Pastoralist Women Seek lower Requirements for Political Posts

 Posted in East African Standard 31st July 2012

Women seeking elective posts in pastoralist regions want laws on academic requirements amended.

The women said many might be locked out unless educational requirements were lowered.

They said the academic requirements for those seeking women’s representative and county representative should be lowered from Form Four to Standard Seven.

“Many women are interested in contesting for elective positions in the General Election but the academic standards set by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commissioner (IEBC) will lock us out and we want it lowered to allow those with primary certificates eligible to contest,” said Teresa Lukichu, an aspirant for the women representative seat.

Speaking at Tartar Catholic Conference Hall in Kapenguria, the women said they are academically disadvantaged and urged IEBC to ensure they are given the opportunity to take part in the elections.

Early marriage

“Most of us were left to look after cattle and subjected to early marriage. We were unable to pursue education despite being bright. We should be allowed to contest for the seats,” said Mary Mariachi, the chairperson Pokot Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation.

Mariachi broke down when she narrated how her parents dragged her out of school in Standard Five and married her off to an older man.

Lokichu said there were immense leadership skills among the women in marginalised communities but they have been ignored.

“Some of us are born leaders. I dropped of school at class seven for lack of tuition fees but I have all the qualities to become a leader and effectively serve the people,” she said.

Millicent Otieno, the co-ordinator of local capacity building at Peacenet International said women in marginalised communities would be affected by the new elections rules.

“We need to embrace change for the wellbeing of our county and it is time that women are recognised,” said Julia Loburon, a women’s representative aspirant in the county.

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Mini-skirts in schools: Should the issue be politicised?

By Milicent Agutu

The debate of mini-skirts in Kenyan schools  is a hot debate. Reactions to the debate from different  stakeholders of the education system is varried. The debate has brought tension amongst the political class, students, parents and the religious leaders.

The mini-skirts debate surphased two weeks ago when more than 400  girls of Rwathia School boycotted classes demanding shorter and comfortable skirts. As trivial as the issue maybe, it has ignited a heated debate in Kenya. This debate changed its course when  the Kenyan Education Minister Hon Mutula Kilonzo backed the call by students on 16th July 2012 asking “Why are you dressing a school girl like a nun.” The minister’s statement was met by different reactions from Kenyans of all walks of life. These reactions continue dominating discussions on the social media, radio and television stations.

Opinion was divided on whether schoolgirls should be allowed to wear skirts that fall above the knee. The utterance by the Minister however has not been taken kindly by the faith institutions. “We remind leaders that the cultural and religious institutions of all people should be respected,” said Bishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba, who is in charge of  the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru. Reference to the nuns in a derogatory manner was also not taken in kindly by religious leaders from across the board. The Muslim leader Sheikh Khalifa said “the minister’s statement was improper and it is aimed at damaging religious values ​​and values ​​of the African culture.” Professionals feel that the minister made his remarks without due regard that we are dealing with adolescents who require directions from the institutions of formation. These remarks are capable of bringing pandemonium in schools.  Bishop Geoffrey Buliba of Christian Brotherhood Church in Nakuru also dissaproved the minister’s statement saying that if care is not taken schools will become arenas for promiscuity. Lastly, Mutula’s statement attracted the wrath of nuns who asked him to apologise. The minister has remained adamant and indicated that he will not apologise and that the press mis-quoted him. A few days later he displayed a skirt recommended by the ministry of education to the country.

What the minister’s statement overlooked is that nuns cannot be trivialised as they are a great development force in Kenya. The contribution of the nuns in education, health, community and women empowerment cannot be over emphasized. Trivialising this role in the way the minister did, is quite unfortunate. The nuns have contributed in the formation of formidable men and women in different sectors of the society. A big proportion of the Kenyan political class, business class and civil society class have been shaped by institutions built by faith communities.   Some people who have had potitive in the lives of Kenyans include the Late Professor Wangari Maathai  who was a peace crusader and environmentalist, and a woman who played a big role in civic activism. She was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because of her services in bettering the plight of humanity. The list is endless but the fact remains that the formation given by nuns in all areas of community building in Kenya ought to be respected.

