August 2017

Staff of Vinepack Limited present 60 desks to Umoja Primary School to help ease the problem of congestion in classes.
Some Thika residents who had travelled to their rural homes days before the August 8 General Elections are yet to return from their hometowns due to what is presumed to be ethnic fear pending today’s Supreme Court ruling on the presidential petition that is disputing the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Consequently, hundreds of school going pupils are yet to report to school, a week after learning kicked off for the final term of the year.

This revelation was noted during an event at Umoja Primary School where a local, Vinepack Limited, donated 60 pupils’ lockers and chairs and two teachers’ desks and chairs.

Isaac Maina Mburu, the Curriculum Support Officer Kenyatta-Kamenu Zone in Thika West Sub-County noted with concern that a hundred and twenty (120) pupils in the school were yet to report for classes after the August holidays.

Although Mr. Maina did not directly link the pending Supreme Court ruling to the current scenario, a close examination of their identities revealed that the origin of majority of those who have not yet reported back to school could be traced from Western Kenya, Nyanza and parts of Ukambani.

The scenario was a replica in Barracks Primary School where over 500 pupils were yet to report.

“As educators, we are really concerned of the high number of absentee pupils, especially those who travelled to other counties days before the just concluded elections. We are just appealing to their parents and guardians to make arrangements for the kids to report to school as the situation in the country was calm and no cause for alarm,” said Mr. Mburu.

Stressing that the education of their children was paramount, the officer asserted that there were no security concerns in the area and it was only prudent for them to avail their children to class to avoid them from losing too much of their precious class time.

The school Headteacher Mr. Kibara Angevi admitted that the elections had some adverse effects to their normal programmes as quite a good number of their learners were yet to report. This, he said, was definitely going to affect the general academic performance of the school.

“We suspect that their parents are just waiting for the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling, probably for fear of possible skirmishes. We hope all this will get behind us soonest possible to save our children from things that they barely know anything about,” said Angevi.

(See also: UMOJA FIRE: Company comes to the rescue of 32 kids who missed DAY 1 of third term.)

He reckoned that for the past few years, his school had been experiencing a myriad of challenges in infrastructure and thanked Vineyard Limited for their kind gesture. He appealed to other companies and leaders to follow suit and come to the aid of the school.

“For pupils to perform well, the school environment must be conducive for learning. We are appealing to other companies and our leaders to join hands and assist us to improve the infrastructure in this school so that our pupils can learn well,” he said.

On behalf of Vineyard Limited, James Kamau who is the fleet manager promised that the company would not tire to work with the local community in improving the lives of those around them.

“Being part of this community, we promise that we will do all what is humanly possible to improve the lives of those around us. And let me say that, we will not hesitate to come and assist again whenever need be,” said Kamau.

He appealed to other companies to exercise their corporate social responsibility to improve the lives of others.


“As Vinepack, we believe that strong companies build strong communities and strong communities build strong companies. We will work to improve our communities and build a better future for all and make a bigger difference together. Other companies should take keen interest in making the world a better place for all,” concluded Kamau.

Police in Murang’a have launched a manhunt for burglary gang targeting homes and stealing electronics and other household valuables.

While commenting on the incidences, Murang’a OCPD Mr. Johnston Limo on Thursday said that these cases, which had previously subsided, have recently escalated at an alarming rate in Murang’a town and its environs.

Limo said that the thugs use master keys to access people’s homes. They are said to be in the habit of posing as tenants who are looking for accommodation in residential areas as a ploy to spying on unattended houses whose owners were away during the day before striking later to execute their mission.

Limo confirmed that one suspect has been arrested after being captured on a CCTV cameras.

“This suspect, who is a house girl at a residential house in Kiharu Estate, was captured on camera opening the main gate for the thugs who included beautiful girls,” explained the OCPD.

The OCPD appealed to the members of public to employ a ‘See it, Hear it, Report it’ campaign and to be on the look-out for any suspicious behaviour in their villages. This includes people and vehicles that appear unusual or out of place.

“My direct appeal to local communities is to not just ignore something you see or hear that seems out of place. This could include a suspicious vehicle outside your neighbour’s house or hearing the sound of glass smashing nearby. Note down such car’s registration number or description of any suspicious persons you may have seen and report it to us if you believe it to be unusual,” he appealed.

Rubi Nduta Kibuthu, who is a doctor in Murang’a, narrated how she got into her place only to find the door to her house wide open and the lights on.

She was shocked to find all her electronics, gas cylinder, jewelry, perfumes and other valuables worth over Sh.27, 000 all gone.

It was the same case for Martin Ndegwa, a freelance journalist who lost television set, a guitar, gas cylinder and other valuables.

Martin feels that he would have lost more including his cameras and laptops was it not that he had carried them to work.

James Githinji’s case was different as he fell victim to a woman who had disguised herself as a house help looking for employment.

Githinji who is a newspaper distributor in Murang’a town, narrated how the young woman pleaded with them for a job. However, barely a day after employment, the ‘house help’ swept their house clean of every valuable clothes and items.


For Lillian Njeri, she witnessed thugs pack her neighbour’s belongings into a waiting silver Bluebird vehicle before taking off to unknown destination.

Members of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Kiambu Chapter during the launch of the Thika Sub-County Branch on Wednesday franked by their chairman Richard Ndung'u (in red tie) and his Thika Sub-Branch counterpart Bernard Karanja (on his right) at a Thika hotel. 
A new dawn beckoned for Thika residents and business community with the official launch of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Thika Sub-County Branch at a colourful ceremony on Wednesday.

