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Review of Kikulacho – the Bite Within by A24

“First they Ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win” Kikulacho – the Bite Within.

I had the pleasure of attending the premier of Kikulacho at the West Gate Mall on Tuesday with a very mixed group of Kenyans and non Kenyans… big people like Jeff Koinange, Jashpal Ghai, Richard Leakey, and several Ambassadors.

While still downstairs, the film was introduced by Transparency International’s Richard Leakey and A24 Media’s Director Salim Amin who is the son of Mohammed Amin. We could hardly hear the speeches but before we they let us into the auditorium with popcorn and a free soda, they left us with a bizarre  warning

“Do not enjoy this film”.

An hour later I understood but felt they had understated things. They should have warned us that the film would assault our senses, shock us, depress us and leave us without an answer. I came out totally shell shocked. It’s a horror film, the horrors of what we have done to the place we call home, our beloved country, Kenya.

It starts like an old fashioned movie about an Indian family in Parklands in Nairobi. They are waking up and getting ready for the day, the handsome man is shaving, listens to the radio while his kids are finishing homework. The diligent wife in flowery vintage dress is pouring tea for breakfast. She asks what’s on the news – he says something forgettable about the land issue ..then kisses her goodbye and leaves for work. As he drives off in his ancient Volkswagen Bug a man steps out from the bushes and guns him down – right there, infront of you.

The haunting sound of his daughter screeching will stay with you for the rest of the film.

The shock of that first scene wakes you up with a start, and makes you sit up. Kikulacho reminds us that Pio Pinto, an Asian was Kenya’s first political assassination. The film takes  us backwards and forwards in history assassinations, land grabbing, British, Moi, Kibaki, Kenyatta, – this kind of to and fro is exactly what’s been happening to us. So much has happened, we are so confused, we are being confused, and we are repeating mistakes. No, not mistakes, we are repeating crimes.

Ever since Kenyatta, we have let our politicians pull the wool over our eyes, blaming the colonials for all the woes of Kenya. We forget that we are the employers of these politicians and that the power is in our hands to change things.

Kikulacho – the Bite Within, examines how corrupt systems and policies have impacted everyone in Kenya, including the common people. It reveals how we have been manipulated, cheated and coopted into corruption.

A24 Media says that it is also a story of hope and triumph that aims to look at how our institutions and leadership can be shaped by the people themselves to realize their dreams.

That message must have gone over my head. I felt angry, very angry, depressed and shaken by the end of the film. I filled a questionnaire afterwards, but the truth is I had not digested what the film was conveying. It is so jam packed with information, images, truths and  horrors, it’s the kind of film you have to watch in parts, digest, discuss, and repeat over and over to really appreciate the value of the work that has gone into the production. This film forces us to confront our demons, it’s harsh, really harsh.

Like Kenya, Kikulacho is not a polished production – it’s raw and in your face.  A24 Media did a superb job of using historical archives, and interviews with people from across the country. It made me proud to hear the voices of so many intelligent Kenyans, and yet very angry that despite our human potential and moral values, our leaders have used policies and constitutions to destroy the moral fiber of Kenya. To divide and ruin us as a people and a nation.

Kikulacho reveals the gigantic elephant into the room that nobody has been talking about with regards to the new proposed constitution – the question of land, how land abuse started under the British and was perpetuated under Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki. How land has been used to further political aims, and anyone suggesting that the land problem would lead to a crisis, was dealt with using bullets.

This film needs to be shown across the country in every bar, club, home, shop, movie theater, and on every channel. I suggested it should even be serialized on mobile phones, put on Youtube and played in open spaces. It was made just in time for the country’s referendum on whether to adopt a new constitution (August 4th 2010).  Kikulacho does not take sides on the referendum, but it will make Kenyans think carefully about their decision. I’ve heard people say “I haven’t read the proposed constitution but my MP has, I trust him” or “I’m going with what my church leader says”. I always ask why? Do you think these people are more intelligent than you? Do you really think you are that dumb? It always gets shocked stares and the response “I’m not stupid!” … but we are. When you watch Kikulacho you will realize that we all are very stupid for continuing to elect, trust and then question our corrupt leaders.  I am especially stupid, I have been so disappointed with politics in Kenya that I didn’t even bother to register.  After watching Kikulacho I absolutely want to vote.

At the end of the film TI aired a short piece of school children answering the question about corruption starting with “what is corruption?”. I thought that this short piece detracted from the main feature but many of the viewers commented that hearing the intelligence and the innocence of these children was humbling. Actually it was embarrassing – one child said ”I’m corrupt because I got my friend the prefect not to write my name down for making noise in class”.  How many Kenyans give bribes to police and government officials to get things done or to get out of trouble, but do not consider themselves to be corrupt? Kikulacho – the Bite Within is biting me all the time. I can’t stop thinking about it.

