Thank you to Patricia Amira who sent me this – it should be on everyone’s blog!
Subject: If you are a woman – READ THIS – Bottle water Toxins and Cancer. Men read this for your sisters, mothers, wives,daughters. Friends. IF YOU ALREADY KNOW THIS ENSURE THAT EVERYONE AROUND YOU DOES…INCLUDING HOUSEHELP.
No matter how many times you get this
Please send it on!!!!
Bottled water in your car is very dangerous!
On the Ellen show, Sheryl Crow said that this is what caused her breast cancer.
It has been identified as the most common cause of the high levels of dioxin in breast cancer tissue.
Sheryl Crow’s oncologist told her:women should not drink bottled water that has been left in a car.
The heat reacts with the chemicals in the plastic of the bottle which releases dioxin into the water. Dioxin is a toxin increasingly found in breast cancer tissue.
So please be careful and do not drink bottled water that has been left in a car.
Pass this on to all the women in your life. This information is the kind we need to know that just might save us!
Use a stainless steel canteen or a glass bottle instead of plastic!
LET EVERYONE WHO HAS A WIFE / GIRLFRIEND / DAUGHTER KNOW PLEASE!
This information is also being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center .
No plastic containers in microwaves.
No plastic water bottles in freezers.
No plastic wrap in microwaves.
Dioxin chemical causes cancer, especially breast cancer.
Dioxins are highly poisonous to cells in our bodies.
Don’t freeze plastic bottles with water in them as this releases dioxins from the plastic.
Recently the Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital , was on a TV program to explain this health hazard.
He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us.He said that we should not be heating food in the microwave using plastic containers….
This especially applies to foods that contain fat.
He said that the combination of fat, high heat and plastic releases dioxin into the food.
Instead, he recommends using glass, such as Pyrex or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same result, but without the dioxin.
So, such things as TV dinners, instant soups, etc.,should be removed from their containers and heated in something else.
Paper isn’t bad but you don’t know what is in the paper. It’s safer to use tempered glass, such as Pyrex, etc.
He reminded us that a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the styrene foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons…
Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Cling film, is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave.
As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food.
Cover food with a paper towel instead.
This is an article that should be sent to anyone important in your life!
Before I read this I thought plastic was bad for baby baboons
I’ve been inundated with requests for more information about the biogas system after my good friend Jagi told all his friends and they told theirs so on … I love social networking but in this case it’s socialnetWORKING.
I got a comment from Stephen Kamau who says
“EYE WITTNESS-This system really works.I bought the system through M-pesa after visiting a home in Transmara where i found Dominic stiring cow shit, and when he explained how it works,i decided to purchase. I installed it myself with my wife giving hand when i needed help and, after three weeks there was more gas than what our kitchen requires.
Thank you for the easiest technology.”
This blog is for all those people who want a share of Stephens joy.
Everyone who has seen my biogas system above, has asked how to get one. Loads of people want to buy one for their mother back in the village. Yes you can have one!
If you’d like to order it, simply call Dominic 0722 700 530 to place your order or email him Dominic Wanjihia firstname.lastname@example.org. The costs vary but range from Ksh 45,000 to 55,000. Specifics can all be found here on the Simply Logic official website http://www.biogas.co.ke/
Start with basics. What is biogas?
Biogas is the gas produced by the biological breakdown of organic matter through fermentation. The gas is made up of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Methane is highly combustible with oxygen when in contact with air. This occurs in anaerobic conditions which is in the absence of oxygen.
Biogas can be produced from a variety of materials such as manure, sewage, garden and kitchen wastes, and yes, your own dung.
Methane biogas burns hotter than butane with a beautiful blue hue – it helps to have someone beautiful to cook for you too (no that’s not me).
Thus, biogas is a low-cost fuel which can be used for any heating purpose, such as cooking and boiling water.
Justification for biogas use in Kenya
Everyone knows that Kenyas forests are disappearing because of charcoal and even though it’s leading to climate change, water shortages and power cuts, yet everyone still uses charcoal!
Some scary facts
- It is estimated that wood makes up 95% of domestic energy use in Kenya.
- The per capita use of wood is 1 ton per year! Crikey there are more than 40 million of us now!What about next year and the next and on and on….
- Natural replacement rates of wood fuel are estimated to be less than 60% – ie wood supplies are disappearing by 40 % each year in Kenya.
- Given the above, there will be no (affordable) charcoal in the near future. We need alternative affordable energy.
Most Kenyans have no alternative fuel source to wood fuel. 75% of the population, lives in rural areas with no access to, or money to afford liquid gas or Kerosene. But the good news is that nearly everyone has a cow – or access to one.
Actually biogas can be produced from any biological waste so rural farmers and pastoral communities can produce more than enough energy though biogas if they just had digesters… that’s where we come in
The miracle of Biogas
Before you get too excited let me remind you that biogas is not a new concept. Ancient Persians observed that rotting vegetables produce flammable gas and in 1859 Indians built the first sewage plant in Bombay. Biogas has been used in China for 2,000–3,000 years. It’s just that we in Kenya are ridiculously slow in adopting appropriate and obvious technology.
Two types of biogas digesters have been previously promoted in Kenya. The floating dome type from India and fixed dome types from China. Both are used widely in their home countries but haven’t done all that well here.
