End of The Road :Its a Wrap! Muigwithania.Com 2007 to 2012

Muigwithania. 2.0-The Blog began in 2007 as a means of self  expression following the 2007 post election violence. After 1,759 Tags,918 Comments and 232,366 Views the end has come. We began as a Kikuyu nationalism blog  and ended as The Reconciler (Muigwithania). It has been a labor of love, a healing process and an enlightening experience for me as the editor. I would like to say  simply -Thank you to all the readers and contributors to this process.I know of no other way to sign out.

I say thank you and goodbye -I am Healed. I look forward to reading Muigwithania 3.0 Written in the same spirit of  the original Muigwithania and Muigwithania 2.0

This is my prayer in the desert And all that’s within me feels dry This is my prayer in the hunger in me My God is a God who provides And this is my prayer in the fire In weakness or trial or pain There is a faith proved Of more worth than gold So refine me Lord through the flames And I will bring praise

Joe Ndungu

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The African Dawn Confusing Old Europe

There is bad news for those aggrieved European diplomats whose complaints about being denied access to President Kibaki made headlines last weekend.Goaded by the diplomats’ grumbles, angered by the arrogance that lay just below the surface, and astonished by the apparent ignorance of the shift in international relations with Africa, State House let rip:“The world has changed, and so have our priorities”, the diplomats were in effect told. “The countries you represent are rapidly declining in importance. So stop trying to jump the queue. The President’s diary is full. Period.”It was a two-fingered diplomatic snub that doubtless sent the ambassadors into a flurry of activity, composing dispatches trying to play down such a frank dismissal. Yet the message at the heart of the State House response could not be ignored. The Kenyan worm has turned — at last.For years the Kenya Government did the bidding of the bwanas in Britain and bosses in Washington.

Whether boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics or being soft on apartheid, whether making deals that turned Mombasa into a US navy facility, or allowing north-east Kenya to become a vast training ground for British troops, State House could be counted on to meekly roll over and comply with West desires.Those days have gone. And in making it clear that Europe no longer counts in the way it once did, I suspect that State House is reflecting a widely held view.Ever since Kenya became independent, a steady stream of emissaries from Europe has beaten a path to the State House door, confident that it will open in automatic welcome.I say “emissaries”, but only for lack of a collective noun to describe this gaggle of political has-beens and want-to-bes, junior ministers and smooth opportunists, and assorted influence-peddlers and sales people, all still shaped by the colonial past, all with one assumption in common: that a meeting with the native in charge was no more than their rightful due.That access has ended and they are the casualties of a new dispensation. Whatever the failures and shortcomings of President Kibaki, he has identified the international political reality that followed in the wake of the economic changes taking place throughout the continent.From Johannesburg to Juba, from Lagos to Lusaka, something dramatic is afoot. Fuelled by new oil finds, funded by cheap loans from China, and by returning capital from the diaspora, Africa’s landscape is being transformed.But it is more than new shopping malls and office blocks, paved roads and new ports, skyscrapers and airport terminals.Governance is improving. The military stay in the barracks — or are shunned when they venture out — and human rights are higher on the agenda.And arguably most important of all for a region that seemed to have lost confidence, there is a surge of creativity: novelists and artists, film-makers and musicians, all are part of the African dawn.

The new Africa is looking for new friends. And this involves finding new partners, forging new relationships, seeking fresh starts. I don’t just mean deals with China, or India, Russia or Brazil. The courtship embraces Turkey and Singapore, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia and Japan .The consequences of this have yet to dawn on the indignant European ambassadors in Nairobi, for they are stuck in the past, trapped in old habits.And the old ties that used to bind are withering on the vine. Business leaders who once made their career in Africa now regard Lagos or Luanda as hardship posts, to be endured not enjoyed.Academics who once spent their professional lives researching the continent and working in its universities now struggle to find funds for African studies.Fewer journalists are now  on the continent, and rewritten news agency accounts have taken the place of dispatches from the front line, while former colonial civil servants have taken their knowledge to the grave.And diplomats who once saw Africa as a posting that would benefit their ambitions and further their careers, have long seen the region as out of the mainstream of world affairs.This is not to suggest that there was a golden era of western engagement. The more one learns about the colonial period the greater the scepticism about its benefits; but at least there was reasonably informed knowledge about the continent, its risks and its opportunities.But as Africa entered the economic and political crisis that reached its nadir in the 1980s, the Western business community effectively began to withdraw. The region was in effect left in the hands of the IMF and the World Bank, who all too often administered medicine that was too strong for a weak patient.Africa’s recovery from this grim period amounts to the most exciting change since the end of colonial rule, with implications for Europe that could hardly be more profound.Some 50 years ago, the late Harold MacMillan, the British prime minister, warned white South African parliamentarians sitting in Cape Town that apartheid South Africa would sooner or later feel the impact of a wind of change that was blowing through the continent.

Today, Europe’s leaders are missing the chance to initiate debate about the significance of events which, in their own way, are part of a different but equally powerful wind of change, felt from Cape to Cairo.Alas, this all seems to be lost on Europe’s diplomats in Nairobi. They stand on their dignity, behind the times and out of touch, and missing opportunities instead of leading the way. President Kibaki has issued far more than a snub. It is a wake-up call to the West.  Africa is on the move. Will Europe respond — or will it be left behind?

(Exclusive)Jane Mukami – Interview

Joe: Tell our readers who is Jane Mukami? (Where were you born, a little background that we might not know)

Jane: I was born in Nairobi, Kenya at pumwani hospital to a teenage couple. I attended several schools however the one that left a mark and contributed to who I am is high school. Kagwe Girls High School in Kiambu was a catholic boarding school run my nuns and was rules and regulations galore. I was labeled to be mischievous and was always up to no good however I was just trying to be myself. Besides getting an education, attending boarding school instilled other great characteristics that are highly applicable in my life today:

1. Regimen – Life in a boarding school runs on schedules and bells. I thrive fully off schedules and planning everything out. I am most productive when I have a plan and always follow through
2. Dealing with different personalities is a challenge however I find myself decent at it based on things I learned in high school only difference is adults personalities are magnified compared to my high school friends.

Joe: Any hobbies?

Jane: My favorite past times/hobbies are working out, going to the movies, mostly action packed films. I’m not one to watch romantic comedies or horror movies. I like adrenaline rush packed movies .Tv – I enjoy certain shows: Spartacus, Game of Thrones, Boss, House of lies, Atlanta housewives for a bit of crazy drama etc. I love to eat, however I’m more cognizant of what I put in my body so I avoid eating a lot of things. When I visit Kenya I do let loose and indulge, with my favorite meal being ugali, matumbo and skuma wiki. Dancing is another thing that brings me immense pleasure. Although my fit lifestyle calls for 7 or 8 hours of rest, every so often I do like to wear my dancing shoes and get down. Moving to a song feels liberating in some way and yes I can dance all night! I don’t consume alcohol but as long as the bar has bottled water and napkins for my sweat….I’m good to go!

Joe: So are you bilingual or are you one of those Diaspora don’t know Swahili types -Our readers want to know .Any Swahili or Kikuyu?

Jane: I speak english 90% of the time given my surrounding however I do break out the fluent kikuyu and swahili around my fellow Kenyans.

Joe: Are you a female body builder or a woman who is into fitness .How would you describe yourself in terms of physical fitness/work out regime ?

Jane: I’m a Fitness Athelete; an ordinary woman that’s into fitness but also participates in fitness competitions. The competitions have different divisions. The women categories are Figure, Bikini, Fitness and Physique. I compete in the Bikini category which calls for a curvy yet well conditioned and toned looked. Bodybuilding is one of the categories for MEN which disqualifies me from being a body builder because I’m a woman. I have a great trainer and mentor (IFBB Pro Rasheed Roc Shabazz) that pushes me hard physically and mentally. The results speak for themselves, and not to mention the 2 wins I’ve received in the 2 shows I’ve participated in. He has taught me a lot pertaining exercise and nutrition in the last 2 years.

My fitness regime is intense to say the least. The ordinary person would need  several months to get used to it, and that’s only IF they commit for the entire 6 months without fail. It takes discipline, dedication and a lot of willpower to work out as I do.

Joe: The good book says the body is the Temple of the Lord. You have certainly taken care of His Temple – So do you believe in the good book. What is the spiritual Jane like?Do you go to Church,Temple,meet up etc??

Jane: The body indeed is the Temple of the Lord and we are stewards of everything he has given to us, bodies included. I am spiritual and do believe in the good book, I also believe in the power of prayer. I’m a member of a non-denominational church that feeds my spirit. My pastor demystifies theology and breaks the message down to simple applicable messages that I can use for day to day living.

Joe: If you were a biscuit, which type would you be and why?

Jane: Digestive – It tastes good and it does flush shit out of you aka fiber

Joe:(Joe cracking up- she is funny too) I always follow up silly questions with difficult questions. So I am sure you watched the 10 MinFix episode that mentioned your name, certain comments where made about your body and your transformation. Did you ever respond?

Jane: Yes I watched the episode and i found it quite entertaining. I responded by going to their facebook page and posting a “great job guys” type comment. It was hilarious and the thought has never crossed my mind to ‘piga anyone ngeta’ but who knows. It wasn’t offensive to me at all. After all these are african men who are used to and want ‘fat-fat chiles’ so suffice it to say there is no way they can handle this here type of woman aka ME. I was honored to be a topic of discussion and/or be considered kenyan current affairs. One thing that I must point out about the clip is that If indeed The average African/Kenyan jamaa” really wants a girl on the “fat-fat” side of things just so when she leaves the house he is assured she will be back since no one is trying to talk to her, he must be very insecure and needs to remedy and overcome their insecurities by knowing that the fat-fat chic will be back because she loves him and not and not because jirani didn’t try to ‘tune’ her. J

Joe: There are many women that look up to you? Any comment what’s that like?