After the film US Ambassador  Michael Rannenberger was supposed to give a speach but he didn’t make it due to a delayed flight.  It didn’t matter we were all, milling about in a state of shock. Nothing he could have said would have added to the power of the film. I made a donation to the David Munyakei Fund – remember David, the famous Goldenberg whistleblower who died without dignity because of us!

Watch the film and send your comments to 0717666013 and go to their facebook http://www.facebook.com/kikulacho or join their fan page here http://www.facebook.com/Kikulacho?ref=ts&v=wall and get involve din the conversation.

You can watch the preview of Kikulacho here. The preview plays fine but website seems to be still in construction because none of the other links worked like meet thee makers.

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July 15, 2010 Posted by | Constitution, corruption, Crime, Injustice, Kenya | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Kenyan constitution amendments thru time

Paralyzed

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


Regards,

Dr MAKODINGO Washington, BPharm,MPSK
Registered Pharmacist and Constitutional Expert,
P O Box 60113 – 00200 Nairobi
“I’m not arrogant, just Smarter”

July 13, 2010 Posted by | Constitution, corruption, Donkey, Injustice, Kenya | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Biogas analysis in my kitchen

I know I’m onto a great thing by running my stoves on biogas, it’s cheap, easy and good for the environment.

Here are some facts about biogas from cow dung:

Cow dung gas is 55-65% methane, 30-35% carbon dioxide, with some hydrogen, nitrogen and other traces.

One cow produces approximately 36 – 68 kg of dung per day!

About one cubic meter of biogas can be generated from 16 kg of cow manure at around 28°C. This is enough gas to cook for a few hours.

One cow produces approximately 32 kg of dung per day – enough to feed a biogas system for an entire family!

We put two massive buckets of dung into our digester and have produced about 4 cubic meters of gas over a period of 3 days. Why is it acting so slow?

There are two things I need to do to improve my biogas system.

1. Find out what inputs are optimal for biogas production – does kitchen waste help?

2. Find out whether temperature or acidity is affecting the production of methane.

I set out to ask if my biogas is really operating at optimal temperatures, and how much methane is actually in the biogas?

My condom experiment yielded gas only from the mashed beans and dung so I tested that to find out if it was producing methane and not some other noxious gas .

After scouring Nairobi’s school lab suppliers I got a thermometer (-10 deg – + 60 deg Centigrade) for a whopping 750/- (almost 10$), a measuring cylinder for Ksh 250/- or 4$ (made in China – Pyrex one was 10 x the price!). I also bought some litmus ph paper (which cost me Ksh1,150 for  a reel (US 20$). I also bought a 50 ml syringe at the school shop for a whopping Ksh 150/- (2) I feel so cheated).

I’m so annoyed because you can use red cabbages to test acidity for free! (if you have red cabbages)

Determination of methane concentration

I found a website (but can’t remember where ) that provided a protocol for testing the concentration of biogas (methane) produced. Sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) reacts with carbon dioxide to produce carbonates.

So simple…

1. Dissolve some caustic soda crystals in 100ml water (watch out the stuff burns – add caustic soda grains to water not the other way round and don’t make it too concentrated – it really burns (experience)

2. Fill syringe with water then squirt most out to remove all gas

3. Put syringe end into the jet of biogas and draw in about 10 – 20 cc gas. Record the amount of gas.

4. Place into the caustic soda solution and draw up another 20 cc. Shake but keep the end of the syringe in the caustic soda solution. Or use a gloved finger to seal the end. Caustic soda burns like a bitch.

5. Now calculate the volume of the gas remaining. The NaOH absorbs all the carbon dioxide so you are left with only methane (in theory).

For our biogas we had 26/30 cc of gas was methane = that is a concentration of 86.7% methane. Not bad eh?

I then took the beans/dung condom, broke it under water, trapped the gas and repeated the experiment. 14/16 cc remained – that’s 87.5% methane. No real difference.

Out door temperature

The bacteria responsible for creating methane don’t like low temperatures. They operate optimally at 20 degrees and higher to 40 degrees. Lower than 10 degrees C and will virtually stop functioning.

Well, its’ the cold season here in Nairobi and our bag is above ground so it’s taking on the air temperature, especially at night.  I took 4 temperatures including waking up at at 3 am and 5 am to measure  the temperature – that’s dedicated!

