By Martin Ndichu

As I look back on my life I find myself wondering! Did I remember to thank you for all that you have done for me? For all of the times you were by my side to help me celebrate my successes and accept my defeats? Or for teaching me the value of hard work, good judgment, courage, and honesty? I wonder if I’ve ever thanked you for the simple things…The laughter, smiles, and quiet times we’ve shared? If I have forgotten to express my gratitude for any of these things, I am thanking you now, and I am hoping that you’ve known all along, how very much you are loved and appreciated. Thank You Mom
I know how often I took you for granted when I was growing up. I always assumed you’d be there when I needed you…and you always were. But I never really thought about what that meant till I got older and began to realize how often your time and energy were devoted to me.
So now, for all the times I didn’t say it before, Thank You Mom

Mom you’ve given me so much, Love from your heart and the warmth of your touch.
The gift of life and you’re a friend to me. We have a very Special Bond which only comes from God.
I’m sure you agree. As a child I would say Mommy I Love You, now you’re my Mother so dear
I love you even more with each and every New Year, if I could have chosen, I would have picked no other. For being my lifelong friend and Precious Mother, Thank You Mom
If I knew as a child what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have made things so hard for you.
I would have understood that you were looking out for my best interest. Even though it may not have seemed so at the time. I would have known how difficult it is to let go, to stand back and let someone you love learn from their mistakes. I would have realized how fortunate I was to have a mother who was always there for me, even after an argument, even after I’d said things I shouldn’t have. While it’s too late for a lot of things it’s not too late for me to tell you that I appreciate how loving you are, how giving you’ve always been and that even though I may not always be good at showing it, I love you very much. Thank You Mom
You deserve much more than words can say; You make me feel cherished and I always will pray,

“God, please, be with Mom in a special way. Give her your blessings throughout the day.
Show her the meaning, the reason for her to stay. Let your angels guard her; keep her safe.
Help her see the good of your work; keep the evil away. Keep her smiling; dry her tears. If you may.
Let her know that whenever there’s trouble, she can turn to You; You’ll help her through the struggle.
Let her know that here on Earth, She may never know what she’s really worth, But, she’s is an angel:
Assign angels to her, Three on her right to help her hold on tight.
Three on her left to help her have hope in the stars so bright,
And one in front of her to help her see the light, Your light…
Please, let her know how precious she is in our hearts even if we’re not showing this .Let her know we’re always there, to help her out through our prayers, we may not feel what she’s passing through.
But let her know we try our best to do. Let her know that whenever she’s down, We can feel it without a frown. Help us see your goodness through her, Through Your words wherever we are…” AMEN

That’s my prayer for you every night. May this give you hope in everything in sight. And please, know that wherever you are! Know that we love you and care whether we’re near or far…
                                                         ~~~~~~~Thank You Mom~~~~~~


Social Capital; A Perspective On Organizational Development

By Martin Ndichu
Social capital

Social Capital is almost a new concept in modern organizations, this is despite its long existence. Social capital refers to the networks, institutions and norms that mark and define the quality and quantity of interactions within individuals in a society, organization, project or business. In this context, social capital does not account for players within the network but acts to glue them together. It is evident that cohesion within any organization is a vital component for development and sustainability of that organization. This is mainly because of the effect it has on the degree of association of individuals or players within that organization or network.

There are several attributes that constitute social capital, these include; Trust, Reciprocity, Appreciation, Acceptance and tolerance among others. These attributes of social capital have an effect on organizational productivity and well-being of individual players and reduces the costs of doing business by facilitating coordination and cooperation within the organization. Trust among individuals within any context is vital in promoting transparency while on the other hand reciprocity of goodwill encourages continuity of healthy interrelations; it also eliminates the feeling of abuse among partners. Acceptance and tolerance of individuals within an organization regardless of educational background or qualification, disability, societal branding, race or religious affiliation goes a long way to promote self-esteem, self worth and organizational ownership by the individuals.

