Blogs & Opinion

Kenya: A nation starts on a strange journey

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO | Wednesday, September 11   2013 at  20:23

So the trial of the “Ocampo Three” — President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang has started at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The three are accused of being complicit in the early 2008 post-election violence that followed the disputed December election. There has been a lot of discussion on how the trials and their outcomes could affect Kenya in days to come. I find that interesting, because the most far-reaching impact of the

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Police deaths: Imagine the result were this to happen in Uganda or Rwanda!

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO | Thursday, November 22   2012 at  10:18

The ambush and killing of as many as 42 police officers in the Suguta Valley in north-eastern Kenya a few days ago in an ambush by “Turkana warriors” was quite shocking. The government has deployed the Army in the area, and there are some voices criticising the decision. This business of killing police officers can become messy, and it is generally a wise thing not to do. It is striking how the attitude of the Kenya Government differs from that of other countries in the region, especially

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Kenya’s MPs not bad boys and girls, it is voters who actually spoilt them

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO | Thursday, October 11   2012 at  13:30

Once again, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has ridden to the rescue. On Tuesday, he refused to assent to the Finance Bill in which MPs had given themselves a controversial sweetheart bonus totalling $25 million at the end of their term early next year. The President’s action came in the wake of widespread criticism and even demonstrations against the MPs’ action. The MPs were accused of being reckless, selfish, and greedy. But if one just steps back a little and takes a dispassionate view of

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Will homosexuality remain a dark secret in Africa?

By JANET OTIENO | Tuesday, October 9   2012 at  11:22

Last Saturday, South Africa held its annual Gay Pride Festival in a colourful ceremony, an indication that homosexuality is no longer a dark secret and the debate would not go away anytime soon. The topic has drawn extreme reactions from different parts of the continent with those who abhor it claiming that it is a foreign import, historical studies indicating that same-sex relationships existed in pre-colonial Africa notwithstanding. (Read: Homosexuality not a Western import to Africa) The

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Of polygamists, chiefs and big men

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO | Thursday, October 4   2012 at  09:39

Wednesday was the second anniversary of the death of Ancentus Ogwella Akuku, who was better known as Akuku Danger. A Wikipedia entrance repeats the popular story that Akuku was nicknamed “Danger” because “women were very attracted by his handsome looks”. He died on October 3, 2010, aged 94. The Wikipedia post says Akuku Danger married his first wife in 1939 and became a polygamist at the age of 22. In his life, Akuku married over 100 wives, divorced 85 on grounds of infidelity, and sired

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With mandarins at the wheel, EAC loses speed

By CHALRES ONYANGO-OBBO | Monday, September 24   2012 at  13:54

A few days ago, there were many people in Kampala who were very unhappy with the Kenyan authorities. Their anger followed a decision by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) requiring Ugandan and other importers using Mombasa port to pay a crippling cash bond equivalent to the total value of the tax that would have been charged were the Ugandan-bound goods sold in Kenya. Before that, importers of goods through Mombasa had only been required to execute a non-cash insurance bond. The Daily

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Tsvangirai’s marriage woes good for African democracy: This is why

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO | Wednesday, September 19   2012 at  20:12

I can’t help but feel sorry for Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The good man has been having embarrassing woman problems. His wife, Susan, died in a car accident in 2009. Since then, he has been trying to get married, but all his attempts end up in a fiasco. One time he was supposed to marry Lorcadia Tembo, and even went and paid lobola (customary bride price). Then things went haywire. Tsvangirai and his supporters allege that wily President Robert Mugabe, his partner in an

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No need for butter, our avocado man has the trick

By TEE NGUGI | Wednesday, September 19   2012 at  15:58

African presidents- averse to much physical exertion – are not known for their athletic figures. So we assumed that the fit-looking man walking along the village street shouting at the top of his voice, “Avocados plus prayers and exercise equal prosperity”, was probably a trader from a neighbouring village. His head was completely shaven, and he wore a track suit covered with drawings of the fruit he was advertising. On one shoulder, and with one hand, he supported a wicker basket, from

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Spouses and the quest for political power

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO | Thursday, September 6   2012 at  10:37

US First Lady Michelle Obama made what is widely considered to be a very brilliant speech at Tuesday night’s Democratic National Convention. “Top That, Barack” said the news site, Huffingtonpost, suggesting that President Barack Obama, a formidable orator, will struggle to beat his wife’s performance. Said Huffingtonpost: “[Michelle] Obama got a standing ovation from the crowd, and as the camera panned around the room, several people visibly wept”. Last week, Ann Romney, wife of Obama’s

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Joy of Jazz: Keeping warm despite the challenges

By MWENDA wa MICHENI | Friday, August 31   2012 at  10:17

It was last weekend when Johannesburg's Newtown precincts hosted the annual Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival. I wasn't there physically this time round, only otherwise. In between surprises of the event were the regulars, reported the press. Jazzy sounds filled the air around the cultural district of the city, both on the material days, usually two, and before. Like most other contemporary festivals, the organisers of the Joy of Jazz stepped beyond the stage runs with a number of

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You just want to get into my mines, don’t you?

