Friday, September 30, 2011



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

September 27, 2011

Millions of people from all walks of life have grieved for Wangari since her death became known on Monday morning this week. When I first saw a scroll of breaking news on one of the local TV stations I was shocked but soon my shock turned into anger. I was angry with the television station for down playing Wangari’s death and instead gave us a repeat interview of some political upstart who wants to become president! Because I was angry, I began surfing station after station in the hope that I would find some sane station that had started paying attention to Wangari’s death. Unfortunately, I met my disappointment everywhere. It was business as usual in every TV station- the usual boring run of the mill public relations interviews.

As I moved on to international networks in search of the Wangari story, I found CNN and BBC already according it world class coverage, starting with her Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo. Then it dawned on me that I was in Africa, a continent that is slow to register and appreciate its own children. I was angry that only later in the afternoon did we start getting reasonable coverage of Wangari Maathai’s demise.

This dismal initial reaction to Wangari’s death got me thinking of the nascent Kenyan media of the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and even the early ‘90s. In that era, newsroom editors were a very nosy lot. They would compete for breaking news even though the news rooms were mainly print media entities that had to deal with insurmountable logistics of printing special editions and distributing them in Nairobi and other parts of Kenya.

I remember clearly how we dealt with the death of Robert Ouko in the early ‘90s and more so the arrest of Nicholas Biwott and Hezekiah Oyugi over Robert Ouko’s death. We had our editions in the afternoon and I personally hired aircrafts from Wilson Airport to distribute copies in Nyanza, Western and Coast regions while we covered Nairobi, Central, Eastern and South Rift by road from Nairobi.

Right now we live in another era, the era of immediacy of the electronic media. One would expect that when an event like the death of Wangari Mathai occurs, our senior editors and reporters would be prepared to handle such event as competently as any international media house would do. Could it be that the newsrooms these days are so young and so inexperienced that they are not capable of handling events such as Wangari’s death? Or is it because, Wangari’s death was not a Sinai slum fire or an ICC trial that we have covered with so much relish?

However, on the second day, NTV gave Wangari Mathai her due recognition by airing footages of various aspects of her public life in a most moving and profound way.

Being the first ever Kenyan to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari’s stature was obviously above all of us on the international scene. To us, Wangari was our Bishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela combined. As such, his death should have elicited unparalleled emotions even among the media.

Earlier in the week, I had written in this article that the death of Wangari Mathai was phenomenal enough to warrant a number of days of national mourning, the lowering of the Kenyan flag and a state burial. I am happy to note that by Wenesday,the government of Kenya had indeed undertaken to do just that and where possible, arrange for her body to lie in State at Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park to allow as many Kenyans as possible to pay their last respects.

At a personal level, I met Wangari Mathai in 1983 when she along with other strong minded reformers were already a thorn in the flesh of the brutal KANU regime. At that time, I was an active thespian and was busy organizing the Stella Awinja Muka Foundation in honour the brilliant and young Kenyan actress who had died in an accident at Lillian Towers on University Way.

Because Stella was a brilliant Engineering student who also excellent on the stage, I thought it appropriate that Professor Wangari would be the right person to officially launch her Foundation. To my dismay, Wangari accepted the challenge even though my colleagues were worried that her presence at the ceremony at the Kenya National Theatre would put us on a collision course with the KANU regime. Despite protests from my colleagues, I still got her to perform the ceremony.

After that encounter, we kept meeting at many forums especially during my days at the Nation Media Group. Our encounter became more frequent when she joined the Narc Rainbow Coalition during the 2002 elections where we attended numerous rallies together.

When the Narc party won the elections that year and she was appointed Assistant Minister for Environment in 2003, I, like many Kenyans was shocked that with her education, record and experience in matters concerning the environment, any serious government would appoint her an assistant to a person who had no clue to issues of the environment. Little wonder that hardly a year into her position as Assistant Minister, she won the Nobel Peace Prize for Environment. When this happened, many naïve Kenyans imagined that there would be a mini cabinet reshuffle so that she could be appointed a full minister. That did not happen. A few years later, she resigned from that position and concentrated on her world engagement in matters related to global warming.

At a personal level, Wangari Mathai did something that humbled me beyond my imagination. When President Kibaki appointed me along with others as Board Directors of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, Professor Mathai wrote to me personal letter congratulation me for the appointment and got that letter delivered by courier service at KBC. It was little things like these that endeared Wangari to millions of people around the world.

Now that Wangari has left millions of orphaned trees and forests around the globe, her children and thousands of people who worked with her around worldwide, the best tribute this country can pay to Wangari is to name Uhuru Park after her in her memory. Let it be called the Wangari Mathai Uhuru Park.

Good bye our world hero and May the Almighty rest your soul in eternal peace.

