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It’s a living hell for Kenyans flying back from overseas

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Overwhelming numbers, poor planning and Kenyans’ indiscipline have been blamed for the mess that is the quarantine plans for passengers arriving from abroad.

With the government expecting at least 3,000 international passengers, the selected hotels for self-quarantine had not anticipated such numbers.

The reality of being a passenger arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) during this Covid-19 season hit hard for 22-year-old Okari Wabunya and 20-year-old Jamie Nyamongo when their KQ plane from London touched down Tuesday at 4:30am.

The two are university students in London and among dozens of passengers who were Tuesday held at JKIA for about four hours before they could be screened and allocated a National Youth Service (NYS) bus to transport them to selected mandatory quarantine facilities.

The Nation caught up with them outside PrideInn Rhapta in Westlands. They were stranded and confused after missing space at the hotel, with their parents following behind but keeping a safe distance.

While for them their main problem was not how to pay for their 14-day stay at any hotel, other passengers who had travelled in the same bus with them had to get alternative accommodation because they could not afford to stay at the hotel.

They said the hotel was charging $60 (Sh6,380) per night, an amount they felt was too expensive.

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“Initially, we had been told there were 16 spaces at the hotel but upon arrival, the management said it had been fully booked. We are waiting to see what will happen. We are willing to quarantine ourselves even here but the whole process needs to be better planned,” Mr Wabunya said.

The two came home for the upcoming Easter holidays now that schools in London have closed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

“There was no point of staying there when we just wanted to be with family,” said Mr Nyamongo.

After waiting outside the hotel for several hours, the team was driven to the University of Nairobi’s School of Business in Lower Kabete, where they met with another team that had been ferried to the venue by a NYS bus. But for some reason, both teams could not be accommodated there.

In the midst of the confusion, the two teams mingled with each other, made contacts with family and the officers escorting them, oblivious of the danger they were exposing each other to.

Later, the two buses were sent to different locations. The Nation followed a team of about 10 passengers, including a child, who were driven to Corat Africa, next to Catholic University of Eastern Africa. They arrived at about 2pm, hungry and still nursing some jet lag.

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Mr John Mutwiri Miriti, a master’s student at the London School of Economics, said they arrived at JKIA on Monday night and were only allowed to leave the airport yesterday at 7.20am.

He said they spent almost an entire day in a bus looking for accommodation. From JKIA, they were driven to Kenyatta University, where they were denied access. They were then driven to PrideInn Hotel, then UoN and finally to Corat Africa, where accommodation was available for nine.

“This is a new phenomenon to all of us, but we are asking the Ministry of Health to make the logistics more bearable. At least ensure that we get water, meals and accommodation with no much trouble,” said Mr Miriti.

Sources at Kenyatta University said the institution opened its doors to over 60 passengers on Monday night. They are staying at the conference centre. The sources said the university did not have extra accommodation as students left their belongings in the hostels.

PrideInn Hotel, which had been closed temporarily, was reopened on Monday night to accommodate passengers arriving via JKIA. A team that arrived Tuesday from Addis Ababa, Juba and other cities mingled with each other as they shared a breakfast meal that was served in a buffet.

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Despite the hotel indicating that all customers would be subjected to utmost screening using thermo guns by trained staff, passengers who are booked there said they are yet to be taken through any procedure. Staff at the hotel served the passengers without wearing face masks.

One passenger, who requested anonymity, said he had sat next to a woman who arrived from the US inside the bus that took them to PrideInn.

“While I had my face mask on, she had no protective gear, but we kept talking and sharing our experiences,” the passenger said.

“We came from different cities but have shared utensils and mingled freely. Is this how quarantine is conducted? Our company had made reservations for us at a hotel on Thika Road, where the firm’s doctor was meant to attend to us, but we were forced to come here.”

“The bills are high, who will cater for them? We arrived at a time when they had closed due to lack of customers but they opened and called in some few staff, who helped us to settle. The rooms are dusty, we are mingling freely and it’s chaotic.”

By Nation.co.ke


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Lifestyle

Lady accuses MP of assault

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A woman has accused Nakuru Town MP Samuel Arama of assaulting her.

Amanda Chesiyna, daughter to former deputy commissioner for lands Elisha Chebii, reported the matter at Kaptembwo Police Station.

The incident reportedly happened on Sunday when Chesiyna and Arama were involved in an altercation, which the woman recorded on a video clip shared on social media.

In the clip, Chesiyna is heard shouting as the MP tried to question her about a lorry she claimed was her father’s property illegally taken away.