As far as many women looking up to me, I am truly honored and humbled. I receive tones of email via facebook every single day and I make it a point to respond to as many as I can unfortunately sometimes I get so overwhelmed and cannot play catch up.

Joe: I get the feeling that you are very close to your mother and other family members. How would you describe her and how has she and the others influenced your life?

Jane: My family is made of my mother and my younger brother Stephen. She is my rock because she saw created the path for my life. In case and point, she directed me on what to study when i was only 2 weeks out of high school at a time when most form 4 leavers are relaxed and trying to enjoy their new fond freedom. She had a plan for me since I lacked one of my own, and through her pushing me I am now reaping the fruits of her labor in terms of career field and quality of life. She is still my #1 council when it comes to life altering decision. She knows best and always has my best interest at heart. I wouldn’t be who I am and where i am without her making it her personal mission for me to be a success and yes she fully support my passion: Fitness.

Joe: Have you ever thought of making a career in fitness, are there any future plans in that direction?

Jane: Fitness is my passion and my life. I enjoy motivating and mentoring others and would still be greatly fulfilled if I did it for free, however the kyuk in me likes making everything about dollars/shillings and cents. I use the term mentoring because even though I’ve learned so much, I am not available to train people. I can provide tips and guidance that IF you choose to follow you can start your successful fitness journey.

Joe: You now live in Atlanta (a very beautiful city I must say)and I am sure you travel once in a while to Nairobi(another beautiful city). How would you compare the two cities in terms of fitness as a lifestyle.

Jane: There is a plethora of information on fitness in the US and a lot to choose from. I am NOT familiar with the Kenyan market however after speaking and mentoring some of my friends residing in Kenya, they have openly admitted that trainers in Kenya, even though certified, are not subject matter experts in area of nutrition, work outs and supplementation. I am not certified however, I have mentored people who have received phenomenal results when all I did was communicate with then via email. Prior to my current regimen and lifestyle change starting June 2010, I had been working out and tried out different weight loss methods since 2008. I possess a lot of knowledge, thanks to my mentor Rasheed Roc Shabazz, and can help people that are committed to meeting their goals.

Joe: Apart from working out and IT what else are you passionate about? (Do you sing in the shower – Hope that’s not too personal )

Jane: New site and sounds awaken my spirit and for that I love to travel. I do like hot showers especially on a cold winter day but singing, is clearly not m talent.

Joe: OK- lastly there has been talk of a blog by Jane Mukami hitting the web soon. Anything you want to say on that topic perhaps a scoop?

Jane: www.fitkenyangirl.com is up and running. I’m FIT, I’m KENYAN who is extremely PROUD of my roots and want the world to know where I am from and I’m a GIRL – I Understand the term GIRL is debatable since most African cultures might quickly call me a WOMAN based on age, but I believe you are only as old as you feel.FitKenyanGirl.com is a way for me to let the world into my life and share my thoughts and experiences as I traverse the fitness journey. Fitness is a never ending life style journey and I hope to motivate and inspire more people to want to be at their best. I will also use this as a primary form of contact where I can easily respond to people’s questions in a more efficient way than individual Facebook massages.

Joe: Thank you Jane for taking time to do this interview .I am sure we will be hearing more from you and about you.(All the best)

Jane: Thank you Muigwithania for taking an enough interest in me to want seek an interview.

There you have it the exclusive Jane Mukami Interview

Emancipating Kenyan Introverts

If Kenyan musicians can be accepted as ‘different’ by society because they are musicians ,there is no reason highly intelligent introverts  have to keep hiding and conforming to ‘normal’.Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice? If so, do you tell this person you are  “too serious,” or ask if they is okay? Regard them as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw them out?If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren’t caring for them properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (I am not making this up). If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in  the world.

Contrary to what most people think, an introvert is not simply a person who is shy. In fact, being shy has little to do with being an introvert! Shyness has an element of apprehension, nervousness and anxiety, and while an introvert may also be shy, introversion itself is not shyness. Basically, an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people.Introverts are more concerned with the inner world of the mind. They enjoy thinking, exploring their thoughts and feelings. They often avoid social situations because being around people drains their energy. This is true even if they have good social skills. After being with people for any length of time, such as at a party, they need time alone to “recharge.”When introverts want to be alone, it is not, by itself, a sign of depression. It means that they either need to regain their energy from being around people or that they simply want the time to be with their own thoughts. Being with people, even people they like and are comfortable with, can prevent them from their desire to be quietly introspective.Being introspective, though, does not mean that an introvert never has conversations. However, those conversations are generally about ideas and concepts, not about what they consider the trivial matters of social small talk.

Highly intelligent people tend to be more introverted than the rest of the general population.They are more introverted because introversion correlates to esotericism  (inner or internally directed). They are more focused on their inner world of thoughts and mental perceptions than the outer world of events. That is why they are more contemplative, intuitive and thoughtful.They tend to be misunderstood by those who’re unlike them(trying to end this stigma).People in general tend to tell an introvert that he is too serious, or ask if he is ok. Some regard them as aloof or even arrogant and rude. There are those who try to draw them out thinking there is something wrong with him not being so friendly, social or external. (It can be rather annoying sometimes for the highly intelligent introvert when others think such silly things about them because their nature is different from theirs).

The truth is  some highly intelligent people find it hard to socialize and interact with the masses because others do not share their interests, their language or their way of doing things. That is why highly intelligent people are normally uncomfortable with social interactions and prefer to keep to themselves, than converse with those who would bore the hell out of them(nothing personal its just true). Highly intelligent people love deep and long one on one conversation that explore profound thoughts or fascinating ideas instead of shallow or small talk in groups. In Short : The inner-directed person has discovered the potential within themselves to live and act not according to established norms, but based on what they discover using their own inner compass. They have their own moral code and values.  The inner-directed person does not derive his sense of value or identity solely from tradition nor from conformity to peer-group fashions, but from the resources of his or her own nature.So before you judge ‘different’ first understand it

 10 Myths about Introverts

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

Not fighting words just thoughts- think about it -Joe


Change Is Both Inevitable and Necessary – Palm Sunday

People hate change, or so I hear. But the change we generally resist is the kind that we think will make our situation worse rather than better. We eagerly change jobs when it means higher pay and more influence. We happily move to a bigger house in a better neighborhood. So it’s not change in general that we hate; it’s change that involves loss—sometimes physical; other times emotional or psychological.

Change is both inevitable and necessary. If everything stays the same, no one is growing. But we have a Shepherd who guides us through change and leads us to a better place. Getting there may be difficult, as it was for the Israelites in reaching the Promised Land. They grumbled when their situation got worse rather than better (Ex. 15:24; Num. 14:2). But we have the example of Jesus. In less than a week, He went from being the leader of many to being abandoned by all. Between Palm Sunday and Good Friday, the Good Shepherd became the Passover Lamb. Because Christ willingly went through suffering, God elevated Him to the highest place (John 10:11; Phil. 2:8-9).

Not all change is pleasant, but when we’re being led to a better place by Someone who loves us, we don’t need to fear it.

I know not, but God knows;
Oh, blessed rest from fear!
All my unfolding days
To Him are plain and clear. —Flint
Faith in Christ will keep us steady in the stormy sea of change.

Personal Revolution

The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first. I won’t tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world’s voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!


“If I start giving people what they like I’ll turn into one of them and I don’t want to be one of them I want to be one of me.”

So Beth Mugo Has Cancer But What of The Ordinary Kenyan

Vehicle Emissions testing is a rumor in Kenya ! People continue dying of cancer while the Ministry of Health, Public Health,Environment,Roads,Transport continue to do nothing!Government Ministers talk about cancer awareness and the fancy foreign hospitals they are seeking treatment instead of implementing policy aimed at cancer prevention.You don’t need to be Einstein driving on Waiyaki Way(let alone Thika Road or Jogoo Road) at 5:30pm to know all those fumes daily will kill you.

Take a recent study in California :

Diesel emissions from trucks, machinery and other sources elevate the risk of premature death, cancer, asthma and other chronic diseases for more than 3 million people living in West Oakland and the surrounding region, according to the most detailed study yet on the issue.The analysis by the California Air Resources Board, released Wednesday night, shows that the greatest health dangers related to toxic air emissions stems from diesel trucks traversing the freeways and other roadways around West Oakland and the Port of Oakland.The two-year public health inquiry covered a large swath of the Bay Area – an area of 3,800 square miles that is home to 3.1 million people. The residents had an elevated risk of cancer – nearly 1,200 additional cancers per million people due to long-term exposure to diesel particulate matter than people living elsewhere, the study reported in preliminary findings.The study also found other considerable health problems resulting from exposure to port-related diesel pollution: 18 potential premature deaths annually occurring among people 30 and older, 290 asthma attacks, 2,600 days of work lost and 15,000 “minor restricted activity episodes.”

Exposure to diesel particulate matter is a hazard especially for children and elders. The air board has estimated that the toxins contributed to some 160 premature deaths in the Bay Area three years ago.“We no longer live in the Industrial Age. People should not be exposed to known toxins in their own homes,” said Dr. Anthony Iton, director of the Alameda County Public Health Department.He said that the report, which he had not yet read, confirms earlier health findings.”We have extensive data on the disproportionate burden of disease in West Oakland,” he said. “We hope that this health risk assessment will be helpful in quantifying the responsibility of the port to the adverse health outcomes in West Oakland.”

The study concentrated on three sources of the toxic air contaminant: the Port of Oakland, the Union Pacific Railroad near the port, and freeway truck traffic and nonport-related marine vessel traffic in and around West Oakland in general. Diesel trucks accounted for 70 percent of the elevated health risks – amounting to 850 potential cancer cases per million above the expected rate of cancer in the general population. Of the remainder, 15 percent of the total risk came from port operations – 200 excess cancer cases – and 5 percent came from Union Pacific rail-yard emissions – 40 additional cancer cases. The remainder came from a variety of other sources including Amtrak and construction businesses in the area.