Monday, September 26, 2011



The New York Times

NAIROBI, Kenya — Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist who began a movement to reforest her country by paying poor women a few shillings to plant trees and who went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, died here on Sunday. She was 71.

Radu Sigheti/Reuters

Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, center, in Nairobi in 2004.

Related in Opinion

Pool photo by Bjorn Sigurdson

Wangari Maathai of Kenya holding her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 10, 2004.

Readers’ Comments

The cause was cancer, her organization, the Green Belt Movement, said. Kenyan news organizations said she had been treated for ovarian cancer in the past year and had been in a hospital for at least a week when she died.

Dr. Maathai, one of the most widely respected women on the continent, wore many hats — environmentalist, feminist, politician, professor, rabble-rouser, human rights advocate and head of the Green Belt Movement, which she founded in 1977. Its mission was to plant trees across Kenya to fight erosion and to create firewood for fuel and jobs for women.

Dr. Maathai was as comfortable in the gritty streets of Nairobi’s slums or the muddy hillsides of central Kenya as she was hobnobbing with heads of state. She won the Peace Prize in 2004 for what the Nobel committee called “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” It was a moment of immense pride in Kenya and across Africa.

Her Green Belt Movement has planted more than 30 million trees in Africa and has helped nearly 900,000 women, according to the United Nations, while inspiring similar efforts in other African countries.

“Wangari Maathai was a force of nature,” said Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nation’s environmental program. He likened her to Africa’s ubiquitous acacia trees, “strong in character and able to survive sometimes the harshest of conditions.”

Dr. Maathai toured the world, speaking out against environmental degradation and poverty, which she said early on were intimately connected. But she never lost focus on her native Kenya. She was a thorn in the side of Kenya’s previous president, Daniel Arap Moi, whose government labeled the Green Belt Movement “subversive” during the 1980s.

Mr. Moi was particularly scornful of her leading the charge against a government plan to build a huge skyscraper in one of central Nairobi’s only parks. The proposal was eventually scrapped, though not long afterward, during another protest, Dr. Maathai was beaten unconscious by the police.

When Mr. Moi finally stepped down after 24 years in power, she served as a member of parliament and as an assistant minister on environmental issues until falling out of favor with Kenya’s new leaders and losing her seat a few years later.

In 2008, after being pushed out of government, she was tear-gassed by the police during a protest against the excesses of Kenya’s well-entrenched political class.

Home life was not easy, either. Her husband, Mwangi, divorced her, saying she was too strong-minded for a woman, by her account. When she lost her divorce case and criticized the judge, she was thrown in jail.

“Wangari Maathai was known to speak truth to power,” said John Githongo, an anticorruption campaigner in Kenya, who was forced into exile for years for his own outspoken views. “She blazed a trail in whatever she did, whether it was in the environment, politics, whatever.”

Wangari Muta Maathai was born on April 1, 1940 in Nyeri, Kenya, in the foothills of Mount Kenya. A star student, she won a scholarship to study biology at Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kan., receiving a degree in 1964. She earned a master of science degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

She went on to obtain a doctorate in veterinary anatomy at the University of Nairobi, becoming the first woman in East or Central Africa to hold such a degree, according to theNobel Prize Web site. She also taught at the university as an associate professor and was chairwoman of its veterinary anatomy department in the 1970s.

A day before she was scheduled to receive the Nobel, Dr. Maathai was forced to respond to a report in The East African Standard, a daily newspaper in Nairobi, that she had likened AIDS to a “biological weapon,” telling participants in an AIDS workshop in Nyeri that the disease was “a tool” to control Africans “designed by some evil-minded scientists.”

She said her comments had been taken out of context. “It is therefore critical for me to state that I neither say nor believe that the virus was developed by white people or white powers in order to destroy the African people,” she said in a statement released by the Nobel Committee. “Such views are wicked and destructive.”

In presenting her with the Peace Prize, the Nobel committee hailed her for taking “a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women’s rights in particular” and serving “as inspiration for many in the fight for democratic rights.”

Dr. Maathai received many honorary degrees, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, as well as awards, including the French Legion of Honor and Japan’s Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.

She is survived by three children, Waweru, Wanjira and Muta, and a granddaughter, according to the Green Belt Movement.

Former Vice President Al Gore, a fellow Peace Prize recipient for his environmental work, said in a statement, “Wangari overcame incredible obstacles to devote her life to service — service to her children, to her constituents, to the women, and indeed all the people of Kenya — and to the world as a whole.”

In her Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Dr. Maathai said the inspiration for her work came from growing up in rural Kenya. She reminisced about a stream running next to her home – a stream that has since dried up – and drinking fresh, clear water.

“In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness,” she said, “to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.”

