Connect with us

Lifestyle

My night classes with Uhuru made him a wordsmith

Published

on

Every time President Uhuru Kenyatta amiably greets a crowd with ‘ndugu zanguni’, an inaudible sigh of dismay escapes the lips of an out-of-work teacher in Thika.

The battle to expunge this phrase and a string of other popular but ungrammatical Kiswahili words was fought and lost two decades ago after the dissolution of a ‘war council’ constituted to polish the budding but reluctant presidential candidate.

When Kefa Ng’ang’a Ndung’u sees his former student on the podium, he sits upright with pen poised over paper, dreading to hear echoes of his past. But how did a primary school teacher find himself giving language tips to a prince who could have the best tutors in the world at his beck and call?

To answer this, one needs to go back to September 2002 when the country was at the cusp of a generational transition. Former President Daniel Moi was exiting the presidency after 24 years and had to groom a successor with limited public exposure. At the time, Uhuru was a nominated MP after losing his first parliamentary contest to Engineer Moses Mwihia. The battle for the presidency would be stiffer. Uhuru would be facing off against Mwai Kibaki, a veteran who had been in competitive politics from 1963, had served in Jomo Kenyatta’s Cabinet, and was eyeing the top seat for a record third time.

It was David with a sling but no rock, versus Goliath.

“I was teaching at Happy Times Schools in Gatundu when I was approached by one of the parents with an irresistible offer. He wanted me to join the Kanu presidential campaign team,” said Kefa.

The parent was Information PS Wamatu Njoroge who had attended the school’s prize-giving day on several occasions and was aware of Kefa’s mastery over Kiswahili. Wamatu was part of the presidential team and in charge of communication and messaging, which involved polishing Uhuru’s speeches to ensure they were delivered effectively to the masses. That was how Kefa gave up his chalk and blackboard in exchange for a perch at Windsor House in Nairobi that was to become his base for the next few months.

Speeches

His mission was to prepare Uhuru’s speeches in Kiswahili to the satisfaction of Wamatu, who would go through them with a pen and occasionally strike off words he did not like. “Twice a week, I would be driven to The Chancery Building at night. I would meet  Uhuru after a day of campaigning and assist him in pronunciation. At first, the candidate was talking too fast and I had to tutor him to go through his address in measured tones,” recalled Kefa.

Uhuru also had a tendency of massacring some words, said the teacher. He noted the President’s fondness of ‘ndugu zanguni’- a non-existent term popularised by his father. One undated script gives a clue about what needed to be corrected.

Tafadhali mheshimiwa jisahihishe makosa yafuatayo: Matumizi ya ‘amba’. Twasema hivi: Kazi ambayo, si ambazo. Siasa ambazo wanasiasa wanazungumza kwa karibu miaka kumi hazijanufaisha raia hata kidogo.

The marking scheme, which Kefa said he prepared at Uhuru’s request, had more instruction. Serikali yangu haitahusisha chuki, ukabila na ufisadi. Kila jambo litasuluhishwa kwa njia mwafaka ili kila mwananchi ajihisi ako Kenya anaipenda kwa dhati.

After every rally, Wamatu’s team would evaluate Uhuru’s performance. One report analyses a public meeting held at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on September 7, 2002.

“This was clearly the most important rally the subject has addressed. The numbers were overwhelming (about 50,000). The general consensus is that the subject rose to the occasion. In fact, his performance was sterling as his Cabinet colleague Julius Sunkuli admitted on Kiss FM’s Crossfire show on Sunday evening … the subject’s speech was the best he has delivered so far. It was mature, forceful and inspiring.”

The report further observed that Uhuru had spiced up his speech with jokes and light touches, making allusions and disparaging the Kibaki-led Rainbow Alliance as the croaking of frogs. Uhuru also had a few barbs for Kibaki, painting him as a leader who could not be trusted. The decision not to launch a full-throated attack appeared to be suggested by a note drafted by Wamatu’s team when Uhuru had been nominated as the Kanu presidential candidate. “Time has come when Kibaki should be attacked directly. But this should be done with decorum and decency,” read the note.

Kefa shared other briefings that offered insight into how Uhuru’s team had predicted a fall-out in Kibaki’s camp.

When he accepted the Kanu ticket, Uhuru said, “Going by the memorandum of understanding between Kibaki’s Narc and Raila Odinga’s LDP, which binds Kibaki to appoint Raila as executive prime minister within 100 days of his new government, voting for Kibaki will mean voting for Raila. Yet Kenyans want to elect a president who will not bring an unelected prime minister through the backdoor.”

