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Culture shock hits Kenyans on women inheriting father’s land




The ruling by Justice Lucy Waithaka of the High Court in Nyeri, allowing a married woman to inherit property from her parents, has touched off a fierce conflict between customs and the law.

Traditionalists believe it infringes on the convention that a woman once married belongs to her husband, and cannot claim property from her parents. But gender activists say this belief treats women as ‘second-class beings’ who are easily disinherited even when unmarried.

Customary practices grant women only secondary rights to land and property through male relatives. That’s why, despite the fact that about 32 per cent of households in Kenya is headed by women, only 1 per cent hold land titles in their own names and only 5 per cent own land jointly with husbands or male family members.

Although the law giving women, married on not, equal rights to parents’ property have been in existence since 1981, the reality is that many women still have to fight for land rights.

The Act says that if a dependant is disfavoured by the deceased in disposition of his property, and a court finds that this affected the dependant, it may annul the disposition and order reasonable provisions be made to the dependant as it shall find necessary.

“In making provision for a dependant, the court shall have complete discretion to order a specific share of the estate to be given to the dependant, or to make such other provision for him by way of periodical payments or a lump sum, and to impose such conditions as it thinks fit,” the Act reads in part.

The dependants listed in the Act include a man’s wife or wives, or former wife or wives, and the children of the deceased, whether or not maintained by the deceased immediately prior to his death.

The Act also lists a man’s parents, stepparents, grandparents, grandchildren, stepchildren and any children whom he takes into his family as his own.

Brothers and sisters, and half-brothers and half-sisters, who depends on a man immediately prior to his death are also listed as dependants who have a right to inherit his property.

The Act excludes communities in 12 counties from compliance, including West Pokot, Wajir, Samburu, Lamu and Turkana.

Other counties excluded from the Succession Act of 1981 are Garissa, Isiolo, Kajiado, Marsabit, Tana River, Mandera and Narok.


Mary Wathuta from Nyeri had petitioned the court to find her as a dependant of her deceased father, and, therefore, entitled to a share of his property.

She had been denied a share of her father’s property on account of having been married. And on Wednesday, Waithaka ruled in her favour.

“This court finds that the married daughters are dependants and beneficiaries of the deceased and qualify to inherit and are also entitled to benefit from the deceased’s estate,” Waithaka ruled.

But Maendeleo ya Wanaume chairman Nderitu Njoka says Waithaka erred in “generalising a single family’s matter to include more than 20 million Kenyan families that were never enjoined in the suit before her”. Njoka will appeal the ruling.

He faulted Waithaka for failing to point out serious anomalies in the law that disregard married women’s right to co-own family property with their husbands.

Njoka said the law is only talking about a man’s property, although the family property jointly belongs to man and his wife, equally, and Waithaka ought to have raised this. He says Waithaka gave power to a law that gives a man absolute ownership to family property, forgetting women in such families.

“The judiciary is fast turning into a theatre of activism and toxic feminism, and this is what Waithaka is advancing. This ruling will increase insecurity at homes. Homicides will rise because of inheritance disputes and more couples, brothers and sisters and other relatives are going to kill each other over family properties,” Njoka said.

“The ruling talked about daughters inheriting their fathers’ property, instead of parents’ property. That means my property is mine and my wife owns nothing.”

Kikuyu Council of Elders chairman Wachira wa Kiago agreed with him. Kiago says the Succession Act must not supersede traditions. He said traditionally, only an unmarried woman should inherit, and it should be known that she is receiving the inheritance from her parents.


But Fida chairperson Josephine Mongare defended Waithaka’s ruling and the succession laws.

She said all people have rights to inherit from their parents, and being married does not stop a woman from entitlement to her father’s wealth.

Mongare said when a woman gets married, she doesn’t cease to belong to her family.


“People are having a problem with this because they are only thinking of their sisters. Think of your wives or the women you are going to marry. It cuts both ways. Your sisters inherit, your wives also inherit. The law says don’t discriminate one child because one is born a boy and the other a girl,” she said.

“There are people born and raised in Nairobi. The only home they know is their house in Shaurimoyo or Kaloleni, and a man from that family marries a girl from Nyeri, where her family has 10 acres. Then the government comes up with a plan to build high-rise apartments and their homes are demolished, and you have six children. Wouldn’t it be better for that man’s wife to get land from her parents, so that at least you have somewhere to start again?

“This is a question of somebody denying women their right. All are born with equal rights at birth, they are taken to school equally, you marry, she gets married.

“The way your sister will inherit is the same way your wife will inherit, the same way your mother will inherit and the same way your daughter will inherit. It has not been happening because people have not been claiming their right.”

Mongare said some women are married in homes where they cannot afford two meals. If they get land from their homes, it would be good for them.


But the Kikuyu Council of Elders chair says this should not be the case because once a woman is married, she no longer belongs to her father’s clan and should belong to her husband’s.

“When a woman gets married, she moves from her father’s clan to her husband’s clan, where she belongs henceforth. She can only be dependent on the clan of her husband. Coming to claim property from her father’s family is like her clan of marriage demanding property from where she came from,” Kiago said.

“It will bring a lot of problems. It will cause a lot of domestic fights. A man cannot be compelled to give the property to his married daughter. But he can do so if he has a lot of wealth and sees his daughter in anguish and voluntarily decides to give some properties.”

But the Fida chairperson maintains that men should stop thinking about inheritance from the perspective of their married sisters taking their [men’s] inheritance.

“It is not about your sister. It can be about your children,” Mongare said. “Assume you have four daughters, you have worked hard, bought land and built rental apartments, and you have an income of Sh400,000 from that investment.

“Your brother who has three sons has chosen not to work, and now what you have worked for goes to your brother’s sons because you only have girls? It doesn’t work like that.

“Today it is your sister, tomorrow it will be your own children who will be disinherited by your brother’s sons because all your children are girls. And I have seen many of these cases.”

Mongare blamed traditions for holding women as second-class beings. “You hear people say the deceased did not have children, yet he had six daughters,” she said.

“It is men who need to change. And the reason this attitude must change is that it is men who determine the sex of the child. You carry the X and Y chromosomes, and the woman has only the X chromosome. So it is you who determines the sex of the child, that’s scientifically proven. So you want your own blood to suffer because they are not boys?

“Stop thinking that your sister has come to inherit, while she has property where she is married. I come from Ukambani, where my parents have 30 acres.

“Where I am married, and we have five brothers, we have two acres. The only land I have is where I have put my house. I can’t even keep a chicken or cow because they will cross to my neighbour’s,” Mongare said.

“Assume I’m not the chair of Fida or a lawyer, I can’t afford to buy my own house and something happens, where will I go? Should I live like a squatter because I am born in a family that has land but married to a family that has no land, and my parents have land and I can till and do something even if it is goat rearing? Are you telling me that my parents will not provide for me?”

Maendeleo ya Wanaume’s Njoka said the inheritance dilemma triggered by Waithaka’s ruling can only be solved by a referendum.

The question he says must be asked is if, when it comes to inheritance and succession, the constitution should give more power to cultures and traditions over other statutes – a position he supports but that continues to divide the country.

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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’




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 –




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.

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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.

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard




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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