Studies have been done to find out why Kenyans don’t take to biogas and have come up with several reasons -
- Fixed dome and floating top systems are very expensive to install with costs ranging from Kes 150,000 and upwards for domestic systems. Ie. it’s just too expensive.
- They require technical expertise in construction which requires masonry stones and cement. It can take several days or weeks to construct. This adds to the cost and sheer scaryness of it.
- Metal parts of the dome are prone to rusting requiring regular repair or replacement
- Since it’s a construction, the user must own the land due to the construction requirements
- Parts are bulky requiring expensive truck transportation – we all know what a rip off it is to hire a pick up or lorry
- Some of the parts are imported and are not locally produced or widely available
Enter the (Dominic) FLEXIGAB biogas digester
Dominic Wanjihia has been scratching his head about the energy problems in rural parts of Kenya. Just think about it, if you are reading this blog you probably have an obvious source of energy, electricity.
All you need is one energy source to provide you with all the conveniences you need – fridge, stove, hot water, lights. Without electricity your life would be severely compromised – no way to cool and store food, no way to work at night, watch TV, listen to radio, have a hot shower … and most of all, no way to work! But that’s how many Kenyans live. No wonder we are losing so much productivity.
After seeing piles of dung wasting away at Maasai Manyatta’s, and the owners lamenting the flies, Dominic wondered why they weren’t making and using biogas – afterall, the women spend hours fetching firewood. The simple reason – they didn’t know anything about it.
Building a fixed dome by a manyatta didnt’ seem all that acceptable or convenient, especially if the family moved, and getting materials into remote areas was another challenge. Then there’s the cost – the underground dome systems cost too many cattle. So started the flow of ideas – the Maasai needed something transportable, cheap and easy to operate,
That’s the true story of how the Flexibag biogas digester was born.
Dominic scratched his head some more, toured the juakali sector for materials, parts, ideas, pipes, and started sewing things together… testing what works and what doesn’t. We did a lot of research on the internet – bags have been used before but they failed due to light weight materials used. After many experiments and failures we now have something that works incredibly well.
The system Dom finally settled on is so simple it made him laugh. It comprises a heavy duty rubber bag as the digester. It sits mostly above ground and uses PVC pipes for inputs and outputs. Plastic gas pipes tap the gas from the digester and transfer it to the point of use. If the volume of gas is low the pressure can be increased by simply adding pressure to the biogas bag by placing 4 – 6 jerrycans full of sand on top (nothing with sharp edges should be used).
Some simple facts about WHY YOU SHOULD GET ONE OF THESE.
- It is cheap –
Ksh 28,000 (USD 400)Ksh 45,000 (sorry folks I’ve had to update this today for the new and much improved digesters (March 2nd 2011) – check Simply Logic Website for all updates on costings) for the bag and pipes making it affordable for domestic and small businesses (appliances are a separate cost).
- Cooking appliances can run directly from the biogas after a slight modification.
- It is made from locally available and affordable materials. Ie there is no need for imported parts
- Durable – the envelope is made of a very strong rubberized textile which is tear resistant materials. To protected from sunlight with a layer of grass, and from livestock by surrounding with a small fence
- It is light weight and easily portable – this system can be quickly transported into rural areas weighing 10 kg and packs small enough to be carried on a bicycle or motorbike.
- If you decide to move it, it is easily transferrable. There is no masonry construction involved in setting up this system so the bag can be emptied, rolled up and moved to a new location.
- Installation is quick – the only requirement is to level a patch of ground. the time taken to install build the system is only a few minutes for roll out the envelope and connect pipes.
- In the event of rips, tears (vandalism) or broken pipes, repair of the system is easy, quick and cheap (no digging and masonry works)
- Biogas production is rapid – being above ground promotes rapid gas production attributed to the high temperatures achievable by direct sun exposure‘
Let me explain how it works. You add fresh cow dung that has been mashed with water til it’s smooth like porridge into the poop pipe in the foreground. Once in the bag it begins to ferment and move slowly across the digester till it’s “exhausted”. Gas that is formed presses down on the poop and pushes the exhausted stuff out of the orange pipe in the background. If the gas pressure rises because you aren’t using enough gas, it will simply push more poop out the other end. No, it can’t explode and shower you with wet dung.
We found that two big buckets of dung were enough to keep a household of 3 plus 4 dogs going continuously.
The pipe in the middle is the gas pipe – simply connect that to your gas stove* Note that this sytem will not work on those fancy Hotpoint cooker jobbies, we’re talking about 1 or 2 ring Mekko type stoves which are specially adapted for biogas which does not come under as much pressure as methane in a tank. Once modified the stove cannot be restored to a methane stove. We have also made special burners for ovens – special is an overstatement, they are so simple you will cry.
10. The envelope digester will produce and hold up to 5 cubic meters of gas which is adequate for one family cooking needs for 2 days. As long as dung is added daily the gas production can be maintained.
11. The capacity of the system is easily expanded – to increase gas capacity (eg for several houses, a village or school), simply add more flexi bags beside the initial one and connect with pipes.
12. The exhausted dung is emitted by the system automatically and has no bad odour (dung will need to remain in the bag for up to 3 months to be fully digested). It is channeled directly to the farm or vegetable patch where it can be used immediately (no further composting required).
