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Kenyan court: Married women can inherit their father’s land

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A court ruling asserting that married women qualify to inherit properties of their fathers and should not be excluded during distribution has stirred debate between defenders of women’s and men’s rights.

The ruling was made by the Environment and Land Court in Nyeri, and stopped a woman from disinheriting her step-daughters. Justice Lucy Waithaka held that married daughters are also entitled to inherit their father’s estate, contrary to customary law and many traditions in the country.

POVERTY

While delivering a ruling on the distribution of the estate of Mr Ibrahim Wathuta Mbaci, who was polygamous, the judge said her verdict was based on the Law of Succession, which “disregards customary law and allows all the deceased’s children, inclusive of married daughters, whether or not maintained by the deceased prior to his death, to benefit from his estate”.

Reacting to the ruling, Ms Emma Njora, a Maendeleo ya Wanawake organisation leader in Nyeri, said it promoted women’s rights to inheritance and property ownership.

“This is a good decision,” she said. “The Judiciary should continue leading the way in discarding sections of customary law that oppress women and deny them their rights.”

She said the decision is also beneficial to men, arguing that when women inherit property from their fathers, they become economically independent of their husbands.

How Kenyan daily, Daily Nation, reported the story. FILE PHOTO

“Sometimes divorce is encouraged by poverty,” Ms Njora said.

But Maendeleo ya Wanaume national chairman Nderitu Njoka condemned the decision, saying the courts are biased in favour of women.

“For a long time women have been viewed as a marginalised group, but that is no longer the case. Men have become the marginalised and are now being oppressed by institutions through the law,” Mr Njoka said.

He said the courts should allow communities to uphold their customary ways of life and traditions.

EQUALLY

“African communities have their own rules and regulations on inheritance, and they should be allowed to uphold them,” he said.

However, the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (Fida) said “the court was just upholding the law”.

“Since 2010, the Bill of Rights in the Constitution trumps customary laws and children have been able to inherit their fathers’ properties,” Fida chairperson Josephine Mong’are said.

“Even children born out of wedlock have a right to inherit their parents’ property,” she added.

Before the 2010 Constitution, she said, the courts would consider the traditions of the litigants and often sided with customary law. But, under the new laws, a child is a child, whether married or not, and is entitled to the parents’ property. In the case at hand, the judge noted that Mr Mbaci’s second wife, Ms Mary Wangui Wathuta, had unfairly failed to include the married daughters of the first wife in the sharing of their father’s estate.

Ms Wathuta’s own sons also opposed their stepsisters’ exclusion. They said that when their father died in 1994, aged 84, he left the family in harmony, and that each wife had been given her portion of land.

They told the court that their father had never prevented their stepsisters from tilling his land, and proposed that the land be distributed equally between the families of the two wives.

ADMINISTRATOR

Mr Mbaci, whose first wife Ruth, died in 1987, was survived by Ms Wathuta and 12 children, seven of them sons.

In her proposed mode of distributing the estate, Ms Wathuta said her four stepdaughters were married and were therefore not entitled to benefit.

She said her husband’s wishes were that she becomes the administrator of the estate, and that only the sons should be allowed to inherit the properties. But her husband, she said, had not put the will in writing.

Justice Waithaka, while noting that the dispute in the family was on whether the married daughters are entitled to a share of their father’s estate, said the applicable provision was Section 29 of the Law of Succession.

The section defines a dependant of an estate as the “wife or wives, or former wife or wives, and the children of the deceased, whether or not maintained by the deceased immediately prior to his death”.

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My wife of 30 years lied that our firstborn is my biological son

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I married my wife almost 30 years ago but only because she was pregnant. I was reluctant to take her in but due to pressure from my mother, I gave in. I was almost sure that I was not responsible for the pregnancy, though. She gave birth to a baby boy, who is now a young adult. Some 10 years after we got married, an old man from a neighbouring village started claiming that the boy was his grandson. I confronted him about it, but he was evasive, yet he continued laying claim to the boy. I talked to my father-in-law about the matter, but he was not of much help. Apparently, I knew the purported father of the boy, since we grew up seeing each other. Years later, my wife’s phone rang while we were having supper. She did not receive the call but instead disconnected it and deleted the number, which I thought was peculiar. I demanded to know who had called, but she explained that the call was from a pastor who was hitting on her. I did not buy the explanation and decided to investigate the matter, which led me to the suspected father of “my son”. To cut a long story short, my wife admitted that this boy I had assumed was my son was indeed another man’s. By then, he had already completed Form Four and I was the one who had been paying school fees and taking care of his needs alone as his father without any assistance from the mother. I later took the boy to college, which he completed, but I remain a disturbed “father and husband”. When I think of it all, at times I become very angry with myself. Here is how things stand:

1. The trust that I had for my wife is gone; what do I do about it?

2. I have been doubting that these other children I am bringing up are mine: how do I banish these doubts?

3. How do I relate to this boy that I have brought up yet is not my biological son?

4. My wife is reluctant to let go of the boy, yet I feel that I have done more than enough for him. Do I chase both of them out of my home? I cannot imagine the boy being my heir.

