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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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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Lifestyle

After failed bid to become a nun, now I rescue girls

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Growing up in Ndunyu Chege, Muranga County, Wangari  says she witnessed untold gender-based violence meted on women in her village. “What was happening in the village was like a competition to see man could beat their wives more severely; I remember one time when a man chopped his wife’s arm from the shoulder!” she says.

Wangari says such incidents made her hate the institution of marriage. In Class Six when a group of nuns visited her school to speak to students, she made up her mind to become one of them. This was a decision made to avoid the institution of marriage and the violence she had come to associate it with.

“When the nuns visited and told us about the vocation, I got a way out of what I thought was bad and I started wearing gowns synonymous with how nuns dress,” she recalls.

Her father, a teacher in a local school, supported her choice and changed how he looked at girls and their place in society. He encouraged Wangari to follow her heart. She would make the first false start into sisterhood when after her O-Level education at St Francis Girls School Mangu, she joined Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious community.

“The sisters run a home for the old people and this is where I was taken and I was given a job of looking after an 89-year-old man,” Wangari says. After a few days, she quit and joined Ursuline Sisters but, in her mind, it was still about escaping the institution of marriage. Her superiors realised this and gave her a two-month break to go and reflect on whether this was what she really wanted.

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“Two senior sisters in the community sat me down and asked me if I had really made the right decision and I tried to convince them that indeed I had but they decided that I had to go and think over it before I could come back,” she says.

She never went back. On the same day she left, she went to live with a lady whose husband was a military officer to avoid going back home. While in the house, she recalls the husband meting out violence on his wife to the point of burning her with a hot iron despite the fact that she was pregnant. That very day, she left the house and went back home to her parents.

“I told them that I was no longer going to be a nun, so my dad took me to college where I studied for a diploma in marketing,” she says.

She got her first job, starting off as at the front office desk at the Kenya Accountants and Secretaries National Examinations Board (Kasneb), she would work at the institution for 14 years before she left and started a magazine focusing on gender-based violence.

The journey to saving girls from early marriages would start in earnest when she was called to the Nairobi Women’s Hospital’s Gender Recovery Centre to do a story about a 13-year-old girl who had been defiled by a teacher and gotten pregnant.

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She recalls: “We were told that the teacher had bribed the girl’s father with Sh3,000 and I asked to be given the girl to care for after she had left hospital.” From this experience, Wangari says she realised she did not have to wait until girls got themselves into these sticky situations before they were rescued. She says prevention is better than cure.

The 52-year-old has since then been involved in gender-based violence recoveries through the organization, Woman’s Hope. She has been rescuing girls from early marriages and pregnancies and putting them back in school. Through the organisation, she has rescued more than 500 girls.

How does she do this?

Using local chiefs and the Nyumba Kumi committees, she gets to know vulnerable girls who she picks and takes through a programme at the centre she runs in Karen. Social workers also help in identifying these girls.

After rescuing the first girl, she started an initiative called ‘Sweat It out for a Needy Cause’ where the fitness enthusiast would, together with her friends, donate Sh500 whenever they ran. From the funds they collected, they bought hygiene effects for vulnerable girls.

“We realised that these vulnerable girls were prone to getting early pregnancies and (into) marriages because of promises for small things like sanitary towels; we then started training the girls we rescued at a house we had rented which could care for 30 girls before moving to the current bigger centre in Hardy, Karen,” says Wangari.

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The girls are taken through a three-month training every year during school holidays in April, August and December, where they learn some basic skills. They meet counselors and mentors who speak to them. As part of the initiative, she came up with a ‘Dignity Pack’, which contains sanitary towels, panties, soap and petroleum jelly because in giving sanitary towels, some girls would come saying they have no panties which still exposes them to predators.  Wangari says that through the initiative, girls have learn skills while other have gone back to complete their formal education.

“When I get a girl who should be in school, I ensure that they first get back to school because I have experienced that in waiting we could lose the girl to early marriage of pregnancy,” she says.

Currently, the centre is making face masks for sale to as a means of sustaining the girls and some of the families they support. She has also roped in her zumba class to help in feeding the vulnerable, especially in Gataka, during these difficult times, which have left families struggling. When we caught up with her earlier this month, it was at an event at Tone La Maji Centre in Nakimurunya, Kajiado County, putting a smile on the faces of 33 boys.

By Standardmedia.co.ke

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Business

Boss Moves: Betty Kyallo breaks the internet a few days after leaving K24 TV

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Betty Kyallo is one of the most loved and supported celebrities around thanks to her supporters #TeamBetty.

The media personality who recently hit 2 million followers on Instagram has broken another internet record.

Betty started a YouTube channel two weeks ago and she has amassed 44.7k subscribers already, making her the first Kenyan to gain such subscribers in a short period of time.

She has been sharing videos of her personal life and what she has been up to lately and they’re going viral.

One of her fans identified as Fulasa also noted that Betty had ‘made it’

‘That channel guys… First Kenyan YouTuber to make such a record in just two weeks.. 44k and counting,’ he posted.

Betty, who is also one the most followed Kenyan media personality on Twitter with 822k followers, left K24 TV on May 30 after two years and she is currently focusing on her salon business. She has moved the location of her salon from the iconic FCB Mihrab to a bigger place in Kilimani.

Below is the instagram post she made of the new salon place.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CA3OJqoHxjo/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

In a previous interview with Mpasho.co.ke, while speaking about her salon, she said

Thank God for the hard work I’ve put in. Apart from giving birth to my daughter Ivanna, I don’t think there’s any other thing I have put more effort in like Flair by Betty. It’s where my heart and all investments are. Because of the passion and dedication that the team at Flair has put in, it’s been a fantastic start, and I thank God.

By Mpasho.co.ke,

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‘I was knocked off the road by a driver,’ KTN’s Ben Kitili speaks after accident

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KTN TV senior anchor Ben Kitili recently escaped death by a whisker while cycling around the city.

The father of two shared a photo of his bruised arm, narrating how a motorist knocked him off.

Below is the photo he posted and a caption.

Ben Kitili

NAIROBI is one of the most hazardous cities for cyclists. This happened to me two weeks ago – knocked off the road by an idiot of a driver. Non-motorised transport infrastructure is needed. Good manners too. To borrow a quote, barabara si ya mama yako bwana,’ he posted on social media.

His followers reacted to the post, with many condemning rogue motorists.

Below are the reactions

Bernard Ndong Pole sana bro, that must have been scary…

kyalo_m Cycling is a death trap, there are drivers out there who don’t see cyclists as deserving of tarmac.

Caroline Makandi That looks painful!! Pole

amran_shariff We just lost my neighbours son yesterday, he was hit by a lorry, only 12yrs of age. He was also cycling on his bicycle @benkitili

James Wanyoike Many parts have no cycle paths. What most hawkers are occupying are designated as parking spots and verandahs NOT cycle paths.

David Solit Sum Very sad. …every road user is at risk whether pedestrian or cyclist or motorists. Track drivers kill innocent motorists. Let’s all take care knowing that a mad man could be on the wheel

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Pancwise Gamgee Pole sana man. I don’t know why motorists assume that we cannot share the road.

Anne Mute Motorists should understand that we all have a right on the road. – driving, riding, cycling, walking – So we should learn to share the road. I’m sorry about what happened to you.

By Mpasho

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