13. This system can be adapted to include human wastes as well as kitchen wastes.
14. The cost of Flexibag system will be offset within 2 years afterwhich the cost of gas is free.
I did a simple calculation and worked it out
|Options||Cost (US$ )||Time to install (days)||Labour||Maintenance||Durability|
|Fixed dome||1,500 – 2000||21||5 people||Low||Decades|
|Floating top||2,000 – 3,500||21||5 people||Low||Decades|
|Flexi bag envelope||400||1||1 person||Low||10 – 15 years|
|Fuelwood or LPG cylinders||200 (per year)||0||0|
I bet you want to ask, but does the system REALLY work?
Yes it does. I’ve installed one at home and my gas cylinder is now idle. So many people want to know more about thow it works, and especially how to get one. Well, hopefully it’s all in this blog post
Your mother needs one of these
If you would like to see a demonstration, or order one of these, simply call Dominic 0722 730500 to place your order or email him Dominic Wanjihia email@example.com
This is how I fee, totally parlaysed. Should we vote Red or green on Kenya’s proposed new constitution?
Lest We Forget, Dr MAKODINGO has attempted a historical review. Hope it helps…
Origin of Kenya
The territory now known as Kenya came into existence on 12th December 1897 as a protectorate of the British Monarch. The people were put under the political and military patronage of the Queen of England.
In 1920, Kenya was made a British Colony, the territory becoming part of the British Empire.
Imposition of colonial order was achieved through military force, introduction of a new faith, use of English law in place of African Customary laws and the imposition of an economic order that was intended to create wealth for the colonial settlers. Existing constitutional orders of the African communities were destroyed.
An administrative system of Chiefs, Dos, DCs and PCs were created to enforce the colonial order.
This oppressive system was vehemently opposed by the African peoples. Three factors combined to accelerate and bring about the desired changes under the colonial order: Resistance by local communities, Weakening of the British Empire by the cost of World War II, and the increased climate for self-determination and respect for human rights.
Constitutional Landmarks to Independence:
1954: The Littleton Constitution.
§ Named after the then Colonial Secretary, Sir Littleton
§ This was the first Multiracial Constitution
§ Established a Council of Ministers of 12
§ 6 were to be appointed by the Governor
§ 6 Elected: 3 Europeans, 2 Asians and 1 African.
o The African representatives rejected these arrangements.
1958: Lenox-Boyd Constitution
§ Increased the Council of Ministers to 16
§ Half elected, and half Appointed.
§ Europeans were still the majority.
§ Redistribution of Land, release of political prisoners and Repeal of repressive laws not addressed
§ Demand for full independence was in the air
§ Africans demanded for a Constitutional Conference to negotiate for Independence.
1960: Macleod Constitution
§ A product of Lancaster I in 1960
§ Provided for a majority of Africans in LEGCO( of 65 Members) and Council of Ministers
§ Provided for Independence
§ Alluded to self-internal government.
1961: First Multiracial Election
§ Held in February 1961
§ KANU won the polls but refused to form Government demanding the release of Kenyatta as a precondition
§ KADU, the opposition formed government
1962: Lancaster II
§ Resulted into internal self-rule
§ Queen still had control over Legislature, defence, Internal security and Foreign Affairs
§ Majimbo present
1963: Constitution passed as an Act of British Parliament in April and became Law May 31st 1963.
§ Fully Bicameral Parliament with 131 House of Representatives and 41 Senators
§ Cabinet headed by PM
§ First internal government took office on June 1st 1963
§ Marked the first Madaraka Day
§ Later, Lancaster III was held
§ In December the Country became Independent as a Dominion but not a republic
§ The Queen was still the Head of State, and PM Kenyatta Head of Government
1964: Independent Parliament amended the Constitution to make Kenya a Republic
§ Majimbo system heavily eroded
§ Concentration of power in the presidency began
§ Created the basis of a single-party system
Between 1964 and 1991, successive amendments sought and did achieve to recreate the Colonial Order in Kenya, only this time, a Kenyan was the Monarch.
Note that even after independence;
§ Colonial repressive laws remained unchanged
§ Colonial Administrative system remained intact
§ The political system became a wealth-creating system for the elite through corruption.
Between the short period covering 1963 and 1991, the Kenya Constitution was amended several times. These include:
1. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 28 of 1964
§ Made Kenya a Republic
§ Created office of the President and made him both Head of State and Government
§ President elected by House of representatives constituted as Electoral college
§ Executive Authority of Jimbos highly watered down
§ Modified provisions for Citizenship and local authorities
2. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 2) Act No 38 of 1964
§ Transferred to Parliament powers to alter regional boundaries. Originally the power of the regions
§ Independent sources of revenue to regions stopped making them entirely dependent on Central Government
§ Regional Presidents designated Chairmen
§ Appointing authority of Judges given absolutely the President’s. Requirement for consultation with at least 4 Regional presidents before appointing CJ removed
§ Ex-Officio MPs lose their votes in NA
3. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 14 of 1965
§ Constitution amendment threshold reduced from 90% to 65% in Senate and 75% to 65%
§ Executive power of regions deleted completely
§ Abolished appeals to privy councils; Supreme Court replaced with High Court
§ Approval of Emergency increased from 7 to 21 days and threshold reduced to simple majority from 65%
§ Removed provisions concerning control of Agricultural land transactions from the Constitution
4. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 16 of 1966
§ Required MPs who had not attended NA for over 8 sittings or imprisoned for over 6 months to lose their seats ( Many KANU rebels were not going to NA) and some had joined KPU
§ Minister in charge of citizenship given discretion to grant Citizenship to Commonwealth citizens residing in Kenya for over 6 months
§ Increased powers to rule by decree in NEP
§ National Youth Service included in disciplined forces.
5. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 2)Act No 17 of 1966/Turn Coat Rule
§ Required for an MP to seek re-election at the end of the session of his defection
§ Meant to deal with Odinga and Co who had left KANU for KPU without resigning their seats. Odinga and Kenyatta’s wars started in earnest.
6. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 3) Act No 18 of 1966
§ Period of NA review of Emergency orders increased from 2 to 8 months
§ Greater and wider derogations of Fundamental right and freedoms permitted. Removed the provision calling for reasonable justification for such derogations
§ Meant to allow for detention of recently defected KPU leaders
7. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 4) Act No 19 of 1966
§ Both houses amalgamated to form on National Assembly
§ Increased constituencies by 41 to accommodate Senate MPs
§ Quorum of NA fixed at 30
§ Speaker of NA made Chair of ECK assisted by two Presidential appointees
§ References to Senate deleted and life of NA extended to end in June 1970 instead of 1968
8. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 4 of 1967
§ Meant to clear doubt over Section 42A (Turn Coat Rule)
§ Backdated the effect of the Fifth Amendment to 1963.
§ KPU members argued that the amendment came after they had decamped
9. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 16 of 1968
§ Abolished Provincial Councils and deleted from the constitution any references to the provincial and district boundaries and alterations thereof
10. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 2) Act No 16 of 1968
§ Election of President made to be by Universal Suffrage
§ Every party required to nominate a Presidential Candidate
§ Ballot paper made to pair President and MP from same party
§ Independent candidates barred from contesting
§ Qualifications for presidency introduced
§ President empowered to appoint members of PSC and nominate 12 MPs
§ Altered provisions of presidential succession and removed parliamentary approval for state of emergency declaration
11. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 5 of 1969
§ Consolidated all the Constitutional amendments as at February 1969 thereby resulting in a revised Constitution for Kenya in one document which was declared to be the authentic document
§ Membership of ECK altered by making all members appointed by the President
12. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 10 of 1974
§ Reduced the age of voting from 21 to 18
13. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 5 of 1974
§ Made Kiswahili one of the official languages of the National Assembly
14. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 1 of 1975
§ Repealed Constitution of Kenya(Amendment) No 2 of 1974
§ Provided that all financial resolutions and written laws be presented to the House shall be written in English, and all other issues would be debated in Kiswahili
§ Extended the Presidential prerogative to include annulling disqualifications arising out of a ruling of the Elections Court – Ngei Amendment (meant to benefit Ngei)
15. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 13 of 1977
§ Established the Court of Appeal
§ Abolished the right to directly remit compensation for acquisition of property abroad without complying with foreign exchange regulations
16. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 1 of 1979
§ Provided for use of English as an alternative Parliamentary language
§ Proficiency in Kiswahili made a prerequisite for qualification for people seeking parliamentary office
17. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 5 of 1979
§ Specified period within which a civil servant must resign to seek office
§ 6 months prior to preliminary elections
18. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 7 of 1982
§ Introduced Section 2A that changed Kenya from a de facto to de jure one party state making Kenya a one-party state by Law
§ Turn coat rule(Fifth Amendment) repealed
§ Definition of a Political Party deleted
§ Method of nominations for General Elections amended making them a preserve of KANU
19. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 6 of 1986
§ Repealed Section 89 which provided for automatic Citizenship for people born in Kenya after Dec 1963. Henceforth, either of your parents must be Kenyan
20. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 14 of 1986
§ removed Security of Tenure of AG and Auditor & Controller General
§ abolished office of Chief Secretary
§ provided for a new min 168 and max 188 Constituencies
21. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 20 of 1987
§ Made all Capital offences non-bailable
§ torture of Political prisoners entrenched in the Criminal Justice system
22. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 8 of 1988
§ Legalised detention of Capital offenders for 14 days without trial allowing for time to torture
§ Removed security of tenure of Constitutional office Holders
23. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act 1990
§ Returned the Security of tenure of Constitutional office Holders
§ Provided for a max of 210 and min of 188 Constituencies
24. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 12 of 1991
§ Repealed Section 2A of the Constitution hence ending the de jure one-party rule in Kenya
§ The Turn Coat Rule (Fifth Amendment) was reintroduced
§ The nomination procedure leading to elections of the National Assembly and Presidency were amended to accommodate multi-partism
§ A definition of a political party was adopted.
