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TALES OF COURAGE: My battle with bulimia and depression

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Nyaguthii Kioi has battled bulimia for two years of her life, and spent the last 10 years coping with depression.

This period has seen her attempt suicide twice. The 25-year old, a trained lawyer, has since dedicated her life to aiding survivors of sexual and gender based violence through activism.

On this World Suicide Prevention Day, she shares her story with Anita Murage.

“I grew up in a really posh neighbourhood. I didn’t realise it then but looking back, I had a really amazing childhood.

I was still too young to pick up on the passive aggressive way my father treated my mother, or to notice that he never provided for us.

She covered well for him. My father worked for an international company and always bought us such beautiful dresses from countries he would visit.

Then suddenly, he wasn’t coming home on time or helping me with my homework. We found out that he got fired because he would go to work drunk.

He ventured into the alcohol industry and opened a depot. Then my mother could no longer hide his real self from us anymore.

We saw him for the alcoholic he was. All his business ventures failed and he eventually resulted to running his father’s business; a bar. They eventually separated in a terrible way.

FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

My first encounter with mental illness was when I developed an eating disorder. I was bulimic for about two years. In high school, I was wayward, getting into trouble especially because I did not settle very well in school. I was suspended and would only be allowed back into the school with a letter from a psychiatrist. This is what saved me because the psychiatrist diagnosed me with clinical depression.

I got into a depressive state in Form Three and was put on anti-depressants. I was 16 at the time. My father did not understand and I remember him asking me “What do you have to be depressed about?”

Nyaguthii had her son in 2014 while still in high school and went back to continue her studies in 2015. PHOTO| COURTESY

My mother, however, was my rock and got me all the help we could get. After I finished that round of medication, I was okay.

I attempted suicide in Form 4 during the holidays. My sister called my mother and she rushed home made me throw up all the pills I had taken.

We talked and I went back to school okay.

I got involved with a lot of alcohol, drugs and sex and got pregnant right before my 19th birthday. I was severely depressed throughout my pregnancy but never told anyone.

I had the baby in 2014 and went back to school in 2015. In 2016, I was sexually abused by the man I was seeing at the time and I was too scarred to open up to anyone about it. I would think about it constantly.

In 2017, while driving home at night, I was ambushed by robbers at our gate. I followed their instructions and they went on to get into the house and robbed us of most of our belongings.

I handled it well and was strong for the family as my mother was not around. However, I started getting terrible panic attacks and developed anxiety. I was taken to hospital and given anti-anxiety medication and sleeping pills.

I don’t remember much about the night I attempted suicide, aside from the fact that I was absolutely tired of everything I had gone through in my life. It all came and weighed me down at once. I took all my pills.

The next memory I had was waking up in hospital a few days later. I was so angry at my mother for saving my life. I wanted to die.

I was in hospital for quite a while, incapable of taking care of myself. I was bathed, fed and tended to.

My psychiatrist at the time felt that I was in the worst state of my depression and the only thing that could save me was electro-convulsive therapy, where they shock your brain as a kind of jumpstart. I had eight sessions spread over a period of two weeks.

Nyaguthii graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 2018. She poses here with her mother and stepfather. PHOTO| COURTESY

I suffered terribly from the side effects of the procedures such as loss of memory, inability to control any of my muscles and not being able to walk on my own.

After I was discharged, I stayed on medication for a number of months until I felt like I couldn’t go on with them because they were over powering me. I was always groggy. I couldn’t function and my doctor wouldn’t hear me when I requested for a lower dosage or change of medication.

Eventually I just quit cold turkey. In April 2018, I suffered another bout of depression and my mother took me to hospital and I was assigned a new psychiatrist. I also started seeing a psychologist for cognitive behavioural therapy.

I can honestly say my new psychiatrist, Dr Nelly Kitazi, saved my life. We tried different types of antidepressants and antipsychotics until we found what works best for me.

She listened to me whenever I had a complaint about one of the medications, and would change the dose or the medicine altogether. I have been on medication since then.

I managed to go back to school and graduate with a Bachelor of Laws in 2018. I am currently working for a community based organisation that helps survivors of sexual violence called She Matters Tribe.

Nyaguthii graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 2018. She’s currently working for a community-based organisation that helps survivors of sexual violence called She Matters Tribe. PHOTO| COURTESY

I am supported fully by my entire family. My circle of friends has also fiercely had my back and shown up for me on my darkest days. I think it is really important to have a solid and understanding support system.

To anyone struggling with depression; the first step is acceptance. Accept your condition and do not feel ashamed about it. It is just a disease, like any other physical one and I wish society could stop stereotyping mental illnesses.

