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‘Pole Mzee’… words that melted Moi

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VITALIS KIMUTAI

By VITALIS KIMUTAI
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Former President Daniel Moi is remembered for many things.

To his political allies, students and opponents, there is one trait that baffled all of them — his unparalleled ability to forgive those who wronged him.

Many politicians and professionals in the 24 years he was in power found themselves in Moi’s bad books.

All of them have different experiences, with some being rehabilitated and returned to the fold while others saw their careers go up in smoke.

But one trick that a majority did not know is that the former president, despite the demeanour he projected in public, readily pardoned those who sought his forgiveness.

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Chama Cha Mashinani party leader Isaac Ruto describes Moi as a father figure, political mentor, peacemaker and a person who exercised humility and forgiveness.

“Moi was the epitome of humility,” said Mr Ruto, a former Council of Governors chairman.

“All you had to do when you fell out with him was to go underground for sometime, then appear before him and ask for forgiveness; you would immediately go into his good books.”

In fact, he reveals, one did not need to book an appointment but just appear in Moi’s Kabarak home and tell the security officers you wanted to meet and apologise to him.

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“On several occasions, I would unknowingly wrong him but went back to him with the magic words – ‘I am sorry, Mzee, forgive me,”‘ revealed Mr Ruto, who served in Mr Moi’s Cabinet as assistant minister for Education, Agriculture and minister for Vocational Training and Environment.

“The only person who had learned Moi’s traits on forgiveness was nominated MP Mark Too. He would wrong Moi then in two months he would be back in the fold,” revealed Mr Ruto.

When Moi wanted to name a successor, Too was prevailed upon to step down and pave way for Uhuru Kenyatta to replace him.

Mr Ruto also said even after an attempt by former Nakuru North MP Kihika Kimani and a group of politicians to prevent him from succeeding President Jomo Kenyatta, he still forgave him.

“Many a time we would drive with Moi to Kihika’s home,” said Mr Ruto.

Former Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott, now deceased, was among those who were considered untouchable in Moi’s regime, but he also fell out and was later rehabilitated.

Former Cabinet Minister John Koech also confirmed that Moi could easily forgive and welcome back to the fold politicians, to the surprise of many.

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Macron says ‘not sure’ EU-UK trade deal possible before end of 2020 » Capital News

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French President Emmanuel Macron said that trade negotiations between the European Union and Britain will “become more tense” © POOL/AFP / Ludovic Marin

, Paris, France, Feb 23 – French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said he was “not sure” it would be possible for the European Union and Britain to reach a trade deal by the end of the year.

Britain and the EU are about to embark on negotiations aiming to hammer out a trade agreement by the time the post-Brexit transition period shuts at the end of December.

But France has made clear it thinks the negotiations will be particularly difficult, especially in such a tight timeframe.

“I am not sure that an agreement will be reached between now and the end of the year,” Macron said at a meeting with fishermen, who are concerned for their livelihoods after Brexit, at an agricultrual trade event in Paris.

“Anyway, it is going to become more tense because (the British) are very hard,” he said, adding that fishing rights would be a key point of contention.

Britain formally ended its 47-year membership of the EU on January 31, nearly four years after a majority voted to leave the bloc in a 2016 referendum.

France and several other countries want to be able to keep fishing in British waters, while London wants full autonomy and limited access for European fishermen.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said the EU’s top priorities are fishing, security and maintaining fair trading conditions for European companies.

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He has also firmly rejected a British suggestion that City of London companies could be given broad, permanent access to EU markets without conditions.

Overall, French fishing boats generate 30 percent of their revenue from catches in British maritime territories, particularly rich in fish stocks.

French officials say that the UK exports the bulk of its catch to Europe, indicating that British fishermen have plenty to lose if the two sides fail to reach a deal.


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Atheists dismiss census data, say they have1.5m members

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NICHOLAS KOMU

By NICHOLAS KOMU
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Atheists have rejected census data showing that 700,000 Kenyans do not believe in deity insisting they are twice as many.

Following the release of detailed census data, Atheists In Kenya (AIK) now claims that the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) deliberately failed to count atheists and the actual number of non-religious Kenyans is 1.5 million.

According to the detailed report on the Kenyan population based on their religious beliefs, 755,750 Kenyans do not believe in any religion. That is about 1.6 per cent of the total Kenyan population.

Kilifi County leads in the number of nonbelievers with 146,669, more than double the number of atheists in Nakuru which stands at 67,640.

Nairobi has the third highest atheist population with 54,841 followed by Narok (45,617), Kiambu (30770), Kitui (23,778), Meru (20,985) and Mombasa (11,148).

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However, AIK now insists that the data is inaccurate and that KNBS enumerators deliberately failed tally atheists during the 2019 census.

“We find these statistics to be grossly inaccurate and not fit for purpose. We contend that we have well over 1.5 million atheists in Kenya, and the number is growing steadily. An independent survey of our members has revealed that some KNBS employees deliberately skipped asking whether one is an atheist during the 2019 census. We have evidence that many atheists were undercounted and miscounted,” AIK said in a statement on Saturday.