The Amendments were meant to:
- Strengthening the Executive relative to the other arms of government
- Emasculating other arms of government
- Derogating fundamental human rights and civil liberties
Why the Amendments require Constitutional Review
- They have made the President more powerful than the King
- Led to manipulation of Legislature and Judiciary
- The Presidency controls distribution of national resources
- The people(Civil Society) have no say on [policy formulation and implementation
- Sycophancy and Corruption have been institutionalised
- Less protection of Human Rights
- Made it difficult for democracy to thrive
- Citizens are cowed by force of oppressive laws
- Elections are manipulated
- Tribalism and Ethnic animosity institutionalised i.e. through quota system
Dr MAKODINGO Washington, BPharm,MPSK
Registered Pharmacist and Constitutional Expert,
P O Box 60113 – 00200 Nairobi
“I’m not arrogant, just Smarter”
Nothing can prepare you for losing your best friend. When Panda passed on, at first I couldn’t believe it, then I was angry, intensely angry, then filled with guilt and sadness. It has taken me some weeks to come to terms with her death, and it’s still excruciatingly painful to recall memories of her.
I was travelling in the United States when I first learned that she had been bitten by a leopard. Living on the edge of the Nairobi Park we always knew our pets would be at risk, but Panda was too smart to get into trouble. If anyone was to get caught by a leopard or lion, we thought, it would be the other older, slower, geriatric and arthritic members of the Kahumbu-Greste Pack – Harry or Sniffy. So when I got that shocking email that Panda had been attacked but had survived I was sad but relieved. The vet said she was torn up but she’d be ok. X-ray revealed no major damage and by the third day she was up and about, he promised she’d be home by the weekend. We planned how we’d re-arrange our daily programs and looked forward to nursing her back to health. But the day before she was to come home she silently passed away in the night without any warning.
I felt cheated.
I remember well my last adventure with Panda. We had gone to the Kiserian river – Panda was addicted to water and we couldn’t stop her from leaping in. We spent hours trying to get her out of the raging water but she was in doggy-heaven swimming in circles, and ‘laughing’ at us on the slopes and bridge above. When I say addicted to water I mean SERIOUSLY ADDICTED – any amount of water would do for panda to try and submerge herself. Muddy ponds and rivers along the daily walk were what she looked for. The muddier the better.
We feared a croc would get her that day, and we knew that we’d be helpless if that happened. I was almost hoarse with screaming and whistling for her – we had to pretend to go home for her to emerge, and shake her sodden coat all over us – punishment for cutting short her game. She lost her brand new beaded collar in the river that day – it was a beautiful colourful rainbow job with her name boldly across it. We searched but never found it.
Everyone who met her was affected by Panda. Many asked where she was from, what kind of dog she was and where they could get one like her. She was beautiful. She had a face shaped like a shepherd, partly white partly brown – hence her name. She had pointed ears and her lips seemed to be painted, as well as her eyelids. She had the look of a dog wearing make-up. Under all the long silky fur she had a smallish body, with the most spectacular fox like tail. Unlike any dog I’ve ever seen Panda had the ability to speak with her eyes, she could make hundreds of expressions with her eyes alone ; confusion, smiling, sad, questioning, begging, tired, alert, suspicious, about to attack you, about to play …. What kind of dog was she? Well our vet said she was some sort of water dog, but we always suspected that Panda was actually a dog from space, some sort of curious alien sent to earth to experiment on humans and send signals back to the home planet. We got her from Kilifi one Christmas many years ago – she was Joshua’s dog, but make no mistake, he didn’t chose her, Panda chose him.
She was one of many little black puppies being sold by a cheating old German lady in Kilifi who must have thought we were ignorant fools. She wanted tens of thousands for this “German Shepherd with a rare white gene” – I could have laughed when she produced vaccination records in a pathetic attempt to persuade me that these were the pedigree certificates. Seeing that the place was a disgusting puppy mill, I planned only to get out of there as fast as possible and report them to the KSPCA. But as we sat there surrounded by sickly stinking puppies and their emaciated parents, one ugly pup leaped onto Joshuas lap and lovingly licked his chin.
That was the moment he knew that he had been chosen.
One hundred dollars later as we drove off with the smelly ball of flea filled fur and a belly full of worms I felt distinctly robbed. She was black with a white patch on her face and there was nothing pleasant about her … but she would not be ignored, she had an adorable and adoring face. That was five years ago. I feel deep guilt for almost leaving her, no amount money could be worth Panda and the joy she brought to us, and we would pay any amount of money to bring her back.
Even after a bath panda was still very ugly but she had an insatiable desire to play. Harry was the play-thing off which she hung as he yelped helplessly in pain. She had very weird features and the other dogs hated her. Her introduction to Kelly the matriarch was a chase down the lawn and a very serious bite on the back if the neck. But soon the others grudgingly accepted her. Joshua loved her and she loved him twice as much back. She loved sleeping on his bed, she didn’t like being cuddled by anyone else and would rarely look us in the eye, well, unless you had something she really wanted. Unlike most shepherds, she got on with everyone and she would observe us in a way that felt distinctly as if we were being ‘studied’. As she grew up we realized just how special she was.
When Josh tried to teach her some tricks we discovered that she was not just smart, she was super smart. The dog training book called for repetitive attempts to teach the dog to sit, lie down, beg, stay, and retrieve. Panda learned the tricks so quickly that we ran out of things to teach her. She could sniff out things with amazing skill – and combined with her love to chase balls meant that tennis played badly was a game that everyone including Panda could enjoy. If the ball went out of court she would find it within seconds. We once lost a squash ball down a steep rock slope of the rift valley – within minutes she found it, and many others that previous players had lost over the years.
