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Imanyara:Why I slapped former First Lady



Gitobu Imanyara is obsessed with words. He loves weaving alphabets and watching them spring to life on blank paper. Ever since he was a boy, he had an insatiable desire to scribble his thoughts and make stories out of them.This obsession won him several journalism awards and also landed him in prison several times when he was barely 30.

“My life was disrupted early. I’m still rebuilding things from my past and catching up on a lot,” he says during an interview at his office in Nairobi.He was such a thorn in the flesh that in 1980s and early 90s, he was making headlines locally and abroad: “Health of Kenya political prisoner seen as perilous,” screamed New York Times of May 5, 1991.

The fairly recent scuffle with former First Lady, the late Lucy Kibaki, in 2008 is perhaps the last but not the least of his dramatic public life spectacles.

It was reported that Lucy slapped him across the face for representing a journalist who had filed a battery of cases against her.

Shrill scream

Gitobu has a different version of the much reported incident. He says former President Kibaki had invited leaders from small parties to State House in 2007 to discuss politics. He was with Chama Cha Mwananchi (CCM). When he got to the gate, he was stopped by security.

“They said they had to consult whether I should be in the meeting. They allowed me in after a while,” he says.Before he could settle in, he heard a shrill scream followed by a thumping of feet. He says she was yelling:“Why is he here? Who allowed him into my house?”He did not know it was about him.Someone beckoned him and when he stepped out, he came face-to-face with a livid Lucy, dressed in her night gown, literally breathing fire.

“She started raining blows at me. She grabbed my shirt and called me names. I tried disengaging but she held on. I slapped her hard and she fell hard on the floor,” he says.

READ ALSO:   Leaked letters allege that Lucy Kibaki, General Hussein Ali ordered the assassination of prominent politicians

What followed, he says, was intense silence from people at the meeting, with Lucy’s screams and frantic struggles to break loose from the security team whisking her away.

He walked out in a daze without glancing behind.“I thought someone would grab me and lock me up. They let me drive out and I sighed with relief,” he says.

Paul Muite, a lawyer, recalls Gitobu calling him almost immediately to confess that he had hit the First Lady. He says Gitobu said he had felt attacked and was acting in self-defence.“There is no way he would have made that up within the short duration. I believed him,” he says.

But Kibaki’s former security aide Esau Kioni says while it is true Imayara pushed Lucy to make way for his exit, there is no way he would have slapped her.

“We would have dealt with him if he dared do such a thing. Lucy was like his mother,” says Kioni.Whatever the circumstance, that fight will form part of the stories Gitobu is penning in his memoir.Gitobu developed an interest in writing when he was still in high school.

When he confided in his father that he wanted to be a journalist, his old man breathed deeply and asked if he was crazy. Journalism, at least for his dad, was a career for losers. No university offered it.“I said I would rather not go to university.

I wanted to find ways to get into media,” he says.His father blatantly refused. When he was listed to join the University of Nairobi to study law, he surrendered to his father’s demands.However, the dying embers of his journalistic dream were awakened when he was elected a student leader.He became founding editor of UoN’s law journal in 1978 under the guidance of former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga who was his lecturer. Gitobu wrote scathing editorials that annoyed the powers that be.

READ ALSO:   Leaked letters allege that Lucy Kibaki, General Hussein Ali ordered the assassination of prominent politicians

Solitary confinement

Even though the publication was small, the possibilities that the things they were writing about could erupt were enormous. By the time he was graduating, his name had already started causing discomfort in government.After graduation, he came up with Nairobi Law Monthly and landed in trouble after churning out a few editions.

His attacks on government, coupled with the fact that he gave legal representation to those who were perceived enemies of the system landed him in solitary confinement at Kamiti Prison.“The lights in my cell never went off. I did not know day or night.

I remember the hallucination, the screams around me, the coldness, the mosquitoes…” he says.His voice trails off as he talks about the many times he looked around him to see if there was a way he could end his life.Upon his release after two years, he continued writing. He was arrested many more times with accusation of running a seditious publication.