The statement dated February 23 was signed by the group’s President Harrison Mumia and recently elected Assistant Secretary Kio Kinuthia, questioned the statistics bureau credibility in the 2019 census. Now the atheists’ society is questioning the entire census data, terming it as inaccurate.

According to the 2009 population census report released by the same institution, the number of Kenyans who said that they were not affiliated to any religion was said to be 922,128.

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We find it odd that the 2019 census report indicates that the number of atheists has declined by almost 200,000 in a span of 10 years, yet the population of Kenyans has increased by 10 million over the same period. This undermines the accuracy of not just the atheist data, but the entire KNBS 2019 census report,” AIK said.

While Christianity and Islam are the predominant religions in Kenya, atheism has been attracting quite a following in the past few years.

This has, however, been a tough rise in popularity for the movement under the leadership of Mr Mumia, an Information Technology specialist.

AIK was registered on February 17, 2016 but, just two months later, it was suspended by Registrar of Societies.

The final census report shows there are 15,777,473 Protestants in Kenya, the majority religious group.

Catholics are 9,726,169 in total while 9,648,690 people attend evangelical churches.

About 3,292,573 go to African Instituted Churches, Orthodox (201,263) and other Christian (1,732,911).

Islam has a following of 5,152,194, while Hindu has 60,287. About 318,727 Kenyans are traditionalists.

Atheists in Kenya now wants a review of the census data by KNBS.

“We reject the figure of 755,750 atheists reported by the KNBS 2019 census report. We call for an independent review of how the KNBS collects, analyses, and reports census data,” the society leadership said.

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Israel readies for third election in less than a year » Capital News

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Polls suggest the parties of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz will both fail to secure a majority in parliament © AFP/File / JACK GUEZ

, Jerusalem, ZZZ, Feb 23 – Israel is bracing for an unprecedented third election in under a year, with voters eyeing an end to the deadlock but polls indicating another tight race despite criminal charges against the prime minister.

Two previous votes in April and September last year failed to produce a clear winner between right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main challenger Benny Gantz, who heads the centrist Blue and White party.

Ballot-weary Israelis have shown limited enthusiasm ahead of the March 2 election, with some grudgingly accepting the possibility of a fourth run before the year ends.

But there have been significant developments since Israelis last went to the polls.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving premier, has become the first to be indicted while in office.

Profile of Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. © AFP

Charges unveiled in November and filed in court last month accuse him of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

The prime minister denies wrongdoing in the case that involves multiple alleged offences.

The most serious allegation is that Netanyahu offered mogul Shaul Elovitch regulatory changes worth millions of dollars to his telecoms giant Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage on Elovitch’s Walla! news website.

The trial starts on March 17.

– Trump bump? –

Since the last election, US President Donald Trump has unveiled his controversial plan to end the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Trump’s terms have been rejected by the Palestinians as a capitulation to Israeli objectives.

Netanyahu, who was standing next to Trump at the White House as the initiative was announced last month, cheered it as an “historic” opportunity for the Jewish state.

He has also portrayed the deal as a product of his personal bond with Trump that can only be implemented if he is re-elected prime minister.

But neither the criminal indictments, nor the pro-Israel Trump initiative have moved the polls.

Recent surveys indicate that Netanyahu’s Likud party and Blue and White will both fall short of the 61 seats required for a majority in parliament, the Knesset.

Netanyahu’s main challenger Benny Gantz is a former military chief who argues that the premier’s legal woes will distract him from governing  © AFP/File / JACK GUEZ

Status quo in the polls could be good news for the prime minister, said Gideon Rahat, a political science professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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“He is not attracting more voters, but he is not losing voters either,” despite the indictments, Rahat told AFP.

Gantz, a former military chief, has sought to convince Israelis that the prime minister’s legal woes will distract him from governing.

“Netanyahu is going to court… he won’t be able to look after the needs of Israeli citizens,” he said this week.

Meanwhile, Israeli prosecutors are probing whether a cyber-security firm formerly chaired by Gantz, Fifth Dimension, inappropriately received public funds.

But the attorney general has confirmed that Gantz is not personally implicated in the investigation.

– Last minute pitches –

Netanyahu has, ahead of past elections, been accused of making last-minute campaign pledges as a play for vital nationalist, right-wing support.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post on Friday, he repeated his warning that Gantz cannot form a government without support from the mainly Arab Joint List, and its leader Ahmad Tibi.

Netanyahu announced thousands of new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem, less than two weeks before the election © AFP/File / AHMAD GHARABLI

Joint List won a surprising 13 seats in the last election, making it the third-largest bloc in parliament.

“If Likud doesn’t win, there will be either a fourth election or a left-wing government headed by Gantz and dependent on Ahmad Tibi and the Joint List,” Netanyahu told the paper.

The prime minister this week also announced thousands of new Jewish settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem, construction projects considered illegal by most of the international community.

Palestinian leaders blasted the settlement announcement as a blatant play by Netanyahu to energise his right-wing base.

Facing static polls, both leading parties have grown increasingly concerned about turnout, Rahat said.

“Anywhere else in the world, when you have three elections really close together you would see declining turnout” due to voter apathy, he said.

But turnout ticked up marginally in September compared with April.

“In Israel, you never know,” Rahat said.


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