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Old, broke and homeless: Coast ‘Wazungu Kimbo’ live in penury

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MOHAMED AHMED

By MOHAMED AHMED
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SIAGO CECE

By SIAGO CECE
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“Do you have some change you could help me with?” pleads a scruffy elderly white man in a baggy green T-shirt.

We can barely hide our shock at the sight of a mzungu beggar, and especially on the Kenyan Coast, where a white person is typically considered a goldmine: a tourist with a bundle of disposable dollars.

We look in dismay at the bedraggled old man of European descent. Peter, for that is his name, is a British national who is well-known in Mtwapa.

He has been living here for the past seven years, doing menial jobs and hassling people for alms.

Few people know his second name, as he will not divulge it. He was 54 when he first came into the country.

Several visits later, he decided to settle in Mtwapa, Kilifi County. Then misfortune befell him.

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Peter had travelled to more than 20 countries across the world before he came to Kenya.

During his travels, he says he learnt at least 25 languages, with Chinese being his favourite.

His sojourn in Kenya, however, has not been good. Here, he has been leading a difficult life, at least two years as a homeless person.

Three days before we met Peter at a pub in Mtwapa, we had heard stories about how he was robbed by a Kenyan woman.

During our conversation, Peter confirmed that a woman took off with all that he had, leaving him with only his passport, which he always keeps on his person.

Today, the 78-year-old man lives with a Good Samaritan, who has given him accommodation at her servant quarters at La Marina Estate.

Joyce Auma, a mandazi vendor who has been feeding Peter in exchange for odd jobs such as splitting firewood and cleaning, says they rescued him from a thicket near a building under construction, where he had lived for two years.

Peter now works for Auma to earn a meal. “She is a good person,” he says, gratitude written all over his wrinkled face.

It is Auma who asked her friend to take Peter in after she spotted him being rained on two years ago.

“I have been selling mandazi and fried potatoes here for the past three years. He comes in the morning for breakfast. That is what I can help him with since I cannot give him shelter,” says Auma.

She describes Peter as a good man with a bad temper, especially when asked why he cannot just go back home to England.

“If you want to have a bad day ask him to go back home. He does not want to hear that,” she says.

Why, really, does he detest the idea of going back home? He says the coastal weather has been friendly to him, compared with the situation back home.

“My skin reacts to the cold back home. I enjoy the weather here,” says Peter.

A broke white man is something of a paradox, especially on Kenya’s Coast. Not so in Mtwapa township.

Here, white men, the majority in their sunset years, roam freely, eliciting a glance from the residents or just clinical interest.

White settlers enjoy their leisure at a pub in
White settlers enjoy their leisure at a pub in Mtwapa, Kilifi County, on February 3, 2020. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Tucked away from the bustling town is a residential area christened Heaven, with immaculate modern buildings, bars and simple but classy hotels lining dirt roads.

The place is christened Heaven because of its apparent affluence, compared to other areas nearby, and its uncanny ability to lure white people as residents.

But life in Heaven is not heavenly. Amid the apparent affluence are the ‘Wazungu Kimbo’: ageing, broke men who live in penury. Some are virtually homeless.

Walking down the street that starts from the famous Posta area all the way to the beach, one easily spots groups of white people seated on the verandas of pubs sipping water or tipple.

Some wear vests, others are clad in faded shirts. Their skins are tanned, thanks to lengthy exposure to the tropical sunshine.

They converse in low tones, barely drawing attention to themselves.

Mtwapa Paradise is one of the joints frequented by the white men. There is free Wi-Fi but you do not get to use it until you buy a drink.

Sylvia, the waitress, will issue the password after taking your order.

At Paradise, one of the foreigners walks in and orders a 500ml bottled water, which costs Sh25, and in the same beat asks for Wi-Fi to be switched on.

Sylvia knows the man too well. “He usually comes here to use the Wi-Fi, but he knows that he must buy something to enjoy the luxury of using our internet connection,” she says as she switches on the Wi-Fi router.

Contrary to the expectation that, being foreigners, they would order expensive drinks, they always drink on a budget.

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“They have a specific quantity that they drink on a daily basis and, most of the time, they don’t exceed two beers. You cannot serve them anything more than that,” says Sylvia.

The most frequent patrons are German, who settled in Mtwapa after they lost their money to local women.

Frank Merkt, who is living with a Kenyan woman whom he says he is “assisting because she has children she cannot cater fully for”, admits that he has not been lucky with women.

“They (women) are thieves. They have stolen from me more than once. I no longer trust anyone,” says Merkt, 78, who has been visiting Kenya for the past two decades.

Merkt, a German architect, first came to Kenya in 1999. In Mtwapa, he met Pauline, whom he accuses of fleecing him.

She started the process of acquiring a passport so that they could travel and live together but turned this quest into a cash cow.

According to Merkt, she would ask for money to pay for the document, while already having it. “I sent her a lot of money for the passport, which I never saw,” says Merkt.

He left Pauline for another woman, whom he says used her children to get money from him, purporting to be seeking support for their education.

