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Gender violence: Why women in sports suffer quietly



Her bold speech at the burial of slain athlete Agnes Jebet Tirop on Saturday moved mourners to tears. It remains etched in the minds of thousands of people who attended the funeral.

In the athletics realm, the name Viola Cheptoo Lagat, 32, may not ring a bell because she has not represented the country as many times as Tirop did.

Cheptoo, who comes from a family of American-based athletes, attended her friend’s burial, not just to bid her farewell but to also send the strongest message to the powers that be.

Standing before senior government officials, elected leaders and thousands of mourners, Cheptoo stood, and in an admirable eloquence, audaciously spoke about how young athletes had suffered gender-based violence, yet the country was silent on the matter.

From parliamentarians to President Uhuru Kenyatta, Cheptoo, for 10 minutes, called out the people she believed were not standing up for junior athletes enduring toxic relationships while flying the country’s flag.

She started off her speech by saying she condoled with Tirop’s family and indicated that she was speaking on behalf of “the family of athletes”.

“I am here for one issue – gender-based violence. I am standing here because something has to be done, and it has to be done now, not tomorrow,” Cheptoo told the mourners.

Raise our voices

“We’re here to lay our sister to rest, but we are also to raise our voices. We need to be understood as women. We need people to understand that we are not anyone’s property,” she said.

End GBV banner at the burial of Agnes Tirop, St. Michael’s Academy, Kapnyamisa, Nandi County. October 23 2021. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

She urged men to treat women as assets, love them and appreciate their hard work. To the woman representative of her home county – Nandi, Cheptoo posed: “I have never seen you anywhere in my village. Where are you? Have you created seminars to reach out to victims of domestic violence? Do you understand the issues that we go through every day? Don’t forget that we elected you to be our voice.”

She urged the President to take action against gender-based violence. Cheptoo said women athletes deserved better treatment because they represent the country in global competitions.

“How do you feel when an athlete raises the flag so high at the finish line? Do you feel proud? Do you feel like we are the loyal citizens that you are so proud of? How did you feel when you got the news about Agnes? Did you feel pain? Have you done anything so far?”

Cheptoo urged Nandi Governor Stephen Sang to help in making the proposal for Agnes Tirop Foundation a reality.

On Monday, Cheptoo held a meeting with Mr Sang over the issues she raised at the funeral. “We have agreed to jointly work together towards addressing the issues raised as well as domestic abuse,” Sang said.

In a Facebook post, Cheptoo thanked the governor and his deputy Yulita Cheruiyot for inviting her for a discussion on the steps to be taken to end gender-based violence in Nandi.

Viola Cheptoo after a meeting with Governor Stephen Sang. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Cheptoo, who has been competing in races in the United States, where she lives with her two brothers, said many female athletes continued to suffer in silence at the hands of their partners.

“Agnes Tirop was someone who kept smiling and made everyone feel good around her, but was battling a toxic relationship,” she added.

According to Cheptoo, it is unsettling that for many years, budding athletes, as young as 15, have been taken advantage of by men who pretend to be their coaches, but end up becoming sex predators.

She claimed some coaches had been taking advantage of the junior athletes by taking so much from their earnings.

“They pretend to be their coaches and lovers but in the real sense, they are predators and parasites who are only there for the financial gain,” she said.

She appealed to Athletics Kenya to investigate the issues and act.

“We want to know whether these coaches are trained and have the right qualifications to train junior athletes. Athletics Kenya should register all coaches so that they operate under strict guidelines. Regulation will ensure that one can’t be a coach and at the same time a husband,” she added.

Sports CS Amina Mohamed speaks at Agnes Tirop’s parents home in Kapnyamisa village, Nandi County. October 21, 2021. [Courtesy]

Failed to champion rights

She lashed out at woman representatives in Parliament, saying they had failed to champion women’s interests and rights in and outside Parliament.

“Amina Mohamed, the Sports Cabinet Secretary, should also do better. She has never reached out to us young women athletes, to know the challenges we are facing,” she said.

The 1500m athlete represented Kenya at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing and at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Source: Standard Sports


Eric Omondi denies Jacque Maribe’s son in new pregnancy reveal



By Wanja Waweru

Eric Omondi, an award-winning comedian and creator of digital entertainment, and Lynne, a social media influencer and commercial model, have revealed they are expecting a child.

The pair enthusiastically announced the news in a combined Instagram post. Lynne can be seen donning a yellow two-piece costume in the images that have been released, proudly displaying her growing baby belly.

Eric, who was completely covered in black, stands protectively behind her and gently strokes the lump.

In her third trimester, Lynne undoubtedly looks pregnant. Eric expressed his excitement at having his own flesh and blood in the caption of the photo, which is odd given that he shares a child with Jackie Maribe, a former media celebrity.