5. I did mention that I talked to my father-in-law about my concerns but he was not of any help. This eroded my trust in him. And as things stand, he might be involved in the cover-up. How do I handle this matter going forward? Note that my father passed away and my only existing uncle has got issues with our family.

Thanks in advance for saving a soul or more.

Thirty years of marriage is a long time, and a lot has happened within this period, including raising your son and even taking him to college. I call him your son because you are the only father he has known.

I therefore congratulate you on a job well done despite knowing that your wife lied to get married to you.

Looking at where the two of you are at the moment, it is important to approach this issues with a sober mind.

The fact that you have proved her to have lied should not be used as a weapon against her. Your broken trust can only be rebuilt starting with forgiveness.

It is also important to ask yourself certain key questions: first, should your children, including your boy, suffer because of your wife’s mistake?

Second, if you had not discovered this lie, would anything have changed in the way you relate to your wife and your children?

Third, what angers you most — is it the fact that you were lied to or that you ended up educating a boy that was not your own flesh and blood?

REBUILD TRUST
Do you find any pleasure in having given this child an opportunity to grow and become the best he can be?

Of course this discovery has caused you lots of pain. Doubting your wife’s past and future actions seems to be dealing a blow on your healing.

Rebuilding trust will help lessen these doubts. It will definitely hurt you and your children if these doubts are allowed to manifest.

It is said that people who are hurting tend to hurt others, consciously or unconsciously. Your actions therefore must not be driven by revenge.

You may not be this boy’s biological father but you raised him. You have loved, cared for and educated him.

In addition, even though the mother, while knowing who the real father was, chose to keep it from you, rejecting the boy will not make things better or ease the sense of betrayal you feel.

I think you would be stooping low to throw out your son or wife after 30 years.

I suggest that you sit down with a counsellor and share your disappointment and current disillusionment. Talking about it with a professional will help you make sense out of this.

Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Remember that in every difficulty hides a blessing. As for forcing your wife to abandon your son, no one can deprive a mother of her relationship with her child.

She is his biological mother and it would be naive to expect her to abandon him.

I see your call on her to let go of her son as a sign that you still love her, but you do not want this boy in your life since he reminds you of a lie you would rather not confront.

It also appears as if the boy is now receiving the brunt of your anger.

Do not direct the anger you have towards your wife to an innocent young man who had nothing to do with the pain you are going through.

As I said earlier, your son knows no other father but you. It would break his heart if you rejected him.

Angry as you may be, I don’t think this is what you would want for him.

FORGIVENESS
I am sorry that your father-in-law is not supportive of you. If he was aware of the lie or not, possibly, his fears are based on the resultant consequences, which are now apparent.

I acknowledge that not having any other person to share this with makes it harder for you. That is why I advise that you see a counsellor.

All of us sin and make mistakes, but an offer of a hand of forgiveness does not condone the mess your wife made.

However, if she has remained faithful after that incident, forgiveness is the only sure way you can give your family a future.

The children you have with her don’t have to face the pain of divorce or separation brought about by an issue about which you can make a decision to forgive and work out with your wife in time.

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Diaspora

Pomp and colour as Kikuyu Diaspora Media 1st Anniversary event in Atlanta exceeds people’s expectations

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BY MAGGIE MARIKAH KWABENA in Atlanta, Georgia

Kikuyu Diaspora Media’s 1st Anniversary in Atlanta set and raised the bar high in all things events, style and elegance as Kenyans from many US states and other fans from around the globe  packed the auditorium.

As a major Kenyan Diaspora hub, Atlanta is not new to events hosting. But many events have over promised and under delivered. However, that was not the case for Kikuyu Diaspora Media (KDM). They lived up to – and even exceeded – the high expectations of  Kenyans in the Diaspora.

The team was led by their vibrant, energetic CEO and founder Jeremy Damaris who steered the ship from the front lines as MC. The audience was treated to sheer elegance from the moment one stepped into the event hall.

Lights, camera, action and more elegance was evident when it came to that coveted moment on the red carpet. Most of those in attendance donned the official vibrant Orange color of KDM.

