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Of many milestones, birthdays and a happy St Valentine’s Day

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I was thinking of how to celebrate my birthday, when news of the Great Milestone broke. The “Nyaonic Man” had taken his final giant step into Ancestordom and eternity. Mzee Moi was one of the few African Presidents whose hands I had shaken. The moral of it, I suppose, is that, up close, these powerful and mighty leaders strike one as humans like us.
They may be grappling with historical, national and international problems but, deep within, they probably have the same needs as we have. They need to know, to experience, to learn, to feel and to share, maybe to love and be loved. It is, indeed, of these needs that opportunists, self-seekers and self-promoters take advantage to flatter, deceive, divert and even pervert otherwise decent people who find themselves in positions of power.
I give no expert opinion about Mzee Moi and the “Nyayo Era”, for the simple reason that I have no expertise to speak of. Moreover, 24 years was quite a long and challenging time for one man to be at the centre of a complex web of competing power interests, some radically ideological, some chauvinistically ethnic, some ravenously greedy and yet others diabolically megalomaniac, seeking self-glorification.
Trying to summarise this in a phrase or two of expert opinion would be presumptuous at best and, at worst, malicious. In any case, the wananchi, including those who benefited, those who suffered and those who stagnated during his rule, have led the way by letting Mzee Moi live out his retirement years in relative peace and dignity.
So, while the bouquets and barbs fly in almost equal measure, a useful exercise might for each of us to mention the few things that we knew about this many-sided man and leave it to impartial analysts to create a full picture of Moi, his times and his legacy.
My own mite’s worth of encounters with the elder were through my performing arts trade, and a few memories of these underline the impressions I hinted at earlier. Once when we had been adjudicating the Schools Drama Festival in Western Kenya, we escorted the winning teams to State House Nakuru to perform for the President.
One of the winning items was a powerful poem, “Mababa Sukari” (sugar daddies), by a young pupil from the Coast. I remember the quick hushed consultations among the adjudicators and the producers about the suitability of the poem for its august audience.
We let the young lady perform, with some strict instructions to her about how and where to gesticulate on her mkarara (refrain), which ran, “hawa mababa sukari ni watu wabaya sana” (these sugar daddies are really bad people). The girl performed marvellously, but most of our eyes were focused on the President’s face, to gauge his response. He was apparently impressed and even amused by the young performer’s ingenuous but firm denunciation of the malignant vice.
At KU, where the President was a frequent visitor, we had come to learn that one of Moi’s favourite hymns was “It Is Well with My Soul”. Our late choirmaster, George Senoga-Zake, and his assistants often managed to fit it into the repertoires of the shows that the elder attended.
At a cultural extravaganza that we staged at the then-Regent Hotel in the late 1990s, I remember Mzee Moi being visibly excited at a high-voltage tae kwon-do exhibition choreographed by my friend and then-junior colleague Tony Njuguna. Njuguna and his friend John Kiarie were to be the creators of the memorable politico-satirical “Redykyulass” TV series, which I understand the late President also enjoyed watching.
Satire, as you know, exploits contradictions, and maybe contradiction is one of the guides to the departed leader’s enigmatic personality and career. I might have sounded like a praise singer to Moi, so far. But I am not, and I do not want to be. I know that a lot of things went wrong and affected us during his rule. The people in academics did not have it easy in those days and the fate of colleagues and personal acquaintances, like Alamin Mazrui, Maina wa Kinyatti and others, was first-hand knowledge to me. A sense of fear and apprehension prevailed among a large section of the Kenyan academe, as I have mentioned elsewhere.
The question in my mind is: was it this avuncular man, who enjoyed a theatre or musical show, who loved children and promoted girl-child education, the same man who oversaw the hawkish system that detained, jailed and sent some of my colleagues into exile? Was he really in charge of it or was he, too, a hostage to it to a certain extent? In my abysmal ignorance, I can offer neither defence nor attack, neither praise nor blame.
About my birthday, it is just round the corner, on February 10. As you might note, I share the birthday with German playwright Bertolt Brecht, author of The Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Good Person of Schezwan, and also the Russian Nobel Prize winner, Boris Pasternak, of Doctor Zhivago fame. That is not bad company, is it? As you read this, the champagne is on the ice, and the icing is setting on the cake. I am gearing up for a grand celebration of my 76th birthday.
Do you remember my promising you, and myself, that I will be winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2024? That is in four years’ time and I will be only 80, a sprightly, youthful octogenarian. I know, if you keep reading me, you will keep me writing and going, as you have done up to now.
I can best thank you by inviting you to be my Valentine.
It is the season, and I wish you the best of it. My take on love, as you know, is that, at its best, it is sincere and honest dialogue, communication and total respect. That is how and why the promoter of healthy, decent love, Bishop Valentine, is a Saint.
Happy Saint Valentine’s Day.

