After almost 15 years of acting her background story has been officially established.
In her most recent interviews, most notably with New York Magazine and CNN’s African Voices, she gives interesting details of her life. She is yet to come back to Kenya since 12 Years a Slave premiered late last year and has had a whirlwind of award ceremonies to attend and fashion shoots to take part in.
Speaking on African Voices on CNN in early February, Lupita Nyong’o says she was born on March 1, 1983 in Mexico where her parents were living in exile. She was given the Spanish name Lupita, a short form of Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe), according to Luo customs of naming a child after places or events. She told New York Magazine, “Every single laundromat, grocery store, everything is called Lupita in Mexico.
“My father was a politician. At the same time he was a professor of political science. He was organising for democracy in Kenya; we were under an autocratic regime. After an unfortunate series of events including the disappearance of his brother, he went into political exile in Mexico and I was born in his last year there,” she says.
Her family moved back to Kenya when she was a toddler and she is the second born of six. She was the only child born in Mexico. At the age of 16, her parents sent her and her 19-year-old sister back to Mexico to study Spanish for seven months.
She says Mexico was strange to her since she could not remember anything of her years there. Although they were the only black people in the town where they lived, they always felt welcome.
Later, she moved to the US and joined Hampshire College, a private liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts for a degree in film and theatre studies. The school offers alternative education, in that the students choose and plan their own studies and are neither graded nor offered GPAs. It called for strict personal discipline and drive on her part, which she enjoyed.
Lupita says moving to the US was a culture shock for her. For the first time in her life, her blackness defined who she was. She was no longer the young girl, the skinny girl, the new girl she was just the black girl.
She, however, says she enjoyed her time in the college and decided she wanted to pursue her acting more seriously and was pleasantly surprised when she applied for and got admission into Yale School of Drama. She says she wanted to join drama school because she felt that although she had an acting instinct, she needed to be equipped with skills beyond instinct. She wanted to be efficient.
She says it was at Yale that she immersed herself in acting; the training was so rigorous, she had to play five different roles in one day. At first she says she found it a challenge but after a while she realised that if she opened her spirit, her mind and her whole being, she could be any character she wanted to play and eventually she nailed it.
At Yale, she acted in Gertrude Stein’s Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, and Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and The Winter’s Tale. She was also the recipient of the Herschel Williams Prize “awarded to acting students with outstanding ability” during the 2011–2012 school year.
In 2009, at only 26, she directed, produced and edited In My Genes, a documentary on people living with albinism in East Africa. She launched the documentary in Kenya and says she is proud that parts of it were screened in parliament and the issue of albinism was discussed in parliament and the government even enacted laws to recognise and protect people living with albinism. (The government now provides sunscreen lotion to albino pupils who attend special schools for the blind, since albinism affects their eyesight).
She presented the film at the New York Film Festival in 2009 and was the youngest entrant.
She says her family’s support was very important in that they allowed her to choose her own path. She particularly speaks warmly of her uncle, Aggrey Nyong’o, a pathologist, who she says attended every play she acted in and who died in 2002. (On January 18, she won the Best Supporting Actress award at the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards for her work in the film, 12 Years a Slave and dedicated it to her uncle).
In her final year in Yale in 2012, her manager recommended her to Steve McQueen, who was then casting for 12 Years a Slave and asked her to go for a reading and audition in New York. She did. She got called up to go to California for a second audition and screen test. She did. Later she received a call to travel to Louisiana where the movie crew was already setting up and she auditioned again. She got the role of Patsey after three auditions in three different states.
On her role in 12 Years a Slave, Lupita admits that Patsey was a very emotional role for her but the other cast members helped her to cope.
She says when she took the role, she didn’t know how the audience would receive the movie but the reaction has been “amazing and humbling.”


