October 2016

James Wachira (Second Left) is taken to safety by his relatives after he was roughed up by Teresia Wambui’s family.

There was drama at the General Kago Funeral Home on Saturday when the family of a woman who was allegedly killed by her husband along with her two children allegedly last week in Makuyu, Murang’a County, blocked the removal of the bodies from the morgue on Saturday.

Teresia Wambui (22) and her two children aged 3 and 1 were allegedly killed by her husband Bernard Kiiru, who later committed suicide.

The kins’ ire was that the Kiiru's employer, James Wachira, had concealed the circumstances under which the family perished. He is said to have tricked Wambui’s father, Christopher Ndirangu, into signing and swearing an affidavit ruling out a postmortem. The two are said to have later taken the affidavit to Makuyu Police Station and a burial permit was issued.

The bodies were to be buried at Kiandutu cemetery.

“I and the family of the deceased have agreed that we do not need a postmortem and we have no claim to anybody. I swear this affidavit to all concerned authorities to release the body of the deceased to the family for preparation for burial,” read part of the affidavit sworn by Ndirangu on October 27.

Members of Ndirangu’s extended family, however, said they were not informed of the plans to cancel the postmortem and the reason behind its cancellation.

“Wachira has been buying Ndirangu drinks since the demise of the family and we don’t know how he convinced the father not to do a postmortem. But we won’t allow the bodies to be buried before we know the cause of the deaths because we are suspecting that the family was assassinated,” said John Mbogo a family member.

Mbogo alleged that Wachira was hiding serious information on the deaths since he was the one speeding up burial of the deceased by footing all bills that arose for the burial.

“This man has been with the deceased family for two weeks but after the deaths he has been in the forefront to have them buried hurriedly. He footed the bill at the morgue, bought coffins and even paid sh. 7,000 for the cemetery without our knowledge. Why is he rushing things without including the bereaved families? His deeds are raising suspicions that he knows the cause of the deaths,” asked Mbogo.

“The information Wachira has been giving us regarding the whole ordeal doesn’t add up. We are wondering how an entire family can be killed in the morning without them hearing commotion or screams. I’ve visited the home and the deceased’s house is only yards away from Wachira’s,” argued Mbogo.

Mary Wandia another family member said that they want the cause of the deaths and the mystery surrounding the deaths unraveled so that justice can be served.

Wachira however, after being roughed up by the bereaved family members, said that he was just helping the family bury their dead out of good will since they were ‘poor’ and couldn’t raise postmortem cash or foot bills.

“We agreed with the family that they will be buried in the public cemetery because it’d have cost them over sh. 70,000 to transport the bodies to their village,” Wachira said.

However, Ndirangu changed his mind and said that he will bury his daughter and her two children at their Gitugi village land.

“I was of the opinion that they be buried in Thika but I now have to respect the will of my extended family, especially Wambui’s grandmother, that a postmortem be done and they be buried in Othaya,” he said.

Police officers had to be called in to intervene and resolve the conflict. They ordered that the two families settle on a unanimous decision.

Wambui’s family was advised to seek permission from relevant authorities to have a postmortem done to ascertain the cause of the deaths.

“We will have the postmortem done and once we are satisfied with the results we will bury the deceased,” Mbogo said.

Joseph Kairu, Kiiru’s father, said that he was ready to bury his son on Saturday adding that he will petition with the relevant authorities the decision of having a postmortem done saying that it will be too costly for him.

“I just want to bury my son because no matter what investigations will be done he won’t come back to life,” Kairu said.

The bodies are still lying at General Kago Funeral Home and will be buried on a later date once the postmortem is done and the dispute solved.

Stephen Ng'ang'a Wainaina showing the length taproot of a young bug weed . The weed was propagated with tree tomato to develop a resistant species of the fruit.
When you meet him in the streets, he looks just like any other ordinary fellow in town but Alas! You are so mistaken. This man is just too valuable to this country and to the world at large especially in the field of innovations and organic farming.

His name is Stephen Ng’ang’a Wainaina, the 2014 Winner of the Organic Farming Innovation Award (OFIA) at an awards ceremony held in Istanbul, Turkey on the 14th of October.

Wainaina, who is the Executive Director of Organic Agriculture Centre of Kenya (OACK), was crowned the Science Prize Winner for his Tamarillo or Solanum betaceum (popularly known as the tree tomato) grafting technology, an innovation that enhances resistance to fruit diseases, pests and drought.