Similar studies have been conducted to assess health risks associated with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, but this one included a much wider region than the others. “It was a huge undertaking,” said Patricia Rey, a spokeswoman for the air board.Taking a novel approach to measure marine vessel emissions, the large study utilized data from 33 onshore and offshore weather stations to generate a regional wind field.”This health risk assessment will provide the community the focus and momentum needed to mobilize and combat air pollution,” said Mary Nichols, chairman of the air board. “We look forward to working with community activists to converge on the main pollution culprits, such as trucks motoring on nearby freeways, affecting a growing and vibrant West Oakland.”This week Port of Oakland commissioners began reviewing a slate of goals designed to reduce diesel emissions by 85 percent over the next dozen years.

The port had come under heavy criticism in recent years for the dirty emissions of trucks doing business with it. In 2005, county public health officials compiled state data revealing that West Oakland children ages 5 and under visited the emergency room for asthma at a rate nearly three times higher than children in Alameda County overall. Additionally, a study of death certificates dating to the 1960s showed that residents of West Oakland lived 10 years fewer than people living in the Oakland hills.The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. The study was conducted in cooperation with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Port of Oakland and Union Pacific Railroad.

PS- Hope Beth Mugo feels better and recovers not because she is a Kikuyu,a politician or a rich woman but simply because she is a mother, daughter,grandmother,sister.If only leaders would look out for other peoples mothers,sisters,daughters,uncles,brothers and fathers Kenya would be a better place

Fleecing The Kenyan Diaspora Cash Cow

They came ‘home’ for Christmas — to eat ‘real’ food, drink ‘real’ beer, hitch up a daughter or son of the soil and inspect development projects. They arrived with excitement in their hearts but flew back enraged, some in tears.These are Kenyans who live in perpetual distress overseas. They battle chilling winters, loneliness, racism, cultural and economic setbacks. They do anything and everything to put ‘development’ on the ground back home, only to get conned by relatives.That was never the case. In the days following Independence, our fathers left the comforts of their villages for Nairobi — to look for jobs. They religiously sent monthly cash remittances via clansmen who worked on commuter buses. The money always got home and was prudently saved by relatives because within a short period of time, they could afford to pay dowry, buy pieces of land and sometimes build homes.

Not today. Omari was born and raised in Mombasa. By a stroke of luck, he landed a valid working permit in the USA. Before he left for the States, his parents swiftly arranged a marriage for him to Fatmah, a pretty girl of modest education. Upon arrival in the States, Omari landed a comparatively lucrative job that accorded him relative comfort and money to spare.He, however, experienced many moments of anxiety with his American line managers and colleagues who routinely made him an object of ridicule. In addition, he was subjugated by ethnocentric managers who verbally insulted him, wrote him memos with racist undertones and, on several occasions, denied him his official holiday leave.He endured all this and routinely sent part of his income to Fatmah, his wife in Kenya.


In three years, his contract was controversially not renewed. But he was not a worried man since he knew he had been remitting money to his wife regularly and that she had bought several plots in Mombasa and was now building apartments for rent. In fact, she had been updating him with photo images of the project.Last Christmas holiday, with no work and lots of time to spare, he packed his suitcase and travelled to Kenya. He was, however, shocked beyond imagination to discover that Fatmah had ‘invested’ his money in a tiny plot of land in the crowded Mishomoroni area.


The piece of land had no title deed and the only legal ‘paper’ signifying land ownership that Fatmah had was an ‘agreement’ signed by a village elder. On the plot, Fatmah had built a Swahili house and had installed four tenants. In one of the rooms, she had set up her little duka selling groceries and paraffin.Omari quickly realised that the Sh8,000 income from the tenants could not sustain him in Kenya. In short, the $250,000 (Sh21.8 million) he had remitted to his wife for investment had been misused.Emmanuel’s story is no different. When I met him at a popular restaurant in Shanzu a week after his arrival, he shed tears as he narrated how his younger brother, Joseph, currently a Module Two student at a public university in Mombasa, had been using his money to “booze and patronise popular discotheques in town with women instead of developing my plot”.Worse, he needed to re-sit several papers, hardly attended classes and his fee was in arrears, never mind that Emmanuel had sent the money upfront. What particularly irked him — and others who have suffered similar fates — is the relative ease with which his hard-earned cash was thrown around in bars and flushed down the drain.


Charles teaches Mathematics at a state school in one of the poorer sections of USA. The students are rude and unruly. Last summer, while at the front of the class, he noticed two students chatting away, oblivious of his presence. He politely asked them to be quiet so that he could begin the lesson.But one of them hissed, “Hey, can’t you see we are trying to have a conversation here?”He swallowed his Kenyan pride and didn’t kick the young lad’s butt because he knew that would land him in trouble and that several people back home depended on his paycheck.Charles, however, says, “It’s painful when you learn that a sibling you sent cash to pursue a degree course dropped out of college because of drug addiction. Or a daughter you have consistently supported used the money to entertain peers and is now pregnant. Or one’s spouse is in a relationship with a younger man on whom she showers your money. Not after the struggles we go through overseas.”Kimeu, a swimming Instructor in China, sent cash remittances to his sister in Nairobi. She bought a plot on his behalf and the two siblings settled on a structural plan from a reputable firm that looked perfect on paper. In a short time, the council authorities approved the building plan. Kimeu’s sister oversaw the construction of the house alright, but she cut costs by engaging cheap, poorly skilled labour and pocketed the balance.

Ugly patches

When Kimeu came home over Christmas, the hot water pipes beneath the bedroom floor were broken, causing water to leak through the lounge floor.The cheap floor tiles had started peeling off, the ceiling in the house was basic and because the roof leaked, it was covered with ugly patches. Some of the rooms were ridiculously tiny and the locks, doors and fittings were cheap and tacky.Worse, the neighbourhood had neither a sewerage system nor street lighting and roads were dusty and potholed. For a man accustomed to the finer things in life, Kimeu was hurt, disappointed and angry.Other relatives just steal the money. Benea, who also resides in the US, bought a house in Nairobi and asked his brother to collect rent on his behalf. But when he came back, there was nothing in his bank account. It turned out that his brother had bought himself a matatu.What gulled him was that that notwithstanding, he found a horde of relatives waiting, arms outstretched for alms, including the same brother who had practically stolen his money.

Holiday home

But the saddest tale is of Maureen, a Kenyan lass who met and married a retired British engineer in Mombasa. When they relocated to Britain, she convinced her husband that they needed a holiday home in Kenya (she wanted to have a base from which she could look after her ageing parents and siblings).Her husband gave her money, which she dutifully sent to her elder brother. Unfortunately, her brother began playing tycoon with her money — boozing and handing out large wads of money at every fundraiser. He even married a second wife.In the meantime, he bought a plot from someone he met in a bar and paid for it in cash the next morning. He engaged workmen to dig up a pit latrine and fence up the premises.These were friends who were driven to the site in a taxi and who, after a day’s work, would be wined and dined in expensive hotels.When the latrine was up and the property fenced, the plot’s rightful owner turned up with policemen and evicted them. But in any event, even if the plot had been genuinely acquired, the lout had drunk and wasted the money meant for its development anyway.You could, therefore, say Kenyans in the Diaspora are the latest cash cow in town. In some cases, people even simulate funerals to squeeze money out of them.Our politicians, ever opportunistic, have not been left behind. Nearly all presidential hopefuls are roaming all over America and Europe with begging bowls for a piece of the pie. They are seducing our brothers and sisters overseas to sow on barren rock.

Harry Thuku:Munene wa Nyacing’a

Harry Thuku, one of the pioneers of African nationalism in Kenya, was born in the Kambui region of the British colony in 1895. In 1907, the Gospel Missionary Society build a mission center in Kambui, employing Thuku as a herd boy and houseboy.  During his childhood employment at the mission center, Thuku learned to read and write. He left for Nairobi in 1911, but at sixteen was sentenced to two years in prison for check-forging.After serving his two-year prison term, Thuku was employed at the Leader, a colonial newspaper, when he became interested in local and national political affairs.  Through the paper he learned of the infighting among European settlers in Kenya over the colony’s future.  By World War I he was employed at the colonial treasury where he increased his circle of politically-inclined friends and associates.

Thuku became involved in the East African Indian National Congress and Young Buganda Association.  Thuku eventually led the Young Buganda Association, renaming it the East African Association (EAA) and broadening its appeal.  His work with the EAA persuaded Thuku the colonial system and colonial oppression must be challenged by Africans regardless of ethnic origins.   His own emerging “pan-Africanist” views were reinforced by his contact with prominent anti-colonialists such as Marcus Garvey, the head of the U.S.-based Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

After touring African districts and seeing colonial officials neglect African welfare, he denounced the Kenyan colonial government and encouraged Africans to stand up for their rights.  He was especially active among Kenyan women, encouraging them to boycott British products and programs.  Kenyan women gave him the name Munene wa Nyacing’a, or chief of the women.

As Thuku became more popular British authorities imprisoned him again on March 14, 1922. His supporters went on strike and demanded his release. A clash on March 16 between colonial police and a crowd of 8,000 of Thuku followers took place  outside a Nairobi police station.  Twenty-one people died in the attack.  Thuku was released and exiled to Northern Kenya from 1922 to 1930.

When Thuku returned home, he became president of the EAA’s successor organization, the Kikuyu Central Association. But because of internal disagreement on policies, he left and established the Kikuyu Provincial Association (KPA) in 1935. Despite his earlier anti-colonial stance, the constitution of the KPA pledged loyalty to the British and supported colonial policies.  Thuku became increasingly conservative as the anti-colonial struggle advanced in Kenya.  He became a wealthy coffee farmer and eventually became the first African member of the Kenyan Coffee Farmers’ Union.  In 1952 and later in 1954 Thuku denounced the Mau Mau Uprising.   He afterwards removed himself from Kenyan politics.

