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

The ANC Youth League Wants “Regime change” To Remove ‘White’ Botswana Government

Boksburg – The ANC Youth League’s national executive committee is to send a team to Botswana to consolidate local opposition parties, its leader Julius Malema said on Sunday.”Botswana is in full co-operation with imperialists…and the government is undermining the African agenda,” he said at the committee’s closing meeting in Boksburg.

“We are not going to sit with neighbours that conduct themselves like that.”

Botswana needed a progressive government, and the current opposition was not consolidated “properly” enough to topple it, he said.The team of NEC members would teach and train campaigners and volunteers of a possible “coalition party” that might be formed.The youth league believed that since former president Thabo Mbeki’s departure as chair of the Southern African Development Community, the African agenda was no longer a priority.”The ANCYL is of the view that there is a vacuum on the ideological and political leadership of Africa and the sub-regions, and this is reflected by how the issues of Libya and Ivory Coast were mishandled,” he said.

The league planned to convene “progressive youth formations” across Africa to “re-assert” the need for the continent’s independence and economic freedom.The NEC said it would fight for economic freedom, particularly for the nationalisation of mines, the expropriation of land without compensation, and the provision of free quality education. Sapa

R.I.P “Pastor Zach”Tims

The shocking news that megachurch pastor, Zachery Tims, died at the age of 42-years-old has left many saddened and stunned; but none more so than members of his New Destiny Christian Center congregation.  Charisma Online was one of the first outlets to break the story and had reported they received confirmation from New York authorities that someone by the name “Zachery Tims” was found deceased in the W Hotel located at Times Square.  My Fox Orlando reported that church members began gathering at the Apoka, Florida church to grieve.  Other members are leaving their condolences on Tims’ official Facebook page

I, like many people are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Pastor Zachery Tims. Pastor Tims was senior pastor of approximately 7500 member New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, FL. My condolences go out to the Tims family and to the NDCC church family.Most people in the Christian Community recall the scandal that rocked NDCC and the Tims Family just a few years ago. Some people stood by Zachary Tims and some could not. I am not here to judge either party. I believe that most people on this planet are doing the best they can every day of their lives. Whether people decided to stay or to leave is a decision made between themselves and God.

What I believe is important now is that I hope Pastor Tims  is in Heaven. I hope that he truly rebuilt his relationship with Christ and that he is speaking with Jesus even now. As human beings—as Christians, we all have the opportunity to mess up and some of us go so far that it looks like we will never make it back. We all know the story of David who went so far that it seemed there was no turning back to God for him. But even after his missteps God welcomed him back. God had a plan for his life before he sinned. ‘And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.’ Acts 13:22.After David sinned he repented in earnest, asking God for forgiveness. Read the beautiful Psalm 51. A beautiful Psalm especially to those of us have sinned and truly prayed for and received forgiveness.The most important thing that we as Christians can do besides spreading the good word of God is to be ready when it is our time.

London Riots -“Chrysanthemum Revolution.” …What Revolution?

If it had happened somewhere else, the chaos would have been given a name, such as “chrysanthemum revolution.”  Instead, it was described as overnight violence followed by looting in local media.Probably the only logic is since the chaos happened in the UK, the reaction to it by British media was more muted.What happened in London on Saturday,Sunday & Monday night had all the elements that stimulate the media: an allegedly unarmed man was killed by police, justice-seeking crowd, angry protestors, police vehicles set afire and confrontations between demonstrators and police.

No “oppression” took place of course, police were simply doing their duty. According to a statement from 10 Downing Street, the police and public faced “aggression,” and the property damage that occurred was “unacceptable.”British media are neither deeply troubled by the ethnic tension in London, nor are they interested to guess the impact it will have on authorities.No human rights organizations expressed their concerns about the conditions residents of north London are experiencing.

Pictures at the riot scene are used correctly, instead of showing the angry faces of people from an unknown place.The British media duly pointed out that the place of the riots, Tottenham, is an economically deprived area where high unemployment has long been a plague. Rioters threw petrol bombs at police, but they are not “suppressed people yearning for their rights.”Since economic recovery is a long-term challenge to the British government, there is no need to worry that “economic growth might enlarge the income gap which could mean more unfairness for minorities.”Violence similar to that which London experienced at the weekend can be found in many other places, from Africa to China.

Not everybody benefits equally from economic growth, or suffers equally in an economic downturn. Dissatisfaction can be brewed, and a large confrontation may be triggered by a small event.Authorities everywhere will rush to quell the situation from getting worse when in the same situation. Police would be dutifully at the scene to calm the situation and protect the public and property.But there could seemingly never be a “revolution” in London. If there could be an explanation, perhaps it is that British media are overly worried by what happens outside the UK.

Travel Advisory:London Riots 08/08/11

London’s emergency services were on full-scale alert on Monday night as rioting, fires and pitched battles with police erupted around the city from late afternoon.The Metropolitan police poured hundreds of extra officers on to the streets as trouble flared in the north, south and east of the capital.In Hackney, east London, masked and hooded youths smashed up shops and threw missiles, planks of wood and wheelie bins at riot police. Several abandoned vehicles were set alight. There were also violent scenes in Lewisham, south-east London, where petrol bombs were reportedly thrown at officers, and shops looted. A bus was torched in nearby Peckham as police struggled to respond to the spread of sporadic violent incidents.Witnesses said a 100-strong mob cheered as a shop in the centre of Peckham was torched and one masked thug shouted: “The West End’s going down next.” A baker’s next door was also alight. One onlooker said: “The mob were just standing there cheering and laughing. Others were just watching on from their homes open-mouthed in horror.”The unrest had spread beyond London with West Midlands police confirming outbreaks of disorder in Birmingham city centre. Shops including a branch of Louis Vuitton had windows smashed and were looted. Extra officers were being sent into the streets of Britain’s second city.

Muigwithania 2.0 Issues Travel Advisory Against Non Essential Travel To UK

  • We advise against all but essential travel to low /middle income areas of London,City of Birmingham  including all township or  areas, which experience high crime levels.  See Safety and Security – Crime. 
  • Large public gatherings and demonstrations occur from time to time in the UK and these should be avoided.  Any rally, even if advertised as peaceful, could potentially turn violent. You should check local media reports for information about any planned demonstrations.
  • There is a high historical  threat from terrorism in London. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including places frequented by tourists and foreign travellers. Previous attacks have included a bomb attack on the London Underground(subway) & bus service, which resulted in significant loss of life.
  • The London Metropolitan  police have encouraged extra vigilance against possible  attacks  by vandals and anarchists on public places as a result of current heightened conflict  and riots in city.
  • There has been past fatal incidents involving police shootings of  foreign nationals (Brazilian shot in London train), although the racial motivations and circumstances remain unclear. None of the indiscriminate police action has so affected Kenyan nationals.
  • We advise against all but essential travel to within 30 km of  London and the city of Birmingham . There have been attacks  on civilians and fires reported .
  • You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.
  • No part of Britain should be considered immune from violence and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts.You should be vigilant and take extra care, particularly in and around landmarks and places where large public crowds can gather. Hotels, shops and restaurants used by the international community have been attacked in the past and it is likely that there will be further such attacks.