Sunday, September 25, 2011



Alpha particle emissions

Alpha particles can damage cells

Related Stories

A trial of a new cancer drug, which accurately targets tumours, has been so successful it has been stopped early.

Doctors at London's Royal Marsden Hospital gave prostate cancer patients a powerful alpha radiation drug and found that they lived longer, and experienced less pain and side effects.

The medics then stopped the trial of 922 people, saying it was unethical not to offer all of them the treatment.

Lead researcher Dr Chris Parker said it was "a significant step forward".

Cancer Research UK said it was a very important and promising discovery.

Radiation has been used to treat tumours for more than a century. It damages the genetic code inside cancerous cells.

Alpha particles are the big, bulky, bruisers of the radiation world. It is a barrage of helium nuclei, which are far bigger than beta radiation, a stream of electrons, or gamma waves.

Dr Parker told the BBC: "It's more damaging. It takes one, two, three hits to kill a cancer cell compared with thousands of hits for beta particles."

Alpha particles also do less damage to surrounding tissue. He added: "They have such a tiny range, a few millionths of a metre. So we can be sure that the damage is being done where it should be."

Prostate cancer

  • Each year in the UK about 36,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer; about 10,000 die from it
  • In most cases, it is a slow-growing cancer and may never cause any symptoms or problems.
  • Some men will have a fast growing cancer that needs treatment
  • Worldwide, an estimated 913,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, and more than two-thirds of cases are diagnosed in developed countries

In 90% of patients with advanced prostate cancer, the tumour will have spread to the bone. At this stage there are no treatments which affect survival.

The study looked at patients with these secondary cancers, as the source of radiation - radium-223 chloride - acts like calcium and sticks to bone.

Half were given the radium-223 chloride drug alongside traditional chemotherapy, while the other patients received chemotherapy and a dummy pill.

The death rate was 30% lower in the group taking radium-223. Those patients survived for 14 months on average compared to 11 months in the dummy group.

The trial was abandoned as "it would have been unethical not to offer the active treatment to those taking placebo", said Dr Parker.

He added: "I think it will be a significant step forward for cancer patients".

Researchers also said the treatment was safe. Curiously there were fewer side-effects in the group taking the treatment than those taking the dummy medicine.

The findings are being presented at the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress but they have not yet been peer-reviewed by other academics.

Prof Gillies McKenna, Cancer Research UK's radiotherapy expert and director of the Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology, said: "This appears to be an important study using a highly targeted form of radiation to treat prostate cancer that has spread to the bones.

"This research looks very promising and could be an important addition to approaches available to treat secondary tumours - and should be investigated further."

Friday, September 23, 2011



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

September 21, 2011

Why are some of our MPs hell- bent on soiling the name of Parliament? Why are they bent on ridiculing themselves making them a laughing stock in public? Aren’t there better ways to remain popular with their constituents? Must they box and kick walls in front of their electorate in order to gain their support? Must they chase perceived enemies or land grabbers like common criminals and like touts and manambas throw stones at their victims?

A few years ago, we allowed into our country, two thugs from Armenia to terrorize us here for close to six months. After the Artur brothers were arbitrarily given the ranks of deputy police commissioner, allowed to import firearms and drive expensive motor vehicles without number plates, the height of their terror on us was once displayed at JKIA Customs arrival when they refused to open their luggage for inspection. When the Customs officials insisted to see what they were bringing into the country, all hell broke loose! They drew guns and forced their way out of the airport. This was in the full glare of Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, then Minister for Trade and Industry. It was only after Dr. Kituyi testified in Parliament that the Kenyan authorities were awaken to the reality of the dangers of allowing dubious foreigners access to our sensitive areas like airports and security agency offices.

What happened at the Sinai fire tragedy, at the Special Programmes Ministry and later at JKIA the day Uhuru Kenyatta was departing to The Hague were obviously cause for worry. All the three incidents involved our elected leaders engaging in some of the most deplorable theatrics not worthy of a person who would like to be called honorable

We all watched in disbelief and discomfort when in April this year, forty members of our Parliament abandoned their civic duties at home to escort the Ocampo Six to a pretrial hearing in The Hague only to be locked in a room and watch the proceedings on TV just like we did back home. To make matters worse, the forty honorable MPs went about singing songs in the streets of The Hague as if their theatrics would change the situation facing our fellow Kenyans in an international court.

This week, we saw how three MPs kicked and tried to punch their way into a restricted area just to see Uhuru Kenyatta who had checked in. Surely, if they really needed to see Uhuru off, why didn’t they behave like civilized law makers and get to the airport early enough like Uhuru’s other supporters did? Better still, why didn’t they arrive with Uhuru so that they could say good bye in a more respectable manner? Why did they have to arrive late and try to force their way through the passenger exit when they knew too well that they were not allowed by law unless they were travelling and had boarding passes?

