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UNSUNG DIASPORA HEROES: Mwakilishi, Jambonewspot, Ajabuafrica

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BY MAHUGU NUTHU

“Fake news!” “Fake news!” Sadly, we are now used to waking up to anti-press rhetoric. It’s the new catchphrase. Trump’s old “you’re fired” shtick has lost its mojo. His unrelenting attacks on members of the Fourth Estate is something one would only expect from authoritarian leaders. For us Africans, harassment of media is something that sounds too familiar.

For years we have come to appreciate press freedom as the lifeblood of democracy and ironically looking up to USA as the beacon of these ideals. But that’s another story for another time.  That’s not the subject of this piece, but it makes a good backdrop. Everybody understands the power media outlets, but probably less appreciated is the power of the Mwakilishi, Jambonewspot, Ajabuafrica and dozens other online based newspapers. Today, these are the unsung heroes in our community.  The proof is in the pudding.

In a recent case in my own backyard, a family lost a young son in a road accident out of state. By Gosh, no parent should have to bury a child. We know it is not the natural order of things. That’s pain. Excruciating pain and sorrow. But God giveth and God taketh away.

It’s even worse when this happens abroad. As if death is not enough a blow, its followed by unimaginable bureaucratic tangle of paperwork and logistical nightmare. Consequently, the family needed assistance to move their son hundreds of miles to their state for a memorial service and then send him thousands of miles to his final resting place in Kenya.

Mr Mahugu Nuthu. PHOTO/COURTESY

The committee had to reach out quickly to raise the funds though social media and traditional ways. Unsurprisingly Mwakilishi, Jambonewspot and Ajabuafrica opened their pages. They responded quickly. Cases like this proves the importance of community press and the useful role these websites play in supporting the information needs of the Kenyan in USA.

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When it comes to tragedy, they do things that you won’t get from a monolithic newspaper in terms of turnaround time, reach and cost. Their results are very tangible and observable almost instantly, something you won’t get from the so called mainstream media.

These community websites do not usually charge for death notices and you reach a lot of Kenyans. Consider that one-day listing of four lines in a “national newspaper” will cost you several hundred dollars. And you might end up not reaching the people you are targeting.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not actually about money. It’s comforting to know that you don’t have to deal with the advertising department of a soulless intractable entity.  Mwakilishi, Jambonewspot and Ajabuafrica operators understand our community because they’re a part of it. Nobody is immune to tragedies. For the record I don’t know these people personally. But their actions show that they do not merely serve as information providers. Sometimes “death announcement” means “financial help is needed ASAP”.

Only a Kenyan living in USA would understand that and urgency of the situation. New York Times might not. That’s how we handle things. We scream across the country albeit digitally. We are the ones who discovered the “digits” by sending smoke signals piece by piece across the ridges thousands of years before it became “on” and “off” that computers use today. It was stolen. But I digress. I will leave the “alternative facts” to the “post truth experts!”

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Homeless Kenyan in Chile appeals for help

While we are on the “appreciation” subject, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the role of Kenyan Churches in USA. They have become the glue which holds our community together. In times of tragedy, hardship and sorrow, as in the above reference case, the local churches become sanctuaries of hope. Allow me to pull another Kansas City Metro backyard example.

Neema Community Church is rooted deeply in its community, and has its membership operating as de facto public servants. Located in Olathe, Kansas, it’s a huge beautiful sanctuary with classrooms, meeting rooms, offices, recreation areas, a large fellowship hall and huge kitchen attached to it. Well, and lots of parking to boot. Under Pastor, Rev. David Nzioka, it’s a community center dealing with needs that go beyond the mission of a traditional church.

A place of worship where local homeless escaping freezing nights often get free food. In a time of crisis thousands of miles from home you are bound to find fellow compatriots here looking for the elusive answers to their many “whys” and seeking comfort in each other. It’s the iconic sacred tree where Africans worship, meet and greet

.  After a year of polarizing elections that rekindled ethnic tensions, it’s very encouraging see Kenyans remaining united at that level. Tribal lines become effectively blurred.  It takes a dynamic, charismatic and inspirational leader to accomplish this. I hope you find your own fashion of “Dr. David Nzioka” in your neck of the woods.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Amb Githae denies corruption allegations in ID, Passport issuance exercise

Back to my subject as I conclude. I understand there are many diaspora news websites whose primary mission is to cover the important issues that affect the Kenya community in USA. Many showcase community businesses for a fee. Yes, they are businesses themselves. They are not obligated to carry your message, however sad. They choose to do it.  While I did not mention them all by name, my biggest hope is that you will continue to support them.