Lately in Kenya the media has reported many cases of many young girls being sexually harassed. Mini skirts could have the effect of making these girls more  sexually vulnerable to sex predators, the male teachers and male pupils/students. This could also make the children become prey to rapists who may be attracted by the exposed body parts, that could also result to more girl children becoming victims of sexual abuse, hence early parenting and increased number of school drop outs. It is a fact that most of the sexually abused are girls and young women, because naturally of their youth and feminine attributes and the commodification of sex. Poverty has also promoted sexual abuse on girls due to less access to resources at every level.

Concerns over dressing therefore should be taken serious. The young girls ought to be listened to and allowed to express themselves. Though it is generally agreed that the style of some uniforms needs to be adjusted, care however should be taken so as not to introduce a dress code which runs counter the country’s African morality and one that makes the girls be mistaken as sex toys. On the other hand as a society, let us not run away from our foundation and pretend to be that which we are not. This will be costly not only to us as a society but also to the future generations. We have to accept that changes come with time and also also consider their psy-chological effects as dictated by time and environment. However, order, discipline, modesty and decency should be the guiding factors in schools as this is where responsible citizens are molded. This will need at greatest the parental support in collaboration with the school heads.

It is therefore important that  leaders or prominent people be prudent when addressing a delicate  matter and when making public statements and declarations. Careless utterances could have the effects of not only hurting a section of a society but bring about un-anticipated negative outcomes. Moreso great care should be made when dealing with adolescent children. In essence leaders should consider it a virtue to consult before making passing statements on sensitive matters.

Triumphant Recovery from Addiction to Sex and Alcohol: Inspirational!

By Daily Nation 24th July 2012

Not many people would be courageous enough to freely talk about their tainted past, especially if this past has to do with alcoholism and sex addiction, taboo subjects in our society. And yet 32-year-old Titus Ndiritu has done exactly this.

His troubling past is recorded in his memoirs, What I Never Told You: Memoirs of a Recovering Addict, a book that is a must-read for parents who have to leave their children in the care of house helps while they are at work.

Ndiritu’s is a heart-wrenching account of a little boy who is introduced to sex at the tender age of seven, but is too ashamed and scared to tell his parents, both teachers, about the abuse.

It began in 1987 following the arrival of a new house help. She would make him fondle her inappropriately, as she did the same to him. And if, as happened during the first encounter, someone walked in on them, she would spank him to make it appear as if she was punishing him for some wrong-doing.

“She always abused me behind a mask of kindness, always encouraging me to touch her first, as if it were my idea. Though it was terrifying, it made me feel special…it made me feel pleasure,” Ndiritu writes in his book.

Ndiritu and his five siblings were usually left in the care of a house help, since his parents went to work.

“Maybe if we spent sufficient time with each other, they would have observed the change in me. If they had asked me, I would have told them,” he says.

What the househelp did to him —undressing him and fondling his genitals or having him look at her as she bathed or dressed — gradually hooked him to something he had no business experiencing at that age.

By the time she left 15 months later, the damage had been done. Ndiritu would re-enact what the househelp had taught him with the young neighbourhood girls. Somehow, his actions went unnoticed.

He had his first sexual experience at 15 years, while in form two, with a student he met during the schools drama festival. From then on, there was no stopping him.

“I developed an uncontrollable sexual urge. Anytime I saw an attractive girl, I wanted to have sex with her. If I couldn’t, I would masturbate,” he says.

By the time he completed secondary school, he had started to sleep with multiple partners, mostly girls at his school and those he went to church with.

But his sexual encounters always left him feeling ashamed, such that when a couple of his classmates introduced him to cigarettes, bhang and alcohol in form one; he gladly embraced the drugs, the alcohol especially, when he found out that it numbed his conscience.

“Although the drinking started in small doses, by the time he completed secondary school, Ndiritu had become a heavy drinker.

