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Thursday, 27 September 2012

Restituting virtues in Kenyan society

By Regina Nyokabi

It’s true that we’ve now managed to establish some form of civilized administration. But our people’s minds, attitudes and manners are still very much in the jungle of savagery where they were stranded for decades on end.

It seems that colonialism did a lot of damage to our ethical, integrity and transparency virtues more than it did to us. 

This country has gone through a lot of bad experiences in the last hundred years and more. Situated in the horn of Africa, Kenya lies and literally appears like a sleeping lion indeed.

If we start with colonial period for example, the rule of the foreign did a lot of damage to our people. To begin with, the colonialist destroyed all our sources of authority, our traditional leaders and replaced them with either their imported functionaries or local traitors. They also mocked all our customs and beliefs, calling them savage, primitive, backward and heathen. Our people lost their self respect and actually began to believe that they were worthless.

You might think that colonialism ended over forty years ago, with the coming of uhuru, but it left a lot of unfinished business in Africa as in Kenya. After messing up our minds and manners e.g. dressing just to mention a few, the foreigners just abandoned us to our own devices. What followed was even worse than what was happening when the colonialists kept us in check through the use of force. We turned on one another and on everything in sight and started an orgy of destruction that has left our country in complete shambles. 

In those years of blood you had to learn to kill or you would be killed. If you would not steal, you would starve to death. So we forgot all about respecting other people’s property. You could not afford to tell the truth, even about your name or where you come from. You risked being massacred, most probably because you came from the “wrong” ethnic community. So we learned to lie about everything, including ourselves. What has to be done now is to re-educate a whole generation of people who grew up surrounded by lies ,theft ,deceit murder and all kinds of violence and misconduct to start living decently. This is by telling them that normal human beings in a free society do not have to lie, cheat or indulge in violence to accomplish their mission.

I believe in the intelligence of our people especially the young people. Re-education has to start with explanation of evils of violence, dishonesty, bribery and lack of self respect and eventually virtues of faithfulness, honesty, openness and peaceful resolution of conflicts will be adopted
Above all I’m confident, my faith is strong and determination unshakable that we’re willing to change for a better future. After all, we all want development but we cannot develop anything without developing ourselves, our behavior, our attitude and our mentality.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Famous LRV reporter hospitalized

By Bett Kipsang’

 A veteran reporter and blogger with Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) was on Monday admitted in a Sipili health centre where he was treated and discharged. The reporter who requested anonymity fell from a speeding motor cycle and sustained serious bruises on his hands, legs and waist.  It is reported that the accident occurred just behind the health facility. One of the physicians working at the hospital while puffing his cigar witnessed the accident as it happened.

 He rushed to rescue the reporter as the rider picked the motor bike and sped away. It is suspected that the rider may have feared the worse had happened. The reporter arrived at the hospital unconscious; he is reported to have fainted as he was being given first aid. The incident occurred at around 10.30 am.

The LRV reporter with a Bandaged Elbow
 The reporter had reported at work as usual and one of the pioneer LRV trainees who had just arrived from college arrived at the Maarifa Centre on a motor bike. After exchanging some pleasantries with the ill-fated reporter the two agreed to go and train in the field. 

 The veteran LRV reporter needed to acquire the soft skills so that he can be riding himself to far distance to collect stories for the LRV blog. The training never materialized as the faulty motor bike, unexpectedly sped off in high gear, lost control, wavered and crushed. That is when passenger (LRV) fell and slid on the road due to the force of inertia. While still laying on the ground the reporter could hear his friend wondering aloud that the motor bike was in gear three. The rider was not injured. The speedometer for the motor bike was faulty and the driver was either guessing or using his mental judgment to estimate when the gears are engaged’’ he said.

 After the first-aid, the LRV reporter came to the Maarifa Centre to narrate what had happened. He was limping and his right hand was held akimbo due to the injury on the elbow. ‘‘I had to go back to the house to change my clothes since my trouser and shirt was torn badly,”said the reporter. ‘‘The condition is now stable except for some little pains from the bruises’’ said the reporter. 

 The jovial LRV reporter cooperated during the interview making the story come out clearly. ‘‘At this time and age, at least everybody should be able to ride a motor cycle because it is a conventional means of transport in the area’’ said the reporter who was eager to learn the new skill to make his reporting work a little easier.  Though he had not talked to his friend to know why he fled away, he had no hard feelings over him. ‘‘As a victim, I choose to understand,’’ he said.

