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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Garissa High School chosen to be one of the country's eight sports academies.

A trilateral initiative by the Ministries of Education and Sports, & UNICEF has included Garissa High as one of the countries eight breeding centers for champion Sportsmen. The school has received a donation of Sh. 4m to help fund the academy and nurture Kenya's future champions. Its my sincere hope that this project will be executed with the interest of country and students at heart. Failure to do so will not only mean  another generation of talent going to waste, it will also deprive our province of representation in National sporting championships.
Finally, GHS should increase its quota of students who come from Wajir and Mandera counties. For a long time the school has had 90% + of its student body hailing from within the city. This funding will give it an edge over its rivals and allow the school to broaden its talent pool both academically and sports-wise.

Read the full story here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The 10 Best Footballers in Garissa

 A few days ago I wrote an entry detailing what I believed to be the best football teams in Garissa. I, apparently, had a lot to learn about football and seemed to have disappointed a substantial number of die-hard fans who had hoped their home teams will be featured on my list. In order to redeem myself, I thought I should shine the spotlight on what a number of self described football experts in Garissa and I believe to be the best footballers as opposed to the best teams. Our passion is after all for the players who make us (the fans) go 'ooh and aaah' with their deft touch and spark.
 In ranked format, here are the best ten footballers in Garissa;

1. Abdiaziz (Sunnah Boys) : He has the composure of a seasoned striker infront of goal. His skill is unparalleled and many consider him to be the best player in this generation. He represented Kenya in the under-17 championships in South Africa at the 2010 world cup. The problem with trying to evaluate Abdiaziz is that you run out of adjectives to qualitatively highlight his superiority when compared to his peers.

2. Okora (Red Eagles): A man of many aliases, Morreira, represents both the young and the old in Garissa. His speed is legendary. His ability to slice through defenses and leave the fans going nuts is well known throughout the city. His name is something of a brand in on its own. His only shortcoming is his inability to commit to a single team for the long term. He changes teams faster than a teenager afflicted with acne changes face cleansing creams.

3. Najib (Sunnah Boys): They call him Najinho. He has the flair of Robinho, the deft touch of Rivaldo and the bravado of Ronaldinho. If you have never seen him play yet, I'll urge you to attend one of Sunnah's games

4. Ali aka (Red Eagles)

5. Noor (Red Eagles) : 

6. A.Latif D.V (Sunnah Boys): Immense talent and an enormous presence in the midfield. His telepathic connection with his strikers is admirable.

7. Liban (Al-mansoor) ; A poacher of Van Nistelroy's pedigree

8. Deqow (Red Eagles); They call him Deco because just like the Portuguese maestro he can mesmerize strikers with his carnivorous awareness. He is a hybrid of Canavarro & Nesta. One of the best defenders since the days of Burra & qaliirow.

9. Fuser (Sheikh Stars) : The Kudanzee boys would have been dumped among the refuse if it were not for him.

10. Abdirashid (Ngamia):

So what do you think? Did your favourite player make it to the list? Feel free to tell me any genuine contenders I left out.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kenya's Obama but Kenya is NO America

 One of my favourite columnists, Makau Mutua, floats the idea of Mr. Abdikadir Hussein Mohammed pulling off an Obama in Kenya. Its a great leap for well read intellectual heavyweights to float the idea of a Somali becoming Kenya's president but can Kenya pull off an 'America'? Despite the many parallels Abdikadir's rise has with that of Obama, the former doesn't possess Obama's soaring rhetorical skills and his celebrity persona. What he lacks in grandiose and flowery rhetoric, he makes up for in unparalleled statesmanship.

I think a certain number of issues will work against him;

Kenya's political system is one underlined by tribal allegiances and class divide. Political power always belongs to the upper class of the 'big five' who are at the heart of the Kenyan aristocracy.

Somalis, for all their new found wealth, have not joined the rotund corporate fat cats of Kenya and have not formed any powerful lobby groups that might assist with funding, campaign donations, etc

If figures from the census are to be believed, the Muslim vote in this nation is about 10 percent of the whole electorate. That lowers Mr. Abdikadir's voter base to a small subset of the larger population.

Here is what I think will work to Mr. Abdikadir's advantage in 2012;

The young educated class in this nation who do not buy into the whole tribe issue, as shown by the election of defrauder-in-chief, Mike Sonko to the National Assembly will certainly be willing to vote for a tested visionary leader.
The emerging professional class of cosmopolitan cities like Nairobi and Mombasa are willing to change Kenya's image from an archaic tribal fiefdom into a place where anyone with solid credentials can make it to the top

The new constitution and the requirement that the winner garner 51% of the vote will make it hard for any of the big five to do it on their own. Even if Mr. Abdikadir fails to win the first round, he is set to gain a big bargaining chip if he galvanizes the aforementioned subsets of our electorate. (Muslims, Minority tribes & young professionals)

Also, a lot of minority tribes who have never had representation in State House will certainly welcome one of them making it to the top as It will mean an end to the big five dictatorship.
 It will also be a nice break from the violence that rocks this nation every election cycle since no one will feel that their arch enemy's win is a doom for their tribes ventures.

Enough with my pseudo-political scientist analysis, here is the real article by Makau Mutua.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daily Nation Peddles another cheap tabloid Somali Story

Crime whether by Somalis or others is reprehensible and should face the wrath of the law. I'm not an apologist for criminals, Somali or otherwise, but what is the point of plagiarizing a New York Times article on crimes committed by Somali Americans and what is its relevance to Kenya? None of the criminals are Kenyan. None of the innocent young girls abused is Kenyan. Does this mean from today henceforth, all crimes committed in America, including those by Mexican drug cartels, African Americans, White supremacist tin hat groups will be covered in Kenya's biggest tabloid paper? I'm sure its a shameful thing for any Muslim or Somali to partake in, but what makes this story worthy of coverage?