The first sign of trouble emerged in 2001, when he decided to drop out of college. He was studying accounts at the Kenya College of Accountancy, and had just two more sections to go to become a Certified Public Account.

“It wasn’t for lack of school fees, that much I can tell you,” he comments.

Soon afterwards, he got a job as a school bursar in 2003, only to be dismissed a year later due to heavy drinking. All the while, he’d have casual sex, sometimes unprotected, and then he’d drown the shame in alcohol. When he lost this job, he went into rehab, determined to cure his addiction to alcohol.

“I never thought, not once, that my preoccupation with sex was a disease,” he says.

After he got out of rehab, he got a teaching job at an accountancy college in Nanyuki. But he couldn’t keep away from the alcohol, and a year later, he lost his job. Desperate, he took the next one that came along – stock-taking in a bar. Predictably, his drinking got worse, and taking advantage of his vulnerability, the owner would pay him with “cheap spirits” instead of money.

“I sold everything I owned; I was kicked out of my rented house, and with nowhere to go, I begun to sleep in the streets,” he says, adding that he was no different from a street boy.

He would take any job that came his way, and whatever money he made, he sunk it all into alcohol.

“This was the worst period in my life,” says Ndiritu.

News of his desperate state reached his sister, a teacher, who alerted their father. The family speedily arranged for his second rehab. He was 25 years then. But even this did not work.

Upon discharge a few months later, Ndiritu got into a relationship with a woman, who, at 49, was old enough to be his mother.

He would go through two more rehab centres before he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Nairobi. But he relapsed into alcoholism…again. It was only after admission to another psychiatric hospital that the root of his alcoholism were traced to sex addiction, a discovery that turned out to be his saving grace.

He learnt that there was a pattern to his drinking, in that when he was sober, he sought sex, and as soon as he was done, he turned to alcohol to try and forget the shameful memories. The doctor who detected this pattern to his sex-alcohol addiction attributed his sex addiction to his childhood encounter with the househelp who abused him.

“When I was not drunk, I was always looking for women to have sex with. I did not bother with protection, and not even HIV scared me,” he says, and adds,

“Initially, I looked for ‘nice girls’ in church, but later, I turned to commercial sex workers.”

An active church member, a youth leader and a chief campaigner of True Love Waits, “I quickly learned a secret that many religious people keep to themselves; the holier you act, the more sex you get,” writes Ndiritu, who had sexual partners in all the surrounding churches.

To ensure that he had his way, he didn’t keep chairs in his room, to ensure that any girl who visited sat on his bed. He also kept a pail of water in the room into which he threatened to immerse the girl’s clothes if she declined his advances.

If the threats failed, he used force.

“In reality, that was rape—the kind of rape that goes unreported,” he admits.

At one point, Ndiritu would have three sex encounters in a day, or “eight-to-ten women in a week” on average. When it got to a point where he no longer derived satisfaction from physical sex, he went into exhibitionism, voyeurism, and grabbing women.

The only near-normal relationship he had resulted in the birth of a daughter. The mother was a fellow student at the Kenya College of Accountancy, but the relationship was brief because of his heavy drinking and wandering eye.

“I often wonder what my life would be like had the root cause of my alcohol addiction not been detected – I am very fortunate.”

Ndiritu had his last bottle of alcohol in 2008, just before his last rehabilitation in 2008. Since then, he says, he has never touched a drop of alcohol, and has learnt to control his once uncontrollable sexual urge.

However, he admits that he is not yet ready to give a “normal relationship” a chance.

He explains:

“Because of where I am coming from, I know so much about sex, but little about intimacy. My greatest fear is that if today I’d get into a relationship, I would find myself walking out of it as soon as we got intimate.”

Ndiritu often gives talks to schools and churches on the twin addictions he knows intimately, and does not hesitate to use his experience.

Three years ago, he also reached out to his daughter, who is now 11 years old, and in class six.

“I am fortunate that I was able to form a relationship with her, and that her mother did not object to me reaching out – nothing gives me greater joy than being a father,” he says.