His body is riddled with scars from the beatings he got in prison. He never thought of stopping.Willy Mutunga says whenever Imanyara’s story is told, he is reminded of his courage.“He was part of the team that defended me in court before I was detained without trial for 16 months,” says Mutunga, giving a brief peak of the fights they took for democracy.Gitobu says in all that happened, he sees lessons. The most important one being that bitterness can kill.

He remembers some of his friends who walked with him on the path of liberation, under the Young Turks movement, who bore grudges and it burned them inside till they died nursing pains of a past they could not change.

Elective politicsHis debut in elective politics at the dawn of pluralism in 1992 was a flop. It however came with a consolation, for in the same year he was elected the Secretary General of Ford Kenya, enabling him to fully participate in national politics.

READ ALSO:   Leaked letters allege that Lucy Kibaki, General Hussein Ali ordered the assassination of prominent politicians

Later in 1997, he was elected to Parliament for an epic five-year term characterised by high octane political melodrama featuring himself, James Orengo, the late Kijana Wamalwa, Mwai Kibaki, Kiraitu Murungi, among others.

“I forgave a lot. When I was elected, I had to work with some of my oppressors, so I put everything behind me,” he says.In 2002, his attempts – together with Orengo and others – to chart a middle course under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was swept under by the Narc wave.

Together with Orengo, they would remain in political cold for five years until 2007 when they bounced back, Orengo with ODM and Imanyara with little known CCM.Due to the events that ensued after the 2007 elections, including the small parties’ State House meeting (Kibaki needed their support to politically insulate himself), some of his accomplices felt he had turned out a sell-out.

That when promise of rising as a politician was dangled to him, he swallowed the bait and went to bed with the people who had humiliated him.

“Everyone has a price. I guess they knew he was young and broke and would easily fall for it,” says one of the people who worked closely with him, hinting that he received money to let go of the issues.Gitobu calls it utter nonsense. He says he could not have been bought when he remained in the Opposition throughout the 10 years he served in Parliament.

He says had his life not been interrupted early, he would have probably fathered more than two children.His biggest regret is joining politics; and he vowed to never vie again.After his fourth political defeat in 2017, he went back to publishing and is now managing ‘The Platform’ publication; a magazine on law. On the side, he scribbles his memoirs. His life has gone the full circle.


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Tweeting chief Francis Kariuki is dead



Nakuru’s Lanet Umoja location Chief Francis Kariuki, popularly known as the ‘tweeting chief’, is dead.

His family said he died at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital, where he was rushed to for emergency treatment after experiencing breathing difficulties.

The tweeting chief died at the age of 55 years.

“My father fell ill on Tuesday and we first took him to Evans Sunrise Hospital in Nakuru before he was referred to the Nakuru Level Five Hospital, where he passed on, while receiving treatment,” his son, Ken Kariuki, told the Nation on phone.

His daughter revealed that Chief Kariuki has been ailing from diabetes for a long time.

The tech-savvy village chief of Lanet Umoja was known for using Twitter and other social media platforms to discharge his duties.

He received global attention in 2014 for using Twitter to fight crime.

Mr Kariuki led a community of more than 30,000 residents.

Via text message

His Twitter account shows he has about 60,000 followers and those who receive his tweets via text message are said to be in the thousands.

Subscribers get his tweets in real-time via free text messages and don’t need to have a Twitter account or an internet connection.

READ ALSO:   Leaked letters allege that Lucy Kibaki, General Hussein Ali ordered the assassination of prominent politicians

The chief could send them at any time of the day or night using his smartphone.

By the time of his death,

‘s tweeting had reduced the crime rate in Lanet Umoja.

He also used Twitter to encourage unemployed youth through messages of hope.

Early life

He was born and raised in Nakuru and attended Mereroni Primary School. He later joined Lanet Secondary School and Kigari Teachers Training College later.

He taught for 21 years in different schools as a teacher, four years as a deputy head teacher and six years as a head teacher at Lords School, Kambi Moto in Rongai Sub-County.

