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JKIA mix-up: Passengers left unattended for hours



Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was on Monday evening hit by confusion that almost led to chaos after passengers protested against being kept for hours in a common waiting lounge.

From absence of immigration officers to lack of information to direct passengers, the mix-up threatened to mess up the government directive of physical distance to check the spread of coronavirus

Travellers who spoke to Nation were concerned that the situation risked exposing those without the virus to the deadly infectious disease.

The passengers, who had travelled from different countries, complained that the immigration authorities held over 100 of them in a room, in defiance to the social distance directive.

Mr Mwenda Rutere, who had travelled from Juba, South Sudan, complained that they did not find any immigration officers at JKIA terminal 1A to attend to them.

Instead, he added, they were left stranded for over two hours without any information on how they would be quarantined.

“I have travelled from Juba, where no Covid-19 cases have been reported yet here we have been bundled together with other people who have travelled from other countries which is quite risky,” Mr Mwenda said.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Sunday announced that those coming into the country will have to undergo mandatory quarantine at government isolation centres.

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Another passenger also complained that while there were already many of them at the waiting bay, more passengers were still joining them after disembarking from other flights.

“We thought that we were to be escorted into our isolation rooms as soon as we landed but I am shocked that we are being mixed together without being directed on the next course of action for hours,” the passenger said.

Kenya has confirmed a total of 16 Covid-19 cases as of March 23.

By Nation

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I miss my mother’s laughter- Wangari Maathai’s daughter Wanjira



An apple, they say, never falls far away from the tree and for Wanjira Mathai, that metaphor has been true in a literal sense. The daughter of renowned environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner the late Wangari Maathai finds solace in the tranquillity of Karura, a forest that saw her mother’s blood spilt by overzealous security agents in a bid to force her to abandon her crusade to save it from grabbers.

On April 1, Wangari Maathai would have turned 80. Wanjira thinks her mother would have been overjoyed to learn that the forest has quickly become a focal point for Nairobi residents.

“I always think about Karura as one of those places where you pinch yourself and think ‘it’s here.’ This is where, walk, relax and reflect,” Wanjira says. “My mother always hoped that her grandchildren would enjoy Karura Forest.” They do.

As a resident of the world, Wangari Maathai was feted for highlighting environmental issues that pricked the conscience of her global audience.

Kings, queens and presidents wanted to pose for photos with her. Parks and gardens in the developed world were named after her. But to Wanjira and her siblings, Wangari was simply their mother.

Wangari died in 2011 and the world mourned a woman who was willing to shed blood to save the environment. Catchy labels were pinned on her and for good reasons. Yet, her death was a personal loss to her family. Each one had to retreat to some private space and relive the cherished moments they shared.

I miss her laugh

“There is so much I miss about my mother,” says Wanjira. “So to pick one thing right now, I would say her laugh. I miss the times we would laugh out loud until tears streamed down our faces.”

To the world, Wangari seemed superhuman and the question of what it was like living with such an icon intrigues Wanjira every so often.

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“Living with my mother just seemed normal. Growing up, I always thought everyone’s mum must be as hard-working and committed as mine. She cared for us, ensured we had a happy childhood, and corrected us when necessary. I see life through her lens as my mother,” she says.

As expected, that strict upbringing and the constant shadowing of her mother rubbed off on Wanjira. She was just a small girl when her mother brought together some women into planting trees, the baby steps that gave birth to the Green Belt Movement in 1977.

The work gained global traction leading to Wangari Maathai being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. But unlike many organisations that slow down after the death of their founders, the Green Belt Movement is still on the fast lane, thanks to the efforts of people like Wanjira.

The Wangari Maathai Foundation seeks to push the envelope by inspiring courageous and responsible leadership in Kenya. Inspired by the rich legacy of Wangari Maathai, the foundation’s work is driven by what is termed as the “Power of One” – a transformative agenda that aims to nurture a culture of integrity, purpose, and personal leadership among children and youth.

The movement partners with schools across Kenya to incorporate experiential youth programmes that build character and integrate social-emotional learning in the country. Wanjira cannot afford to drop the ball. With all eyes on her, this may seem like a Herculean task, especially when people compare her accomplishments with those of her mother. But Wanjira has never tried to fill her mother’s shoes.

Wanjira Maathai. Photo: Courtesy.

“I do not feel like I am filling my mother’s shoes.  A lot of the work that I have done in support of my mother’s legacy is out of a deep love and gratitude for what she meant to me,” she says. That love and gratitude was borne out of working closely with her mother for almost 12 years.

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“Many people don’t have a chance to have that kind of precious time with their parents. I consider it a gift that I was able to enjoy her company. I never compare myself to her. I am not living in her shadow but basking in her light,” she says.

Herculean task or not, Wanjira, who also wears the hat of the vice president and regional director for Africa at the World Resource Institute is prepared to walk the talk, taking stock of what has worked and what has not in matters environment since her mother passed away.