He was shocked to learn that she had no children. The ones he met were “borrowed” from their parents.

Merkt, now old and bitter, lives alone and does his own cooking, house chores and shopping.

Once bitten, twice shy? No, it did not work for him. “There is another woman I brought to the house and she ended up stealing all my household stuff. I will never trust anyone here,” he says.

For the past 10 years, he has been moving around on a bicycle. He spends most of his time at the pubs where he grabs a beer or two, before heading out to the beach and later retiring for the night.

“The weather is what keeps me here. I used to go home for three months and come back here. Even my children do not know that I come to Kenya,” says the father of two.

A couple stroll in Mtwapa, Kilifi County, on
A couple stroll in Mtwapa, Kilifi County, on February 3, 2020. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Hans, another German, frequents a hotel in the area owned by a German, where he and his compatriots hang out. He says the hotel serves the best coffee and bread.

For the past three years, the 66-year-old says he has lived in Mtwapa enjoying the “favourable weather”.

“I caught the African virus when I first visited in 2003. Whenever I go back to my country, my body reacts differently,” he said.

Hans, like his compatriots stuck in Mtwapa, has lost all his money to conniving Kenyan women.

Ironically, his ex-wife of Kenyan origin lives in Germany. But how does he live in Kenya without any source of income?

“I used to work as a gardener in Germany. I receive my pension every month from home,” he says, adding that he does not plan to go back to his country.

This is despite his complaints about being treated “like a foreigner”. “I hate the way we are treated like foreigners. When I am at the shop and someone else comes after me, they are served first. When I try to complain they tell me to go back to my country,” he says.

According to him, the neighbours despise him. Patrick Muhanji, a chef at Honey Pot Bar and Restaurant, says they are used to the European men hanging out like the rest of Kenyans around Mtwapa.

“They are not tourists. We call them Wazungu Kimbo. They have relocated to Kenya and are now part of Mtwapa,” he says.

The Wazungu Kimbo earned their name for staying in Mtwapa long enough to even learn Kiswahili, explains Muhanji, who also lives there.

He says that the foreigners party on budget and even shop on credit.

Yet some never learn from their past misadventures. Muhanji says sometimes the Europeans party with young men and women who end up stealing from them.

The Saturday Nation caught up with Mercy, a young call girl in Mtwapa who lives with a white man.

Mercy says the women who steal from the foreigners do so because some of the men are “too stingy”.

“If you live with someone who is using you without giving you any monetary gain, what do you do? I have been living with my mzungu for almost a year now and it is because he is catering for my needs,” she says.

She reveals that a majority of the small businesses in the area are owned by women who are in relationships with foreigners.

Do they consider leaving? None of those we spoke with wants to seek the help of their embassy or appeal for help from home.

They prefer to suffer in the friendly coastal paradise. We are told that some people once fundraised for Peter to get airfare but he took the cash and stayed on.

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King of parody Eric Omondi catches CS Kagwe’s attention – Nairobi News

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Celebrated Kenyan comedian Eric Omondi might just have tickled the funny bone of the Cabinet Secretary for Health following his hilarious viral video in which he mimicked the CS.

While making his daily updates on Thursday, April 9, the CS who has, recently, endeared himself not only to Kenyans but internationally as well, started with a disclaimer by mentioning the comedian on a light note.

ERIC OMONDI STYLE

Kagwe said that he would try as much as possible to issue the briefing in a different manner from the one portrayed by the comedian, who imitated him on the video which was trending on Wednesday.

“I will try very much not to do it the Eric Omondi style,” Kagwe told the media before commencing his address.

Omondi left netizens in stitches after he recorded a video in which he presented himself as the Health CS making his daily address to the media.

From the three gentlemen accompanying him wearing masks who posed as health officials, the tone, and manner of speech, the comedian undoubtedly demonstrated that he was the king of imitation by showing how the government official delivers his daily updates to the country.

Just like the CS, Omondi started off by detailing measures which the government had instituted in efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.

In attempts to show the casual manner in which Kenyans were taking the global pandemic which has since infected over 1.5million people and killed more than 90,000 others, the comedian gave an illustration of a patient by the name Kevin Omondi.

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According to the comedian, the patient entered Kenya from abroad sometime in March and refused to self-quarantine.

LOCKDOWN

In a span of less than 48 hours, the patient had made contact with more than 10 people, all of them females, from different parts of the country.

The patient had later tested positive for Covid-19 but his wife had not been infected since the husband had not yet arrived home.

He also touched on the much talked about lockdown, which some Kenyans have been calling for, by humorously referring to a local hit song Nikikupea Utawezana.

“Hii lockdown mnaitisha Wakenya tukiwapea mtawezana?” he posed.

Omondi’s viral video comes in the wake of Sh100,000 kitty set aside by the Ministry of Sports, Culture, and Heritage, following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive on Monday, April 6, to facilitate local artistes as they entertain Kenyans as they remain indoors over Covid-19 pandemic.

