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Kenyan boy caught in online storm over “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle Monkey” label

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

A Kenyan woman who goes by the name of Terry Mango has claimed that she is the  mother of a black boy at the centre of a racism storm involving Swedish-headquartered  multinational clothing retail company, H&M, which has branches all over the world, including the United States.

In a photo which has gone viral, the boy, who is modelling for American fashion powerhouse, wears a green hoodie with the message “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.”

The image has been condemned across the board, with some calling it “blatant insult to the black race.”

What is even more disturbing is that two white boys pictured with the black boy do not have any derogatory label on their clothing.

On Wednesday, H&M sent out an email to all its customers apologising over the racial slur.

However, the mother shocked internet users when, in a series of social media posts, said categorically that there was nothing wrong with the message on “My son’s hoodie.”

The woman says she is a Kenyan who works in Sweden.

“I am the mum and this is one of the hundreds of outfits my son has modelled. Stop crying wolf all the time … Get over it. If I bought the jumper and put it on him and posted it on my pages would that make me racist? I get people’s opinions but they are not mine,” wrote Ms Mango.

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APOLOGY

In its apology, H&M said it had taken down the image. It further stated the hoodie has also been removed from its product offering.

“We would like to put on record our position in relation to the controversial image of our hoodie. Our position is simple, we have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry,” read part of the statement.

The social media went wild over the use of the black boy in the ad. Many posted messages accusing the clothing brand of racism for using a black child to convey the message written on the hoodie.

Many artistes took to Twitter to protest saying they had cancelled any kind of partnership with H&M.

Celebrated NBA player Lebron James wrote: “[H&M] u got us all wrong! And we ain’t going for it! Straight up! Enough about y’all and more of what I see when I look at this photo.”

EMBARRASSED

“Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. I’m deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore…” tweeted one musician.

There were also reports that American rapper, P Diddy, has offered the boy a modelling contract worth Sh103 million ($1 million) to work with his clothing line, Sean John.

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Elsewhere, Manchester United player Romelu Lukaku also posted an altered version of the advertisement with “black is beautiful” inscribed on the hoodie.

Lukaku wrote: “You’re a prince, soon to be a king. Don’t let anybody tell you different #blackexcellence.”

Below is the full apology from H&M:

H&M STORE.

H&M ISSUES UNEQUIVOCAL APOLOGY FOR POORLY JUDGED PRODUCT AND IMAGE

To all customers, staff, media, stakeholders, partners, suppliers, friends and critics. We would like to put on record our position in relation to the image and promotion of a children’s sweater, and the ensuing response and criticism. Our position is simple and unequivocal – we have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry.

9 JAN, 2018

H &M is fully committed to playing its part in addressing society’s issues and problems, whether it’s diversity, working conditions or environmental protection – and many others. Our standards are high and we feel that we have made real progress over the years in playing our part in promoting diversity and inclusion. But we clearly haven’t come far enough.

We agree with all the criticism that this has generated – we have got this wrong and we agree that, even if unintentional, passive or casual racism needs to be eradicated wherever it exists. We appreciate the support of those who have seen that our product and promotion were not intended to cause offence but, as a global brand, we have a responsibility to be aware of and attuned to all racial and cultural sensitivities – and we have not lived up to this responsibility this time.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru asks Kenyans to remain calm as Supreme court determines who will be president

This incident is accidental in nature, but this doesn’t mean we don’t take it extremely seriously or understand the upset and discomfort it has caused.

We have taken down the image and we have removed the garment in question from sale. It will be recycled.

We will now be doing everything we possibly can to prevent this from happening again in future.

Racism and bias in any shape or form, conscious or unconscious, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable and need to be eradicated from society. In this instance we have not been sensitive enough to this agenda.

Please accept our humble apologies.

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How Shabaab is recruiting in Kenya

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Three Kenyans and two Somalis linked to the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Garissa County carried out the January attack claimed by Al-Shabaab on the DusitD2 hotel complex in Nairobi, according to United Nations experts.

A fourth Kenyan citizen based in Mandera County served as “a key financing link between al-Shabaab in Somalia and the attacking cell in Kenya,” adds a report by the UN experts released on November 12.

The findings lend some substance to Shabaab’s claim in June that it has recruited “an army of fighters from the Kenyan population itself.”

The Dusit attack also highlights what the UN experts describe as “a newly observed dimension of al-Shabaab’s recruitment strategy.”

“The possession of criminal skills, including knowledge of evading law enforcement, are privileged over ideology or affiliation with certain mosques or religious networks,” report says.

Ali Salim Gichunge, born in Isiolo in 1995, is named as the organiser and coordinator of the Dusit attack which left 26 people dead, including a suicide bomber and four gunmen.

“Unusually for a Kenyan operative within al-Shabaab,” the report notes, “Gichunge was given wide discretion and autonomy over the particulars of the plot — including the selection of the target — rather than being directly overseen from within Somalia.”

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Gichunge and his wife, Violet Wanjiru, established a safe house in the Guango Estate, Muchatha, on the outskirts of Nairobi about nine months prior to the attack, the report finds.

Another Kenyan national, Osman Ibrahim Gedi, served as Gichunge’s lieutenant, the experts say.

The assault on the Dusit complex began at 3.28pm East African time on January 15 when a third Kenyan, Mombasa-born Mahir Khalid Riziki, detonated a suicide bomb, the report recounts.

Siyat Omar Abdi, a Somali born in the Dadaab refugee complex in 1992, was among the gunmen who stormed the hotel.