To Panda all other dogs were playthings, and all human beings were created to throw stones, balls, sticks, Frisbees or anything else. She seemed to understand English and it didn’t’ matter what accent was used. When KK said “Poshishon” she knew what he meant and would sit in a specific spot to wait for food. We started all using the word but it took me a long time to understand that “Poshishon” meant “Position!” – it was his way of getting all the dogs to sit to attention before meals were served.
For years KK, our gardner, was to Panda the provider of food and play. He didn’t teach her anything, she taught him. By tracking his footprints in the beach he saw that she could find him no matter how hard he tried to hide. This led to a game that revealed just how powerful her sense of smell was. We could hide a rock or toy anywhere around the house and she would trace our steps and find it. This worked without fail and became a favourite party trick. When conversation slowed you could trust Panda to revive the crowd. And she loved other people and crowds. Panda would make a point of introducing herself to everyone, including neighbours and visiting strangers. She was especially friendly when they had parties and would notice the activity as parties were being prepared and join in. Nobody ever complained but we always apologized and tried to bring her back – she’d always find a way of going back.
Joshua began to question Panda’s loyalty when she responded more to KK than to him. At 12 years he didn’t understand that she could bond with several people. I tried to explain but he was in tears and decided to test her loyalty. One day he took her for a walk then collapsed and feigned dead. He thought she’d abandon him and justify his sore feelings, but she didn’t. She sniffed him all over, seeing that he was ok and probably sleeping she simply curled up beside him and went to sleep too. Josh was the only person who could actually snuggle with Panda, she didn’t like anyone else getting too close to her face although she would concede and let anyone give her a good back scratch.
Panda didn’t just play, she let us play with her too. She’d be up for any experiment, any adventure, and she also loved just curling up at my feet. When she wasn’t playing she’d be exploring, sniffing things out like hedgehogs, warthogs and genet cats. Now that I’ve mentioned it – cats. … whoa betide any cats in the area, …. Well domestic cats anyway. She always tried to do the right thing – perhaps she’d seen us killing rats or somehow knew that rats were not acceptable, Panda would go for anything small and rat like. Sometimes she’d get it totally wrong. One year she caught a giant rat, it’s a friendly cat sized forest animal that does not spread disease. Well she killed it and attempted to eat it. But she left the best part for me. I knew that something was wrong by the stench coming from the sofa on the veranda. There placed perfectly on the couch was the head of giant rat – she had eaten the rest of it but it had sickened her and she had thrown up little bundles of hair with tiny feet. I didn’t know what she’d eaten until I found my gift, the rotting head. The smell permeated the entire house and left us retching for days. She couldn’t have known that she did anything wrong and that experience didn’t stop her from catching rats elsewhere and delivering them like parcels at the kitchen door.
They say that dogs are like their owners – yes Peter was like Harry the golden lab, blond, always eating, friendly – far to friendly and extremely gullible. But Josh is just like Panda, wild free spirited and yes, they both share a coat full of dreadlocks.
I don’t think we ever understood or fully appreciated the capacity of her intelligence. Panda seemed to understand a huge vocabulary and learned many tricks, but perhaps what was most unique about Panda was her ability to sense the feelings of those around her. Last year after a particularly painful operation when I came home sore and sickly. She seemed to instinctively know that she had to be gentle with me. I could see the understanding of my pain in her eyes, in the way she behaved around me and in her attempts to gently please me. She would also herd away the other ignorant dogs if they were being too rough or close to me by using her body to shield me from them and their rough attempts to play.
I got the news that Panda had died when I was visiting Josh in Boston. We were both in shock, unable to talk or grieve properly. I know that like me he must have cried and cried. It didn’t make any sense, we weren’t prepared, and both of us felt cheated of a chance to say goodbye to her. We aren’t the only ones who grieved her loss, everyone at home was devastated, including the dogs. From his expressions, Pluto seemed to also understand that she had died and for weeks the other dogs didn’t go out doors and lost all interest in walks or playing. They lay about as if grieving. The life of the pack had been stripped. I know that my life has totally changed too and I struggle with memories of her every day. It’s hard to explain why she was so important to us. When giving away one of her last puppies I couldn’t be there when the lady came to meet the pups. She called me to tell me how thrilled she was with all our dogs and especially the puppy she chose and asked if we would come to her house and spend time with her. She said that she we must be a lovely people – and that she could tell through the personalities of our dogs. Most people would be insulted if they were told that they were like their dogs, not me, I am honored that someone thinks that I’m at least as good as Panda was.
On March 10th Panda was fatally wounded by a leopard that attacked as she tried to escape. She had spent the previous three nights barking incessantly from inside the kitchen where she slept with the other dogs for her own protection from predators. On that day at 10.30 am she barked and barked at a small bush then suddenly turned and ran. A leopard emerged from the bush and caught her within a few bounds. It was not at all surprising that she died trying to protect us.