With the unveiling of its new office bearers at a Thika hotel, the Kiambu Branch Chairman Richard Ndung’u took the podium to highlight some of the benefits that the residents of the region were set to reap the benefits from this organisation.

Ndung’u said that the chamber would, among others, work hand in hand with the county government in streamlining revenue collection and taxation and tendering processes, be key in its budget making process as well as facilitating in identification of opportunities and markets, both locally and internationally, for the residents of Kiambu County.

He added that they would engage the both county national leadership with proposal that will ensure the residents of Kiambu County access quality services in all spheres of life.

“This is a new dawn for both Thika Sub-County and Kiambu County in general. As a chamber, we will engage the leadership to ensure that whatever decisions they arrive at mirror the will of the common mwanachi. We will ensure that the public participate in all aspects of governance and lobby for business and mwanachi friendly policies that will pave way for the economic growth of this county and its residents,” said Ndung’u.

The Kiambu boss reminded the participants that they will use the chamber as a vehicle to lobby for local and international funding for development projects that will be beneficial to the county, with special focus on youth and SMEs’ empowerment.

Thika Branch Chairman Bernard Karanja Ndung’u reckoned that Thika, being both a commercial and industrial hub, had all the potential to grow only if the people worked together and lay down the appropriate economic strategies. He added that as a main contributor to the county’s revenue kitty, its people needed team up and fully participate in the development of their own sub-county.

“Investors have already identified Thika as a real hub of business and commerce something that its residents must fully advantage of. We contribute the lion share to the county government’s revenue kitty. Thus, our voice in the county needs to be heard. For this to happen, we have to be united, work as a team and fully participate in the county government’s policy formulation,” said Karanja.

He said that his first task as the sub-county head was to bring together all the different business sectors, especially the SMEs and the informal sector, with the view of coming up with a common agenda for the business community in Thika.

“SMEs and the informal sector are key to the chamber’s focus. My first assignment will be to establish the logistics for opening an office within the next three weeks. Thereafter, I will meet all traders from all sectors so that we can come up with a common agenda that will enhance business for all,” he said.

Karanja said that, as a chamber, they planned to encourage its members and the business community in general, to employ ‘Blue Ocean business Strategy’ where instead of traders engaging in head-to-head competition in search of sustained profitable growth, they would assist them create a leap in value for their businesses and potential clients by unlocking new market demand.


“As a long-term measure and with the help of the county government and landlords, we plan to apply the idea of business segmentation where we will divide the town into different homogeneous groups of consumers where traders in each of these segments can serve a particular products or services that match to unique customers’ needs. For instance, we can have a street where customers identify with clothing, electronics, banking services and so on,” explained Karanja. 

For decades, Sukuma Wiki (Kales) has been the perfect accompaniment for one of Kenya’s most popular culinary offers — a plateful of ugali and is now one of the most consumed leafy vegetables. Sukuma Wiki in Swahili literally means push through the week, depicting just how common place it is on Kenyan dinner tables. 

However, have you for one reason or another ever asked yourself the source of your favourite veg? if you haven’t, then we will give you a reason to…. Starting today.

Much of the sukuma wiki on sale in urban centres is highly contaminated and poses a serious health risk to consumers. About half of the farmers within a 20-kilometre radius of Thika Town who practise irrigation farming use poor quality water to grow their crops.

According to a previous study conducted by the universities of Nairobi and Sweden revealed that this water contains the full spectrum of disease-causing organisms found in the urban population, many of which can survive for several weeks when discharged onto the fields.

The researchers tested random samples of kales collected from different sections of Nairobi for coliforms, a broad class of bacteria found in the environment including in human and animal waste. Though coliform bacteria are unlikely to cause illness, their presence in drinking water indicates that disease-causing organisms (pathogens) could be in the water system. 

Other organisms tested for was E.coli a group of bacteria some which can cause diarrhoea, urinary or respiratory illness while the third candidate is salmonella bacterium which can cause serious food poisoning.

Most of these sukuma wiki were found to have higher organisms associated with faecal matter. These germs, mainly from water used on farms for irrigation and in the markets for washing the vegetables, was found to exceed levels recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It is no hidden secret that many manufacturing and residential habitats discharge their wastes into our rivers. Consequently, quite a good number of urban farmers use this untreated effluent water to grow kales. The result of this stomach-churning version of urban agriculture is that quite a considerable number of urban residents are eating highly contaminated sukuma wiki.

Seems like if one is not being fed on donkey or dog meat, they are having feaces flavored sukuma wiki. Huh!

Contamination by feaces or urine originate from animals or human waste disposed into water sources used for irrigation and also from wrong use of manure. In some of Nairobi’s vegetable-growing hubs for instance, farmers were found to be using liquid slurry from sewers which, apart from providing water to the crops, is also regarded to be “rich in nutrients”.

The soils and the plants in such areas contain high bacterial and parasitic loads. As expected, these contaminants were recorded mostly in the stem and leaves thus raise health concerns since the leaves are harvested for human consumption.

The sad reality is that majority of those who buy vegetables from the open-air markets (or even supermarkets and groceries) do not query about their source. All they are interested in is the product and not the process that leads to its maturity.

There is also a possibility of contamination during transportation as most traders transport the vegetables using open trucks, while others carry them on their backs.

Case studies reveal also confirmed the sad news: greedy farmers have taken to short cuts to produce this Kenyan piece of cuisine also known as ‘collard greens’. The farmers are aware of the hazardous methods used to irrigate the plants and even the location of their plantations, but do not seem to care.