What made the KDM Event Different? 

The elegance and grace with which KDM conducted the entire event was a breath of fresh air. The welcoming atmosphere, a courteous team with a great sense of order and flow of events. There were a lot of activities but they all seamlessly worked well together.

People felt welcome, appreciated and right at home as they experienced the legendary ATL Southern Hospitality. There was a very positive celebratory energy in the room where people seemed genuinely excited to be at the event. Fans not only came from the different US States but also global fans from Germany, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Kenya made the maiden trip to support KDM.

This is a true testament of the love and support KDM enjoys globally. Fans were upbeat, excited and proud of what KDM has accomplished globally. They believe in the product, they are not just selling it. They own and embrace the KDM Vision and passionately support it. This was supported not just in words but also in their generous contribution to the fund raising towards setting up a permanent KDM Studio in the USA.

The Guest Singers were a sight to behold too. They did not disappoint when it came to their presentations. They engaged the audience and made it worth their while. I have not danced this much in a long time. It is not always that you get such great talent assemble on one stage. The who-is-who of Kenya Gospel music circles accompanied by US Artistes lit the stage with a powerful praise extravaganza that set the event apart from many others.

It  featured the one and only Atlanta queen of praise Naomi Karanja with her legendary hit Muhotoro, alongside Kenyan artistes Mercy Ken, Shiru wa GP, Mary Githinji, Paul Mwai, Phylis Mbuthia among others.

I would not do the event justice if I forgot to mention my personal favorite Man Kush. As always he did not disappoint. His great sense of humor and candid talk left us all in stitches. The man, the myth the legend is funnier in person and a breath of fresh air uniting the old, the young and everyone else in between. He sure does have a way with words.

The Mugithi night was equally refreshing taking us all the way back to Zilizopendwa and new generation beats. There was something for everyone.

What has KDM accomplished in their 1st Anniversary and what’s next?

One of the Goals for KDM 1st Anniversary was to kick start the process of seeking to realise their dream of buying property where they can build their own permanent Media House complete with state of the art studios. To that end they had a very successful fund raising.

In the true legendary giving spirit of Kenyans, they did not disappoint. They gave passionately to support the vision, dream, future and legacy of KDM. I was particularly impressed by many of the Sponsors that made this event possible.

Hosting events in the Diaspora is often a Herculean task. It is extremely expensive, takes lots of manpower and planning. When Kenyan based investors and businesses partner to invest in the Diaspora, it paves way for mutually beneficial reciprocal relationships.

We would like to see more Kenyan-based investors becoming active participants in the dreams, future and vision of the Diaspora. We have many companies doing great things in Kenya and are proud to see them expand their partnerships to support entrepreneurs in the Diaspora.

Business is about building bridges of trust and a great way to do that is to invest in things that the Diaspora is passionate about. Kama Waswahili walivyosema, “mkono mtupu haulambwi.”

As we invest and do business in Kenya, it makes a difference when these Kenyan companies equally partner with the diaspora in things that are important to us as a community.

What do you say to those who think we have way too many Kenyan networks as it is?

Well, how many is too many? I think someone’s dream or vision should not be deemed or extinguished because someone else has already started a similar journey or has a similar dream or vision. We all have our separate paths in life. If you have a clear vision and execute it diligently, it will come to fruition in due time.

Run your own race, give the consumer choice, and provide a quality service or product as you anticipate their needs. The modern consumer likes choice and quality. Whoever meets their needs best will be the media outlet that survives in the long term.

Some Media Houses have come and gone but those that understand their niche and market share needs continue to thrive. There is plenty of room in the Diaspora and the World for everyone to accomplish their vision if you work smart, perfect your skills and execute a clear vision. We wish KDM well as they continue to grow and thrive.

 

Comments from Sponsors: 

“At Maridady Motors we are changing this world view and positioning “Kenya” to those in the Diaspora as a place they can do business and grow their capital. Instead of viewing diaspora solely as a market, we view it as a partner. Our audacious proposition is that Diasporians can invest in Kenyan businesses and make money in their home country Kenya.

To make this work, we have created structures to help persons in the Diaspora to invest in the Auto Industry as well as in the Transport business in Kenya. Kikuyu Diaspora Media is a courageous entrepreneurial media that demonstrates the ability of our people to mobilize themselves into functional communities even in the diaspora. The media goes a long way in uniting Kenyans and in helping respond to their needs both locally and internationally. KDM does amazing work of pointing out those who need help either in their countries of residence or even back home. Our CSR department thus could not hesitate to sponsor them in growing this noble course.”  By: Eric Ngigi

 

“My name is Peter Gioko EA, PE, MBA MSME. I am a financial advisor with over 15 years in: tax preparation and IRS & all 50 states and tax Audit consultant. I am available 365 days in a year, I prepare taxes for everyone, both individual and corporate taxes. 