He is a parent in every sense – he pays her school fees and provides for all her other needs, material and emotional.

“She lives with me most of the time,” Ndiritu says. His daughter’s mother is married.

Ndiritu, who is a trainer at Support for Addiction Prevention and Treatment in Africa, SAPTA, is a final-year counselling psychology student at the Africa Nazarene University. His career choice, he says, was influenced by his experiences.

With the advantage of practical experience, he advises: “As parents, we should form a close relationship with our children, because this way, we’ll be able to tell if something is amiss, and our children will be confident enough to confide in us.

You can contact Titus on 0736 664 394/ 0717 607 383 or tittos10@yahoo.com

KENYA: Bishops Oppose the Global Contraceptives Programme

CISA No 57 July 20, 2012.

NAIROBI, July 20, 2012 (CISA ) -The Catholic Bishops of Kenya have strongly reacted to an article appearing on the Daily Nation newspaper of Friday July 13 2012 titled Kenya Joins Global Birth Control Push.
According to the newspaper, Kenya is among countries that have signed up to a new Sh356 billion global drive to promote family planning services targeting women and girls in poor countries.

In a statement signed by the chairman of the Kenya Episcopal conference His eminence John Cardinal Njue the bishops have termed the use of  “contraceptives, especially as radically proposed in the article as both dehumanizing and goes against the teaching of the church especially in a country like Kenya where a majority of the people are Christians and God fearing. It already threatens the moral fabric of the society and is an insult to the dignity and integrity of the human person.”

According to the daily, Kenya’s planning minister Wycliffe Oparanya was among more than 150 leaders from donor and developing countries, international agencies, civil society, foundations and the private sector who attended a summit in London July, 11 2012, the World Population Day, on family planning.  The summit has pledged funds to ensure 120 million women and girls in poor countries access contraceptives by 2020.

The bishops’ statement has termed this as “unimaginable, dangerous and could lead to destruction of the human society and by extension the human race,”
The bishops noted that the same foreign forces that are calling for the programme are dedicating billions of shillings promoting same sex unions while millions of women across are dying due to lack of proper maternal care facilities.

The bishops have reminded the Government of Kenya that many countries, which took such decisions, are now regretting with declining populations and nobody to consume or enjoy the much hyped development.
The bishops stated that any development must be for the common good of people, as their security and protection.
“It is not clear why such a large amount of money (Ksh 356 billion) is being used for contraceptives while many women are dying daily due to lack of proper medical care, food and housing” said the statement.

The bishops noted that if such money or a portion of it was used to develop the under-developed parts of Kenya, the so-called threatening population of 64 million people in the year 2040 would be too low.
At a time when our people are greatly affected by HIV/ AIDS and preventable road carnage, we cannot go further to condone efforts at reduction of life.
The bishops appealed to all Kenyans to reject this plan and to join forces in the liberation of women following the example of following the example of Christ’s own esteem for them. Nobody should be forced to abuse his/her dignity through contraceptives.

The said summit on family planning was co-hosted by the British Government’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The summit underscored the importance of access to contraceptives as both a right and a transformational health and development priority, calling it a “breakthrough for the world’s poorest girls and women, which will transform lives, now and for generations to come.”

 

African Union (AU) Celebrates Woman Leadership

The African Union Decade for Women 2010 to 2020. Great achievement has been made with a woman taking the helm of AU. This is indeed a great decade for Africa

Story by Millicent Agutu

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma the South African Home Affairs minister became the first African woman to head the African Union Commission after beating Gabon’s Jean Ping in the closely fought contest where she gannered 60 per cent of the votes. Dlamini-Zuma also becomes the first person from South African Development Community (SADC) region to occupy the African Union (AU) head seat. West Africa had held it seven times, Central Africa three times and East Africa two times. Dlazuma had to set the record straight after rumours started doing the rounds that her candidature divided member state Anglophone and Francophone lines, and between the week and the powerful nations.

