Friday, May 24, 2013



By P. Anyang' Nyong'o

The African heads of state met this week in Addis Ababa to mark the 50th Anniversary of the African Union. looking back  during the last 50 years they need to assess the road the AU has travelled and where it might be going in the next 50 years.

Started as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), its original aim, as Kwame Nkrumah rightly put it, was to unite Africa within our life time. Dialo Telli, the Guinean first Secretary General of the OAU, believed strongly in this mission, and was an effective Pan Africanist during his tenure at the head of the organisation.

But the profile of the OAU, now AU, has gradually declined over the years across the continent. This is not to say that the organisation has not achieved much; it has some notable accomplishments that have promoted conflict resolution among warring states at certain times. But the goal of union or unity still remains elusive, much to the disappointment of the people of Africa who could have been much better off today were Nkrumah's dream to be realised in our life time.

What, however, makes unity so elusive in our continent?

In 1963 it would have been much easier for the young African nations to come together politically than it is today. At that point in time, individual sovereignty was still a new thing; leaders were not yet fully wedded to it. After some years, and after tasting the sweetness of power, it became more and more difficult for each head of state to give up this power to somebody else. That is just the reality of life.

Secondly, soon after independence, there were many more idealists supporting Pan Africanism within the corridors of power than we have today. Those who attend AU meetings these days go there as mere technocrats even when they are heads of states. Not too long ago we had four idealists as heads of state who tried to awaken the spirit of Pan-Africanism in what they called the African Renaissance and NEPAD (the New Partnership for Africa's Development). These three heads of state were Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Buteflika of Algeria, Abdoulaye Wad of Senegal and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.

With the departure of these four from power the new idealism in the unity of Africa seems to have substantially subsided. It is difficult to see who is now in the horizon to champion this spirit, or to drive those in power to take more serious steps towards breaking down the borders that keep us apart. This is important: the force of political unity will do much more in promoting social and economic transformation of the continent than the technocratic belief in the many regional integration projects scattered around the continent.

That, however, is not to belittle or to disregard regional integration. But all of us will agree that Europe under the European Union, complete with a European Parliament, has achieved much more than when it was a mere economic community. Yet Europe is much richer than Africa. Going across the Atlantic we shall find out that the USA discovered this formula much earlier than everybody else and became a world power to reckon with. The power of China also lies in the unity of its provinces into one very powerful nation of over a billion  people. The emerging power of India equally lies in its size and the number of people brought together by the unity of the various Indian states.

The African Union will do Africans a great service if it seriously rekindled the discourse on African unity. We do, of course, have some real problems looking at the leadership on the continent at the moment. There is hardly any head of state who stands talk among his or her colleagues. There is hardly any head of state with the moral authority to inspire others the way Nkrumah, Nyerere and Mandela would have done it. Thabo Mbeki and Obasanjo came very closely to being such inspirational leaders, obviously taking advantage of the size and power of their own countries. But they were in power for too short a time to make their influence and intellectual hegemony last. Although Nkrumah was not in power for much longer, but his influence predated his years as head of state, hence the tremendous impact he had as the oracle behind the spirit of Pan Africanism.

Are we therefore, as Africans, doomed for quite a long time to come, to see our continent languish in underdevelopment due to the long delay in coming together as a viable political force in a united Africa? Whatever the case, the dream must be kept alive. The worst thing is to give up. We must keep on lighting the candle of unity however dark the night is. One of these days, even on the back of these regional initiatives, something will come up.

Political parties, in each African country, however heavy their respective domestic agendas are, should have commitment to Pan Africanism. It is quite clear that the discourse on Pan Africanism is hardly present in many African countries, worst of all among political parties. We are therefore our own enemies. We cannot expect our leaders to take up an agenda towards which we "the people" show little concern.

The real beginning should be with our education system. What is imprinted in a child's mind will remain with that child all his or her life. Within the AU there needs to be a department of African education advising African governments on Pan African syllabi in schools, from primary schools onwards. In the American education system learning about the USA begins from kindergarten. People therefore learn to become Americans very early. If we want to make Pan Africanism a reality, we must create Pan Africanists in our education system.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013



