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Comic that tackles real life issues scores big as creators plan sequel

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By WILLIAM RUTHI
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There is war raging on outside, and it is ugly. It has been fermenting for years, but now it has blown out of the cage. Like in all wars, the confrontation follows an eternal plot: pit the good guys against the villains. The war plays out in the streets, and courtrooms and boardrooms, and also on prime-time news.

The President knows about it and has thrown in word that something has to be done to stanch the gash. But apparently no hero-cape has swooped in to rescue the situation. It is an important war because it touches on two subjects close to the human soul: money and music.

There are several adjectives that could sum up the problem at hand: piracy, appropriation and so on, but thievery is what it really is. This is the real life, and musicians and other creatives await a flag-waving saviour riding a horse to emerge from the horizon.

These themes feature prominently in a comic strip titled Adventures of NRVFF Super DJ. The 2-part series is the work of two twin brothers with a surname as police-worthy as you will get anywhere; Rodney Afande (aka Justin Rich) and Sidney Afande (aka DJ Nruff); and a friend Emmanuel Nyakwada (Point Blank Evumbi).

The idea for the strip was conceived by DJ Nruff while on tour in the US. Then in 2010, while holding a leisurely talk over lunch, the trio explored ideas on how they could apply their different, but related skills for something revolutionary.

The nascent idea became a reality when the first issue of the book was released to mass appeal. To start off, the Afande brothers elected to cast themselves as characters, and were later joined by legendary DJ Stylez, who also founded the DJ outfit CodeRed.

“All of us are involved in music and chose to use ourselves as characters,” says Sidney, adding that their backgrounds in music, broadcasting and animation would gel with the characters in the book characters, and what they hoped to communicate to the reader.

Unlike in real life, the villains in the book are vanquished and all is well with the world. The storyline follows a Unit of DJs under the Universal DJ Corp who are the Protectors of Music Elements across the Universe. The Corp is made up of DJs, producers and musicians whose job is to defend music from being stolen and distorted by the villains.

“The villains are determined to scoop these assets and this causes chaos and havoc as the two sides battle it out,” says Rodney.

Rodney’s career as a DJ took root in 2002 when he was still a student in Nairobi School, and later apprenticed under the tutelage of elder brother Brian Afande, popularly known as Mr French, who was part of the Disco Jockey outfit CodeRED.

In 2005, Rodney joined HomeBoyz Entertainment as a Radio and TV show presenter and producer, while also lecturing at the HomeBoyz DJ Academy when he was all of 20 years. Meanwhile, Sidney, who had also learnt under Mr French, joined XFM as a DJ.

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The three, all of whom are 33, first met in 2008 when Point Blank was a participant on Channel O Sprite Emcee Africa Tour.

It would appear destiny or fate had conspired to bring together the trio, setting the wheels in motion. It so happened that Nyakwanda worked as an illustrator for the popular strip Tinga Tinga, whose offices were housed on the same building the HomeBoyz studio was located.

Success or failure of comic strips, just like other works of literature, depends on readership forged on memorable characters. Contrary to general belief that the books are mostly associated with people of certain ages (children and teens), it been proven untenable. While most adults wouldn’t be caught reading a comic strip in public or on when riding on the bus home, it is a fact that many are voracious fans.

The first two editions of the series were so successful that copies ran out in record time. A reprint is in the works, the creators say.

Coming from musical and creative backgrounds made the concept easier to execute. “We decided to use music because it’s a bridge that has been used to connect people from different walks of life. We might not understand the language but it (music) speaks to us in so many different ways,” says Rodney.

The creators plan to launch the 3rd and 4th issues in 2019. An app is also in the plan to enable readers who aren’t able to get physical copies download the books, wallpapers and special material about the book on their devices.

“Our target market is from ages five to infinity because comic book fans and readers are part of a unique culture of collectors, readers and creatives who follow their favourite hero or villain,” Rodney reports.

“We are also developing an animation so it’s a huge project for us,” he says. Point Blank is a renowned illustrator and animator and his input is expected to play a vital role.

When it was in circulation, the book was stocked by Between the Lines Bookstore at The Village Market.

The creators look up to individuals who abandoned the comfort zone come, choosing instead to create what was thought impossible. Some of the influences include Dr Dre, Jay Z, and Akon.

They also cite comic book legends such as Stan Lee, Todd McFarlane, Jack Kirby, Robert Kirkman to mavericks DJs like Khaled and MajorLazer.

The upcoming two issues will have several big names. But the creators won’t reveal their names just yet. Point Blank, initially reluctant to be part of the characters, has agreed to sign on, “but we had to twist his arm into agreeing,” laughs Sidney.

“We have many special characters from the Europe, UK and US,” says Point Blank.



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General

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).
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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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