10 am – 20.5

4 pm – 25

3 am – 15

5 am – 11.5

The generally low temperatures and daily range of 10 degrees centigrade may be pissing our bacteria off…but its the daily fluctuations that are the real problem. The bacteria’s really don’t like temperature shifts of more than 1 degree – no wonder the biogas production has slowed down.

Now I have to find a way of raising the temperature of the biogas plant and keeping it stable. My sister suggested I cover it with hay and sprinkle with water and effective microorganisms so that they start composting and producing heat…another stinky thought to consider. Or, I could simply dig a hole and partially bury the thing……

The problem of acidity

According to people who know, methane producing bacteria prefer neutral or slightly alkaline conditions. Like us humans, they don’t tolerate acidity! To find out hat’s happening to the acidity in the biogas digester I used the super expensive Ph paper that I bought in Nairobi at a swindlers shop on Kijabe Street (if you want home lab supplies don’t go to lab supplies, go to Kijabe street there are tons of stores but avoid the industrial suppliers and head to the school suppliers near Longonot Place – they have very cheap Chinese alternatives).

Well the tests came out in favour of methanogenic bacteria – the contents of the digester are living at a healthy pH of 9 which is rather alkaline.

Or maybe I just need more dung …

To find out more about my biogas installation check out my latest condom experiment on substrates with and the super cheap and very effective flexibag system designed by Dominic Wanjihia – and the motorbike trailer he designed to get dung to my house

July 9, 2010 Posted by | biogas, Kenya | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Biogas bursting with Energy

We’ve been away for a few days and received this email

Subject “Full of goodness, Bursting with energy”

Content – of the email was simply this photo

bursting biogas.jpg

You cant imagine my pride… my cow dung has done that! Wow!

I hope you’ll agree that’s pretty serious expansion if you compare photos of the system just a few days ago. And if it’s your first time to participate in my biogas experiment, then you must check out my condom experiment here.

Well, we finally made fire!biogas fire.jpg

Check it out! I’m so happy 🙂

We all knew it would work – so why were we so impressed when it actually did?

burning.jpg

There’s something quite delicious about making this thing work – but truth be told, while it was fun flaring the gas around and enjoying the warm blue flame, we have come across a snag. The pressure in the bag is insufficient to run my kitchen stove.

So now we have another plan, it involves two bright blue tanks, more pipes, wrenches, glue and a hose… and some rather ingenious ideas of creating pressure using water… watch this space.

Please note that This is a home experiment to create biogas for our home consumption – we (Paula, Peter and Dominic) would love to hear your comments, get your involvement and hear your ideas.

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June 8, 2010 Posted by | carbon emissions, carbon footprint, Climate change, Conservation, green house gases, Kenya | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rhino horn tablets on sale in Kenya

Ok please tell me this is a joke

How is this possible?

For those of you who need this medication … well I’m sorry about your condition – but why should Rhino’s have to pay for it with their lives

Don’t feel alone however, Elle McPhearson apparently has a problem and takes rhino horn powder

Witter: You’re said to be a great fan of Chinese medicine. What does powdered rhino horn taste like?

E MacP: A little bit like crushed bone and fungus in a capsule. Does the job though.

Witter: How do you know that it works? A lot of people say Chinese medicine is quackery.

E MacP: Put it this way, works for me.

Don’t get excited folks, she just took these pills for a headache (NOT THAT SORT OF HEADACHE – you guys are so filthy minded)

Thanks to @damiancook for that info.

June 2, 2010 Posted by | Kenya, Wildlife | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unnatural acts we should outlaw in Africa

Well there is a God Afterall! Yesterday the Malawian president  pardoned Chimbalanga and Monjeza who had been found guilty of charges of unnatural acts and gross indecency because these two men had announced their intention to get married.

First let me say that the charges were ridiculous – and the sentence 14 years of hard labour – frigging outrageoius. But most of us in Kenya were too cowardly to say or do anything to support these two lovers. That’s because if we went to protest at the Malawi embassy we would probably be stoned and mobbed by our own citizens, then arrested and thrown in for the weekend by our own police after a good dousing with tear gas and high pressure water hose.

I wish I could have joined friends and relatives in London who picketed outside the Malawian High Commission there.

I don’ t know what makes our people and our judges think they are better than gay people. These were two people are adults, and they are in love. What they do in the bedroom is their business. I mean, has anyone ever checked whether the judges sexual activities also amounted to unnatural acts (whats the bet that he has child porn stashed away somewhere in his mansion?). Would you share with us your fantasies and activities so that we can judge whether they amount to unnatural acts? Hell NO!

What the hell is an unnatural acts anyway.