By Njeri Osaak

cremation_20urnsCremation Urns…Much smaller than the standard coffin, lower priced, easy to transport and more eco-friendly to dispose off!
A friend of mine asked, “What is this world coming to? This is really bizarre! I thought the practice of stealing coffins had died a natural death???”. The question was in reaction to a story that appeared in the local media about grave robbers who had been scuttled by the police in their attempt to rob the grave of the late Mutula Kilonzo. He passed away very recently, and therefore his grave was still fresh, the soil or cement may not have settled or hardened enough! Talk about striking the iron while it is still hot. But this was a cold grave! Stories like these are what reincarnate the idea of boogeymen in your wardrobe, closet or under the bed when you’re still a kid…and even up to when we grow up.
Grave digging &  robbing, is not a new or novel phenomenon. According to Beta News  (3/12/2012) over 100 graves were dug up in the West African country of Benin, looted by grave robbers seeking body parts for use in magic rituals. And according to a Reuters news story on the same grave looting story, ”The incident is the most serious case of grave-robbing in the West African state, the world capital of voodoo where most of the country’s 9 million residents practice a benign form of the official religion.” The story clarifies that the grave robbers in this case were looking for body parts to use in “religious” rites. It just boiled down to witchcraft if you ask me!
Muti hunting was featured in the 2009 South African science-fiction film “District 9,” in which the hero’s body parts were sought after by a local warlord who believed that the limbs would give him magical powers. The Muti affair in South Africa assumes graver proportions when if they cannot rob a grave, then murders will suffice in order to supply the body parts. Closer to home in East Africa the Muti practice was and still is happening with the abduction of Albinos, whose unusual body pigment lends their parts a higher price and potency in the macabre world of divination, devil worship and whatever else these guys do to knock themselves out!
But this is not a practice limited to Africa. Africa is in good company and probably playing catch up with the bad side of maendeleo! In Europe it is historically true where in Britain, by the early 1700′s, theft from graveyards was common in London, England, and grave robbers (or “resurrection men,” as they were known) were making a profit digging up bodies and selling them to anatomists and doctors. Among the most infamous of these criminals were Irish grave robbers and murderers Brendan Burke and William Hare. And how about archaeological excavators some who have crossed the line and no longer do it to further knowledge in their field  but to find fame and fortune?
The common denominator in all these ghoulish practices is the desire for power and money. But in the case of what happened in Ukambani, I am tempted to just water it down to plain good old robbers who while probably standing in the wings and watching the whole burial ceremony, were busy calculating how much the clothes, accessories that dressed the body and the mahogany looking coffin can fetch on the local underworld market!
Expensive coffins, suits and jewelry that we bury our rich in are a natural pull for the hungry poor who can’t understand how some can have so much and others nothing at all. Not that it’s the dire poor who always steal but there are those daredevils who aspire to wealth and riches by any means necessary…including desecrating graves and disrespecting the family of the deceased! It’s a catch 22…a splashy send-off in the glare of those who had nothing to eat the night before and risking a visit from them coming to get what the dead have and they do not!
What wood was used on this casket! And where was it made? Another friend mused. I have been part of  funeral committees and it always amazes me how we go to great lengths to procure coffins whose wood and timber would make very expensive tables and other furniture or even better serve as a “gently” used, second hand coffin for the next customer. The coffins have more glitter added with golden handles fitted and a finish in the wood that is so fine. The budget for the coffin sometimes eats up a big chunk of the budgeted funeral donations, rivaled only by the cost of the food for the send off feast, even when the family of the deceased could have done with the money post burial!
Then, as if that is not enough for you the poor deceased and the family, someone comes in after the last mourner has left to unearth you, undress you literally, take your ride (coffin) to glory-land and dump you back in the cold soil or cemented grave! And all they wanted is the sometimes faux gold and anything else that they can palm off for whatever money all that paraphernalia can fetch. The late Whispers nailed it when he always referred to mitumba clothes as “marehemu George”, in reference to the same having been imported from the land of King George, England! In this case, the clothes came off the cadaver of a real marehemu!
I watched the funeral of the last Pope who died in office and was humbled at the coffin which can only be described as a pinewood box. Simple indeed! I guess our problem as human beings is how to separate the needs of the dead when they are really gone, from the living and whose needs are truly greater and very real. In going through the mourning phases of denial, grief etc, we still continue to think that the dead are aware of what we are doing…buying them a new suit, a watch, shoes, shirt…don’t forget the underwear (clean too!), and making a public display of out-wailing each other (the will is yet to be read!) and also affording them the best and really expensive ride to their final resting place, from halfway houses with names reminiscent of the Inca.
I guess we call it “resting” because we believe in the doctrine of the apocalyptic rising…and so they, the dead, are not really dead! So when we arrive on the other shore will our mum be waiting to check see that your nails are cut short and that your undies are clean? I hardly think so!
Much of what we do when a loved one passes on is done from a very emotional plane and sometimes trying to inject reason into such a highly charged situation could land you in hot soup. You might even be said to be silently jollificating and that is why you are suggesting a cheaper coffin for the dear departed. My friend Nina put it this way, “Sadly, it doesn’t really matter how you inter the dead, the end result is the same….we end up 6 feet under where we quickly transform into dust. Sadly too, life moves on and the only people who truly feel the loss are usually a handful of people consisting of the departed one’s nearest and dearest.”
All this having been said, it seems to make sense that we should make certain important decisions while we are still alive and not wait for mourners to do this for us. Those decisions are ones like what kind of funeral we would wish to have including the method of final interment. I know it is still taboo for some to write a will or even suggest to oneself that you will die one day. They say that you are tempting fate! My Ann here in the US had what I found to be an unusual funeral which she planed while alive and in a surreal way, directed and conducted the same after she had passed on. She planned the service, the scriptures and she actually read and recorded the order of service from beginning to end! The music too! And she paid for everything in advance! In the foregoing circumstances, cremation as an option, does begin to look and sound like a not so bad idea.
I would opt for cremation instead of the ritual of church and graveside burials at a huge expense….and being far away from home, it is the right choice to make seeing how people turn you into cargo at great cost, and wait for you to arrive at the airport so that they can view and wail over you afresh! Really? Cremation is easy on the remaining family and I also like the fact that people do not have a mound to get tethered to and keep making pilgrims to every year and feel guilty when they don’t.
Graves are also a way for us to perpetuate ourselves in the mind of the living and also provide guilt trips for if they forget! Cremation is also hygienic and saves on land as a resource. I have been to homes where graves have overtaken the area set aside for farming…It is like they farm graves and the bits of maize and maharagwe plants are the weeds!
According to an article published in The Star “The Intricacies of Cremation” by J. Chigiti of the law firm Chigiti & Chigiti and a graduate of Pune University India, a country where cremation is the first choice interment method, “In recent years, cremation has become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional in-ground burial for many different reasons. Many people perceive cremation as being the more environmentally sound choice, some prefer the efficiency of cremation, and undoubtedly, the lower cost is appealing. Cremation is an option for the final disposition of a deceased person. The late Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai is the latest entry in the known list of cremations.” The article further notes that we still remain firmly entrenched in out traditional burial rituals but with time, the changing social and especially economic dynamics will box us into seeing cremation as an okay alternative.
I am all for respecting the remains of the dead but we must at times stop and listen to the voice of reason that niggles at the back of our heads that reminds us that, this immediate burial fanfare will soon end and then we will be left to face the grim future of life without the departed and the looming rent! For those who can afford it,  their conscience should tell them to not parade it to those who are so poor and needy it hurts! I have seen extravagantly wealthy people opt for small and very private funerals.
The legacy of a simple life, that the dead Pope who was buried in a pinewood box,  left to us,  is what we enjoin ourselves in. The same goes for our hero, Professor Wangari Maathai, dead and cremated, and who I remeber each time I am driving by Uhuru Park. And that idea of what legacy we leave behind should also suffice for the wealthy dead…not the pomp and pageantry of a body going back to dust, all dressed up and laid out in a coffin that came at the price of what counts like a small county budget!
©njeriOsaak is a trained journalist, a Public Relations professional and a College Speech Communication teacher, currently based in the United States.