In 2009, he became the first chief of Lanet Umoja.

In 2015, he graduated with a degree in Counseling Psychology from Mount Kenya University, which he had been pursuing through virtual learning.


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Keeping our family coffee business picking



When 41 -year-old Gitau Waweru Karanja was a boy, he recalls spending his school holidays in his grandfather’s coffee farm with his cousins. His late grandmother would push them to pick berries to earn pocket money. Though he took up his parents’ passion in interior design and studied Interior Design in Kwa Zulu Natal University in South Africa, he did he know that one day he would wake up and smell the coffee and participate in running his grandfather’s coffee farm.

Gitau is the third generation of his family to manage Karunguru Farm, which belonged to his late grandfather Geoffrey Kareithi. Kareithi had bought the 300-acre farm in Ruiru, from a white settler in 1972. Gitau is married to Wangeci Gitau who grew up in Maragwa, in Murang’a where they also had a coffee farm.

Values instilled

For Wangeci, despite growing up in the coffee fields, she was more passionate about tourism and was a travel consultant before becoming a tour manager at a local company.

In 2012, she got an ectopic pregnancy, which put her on bed rest and thus was compelled to quit her job. When she recovered, she began assisting her husband. “By that time, my husband was selling modern house doors, but the business took a while to pick. Then we began selling milk from Karunguru Farm, but the milk production went down in 2016. The management, comprising of family members, told us to address the issue by becoming dairy managers. But when we joined the management of Karunguru Farm, we saw an opportunity in coffee tours,” she says.

READ ALSO:   Leaked letters allege that Lucy Kibaki, General Hussein Ali ordered the assassination of prominent politicians

Taking cue from South Africa where they do wine tourism and also export wine, Gitau and his wife sought to use that knowledge in their coffee farm. “We started Karunguru Coffee and Tours after we found out that despite it being our main export, it was being underutilised when it comes to tourism. So, here we take visitors through the journey that coffee has to go through before getting to your cup,” explains Gitau. Everything is done in Karunguru Farm— including value addition such as processing coffee, drying and even roasting. “We have our very own packaged Karunguru Coffee, which is available in the market,” he adds.

Their late grandfather instilled in them a love for each other and every holiday it is the family culture to meet and bond as a family. The grandpa also ensured that the farm management is shared amongst all his seven children who meet every week to discuss the business of the farm. Once they come to an unanimous decision, it is then passed on to their children, who implements their decision.

Before one is given any role, you have _ . to be qualified for the position. “It’s not about being favoured, but your qualification. I am in tourism, so I handle the tourism aspect, my husband is in operations. In fact, one applies for the position and then you are interviewed. If you qualify, you are placed on probation until the management is satisfied that you can handle the role well,” says Wangeci.

READ ALSO:   Leaked letters allege that Lucy Kibaki, General Hussein Ali ordered the assassination of prominent politicians

No entitlement

What makes family business go down is the fact that people who are less qualified are employed. Other people have to cover up for their messes and this creates bitterness and conflict. Gitau sometimes watches his nephews and nieces in the farm, giving them roles to check out whether they have interest in the farm or not before beginning to mentor them. Everyone begins from the lowest level and must know how to roast, pack, as well as prepare a cup of Karunguru coffee. This is to en inculcate the spirit of appreciation and value for the workers employed to do the role.

“My uncles always tell us that we didn’t come in the business because we are their children, but because of the passion we had in the business. With that, entitlement is killed and we ensure that we do our best to take the farm to higher levels,” says Gitau

They don’t entertain gossip,  ‘‘ but if someone has an issue, I then the person is invited ‘ to a meeting where one is confronted and told in love where they have missed the mark.


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How we solved thorny issues in our not-so-rosy union



Robert Wambugu and Lucy Wambui’s marriage has been a bitter-sweet experience. When their firstborn son was a toddler, he almost drowned in a basin full of water.

“The water had been stored on the corridor and the young boy sneaked out of the house. Within a split of a second, he had fallen head first and was in there for almost a minute before we were alerted by other children. He passed out, but was saved by quick intervention from a nearby hospital,” Lucy says.

