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MY STORY: Finding myself after being born intersex

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Born Mary Waithera, James Karanja has had a tough upbringing and faced stigma and humiliation which drove him to attempt suicide. The 27-year-old talks about his fight for identity.

“I was born at home in the early 1990s. I had an ambiguous genitalia and so my mother was confused.

She immediately called my grandmother who suggested that we see a medicine man. She had never seen anything like it.

Being Christians, they then thought to see a priest, who advised that I should be taken to a hospital.

I was admitted to Naivasha General Hospital for three weeks without being named or assigned a gender.

My mother was advised that because of the ambiguous genitalia, no surgery should be done until I was of age. I was a healthy baby.

There was a lot of conflict and tension within our family because of this. My father said I should not be named from his side of the family.

The marriage eventually broke and I had to be raised by my mother and grandmother.

I had a pretty normal childhood being raised as a girl. However, what stood out was my mannerisms, most notably how I carried water from the river.

I used my shoulders instead of my head. I was also the only girl in our village who could ride a bicycle or play football. People got confused and it infuriated my grandmother.

After my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), I was admitted to Kambala Girls High School in Molo.

The Catholic Church sponsored my education – we were of humble background. I shaved my head bald ahead of the admission day.

On opening day, I had everything except sanitary towels. I had not yet started my menses, something my grandmother believed was because I had not been circumcised yet.

She believed in female circumcision. The matron was alarmed by this. After persuasion, she let me in. She said I would ‘grow up’ while in school.

The first telltale that I was different came soon after. “Look, a boy has been admitted to a girls’ school,” the girls laughed as they made a beeline around me.

Then it got slightly worse. It was at the morning shower time. I got a culture shock when everyone woke up at 5am, rushed to the bathrooms, most of them naked and unbothered, proceeded to shower.

I had to avoid eye contact. I grew up in conservative home. I had never seen a naked female. I had always thought my body was the normal female form, but what I saw was different.

From then on, I made a promise to myself that I would always wake up earlier and shower first. For the next four years, I kept this true.

It was in Form Four that the real trouble started for me. While in Form Three I was elected an assistant head girl and a year later a head girl. At first, it was an advantage.

No one could question me. I was aware that my voice was deepening and I was still flat-chested.

Then, girls started getting attracted to me. I started receiving anonymous love letters. They grew by the day. I was alarmed.

Then before I could process all this, a teacher saw one of the letters, and I found myself suspended for promoting lesbianism.

The good thing is, I had never responded to any of the letters. This spared me from expulsion.

I was out of school for the entire second and part of the third term.

That’s when I decided to ask my grandmother hard questions. ‘Who was I? Why was I was so different from my peers?’

She took me to the hospital where I was informed that I am male pseudohermaphroditism. I was given the option of surgery.

I decided not to as I wanted to complete my studies. To date, I have not seen the need for surgery.

At last, I knew what the issue with me was. I was relieved. I ditched my skirt on the last day of school.

I changed my name to James Karanja and decided to live as a man. This was in 2010. I was happy and free.

I was an adult now, and no one could question me on the gender I chose. Or at least that’s what I thought.

I was wrong. Villagers got concerned that I was now male. They decided to strip me naked in public to see my genitalia.

Suddenly, I was seen as a bad omen. I could not even get a job despite my excellent results.

And things only got worse. My mother, who had been battling depression due to the stigma of giving birth to me, became mentally ill. She was raped soon after and gave birth.

It was now up to me to provide and take care of my mother and the new baby girl. I had to take my baby sister to a children’s centre.

She is there to date. My mother is at Mathari and I visit her on weekends.

The pressure has been piling up on me. In 2014, I tried committing suicide three times. After the third failed attempt, I knew I was in this world for a reason.

Through one of my high schoolteachers, I started speaking about my condition in public.

During one media interview, I met Hon Isaac Mwaura, who promised to do his best to push for a bill that will see intersex individuals considered as a third gender.

The challenges are many but I was overjoyed when Kenya National Bureau of Statistics added us as the third gender in the upcoming national census.

I do hope the government can do more in recognising us, especially in documentations.”

By nation.co.ke

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Court suspends Mary Wambui’s appointment as Employment Authority boss

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Not so fast, the employment court has told politician Mary Wambui in her quest to take the job at the National Employment Authority.

Justice Hellen Wasilwa issued the order in Nairobi on Wednesday in a case filed by the Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association.

In the case championed by the association’s chairman-cum-Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, the petitioners argue that Ms Wambui is not qualified under the law, policy and best practice, to be the chairperson of the authority.

NOT CONFORM

Ms Wambui, Mr Sakaja’s team argues, does not conform to the provisions of Section 10 (2)(c) of the National Employment Authority Act and does not meet the threshold of having at least seven years’ experience in human resource management or its equivalent.