You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. Medical facilities, including ambulance services, outside major cities are very limited, and your insurance should cover you for the possibility of medical repatriation;. Check any exclusions and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. Leave your passport in the hotel safe, but carry a photocopy for ID purposes.Register with The Kenyan High Commission service to tell them when and where you are travelling or where you live abroad to allow for consular and crisis staff provision of  better assistance to you in an emergency.Kenyan nationals visiting the United Kingdom for more than a month and/or travelling to riot areas are recommended to register with the High Commission using the  on-line consular registration service.  If you are unable to access the internet you should contact the High Commission in advance or on arrival.
In Case of Emergency Contact
The Kenya High Commission
45 Portland Place
London W1B 1AS, United Kingdom
020 7636 2371

E-mail: consular@kenyahighcommission.net
Telephone: 020 7636 2371
Fax: 020 7323 6717

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London Riots -”Chrysanthemum Revolution.” …What Revolution? »

Politics In The Social Media Age

The internet has radically changed modern life in ways unimagined even a couple of years ago.  Over the last few months, the world has witness these radical changes in the form of revolution and social upheaval.  As a response to the recent uprisings in the Middle East, many have began to explore the role of social medial in the political sphere and how these cultures have use it for the advancement of their political agendas.Did Twitter and Facebook “cause” the Tunisian Revolution and the protests in Egypt? Not according to Malcolm Gladwell, since he and others have questioned the role of social media in social change in North Africa. But he’s not there, and neither are most other Western observers weighing in on the subject, giving their debate a whiff of the abstract and the academic.

Fortunately, the people who change the world these days get to tell their own stories, and on January 26th I was lucky enough to hear one of them. Despite a snow storm that shut down the District of Columbia, a few dozen of us made it to a presentation and discussion at NPR’s headquarters led by Rim Nour, a young Tunisian protester. Organized by social media guru Andy CarvinSocial Media & Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution: A Firsthand View provided fantastic details on how Tunisians used technology to accelerate their revolution, and in the process gave us a preview of how other people around the world might do the same.

Nour’s background in technology and public policy not only makes her uniquely qualified to speak on these questions, but she was also on the street as the revolt happened, risking the consequences of standing up for her beliefs and the rights of her people. In her eyes, social media tools didn’t CAUSE the revolution — it was a Tunisian Revolution, not a Twitter/Facebook/Wikileaks revolution — but they definitely seem to have speeded it up. Plus, they let the rest of the world watch and offer such support as we could. And as the country risked descending into chaos, digital tools also helped people organize themselves to protect their communities and the political gains they had won.


Tunisia was fertile ground for an internet-enabled uprising. Despite a well educated population (with a median age of 24), the country had not created enough jobs for the vast number of young people obtaining secondary and college degrees, particularly in the interior and western parts of the country. Tunisia’s 10 million residents and two million expatriate citizens are avid users of technology, however: 85% of the population has cell phones (5% smart phones), and roughly two million of them are on Facebook. At the time of the Revolution Twitter had a far smaller footprint, with perhaps 500 active users within the country’s borders, but as we’ll see, who was tweeting mattered more than how many people were doing it. In practice, these were the only Web 2.0 tools available for activism, since other channels such as YouTube were government-censored.According to Nour, the Revolution unfolded in three basic phases. First, protests broke out in the interior of the country after a young man burned himself alive to protest his treatment at the hands of the authorities. A brutal police crackdown resulted, providing activists with shocking imagery to spread online and generate unrest. Second, as protests spread to the more affluent parts of the country, people poured into the streets of cities like Sfax and Tunis and began to organize themselves with cell phones and Facebook. Finally, as President Ben Ali fled and the country risked disorder and random violence, people across the country used social media to dispel misinformation and organize themselves to counter security forces, regime-supporters and looters alike.

The Initial Protests

Actually, the events in December and January were preceded by a spontaneous campaign against government repression in May of 2010, in which people reacted to an opposition leader’s attempt to start a protest march by posting supportive photographs on Facebook, a development that Nour believes emboldened cyberactivists. But the Revolution really began in mid-December, as civil unrest broke out in the interior of the country after a young street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire — to protest mistreatment by a government functionary, but also likely as a deep expression of helplessness in the face of a lack of opportunity.The protests started in his own city of Sidi Bouzid, far from the centers of Tunisian power, but they quickly provoked a violent response from the government’s internal security forces. As protesters marched and police beat them down, political organizers traveled to the area and started using digital video and Twitter to spread the word throughout the country. They had plenty of ammunition, from police brutality to acts of self-sacrifice inspired by Mohamed Bouazizi’s example. At this moment, the fact that only a few Tunisians twittered didn’t matter — those who did were experienced activists primed to use new media tools to make sure that the violence didn’t go unnoticed in the broader population. Within a day of Bouazizi’s immolation, they were already organizing around a common Twitter hashtag.

The Uprising Goes Viral

Within two weeks, and ominously for the government, protests began to spread to the more prosperous parts of the country, including the cities of Sfax and Tunis. It was then that the movement became almost a viral phenomenon, and as it drew more and more people, the center of online action moved to Facebook. A much more popular medium in Tunisia than Twitter, it was also a more visual one — photos and videos posted on Facebook made the protesters’ case in a visceral way (for instance, Nour said that it was an online video that provoked “a physical response” that persuaded her to make the jump into open activism) as they spread through people’s online social circles.At this stage, the outside world began to play more of a part. The Tunisian expat community was heavily wired, for instance, and Nour descibed it as having an echo effect — when in-country Tunisians slept, the outside world took over the role of sharing information and persuading. For instance, the Netherlands-based organization Nawaat.org (whose founder had created a Google Map of secret Tunisian prisons a couple of years ago) would post videos originating on Facebook (and no doubt mostly shot with cell phones) to its posterous blog, where activists would find them and spread them through every online channel imaginable. And of course, this amplification effect went far beyond the extended Tunisian community itself, with activists in many countries and from many backgrounds helping to promote the cause.Television also came into play as the protests spread, though not the heavily-censored domestic channels. The satellite/cable channel Al Jazeera in particular began taking videos posted to the web and broadcasting them to a mass audience, something that Nour mentioned was crucial in spreading the revolution beyond a younger demographic: as long as anti-government messages were restricted to personal internet channels, the protesters’ parents and grandparents could ignore or dismiss them. But once they started showing up on television, they became real.Finally, as the government pushed back via mass media, the internet provided a way for protesters to poke holes in stories promulgated through official channels. When video of a counter-protest in favor of President Ben Ali was shown on television, for instance, activists could post their own footage of the same event that showed that very few people had actually attended — the television cameras had been carefully placed to give the illusion of a large crowd (a tactic common at political rallies in the U.S., too).