The environment, she says, has in some ways improved, and in others deteriorated. Improved because protections for the environment that Kenyans could only have dreamed of are now enshrined in our constitution, including a right to a clean and green environment.

“My mother was very proud of that achievement. In the height of her struggle to save Uhuru Park and Karura Forest, their court case was struck out for lack of a locus standi (they did not have the right to speak for the park and the forest).  Today we do,” she says.

The country may have more forest cover than when her mother was assistant Minister for Environment, but Kenya needs a minimum forest cover of 10 per cent, in addition to a commitment made to the Africa Restoration initiative to restore 5.1 million hectares of land by 2030. Wangari’s work was not done.

Were her mother to be alive, Wanjira has no doubts she would have continued to champion environmental causes, issues that have become more central today than they were in her mother’s time.

When her mother won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, Wanjira says, people asked what the environment had to do with peace. “Nobody is asking that question today. We are talking about how important it is to have a healthy environment and protect the integrity of the natural world.”

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What would she fight for today?

Among the issues that Wanjira feels would have occupied her mother today is the never-ending feud over the Mau. Wanjira says her mother was always very clear on the Mau and saw it from a different perspective.

She knew that the Mau supports so much life and biodiversity. “If the Mau is really important to us, if it is central and critical, then we should do anything to protect it,” her mother would say.

Thankfully, Wanjira says we have many young climate champions protecting the environment. Some are supported by the Wangari Maathai Scholarship through The Rockefeller Foundation and the Green Belt Movement. Others are nurtured by The Hummingbird Leadership project, a programme for building character and personal leadership skills in schools.

The late Wangari Maathai carries a bucket of water on to water trees at Karura Fores. Photo: Courtesy.

“To meet these young people is to meet the future Wangari Maathais! They are fantastic, brilliant, and committed. We will be okay if they continue.”

Such future Wangari Maathais include Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish environmental activist. Wanjira has not met Greta and is not sure if she knows about Wangari Maathai but “I am inspired by the fact that she is so much like my mother – courageous, focused, committed and persistent.”

Wangari Maathai’s “little thing” was to plant trees. Wanjira’s little thing is to inspire the next generation of young leaders to believe in their capacity to change their world. With her mother’s legacy, she hopes to make the planet a hospitable place for all children, and inspired by the ‘Power of One’ – that each of us can be a potent agent of change.


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I had two choices: Kill my son, or my cancer



It was nothing, she would tell herself, touching the small dry patch below her right breast as she took in her reflection in the mirror.

She was a woman truly in tune with her body and she felt sure that the only unusual thing about it then was the little bubba growing inside her.

Yes, she was pregnant. It was the best news she had heard in a while. And in that one moment, cradling her barely-there pregnant belly, she realised that life was great. A baby; her baby, was everything she had ever wanted. In that space in time in her 31 years of existence, she felt truly happy.

But now and then, call it a woman’s intuition, as weeks sped by, when Edith Ndegwa stood in front of the mirror, she would lift her glance from her burgeoning belly to the area near her breast. The dry patch was growing.“For a second, I would get panicked. Wonder if it was cancer, but just as fast, I would dismiss the thought. It was painless after all, and I had never experienced any other symptoms anyway,” she told My Health.

This was in 2019, and she was only one month pregnant.Days turned into months. Morning sickness was ebbing away and Edith spent many precious minutes enjoying the little flutters of life in her womb.“It was an active baby. I would feel so much love wash over me whenever I felt the little movements.”

By then, she had already forgotten about the little patch; until around the three-month mark when she checked to see if it had gone away. Well, it hadn’t.Deny, deny and pray you are right“I now had what looked like an insect bite. I hoped that it would go away so I didn’t have to worry. But then the spot got itchy,” she says.

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The itch was persistent. No amount of moisturising the skin would take it away. What, however, jarred her into action was that the breast began to discolour.

“Sometimes it would get darker than the left one and other times I would notice a yellowish tinge. It was then I thought that I should see a doctor about it. If for nothing else, to just allay my fears.”At the hospital, she was informed to just manage the itch as they couldn’t give her medication when pregnant.But still, during her antenatal clinics, she would bring up the offending breast and they would check it and send her on her way.It was only at the six-month mark that the doctors told her that she may indeed have breast cancer.They looked sure about the diagnosis.

“They told me that I should terminate the pregnancy to begin my treatment immediately.”This was news that Edith was not ready for. And the one thing she absolutely knew was that she was going to be a mother; cancer or no cancer. Her doctors, however, seemed really worried. “No way I was losing my baby. I was 31. This meant that I really did not have many childbearing years ahead of me. And I was still hopeful the doctors were wrong,” she explained.

At this point, a wound had developed on her breast and it was swollen. But the fact that a few of her friends told her that cancer didn’t present itself the way it appeared on her breast further bolstered her resolve to delay treatment. Other friends would tell her not to go to the hospital as they would cut it off.

