Sex pests exploiting child sponsorships for dirty acts

Would you allow a foreigner to take your daughter on a week long holiday without your presence? Or even your boy for that matter?

The lives of these innocent children could be ruined by sex predators masquerading as donors. Nairobi Chronicle photo.

The lives of these innocent children could be ruined by sex predators masquerading as donors. Nairobi Chronicle photo.

Of course, most rational parents would not accept this. Unfortunately, poverty is driving Kenyan parents into turning a blind eye as foreigners sponsoring their children’s education turn the young ones into sex objects.

Investigations by the Nairobi Chronicle have revealed that Kenya is awash with all kinds of characters offering education sponsorship to children from needy families. The foreigners come in the guise of churches, non-governmental organizations, philanthropic groups or simply interested tourists.

Education and household sponsorships by foreigners are highest in Nyanza, Nairobi and Coast provinces. In Nyanza, the huge number of HIV/Aids orphans presents easy prey for sex pests. In the slums of Nairobi and the fishing villages of the Coast, poverty is the main culprit behind the sad tales.

It is believed that there are hundreds of thousands of children in Nyanza province who have lost their parents and close relatives to HIV/Aids. The situation is so bad that in some villages, only elderly people and children are left as all the able bodied persons lie in graves. Some of the children have undergone double tragedies after the relatives who adopted them also died of AIDS.

With nowhere else to go, these children turn to the church for assistance. Mainstream churches, such as the Catholic Church, Anglican and Seventh Day usually have established systems for assisting children with education. It is the smaller Christian denominations that present an opening for child exploitation because these churches are completely dependent on foreign funding.

The pastor will write an appeal for funds to assist orphans with food, clothes and education. Not surprisingly, the appeal is heeded and the money begins to flow. The church finds accommodation for the children either by placing them in local homes or by putting up structures with the money. With time, the ‘donors’ express their intention to visit Kenya and see how their money is being utilized. This is where problems begin.

Foreign sponsors come mostly from Europe and North America. A few of the sponsors may be wealthy individuals from other African countries, including Nigeria and South Africa. Affluent Kenyans have not been left behind either.

The Nairobi Chronicle is not in any way implying that all sponsors are paedophiles. We are just drawing attention to the fact that people are getting access to children without any vetting taking place.

Once the foreigners come to Kenya they have unfettered access to the children. They take them along for trips without a relative or church official accompanying the child for supervisory purposes.

Its not only orphans who are being exploited. The children of poor parents are suffering as well, as the Nairobi Chronicle found out. Once the sponsorship deal is sealed, its only a matter of time before parents are convinced to let their children accompany the sponsors on trips. There’s really no telling what happens during those trips, some of which can last the entire duration of a school holiday.

It is not as though the parents don’t know whatever is going on. Only the very naïve can assume that a middle aged tourist can drive a 14 year old girl 400 kilometres to Nairobi and back, without anything strange happening. Parents are keeping quiet for fear of losing the sponsorship, and hence losing the opportunity to educate their children. The fact that some of these sponsors finance household expenses makes matters very tricky for desperate parents.

A special case from South Nyanza has been brought to the attention of the Nairobi Chronicle: A sponsor from the United States has financed the education of a certain girl from primary school level, through high school and upto University. The sponsor visits every year with gifts for the family. He has visited the girl at every school she has attended and takes her on holiday whenever he comes to Kenya.

With the girl now in University, the American sponsor is visiting her at campus hostels in a powerful 4×4 vehicle. He takes her out, sometimes returning at late hours. More perplexing is the willingness of the young lady to leave classes whenever her benefactor calls for a meeting in town. It is said the woman had an African fiancée but he pulled out because of the unusual circumstances.

In Nairobi, some parents have become so good at finding sponsors that they have a different sponsor for each of their children. However, the sponsorship comes at a price. Sooner or later, the donor will offer to take the children out on holiday after giving the parents an irresistible cash hand out. In some cases, the sponsors take the children back to their countries for, “quality education.”

At the Kenyan Coast, entrenched poverty is pushing parents into seeking foreigners to sponsor their children. At the coast, getting foreign sponsorship is not difficult due to the tourism industry. Modern tourists want to do much more than watching animals, instead, they want to make a difference in the life of an African family. Amidst this noble cause, sex pests have seen an opportunity to satisfy their evil desires.