Harry Thuku died in Nairobi, Kenya in 1970

Harry Thuku: An Autobiography ASIN: B0006C2H26 Biography available on Amazon

Kenya’s Shilling Biggest Weekly Gain On The Dollar

Kenya’s shilling headed for the biggest weekly gain in three years to the dollar as investors refrained from buying the greenback on bets the currency will climb further after the central bank raised rates to a record.The currency of East Africa’s biggest economy strengthened as much as 0.7 percent to 96.55 and traded 0.4 percent up at 96.80 by 10:55 a.m. in Nairobi, extending its increase this week to 3.1 percent, the biggest rally among more than 170 currencies tracked by Bloomberg. The shilling is headed for its best weekly advance since the five days through Nov. 7, 2008.

Kenya’s monetary policy committee increased the key lending rate by 5.5 percentage points to a record 16.5 percent on Nov. 1 as it battles to contain inflation spurred by the worst regional drought in 60 years and higher fuel prices.“The strengthening of the shilling is due to low dollar demand as the market expects the shilling to continue clawing back lost ground to the dollar on accounts of the monetary policy taking effect through reduced money supply,” Bernard Matimu, chief dealer at Nairobi-based NIC Ltd., said by phone.Kenyan inflation accelerated to 18.9 percent in October from 17.3 percent in September, the Nairobi-based Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said in an e-mailed statement on Oct 28, compared with the central bank’s 5 percent target.

Racism:Time Magazine Coverage Of Africa

Response to Kenya Invades Somalia. Does It Get Any Dumber? by Alex Perry  TIME’s Africa bureau chief, covering everything south of the Sahara. Perry has been a TIME correspondent since 2001, reporting Asia, the Middle East and Africa from postings in Hong Kong, New Delhi and Cape Town.

Dear Mr. Perry,

Thanks for an alternative opinion. I hope you have a follow-up article with suggested alternative actions which Kenya should have taken in the fight with Al Shabaab.In your article, you have insinuated that Kenya is starting a war to bolster its “reputation for safety and security”. You could not be more misinformed. Below are some facts:

Kenya has borne the brunt of the collapse of Somalia since the 1990s. The infamous American Embassy in Kenya bombing in August 1998 was planned and carried out by terrorists from the Al Qaeda cell based in Somalia; so was the follow-up bombing in Mombasa in 2002. Insecurity in Kenya is now an ever-present reality due to the proliferation of small arms from Somalia. These arms have fueled crimes in practically every corner of the country.Piracy by Somali pirates off Kenya’s international waters has seen a great reduction in the number of cruise and commercial ships offloading tourists and cargo respectively at the seaport of Mombasa. The negative impact on the Kenyan economy cannot be understated.

There is a big community of refugees from Somalia a big number of whom found their way into Eastleigh estate – a residential area just 15 minutes from the Central Business District of Kenya’s capital. This area is a hotbed for local Al Shabaab activity and poses a great risk to Nairobi. It is said that most of the war-lords from Somalia are living in the relative safety of Eastleigh. The difficulty in carrying out a purge is that many of Eastleigh’s residents are also bonafide Kenyans of Somali descent. All this information you can find in the “UN Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea”.Now with all this intelligence, what has Kenya done? Our government has pleaded incessantly for a concerted effort by the International Community to weed out the Al Shabaab menace. All that has been done is token support for the African Union Forces in Somalia (mainly composed of Ugandan and Burundian soldiers). Destabilisation of the Kenyan society and economy continues. Mind you, Somalia and Kenya share a 682 km border.For a long time and as recently as last month, the Kenyan president has made impassioned pleas to the UN General assembly to provide Somalia with the resources needed to prevent al Shabaab insurgents from regrouping. These pleas have, sadly, not been taken seriously as evidenced by the continued deterioration of Somalia. With no mineral resources like Libya, Kuwait or Iraq, Somalia has failed to warrant the level of involvement by Western governments seen in those countries.

Mr. Perry, in view of the above situation, what would you have recommended that Kenya does? Sit back as our economy continues to deteriorate as a result of the disorder in Somalia? Call the Al Shabaab Warlords and plead with them to stop their unwelcome activities? Or to do all we can (like the Humming Bird in Nobel Laureate, Wangari Maathai’s memoirs) and to do it the best way we can?

No matter the outcome of Kenya’s push into Somalia, the finale is already written, you will find it in the resolute chi that our celebrated freedom fighter, Dedan Kimathi bequeathed to us, that it is better to die on our feet than to live on our knees

Michael Kirumba

I Say to You: Ethnic Politics And The Kalenjin In Kenya By Gabrielle Lynch

In 2007 a disputed election in Kenya erupted into a two-month political crisis that led to the deaths of more than a thousand people and the displacement of almost seven hundred thousand. Much of the violence fell along ethnic lines, the principal perpetrators of which were the Kalenjin, who lashed out at other communities in the Rift Valley. What makes this episode remarkable compared to many other instances of ethnic violence is that the Kalenjin community is a recent construct: the group has only existed since the mid-twentieth century. Drawing on rich archival research and vivid oral testimony, I Say to You is a timely analysis of the creation, development, political relevance, and popular appeal of the Kalenjin identity as well as its violent potential.
Uncovering the Kalenjin’s roots, Gabrielle Lynch examines the ways in which ethnic groups are socially constructed and renegotiated over time. She demonstrates how historical narratives of collective achievement, migration, injustice, and persecution constantly evolve. As a consequence, ethnic identities help politicians mobilize support and help ordinary people lay claim to space, power, and wealth. This kind of ethnic politics, Lynch reveals, encourages a sense of ethnic difference and competition, which can spiral into violent confrontation and retribution.
  • “How did the Kalenjin, an ethnic group that did not exist before the 1940s, come to dominate Kenya in the 1980s? It is a remarkable story, and Gabrielle Lynch tells it well. The social imagination of ethnic community is one of modern African history’s most contested themes. Lynch shows how much it depended on a rumination on past history, but she also appreciates the importance of creative political intrigue. Her combination of the two makes for a thought-provoking read.”—John Lonsdale, University of Cambridge.
  • “This is an indispensable guide to understanding the distinctive place of Kalenjin nationalism in Kenyan politics and the recent post-election violence as well as the role of ethnicity in Africa more broadly. I Say to You traces the work of indigenous intellectuals and independence-era political leaders in shaping a larger sense of collective kinship among people sharing a broadly similar language and culture, though often with sharply diverging senses of connection. Lynch is superb in explaining both the persistent dissension within the Kalenjin as well as the way unity was achieved in the context of the ethnic logic of Kenyan politics, the dynamics of which she has exceptional insight into.”—Adam Ashforth, University of Michigan.
  • I Say to You is a richly detailed and insightful analysis of the dynamic and open-ended process of ethnic construction and politicization that focuses on one of the most recent and important ethnic communities to emerge in Kenya in modern times. Lynch’s adept weaving of political, cultural, and economic factors in a compelling historical analysis of the Kalenjin and their position in Kenya’s contentious ethnic politics has much wider theoretical and methodological importance for understanding the process of ethnic politicization in not only the rest of Africa, but also in other non-Western societies subject to the double historical wallops of colonialism and globalization.”—Bruce Berman, Queen’s University
*Gabrielle Lynch is senior lecturer in Africa and the politics of development at the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds

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Kenya/Nigeria-Currency Stability

Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda bucked a global trend by raising interest rates to record levels in the past week as they struggle to protect their currencies and curb soaring inflation.Nigeria’s central bank boosted its key rate by 275 basis points to 12 percent on Oct. 10 at an emergency meeting, less than a week after Kenya and Uganda lifted their policy rates by 4 percentage points each. The currencies of the two East African nations have lost a fifth of their value this year, the worst- performers in the world, according to Bloomberg data.

“Central banks are going to try to look after their currencies to steer inflation away from increasing as significantly as it has,” Celeste Fauconnier, an Africa analyst at Johannesburg-based Rand Merchant Bank, said in a telephone interview. “The only way they can sort of manage the issue is through monetary policy.”Before Nigeria’s rate decision, the naira slumped 7.4 percent against the dollar on the interbank market this year, reaching as low as 166.60 on Oct. 10. The currency surged as much as 4.6 percent the day after the rate announcement.The worst drought in 60 years in East Africa fueled inflation in Kenya and Uganda, driving investors to abandon the currencies just as risk aversion globally picked up, compounding their plunge. Inflation in Uganda surged to 28.3 percent in September and reached 17.3 percent in Kenya.

Rate Cuts

Brazil, Turkey, Switzerland, Israel and Indonesia have cut borrowing costs since August to support their economies as a debt crisis in Europe threatens the global recovery, while the U.S., U.K. and Japan have kept rates near zero. India is the only large emerging market nation to raise borrowing costs in the past two months, lifting its repurchase rate by 25 basis points to 8.25 percent in September.The central bank in Kenya raised its benchmark rate to 11 percent on Oct. 5, while Uganda boosted its rate to 20 percent the day before, with both indicating they will increase borrowing costs further to help support their currencies. In Rwanda, which borders Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo, the central bank increased its key rate for the first time in almost three years to 6.5 percent on Oct. 7.Price pressures may increase in Nigeria after the naira weakened and the government prepares to remove fuel subsidies next year. Inflation slowed to 9.3 percent in August, staying below 10 percent for a second consecutive month, the statistics office said on Sept. 14.

Price Stability

“Maintaining exchange rate stability, especially in times of global uncertainty, is crucial to the mandate of price stability,” Nigerian central bank Governor Lamido Sanusi said on Oct. 10.The naira was little changed today at 158.85 per dollar at 8:24 a.m. in Lagos. The Kenyan shilling weakened 0.1 percent to 106.22 per dollar, while the Ugandan shilling was little changed at 2,882.Oil-price declines and high dollar demand at twice-weekly foreign exchange sales have depleted Nigeria’s foreign-currency reserves, making it more difficult for the central bank to support the naira within its targeted 3 percentage-point band above or below 150 per dollar. The reserves of Africa’s biggest oil producer have declined 9 percent to $31.4 billion in the 12 months through Oct. 6, according to data from the Abuja-based central bank.