Was she worried that delaying treatment would reduce her chances of survival?“I was not worried at all about delayed treatment. At the back of my mind, I was still trying to convince myself that this wasn’t cancer.”One morning at eight months of pregnancy, she woke up to find that her swollen breast had ruptured into two sections at the point there had been a wound.

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“I was scared. But I was not going to let the wound stop me from having my child. I decided to take care of my wound. I was going to delay dealing with whatever was happening to give my child as much time in the womb as possible.”Somehow, the wound healed and closed up again.“I knew I needed help. But I needed to give my growing child a chance. I wanted a full-term pregnancy.

At 41 weeks, Edith checked herself into hospital ready to have her baby. She gave birth via C-section to a beautiful baby boy weighing 3.9 kg. Baby Ethan Ndegwa was in perfect health too.

Edith with one-year-old son Ethan. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

“He was so perfect. He distracted me from the excruciating pain I was feeling on my right breast.”The moment the baby was born, Emily was hit by the enormity of what was happening.“I now had a baby, and possibly cancer. The baby had survived. Would I?”Her right breast was now oozing milk and blood. She could only breastfeed him on her left breast.“Eventually I had to give him formulae and sensing the urgency on my doctor’s face about dealing with my breast, it was action time.”However, her CS wound had to heal first. And this took a month.

“I now wanted to live for my precious boy. I spent most of the month reading up about cancer. A part of me still didn’t think I had cancer.”This is despite the fact that now she could feel a lump in her breast.  When the baby was two months old, she packed up for the hospital with her son. She was now ready.The doctors suggested a test on the tissue cells of the wound. Two weeks later, she got the results.

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“I had stage 3 cancer. I remember crying as I held on to my son. I was angry. And for a crazy moment, contemplated suicide, but looked at my crying son and caught myself. I guess I shouldn’t have been too shocked as I have a family history of cancer. An aunt and two cousins have battled cancer.”

Treatment soon began with a scan showing that the lungs were also affected and that she was now at stage 4. The doctors informed her that she has little time to live and that surgery was out of the question.

“They said that they would only operate to control the bleeding in my breast.”

She was also informed that she would start on chemotherapy to reduce the swelling and make her life more comfortable.I then moved in with my aunt who also hired a nanny for me as I concentrated on getting better as I began my chemotherapy treatment.

Looking up

Brenda has gone through her chemotherapy treatments and has been responding well to it.

“The swelling in my breast disappeared and by the time I was doing my fifth chemotherapy session, the hair began growing back. Four months ago, a scan revealed that there was no cancer in her breasts, but still had traces of cancer cells in her lungs. And so she was put on Herceptin treatment. This is an immune targeted treatment meant to prevent recurrence of breast cancer or to treat breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast.

“I am taking it a day at a time and hoping for the best that life can give me. Hopefully, my June checkup comes up clean. Ethan is now one and I am grateful to be here with him”.

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Kenyan hospitalized in France with Covid-19 sends home chilling message – VIDEO



A Kenyan man admitted to hospital in France after he tested positive to coronavirus has sent a chilling message to Kenyans as the country fights to contain Covid-19.

Stephen Kinuthia, popularly known as Wamother or the Duke of Githunguri, shared a video from his hospital bed asking Kenyans to treat Covid-19 seriously, saying the disease is real and infects people indiscrimately.

“What I can tell you Kenyans, this virus is real. I can tell you for a fact that if I was not brought to the hospital I would be dead,” said Kinuthia.

He cautioned Kenyans to be careful while visiting supermarkets.

“Protect yourself, people, and family,” he advised.

Kinuthia, who said he cannot tell how he contracted the virus, noted that his condition has improved since he was admitted to hospital.

He went on to explain how he now depended on tubes to deliver life-giving oxygen to his lungs, as the virus made it impossible for him to breathe normally.

“If they remove these oxygen tubes, my condition would deteriorate at once,” he added.

In the video clip, he took pauses in between some of his remarks and went on to explain that he had some trouble speaking due to the oxygen being pumped into his body.

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“The virus infects everyone. They used to say that Africans are immune but that’s stupidity. It is killing Africans; the elderly, the rich, the poor and all the races,” he noted.

He further urged Kenyans to follow government guidelines to stem the spread of the virus, pointing out that developed nations like US, Italy, France and Switzerland have been forced to close their borders due to the seriousness of the pandemic.

Kenya on Sunday confirmed 142 Covid-19 cases, four recoveries and four deaths.

France health ministry data showed 357 people died from Covid-19 in hospitals, compared to 441 in the previous 24 hours, increasing the toll in hospitals to 5,889.

It said that 2,189 people had died in nursing homes since March 1, taking the country’s overall death toll to 8,078.

Globally, the death toll surpassed 68,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and the number of infections rose to surpas 1.26 million.


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