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NYT editor ‘pleads guilty’ over controversial Nairobi job ad



New York Times international editor Michael Slackman has owned up to approving a job advert for an Africa correspondent that was full of clichéd descriptions of the continent.

It talked about reporting from “the deserts of Sudan and the pirate seas of the Horn of Africa, down through the forests of Congo and the shores of Tanzania”.

The advert attracted criticism and mockery.

A video of three women reading out the text was widely shared.



The controversial New York Times add that is still appearing on their LinkedIn account. PHOTO | COURTESY

A lot of people were also sharing one man’s satirical video application where he appears to be walking through a jungle.

In a Twitter thread, Mr Slackman said the advert was the result of taking a short cut, where he just approved the text of a job description from 18 months ago.

Addressing the criticism that the advert reflected the New York Times’ view of the continent, the paper’s international editor said it was “committed to covering Africa, not as if it were some stereotype, but because it matters”:

So will this end the criticism? While some have welcomed the apology, others are not satisfied.

A prominent Kenyan commentator wondered why the advert was allowed to go through 18 months ago without any query.

“18 months ago is not ancient history. This advert was as dodgy then as it is now,” said Nanjala Nyabola on her twitter response to Mr Slackman.

Mr Slackman’s attempt to seek views from journalists interested in covering Africa on how they approach the topic did not amuse cultural analyst and literary critic Dr Joyce Nyairo.

“There we go again…someone with a cheque book and with an organization’s full backing is here asking locals what they think before asking them how much their intellect, experience and networks will cost!…Hire a consultant,” fired Ms Nyairo on her twitter post.

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Daring robbers storm church, steal property worth Sh150k 




Police in Embu County are investigating an incident where suspected robbers broke into a church in Gatituri and made away with some valuables worth Sh150,000.

Worshippers at the Gatituri ACK church were treated to a spectacle after they found missing church property on Sunday the 25th of October 2020.

According to reports, the thieves may have gained access to the church on Saturday the 24th of October.

While forcing their way into the house of God, the robbers broke four windows.

The unknown number of burglars also stole some equipment from the church compound.

If found guilty, the robbers will face up to fourteen years in jail.

If the cops establish the thieves used violence or firearms, the courts may jail them for life.

The country has been experiencing an increase in criminal activities, especially with the onset of the pandemic.

This incident comes barely a week after DCI officers gunned down a robbery with violence crook on Friday the 23rd of October in Kimathi estate, Nairobi county.

The suspect was in the company of two others when they robbed their victim a mobile phone. However, the police managed to only kill one after tracking them.

“A loaded tokarev pistol and a motorcycle have been recovered from a robbery with violence suspect at Kimathi estate – Nairobi county,” the dci stated.

The police have retained the recovered items as exhibits as they track the other two culprits who managed to escape during the raid.

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COVID-19: Mombasa County Assembly closed as MCAs, staff tested positive 




Mombasa City has closed its County Assembly after three MCAS tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Deputy speaker, Fadhili Makarani, who confirmed the news, the assembly would go for a 14-day recess.

Furthermore, they could extend that recess to 21 days if the surging cases kept going up.

“We have three MCAs and a few staff who tested positive and that is why we decided to extend the recess because the whole place needs to be fumigated. People have been given two weeks to go for self-isolation.” Makarani said.

Makarani confirmed that other employees in the assembly would undergo mandatory testing.

This is after allegations from staff that the assembly had stopped testing due to the process being ‘costly’.

“I am not in denial that our people are at risk but we need to test them and if the situation gets worse, we will close the assembly.” Makarani said. If the test kits will be available, the testing process among all staff will end this week.”

Institutions which request COVID-19 tests pay Ksh 2,000 for each test.

However, mass testing or tests from contact tracing are often free of charge.

Mombasa becomes the third county to suspend its County Assembly due to COVID-19 infections among MCAS.

Uasin Gishu and Homa Bay suspended theirs a few days back due to infection in the Assembly.

Furthermore, Uasin Gishu recently lost Huruma East MCA to the virus, which resulted in the suspension as cases rose.

Indeed, rural counties are seeing sharp rise in COVID cases in the second wave.

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I chose writing to escape unemployment



I write because I cannot not write,” Koki Oyuke emotes as a response to my question of why she writes. She talks of how she has always loved

writing from a young age. How she wrote poems in primary school, but was never courageous nor confident enough in herself to publish them. How she got the idea for the just published book, Chosen not Cheated in 2012, in her final year at university, but would wait for several years to start writing it.

Koki grew up in a loving family where her creativity was nurtured as her parents pushed her to be all she could be. She went to a boarding primary school, Kangundo Junior Academy in Kangundo, and proceeded to Kenya High School, Nairobi in 2004. She then went on to acquire a degree in Marketing and Advertising from Daystar University with a PR elective between 2008 and 2012.

After a short internship at Isuzu, Koki joined the advertising industry doubling as client service and as a copywriter. She later quit the industry in pursuit of her entrepreneurial dream. She had a design business where she would make art, mugs and décor pieces with witty captions meant to heal and teach. She poured her all into her business and would later start an eponymous blog in 2015, with the aim of spreading magic and stardust across the Internet from her keyboard.

Unique paths

Entrepreneurship and, especially breaking even is hard for any business. She learnt this soon enough. She spent her free time applying for jobs, buckling under the societal pressure of what a career or life should look like. It was in the waiting and praying for a high paying job like her college mates that she learnt that we are all meant for different things and that everyone has their own unique path. She learnt that even with different life paths, occupations and vocations, that one can still impact lives.

She then threw herself head on into writing and editing books, building on her copywriting skills and owning this space as her occupation and vocation. Koki talks of how the need to speak to people to be themselves as part of the reason she wrote her book. She still uses her blog for that, but more so her book to push and hopefully inspire people out of any rut they might be struck in no matter the sphere of life they might be in.

“I hope the book inspires readers and shows them just how unique and important their different life paths and experiences are,” the writer and books editor explains.

“I had this idea of what an author looks like and what their life story should be. I did not feel like they were like me, so I put off writing this book for quite some time. It took a lot of support from friends and family and some introspection to finally put pen to paper. And several more years to research, finish writing, design the book and release it in August 2019,” she further elaborates.

Her advise to budding writers is for them to read a lot and on varied subjects too. She loves reading and does so extensively. From the Bible, personal development books to fictional tomes, she loves getting lost in the pages of a book. Austin Kleon, is one of her favourite authors with his titles such as Show Your Work, Steal Like an Artist and Keep Going being regular place holders in her reading schedule.

Point to note

While it is hard to pick one best read or just one author who has influenced her, Julia Cameron with her book, The Artist’s Way is somewhere near the top of her list as the book helps any creative artist explore themselves and regain confidence in their art if going through a creative block. The book helped her on her writing journey, both while blogging and penning her book.

Koki also seeks to deconstruct the need for perfect —the perfect backstory to that personal project or the need for that project to be perfect. She advises budding writers to not be incapacitated by the daunting task ahead and to just start chipping away at it immediately, by starting to write anyway.

“Just write. It does not have to be good. But the great news is you can always rewrite and tighten your manuscript. Do not wait for the perfect time to write, or the perfect idea, or the perfect version of yourself that would make for a great author bio. Show up where you are, how you are, confident or not and just start moving and keep moving,” she says in conclusion.


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