In an attempt to bully the police officers to the extent of reminding the officers that they were honourable, the police officers chose to disregard their national status and decided that if it was force they needed then they would get it.

This behavior is worrying at many levels. At one level, they caused a scene, behaved in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace which the police could have charged them with and locked them up at the JKIA police station for the next 24 hours.

At another level, these so called MPs embarrassed us in front of so many foreigners that were leaving our airport that night. Our tourists must have left wondering whether we have thugs and goons for law makers.

But perhaps the most astonishing thing was that in engaging in these acts of lawlessness, these people forgot that they were law makers and that as law makers, they were bound by law to obey those laws they pass from time to time. They forgot that all Kenyans especially under the present constitution are equal before the law.

If these MPs wanted to see Uhuru off up to the VIP lounge, all they needed to do was to send a request to the Airport Security Officer for issuance with special passes to allow them in for a few hours. I have done this on several occasions when I have had to meet my young children at the same airport from time to time. In all those occasions, I found Airport Security to be polite, accommodating and courteous. Why some of our honorable MPs cannot do the right thing beats logic.

Was it any wonder that when Sinai fire broke out, they were the first to arrive there? Was it any wonder that some of them even dislocated their hips when they led fellow goons to climb over the KPC fence to cause havoc? Was it any wonder that some of them discharged themselves from hospital to go and continue protesting against government compensation to the victims and mass grave burials for those bodies that could not be recognized? Is there anything or any situation that these “honorable” MPs cannot exploit for their personal gain?

Now I know why elected leaders must this time be vetted for good conduct and personal integrity before they are cleared to contest any office. Yes, the new IECK must stand its ground and disqualify these criminals from the next elections. After 50 years of independence, we can do without this kind of indignity in our midst.



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

September 22, 2011

Now it would seem like passing and promulgating Kenya’s new constitution last year was the easier part. Its implementation has produced a raft of unpalatable power losses to the Executive. In many occasions, constitutional officers charged with its implementation have had to either lock horns with the Executive or resort to judicial litigation to stop the Executive from arbitrary appointments like we have seen in the past.

It all started with the President nominating a High Court Judge for the Chief Justice, a practicing lawyer for the Director of Prosecutions and a Professor of Law for the Attorney General. After a bitter power struggle between PNU and ODM, the controversial appointments found their way on the floor of the National Assembly as well as in the Constitutional Court both at the same time. In the final analysis, the President conceded that those appointments were unconstitutional and degazetted them.

Since that show down, three top institutions have lost their Chief Executives that were sued for being in office illegally. And it would appear like the litigants are not done with yet. Now they are eying the Director General of Kenya’s Vision 2030 who it is alleged was irregularly hired since he did not even apply for the job.

A part from the trial of Ocampo Six whose pre-trial hearings are ongoing at the ICC in The Hague, the most talked about political upheavals were the two Cabinet proposals three weeks ago that Parliament should amend the one year constitution to scrap the 30% gender rule. If passed, it would have denied women the 70+ seats that the new constitution had guaranteed them- the very incentive why they overwhelmingly voted for the same constitution.

This controversy did not have to wait for a vote in Parliament as several Civil Society groups had already sued the Cabinet in the Supreme Court because most Kenyans were not sure current MPs would reject the proposal since it was in their favour.

With public debate raging against this callous Cabinet proposal, it would appear like the Executive read the sign on the wall and backtracked. Now it is ready to allocate all the 80 new constituencies to women very much in line with what has been happening in Rwanda and Uganda for some time now. If this materializes, it will go a long way to streamline parliamentary systems within the East African Community. Hopefully, Tanzania and Burundi will follow suit if they haven’t started on the road to affirmative action.

The other hot potato in Kenyan politics has been another controversial Cabinet proposal to amend the same constitution to change the election date from August to December 2012. This proposal has seen the Constitution Implementation Commission lock horns with the Cabinet and even threatened to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

And with public opinion very much against Cabinet proposal, it is a gone conclusion that the newly appointed Supreme Court judges will want to prove to Kenyans their independence by protecting the public’s interest. With backing from back benchers, it will be a miracle if the Minister for Justice fails to read this public mood and tables this controversial bill in Parliament.

The reason why Kenyans would be weary about amending a constitution this early is because their memory is still very fresh when they remember how the 1961 Lancaster Constitution was mutilated in the first two years of Independence. It was those same arbitrary amendments at the behest of the Executive that eventually turned Kenya into a one- party state with dire consequences for the rule of law and democracy.