For a media house that is subservient to Indian owned corporations, its intentions are suspect.Has the monkey posing as an editor who decided to run this story forgotten about millions of Kenyan sex slaves including children as young as 9 peddled to serve the fetishes of tourists? Before running this slanderous tabloid story maybe they should pay more attention to their wretched brethren at the coast who pimp children and increase the prevalence  of HIV among their fellow chimps or their Indian benefactors who specialise in all forms of slavery including and not limited to the abuse of Kenyan labourers.

For clowns who are not familiar with the nuances and struggles of refugees in America, its irresponsible to sensationalize a story that happened thousands of kilometers away for the purpose of insulting Kenyan Somalis who are a decent lot and have a clean record when it comes to the myriad of social vices that plague this country.

I have no problems with adoons drinking to their grave, hacking their families to death and pimping their children for a gunia of maize so long as they keep us out of it. 
I know I've been over the top with my rants this time round but I'm not gonna apologize for it. I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna sit around while the honour of my people is insulted by a brain addled 'cabiid.'

Here is the aforementioned New York Times article and here is the sensational headline chosen by the retarded morons at Daily Nation.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Abu Dhabi gives Sh.800m for the construction of Garissa-Modogashe Highway

The Abu Dhabi Fund For Development (ADFD) has given Sh.800m to Kenya's ambassador to the UAE, Mohammed Gillo, for the construction of a single carriage (two lane) highway link between Garissa and Modogashe.

This 135Km link will improve the livelihoods of a lot of Northerners and cut travel time between the two towns. Lets hope this money will not be diverted to personal accounts or other regions.

For further reading, go here and here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Top 10 Football Clubs in Garissa

Warning: If you're an uptight nutjob and have no sense of humour, this entry may be hazardous to your health.

Okay, Football fans. I have been concentrating on politics and other controversial social issues for a while now and I feel its time lighten up the mood here before this blog turns into another one of those ranting sites. And what a better way to bring levity to our lives than rank Garissa's football teams in terms of talent, jogo bonnito, swagger and chances of future success.
I've been holding this back for a couple days, while I did a lengthy research on the topic and consulted quasi experts on all football related issues in Garissa. The methodology used to come up with this ranking is not scientific and skeptics are allowed to send me corrections, compliments and generally anything that you think is noteworthy.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you the 10 best football clubs in Garissa:

1. SUNNAH BOYS FC; They are the reigning champions and are blessed with one of the greatest coaches in the city. Not to mention an array of talent that includes the who is who of football in Garissa. Just to mention a few, Abdiaziz, Najib & zakaria. "Experts" and hardcore football fans in Garissa claim this team has a lot of parallels with Arsenal FC of England.

2.RED EAGLES FC; They certainly have the reputation and the class albeit robbed of their mojo by Sunnah FC. They are the Real Madrid of Garissa, laden with a history of silverware, big names and an ego that will expose Yuweri Musevini for sabre-rattler that he is. This team has produced some of the city's most legendary footballers. The likes of Isko, Aliko, Abdille and Okora ( I know he shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as the others).Their destruction of Jeshu (Military) and police  teams has gone down in the annals of soccer history & is held in awe by all.
We hear some of their all times greats are doing well in Europe and America flipping burgers at McDonald's.

3. Al-MANSOOR FC: At one time this team was known to be a rag tag collection of 'Som' players. Not to propagate a stereotype but this still holds true today.Masters of refined culture, they have a laid back attitude and a calm approach to football. Watching their fluid cat-walk replicate playing style is easy on the eyes. Their over-jelled hair(s) and cheap perfume gives away their unorthodoxy. Currently Liban is one of their most known players.

4.NGAMIA UNITED; Synonymous with violence and a Sicilian approach to competition, Ngamia utd has become one of the city's most infamous brands. Even though they've tried to shed away their mungiki-esque characteristics, their detractors still think of them in the same light and their fans are as passionate about their team as ever. This team has managed to cultivate a culture of football mania much like the Catalans. They boast of one of the deepest lineups in the city. Plus we all love the uncultured bad boy attitude of the men from the east.

5. SHEIKH STARS FC; Their name gives away all you need to know about them. Not well known outside one kilometer radius of Kudanzi.

6.Northern Rangers: Another of one those upcoming teams. Their game is decent and fast paced. A lot of their players are former employees of the now defunct garbage collection department in Garissa.

7.WHITE EAGLES; The hill billy's of Bulla Adan known to have the football IQ of a 'lax' (sheep)
Some of their greatest players are no longer in town thus their low ranking.

8.DUTCH FC; Their name is also used as insult. Calling someone 'dutch' in parts of the city is the equivalent of calling them a clown. Simple put, they are boring, plain and uncreative.

9. Khalifa FC; Mediocrity is not the equivalent of misery. This team knows its niche and has found happiness in it. They suffer from a severe lack of motivation.

10. Garissa Ndogo: At one point, they were one of the city's best teams but their fortunes are these days in the toilet.

Disclaimer: This writing is to be taken for what it is. An amateur hit job written in jest.

Kenya Inc.

Kenya is nothing more than a massive mafia conglomerate. Don't believe me? Read today's Standard. There is a massive expose on how a bunch of Sisyphus morons from The Mt.Kenya region have taken this nations and its citizens for a ride. How corruption pervades this nation, its elected leaders and every sphere of life is breathtaking in its breadth and rot.
What best describes these minions is what Matt Taibbbi of Rolling Stone Magazine wrote about wall street bankers at the height of the global sub-prime mortgage crisis.

     "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into                                 anything that smells like money."

Here are a few of the links that you might consider reading:

Jibril Adan's cover story on the figures behind The Standard media raid .
Police officers colluding with drug trafficking cartels.
The story on how Brigadier Ali and Aaron Ringera, the former resident of Integrity House, aided and abetted drug trafficking
Chase Bank's involvement in drug trafficking, tax evasion among other numerous fraudulent adventures.