 The Maarifa Centre team, users and fellow reporters are wishing him quick recovery.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Teachers in Laikipia not budged by Mutula’s 13 billion

By Samuel Thairu

The teacher’s strike called by its umbrella body, Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) is in its third week with no end in sight. The union which advocates for the welfare of the teachers in the country called on all its members to boycott classes and join in solidarity to pressure the government to pay them better packages. The effect of the strike has been felt in various parts of the country and particularly by Kenyan children in public schools. 

In Sipili, the local KNUT leader Mr. Francis Gatimu has been working tirelessly to encourage teachers to continue with the fight. Regular chants of “no retreat no surrender” and “solidarity forever” are now common sounds heard in the divisional headquarters. In one incident, while LRV reporter was doing the regular beats, he saw a group of people gathered and when he inquired about them, the response he got was nonchalant. Those are “solidarity people” said Ng’etich an Administration Police officer stationed in DO’s office. Mr. Gatimu always sends SMS to members to update them on the latest developments. However, some of the teacher’s who requested anonymity said they were tired at staying at home and would wish to have the matter end soon to allow them return to class. They are not amused by what they called ‘idling’ around instead of working.

Lariak Primary School closed because of teacher's strike(Photo: Joseph Kanyi|LRV)
The genesis of the strike is an agreement which KNUT claims was agreed upon fifteen years ago but the government has reneged on it. This was when KNUT had called for a strike that lasted 28 days before they signed it. Teachers were at that time awarded between 150% to 200% pay rise and 50% house allowance, 20% medical allowance and 10% commuter allowance. KNUT says the government did not honour the agreement and has been blaming the failure of economy.

This time round, the teachers are up again and their demand is 300% pay rise and full implementation of the 1997 agreement without phasing as the government did previously. Teachers are irked by the recent increase of perks to civil servants without them necessarily demanding. A recent increase of pay to Permanent Secretaries caused more outbursts as it was seen to be an insult to their demands.

Learners in public institutions are bearing the brunt caused by the strike. An interview by LRV revealed that students are worried that they are only victimized by the circumstances. This is also at time when class eight pupils and form four students are expected to sit for their national exams. Some even went ahead to demonstrate their resentment to teaching as a career because they are not amused with the current conflict between the government and KNUT. They are cognizant that their constitutional right to access education is being violated.

Empty classroom in Lariak Primary School (Photo: Joseph Kanyi| LRV)

On their part, parents sides with their children since they have paid school fees and other requirements while no service is being rendered. They demand that their children be taught and do not understand what the fight is all about. Mwangi, a resident of Sipili Division is one such parent seething with rage. “Teacher’s demands were met and I do not know what is up now. Do they really know that many people have been trained as teachers and are jobless? Why can’t they back up and go and allow other people to do the job rather than cause confusion in the sector?”He Posed.

On Wednesday evening Education minister Mutula Kilonzo offered Ksh.13 billion to teachers. However, the KNUT national chairperson Mr. Wilson Sosion could not budge and declared that the strike was still on. He accused the minister of offering too little and said the government is yet to realize that the strike is a ‘mother of all strikes’. 

Kenya has so far witnessed a series of strikes. After the teachers went on strike, doctors also called for one which is still on. Already nurses have issued a strike notice.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Fire guts down building in Sipili

By Dennis Kipkirui

Fire brought down a wooden storey building in Sipili Tuesday morning. The tragedy which started at 9 am rendered more than six families homeless. 

Fire razing down building in Sipili [Photo By Bett Kipsang']
Unconfirmed information says that the inferno was started by a jiko which was left unattended in one of the houses. It is said the children in one of the houses lit the jiko and when it turned into flames and could not be controlled, rushed to the salon where their mother was to report the incident instead of informing next door neighbours. The neigbours realized it when it had already spread to their houses and managed to salvage few items. 

Eye witnesses said that it was not easy to put it out because the wooden building aggravated the situation since fire could easily spread in wood. The building is one of the oldest in Sipili centre and is believed to have been constructed in seventies.

Among those who lost the property was the lard lord who was occupying the 1st floor after renting out ground floor. At some point she became frenzied and wanted to rush to her house to save what she called ‘vital documents for other property’ by her late husband in her custody. Members of the public turned out in hundreds to put out the fire but their effort was thwarted by wind and lack of enough facilities to use. 
Rescuers trying to salvage property Photo By Bett Kipsang'
Sipili centre do not have piped water. It relies heavily on water drawn from wells hundreds of metres away. This is also one of the challenges that faced the rescue team in putting off the inferno. The municipal council of Nanyuki which hosts the seat of power for county council manning the centre is far away and could not be of immediate help. Road network could also have hampered any help coming from outside since Sipili is 8km away from the tarmac road.

