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I was on top of the world then disability struck- MP Dennitah Ghati’s story



She is always happy when she wakes up, grateful to have life after she almost lost it. Dennitah Ghati, Orange Democratic Movement nominated Member of Parliament (MP), is an enthusiastic lover of life. Her sunny outlook is infectious to those around her. She speaks animatedly, even if she is only speaking to me, a captivated audience of one.

Until the moment that changed everything forever, her life had been so great she says could hardly believe it.

“I am a village girl who became a global citizen!” she says. From growing up in the 1980s in a rural village in Kuria East constituency, she had risen to become a successful journalist at the Standard Group, gotten a Master’s degree from an Ivy League university (Columbia) and at the relatively young age of 33, was then in parliament.

To crown it all, she had a beautiful baby girl, Brandy, that she always looked forward to returning to at the end of her long, fulfilling days. Life could not have been better.

When my life changed

Then the tragic Tuesday happened. March 11, 2014. She had been in Migori County celebrating International Women’s Day and was headed back to Nairobi to attend a parliamentary sitting. She was the Migori Woman Rep in her first term in Parliament.

“When I reached Narok, around a place called Ntulele, the car’s tyre burst. I heard a loud bang, then I saw the driver grappling with the wheel, trying to stabilize the car but he failed. The car veered off the road, hitting everything it came across. We were lucky that there had been no oncoming vehicle because we would certainly have perished,” she recalls.

The vehicle rolled several times then everything went black. The sound of people coming to rescue them was what brought her back to the land of the living. Excruciating pain shot all over her body.

She did not yet know that she had lost the ability to walk.

Dennitah Ghati.

Lady luck would not be attending to her that day. “There are things which, how they happen, you don’t understand,” she says. There were four people in the vehicle, but she was the only one who was severely injured.

“We were rushed to Narok District Hospital where I received first aid before Amref flew me to Nairobi Hospital,” she says.

She underwent a spinal cord surgery, then was taken for further treatment in India.

That was where the doctors finally told her that she had had a spinal cord dislocation, which robbed her of the use of her lower limbs. She had never imagined anything like it happening to her.

“Disability got me when I was at my peak. I was 33 years and had just gotten into parliament, walking on my own two feet. I knew everything was going to be great. I had come from a poor and marginalised community and I had now made it,” she says.

And yet, all this threatened to take the shine out of everything she had achieved. What followed was a drawn-out period of extreme denial that she could not walk.

“There is nothing as difficult as having to change your way of life as an adult. You have to learn everything from square one, like a toddler growing up,” she says.

On top of it, as a newly elected MP, she was urgently aware of the expectations her people back home for her to deliver on what she had promised.

Forging ahead

Embattled within and without, with the help of support groups and friends she decided to charge ahead She accepted her membership into the disability club that she had not applied for, but now embraced.

“When Baba (Raila Odinga) gave me the nomination to represent persons with disability in the National Assembly, it also helped me understand myself, accept the situation because that is the kind of job I do on a daily basis. It has given me enough time to study myself and to understand the world of disability, to be able to know what exactly they go through,” says Dennitah. She has now been in a wheelchair for six years and considers herself lucky to have lived in both worlds.

“Because of that, it is very easy to tell when my rights are being violated and that is what I am striving to change for all persons with disability. There is a lot of discrimination and intolerance for persons with disability,” she says.

The fervour that she had had as a journalist writing on gender-based issues, scoring her a scholarship in Columbia University in New York, and as the former Migori Woman Rep, is the same fervour she brought to her work in issues of disability.

As woman rep, she is credited with establishing and equipping the Awendo Youth ICT Center, putting up a women’s empowerment centre in Kuria East, establishing three market centres for women traders in Migori, among other achievements.

Working on issues of women empowerment with the League of Kenya Women Voters as the program manager when Ida Odinga was the chairperson was what motivated her to join politics.

“Dr Ida Odinga and Martha Karua are my role models and mentors. I owe it all to them,” she says.

My daughter is my pride and joy

Away from work, Brandy, her 10-year-old daughter, is her pride and joy.

“God gave me the perfect family, my daughter and I. I see myself a lot in her. She is very hardworking and my confidant. I am working to mould her into a great woman,” she says.

The Covid-19 pandemic has given them more time for them to spend together, but she says this is something she has always prioritised.

“I am a very busy person but as parents, we always have to create time for our children. Sacrifice for them. Expose them to issues early. We cannot afford to leave our children in the hands of everything and everyone that surrounds them nowadays. Let us tell them exactly what we want to hear, not let them get it from out there,” says Dennitah.

She is going to turn 40 in November, and once again, life is good, because she strives to make it so.

“Life has no manual. You define your own life. Whatever kind of life you live is based on how you shape it and turn it around even when it messes you up. It has put me down several times and it has also lifted me up. So it is also not guaranteed. No one has a monopoly on life,” she says.

When she is not working, you will find her exploring various locations and cultures locally and internationally. Or curled up with a book, reading international affairs. Other times she will be running her foundation, the Denittah Ghati Foundation which she established to give back.

Dennitah is fully settled into her new normal.

“I love what I do and what I am. If God wants me to walk at some point then he will do that at his own opportune time, but I have embraced myself and moved on,” she says.


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Official video of Kenyan MPs participating in ‘Jerusalema Challenge’ released



The awaited video of Kenyan politicians dancing to the ‘Jerusalama’ hit song has finally been uploaded on their Kenya’s National Assembly YouTube.