Like in the case of Nyanza and Nairobi provinces, the sex predator will develop a relationship with the family by providing educational assistance for the children and cash handouts for the unemployed parents. Sooner or later, the sponsor will ask to take the child out for holiday or for further education overseas. Usually, the parents will be too poor to refuse even if they suspect that something is about to happen to their precious child. The family simply cannot afford to bite the hand that feeds them.

An exceedingly moving case was reported in a Kenyan newspaper a couple of years ago. A local woman was found sitting in the lobby of a tourist class hotel. Of course, villagers are not normally found enjoying such luxuries and the hotel staff began inquiries concerning her presence. What they discovered shocked them beyond measure.

The woman had brought her small daughter to visit a foreign sponsor in his hotel room. The woman was waiting for her daughter to finish her “business.” She knew exactly what was going on and she was facilitating the vice.

The Kenyan government seems totally unaware of the ongoing destruction of our children’s morality. Foreign sponsors have learnt to cultivate cordial working relationships with local political and church leaders who even find needy families for them. Many small churches are financed by the same individuals targeting the children of the poor.

The result is the development of a traumatized generation of young people who have been physically, psychologically and emotionally ravaged by involvement in disgusting sex practices. At the Kenya Coast, for example, it is a well known fact that children from poor rural homesteads are getting lured into child pornography. Police officers have captured video tapes and digital photos to prove that the situation is really bad.

These children will never know what a normal, loving sexual relationship is all about. Their introduction to sex was abusive and when they grow up, they will become abusers. Its hardly surprising that cases of rape, incest, group orgies and sex-with-animals are increasing in the country.

The sad bit is that some Kenyan parents are willing to sacrifice their children’s bodies for money. It makes one wonder why they bother having children in the first place if they are not willing – or able – to raise them.

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More killings feared as Kibaki vows new Mungiki war

President Mwai Kibaki has vowed to crack down on the Mungiki sect even as torture and disappearances undermine ongoing government efforts of eradicating the sect.

The President is enraged by the killings of at least 10 people in his parliamentary constituency. The dead are believed to have been executed by Mungiki adherents, who are known for demanding protection fees from retail business, land owners and transport operators across Central Kenya, Nairobi and parts of the Rift Valley.

Since June 2007, at least 600 youths have been killed for alleged involvement with Mungiki. Scores of others have simply vanished after they were arrested.

Survivors and civil society accuse the Kenya Police for the deaths and disappearances, a claim the police Commissioner has denied several times. However, former internal security minister, John Michuki, was quoted last year saying that funerals of Mungiki youth would become a common occurence.

Mungiki is an underground movement among the Kikuyu ethnic group, drawing its membership from youths in squatter settlements and urban slums. The group advocates a return to Kikuyu traditional customs saying that modernity has failed to ease human suffering.

Mungiki leader, Maina Njenga, is serving a jail sentence for drugs and weapons possession but the sect describes the charges as a fabrication meant to curtail its activities.

Njenga began Mungiki in the mid 1980s in the Rift Valley province. His movement grew in numbers in the 1990s following clashes inflicted on the Kikuyu by forces loyal to President Daniel arap Moi.

The 1990s were a period of rapid economic liberalization in Kenya coupled with globalization, resulting in massive unemployment coupled with the loss of societal values. Rising crime and crumbling state authority added to the difficulties.

Within the shanties of the Kikuyu homeland and the capital city Nairobi, Mungiki restored order and provided basic social services in exchange for protection fees by households and businesses. By the early 2000s, Mungiki membership was estimated at over 1 million.

Since then, the Kenyan government has worried over the motives of Mungiki and sees the sect as a threat. Sections of the government are convinced that Mungiki’s goal is to capture power through its political wing, the Kenya National Youth Alliance.

Mungiki is not a movement of angels either. Dozens of people have been killed by the sect for either exposing the group’s secrets or refusing to pay protection fees. Mungiki does not allow revocation of membership and recruitment procedures are rather nasty.

Whereas President Moi kept the group in check through negotiation, his successor President Mwai Kibaki has pursued a hardline stance. Ironically, Kibaki is also a Kikuyu whereas Moi was not.