By ELSIE EYAKUZE | Monday, August 27   2012 at  10:54

First things first, this border skirmish that Tanzania is on the verge of having with Malawi. Which strange stew of discontentment was that birthed by? Tanzania and Malawi at loggerheads just sounds wrong. It doesn’t trip off the tongue lightly. The reheated East African Community has sucked our collective attentions northwards and westwards where we are told the action is. By long tradition we seem to have enjoyed a polite neighbourliness with our southern neighbours, kind of like those

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The shame of diaspora remittances to Africa

By MWENDA WA MICHENI | Friday, August 17   2012 at  12:54

I have just arrived in Chuka, my dusty home town on the eastern side of Kenya. Like in most small settlements in Africa, expectant neighbours, old friends and relatives are here to welcome one of their own from the capital city. Unlike ten years ago, these kind of outstretched-hands scenes now play out almost every other weekend. Due to poor national planning, priorities and governance issues, the villagers have trooped to the city that looked greener, leaving most villages to the aged and

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In the end, African athletes fail because they succeed

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO | Thursday, August 16   2012 at  12:48

Last Sunday Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda Ltd) won gold in the London 2012 Olympics marathon. With that, he ended Uganda’s 40-year wait. The last Ugandan to win an Olympic gold was John Akii-Bua in the 400 metres hurdles at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Either at the Olympics or regular World Championships, it has now become conventional wisdom that the marathon crown will be won by an East African. In most of the past 25 years that East African has either been Kenyan or Ethiopian. Occasionally

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Morsy checkmates the Field Marshal

By TREVOR ANALO | Monday, August 13   2012 at  17:22

The Sinai crisis has handed Egypt’s new president Mohamed Morsy the chance to consolidate his grip on power by reconfiguring his relationship with the military. Three days after militants in North Sinai killed 16 border police and attempted to launch attacks in Israel, President Morsy on Sunday fired Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. The powerful field marshal was Egypt’s post-Mubarak de facto ruler, assuming executive and legislative powers as head of the Supreme Council of the

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Twitter, hijab and spandex: What a great Games!

By ELSIE EYAKUZE | Monday, August 13   2012 at  12:57

The Olympic Games. Once every four years the world comes together for arguably the most inclusive global event in the world. We gather to watch exceptional people do exceptional things, competing for themselves and for their nation. The Olympic rainbow of countries is pleasingly broad and inclusive too, giving the opening ceremony a unique appeal. The United Nations only wishes it had this kind of clout, honestly speaking. The Olympic Games are also welcome because they provide a chance

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Why East Africa doesn't deserve Olympics glory

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO | Thursday, August 9   2012 at  11:46

The winds that are blowing from the London Olympics 2012 are not for the wider East Africa. East African countries like Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, the two Sudans, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, usually don’t win anything at the Olympics. It is left to Ethiopia and Kenya to do the heavy lifting and win Olympic glory for themselves, and the rest of their unsporting neighbours. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, if one looks at the top 50 performers, Kenya was the best performing African and developing

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Secretary Clinton's 'moral charm' won't work in Africa

By TREVOR ANALO | Monday, August 6   2012 at  12:15

On Tuesday, July 31, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton started her 11-day tour of Africa with a veiled attack on China’s influence on the continent. In an address to Senegalese university students, Secretary Clinton said the US is committed to “…a model of sustainable partnership that adds value, rather than extracts it" in an apparent reference to China, "America will stand up for democracy and universal human rights even when it might be easier to look the other way and keep the

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Games presidents play at the Olympics

By MWENDA wa MICHENI | Friday, August 3   2012 at  19:20

Kenya’s president Mwai Kibaki is not known to be a big sports fan, unless there is golf that he used to play before the State House took over his social calendar. The East African leader is also not frequent in social spaces, especially theatres. But that had to be ignored, at least for some days, for the sake of a few deals and consolidation of power, one thing that oils the different players at the global mix of things In London, at the ongoing Summer Games, Mr Kibaki took time to have

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