Ruth Sietinei, who was at Windsor House under Wamatu, said they would work late into the night before heading to Uhuru’s other offices either at The Chancery or KICC. Kefa would enter the boardroom for a 45-minute session with Uhuru.

“Wamatu brought Kefa to the office to work on mkubwa’s speeches. He was very good in Kiswahili. He taught him secretly, of course, late at night twice a week. We would stay at the reception until Kefa finished and then we would all go home,” said Ms Sietinei.

She said it was a pity that after Uhuru’s defeat, the team was broken up and Wamatu later died of cancer. And although a few of them offered their services prior to the 2013 General Election, this time they were outsiders.

Uhuru’s PA, at the time, Rigathi Gachagua said he vaguely remembered a communication team at Windsor under Wamatu. He, however, said he had no recollection of Kefa or Uhuru being tutored at night, instead arguing that his boss’s speeches were ‘incredible’.

“His grasp of English, Kiswahili and Kikuyu was amazing. He could drive crowds into a frenzy with his delivery. He knew when to stop and what to emphasise. His diction and tone was good. He never had a problem talking to audiences,” said Gachagua.

Meanwhile, Kefa dreams of the day he will reunite with Uhuru and exchange notes. He can then hand over some of the materials he worked on 18 years ago, including a translation of the Kanu manifesto.

by Standardmedia.co.ke

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Lifestyle

How we solved thorny issues in our not-so-rosy union

Published

on

Robert Wambugu and Lucy Wambui’s marriage has been a bitter-sweet experience. When their firstborn son was a toddler, he almost drowned in a basin full of water.

“The water had been stored on the corridor and the young boy sneaked out of the house. Within a split of a second, he had fallen head first and was in there for almost a minute before we were alerted by other children. He passed out, but was saved by quick intervention from a nearby hospital,” Lucy says.

Lucy says they faced a lot of challenges driven by their lack of marriage experience due to their young age. She was 20, Robert was 21. “We had not received proper counselling and did not know how to handle our personality differences. Let’s just say we were clueless of what was ahead of us. We used to have endless arguments, long weeks without speaking to each other and so on. It wasn’t until we got support from a neighbour who cared and counselled us,” she says.

Making it work

They worked on improving their communication and openness to each other. She offers: “We started giving each other constructive feedback that builds someone rather than hurt them emotionally. We stopped pointing fingers at faults and started addressing the issue rather than attacking the person. For instance, Robert was forgetful. At first, this used to make me think he was deliberately ignoring me and I would choose to just stay quiet and ‘payback’. But one time he told me he would start working on a “To do list” and once he started it, I saw great improvement. He also asked me to be sending him reminders on pending stuff. This way, we were able to handle that issue once and for all. On the other hand, I would prepare food that he didn’t like and he would not eat it. I would feel like he was eating elsewhere. At one time, I asked him to recommend what he prefers and how he liked it made. It took time to understand and master this, but it was worth it.”

Lucy and Robert also worked on their decision-making, as well as teamwork, and from that point things changed for the better.

Other challenges have arisen when they had to juggle between work and raising children. “Sometimes as a working parent, you realise you have to spend time with your children and establish a personal connection. For me, this is important and if I have to work from home to do this, I do not mind doing so. But it can be quite overwhelming,” she adds.

Lucy and Robert both live in Rwanda. They have been married for 11 years and have three children-two boys, Arthur aged 10, Fabrice aged seven and a girl, Ashe Wambui aged 1.5 years. Lucy runs a cake business while Robert works as a Certified Hospitality Training Manager at Marriot International, and is also an experienced digital marketer and art director. She is also a co-director at Halleria Consult, a marketing consulting agency they started together with her husband. He is the country manager in charge of overall operations of the consultancy.

They also mentor young couples on marriage and parenting.

Lucy terms her husband as her greatest support system. “He has been supportive in raising the children. He spends his free time with them. On the other hand, when we visit our parents in Nairobi, we ensure that the children spend time with their grandparents. I get tips from our parents from both sides and I ensure they communicate as often so that they build that bond. I have also taken part in a programme called ‘Mother of Sons’ that focuses on mothers who are raising boys. It gives mums the space to learn how to handle boys’ challenges as well as bringing up men who are well nurtured,” she says.

Discovering children’s potential

Their parenting approach is centred on raising children who understand between right and wrong and are able to make independent and right choices. Lucy is a disciplinarian. “I don’t shy away from using the rod where necessary. But I spend time trying to find effective non-authoritarian ways to help mentor them, especially in matters self-confidence and life skills,” she reveals.