The qualifications of the chairperson of the authority, they say, are mandatory and not discretionary.
The association says Ms Wambui has on several occasions personally admitted that she possesses a limited education, which for all intents and purposes makes her unqualified and unsuitable to conduct the affairs of the chairperson.

The petitioners argue that her appointment would disfranchise the Kenyan taxpayer given the very strategic nature of the position.

“The directive of appointing the 3rd respondent, who is not qualified is not only retrogressive, arbitrary and stale, but also attempts to uncharacteristically undermine the principles of public participation and guiding principles of leadership and integrity,” the petition reads.

Justice Wasilwa certified the case as urgent and set the hearing for November 14.

-Nairobinews

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Entertainment

‘My addiction with strippers left me in debts worth millions,’ Robert Burale

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Robert Burale has in the past been in debts running into millions but he managed to come out of it unlike most Kenyans who are still struggling.

In a past interview with K24 Faraja, Burale stated that his addiction to stripping and the pressure to keep up a facade of a flashy lifestyle pushed him into debts.

I used to live with both my parents during primary and secondary school but at some point they separated.

Life was good as we were living a high end life before I went to study marketing in London.

I enjoyed going to a new country and the freedom that came with it.

Robert Burale

Little did Burale know that some types of friends can either make or break you.

When I went there I made both good and bad friends.

I was lucky because everything was being paid for by my dad for during my first year so I had a lot of free time.

I started going to strip clubs while in London with the friends I had made.

He adds,

As an African man living abroad, every one wants you, so the attention started making us do things we would not consider doing before.

We started hoping from one strip club to the other.

At some point we got bored with strip clubs in our area and we started venturing to other areas.

He adds,

STRIP GIRLS ARE TAUGHT HOW TO MILK YOU DRY.

WHEN THEY SEE YOU HAVE MONEY, THEY WILL MILK ALL OF IT. WHEN YOU DON’T CHUCK OUT MONEY THEY WILL MAKE SURE YOU GIVE THEM SOME.
EVEN IF IT MEANS REMOVING THEIR BRA.

Burale adds it took time for him to accept his addiction.

It took time for me to know I am addicted. For three years I was just in strip club evangelism where we ‘recruit’ other people into the club.

When I came back to Kenya I found so many strip clubs had been opened and so I started going to savor their services.

Pastor Burale
Robert Burale’s book ‘From the strip club to the pulpit’

He adds

The problem was that when I was in London there was money but once I came back I had no money as my dad had passed away.

The family started fighting for what he had.

In a past interview with Radio Jambo, his ex wife Rozinah Mwakideu, had stated that one of the many reasons they broke up is the many debts he had.

I would receive calls now and then from people and police saying Robert had unsettled debts.

It was a character he had and I kept waiting because I thought he would change because he was born-again.

For example, the main reason why I left was after my friend came to visit me and after she left she wanted to sue him. I couldn’t handle that pressure plus other personal issues.

Robert Burale and ex-wife
Robert Burale and ex-wife Rozinah

Burale explains that his addiction to stripping was where his journey to debts began.

There is no strip club where a woman will give you a show with no money.

There are men who spend even 100,000 on a night.

I once did that and the sad thing is that it was borrowed money.

He adds,

I had to keep up a reputation. I had to go to big hotels and dress well so I kept borrowing.

With time my debts ran into millions.

It got so bad that I had to borrow *John to pay *Peter and the cycle continued.

I only accepted I had a problem after I tried committing suicide.

Burale is now out of debt and this he did by paying off debts slowly with the money he got from his jobs as a motivational speaker, actor and Image consultant.

His advice to people out there is

If you are broke accept it. Ask for help

By Mpasho

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News

Kenyan teen goes missing in Germany after quarreling with her parents

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Police in Potsdam, Germany are looking for a Kenyan teen who went missing a week ago from her home after quarreling with her parents

The 15-year-old only identified as Britney, has been missing since Tuesday, October 15, 2019.

Mkenya Ujerumani, a local blog about Kenyans in Germany reports that the teen had a quarrel with her parents before she left their home in Drewitz in Potsdam.

At the time she is reported to have said she was going visit some acquaintances but never showed up nor returned home.

Her parents are worried since this is the first time Britney has been away from home for such a long time.

A day after she disappeared, a passerby walking by the banks of River Havel came across a bag with Britney’s personal belongings, identification and some clothes.

POLICE SEARCH

Upon reporting to the police, divers, a helicopter, a drone and search dogs from the coast guard were dispatched for a search operation in the river but nothing was found.

Police printed posters that were placed around all the major train stations in Potsdam but none of the four received clues brought them closer to finding the girl.

“The investigation team consists of ten police officers and will be headed by Commissioner Falk Heidke, who has substantial experience in the search of missing children and teenagers,” the spokeswoman for the Police Department West said on Friday.

Britney moved to Germany from Kenya with her mother and her younger brother about two and a half years ago. She attends a Gesamtschule in Potsdam.

By Nairobi News

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