Saturday, May 18, 2013



By P. Anyang' Nyong'o

May 16 2013

Are we under the threat of a Third World War or of something else we have always taken as our ultimate salvation, and that is the advancements in science and technology? Redd Foxx, acting as Fred Sanford in the American soap opera "Good Times", once remarked that the Third World War will be very different from the Second One because "there won't be any veterans when it is over". I feel the same with any blind faith in science and technology: there might not be any veterans of our human cultures as we know them today once we give in to science and technology lock, stock and a barrel full of technocracy and scientific experiments.

Why do I say so?

Advancements in science and technology have, indeed, brought tremendous good to the human race in the areas of health, communications, information, food production and so on. In fact it is difficult to imagine how we used to do certain things before without the technological trappings we have today, like the mobile phone, airplanes and cars. But think about it: does nature not have some internal logic to how it works and how human beings adapted their existence to this internal logic for many more centuries before advancements in science ad technology? To what extent have we gained from science and technology while preserving, and even improving, on this nature's internal logic?

One area where we realized we were failing and we are beginning to do something regards the environment. We cannot, for example, live without animals, plants and insects; so we must control the extent to which we convert them to food or use them in other ways. So it makes a lot of sense to have sound environmental control programs, wild life conservation, forest reserves and botanical gardens. The amount of heat we create from our industrial and other activities must not upset the happy balance that has existed between human society and nature's other kingdoms from time immemorial.

Precisely because advancements in science and technology have made it easier for human beings to access food, medicine and drinks from sources other than "naked nature" itself-- what we call artificial or synthetic substances-- our own bodies have become strangers to the world of nature. What nature could do for us which we have now decided we can do for ourselves have fast become a threat to our own existence.

For many centuries down the lane of history, human communities all over the world depended on natural water to cook and quench their thirst. Not too long ago human beings discovered the science of making soft drinks, beverages and other quenchers, using preservatives and  sweeteners. The end result is that, in a good number of advanced societies, urban folks drink soft drinks, coffee and other beverages more than water. The water that is taken is a thousand generations removed from the spring water our ancestors were used to. And yet we are told the human body is seventy five percent water? So what water do we actually have in our bodies: the one in sync with nature or the one alienated from it? Will there be any veterans left when we all perish from drinking the water several generations removed from the one nature bequeathed to us?

Advancements in science and technology recently drove us into producing tremendous amounts of food because of the modification of plant genes; hence the never ending debate on genetically modified organisms. We are supposed to plant a seed which does not replicate itself in the next life. It is like a male chameleon, once it mates its life is over. The GMO maize seed, for example, is not recruited from the cob you harvest from your garden: you have to buy it every time you plant. The benefit is that you are sure of the harvest, it comes in plenty and you gain more than you lose by buying new seeds-- at least that is the story line.

My mother has refused to swallow this narrative love, stock and a barrel full of science and technology. She still preserves the seeds for the next season on a cob which she hangs in the kitchen above the fire place as she has done ever since I attended Ndiru primary school in the fifties. She says her  "nyamula" ( yellow maize) harvested from planting these seeds tastes much better than the "soft butter" from our GMO seeds.