Being a phenomenon of the underclass, Mungiki does not enjoy the complete loyalty of the Kikuyu. Majority of upper and middle class Kikuyu support Kibaki’s crackdown against Mungiki, leading many social commentators to draw similarities with the Mau Mau war of the 1950s. Like Mungiki, Mau Mau drew its membership from the poor whereas the educated Kikuyu working for the colonial government opposed it.

Incidentally, John Michuki, the man who predicted Mungiki funerals in 2007 worked as a colonial administrator in the 1950s where he was tough against Mau Mau. Its worth noting that Mungiki draws its inspiration from the Mau Mau rebellion.

The rest of Kenya’s ethnic groups fear Mungiki and support the government’s campaign despite the violations of human rights. With Mungiki’s membership being exclusively Kikuyu, the rest of Kenya’s tribes see the group as an ethnic militia championing Kikuyu interests.

Consequently, there has been little condemnation of the government from the rest of the population. However, this apathy may change as the Kenyan government spreads its tactics to other parts of Kenya.

Security operations in Mount Elgon and the Somali border have been marred by similar allegations of torture, death and disappearances. It may seem as though the Kenyan government is adopting tactics last seen in Latin America back in the 1970s.

Perhaps, Kenyan leaders and security chiefs should familiarize themselves with ongoing legal procedures in Latin America. More than 30 years after the era of leftist groups and right wing paramilitaries (usually backed by military governments), trials are currently underway for those responsible for the disappearances.

Price controls, subsidies to worsen food supply

It’s a slippery path that many governments have taken to their ever-lasting regret. It usually starts off as a temporary measure to tackle rising prices for food, fuel and other basic commodities.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his Agriculture Minister, William Ruto, did not say it openly but the Kenyan government is now subsidizing foodstuffs.

Subsidies and price controls are used to calm a restive population from engaging in food riots. In some countries, food riots have toppled governments, hence the Kenyan leadership’s rush to re-introduce price controls and food subsidies.

Economists say that subsidizing food is the worst decision any government can make. It is not sustainable because food prices always rise as a growing population demands more food.

The Kenya government has announced two different prices for maize: one for the poor, the other for the middle class. The government will sell ‘government branded maize meal’ to the poor using a chain of government regulated retail outlets.

If there ever was a way of creating Zimbabwe-style shortages, this is it.

It gets worse: The government has instructed the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to buy maize at Kshs1,950 (US$25) a bag from farmers then sell to millers at lower rates. This means the government has to pay NCPB the difference. The decision was made after maize millers argued that they could not lower prices due to tight margins. With annual consumption of maize in Kenya in the millions of bags, the treasury must find hundreds of millions of dollars for the new subsidy.

The Kenyan government’s intervention will distort the food market to such an extent that the poor will be the biggest losers. There is no guarantee that only the poor will by the cheap, ‘government-branded’ maize. The nature of economics is such that entrepreneurs will strive to obtain the cheap maize at Shs52, then supply it to upper-income retail outlets at Shs72, thereby making a huge profit.

The poor will eventually realize that, while their shops are empty, the supermarkets of the upperclasses will be fully stocked. This is exactly the case in Zimbabwe, where government price controls have twisted the market into epic proportions. It is not that goods are not available in Zimbabwe, but nobody is willing to sell at the state-sanctioned rates. The black market has pushed inflation to world record levels.

With time, the Kenya government will find it impossible to sustain food subsidies. The millers will find it difficult to operate in a restricted market. Yesterday, the government banned millers from buying directly from farmers. Several millers may close shop under such a stifling business environment.

The supply of maize will get worse because a government-controlled distribution chain inevitably breeds corruption. Unlike a free market situation which is dictated by forces of supply and demand, a state-controlled supply chain will create opportunities for kickbacks, horse trading and extortion.

Creating two sets of prices for the same commodity is ill-informed decision making. Why should a supplier sell maize to the poor at Shs52 yet the same commodity can fetch Shs72 a couple of hundred meters away?

The government’s plans to launch ‘branded’ packets of cheap maize are likely to draw the wrath of the World Bank and IMF. In the early 1990s, the Kenyan government implemented the two institution’s recommendations to open up the economy following rampant inflation, shortages and corruption by officials who were supposed to supply the commodities. Since then, supply has been constant even though prices have risen.