Other than sukuma wiki, other vegetables planted in these most unlikely of places include arrow roots, spinach, traditional vegetables, tomatoes and herbal medicine.

The locations of these shambas are good enough in the sense that one does not have to rely on the rainy season. They can harvest up to four times in a week and make a lot of money.


Over to you now.. The next time you enjoy that delicacy, make sure you inquire about its source. 

Vinepack's H.R. Manager Nancy Nyawira Gakuya giving one of the beneficiaries her set of uniform at Umoja Estate Thika. Behind him is the company's Marketing Manager Patrick Ben.
32 pupils form various primary schools in Thika West Sub-County missed the first day of Third Term due to various reasons as a result of the fire incident that hit Umoja residents a week ago.

This was revealed on Monday as a team from Vinepack Limited visited the area to donate school uniforms to the affected children.

Speaking to the press after the exercise, the company’s Human Resource Manageress Nancy Nyawira Gakuya narrated how they came to learn of this very unfortunate scenario after one of their employees missed work on Monday as she tried to ponder how she could manage a set of uniform for her two school going children after the fire.

“When she failed to report to work this morning, I called her to know the reason why. After listening to her story, I decided to visit her but upon arriving here, I was shocked to learn that about 30 other children were in the same dilemma,” said Nyawira.

Nyawira called her boss and narrated of the children’s and parents’ predicament after which the company resolved to provide all the affected children with a full set of uniform to ensure that their family were able to send them to school immediately.

“We realised that these families are struggling to cover the costs of getting children back to school in for the final term of the year in the aftermath of the deadly blaze,” she added.

She reckoned that their gesture was precipitated by the fact that children were the country’s future and missing school was so grave considering that education was their only hope out of poverty. She also expressed the importance of providing these uniforms noting that wearing a proper uniform was a basic need which boosted the confidence of learners and lead to greater performance in achieving good results.

“It isn’t hard to imagine what will become of children living in poverty; their education suffers because poorly fed children simply can’t learn as well as their well-fed peers. It is difficult for them to focus in school when all they have to worry about is whether they will get the next meal,” she explained.

The company’s Marketing Manager Patrick Ben expressed the need for companies within the region to pool resources together and come up with a fund to assist the less fortunate in the society.

“As a society that is based on values that exhort the care of the poor and destitute, we should not allow this state of deprivation to continue. As companies in this region, we can use our power and persuasion to change this despicable situation of our people,” said Patrick.

( See also: Register For NHIF To Avoid Being In Precarious Position In Cases Of Accidents Or Sickness, Advises Thika Trader.)

He reckoned that there was no joy or nobility in a society that turned its back on its most vulnerable. He said that companies could participate, not only through cash donations, but also volunteer their time, skills and creative insights to help those in need, whether helping out in simple ways or seeking solutions to their local challenges. 

In this way, he added, they would help make a meaningful difference in the lives of others and have an enduring impact on the communities where they live and work.

Patrick noted that the economic state of the people living in slums and poor urban communities had significant impact on the overall economic growth of the entire country. This meant that the companies could come up with programmes that ensured youth from such areas got virtual access to resources and mentors.


“While working as a virtual team initially, the companies can create incubators in these localities and play critical roles in connecting talented entrepreneurs with critical resources across a widespread region.”

Some of the alternative methods Thikarians used to beat the plastic bags ban on the first day of implementation.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) yesterday started the implementation of the plastic bags ban, sending out officers to various locations to ensure compliance whose mandate, among others, include civic education to the ‘kadogo economy’.

However, Monday the 28th of August 29, 2017 one of the most difficult days for residents of Thika Town as reality dawned on them as ban on plastics started taking shape.

It was just very rare to spot anyone carrying polythene materials on Monday as a State-imposed ban on polythene bags took effect.

The ban seemed to have mostly hurt small traders have heavily relied on polythene bags to pack products for customers.

The worst-hit traders were the mama mbogas, fruit vendors, miraa sellers, boiled eggs and mandazi sellers, among others.

Miraa traders have been caught in the dilemma. They fear brown paper bags would not hold as much as plastic bags. Mama Mbogas (vegetable sellers) reckoned that the ban will be a disadvantage to consumers, who depend on ready-to-cook products such as chopped kales (sukuma wiki) and peeled potatoes, as the products have to be stored in a water-proof bags.

With few alternatives left for them, they had to look for something to use just to comply and run their businesses uninterrupted.

Even though they supported the ban, majority of these traders praised plastic bags because plastic bags were good for storage due to their water-proof property, low cost and perceived hygiene for selling ready-to-eat products.  They also identified their durability as an added benefit.

A spot-check to various supermarkets and wholesalers of packaging materials, who had been popular stockists of the polythene bags, revealed that they too have also switched to biodegradable alternatives.

Various supermarkets in town have launched shopping bags that can decompose to replace the plastic bags. Some packed items in old cartons, wrapped them in newspapers for customers that bought one or two items or advised their customers to buy shopping bags from them.

The cheapest bag that is able to carry about three packets of 2-kilogramme flour went for Sh5. Some were giving the bags for free if customers buy items worth more than Sh1,000.

In some cases, customers buying items like water, sodas, yoghurt and small snacks had to walk out of the supermarket with their items in hand.

Several shoppers used alternative bags such as traditional baskets (kiondos) woven bags, papyrus and palm baskets that retailed at below Sh. 80.

But despite seemingly high levels of compliance, majority of those we talked to lamented the high cost of the transition as reality hit home.