In Kenya, the weaker currency is driving import prices higher, reducing personal spending and investment and threatens growth, Charles Robertson, global chief economist for Renaissance Capital in London, said in phone interview. Higher rates may help draw investment back to the region, he said.“In a world of zero percent rates in the West, these sort of levels are likely to help stabilize currencies,” Robertson said. “When the global markets get more confident, which I imagine will happen in the next two or three months, you will see a rally in these currencies.”

US warns fans in Kenya about attacks

American citizens and foreigners in Kenya were being warned Friday that an al Qaeda affiliate in neighboring Somalia is planning to target locations broadcasting sporting events, a US official confirmed.The feared attacks from al Shabaab, which was behind suicide attacks last year at venues in Uganda broadcasting World Cup soccer matches, could target places showing the Rugby World Cup, with finals matches commencing Saturday and running until October 23, and a soccer match between Kenya and its western neighbor Uganda being played Saturday.

The Uganda strike by al Shabaab, which killed 76, was considered an indicator that the group was going “more global” in its targeting and may be capable of hitting US targets, FOX reported.An alert by the US embassy warned, “The US Embassy in Nairobi has received credible information about a potential threat to Americans and other foreigners linked to international sporting events, such as the Kenya-Uganda football match on Saturday, October 8, or the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

“American citizens are urged to avoid public venues, such as sports bars, night clubs, and restaurants, which will be broadcasting these games, as well as public transportation, such as buses, to and from the events.”ABC News reported that Osama bin Laden had urged al Shabaab to target the US after learning that a number of US-born Somalis had joined the organization. They include Alabama native Omar Hammami, also known as Abu Mansoor al Amriki, an al Shabaab spokesman who is wanted by the FBI for “terrorism violations” including “providing material support to terrorists.”

Book Review:Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness By Alexandra Fuller

A Mother’s Long Love Affair With Colonialism

Alexandra Fuller recalls in her electrifying new memoir that her mother — “Nicola Fuller of Central Africa, as she has on occasion preferred to introduce herself” — had always wanted a writer in the family, “not only because she loves books and has therefore always wanted to appear in them (the way she likes large, expensive hats, and likes to appear in them) but also because she has always wanted to live a fabulously romantic life, for which she needed a reasonably pliable witness as scribe.” When her self-dramatizing mother assessed her life, Ms. Fuller goes on, she “matched it up against the kind of biography she hoped to inspire, something along the lines of ‘West With the Night,’ ‘The Flame Trees of Thika’ or ‘Out of Africa.’ On the whole, she was satisfied.”

In “Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness,” Ms. Fuller gives her impossible mother her due. As readers of this author’s fierce 2001 memoir, “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight,” will recall, Nicola Fuller was a larger-than-life figure in her daughter’s childhood, and in this volume she emerges as a sort of African version of Scarlett O’Hara: a beautiful and spirited young woman, who lived through war and refused to look back; a woman who would lose three of her five children; a woman who grew up in Kenya, attending fancy-dress parties, and who, by the end of the war in Rhodesia in 1979, had become a survivor, capable of riding shotgun in a Land Rover protecting her children from ambush with an Uzi.

Writing in shimmering, musical prose, Ms. Fuller creates portraits of her mother, father and various eccentric relatives that are as indelible and resonant as the family portraits in classic contemporary memoirs like Mary Karr’s “Liars’ Club” and Andre Aciman’s “Out of Egypt.” She describes how her parents met and fell in love and traces their peregrinations across the continent of Africa.She writes about Auntie Glug, her mother’s sister, who would garden “until midnight while teaching herself Spanish,” and her maternal great-grandmother, who lived on the island of Skye in a grand old house that was so cold she “always wore at least five cardigans, the longest one on the bottom, layers and layers of shorter ones on top of that and a thick shawl around her shoulders.”

As her daughter tells it, Nicola Fuller was Macdonald of Clanranald on her mother’s side, a clan that actually had a “war cry” that translates from the Scottish Gaelic into English as “Gainsay who dare.” Her mum, the author writes, “holds dear to her heart the values of her clan: loyalty to blood, passion for land; death before surrender. They’re the sorts of values that lead you to kill and that get you killed, and in every important way, they were precisely the kind of stubborn tribal values that you needed if you were bound and determined to be White, and stay White, first during Kenya’s Mau Mau and later during the Rhodesian war. They were decidedly not the values of the Johnny-come-lately White liberals who survived postindependence in those African countries by declaring with suddenly acquired backbone and conviction that they’d always been on the side of ‘the people.’ ”

As in “Dogs Tonight” (which her family refers to only as “that Awful Book”), Ms. Fuller manages the difficult feat of writing about her mother and father with love and understanding, while at the same time conveying the terrible human costs of the colonialism they supported, reminding us that when white Rhodesians like her parents talked about “Our Freedom,” it “was a funny sort of Freedom that didn’t include being able to say what you wanted about the Rhodesian government or being able to write books that were critical of it,” and that “for the majority of the country, Freedom did not include access to the sidewalks, the best schools and hospitals, decent farming land or the right to vote.”In fact, Ms. Fuller adds, when her mother speaks of her long-lost childhood in Kenya — where she had tea parties with a neighbor’s pet chimpanzee and entered show-jumping competitions with her favorite horse, Violet — it’s as if she were “speaking of a make-believe place forever trapped in the celluloid of another time, as if she were a third-person participant in a movie starring herself, a perfect horse and flawless equatorial light. The violence and the injustices that came with colonialism seem — in my mother’s version of events — to have happened in some other unwatched movie, to some other unwatched people.”

History and unforeseen accidents, however, would tear through Nicola Fuller’s celluloid dream. Her first son, Adrian, would die of meningitis; by the time the baby got to the hospital, it was too late. Her youngest daughter, Olivia — who somehow survived the perils of wartime Rhodesia, including land mines, ambushes and kidnappings — wandered off and drowned in a neighbor’s duck pond. Her second son expired days after his birth because a medical device needed to fix his palate did not arrive from South Africa in time.

The accumulation of losses, Ms. Fuller recounts, would tip her mother over into madness, and she would spend an interlude “strapped down in the mental ward” of a hospital and given “various doses of mad pills, happy pills, panic pills and sleeping pills.”Had her parents not decided to stay on in wartime Rhodesia, had they followed the rest of their family and many friends back to Britain, Ms. Fuller suggests, things might well have been different. Few, however, she adds, “have the wisdom to look forward with unclouded hindsight,” least of all her parents, who clung to the idea of a colonial Africa with perverse tenacity.

Most of us, Ms. Fuller writes, “don’t pay so dearly for our prejudices, our passions, our mistakes. Lots of places, you can harbor the most ridiculous, the most ruining, the most intolerant beliefs and be hurt by nothing more than your own thoughts.”Although Ms. Fuller would move to America with her husband in 1994, her own love for Africa reverberates throughout these pages, making the beauty and hazards of that land searingly real for the reader. She describes the dangers there — the cobra in her father’s office that killed three of their Jack Russell terriers; the python that got their cat — but she also conjures the richness of life on her parents’ new farm in Zambia: “Emerald-spotted doves” calling to one another, frogs “bellowing from the causeway,” the air boiling “with beetles and cicadas, mosquitoes and tsetse flies,” and egrets “white against the gray-pink sky” floating “upriver to roost in the winterthorn trees.”

Both her parents, she writes, want to be buried on that farm, when the time comes. Her father has picked a baobab tree above his fish ponds for the site of his grave. “Just wrap me in a bit of sorry cloth and put me deep enough in the ground that Mum’s bloody dogs don’t dig me up,” he says.Her mother, who had picked another tree nearby, has rather different expectations. “I expect a big, elaborate funeral,” she tells her daughter. “Sing ‘The Hallelujah Chorus,’ wear large expensive hats and fling yourself into the grave after me.”

The Agikuyu We Rise-Poetry

You may re-write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my biashara(s) upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my communal love offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Out of the huts of history’s shame -I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in Mau Mau pain-I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind the Kiambaa  nights of terror and fear-I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear-I rise
Bringing the gifts that  God gave my ancestors-I rise
I am the dream and the hope of  Gikuyu & Mumbi -I rise
I rise-I rise-I rise.

Poem Wallpaper 

The Phantom Mungiki Praetorian Guard At State House

Observing the measly performance of the prosecution at the confirmation of charges hearings in the case of William Ruto, Henry Kosgey and Joshua arap Sang, I was left wondering whether we should not have globally legislated standards of idiocy.With the likes of Moreno Ocampo in the prowl, we need to have the benchmarks of idiocy so that the world is saved the valuable time we need to solve the problems of hunger, poverty, disasters, hurricane Irene, global warming etc.  I concur fully with defense counsel Kioko Kilukumi at the hearings that the only good thing with Ocampo is creativity.

Which brings me to the most ridiculous allegation that Ocampo makes in the case against Francis Muthaura, Hussein Ali and Uhuru Kenyatta, namely that the symbol of our nationhood, the official residence of our Commander-in-Chief was the mobilisation point for Mungikis, where they were issued with military uniforms and military vehicles.For the un-discerning, State House has a staff contingent of over 1,000 staff from all the communities of Kenya.  How such a massive undertaking can take place without being noticed by any staffer can only be attributed to Ocampo’s award winning creativity. Among the dates the Mungikis were supposed to have held a guard of honor at State House is December 30, 2007.

It is imperative to note that this is the day that President Kibaki was sworn in.  I was one of the guests at that swearing-in. I was driven to State House in the official vehicle of Hon Martha Karua. At State House I recall meeting so many people including Mwai Kibaki, Uhuru Kenyatta, Francis Muthaura, Peter Kenneth,  Martha Karua etc. With reflection, I am pretty certain that when Ocampo refers to Mungikis in State House he may be referring to me and Peter Kenneth while the military vehicles must be confusion with Martha Karua’s Green Prado that drove me to State House!In any case, by invoking State House in his theory, the good novelist that is Ocampo has inadvertently changed this case into one involving a state party. I do believe that the competent defense lawyers will raise this issue with the court so that the architecture and conduct of the proceedings can be modified to be in line with cases involving state parties.

