Saturday, 24 June 2017

Tanzania president's remarks on teen mothers sparks anger; 24.06.2017

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A teen mother. Tanzania President John Magufuli
A teen mother. Tanzania President John Magufuli has said teen mothers should not be allowed back in school. FILE PHOTO 


  • An online petition Friday gathered more than 300 signatures calling for Magufuli to retract his statement.
Tanzania President John Magufuli said students who become pregnant should not be allowed to finish their studies after giving birth, sparking outrage from women's rights campaign groups.
"I give money for a student to study for free. And then, she gets pregnant, gives birth and after that, returns to school. No, not under my mandate," the president said Thursday while visiting Chalinze, around 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch published last week, school officials in Tanzania were conducting pregnancy tests in order to expel pregnant students, thus depriving them of their right to an education.
Magufuli hit back, saying if Tanzanians listened to western human rights organisations, "all the students in an entire class could have babies".
"In that case, what would happen? While the teacher is conducting class, they'll all leave to nurse their babies? Never under my mandate", he said.
"If the NGOs really love these students they should open special schools for mothers."
Several members of the government have publicly defended the right for teens to continue their secondary school education after having children.
Mr Magufuli's comments drew the ire of the African organisation for women's rights Femnet, which called them "unacceptable" and "disgusting".
"With all the work we have done to emancipate Africa's girl-child from the shackles of discrimination and violation, a sitting president turns-around and... (treats) their situation like a terrible infectious disease, which other girls must be protected from," Dinah Musindarwezo, who heads Femnet said.
"It is unfortunate that instead of addressing sexual violence in schools (which is why girls are getting pregnant) President Magufuli aims to re-victimize young girls by denying them their right to education," the campaign group Equality Now director Faiza Mohammed said.
An online petition Friday gathered more than 300 signatures calling for Magufuli to retract his statement and set up a legal structure to allow pregnant students to continue their studies after giving birth.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Cholera outbreak hits Weston Hotel guests; 22.06.17

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Westonn Hotel in Nairobi on June 6, 2015. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE
Weston Hotel in Nairobi on June 6, 2015. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
A cholera outbreak has been reported at Weston Hotel in Nairobi where some guests, including doctors, are attending a science conference.
Dr George Nyale, chairman of the conference, confirmed the outbreak, saying there is no cause for alarm.
"We have contingency measures on the ground" he said.
He said tests are being run in the hotel and there are ambulances on standby to take people to the hospital.
A source who sought anonymity told that at least 47 were admitted to various hospitals in the city after they developed cholera-related symptoms.
The hotel’s management refused to talk to the Nation regarding the matter.
Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko denied the allegations of the “an outbreak of Cholera at Weston”.
He said the victims were suffering from gastroenteritis, a common food related infection that is characterised by vomiting and diarrhoea.
Dr Kioko said the Ministry of Health’s department of Disease Surveillance and the National Public Health Laboratories have to conduct a “microbiological and other tests to confirm if it is really cholera”.
Nairobi County Executive for Health Bernard Muia said there was a team from the Ministry of Health at the hotel to contain the issue.
The forum, called “The Kenya International Scientific Lung Health Conference”, is organised by the Ministry of Health.
It began on Tuesday and is scheduled to end on Friday.
The over 500 doctors and scientists have been discussing Kenya’s vulnerability to respiratory diseases at the Weston Hotel, associated with Deputy President William Ruto, since Tuesday this week.
One of the victims admitted to Nairobi Hospital was barely audible, saying the diarrhoea started on Wednesday.
“I thought it was food poisoning, so I took water the whole day knowing it would pass,” he told the Nation.
The medic, a physician from Kisumu County, said he later realised that he could be suffering from Cholera from the colour of his loose stool.
The Nation has established that there are two other patients who are admitted to Nairobi Hospital and Karen Hospital.
A source in the conference told the Nation that there could be many more affected “but they are doctors so they are sorting themselves out”.
There was a notice at the entrance to the conference on first floor of the hotel directing anyone experiencing stomach aches to a presidential suite.
The same poster was placed in the toilets, an indicator that the hotel was aware of the matter.
At the entrance, there were three ambulances from Amref.