RIP Panda, sweet sweet girl.
|According to the BBC, this is a chronology of key events that shaped Kenya:
You’ll notice that they conveniently forget that the Chinese were in Kenya from the 15th Century…
They also don’t mention that over 14,000 Kenyans died during Mau Mau – and less than 100 whites
Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta (his name means the light of KEnya) wore endangered species skins and carried an ivory walking stick). Like Presidents Moi and Kibaki after him, he showed little concern for the environment and wildlife and left a legacy of destruction. His own direct relatives engaged in the ivory and rhino horn trade leading to the collapse of Kenyas herds. Frankly the British didn’t do much good either – they started the whole concept of killing animals and destroying our forests. Grrrrr…..
Interestingly the post election violence that rocked Kenya in 2007 elections saw 1,500 killed, vs less well reported 2000 who are reported to have been killed in 1992 elections.
Bombing of the Norfolk Hotel in 1980 is not mentioned
Listen to one of Kenyattas most famous speeches here
BBC version of events
Evidence of some of the earliest human settlements has been found in Kenya, suggesting that it was the cradle of humanity from which descendents moved out to populate the world.
600 – Arabs begin settling coastal areas, over the centuries developing trading stations which facilitated contact with the Arab world, Persia and India.
16th century – Portuguese try to establish foothold on Kenyan coast but are driven off by Swahili states and Omani Arabs by late 17th century.
1830s – Omani Arabs consolidate control of coast.
1895 – Formation of British East African Protectorate.
Early 1900s – White settlers move into highlands, railway built from Mombasa to Lake Victoria.
1920 – East African Protectorate becomes crown colony of Kenya – administered by a British governor.
1944 – Kenyan African Union (KAU) formed to campaign for African independence. First African appointment to legislative council.
1947 – Jomo Kenyatta becomes KAU leader.
1952 – Secret Kikuyu guerrilla group known as Mau Mau begins violent campaign against white settlers. State of emergency declared. Kenyatta arrested.
1953 – Kenyatta charged with management of Mau Mau and jailed. KAU banned.
1956 – Mau Mau rebellion put down after thousands killed – mainly Africans.
1959 – Kenyatta released from jail but under house arrest.
1960 – State of emergency ends. Britain announces plans to prepare Kenya for majority African rule. Kenya African national Union (Kanu) formed by Tom Mboya and Oginga Odinga.
1961 – Kenyatta freed and assumes presidency of Kanu.
1963 – Kenya gains independence, with Kenyatta as prime minister.
1964 – Republic of Kenya formed. Kenyatta becomes president and Odinga vice-president.
1966 – Odinga, a Luo, leaves Kanu after ideological split, forms rival Kenya People’s Union (KPU).
1969 – Assassination of government minister Tom Mboya sparks ethnic unrest. KPU banned and Odinga arrested. Kanu only party to contest elections.
1974 – Kenyatta re-elected.
Moi era begins
1978 – Kenyatta dies in office, succeeded by Vice-President Daniel arap Moi.
1982 June – Kenya officially declared a one-party state by National Assembly.
1982 August – Army suppresses air force coup attempt. Private Hezekiah Ochuka rules for about six hours.
1987 – Opposition groups suppressed. International criticism of political arrests and human rights abuses.
1989 – Political prisoners freed.
1990 – Death of the foreign minister, Robert Ouko, in suspicious circumstances leads to increased dissent against government.
1991 August – Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (Ford) formed by six opposition leaders, including Oginga Odinga. Party outlawed and members arrested. Creditors suspend aid to Kenya amid fierce international condemnation.
1991 December – Special conference of Kanu agrees to introduce a multi-party political system.
1992 – Approximately 2,000 people killed in tribal conflict in the west of the country.
1992 August – Ford splits into two factions – Ford-Asili (led by ex-government minister Kenneth Matiba) and Ford-Kenya (led by Odinga).
1992 December – Moi re-elected in multi-party elections. Kanu wins strong majority.
1994 – Odinga dies. Opposition groups form coalition – the United National Democratic Alliance – but it is plagued by disagreements.
1995 – New opposition party – Safina – launched by palaeontologist Richard Leakey. Party refused official registration until November 1997.
1997 – Demonstrations calling for democratic reform. World Bank withholds disbursement of $5bn in structural adjustment credit.
1997 December – Moi wins further term in widely-criticised elections. His main opponents are former vice-president Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, son of Oginga Odinga.
1998 August – Bomb explodes at US embassy in Nairobi, killing 224 people and injuring thousands.
1999 – Moi appoints Richard Leakey to head government drive against corruption.
2001 April – Leakey appears in court to face charges of abuse of power and perverting the course of justice.
2001 June – Parliament passes a law allowing the import and manufacture of cheap copies of anti-Aids drugs.
2001 – Ethnic tensions culminate in several violent clashes. In December thousands flee and several people are killed in rent battles involving Nubian and Luo communities in Nairobi’s Kibera slum district.
2002 July – Some 200 Maasai and Samburu tribespeople accept more than $7m in compensation from the British Ministry of Defence. The tribespeople had been bereaved or maimed by British Army explosives left on their land over the last 50 years.
2002 November – 10 Kenyans, three Israelis are killed when an Israeli-owned hotel near Mombasa is blown up by a car bomb. A simultaneous rocket attack on an Israeli airliner fails. A statement – purportedly from al-Qaeda – claims responsibility.