Within one year after Independence, Kenya became a Republic over night without any public referendum. All of a sudden, we had an Executive Imperial President instead of the Prime Minister accountable to Parliament. In that period, we saw the Senate and Regional Assemblies abolished without a referendum. Shortly after that, the only opposition party KADU dissolved itself and joined KANU. When the opposition died, President Kenyatta set the stage for the first autocratic rule where his word became law.

Three years down the line his Vice President resigned from KANU and formed another opposition part- Kenya People’s Union. However, with the vast state security organs in the hands of the Executive, the opposition was frustrated until it was finally banned in 1969

With no further challenge on the political scene, Kenyatta ruled Kenya for 15 years without facing any elections. He was always elected unopposed.

When the founding father passed on in 1978, Daniel Arap Moi his Vice President of 12 years promised Kenyans that he would follow in Kenyatta’s footsteps. True to his word, Moi perfected the art of dictatorship. He officially made Kenya a de jure one party state in the early 1980s and thereafter ruled the country with an iron fist. KANU became the father and mother of every Kenyan. KANU was the government and the government was KANU. For this reason, KANU District chairmen such as Okiki Amayo of Karachuonyo, Kariuki Chotara of Naivasha, Kihika Kimani of Nakuru and Nassir of Mombasa became kings unto themselves. They terrorized Kenyans in the name the President.

These are the memories that make Kenyans weary of early constitutional amendments even before we implement the damn thing!

Sunday, September 18, 2011



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

September 14, 2011

East Africa is in mourning. Every other day, villagers are burying their loved dead. The media is awash with gruesome pictures of road carnage in Kenya. Deaths on our roads have become a pass time. They can no longer make it to the headlines.

If Kenyans are not dying of endless road accidents, Tanzanians are dying in their hundreds from a boat accident. These deaths come so soon just after Ugandans buried many of their dead from a landslide.

The question ask is this: why would 600 intelligent people board a boat in Pemba knowing so well that the capacity of the boat was much less than that number? Where were the captain and his crew when the boat was overloading? Couldn’t they have stopped passengers from crowding in the already overcrowded boat? Or better still; why didn’t the captain decline to set sail unless extra passengers disembarked? Indeed this is what airline pilots do. They will never take off unless the exact number of passengers is on board.

Let us face the reality here; there may be many road accidents happening in Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda that we in Kenya do not get to hear about on a daily basis. However, when a number of people died in Uganda in a landslide, we got to know it, tragic as it was. For the Ugandan case it was an act of God and nobody could do anything about it. After all, Americans die of hurricanes, floods and wild fires every other day despite the sophistication of that society. What impresses about the American system is that they are disaster prepared and will battle the elements of nature to the bitter end. The amount of advance warnings and evacuation procedures is mind boggling.

What kills us here every day cannot happen in America in that scale. Highway Patrol Police have been brought up to control speeding and ensure that un-roadworthy vehicles are permanently off the road. Those who break traffic rules face multiple severe penalties that include withdrawal of driving licenses, heavy fines and even longer jail terms if found guilty. It is therefore good to see that ordinary motorists are permanently on the look out to ensure that petty crimes like jumping traffic lights or changing lanes careless do not occur.

In the last two weeks, Kenyans have lost at least 50 people due to stupid and reckless driving. Just the other day, President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka joined villagers in Machakos to bury 28 villagers that perished in a single road accident. Two days earlier, eight members of one family met their death under similar circumstances in Kericho, Rift Valley. At that funeral, President Kibaki directed the Ministers for Internal Security and Transport and the Police Commissioner to deal ruthlessly with rogue public transport drivers on our roads. Three days after this stern warning, eight more people died in a road accident due to reckless driving near the President’s rural home. It was like the two ministers and the Police Chief never heard the President’s warning. Now, in a country where the Head of State’s word counts for nothing, it may be difficult to have the small man obey any law.

As we mourned and buried our road victims, twenty –five Kenyans have lost their lives with an equal number gone blind after consuming illicit alcohol yet just a year ago, Kenya passed one of the stringent anti- alcohol laws.

Apparently the law enforcers have chosen to turn a blind eye to the vagaries of deadly illicit brews that are killing our people in their hundreds every year. Now the Mututho laws face the danger of being moribund before they are effected by the minister in charge of the Police Force.

Just two days ago, over one hundred Kenyans died a very stupid death. They were once again roasted in the inferno that was the Sinai fuel fire. These were slum dwellers that had for years built structures on top of the Kenya Pipe Line oblivious of the fact that if a an oil pipe burst and exploded for whatever reason and caught fire, they would die in their thousands. That is exactly what happened to them on the morning of Monday this week.