Sunday, 16 February 2014

State to pay Sh100m to church

Members of the legion of Mary walk past a cross at their Makadara parish compound on August 25, 2013. PHOTO|DENISH OCHIENG

ABIUD OCHIENG, posted on Feb 15, 2014

Treasury is grappling with the payment of over Sh100 million, which a local church is seeking after successfully arguing out  its case in court.
St Teresa Legio Maria of Mission was awarded the money by the High Court in April last year, but Treasury is yet to channel the award into  the church’s account.
The dispute followed the withholding and disposal of a second-hand clothes consignment, which the church had imported in 1983.
Church Secretary Pastor Edwin Otieno said he had visited the Netherlands where he met some friends of the church.
“These foreign friends agreed to buy and send some clothes as donation to the church members,” said Pastor Otieno.
Unfortunately around the time the cargo reached Kenya, there was a regulation imposed by the Office of the President which placed a ban on the importation of second hand clothes.
The church obtained permission for the release of the goods, but they had already been sold by  way of private treaty.
The court later found that the action by the State was unlawful and directed the church to be compensated to the tune of Sh51, 182,151 in a judgment delivered in 2008.
Payment has not been forthcoming despite successive budgetary allocations to various ministries, leading to interests accumulating to the current Sh111, 759, 491. The case will be mentioned on April 7.
The church which has over a million followers in East Africa is not, however, new to controversy as in 2009 the Court of Appeal gave a ruling that ended a decade-old leadership conflict, a dispute that went down as the most contested tussle in the church’s history.
The church founder, His Highness Baba Messiah Melkio Ondeto, had during his lifetime appointed four Cardinals to take over his position upon his death.
They were Cardinal Deans Timothy Blasio Ahitler — who later became Pope —  Lawrence Pius Chiaji,  Wilson Petro Owino Obimbo and Raphael Otieno.
Pope Ahitler, who succeeded Ondeto, later suspended Cardinal Obimbo as a disciplinary measure for an error he is alleged to have committed.
Ahitler then died and was succeeded by Pope Chiaji and later the Pope’s position was passed over to Cardinal Otieno.
Cardinal Dean Obimbo then contested the move, saying he was the third pre-determined Pope as per the directives left behind by Pope Ondeto.
Pope Otieno, who led a faction of the church, however, maintained that Cardinal Obimbo remained suspended having not been cleared of his wrong doing and hence could not be entrusted with the church’s leadership.
The church’s constitution states that “subsequent ascension to the leadership of ‘Baba Mtakatifu Popo’ would be determined with the Holy Spirit”.
But in an attempt to resolve the dispute, Justice Mohamed Warsame ordered for elections within 30 days in January 2007.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Kenyan immigration director finds unsatisfactory screening procedures

Kenya's newly appointed Director of Immigration Jane Waikenda took office Wednesday (June 26th) and instructed her division to step up screening of foreigners entering the country, Kenya's Daily Nation reported.
In her first meeting with department heads in the Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government, Waikenda warned that extra caution must be taken in screening foreigners' passports and visas to prevent undesirables from entering the country.
She said laxity could be a factor in increased insecurity and terror attacks.
Waikenda has promised to transform the department to conform with the Jubilee manifesto within 100 days. "You will have to embrace change because my office will not tolerate people who do not add value to the department," she said.


Immigration Director To Appear Before EACC

Immigration Director To Appear Before EACC 
The Director of Immigration Jane Waikenda is set to appear before the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) today, Monday.

Wakienda was picked up by EACC detectives from her Nyayo House office last week for questioning over the issuance of work permits to foreigners.
The Immigration Director then collapsed after the officers appeared at her office which led to her hospitalization at the Nairobi Hospital.
Wakienda, speaking from the hospital last week, said that she would cooperate with the EACC as they carry out their investigations.
The EACC has been investigating various officials at Nyayo House over the irregular issuance of permits to foreigners.
Several officers have been questioned over the matter, with the commission indicating it will prosecute anyone found culpable.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku says his ministry will also conduct investigations into the alleged corruption scandal at the department of immigration.
The Interior Cabinet Secretary says EACC officials are only pursuing allegations of impropriety against Waikenda, who is expected to be grilled at Integrity Centre on Monday.
Ole Lenku added that the government will continue to take stern action against government officers who compromise the country’s security.
More to follow
By Beth Nyaga


Saturday, 8 February 2014