To take advantage of the opportunity presented to them by the ban, a battery of hawkers who had switched from polythene bags to alternative packaging of all sorts - including travel bags swamped Thika streets and encouraged pedestrians to buy them to beat the ban.

Last week, the Government maintained it was not going to relent on the push to ban plastic bags which are blamed for polluting rivers and blocking drainage and sewer systems with the Environment ministry saying that it will first act on the manufacturers before eventually reining in users.

According to Environment Principal Secretary Charles Sunkuli, there are at least 179 registered manufacturers of plastic bags in Kenya.

The High Court also dealt a blow to players in the plastic industry on Friday after it declined to suspend implementation of the gazette notice stopping use of carrier bags. Environment and Land Court Judge Bernard Eboso said public interest tilts in favour of not granting the orders sought.

Plastic manufacturers and importers wanted the ban by the Environment ministry temporarily stopped. But in his decision, the judge said the notice is intended to control the plastic menace to the environment.

Hawkers in Nairobi on Sunday made a killing from selling reusable bags for prices ranging from Sh100 to Sh300 as the ban on plastic bags was about to take effect come Monday. 
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) will anytime from now flag off its inspectors and environment police to inspect whether manufacturers have complied with the plastic bag ban that took effect today. Consumers too will be forced to embrace eco-friendly substitutes to avoid attracting a fine of between Sh2 million and Sh4 million, or a jail term of between one and two years, or both.

Plastic has become such a part of our daily lives that it is difficult to even think of trying to remove them completely from our lives.

Plastic has become such a part of our daily lives that it is difficult to even think of trying to remove them completely from our lives. This ban has left many wondering what to do since plastic bags have been an intrinsic part of our day-to-day life, despite its adverse effects on the environment.

The public is not aware on the alternatives that can be used when the plastic bags are withdrawn from use. But now that the ban is in force, the public is left with no option other than to choose appropriate alternatives to the polythene bag.

In Nairobi, people have already started adapting to this new lifestyle and as a result, some sharp minds have started making good business out of this very new opportunity. Yesterday, hawkers in the city were all smiles as they made a killing from selling reusable bags.

The bags are ranging from Sh100 to Sh300, compared to the plastic paper bags, which have been costing from as low as Sh5 and Sh10.

Some supermarkets have started running an initiative that seeks to reduce the consumption and dispensing of plastic bags by encouraging the voluntary use of reusable bags, used cartons and bales to package shopping items.

But how can entrepreneurs, especially the youth, take advantage of this opportunity to earn some money and also create some more jobs?

Here are some ways we can make alternative bags to the polythene bags we are all used to….

Paper Grocery Bags


One can always make their own paper bag with some old magazines, newspaper, or craft paper lying around. With very simple technique, these bags can be fashioned in just the right size for your gift or item to be carried in. You will simply use a stack of books or boxes as a form for the bag's base. Wrap one end of the form like a box, and remove the form to reveal your bag!

Paper bags may not be as strong as your jute or denim alternatives but they are a great way to lower the impact of plastic on the environment. They are extremely eco-friendly and safe for children to use. They are recyclable and contain no harmful components that can pose a health hazard.

Reusable Cloth Shopping Bags


The reusable shopping bags are usually made from an inexpensive material, or fabric, that is durable. They come in a variety of colours and some are decorated for the holidays. All one needs is old clothing to make cloth luminaries for your next outdoor party, or shopping.

You can use an existing bag for the pattern. Just cut off the seams at the top of the handles and the bottom seam. Then cut up each side so you have a pattern to use that looks not unlike a wife-beater. 

Crochet bags


Crochet is a process of creating fabric by interlocking loops of thread, or strands of other materials using a crochet hook. Crocheting is a skill that many Kenyans have mastered. Crochet bags are easy to make and cheap.

All that the people need is some wool and a crochet needle. Hence many Kenyans can creatively make their own bag. This creativity has not been tapped since presence of polythene bags have reduced the demand for the crochet bags.

Implementation of the polythene bag ban will rekindle this innovative industry and many people of all ages will get livelihood opportunities.

Canvas Shopping Bags


Materials used for shopping bags range from synthetic fabrics and recycled materials to cotton and canvas. With the focus on environmental health, some designers are adding reusable canvas totes, made from recycled or sustainable materials to their fashion collection.

Canvas bags are a durable variety can come in different shapes sizes and sizes. These are thicker than plastic bags and last for a long time.

Mesh Shopping Bags


You can shop in style whether you're at the grocery store or your local supermarket with a mesh sling shoulder bag. These flexible and roomy bags are ideal when shopping. They are lightweight, see-through, and handles are part of entire bag versus attached handles, which means one doesn’t have to worry about snapped straps.

Like other fabric-based shopping bags, they can be recycled once their useful life is over.

Mesh Produce Bags


They are very common in stores that store items such as onions, potatoes and grapes. They are packaged in mesh bags to protect them from cold, moist, dry and humid environments.

One can carry their own mesh bags to the grocery or recycle one already in their pantry.

Wax Paper


Before plastic bags were the 'new thing' for wrapping sandwiches and other items, wax paper was the way to go. Besides being durable, flexible, and recyclable, wax paper keeps items fresh. Whether you are making the kids’ lunch for school or your own for work, use wax paper to wrap it and a paper bag to hold all the goodies.

Denim


Denim bags are another creative way to go green. It's a great method to reuse your old or worn out jeans. These are mostly tear-resistant and extremely durable. Denim stretches, flows and is easy to stitch, handle and clean.