Eric continued by equating himself with Sarah from the Bible, who’d It has taken me 41 years but finally God has blessed me with my own,” started the entertainer excitedly.

He went on to add, “The Fruit of my loins! I feel like Sarah of Abraham of the Bible, she waited all her life for a child of her own.

Thank you baby for making me a father❤❤🙏🙏🥰🥰. And to God thank you for returning our baby to us,” the last of his post read.

It has taken me 41 years but finally God has blessed me with my own,” started the entertainer excitedly.

Seven months ago, Lynne tragically miscarried at barely eight weeks of pregnancy, and Eric and his girlfriend announced they had lost their first child.

The medical professionals there did everything they could to save the little angel, but it was in vain, as Eric refers to the night as the longest night of his life.

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Mwalimu Rachel: Managing Sailors Gang my biggest regret!



By Wanja Waweru

The long-running feud between oppular radio host Rachel Muthoni Njeru, often known as Mwalimu and the gengetone boy band Sailors Gang has been being brought up again, with Rachel stating that managing the group is one of her greatest regrets.

The social media influencer shared this in an interesting conversation she had on her official YouTube channel with a friend named Monicah Wairimu Mwariri.

“What is your biggest regret? Like the one thing you say if I could have done differently I would have gotten different/ better results as Mwalimu Rachel?”

Monicah who was acting as the moderator of that specific episode posed the question to Rachel.

“Managing… managing Sailors Gang!” replied the NRG radio presenter without a second thought.

She continued by saying that interacting with the group had been such a challenge that it had put her in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable.

“Wueh! Wewe ushawahi lala cell (have you ever spent a night in jail)?” Rachel asked the host to which she replied she’d never and doesn’t even ever wish to encounter such a moment.

Mwalimu Rachel said that while she was in charge of the gengetone male group, she had spent a night in a police cell.

Mimi nililala cell, like wueh…” Rachel revealed.

Sharing a snippet of the interview with her over 403k Instagram followers Rachel wrote, “Cell nayo nililala ni ukweli… wueh! That was a DAAARK time for me. It’s okay though… Time for EVERYONE to hear my story from ME.”

She stated in another post that the reason she was finally speaking about it was so that the suffering she had endured would not be in vain.

“Hopefully my experience will educate other managers as well as caution artists against some things,” Mwalimu Rachel’s post read.

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US announces changes to student visa application process



US State Department has revealed changes in policy that will impact foreign students entering the US.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced during the National Association of other Student Advisers (NAFSA) in Washington that they had streamlined the visa application process for students from other nations, including Kenya, who want to pursue higher education overseas.

According to him, applicants won’t need to participate in an interview to complete their application.

This adjustment is a significant deviation from the standard procedures, which at first required an interview.

The Department also extended the window in which a Visa application may be submitted, bringing it from 120 days to a full year.

Blinken stressed the significance of forging alliances with other nations when discussing visa reforms in order to provide students with additional opportunities  options to study abroad.

He applauded organizations like NAFSA for helping students seize opportunities and for organizing student exchanges.

“At the State Department, we are working to expand international education. After the acute phase of the pandemic ended, more and more international students began applying to study in the US again. We took steps to streamline our visa process and make it easier for students to apply,” he said.

M Square Media’s CEO, Raghwa Gopal, applauded the US government for taking action to expand international study programs. Gopal asserted that by giving students the skills they would need for future international engagements, the short-term educational courses would be advantageous to the students.

Foreign students can enter a recognized college, university, high school, or other educational program in the US under the academic student program.

Foreign students must be admitted by a school that has received formal US government recognition, and the program must result in a certification, certificate, or degree.

After a popular outcry, the deadline for the hike in worldwide visa fees was postponed from the originally announced date of May 30 to June 17; some applicants will now have to pay up to Sh42,000 to obtain the travel document.

Business and tourist visas (category B1/B2S), student visas (F), and exchange visitor visas (J) are the categories that would see a rise, going from Sh21,800 ($160) to Sh25,206 ($185) visas for temporary workers (H, L, O, P, Q, and R categories) will cost Sh27,941 ($205) from Sh25,897 ($190).

The US Embassy in Nairobi stated that they acknowledge the critical role that international travel plays in the US economy and pointed out that President Joe Biden’s foreign policy places a high priority on granting visas, particularly for work and tourism. They insisted that the fees are only intended to cover the costs of providing the consular services.

The cost of non-immigrant visas hasn’t gone up since 2014, so this is a big deal.

Following the suspension of the process in 2020 as part of the safety measures established at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak, the embassy has been dealing with a massive backlog of visa interviews.

The Embassy shortened the wait time for visa interviews for Kenyan visitors last month and permitted renewal of some categories without going through an interview physical appointments.

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