I'm intrigued by people who are eating Kenya's new railway; 21.06.17

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Mombasa Terminus in Miritini in May 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
The passenger train station in Miritini, Mombasa, on May 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 
As the stories on the standard gauge railway recently launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta continued to bubble – the glory it will bring, the cost, which pocketed what and didn’t – I have been intrigued by a less glamorous part of the tale.
These are the fellows who, in many ways, are all but “eating the SGR”: the vandals who are stealing metal bits presumably to sell them as scrap.
You get this image of them watching the SGR as it was being built, and working out what parts they would steal, and budgeting how much they would make off it.
It also didn’t come as a surprise. After the Thika superhighway opened, the thieves went about stealing as much guard railings and lighting as they could.
The conventional argument is that the small people “eat” the railway, streetlights, and guardrails off the side of highways, as part of the wider social infestation caused by the grand corruption of the Big People.
The Big People eat tenders, steal votes, fleece the National Treasury, and so the folks learn from them and make do with skimming off the “government” things that pass near their village.
So apart from vandalising the SGR, they will take off with the windows, sockets, electrical wires, and bulbs from the neighbouring public schools.
As evidence of this, during the 2013 elections, if you remember, people were quite shocked by the state of some of the Kenyan schools and public places where the polling stations were located.
But there has to be something bigger going on, a new contestation over, to use the cliché, the public [goods] space.
You see it all over Africa actually. Many times people take these things not to sell for a little change, but to fill a void created by the absence of a state service.
A famous highway was redone in western Uganda some years ago, a section of it passing not far from President Yoweri Museveni’s country home.
The contractors went over the top, and peppered the road with reflective studs – very many of them. But slowly, the studs started disappearing. However, they were not showing up in the second-hand scrap markets, and it was a puzzle.
Soon the puzzle was solved. Being Museveni’s stronghold and backyard, he reportedly visited one of his staunch supporters in a nearby village.
And there, on the edges of the man’s house, were some of the studs that had disappeared from the highway. The family acted without any awareness of how awkward it looked.
The picture became clear. People didn’t think they were stealing the reflective studs. They considered that they were putting them to better use than the government that was “just wasting them on the drivers”. They could take that position because they didn’t own cars and, therefore, didn’t drive at night.
They didn’t have electricity or flush toilets inside in their houses. The reflective studs helped them to see their way to the door at night when they woke up to go and pee or allowed the man of the house not to run into walls when he returned home late at night from the local bar and was groping his way to the bedroom.
If they had electricity, they would not have plucked out the studs. It is a complicated push and pull going on.
One notices, though, that the thieves usually don’t steal many guardrails or streetlights during the construction of these projects.
In fact, if you think of it, there is more valuable stuff to steal during the building stage. If you are ambitious, you could steal a tractor. There is fuel for the machines, cement, and pipes and metals piled up.
But the people don’t for two reasons. First, until the road is handed over to the government and “unveiled” by the president or a minister, the people still mostly see it as the private property of the contractor. And respect for private property runs deeper than for the public ones.
Secondly, it helps that private property is likely to be guarded. If you want to steal glass from a school, the public school is easier because it won’t have a guard. The private one will likely have both a fence and guard.
African governments generally don’t effectively occupy the public spaces that are supposed to be the State’s charge. Other than for coercive purposes (for example, keeping protesters away from the gates of parliament), they tend to be absent landlords.
Charles Onyango-Obbo is the publisher of ‘’ and ‘’; Twitter: @cobbo3