Denim bags can easily become the next big rage in lieu of plastic bags because they are durable, easy to carry, and are available in a range of shapes and sizes. Since denim can easily be recycled, you can put an old pair of jeans to good use by getting them stitched as bags. 

Water hyacinth


Water hyacinth bags may take a little more from your wallet, but are worth every penny. Available in various hues and styles, these bags also come with leather additions. If sustainable fashion is on your mind, water hyacinth bags are the thing for you.

Jute bags


Jute is in great demand due to its cheapness, softness, length, lustre and uniformity of its fiber. It is called the 'brown paper bag' as it is also used to store rice, wheat, grains, etc. It is also called the 'golden fiber' due to its versatile nature.

Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads and one of the most affordable natural fibers (second only to cotton). It is a sustainable product that is not only low on cost when mass produced but also has various also has environment-friendly properties. It is biodegradable and water-resistant. Since it's also abundantly available, it helps reduce the pressure on cutting trees. 

Eco-Friendly bags made out of natural starches and vegetable wastes 


EnviGreen, a Mangalore-based Indian company is providing alternatives to the conventional plastic bags, zip pouches and cling wraps.

What they are doing is simple – they are making look-alikes of plastic bags which on disposal can become food for the animals. The cost of one EnviGreen bag is about 35-40% more than that of a plastic bag, but, is currently the cheapest alternative available in India to plastic bags.

Plastic-Free World


Aarohana Eco Social Developments Company started by two IT professionals in Pune upcycles the old plastic bags and converting them into new stylish fashionable bags.

Today, around 200,000 typical small grocery plastic bags have been upcycled by the duo.

Cardboard Boxes


Every store and supermarket has them and all you need to do is ask if your store has a stash of cardboard boxes for free and where you can find one or two to carry your groceries.
Some chains have them readily available at checkout so groceries can be packed as they' are checked. 

They come in all shapes and sizes and along with being strong and durable, cardboard boxes are recyclable.


Whenever you buy something shipped in a cardboard box, reuse it at the grocery store if your local market doesn't provide them for free to its customers.

Head of Foundation Gospel Ministry International in Kenya Assistant Cardinal Gilbert Wanderi Mwangi handing over the tools of trade to the newly ordained Bishop James Angwenyi in Thika on Sunday.
A section of the clergy have urged all Kenyans, regardless of their political divide, to be ready to accept the decision of the Supreme Court once it delivers its ruling on the petition over the presidential election results.

Led by the Head of Foundation Gospel Ministry International in Kenya Assistant Cardinal Gilbert Wanderi Mwangi, the religious leaders asked both the Jubilee Party and National Super Alliance (NASA) principals to lead the pack in allowing justice to prevail.

“As the church, we plead with all Kenyans to let the judiciary do its work without any interference. Whatever the outcome, we should all respect it and embrace the unity and sovereignty of our nationhood,” said Cardinal Wanderi in Thika during the ordination ceremony of Bishop Simon James Angwenyi on Sunday.

The cardinal also pleaded with politicians to refrain from uttering words that could trigger unrest and disintegrate this country on ethnic lines. He added that the talk on secession was uncalled for as it would only serve as a catalyst to tribal animosity and probably plunge this country into political chaos as witnessed in 2007-8.

Wanderi noted that the unity of our nation could not be compromised to suit the egos and whims of a few individuals or groups thus Kenya must remain united.

“The talk about secession is ill-advised and will divide Kenyans along tribal lines not forgetting that this may most likely disintegrate into anarchy. Our unity is ‘our last best hope’ and not these dangerous thoughts of splitting the country into Jubilee and NASA Zones.

Bishop Angwenyi called on the clergy to join hands and pray for peace as it was paramount. He also appealed for calm as the Supreme Court undertook its mandate to decide on the presidential petition.

“Without peace we do not have a country. Without peace, we even administer our normal day to day chores. We need to pray for peace and love to prevail. We believe that whatever decision that will come out of the Supreme Court will be the will of God and everyone should respect it,” said Bishop Angwenyi.

The narrative of secessionist gripped the nation early last week, after NASA leader Raila Odinga's technical adviser David Ndii lend credence to the secession talks after he shared the online petition on his social media page, a move that he defended while appearing at a local TV station. The petition that targets 15 million endorsements, has already been signed by over 10,000 people.

At the press briefing last Friday, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) chairman Francis Ole Kaparo maintained that there were better ways to resolve political differences, noting that going separate ways was never an option.

“There are better and legal ways of solving our grievances than resorting to secession which is treasonable offence. We cannot dismember Kenya because of political differences of some leaders,” he said.
Kaparo appealed to leaders to stop the separatism debate, which he termed as dangerous to the country.

“It is absolutely reckless for a leader of sound mind to even contemplate splitting Kenya into two. Talking about secession itself has the capacity to destabilise the country's social fabric,” he cautioned.

The Kenyan PSV transport industry is abuzz with creative symbolism with matatus donned in multi colours and pictures symbolising entertaining messages, political graffiti or popular music artist and football teams such as Arsenal and Manchester United.

Public art or pimping and souping up as it is popularly known has been the order of the day for the purposes of getting an edge over each other in business. The Kenyan commuter is obviously attracted to well customised matatus as opposed to plain ones. The more glitzy and effervescent the matatu, the more prominent it becomes to attract passengers.

Vitalis Ochieng’ aka Chidih Amigo (or Chidii), is one man who is now cutting a niche in the matatu art industry in Thika Town.