Her husband, however, uses a different approach. He uses experiential learning techniques where through observation, he has identified some interests in them. Both boys love using 3D modelling software and have basic photography skills. He spends time training them. “We thank God that this strategy has helped them learn and be responsible. We also encourage them to go out and play and develop a social life. The first one is an extrovert. He makes friends quite easily while the second one is an introvert who prefers staying indoors. The last one is starting the ‘terrible two phase’, always throwing tantrums,” Lucy says.

Lucy’s word of advise to couples and parents is: “Love, support your spouse and walk with them. You don’t get into a relationship to attain happiness. Rather make it your role to create an environment that sustains joy. If this is done, it’s easier to get the other person to reciprocate. Before you point fingers at your spouse, first do a self-analysis and see what you would do to work on yourself and improve. That way, we shall have happier relationships.”

By PD.co.ke

Continue Reading

Lifestyle

Things get thick in Thika: Missing millionaire was heavily indebted

Published

on

The missing Thika businessman Julius Gitau was heavily indebted and going through a marital problem when he mysteriously disappeared, the Nation has learnt.

With creditors breathing down his neck, auctioneers knocking on his doors and a marriage on the rocks, the trader rushed to his mother on September 20 for emotional support when everything around him seemed to be falling apart.

The Covid-19 pandemic had affected his businesses as sales had dipped by over 70 per cent due to the tough restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the virus.

At home, things were also getting out of control due to bad blood between his first love Lucy Wahu and her co-wives, Rachel Muthoni and Celina Nelly.

“Gitau told me that he was having problems with his suppliers. Five firms had even started sending auctioneers to his two general merchandise shops in Thika town, an issue that had embarrassed him. My son was going through mental torture,” Ms Rosemary Wanjiru, 68, told the Nation at her Kaharati home in Murang’a yesterday.

Some of the suppliers had even repossessed their stock and pressure was mounting on him to pay up or face legal action.

“Proud and stubborn, my son hates any form of embarrassment and has a very dry sense of humour, that’s why those public tiffs with creditors were taking a toll on his mental health,” said Ms Wanjiru.

Gitau then left his mother’s home at midnight, promising to call in the morning, but her maternal instincts kept her awake throughout.

“His confessions troubled me. I thought of selling part of our family land so Gitau could settle some of his most pressing debts. I called him at around 7.30am and we spoke for a few minutes. I cannot tell whether he was in his second or first wife’s home, or elsewhere. I wish I had asked him because this would have given us a starting point in this long and anxious search for him,” she said.

Suicide note

Earlier, Gitau had taken his second wife Muthoni to Nakuru to inspect one of his farms.

“He showed Muthoni a piece of land he had bought for her. He later visited his third wife, Nelly, in Ithanga village. I tried to convince him to spend the night with us but he refused as he wanted to brief her on her properties, before heading back to Maporomoko Estate in Thika to Wahu,” said Ms Wanjiru.

“He shared briefly that Wahu was giving him problems owing to the family wealth share ratio but I told him to use dialogue and compromises to settle the matter,” she added.

The following day, Wahu and her nephew, Geoffrey Wachira, reported to police at around 4pm that the trader was missing and had left behind a suicide note that indicated he had lost hope in life. They gave Gitau’s age as 60, yet he is 44 years.

Wahu said she was with Gitau in one of the Thika shops at around 9.30am when he allegedly left for the gym in an old truck that he later abandoned near Blue Post Hotel at around 10am.

Detectives have since dismissed this narrative, with Thika Businessmen Community chairman Alfred Wanyoike terming it “a silly fabrication”.

Police claimed Gitau never authored the suicide note while business associates alleged the trader did not show up in Thika town that morning.

“Please get my son before I die of anxiety… each day that passes without knowing the whereabouts of my son drives me closer to the grave. I remain hopeful he is alive somewhere,” Ms Wanjiru told the Nation.

by nation.africa

Continue Reading

Lifestyle

End our anxiety, families of missing Lamu men tell State

Published

on

Lamu families whose kinsmen disappeared mysteriously are questioning the government’s continued silence on the matter.

The families had hoped the year 2020 would bring to an end all the emotional turmoil they have undergone while wondering whether their relatives are alive or dead. The year is now almost over and there are no signs of their loved ones coming back.

More than 10 families in the region have, for several years, been in the dark concerning the whereabouts of their brothers and uncles who vanished under unclear circumstances, some in the hands of security agencies.

Families, relatives and friends of the victims interviewed by Nation.Africa acknowledged finding it hard to cope with the unanswered questions.

Most of the victims have been missing for as long as eight years.

An example is the family of Makka Mzee living at Mkunumbi in Lamu West.