In another example, activists were able to show that cars parading in the streets in support of the government were actually rentals, not exactly a sign of a spontaneous event. More tragically, they posted videos of people killed by police only minutes after the president declared that the government would no longer respond with violence, including one of a young woman shot in the head as she came back from the market with a carton of milk — she had wrongly trusted that it was safe to go out.Throughout the last days of the street protests, social channels also helped people come to consensus quickly as the situation changed from hour to hour. When bloggers, activists and musicians were rounded up and taken into custody, protesters could switch their emphasis to arguing for their release. Every time the president spoke, people would write in mass numbers and reach an agreement that demonstrations need to continue. And when the country’s Prime Minister attempted to invoke the country’s constitution on January 14, lawyers and others were able to show that he was citing the wrong part of the document and hence was trying to act illegally, a move that backfired.

Self-Organizing Against Chaos

As the Revolution came to a head, the president prepared to flee the country and the police began to pull out of the streets, simple chaos became the greatest danger. Here again, social media channels gave people a way to organize themselves to protect their neighborhoods and stop the spread of destabilizing rumors. Some gathered on Facebook to form teams to clean up streets and shops, others organized to ration out food and bread. Meanwhile, neighborhood watch groups relayed information on snipers and armed militia groups or spread the word about looters so that they could be intercepted and thwarted.Online channels helped people fight more insidious enemies as well: rumors and disinformation. Claims might spread of massive shootings in a neighborhood, for example, but people in the area could pipe in and say what was really happening. In other cases, rumors of poisoned water or cutoffs of electrical power might threaten to spark a public panic, but again Facebook and text messages let people pass along the truth. Overall, online social tools helped activists counter those who were trying to terrorize the population, helping to calm the entire situation down — they spread the message that people were helping to keep things in control.

What’s Next

After the Revolution comes the hard part: creating a new society. And as Tunisians use social media (and the newly freed mass media channels) to communicate amongst themselves and collectively write the next chapter of their history, it seems clear the internet’s ability to make anyone a publisher played some role in what may be the first of a wave of revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East.Again, social media didn’t cause the Tunisian Revolution, but they enabled it — without the ability of a small number of activists to pass along shocking news and imagery from the first wave of protests, they might have fizzled out as so many street demonstrations in so many countries have in the past. Without the means to counter official propaganda through digital distribution channels, the government’s spin on the situation might have become conventional wisdom. And without ways for people to organize themselves and dispel rumors before and after the president’s fall from power, the entire situation could have descended into chaos — something that would have given the government an excuse to take just about any actions imaginable in the name of public order.Revolutions are risky — anyone who acted online in Tunisia was potentially trackable, which the government knew. And though officials didn’t shut down the internet, they did try to hack into the Facebook accounts of organizers and others (they were thwarted by Facebook itself, fortunately). But in 2010 and 2011, Tunisians were a people armed with the tools to fight back — including proxy accounts and other means of hiding online activity that had become common in the days of web censorship. Most importantly, they were armed with the will to speak out in public even at the cost of their own lives and livelihoods. In the end, they won their country, and let’s hope that they keep it. And let’s also hope that their example inspires despots around the world to consider other job opportunities now, not later. This world needs no more kings.

Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea PDF

Following are some other highlights from the report:


Somali rebel group al Shabaab earns money from taxation and extortion; commerce, trade and contraband; diaspora support and external assistance, the report said.The UN Monitoring group conservatively estimates that al Shabaab generates $70-$100 million a year from duties at ports, taxes on goods and services, taxes in kind on domestic products, “jihad contributions” and extortion.Al Shabaab also earns millions of dollars a month trading charcoal, sugar and other contraband. The trade cycle is dominated by Somali businessmen in Gulf Cooperation Council countries, notably Dubai, the report said.”In a very real sense, al Shabaab is becoming a business: a network of mutually supportive interests in Somalia, Kenya, the Middle East, and even further afield. Even businessmen who are not ideologically aligned with al Shabaab have little incentive to see the Islamists displaced by a predatory and corrupt Transitional Federal Government,” the report said.


Ethiopian troops entered Somalia in late 2006 to fight Islamist rebels holding the capital. Addis Ababa has supported the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia since it was established in 2004. It also supports authorities in Somaliland and Puntland, all eligible for help under UN resolutions.The report states that Ethiopia also supports the sufi militia Ahlu Sunna, and while this is a group that could be considered eligible for assistance, Addis Ababa has never sought authorization from the Security Council to do so.The Monitoring group also said that Ethiopian troops have frequently crossed into Somalia to help government troops and pro-government militias fight al Shabaab. In March, Ethiopian troops set up a base with Ahlu Sunna fighters inside Somalia.

“Whereas Ethiopian support for Somali security sector institutions should be addressed as a compliance issue within the context of Security Council resolution 1772 (2007), the presence of Ethiopian military forces on Somali soil constitutes a violation of the general and complete arms embargo on Somalia.


The report includes evidence that weapons and ammunition supplied to the African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu, known as AMISOM, are sold on the capital’s main Bakara Market, which is in an area controlled by al Shabaab.”Diversion of arms and ammunition from the Transitional Federal Government and its affiliated militias has been another significant source of supply to arms dealers in Mogadishu, and by extension to al Shabaab,” the report said.”Of the 11 varieties of ammunition observed in Bakara market, 8 bore the same lot number as those found in AMISOM ammunition stocks. Moreover, among the six varieties of ammunition seized from Al-Shabaab, four were of the same lot number as AMISOM ammunition.”The study of the weapons was carried out between January and April 2011.


The report states that a group of fighters from the Ethiopian rebel group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), captured in Ethiopia in September 2010 had weapons originally supplied to Eritrea by Bulgaria.Rocket-propelled grenades seized by the Ethiopian authorities were assembled in Bulgaria in 1990-1991. Bulgaria confirmed they were part of a consignment sent from Port Bourgas, Bulgaria, to Eritrea in March 1999. The end user certificate is included in the report.UN investigators questioned the captured ONLF fighters. The ONLF rebels said they had been trained in Eritrea and deployed to Ethiopia via Somaliland.