Born some 39 years ago in Starehe Estate Thika, Chidii grew up in a humble family background. His love for art developed so early in his primary school days at Jamuhuri Primary where used to find himself on the ‘wrong side of the law’ after being caught by his teachers drawing sketches of artwork on his classwork books.

“I cannot even count the number of times that I was punished by my teachers for drawing sketches on my exercise books. But that did not put me off from my love for art,” said Chidih.

After school.                                                                             

Immediately after school and through the assistance of some of his networks, Chidih secured some employment at a Thika-based leather company to design some arts on curios where he worked for about 8 months.

He later quit and joined his uncle in Gikomba Market, Nairobi where they sold fish. He later started selling caps and shoes in the same market before returning back to Thika to work for Njuca Consolidated Ltd and later for Tanya Limited as a curio artist.

He later started his own curio shop where he traded his wares at several tourist sites.

“Business was good and well paying. I used to sell a lot of curios in Mombasa until the advent of the post-elections violence in 2007-8 and later when Kenya was struck by too many terrorist attacks.
There was a decline in tourists’ arrivals and business worsened,” says the father of three.

Chidih reckons that he struggled to make ends meet for quite some time, considering that he had a young family to feed at the time.

“I was watching the television one day out of boredom at home when I saw some European design and sell artist furniture, something that triggered my mind,” he explained.

With the little cash he had, he bought some tools and started designing some household and office furniture, without any background skills or knowledge in carpentry.

Within a short time, his works got so popular and he made good sales through referrals and Social Media advertisement.

Dream career.

All through, the self-made artist had this burning sensation to follow his dream job, his passion to do motor vehicle décor and graffiti. After a lot of soul searching and mind boggling, Chidih decided to venture in the new field.

“The furniture business has been saturated and demand is getting low by the day despite the high prices we incur in buying materials to decorate these furniture. This has driven me to thinking of doing something to supplement my sales in furniture which currently am doing on demand basis,” he explains.

Early this year, Chidii opted to venture in the matatu décor and branding, which has all along been his dream career.

“I started making the urban art known as graffiti – painted pictures and words on my workshop walls and at times requested to do the same on people’s businesses for free or for a little fee, just to advertise my work,” he says.

He later approached some matatu owners and private car owners in the locality and offered his services.

“At first, they were skeptical and thought that I was attempting to practice graffiti art on their vehicle but whenever I was done with a vehicle they would be amazed by the quality of my work,” he brags.

He says that he now gets most of his clients through referrals.

“When someone sees my work they usually ask to find out who did it and that’s how I am growing my client base,” he adds.

Coming up with designs.

According to Chidii, a client either comes with their own design and colours which he works with or advises on how to improve their design. But in most cases, they come without any idea on what they want and Chidih advises and comes up with a design for them which once they approve they go ahead with it.

“There is no specific design which people request. Everyone has their own ideas,” he explains.

Chidih reckons that his is pure talent and every day, he itches to further explore and work on ideas that he has been building up on. He spends most of his day working on different designs and put them in his computer.

“I started this in primary school. I used to sketch different vehicles and this really sharpened my skills. I design my themes come from my personal experiences, trending topics, movies, musicians and whatever else the clients want,” he says.

Chidih agrees that the industry pays well and he gets his satisfaction from seeing a matatu or a vehicle he worked on being the talk of the town adding that whatever appeals to the youth is good for business.

“Matatus in Kenya are ever in a competition trying to outsmart their competitors in the business of commuting passengers. From interior design to the decor on the outside, everything is now being done to a tee.”

Challenges in his work?

Chidih says that his greatest challenge is getting enough clients especially now that he is relatively new in the business and the art of matatu décor in Thika has not really grown to those levels as in the case of Nairobi.

He also admits that he needs some capital to expand and improve on his work as he juggles with that of carpentry as per demand.

Future prospects.

He plans to expand his business to a bigger and a more secure location where he can accommodate and work on more vehicles at any given time.

He also plans that in future he can create employment to a number of youth who will train and after training contract them to assist him in his workshop.

Parting shot.

To the youth out there who whine and cry that there are no jobs, Chidih advises them to think outside the box.

“Opportunities are all over. It depends on one’s vision and mindset. Otherwise, the youth also have to be patient by starting small and allowing the business to grow naturally.”

He also challenges the leadership to be more conscious on youth empowerment by facilitating those with skills to actualise their dreams and also develop policies that are business start-ups’ friendly.

You can contact Ochieng via his Facebook Account Chidih Amigo or his instagram account https://www.instagram.com/chidihamigo/

Samuel Thiong’o Mbaria (right) at a Kangema Court where he was sentenced for a 94 year jail term for raping his own granny.
A 32-year old man will spend the rest of his 94 years in jail for raping his own grandmother.

A Kangema court found Samuel Thiong’o Mbaria guilty of raping his granny aged 94 years on the night of October 11, 2016 at Gacharageini village of Murang’a County.

Senior Resident Magistrate Dennis Kivuti said that the court was satisfied with evidence presented before the court which evidently revealed that Thiong’o committed the heinous act at around 7.30pm barely an hour after defiling the minor.

The sentence did not come as a surprise to the accused as he was convicted to a life imprisonment by a local magistrate’s court on August 15 2017, for defiling a two and half year’s girl.

While reading his judgment, Kivuti reading said the complainant was unable to testify as she was traumatised after the incident and a medical report had indicated she had problem of forgetting past things.