I have sponsored the Kikuyu Diaspora Event because it is a media movement for the people by the people with the prime goal to: inform & support the needy, the unknown, and promote the general welfare of mankind. Such a moment is charitable and Good Samaritan investment and I will always support it.” By: Peter Kioko

“I support Kenyan Events because I believe in giving back to the community.” By Esther: Wilpek Fashions

“We support Diaspora events because we are in the Diaspora and understand the needs of the Diaspora. JRN Investments LTD is 100% Diaspora owned. We have a membership of over 300 members across the USA and Kenya. We are in control of our projects and manage them right from here in the Diaspora.” By:  JRN Investment INC Representatives.

 

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I think of suicide daily, troubled detective says

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Mr Jones Nyamu Muthui, a criminal investigations officer based at Kapsabet Police Station in Nandi County, is a depressed, suicidal man.

He says that every day, he thinks of how he can kill himself in order to escape from his mounting tribulations, a situation he links to his boss.

In letters seen by the Nation and which he sent to his bosses in Nairobi recently, the officer clearly indicated that he is depressed and is giving up on life.

In a tell-all exclusive interview with the Nation that shows what officers investigating big cases involving millions of money go through, Mr Muthui said he had decided to speak out following advice by some of his colleagues who were worried about him after he revealed his suicidal thoughts to them.

Mr Muthui, a police corporal, has been the lead regional investigator in the suspected loss of millions of shillings from the Sh15 billion compensation kitty established by the Jubilee administration during its first term for the internally displaced persons including the 2007/2008 group.

The officer, who joined the police service in 2002 after high school, said he had cracked a cartel in early 2018 that was swindling money from the vulnerable displaced persons by using their IDs to siphon millions of shillings in collusion with top managers of a local bank that was the custodian of the money.

Early last year, upon thorough investigations, he established that a Ms Margaret Wangoto Gathoni was allegedly leading an extortion ring that was going around the country taking money from IDPs with a promise to put them in a genuine list of beneficiaries.

He said she was using the identification documents of the IDPs to generate a list that would then be presented to the bank and the money would be released to her to take to them, which never happened.

Ms Gathoni is a former member of the National Coordination Consultative Committee on Internally Displaced Persons chaired by Mr Adan Wachu.

Ms Gathoni has vehemently denied the extortion accusations.

But having established the case, Mr Muthui decided to summon her last year.

However, unaware that he was about to open the gates to hell on earth, Mr Muthui asked her to appear in his office in Kapsabet in March 2018 where he took her statement and fingerprints in preparation for arresting and presenting her in court.

TROUBLES

“That was the beginning of my troubles,” he said.

He said in July 2018, as he was putting together the evidence before finally presenting her in court, Ms Gathoni approached him, asking him to drop the case with a promise of a bribe, which he declined.

“She promised me Sh300,000 to drop the case. Later she promised Sh3 million so that the file could disappear fully. But having taken the oath at Kiganjo to obey the Constitution, I declined once again and told her I would not be intimidated by anyone,” the officer said, adding that despite Ms Gathoni claiming she was related to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family, he soldiered on with the investigations.

Not long after, he was summoned by his boss, the Nandi County Criminal Investigations Officer Sammy Mukeku, who asked him to hand over the file.

Mr Muthui declined to do so.

This marked the beginning of his troubles.

“When I decided to take her to court, my boss summoned me and asked me to hand over the file. I declined and requested him to make it formal. I asked him to do a memo to me requesting the same and also that we do an inventory of the file because it is the procedure required when handling over high-profile cases like the one I was on,” he said.

As things got thicker, he suddenly received a transfer letter which he interpreted as aiming to cripple the high-profile case.

“When I refused, my boss threatened me, saying he would take stern action against me. This February I was maliciously transferred to Lamu which was occasioned by my boss. I have requested for the transfer to be rescinded for at least three years for me to complete my master’s degree because there is no Jkuat campus in Lamu,” said Mr Muthui.

He is pursuing a master’s degree in Information Technology at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (Jkuat), Eldoret campus.

Upon his refusal to go to Lamu, he was reported to the police headquarters and his salary was immediately stopped.

“I have not received any salary since April. I have a feeling I’m being transferred to Lamu so that I can be eliminated and the same blamed on Al Shabaab operatives there (sic),” he told the Nation.