So what’s the impact of Social Capital on organizations? True to my word, organizations that nurture high-quality social capital have staffs and partners that demonstrate a high sense of obligation towards the organizations and collectively engage in the attainment of the ultimate goal of the organization. Such organizations experience low staff and partner turn over which in turn increases the prospect of success. On the contrary, organizations with little or no social capital exhibits low growth, poorly motivated staff with a high element of self centeredness. They worry much on what they get in return of their service to the organization than on the welfare of his fellows or the organization. This has the effect on the organization security both internally and externally, simply because most of the individual/partners may be unwilling to stand by the organization when it faces challenges of different kinds.

Building social capital can be fun and disappointing at the same time. This is mainly because it comes with a strong element of expectation. This is mutual, so as a leader in any organization as much as you would want to grow social capital within your fellows or partners ensure that the benefits accrued are mutual such that no one feels abused. Learn to note actions by your partners that desire your reciprocity and promptly act back. As an organization, appreciate the little efforts made on daily basis by your staffs because they may end up being the best they ever do before stagnating due to unmet expectations. Building social capital could constitute a big budgets such as increase in remuneration, luxury holiday and excursions, but could also be done in simple ways in the day to day operation of the organization. Try volunteering your special skills to an organization, mentor someone of a different ethnic or religious group, avoid gossip, Say “Thanks” to colleagues and support staff and the likes.

To pen off, a message to managers and officers in charge of project, human resource, public relations, chairpersons of youth groups, women groups, CBOs, NGOs, aspiring entrepreneurs and other organizations in general government included; observe the element of social capital within your networks and you will not have to worry about how to meet your goal, how you will accomplish your tasks or with whom to share your plans. Caution though, social capital is an investment of a kind so invest wisely and please have a fair interest rate that won’t hurt incase of bad debt!!…won’t you? All the best.      



Adopt a Light

Christine Wambui


I believe that it is possible to light up the whole of Kenya (Esther Passaris). 


Adopt-a-light was an initiative that was spearheaded in 2002 through self-funding corporation; with the intention of making highways and streets safer by lighting up Nairobi through advertising streetlights infrastructure. The city council of Nairobi paved way and gave the project the license to kick start.

Esther Passaris is best known for spearheading this business model which has a social positive impact in the Kenyan business. For the project to succeed, she brought on board powerful partners from the private sector to collaborate with the city council and Kenyan parliament through the Constituency development fund (CDF). Upon the early stages of the project, it was tricky for Passaris since the Nairobi city council was reluctant and did not fully back up the initiative.

Adopt-a-light initiative became active in 2005 in the slums; the aim of the project was to: Improve the quality of people’s lives by ensuring that public spaces — slums, streets, parks, neighborhoods — remain well lit after sunset through an effective partnership between the private and public sectors to finance and facilitate the installation of lights and in so doing, to improve security, safety and aesthetics of public areas, enabling populations to more fully enjoy their lives and participate in economic and recreational activity while at the same time providing financial sponsors with quality advertising services.” (Source: UN Habitat Business Award Report on Best Practice).

This project did not lack challenges. It was a problem to access the slums since they are densely populated. So as to overcome this challenge, local leaders and administrators had to join hands in order to find the most convincing locations to set up the lights. Also there were families which were relocated so as to provide space.

The steadman group also known as synovate Ipsos kenya limited conducted an impact study of the Adopt a light project. It found  that the rate of insecurity had greatly reduced in the slum areas and the residents were able to conduct their businesses  until late hours. The project had improved their social lives immensely as they were able to extend their income earning hours and walk home without fears.

Traditional Culture Impedes the Fight against HIV in Kenya

By Julie Bowen

The battle against HIV/ADS in Kenya is also a battle against entrenched traditions and taboos. In the rural villages, its existence is either denied or spoken of in whispers. To these people, AIDS is not real: this is Chira, a deadly wasting disease caused by a curse that strikes down anyone who transgresses society’s norms, which can be treated only by the village medicine men. This plays into the hands of opportunists, such as the rogue herbalists who see only profit in suffering, or the vested interests of those who persist in the stigmatisation of AIDS victims – seen not least in the rigid short-sightedness of the Catholic Bishops of Kenya, who only exacerbate the problem with their hard-line pronouncements against the use of contraceptives.