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Diamond Platnumz Accused Of Stealing Yet Another Song

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Diamond Platnumz Accused Of Stealing Yet Another Song

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¨Life had lost meaning…¨ Ben Pol narrates dark days before his son´s birth

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Bongo flava artiste, Ben Pol has spoken of days when alcoholism was the order of the day, leading a life without meaning and reckless in his ways.

The Tanzanian musician has for the first time opened up about his life battles that saw him turn to alcohol, to give him comfort and strength to push on.

During an interview with Tanzania´s Simulizi na Sauti, Ben Pol spoke of dark days before the birth of his son – which turned his life 360 degrees.

It got to a point, life lost meaning – Ben Pol

When in public, he would put on a brave face and to many, he seemed like he was living a life full of butter and milk.

But the minute he was alone, a cloud of sadness creeped into his being.

Ilifika wakati kila kitu hakina maana. Unafanya show unashangiliwa na watu wanomba kupiga picha lakini hauna vibe yoyote. Ukirudi hotelini unaweza hata ukalia. Unapigiwa simu na promoter yaani unongea naye vizuri sana mpaka kazi unapata lakini ukitulia mwenyewe, sadness moja hatari.

Alcoholism

He would drive back home, but under the influence of alcohol and when he arrived safely, he could not understand how that could be.

Nakumbuka nilifika kipindi nilikuwa mpaka natumia vilevi nikiwa nakunywa sana. Unajua ile unaendesha gari ile unatoka Moroko mpaka Mwenge alafu hujui umepitaje. Hukumbuki katikati na wewe ndio uliendesha gari.

It got so bad, despite owning a house at Mbezi Beach, he would instead sleep in his car, at the parking lot of malls.

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My son, Mali´s birth, gave life meaning – Ben Pol

But with his son, Mali´s birth, life became meaningful and Ben Pol had a reason to live.

Ilifika kipindi nilikuwa nimepanga nyumba nzima Mbezi Beach, lakini nilukuwa naweza park kwenye mall nikalala kwenye mall mpaka asubuhi. So Mali alipozaliwa akaleta kama nuru fulani nikaona kama kila kitu kina maana.


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Governor Sonko defends decision to transfer County functions

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Embattled Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko says the decision to hand over County functions to the National Government is for the good of the County.

In a statement, Sonko defended the decision saying it was arrived at after extensive consultations and research on managing Capital cities.

“To address the unique needs of Nairobi City County, my Government set out on a fact finding mission that saw us benchmark and take lessons from other jurisdictions across the world including Washington DC in the US and Abuja in Nigeria.” Sonko says.

He says unlike other Counties, Nairobi being the Nation’s seat of power and the Country’s commercial capital, its needs are unique and calls for greater partnerships with other stakeholders, key among them being the National Government.

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Sonko said following the several case studies, they established that cities and metropolis, the size of Nairobi, are best served jointly by devolved units and Central Governments.

“Equipped with this knowledge, and in my capacity as the Governor, I initiated discussions with the National Government with a view of finding a sustainable approach to service delivery that leverages both on the County and National resources and competencies.”

He says, “It is this consultative process that led to the crafting of the historic and comprehensive agreement that we signed yesterday handing over the management of some of the functions of Nairobi County Government to the National Government.”

Sonko said as a County Government, they are convinced that the agreement signed yesterday will not only help enhance service delivery in the city but will also reposition Nairobi as the economic hub of the region.

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He expressed his commitment to the residents of Nairobi that the County Government of Nairobi will continue serving them by focusing keenly on the functions and service areas that are not covered in our agreement with the National Government.

“As part of this renewed agenda and purpose, my Government will ensure that Nairobi regains its famed status as the “Green City in the Sun” among other targets that we have set for ourselves.” He said.

Sonko said he believes the bold decision to collaborate with the National Government through transfer of some functions will create a positive governance precedence that will help strengthen devolution.

He thanked His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Jubilee Administration for their commitment in ensuring that the people of Nairobi get the best services from their Government.

 

 

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