The first witness, a Form-2 grandson to the complainant told the court that on the material day, he heard screams from her grandmother’s as he was coming from their farm. He ran to answer the distress call only to find the house locked from inside.

When he peeped through a window, he saw the accused lying on his grandmother. The grandmother, the witness told the court, was crying for help. He raised alarm to alert his parents and neighbours.  

The first person to arrive at the scene was the boy’s mother who in the case was the second witness.

The student’s mother with help of other neighbours who arrived after short period managed to break into the house to find the accused and the granny naked.

The middle aged lady narrated how her mother they found her mother unconscious after the sexual act.


Attempts to lynch the accused by angry residents were thwarted by the local assistant chief who arrived at the compound almost immediately accompanied by a police officer.

23 year old John Paul Mwirigi, who is pursuing a degree in education at Mount Kenya University, won the Igembe South Parliamentary seat as an independent candidate. Mwirigi might be the youngest legislator in the August House, which will see Meru County retain the crown of electing youthful leaders even after Buuri MP Kinoti Gatobu's exit from active politics. 
Mount Kenya University is taking pride to have produced the highest number of elected leaders in the just concluded general elections among the Kenyan universities.

Murang’a Women Rep. Sabina Wanjiru Chege, Kenya’s youngest MP 23-year-old Igembe South MP John Paul Mwirigi, Starehe MP Charles Njagua Kanyi (Jaguar), John Waluke (Sirisia), David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East), Simon King’ara (Ruiru), Charity Kathambi Chepkwony (Njoro) are among 37 elected National and County Assembly leaders who have schooled at the university.

While congratulating their students and alumni for this great achievement, the university management thanked wananchi across the country for having faith in the leadership abilities of its students. They appealed to the new leaders to practice ethical, development-focused leadership in a view to catapulting the nation to greater heights of prosperity.

In the previous general election (2013), the institution’s alumni managed to capture quite a number of seat.

It produced Uasin Gishu Senator Isaac Melly, MPs Kipyegon Ng’eno (Emurua Dikirr), David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East) and Sabina Chege (Murang’a Women Rep.).

Others included Mohammed Shidiye (Lagdera), Mark Lomunokol (Kacheriba), Elisha Busienei (Turbo), Peter Sugut (MCA Megun Ward) and Wycliffe Ombajo Masini (MCA Mungoma Ward).

The following is the full list of MKU students and alumni elected as Governors, MPs and MCAs in the August 8 2017 general election…..

Governors.               

Martin Moshisho – Deputy Governor, Kajiado

Women Representatives.

Sabina Wanjiru Chege – Murang’a County

Members of Parliament.

Charles Njagua Kanyi (Jaguar) – Starehe

Simon Ng’ang’a King’ara – Ruiru

Benjamin Gathiru Mwangi – Embakasi Central

David Gikaria – Nakuru Town East

John Paul Mwirigi – Igembe South

Charity Kathambi Chepkwony – Njoro

Mathias Nyamabe Robi – Kuria West

Titus Kamala Mukhwana – Lurambi

John Muchiri Nyaga – Manyatta

Charles Ong’ondo Were – Kasipul

Silvanus Osoro Onyiego – South Mugirango

John Waluke Koyi – Sirisia

Badi Twalib – Jomvu

Johana Ng’eno Kipyegon – Emurua

Christopher Karani – Ugenya

Members of County Assemblies (MCAs).

Danson Mburu Njoroge – Hospital Ward, Kiambu County

Samuel Mathu Wainaina – Mirangine Ward, Nyandarua County

Jackson Gitonga Mwenda – Antuambui Ward, Meru

Erastus Kinyua – Mariani Ward, Tharaka-Nithi

John Kireria Mwombobia – Igoji East Ward, Meru  

Issac Munyao Muema – Kee Ward, Makueni

Paul Kipamet Matuyia – Kitengela Ward, Kajiado

Nancy Chemutai – Kobujoi Ward, Nandi

Hussein Adan – Takaba South Ward, Mandera

Hillary Bett – Kapkatet Ward, Kericho

Hussein Abdirahman Dahir – Habaswein Ward, Wajir

Racheal Marura – Taita Taveta Ward, Taita Taveta

Lawrence Ekiru – Nakiru Ward, Turkana

Robert Nyiro Mwaega – Bamburi Ward, Mombasa

George Kaliunga – Antubetwe Kiongo Ward, Meru

Mrtin Pepela Wanyonyi – Ndivisi Ward, Bungoma

Michael Njoroge – Molo Ward, Nakuru

Irene Njeri – Rongai Ward, Nakuru

Masiaya Oltetia – Magadi Ward, Kajiado


Ahmed Khamis Salim – Mwembe Tayari Ward, Mombasa

Some of the devastation meted by these deadly army worms. (INSET) Stranded farmers trying to control the pest using pesticides. 
A plague of crop-destroying army worm caterpillars are causing great panic to farmers in Kangema and Maragua constituencies of Murang’a County who are now staring at possible total crop failure.

The caterpillar, that is said to be spreading very rapidly, is destroying young maize plants and grass, attacking their growing points and burrowing into the cobs, putting the affected farmers at the risk of realising low crop production or no harvest at all. This, according to the farmers, is fueling hunger in the area

Speaking to journalists, the famers lamented that their attempts to spray three different pesticides to kill the worms have been in vain.

Evanson Irungu has consequently appealed to the government to step in and provide accurate pesticide that will help eliminate the worms.

“If nothing is done, we will lose up our maize crop. We need the government to help us acquire the right pesticides to eradicate these pests,” said Irungu. 