Other than failure to get his pay, he said he has since been locked out of office for close to a year. His firearm has also been taken away.

After being declared an outcast in Kapsabet, he decided to write to the Internal Affairs Unit, the police department that handle officers’ affairs, requesting for its intervention.

In a letter dated April 25, 2019, he set out his case against his boss, requesting the unit to intervene and ensure his job is safeguarded and justice served.

He clearly indicated that he was thinking of taking his own life to escape from the troubles he was facing in the course of his duty.

“I am hypertensive and Mr Mukeku’s actions have made me sink to depression, hopelessness and on the verge of giving up on life, a matter which has also negatively affected my family,” he said in the letter.

After he wrote the letter, officers from the unit visited the station and recorded statements from him and Mr Mukeku.

Nothing has happened since then.

Unsatisfied, Mr Muthui sought the assistance of the National Police Service Commission last August but he is yet to get any response as well.

“I have incurred huge debts and at the same time I have not been able to adequately provide for my family. All these has made me to feel suicidal most of the times. It is only by the grace of God that I have been able to write this letter. My family has been organising for my counselling but I am on the verge of giving up on life instead of going through all this trauma and pain caused to me as a result of my performance of my duties as per the law,” he wrote to the commission on August 27.

“The said Gathoni, together with members of her cartel, have been traversing Nandi, Siaya, Nyandarua, Kiambu, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Laikipia collecting millions of shillings from vulnerable, needy and ignorant members of the public for the purpose of registering them with a promise that the national government will compensate them by giving them monies and allocate parcels of land,” he indicated in the letter to the police headquarters.

The officer, who joined the DCI from the General Service Unit, has pleaded with his bosses for understanding for breaking protocol, saying he did not have other options but to speak out.

“This is a high-profile case. I ask my President, CS Matiang’i, IG Hillary Mutyambai, to kindly forgive me because I am not supposed to speak to the media but the only other option I had today was to commit suicide. I have been suicidal most of the time. I have been on anti-depressants most of the time,” said the father of three.

In his response to Mr Muthui’s accusations, Mr Mukeku, the Nandi criminal investigations boss, denied that he was trying to interfere with the IDPs’ case, saying that as the boss, he was only interested in knowing its progress.

He said the case was on its infancy and that nothing much had come from it.

He also added that he was aware that Ms Gathoni had been summoned to record a statement by Mr Muthui.

“As the (officer) in the charge of the office here, I am supposed to get the progress of all investigations because I am the one monitoring them. I was the chairman of the multi-agency team that handled the case. The corporal initiated the investigations but the multi-agency team soon took over from him.

“I know he summoned a lady called, Gathoni. The lady came to my office with an advocate and other four suspects. I called Muthui to bring the file but he declined. I ordered him to record the statements from Gathoni and the others but he became elusive. The file was becoming problematic. A case of such a nature must be properly done before it is forwarded to the State office for directions. I have no authority to close an investigation until it goes full circle,” the DCI boss said.

On the transfer, Mr Mukeku said he does not have the powers to do so, saying it is the decision of the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti.

“It is the prerogative of the director of DCI to transfer officers. I played no role in the transfer of this officer. He was transferred with other 348 officers across the country. There was no specific case which I know of which caused this transfer,” Mr Mukeku said.

He said the officer is only frustrating himself by refusing to obey matching orders and going to Lamu immediately.

“This officer is frustrating himself. We are working in the disciplined service. He signed a contract with the government that he can work anywhere. The director saw that he is fit to work in Lamu where his services are required. He is frustrating himself by failing to obey police orders. If he cannot obey orders who is he accountable to? There is nothing special here,” Mr Mukeku added.

And speaking to the  Nation, Ms Gathoni said she was aware of the investigations and that Mr Muthui had questioned her, promising to take her to court.

She said she is ready to face him in court and defend herself.

She added that she has never offered anyone a bribe and will not do so in the future.

“I do not have such kind of money to give to anyone. He should stop spoiling my name with these claims. He is just interested in soiling my name through the media. I am ready to take him to court for doing that, tell him so,” she said when the Nation reached out to her.

She said her tenure at the IDPs commission ended in 2017 and she is now focusing on her timber business.

“I was not so poor when I was appointed. I had already bought a car. Some people have been claiming I used IDPs’ money to buy a car. Let them know I was not that poor. I am a business lady who has earned from her businesses,” she said.

Ms Gathoni accused the officer of becoming a “coordinator of IDPs” instead of an independent investigator.

“Mr Muthui has taken me through so much troubles. I have only been praying to God to protect me,” she added.

by Nation

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