The election of Dlamini-Zuma has disapproved the common notion about African Union’s unwritten rule that those seeking an executive position should not come from key member states (Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Libya), which pay about 75 per cent of continental body’s annual budget and have been viewed as big economies.  Speculation was rife ahead of the poll that South African Government might use its influence to bully smaller and weak states after the country offered soft loan to Malawi and a jet to South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma has held several governmental positions of responsibility in the past. She has served in the South African Ministries of  Health, Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs. She is also a member of the ruling ANC party national executive committee and has served on several boards and led several organizations in South Africa and internationally. She is therefore armed with skills and competencies needed to transform the AU organization into an efficient and effective vehicle for addressing the woes faced in the continent. Dlamini-Zuma is in a better position to create conditions under which the participation of all African women in the continent’s socio-economic development can be guaranteed

It is indeed the time for the African Woman to Shine

It is a season for African women at last. The win of Dlamini-Zuma as the first Africa woman leader of the African Union of Commission is a cause for women’s celebration. African Union has at last sent a strong continental signal by electing a woman of an exceptional caliber to the helm. Dr Dlamini-Zuma could commit to using her position to improve the lives of women across the continent. She comes in at a time when the  African Union has already adopted the policy on Gender Parity and actually inaugurated  the African Union Decade for Women (2010-2020).

By the coming in of Dlamini-Zuma in the Leadership position of the African Union kindles new hope and challenge on  women of Africa and encourages gender activists  to press on. The dawning of this new era might signify that it is no longer business as usual in the continental politics. People want fresh breed of leaders and Dr Dlamini-Zuma will be an inspiration to other African women with potential to take on leadership positions. It is a fact that times have changed for the better with more and more movement towards gender equity. The election of the first woman to take the position of a continental body comes in as a systemic revolution that is slowly sweeping over the continent. Women are grabbing the limelight within the continent on a much faster rate. This change began to be experienced in 2005 when the Nobel laureate Sirleaf Johnson became the 24th President of Liberia; Joyce Banda became the fourth president of Malawi. In 2004 Professor Wangari Maathai of Kenya be first African woman to get the Nobel Peace Prize. In 20011 president Sirleaf Johnson and Leymah Gbowee both of Liberia too earned the nobel prize  for their work in the promotion of peace and encouragement of women.

Great hope for the women of Kenya

In deed the decade for the African woman is just in its second year. The Kenyan woman is also slowly rising up and taking her position. Women are taking positions of responsibility in the public, market and other sectors. Of significance however is the involvement of women in politics. Much victory has been gained and continues to be gained in many areas. Women should therefore offer themselves in great numbers during this year’s electioneering activities; Kenyan women can make it to presidency and the other executive positions if they choose to. More women should therefore take the courage to rise up and take positions of responsibility in Kenya.

Kenyan women must realise that it was not easy for Ms Zuma to make it to the helm. There was so much tension which she withstood. Let us not look at the difficulties but the end result which is to get to the leadership and help change our societies for the better. The struggle to get the Kenyan and African society for that matter to accept the capabilities of women is not just another exercise in activism but its about changing and transforming our culture.

Nelson Mandela, his birthday is a great day to all the young generation

Huffingpost 18th July 2012

JOHANNESBURG — Nearly 12 million children across South Africa kicked off celebrations Wednesday for the 94th birthday of Nelson Mandela, the country’s deeply loved anti-apartheid icon, with resounding choruses of Happy Birthday.

Mandela is expected to spend the day privately with his family at their homestead in his southeastern birth village of Qunu. Meanwhile, communities in South Africa and around the world were dedicating 67 minutes of the day to volunteer work and projects for the needy – one minute to mark each of Mandela’s 67 years in public service.

Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in prison for his fight against racist apartheid rule, and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

Tributes to Mandela poured in early Wednesday, with U.S. President Barack Obama saying Mandela “has changed the arc of history, transforming his country, the continent and the world.”

Ahmed Kathrada, one of Mandela’s oldest friends, said Madiba, as he is affectionately known by his Xhosa clan name, championed the dignity of all.

`’You can be rich but if you don’t have dignity you are a second-class citizen,” Kathrada said in a public lecture marking the birthday celebrations.