In the 1980s, Kenyans had to walk long distances looking for maize, wheat and milk because price controls encouraged hoarding. A similar situation is in store for a population already used to the abundance of liberalization.

There are fears that a black market in maize and other food stuffs may emerge. A black market will fuel inflation and put food prices outside the reach of the majority.

Black markets are controlled by criminal organizations and groups like Mungiki will have a new source of income. At the same time, black markets are not subjected to quality standards and consumers will be exposed to poor quality and dangerous food stuffs.

Jamhuri Day mass action looming

Fed up with a cruel and corrupt leadership, Kenyans across the social divide are planning to express discontent during Jamhuri Day (Independence) celebrations on December 12th.

A past demonstration along Nairobi's Moi Avenue.

A past demonstration along Nairobi's Moi Avenue.

The plans are as varied as the number of groups in the country. There are those calling for a White Ribbon campaign, where everybody attending Jamhuri Day rallies puts on a black shirt and white ribbon as a silent protest.

Then there are those calling for a total boycott of Jamhuri celebrations so that Kenya’s big-mouth politicians face empty stadiums. Debate is raging on whether to advance the boycott to include shunning voting come the next General Elections.

One thing is certain though: a major showdown looms between the politicians and the concerted power of the people. Indeed, the kind of discontent being witnessed in Kenya today has resulted in the toppling of governments elsewhere in the world.

The Kenyan government can take solace in the fact that a uniting personality, such as South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, Russia’s Boris Yeltsin or Poland’s Lech Walesa is yet to emerge into focusing the people’s anger towards tangible action.

The White Ribbon campaign is championed by the Mars Group, an anti-corruption body associated with Mr. Mwalimu Mati. Mars wants peaceful mass action as opposed to revolutionary tactics. Mars Group is urging all Kenyans to attend Jamhuri Day celebrations dressed in black T-shirts and white arm bands as a show of solidarity against a thieving political class.

Kenyan legislators, judges, diplomats and other office holders have flatly refused to pay tax, even as they enjoy exaggerated pay. The President of Kenya earns almost as much as the United States president or the British Prime Minister even though Kenya is at the bottom of the development ranks.

Furthermore, Mars Group is mobilizing Kenyans to boycott paying taxes, considering that 85% of the national budget is used to fund a bloated cabinet, paying entertainment allowances, buying luxury cars and building offices. Only 15% of Kenya’s budget is left for roads, water, electricity and health care systems.

To add to the pain, Kenyan politicians have been implicated in the worsening shortages of maize, wheat and sugar. Prices have risen dramatically in the past couple of weeks after politicians took up all the supplies at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) in order to sell to millers at 26% profit. Prices of maize are getting outside the reach of Kenyan families. Consequently, hunger looms as the Christmas festivities draw nearer.

Here’s an excerpt from the Mars website:

Each month Kenya Shillings 102 million (US$1.3 million) will be spent on household and press services for President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila and Vice President Kalonzo, which is more than the funding for roads nationwide. Kalonzo will get 100 million shillings ($1.2 million) for travel this year while people are starving in Ukambani. Raila’s household funding is more than the money allocated for slum-upgrading.

The Kenyan government is not likely to take the prospects of people power lightly and there’s a strong possibility of riot police being unleashed to cause disruption. Due to these fears, there are voices calling for a total boycott of Jamhuri Day celebrations. According to one blogger, walking into stadiums wearing black T-shirts and white ribbons would mark oneself as a target by riot police, with the prospects for arrest.

A boycott of the celebrations would certainly send a wake-up call to the government to change its ways. Considering that Jamhuri celebrations are usually covered by the international media, the spectacle of an empty stadium will be too embarrassing for the government.

It will show the politicians that Kenyans can chart their own destiny and are no longer willing to be used as sacrificial lambs to advance political careers. As Kenyans have been asking, what was the point the violence witnessed after elections, yet the politicians are quick to unite when oppressing the people?

There is bitterness among the Kikuyu ethnic group with President Kibaki for urging forgiveness for the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing. The Kalenjin are disillusioned with Prime Minister Raila Odinga for not appreciating the community’s role in forcing Kibaki to the negotiating table.