Seriously, where are we headed? Are we ever going to see a major political figure head in prison?
Lumumba seems to be making all the right noises but his efforts will surely be impeded by our highly polarized and extremely tribalised politics.
If this country is ever to achieve its vision 2030,  "our tribe, our thief" rational is got to come to an end.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quick Hits

Here are a few interesting things I wanted to share;

A Councillor from the Mt. Kenya region is single handedly trying to repopulate Kenya with sons and daughters of Agikuyu. Having noticed  the population of his ward had gone down year after year, he came up with an ingenious idea of monetary incentives for every pregnancy and birth ( I guess life birth).
For every pregnancy, a woman will earn a whopping Sh. 500 and every birth (life) Sh. 2000 bringing a whole new sense to the Kikuyu and money cliche. Full story as it appeared on The Daily Nation can be read here.

Our friend from Gichugu, Martha Karua, the woman who thinks Nepians are refugees is calling for foreigners to take up 43% of positions in the country's supreme court. I guess the new constitution protects a person's right to their own warped delusions but for this woman to suggest all 39 million Kenyans are myopic tribalists is a travesty. Did she forget the IIEC & KNCHR? And don't get me started on foreigners unless by that she meant  Somali Pirates, who are the only people in Africa known to provide social justice in their regions of operation.

The debate on whether to ban  the archaic KCPE tests has been gaining momentum as more and more powerful groups throw their support behind a proposal to make secondary education truly universal. This is an important development as this two and a half day exam does not in anyway reflect the capability of students especially those from less developed regions. I will write a lengthy entry dedicated to this issue alone.
Glad to know there are few thinking Kenyans in the National Assembly.

Finally this sad thing happened;

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Graphic Video: Overloaded Pickup overturns somewhere in Kenya

A dangerously overloaded pickup truck overturns in one of Kenya's roads.The occupants of the pickup seem to be Muslim with some wearing Kanzus and chanting "La ilaha ila'Lah." We gather that Muslims were protesting even though their grievances are not yet known to this blog. There were a number of non-muslims who could be seen escaping from the vehicle as well.

The video recorder can be heard mouthing ethnic slurs, declaring that it seems "Just like Mogadishu."
Whatever the reasons were for this overload, they certainly turned out to be deadly for the occupants of the automobile and this is another stark reminder to all of us on the impotance of practicing safe driving.

A figure on casualties hasn't been available.

Double click to watch the video

Updated at 12.20pm

Friday, November 19, 2010

Reaping fruits of Prosperity from land riven with aridity

This is one of those feel good stories that restores your hope in a Garissa that will one day be the bread basket of Kenya. Tana River Drought Recovery Project is implemented by the Kenya Red Cross Society through support from the Japanese Government.

The Standard | Online Edition :: Reaping fruits of prosperity from land riven with aridity

Reaping fruits of prosperity from land riven with aridity

Published on 17/11/2010
The gaunt desert bushes flanking the river seemed to tremble as the farmer’s hoe struck the rich earth beneath.
In the background, the sound of the two-piston engine harmonised with the singing of Dado Lalafa, carrying across the fields along the crocodile-infested Tana River.
Along the smooth flowing river are 20 irrigation water pumps, draining thousands of litres of the rich brown water on thousands of hectares of owned by about 100 farming groups.
Dado is one of the 5,000 farmers from Tana River and Garissa Districts who have embraced irrigation, thanks to an initiative by Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) dubbed, Tana River Drought Recovery Project.
Two years ago, the communities were mostly pastoralist, relying on relief food from the Government and international organisations.
KRCS is one of the organisations that have been distributing food to communities in Madogo, Bura and Bangale. But they chose to move in a different direction by moving away from food distribution to empowering local communities fend for themselves.
Untapped potential

The Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary General Abbas Gullet (right) and Dujis MP Aden Duale savour the fruits of the labours of Tana River farmers
And the biggest resource the locals is the Tana River which, like the mighty River Nile, is said to have the untapped potential of feeding more than half of Kenyan’s population.
As it veers South, opening into a wide valley, it meanders through floodplains which, for years, have been subject to inundations. The murky sludge it carries is rich in mineral soils, and ideal for agriculture.
Garissa Agricultural District Officer Bashir Abdillahi says communities living along the Tana River, near Garissa, are able to produce over 20 metric tonnes of food crops such as vegetable and fruits all year round.
"These farmers were pastoralists but because of frequent droughts that have rendered them destitute, they are trying their hand at farming," Abdillahi says, "They used to suffer during drought and floods. Now signs are good because they can now augment livestock production with farming."
Vast amounts of banana, chilli, onions, tomatoes, oranges and mangoes are exported to Far East markets, which in turn affords the residents steady incomes to afford them school fees and other needs.
The Madogo project has 35 farm groups, which benefit around 5,000 people.
The project is in its second year following years of reliance on relief food.
Dado said when the project started making returns, the community wrote to the Government to say they no longer needed relief food, but instead needed empowering to produce their own food.
KRCS Public Relations Officer Titus Mung’ou says the organisation is shifting from assistance to facilitation.
"Our experience has shown that when you empower a community they are able to take care of themselves without relying on handouts. What we are doing along the Tana River is to restore the dignity of the community to provide for itself," Mung’ou tells The Standard.