Mr Mzee, a teacher by profession, has undergone tough times since his son, Imrana Said Makka, 29, went missing on March 31, 2015.

Mr Imrana Said Makka, 29, who went missing since March 31, 2015.

Kalume Kazungu | Nation Media Group

Imrana was abducted by three men who identified themselves as anti-terror officers in Malindi town on that fateful day, never to be found or heard of again.

It is now six years since his mysterious disappearance.

Imrana’s sister Sada Said Makka told the Nation that they have not heard any news concerning his brother who left behind three children.

“Despite our efforts to visit various police stations in Lamu, Malindi and Mombasa for enquiries, nothing has materialised. We’re yet to get any news on Imrana’s whereabouts.

We’re very much unhappy with the way the government has been silent on the matter despite the numerous reports we filed,” said Ms Sada.

The situation is similar in Kwasasi Village in Hindi, Lamu West, where the family of 42-year-old Ali Bunu is yet to come to terms with his mysterious disappearance five years ago.

The father of nine and who owned an estate in Kwasasi Village was said to have been picked up at his farm by unknown people in State-owned police and military vehicles on the night of April 8, 2016.

Mr Ali Bunu, 42, who went missing in April 2016.

Kalume Kazungu | Nation Media Group

During the incident, Mr Bunu’s house and livestock were torched by the ”officers” before he was whisked away with his four workers and a nephew to an unknown destination on that night.

All except Bunu were the next day dumped in the bush near the Bar’goni military camp from where they found their way back home.

Relatives of Mr Bunu believe the State is better placed to answer their questions since the vehicles that picked up their kin bore government number plates.

“My brother’s children are suffering. Their education has been very stressful. Even processing their ID cards has been a problem, all because their father is absent. The piece of land that our brother owns at Kwasasi in Hindi has partially been grabbed since the owner is not around. The government should help us find our brother so that we can be at peace as a family,” said Mrs Hafswa Bunu, a sister.

In Witu town, another family is in agony over the disappearance of 32-year-old Mohamed Abdalla Ali.

Mr Mohamed Abdalla Ali, 32, a resident of Witu in Lamu West who went missing on June 14, 2018.

Kalume Kazungu | Nation Media Group

Mr Ali went missing on the night of June 14, 2018.

He had accompanied his friends to watch a Fifa World Cup tournament in one of the hotels in Witu.

The last born in a family of five had completed his Form Four at Witu Secondary and was yet to join college.

His father Abdalla Basalama is a retired Administration Police Senior Sergeant.

Ali’s eldest sister Amina Abdalla says that for all that time, they have searched for Ali without success.

“We’ve visited all police stations but we haven’t traced Ali. We’re appealing to the police and any other security agencies to help my family track down the whereabouts of Ali whether alive or dead,” said Ms Amina.

The family of 43-year-old Mohamed Avukame Haroun is also yet to come to terms with his mysterious disappearance on August 23, 2017.

Mr Mohamed, a Malindi-based businessman who also deals in property management and land, was taken away by men in a black vehicle (a Toyota Prado) to an unknown destination.

His elder brother, Bwanaheri Avukame Haroun, says the father of two was bundled into the car by two armed men who accosted him within Mombasa High Court precincts.

Mr Mohamed Avukame Haroun, 43, who went missing on August 23, 2017.

Kalume Kazungu | Nation Media Group

Mr Bwanaheri insists that those who took away his brother are police officers since they had handcuffs and were armed with guns.

“His phone has been off since then. The State is aware of the whereabouts of my brother. Let the government assist us in tracing the whereabouts of my brother. His family is suffering,” said Mr Bwanaheri.

At Mpeketoni in Lamu West, the family of 35-year-old Osman Abdi is also in the dark after the man went missing just days after the June 15, 2014, Mpeketoni attacks.

Mr Abdi, a milk vendor, is said to have been arrested by police.

In a recent interview with the Nation, Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia asked families whose kinsmen had disappeared to come out and record statements with police and his office for action.

“These people might have crossed into Somalia. So there is a need for families to come out and report such cases to authorities for action,” said Mr Macharia.

In 2018, Haki Africa Organisation listed Lamu as among leading counties in the Coast region with many cases of mysteriously missing persons.

Various activists and religious leaders in the county and across the Coast region have on various occasions pleaded with the State to help the affected families find them.

by nationafrica

Continue Reading


poapay3

Like us on Facebook, stay informed

NEWS TRENDING RIGHT NOW

2020 Calendar

September 2020
M T W T F S S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  
satellite-communication1.jpg

Trending

error: Content is protected !!