A Lebanese-registered company called Saracen International has significantly violated a U.N. arms embargo on Somalia and represents a threat to peace and stability in the country, the UN report concludes.Between May 2010 and February 2011 Saracen provided military training and equipment and deployed armed, foreign security personnel on Somali territory. The report includes pictures of a Saracen base, vehicles and personnel in Bosasso, the main city in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.”The most egregious violations of the arms embargo during the Monitoring Group’s current mandate were committed by the Hong Kong-registered company Southern Ace, and by the Lebanese-registered company Saracen International, together with affiliated companies registered in South Africa, Australia and Uganda,” the report said.”Saracen’s presence has increased tension in north-eastern Somalia because its operations are perceived as a military threat by Puntland’s neighbors, as well as by some parts of the Puntland population.

Full report:http://www.scribd.com/doc/61447283/July-Report-of-the-Monitoring-Group-on-Somalia-and-Eritrea-PDF

Kenya Shilling Back On The Ropes

Kenya’s shilling is likely to fall against the dollar, and may even hit a new record low, after the central bank’s surprise decision this week to keep its main interest rate on hold at 6.25 percent despite galloping inflation.The import of more than 230,000 tonnes of maize at a cost of more than $100 million to ward off the worst effects of a food crisis in east Africa’s largest economy will also put pressure on the currency, traders said.”At the moment, all signs are that the shilling is on a downward trend against the dollar. We expect it to continue depreciating,” Solomon Alubala, head of trading at Co-operative Bank, said.At 1200 GMT, the shilling traded at 90.80/91.10 against the dollar, weaker than last Thursday’s close of 89.95/90.05 and closing in on a record low of 91.90 plumbed on June 22.

Even though it expressed concerned about inflationary pressures, the central bank said on Wednesday it considered any further tightening of monetary policy counter-productive.”If you do maintain a low interest rate regime, then you would expect depreciation of the currency,” Alubala said. “For now I think we’ll look to 92.1. It will attempt to touch the year’s highs,” Alubala said.The end of the month typically sees elevated dollar demand, putting further pressure on the currency.The only respite might come from revenues from tourism, which is now at peak-season, although early bookings mean some of those flows may already have been accounted for.

“We expect some compensation from the tourism sector so I really don’t see a weaker or strengthening shilling. I see it in a range of 90.30/91.30,” said Kennedy Butiko, deputy head of treasury .

U.S Drunken Driving Deportations Way Up

Huge increases in deportations of people after they were arrested for breaking traffic or immigration laws or driving drunk helped the Obama administration set a record last year for the number of criminal immigrants forced to leave the country, documents show.The U.S. deported nearly 393,000 people in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, half of whom were considered criminals. Of those, 27,635 had been arrested for drunken driving, more than double the 10,851 deported after drunken driving arrests in 2008, the last full year of the Bush administration, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data provided.

An additional 13,028 were deported last year after being arrested on less serious traffic law violations, nearly three times the 4,527 traffic offenders deported two years earlier, according to the data.The spike in the numbers of people deported for traffic offenses as well as a 78 percent increase in people deported for immigration-related offenses renewed skepticism about the administration’s claims that it is focusing on the most dangerous criminals.President Barack Obama regularly says his administration is enforcing immigration laws more wisely than his predecessor by focusing on arresting the “worst of the worst.” He promised in his 2008 presidential campaign to focus immigration enforcement on dangerous criminals.

As recently as May 10, Obama said in a speech in El Paso, Texas, that his administration was focused on violent offenders and not families or “folks who are looking to scrape together an income.”Most of the criminal immigrants deported last year had committed drug-related crimes. They totaled 45,003, compared with 36,053 in 2008. Drug-related crime – described as the manufacture, distribution, possession or sale of drugs – has been the No. 1 crime among immigration for years. Drunken driving had the third highest total number of immigrants deported with that crime.

An illegal immigrant from Bolivia, Carlos Montano, is awaiting trial in Virginia on charges of involuntary manslaughter in a drunken driving accident that killed Benedictine nun Denise Mosier and injured two other nuns. The case fueled national debate over deportations of criminal immigrants because Montano had two previous drunken driving arrests, in 2007 and 2008. He was not held by ICE or deported after the arrests. An ICE report concluded that new federal immigration policies would have prevented Montano’s release.But the rise in traffic offenders in the deportation statistics and in some other categories worries immigration advocates, particularly because traffic stops are largely made by police, sheriff’s deputies and state highway patrol officers. Local law enforcement has become more involved in immigration enforcement because of new programs that encourage it.Officers “are using their new authority to remove as many unauthorized people from their jurisdictions as they can, and that frequently means going after traffic violators instead of serious criminals,” said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at New York University Law School.

The institute is a Washington-based think tank on migration.Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano noted that most people in the United States are arrested for misdemeanor offenses. But she told the AP that the percentage of felons deported will change over time.”The more serious offenders are still in prison,” she said in an interview Thursday. “We’re not going to see them reflected in the numbers until we can begin to remove them.”The issue is one Obama is trying to carefully navigate in his bid for a second term as he relies on the record deportations numbers to bolster his tough-on-enforcement stance while trying to convince immigrant and Latino voters he deserves more time to get a comprehensive immigration bill through Congress.

Marshall Fitz, immigration policy director at the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, said some of the people being counted as criminals have committed traffic violations that would usually draw a traffic ticket. But when the driver can’t produce a valid license, the officer pursues questions about immigration status.Illegal immigrants caught in traffic stops often are pressured into signing an agreement to leave the United States and to pay a fine or somehow acknowledge responsibility for the traffic offense and thereby end up in the statistics as criminals even though they never went to court, Fitz said.Kumar Kibble, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deputy of immigration, said in some cases people picked up on traffic offenses are found to have committed other crimes. But ICE attempts to categorize each deported immigrant in its statistics based on the worst crime in the person’s record. ICE says the statistics involve only people who have been convicted of a crime.Darrel Stephens, executive director of Major Cities Chiefs Association, an organization of sheriffs and police chiefs, said the data show ICE is deporting criminals.He noted that even though traffic offenses have more than doubled, they are just 7 percent of the total criminal deportations. Meanwhile, dangerous drugs and drunken driving deportations comprised 23 percent and 14 percent of the criminal deportations, respectively.