My mother is probably right. The people from whom we got the GMO narrative--the Americans--now venerate health and organic food stores. These are the stores where one can buy natural foods, free from any contamination from artificial additives, scientific manipulations  and so on. In other words, they are going back to basics: back to be in sync with nature.

I think Bishop Augustine of Hippo was right: whenever we embrace sow advances in science and technology, let us at least take a pause, and think for a moment that we may be wrong. The same is so true in modern pharmaceutical advances: so many drugs are embraced only to be proven dangerous to the human body once they take care of the diseases they are meant to cure. No wonder the oriental world has stuck to herbal medicine and sought to use science and technology to improve in this area rather than swallow modern medicine lock, stock and barrel. We must pursue advancements in our African herbal medicine in the same manner.

But the monster called money or business always interferes. The men who trade on merchandise harmful to the human existence will always resist any policy that go against their interest. Look at the tobacco industry and its denial that smoking does not cause cancer. Or that even if it does the individual must be given the freedom to choose whether to smoke or not. The matter can be taken further to the world of soft drinks. Harmful as they are to human beings it is difficult to envisage how we can stop them being sold to the public. The same public will not accept that the drinks are harmful to them in the first place. Hence my fear of the coming deluge: human beings destroying themselves due to adopting cultures of drinks and foods destructive to the human race.

Friday, May 17, 2013



By P. Anyang' Nyong'o
May 19, 2013

My death was, unfortunately, very highly exaggerated. As a matter of fact, no such thing happened, and I thought those who were calling me to find out what had happened were confused by some new calendar which might have been circulating in Kenya since April Fools' Day had long come and gone.

Be that as it may, I thank God am still alive and kicking, and may be doing so by His grace for quite some time to come. But in politics one never knows how many enemies are harvested along the tortuous path we tread, and when they rear their ugly heads. Worrying about them, however, can render you ineffective and consign you to the corner of political inertia. But ignoring them altogether may also be foolhardy. The balance is not easy to keep, hence the need for wise counsel and sobriety, two commodities not always available when most wanted.

I took the opportunity while in the US for a United Nations meeting of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration to which I belong to go to California for my annual medical check up which was long overdue. I should have had it in January but the elections were around the corner, so duty came first. An annual check up does not mean one is just about to die; one never knows when that comes anyway. But it means one is heeding to the nursery school warning which says: a stitch in time saves nine. And it is usually better to take your body to the doctor than to wait until your body takes you there, so says Hon. Dalmas Otieno Anyango.

Which means that we should train health care givers, from nurses to doctors, that preventive health care is the foundation of good health. Which means that community health workers should teach our people in the villages and urban areas about healthy living. In every dispensary the people around should each have a record of their health status, which means visiting dispensaries for regular health check ups even when they think they are well. When this is done regularly, once a year for example, one can discover a creeping disease in time for it to be arrested before it damages the body.

Let us, however, go back to the original issue of my highly exaggerated death while I was away in the US for what I considered a worthy cause. Thank you all for those who expressed sincere concern. My equally sincere apologies for giving you such unnecessary grief. The root cause of our suffering is, of course, some irresponsible and malicious individual in a technological city called "the social media". I have no problem at all with this technological contraption, but I worry about its irresponsible and reckless use by some people who have little respect for the sanctity of family life, the sovereignty of individual privacy, the beauty of civility and the need for a culture of mutual social responsibility.

The social media, put in the hands of some young people immersed in the heady excitement of social upheaval which must deconstruct everything in every direction, may cut off many people from enjoying the benefits of this information super highway. Somehow the excesses of the social media need to be managed. I do not think this technological innovation came with the sole purpose of building a rumour mongering industry, nor was it meant to give credence to character assassination. In Kenya, however, I fear "what trends" tends to be what is most notorious or what is most outlandish. That, obviously, is a rather unfortunate reputation to build. Let us be fair to all of us: do unto others as you would others would do unto you.

Now let us look into the future. Those who have initiated the debate on "being Kenyan" deserve our support and encouragement. It is an issue which is both urgent and timely. We still have not fully known, nor appreciated, how political repression can mess up with building a democratic political culture: a culture of discipline, trust, mutual social responsibility, decency, give and take, fairness, respect for ground rules and, above all social justice and liberty. This political repression usually begins by the reckless use of state power for individual gains in developing countries in particular. When properly institutionalised we all it authoritarianism, a disease we are trying to deal with in our new constitution.

That is why it is very important to implement this constitution, take care of devolution and be ready to amend the constitution where some parts of it need improvement in institutionalising a democratic political culture and dismantling authoritarianism. As usual this will entail some struggle between those still determined to maintain the old order and those determined to become Kenyans under the new constitutional dispensation. Let the debate be carried out under an atmosphere of civility since human rights are now enshrined in our constitution and they need to be exercised with due respect to each other's rights.

That, however, is not usually the case. I remember in 1998 when I proposed a bill in Parliament for Presidential Retirement Benefits I was scathingly attacked by the media and "civil society" for pandering to the Moi regime. As one known for participation in the Second Liberation, what I was doing was regarded as an anathema. But I was quite clear: with a retirement benefits package, sitting presidents will, in future, feel more secure "to leave the throne" rather than to continue undemocratically to stick to power. This was my responsibility as a legislator, and the law was bring enacted not just for Moi but for future presidents. Recently when the retirement benefits for President Kibaki were made public I did not read anything negative by those who viciously attacked my ideas in 1998.