These media outlets make our community better just because of their dedication to it.  Same case applies to our community churches and pastors. We should let them know that we do appreciate what they do. Although we are spread across this continent-size country, sea to shining sea, they make us a cohesive Kenyan community.

By Mahugu Nuthu | nuthology@gmail.com. Mahugu is the author of the book Nuthology.

 

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Africa

Kenyan business community lauds President Kenyatta for lifting the lockdown

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BY OLIVIA MUNGWANA

The government has lifted the lockdown imposed earlier on major cities following the eruption of the Covid 19 pandemic. The announcement by President Uhuru Kenyatta on 6th July 2020 came just three days after Optiven Group CEO George Wachiuri called on the government to lift the lockdown. Wachiuri who was speaking in Kiambu County said this was imperative if the economy was to grow.

He added that, “while we support every effort to keep our people in good health, we have seen a large number sinking in to depression for lack of jobs and basic needs. The number of families seeking intervention for daily upkeep through the Optiven Foundation has grown tremendously in the last three months.

Wachiuri who is the chairman of the Optiven Foundation was referring to beneficiaries of the Spreading Hope campaign that was launched at the onset of the eruption of Covid 19. To date the Optiven Foundation has supported over 200 families under the campaign with beneficiaries domiciled in Kajiado, Machakos, Nairobi and Nyeri among others.

The eruption of Covid 19 pandemic has contributed to a rundown of the economy, affecting majority of sectors including health, manufacturing, education and many others.

READ ALSO:   SAD: Another Kenyan in US dies of Coronavirus

With the pandemic came rising cases of infection and other unforeseen challenges that saw the government seeking partnership with stakeholders to mitigate the situation. Optiven Limited was among the first respondents with the company donating a quarter of a million to the national kitty. Wachiuri says, “as an investor in business in Kenya, Optiven felt this was our call to make a difference.

We believe in what the taskforce is doing to better the situation”. Through the award winning Foundation, the company has in 2020 continued to offer psycho-social support while adhering to the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization recommendations on engagement.

5 Key Facts On the Lifting of the Lockdown

  1. Cessation of movement in Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera lapses on 7th July 2020
  2. Curfew extended for 30 days
  3. Government to revert to lockdown if situation deteriorates or Covid 19 cases surge
  4. Vehicles traveling to and from areas that were previously restricted to be certified by the Ministry of Health
  5. On air travel, local travel to resume on 15th June 2020 while international travel to resume on 1st August 2020

Quote: “I urge all Kenyans to take personal responsibility and avoid unnecessary contact”.
Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya
6/7/2020

READ ALSO:   MAHIGA HOMES: We build and deliver homes fast, on very pocket-friendly terms [VIDEO]

Thoughts by

George Wachiuri: A Leading Entrepreneur, a Published Author, Philanthropist, Youth Empowerment Enthusiast, a Family man and CEO of Optiven Group

Contact Optiven Group: 0790 300 300
Email: admin@optiven.co.ke
Website: https://www.optiven.co.ke

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Africa

Feds: Nigerian scammer arrested in $50M scheme that targeted Chicago companies

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A man from Nigeria has been arrested after being accused of running a $50 million scheme that targeted Chicago companies.

Olalekan Jacob Ponle allegedly got an unnamed Chicago-based company to wire transfer more than $15 million. Another local company lost $2.3 million, but investigators believe the scheme is worth more than $50 million.

Sources pointed WGN Investigates to his Instagram feed which looks like a lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Here’s how prosecutors said the alleged scheme worked.

Either he or his co-conspirators were able to gain access to company’s email accounts through a phishing attack.

In one of the Chicago cases, they allegedly sent an email that appeared to be from the company’s Chief Accounting Officer to another employee ordering the a transfer.

The criminal complaint says “The fraudulent email was almost identical to a prior, legitimate email” right down to the name on the bank account. But the account “number” was different.

Federal agents said Ponle’s scheme spanned at least 9 months last year.

During that time, one of his Instagram posts read: “Money don’t make a man, a man makes money.”

Ponle is a Nigerian national and was taken into custody in the United Arab Emirates. UAE expelled him and federal agents brought Ponle to Chicago Thursday night for an initial court appearance Friday morning.