She accuses the MP of intimidating her as she tried to seize the lorry with the help of two plainclothes officers. Arama denied the assault claims.


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Lifestyle

How I made peace with a father I have never met

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Growing up, Mugo Kariithi watched as people around him honoured Fathers’ Day every third Sunday of June.

That, on the contrary, was a day that perennially lit burning embers into his seemingly never-ending search for identity.

“I had a father, but went out there looking for one,” he begins.

Four decades ago, Mugo’s mother learnt she was pregnant with him while in high school, prompting her to drop out.

With a baby to cater for and an education nipped in the bud, she left one-year-old Mugo with his maternal grandmother in Nyahururu and moved to Nairobi in search of a job.

“I started referring to my grandmother as ‘mom’ because she was the only parental figure I had. My grandfather was bitter and disappointed that his daughter had stopped schooling due to that pregnancy, so he kept away from me.”

When he was three, his mother plucked him out of his grandmother’s care and took him to Murang’a where she lived with a new husband. He was lumped into a new family setup, with a mother who was a total stranger, and a man he had no blood ties with.

“My mother and I had been detached from my earliest years, and whenever she visited I related to her as an aunt until the day I started living with her.”

For Mugo, being a stranger living among strangers was difficult as feelings of loneliness and isolation manifested in him.

He also came face to face with the bitter truth when relatives from his stepfather’s side made it clear that he was a foreigner in that compound.

“The problem was that I could not seek clarification from my mom because she was a very tough woman who brought me up military style. I was to obey without questioning.”

Mugo’s curiosity made him seek answers from step cousins, who informed him that he was named after his maternal grandfather because the man in his mother’s life was not the biological father.

“I had to strip my grandmother of the title ‘mom’ and learn how to redirect it to the correct mother. So many times, when someone asked about my mother I could not decide whether to front her or my grandmother.”

The presence of his stepfather did little to pacify the emptiness that dotted his life. He always felt that something was missing from his life, something the man he shared a roof with could not fill despite them trying to bond.

“My stepfather was, and still is, a wonderful man. The problem was that he was always busy and would sometimes be away for several months. That limited the interactions the two of us had.”

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Abandoned… again

 

While Mugo was still struggling to make sense of all the happenings around him, his step father was transferred to Nakuru and his mother, who had by this time given birth to his stepbrother, followed her husband.

This time he had not only been abandoned, but also left in charge of the house. Mugo would spend the day with step-cousins and eat from his step-grandparents’ house, but have to sleep alone in the stepfather’s house.

“Imagine a four-year-old being left to manage a house in a foreign compound. I was always terrified at night because the house would feel creepy and lonely.”

Mugo also noticed weird changes in his body.

“First, I started bedwetting, something that I had stopped while living with my grandmother, and it became a big problem that took me so many years to stop. I also developed bouts of nose bleeding out of nowhere.”

Fredrick Moenga Osoro, a Counselling Psychologist at the Kenya Institute of Business and Counselling Studies (KIBCo) reckons that the bed wetting is an anxiety symptom resulting from disorientation, change in life patterns, and extreme alertness.

Nose bleeding, on the other hand, is an outcome of trauma. The prolonged stress denies the child an opportunity to enjoy pleasurable activities that normally increase the release of endorphins, a neurochemical that inhibits pain and boosts immunity.

Knowing that he was a stepchild in the family magnified his desire for an identity. He felt lost; dumped in an unforgiving world by a man who, for some reason, remained a secret that those who knew guarded viciously.

With a gaping hole in his life, questions that had very few answers, and a search that was yielding little, Mugo found solace in books.

“I developed a strong love for story books, some bigger than someone my age would bother opening, because they offered me the company my heart missed.”

When he finished high school, he moved to Nanyuki for a much-needed getaway with his maternal aunt. While there, he applied for the position of drama teacher at a nearby school and was lucky to be offered the job.

“I was 17 then, just fresh from high school, but had to lie I was 22 so that they would not reject my proposal.”

For the first time in years, Mugo had broken tradition from being a perennial candidate for rejection. It is a feat that, as he would soon find out, cast a new ray of light on his lifelong mission.

“I developed a close bond with the main character in the drama we were working on, so much that she became, and still is, a good friend. Her name is Anne.”

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The aha moment

For the next 22 years, Mugo trudged the country like the Colossus, following hints that would turn into dead ends.

In 2016, Anne invited him to the burial of one of her family members, which opened his eyes to a world he had missed out on during his search. It also re-energized his desire to know the man who had fathered him.

