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How a slight headache sparked Covid-19 fears and rush to hospital during curfew

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A sudden illness on Tuesday night transformed me from a storyteller to being the story.

It started with my friend developing joint aches, which escalated to a serious headache. My suggestion that we seek medical attention was dismissed outright.

As the situation deteriorated, the nightmare began. Could it be Covid- 19? I didn’t want to contemplate.

Since I was the ‘healthy’ one, I had to calm the fraying nerves. “No, you don’t have corona. I think it’s just a normal fever,” I declared, although from the laughter that greeted my declaration, it was clear my attempt at raising optimism had failed.

Then came another problem: It was past 7pm and the dusk-to-dawn curfew was in effect. I started mental mapping of the nearest hospital accessible from Imara Daima. My best bet was South B or Nairobi West. In the worst case scenario, I could try Nairobi Hospital, Coptic or Aga Khan. My patient was showing alarming signs of weakness.

I took the matter into my hands. I called my place of work, asked for the staff clinic and found a cheery gentleman on the line. I explained the nature of emergency facing me and the man was very sympathetic.

Unfortunately, he could not send an ambulance. He advised me to carry my staff identity card on my way to the hospital and call him if I ran into the police. He would talk to them.

He assured me that the police were under orders to treat such cases sympathetically.

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Now, if there’s one lesson my 30 years of practising journalism has taught me, it’s this; orders tend to disappear somewhere along the chain of command and the officer on the beat is usually free to use their discretion, nearly always with disastrous outcomes for those they come into contact with.

I had the option of using my press card but this would have involved a bit of inveigling in explaining the case of my patient, who was stretched out on the back seat. We said a short prayer and hit the road.

Crash statistics

The Nairobi I saw on Tuesday night was totally different from the city I have known since my early teenage years.

Easing into Mombasa Road felt like driving in another planet.

The road is normally busy at this time of the night with workers heading back home, taxis racing their fares to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to catch flights while, in the air, the huge planes approaching for landing normally fly so low you almost see those on board.

Not on this night. The road was deserted and, for a moment or two, I was transported to the pages of the popular Christian fiction books Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B Jenkins, which describe life on earth after the rapture promised by the Bible has taken place.

As I approached the Kenya Railways bridge, just before General Motors, I saw a traffic policeman stopping a G4S van. My patient murmured a quiet and fast prayer that we wouldn’t be stopped.

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The prayers worked and I once again had the entire road all to myself. I fought the temptation to gun down the car because, although my patient would not admit it, I knew the situation was getting worse. I remembered road crash statistics and was grimly reminded that accidents had caused more deaths on our roads than headaches.

I took the turn into South B and was greeted by more shock. You see, the area stretching from South B through South C and to Nairobi West has been my stomping ground and is one corner of our globe that rarely goes to sleep, not this early. Driving into Mariakani Cottage Hospital, I found a group of friendly watchmen who were more than willing to direct me to the parking.

We ambled into the casualty and found the place empty. A friendly nurse took us through the paces of registration and directing my patient to the doctor.

Favourable result

The dreaded moment was finally here. What the doctor would find out had the potential of changing both our lives in ways we couldn’t even imagine: If he had recommended the patient for a Covid-19 test based on the lab analysis, mandatory quarantine would follow.

Since I had been the one handling the patient, the same fate awaited me.

Subconsciously, I replayed the figures Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe had been doling out in his briefings. My mind wandered to Italy, Spain, the US and the other places the virus had ravaged.

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With massive

effort, I blocked out such thoughts and focused on getting favourable results.

As I sat there, a man walked in with his daughter who looked seriously ill.

From their dusty feet, it was evident that they had done some serious hoofing before getting to the hospital.

My patient came out with a smile that could light up a Christmas tree. It was an all-clear from the doctor. Turns out it was a case of bacterial infection.

There was no need for further tests. We hugged and back-slapped one another.