When a society loses its morals and ethical values in pursuit of quick economic gains; when the leadership stops applying the law and instead leaves ordinary people to their fate, the law of the jungle fills the vacuum. In the case of the Sinai fires, the Internal Security Minister, Energy Minister, Environment Minister, Transport Minister, Police Commissioner and the entire Kenya Pipeline Management were all caught in deep slumber. This tragedy could have been avoided a long time ago.

The Zanzibar boat tragedy was a case of a greedy boat owner who exploited the laxity or complicity of the regulator and law enforcer to put to sea an unseaworthy boat that he knew risked the lives of 600 Tanzanians. Now that over 200 Tanzanians are dead with scores injured and perhaps maimed for life, the Zanzibari Minister for Internal Security’s warning of punishment to the boat owner may amount to no more than just a fine with possibly no compensation for the families that lost their kin.

In the Kenyan situation, the Sinai people being slum dwellers will only be mourned without compensation as the real culprits-the law enforcement agencies hurriedly send their condolences, make high sounding political statements then depart in their helicopters to leave the villagers mourn their dead.

Yes, we have agreed to die senseless deaths while our rulers have refused to rule according to the law.



Posted on 16 September 2011

Sarah Palin doesn’t have the skill sets or affinity for political office, it’s no surprise that she quit mid-term as governor of Alaska. The former beauty queen loves waving to her adoring fans, she gets a kick out of giving speeches to friendly audiences (especially when she’s well compensated), and she enjoys being interviewed by sycophants like Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity. In short the reality star adores running for office, but she can’t stand the drudgery of actually serving in office.Most reasonably intelligent people are aware of Palin’s scam: She periodically hints that she’s running for president to keep her brand name alive. The firebrand from Wasilla will sell more books and be able to charge more for speeches if she’s perceived as a likely presidential candidate.The Fox News commentator feels at home in the world of entertainment, not the realm of politics. She’s a celebrity, not a politician. Palin has experienced the good side of celebrity, she’s made millions as a reality star and from the sales of her books. But now she’s experiencing the bad side of celebrity, tell-all books from Levi Johnston and journalist Joe McGinniss paint a very unflattering picture of Mama Grizzly.Levi alleges that Sarah wanted to adopt the baby he had with Bristol, and McGinniss alleges that she snorted coke off an oil drum, cheated on her husband, and had a fetish for black guys that led to a one-night-stand with basketball player Glen Rice.Is it fair for a serious political candidate to have to endure these type of allegations? No, but the Tea Party favorite isn’t a serious political candidate, she’s a celeb like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian.
If Palin wants to be a celeb, she’s got to take the good with the bad, the bitter with the sweet. Enjoy your celebrityhood Sarah!By Robert Paul Reyes

Tuesday, September 13, 2011



Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Johannesburg, SA
By Marius Bosch

South Africa's refusal to recognise Libya's new rebel rulers has again exposed the excessive bureaucracy that often stymies decision-making in Pretoria and could have disastrous consequences for its standing and influence in Africa.

South Africa's snub of the interim ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) puts Africa's largest economy at odds with the West and African economic rival Nigeria.

Political analysts and commentators said if President Jacob Zuma's government did not adopt a more realistic foreign policy soon, the country's status as Africa's powerhouse and regional leader could be in jeopardy. "They have painted themselves into a corner," said Gary van Staden, political analyst at NKC Independent Economists.

"If they don't act now and say: 'It is a new phase entirely now and we better get involved', there is a very strong possibility that South Africa will lose the influence it has on the African continent."
South Africa's support of Muammar Gaddafi had its roots in a long-standing close relationship between the two countries.

During apartheid, Libya was one of the first countries to offer support to the ruling African National Congress, then fighting an armed struggle against the white-minority government, and the ANC maintained close ties to Gaddafi.

Gaddafi's first trip abroad after sanctions against Libya were suspended in 1999 was to South Africa in the final days of Nelson Mandela's presidency. Mandela was fond of referring to Gaddafi as "My Brother Leader".

But while other Gaddafi backers have said they were ready to change alliances, South Africa has stood firm.
"There is an argument that the situation is beyond redemption. South Africa's position has been so inconsistent and arguably naive that it is in the unique position of having angered all sides in this dispute," financial daily Business Day said in a recent editorial.

More than 60 countries have recognised the NTC so far, with China saying it will recognise the NTC as the legitimate government "when conditions are ripe". Pretoria has insisted that African problems should be solved by Africans under the auspices of the African Union and with South Africa playing a leading role in the grouping, the AU still has not recognised the NTC.

Gaddafi considered his role in formulating the declaration which led to the creation of the pan-African body as one of his greatest achievements.

Analysts say the position is misguided and that as South Africa becomes more and more isolated on Gaddafi it could lose support in the group.
Greg Mills, director of economic think-tank the Brenthurst Foundation said in a blog post that South Africa's diplomacy has infuriated many diplomats. "They (diplomats) are angered by what is increasingly viewed by some as Pretoria's destructive stance. The term 'rogue democracy' is now on people's lips."