“At the funeral, I learned that one of the cultural practices necessary when a woman gets married with a son was to get him adopted into the new home. This is done through a ceremony called miruru. This basically implies the child cuts links with the biological father’s family and officially becomes a son in the new home.”

He was also informed that a father’s blessings were very critical in the progression of a child.

According to the Kikuyu tradition, one is born with a special gift that becomes a career later in their life. This gift comes to fruition upon him being offered an identity and blessings by the father.

“Having been born outside wedlock, my grandfather was supposed to slaughter a goat to cleanse his home before marrying off my mother,” he explains.

That fresh information sent his emotions spiraling out of control as he wondered whether his life was messed because he had never received those fatherly blessings.

But from who? Now, the desire to meet his father became a matter of urgency.

“For the very first time, I stood up to my mother and told her that I was 36 heading to 40, therefore mature enough to be told the truth about my father. I was tired of her dismissing the issue since childhood.”

Seeing how determined Mugo was, she caved in and told him that his father’s name was Mwangi and he lived in Nyahururu. The rest of the details about him were scanty as she had been very young when the two dated.

Breakthrough

 

Armed with a name and location, Mugo found himself in a remote part of Nyahururu called Muthengera, where he asked around and was directed to one of his father’s friends.

“He took me into the house and brought out an old photo of my father holding me.”

That was the breakthrough Mugo had chased for decades. It quickly became a straw on which his hopes clutched on.

The excitement would, however, be short-lived when he got information that cast a dark shadow on what had seemed to be a turning point.

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“He told me that my father had died five years earlier,” he mutters.

With the father he had longed to meet six feet under, Mugo’s life crashed again. He had spent all the years hunting for blessings from a man who had died before doing so.

Amidst the gloom, however, Mugo learned that there was a ray of hope.

“I shouldn’t have spent all that energy and years looking for my biological dad. It was a simple case of culture, just that no one had told me about it.”

Mugo learnt that if the miruru ceremony had been held, he would not only have become his stepfather’s rightful son, but also opened doors for him to give blessings like a biological father would.

“I thought of my life and thought about the many single parents, children of single parents, children whose mothers get married with as is my case. I wondered how many are out there suffering without the knowledge that they are being held back by culture.”

Mugo has been married for 13 years and is a father of four boys. The marriage in itself is a symbol of breaking the yoke that had bound him for decades as he struggled to get into relationships.

“For a long time, I never dated for the fear of rejection. I never thought anyone would ever love me genuinely. On a positive note, the experience has made me a better parent who is always there for my children.”

Psychologist Osoro echoes Mugo’s sentiments, adding that when details about a child’s father are kept secret, low self-esteem, prolonged anxiety, and depressive moods check in.

Behavioral reactions to this include homosexuality, drug and substance abuse, as well as lack of interest in intimate relationships.

He proposes that parents and children who find themselves on wild goose chases over paternity take a step back and question whether there exists an easier way out.

They could, like Mugo, spend decades searching for a father when one is right under their noses.

“If I had managed to find my dad alive, I would have asked him why he never bothered about me for all those years, and if he ever wondered how I was growing up,” he concludes.

Mugo’s love for reading coupled with his experience gave birth to a published book in which he documents his story. Titled In Search of a Father, the book encourages others to tell their stories of significance in life.

by nation.africa


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Courts

How a rogue motorist ruined a waitress’ life

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Mary Muinde, a waitress, left her workplace at a restaurant on Mombasa Road for a routine ride home that, however, turned horrific and ruined her life.

The harrowing ordeal cost the 28-year-old single mother of two her job, nearly had her leg cut off and the ugly scars have killed the prospects of a new job.

At around 10.30pm on December 16, 2017, Ms Muinde had ended her shift at the restaurant, exhausted from long hours of standing and shuttling while taking orders from diners.

She had flagged down a motorcycle for the ride to her home at Mawasco area in Athi River.

As the motorcycle sped away with the cold wind blasting her face, she clutched tightly on the rider and, momentarily, her thoughts drifted away.

Loud bang

They were riding along Tuskys Road at Mang’eli Junction on the final stretch to her home when a loud bang shattered the calm of the night and the two were violently tossed into the air.

She crashed hard on the tarmac and her world went blank.

Since Ms Muinde was known to those who rushed to help, they had called her sister, Ms Jane Syombua.

The waitress was unconscious as she was rushed to the nearby Shalom Hospital, just off Mombasa Road, at the Kitengela interchange.

Her condition was considered serious and she was transferred to the Machakos Level 5 Hospital where she regained consciousness hours later.

