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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!”

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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.

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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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VIDEO: I was also diagnosed with Cancer before Collymore took over Safaricom, Michael Joseph opens up

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Acting Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph says he battled cancer during his stint at the telecommunications company between 2000 and 2010.

Joseph shared details of his battle with the disease during an interview with K24 TV on Tuesday evening.

Joseph, who has returned to the mobile service provider as interim CEO following the death of Bob Collymore, said he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003.

He was declared cancer-free after undergoing treatment for several months.

“Not many people know that am also a cancer survivor and that I was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 while still CEO of Safaricom. I am now a cancer survivor,” Joseph said.

Joseph was responding to a question about his plans on cancer, which has claimed the lives of many people in the country including former Safaricom CEO Collymore.

Collymore died at his Nairobi residence on Monday morning after battling with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a rare type of cancer, for about two years.

“I don’t have any direct plans to do that (set up a cancer center) although they should probably know that Safaricom Foundation has spent a lot of money in the health field.”

“I am sure in the memory of Bob (Collymore), we will do more now in terms of preventing and helping the treatment of cancer,” stated Joseph.

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In an earlier interview with The Standard, Joseph said he at some point run the company from a hospital bed.

“It was a long drawn out affair and for some time, I ran Safaricom from a hospital bed. People would bring me advertisements to approve and all that and then they would be worried because I had tubes running all over my body,” Joseph explained.

 

 

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Beauty queen speaks out on ‘rape ordeal’ by ex-President

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A 23-year-old former beauty queen in The Gambia, Toufah Jallow, has said she was raped in 2015 by ex-President Yahya Jammeh when he was in office.

Her testimony is part of a Human Rights Watch and Trial International report that details another alleged rape and sexual assault by Mr Jammeh.

The BBC tried to contact Mr Jammeh, who now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea, about the allegations.

A spokesman for his APRC party denied the accusations made against Mr Jammeh.

“We as a party and The Gambian people are tired of the steady stream of unfounded allegations that have been reported against our ex-President,” said Ousman Rambo Jatta, in a written statement to the BBC.

“The ex-president has no time to react to lies and smear campaigns. He is a very respectable God fearing and pious leader who has nothing but respect for our Gambian women,” the deputy APRC leader said.

Ms Jallow told the BBC she wanted to meet Mr Jammeh, 54, in court so he could face justice.

“I’ve really tried to hide the story and erase it and make sure it’s not part of me.

“Realistically I couldn’t so I decided to speak now because it is time to tell the story and to make sure that Yayha Jammeh hears what he has done.”

She said she also wanted to testify before The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), which has been set up by President Adama Barrow, who won elections in December 2016.

The TTRC is investigating human rights violations alleged to have been committed during Mr Jammeh’s 22-year rule, including reports of extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention.

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He was forced from office in January 2017 after regional powers sent in troops when he refused to give up power.

‘MARRIAGE REFUSAL’

Ms Jallow said she was 18 when she met Mr Jammeh after winning a beauty pageant in 2014 in the capital, Banjul.

In the months following her coronation, she said the former president acted as a father figure when they met, offering her advice, gifts and money, and also organising for running water to be installed in her family home.

Then at a dinner organised by an aide to thePpresident, she says he asked her to marry him. She refused and rebuffed other enticements from the aide to agree to the offer.

Ms Jallow said the aide then insisted she attend a religious ceremony at State House in her role as beauty queen in June 2015. But when she arrived, she was taken to the President’s private residence.

“It was clear what this was going to be,” she said, describing Mr Jammeh’s anger at her for rejecting him.

Ms Jallow says he slapped her and injected her in her arm with a needle.

“He rubbed his genitals in my face, pushed me down to my knees, pulled my dress up and sodomised me.”

‘PROTOCOL GIRLS’

The young woman says afterwards she locked herself at home for three days and then decided to flee to neighbouring Senegal.

Once in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, Ms Jallow sought the assistance of various human rights organisations. Weeks later, she was approved protection status and moved to Canada, where she has been living since.

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Trial International say Mr Jammeh had a system in place to abuse women, where some were put on the state payroll and worked at State House as so-called “protocol girls”, who had some clerical duties but were mainly on call to have sex with the President.

The BBC could not verify the allegation, but a former Gambian official, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said he was aware of “inappropriate things” happening at the presidency: “Protocol staff were mostly women and they were hired to satisfy the President’s fantasies.”

He remembered seeing Ms Jallow at State House, sometimes at “odd hours”.

Another woman, hired as a protocol officer at the age of 23, told HRW she was forced to have sex with Mr Jammeh in 2015.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said that one day the president called her into his room: “He started undressing me and saying that he was in love with me, that he will do anything for me and my family, that I should not tell anyone because if I do I will face the consequences.

“I felt I had no choice. That day he slept with me without protection.”

‘HONOUR’

Another woman who worked as a protocol officer said that they knew if one of them was called it was for sex.

“Some wanted it. They felt honoured or wanted the money,” she told HRW on condition of anonymity.

She described how she was sexually assaulted by the President at his summer house, Kanilai, in 2013 when she was 22: “One evening, a presidential aide called me and told me to come with her to the president’s private apartment. He asked me to undress.

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“He told me that I was young and needed protection so he wanted to apply spiritual water on me.”

In an encounter the next day, she started crying as Mr Jammeh began to touch her body. He became angry and sent her away.

She says she was later sacked and a promised scholarship cancelled.

TRRC’S FOCUS

The TRRC’s mission is to establish a record of abuses committed during Mr Jammeh’s 22-year rule when it is alleged there were arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances and torture against critics

Its 11 independent commissioners can grant reparations to victims.

Backed by the UN and funded by international donors, it began hearing testimonies in November 2018. Its motto is “Never again”.

TRRC’s Executive Secretary Baba Jallow has told the BBC that the commission, launched eight months ago, will focus on sexual violence in September.

“We are aware of allegations involving Jammeh but we have not heard victims on the record yet. Investigations have already started but at this stage we can’t say who is involved and how many victims there are,” he said.

Ms Jallow wants to create an atmosphere where women will feel safer to talk about rape and sexual assault: “It’s a step-by-step thing and the first part is to acknowledge it happened.

“When many other women speak up and it becomes safer and safer,” she told the BBC.

President Barrow has said he will await the report of the TRRC before considering whether to pursue Mr Jammeh’s extradition from Equatorial Guinea.

Source:nairobinews

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Conversion of Kenyan currency suspended in Uganda

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The governor visited Dr Ruto at his office at Harambee Annex, Nairobi to deliver the serial number 2 currency notes. Serial number 1 was given to President Uhuru Kenyatta on June 1, 2019, during Madaraka Day celebration. PHOTO | DPPS

Uganda has joined Tanzania in suspending the conversion of Kenyan Shillings as a measure to tame illicit cash flows.

In a statement issued on Monday, Bank of Uganda said it had been informed by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) that they have issued new banknotes effective May 31, 2019.

“Bank of Uganda will not accept Kenya Shillings at its counters with immediate effect,” Bank of Uganda said in a statement.

“Please be advised that changing Kenyan currency from old to new banknotes can only be done in Kenya,” the statement further read.

COUNTERFEITS

On Friday the Bank of Tanzania also suspended conversion of Kenyan currency to Tanzanian currency.

According to Tanzanian financial institution, they were advised to freeze the exercise by Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in a move to tame illicit cash flows.

“With a view to combat illicit financial flows and counterfeits into the Republic of Kenya, the Bank of Tanzania has been advised to freeze CBK Currency Collection Account with immediate effect,’’ the statement read in part.

Source:nairobinews

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