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MY STORY: Why I never shed a tear when my father died



Mercy Kamonjo, 22, had an abusive childhood. Her journey to healing from the trauma was not easy, but she finally unburdened her heart. She narrates her story to Bett Kinyatti.

“I didn’t shed a tear on the day we buried my father. I was 14, waiting to join high school. My elder brother was 18, our youngest three.

Mum shed hot painful tears as my father’s casket was lowered into the ground. I’ll never forget how much she cried—I think she cried for an entire week after the burial.

My father had been an alcoholic for years. Our home was on a lush farm in Molo, Nakuru County. Mum was a subsistence farmer, and my father a businessman.

He’d drink in Molo town then come home at night singing loudly and name-calling people along the way. We would all be so frightened every time we heard him approaching home. Often times, he would physically abuse my mother.

I don’t remember when the abuse started, but I remember an episode when I was about eight years old. We were seated around the dining room table when he locked the crook of his arm around my mother’s neck, strangling her.

She was gasped for air, struggling to release his grip. She motioned with her eyes and pointed to the knife in the kitchen, mouthed for me to get it for her. But I didn’t. I was too frightened. I figured he’d kill her instead.

The abuse turned my mum into a bitter woman. In turn, she started abusing my brother and I. She’d yell and throw things at us, even sufurias. Anything petty would spark off her anger. She beat us ruthlessly often times.

There were several nights we left home to spend the night at one of my aunt’s place. Some days we’d return home the next morning, while other times we’d stay for a week or even longer. The longest we stayed away from home was for two years—from 2004 to 2006—when we lived with my cousins.

I didn’t have friends from school, and one of my cousins became my closest friend. It’s here that I realised our life at home wasn’t normal.

There was peace at my aunt’s home. And a lot of love. My cousins could hold a real conversation with my aunt, and she’d listen to them and respect their opinions. I had never had a conversation with my mother.

The first time I did was out of frustration, when I asked her why we had to go back to living at home with my father. She told me that those were adult issues and I wouldn’t understand.

My father was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2007. He changed—he got born again, quit drinking, spent his evenings at home and became the father we had always wanted.

All his money went to hospital bills. We were just beginning to enjoy his loving presence when he passed away. I accepted his death.

I had the sense of maturity to realise he was gone, and that we had to move on with our lives. But I was also overburdened with bitterness and hatred. I suppose that’s why I didn’t shed tears on the day we buried him.

My aunt sponsored me to high school. I worked hard and excelled; and my dream was to become a journalist. I also got born again.

I unburdened my heart. I forgave my father for the painful childhood he’d subjected my brothers and I. I forgave my mother for making me feel unwanted; I had even written her a letter once asking if I was really her child or I had been adopted.

I also began to warm up to men, whom I had hated all my life. I moved to a new school in my third year and for some reason was elected the captain of the environmental club. It was probably God’s working. My passion for conservation was birthed. It was remarkable—I had such clarity of the subject.

I joined Kenyatta University in 2015 for a degree in environmental resource conversation. On my birthday—April 3, 2018—I founded an organisation called Kuza Generation Initiative.

It’s a youth-led organisation that teaches teens and primary-school kids about conservation initiatives such as planting trees. Mostly, we mentor them emotionally, spiritually and professionally. We talk to them about their career decisions, spiritual and personal growth, handling peer pressure, mental health …. we mould them holistically.

We’re a team of 70, our head mentor is Douglas Wando. We’ve adopted six schools in Nairobi so far, and reached out to over 3,000 youth.

It’s difficult to measure our impact just yet, but I see it in small ways. One principal of a school of a boy we’ve adopted said the level of discipline had gone up since Kuza began mentoring the students.

I wouldn’t have started Kuza if I hadn’t gone through what I did in my childhood. Kuza is what the lonely, bitter and confused 16-year-old Mercy would have wanted to guide her life.”

Source: Saturday Nation

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Fidel Odinga’s widow, Lwam Bekelle reveals heated communication with Ida



Fidel Odinga’s widow, Lwam Bekelle, has put his mother-in-law on blast.

In court papers, Lwam claims that Ida has been spreading falsehoods about her.

In their affidavits, Ida and Winnie accuse Bekelle of taking off from her matrimonial home in Karen soon after Fidel was laid to rest and cutting all contact with the family.

They also say Bekelle kept off as the Odinga’s pushed to get to the bottom of what could have killed Fidel.

Bekelle accuses her mother-in-law of “unjustifiably and continuously making false, defamatory and/or unkind remarks about her family friends and herself.”

“I believe that the statement she recorded with the DCI following the death of Fidel Castro Odhiambo Odinga informs the 1st objector’s [Ida’s] averments and is the genesis of our differences,” Bekelle said.

However, in their affidavit, Ida and Winnie state that they are worried that Fidel’s son, Allay, may not be adequately provided for.

They claim Bekelle had removed him from school and kept him at home while also hiding him from the Odinga family.

“The objectors are further worried that having been the only child between the petitioner and the deceased, he is the only living memory of her son and will be disadvantaged if the petitioner continues to block them from his life,” Ida through Owiti, Otieno and Ragot advocates claims.

fidel odingaHowever, Bekelle blasts Ida for contradicting herself by claiming Fidel had other kids yet in the same document, she acknowledges that it is only her son that Fidel had sired during his lifetime.

“In paragraph 13 and 14 of the objectors’ answer to the petition for a grant, they averred that my son Allay Raila Odinga was the deceased’s only descendant and he is the only living memory of the deceased. This averment is in itself contradictory to the objectors’ earlier assertion that the deceased sired other children in a different relationship,” she responded.

The widow also claims the Odinga family is not supporting her son and disputes claims he has dropped from school.