I reiterate what I have said in this column for the last one year. Ocampo’s brief is to achieve a certain outcome in Kenya.  His sole mission is to remove some actors from the 2012 General Election so that Raila Odinga can have a very easy win against Raila Odinga.

That is why he ignores such statements by Raila like. “Generals do not go to battlefront” when he was asked in 2008 why he was not on the ground with the protestors. On January 3, 2008 , Raila said on KTN ” What is happening is genocide being perpetrated by a Mungiki gang operating from State House led by  Uhuru Kenyatta.”  For Ocampo to repeat such claims in his case leaves one with no doubt as to where he gets his brief from.There is also the issue of double standards at the ICC. By the established definition under the Rome Statute, it would mean that those involved in the London riots are also perpetrators of crimes against humanity. There may be some distinctions between the post-electoral violence in Kenya and the London rioters, but they are nuances, matters of degree.

One cannot draw a bright line between them.It will be argued that in any event the British justice system is dealing very aggressively with the London violence, and that as a result the crimes would not be subject to prosecution on the basis of complementarity. The British justice system is ‘willing and able’ to bring those responsible to justice.But here we encounter another problem with the way the Rome Statute is being applied. The judges at the International Criminal Court have tended to an analysis whereby it is not adequate that perpetrators be tried for any crime in order for complimentary to be addressed.The theory is that they must be tried for the precise crimes under the Rome Statute. Are any of the teenage hoodlums in London being prosecuted for crimes against humanity? Is Britain failing in its duty to adequately describe the nature of the crimes – and thereby deprive victims of the justice they are entitled to – by labeling the acts using ordinary criminal classifications, such as assault, mischief, theft, arson, vandalism and so on?

Of course we all know that riots in Nairobi and riots in London are not the same thing. Should anyone be surprised that so many of us Africans think the court is focusing its attention unfairly on our beautiful continent?

Finally, I have read that a group of Ocampo’s supporters have threatened to take Pope Benedict to the ICC for the victims of mistreatment by Catholic Priests. Where it comes to my Catholicism, there is no compromise.  If that comes to pass, we will tell Ocampo, in the famous words of Robert Mugabe to keep his Falkland Islands, we keep our Church

Moses Kuria :The author is the spokesman of the Party of National Unity. The views expressed herein are his own.

Closer Sino-Kenyan Cooperation Can Counter Food Crisis

The worst drought in the Horn of Africa in 60 years has sparked a severe food crisis in the past few months. Close to 13 million people are threatened by the famine and many died of hunger. In Kenya, the number of the people facing starvation has reached 3.5 million people. The worsening condition facing famine victims in the region in general and particularly in Kenya has caused great concern among the international community, the Chinese Government and people included.Such are times when a friend in need must become a friend indeed.

The Chinese people and the African people have formed traditional friendship of reaching out to each other and pulling together in times of trouble. Much as China has had a share of natural disasters, in particular drought and floods this year, the Chinese Government donated 90 million RMB (about 1.36 billion Kenyan Shillings) worth of emergency food aid to the affected countries in the Horn of Africa last month. To ensure that as many lives as can be saved are rescued from starvation, the Chinese Government has announced an additional 353.2 million RMB (about 4.94 billion Kenyan Shillings) of emergency food and cash assistance to the countries affected by famine in the region.

So far, the assistance from the Chinese Government to the region amounts to 443.2 million RMB (about 6.2 billion Kenyan Shillings). Meanwhile, the aid to Kenya has increased from 30 million RMB to 130 million RMB (about 1.82 billion Kenyan Shillings).China’s Ministry of Commerce has started the delivery of the food aid destined for the Horn of Africa region last month. Most of the food aid will be shipped to the affected countries through bilateral channels, while the aid in cash to Somalia will be delivered through the United Nations World Food Program. The onus to purchase and distribute food to Somalia will be WFP’s. We hope to deliver the food aid to disaster areas by the end of next month.

The Chinese Government is keen and has put appropriate measures to ensure that all food aid reach the affected people the soonest possible. China is also ready to provide drinking water, medicine, medical equipment and tents at the demand of the affected countries.The people of China and NGOs from China are participating actively in offering humanitarian support to the Horn of Africa. The Red Cross Society of China, for instance, has allocated 8 million RMB (about 112 million Kenyan Shillings) of humanitarian aid to drought-affected areas in East Africa. Of that aid, 2 million RMB (about 28 million Kenyan Shillings) will be donated to the Kenyan Red Cross. This particular aid was donated by charitable organisations, NGOs, companies as well as ordinary people in China. This is their way of expressing their friendship with their African brothers and sisters.

Disaster may be merciless but human beings are intrinsically attuned to affection. Nothing proclaims this better than the initiative dubbed ‘Kenyans for Kenya’ supported by the media, corporate organisations and individuals to feed the people of the hunger-striken northern Kenya. The Chinese companies, small business owners and expatriates in Kenya, who regard this great nation as home, have also made their donations to the victims in order to fulfill their social responsibility by reaching their Kenyan brothers and sisters. So far, the donations from the Chinese fraternity amount to over 22.5 million Kenyan Shillings.One old Chinese saying goes, ‘Food is the base of people’s lives’. Food being key to survival, the Chinese Government has always attached great importance to the grain production and done its best to promote the all-round development of the rural areas. That’s why China can feed 22 percent of the world population with only 7 percent of the planet’s arable land and achieved basic self-sufficiency in grain.

To solve the food crisis sustainably, the key lies in boosting the development of rural areas. African countries have superior natural conditions for agricultural development, with abundant fertile arable land and plentiful rainwater in most parts of the continent. Besides, Africa is not short of labour force. On the other hand, Africa also faces many challenges in the area of agriculture. To find the solutions to food shortages, African countries can borrow a leaf through enhanced international cooperation.

In my view, there are broad prospects for agricultural cooperation between Africa and China. As the largest developing country in the world, China has been traditionally dependent on agriculture. In the course of time running into thousands of years, China has gathered critical experience and forged technologies to boost agriculture development.Africa, a continent with the largest number of developing countries in the world, is now in need of ways of raising its grain yield. Indeed, with regard to agriculture, there are many avenues for knowledge and technology transfer, an area of cooperation that begs development.

To start with, China and Kenya can strengthen exchanges and collaboration in the fields of agricultural policies, water conservancy and irrigation, agricultural technologies as well as processing. Another key area is marketing of agricultural products, itself a suitable suitable road towards agricultural development. Innovation in agricultural production and marketing will, no doubt, benefit the African farmer and make major contributions to human development on the whole.

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Amb. Liu Guangyuan

Black Is Still Beautiful

Leila Luliana da Costa Vieira Lopes (born February 26, 1986) is an Angolan beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Angola 2011 and Miss Universe 2011.Lopes, who stands 1.79 m (5 ft 10 1⁄2 in) tall, competed as one of 21 finalists in her country’s national beauty pageant, Miss Angola, held in Luanda on December 18, 2010,where she obtained the Photogenic Award and became the eventual winner of the title, gaining the right to represent Angola in Miss Universe 2011.

She was crowned winner of 2011 Miss Universe in São Paulo, Brazil on September 12, 2011, becoming the first Angolan Miss Universe. Lopes received the title from the former Miss Universe titleholder, Ximena Navarrete of Mexico. Lopes became the fourth African woman to win the title, and the second black African woman to win following Mpule Kwelagobe, Miss Universe 1999 from Botswana. Lopes became the first woman from Angola to win a “Big” beauty pageant.

Renaissance Plans Congo City Bigger Than Kenya’s $5 Billion Tatu City

Renaissance Partners, the investment unit of Moscow-based Renaissance Group, plans to build a 6,400- acre city in the Democratic Republic of Congo as it seeks to benefit from Africa’s urbanization.The Russian firm is working on a master plan for the new urban center after securing the land outside Lubumbashi, the country’s second-largest city, Arnold Meyer, Renaissance Partners’ managing director in charge of real estate in Africa, said in an interview in London. Renaissance is considering similar projects in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Rwanda, he said.

“The West has peaked in terms of economic growth and the new markets are in Africa,” Meyer, 39, said. “And the main drivers of this growth in Africa are going to be cities.”Renaissance’s Lubumbashi project will be more than double the size of Tatu City, the $5 billion center that the Russian firm is building from scratch outside the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The Moscow firm, headed by Stephen Jennings, plans to take advantage of Africa’s economic growth and emergence of a growing urban middle class demanding better infrastructure.

In Nairobi, where the population has been increasing about 4 percent a year over the last decade, one in four residents lacks access to piped water and about 40 percent of people use open-pit toilets, according to Kenya’s statistics agency. Tatu City, a 2,500-acre site about nine miles north of the capital, will eventually have 62,000 residents and include a stadium, technology park, hospital, shops, office towers and playgrounds, the firm said in October, when it started the project. The Nairobi Stock Exchange is in talks with Renaissance about relocating there, Meyer said.

Tatu Construction Schedule

“We’ve had two meetings with the stock exchange, and we have another presentation in two weeks,” Meyer said. “We created a zone which would be ideal for them.”Renaissance is now installing electricity and water lines in Tatu, which will function as an independent municipality, and expects the first buildings to be erected by the end of 2013, Meyer said. The firm will sign an agreement with Kenya’s government next week to include Tatu in the country’s Vision 2030 plan, designed to boost infrastructure.Renaissance is in a legal dispute with a local partner over the ownership of coffee lands north of Tatu, some of which Meyer says could be used as an extension of the city. The dispute hasn’t affected the Tatu development itself, he said.

The firm is also working on the design of two projects of about 2,500 acres each outside Accra and Takoradi in Ghana, Meyer said. It is considering buying land near Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil harbor, as well as near Dakar, the capital of Senegal, and Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, he said.“In 1980, you had 400 million people on the continent,” Meyer said. “Last year they went through the 1 billion barrier. And in another 30 years, that doubles to 2 billion. Imagine the combined energy.”

