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World renowned Kenyan-born scholar Calestous Juma dies in Boston, USA

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BY BMJ MURIITHI and Agencies

Renowned scholar and Havard University lecturer Prof Calestous Juma is dead.

Prof Juma, who was listed among most reputable on earth in 2017, died in Boston, in the US. A family member confirmed the sad news in an interview with KSN Friday.

“It is indeed true and very sad. Prof has been sick for two years and has succumbed to the ailment,” she said and promised to give more details later.

Prof Juma, who until his death was teaching at Harvard University, was the only Kenyan to be listed in the inaugural list of “2017 Most Reputable People on Earth”.

US-based Kenyan scholar Calestous Juma who has died while undergoing treatment in Boston, Massachusetts. The Harvard professor was listed in the inaugural list of “2017 Most Reputable People on Earth”.

Prof Juma died while undergoing treatment in Boston, Massachusetts.

UNWELL FOR A WHILE

“Prof has been unwell for the past two years and today we received the sad news of his passing. Any more details will come from his family,” lawyer Peter Wanyama told a Kenyan daily.

According to Mr Wanyama, Prof Juma’s mother was buried just two weeks ago, but because of his sickness, he was not able to attend the funeral.

“He had, however, told me that he was planning to travel to the country in the early part of next year. Unfortunately, that will not be possible,” Mr Wanyama said.

INTELLECTUAL GIANT

 

Prof Juma was one of the most sought after experts in the field of application of science, technology and innovation to sustainable development in developing and developed countries.

A public intellectual, he was very prolific in social media, frequently sharing his writings on Twitter.

In the June list of fame, Prof Juma featured alongside luminaries such as Bill Gates, Barack and Michelle Obama and the Pope.

It was not the first time that Prof Juma was being picked for honours.

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS

In 2012, 2013 and 2014 he had been listed among the most influential 100 Africans by the New African magazine.

The Budalang’i-born scholar began his career as a science teacher in Mombasa between 1974 and 1978 before becoming the first science and environment journalist for Daily Nation between 1978 and 1979.

He later started his own magazine, Ecoforum.

He later worked as an editor and researcher at the Environment Liaison Centre in Nairobi between 1979 and 1982.

The scientist, who attained a teacher’s certificate from Egoji Teacher’s College in 1974, also held a PhD in Science Policy Research from the University of Sussex.

At the time of his dearth, he was teaching graduate courses on science, technology and development policy and biotechnology at Harvard University.

Juma, a Professor of the Practice of International Development, was  the Director of the Science, Technology, and Globalisation Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Faculty Chair of the Mason Fellows Program.

He also directed the Center’s Agricultural Innovation Policy in Africa Project and Health Innovation Policy in Africa projects funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In addition, he served as Faculty Chair of the Edward S. Mason Fellows Program as well as Faculty Chair of the “Innovation for Economic Development” and “Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Africa” executive programmes.

“I have received the news of the passing on of my friend, compatriot and a role model Professor Calestous Juma, with a deep sense of great personal loss. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed tweeted.

Michael Lesnick of Valley Cottage, NY  wrote: Tremendously saddened by today’s news that long-time friend and colleague, Calestous Juma, has died. I and we at Meridian had the great pleasure of working with Calestous since 1987 way back when he was still working out of Kenya and founder of the African Centre for Technology Studies. Named as one of the world’s 100 most influential Africans and a good, good man. Truly saddened. The world has lost a bright light.

May you rest in peace, Professor Juma.

“We are sad to hear of the passing of Harvard’s Professor @Calestous Juma. Not only was he an inspiration but helped us in many way ways. May his soul rest in peace,” iAfrican, a news outlet dedicated to science, technology & innovation in Africa, which were close to his heart, tweeted.

The late Prof Calestous Juma

 

Juma is a former Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and Founding Director of the African Centre for Technology Studies in Nairobi.

He co-chaired the African Union’s High-Level Panel on Science, Technology and Innovation. He is on the jury of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, and the Africa Food Prize.

During his scholarly journey, Dr Juma was elected to several scientific academies including the Royal Society of London, the US National Academy of Sciences, the World Academy of Sciences, the UK Royal Academy of Engineering and the African Academy of Sciences.

He also won several international awards for his work on sustainable development. He holds a doctorate in science and technology policy studies and has written widely on science, technology, and environment.

Juma served on the boards of several international bodies including the Aga Khan University and the Pan-African University and was the editor of the International Journal of Technology and Globalisation and theInternational Journal of Biotechnology. His new book, Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016.

 

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Business

Pricey tomatoes push up the cost of living in February

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The high cost of tomatoes contributed to a spike in the cost of living in February with overall prices of goods and services in the economy increasing by 6.37 per cent.

This was a nine-month with the increase in general prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks standing at 10.58 per cent, year-on-year.

