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What really happened to the once No-nonsense City Girl Njoki Chege? Kenyans wonder

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“The weekly city girl column produced every Saturday has lost its lustre and relevance and is just like a church sermon…The previous city girl called it as it is. She was fearless, bold, not petty and worth reading… Old city girl never entertained nonsense, lame excuses and adult truancy. I don’t know if also the so called handshake is behind the City Girls shift? I hope to reclaim back city girl soon.” – Robert Musamali

This is an excerpt of an e-mail sent to me last week by a concerned fan. Let me start with a confession. Mr Musamali’s e-mail is not the first of its kind I have received in the recent past. I knew it was difficult to maintain a hard-hitting column, but I didn’t realise how tough it would be to manage change, more so among readers!

So today, I am going to bear out my heart on this page, and bring to your attention a new facet behind my “mellowing”.

When I started writing this column in July 2014, nobody, besides my friends and family, knew my name or even the fact that I was a writer. In the journalism world, I was practically a “nobody”, a mere byline that appeared at the start of the feature articles.

Enter the opportunity of City Girl column and suddenly I cannot introduce myself in public as “Njoki Chege”, preferring only to introduce myself as “Njoki”.

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CONTROVERSIES

Two years ago, I was having a long phone-call with an equally, if not more controversial former newspaper columnist and I asked him. “Sir, how do you deal with all the noise?” He laughed for thirty seconds straight and told me “Well, I don’t deal with as much noise as you do — but, I have learnt to ignore it. And you? How do you deal with it?” I didn’t have an answer.

You see, there is a hefty social price you pay when you are running a column such as this. The price is heavier when you are a young woman.

While I enjoyed every moment of stepping on toes and entertaining millions of readers, I was, on the other hand, paying a massive price for being “The Infamous Njoki Chege” as my frenemies like to address me.

I became the butt of many jokes — some sexist and most downright offensive. As my name trended nearly every single weekend on social media, I became a weekly punching bag and dreaded Mondays because of the barrage of hate mail from “fans”.

The swampy parts of the Internet had a jolly good time, tarnishing my name with all sorts of rumours, half-truths and fabrications.

RUFFLING FEATHERS

Then it dawned on me: When you are a young and confident woman who seems to have figured out your stuff, people will try to delegitimise you by attacking your morals.

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It happens in the media, it happens in every industry — and I know women reading this are nodding in agreement. Never once did I complain, nor am I complaining now.

But even as all this happened, I couldn’t help but wonder, what if I was a male columnist? Would I be treated differently? There are tons of male columnists in this country who ruffle feathers — political or otherwise — but hardly do we get to see stuff written about their personal lives.

In fact, responses to their fiery columns are often well-thought-out fact-laden rebuttals, not a load of unprintable claptrap as was in my case.

I think part of the reason why this column became so popular was because I was a young woman who had the nerve to speak her mind so courageously.

READER’S SUPPORT

Many people, it seemed, did not so much as have a problem with what I was writing, but a problem with who was writing. I mean, how dare I, a young woman, be so independent minded? I am just musing here — I could be wrong, of course.

And now as I publicly announced a change in direction of this column, I find myself in a quagmire of sorts. My readers are the wind beneath my wings — I’d be nowhere without their support and love from them.

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But I stand my ground and reiterate that this column will not be what it used to be — for many reasons.

I appreciate the support and concern of the readers, but if there was a time I needed their support, that time is now.

I hope you embrace my change, but more important, you understand the old City Girl is not coming back. Ever.

-nairobinews.co.ke

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Courts

Babu Owino moved to Gigiri

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By JUDITH GICOBI

Babu Owino, Embakasi East MP, has been moved to Gigiri Police Station. He is supposed to stay there for the rest of the weekend.

Police officers noticed an increased movement of young people near the police station, which was interfering with the smooth running of work there.

“According to intelligence reports, the MP’s supporters were planning to protests outside the station and we had to move him. This is one of the busy police stations in Nairobi and any protest would paralyze our work,” said our source who sought anonymity.

The Mp was taken to Kilimani police station Friday morning after a shooting incident he was involved in at Kilimani B club. 

Babu shot DJ Evolve on the neck, causing him to be admitted at Nairobi Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

George Kinoti, the DCI boss, says the MP is likely to be facing attempted murder charges. They have also recovered the gun used at the incident.

“We will charge him with attempted murder. It is apparent that he wanted to kill the man,” remarked DCI Director George Kinoti as quoted by Nation.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Eric Omondi defends his butt-naked video, Kenyans want him to see a psychiatrist
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Kenya eyes up to Sh35bn aid from US to finance projects

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The head of a special US development programme is due in Kenya in the coming week to hold initial talks on the country’s potential eligibility for project funding of up to Sh35 billion.

Sean Cairncross, chief executive of the Millennium Development Corporation (MCC), said in a press briefing on Thursday that Kenya is making “excellent progress” toward meeting criteria for inclusion in the programme.

Successfully completing this initial step would likely result in Kenya being chosen for a “compact” with MCC. Such an arrangement, usually focused on infrastructure development, involves an MCC grant averaging about $350 million (Sh35 billion), Mr Cairncross said.

Established in 2004 during George W Bush’s presidency, the MCC conditions its assistance on countries’ performance in “ruling justly”, following free-market economic policies, and investing in health, education and environment.

Since its inception, the MCC has awarded more than $8 billion (Sh800 billion) to 25 developing countries, 13 of them in Africa. Kenya must make additional progress in controlling corruption before it can be deemed eligible for an MCC compact, Mr Cairncross noted. The country’s standing in that regard is determined by assessments by the World Bank and other “third-party data sources,” the MCC director said.

