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15 Kenyans stuck on Somali vessel

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Fifteen Kenyan fishermen are stuck on a vessel owned by a Somali fishing company forced to work under gunpoint without pay, seafarers lobby has said.

The group is desperately calling out for help to return home, East Africa International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) officer Betty Makena told the Nation.

According to Ms Makena, the fishermen, who were hired by an unlicensed agent in Mombasa in April this year, are working in deplorable conditions and living and sleeping in the open.

She added that from pictures and information she has received, many of them are injured and have not received medical care.

The fishermen claim the employer is forcing them to work for long hours and that those who resist are threatened with a gun.

In documents seen by the Nation, 13 fishermen were hired by Seaport Operations Limited on April 16, 2019 and proceeded to Somalia where they joined other two Kenyans who had been recruited earlier.

Ms Makena says she received a distress call regarding the fishermen working in the vessel named FV Marwan 1 operating in Somali waters.

“The fishermen got my contact from some of their colleagues who they interact with and sent me the details and the pictures on their sufferings. Majority of them are sick and they need urgent medical attention,” said Ms Makena.

Source:Nation.

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I’m just different not cultish, Esther Arunga’s ex-pastor now says

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When Joseph Hellon Onyango holds a saxophone, women shiver; or at least that is what he says they tell him when they attend his performances. When he plays the sax or the flute, what emerges is a vibration of sounds that he has now purposed into what he refers to as “his call.”

He calls his music godly, and is quick to add that he does not believe in what people classify as gospel music. For him, as long as music has a positive message and lifts people’s spirit, then it is right by God.

Hellon is a preacher. A different one. He believes a pair of coloured jeans and curls like the ones on his head have nothing to do with winning souls.

His church, the one that landed former television star Esther Arunga into controversy, is up and standing.He says the service is held every Sunday at Kenya School of Law and he has more than 300 members.

Back then, the church was called Finger of God, a name Hellon says he chose after carefully reading the bible.

“Finger of God is holy spirit. The Law of Moses was written by the finger of God. There is nothing dirty about that name as Kenyans were suggesting,” he says.He says when his church was at the centre of bad Press in 2010, around the time when Esther Arunga had resigned from her job to be fully involved in church and become a politician, he contemplated changing the name.

In March this year, the church changed name to Kingdom Embassy International. He in partnership with an American preacher, run other churches globally.“When I was facing the devil in 2010, my church was alone. I realised the importance of partnerships. I imagine things would have been different if I had support,” he says.Hellon has mastered the bible.

He says he has read Genesis to Revelation, and in between, he has learnt to forgive people, including the media who called his church a cult.

Serious counselling

“There is nothing cultish about my church. I am controversial and I do things differently. Our messiah was controversial. Preachers who are not should ask themselves if they are really working for God,” he says, as he plays his golden sax at his Karen home in Nairobi.

On Thursday, a few hours after Arunga had been handed a 10-months suspended sentenced by an Australian court, social media erupted blaming Hellon for her woes.“I met Esther at a church event. I was a singer and she was emceeing. We talked and decided to do business together,” he says, explaining the start of a friendship that many believe ruined Arunga.

He says she also wanted serious counselling, a task he was ready for since he was a preacher. The jazz maestro says he was contracted to work for the Famous Tusker Project Fame show and he says when Quincy Timberlake, his former schoolmate at Kokuro Primary School in Migori saw him on TV, he reached out and they rekindled a friendship that has since been severed.

“He came to my church and he is the one who helped in registering the Placenta party where I was vying for president with Esther as my deputy,” says Hellon.

Their relationship, church activities and mannerism became an issue of public concern.It has been nine years since they made news, and his church put under police investigations. The case filed against the church was dismissed for lack of evidence. Hellon says he has grown even more.A faithful, identified only as Bullah says he has never met a man wiser than his spiritual leader Hellon.“When you talk to him, you realise he is different and he understands the bible better than most people,” he says.

