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Drama as villagers kept at bay during Mastermind tycoon Wilfred Murungi’s burial

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In life, Mastermind Tobacco tycoon Wilfred M’iti Murungi was reclusive; he hardly mixed with villagers in his Magutuni village in Tharaka-Nithi County.

After he died, the villagers and his friends were asked to keep off his burial ceremony at Kiurani village, Maara constituency.

Only eight family members were allowed to witness his burial on Tuesday, a ceremony that lasted approximately one hour.

HEAVY SECURITY

Heavily armed police officers from Magutuni and Chogoria police stations were deployed to Mr Murungi’s palatial homestead.

They guarded the three gates leading to the home, making sure no villager sneaked in to see the body of the man referred to as ‘Master’ descend into the grave.

Two choppers, one carrying the casket and the other the tycoon’s family members and a clergy from Nairobi, touched down at Kiurani Primary School at around 11.10 am.

From there, a Mercedes-Benz hearse ferried the body to the home about a kilometer away.

The casket was hurriedly taken out of the chopper and loaded into the hearse by family members including Mr Murungi’s two sons and two daughters.

Curious members of the public were kept at a distance by police officers and local administrators, only seeing the casket that was wrapped with nylon papers through the school’s fence.

Businessman Wilfred Murungi

Wilfred Murungi, who founded the Mastermind Tobacco company. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

NO JOURNALISTS

Journalists who turned up in large numbers to cover the send-off were also barred from accessing the school and Mr Murungi’s home.

They were only able to take photos of the choppers and the hearse through the school’s fence.

At the home, locals hired to dig the grave were asked to leave and wait outside the gate only to be called back to fill it with soil.

One of the men, who sought anonymity, said that when they returned into the compound, they did not view the casket because the pit had already been half-filled by family members.

One of the police officers guarding the home said no photos were taken during the service and that there were no printed eulogies.

WIFE’S BURIAL

Though the locals were astonished and also angered due to being kept off, they acknowledged that Mr Murungi’s wife, Joyce Ithiru Murungi, who died back in 2012 was buried in the same manner.

Only 40 people were allowed to witness the ceremony and residents said Mr Murungi did not witness the burial.

“He landed at the same primary school in a chopper containing the body of his wife, handed it over to his children and the other family members and immediately went back to Nairobi in the chopper,” said Mr James Mutembei, a villager.

Another local said that during the burial of the wife, water was poured on the dusty road from the school to his home and that nothing was cooked.

DISAPPOINTMENT

Members of the Arua clan to which Mr Murungi belonged expressed disappointment after being denied a chance to bury one of their clansmen or to even contribute for the ceremony as traditions dictate.

A local administrator told the Nation that Mr Murungi’s eldest daughter directed that no one should get closer to the casket upon its arrival at the school grounds.

Only 20 people were to attend the burial, going by the number of seats at the venue, but things changed and only about eight people were allowed into the home.

In fact, some relatives, including one of the deceased’s nephews who had driven his mother, were turned away.

“The son has been asked to stay outside with the vehicle and wait for his mother,” said Mr Nicholus Mutegi, a villager.

Wilfred Murungi burial

Family members of the late Wilfred Murungi, who was Mastermind Tobacco’s chairman, offload the casket containing his remains from a chopper at Kiurani Primary School in Maara constituency ahead of the burial on June 11, 2019. PHOTO | ALEX NJERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

UNFAMILIAR

Mr Murungi worked as an engineer at British American Tobacco (BAT) before quitting and setting up Mastermind Tobacco in the late 1980s – first in Nakuru and then, when the business flourished, in Nairobi.

He had to fight survival wars in the cut-throat tobacco industry, fighting the government, and the BAT, something that could have changed his lifestyle.

Young people in the village who are on their early 30s did not know him physically. They only heard of him and saw his two luxurious homes in Magutuni and Mwiria, both in Maara constituency.

These homes are highly guarded, with one having to pass through four gates before reaching the houses.

Villagers rarely visited the homes since Mr Murungi and his family lived in Nairobi.

The four children are also not known to the locals.

CHARITY

Despite the secrecy, the name Master was known even by the young people because of Mr Murungi’s charity work in the community.

He only used his representatives in the village to attend to social functions in the village.

The tycoon supported almost all the neighbouring schools in putting up infrastructure.

For Kiurani Secondary School , whose board he chaired for many years, Mr Murungi bought a bus and constructed a multipurpose hall that is named after him.

He also supported Igakiramba Secondary School in building a laboratory and paid fees for hundreds of children through his family foundation.

“He made sure all bright children from poor backgrounds continued with their education and employed them in his companies after they graduated,” said Ms Lucy Kaari, a resident.

The tycoon also offered a market for all tobacco grown in the region and always paid promptly.