Nel Marais, managing director of risk consultancy Thabiti Africa, pointed to a bureaucracy transplanted into government from the ruling ANC as a big part of the problem.
The policy-making process required collecting input from several ministers and officials before any decisions were made, he said, which meant the government could not react nimbly to changing political events. "Too many structures, committees and people have to be consulted before anything can be changed," Marais said.

"They cannot seem to get it that circumstances and relations change and that one should be able to re-evaluate foreign policy at short notice," he said. Analysts pointed to other examples of South Africa dragging its feet diplomatically, from continued support for Zimbabwe's long-time ruler Robert Mugabe to its delayed recognition of Alassane Ouattara as winner of Cote d’Ivoire’s disputed presidential election.

The government also can get tangled up taking "principled" positions. "South Africa will often resort to certain principled arguments on why it is taking certain positions but that is often not in line with a public mood or sentiment," said Mike Davies, analyst at risk consultancy Maplecroft.

For example, it initially supported the UN resolution authorising Nato intervention in Libya on the grounds it was a humanitarian mission, a position that was out of sync with its fellow BRIC members Brazil, Russia, India and China who abstained from the vote.

It later became a vocal critic of the resulting bombings which it said Nato was misusing to engineer a "regime change".
In hindsight, South Africa's diplomatic position would have looked sounder if the country had abstained from the beginning, Business Day said.

The writer filed this analysis from Johannesburg

Monday, September 12, 2011



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

September 7, 2011

From the beginning of last week, when schools in Kenya were supposed to open for the last crucial term of the academic year, the powerful teachers Union called a national strike. And for the first time in a long time, the two rival unions representing Primary and Secondary School teachers found a common ground. They were angry that funds set aside to employ 28,000 extra teachers were diverted to the military and sitting Members of Parliament to increase the soldiers’ pay and ease off the tax burden on sitting honourable members of the august house.

Talking to some top Ministry of Education officials recently, I got the other side of this strike that I had not thought about. This official reminded me that for the first time, teachers were on strike on a matter that did not touch them personally. In the past they had walked out of the classroom to demand promotions, pay raise and all manner of personal allowances. On such occasions they cited rising inflation, the cost of living and all manner of reasons that make strikes credible. However, this time round, they were generous enough to go on strike for someone else, the 28,000 teachers that were yet to be employed and of course the humanitarian aspect of it; their sympathy with peasant children who are being denied better education because of lack of enough teachers.

If you ask me, these are truly noble ideals that are worth going on strike for; selfless desire to be our brothers keepers. However, if teachers are on strike because there are not enough teachers in our schools; if these teachers are indeed on strike because children in public schools are getting a raw deal compared to their counterparts in private schools then may be the whole country should be on strike. I’ll tell you why.

Let us look at the health sector in our country where citizens expect government service delivery so that their wellbeing can make us a strong, healthy and productive nation. When you walk around in divisional health centers, district and provincial hospitals; what hits you most is lack of basic facilities like beds, bed sheets, blankets, medicines and acute shortage of doctors, nurses and other paramedics. Getting healthcare in a public hospital is a nightmare. The lines waiting to be attended to by the few nurses and doctors keep growing longer with each passing day. It is not uncommon for a seriously ill person to travel long distances to a district hospital, queue for treatment the whole day and still return to his village without being attended to. Should the health workers go on strike citing inadequate personnel to man public hospitals? Should they go on strike because many sick Kenyans are dying unattended?

Another sector that is seriously short of personnel is the police force. Because of this shortage, most Kenyans cannot enjoy security and protection either in their homes or at their work place. Too often one police station can be in charge of a division with a population of 100,000 people. In most cases such police station hardly has 10 police officers. More often than not such a police station does not have a single vehicle to be used in case of a distress call and even if it had a vehicle, chances that that vehicle would lack fuel are very high. It is therefore not uncommon to call a police station when a robbery is in progress in one’s apartment and get a response that the station has no vehicle or fuel. In some instances a few sadistic police officers would ask a victim in distress to go and pick them up to come to the scene of crime!

Should our police force go on strike to demand that their number be increased, more vehicles given to them to combat crime and that each station gets enough fuel for their operations? Should they go on strike because many more Kenyans are unnecessarily being killed by thugs when they could have saved such lives if only there more police men, more vehicles and more fuel to run such vehicles?