End in sight for Mosoriot Teachers College; 22.06.2017

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Mosoriot Teachers College student during a past demonstration in Nandi County. Mosoriot Teachers College is set to be converted into a campus of the proposed Koitalel Samoei University College. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUPMosoriot Teachers College students during a past demonstration in Nandi County. The college is set to be converted into a campus of the proposed Koitalel Samoei University College. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Mosoriot Teachers College is set to be converted into a campus of the proposed Koitalel Samoei University College in Nandi County, marking an end to an institution that has existed since 1960.
The teachers college was started to offer quality training for teachers in the country, with J. Rodgers as its first chairman, serving from 1960-61.
Its vision has been to sustain the training of competent, qualified and effective teachers using modern techniques in order to satisfy dynamic societal needs and expectations for the 21st century.
The institution will join Siriba Teachers College, now Maseno University, and Kenya Science Teachers College, now a campus of the University of Nairobi, among others, that have been upgraded from teachers' training colleges to universities.
A report by the Commission for University Education (CUE) has recommended the transfer Mosoriot TTC land and facilities to the University of Nairobi to be held in trust and provide a requisite range of facilities, especially lecture rooms, administration and academic offices.
“It has also to develop a master plan for the proposed university college, showing a time line plan on how the land and facilities of the TTC would be converted in favour of the proposed university college,” states the report submitted to Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and signed by CUE chairman Chacha Nyaigotti-Chacha.
According to the report dated June 8, the University of Nairobi has been tasked by the Ministry of Education to be the mentoring university of the proposed institution.
UoN is also required to finalise the land transfer process and obtain concurrence from the Ministry of Education on the alienation of the land.
The campus, which starts off as a constituent college of the University of Nairobi, will be constructed at a cost of Sh3.4 billion.
“It will start with a school of law signifying that Koitalel stood for justice and died fighting for freedom,” said Prof Peter Ngau, the principal of the College of Architecture and Engineering.
Prof Ngau said the college will then establish a sports academy to serve the region, which is the designated home of athletics champions.
The college will then add a school of business to contribute to the shaping of the country’s future and contributing to Vision 2030, said Prof Ngau during the launch that was presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The number of universities has doubled from 35 in 2012 to 70 last year and the number of students enrolled in universities has increased from over 361,379 in 2012 to over 564,507 last year.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

TALES OF COURAGE: I sell boiled eggs despite my degree but I know I’ll make it; 20.06.2017

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Gladys Cheptoo Biwott during the interview at
Gladys Cheptoo Biwott during the interview at Nation Centre, Kimathi Street, Nairobi on June 2, 2017. PHOTO/PAUL WAWERU 

In Summary

  • The villagers who do not know the value of education are going round preaching that parents should not sell their cattle to take their children to university since they will still come back to languish in the village.
  • They are now saying that education is useless and a waste of resources. It is like they do not want unemployed graduates in the village as they say that we are a bad omen.
  • Do you have feedback on this story? E-mail 
My name in Gladys Cheptoo Biwott and I am 30 years old. My parents had invested in my education. They sold all their cattle to finance my studies at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree (second upper class) in Microbiology.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a job ever since. I have been making trips between home in Kodongou village, Kishaunet Location, in West Pokot and Nairobi for the past six years in search of a job in vain.
Life has been difficult after the death of my father in late 2011, which left me with a sickly mother and eight younger siblings to take care of, yet I do not have a job. Without the capital to invest in a tangible business, I have been selling food, mainly boiled eggs and potato chips at Chepareria shopping centre. I make Sh100 a day.
With a severe drought and a consequent famine hitting my village, the last three years have been unbearable. Even with my degree, my challenges have not been any different from those of the illiterate women in the village.