Lucy says they faced a lot of challenges driven by their lack of marriage experience due to their young age. She was 20, Robert was 21. “We had not received proper counselling and did not know how to handle our personality differences. Let’s just say we were clueless of what was ahead of us. We used to have endless arguments, long weeks without speaking to each other and so on. It wasn’t until we got support from a neighbour who cared and counselled us,” she says.

Making it work

They worked on improving their communication and openness to each other. She offers: “We started giving each other constructive feedback that builds someone rather than hurt them emotionally. We stopped pointing fingers at faults and started addressing the issue rather than attacking the person. For instance, Robert was forgetful. At first, this used to make me think he was deliberately ignoring me and I would choose to just stay quiet and ‘payback’. But one time he told me he would start working on a “To do list” and once he started it, I saw great improvement. He also asked me to be sending him reminders on pending stuff. This way, we were able to handle that issue once and for all. On the other hand, I would prepare food that he didn’t like and he would not eat it. I would feel like he was eating elsewhere. At one time, I asked him to recommend what he prefers and how he liked it made. It took time to understand and master this, but it was worth it.”

READ ALSO:   Leaked letters allege that Lucy Kibaki, General Hussein Ali ordered the assassination of prominent politicians

Lucy and Robert also worked on their decision-making, as well as teamwork, and from that point things changed for the better.

Other challenges have arisen when they had to juggle between work and raising children. “Sometimes as a working parent, you realise you have to spend time with your children and establish a personal connection. For me, this is important and if I have to work from home to do this, I do not mind doing so. But it can be quite overwhelming,” she adds.

Lucy and Robert both live in Rwanda. They have been married for 11 years and have three children-two boys, Arthur aged 10, Fabrice aged seven and a girl, Ashe Wambui aged 1.5 years. Lucy runs a cake business while Robert works as a Certified Hospitality Training Manager at Marriot International, and is also an experienced digital marketer and art director. She is also a co-director at Halleria Consult, a marketing consulting agency they started together with her husband. He is the country manager in charge of overall operations of the consultancy.

They also mentor young couples on marriage and parenting.

Lucy terms her husband as her greatest support system. “He has been supportive in raising the children. He spends his free time with them. On the other hand, when we visit our parents in Nairobi, we ensure that the children spend time with their grandparents. I get tips from our parents from both sides and I ensure they communicate as often so that they build that bond. I have also taken part in a programme called ‘Mother of Sons’ that focuses on mothers who are raising boys. It gives mums the space to learn how to handle boys’ challenges as well as bringing up men who are well nurtured,” she says.

READ ALSO:   Leaked letters allege that Lucy Kibaki, General Hussein Ali ordered the assassination of prominent politicians

Discovering children’s potential

Their parenting approach is centred on raising children who understand between right and wrong and are able to make independent and right choices. Lucy is a disciplinarian. “I don’t shy away from using the rod where necessary. But I spend time trying to find effective non-authoritarian ways to help mentor them, especially in matters self-confidence and life skills,” she reveals.

Her husband, however, uses a different approach. He uses experiential learning techniques where through observation, he has identified some interests in them. Both boys love using 3D modelling software and have basic photography skills. He spends time training them. “We thank God that this strategy has helped them learn and be responsible. We also encourage them to go out and play and develop a social life. The first one is an extrovert. He makes friends quite easily while the second one is an introvert who prefers staying indoors. The last one is starting the ‘terrible two phase’, always throwing tantrums,” Lucy says.

Lucy’s word of advise to couples and parents is: “Love, support your spouse and walk with them. You don’t get into a relationship to attain happiness. Rather make it your role to create an environment that sustains joy. If this is done, it’s easier to get the other person to reciprocate. Before you point fingers at your spouse, first do a self-analysis and see what you would do to work on yourself and improve. That way, we shall have happier relationships.”

READ ALSO:   Leaked letters allege that Lucy Kibaki, General Hussein Ali ordered the assassination of prominent politicians


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