Hellon’s wife Kuyu notes that no matter what was reported about her husband back then, nothing would have changed her mind from believing in him.“I knew there was nothing wrong with his church. If you know your husband, there is nothing that people say that can shake you,” she says.

When conversations about religion and people losing their all come up, as they often do when the saga surrounding Hellon and his church spring up, he believes someday God will descend, and it is then that people will realise his church was genuine. Until then, he waits. And while he does, he takes the deepest breath, and blows into his saxophone.

“They call me the maestro. That I am! Other things like cults are fragments of their imagination,” he says.

By Standard.co.ke

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E-mail leaks unmask Jubilee’s powerful woman

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Leaked e-mails seen by the Sunday Nation have lifted the veil on how reclusive State House operative Nancy Gitau and the controversial United Kingdom communications consulting firm Cambridge Analytica played a crucial role in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s 2017 re-election.

The e-mails come in the wake of revelations by British MP Alexandra Philips, a former Cambridge Analytica employee about her role in that election.

The leaked e-mails appear to show Ms Gitau’s role as the overall coordinator of President Kenyatta’s re-election campaigns, with the firm, led by an Indian British citizen Sabhita Raju reporting to her.

The e-mails lift the lid on the role Ms Gitau, alongside President Kenyatta’s private secretary Jomo Gecaga, played in coordinating several meetings to plot the Jubilee leader’s re-election strategies, including commissioning research studies in the run-up to the August 2017 poll.

Throughout President Kenyatta’s tenure, so powerful has Ms Gitau been that her name is only whispered by politicians yet no one wants to go on record talking about her.

While she officially resigned from her Harambee House post following pressure from Deputy President William Ruto’s camp, multiple sources, who spoke in confidence, acknowledge she continues to pull the strings from behind the scenes.

Recently, she was back in the news when vocal Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, a Ruto ally, named her as one of the people involved in the controversial Mt Kenya leaders’ meetings.

Politicians from both Mt Kenya and Rift Valley acknowledge she is powerful but differ on the influence she wields within the country’s executive.

While those from Rift Valley claim her office is well-oiled, they also believe her influence is not as massive as claimed.

Those from Central region are cagey when it comes to discussing matters concerning her, though acknowledging her domineering presence in the country’s power circles.

That Ms Gitau never sees eye to eye with Deputy President is well documented. It is also common knowledge that Ms Gitau enjoys special ties with the Kenyattas, with this pointed out by some as the source of her powers.

Her return to the news after a low public profile in the last few years came after she was mentioned over the La Mada meetings that stirred controversy over a purported plan to “assassinate” Dr Ruto.

Others said to have attended the meeting were four cabinet secretaries from the Mt Kenya region — Peter Munya (Trade), James Macharia (Transport), Sicily Kariuki (Health) and Joe Mucheru (ICT). Detectives are investigating the claims after questioning various people, including the Cabinet Secretaries and the Deputy President’s communications aide Dennis Itumbi.

“We have been discussing these issues (La Mada Hotel meetings) for the last ten days. There is a tell-all video clip which will be played in due time. I want to tell the chairman and the Secretary of the meeting Nancy Gitau, if you meant that you were at a development meeting, Ms Gitau does not belong to any office that plans development. We know more and we won’t be cowed no matter how many of us are arrested,” said Mr Sudi, alluding to Mr Itumbi’s arrest on allegations of authoring the “fake” letter that claimed Mr Ruto’s assassination had been discussed at the meetings.

Back in 2017, Ms Gitau alongside Mr Gecaga were the focal points for the campaign as the secret e-mails show.

Those from Cambridge Analytica who communicated with her alongside Ms Raju include Antonya Allen, Kieran Ward, Richard Bailey and Simon Waddington.

In the e-mails, Ms Raju signs off as Vice President of Programs, Cambridge Analytica and Director of Programs SCL group. SCL group, whose Kenyan elections connection was first revealed by Sunday Nation in March 2017, is linked to Cambridge Analytica, which was last year forced to close down.