Of course I argued for the principle, and not the details in terms of facts and figures. These can be moderated in line with our economic realities in Kenya. But this discussion, I repeat, needs to be done with more civility and less cacophony.

Thursday, May 16, 2013



By Njeri Ossak
Posted on May 17, 2013 
A conversation I had with some friends recently on Facebook went something like this:
Jerry: These are signs of our times. Posthumous scandals
Me: Hio ni sawa kabisa…In keeping with our national pastime off having asides and deserts following the main meal! Hahaha! She said in her supporting affidavit that she needed to hit the iron when still hot…i.e. before he is interred…Her trump card!
Willis: I think we are in a material oriented society. What about other men of less economic status? Almost nobody goes to claim anything when they die. Also, we are in a society where we lack strict laws on marriage, inheritance, Wills, Estates, etc. Undercover babies

As you might have already guessed…Yes! It was us Kenyans engaged in another favorite pastime….In the bar, at home, on street corners (I saw a lot of mini Kamukunjis in the city, Nairobi, when I last visited just before the elections…and nice little benches to laze on and chat that also ironically say on the backrest…”I will not just sit here…”!). We were  discussing current events (more affairs than gossip…affairs have a ring of highbrow  intellect being engaged!) and lending the discussion our own wild suppositions and explanations for the state of affairs…a death in the family called Kenya. In this case it was the untimely death (when is it ever timely?) of the said distinguished lawyer turned politician Mutula Kilonzo.

The reason why his passing caused a stir is in part because we had just come out of a bruising election and he was on the side that lost. The losing side was and still is trying to make sense of that loss and any scapegoat will do. In this case, it was being whispered that he has been “eliminated”. And that sinister dark forces that oddly resembled the government of the day and probably the Dalai Lama or Maradonna (remember his famous Hand of God?), must have had a hand in it…all in preparation for the return match set for 2017 by eliminating whatever and whoever looked like a formidable foe!
But that was not even the core of our discussion…We have since moved from shock and grief and crocodile tears and playing Sherlock Holmes by offering our “elementary” theories of how Mutula died…to now a more seedy and corpulent topic. That Mutula Kilonzo while serving the nation so opulently and in distinguished manner, may have found time to sow wild oats in his backyard that resulted in a little boy being born. Oh boy!…
Is there a topic that gets our juices going and tongues wagging more than one where a clande relationship is nakedized for all to see and savor  Now we know who he really is, we bellow! We have seen his underwear…sorry underbelly!  And all that pseudo-intelligence cum political talk we earlier had on how a great reformist mind and sturdy mugumo has been felled by dark ninja forces,  is forgotten. So let’s talk about sex nooow!…undercover sex and how oops!…babies can also be the unintended consequence!
I have only the greatest respect for this distinguished son of Kenya who led an iconic life. He was smart, and is the only lawyer within the Kenyan legal fraternity that a colleague said he ever heard expound on the law of unintended consequences; and his life story reads like the great novel Angela’s Ashes, a 1996 memoir by the Irish-American author Frank McCourt. I read a long piece on Mutula, written by one journalist, Emeka, in a local daily, and whose writing I admire for its depth and research, in which he chronicles Mutula’s journey from his indigent village life, through school and hard work, making much moolah along the way, and right back to the magnificent Valhalla he built as his getaway, and at which ironically he exited the earth!

But by the time Emeka wrote his piece, the woodwork was still intact and Nthenya had not busted through to thicken the plot with claims that she wants to tell us another part of the story! She had a son with Mutula all seven years ago and before the soil is settled on his cenotaph and the ink dry on the will…would they please add a nota bene and include her son!?
All this remains unsubstantiated and it is all conjecture of course, until the DNA results are in.

A pointed aspect of the discussion however, was on how he Mutula had now sunk low in the eyes of some of those who held him in high esteem as a morally upright person and whose life and success is a testament to how it is possible to be rich, famous and a politician and still be an example to others. One other friend weighed in on the discussion saying: “This man was all form and no substance. Let no one tell me about speaking ill of the dead. I’m getting more disgusted with Mutula with each passing day. This one about hobnobbing with his herdsman’s daughter…a girl much younger than Kethi…..eish!”

Women were more incensed because this has become the norm rather than the exception in our society where men shirk their responsibility of looking after the children that are born after the nice time of making them is a long forgotten faint memory that does not cause a stir in their groin anymore! My friend Esther was livid and had this to say: “Eunice Nthenya is a daughter to the late Mutula’s herdsman/ranch hand. I am trying to imagine how he approached & seduced her. Or was she just delivered by her father? Mutula paid Ksh 4,000 for maternity fees for Eunice child, his son… a princely sum indeed maybe at a local hospital or Pumwani.

 But…. he paid Ksh700,000 to feed the lions (PER MONTH!!)…so there you go..value for money, I tell you….. so Kenyans where do we go from here???
We need to hold our leaders accountable for their private immorality. After all we are funding their lavish livelihoods. Give the politicians their raise but they should live in a moral and transparent manner, failure to which they should be disrobed of their positions.”