[Silly Season]Reply to :Njonjo Mue’s THE GIKUYU NATION – KENYA’S FIRST BORN- Email that is doing the rounds

Did you ever notice that there are no Jews going around the world saying, or writing about, how awful Jews have been? Given that the Jews have dominated the economies in the US,Canada and Europe.  Why has there been no Jewish Njonjo Mue ?Are there any Chinese writing books about the absence of Chinese soul-searching or expressions of sorrow over their economic expansion and zest  for investment and economic expansion ? Has anyone ever encountered any Chinese and Jewish remorse for economic dominance ?The answer, of course, is no. In fact, among all the world’s peoples, only Kikuyus produce individuals who have greater sympathy for those who blame their poverty on their own peoples hardworking and entrepreneurial nature .

Some in this small urban kikuyu community loathe everything Kikuyu (they love their own agenda and their own vision of what Kenya could be over their own people ).They have contempt for the average hardworking Kikuyu choosing to spend time spreading baseless stereotypes that we want to lord over the rest of kenya and that we have grabbed. There are no comparable self-haters in any other country,This newly minted young Kikuyu Intellectuals (sic) are often the leaders in anti-Kikuyu kamukunji(s) ,demonstrations and movements.The Kiai’s and the Njonjo Mue’s devote much of their lives to trying to harm our community and expressing deep hatred for Kikuyu hardwork.They reinforce false stereotypes against Kikuyus held by other communities with wild claims of being a first born that will not let others have their share.This self-loathing on their part is all the more remarkable when you consider that those who support and fund them strongly affirm their own cultural and ethnic identities. For example, while Njonjo ceaselessly attacks his  own community Neo Liberals from Nyanza and elsewhere ceaselessly defend their own communities in the race to aqcuire wealth and establish political and economic dominance

How, then, to explain this anomaly of new Kikuyu self-loathing? I offer one explanation.Many of the haters are political rejects,political wanna be’s driven by anger and selfish ambition .Anger that is similar to adolescent anger at a parent who claims very high ideals and turns out to be slightly flawed. Many of the haters are angry at Kikuyu’s for being ‘imperfect’ in accepting their liberal values/lazy socialist(less working and endless flossing) values and are therefore disappointed by the majority in our community  .There may be other explanations. But what is certain is that Kikuyu self-hatred is a unique phenomena that plays a particularly destructive role as designed by those who fund it conspicuously always just before an election.It gives fodder to those who are for the destruction of our community.What better way to promote  early anti Kikuyu propaganda than to have one of them spew it in the guise of speaking the truth one year before the election.

Yes, we may agree with parts of your opinion that some Kikuyus(and the elite in almost every community) have a past with  leadership and grabbing.Even worse is  the  amnesia  that the grabbing has never been a communal but rather an individual thing,so the solution Mr Mue is not to criminalize every hardworking Kikuyu by promoting and spreading anti Kikuyu propaganda and political agendas.We as Kenyans and younger Kikuyus can move on with other Kenyans without having to bow down to these forces or their stale ideas that somehow Kikuyus control everything to the detriment of others .

Joe. M Ndungu

Kenya’s Shilling Slips

Kenya’s shilling depreciated the most in almost three weeks against the dollar after the central bank moved to reduce the rate at which lenders borrow funds.The currency of East Africa’s biggest economy lost 1.6 percent to 94.33 per dollar by 11:16 a.m. in Nairobi, the capital, the biggest decline since Aug. 9, when the shilling reached 95.1. That was the weakest intraday level since March 1994, when the nation abolished exchange controls.

From today, the central bank will include a factor ranging from zero to one based on “the specific liquidity conditions in the interbank market” when calculating its overnight discount rate, it said in an Aug. 26 statement on its website. The bank will also use a moving average of interbank lending rates over a longer, unspecified period to work out its overnight borrowing rate, instead of applying the previous day’s rate. The bank stopped publishing the rate on Aug. 19.“Having previously resolved not to publish the discount rate, the new circular has introduced yet even greater uncertainty in the market,” Phumelele Mbiyo, an analyst with Standard Bank Group Ltd., wrote in an e-mailed note to clients today. The bank’s Aug. 12 resolution resulted in lenders not being “assured that they would be eligible for funds. The new circular also ensures that on any day banks will not know what the current discount window rate is, thereby rendering the current level of the discount rate irrelevant as a potential anchor for setting interbank rates.”

Rate ‘Penalty’

The bank on Aug. 12 said it would increase the charges for banks using its overnight window to tighten money supply and shore up depreciation in the shilling, which reached a 17-year low on Aug. 9 as the cost of importing food and fuel pushed inflation to 15.5 percent in July, more than triple the bank’s target.Average interbank rates leapt to 26.4 percent by Aug. 25, compared with 8.34 percent before the new rules were introduced. The bank started applying a three percentage-point “penalty” on the benchmark rate or the interbank rate, whichever was higher, on borrowing from its overnight window starting Aug. 15.

The Aug. 26 rules represent a “relaxation of the monetary stance,” Mbiyo wrote. “With the shilling failing to receive much support even as the increase in interbank rates became disorderly, perhaps due to the policy stance being viewed as not credible by the market, the shilling is likely to depreciate if interbank rates decline.”The central bank loosened the requirement regarding the value of deposits lenders keep in reserves. Banks will need to maintain the cash-reserve requirement of 4.75 percent over a monthly rather than daily basis, as long as daily holdings don’t dip below 3 percent, it said.

Keep Me From Evil

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (New International Version)

Jabez was honorable above his brothers; but his mother named him Jabez [sorrow maker], saying, Because I bore him in pain.10Jabez cried to the God of Israel, saying, Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and You would keep me from evil so it might not hurt me! And God granted his request.

Amplified Bible (AMP)

50 Wisdom Keys: Mike Murdock

1. Every problem is always a wisdom problem.
2. When your heart decides the destination, your mind will design the map to reach it.
3. What you respect, you will attract.
4. The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.
5. Your rewards in life are determined by the kinds of problems you are willing to solve for others.
6. What you make happen for others, God will make happen for you.
7. An uncommon seed always creates and uncommon harvest.
8. The word of God is the wisdom of God.
9. The clearer your goals, the greater your faith.
10. Your focus decides your feelings.
11. Your self-portrait determines your self-conduct.
12. Your respect for time is a prediction of your financial future.
13. Your decisions decide your wealth.
14. The instruction you follow determines the future you create.
15. God’s only pain is to be doubted; God’s only pleasure is to be believed.
16. Your goals choose your mentors.
17. Your success is decided by what you are willing to ignore.
18. The atmosphere you create determines the product you produce.
19. The size of your enemy determines the size of your rewards.
20. Your assignment is always the problem God has designed you to solve for others.
21. What you are willing to walk away from determines what God will bring to you.
22. Your future is decided by who you choose to believe.
23. Changes in your life will always be proportionate to your knowledge.
24. The reward of pain is the willingness to change.
25. Anything permitted increases.
26. Anything that keeps your attention has become your master.
27. Your life is whatever you choose to remember.
28. When you want something you have never had, you must do something you have never done.
29. What you repeatedly hear, you eventually believe.
30. All men fall, the great ones get back up.
31. You cannot correct what you are unwilling to confront.
32. You will only be remembered in life for two things: the problems you solve or the ones you create.
33. God never consults your past to decide your future.
34. Any movement towards order create pleasure.
35. If you insist on taking something God did not give you, He will take back something He gave you.
36. The evidence of God’s presence far outweighs the proof of his absence.
37. Never complain about what you permit.
38. Go where you are celebrated instead of where you are tolerated.
39. One day of favor is worth a thousand days of labor.
40. Warfare always surrounds the birth of a miracle.
41. The broken become masters at mending.
42. Prosperity is simply having enough of God’s provision to complete his assignment in your life.
43. One hour in the presence of Gods will reveal the flaws of your most carefully laid plans.
44. Anger is the birthplace for solutions.
45. The willingness to reach births the ability to change.
46. Never give more time to a critic than you would give to a friend.
47. Access is first a gift, then a test, then a reward.
48. The magnetism of your kindness will outlast the memory of your genius.
49. When you let go of what is in your hand, God let’s go of what is in his hand.
50. Never rewrite your theology to accommodate a tragedy.

Kenya Central Bank Governor On Economy

Kenyan central bank Governor Njuguna Ndung’u said he’s confident inflation will slow in coming months after being pushed higher by surging demand for food from tens of thousands of Somali refugees fleeing famine.

“We should see a significant decline in food prices by October,” Ndung’u, 52, said in an interview yesterday in his Nairobi office. The cost of corn, Kenya’s staple food, has begun declining after the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa rekindled concern over food shortages and worsened the inflation outlook, Ndung’u said. The drought in the region is the worst in 60 years, according to the United Nations.Kenya’s inflation accelerated for a ninth month in July, to 15.5 percent, driven by a 24 percent surge in food prices. The jump in price growth has led to a 13 percent decline in the shilling this year and a warning on Aug. 12 from Fitch Ratings that a failure to lower inflation and stabilize the exchange rate would bring downward pressure to bear on its credit rating.“A turnaround in inflation is expected in the next few months,” according to notes provided by Ndung’u during the interview.The central bank aims to keep inflation within its 3 to 7 percent target range. Growth in East Africa’s biggest economy is expected to slow to 5.3 percent this year from 5.6 percent in 2010. That compares with a government target of boosting annual growth to 10 percent and sustaining it through 2030.

Somali Refugees

Food prices in Kenya have risen as refugees fled Somalia to the Dadaab refugee complex in northeastern Kenya, the world’s biggest such facility with more than 400,000 people. The UN has declared a famine in five regions of Somalia and predicted it may spread across the country’s southern region and persist until at least December.