The drunken driving deportations are particularly important, he said. Fatal drunken driving accidents involving illegal immigrants often cause outrage in communities where they occur.”That’s a crime that people look at in a very serious way right now,” Stephens said.There are an estimated 11 million people in the country illegally, 7 million to 8 million of whom are believed to be adults.Kibble said the numbers show his agency’s system of giving priority for deportation to people who pose a public threat is working. Last year, 36,178 criminals were deported as a result of the Secure Communities program, now in place in more than 1,400 jurisdictions, up from 14 in 2008. It’s expected to be in more than 3,000 jurisdictions nationally by 2013.Secure Communities is the Homeland Security Department’s system of identifying immigrants for deportation through fingerprints taken by local officers when booking people on criminal charges. The local law enforcement agencies routinely send the prints to the FBI for criminal background checks. The FBI shares the fingerprints with Homeland Security to look for potentially deportable immigrants, who can be in the country illegally or legally.”The numbers are going in the right direction,” Kibble said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement: http://www.ice.gov


United States Debt Ceiling

Credit rating agency Moody’s dinged a key backup plan to raise the debt ceiling Monday, and said the United States would be better off if the ceiling was eliminated entirely.Lawmakers appeared to make little or no progress on the debt ceiling over the weekend, and the deadline to raise the country’s legal borrowing limit is now just over two weeks away.

X-Men: First Class Review & Edi Gathegi As Darwin

In 1962, at the height of the Cold War, two men from different backgrounds pool their resources to bring attention to the plight of those with genetic mutations, some that give them extraordinary powers, others that make them look different. Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is an academic in genetic mutations, while Erik Lehnsherr (Mike Fassbender) is a Holocaust survivor bent on getting revenge against those responsible for his parents’ death in the concentration camps. In particular, he’s after Klaus Schmidt (Kevin Bacon) who years later has turned up as a wealthy power broker known as Sebastian Shaw, who has become involved with playing both sides of the conflict between the United States and the Soviets.

Fans of Bryan Singer’s work to bring Marvel’s not-so-merry mutants to the big screen should be thrilled by his return to the franchise, this time overseeing the prequel as a producer while allowing “Kick-Ass” director Matthew Vaughn to bring his own creative personality to the mix. Together, they’ve created a movie that fits well into the context of the other films without worrying so much about continuity, making for a satisfying prequel.

This is a true origin story showing how Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr first met and how they worked together until the formation of their divergent ideologies led them to create warring mutant factions. In his movies, Singer used mutants as an analogy for the persecution of homosexuals, but here they’re thrown into the context of the Cuban Missile Crisis and impending Space Race between the US and the Soviet Union with the government playing just as an important part as Charles tries to work with them to find and train mutants. There is a certain feel and language Singer created in the original “X-Men” in 2000 that helped set the standard for all the superhero movies that have come since then, and Vaughn thrives in the prequel’s 1962 setting to create something that incorporates influences ranging from James Bond to “Mad Men” to “Dr. Strangelove.”

The first half hour cuts between Charles and Erik each making their way in this world following their early epiphanies, Erik essentially turning into “Erik Lensherr: Nazi Hunter,” as his anger drives him to violence in order to find the man who killed his mother, while Charles focuses on his studies to become a professor of genetics.

Casting for any comic book movie is crucial and Vaughn could not have done much better than having James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender playing the roles made famous by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. There’s little question that the conflict between Professor X and Magneto is the core both of the comics and earlier movies, and the rapport between McAvoy and Fassbender is certainly on par. McAvoy brings a great deal of charm to the table showing younger Xavier to be more of the ladies’ man we’ve seen in the comics; Fassbender oozes a far more dangerous “bad boy” energy, as he turns to Charles to help control his anger-driven magnetic powers. The way this relationship is established and evolves over the course of “First Class” is absolutely perfect, and the thought of seeing Magneto when he was still young and vibrant plays a large part in what makes this such a strong reboot (of sorts). (It’s fun to watch Fassbender’s mastery of languages, but it’s unclear why a Polish Jewish immigrant would have a British accent… or an Irish one, as Fassbender’s own accent sometimes slips in.)

Another revelation in casting is Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkholme aka Mystique, Charles’ earliest mutant discovery and childhood friend who plays an enormous role in the division of the friends. Lawrence is a stronger actor than Rebecca Romijn, so we can actually see her transform from a fairly innocent teenager to the seductress she’ll later become. The fourth cog in the wheel is Nicholas Hoult as Dr. Hank McCoy, not quite in his blue and furry phase just yet, but he is already the group’s genius inventing things like early incarnations of Cerebro and the Blackbird. Hank adds an intriguing dynamic to the love triangle because Raven finds a kindred spirit in a mutant who must hide his mutation to be accepted. This subplot introduces the early vestiges of McCoy trying to find a cure for mutation, a brilliant tease for some of the comic storylines as well as the main plot of “The Last Stand.” The casting works well because you can truly believe these are the four characters that will go on to be the ones in Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner’s movies.

I wasn’t as thrilled by Kevin Bacon’s portrayal of Sebastian Shaw, maybe because other than his powers, he’s nothing like the character from the comics and more like a stock comic book villain. Likewise, January Jones gives a fairly lifeless performance as Emma Frost, though her deliberately cold delivery may be what’s necessary for the character. Jason Flemyng’s Azazel has cool teleportation powers that will appeal to fans of Nightcrawler – it’s not a coincidence but who knows if they can connect the two characters with what’s been established in this movie?

On the other hand, creating a connection between Shaw and Magneto by having the former being the Nazi who killed Erik’s mother doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially once Shaw shows up with no accent and with mutant abilities that were nowhere to be found during his earlier scene. It makes you wonder why bother including the Hellfire Club in there at all, because here, they’re just another group of mutants with none of what makes the group so distinctive in the comics.

At times, the movie tends to drag, because it takes so long to get to the part most X-Men fans will be waiting to see, which is Charles and Erik joining forces to assemble and train the first team of young mutants. Due to decisions made in earlier films, the movie X-Men are already a mish-mash of characters and storylines from the comic books, and “First Class” follows suit, pulling together mutants from all fifty odd years of the books, some more esoteric than the others. The two mutants that will bring comic fans the most thrills are Lucas Till as Havok and Caleb Landry Jones as Banshee, and they offer some of the best moments in an extended montage showing them learning to hone and control their powers. The decision to include Darwin and Angel (the Grant Morrison one) are both odd choices, especially since they’re characters who don’t seem that necessary to the story.

Oddly missing is the international diversity of the group that was so prominent in comics. Banshee isn’t Irish, for instance, nor is Rose Byrne’s Moira McTaggert Scottish. In fact, she isn’t even a genetic scientist, instead being the CIA agent who first discovers the existence of mutants and becomes Charles’ government liaison. Byrne’s character thrives in the first section of the movie when it’s all about secret agents and “Mad Men”-like settings, but she is almost forgotten once Charles and Erik join forces.