Wilfred Murungi burial

Police officers guard a gate to the home of the late Mastermind Tobacco founder Wilfred Murungi during his burial at Kiurani village in Maara constituency on June 11, 2019. PHOTO | ALEX NJERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

WORKERS

More than 200 people who have been working at Mr Murungi’s farm in the village do not know their fate following his death.

In fact, some of them started quitting after hearing of his demise though they had gone some months without pay.

Before he died last week, what troubled him most was the impending forced sale of his properties to settle a Sh2.9 billion tax claim demanded by the Kenya Revenue Authority.

Mr Murungi’s Mastermind Tobacco, the makers of the Supermatch brand, had been forced to file a consent in court indicating that the pioneer indigenous cigarette maker in Kenya was willing to dispose of 12 properties in order to raise Sh1.54 billion as partial payment of one of the biggest tax claims against a local entrepreneur. He would do anything to succeed.

It was also reported by his handlers that at the tail-end of his life, Mr Murungi was willing to offload 51 per cent of Mastermind shareholding to the global giant Phillip Morris, the makers of Marlboro, hoping to resuscitate his venture.

Although Phillip Morris is a global company, it has a limited African footprint – in South Africa and Senegal. Mr Murungi hoped that he needed such muscle to survive this callous market.

GOVERNMENT TENDERS

In 2018, a company associated with Mr Murungi was awarded a tender to tarmac the nearly 30km Keeria-Magutuni-Kathwana road at a cost of Sh1.3 billion.

However, the tender was terminated after Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki petitioned Kenya Rural Roads Authority (Kerra) complaining of laxity in the work.

According to Mr Mbiuki, a company associated with Mr Murungi was set to be given a tender for construction of the proposed Maara dam at Sh6.2 billion.

A company associated with him is also working on the Sh300 million Kirumi kiamujari irrigation project which is also in Maara constituency.

The project is halfway complete.

EULOGIES

President Uhuru Kenyatta eulogised Mr Murungi as an industrious and vibrant entrepreneur who made a significant contribution to the growth of the manufacturing sector in Kenya.

In his condolence message to family and friends, President Kenyatta said the country had lost one of its most prominent business leaders.

“I am deeply saddened by the death of Mr Murungi. He was a man of great insight and unique leadership qualities. His commitment and determination were his strongest assets,” he said.

“His death leaves a gap that will not be filled, certainly not by these few words of consolation, but we thank God for the time we shared with him, just as we are grateful for the full use he made of it.”

The President further said that Mr Murungi will be missed by many Kenyans, especially those whose lives he positively impacted.

SOURCE: Nation.co.ke

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Meet teenage schoolboy with big dreams who crawls two miles to school – VIDEO

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Gilbert Otieng’ is a sixteen-year-old boy who can neither walk nor stand up, but whose remarkable story is that of hope, courage and an unbreakable determination to overcome his physical challenges.

For a start there is no bus service to his school in his home area deep in Teso South constituency, Busia County. Yet, the hilly terrain doesn’t stop him from getting to school everyday at St Dominic Aderema Primary School.

Otieng’s parents cannot afford a wheelchair for him but that has not deterred the Standard Four pupil from crawling for two miles to and from school everyday.

He does it four times everyday with his hands and knees.

At lunchtime, he crawls back home then makes the torturous journey back for the afternoon lessons.

In the evening, the story is the same.

He crawls for about 30 minutes before he reaches school, which translates to 6km everyday and 3okm every week.

His mother Rose Apali said when he gave birth to his son, all was well but the child became paralysed at the age of five.

“Otieng’ got disabled when he was five years old. Since then, things have never been the same for my son,” said Ms Apali.

APPEAL FOR HELP

The mother says when Otieng’ turned 11, he insisted on going to school, a decision they found hard to make, considering his condition.

Otieng’ eventually joined school and has been attending his classes without fail, regardless of the weather. And he never complains.

“Come rain or sunshine, everyday he goes to school,” the mother says.

But Otieng’ admits that for the past 11 years his life has been full of endless challenges.

“It has been a painful experience for me. Waking up very early to crawl to school. I have to return home for lunch, go back for afternoon lessons then in the evening I go home. Sometimes, the road is too muddy because of rain but I have to go to school,” he says.

In a separate interview with KTN, Otieng’, whose favourite subjects are Science, English and Mathematics, said his dream to become a doctor.

The family would be happy to receive help from well-wishers to enable the teenager to join a school for the disabled or get him a wheelchair.

by Nairobi News

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Diaspora

Two Kenyan Men in US Charged with Sexually Assaulting a Mentally Challenged Woman

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Two Kenyan men in Minnesota face felony charges after police say they sexually assaulted a woman with mental and physical impairments at the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in March.

