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From Senator to ‘terrorist’, my experience in US

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It is Wednesday September 25, 2019, and I am rushing to take my seat at a Kenyan side event on peace, organised by our permanent mission in New York and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It was during the United Nations General Assembly meeting. I get into the building and check in at security.Then I am told to step aside and kept waiting for more than 30 minutes.

The Secret Service agents ask for my ID. By this time, they have picked my entry card. I give them my national ID and National Hospital Insurance Fund cards.

They tell me that they are looking for someone who fits my description. I ask them why they are questioning me. They say there is someone who looks like me and who is walking around with “a screw driver”.

By this time, I feel profiled and discriminated against on basis of both albinism and race. I wonder loudly that this cannot be happening at the UN headquarters, the home of universal Bill of Rights. By now, they are embarrassed.

I offer to leave but they refuse to let me go.The white men now call a black guy who helps to calm the situation. He takes me to his office in some basement and introduces himself to me as Eric.

He is Eric Bramwell, lieutenant officer in charge of the investigative unit, security and safety service. He offers to take me to my next assignment-listening to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s address to the UN General Assembly.

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Access card

I do not have my access card still and Eric calls to ask if anyone was left with it. Then all of a sudden, and out of the blues, he fishes it out of his pocket in a rather embarrassing manner.

He takes me to the General Assembly hall, but I opt to first get to the Kenyan side event, after bumping on Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja.

This seems to give Eric some validity about my identity.Soon after, I join my parliamentary colleagues briefly, before we are ushered in to the GA plenary hall.

As I get in, some fellow Kenyans rush to say hello. I am, however, pulled aside by Eric, who now refers to me as Senator.

He is in the company of Kevin O Hanlon, the head of security at the UN complex, and who has come to apologise to me in person. He explains that it was not his team that did it but rather the secret service agents.

As the President is delivering his address, Kenya’s Ambassador to the UN, Lazarus Amayo, walks up to me and informs me that he has received an apology from the UN about what had happened.

About an hour later, at the entrance of Hotel Latte, which is the venue of our meeting with the President, my other colleagues are ushered in while I get questioned.

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A secret service agent takes my card, again, while others start to secretly take my photos on their mobile phones.

My colleagues are forced to explain, again, that I am a senator from Kenya.

This is after one of the agents loudly asks “who is this guy?” As if that is not enough, another one follows us up into the lift, staring at me suspiciously.

When the President finally comes in, he jokingly asks me if I am Al Shabaab, Mujahedin or the Chairman of the National Riffles Association (NRA). We let the matter lie.

The following day I want to access my hotel along 51st street and as is the practice, I give my UN accreditation card at a designated checkpoint. I am, again, stopped from entry and told to step aside as others get in!At this juncture, I can’t take it anymore and I remind the secret service agent that he is himself a person of colour.

I state that I am a Senator from Kenya and he rudely asks me if I am a US senator. Anyway, I’m finally allowed to pass after a State House official finds me at the entrance and explains to the security agents that I am a senator from Kenya.

I try asking the secret service agents, this time two women who have come to talk to me, to show me the photo of the person they are looking for, but they do not have one!

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To them, it is just someone with albinism, whose description I fit into and who allegedly keeps on following some unknown king in order to harm him with a screw driver.

Later on, I come to learn that it is not only me. Dr Omotayo, who has albinism, is an ambassador of the Wazobia people from Nigeria. He, too, has been stopped many times as he seeks to access both his hotel and the UN premises, to the point that his entourage becomes embarrassed.

Western movies

You know a good number of western movies cast persons with albinism as pale white skinned, red eyed villains, who possess some kind of supernatural powers.

So in the sub-conscience of these white secret service agents, I am a typical representation of such a villain!!

Now how does that differ with those witch-doctors in many African countries that believe that our body parts possess some magical powers, leading to loss of lives?

Indeed, such acts of officialdom by agents of the State bring to the fore the systemic discrimination within the American and other bureaucracies that act as barriers to the inclusion of persons with albinism.”  

[The writer is a Nominated Senator and chairman of the Albinism Society of Kenya. @mwauraIsaac1 mwaura.isa@gmail.com]

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Entertainment

‘I went through hell and high water!’ Ex-TPF star Linda Muthama speaks out

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Life has not been a walk in the park for former Tusker Project Fame star Linda Muthama.

The singer who has now released a gospel song titled Asante Yesu told Mpasho that life was been mean to her.

“I have been through hell and high waters and God has truly brought me through. I am recording the music that I love. Gospel Music and specifically Worship.”

Linda explained, “This song is to encourage people because God’s mercies are new every morning. I mean having been called names, shamed in public for my wrong choices, I feel that I have come full circle.”

How have things changed from the time you were on TPF to now?

I have become a mentor of girls and a teacher. I want to prepare children who will be so grounded when going for competitions like Tusker Project Fame.

Do you keep in touch with your fellow contestants from Tusker Project Fame?