Women and poverty

Throughout Kenya, women are at a disadvantage in all things. In the communities of Nyanza Province for example, the twin social stigmas of poverty and HIV/AIDS, plus the lower status of women, polygamy and the practice widow inheritance, make women particularly at risk of HIV infection. The rate of infection in the province stands at 14.7% compared to the national average of 9%. However, rates vary enormously within the province, with the Suba district showing a rate as high as 41%. Average infection rates for women in the whole of Kenya are 6.9%, compared to men at 4.4% and children at 0.9%.

Pamela Dola is a member of the Luo community in the Lake Victoria region. When her brother-in-law died of AIDS, custom dictated that his widow was then inherited by Pamela’s husband as a second wife. Three months later, the second wife died. Shortly afterwards, Pamela’s husband was taken ill and died, leaving Pamela to single-handedly raise her three children as well as the five children of the dead wife and brother-in-law. This story contains all the ingredients that make HIV/AIDS infection a high risk in such communities, where women lack the freedom to control their own lives, and sex is of prime importance in every aspect of the culture.

By custom, a widow is unclean and has to endure a ritual cleansing immediately after the death of her husband. A widow who refuses to have sex with another man is considered cursed or at least unlucky and are usually ostracised. Similarly, many of life’s important milestones such as moving house, or even the routine stages in cultivating the land are marked by ritual sex, which also has protective powers: for example, if a parent dies, a man must have sex with his wife before leaving home or be cursed. Women are seen as property and are expected not to complain when another wife comes into the house or the husband has extramarital affairs. In such a society, where a man may have sex with several women, where HIV is rife, where even its existence is denied and every death is explained away, and where education is poor and poverty drives many women into prostitution or early marriage, we see a perfect recipe for the spread of the HIV, where the heaviest burden is carried by women.

Fighting the epidemic

The Kenyan Ministry of Health has tracked the spread of HIV since 1990 through annual sentinel surveys in antenatal clinics. The turning point came around the end of the decade, when rates of adult infection peaked at 14% and the government recognised that the burden of high mortality and ill health on both the rural and urban population was eroding family ties and social cohesion. A national emergency was declared and the newly created National Aids Control Council (NACC) led the response to the epidemic with the launch of the Total War on AIDS (TOWA) campaign. More than a decade later, the UNAIDS Global Report on the AIDS epidemic for the years 2003 to 2008 shows a decline in infection rates and risk behaviour alongside increased knowledge of HIV prevention and treatment. However, death rates and numbers of new infections remain high. NACC estimates the number of Kenyans living with the disease at more than 1.1 million; and after more than a decade of decline, infection figures are again beginning to rise. While improvements in medical science and services help to control the problem, entrenched cultural practices still act as a brake on progress.          

The herbalist

With the spread of HIV, the herbalists thrive. Nobody wants the stigma of being HIV positive, so secrecy is common. Amidst fear and suspicion, the herbalists see an untapped potential for profit, but fill it only with more sorrow for the unfortunate victim. Herbal medicine is not regulated by law and there is no code of ethics among herbalists. The Kenya Medical Research Institute has established a requirement for safety assessments to be made on all drugs including traditional herbal medicines, but there is no control mechanism to ensure they are implemented. 

People like Jesse Ng’ang’a, from Gilgil in the Rift Valley region, who kept his HIV positive status a secret from his wife, family and neighbours and was looking for a release from his daily dose of antiretroviral drugs, was easy pickings. The herbalist first interrogated him about his life and the history of his disease, and then told him that through his healing powers he had cured ninety-eight cases of AIDS and had become famous and influential. An hour long consultation followed that included prayers and invocations to the supernatural. He then explained that the fee would be KSh. 4,000 ($45), with a further KSh. 10,000 ($112) for the 60 day course of treatment. Jesse then had to sign a memorandum of understanding that bound him to make the full payment for the treatment after completion or he would forfeit the title deed to his land. He was given a concoction of herbs that made him feel drunk for several days. After this he came to his senses and went back on his antiretroviral drugs. He told his wife about his infection and she encouraged him to go to the Kikopey Diatomite Community Based Organisation, a home based self help group that was able to offer him support.