I don’t think a bacterial infection had ever been celebrated that much since God created the earth.

The trip back home was easier and faster. Just as we had made a pact with God as we left home, we said a prayer of thanksgiving; thanking God for having the means of getting to hospital, for medical facilities that are near, doctors and nurses to man them and even the ability to pay for the services offered.

We also remembered to pray for the nameless man we had left at the reception waiting to hear from the doctor on the fate of his daughter.

Joseph Mboya is a Nairobi-based journalist

By Nation.co.ke

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Danger online as traffickers target helpless children

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International organisations have raised a red flag over the spike in online human trafficking and child exploitation as people spend more time at home.

With Covid-19 restrictions and more children spending more time online, human traffickers are using the opportunity to recruit, groom and exploit children and lure adults feeling the pinch of the emaciated economy as a result of the coronavirus.

The concern is even more real after a German was arrested on May 4 in Nairobi in the company of a 13-year-old boy alleged to have been trafficked from Nyalenda in Kisumu.

Thomas Scheller, 71, who is in Kenya illegally, beat all the travel restrictions to travel from Kwale to Kisumu and back to Nairobi.

The boy — one of his victims — was defiled between April 30 and May 4. It took the combined efforts and intelligence of Interpol and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to nab the alleged trafficker classified as a serial offender. Scheller faces six counts of trafficking in persons, child pornography and defilement of five boys aged between 10 and 13.

Local and international organisations attribute the surge in online exploitation of children to the interruption of their physical learning and a change in their daily lives due to confinement affecting many parts of the world.United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Regional Advisor Rachel Harvey estimates that a third of internet users are children, with internet usage increasing by half, following the stay-home orders adopted by most countries to help contain the spread of Covid-19.

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Whereas the increase is positive for continuity of education and social life, Harvey warns that it has put children at risk of online sexual exploitation.

“Before Covid-19, it was estimated that there were 750,000 people looking to connect with children for sexual purposes online at any one time. Opportunity and triggers for offending created by containment are likely to have pushed up that number, as well as demand for child sexual abuse materials,” Harvey says.

With limited physical interaction, global trends further single out increased and growing demand for child abuse material. This has given traffickers opportunities to devise new avenues of animating the ‘lucrative’ business of sex tourism by leveraging on the online space to prey on susceptible and unwitting users.

Lawrence Okoth, Internet Crimes against Children Investigator, confirms the nerve-racking trend in Kenya, with the unit based in Nairobi receiving about 300 cases per month of child abuse material and messages meant to lure and recruit victims. “The numbers are quite high and many more actually are not being reported,” Okoth says.

The traffickers are tactical in their approach, hence the big and growing number of victims. Okoth says traffickers stalk their victims. First, they identify their vulnerabilities and then offer a shoulder to lean on and camouflaging as ‘good friends’ with ‘common interests’ such that sharing of nudes becomes easy.Inadvertently, victims find themselves entangled in a compromising and perilous situation.

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“Traffickers build confidence with their victims online by sharing conversations that lead to connection and consequently detach their victims from their parents/guardians.

This connection paves way for physical connection offline. With the new-found ‘friendship’ as a stepping stone to invade the victim’s life, traffickers manipulate their victims and whenever their missions are not accomplished, the shared nudes and erotic videos become weapons of blackmail used to force them to comply with any sort of demands, which also include substance abuse.

“In most cases, the traffickers order the victim to recruit other students or their friends and with time, the chain grows and the number of victims multiplies,” Okoth says.

It has further been discovered that traffickers employ other tactics of observing current trends and creating links with names that children identify and relate with indubitably. “We have come across groups such as Class Eight Revision, KCPE 2020 Class and other names that children easily join without questioning their genuineness,” he says.

The bigger concern, Okoth says, is that children and youth are being recruited and exposed online without the knowledge of their custodians. Valiant Richey, Special Representative for Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), describes the scale as unimaginable and growing, with “traffickers recruiting children through many online venues, including social media, game platforms, and chat rooms. They will typically befriend the children, grooming them for sexual activity and then gradually exploit them in various ways.”