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State to keep Sh18m seized from suspended NLC chief : The Standard

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A former National Lands Commission (NLC) senior official has lost over Sh18 million that was recovered from her house.
Suspended Director of Valuation and Taxation Salome Munubi (pictured), who is facing graft charges, failed to explain the source of the money that had been retrieved from her house by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) sleuths during a search on May 4, 2017.
But the court declined a request by EACC to have her property seized by the State, with the judge saying the agency’s lead investigator, Pius Maithya, had not proven that the wealth was proceeds of crime.
Justice John Onyiego ruled on Wednesday in a case pitting EACC, Ms Munubi, her husband Sostenah Ogero Taracha and alleged daughter, Priscila Nyambura alias Risper Bwari.
The cash – Sh1 million and USD 168,900 (approximately Sh18 million) – was found in one of the homes raided by the EACC as part of investigations into a compensation scheme involving the Standard Gauge Railway project.
“The over Sh18 million recovered from Ms Munubi and Mr Taracha’s house amounts to unexplained assets hence I do hereby direct the same to be forfeited to the government,” reads Justice Onyiego’s judgement.
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Munubi’s husband and purported daughter were also directed to bear the cost of the suit.
The former NLC officer disowned the money found in her house, claiming it belonged to her husband, who is a businessman with a monthly earning of Sh2 million.
Munubi told the court her husband had borrowed the money from his step-daughter.
But during interrogation by EACC sleuths, Nyambura claimed it was part of Sh21 million given to her by her Sudanese step-father to purchase a house for herself and her siblings.
“Accordingly, I am satisfied that EACC has proved its case on a balance of probability against Taracha and Nyambura and judgement is thus entered against them jointly and severally with a determination and finding that the amount of money listed as recovered is unexplained assets,” ruled the judge.
He noted that even though Munubi’s husband and purported daughter were asked to justify acquisition of the said amount before May 4, 2017, the information given was conflicting.
He said further probe went beyond the said date and this was necessitated by the peculiar nature of the case in which parties not targeted originally came into the picture claiming proceeds reasonably suspected to be those of crime or generally money that could not be lawfully accoutered for.
According to Maithya, he and other officers of the commission were tasked to investigate allegations of irregular compensation of land following compulsory acquisition of land along the SGR line by the government through NLC.
“We were in receipt of credible information that Munubi was engaged in corrupt conduct and had amassed assets well beyond her known legitimate sources of income,” Maithya told the court.
He also said they were investigating Munubi over claims of involvement in a case of fictitious acquisition and compensation of four land parcels in Embakasi, Nairobi County, despite falling within the Kenya Railways Reserve and therefore not subject to compulsory acquisition.
The case took a different turn when the investigators probed the millions found in the house. The evidence adduced saw Nyambura interrogated, only to emerge as the in-law of Munubi and the husband, who hails from Murang’a County.
Munubi was then detained alongside her chairman Muhammad Swazuri, chief executive officer Tom Chavangi, Finance Director Francis Mugo and his deputy Ben Cherutich.
Besides the homes, the detectives raided the commission’s offices at ACK Bishops Annex and took away documents and electronics they said were crucial in the investigations.
More officers are under investigation after complaints that some of the payments made were riddled with corruption.
Parliament and the police are also investigating the claims.
On April 17, 2019, Munubi was arrested alongside several other NLC top officials and charged with conspiracy to commit economic crimes and money laundering, among other charges, according to a statement from the Director of Public Prosecutions office.
Swazuri and Munubi were later released on a cash bail of Sh3.5 million.
Evidence gathered by the prosecution showed how fake compensation claims, double payments, overpayments, inflation of land values and payment of people whose land was never on the corridor were used to loot taxpayers’ money.
However, crucial data that was key in the investigations mysteriously disappeared after a break-in at the commission’s offices. Following the burglary, the NLC stated that what got lost was a central processing unit in one of the computers within the Directorate of Valuation and Taxation.

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Related Topics
National Lands CommissionSalome MunubiCorruptionSGR

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Always assume everyone is COVID-19 positive: Kagwe » Capital News

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 10 – The Ministry of Health has urged Kenyans to take extra precautions by adhering to government regulations of social distancing in order to protect themselves from contracting coronavirus.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said everyone, including small-scale traders operating in the open-air markets should always assume that everyone has contracted the virus.

“Just assume that everybody is positive,” the CS told a news conference Thursday.

Kagwe further told Kenyans to be each one’s keeper even as the traders are asked to maintain thorough hygiene when dealing with their clients.

Five more positive cases were confirmed in the country Thursday, raising the total to 184.

“I want to urge Kenyans to take care of themselves and look out for each other as well because this virus is transmitted from one person to another,” the CS added.

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The government has issued a directive on salons, barbershops, vegetable vendors and the Jua kali sector to always put on masks and ensure their clients have done the same as a protective measure.

Kenya has imposed a dusk to dawn curfew nationwide, with travel restrictions to and from counties of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale which were classified as high risk areas.

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