Determined resistance by such individuals and organisations to the pressure by society on the HIV-positive to be ashamed and secretive about their status can help turn the tide of the epidemic. HIV/AIDS has profoundly challenged Kenyan society, putting a burden on its healthcare system. Only by the breaking down of some of society’s barriers, its prejudices and traditions, will the war against HIV eventually be won.



Building Roads to Equality: the Gradual Political Journey of Kenyan Women

By Julie Bowen

In recent years there has been a determined push to put more women into strategic positions in Kenyan politics. Much of the pressure has come from the various women’s organisations in the country – in particular the Women’s Leadership Academy and the Women’s Empowerment Link, which is managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – under the auspices of Amkeni Wakenya, a civil society that works to encourage communities to be involved in the democratic process, and in particular to promote policies that are favourable to women. In 2010 the new Constitution was signed, promoting gender equality and seeking to encourage the inclusion of women in political leadership and decision making. The ‘two-thirds rule’ that requires a maximum of 66% of either gender in elected political bodies forced all the political parties to recruit an average of 23% more women. Although a significant gender divide remains, the future of gender equality in Kenyan politics looked set to change.

In the run-up to the March 2013 election, as a result of the Amkeni Wakenya initiative, more than 350 women from all areas of rural Kenya had been trained in leadership skills as a preparation for becoming candidates at county and national level. 70 of these women were able to enter the contest with a real prospect of victory. This was to be an election of real significance in Kenya – both as the first general election since the violent aftermath of the 2007-2008 election, and the first to be held under the new constitution. As such, hope ran high. The result, with women winning nearly 20% of the seats in the National Assembly and the new Senate, compared to only 10% in the old Assembly, vindicated all the effort put into realising the dream of a more equal political landscape in Kenya where women have a real power to influence policy.

During the election, various local civil society organisations worked with UN Women and the Angie Brooks Centre to coordinate 500 trained election observers, which made over 1,200 reports from around the country about complaints, threats to the electorate, property damage and violence, which were resolved efficiently. The election was judged to be a success, although there is still a way to go before the process is considered as representing the ideal of a fair and peaceful democratic process.

A Different Approach 

The political spheres in many countries have encouraged an increase in the number of female politicians and leaders for a number of reasons. While it is not wise to over-generalise about character and gender, women are generally known for being non-confrontational, motherly and hard working. In the cut-throat world of national and international politics and business, this caring side often equates to a more soothing and measured counterbalance to male ruthlessness. According to Debra Burrell, females are thought to be generally better than men at seeking and implementing compromises, which translates into a desire to build for the long term rather than aiming for the short term relish of a single moment of victory. While any man or woman can pick up a book and learn about the theory and application of politics and business, their actions are usually influenced by their gender. Collaboration, democracy, persuasion and attentiveness are all attributes commonly brought to the table by female leaders. Women have therefore come to have a crucial position in politics and business in Europe and the United States.

Getting Started 

The greatest battle faced by women is to get their foot in the door. According to Nicholas Anyuor, many parties have found it challenging to respect the Constitution with regard to gender representation because of the lack of any decisive strategy to implement change. Without proper intellectual and logistical infrastructure, engendering real change will always be a challenge. For example, the UK elected its first female Prime Minister in 1979, and she continued to hold that position until 1990. A ruthless politician whose success apparently stemmed from a combination of her fierce intellect and caring femininity, Margaret Thatcher was virtually alone female in a male political world. Even now there are only 146 female members of parliament in the UK compared to 504 men. Between the three main parties there is considerable inequality. In the coalition government the leading Conservative Party has 19% women, the Liberal-Democrats 14%; only Labour, the main opposition party, has a healthy 51% female representation. If the UK, which has been striving towards gender equality in politics for more than thirty years, has still failed to achieve equal representation, it is no surprise that Kenyan politics, which began to address the issue only three years ago, has not yet achieved equality; but there has been remarkable progress.

In 2012 the Supreme Court judged that the ‘two-thirds rule’ would not be achievable in 2013. The Court ruled that this would be implemented progressively during the three years up to August 2015. Chief Justice Willy Mutunga spoke against the majority ruling: ‘Parliament by its silence cannot deprive women of this country the right to equal representation. In the event that Parliament fails to implement that principle, any of the elected houses will be unconstitutional.’ Equal representation may be a long way off, but the situation overall is one of hope and good intentions. The fledgling constitution has managed to increase the number of women in politics despite inequalities in the system and the resistance that females in Kenya continue to face.