The UN experts say they obtained a Dadaab identification and ration card number attributed to Abdi through his fingerprint. But officials with the UN refugee programme in Dadaab say there is no record of Abdi in their databases, the report notes.

A fifth member of Shabaab’s Dusit attack unit has not been identified but is presumed to be of Somali origin, the report adds. This individual activated a new Kenyan mobile phone in Dadaab’s Dagahaley camp on December 15, 2018, according to the UN panel of experts.

Also implicated in the Dusit attack is Abdi Ali Mohamed, a Kenyan national based in Mandera. He used three phone numbers to transmit almost Sh70,000 to Shabaab cell leader Gichunge via M-Pesa, the report states.

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“A conservative estimate of the total cost of the DusitD2 operation was between $45,000 and $50,000 (Sh4 million and Sh5 million),” the experts suggest.

Riziki, the suicide bomber, was recruited in 2014 by Ramadhan Hamisi Kufungwa, described in the report as “a well-known Kenyan Al-Shabaab recruiter now located in Somalia.”

The recruitment was centred on the Musa Mosque in Mombasa, which the experts say “has long been associated with radicalisation, recruitment for al-Shabaab, and religious violence.”

by nation.co.ke

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Revealed: Mama Ngina Kenyatta’s State salary

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Former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta has been receiving a monthly pay in excess of half a million shillings from the government amid legal debate on whether she is entitled to the payments.

Official documents from the Presidency indicate that Mrs Kenyatta receives Sh568, 218 monthly at taxpayers’ expense for being the spouse of Kenya’s first president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, who died in 1978. Treasury officials say the payment is tied to the law that provides for a spouse of a sitting or retired president to be paid 40 percent of the current salary paid to the sitting head of state should their husband die.

But some lawyers reckon that the payment is not consistent with the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act, which took effect in January 2003.

“Ideally, this law cannot be applied retrospectively. Mrs Kenyatta, while

deserving State pension or gratuity, is not entitled to a government pay when the Act is applied strictly,” said a lawyer who requested anonymity because he did not want to be seen discussing the first family in public.

Mrs Kenyatta started receiving the payment before her son, Uhuru Kenyatta, became President in 2013, officials at the Presidency say.

At 40 percent of the sitting president’s salary, Mrs Kenyatta is in line for a Sh577, 500 monthly pay.

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“Spouse benefits upon the death of a serving President or of a retired President who is in receipt of or who is entitled to a pension under this Act, his surviving spouse shall be entitled to benefits amounting to fifty percent of such pension,” says the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act.

The monthly pension of retired presidents– Mwai Kibaki and Daniel arap Moi—is set at 80 percent of the current salary paid to the sitting President besides other perks like fuel, house and entertainment allowances.

This places their monthly pension at Sh1.15 million compared to the Sh1.44 million that Mr Kenyatta earns every month.

The monthly payment of Mrs Kenyatta, 86, has placed the former First Lady in a small and exclusive club that includes former top public officials who set back taxpayers more than half a million shillings every month to keep them comfortable in retirement.

This includes former Vice-President Moody Awori and retired Parliament Speakers — Kenneth Marende, Francis ole Kaparo and Ekwee Ethuro — who are paid hundreds of thousands monthly besides juicy perks like fuel and medical allowance and tens of aides paid by the State.

The Treasury has set aside Sh1.5 billion in the current financial year ending June to cater for the retirement benefits of the privileged former State officials in a package that will also include the pay and perks of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice-Presidents Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi.

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This underlines the taxpayers burden of keeping former State officials comfortable in retirement.

The lavish package has also come under heavy criticism on grounds that some of the retired ‘State officials left office as rich men with property worth billions of shillings and vast business interests.

As the matriarch in charge of the Kenyatta family’s vast business empire, Mama Ngina presides over an enterprise that is associated with wellknown commercial brands and blue chip companies.

Nigeria-based financial magazine, Ventures, in 2013 estimated the Kenyatta family fortune, including thousands of acres of land and commercial buildings to be worth $1 billion (Sh100 billion).

But the full extent of the business dynasty, however, is still a closely guarded secret known only to the family, top lawyers and the elite investors with whom they do business.

The Kenyatta family owned a significant stake in Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), which recently merged with the listed NIC Bank, to form NCBA Group—which is listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).

The Kenyattas control about 13.2 percent of the new entity, valuing their stake at Sh6.43 billion based on the bank’s market valuation of Sh48.68 billion at close of trading yesterday.

Others investments are Brookside Dairy—where the President’s younger brother, Muhoho Kenyatta, sits as executive chairman, and the upmarket and chic hotel chain, Heritage Hotels East Africa.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru asks Kenyans to remain calm as Supreme court determines who will be president

The family is also linked to Media Max Company, which owns K24 TV, Kameme Radio and The People Daily newspaper.

It also owns thousands of acres of prime land across Kenya that was acquired by the late President Kenyatta in the ‘60s and ‘70s under a settlement transfer fund scheme that allowed government officials to acquire land from the British.

By BD

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Two students killed in US school shooting

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A second student has been confirmed dead following a shooting at a high school near Los Angeles on Thursday, the county sheriff said.

The deaths were confirmed after a boy opened fire on his 16th birthday at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Los Angeles.

“I’m saddened to report that we have confirmed a total of two fatalities this morning. One female and one male,” tweeted Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva

Three other students were wounded before the suspect shot himself in the head. He is described in US media as being in a “grave” condition.

by nation

READ ALSO:   President Kenyatta condoles with family of the late Prof Calestous Juma
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