Here are just a few of my suggestions of unnatural acts that should be outlawed and punished heavily

  1. Corruption, bribery, cooersion (eg. people at Sheria House who con Kenyan citizens, police)
  2. Pedophilia and child porn
  3. Thieves, robbers, muggers etc
  4. Going to war for no good reason (George Bush and Tony Blaire are you reading this?)
  5. Wife abuse, spouse abuse, battery
  6. Rape (yes even in marriage)
  7. Child abuse
  8. Mob justice
  9. Animal cruelty
  10. Dangerous matatu and bus drivers
  11. Politicians who think they are above the law
  12. Politicians who drive with outriders and flash blue lights
  13. Thugs for hire (Mungiki and their ilk)
  14. Lazy presidents (Kibaki are you reading this?)
  15. Sons of politicians who rig elections (stop pretending you know who you are)
  16. People who promote violence (Malema are you reading this?)
  17. Lying liars (damn! most of these crimes are committed by politicians)

Damn I could go on and on….

Back to Chimbalanga and Monjeza, go in peace brothers. Having just married myself, I know that it really is the best moment in ones life.  I wish you the best happiness in the world. If you can’t achieve it in Malawi then may they find a safe haven in a country that is not populated with biggots and homophobes. I hope that your experience which shocked the world will lead to reform of gay laws across Africa. Thank you for being so brave.

May 30, 2010 Posted by | gay, Gay Bill, Homosexuality, Injustice, Kenya | Leave a comment

Dont forget fellow Kenyans living in IDP camp

Would you use this loo? No? What if you had no choice? Welcome to a Kenyan IDP camp.

Growing up in an IDP camp

As a Kenyan I’m disgusted with how we have  handled the post election crisis and in particular the victims who still live in IDP camps around the country. Two years on, these peole are still living in hell. As a result, we are now raising a generation of children – victims of the post election violence in campas that are beginning to look like slums.  The Kenyan Government does not recognize most  IDP camps near Nakuru  – and have sent the donors away.

Call this a home?

Each member of the camp has a small footprint on which they have a tent donated by UNHCR and intended to be used for 6 months. Back then, remember the post election violence? It was assumed that people would not need to be in IDP camps for more than that. Well, it’s more than 2 years on and they are still in the camps – more than 6,000 people live in this camp. The tents are in tatters.

Although the Chinese government donated metal sheets for roofing, the members of the IDP camp say that the DC in Nakuru has held onto them and will not release them because he wants these IDP’s out of there.

Overflowing toilets have been locked

Although this is a horrible place to live, this camp is surpprisingly well organized, structured and managed by an elected committee. Toilets were put in 2 years ago by WHO but are now full. Most of them are locked. Where to people go? Use your imagination.

Despite the horrendous smell, kids play near the toilets

Drying maize

We spent a couple of hours in the IDP camp meeting and talking to people living there. These are not lazy, uneducated, helpless people. These are people who ran businesses, had homes, farms and jobs. They lost everything.

We asked what their priorities are. The answer was simple, medicine, toilets and food.

Trauma lingers in the faces of people who endure unimaginable suffering

Many of the women were raped, their husbands and family members killed, their children raped, their homes burned, and property looted. They lost their land, and their livestock. They cannot imagine going back to live with the beasts who did this to them. There is no counselling, no support, and no official government efforts to deal with the consequences like HIV.

Clinic officer

Yet these people do live in hope. They have no choice really. Linet is a university student. She also runs the little clinic on the IDP camp serving over hundreds of patients.  Some of them die from manageable diseases. But despite the setbacks, she still has reason to smile. She told me that this IDP camp is now home.

Not lazy, this guy has built a shed for producing mushrooms. A micro enterpriset hhat could be successful if he gets funds to start off the first mushrooms.

Studying in an IDP camp

The place is very congested, but people make do. There are no jobs for these people but that does not stop this student from continuing with his studies.

In the IDP camp we came across a few foreign volunteers who were helping with schools and sports. As Kenyans we need to support these IDP’s too.

You can help

Peter and I asked guests at our wedding to donate funds or materials to this IDP camp. We have raised enough to purchase medicines for the clinic and to build one line of new toilets. We also gave a little something to the kids.We thank all our generous friends who supported this appeal.

If you would like to help  here are some things that these guys need

1. More medical supplies

2. More toilets (a line of 6 toilets costs about Kh 20,000)

3. Help with medical fees – several members of the IDP camps are in hospital and cannot be released until fees are paid up

4. Support for microfinance and studies.

5. Jobs

Leave a comment if you’d like to join us in helping

May 28, 2010 Posted by | Kenya, politics, rape, Women | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Panda – a German Shepherd with a rare white Gene.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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RIP Panda, sweet sweet girl.