At least 1,000 people died in political and ethnic clashes between January and March this year. Hundreds of thousands of others are still living in refugee camps as its too dangerous to return home. Peace talks that ended the post election violence resulted in the current coalition government with Kibaki retaining the presidency and the new post of Prime Minister created for Raila.

Though Raila enjoys fanatical backing amongst his Luo tribe, many are of the opinion that he is not fulfilling his campaign promises. Last week, residents of Raila’s constituency in Langata ambushed a visiting United Nations delegation to protest rising food prices.

Such is the sense of helplessness among Kenyans that the turnout in the next elections will be the lowest in history. It would be interesting because the voter turnout in the 2007 polls was the highest ever recorded since independence in 1963. However, the 2007 polls were messed up so badly that the actual winner will never be known. For this, the government, the Electoral Commission of Kenya and politicians are to blame. None of the competing parties had any intention of conceding defeat.

One woman who lost her home in election violence told a TV station that she will never vote again. “I exercised my democratic rights but I was punished for electing a leader of my choice. Then what is the point of elections if you cannot vote freely?”

An election boycott would be a sign of frustration with Kenya’s politicians. Whoever becomes President, or Prime Minister, will only manage a few thousand votes.

There’s growing realization that only concerted action by Kenya’s citizens will save the country from destruction. Unless action is taken, the next General Elections scheduled for 2012 could be the end of Kenya as we know it.

Secret tank deal shows poor priorities

A secret tank deal by Kenya’s Army would have gone unnoticed if Somali pirates hadn’t hijacked a Ukrainian ship ferrying the 33 tanks to the port of Mombasa.

diesel, benzene and kerosene.

The Russian built T-72 tank can run on three types of fuel: diesel, benzene and kerosene.

Its not clear when the Department of Defence placed an order for T-72 tanks from Russia. The Army has not explained how much it spent on the equipment, neither has it explained the role of the 33 tanks in Kenya’s security strategy.

Apart from tanks, Somali pirates found tons of ammunition and auxiliary equipment within the ship, which they have threatened to offload for use in their country’s civil war. The pirates are demanding US$35 million in ransom before they release the vessel and its cargo.

Typical of most African governments, Kenya’s leaders are spending billions of dollars on security while ordinary people die of hunger, disease and poor shelter. Kenya ranks at the bottom of international social and economic indicators.

A growing population is putting pressure on neglected infrastructure. Public hospitals lack drugs as thousands of Kenyans perish each year on a road network broken to the point of tatters. Kenyan cities are going without fresh water due to lack of investment in water production.

The capital city of Nairobi is getting less water today than it was receiving a decade ago after a colonial era dam collapsed at Sasumua. The port city of Mombasa gets water from a supply system built by the British when the town’s population was less than a third of current figures.

Lack of investment in electricity production has made Kenya’s electricity tariffs the highest in Africa. Industries suffer from constant power blackouts which have undermined economic growth, leading to massive losses and job cuts.

Agricultural production in Kenya is far below demand. The country is producing less coffee, maize, tea, wheat, millet and everything else compared to twenty years ago. Sugar milling companies in Western Kenya, stuck with 19th century technology, are creaking out low quality sugar in significantly less quantities than when Kenya was a British colony.

Amidst all these, the Kenyan government has seen it fit to invest billions of shillings in military equipment. As stated earlier, if it wasn’t for Somali pirates, majority of Kenyans would never have known that tanks were about to get imported into the country. But, lack of priority in government procurement appears to be the norm these days.

Its been announced that Kenya will spend about $23 million in the purchase of second-hand fighter jets from the Kingdom of Jordan. The F-5 fighter that the Kenyan Airforce is so fond of went out of production in 1989, meaning that the jets Kenya is buying are at least 19 years old. Kenya will also pay Jordan to train its pilots in using the junk aircraft.

Meanwhile, other branches of the security forces are on a shopping bonanza. Regular and Administration police have enhanced their recruitment drives to boost numbers. They are receiving modern equipment, weapons, 4-wheel drive trucks, uniforms and riot gear. Considering the conduct of police during the post-election violence, its obvious that this enhanced expenditure is not for the benefit of ordinary men and women.