Worldwide Scrutiny

Other countries such as the UK, US, and Australia have already done much of the groundwork in showing the world that women can become competent politicians and business leaders, which should make the struggle for Kenya’s women easier. Religion, tradition and superstition continue to be used to dissuade women from entering the political race (for example, a reporter for Aljazeera News claims that voters are warned that they will go to hell if they vote for a woman); but the internet and globalised media have opened up the situation in Kenya to worldwide scrutiny and the results are beginning to show. As a new generation of women reaches their intellectual maturity, the country has never been in a stronger position to make the transition to gender equality. The finish line may be a long way off, but if campaigners and politicians keep working to pave the way the chances of reaching it are high.

Kenyans Celebrate Heroes Day by Dramatizing the Life and Times of Wangari Maathai

Nation online 19th October 2012

Wangari Maathai’s memories will always inspire Kenyans to strive for that which is good for the Kenyan communities. Her legacy and that of many unsung women who have contributed to the building of peace and harmony in Kenya and to the development of Kenya cannot be over emphasized. Long live our heroines!

Mumbi Kaigwa is commemorating the life and passing on of Kenya’s most celebrated woman, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Prof Wangari Maathai.

She has assembled an outstanding cast of Kenyan actors and secured performing rights to a Pulitzer Prize-winning script about a brilliant woman whose life and death parallels Wangari’s in surprisingly similar ways.

Ms Kaigwa is also giving a chunk of the funds she hopes to raise from staging that play to the Nairobi Hospice, which is celebrating 20 years of assisting terminally ill patients.

Under her new theatre company, the Arts Canvas, Kaigwa and her troupe will stage Margaret Edson’s Wit from Tuesday to Sunday at Braeburn Theatre.

It is directed by Nyambura Wariungi, who worked in both film and theatre in Canada for more than a decade before returning home this year to make a movie and direct the Wit.

Wit features an amazing cast as well. It not only includes Kaigwa, who is celebrating 40 years of performing on stage, television and film this year, it also embraces a whole new crop of local film, theatre and TV talent, such as Dan Aceda, Samson Psenjen, Njoki Ngumi, Mugambi Nthiga, Fridah Muhindi, Sahil Gada, Wangui Thang’a and Musa Mwaruma.

Because Wit traces the life and death of Dr Vivian Bearing in dramatic detail, one might expect the play to be painfully depressing.

On the contrary, Wit is filled with ironic humour, sarcasm and self-awareness on Bearing’s part. Stunning is also an apt term for Kaigwa’s performance as the dying don who dramatically appraises the process of her passing almost to the very end.

Being a scholar and researcher with a literary flair (like Wangari), Bearing chooses to document the gruelling eight-month process of experimental treatment that she endures at the hands of medical researchers, students and specialists who claim to hold the cure to her ovarian cancer, but in the end she (and we) find out, they don’t.

Like Bearing, Wangari was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She also endured months of experimental treatment that eventually failed. Nonetheless, for both women, death is not the end of the story by any means. See the play to find out what I mean.


One of the beautiful bits about Wit is the way John Donne’s poetry is interwoven into the script. Also inspirational is Bearing’s deep affection for language, one of the elements of the university professor’s life.

But what I found most striking about the show was the process of psychological self-discovery that seemed to parallel Bearing’s physical treatment for cancer. For while the chemotherapy wasn’t successful, the soulful insights that she gained in the process were transformative.

Bearing, like Wangari, had been uncompromising in her professional life. However, this is the point at which the two women’s lives differ. For Bearing had got so caught up in her own genius and in the genius of the 17th century poet John Donne, that she had forgotten about compassion and human kindness.

Her students had suffered as a consequence. It is only when she is awakened to her own need for comfort and kindness that she reflects on her cold-hearted treatment of everyone around her. The realisation, however painful the process, is liberating for her.

Wit is a must-see, especially as it touches on a topic that affected one who was and remains very dear to many Kenyans, the Nobel laureate, Prof Wangari Maathai.