In January, inflation rate, or the annualised percentage change in price in a basket of goods, stood at 5.78 per cent.

Price of a kilogramme of tomatoes, whose high price has been the butt of many jokes online, increased by 62.4 per cent from Sh82.4 in the same month last year to Sh133.8.Another foodstuff that saw its price rise at a fast rate was maize grain (loose), with a kilogram retailing at Sh50.8, an increase of 42.8 per cent compared to the same period last year

.A kilogramme of onions touched Sh110.29 from Sh89.41, according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

“The increase in inflation was driven by increase in prices of several food items outweighing decrease registered in respect of others,” said KNBS.

Sukumawiki

“Notably, the prices of tomatoes increased by 62.4 per cent in February 2020 compared to the cost in February 2019. However, prices of mangoes and loose maize grain dropped by 8.39 and 1.3 per cent respectively.”While the heavy downpour depressed the supply of tomatoes, it was a boon for other foodstuff such as Sukuma Wiki.A kilogramme of sukuma wiki retailed at an average of Sh40, this was 15.4 per cent lower compared to Sh47.3 in the same month in 2019.

Mangoes, potatoes, carrots and spinach also saw their retail prices decline during this period.House rents went up, with the index on housing, water, electricity , gas and other fuels increasing by 0.47 per cent.

“However, during the same period, the cost of electricity consumption kerosene dropped,” said KNBS.

A litre of petrol retailed at Sh113.3 last in February, an increase of 12 per cent, from Sh101.13 in January.An inflation rate of 6.37 per cent remains within the Central Bank of Kenya’s target of between 2.5 and 7.5 per cent.

By Standard

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Education

Top researchers caught in toxic scandals over money and sex

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A half a billion-shilling complex, claims of sexual harassment and corruption allegations are at the heart of a bitter war threatening to tear apart one of Africa’s mapping centres of excellence.

So intense is the infighting at the Kasarani based Regional Centre For Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) that four whistle blowers, among them a technical director, have been sacked.

The working environment at the 44-year old institute is so toxic that members of staff are now fearing it will compromise operations.

Investigations by Saturday Standard indicate that bad blood between some top managers has forced the board of governors drawn from 20 countries in East and South Africa to intervene.

RCMRD’s Director General Emannuel Nkurunzinza insists he is a victim of a plot to sabotage his work, dismissing claims of harassment against him.In October last year, some staff complained to the council chairperson Bonolo Elizabeth Khumotaka about Nkuruzinza’s governance style.Some — John Kiema (director of technical services), Joseph Masatu (staff assistant head), Byron Anangwe (business development) and Ann Kingori (executive secretary) — have now been pushed out.

All the four had testified against the director general when a raft of allegations were presented to the council last October.

“I had worked for RCMRD for 20 years. My contract was to expire in December last year and I expected it to be renewed. However, after I testified, my letter of termination was dropped at home, shortly before Christmas. What they did was not right but I have accepted this and moved on,” Mr Anangwe said.

He said he had complained about bad governance as there was too much interference by his director, whom he claimed was antagonising partners and shooting down other ideas, in the process killing creativity among staff.

Anangwe said he was concerned after all the reserves the centre had been saving for two decades were committed to the construction of a four-storey complex that will cost $5 million (about Sh500 million).But Nkrunzinza said Anangwe’s contract and those of his two colleagues had been terminated by the governing council which had also directed they should not be renewed.

Nkrunzinza, a Rwandan, has also been accused of unilaterally awarding two contracts for training in use of drones in mapping in Zambia and Rwanda a compatriot, Rhona Nyakuluma, instead of letting the centre do the work and earn some money.

The director however defended himself, saying the centre had been contracted by the World Bank to engage the consultant who they had already identified and that it was only supposed to be paid an administration fee of 17 per cent.

Subscription fees

Each member country is supposed to pay an annual subscription fee based on its Gross Domestic Product. There was controversy surrounding how some arrears owed to the centre by Uganda in form of subscription fees had been settled.Nkurunzinza dismissed as untrue allegations that he had waved off the debt after he secured a contract for the recovery of data from a destroyed disk for a Kampala based firm irregularly.

“Uganda has cleared all its arrears. Those making those allegations do not know what they are talking about. The centre’s accounts are scrutinised by external auditors and no queries about our finances have been raised,” he said.

A complaint letter to the chair seen by Saturday Standard detail the frosty working environment at the centre. It reads in part: “2019 has been a very difficult year for TSD (technical service department)  and indeed essentially because of unwarranted interference in the management of TSD) and lack of support from the Director General.” According to this petition, staff had raised their grievances to the management, issues they said were never discussed.