Francis Ndegwa Kamau, 39, of Spring Lake Park was arrested in Minneapolis and booked in the Scott County Jail on Aug. 8 in connection with third-degree felony criminal sexual conduct. Kamau’s arrest came three months after the county attorney filed charges against Kamau and Kenneth Wagacha Kibe, 37, of Burnsville.

According to Prior Lake Police and court records, the warrant for Kibe has not yet been served, and he has not been arrested.

Both men are charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct for sexual penetration of a person who “is mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.” Each charge carries with it a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, a fine of $30,000 or both.

The county’s criminal complaint states officers found multiple videos of the alleged assault and a text conversation about the victim on the men’s phones.

According to the warrants, police received the report of sexual assault at 10:22 p.m. on March 30. Staff at the casino told officers that a woman had approached casino security to report that she had been assaulted.

The woman has been diagnosed with “mild intellectual disabilities, unspecified congenital anomaly of musculoskeletal system (right hand), seizure disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and depression,” and lives at a group home for people with cognitive and physical disabilities, according to the warrants.

The warrants allege that on the afternoon of March 30, Kamau and Kibe approached the woman while she waited at the casino buffet. The three chatted for a while before casino surveillance video shows them entering a hotel room for more than an hour.

The woman told police that when the group entered the hotel room, both men tried to have sex with her several times even though she told them to stop. During a sexual assault exam at St. Francis Medical Center the woman told a nurse that Kamau had told her he wanted to “give [you] a baby.”

Both Kamau and Kibe were at the casino when police arrived on the scene. During Kibe’s interview with officers, he said he had recorded a portion of the assault without Kamau’s knowledge.

Kamau initially denied being involved in the assault. When officers told him that Kibe had a video of him on top of the woman, he reversed course and said that she was “enticing them” and that they were not “too serious having sex,” police said.

Both men told police that they noticed the woman had a limp but did not realize that she had any cognitive disabilities.

Officers found and photographed “blood or other bodily fluid” and a condom wrapper on the bed sheets of the room.

In documents filed Aug. 9, Kamau said he had hired an attorney to represent him, though no attorney was listed on his case file at press time. His first court appearance is set for Oct. 21.

-SWNEWSMEDIA.COM

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A Westerner asked on Quora if Kenya has internet. Big mistake!

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An unidentified person got more than they bargained for when they asked on Quora if Kenya had internet.

Quora is an American question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, and edited by Internet users, either factually, or in the form of opinions.

The question did not go down well going by the answers, as many people felt the question was condescending.

Eric Mutema had a simple answer. “No sir, I am in Kenya right now and I can assure you my tree (in which I eat, sleep and spend my days) has no internet whatsoever.”

He added that if any of his neighbours in the forest and the posh bourgeoisie idiots in the caves had any internet he would have known it by now through the daily smoke signal send out by our chief’s son.So in conclusion sir. We do not have nor will we have any internet any time soon.”

Another smoke answer came one Allan Kamaliki who said that he lives in Kenya and no, “we don’t have internet.”

“Smoke is the most efficient mode of communication here since our rudimentary languages are not developed enough for any coherent communication. It’s quite dangerous though since our treehouses don’t like fire so much and there can be no smoke without fire – unless you have a car which Kenyans don’t,” he added.

He posed, “Now tell me why we need the internet when we can send all the messages we need to send just with smoke?”

“Absolutely not, and whoever tells you otherwise is lying. The white and red-skinnes traders who often come to our shores with their wooden contraptions that float on water have often brought with them tales of a great wonder known as the Internet,” answered Benedict Mwaura.

MOBILE MONEY

Mugo Mahianyu said that for a fact, No! “Kenyan citizens, like the rest of East Africans walk all the way to china in order to at least post anything on the web. We clearly have no access to Internet. Actually, the government of the republic of Kenya is collaborating with the Chinese government to have internet piped to us at least once every two weeks.”

Timothy Gorman Wafula retorted: “No, in fact, the home of M-PESA and mobile money transaction largely rely on smoke signals to send and receive money.”

“No. We use black magic, pigeons, night runners, and shouting across ridges to communicate. In fact, right now, I’m on top of a baobab tree to reply you via black magic while Cayman-alligator-crocodile monster of a hybrid is busy trying to make a meal of me,” answered one Sewe Saldanha.

But there were a few who decided to give the person a few correct answers.

Vinnie Gems said that Kenya a great internet connection. “Most Kenyan citizens access the internet services using their Mobile phones and a smaller percentage using computers although Cyber Cafes are very common in Kenya,” he said.

One Peter Njuguna responded by saying that Kenya has the world’s 14th-fastest mobile internet speed: Oscar Kibet gave his perspective by replying, “Yes, Kenya has internet and its broadband is one of the fastest in Africa. There is coverage of 4G and 3G networks in practically all the regions of the country.”

by Nairobi News

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