I am not content with the way I am living, as I am unable to make the tangible impact that I have always wanted, to transform my community and influence them to shed some of the cultural practices that have been by-passed by time. Without the power and resources, I cannot influence people and instil positive change. To be sincere, I have recently been the laughing stock of the village.
Women in my village say that I am educated but I am unable to bring any change since I am suffering like them, if not more than them. This is causing me sleepless nights. In my first two years in the village, I used to counsel and mentor young boys and girls; but today, they can hardly listen to me because it is like I have failed in life. There is no way that I can pull them to aspire for success when myself, I am not successful in any way.
Over the years, I have been carrying outreach activities against female genital mutilation (FGM) and early child marriages. But today, not a villager can listen to me. Instead, they say that I am an uncircumcised woman and a bad example of what education can achieve. They blame me for being educated and not being able to put my life together like an educated woman would. In short, they cannot point out any mark of success in me. 
The villagers say that I am jobless and useless and I have nothing to show for my education. That is part of the reason they insist that I have to undergo FGM and be married off to some old man in the village; even at 30 years of age.
This has been stressful to my sickly mother and it is harming her health. I have had enough of my village. It is for this that I have decided to run away from home, away from my village, where young, jobless graduates are seen as total failures. I am not the only unemployed graduate in my home area. There are others who are facing similar hostility.
The villagers who do not know the value of education are going round preaching that parents should not sell their cattle to take their children to university since they will still come back to languish in the village. They are now saying that education is useless and a waste of resources. It is like they do not want unemployed graduates in the village as they say that we are a bad omen.  
The villagers who are saying all this are people who have never even set foot in a classroom, but they got the power to say it because even those of us who are educated cannot stand up and speak for themselves. Even with the knowledge that I have on the ability of education to transform human life, I cannot defend it, simply because I got nothing to show for it.
It is a month since I ran away from home. I am staying with a friend in upper Kabete. Life has not been easy, I have been searching for a job in vain. If life went on the way I had it all planned in my mind, I should be in a research laboratory investigating diseases and providing solutions to some of the most pressing challenges in our health systems.
Over the years, I have been hopeful that I would find a job and serve the community in a bigger capacity. Unfortunately, I have not been lucky to be hired even after applying for numerous jobs with national and county governments and private organisations. This has seen me retrogress in my personal development, even though I have all this knowledge within me. I know that a graduate in microbiology should be far placed in life. They should not look like me.
To some people, I might sound more of a joker saying that I have been selling boiled eggs and chips to eke out a living yet I am a graduate. That is the far back that life has pushed me. With a Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) loan worth Sh217,000, I am not settled. Somehow a solution has to be found.
I still want to go back and work with my community to change their perceptions on the girl-child and education. Even with unemployment, education is important as it opens up the mind of an individual, the only challenge is the resources to implement the ideas of an educated mind.
With resources, I will be able to debunk the new myths and perceptions that my community has on higher education, I will be able to win the war on FGM. FGM does not define a woman, and cannot be used as a measure of womanhood. That is why I do not understand that I have to undergo FGM at 30. It is against human rights and should not be imposed on anyone.
The other form of support that can empower me in order to be able to influence change in my community would be in the form of a paid job. Without resources, I am voiceless. I am unable to get the community to listen and rally around an idea like abandoning practices such as FGM and sending more girls to school.
If I had the resources, they would be able to see the difference between me, an educated woman, and those that have not acquired education and will thus be easy for me to influence this change.
I know that I will find a way.
Do you have feedback on this story? E-mail