The staff had complained of sexual harassment of students and interns during a meeting held on April 5, 2019, but the director general conclusively dealt with the matter through a memo on May 20, saying the claims had no basis.The staff had further claimed there had been a doubtful payment of about $37,945 (Sh3,832,445) in 2017 to a Ugandan firm after it repaired a computer disc that had vital data.

According to documents seen by Saturday Standard, the payment was suspected to be fishy because another firm in South Africa had unsuccessfully tried to repair the disc.

While requesting for payment, Banuli Kasanga of Dream Soft Uganda Limited had confirmed that his firm had repaired the faulty device which had been tested at at the DG’s office and found to be working.Nkurunzinza had on July 5, 2017 written to Dream Soft: “This is to acknowledge that Mr Babuli Kasango has today delivered data recovered from Dell Power Vault MD32000 and on a sample basis  demonstrated that the data is in good condition,” he wrote.This raised questions among the technical staff who wondered why the repaired disc was never returned to the centre and why the DG had gone to Uganda not long after the payment had been made.

Received data

But the director general maintained that he had indeed received the data which he had handed over to a client who had been patiently waiting for it.When these issues were presented to the governing council, which conducted  its sittings in Nairobi between November 28 and 30 last year, things turned nasty for the whistle blowers.In a case of the hunter becoming the hunted, Prof Kiema received a letter from the governing council dated January 24 informing him of the turn of events.

“Reference is made to your letter of November 28, 2019 addressed to me in which you raised a complaint against the Director General. The governing Council undertook investigations in Nairobi. From the investigations, undertaken no evidence has been established supporting your allegations.

”The chairperson of the board said their investigations had unearthed incontrovertible evidence of insubordination towards the director general and the whistle blower was given five days to show why severe disciplinary action could not be taken against him.Ultimately, the axe fell on Kiema on February 3 when Khumotaka fired back:  “I wish to inform you that I have received your explanation on the offences you were accused of. However, I do not find the explanation satisfactory”.She added: “In the interest of  smooth running the centre, your contract is terminated with immediate effect by paying you three months salary in lieu of notice in accordance with your contract of employment”.

When asked why the witnesses had been sacked barely a month after testifying against him, Nkurunzinza said although the complainants had poisoned the working environment with baseless allegations, this was not the basis of their loss of jobs.“Their contracts ended in December and the governing council opted not to renew them. They were not victimised for reporting me,” the DG said.

On sexual harassment allegations, Nkurunzinza said when the investigators came, nobody came forward or presented evidence to back the claims.

By Saturday Standard,

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Mutua warns on ‘dirty’ content at drama festival

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The Kenya Film and Classification Board (KFCB) has announced strict measures aimed at filtering inappropriate content in stage plays that will be displayed during this year’s National Drama Festival.

Chief Executive Officer Ezekiel Mutua said there would be no room in the festival for content that could erode cultural and moral values and

urged school administrators to ensure stage plays stick to set guidelines as enshrined in the Films and Stage Plays Act.

Mutua said the agency will keenly monitor this year’s event which will be held at the Coast.

He said the measures would help tame rising moral decay in society.

“Since children are impressionable and among the highest consumers of content, there is need to direct them towards consuming clean content early in life. The war against compromised content must begin right from creation and must also involve children rights from the creation level,” said Mutua.

Age approptriate

He said the partnership between the KFCB and the Kenya National Drama and Film Festival (KNDFF) is aimed at ensuring content that is consumed by children promotes moral values and is in tune with the country’s culture.

The partnership, he said, was strategically intended to reach and influence at least 25,000 students and 1,200 teachers as media content creators, consumers towards clean age appropriate content.

Nurture talents

Executive secretary of the Kenya National Drama and Film Festival James Indimuli challenged tutors to expose learners to extra-curricular activities that can enable them explore their talents.

“The Board ventured into partnership with the Ministry of Education through the KNDFF with the aim of identifying and nurturing talent among learners right from preschool,” he added.

Indimuli confirmed that the 61st National Drama Festivals will be held at Shimo La Tewa Secondary School in Mombasa County.

“We want to ensure participant’s tell stories that promote positive morals and culture and those that will not adhere to the guidelines will be banned,” said Indimuli.

The two were speaking during the Kenya Drama and Film festival retreat at a Mombasa hotel on Wednesday.

Data shows that the film industry has a potential to be a significant contributor to the country’s GDP by creating employment opportunities for the youth.

Kenya’s film industry generates Sh7.2 billion every year, creating direct and indirect jobs for more than 100,000 people, according to the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers.

2020 DRAMA FESTIVAL

• The 61st National Drama Festival will be held in the Shimo la Tewa Secondary School in Mombasa County from April 13 to 24, 2020.

• The Kenya Films Classification Board has said it will closely monitor the event in line with this year’s theme which is “Promoting moral responsibility in society through drama and film”.

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