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In Kenya, detectives have identified different locations in slums in Nairobi and Mombasa where traffickers congregate relatives (mostly children) in sneaky rooms and entice them into sex orgies for purposes of live streaming.

[The writer is a fellow of the 2020 Resilience Fund of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime]

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Lifestyle

Size 8: miscarriage nearly broke my marriage

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Gospel singer Size 8 has revealed how her miscarriage in 2018 almost ended her marriage with DJ Mo.

In an interview with Parents magazine, the singer admitted that the experience taught her the value of life, family and friends.

“The miscarriage really affected us. We fought a lot and we blamed each other since we did not know how to deal with it. It was very bad; but with our son, we were able to come together and support each other,” she said.

Despite the tragic nature of the miscarriage, in the end, she says, it brought them closer as they leaned on each other for support during the difficult time.

“It has actually brought us closer as a couple, which is something we realised later,” she said.

Size 8 said that she opened up about the miscarriage, but her husband was very quiet and did not talk about the topic at all but inside, the experience was hurting him too.

Their marriage was not perfect

“When you lose a baby, things change. It was very hard on me but I knew I had to be strong for Linet (Size 8) and Wambo. If we let our grieving take over, it would have affected Wambo because we wouldn’t be able to give her attention,” explained the seasoned gospel DJ.

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The couple said their marriage was not perfect. What made it work was their relationship with God.

“Even before you try to resolve issues, the fear of God helps you see where you have gone wrong and it makes solving things easier. We’ve also learnt to see our mistakes first before pointing out the speck,” the mother of two said.

She also admitted that after the marriage, she did not want to submit to her husband.

The couple got married in their twenties and submission was one problem she was struggling with, Size 8 said.

“I’m an alpha female and I had the wrong concept of submission so we had a couple of fights over it. To me, it sounded like slavery,” she said.

However, after talking to JCC pastor Rev. Kathy Kiuna, she understood submission was about recognising the power and importance of her husband’s role in marriage.

“Reverend Kathy Kiuna explained to me that it was simply about recognizing the authority of my husband as the head of the home. I think I just lacked the wisdom on how to handle things,” said the Mateke hit-maker.

On the other hand, DJ Mo was also having issues while trying to adapt to marriage life. He had to learn to share his thoughts with his wife without holding back.

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“I never used to open up, even when we had issues. I was not mature enough to realise that the wall I had put up also affected my partner. There are just some things you learn when you are in the marriage,” the DJ said.

Size 8 said the marriage was easier when they did not have children but now that they do, they are happier as a family.

“They bring us joy but it has also been a tough balancing act to be able to have time for them and also for themselves as a couple. It needs a lot of wisdom from God to crack it,” said the gospel artiste.

By NN

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‘Ours was a complicated father-daughter relationship,’ cries Jimmy Wayuni’s daughter

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One of the daughters of celebrated Benga musician Jimmy Wayuni has revealed that she was not that close to him.

In a tweet that has since gone viral, award winning filmmaker Mercy Murugi reveals that for the longest time she would have loved Jimmy to play the role of daddy.

“I knew his music before he introduced himself as my father. It was a strange thing to process.”

She wrote,

“How do you mourn a man you had barely known? How do you mourn the man you called biological father but fought so much with him for the title of Dad that he wanted, but you felt he was yet to earn?”

Adding,

“What many never knew is Jimmy Wayuni is my biological father. And now he’s gone.”

Jimmy lost his life yestsrday night in a tragic car accident along Thika Road.

Mercy paid tribute to the fallen icon.

“Rest in peace Jimmy Wayuni Githinji. Ours was a complicated father – daughter relationship. Both of us headstrong. Prolly got it from you. That and my eyes. Rest easy.

By Mpasho.co.ke

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