2002 December – Opposition presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki wins a landslide victory over Kanu rival Uhuru Kenyatta, ending Daniel arap Moi’s 24-year rule and Kanu’s four decades in power.
2003 January – Government bill proposes anti-corruption commission. Moi critic John Githongo appointed anti-graft czar.
2003 November – International Monetary Fund (IMF) resumes lending after three-year gap, citing anti-corruption measures.
2003 December – Government decides to grant former president Daniel arap Moi immunity from prosecution on corruption charges.
2004 March-July – Long-awaited draft of new constitution completed. Document requires parliament’s approval and proposes curbing president’s powers and creating post of prime minister. But deadline for enactment is missed.
2004 July-August – Food crisis, caused by crop failures and drought, dubbed “national disaster” by President Kibaki. UN launches aid appeal for vulnerable rural Kenyans.
2004 October – Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
Controversy over jail conditions amid intense media coverage of inmate deaths at Meru jail in the east.
2005 January – Clashes over land and water rights leave more than 40 people dead.
2005 February – Corruption takes centre stage when it is claimed that graft has cost Kenya $1bn under Kibaki. Leading anti-graft official John Githongo resigns. International donors voice unease.
2005 July – Raiders kill 76 villagers, most of them women and children, in the north-east. The massacre is blamed on a rival clan.
Parliament approves a draft constitution after days of violent protests in Nairobi over aspects of the draft which demonstrators say give too much power to in the president’s hands.
2005 November-December – Voters reject a proposed new constitution in what is seen as a protest against President Kibaki. The president replaces his cabinet; some nominees reject their appointments.
2006 January – Government says four million people in the north need food aid because of a drought which the president calls a “national disaster”.
2006 January-February – Government ministers are linked to a corruption scandal involving contracts for a phantom company. One of them, Finance Minister David Mwiraria, resigns and says allegations against him are false.
2006 March – Armed police, acting on government orders, raid the offices and presses of the Standard group, one of Kenya’s leading media companies.
2006 April – Three days of national mourning are declared after an aircraft carrying several prominent politicians crashes in the north.
2006 April – Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao signs a contract allowing China to prospect for oil off the Kenyan coast. His African tour has focused on trying to satisfy China’s hunger for energy and raw materials.
2006 October – UN says some 35,000 Somalis escaping drought, Islamist rule and looming conflict have arrived in Kenyan camps since early 2006.
2006 November – December – Regional flooding renders thousands homeless. Some 100,000 Somali refugees cut off by floodwaters in the north-east are supplied by air drops.
2007 May – A Kenya Airways plane with 114 people on board crashes in Cameroon.
2007 December – Presidential elections. President Kibaki claims victory and a second term in office, prompting a wave of unrest. Opposition says polls were rigged.
Opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) wins most seats in the parliamentary election.
2008 January – Post-election violence kills more than 1,500, including an MP.
2008 February – Former UN chief Koffi Annan brokers talks between President Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, which lead to signing of a power-sharing deal.
2008 April – Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga agree cabinet list. The 40-member cabinet is Kenya’s largest and costliest ever.
2008 October – Report into post-election clashes calls for international tribunal to try those implicated in violence. Many political leaders are reluctant to implement the commission of inquiry’s recommendations, with some arguing that prosecutions could trigger further clashes between communities.
2008 December – Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) accuses seven current and former MPs of taking illegal allowances worth $250,000.
2009 July – Kenya’s cabinet announces that it will not set up a special tribunal over last year’s post-election violence, and will use local courts instead.
2009 August – Visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticises Kenya for failing to investigate the deadly violence after the 2007 election.
Kenya says that at least 10 million people, or one third of the population, are in need of food aid. The government mobilises the military to distribute food, water and medicines to areas hit hardest by drought.
2009 November – Kenya publishes a draft constitution which would cut the president’s powers and put the prime minister in charge of routine government business, fo
You can’t afford to damage your eyes while watching the awesome solar eclipse tomorrow. Buy a pair of welding glasses (Ksh 200 at most hard ware stores – test them first by looking around and towards the sun – it should be very dark glass) or follow these tips
It amazes me that an American firm can sell a pesticide so deadly that it’s banned in USA, to Kenyans and say that its needed to solve the perennial food shortage.
Carbofuran is not safe enough for Americans, and not safe enough for Kenyans. Join us at WildlifeDirect, ban carbofuran. For more information on what we are doing about the poisoning of wildlife in Kenya follow our Baraza blog and Stop Poisoning Wildlife blog
I have been going on dudu safaris with Dino Martins Kenya’s own Dr Dudulittle – a young entomologist with a passion for bugs and nature. He’s completing his PhD at Harvard and has a lot to say about his favourite animals.
We did an experiment to find out how many bugs there are in my Nairobi back yard.
Find out why wider eye spacing is sexier for the Stalk eyed flies
How dye is made from the disgusting cochineal bug “a sack of eggs with a mouth part” that parasitizes prickly pear cactus.
I’m very proud to be a good friend of Dino who you can see moves in VERY high circles…
Learn more about our extraordinary insect world through Dino’s blog Dudu Diaries on WildlifeDirect
Watch this space to learn about this gigantic monster!
Note* for those who think the word dudu is a rude word, think again. It means insect in Swahili, and insects rule the world
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