For people struggling with suicidal thoughts, I get it. Depression can be so bad that you get to that point of nothingness, when you feel so empty and the only thing that would give you comfort would be to not exist anymore. However, life is worth fighting for and with the right help, support, therapy and medication, one can live a normal life.”

By nation.co.ke

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Revealed: The truth behind Handshake

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ODM leader Raila Odinga agreed to work with President Uhuru Kenyatta under the famous March 9 ‘handshake’ as a result of pressure from Western nations and financial woes, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi has said.

Mr Mudavadi claims in a new book that Mr Odinga had been banned

from visiting many countries, including a key Western nation, and was particularly worried about what the US’s next course of action would be.

Mr Mudavadi, who was Mr Odinga’s chief campaigner in the 2017 election, claims the pact was shrouded in secrecy and that days before it, he and the other Nasa principals – Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula – had met the ODM leader, who did not drop any hint about the negotiations with President Kenyatta.

It was in the meeting, however, that he spoke of the pressure from the foreign nations.

“Raila also mentioned to us at this meeting that he had received letters of cancellation of his visas by various foreign missions in Kenya.

He showed us a copy of one such letter he had received from a leading western mission,” Mr Mudavadi writes in the autobiography, Soaring Above the Storms of Passion.

The book, authored with his long-time ally and ANC Secretary-General Barrack Muluka, and published by The Mudavadi Memorial Foundation Trust Fund in association with Midas Touch Media Limited, also details the intrigues in the heady days leading up to Mr Odinga’s controversial swearing-in on January 30, 2018.

On the visa blockades, Mr Mudavadi writes that Mr Odinga asked him to cross-check with other missions whether they were aware of this development and what their countries’ governments were thinking. “I cross-checked with Ambassador (Robert) Godec, who affirmed that he was aware of the developments …”

The former Vice-President also writes of a heated meeting in Athi River a day after the ‘Handshake’ during which other Nasa principals took Mr Odinga to task over the secrecy around the development.

“In this conversation, we also learnt that the visa embargo seemed to have covered many other people,”

Mr Mudavadi writes in the memoirs that delve into every epoch in his political career spanning 30 years.

Mr Mudavadi also details the financial woes Mr Odinga’s party was in, suggesting this might have been another reason for the latter’s

abandonment of his hardline opposition cause.

The ANC leader also suggests that the numerous litigations against a number of Nasa supporters and “other allied pressures” – which he doesn’t name – might have been too much for Mr Odinga.

“We learnt that the financial capacity to handle these cases was not there. Basically the situation was becoming unbearable,” Mr Mudavadi writes.

He says he was on his way to Mombasa when Vihiga Senator George Khaniri called him frantically, alerting him about the ‘Handshake’ on the steps of Harambee House, the President’s office.

“A flurry of other phone calls flowed in. Kalonzo called me to ask if I was aware of what was going on.

I told him I was unaware.”

He says pressure mounted on him from a wide range of callers, who wanted to know what was going on, “bearing in mind that I had been the chief campaigner.”

“They wanted to know whether we were now going into a coalition government with Jubilee.”

Mr Mudavadi says the swearing-in went against what the rest of the principals believed in and was also in defiance of the caution by world and regional leaders, advice that was given in telephone conversations and in meetings.

The meetings

“The first one was Raila’s office at Capitol Hill, where we met with foreign diplomats accredited to Kenya, religious leaders and leaders from the business community.

They pleaded with us not to carry on with the swearing-in plans,” Mudavadi writes.

He says the second meeting was held at the American Ambassador’s residence. “Also present at this meeting was the Acting Assistant

Secretary of State for African Affairs, Donald Yamamoto. There was also Howard from the Security Adviser’s Desk in the White House and Ambassador Robert Godec.”

In these meetings, the envoys warned them that should they carry on with their swearing-in plans, they would be “considered warlords, with attendant international consequences”.

The diplomats instead offered to create an avenue for dialogue with the government to resolve the issues that had been raised.

Among the opposition’s demands were that victims of police violence receive compensation and that President Kenyatta apologises for the extrajudicial killings.

Besides the swearing-in, Mr Mudavadi writes of other decisions Mr Odinga pushed through without consultation or concurrence from his colleagues. He paints the picture of a leader who always had a plan B or one who would change course on the spur of the moment.

He writes of the various postponements of the swearing-in and of difficult private meetings even as they publicly demonstrated solidarity, if only to give morale to their supporters.

He writes that just before one of the swearing-in postponements, Mr Odinga went out of circulation.

“For some time he could not be reached on the phone. We put together our heads with the technical team and agreed that in this move (postponement) we were giving an opportunity to the diplomatic and business communities to attempt their proposed intervention.”

But just as they were about to leave for the Okoa Kenya offices to announce the suspension of the ceremony, he reached Raila who told them to go ahead with the announcement and link up with him later in the evening.