Despite introducing so many characters, Vaughn somehow manages to keep the story tightly focused using a slightly conventional structure broken up into four distinct sections. In fact, it’s fairly impressive what he’s created in terms of the scope of this world and the scale of the set pieces considering the comparatively short production window. With FX designed by John Dykstra, who performed similar duties on “Star Wars” and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” they find cool ways of depicting the mutant powers with Emma Frost’s crystalline form being one of the few that just doesn’t look right. Even so, they do clever things to make what may seem like the more innocuous psychic powers of Frost and Charles Xavier interesting to make up for them not being as visual. Some of the practical make-up also looks a bit funky at times.

Placing the movie firmly in the early ’60s creates its own set of problems because none of the younger actors really look or act like kids of that era, instead bringing their own MTV-influenced teen angst to the movie. This is a fairly minor quibble, but it does show inconsistencies in Vaughn’s attempt at setting the story within a realistic historical context of the times, essentially building up to a reworking of the Bay of Pigs invasion to include a battle between the two groups of mutants.

The Bottom Line:
Fans of the comics may be confused by how disparate elements from the books have been tossed together, but fans of the movies should appreciate how Matthew Vaughn has established characters they love in a unique setting with a strong cast and set pieces just as big and impressive as the other movies. It may not quite reach the level of perfection of “X2,” but it does a far better job introducing the characters than Singer did in his first movie, and that alone is something worth commending.

Edi Gathegi as Armando Muñoz / Darwin

Edi Mue Gathegi (born March 10, 1979) is a Kenyan-American film, stage and television actor. He is best known for his recurring character Dr. Jeffrey Cole (aka “Big Love”) in the television series House, as Cheese in the 2007 film Gone Baby Gone and as Laurent in the films Twilight, its sequel The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Darwin in the new film X-Men: First Class.Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Gathegi grew up in Albany, California.As an undeclared undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Barbara, he was more interested in playing basketball and was good at it, until he injured his knee; This plunged him into a depression so he took up an acting class as an “easy course”. That is where he discovered his love for acting.Afterwards, he attended the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University for a graduate school acting program.Gathegi’s career began in theatre,and his stage credits include Two Trains Running at the Old Globe Theatre, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Othello,A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Cyrano de Bergerac, among others.

Gathegi’s first professional role was the Haitian Cabbie in the 2006 film Crank. Though he had originally auditioned for the role of Kaylo, the producers gave the role to Efren Ramirez and instead offered Gathegi an appearance as the Haitian Cabbie. He was dubious at first about performing a Haitian accent, but was coached by a Haitian friend. In 2007, after guest-starring on Lincoln Heights and Veronica Mars, Gathegi went on to star as Bodie in Death Sentence, Darudi inThe Fifth Patient and Cheese in Gone Baby Gone. He later had a recurring role as Mormon intern Dr. Jeffrey Cole on the television medical drama House, and guest-starred on CSI: Miami, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Life on Mars in 2008 before being cast as Laurent in Twilight. When Gathegi first auditioned for the 2008 film, adapted from the same-titled first book in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, he had not heard of the series and was not aware that his character was a vampire.He now has read the whole series and calls himself a hardcore fan.He will play A-Guy in Son of Magnet. He portrays Eddie Willers in Atlas Shrugged (2011), based on Ayn Rand’s novel of the same name.

The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father [Sally Jacobs Interview]

Before there was Barack Obama, the intellectually supple, epoch-setting president of the United States, there was a brilliant young Kenyan economist, also named Barack Obama, his father. Yet the son never really knew his father—Obama Sr. left the family early in his son’s life, and he squandered his promise in a succession of failed political bids and, more damaging, a sea of drink. In many ways, he set only a negative example for his ambitious young son. But not for nothing did that son write a book called Dreams from My Father.Sally Jacobs, a Boston Globe reporter, spent years researching and writing The Other Barack, interviewing family members and retracing the elder Obama’s career across continents. We spoke to Jacobs about her account of the president’s father.

 What prompted you to look so deeply into the life, quite evidently a troubled one, of Barack Obama Sr.?

The story of Obama Sr. seemed to me to be the great untold chapter of President Obama’s life. He himself grappled in his memoir with the conflicting versions of his father presented to him by his mother and the reality he later discovered when he traveled to Kenya as a young man.

But Obama goes only so far in his explorations, perhaps unwilling to learn too much about his father’s chaotic and ultimately tragic life. When he became the first African-American president, it seemed critical that this piece of his heritage at long last be unearthed. To me, the biography of Obama Sr. is a vital piece of American history, one that I hope will contribute to a greater understanding of our current president.

What moments in the life of Obama Sr. seem to you the most telling or most important in reaching that understanding?

There are two events in the life of Barack Obama Sr. that I consider pivotal to his development as a man. The first was his abandonment by his mother, Habiba Akumu, in 1945. Obama’s father, Hussein Onyango, was a notoriously abusive man, prone to wielding his four-pronged hippopotamus whip with vengeance. After a particularly fierce argument between Barack’s parents—during which Onyango threatened to cut his wife’s throat and throw her into a grave he had dug for her behind their home—Akumu decided to run away.

Several days later she left, having urged her children to follow her. Barack, then age nine, and his older sister did just that, walking barefoot and only at night so as not to be discovered by adults. When they arrived in the village of their birth, their father was summoned and fiercely punished them. Obama never fully recovered from the loss of his mother. For the rest of his life he struggled with a sense of unworthiness that made it difficult for him to commit to anyone, and especially his wives and children.

The second incident occurred when Obama was forced out of Harvard University in 1964. Although Obama had come within inches of getting his Ph.D. in economics—he had passed all his exams and had launched his dissertation—school administrators grew alarmed that he had multiple wives and abruptly insisted that he leave. Shattered by this unexplained rejection, Obama returned to Nairobi and began a downward slide that lasted for years.

In the great nature versus nurture contest, do you see any of Obama Sr.’s qualities or characteristics in his son?

The two Baracks share many things in common. Both possess a daunting intellect that in many respects defined their life’s course. A boldness of ambition enabled each man to envision a life far beyond the limited circumstances of their birth. Each man displayed a hubris, some would say arrogance, that allowed them to recast their life in sweeping terms. And both struggled with the absence of a parent, trying to understand their lives without that anchoring presence.Despite their many differences, I feel sure that if the two Baracks had run into one another on the winding walkways of Harvard University where they both spent critical years of their lives, they would have recognized aspects of their own selves instantly.

Do those who hold that Obama Sr.’s death was the result of a conspiracy have any basis for that view?