The Tana Basin has immense irrigation potential. [PHOTOS: PETER ORENGO/ STANDARD]
Aid mentality
His sentiments are echoed by the organisation’s Secretary General Abbas Gullet, who last week presided over the donation of 20 water pumps to the community for use in irrigation.
"The mentality of aid must stop. Those who can get water pumps should utilise them and say ‘no’ to hunger. The KRCS is determined to change the mentality of handouts," said Gullet.
Dujis Constituency, one of the areas where people have befitted from KRCS pumps appears set for bigger things. Area MP Aden Duale says farmed lands have increased to 22,000 hectares.
"People always think of the arid North as only a land of banditry, drought and conflict. Today, we are exporting fruits and vegetable outside the country. If we continue empowering the people, I see the whole Tana eco-system feeding half of this country," said Duale.
He says all that is needed is for the Government to devote more funds to irrigating the fertile lands along the Tana River.
"Politics of food distribution should end if our people are given the opportunity to fend for themselves. The future of investment in the country lies in the arid areas. The land is available, and so is the technology," said Duale.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rejoinder to Clerics Vs Young Guns

Greetings to all my blog readers and well wishers,
This is not an entry I was planning on writing but I have been forced to after several unflattering e-mails and the numerous "need-to-talk-to-you" calls I have received since writing the previous one.
First, let it be understood that I'm not writing these things to offend anyone. On the contrary, I do it so that we  can all help each other make sense of what the priorities for our city are. Would you prefer that no one challenge authority and our incipient civil discourse. Would you prefer that clanism and its role in the Pre-2012 political posturing be left 'undebated'?

There is no need to take an opponent's ideas to the very extreme and debate them as though they were the equivalent of "Colonial Northern Frontier District Policy" re-incarnate. Don't let your passions cloud your sense of good judgement and bar you from participating in a civil exchange of ideas grounded on respect and mutual want for our Garissa to be the Kenyan City of the 21st century.

Occasionally I came across some positive reaction to the now infamous entry that make me think as Garissians, we are on the right track. The circus that is the current debate on what the devolution of power (actually devolution of corruption) to local counties means for not only Garissa but the larger Nep is a definite reminder that we Kenyan Somalis have a long way to go. But things are starting to look better. For one, our inchoate civic movements and community activists are getting into the polemic clanism debate more vigorously and the youth are getting inundated with anti-clanism messages so that they don't get pulled into a vortex of political supremacy battles.

The Ulamaa need to use their bully pulpits to promote these implacable advances in eradicating clanism in our region. I am not an Ulamaa basher, never been, never will be but I'll point out when their priorities are misplaced. I want our religious leaders to be more proactive when it comes to holding our elected leaders to account. I'll stand by those who stick their necks out to defend the common person's interest. Lets remember in 2007, Farah Maalim rode to power because of the endorsement (rightly or wrongly) of Eastleigh's Sheikhs. Certainly, the public has a right to demand that the same sheikhs hold Mr. Farah accountable for his actions or inactions. Religious leaders can be a force for far greater good if they choose to use their power and deploy it in areas such as the eradication of drug abuse, clanism and corruption. We Somalis are a religious lot and our ulamaa can root out these problems if they pay attention to them.
Finally on the issue of vices; Clubs, Khat and other hard or soft drugs are bigger evils and pose a bigger threat to our culture and religion that any "un-Islamic" comedy sketches from teenage comics.

PS: For those that had a beef with the picture on the previous post, it was just too charming to not use.

Peace & Love all.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Clerics Vs Young Guns: The Battle for the Soul of Garissa

We all know the importance of Ulamaa and religion in safeguarding morality in society. The usefulness of youthful zest and energy in bringing about change with vigor and exuberance is undeniable too. And when the these two important pillars of society clash, the fallout can turn out to be intractable and damaging in the long term. So I was quite apprehensive when news of a dust up between  the "shyukh" and a group of youth who had organized an eid related event at the Government Guest House with the goal of bringing together young Garissians to sensitize them about drug abuse, Khat addiction, educational tutorials,  and group discussions on politics and clanism reached me.

The event organized by YM Media in conjunction with G-Youth was supposed to highlight the talents of our youngsters with performance of short skits, drama, comedy etc. They obtained a written permit from the Government Guest House Caretaker and were promised security by the police.

I am not sure how the Sheikhs got wind of the event but they swiftly issued a fatwa terming the event contrary to Islam and moved to threaten the caretaker with unspecified consequences if he did not revoke the permit.
Now, I do not wish to make a judgement but I'm sure you realize where my sympathies lie in this David Vs Goliath battle.

I'll summarize by saying this, the Sheikhs  need to careful not to be used by pseudo-ulamaa only interested in turning them into mere inert resources for their diabolical schemes. Lets hope that while mouthing their sanctimonious platitudes such as "Power belongs to God," they'll realise the philosophy of Do-or-Die cannot guarantee who does and who dies. They must stop playing the all knowing God and stop trying to control every facet of our lives. If they really want to fight evil, their guns better be directed at clanism and its evils for its that which will truly determine the success of Garissa County in 2012 and beyond. 

Garissa Youth Project Set for Take-off

Since the late 90s a lot of aid has been poured into Garissa and its surrounding localities. Most of it has gone down the drain without much impact. If a fifth of this aid was deployed effectively, things would have been much different today. Instead you have a cacophony of aid effort from multiple organizations that are uncoordinated and run by non-natives who are not ready to do the nitty-gritty stuff .

Garissa Youth Project is a local organization  funded by an international NGO (Education Youth Center) that has been started by local youth to mobilize their community and change the fortunes of locals in Garissa. Recently G-youth and other local NGOs  have received US $ 5M (Ksh 400 Million) from the American Ambassador, Michael Ranneberger to enhance youth development and capacity building.

It comes as no surprise then that G-Youth stakeholders have started a high school student empowerment project  in Garissa. They intend to hold career fairs for students, sensitize parents, link schools to career resource centers among many other things.
The schools that have been picked to participate in this pilot project are:

Garissa HighSchool
County HighSchool
Nep Girls Secondary School
UmuSalama Secondary School
Boystown Secondary School
Iftin Girls Secondary School
Tetu Secondary School
Khadija Girls Secondary School
Ikhlas Mixed Day Seconday school
Young Muslim Academy

G-Youth needs to lauded for this. Our students have always lacked effective career counselling.