She would later learn that the motorcycle she was riding had been hit by a maroon Toyota Surf, which then sped away.

Flesh on her left thigh and the back of the knee to the calf was torn off. Her upper lip had a deep cut and her face was swollen. But the boda-boda rider seemed to only have had minor bruises.

Witness

Mr Musembi would become a crucial prosecution witness in the subsequent traffic case because the owner of the maroon vehicle that was traced to a garage the following day had denied involvement in the hit-and-run incident.

Scans on the right leg showed Ms Muinde had no fractures and she was discharged from hospital — a decision that would prove costly.

“Her condition was very bad, she should have been admitted and given the medical attention she needed,” said her brother, Mr Daniel Muinde.

The following morning as Mr Muinde and Mr Musembi went to report the accident at Athi River Police Station, they spotted the maroon vehicle parked at a garage next to a popular restaurant.

They inquired about the owner of the vehicle which had dents that were being fixed.

The group was led to the first floor of the building where they found Mr Dan Warinda.

“He refused to go with us. He was with a man who I was later told was a plainclothes officer,” recalled Mr Muinde.

Suspect questioned

The case was recorded as OB/09/17/12 at the Athi River Police Station on December 17, 2017. The police brought in Mr Warinda for questioning. He denied being involved.

On December 18, while writhing in pain in bed at her sister’s house, Ms Muinde got a surprise visitor.

It was Mr Warinda, who was accompanied by a friend.

“My sister (Syombua) did not know him and she led him to the bedroom, thinking he was one of my friends who had come to visit me. He shook my hand,” Ms Muinde recalled.

“He demanded that I go with him to the station and tell the police that I had confused his vehicle and that the identified car was not the one that had hit me. I refused,” said Ms Muinde.

The two only left when the sisters alerted their brother.

Threats

The family went back to the police station and recorded the threats.

Mr Warinda was later charged with three counts at the Mavoko Law Courts. He was accused of careless driving, driving a defective vehicle and failing to stop after an accident.

Back at home, Ms Muinde’s injury worsened as her wound was slowly turning septic. She was rushed back to the Machakos Level 5 Hospital on December 25, 2017 where she was hospitalised for 35 days.

“My leg was to be amputated. The doctors told me that the wound was rotting away and would infect my entire system. I was so scared. Luckily, they decided to work on it and it was a very painful experience. But I thank God, they did not cut it off,” she narrated.

She was discharged on February 2, 2018, having incurred a Sh77,000 medical bill. The family would spend a further Sh135,000 to hire a car for almost two months of hospital visits after her discharge.

Ms Muinde had to be taken for therapy and her elderly mother came over to look after her.

Lost her job

She lost her job. In the past three years, she has been employed for a total of two months.

“I have a background in the hospitality sector. I am a waitress. Since my accident, I cannot stand for more than 10 minutes. Yet my work involves a lot of standing and moving around. The dress code, for us ladies, is mainly skirts, but I fear wearing skirts because my scar is too big; it traumatises me,” said Ms Muinde.

She narrated how she lost her job because customers kept staring at her scar after the wound was surgically grafted.

She is still looking for a job because she has two children, aged 10 and seven.

Ms Muinde and her children have been relying on her sisters and brother for upkeep.

While the case was going on in court in early 2018, Mr Muinde contacted Directline, the insurance firm that covered the motorist.

But because Mr Warinda had denied causing the accident, the insurance firm, in a letter dated August 22, 2018, said it was awaiting the outcome of investigations and the court case.

“We refer to your notice dated 16/08/2018 and received in our offices on 17/08/2018. We shall be grateful if you would kindly, therefore, withhold precipitate action against our insured pending completion of investigations into the alleged accident herein,” the letter read.

The victim was further directed to present a list of items to the insurer including a P3 form, a police abstract, copy of national identity card, a medical report, treatment notes and a discharge summary and receipts in support of claims for special damages.

“When we were told to wait for the investigations, I relaxed. I knew we would win the case because the entire truth could not be hidden. I told them about the court proceedings and they told me they would wait for the court ruling. Should we win, they would compensate us, and gave us claim reference number 98851/1 which they would use to compensate us,” Mr Muinde said.

Court ruling

The court ruling was eventually delivered on October 12, 2020. Chief Magistrate C.C. Oluoch found Mr Warinda guilty on two counts of reckless driving and failing to stop after causing an accident.

“I, therefore, conclude that the accused was properly identified as the person who had charge of the motor vehicle registration number KAL 402A, hit motorcycle registration number KMDS 016V causing injuries to Ms Muinde,” the magistrate ruled.

BY nation.africa


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