“I would learn a few days later that while I was preparing to call off the swearing-in, Raila was in fact at Jimmi Wanjigi’s residence in Muthaiga with a number of family members and friends. The object of the meeting, I would learn, was for him to record a private swearing-in, which would be circulated to the media houses and on the Internet.”

He writes that people at Muthaiga would later tell him that just when the swearing-in was to take place, they saw the Okoa Kenya postponement meeting on TV.

“I learnt from the people present that Raila seemed to have been very shocked to watch us on TV calling off the swearing-in. He is reported to have said, “Oh, so they are calling it off? At this point the swearing-in at Muthaiga was called off. Before we left for Okoa Kenya from my office, he had called me to ask why we were taking long to make the announcement.”

Drifted apart

He writes that throughout the Christmas season, the Nasa team “had completely drifted apart on the issue of swearing in”, a time when Mudavadi believes the pro-swearing thinking must have prevailed. “At a public gathering in Kakamega just before the end of the year, Raila announced he would be sworn in on January 30. Once again, there had been no consultation, leave alone an agreement. The rest of us remained calm and restrained in the spirit of our agreement not to show our differences in public.”

He writes that as the clock ticked towards January 30, 2018, the D-Day of the swearing in, a lastditch effort was made to forestall it at a dinner meeting at Mr Odinga’s Karen home.

Present were all the four principals as well as Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o. “Also with us was former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, a close friend and confidante of Raila. He had specifically come to Kenya for this meeting.” Mudavadi recalls Mr Obasanjo advising Mr Odinga against the move, saying it would destroy his credentials. Mr Obasanjo also brought in Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s counsel as well as that of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“All of us, including Raila, agreed that he would not take the oath. Beyond this, Raila also told us that on a different occasion and in the presence of James Orengo, President John Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania – also a close friend of his – had held a lengthy telephone conversation with him.”

Up to the end, Mudavadi and the other three principals maintained they would have nothing to do with the ‘Handshake’.

“On Monday, January 29, we the principals, held our last meeting ahead of the critical moment in the swearing-in saga. At the end of the Homa Bay rally, Raila had intimated to us that he had information that the Jubilee side would reach out to him in good time to forestall the swearing-in and begin negotiations about reforms.

Mudavadi also writes of intrigues hours to the controversial swearing-in and how Mr Odinga hoodwinked them up to the last minute that he would not be sworn in. “It was agreed that we would all, nonetheless, go to Uhuru Park – the venue where the swearing-in was to take place – to face our supporters and call off the swearing-in once and for all. We agreed that we would meet at a venue to be agreed upon in the morning.”

Having failed to hear from Mr Odinga, Mudavadi writes, the other principals met at Wetang’ula’s place. “It was while we were here, at about 1200 that Raila eventually called me using his regular phone number. Our telephone conversation was disjointed, creating the impression that he was under siege.” Moments later, however, they learnt that he had proceeded to Uhuru Park and was taking the “Presidential Oath of Office”.

I would learn a few days later that while I was preparing to call off the swearingin, Raila was in fact at Jimmi Wanjigi’s residence with a number of family members and friends,” Musalia Mudavadi

by nation

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12-year-old girl defiled by her father, then locked up in police cell

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Officers at Isebania Police Station are on the spot for throwing into a cell a defiled minor after she had gone to report the case.

The distraught 12-year-old girl had accused her father, a police officer, of defiling her on November 1 at their home in Nyabohanse town after luring her into his bedroom.

DEFILED

The victim on Tuesday told the Nation that her attempts to have the suspect arrested were futile after officers turned against her.

They locked her up in a bid to conceal evidence of defilement and shield their colleague.

Shedding tears, the Standard Five pupil at a private school in Nyabohanse town narrated her harrowing ordeal when attempts to seek school fees from her biological father saw her sexually assaulted.

She told the Nation that her father, a police officer who guarded a senior politician in Migori County before being interdicted from police service, lured her into his bedroom and defiled her in broad daylight.

“I went to see him to collect my fee balance on instructions of my grandmother with whom I lived. She could not afford Sh13,890 which I owed the school so I went to my father who operates a pub in Nyabohanse town,” she said.

“I was cleaning utensils when he came home that morning. He called me to his bedroom as he wanted me to do some shopping for breakfast. I was helpless as he pinned me on his bed and committed the act,” she said.

According to the minor, she rushed out of the house weeping and ran to Nyabohanse Police Post where she reported the incident.

“I reported the incident to a female police officer, who called my father and the area chief and tried to persuade me to forgive him,” she said.

At about 2pm, she was transferred to Isebania Police Station where she was placed in a cell and, two hours later, was taken to Nyayo Hospital where she was tested and given a prescription.