 I hope part of the fund will be used to invest in ICT projects to make High Speed Internet connectivity available to schools so that our students can be in touch with the world.
Rwanda has been able to do this with great success and we ought to learn from them. Students in Primary schools in Rwandan villages have laptops thanks to the combined efforts of their government and the one laptop per child policy. However I'm not under the false impression that Kenya can in anyway be compared to Rwanda, a country whose government may not be of  the people or by the people but is surely for the people.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sheikh Khalifa, a prominent Imam passes away.

It's with great sorrow that I bear this bad news. Sheikh Khalifa, the larger than life figure in Garissa religious sphere, has passed away at age 90. His strident deep sotto Quran recitations have been legendary in the city. A pious sweet man of immense influence in Garissa's social and political circles. He was a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather, an Imam and a teacher at Madrassa Najjah.
Every year he led hordes of hajj goers to Mecca and as Allah would have it, he passed away on the day of Araffa.

May Allah rest his soul in eternal jannah and give his family subra. Pray for him and all Muslims who are in distress.

Inaa lilahi wa'inaa Ilayhi Raa'jiun.

The Scourge of FGM & Early Marriage in Garissa

I'm not an oracle but I'll try and draw on whatever meager oracular powers I possess to claim that the girls housed at Dr. Ekman Girls's Home will in very measurable ways transform the role of women in society and our perception of islamo-neo-feminism. Right now, I'm all bubbly because this institution is solely breaking down deep rooted cultural misconceptions on womanhood and the role of a strong female in society. I have been to this school, talked to the girls and will be writing a review on the performance of this school cum home.

Save for preppy middle class private schools, I don't think there are any other schools in Garissa that have students whose mastery of english is so flawless whose desire to succeed despite all obstacles is boundless and whose generosity is so genuine. 

I thank NTV for telling a story that needed to be told in a voice that is so authentic.

Video is below here:

NTV Takes on Clanism in Garissa

They say no media  is bad media, so going by that philosophy, the people of Garissa should be happy that an anti-clanism message is sort of taking root in our city and in the larger NEP region. However, What irked me the most about the video is the selective editing of images to just snapshots of the cities in-glorified places. They filmed masjid ibnul Qayyim but were unwilling to show the highrises that are just opposite to it. Maybe I'm just being paranoid but you can't say my visceral reaction is misplaced given the media's interest in trying to make sweeping negative statements about our region and people.

Here is the video:

Monday, November 15, 2010

News of Interest

Kenya's new electoral constituencies are out and NEP has been assigned 6 new electoral units to amass a meagre tally of 17 new representatives in the post 2012 National assembly. The populous Mandera Central will be split into three constituencies while each of Dujis, Mandera West, Lagdera and Wajir East are to be split to a carve out a new unit. Sorry Wajir South.
You can read the full the story in its explosive glory as it appeared on The Standard here.
The verbal dust up between Ruto and KNCHR commissioner Hassan Omar continues to unfold. This time round Muslim Human Rights Forum (MHRF) has called for Ruto's arrest for his irresponsible and illogical rhetoric with regards to the fake bribery controversy he  ginned up. Story is available here

Finally, something rather interesting and strange popped up in my inbox yesterday. Apparently Deputy PM and grand corrupt-or (pardon my english) has nominated the people of Othaya, Garissa & Mtwapa  for a radical urbanization master plan. The video evidence can be found here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Poverty is a State of Mind

 For those of you that have a thin skin, please do not go on and read this article and if you do, do not try to confront me on the streets. I have been on a winning tour with Jackie Chan. Also please pardon the headline for its lack of political correctness and benign overlap with  right wing conservative ideology. Despite the similarity of our messages as far as semantics go, the insights and nuances for this article are derived from real life observations of a local.

 I am not not in anyway trying to suggest Somalis are lazy in general. At least that's not true for our brethren across border but one might point to their well oiled pockets for their entrepreneurial success. The same cannot be said of Somali Kenyans.

 Take the case of Garissa. We have perennial droughts, famine and endemic tribal clashes. The city imports about 40% of its food needs from Nairobi  and has a significant number of its masses masquerading as refugees in the camps. This has created an atmosphere of ingrained dependency and lack of self worth.
Then there are our brethren from Somalia who have taken the whole issues of dependence a couple notches higher. They rely on remittances from family members in the west and sit around until the end of the month for the next supply of cash to come. As a society we derive our self worth not from who we are but what clan we are, what relatives we have in high places and what towns are purportedly ours.
  Vegetables are seasonal. Tomatoes and kales are unavailable or expensive between august-march (you hear me Kenyan entrepreneurs). Our road networks are under developed and trillions of gallons of water from the Tana River drain-by everyday while our people starve.
The Red cross and other NGOs have been trying to convince our people to take up subsistence farming but the rate of penetrations has been low among Somalis. Other communities especially those from madogo have accepted the call to independence far better than we have.

Everytime I go to 'Suuq Mugdi' (the dark market), the deplorable health and sanitary conditions turn my stomach. Here are hundreds of people selling and buying products in an environment that is filthy and don't seem bothered. Everyone delegates the cleaning to the other. The lack of collective communal action has left us a couple decades behind the rest of the country. Why don't we just drain the pools of sewage water and fill up the mini lakes with soil. That will not cost more than 10 000 shillings instead of waiting for infantile and irresponsible Councillors.

I can no longer try to rationalize this as marginalization by the government while ignoring the serious under performance of the locals.  I believe that to a large extent poverty and underdevelopment is a state of mind. If we are to see any substantial progress in our lives, we have to stop trafficking in the notion that its the duty of the governments to run our lives and shower us with gifts.