Last year, another building was also brought down by fire in the centre. As is the case with Tuesday’s, nothing was also salvaged.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Protecting Traditional Knowledge

By Dennis Kipkirui

Traditional Knowledge is knowledge,innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. It is intangible knowledge held by local community and indigenous knowledge held by indeginous communities.It is mostly embedded in traditional knowledge systems which each community has developed,maintained and passed on from one generation to another in its local context. It is evolving all the time as individuals and communities take up the challenges presented by their social and physical environment.Unfortunately this knowledge is being eroded at a higher rate than it is being passed on to the next generation partly due to the changing lifestyles and influence of western culture. 

In Kenya most communities are not aware of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and Access Permit among other formal measures and mechanisms they should take in order to protect their Traditional Knowledge.They lack the capacity to file patents and other IP applications.They are not aware of the existence of goverment IP offices and do not know how to protect their knowledge.In most cases individuals within a community prefer to protect their knowledge under secrecy.

Most communities in Kenya have not formed Community Based Organisations(CBOs) and those that have formed do not have sustainable management structures that can support effective protection of IPs in Traditional Knowledge.Although some have organized cultural and social hierarchy,most of them do not have social organizational structures that could be approached by researchers,bioprospects or any other visitor to the territory for Prior Informed Consent(PIC) and benefit sharing negotiations. The lack of registered CBOs with members, officials and patrons governed by well constituted rules and regulations makes it easy for visitors to enter and access knowledge without proper access permit or PIC.

Communities should utilize the existing IP and other mechanisms to protect their Traditional Knowledge.This will give them an upper hand in negotiating for research and commercial licensing agreements.The other option is for the community to establish community structures such as CBOs,NGOs or self-help groups that will enable them protect,own and manage IP on behalf of the members.It is also important to document IP in public registries and scientific journals to expose them to the international community for contacts and deal making.However, it may also expose them to knowledge on biopiracy.Private community registers can serve as informal databases for use as references to prevent loss of Traditional Knowledge.

Where possible communities should sign collaborative agreements with research organisations and resources managers for conservation of their resources. This will not only build their capacity but also provide direct revenue and opportunity for co-ownership of IPRs. All materials leaving the community must be accompanied by spellings of dos and don’ts. Any person visiting the community for research or commercial venture must be given PIC signed by the chairman or the appointed community elder in liason with a relevant goverment organization. A simple agreement of MoU must be signed between the community representantive and the visitor.

Friday, 7 September 2012

MP Disburses CDF cheques

By Dennis Kipkirui

Laikipia West MP Nderitu Mureithi  presented Constituency Development Fund (CDF) cheques worth Ksh.2.6 milion to various institutions in a low key public rally held in Sipili market. The rally held in the morning hours saw a poor turn out from the members of the public with many evidently engaging themselves in various activities within the centre and ignoring the much hyped rally.Earlier, a vehicle with government registration had gone round the centre announcing the coming of the MP.

Among the beneficiaries include Bondeni primary school which Laikipia Lural Voices(LRV) has over time highlighted the woes that has characterized the school. The school was given a cheque worth Ksh.500,000. Others are Sipili school for the Deaf which got a paltry Ksh.250,000.Wangwaci primary school went home with Ksh.500,000 while Kio day secondary school got Ksh. 400,000. Administration Police  got a lion share of Ksh.800,000.
Hon.Nderitu Mureithi addressing Sipili residents[Photo: Joseph Kanyi|LRV]

The area MP who is also an assistant minister for Industrilisation urged residents to be cautious of those questioning his development record. He pleaded with the residents to elect him to enable him complete the projects he had started in the area.The event was however, not short of drama when some youths jeered the MP and told him off.They shouted at him to desist from dishing handouts and instead address the perrenial road problem between Kinamba and Sipili. The 8km stretch has been a nightmare for residents travelling out of Sipili to Nyahururu. The MP promised to address the issue as soon as possible.

Those interviewed by LRV were wary of the frequent visits made by the MP to Sipili during the electioneering period. They were quick to point out that the minister  has been away for a long time and now has began to make forays to the area in a bid to convince residents to vote for him. Nderitu is vying for the post of Senator in Laikipia County. 

The MP later opened United Democratic Front office (UDF) in Sipili market. He was accompanied by various aspirants to different posts.