Private Immorality! Now that is a new one. How is that and is it allowed? My friend is angry and indeed echoes the sentiments of many women who will no doubt be livid to hear of the lions eating well and yet the mother and child are left to fend for themselves. In Nthenya’s case, it is being suggested by mathematicians who did the quick mental sum that she was underage (15!) and did not know any better and did not have the wherewithal to make ends meet. This is even more annoying according to many, considering that the person involved here as the supposed father is wealthy beyond our wildest imagination! He had lions and gazelles and other wildlife for pets for crissake and he fed them!
But before we rush to judge Mutula so harshly, there is the other side of the coin that alleges that women we have also become not very different from the lions that he fed!…And that we go into these clandestine escapades knowing full well that the man is taken..He has a wife or wives and children to boot!
Whatever also happened to the pill…and now there is even an I-forgot-morning after-the-white-night pill? Can we still say it was an accident when the belly begins to grow? We then wait in the wings for the cue…most usually when the man is completely died and dead…and just before he is buried…then we tokelezea with the immutable exhibit of a child or children in tow to claim a share for “the children”!
A local daily quoted Nthenyas affidavit as saying that: ”Ms Nthenya has sworn an affidavit to the effect that she was in a relationship with the late Makueni Senator between 2005 and 2008 and that he was the biological father of the minor who was born on May 5, 2006 in Makueni”. It is the child’s natural right to share the father’s wealth with the other siblings. It is in order therefore that the paternity test be conducted with speed and expediency to enable this child legally claim his fair share of the father’s wealth”

Speed and expediency! What speed now when we had all the time in the world to get matters fixed…birth certificates, wills and testaments and all that good stuff while everyone is still feeling lovey dovey. Maybe there is a lesson here that each time you are with a clande in a tight embrace and the with intentions of making immutable consequences called babies, pluck some of his hair and store well for future DNA purpose! But how about we also use the same wiles we used when the man is still alive to get ourselves situated…a business, a job…anything that will make you self sufficient and independent and strong…instead of waiting to potentially make a joke of yourself before the entire world…asking for a Shylockean pound of DNA to prove that indeed, apart from the forehead, ears and fingers looking a lot like the dear departed, science will also bear you out?
As a friend, Willis, said at the top of this article, women seem more Machiavellian when they arrive later to claim that they are acting for the children. That there are never cases of women chasing after poor men…only the rich and famous. I don’t know that such cases do not exist because we would not hear about them. Poor people’s stories never make it into the big media unless it turns tragic or comic. Readers and the public in general like to read about a rags to riches story..or riches to rags, but not about people who are just poor and whose lives seem to be going nowhere. Frank McCourt’s story in Angela’s Ashes only becomes interesting because he rose from abject poverty in Ireland and found his way to America the land of dreams and fulfillment.
We empathize with stories such as these because they mirror our hopes and aspirations. So Willis that is the irredeemable fact, It is a material world and women now also know their rights. If the case cannot be made when the rich and powerful man is alive, then they will wait for when his torch has dimmed and the family is at its weakest, to step forward and lay their demands.
Will Nthenya’s addition to the story be the final epilogue to the unwritten ode of Mutula’s life…or should we expect an addendum(s) and more ibid, sic footnotes?…Or even part two and three…and four…as separate rejoinders and or as replies to the original manuscript? That is most likely never gonna happen because the drama is now over and the story is almost complete. We the interested bystanders will also have long moved on (okay…I know I might be boxed in the ears for that phrase by recovering poll losers but its for lack of a better one and also being Kenyan…!). We will have already found another sumptuous topic to mutilate with our forks and scythes which we always have at the ready! Linturi’s case is waiting in the wings. And the other MP also and whose 40 year old son wants to be counted as part of his brood!
We are never idle. My niece Yvonne gave me a nice phrase that describes how we roll us Kenyans…”We don’t idle well” and as Jerry said at the start of our conversation “These are signs of our times. Posthumous scandals”!
Catch up with the story here…or you will be the green horn at the bar discussion!:



By Njeri Luseno Osaak

“A mothership is a ship, aircraft or spacecraft that carries one or more smaller military vehicles. Examples include bombers converted to carry experimental aircraft to altitudes where they can conduct their research (such as the B-52 carrying the X-15), or ships that carry small submarines to an area of ocean to be explored (such as the Atlantis II carrying the Alvin). The mother ship may also recover the smaller craft, or may go its own way after releasing it.”

Caroline Mutoko is a mothership. She is strong, successful at what she does, opinionated, seemingly fabulously wealthy, bossy, famous, admired…and yet for the same reasons, she is misunderstood and…intensely disliked by many! I do not purport to know her well enough to write in her defense (she does that all by herself very well and doubt that she needs my help with that!)…nor am I a fan of her radio show but, her personality and place in the public eye (she is a celeb!) and the way she is perceived by many leads me to want to say something about her.

We constantly complain about our empty debe or air-headed celebs who usually have nothing of substance to say past the talent and money they have and yet when we suddenly get one who has an opinion and is brilliant enough to articulate it, we are quick to want to dumb her down. As if we want her to just shut up already and “eat” her money quietly! In fact, we all tend to sound like witches who wish the worst calamity on her…her offspring and anything associated with her!