Garissa General Hospital is a Disgrace

Waihinya Ngari e-mailed this complaint about Garissa General Hospital. Of course I edited it since I know my readership slightly better than he does but the overall message went something like this:

If anyone knows anyone important in the ministry of health and medical services please let them know that the x-ray division at the Garissa hospital is not even trying – especially the bespectacled guy who apparently recently went on a trip to Dadaab for self enrichment ventures (I know this because he spent like two hours total chatting with random visitors about it). While visiting the hospital I saw what patients at the hospital have to go through on a daily basis. There was the woman who had come in for two days straight to get a dental x-ray. The previous day the x-ray guy sent her home because he had to leave after a three hour lunch break. The next morning when she returned she was made to wait for more than two hours because the said guy had to help out a nurse’s pregnant friend who wanted to have an ultra sound done. The most annoying bit of it all is that the waiting area is right outside the guy’s office and so we could hear all their conversations. The said guy then took another hour doing some paperwork and chatting with friends who popped in about every fifteen minutes. Je, huu ni ungwana???I obviously got annoyed by all this and in my naivety dialed the hospital hotline which is listed under the poster with the costs of all the x-rays outside the doctor’s office. The lady on the other side casually told me that they would take care of the delay and backlog with the x-rays and immediately hung up. Nothing was done. And to imagine that these guys live on taxpayers’ money. I have contacted Mr. Anyang’ Nyong’o himself and I am still waiting to hear from him (Mr. Nyong’o is very good with email, the only other time I wrote him he wrote back within a week)

A photo montage of Garissa's Under-17 Football team

First and foremost, I would like to the thank the person that e-mailed me these pictures of the city's youth team. This tournament took place a while ago but that does not in any way diminish the success of our team and how gallantly they represented us. (Honestly it should be the under-21 because most of the guys look way older than teens but thats another blog post).To quote Bush, " I'm not hating."

The green uniforms look better in my opinion.

An update on redistricting

 A section of MPs from Central, Coast and Eastern are up in arms over what they called an affair allotment of the "national cake." They allege IIBRC  commissioners have flouted the agreements signed by Members of parliament in Naivasha on the allocation of new constituencies pointing to the lack of transparency in the formulas and deductions that were used in the partitioning of the existing constituencies. This is something we've pointed to earlier on in this blog (you can read it here). Granted these gross inconsistencies, the aforementioned vagabonds have no right to demand that constituencies be taken away from NEP. While everyone has a right to demand what they think is their fair share, singling out a particular region for 'shaving' is retrogressive and sets a dangerous precedent.

 The Nation reports that MPs from Nep are happy with the share they've been assigned. I, for one, don't think this is a good idea and here is why. Its always good  to enter negotiation from a point of strength, by that I mean, our elected representatives should demand more so they can safeguard what they have or at least increase it. If we allow the whacks from Central to shift goal posts so far to their advantage there is only little concession we can get from them. So lets pitch our tent in a direction that is diametrically opposed to theirs and after haggling we can come to a comprise that is middle ground. My can add yours in the comments section.

Garissa's Changing Fortunes

Friday, November 12, 2010

Of Refugees, Land and Clashes

By Liban Osman

A recipe 4 a disaster...... With a large community of refugees from Somalia residing in Garissa and most getting remittance money from their relatives in the U.S and Europe, they are the new middle class in Garissa and they are contributing so much into our local economy. They are also buying up land and properties hand over fist and thus driving up land prices and they're buying this land from the original Gsa residents like me and you. our land apreciating in value is a good thing and I consider it 2 be a blessing 4 many poor people in Gsa but it will also make some greedy people want to grab land that belongs 2 someone else and that is when we start 2 see bloodshed.

‎... Also having very corrupt bastards as councillors is a destabilising factor. You can't even get a title deed for your property in Garissa you have 2 go 2 Nairobi to get one. Land prices in Gsa will keep on rising until we hit a natural price ceiling and we will keep on hearing about reer hebel fightin reer hebel and as always we will keep on paying attention to the symptoms and not the root cause of the fights. This land issue has a serious potential of formenting hatred and animosities amongst the brotherly people of Gsa county but it can be corrected only if we have the right leadership in position.

Somalia’s Wars Swell Refugee Camp in Kenya -

By Josh Kron
Published Nov 11, 2010

DADAAB, Kenya — When Abdullahi Salat came here as a young boy in 1991, fleeing civil war in his homeland, Somalia, little more than shrubs and a few tents dotted the landscape. The woman working for the United Nations who greeted him at this safe haven, then nearly empty, showed him to his own tent and sprinkled a handful of seeds into his palm.

He told her no that day; Dadaab was not his home, and he believed that he would be moving on shortly.

“Now the trees are very huge,” he said.

Over the years since Mr. Salat arrived here — an arid patch of Kenya roughly 50 miles from the Somali border — the refugee population at Dadaab has swelled to nearly 300,000, virtually all Somali, making it the largest refugee complex in the world, United Nations officials here say, and one of Kenya’s largest cities, dusty and spread out.

Next year, Dadaab will celebrate its 20th birthday. But as Somalia’s conflicts rage on, Kenyan attitudes toward them have grown icy, and this collection of refugee camps has become a nettlesome political problem and, some contend, a source of insecurity itself.

Intense fighting in Somalia in recent months has sent new floods of refugees across the border, which Kenya officially closed in 2007. Last week, the United Nations accused Kenyan soldiers of forcing thousands of Somalis who had fled to Kenya back across the border.

In Dadaab itself, a stalemate over what to do with the growing refugee population has led to a critical shortage of schools, health centers and water stations and has raised fears that the refugees are being recruited by the warring parties of the very conflict they fled.

The situation has caught the attention of the United Nations, which recently sent a special envoy on children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, to Somalia and Kenya.

The use of child soldiers has become a major aspect of Somalia’s seemingly inextricable conflict, and the country’s transitional government, which is supported by the United States, has a history of using children in combat.

So do the Shabab, the fearsome insurgents who control much of Somalia. And so do Somalia’s notorious piracy networks.

“It has become widespread; children are commodities,” Ms. Coomaraswamy said. “They are fascinated by notions of heroic death and the mythology of war.”

In Dadaab, where there are more than 100,000 school-age children, military recruitment is nothing new.

“Nobody wants to go back,” said Mohamed Ahmed, a 20-year-old here, but “sometimes they steal people,” referring to the Shabab and others.