IFOAM - Organics International is an international umbrella organisation of the organic world with 800 affiliates in more than 100 countries that unites an enormous diversity of stakeholders contributing to the organic vision. Every three years, at the Organic World Congress (OWC), IFOAM-Organics International, the Rural Development Administration (RDA) of Republic of Korea and the IFOAM Technology Innovation Platform (TIPI) award great organic innovators with the Organic Farming Innovation Award (OFIA).

OFIA is an initiative of the government of the Republic of Korea in remembrance of the 17th Organic World Congress (OWC) 2011 held in its Gyeonggi Province. OFIA is awarded in two categories: the Grand Prize and the Science Prize.

In the year 1982, when Wainaina was studying an advanced Agriculture course at the Murrumbidgee College of Agriculture, New South Wales Australia, he came across the Bug weed variously known as wild tobacco or Solanum mauritianum (indigenous Muthakwa plant) growing among other weeds.

A year later, he found the same weed growing in his rural home in Murang’a County. At the time, he was growing ungrafted tree tomatoes on his farm, which were by then withering and drying up due to the dry weather conditions. He realised that the bug weed was still green and showed no effects of the dry weather. It is from this observation that Wainaina got interested in understanding the reason why the two plants behaved differently.

After doing his analysis, he discovered that the bug weed survived the drought due to its deep rooting.

“I realised that my tree tomato plants had shallow root system, thus the reason they were unable to withstand the dry weather for a long period. I took a sample of the bug weed to Kabete University for some genetic and taxonomic analysis where I discovered that it belonged to the same family with the tree tomato,” explained Wainaina.

When he came back to his farm, Wainaina experimented by propagating the bug weed with his tree tomatoes just in case it developed a better species that would withstand the drought. The two became compatible and grew well without any problem. They both belong to Solanaceae family, hence compatibility.

“The grafted tree tomato never withered or showed signs of being overcome by the dry weather. They developed some vigour, were able to grow faster before the pests and diseases accumulated and even before the water became scarce. This way they were able to evade pest and disease destruction and water shortage hence ended up giving me a higher yield. Additionally, the mixture of genes enabled functions such as photosynthesis to work better. When this happened, my hybrid plants produced bigger fruits compared to the ungrafted ones,” he said.

The ordinary tree tomato plants which usually have shallow root system, were bettered through grafting. The bug weed-grafted variety did not require a lot of water because its deep rooted taproot allowed them to get nutrients and water underground.

Poisonous Plant.
The bug weed is an invasive weed and some people have declared it poisonous to both human beings and animals. It has been for a long time regarded as uneconomic weed to be eliminated, even included in the Global Invasive Database (GIS D. 2006) because it serves no economic purpose and is regarded to pose characteristics harmful to humans and environment.
Wainaina showing a mature bug weed that has grown wildly in a tree tomato farm.

The bug weed is resistant to diseases and drought. It shows a healthy growth in the wild, where it is found.
All these statistics did not put off Wainaina and he went ahead to propagate it with his tree tomatoes.

“Before my retirement from the University of Nairobi as a plant propagator, I had gained a great wealth of experience in that field. Over 32 years’ experience to be precise. I knew that the fruits would not sap any poison from the weed as they originate from the scion and the poisonous part of the plant originate from the bug weed. Therefore, the poison cannot be transferred to the scion which is now the tree tomato,” he explained.

In this way, the bug weed was robbed of all its powers to harm the tree tomato. Once grafted with the tree-tomato, the result was a crop with a promise as the grafted tree tomato seedling improved its capability to resist disease and drought.

The tree tomato, being shallow rooted, profited from the deep tap root and the many strong auxiliary roots of the bug weed. Grafting these two plants improved the stem and root system, as the grafted fruit plant has a stronger anchoring. Long term resistance to fruit diseases, pests and drought are the other gains that were developed from this innovation.

The grafted plants bear improved fruits, can be used for own consumption or sold for fruit consumption and for making fresh juices to earn extra money. Improved tree tomato has further potentials to ensure food security and generate income.

Tree tomato is an important source of vitamins A and C that are lacking in many African diets. Low intake of vitamins by around 50 million African children is considered to be the third biggest public health problem in Africa after HIV/AIDS and Malaria.

It also provides fodder for livestock.

Nowadays, there has emerged a high demand among farmers for the grafted tree tomato seedlings as the quality fruits are attracting higher prices. There is also the need to sensitise consumers about benefits of eating the fruits.

Wainaina holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Horticulture from University of Greenwich England, and has attended an Advanced Agriculture Course at Murrumbidgee College of Agriculture, New South Wales, Australia.
You can reach Wainaina through contact:  
Stephen Ng’ang’a Wainaina, OACK, P.O BOX 69-10218, Kangari, Kenya

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