LOCKED UP

The minor said she stayed in police custody for six days, sharing the cold floor with adults.

Officers at the station, she said, allowed in her father to check on her, only to threaten the girl to drop the case.

“When we visited her on the same evening she was arrested, the officer declined to release her, saying the national flag at the station had already been lowered and we were not allowed to see her,” her grandmother told the Nation.

Attempts by the old woman and the girl’s mother to have her freed were unsuccessful.

There was no explanation as to why she was being held that long or why she was not charged or released from custody, with the officers constantly piling pressure on her to drop the case.

“All we need is justice for the minor. It is sad that the police, who ought to have protected her, conspired with the suspect to torment her further,” the girl’s grandmother said.

“The suspect, who should be in custody, walks scot-free and was accessing the girl freely as we were denied any chance to see her.”

Currently, the minor is staying with a guardian whom the Nation will not name to protect the victim.

The guardian said the girl’s grandmother said the medical report, P3 form, police statements and medical reports were tampered with severally to destroy the case.

LACK OF EVIDENCE

“The six-day detention was a plot to conceal possible evidence of rape. Even police records and the occurrence book entries were skewed,” she said on Monday.

What shocked the mother and the guardian was the fact that the medical examination revealed the minor had been infected with a venereal disease.

But, despite all this pain, hopes for justice seem to be dimming by the day.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji says it seeks to close the case “due to lack of evidence”.

In a letter dated November 5 and addressed to the OCS Isebania Police Station, Mr Martin Mwongera, a senior prosecution counsel, says the case should be terminated.

“… after perusing police files and statements, I find no sufficient evidence to charge the suspect with the said offence,” the letter reads in part.

When the Nation visited Isebania Police Station on Monday, senior officers privy to the case declined to comment and instead referred us to Kuria West police chief Bernard Muriuki and Migori Police Commander Celestino Nyaga.

Mr Muriuki said attempts to take the suspect to Kehancha Law Courts twice on November 5 and 19 failed after the prosecution counsel cited lack of evidence.

SEXUAL CRIMES

However, he said he was not aware the victim was held at Isebania Police Station for six days.

“We want to duplicate all the files, including evidence and statements, and send back to ODPP for review for the minor to get justice,” Mr Muriuki said.

On his part, Mr Nyaga said they will internally investigate the matter and ensure the minor and the suspect get justice.

Nyamosense-Komosoko MCA Susan Mohabe called on the Independent Police Oversight Authority (Ipoa) and Mr Haji’s office to fast-track the case.

Mrs Mohabe said Kuria West police officers were yet to arrest suspects who gang-raped a 70-year-old woman a week ago.

“Women in this region have been turned into sex objects,” she said.

“Victims of sexual abuse and gender-based violence who attempt to seek justice from police have always met resistance. Some even receive threats from the same officers who should be protecting them.”

As the Nation was pursuing the story on Monday, police arrested a 14-year-old boy who defiled and killed a four-year-old girl in the same area.

by NN

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Nairobi homes still a good investment

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International realtor Knight Frank says Nairobi residential properties remain an attractive buy for rich families and global investors amid a 5.4 percent price drop in the last nine months.

In its third-quarter report that reviewed high-end house prices in 45 cities, Knight Frank noted house prices were still 30 percent higher than last quarter 2010.

“The values have been declining at varied rates year-on-year successively since Q3 2016.

However, values are still more than 30 percent higher compared to Q4 2010, validating prime residential properties as a good investment for capital gains,” it said.

Head of Agency Anthony Havelock said the falling prices were caused by the prevailing cash crunch largely blamed on low business activity coupled with a lack of credit.

“We have not reached the bottom of the cycle yet and we expect to see further reductions in the near-term until the macroeconomic and local situations improve. One of the major issues right now is illiquidity in the market,” he said.

Nairobi and Mombasa remain East Africa’s most attractive destinations for global high net worth individuals pursuing investment and leisure while Africa’s wealthy fly in seeking a better education for their children as well as private healthcare.

The Knight Frank report observed the prevailing hard economic times saw banks auction distressed residential properties at discounted prices.

Mr Havelock said this adversely affected the prices of properties in prime locations with oversupply fuelling further reduction of house prices as developers made efforts to avoid the auctioneer’s hammer.

“Deals are happening but are few and far between and at discounted rates. It will take time for the economy to rebound considering it is also not immune to external shocks,” he said.

Realtors have also blamed the interest rate cap law, which stifled access to credit for the past three years as lenders shied away from ‘risky’ borrowers.

In its third-quarter Housing Price Index, Kenya Bankers Association named the first nine months of 2019 as the worst year for the real estate sector in the past five years.

by nation.co.ke

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