Monday, 19 June 2017

Kaunda talked of Kenyatta’s love for meat and why Moi hated Obote; 18.06.2017

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President Jomo Kenyatta welcomes his Zambian counterpart Kenneth Kaunda when he visited Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
President Jomo Kenyatta welcomes his Zambian counterpart Kenneth Kaunda when he visited Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 
In August 2003, then director of the Kenya National Archives Musila Musembi invited me to join a government delegation to Abuja, Nigeria, for a conference sponsored by the World Bank.
The continental meeting was to discuss the role of records management in good governance.
I was invited in appreciation of my use of the national archives as a research source when I was an active journalist.
(Oops, I am told today journalists have only WhatsApp and Google as their primary sources of information!)
As we walked out of the VIP lounge at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport — named after the Nigerian President assassinated in 1976 in Lagos while being driven to his office — I saw a man who resembled Zambia’s first President, Kenneth Kaunda.
“That looks like Kaunda”, I whispered to Mr Musembi.”
In his characteristic humour he replied: “Of course, that’s Kaunda unless someone has stolen his face.”
In my journalistic kimbelembele, I walked right to where Mr Kaunda was and introduced myself. Our conversation went on like this:
“How are you Mr President?”
“I am fine my son. Travelling from Zambia?”
“Not really, sir, I am a journalist from Kenya”
“So what brings you to Nigeria?”
“I will be attending a World Bank seminar in Abuja.”
“I am also headed there for a seminar on HIV/Aids.”
“Mr President, will it be possible that you find some time to talk to me while in Abuja?”
“Well, you know I am now retired and don’t give interviews to the media. But we can have a cup of tea in Abuja. Where are you staying?”
“The Hilton Hotel.”
“Then you’re lucky. That’s where I also booked. Just look up for me.”
On my second day in Abuja, I asked the receptionist to hook me up with Mr Kaunda. “Yes, my son”, Mr Kaunda said when he came on the line. “Meet me at the terraces for coffee at 10.”
I found him there, his trademark white hand-kerchief on the table.
He started off by telling me about the trouble he had in mediating a ceasefire during the Biafra civil war in Nigeria.
The civil war had come about when states in south-eastern Nigeria declared independence and formed a separate state called Biafra.
As the late William ole Ntimama would put it, they were cut down to size by the federal government, after a bloody three-year conflict between July 1967 and January 1970 where about two million lives were lost.
“Nigerians can get wild when they want,” Mr Kaunda told me.
“When I was mediating a ceasefire in the Biafra war, separate delegates would come to the meeting room with loaded guns and we had to disarm them at the entrance.
Then we would have them seated as far away from each other because they were all intent on getting physical.
We kept wondering which ceasefire to negotiate first — one in the boardroom or the main one out there!”
“So tell me about your friend Mzee Kenyatta,” I steered the conversation away from Nigeria.
“Of course yes, he was my great personal friend. He is the one who made me like soup and meat.”
Mr Kaunda told me of the day Mzee Kenyatta’s chef brought a tray full of meat, prompting the Kenyan President’s personal doctor to admonish him for feeding the grand old man with lots of meat against his (the doctor’s) advice.
The doctor ordered the chef to leave only a few pieces for Mzee Kenyatta and his guest, and take back the rest.
But as soon as the doctor had stepped out, Mzee Kenyatta ordered the chef to bring back all the meat he had taken away as he told President Kaunda: “These doctors are a funny people. When did they hear of a lion taken to hospital for eating too much meat?”
As with soup, Mr Kaunda told me, Mzee Kenyatta would take a bowl after another and urge his Zambian counterpart to do the same. And to make sure his guest had enough supply back home, he ordered that twenty goats be flown from Kenya to President Kaunda’s farm in Zambia.
Mzee Kenyatta was also a great lover of his family, Mr Kaunda told me: “He would never interrupt Mama Ngina when she was talking.
He attentively listened and nodded to assure her he was getting every word of whatever she was saying.”
Equally, the former Zambian leader said, his Kenyan counterpart dedicated a lot of time to his three youngest children – Uhuru, Muhoho, and Nyokabi — whom he always talked to in vernacular.
Mr Kaunda also talked of a bizarre moment during Mzee Kenyatta’s State burial in 1978 when Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere demanded that the seat reserved for Uganda’s President Idi Amin be relocated as far away from where he and President Kaunda were seated.
When the Ugandan dictator arrived, Mr Nyerere and Mr Kaunda declined to shake hands with him.
As for President Daniel arap Moi, Mr Kaunda told me of his loathing, almost paranoia, for Mr Milton Obote, a deposed Ugandan President who was once exiled in Zambia.
Every time President Moi met his Zambian counterpart, he would insist to be told what Mr Obote was doing in Zambia and whether he had any plans to sabotage the Kenyan government.
Mr Kaunda told me he even had to order his country’s intelligence to give regular briefings to their Kenyan counterparts, just to keep President Moi happy.
Mr Moi’s loathing for the Ugandan leader was so deep that on the day the Obote government was overthrown for the first time by Mr Amin in 1971 while he was flying back to Uganda, the plane made an emergency landing in Kenya and Mr Moi, then Vice-President, went to the airport and told the pilot to leave as soon as possible.
Former president Daniel arap Moi and his Ugandan counterpart Milton Obote at a past event.  PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Former president Daniel arap Moi (left) and his Ugandan counterpart Milton Obote at a past event. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
According to Mr Kaunda, this was the conversation between Vice-President Moi and the pilot of the plane carrying Mr Obote:
“You will fly them to Dar es Salaam.”
“And if Dar es Salaam doesn’t want them, do I bring them back here?”
“No! Take them anywhere but don’t bring them back here.”
“And if we run out of fuel?
“That’s your problem. Just don’t come back here with them!”
I was told Mr Moi’s loathing for Obote, who died in October 2005, was because Uganda had supposedly been for years instigating the Kenyan military to revolt — culminating in a 1971 failed coup plot.
Again, in those days, the Kenyan leadership believed the socialist-leaning Mr Obote and Mr Nyerere did not mean well for capitalist Kenya.
Postscript: President Kaunda’s fall from power in October 1990 was believed to have triggered what became the biggest theft of public funds in Kenya’s history — the Goldenberg scandal.
A senior official at the Treasury when Goldenberg happened would tell me years later that when President Kaunda made history as the first sitting African President to lose an election, President Moi, then under pressure for Kenya to have a multi-party system of government, and his allies panicked.
They apparently decided to come up with a campaign slush fund to ensure they won the elections.
Within days, then director of the Security Intelligence James Kanyotu incorporated a company called Goldenberg International, with a 26-year-old Kenyan Asian “boy” known as Kamlesh Pattni as a co-director.
In a nutshell, the company purported to export gold from Kenya and for which it was demanding 35 per cent compensation from the Central Bank.
When senior officials at the Treasury started asking questions, influential individuals in government apparently summoned them and asked if the money belonged to their mothers. End of story.