The secret e-mails paint a picture of the British consultants engaging with their Kenyan counterparts on the aspects of the campaign, with all e-mails being copied to Ms Gitau and Mr Gecaga. Once in a while, Ms Gitau offers direction on how the campaign should be conducted.

In 2012/2013 campaigns, the Kenyatta campaign had hired yet another set of consultants BTP advisers who also reported to Ms Gitau.

This week, high-profile Brexiteer MP Ms Phillips admitted that she secretly worked for Cambridge Analytica in the 2017 election campaign in Kenya.

She made the admission to the UK’s Channel 4 News after initially denying any involvement with the disgraced data firm, and pressuring journalists to drop the story.

She backtracked only after Channel 4 News obtained a recording of an interview from 2017 in which she confirms she had been “employed by Cambridge Analytica to work for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.”

Cambridge Analytica, created around 2013 with an initial focus on the US elections, denies meddling in the 2017 Kenya polls, even though Mr Mark Turnbull, then MD of the firm, had been quoted by CNBC as saying they “rebranded the entire (Jubilee) party twice, wrote their manifesto, and conducted two rounds of 50,000 (participant) surveys”.

The admission by Ms Phillips will further dent the digital marketing firm’s controversial image.

But even as Cambridge Analytica faces sandstorm over their activities, sources who participated in the campaign told Sunday Nation that the two groups (CA and Kenyans working for the President) fell out over differences over an anti-Raila negative campaign.

“The consultants insisted on a negative campaign, Team Uhuru team insisted on vibrancy and positivity as opposed to raw propaganda,” said a source.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny, who worked under Ms Gitau at President Kenyatta’s office, has defended her from the accusations.

“Time has come for these leaders to give Nancy respect. This is not the first time they are attacking her. They are jealous of her organisational skills. They should give her a break. These attacks demonstrate the fact that they are running short of ideas,” he said.

He maintained that Ms Gitau no longer works for the President or the government. Those in the know claim so powerful is Ms Gitau that many cabinet principal secretaries routinely reach out to her for “advice” before making crucial decisions.

Ms Gitau is also said to be one of the key players, albeit in the background, of the Kieleweke grouping within the divided Jubilee and which is opposed to Mr Ruto’s ascend to power in 2022.

She first came to the limelight during the National Rainbow Coalition rule when retired President President Mwai Kibaki appointed her as an adviser.

President Kenyatta retained her in the same capacity.

Deeply private and media shy, Ms Gitau’s name always pops up whenever discussions centre on the country’s political power games. And as the succession debate gains foothold, her name has once again started being whispered by elected leaders.

Ms Gitau served in the Kibaki administration from 2007 up to 2013, playing an instrumental, though behind the scenes role in the merger of President Kenyatta’s then The National Alliance and Mr Ruto’s United Republican Party to form the Jubilee juggernaut in the run-up to the 2013 general election.

Her differences with Mr Ruto go way back in 2015 when then Kericho Senator Charles Keter (now Energy Cabinet secretary) and his Elgeyo Marakwet counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen publicly named her as having been part of leaders who had conspired to fix Mr Ruto at the International Criminal court.

BY nation.co.ke

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Man kills sister after accusing her of fornication

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Police in Uganda have arrested a man who allegedly killed his sister after accusing her of fornicating with an unidentified man in their mother’s house.

According to police, a one Ama, 19, a self-employed resident of Kiina Fishing Village in Kikuube District, died after being assaulted by her elder brother.

The woman was reportedly found having sex with an unidentified man in her mother’s bedroom.

The suspect is a fisherman and a resident of the same area.

He was joined by his friend to assault his sister, according to police.

“One suspect was arrested, the scene has been visited but a postmortem is yet to be carried out,” Mr Julius Hakiza, the Albertine regional police spokesperson, said.

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