Not really. I watch Alvan Gatitu like everyone else and was in church with Ruth Matete.

You have a masters or is it a PHD now? What were you studying?

Yes Masters and now pursuing and ECDE diploma…I want to focus a lot in raising the next generation. I am also the head of Music at Gems Cambridge-Regis school

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How did you meet up with Josh Manio to do the collabo? What is the backstory?

I had interacted with Amos and Josh at a Lifepool church and I remember we said it would be great to sing together. I guess it was fate because we did not plan it, it just happened. He is such a nice person.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thanksgiving is a weapon of warfare and so let us all learn to give thanks at all times. God never fails. If he has continued to lift me, I will not look back but serve him even more.

By Mpasho.co.ke

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Entertainment

VIDEO: Big Churchill Show names currently languishing in poverty

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The heat at Churchill Show just got hotter, after comedians Jalang’o and Zainabu Zeddy spilled the secrets about unemployed Churchill Show comedians who are currently sleeping hungry.

Zeddy warned she was here to reveal the Truth and say it as it is before mentioning famous names in the creative industry that have been suffering behind closed doors but are afraid to speak up.

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Unfortunately, the comedienne first admitted that majority of young and upcoming comedians struggle to live the “Instagram life” that is nothing but fake and one that their meager salaries cannot even finance.

You just want to impress people. But it’s fake! All those photos on Instagram are not real.

Zainabu Zeddy

Jalang’o could not agree more, confessing that this kind of pressure can only lead into depression or even suicidal thoughts.

One, two, three shows and you are already boasting, moving into bigger houses, riding in Ubers. You already want to change your lifestyle immediately but your income is not sustainable.

Key names

Before going public to disclose that Sleepy David is a suffering man but who is afraid to speak.

Sleepy is suffering but he can’t say so. He has no job, nothing. He is just surviving.

Comedian Sleepy David

This just opened doors of shock, with Zeddy spilling that comedians Wa Kimani and Njoro are also sailing in the same boat of ‘poverty’.

Majority of male comedians are suffering in silence. The men are educated, young but never speak up! Wa Kimani and Njoro are all suffering and they are struggling to make ends meet.

Comedian Njoro

To the extent that one of them was willing to sell his kidney to survive.

Wa Kimani had even given up and wanted to sell his kidney to survive. I am here to speak!

https://youtu.be/r7xl0D6Msa4

BY Ghafla.co.ke

 

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Health

Covid-19 scare: Taxi driver dies in his car in Juja

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The scene caught the eyes of many, at a time almost every move and incident is deemed suspicious.

In the video posted on social media on Monday, three people in white suits and other protective clothing are covering and zipping up a man in a body bag.

A fourth man, with a hand pump, approaches the group and sprays a car parked nearby.

This is the vehicle James Maina used to operate as a taxi.

To many residents, what was being zipped up in the bag was a living Covid-19 patient. The truth, however, is that Maina had died in the car.

‘TERRIBLE SCENE’

When his body was being taken metres from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Juja on Sunday morning, witnesses thought Maina had died from Covid-19.

“The whole exercise created a terrible scene. Many people thought he had been killed by the virus,” Mr Charles Chege, whose brother’s car Maina used to operate as a taxi, said.

According to Mr Chege, picking a corpse in a body bag without ascertaining the cause of death “is not good, and only adds pain and sadness to the bereaved”.
He added that Maina was known to him for long.

The taxi driver died outside a clinic, having spent the whole Saturday night in the car with all windows rolled up and doors locked.

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Locals became suspicious when they found the car with mist on its windows on Sunday morning.

“I used to drive the car before he took it. When people saw it, they thought I was the one inside. I began receiving calls at 6am but went back to sleep,” Mr Chege said.

“The number of calls increased. When I finally picked up the phone, the caller said some people were attempting to break the car windows.”

He added that Maina’s death is mysterious as he was not ill.

“He was working normally. Maina may have been going home before curfew time and dropped by some joint for a drink. It is probably at this time that he began feeling sick,” Mr Chege said.

According to witnesses, the vehicle was seen speeding with lights on, before being found where it was parked on Sunday.

HOOTED REPEATEDLY

Locals said the vehicle also hooted repeatedly and the security guards at the hospital may have ignored Maina thinking he was drunk. That was around 8pm on Saturday.

Maina then slumped in his seat with a foot on the clutch and appeared to have fallen asleep.

Mr Chege said Maina may have have trying to seek urgent treatment.

“He never parks there but he sped towards the hospital on that day,” he said.

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“His drink may have been spiked or he was just drunk. Perhaps he suffocated.”
The car keys and Maina’s mobile phone were in his pockets.

Maina’s wife Esther Wangari said he had not been sick.

“He was fine when he left the house. He never even sneezed. There are many questions that demand answers. His lips were dry when I saw the body,” she said.

“I tried contacting him but he did not pick my calls. I thought he was busy,” she said.

By Nation.co.ke

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