Obama himself believed he had been targeted by forces loyal to Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta as a consequence of his testimony in the trial related to the assassination of Tom Mboya, a prominent Luo politician. On a July morning in 1969, Obama happened to run into Mboya minutes before he was gunned down on a Nairobi street. He later boldly took the stand in the trial of Mboya’s killer—widely believed to have been a front man for Kenyatta—and forever after believed that he was punished for doing so.Obama told two of his friends that he believed he had been targeted by the regime for assassination himself. Whether there is any substance to that claim is unclear. On the night of his death, Obama had been drinking heavily at his favorite bar, and it seems more likely that it was alcohol rather than a political enemy that led him into a collision with a eucalyptus tree.

 In the course of researching your book, what discovery surprised you the most?

When I first wrote about Obama Sr. for the Boston Globe before his son was elected president, I was unable to travel to Kenya and get to the core of his life’s story. As a consequence, I believed that many of his problems stemmed from his chronic drinking and arrogance. I did not fully grasp all that had happened to Obama, both personally and in the context of Kenya’s unfolding political story.What I learned about the losses he sustained—his mother’s abandonment, his rejection from Harvard, the erosion of once great hopes for newly independent Kenya—gave me a far richer understanding of his at times chaotic life. The surprise for me—which perhaps should have been no surprise at all—is how complex and layered a human life can be.

Facundo Cabral UNESCO Messenger of Peace

From the most humble of beginnings he came to inspire millions around the world through his songs, poems and 66 books. He walked 3,000 km at the age of nine to look for work to support his mother and six siblings after his father abandoned them. When he left his mother told him “This is the second, and last gift I can give you. The first was to give you life, and the second one, the liberty to live it.”

He wrote music that inspired millions. He met Mother Teresa and Jorge Luis Borges. He performed in over 165 countries in 8 different languages. His wife and one year-old daughter were killed in a plane crash in 1978. He was nearly blind and crippled, and a terminal cancer survivor as well. He once said: ‘Siempre le pregunto a Dios, ¿por qué a mí tanto me diste? Me diste miseria, hambre, felicidad, lucha, luces… vi todo. Sé que hay cáncer, sífilis y primavera, y buñuelos de manzana’ (I always ask God, why did you give me so much? You gave me misery, hunger, happiness, struggle, lights… I saw everything. I know there is cancer, syphillis, and Spring, and apple fritters.)

“Forgive me Lord but sometimes I get tired of being a citizen. The city tires me, the offices, my family and the economy. Forgive me Lord, I am tired of this hell, this mediocre market where everyone has a price. Forgive me Lord but I will go with you through your mountains, your seas, and your rivers. Forgive me Lord but sometimes I think you have something better than this for me. Forgive me Lord, I don’t want to be a citizen, I want to be a man, Lord, like you created me.”

He was shot and killed  today during a tour in Guatemala City

Facundo Cabral (May 22, 1937- July 9, 2011) “I’m not from here, nor am I from there”

Transformers 3 Review & Decepticons Hideout In Kenya

Disaster movies usual find their roots in some great social anxiety, and Transformers offers two: world domination by machines and an alien invasion that will enslave mankind. Perhaps you could add a third anxiety to the Transformers storyline. Late in the film, during the final epic showdown between Opitimus Prime and Sentinel Prime, Sentinel chides his opponent and former pupil, “On our planet we were gods!” He wants to be godlike again on earth, and we turn white in anticipation of the consequences: a metaphysical revolt, the return of Zeus and the citizens of Olympus, chided for millennia and unleashing their fury against the gnat-y ambition of humanity. Machines, aliens, and angry mythological beings: Transformers betrays the psychoses of a very uncomfortable humanity.

But don’t worry, theses sweeping allegorical readings only play lightly in the background of Michael Bay’s latest super-blow ‘em up, super shoot ‘em up, super-charged summer blockbuster. Transformers is derived from the Hasbro line of toys that became popular in the 1980s, garnering its own television cartoon. Coming off a dismal sequel to a well-loved reimagining of the Transformers story, with Transformers: Dark of the Moon director Michael Bay seems intent on getting the roller coaster ride back on track.

And as a kick-ass summer blockbuster, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is pretty kick-ass. Its chases are adrenaline-filled and inventive. Its explosions and crashes are massive and mesmerizing. And for the final epic showdown, which, truth be told, runs a good twenty minutes longer than it should, the entire city of Chicago becomes the setting of large scale urban/mechanical warfare, which sees skyscrapers toppling over skyscrapers, humans flying out of helicopters in winged suits, robots dancing through the constant rain of broken glass, and plenty of cheesy action dialogue: “Look out!” “Fire!” “Heads up!” “Aarrrgh!” It’s everything you want from a giant air conditioned movie theater in July.

The latest Transformers is not without its dozens of dramatic shortcomings, but it opens with a rather well-crafted sequence that took the air out of the crowded theater I was in during the preview. Intercutting historical archive footage and recreated scenes,Transformers: Dark of the Moon re-imagines the entire United States space program as a mission to find a mysterious extraterrestrial object that scientists observed crash landing into the dark side of the moon. We see Kennedy demanding a united effort to man a lunar landing. We see Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (who actually makes a real cameo later on) landing their lunar pod on the powdery moon surface. Then, when America is told that the spacecraft is on the far side of the moon and radio contact is lost, the real mission begins, and the historic figures inspect what turns out to be an alien spacecraft.

This would have been a great way to launch the entire Transformers movie series, but we’re dealing here with episode three, so the movie jumps forward to where the second film left off. Shia LeBeouf is Sam Witwicky, the wet behind the ears twenty something who first befriended the good Transformers – the Autobots – and helped them fend off the evil Decepticons in the prior movies. Now he is an unemployed loudmouth somehow dating and living with a woman far out of his league, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), whose role in this movie seems to be 90 percent eye candy and 10 percent fueling a superfluous romantic subplot. Carly is one of only three women in the film, the others being Frances McDormand’s impossibly domineering, ball-breaking military officer and Julie White’s nagging wife and mother, Judy Witwicky, reassuring us that chauvinism is alive and well in Hollywood.

Sam is miffed because the U.S. military, which is now working with the Autobots to take care of all sorts of international problems (like blowing up nuclear sites in the Middle East), has left him out of the fun. The US government partnership with the super-powered machine race is worrysome enough, but in the movie it is brushed off, naturally, as a perfectly fine evolution in global geo-political order.