In 2009, the Kenyan government was accused of supporting recruitment drives among refugees from the camps to fight in Somalia’s army.

Kenyan officials and Somali expatriates “came to the marketplaces, during the middle of the day,” Mr. Salat said. “It was very official.”

Human Rights Watch documented the recruitment, in which it said young men and boys were lured with false promises of “exorbitant pay” and claims of United Nations support for the effort. The report said the Shabab also tried to recruit among Somali refugees.

Still, few of the refugees here return to Somalia, United Nations officials say, and the complex’s infrastructure seems to attest to that. Dadaab is replete with grocery stores, cinemas, hotels and international bus offices. Mr. Salat, who was given seeds to plant as a boy, is now a husband and father, and he is still here, working for the camps and assisting the next generation of arrivals.

One statistic may be most telling: The United Nations says Dadaab has 6,000 third-generation refugees, grandchildren of the original arrivals.

But Dadaab is also a settlement cut off from the national grid. The complex relies on a series of boreholes for its water, and most of its residents lack transit papers to travel into the rest of Kenya.

“There is a tendency to see refugee camps as warehouses for storing unused people; we need to treat them as normal people,” said Richard Acland, a senior coordinator for the United Nations in Dadaab. “There are children living here whose parents have never seen Somalia. Can we really say these people are foreigners?”

Indeed, Dadaab poses a critical question for the international community: How does it treat a humanitarian emergency that does not go away?

The United Nations wants to expand the camps, but Somalia’s perpetual violence has taken a toll on Kenya’s hospitality and the government has relocated refugees from Dadaab in the past.

“The international community does not know how to deal with the refugee camps,” said Catherine Fitzgibbon of Save the Children. “Is it an emergency or is it permanent?”

The question has created a political Catch-22. Humanitarian officials say building schools and hospitals is the best way to protect refugees, but donors are hesitant to finance projects that will encourage more refugees to come and stay, Ms. Fitzgibbon said.

The impasse has left Dadaab understaffed and overcrowded. Half of its youth — who make up more than half of all refugees — are out of school and easy targets for militia recruiters.

Today, recruitment is propelled by cellphones and travel agencies. “It’s a problem, but it’s not new,” said a driver for the United Nations in Dadaab, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his job.

He said Shabab recruiters posed as refugees on buses and also called residents on their cellphones. United Nations employees have been approached to serve as go-betweens by Shabab agents, he said. “They will recruit as long as they control the border,” he said.

United Nations officials say they are aware of the problem but do not know how, or how many, people are recruited.

Each day more children arrive. Outside Dadaab’s administrative offices, a row of women cradle babies in their arms, hiding from the sun under the shade of a tree. Deqo Noor, 25, a mother of three, said that neither she nor her husband had any work here. She was waiting to register her 2-month-old son so that he could receive food rations.

“I grew up here, I married here, I became a mother here,” Mrs. Noor said. “In Somalia, all I’ve been hearing about is war.”

Wayaha Cusub on CNN

Lead Rapper for the Wayaha Cusub band talks to CNN's inside Africa. The group has recently got funding from the US High commission in Kenya to make Anti-Alshabab songs.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Incredible subversion of Justice

     On September 6, I wrote an article on this blog about the ramifications of the cancelled census results for NEP and true to my predictions, if a document leaked to The Standard is anything to go by, the people of NEP  will be robbed and subjected to under representation for another generation.

 The proposal put forward by the Interim Internal Boundaries Commission (IIBRC) are farcical & fraudulent .Whatever fancy algorithms they used to allocate the additional constituencies are inconsistent with the realities of population dynamics.  For Central Province to get 5 additional constituencies while Nep got only 6 is inexplicable given that the population of NEP has gone up by over 100% in the last decade and that of Central  has gone down.

Coast Province has a population of 3.3M and gets 26 slots in the national assembly, Nairobi has a population of 3.1M and gets17 slots, meanwhile Western with a population of 4.3M will get 34 representatives. The sheer ludicrousness of how the men and women  entrusted with the redistricting of this nation fell short of their jobs is breath taking.
MPs from other parts of the country are already up in arms over this ridiculous bungling but the incompetent weaklings  we've sent to represent us in the national assembly are as expected keeping  mute as our share of the national cake gets snatched.

If you read the earlier entry on this subject you'll have some understanding of how these allocations are done and how the mathematical figures  used to redistrict populous places such as Nairobi is different from the parameters used in NEP. The good people of NEP who have been sidelined since independence won't back down from demanding a fair shake from the IIBRC. We deserve at the very least 22 constituencies and we will not stop pestering everyone about them until justice is done.
The birth of a noisy NEP based professional movements is helping the situation. There are already a number of petitions that are making the circles in Garissa and collecting signatures to warn our elected members who chicken out from taking the war directly to the commissioners and the sycophant media.
We'll inform you if an online petition is set up so you can sign up. In the meantime call you member of parliament and ask what happened to our additional seats!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Garissa - Through the eyes of a tourist.