Perhaps one of the government departments with the worst service delivery in Kenya is the judiciary. Too often we have shouted at the roof tops that justice delayed is justice denied. Too often petty offenders are locked up in remand prisons for months and even years before their cases are determined. Quite often, suspects charged with capital offences can remain in custody for up to five or even ten years before their fate is determined. And we have always cited lack of enough courts, magistrates and judges to hear these cases and determine them on time. Now that teachers have gone on strike because their numbers are not enough, should magistrates, judges and prosecutors also go on strike to protest the suffering of criminals in our police stations and remand prisons?

Do not get me wrong. I am not disparaging the teachers’ strike. All I’m saying is that when it comes to service delivery in our public institutions, we have a handful of challenges beyond the scarcity of teachers. However, one good thing that this strike has done to us has been to open our eyes to a myriad problems we face as a nation. Now it is up to us to pick the lessons learnt and pressurize the government to do better in these departments. We need more doctors, nurses, paramedics, policemen and even more beds in hospitals as we make sure we have enough teachers in our classrooms.



Posted on 10 September 2011

Columnist – John Sammon
Columnist - John Sammon. Click to view larger picture.The 10-year anniversary of 9-11 will include memorializing and flag-waving on television networks under the motto “We Won’t Forget,” but will not include any mention of our attack on Iraq in a false attempt to link that country to 9-11.

We choose to forget that part.

No mention will be made of the approximate million Iraqis killed in a war started by George Bush and Dick Cheney, who lied us into a war by claiming that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was involved in 9-11. Bush later openly admitted they weren’t.

He has never faced justice for these deceptions.

Apparently, what Americans choose to remember in the 9-11 tragedy through the media is selective.

The fanatics who did 9-11, mostly Saudi Arabians, came from a country with which we have the friendliest of relations. Let’s say for argument’s sake these nuts attacked us and will do so in the future for no other reason than they don’t like us because we are primarily a Christian country.

That still doesn’t change the fact that we attacked Iraq because we didn’t like its leader, and killed a million people not to mention the lives of U.S. soldiers lost because we falsely tried to tie Iraq to 9-11. The perpetrators of this misdeed remain unpunished, even glorified.

The observances of 9-11 will also include no objective assessment of our role in the Middle East in past history, and how it has helped to de-stabilize the region and give impetus to extremists. Let me give some specific examples of the history Americans choose to forget, or are totally unaware of.

Let’s take Iran. The United State backed the former Shah of Iran, a brutal dictator who had secret police forces imprisoning and murdering Iranians. Backing by the U.S. fueled hatred of the U.S. in that country and gave unwitting help to extremists under the Ayatollah Khomeini, which led to the taking of American hostages at the embassy there and the current hostile, authoritarian regime.

Our behavior in the Middle East has been less than wise.

How about Egypt? We supported Hosni Mubarak, a ruthless dictator now facing court trial, virtually right up until the time he was overthrown by a popular people’s street movement.

What about Saddam? We supplied equipped and encouraged him guaranteeing him we wouldn’t let him lose a war with Iran. Former Bush Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld posed for a famous picture shaking Saddam’s hand in his palace.

We choose to forget that.

We gave at least voiced support to rebel units fighting the Russians in Afghanistan during the last of the Cold War who later became the Taliban.

We choose to forget that too.

The list goes on and on.

Bush and Cheney approved the torture of prisoners and threw out the rules of the Geneva Convention, instituted a gulag of camps in which prisoners had no recourse to an attorney, and instituted illegal wiretap spying on American citizens that violated The Bill of Rights under the guise of making us safer and which was ludicrously and perversely called “The Patriot Act.”

We’ll also forget that.

Rather than acting as a peace broker in the Middle East, which occasionally we have, for example, the attemptedCamp David Peace Accords between Israel and Egypt, we have pretty much given Israel a blank check to do whatever it wanted. This included pushing Palestinians out of ancestral homelands and building settlements which has heightened tensions.

Our memorializing of 9-11 will not include an overall objective assessment of this history as a whole. The idea conveyed will be that the U.S., innocent of ever doing anything unwise, was picked on for no reason by evil people.

There is some truth to this. But that is a stilted viewpoint.

What terrorists did on 9-11 is evil. They are fanatics. The heroism of responders to the tragedy and the loss and sacrifice should be remembered and honored.

But to selectively choose to remember only what we want to or to “cherry pick” history so that a one-sided viewpoint (good guys versus evil fanatics) is presented does no one any good. History is not a vacuum, or wearing blinders, but a long catalog of events, often decisions errantly made.

Our history of involvement in the Middle East has not always been wise. That will not be discussed during the remembrances of 9-11. This website,, allows me to say this. Other websites will not and would censor what you are reading here because they are afraid or angry with ideas with which they don’t agree.

There is nothing unpatriotic about the truth, or criticizing the government of this country for its past mistakes in a volatile region. It is not unpatriotic to disagree in a so-called “Free” country.