READ ALSO:   Two Kenyan men deported in a $170,000 chattered jet

A detention hearing is schedule for late next week.

By WGN

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Kenya ‘raring to go’ on free trade deal with US, Uhuru says

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Kenya’s negotiations with the US on an unprecedented two-way trade deal are on schedule to begin on July 7 despite difficulties posed by the coro-navirus pandemic, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Friday.

“Our team is raring to go,” he assured an online forum sponsored by the Washington-based Corporate Council on Africa.Kenya is aiming to create “sustainable jobs for our people” through what would be the first bilateral free-trade agreement between a sub-Saharan country and the nation with the world’s biggest economy, the President added.

The US also has much to gain from concluding such an arrangement, Mr Kenyatta suggested.Kenya is part of a continent that “requires everything from toothbrushes to machine tooling,” he said.

Mr Kenyatta also sought to allay concerns that a bilateral deal with the US could undermine the African Con-tinental Free Trade Area that is due to be implemented at the start of 2021.The Africa-wide initiative is “very important to us,” the President said, noting that Kenya has worked hard to ensure its success.

He suggested that a Kenya-US bilateral pact can complement the continental trade agreement and could serve as a model to be replicated by other individual countries.

“If we are successful in these negotiations, Kenya can act as a lead or guide,” the President said. “We will be the guinea pig so that many other African countries can follow suit.”

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Homeless Kenyan in Chile appeals for help

But Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, who also spoke at Friday’s forum, said the US has paid more attention to the possibility of a bilateral deal with Kenya than to the multilateral Africa trade agreement that will soon come into force.

While hailing the significance of a US-Kenya trade deal, Mr Akufo-Addo lamented that “the emphasis of America on exploring opportunities on the continent has not been quite as intense as some of us would have wished.”

Florizelle Liser, chief executive of the Corporate Council on Africa, said in an interview following the forum that the US has in fact worked to facilitate the Africa-wide trade agreement.A bilateral deal with Kenya is not an impediment to Africa’s efforts to forge a multilateral free-trade grouping, she added. The US side “understands that Kenya is part of the EAC,” Ms Liser said.

“They’re already looking at ways they can pull in other East African countries.”It could take as long as two years to conclude a Kenya-US trade deal, she added.

President Kenyatta noted in his remarks to the forum that Kenya was especially keen to start bilateral negoti-ations with the US because the existing multilateral preferential trade package known as Agoa is due to expire in 2025.

READ ALSO:   Kenyan woman in Diaspora told to shut up over her "life abroad is hell" comments

But President Akufo-Addo is not prepared to acquiesce to that projected termination date for Agoa. African countries that have benefited from Agoa should “look at the possibility of extending it,” he said.

Ms Liser, whose 27-year-old association includes most US companies operating in Africa, pointed out that it is up to the US Congress to decide whether Agoa’s scheduled expiration in five years will actually come to pass.The still-spreading pandemic is in-tensifying Africa’s need for increased trade and investment, the Kenyan and Ghanaian heads of state agreed.

Kenya managed to save many lives through swift implementation of virus-containment measures, Mr Kenyatta noted.

But, he acknowledged, those moves led to a sharp economic contraction and widespread loss of livelihoods.President Akufo-Addo pointed out that Ghana has recorded one of the lowest virus-related death rates in the world.His country has counted 15,473 cases of coronavirus, resulting in 95 deaths.Kenya has reported only about one-third as many cases but has seen 135 lives lost to the pandemic.

At the same time, Kenya Airways (KQ), grounded for the past three months by the coronavirus pandemic, will resume domestic flights in “the next couple of days,” President Kenyatta said.

The return to in-country service will coincide with the lifting of Kenya’s lockdown on travel between counties, Mr Kenyatta noted.The government will soon set a date for KQ to resume flying internationally, the President added.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: See all the people who were on board KQ inaugural flight to NY

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure we are back in the skies,” Mr Kenyatta said.“We’re eager to open up, but we have to make sure we all stay safe.”

The President’s announcement came on the same day that KQ chief executive Allan Kilavuka revealed that the airline has lost an estimated $100 million so far this year due to the pandemic and related lockdowns.Losses could approach $500 million by the end of 2020, Mr Kilavuka added.KQ had been struggling financially long before the coronavirus emerged.

It lost about $122 million in 2019, compared to $71 million the previous year.

By Sunday Nation.

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