He noted that Kangema constituency had never been a victim of such invasion but going by the invasion, its residents might suffer from starvation in the next few months’ time.

John Mwangi Ngurumo also a farmer along the Mukungai River lamented that the worms had proved stubborn to three different pesticides that the farmers have used.

“These pests have developed resistant to most of the insecticides that are used. The threat is real and huge considering the fact that they are attacking maize which is our staple food. The loss is devastating because are feeding on the leaves of the plant as well as its reproductive parts including flowers, silk and maize cob itself,” he said.

Mwangi Irungu narrated how his visits to the area agricultural officer in Kangema town had yielded to no fruits as nothing positive has been forthcoming.

He felt irked by the worms saying they are increasing as days goes by and have now invade most of the crops.

The complaints were similar to those of Agnes Wanjiru who complained of all her efforts going down the drain even after she planted and put in necessary farm inputs only for her not to harvest anything due to the worms’ invasion.


Most of the areas that are affected by the worms are Kangema and Sabasaba area of Maragua constituency.

Kiambu Women Rep.-Elect Gathoni Wamuchomba.
Kiambu Women Rep.-Elect Gathoni Wamuchomba has had a very hectic 24 hours trying to cool down the ire of a section of Kenyans after Social Media went abuzz over her response to an Ntv morning show regarding to the MPs pay cut.

In the interview, the legislator affirmed that she would support a bill to trash SRC’s pay cut proposals for the 12th House saying that the reason she deserved to be paid well was because ‘she worked, fought it out and also using her resources to be an MP thus needed to be honoured for what she had been able to achieve’.

In response to this, Kenyans on social media reacted angrily with some of them saying that it too early for her to demand for money even before taking oath of office. The ire was so dire that some residents were even asking of legal advice on how they would stop her from being sworn in as the Kiambu MP. There were reports too of a group of Ruiru and Juja residents who were already collecting signatures to ignite the recall clause as per Part IV of the Elections Act 2011.

NB:
Part IV of the Elections Act 2011 says; the electorate in a county or constituency have a right to recall their representative on only three grounds:
1)violation of provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution,
2) mismanagement of public resources and
3)if convicted under the Elections Act.

A recall of a Member of Parliament shall only be initiated upon a judgment or finding by the High Court confirming the grounds. Otherwise, such a recall can only be initiated 24 months after the election of the MP and not later than 12 months before the next General Election.

The following are some of the reactions by Kenyans on Social Media;-

Evans - Over 600K monthly is reducing MPs to beggars?😳 Some of these MPs elect are nuts! The Kenyan legislators should not be debating and the upward review of their salaries at this moment while about 40% of the citizenry are living on less than a dollar a day.
They should instead be coming up with motions and programmes on wealth creation and distribution. If we create more wealth and distribute it evenly, people will not need the MPIGs' salaries for funerals and harambees.
But MPIGs want the status quo to be worshipped and adored like demigods when they contribute in functions and give handout to desperate masses.

Shiku Waitha Beatrice -  I feel cheated, I lost my vote.........nkt!!!! Is it possible to impeach a woman representative, ready to sign that petition....ala, this is greed on another level, na bado ata MPs hawajaapishwa.....the whole Kiambu is embarased, how could we not have seen this..........may God help us!!!

Mtoto Wa Elizah - We are the ones who have employed them nt sarah serem. If some feels the saraly is to small a resign......kwenda mbunge nt lke muiguithania show.mchele n ya minji eterere uhue maii..

Peter Mbugua - We Kiambu electorate's should show her hatutaki wana let's impeach her before being sworn in on Tuesday. Those books for signing should be available everywhere in Kiambu county.

Sals Njokieh - Just tell that if she feels the pay is not enough for her position, she should pack n allow another Kenyan enjoy that much/little as she claims, wat a disappointment!

Kamacua George - Nani anaweka hizo sign plz aniambie ni weke yangu aende harakaharaka

Danmbiu Mbiu - Time nd opportunity are given to everyone......we put her there nd after a short time we will remove her there...... We don't want greedy leaders they are the corse that we will never excel...

Some of the memes..

Njorogeh Peter - Damage already done wolf in sheep skin hv started showng their colour ..they hv started fightng for their stomach yet wanjiku s languishing in poverty .......

Agness Mwihaki - From the abundance of the heart the moth speakth, I want to sign that petition pap!!!

Grace Kui - Being honoured for who you are???? Don't forget we made you who u r now n want to dig our pockets further?????

Mwalimu Nyerere K - For 900k votes, kiambu thrust this woman into parliament. The verbal diarrhoea she suffers from will soon makes us constipated

Shiro Kamau - Kwani when she was campaigning she didn't know the amount she was tobe paid??shame on her!!!!

Njoki Alex - Mmenjifalia ngozi ya kondoo. Mle ndani ni mbwa mwitu. GU.GU!
I'm just singing..

Vicky Maiyo - All these people are angels when looking for votes but once they are elected they touch into who they are.. Monsters

Video clip of what Wamuchomba said.




Muchoki Gitau - She has exposed her dark side,even before being sworn in!its too early for such kind if statements.

Peter Mburu - We are watching you every word.remember there are others healing wounds of rejection.

Bonface Sikuku - Mungu anakuona tu 2022 Home sio mbaliii

Diana Queency - She has not even started the job and here she is demanding to b payed more....


Mwaf Mwafrika - Geraafhere,,,, you hardly campaigned. Get out of your high horse and serve the people otherwise quit being a Woman Rep

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