This comes just a few weeks after Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo proposed this motion in parliament; hoping to be the first parliament in the world to take part in the challenge. And for a minute many assumed that this could not work; until the video finally surfaced on online on Wednesday, 21 October.

Probably because this challenge had already been exhausted by many judging from the many videos of the challenge circulating on social media.

Kenyan politicians participate in Jerusalema video

Anyway, whether you like it or not, Kenyan politicians have gone ahead to release a new video; showing off their dance moves in their ‘Jerusalama challenge.‘ In a video shared less than 2 hours ago, the many politicians are seen grooving to the South African hit song….. and we love it!


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Tweeting chief Francis Kariuki is dead



Nakuru’s Lanet Umoja location Chief Francis Kariuki, popularly known as the ‘tweeting chief’, is dead.

His family said he died at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital, where he was rushed to for emergency treatment after experiencing breathing difficulties.

The tweeting chief died at the age of 55 years.

“My father fell ill on Tuesday and we first took him to Evans Sunrise Hospital in Nakuru before he was referred to the Nakuru Level Five Hospital, where he passed on, while receiving treatment,” his son, Ken Kariuki, told the Nation on phone.

His daughter revealed that Chief Kariuki has been ailing from diabetes for a long time.

The tech-savvy village chief of Lanet Umoja was known for using Twitter and other social media platforms to discharge his duties.

He received global attention in 2014 for using Twitter to fight crime.

Mr Kariuki led a community of more than 30,000 residents.

Via text message

His Twitter account shows he has about 60,000 followers and those who receive his tweets via text message are said to be in the thousands.

Subscribers get his tweets in real-time via free text messages and don’t need to have a Twitter account or an internet connection.

The chief could send them at any time of the day or night using his smartphone.

By the time of his death,

‘s tweeting had reduced the crime rate in Lanet Umoja.

He also used Twitter to encourage unemployed youth through messages of hope.

Early life

He was born and raised in Nakuru and attended Mereroni Primary School. He later joined Lanet Secondary School and Kigari Teachers Training College later.

He taught for 21 years in different schools as a teacher, four years as a deputy head teacher and six years as a head teacher at Lords School, Kambi Moto in Rongai Sub-County.

In 2009, he became the first chief of Lanet Umoja.

In 2015, he graduated with a degree in Counseling Psychology from Mount Kenya University, which he had been pursuing through virtual learning.


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Keeping our family coffee business picking



When 41 -year-old Gitau Waweru Karanja was a boy, he recalls spending his school holidays in his grandfather’s coffee farm with his cousins. His late grandmother would push them to pick berries to earn pocket money. Though he took up his parents’ passion in interior design and studied Interior Design in Kwa Zulu Natal University in South Africa, he did he know that one day he would wake up and smell the coffee and participate in running his grandfather’s coffee farm.

Gitau is the third generation of his family to manage Karunguru Farm, which belonged to his late grandfather Geoffrey Kareithi. Kareithi had bought the 300-acre farm in Ruiru, from a white settler in 1972. Gitau is married to Wangeci Gitau who grew up in Maragwa, in Murang’a where they also had a coffee farm.

Values instilled

For Wangeci, despite growing up in the coffee fields, she was more passionate about tourism and was a travel consultant before becoming a tour manager at a local company.

In 2012, she got an ectopic pregnancy, which put her on bed rest and thus was compelled to quit her job. When she recovered, she began assisting her husband. “By that time, my husband was selling modern house doors, but the business took a while to pick. Then we began selling milk from Karunguru Farm, but the milk production went down in 2016. The management, comprising of family members, told us to address the issue by becoming dairy managers. But when we joined the management of Karunguru Farm, we saw an opportunity in coffee tours,” she says.

Taking cue from South Africa where they do wine tourism and also export wine, Gitau and his wife sought to use that knowledge in their coffee farm. “We started Karunguru Coffee and Tours after we found out that despite it being our main export, it was being underutilised when it comes to tourism. So, here we take visitors through the journey that coffee has to go through before getting to your cup,” explains Gitau. Everything is done in Karunguru Farm— including value addition such as processing coffee, drying and even roasting. “We have our very own packaged Karunguru Coffee, which is available in the market,” he adds.

Their late grandfather instilled in them a love for each other and every holiday it is the family culture to meet and bond as a family. The grandpa also ensured that the farm management is shared amongst all his seven children who meet every week to discuss the business of the farm. Once they come to an unanimous decision, it is then passed on to their children, who implements their decision.

Before one is given any role, you have _ . to be qualified for the position. “It’s not about being favoured, but your qualification. I am in tourism, so I handle the tourism aspect, my husband is in operations. In fact, one applies for the position and then you are interviewed. If you qualify, you are placed on probation until the management is satisfied that you can handle the role well,” says Wangeci.

No entitlement

What makes family business go down is the fact that people who are less qualified are employed. Other people have to cover up for their messes and this creates bitterness and conflict. Gitau sometimes watches his nephews and nieces in the farm, giving them roles to check out whether they have interest in the farm or not before beginning to mentor them. Everyone begins from the lowest level and must know how to roast, pack, as well as prepare a cup of Karunguru coffee. This is to en inculcate the spirit of appreciation and value for the workers employed to do the role.

“My uncles always tell us that we didn’t come in the business because we are their children, but because of the passion we had in the business. With that, entitlement is killed and we ensure that we do our best to take the farm to higher levels,” says Gitau

They don’t entertain gossip,  ‘‘ but if someone has an issue, I then the person is invited ‘ to a meeting where one is confronted and told in love where they have missed the mark.


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