Tokyo Sexwale, a longtime ally in the governing African Nation Congress, described Mandela as a global statesman who inspired the world.

At one Johannesburg elementary school Wednesday, children watched a film documenting Mandela’s life and his years of service and sacrifice along with a photographic display of him meeting celebrities including Beyonce, Michael Jackson and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Nelson Mandela set an example to show us that reconciliation is possible,” said 10-year-old Thakgalo Ditabe. She said she wanted Mandela to know how much he meant to her.

Ntando Ntuli, 12, said with pride: “He is my hero because he fought for us. He is an icon, the king of Africa.”

In 2009, the United Nations established Nelson Mandela International Day to honor the African leader on his birthday through acts of community service.

In many districts, South Africa came to a virtual standstill early Wednesday as strangers greeted each other in the streets and even infants at one pre-school waved at passersby and sang: “We love you, Tata,” or `’great father,” a supreme term of endearment.

In the eastern port city of Durban Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of England’s Manchester United football team that is widely followed in Africa, sang Happy Birthday over a cake iced with the image of the team’s yellow and red badge.

Ferguson, who met Mandela on previous visits, said “his presence and personality exudes all around.”

Manchester United plays the first game of its South African tour later Wednesday.

South African churchmen and politicians urged people across the country “to make every day a Mandela Day.”

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton got the celebrations off to an early start Tuesday. He and daughter Chelsea met with Mandela in Qunu. Photographs tweeted by one of Mandela’s grandsons showed the Nobel Peace Prize winner comfortably seated in an armchair with a blanket over his knees and with the Clintons and his wife, Graca Machel, at his side.

Nobel laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said the greatest gift the nation could give Mandela on Wednesday would be “to emulate his magnanimity and grace.”

“Mr. Mandela taught us to love ourselves, to love one another and to love our country,” Tutu said.

Mandela’s activism helped bring democracy and freedom to the once white-ruled South Africa. But the country remains beset by tensions over continued white minority domination of the economy, massive unemployment, poor education and health services and the millions who remain homeless or in shacks

Man found cooking a snake having being instructed by a witchdoctor

EAS Sunday, July 15 2012 

Residents of Enoosaen trading centre in Trans Mara West District got the shock of their lives when they found a middle-aged man cooking a snake inside a bush.

Abuya, 40, was pounced on by the passersby when he was preparing to cook the delicacy inside a thicket, barely a few meters from his house.

The embattled man had lit a fire and the puff adder he had killed was lying in a sufuria ready for boiling.

Noticing the weird occurrence, angry residents set upon on Abuya and gave him a severe beating saying such an incidence was an abomination.

Fortunately, his screams for help attracted Administration Police officers who rushed to the scene and rescued him from the charged locals who were baying for his blood.

According to one of the witnesses, Geoffrey Sialo, they initially thought that Abuya was harvesting honey only for them to find out that he was preparing to cook the reptile.

Upon interrogation, Abuya confessed that a witchdoctor in the neighbouring Gucha District had promised him ‘good money’ if he found a snake of certain specifications.

“He told me to kill it (snake), fry, dry  and crush it into powder  and take to him for use as herbal medicine,” the man confessed.

Sialo said that Abuya told them that he was working on a farm with other men at Nkararo area when they came across the snake, which they killed.

He decided to carry it to Enoosaen to prepare it before taking it to the said witchdoctor.

Abuya was arrested and later taken to the Kilgoris Law courts and arraigned before Resident Magistrate Amos Mokoross for hunting game.

The accused person pleaded guilty to the charges and was jailed for three months or an alternative fine of Sh10,000 in default.

In mitigation, the accused asked the court to forgive him saying that he did not know that it was a crime to a kill a snake. Evidently, he had bitten more than he could chew.

In the meantime, and going by recent stories such as the seizure of a dead hyena destined to a witchdoctor’s hut, game rangers may be forced to shift their big guns from poachers’ hideouts and point them at witchdoctor’s dens.

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