Much of the early part of the movie revolves around Sam’s lackluster attempts to find work. This churns up John Malkovich, who infuses the movie with some of its only true charm as the overbearing, obsessive compulsive boss Bruce Brazos. Bruce hires Sam for some reason, and it quickly turns out that the young man finds himself at the center of Decepticon effort to use a handful of humans as pawns in their effort to resume the task of world domination. There’s a semi-hilarious scene between Sam and a co-worker Jerry Wang (Ken Jeong), who conveniently hands him some folder papers that explain the whole thing. Then Wang is wacked by his Decepticon handler and the chase heats up. Sam digs up some old friends – Simmons (John Turturro) – and takes it on himself to save the world on behalf of the U.S. government.

As an hors d’œuvre to the main course of action, this early-film goofing around is entertaining enough to keep us involved, even if Sam and Rosie’s relationship, and the addition of her nasty boss Dylan (Patrick Dempsey) to the mix is a chore to sit through (as is the copious product placement). There are some sudden and interspersed chases, and the whole thing develops in a clunky manner until we get to the great culminating video game that is the real focus of the film. There, Transformers 3 succeeds by comparison, overcoming the visual clutter and suspense-less-ness of the second installment with some quality, if not its dragged-out showdowns. It’s good versus evil, bullets verses brawn, and as a thoughtless, no nonsense, drawn-out summer ride, it is pretty darn fun to subject yourself to it.If nothing else as a Kenyan you will not surprised the Decepticons were hiding in Amboseli at some point in the movie.Spectacular pictures of wildlife and the Kilimanjaro.(P.S Megatron probably got a Kenyan passport or work permit from our yet to be reformed and ineffective immigration department.Hiding out until it was time to strike that’s my take on how they ended up hiding in Kenya)

8th Biennial U.S.-Africa Business Summit

The African continent is among the fastest-growing economic regions in the world, attracting foreign direct investment from businesses small to large from around the globe. According to the Harvard Business Review, Africa and Asia were the only continents to grow during the recent economic recession. Africa’s growth rate increased to nearly 5% in 2010 and is likely to reach 5.2% in 2011. If Africa continues to grow at this pace, consumers will buy $1.4 trillion worth of goods and services in 2020—slightly less than India’s projected $1.7 trillion but more than Russia’s $960 billion. Africa offers a higher return on investment than any other emerging market, according to UN data; and is home to a tremendous market of more than 900 million potential consumers. The continent is seeing increasingly higher levels of investment in industries such as infrastructure, natural resources, telecommunications, agribusiness, health, energy, and others.

What an important time for your business to explore investments in some of the world’s key emerging markets. Partnerships between U.S. and African businesses will be formed, during The Corporate Council on Africa’s (CCA) 2011 U.S.-Africa Business Summit. Businesses of all sizes, representing various industries will be in attendance, eager to find new opportunities to grow and positively impact their bottom line.Join CCA and more than 1,500 of the private and public sector’s top leaders to find out about business and investment opportunities in Africa, the very place where some of today’s major business deals are taking place.

When: Wednesday, October 5 – Friday, October 7, 2011
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel
2660 Woodley Road, NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20008
Click the ‘Banner’ below to input your contact information to register for and receive upcoming updates on the 2011 U.S. – Africa Business Summit.

As Parliamentarians Pay Tax:We Still Need Tax Reforms

Even as MP’s start paying taxes, Kenya Revenue Authority[KRA] needs a Lesson in some simple economics.To help them here is a simple lesson.Suppose that every day,  ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes  to 100 KSH…If they paid their bill the way we  pay our taxes, it would go something like  this.The first four men (the poorest)  would pay nothing.The fifth would pay 1KSH.The sixth  would pay 3KSH.The seventh would pay  7KSH.The eighth would pay  12KSH.The ninth would pay 18KSH.The tenth  man (the richest) would pay 59KSH.

So, that’s  what they decided to do..The ten men  drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with  the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a  curve ball.”Since you are all such good  customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of  your daily beer by 20KSH”. Drinks for the ten men would  now cost just 80KSH.The group still wanted to pay their  bill the way we pay our taxes.So the first  four men were unaffected.They would  still drink for free. But what about the other six  men?The paying customers?

How could  they divide the 20KSH windfall so that everyone would get  his fair share?They realised that 20KSH divided by  six is 3.33KSH. But if they subtracted  that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the  sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his  beer.So, the bar owner suggested that it  would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher  percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of  the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to  work out the amounts he suggested that each should now  pay.And so the fifth man, like the first  four, now paid nothing (100% saving).The sixth  now paid 2KSH instead of 3KSH (33% saving).The seventh  now paid 5KSH instead of 7KSH (28% saving).The eighth  now paid 9KSH instead of 12 KSH(25% saving).The ninth  now paid 14KSH instead of 18KSH (22% saving).The tenth  now paid 49 KSH instead of 59KSH (16% saving).Each of the  six was better off than before. And the first four  continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar,  the men began to compare their savings.”I only got  a dollar out of the 20KSH saving,” declared the sixth  man.He pointed to the tenth man,”but he  got 10KSH!””Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the  fifth man. “I only saved a dollar too. It’s unfair that  he got ten times more benefit than me!” “That’s  true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get 10KSH  back, when I got only 2KSH? The wealthy get all the  breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first  four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This  new tax system exploits the poor!”The nine men  surrounded the tenth and beat him up.The next  night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the  nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when  it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something  important. They didn’t have enough money between all of  them for even half of the bill! And that,  boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is  how our tax system works.The people  who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the  most benefit from a tax reduction.Tax them too  much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may  not show up anymore.In fact, they might start drinking  overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat  friendlier.We need to reduce  the amount of Tax we pay particularly the amount paid by investors local and foreign,industry and other job creators

For those who understand, no explanation  is needed.For those who do not understand, no  explanation is  possible.The Tax brackets maybe slightly off but the concept is the same

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Kikuyu District: The Edited Letters of Francis Hall 1892-1901

Dear Editor

Ni kwega.

Kikuyu District is a book consisting of the edited letters of Francis Hall who commanded Fort Smith near Kabete and who died in Mbirri in 1901. The colonial government changed the name to Fort Hall in his honour and of course now it is Muranga. The book is an early colonial record of life in Kenya (1892-1901) with interesting accounts of interactions with Kikuyus and Maasais.

I am now working on a screenplay of the same name and I am in need of an authority on Kikuyu history around about that time. I am trying to establish the name of a famous mundu mugu, or perhaps a mrogi called Kahiga I think. In fact when I googled Kahiga I found your website.

Can you help by putting me in touch with somebody with knowledge of those days? I would be grateful for any assistance. And would you consider publicising the book on your website? It is available in many bookshops in Nairobi and there is also a Kindle version at Amazon.

I attach an image of the cover of the book.

Ni wega

Paul Sullivan   

*To get in touch with the writer Paul Sullivan or provide information he requires-please contact blog editor or post comment