May 11, 2010 Posted by | Kenya | , , , , , | 10 Comments

Not just in Kenya. Corruption = Power + Hypocrisy

If you are wondering how Tony Blair sleeps at night after admitting that he lied and lied again about Iraq and still insists he did the right thing, wonder no more, the answer is Hypocrisy.

In a current article in the Economist (Jan 23 2010) titled “The Psychology of Power: Absolutely” we learn that power corrupts but only those who think they deserve it.

A series of rather clever experiments asked university students to imagine a time when they were in a position of high or low power, and to then make decisions about morality. They rated on a morality scale of 1 – 9 how immoral it was to over report travel expenses at work. The findings are a revelation. Those who imagined they had high power, thought it was not all that immoral, while those in the low power group found it morally objectionable to over report travel expenses.

Another group played a dice power game and had to volunteer their score, a value between 1 and 100. Those High Power volunteeres claimed to have rolled 70 on average, clearly lying – the statistical average is of course 50! The low power group reported an average of 59 …they too cheated but just a bit in comparison. The study goes on to explore how power corrupts those who feel they deserve power. These results are very relevant to people we know quite well, Tony Blair, George Bush, Robert Mugabe, Daniel, Gideon and other Mois, Emilio, Jimmy, Lucy and other Kibaki’s, Uhuru, Muhoho and other Kenyattas as well as the likes of Raila and other Odingas. People who believe they were born privelaged.

The scientsists from Tilburg University in Holland report that the culture of entitlement is the basis for much of the corruption we see in the world today. The students in the experiment who reported that they were entitled to power, were complete and total hypocrits and were very likely to abuse power and forgive those who also abuse power. Sound a little like Tony Blair and the Iraq affair, Kibaki and the election crisis, Moi and the Mau, Mugage and his cronies land grabbing?

And what’s interesting is that those students who felt they were not entiteld to power were much more likely to adhere to the law and judged those who failed to do so harshly. But when transgressions were made, they judged themselves more harshly than others. They are labelled hypercrits – they judge themselves even more harshely than others.

The article suggests that these people are in general quite submissive. Perhaps this is why the whistle blowers of Kenya always disappear into thin air. I mean what ever happened to John Githongo, Maina Kiai, Wangari Maathai, Gladwell Otieno, and others?

It may also reveal why we can’t elect good honest people to parliament, they simply aren’t ‘macho’ enough. Is this why we always support crops of thieving murdering pathological liars to our leadership? I mean how does the sewer rat Cyrus Jirongo keep popping up? I personally wonder if corrupt behaviour innate or is learned – I mean did Jimmy learn from Emilio? Did Gideon get his talents from Daddy?, and Uhuru – is he a chip off the old shoulder, like George Bush Jnr?  I suspect that the scientists are right and if so we’re so totally screwed because democracy cannot then work. What we need is dictatorship by honest wimps.

January 30, 2010 Posted by | corruption, Crime, Injustice, Kenya | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kenyan constitution says NO WAY to gay marriage

Isn’t it amazing that we can’t get organized to deal with the remaining IDP’s, we’re still fighting over the Mau, and 2 years after the post election crisis, nobody has yet gone to the Hague, or been charged with causing the crisis….. things work so slowly in Kenya – except when gay rights come into play. On gay issues we’re spot on ready to defend our God Given Christian virtues and hammer back those deviants.

Yesterday Parliamentarians  deleted a controversial clause in the draft Constitution that could have legalized same sex marriages.

No matter that same sex marriage actually exists in some Kenyan indigenous cultures.

While some people are still outraged, blinkered and mind blocked at the concept of homosexuality, the same people see no problem with an even more bizarre marriage, that between Raila and Kibaki in the so called coalition government. What about the hybrid constitution that is being proposed. Isn’t that a deadly dangerous deviant arrangement?

As angry as I am that our leaders are so STUPID and irrational, I am  impressed that Caroline Mutoko has the balls to raise the issue on  radio without falling into the gay bashing trap of yesteryear, she says that Kenyans already tolerate gays enough, and better than other African countries, but expecting to have gay marriages allowed  “there is only so far we can go”

That’s sad but true. If it were allowed I’m sure that a number of our parliamentarians would be heaving a sigh of relief that they can finally come out of that lonely closet.

PLEASE NOTE: I’m kinda sick of the gay bashing comments people try to leave on this blog so if you want to vent the hatred in your heart to your fellow human beings through my blog, I won’t let you. Please leave only comments that contribute constructively to the discussion.

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Constitution, gay, Gay Bill, Homosexuality, Kenya, politics, Relationships | , , , , , , | 4 Comments