The law supports wealth inheritance for all: Daughters and Sons

In the past several arguements were advanced to deny women of inheriting their parents’ estate. This fact condemned women to poverty and also made them subservient to the partriarchy. Times have changed now and both men and women are entitled to an equal share of inheritance from the estate of their parents. The notion that women have no inheritance right has been dispproved by various legal precedents. Read on

Story by standardmedia.co.ke on 18th October 2012

In my view, the law as it is now, it matters not whether a daughter of the deceased is married or not when it comes to consideration of whether she is entitled to inherit her parent’s estate.  Article 60 (f) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides for elimination of gender discrimination in respect of land. The marital status of a daughter is not a basis to deny her the right to inherit her father’s estate…’’ — Lady Justice Mary Kasango (February 17, 2011)

Reality is now sinking that the cultural tradition of locking out daughters from inheriting their parents’ property  is outlawed.

A reader sent an email to this column complaining that daughters of deceased tycoons should be ashamed of fighting for their parents’ property.

The writer was referring to the daughters of the late Starehe MP Gerishon Kirima. He argued that only his sons should claim the estate worth over Sh1 billion.

According to the reader, it is unafrican for single or married daughters to claim the property of their father.

“Daughters have no property rights under our traditions…they should live in areas where they are married and leave inheritance to their brothers,” he argued.


For Lillian Cherono, also a reader, her concerns are whether daughters have rights to claim in court property of their parents.

“I have a friend (a spinster) whose biological father passed on two months ago leaving investments in property in Nairobi and Eldoret,” Cherono wrote.

According to Cherono, disputes over the estate pitting brothers and uncles of her friend have already started.

“Her brothers and uncles told her that she was out of the equation as daughters have no property rights in succession…is this true? What can she do? ,” Cherono asked.

However, even as some communities lock out daughters from inheriting property, the laws have changed.

Since the passing of the new Constitution daughters who moved to court demanding their rights to inherit property of their late parents have emerged victorious.

Even a series of successive judicial precedents set by the Court of Appeal and the High Court are proof that the tides have changed.

Take the recent case of Consolata Ntibuka who challenged her brother’s decision to evict her from her late father’s land at the High Court in Meru.

Lady Justice Mary Kasango who presided over the succession dispute ruled that daughters have a right to inherit their parents’ estate.

“It does not matter whether a daughter was married or not when considering whether she is entitled to inherit her parent’s estate,” Justice Kasango said.

To refresh memories, the Constitution forbids the State or any person from discriminating on the basis of a person’s marital status.

Article 60 of the supreme law further provides for elimination of gender discrimination in law, customs and practices related to land and property.

Therefore, Articles 27 and 60 of the Constitution clears the air whether married and unmarried daughters have a right to inherit wealth in the family.

Even before passing of the new Constitution, courts invoked the Law of Succession Act to guarantee daughters property rights.

According to Lady Justice Martha Koome when ruling in the case of Priscilla Kamau in 2005, daughters — just like sons — have equal rights to inherit.

“The law does not distinguish  between the children of a deceased on the basis of their gender or marital status,.” Justice Koome ordered.


Fast-forward to 2008. Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal dismissed the application of a Maasai custom that allegedly blocked daughters from inheritance of family property.

The case involved daughters of the late Maasai tycoon Lerionka Ole Ntutu who died without leaving a will on distribution of his estate.

The daughters told the High Court that their brothers planned to exclude them from inheriting the family property.

Justice Rawal overruled the Maasai customary law and applied the Law of Succession Act in favour of the daughters.

“Any tenet of customary law, which would abrogate the right of daughters to inherit the estate of a father cannot be applied,” Justice Rawal ruled.

Even the Court of Appeal recently demonstrated that customs and traditions that lock daughters out of succession have no place in society.

When delivering judgment in the case of Rono verses Rono, Justice Philip Waki ruled that marriage should never be a ground of locking daughters out.

“Arguments that daughters would get married are not a determining factor on distribution of the net estate of a deceased,” Justice Waki ordered.

Justice Waki said courts had a duty to exercise discretion judiciously when it came to distributing estates in dispute.

There was a protracted family dispute over property inheritance as some sons argued that their sisters would be married and move away.

The writer is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya


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