Garissa - the "capital" of Somali Kenya | Håvar Bauck


Picture: Garissa Camel Sunset 300x168 Garissa
Sunset in Garissa
Garissa Town is the headquarters of Garissa County, and the gateway to North-Eastern Kenya.
Going to Garissa by road, will initially send you through Thika Road. Perpetually jammed over the past decade, this road is currently being upgraded into a 12-lane superhighway. This prestige project of president Mwai Kibaki and his coalition partner, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, will doubtlessly be written into Kibaki’s legacy when he retires in 2012 (did someone say “Kibaki Highway”?).
Shortly after Thika, the landscape changes. From the green, crowded surroundings of Nairobi, you suddenly enter the hilly, semi-arid and sparsely populated Ukambani (land of the Kambas).
Picture: Last mountain before Hargeisa 300x199 Garissa
Garissa - "Last mountain before Hargeisa"
After Mwingi, the home town of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, the landscape gradually gets flatter and more arid, where dry riverbeds bear witness of the seasonal droughts. Eventually, you reach what locals emphasize is the “last mountain from here to Hargeisa”, and after that, the landscape turns completely flat, monotonous, and densely covered with low bushes. The last strech of a few km is the only part where the road is seriosuly potholed, so when you get there, you know you are close. The police checkpoint by the river is the “entrance portal”, and once past it, there you are!
Picture: Garissa town centre 300x199 Garissa
Garissa town centre
Garissa Town is a peaceful and quiet place, that takes great pride in its official status as the safest in Eastern and Central Africa. It is mainly place where the pastoralists living in the surrounding areas come in to dobusiness during the day, and then go back home. As a consequence, Garissa Town doesn’t offer urban attactions, night clubs or wining and dining. That is not what people would go there for in the first place, as the top attractions are outside town. There are plenty of small shops, though, and every Wednesday, the town is bustling with life during the Market Day.
Garissa is the unofficial capital of Kenya’s Somali community, and a showcase of their culture. It’s probably the best way to experience the Somali way of life without crossing into Somalis proper – a journey few non-Somalis without a death wish would consider.
Enter into a conversation with any local, and the friendliness and hospitality, key to the Somali culture strikes you. The general mood is hectic and energetic, and any interaction lasting more than a few minutes is generally accompanied by a cup of boiling hot spicy tea, with lots of milk and sugar.
A very remarkable difference between the Somali parts of Kenya and the rest of the country, is time observance. In most of Kenya, especially outside Nairobi, things go by AST (African Standard Time). Not so in Garissa, where time consciousness is at a North European level.
Picture: Garissa Cows in town 300x163 Garissa
Cows roaming the streets in the outskirts of Garissa Town
As most of the population in the region are pastoralists, livestock is a prominent aspect of the town and its surroundings. Cows, camels and goats roam the streets, and fresh, delicious meat is dirt cheap. In addition to the town’s current abattoir – a cornerstone of the local economy – a new, high-capacity one, is being planned with the aim of turning Garissa into a global meat exporter.
There are 2 very nice hotels: the Nomad Palace and the Almond Resort. These are completely up to international standards, yet nicely priced (€24 per night at the Nomad Palace). They also have nice restaurants with amazingly tasty steaks and meat stews.
Picture: 3 Camels 300x168 Garissa
Camels "dining" around a bush in the outskirts of Garissa
The fact that Garissa outclasses far bigger, and assumingly more cosmopolitan town in Kenya in terms of hotels, can probably be seen in connection with the Somali business spirit. Aggressive entrepreneurialism is a key component of the culture, and that is probably the reason why the economic impact of the Somali community is increasingly being felt all over Kenya.
Picture: Garissa Grand Mosque 199x300 Garissa
Garissa Grand Mosque
Garissa is an overwhelmingly muslim place, crowded with cute little mosques. None of the quality hotels serve alcohol, or even allow guests to bring it, and of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, you’re not likely to walk into one here. I did see a small place advertising the sale of booze in an outskirt of town, but clearly, this is no place for the thirsty traveller. Those are not in Garissa’s target group in the first place, so if you plan on rocking all night, you might want to consider Ibiza instead.
Picture: Giraffes 300x185 Garissa
Garissa Giraffe Sanctuary
Tourism is the new strategy for Garissa as a second leg for the local economy, in addition to livestock. With the introduction of local governments in Kenya as a result of the new constitution, Garissa County looks set to invest aggressively in attracting visitors.
Picture: Gerenuks Giraffe Gazelles 300x189 Garissa
Gerenuks (Giraffe Gazelles) in the Garissa Giraffe Sanctuary
There is already the Bouralgy Giraffe Sanctuary, with a growing population of Rotschild giraffes. Other animal species in the sanctuary include the rare, long-necked Gerenuk (aka. “giraffe gazelle”), that only exists in this part of East Africa. The park also encompasses smaller populations of 26 other species of game animals, and more than 450 bird species. It is just 10 minutes south of Garissa town, along the green river belt, lush with acacia trees. Built and maintained by local visionaries, the park has suffered from the lack of support by the central government and the meagre resources available to previous local authorities. With the new, strengthened local governments in Kenya, the giraffe sanctuary is already being targeted for significant upgrading.
Picture: Garissa River 300x199 Garissa
Tana River in Garissa
Tana River, one of the major ones in Kenya, runs just outside Garissa town. Crowded with snakes and crocodiles, it has a great potential to attract adrenaline-seeking travellers, ready to pay what it costs to get close to the dangerous animals in a boat. Unfortunately, there was no such option available during my visit, so I hope someone from the soon-to be-created Garissa County tourism board is reading this, and acts on it by the time I return!
You don’t have to travel far outside Garissa before you find yourself in the wilderness. The surrounding landdcape of dry shrubs and bushes, and coarse sands, are one big pasture for thousands of camels, goats, cows and donkeys. Occasionally, you will also spot small villages of semi-permanent structures made from mud or straws, that are the homes of the many pastoralist families inhabiting the area. Considering the booming tourist business by North African bedouins, offering camel rides in the desert, and meals and shelter in tents, expect similar packages to be offered to travellers in Garissa in the near future.
The combination of safety, good infrastructure and massive cash inflows from the Somali diaspora has made Garissa the fastest-growing town in Kenya. The impressive thing is how this growth has been achieved without a rise in crime. The place still has the atmosphere of a cosy and quiet small town, with no highrises and only a few multi-storey buildings. That is likely to change in the coming years as the growth continues. As tourism is a rather new concept being promoted, it is still very much “work in progress”, but with great potential. Local forces are agressively pushing to promote this new source of growth. The director of the Giraffe Sanctuary even came with me in the car, for a personal guided tour when I visited the park! Expect to see camelback desert expeditions with village sleepovers, and crocodile sighseeing river cruises being marketed massively in the coming years. I know for a fact that I will be among the first to try out those activites once they are launched!