I just think most people…and that includes some women… just don’t really like successful people…and its two strikes if they are women. Add a third strike if there is no successful man in the picture!  Caroline Mutoko is strong and mirrors our weaknesses.. or tends to remind us of our failures…or what we will never have or be! She speaks her mind, says what she likes because she is her own woman. We are such pessimists that we tend to not see her as a positive influence, a mentor for us to emulate or set our goals by. We give up before we even start and end up setting ourselves on fire consumed with hate and dislike for her success. Most of us cannot understand how she has not crumbled under the repeated onslaughts from the general public and so we keep on bringing up all sorts of sordid stories about her.

But she has refused to let the public write her narrative. In fact…it is these same stories that seem to make her stronger and a mystery that we continue to hammer at hoping to “kill” her and then look for the next victim after burying her in the heap where we send people (Nancy Baraza comes to mind) that we have made capitulate and brought down to their knees with attacks such as these. Caroline is always taking one for the girls because she encapsulates the strong woman who likes the mother ship, carries all of us with her as she sets sail in uncharted spaces where others have dared and fell. She is a mentor, a philanthropist and constantly speaks out asking young women to stand up for something and not be content with mediocrity.

I would at this point hasten to ask…So what if she was the mpango at the home when the mighty Iroko fell! What does that change and what abomination did she commit that Kenyans are not already famous or infamous for? Caroline can never be let off the hook! Even after she offered (unconfirmed media sources) an “alibi” for where she was when Mutula died…she was at hospital condoling a friend and workmate, a lady, who was admitted in hospital…comments after the rumor carried by a daily rag went something like…”Why was she at the hospital with the lady overnight? Is she her husband?” Another chimed in response to that thus…”Caroline does not like men!”….of course insinuating that she might just be a dyke!So they sort of accepted her alibi but still wanted to lynch her and open a new platform on which to continue attacks on her!

So incessant and urgent is the need to cut Caroline down to size that an FB lynch page is open for all “members” to jump in and vent any time she speaks and they, in turn, need to respond and add their two cents (which is really usually nonsense!). I think this is what helps her to grow. Every time people post insults in response to her she actually gets more material to keep her radio show going. This is all good fodder for her. All these people need to listen to her everyday or play catch up and listen when an issue is out there. All this hullabaloo drives traffic to her radio station. Consequently, no amount of kelele from the baying public will make her bosses sack her. It is all symbiotic…you feed on her, the radio station gets its traffic and the bosses are happy. I think that balances the equation!

And while we are at it…the baying wolves…(nipping at her heels and spending so much time in which they should be doing other things to better themselves)…should remember that she has a big platform from which she is able to adequately respond to all her critics at once. And it is no skin off her hinny because it is her job and she would actually enjoy doing that!

I like this talk that she gave and I hope the young girls there were listening. She was not speaking out of her hat and had prime examples that she mimicked complete with the sound and idiom of how we sound when making excuses for the bad decisions and choices we make in life.

(Watch the video here… Caroline Mutoko speaks to Eve Sisters about Relationships and tells Sisters to quit average attitude if they want to succeed. FAST FORWARD the video to the 6th minute to watch and listen to Caroline’s warning to girls.   :

If you watch the video and the camera panning on her listeners as she speaks, you will notice the nervous laughter and looks on their faces as she tells the biting truth. It is either the young faces are already caught up in the scenarios she is describing…or they were contemplating a life no different than that. I particularly like the scenario she creates of a lady who happily goes for a date at Kwa Njuguna (who is the owner of that joint? He gets a lot of publicity each time girls talk about a bad dating experience! ). So if you set your standards so low, why do you expect the guy to treat you any different?

Going to Njuguna’s is fine and fun as she says.  But that should not constitute the entirety of what it means to have a good time. Well-to-do men often go to masandukuni to drink and eat nasty mutura every once in a while but they later retreat to where they think it befits them on the social ladder…and where they also hope to meet the future mother of their children. The same applies to ladies who can opt to visit seemingly seedy joints with their girlfriends to eat, drink, catch up on stories and gossip and just like the men do, they also remember what their goals in life are and move on back on track!

I live in the US where there is no limit to what a woman can do if she wants to be successful and independent at that. Fundamental of which is to value yourself and also get a good education. Learning self reliance at an early age is crucial and moving away from the belief that a woman’s history is etched in stone from the time she is born…to the time she bows out of the stage of the play called “this life”.

Despite the fact that we are given a western education, some of us remain tethered to the ways of our long gone mothers, fathers, aunties and uncles that insist that a woman is nobody if she does not get an additional tag to her name…as in a husband. Caroline alludes to this when she mimicked ladies who despite having a good education and job have as their dream, the hope of “ensnaring” a good husband and then quitting everything to become a stay at home mother. That needless to say will be the first step towards committing harakiri…strangling yourself socially and emotionally.

I am happy to say that at this stage in life I have wonderful, strong and independent women friends who have done marvelously well on their own. I love it when I travel to the homeland and we gather at a “hen party” where we talk about almost anything under the sun…our children, careers, husbands or non-husbands, love found or lost…with food and wine flowing copiously! And yes some people have said all there is to say about us the “Hens” (when I was last home a gentleman we knew from our college days approached our table of girls at Impala club and greeted us saying…”Well well…If it isn’t Grace (our host) and the Pips!” Hahaha!)…but believe me…It all does begin to sound so yesterday that they give up and begin to respect you for who you are.