The Kenya Police has just finished rehabilitating giant Russian-built helicopters fitted with night-vision equipment, gun detectors and communications technology. The helicopters will carry a team of quick response officers assisted by highly trained dogs.

Just this week, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights – a government body – blamed police for the execution of 500 Kikuyu youth and the disappearance of scores of others. According to survivors, the dead and the disappeared were all abducted by people identifying themselves as police officers. A man whose dramatic arrest in Nairobi was shown on the front page of the Daily Nation, was later found dead in the city mortuary.

For most Kenyans, the acquisition of helicopters, night vision equipment and vicious dogs can only portend doom as far as personal freedoms are concerned.

By purchasing bigger weapons to arm a greater number of police and soldiers, the Kenyan government is treading a path set by authorities in situations of high wealth inequality. Kenya is among the top three most unequal societies on earth.

On one hand there is an extremely wealthy minority whose standard of living can comfortably secure them a place among the world’s rich and famous. On the opposite extreme is a majority of people without access to adequate food, housing, health care and education. These are people whose future is so bleak that the only options are crime, prostitution, alcoholism and violence.

Amidst this depressing scenario, authorities seek to preserve the status quo by unleashing greater surveillance of the disadvantaged majority. The objective is to make life safer and easier for the rich minority.

The fruits of economic growth are used to buy guns instead of building roads. Public funds are used to buy tanks instead of medicines for government hospitals. In an unequal society, the government will find it better to employ soldiers and police rather than employing doctors and teachers. Instead of facilitating constructive engagement between the rich and the poor, the system is designed to keep them apart.

Such trends have happened elsewhere and Kenya is blindly going down the same path. Unfortunately, that particular path usually ends up in self-destruction, for the human spirit cannot tolerate oppression forever.

Constitution reforms not a priority

A new survey reveals that 89% of Kenyans don’t care about reforming the constitution, but want the government to address poverty, insecurity and healthcare.

With rising food and energy prices, majority of Kenyans are more concerned with inflation than with a constitutional process seen as the preserve of politicians. Security emerged as a major concern for a country traumatized by political and ethnic clashes that left over 1,000 dead and half a million homeless. Land reforms featured consistently among poll responses.

The findings were released by Gallup International, a respected polling organization.

According to Gallup, only 9% of respondents feel that constitutional reforms are a priority. Apart from concerns about the economy, health care and security, Kenyans are anxious about the state of infrastructure in the country. Road rehabilitation has been slow as water and electricity shortages bite harder.

The findings were a big disappointment to civil rights activists and politicians, who have been lobbying for constitutional reforms since the early 1990s. Non-governmental organizations, politicians, lawyers and religious leaders – all backed by foreign diplomats – have persistently driven the view that a new constitution is the only path towards a wealthy society. The findings of the Gallup poll will question the legitimacy of these groups.

This is not the first survey showing Kenyans’ disregard for constitutional issues. Last December, just before the elections, another survey revealed that Kenyans want jobs, medicines in public hospitals, clean water and safe roads.

In spite of the rhetoric by politicians that Kenyans “want” constitutional reforms, the ordinary man and woman on the street is not fooled. Kenyans know that this obsession with changing the constitution has more to do with the trappings of power than it has to do with making a better country. A good example is the so-called Bomas Draft that some political parties want to implement.

If the Bomas Draft becomes a reality, every politician in Kenya will have a job thanks to multiple layers of government. There will be government at village level, locational level, the district, province and right to the national level. There will be mini-parliaments for the provinces and districts. Each layer of government will levy its own taxes. According to the Bomas Draft, retired politicians will be accommodated in some form of national council of elders.

There is little mention in the Bomas Draft of expanding economic production in order to provide jobs, food and housing to the growing population.

Political meddling in Kenya’s constitution has resulted in numerous amendments since independence. Most of these were designed to deal with a prevailing political threat. For instance, in 1966, President Jomo Kenyatta’s administration introduced an amendment that forced Members of Parliament who dissented with their political parties to face fresh elections. This amendment was targeted at Kenyatta’s critics, such as opposition leader Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

In 1992, Kenya’s second president, Daniel arap Moi, amended the constitution to make his Kenya African National Union (KANU) the only legal political party. The amendment was removed in 1991 after international pressure.