By Mpasho

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Uhuru’s big love for the old



Kenyans, especially the youth, have expressed displeasure with the appointment of former Othaya MP Mary Wambui to head the National Authority Employment Authority.

Ms Wambui, the woman who thrust herself into the limelight after claiming she was President Mwai Kibaki’s wife, was handed the big job by Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani.

But this is not the first time President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration is appointing retirees and perceived ‘old people’ to take charge of critical state agencies.

On Monday, Mr Kenyatta appointed Jeremiah Matagaro to the public service, raising questions about Jubilee administration’s knack for retired persons at the expense of youths in State appointments.

Mr Matagaro will chair the State Corporations Advisory Committee for a three-year period, an appointment many consider as a slap in the face to the youth.

Cyrus Gituai, who served as Internal Security PS in the first Kibaki administration, also makes a comeback to the public service. Mr Gituai has also served as a district commissioner.

But the return of the old guard in Kenyatta’s administration is hardly surprising as the trend has been there for all to see.

Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua is 68, well over the mandatory retirement age of 60.

The same goes for former Vice President Moody Awori, the man well into his 90s, chairs the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund.

President Kenyatta also picked Stephen Karogo to chair the Public Service Commission, even though at the point of his nomination, he was slightly over 60 years.

MPs vetting him for the position questioned his ability to adequately serve given that he has hit the mandatory retirement age of 60 years for the Civil Service.

“Do not focus on my age, rather at the wealth of experience I bring on the table in this new role,” he told the National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security.

Retired General of the Kenya Defence Forces Julius Karangi chairs the NSSF Board after his retirement from the military, while 72-year-old Francis Muthaura is in charge at Kenya Revenue Authority.

Just last week, the National Assembly approved Esther Murugi to sit in the National Lands Commission, even though she is 66.

Back to Mr Matagaro, he is not exactly young. He was the police spokesman during the troubled times of agitation for political pluralism in 1990 to 1993.

He would later rise to become North Eastern provincial police commander in the mid 1990s.

When President Mwai Kibaki took over, he appointed him PS in the Ministry of Justice under Kiraitu Murungi before he was controversially appointed to the Electoral Commission of Kenya in total defiance of the 1997 Inter Political Parties agreements.

Mr Matagaro was among ECK commissioners who were sent packing after a probe by an international commission established that they had bungled the presidential election.

In a bid to stop recycling and re-appointment of senior citizens to the public service, Starehe MP Charles Njagua has filed a motion in the National Assembly.

The youthful city MP is seeking to reduce the retirement age to 50 from the current 60.

He says his motion will help address the high unemployment rate among the youth.

“Noting the mandatory retirement age for public servants is set at 60 years, this House urges the government to review mandatory retirement age in public service from current 60 to 50 years,” reads the motion.

Documents presented to parliament by the Public Service Commission (PSC) detailing the breakdown of civil servants by age cluster revealed that at least 11,879 civil servants were aged between 51 and 60 years.

A further 12,057 civil servants were aged between 56 and 60 years, while there were about 399 civil servants who had attained the age of 60 years or above.


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Outrage over hiring of Mary Wambui



Hours after the government announced several appointments to various positions in State agencies late on Monday, Kenyans have taken to social media to express their displeasure with some of those picked for the posts.

In a special Gazette Notice dated October 14, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced he had appointed eight people to the State Corporations Advisory Committee, while the Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani announced his pick for the chairperson for the National Employment Authority (NEA).

It is CS Yatani’s choice that has outraged Kenyans, who wondered whether the appointment of former Othaya member of Parliament Mary Wambui was done on merit.

Kenyans including political leaders, on social media, claimed Ms Wambui is out of touch with the realities of young unemployed graduates in the country.

They have also questioned the former lawmaker’s capacity to deliver on her new mandate.

Dismissing the appointment, ruling Jubilee party’s nominated Senator Millicent Omanga described it as a sad day and a spat on the face of Kenyan youth.

Senator Omanga expressed doubts that Ms Wambui possesses the ability “to craft strategies and policy formulations” to eradicate youth unemployment in the country.

“Does Wambui have the remotest idea what it feels like to hold a degree certificate yet you can’t find a job with it?” Ms Omanga posed, arguing that by hiring her, the government had demonstrated its lack of seriousness in addressing the challenge of unemployment.

Others argued that the government was worsening the youth unemployment crisis by appointing a person who is “rich, powerful and well-connected”.

Hapa ni kubaya. Watu wanatolewa retirement kupewa job; sisi wengine tulipe ushuru wapate mishahara (The situation is bad. Retirees are being recalled and offered jobs while the rest of us have to pay taxes for their salaries),” Mutichilo Mike noted.

Former presidential candidate Mohamed Abduba Dida termed the appointment as shocking, saying it showed the government’s “consistency and dedication towards failure.”

“When you think you have seen it all, the government pulls another one,” he added.

Others said such appointments dented President Kenyatta’s legacy.

When he took over power in 2013, the President vowed to fight youth unemployment and to create 500,000 new jobs every year. That has not been the case.

“In a nation where unemployment is a real crisis for the youth, such crucial positions need visionary leaders,” David Musyoka argued, adding that it should not be “reward schemes for political loyalty”.

“We are now lacking direction,” Sammy Mohammed lamented, wondering, “how can we grow our economy by recycling these old MPs?”

Mr Mohammed went on to suggest that the President should “try one of us” to assess the youth’s competency and suitability.

Mary Wambui, a businesswoman and politician, was the MP for Othaya Constituency, Nyeri County from 2013 and 2017.

According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, nine out of every 10 unemployed Kenyans are below 35 years.

The bureau puts the overall unemployment rate in the country at between 7 and 12 percent, a figure that is disputed.


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