Why does dependency appeal to us so much? Is it the psychological misconception we have that our mothers who stayed at home had a good life? easy life? Did we ever stop to think that our mothers may have not had the benefit of an advanced education and the chance for the new-found freedoms that we have increasingly get with the changing technological communication and socio-economic environment. Why do we fear to be alone just because society will label you a loser, cheap, immoral etc…just because you do not have a husband? What is wrong with being single, a single mother and being a success at it and especially if the man responsible has abdicated their irresponsibility? In my eyes, all single mothers are the unsung heroes…Ask all those guys who go by names like James Wa Maria!

Ladies, you should talk to your mothers and you will discover that most of them want you to have a better life than they did. That does not necessarily mean living single or getting married. It just means that you need to be making sensible decisions guided by whatever situation you find yourself in…and that includes having oodles of self esteem and putting yourself in front…putting yourself first…and letting the kingdom follow….Like Caroline the mother ship does!
©njeriOsaak… Is a trained journalist, a Public Relations professional and a College Speech Communication teacher, currently based in the United States.



By Jerry Okungu
May 15, 2013
Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya is like no other country in the world.
Everything that happens in this country is uniquely Kenyan. What we do cannot be replicated anywhere else.

It is only in Kenya where parliament passes laws but a few months later, disowns those laws. At best the law makers make laws for other Kenyans as long as such laws do not affect their lives.

It is only in Kenya where the constitution sets up a Commission to regulate salaries and remuneration for state officers and public servants and parliament goes ahead to endorse that constitutional clause  through a piece of legislation but immediately  the Commission reduces MPs’ salaries along with other state officers, MPs rise up in arms to disband that Commission.

It is only in Kenya where when voters oppose MPs’ unrealistic and untenable salaries, MPs turn around and insult the electorate. And like one voter correctly put it, Kenyan MPs are like daring robbers who walk in into your house to tell you that they have come to rob you in the full glare of your wife and children knowing that you can do nothing to stop them. Their contempt for the electorate knows no bounds.

After Kenyans talked and talked opposing MPs’ clamor for higher salaries to be retained at pre 2013 levels, they realized that their honorable MPs had switched off and were bent on disbanding the Salaries Remuneration Commission so that they could fix their salaries at will.

 The citizens then organized a protest of the unusual kind on Tuesday this week. It was on Tuesday morning that the citizens of Kenya invaded and occupied the precincts of parliament for several hours. And they did it in style. They brought a lorry load of pigs and piglets together with filthy stuff that pigs normally feed on.
They emptied these pigs and their delicacies in front of parliament as they waved placards calling MPs all sorts of names. One placard talked of Parliament as a service institution and not a business center that MPs were turning it into.

And the protesters did not stop there. They gave each pig a name and engraved with blood the names of leading MPs at the forefront of clamor for more pay such that as the pigs ravaged their meal in front of the august house, TV cameras beamed the images across the world.

However, when MPs resumed their sitting in the afternoon, very few of them referred to the embarrassing event of the morning other than the Leader of the Majority who complained that being equated to a pig was unfair. He would have preferred to be compared to a cow or a camel.  The point he missed was that, the imagery of a pig was supposed to send a message home that their greed had reached the level of pigs- the most despised animal class in human history.

As the citizens were taking to task the MPs on their wayward ways, a group of sixteen Kenyans who had been vetted by a parliamentary Appointments Committee were waiting to be confirmed or rejected by the whole house that same afternoon.

The three day vetting that was broadcast live to the whole nation was as controversial as the list itself. However, because it was a public hearing, the public was given a chance to assess the suitability of each candidate. When it was over, Kenyans had made up their minds about which candidates were qualified and which ones were not. Among the candidates, seven of them had integrity issues while one candidate was fantastic on paper but was a disaster in oral communication. She showed total lack of understanding of issues affecting the East African Community Affairs, Tourism and Trade yet, this was the docket for which she was nominated.

When the Committee Report was tabled on the floor of the house, the very lady that had been rejected by the House Appointments Committee became the subject of a ridiculous debate. Women MPs rallied behind her on account of gender. MPs from her ethnic community and region joined in the fray. And finally the government majority backed her nomination simply because she had been nominated by the President and Deputy President of the majority party.

As the debate progressed; issues of integrity, competence and suitability were tossed through the window. The nominees were all approved by parliament despite their faults.

The handling of the first group of nominees proved one thing; that this vetting of nominees is more of a rubber stamp than anything else. If it was a serious process, at least three of the nominees would not have gone through.

One other thing; the Speaker of the National Assembly lacked control of the debate. He allowed  hecklers to drown the arguments  advanced by voices of reason that were not many in the house especially in a situation where the majority leader repeatedly confessed that he was a proud sycophant  of a sitting president as opposed to minority MPs who were sycophants of those who lost presidential elections.

With the salaries of MPs still unresolved, Kenyans should brace themselves for more drama from the Civil Society led citizenry street demonstrations.