 Corruption does not have to be eradicated for Kenya to qualify for an MCC compact, Mr Cairncross told reporters. Eligibility for aid is assessed on the basis of a “trend toward dealing with that corruption and a willingness to engage government resources and political will to take those issues on,” he said.

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This is not the first MCC threshold programme for which Kenya has been chosen. It entered into an initiative of that type in 2007, which was aimed at reforming public procurement systems, improving health service delivery, and enhancing the monitoring capacity of government and civil-society organisations.

Despite some progress on each of those fronts, Kenya still fell short of the eligibility standards when the first threshold programme concluded in 2010.

“Kenya is an important partner in East Africa,” the MCC said in December, announcing the country’s approval for a second threshold programme.

That move reflects Washington’s aim to counter China’s influence in Kenya through its large-scale infrastructure investments in recent years.

by nation.co.ke

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Kaimenyi: How I was tempted with billion-shilling bribe offers

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When Prof Jacob T. Kaimenyi was serving as Education Cabinet secretary, a group of people approached him with a strange request: They wanted him to award them the multibillion-shilling tender to supply laptops to Standard One pupils, in line with the Jubilee government’s pledge to give free laptops to children in public primary schools, to a politician. In return for this consideration, the politician offered to reward the CS handsomely, offering him a generous share of the money as kickback.

Prof Kaimenyi did not bite the bait and he told them that what they were asking for was not possible. A few months later, a motion of no confidence in the CS was tabled on the floor of the National Assembly in July 2015. Again, he was approached by a different group of people, this time from Meru, who promised that they could make the motion go away if he gave them Sh5 million to deal with the matter.

“I told them that I could not do such a thing because I didn’t have the money, unless I borrowed it from a bank or stole it,” he reveals. Luckily for him, when the matter was put to the vote after a debate in Parliament, MPs were unable to marshal the numbers needed to kick him out of the Cabinet.

These were by no means the only incidents involving potential corruption and influence peddling that the CS had to face during his tenure in the Cabinet. In his newly released book, Betrayal of Public Trust, Prof Kaimenyi, now Kenya’s ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and the European Union, reveals that after he was vetted by Parliament for appointment as a CS in 2013, rumours started doing the rounds that one of the nominees had paid MPs Sh50 million so as to be cleared.

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“Whether this was simply the usual romour mill or not, I wasn’t sure,” he writes in his book, in which he characterises the numerous problems, such as poverty and bad governance in African countries, as the product of electing leaders who lack integrity.

He reveals that when he was vetted for the position of ambassador to Unesco, he was approached by another person, who told him the interview had not gone well and if he could give that person “something”, his case would be considered favourably.

“I must admit that this was one moment in my life when to bribe or not, was brought to an elastic limit,” he confesses.

In the candid book, Prof Kaimenyi details the many incidents when his principles were tested to the limit.

For instance, soon after he was first named to the Cabinet and put in charge of the Ministry of Lands, one of his acquaintances approached him with yet another idea of how they could get rich quickly.

He says that the individual “I had known for a long time wanted us to form a company to identify pieces of land whose leases were about to expire and demand that they part with ‘something’, before I can approve renewal of such leases. When this seemingly enticing proposal was put to me, I could not believe my ears,” he writes in his book, launched last Saturday in Nairobi on the same day that his third book, Don’t Hesitate, was also launched.

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Interestingly, not all the offers he received were about money. In two instances, he was offered sex soon after he was made CS. The first instance involved the wife of a friend, who offered to demonstrate to him just how good she was in that respect. The second involved a much older “national leader”, who offered to be with him from time to time. Flummoxed by the offers, he simply laughed them off in the hope that those making the offer would move on with time.

“Leadership,” he writes, “places an individual at the centre of temptations, and these temptations are many. You don’t have to be a bad leader to encounter the allure of shortcuts. You just need to sit at the helm of a nation, organisation or even family, and the floodgate of ideas and options that lead towards abuse will present themselves.”

This book, however, is not just about Prof Kaimenyi’s experiences. Rather, he uses them to spotlight the challenges of leadership in public office and to analyse how leaders ought to act for the benefit of the country and the populace.

“We need to be impatient with the culture of poor service,” he tells his readers. “We need to develop sufficient anger towards abuse by those whom we entrust with leadership across the spectrum.”

Although he offers ideas for reflection, the book is not only prescriptive. It also seeks to understand the root cause of problems in the public sphere, to examine how other cultures have dealt with such challenges and what outcomes they got. And it also challenges both the leaders and the led to think differently about their country, the question of leadership as a general principle and the role of the individual in crafting a better future as a citizen. And although his approach is distinctively Kenyan, this is a book that offers lessons for the rest of Africa.

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“Whether a country’s economy booms or finds itself on its knees is dependent on its leaders, especially the one in the highest office in the land,” writes Prof Kaimenyi, arguably the most prolific State officer, having published three books in two years. His first book, with the rather curious title Busy Office versus Responsible Fatherhood, was launched in June 2018.

His third book, Don’t Hesitate, is more of a personal guide, challenging individuals to be proactive in the pursuit of their goals and aspirations. It borrows heavily from Prof Kaimenyi’s own experiences, and his understanding of what other successful individuals have done to make it in life.

“Whereas traditionally patience has been a virtue, we are living in an era where ‘impatience’ is quickly gaining prominence,” he writes in the introduction, arguing that “the future belongs to those who make haste”.

Both books were published by Virtue Book Publishers and each costs Sh1,000.

Virtue Book Publishers works with self-published authors, institutions and organisations who wish to bypass traditional publishers. It specialises in publishing motivational, political and academic books as well as biographies and works of fiction.

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