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CANCER WARRIOR: My family and friends’ support keeps me going – VIDEO

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By KAREN MBUYA MURIUKI
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Levi Kones is a husband, a father of three daughters and a journalist by profession. He describes himself as an adventurous person who loves life. He narrates his story to Nation.co.ke.

“It all started as an on and off stomach ache around November of 2017. By December, I assumed I had consumed bad food because of the Christmas festivities. I then started experiencing weakness of the body.

Come January of 2018, I purposed to go for a check-up which did not happen because there was always something happening over the weekend.

I started having dizzy spells toward the end of February and that progressively got worse until I fell into a seat while at work one day in March.

I called my wife, who then said we could not push the check-up any further and that it needed to happen on that day. We went to Coptic Hospital after work and saw a doctor who said we had to do tests to ascertain what was wrong.

The results took some time to come out because it was almost midnight when we went in to see the doctor again. She asked me whether I walked into the hospital, to which I answered in the positive. She then told me that my haemoglobin level was at 4.7. I did not know much about that, so she explained that the normal level for males is between 15 and 17 and for females between 14 and 16 because of their menses. She said that cases of levels below 5 are usually on stretchers, yet here I was at 4.7 and walking.

I had to be admitted, something which I was opposed to because I only came in for a check-up. I wanted to come in the following day, if need be. The doctor explained that she was not sure I would make it back the following day because if I collapsed, I wouldn’t come out of it. That sealed the story.

I had to receive seven pints of blood while admitted. The low blood count meant that I was haemorrhaging, and they had to find out where from in my body. That meant more tests, which were CT scans, abdominal scans, an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. I got my results back a week later, which showed that I had a tumour in the colon. They had to take it for biopsy to determine if it was cancerous. I had a feeling it was.

My wife and a friend accompanied me to get the results. It was written all over the doctor’s face when we got into his office. He barely looked at me when he told me that the tumour was cancerous, and he immediately went into statistics. He said that it was in its third stage, it did not look well because my colon was almost completely blocked and that only four out of 10 cases survive this.

None of us talked when we left that office. My friend went home, and my wife and I did so too. I didn’t sleep that night; neither did my wife. I was in shock. All I could think about was my daughters, and whether I would survive it. One thing I knew was that I would give this fight the best I could.

We were referred to a surgeon, who unlike the one who broke the news, had a lot of hope. Surgery was the first option, and three weeks later, I was wheeled into theatre at the Mater Hospital. I was out six hours later, and was told that they had caught the tumour. A large part of my colon had to be removed and the remaining parts reattached.

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About two weeks later, I was back in surgery because of an infection in the colon. I had just learnt how to walk and this surgery meant going back to square one. It was a very depressing moment for me.

I began chemotherapy in July, and as of now, I have undergone 12 sessions. The first three sessions were the most brutal. I vomited almost all through the first one but I started getting a hang of it by the third session.

Before treatment, I had been given a list of all the possible side effects chemotherapy could have on me. The only ones I had were stomach upsets, a funny feeling in my toes and fingers, and rashes which were on and off. They all happened at different stages of the treatment. In two weeks, I am to see my oncologist to see if we killed all the cancer cells.

I underestimated the emotional load that comes with cancer and chemotherapy. I was distressed when I got to the ninth session. I was tired and didn’t want to go ahead with treatment. As much as I had immense support from friends and family, I felt like the journey was getting too long.

What really kept me going was that this was not entirely about me, but also the people dependent on me.

I started writing a lot, especially on my Facebook page, documenting my journey through chemotherapy. I found out that the more I talked about it, the more I drew strength, not only from what I was telling others, but from what I was telling myself.

I realised I didn’t know as much about cancer as I initially thought I did. I had to learn many terms and definitions. I also learnt that cancer treatment is very expensive in Kenya. I realised how much stigma is associated with cancer because so many people I was going through treatment with had not mentioned a thing to anyone, not even their close family members.

I came to learn that caregivers go through a lot too, and they should be taken care of. My wife has had to learn more about cancer even more than I have. The cancer has been detrimental to her health too, especially with sleep and emotional stress.

Children get traumatised, and I got to learn this with my youngest daughter. The older two understand cancer, but my four-year-old only knew that dad was unwell and had to go to hospital sometimes.

When I came home from surgery, she mistakenly saw my stitches. The next day at school, she made a drawing of me in stiches and showed it to her teacher saying that someone cut her dad. We realised that we had to pay more attention to their emotional wellbeing after we got the call from her teacher.

We ran out of money quick because not even our insurance could cover the treatment. But my friends and family have supported us in a big way, some of whom have continued helping us to date.”

The Cancer Warrior story series tells the stories of cancer survivors. To share your cancer story, email [email protected]



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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
[email protected]    

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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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