Throughout the 1990s, President Moi’s opponents wanted the constitution changed in order to give themselves a better chance of winning. After the 1997 elections, the opposition began lobbying for the creation of a Prime Minister’s position after realizing that removing Moi from the presidency was impossible. Moi resisted their calls for a new constitution saying that the opposition was not sincere.

In 2002, Moi agreed to have a National Constitution Conference at the Bomas of Kenya. However, he made the conference so big that failure was a guarantee. The Bomas conference had over 600 delegates with all 222 Members of Parliament included. It was the largest constitutional conference in the history of the world.

Just before the conference completed its work, Moi dissolved parliament in readiness for the 2002 General Election. With most of the delegates being politicians, the Bomas conference was postponed in order to give them time to campaign. Mwai Kibaki won the elections and was sworn into office on December 30th, 2002 promising the enactment of the Bomas constitution within 6 months. That was not to happen.

Kibaki had made a political alliance with Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and others based on the enactment of a new constitution. Raila was promised the position of executive prime minister. In the first few months of 2003, Raila and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) continually reminded Kibaki of his pledge to change the constitution and make Raila a prime minister.

John Michuki, a Kibaki ally, dropped the bombshell. Michuki announced that the purpose of constitutional reforms had all along been to remove Moi and KANU from power. Since these objectives had been achieved, it was no longer necessary to reform the constitution.  Raila and LDP were outraged, and his alliance with President Kibaki came to an end.

In 2005, Kibaki wrote another draft giving the prime minister much less powers. Raila and LDP campaigned hard against Kibaki’s draft constitution and it was defeated in a national referendum held in November 2005. Since then, no further progress has been made in enacting a new constitution.

Gallup’s recent poll demonstrates that ordinary Kenyans clearly understand the intention behind constitutional review. With Kenyans being the most educated Africans, most realize that it takes much more than a constitution to create a better society. Constitutions do not build roads, power lines, hospitals and schools. All these are day-to-day responsibilities of a government.

The orgy of self-destruction seen this year was not driven by the current constitution. If anything, our present constitution criminalizes murder, rape, arson, looting and incitement. The present constitution, which has guided the country for 45 years, gives every Kenyan citizen the right to work, live and own property anywhere within our borders. The current constitution recognizes the rights of all racial groups in Kenya, that is, Africans, Caucasians, Hindus and Arabs.

As it was noted after the post elections violence, Kenyans need to re-examine the way they conduct politics. If people can kill and steal under the current constitution, why should they obey a new constitution?

Kenyans are suffering from a political class that is nurturing the values of impunity, racism, ethnic hatred, sexism and hereditary politics. It is unthinkable in the 21st century that politicians want a constitution that violates the rights of specific racial and ethnic groups. If such a constitution were enacted, life in Kenya will not get better. It will only get worse.

“I knew Naivasha vampire rapist”

Written by Willy, in response to our call for comments from Naivasha residents.
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I lived in Naivasha between 1994 and ‘96, between 2001 and ‘02 and again between March & May, 2008.

In Naivasha, you can “touch loneliness, poverty” and everything in between … Add all that to the level of illiteracy (especially amongst the young!) and all you get is Foko. By the way, I know the fellow; he lived a few blocks away from our plot down there.

The best solution I think is getting more people to attend schools, colleges/universities from that area. The ignorance is just too much. There are numerous good efforts with colleges sprouting everywhere — but will the people learn? I don’t know.

For several reasons:

a) Majority of people come to Naivasha with mistaken ideas of loads of cash from the flower business. A good number of these are only armed with a KCSE certificate at best, and in their thinking, have “already finished education”.

b) Over 3/4 of these people are overworked (5am – 5pm, hardwork inside greenhouses while all manner of chemicals are being sprayed!), and paid very little (Ksh 200 at best per day). They are already too tired and exhausted to consider joining some college to improve their chances.

c) The leaders and influential people there are not educated. Take away the former MP and the current one. The rest of the “kerende” haven’t seen much of a classroom, yet call all the shots! Good example to kids/young people? You tell me!

d) As said earlier, most of the people who come to Naivasha come there from the village. They now realize that they’re in a new “city” without parents to check on their mannerisms, drug habits and careless living (read: women).

From these 4 points, does anyone need to ask why Naivasha is the “leading rapists city”?