“Food prices are coming down,” he said. “But even when they are coming down, we have seen more hungry faces crossing the border from Somalia and Kenya to compete for the already constrained supply.”The Central Bank of Kenya in March predicted inflation would decelerate to 7.5 percent by year-end. Ndung’u wouldn’t comment on what the bank’s current inflation forecast is. Food costs in the domestic market may start declining as early as September or more likely in October, he said.

Food Prices

Global food prices are close to the peak of 2008 and are contributing to the humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa, the Washington-based World Bank said on Aug. 15. The World Bank’s food-price index surged 33 percent in July as the price of corn, sugar and wheat jumped.Kenya’s food and fuel-price inflation may stay “elevated” for the rest of the year, heightening wage demands, said Celeste Fauconnier, Africa analyst at Rand Merchant Bank in Johannesburg, who forecasts the overall rate may range between 13 percent and 15 percent through to October.“Supply side factors are going to remain prevalent and we also expect demand pressures to increase with minimum wage demands,” Fauconnier said in a phone interview today. “Inflation is a significant concern.”Cyclical waves of inflation in Kenya are often triggered by drought, and intensified by bad roads that make it difficult to transport food from farms to the hungry, as well as the failure to build up stockpiles during bumper harvests, Ndung’u said.

Rate Increases

Kenya’s central bank has increased the key lending rate twice this year to head off inflation generated by rising global oil prices and food costs. It left the benchmark rate unchanged at its last meeting in July, saying that further rate increases would do little to tame supply-side pressures.The central bank tightened its policy again this week by imposing a penalty on commercial banks borrowing from its overnight discount window. That may reduce liquidity and lead to a stronger shilling, Africa’s second-worst performing currency this year, after neighboring Uganda.“The depreciation has supported tea and coffee earnings, but raised the shilling cost of fuels and other inputs as well as famine-related food imports,” Ndung’u said. “The depreciation in theexchange rate could also ease balance-of-payment pressures from rising imports.”The shilling is expected to stabilize as tourism earnings and remittances climb and Kenyaninterest rates attract short- term investment, Ndung’u said. Kenya’s three-month borrowing costs rose to a nine-year high of 9.258 percent on Aug. 18.

Weaker Shilling

The shilling weakened 0.1 percent to 93.15 against the dollar as of 12:03 in Nairobi today, compared with a close of 93.05 yesterday. On Aug. 9, the currency weakened to 95.10, its lowest level since March 1994 when foreign-exchange controls were removed.“The importers are complaining about the exchange rate,” Ndung’u said. “The exporters are so happy.”Kenyan imports jumped 32 percent in June to 104.3 billion shillings ($1.1 billion) from a year earlier, while exports grew 30 percent to 41.4 billion shillings, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.Under the rules introduced on Aug. 15, the central bank applies a three-percentage point penalty to either the previous day’s interbank rate or the benchmark lending rate, whichever is higher.The bank had previously applied its so-called Central Bank Rate, currently at 6.25 percent. The overnight discount window rate rose for the fourth straight day to 17.89 percent yesterday, according to data on the central bank’s website.

Fitch Ratings as a B+ rating on Kenya’s long-term foreign- currency debt, four levels below investment grade, with a stable outlook.

Out of Africa:Foreign aid is part of the problem

Between 2002 and 2008, sub-Saharan Africa started growing again, buoyed like much of the rest of the world by the global commodity boom and Chinese investment. Thus ended one of the most dismaying periods in the continent’s recent history, a generationlong stretch during which most countries in the region saw per capita incomes fall, sometimes to levels not experienced since the end of colonialism.The turnaround signals the possibility of new opportunities for Africans, yet the past year’s astonishing drop in commodity prices as a result of the global recession suggests how fragile that upswing is. Nor is it clear that a political corner has been turned. The growth years have seen the outbreak of a horrific war in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has claimed more than 5 million lives, another smaller but equally devastating conflict in northern Uganda, a humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur, and the continuing tragedy of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

In the West, the causes of and remedies for Africa’s development failure have mostly been debated by white men like Jeffrey Sachs and William Easterly, who have argued for and against massive outside assistance, respectively. Sachs has gotten help from celebrity advocates like Bob Geldorf, Bono, and Angelina Jolie. So it is refreshing to have some fresh analysis from two African women, Kenyan Wangari Maathai and Zambian Dambisa Moyo.They are not cut from similar cloth at all. Maathai, a legislator who lost her seat in the 2007 parliamentary election, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her opposition to the regime of former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, and for her environmental advocacy in founding the grassroots Greenbelt Movement. She is obviously courageous: Moyo, by contrast, left Zambia to attend college in the United States, and after receiving degrees from Oxford and Harvard, went on to work at the World Bank and Goldman Sachs.

Their books would seem to bear little resemblance as well. In The Challenge for Africa,Maathai offers a diffuse array of conclusions. She argues that there is no inherent trade-off between economic growth and environmental protection and that African governments should pursue both. She blames Western colonialism for devaluing African identity and culture but blames Africans as well for their bloody attachment to fractured “micro-nations.” She criticizes aid dependency and yet has no strong objections to the Sachs-Bono agenda of ramping up Western development assistance. She believes that change will have to come through grassroots activism and that Africans must embrace their own traditions.

Moyo’s book, Dead Aid, by contrast, has a very simple message: that outside development assistance is at the root of Africa’s underdevelopment and ought to be stopped quickly and totally if the continent is to progress. She is in favor of private-sector development, even if it comes from China, and inveighs against agricultural protectionism in the North that prevents trade from becoming an engine of growth. Not surprisingly, her book will appeal to a crowd very different from those who awarded Maathai the Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai and Moyo might indeed seem to be headed for a polarized Sachs-Easterly style shootout over approaches to development.

But the truth is that these books have more in common than their authors may admit. Both women see sub-Saharan Africa’s fundamental problem not as one of resources, human or natural, or as a matter of geography, but, rather, as one of bad government. Far too many regimes in Africa have become patronage machines in which political power is sought by “big men” for the sole purpose of acquiring resources—resources that are funneled either back to the networks of supporters who helped a particular leader come to power or else into the proverbial Swiss bank account. There is no concept of public good; politics has devolved instead into a zero-sum struggle to appropriate the state and whatever assets it can control.

All of the region’s other problems derive from this destructive dynamic. Natural resources, whether diamonds or oil or timber, have quickly turned into a curse, because they greatly raise the stakes of the political struggle. Ethnicity and tribe, social constructs of often dubious historical provenance, have been exploited by political leaders in their quests for power. The advent of democracy has not changed the aims of politics but simply shifted the method of struggle. Only thus can we explain a phenomenon like Nigeria, which took in some $300 billion in oil revenues over a generation and yet saw declining per capita income during that same period.

So the question is: If bad politics is at the heart of Africa’s development problem, how did it come to be that way, and how can the region evolve in a different direction? Here the two authors, obviously, differ markedly. Dambisa Moyo is ready with evidence to back up her lengthy indictment of foreign aid as the source of bad government. She notes that during the Cold War, aid was given out indiscriminately to rulers like Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, who flew his daughter to a wedding on a Concorde the moment Western donors agreed to reschedule a loan. Were it not for the continued availability of concessional loans, she argues, African countries would be forced to get their acts together and meet international governance standards so as to be able to access global bond markets.

There is a lot to this argument. Foreign assistance in the past has simply fueled the patronage machine and helped keep corrupt rulers in power in places like Somalia and Equatorial Guinea. African governments, many of which receive upward of 50 percent of their national budgets from international donors, find themselves accountable not to their people but to overlapping and contradictory echelons of foreigners. Even seemingly benign interventions like humanitarian food aid can undercut local farmers or be used as a means of strengthening the ethnic base of particular politicians.

But Moyo’s case that Africa would have good government if it weren’t for the influx of aid stretches credulity. The roots of Africa’s political malaise go far deeper than the post-independence foreign-aid regime. Unlike East Asia before its encounter with colonialism, more than half of sub-Saharan Africa was not governed by a state structure at the time of the European scramble for Africa that began in the 1870s. The Europeans built colonial institutions on the cheap, seeking to govern vast tracts of territory with skeleton administrations. The big man of contemporary African politics is in many ways a colonial creation, since Europeans sought to rule indirectly by empowering a series of local dictators to carry out their purposes. And, finally, colonialism imposed a set of irrational borders on their colonies. South Sudan fought a 30-year civil war with the regime in Khartoum only because a long-dead British administrator in Cairo didn’t want to offend Egypt by giving it to Uganda, where it more naturally belonged.

Moyo’s blanket condemnation of foreign aid also fails to discriminate between, say, military assistance given to Zaire during the Cold War, and anti-retroviral treatments dispensed by the Global Fund or PEPFARS (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, initiated by the Bush administration), which get virtually no mention in her book. The fact is that the aid business has learned something, particularly since the end of the Cold War. Fewer blank checks are given to dictators and more relief is targeted at areas like public health, which have produced measurable results. Were aid to stop as she suggests, a whole lot of Africans would die prematurely. Other programs, like the Millennium Challenge Account, created by the Bush administration in 2004, are targeted at better governance and anti-corruption. They may not be sufficient to fix African politics, but they hardly contribute to the underlying problem.

If ending foreign aid will not cure Africa, does Maathai’s Challenge for Africa present a better alternative? Grassroots activism can galvanize local solutions and put pressure on governments to perform better. But civil society is ultimately a complement to strong institutions and not a substitute for them. Toward the end of her book, Maathai points to the need for visionary leadership and nation-building from the center, as Julius Nyerere did when he knit Tanzania’s multiple linguistic and ethnic groups together through the use of Kiswahili as a national language. But historical nation-building projects have often required much stronger medicine than she or most other contemporary Africans are willing to contemplate, including changes of borders and the sometimes forceful incorporation of “micro-nations” into larger wholes.

If neither of these books provides wholly satisfactory solutions, both at least focus on the real core of the problem, which is the region’s level of political development. In this realm, solutions are going to have to come from within the region itself. It is a positive first step for the discussion to shift away from what the outside world owes Africa and toward what Africans owe themselves.

By Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama