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From resistance movement leader to AU envoy, Raila remains mysterious

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Raila Odinga remains a mysterious man in Kenyan politics, hence his nickname ‘Agwambo’.

The ODM boss and veteran Opposition leader, commonly known as ‘Baba’, draws a chunk of his support from various regions in Kenya.

The son of Kenya’s first vice president Jaramogi Oginga Odinga is also known by other nicknames like ‘Tinga” – tractor.

He is credited with the fight for democracy in Kenya notably in the clamour for multi-party and the journey to the current Constitution. 

Despite his failed bids to win the presidency in 1997, 2007, 2013, and 2017, Raila remains a towering figure in Kenyan politics.

His name and influence remains formidable, even though he has also elicited passionate loathing and enmity in some quarters.

Raila is seen by many Kenyans as a forward-thinking and strategic leader.

He was the main opposition candidate in the 2007 presidential election, running against incumbent Mwai Kibaki.

Following a truce to end the violence which erupted after the said election, he was appointed Prime Minister in April 2008.

This was in a power-sharing deal with Mwai Kibaki. The role saw him serve as supervisor and coordinator of the coalition government. 

In the subsequent presidential election, he came second against Uhuru Kenyatta, garnering 5,340,546 votes, which represented 43.28% of the total votes cast.

He made another run for the presidency in August 2017, still against Uhuru Kenyatta (Jubilee Party) and lost after Wafula Chebukati’s IEBC declared Uhuru as the winner with 54% of the votes cast to Raila’s 43%.

This outcome was eventually annulled by the Supreme Court on September 1, 2017, following findings that the election was marred by “illegalities and irregularities”.

A subsequent fresh election ordered by the court was won by Uhuru Kenyatta after the Raila-led NASA coalition declined to participate citing inadequate reforms within the IEBC.

Following the declaration of Uhuru as president, Raila’s NASA brigade formulated a revolutionary movement dubbed the National Resistance Movement (NRM-Kenya).

The entity was to spearhead a revolution against Uhuru on grounds his presidency was ‘illegitimate’. 

The brigade later told its supporters to boycott newspapers, TV stations, products and services, of companies believed to have backed Jubilee in the 2017 vote. 

“We start a battle for electoral justice so that we have credible elections in this country,” he told NASA backers in call for them to boycott the repeat presidential election that was ordered by the Supreme Court. 

“We call on Kenyans who love democracy to hold vigils and prayers and stay away from polling stations. We are aware that they plan to massacre our people. Let us deny them that chance.”

Read: Raila transforms NASA into resistance movement, plans goods boycott

In the push for electoral reforms after the boycott of the repeat election, Raila activated the boycott of products from corporations he claimed were part of the August election rigging scheme.

Mobile service provider Safaricom, Haco Industries, Bidco, and Uhuru’s Brookside, were among the entities that were targetted in the drive. 

The goal – ” to bring the institutions to their knees” – followed Raila’s announcement that the National Super Alliance had changed into a resistance movement.

“Big corporations are part in efforts to kill democracy in Kenya. We have the power and if they want to stifle our democracy, we can retaliate,” Raila told journalists then. 

More: Raila threatens boycott of Safaricom, corporations linked to poll rigging

See: NASA MPs target Safaricom, Bidco, Brookside in economic boycott

He said at least 250 of his supporters were killed, especially in Nasa strongholds of Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori, Siaya and parts of Nairobi. NASA even threatened to secede and form a republic ‘where the right to vote and elect a president is guaranteed’. 

NASA head of strategy David Ndii said the coalition is well prepared for mass action and secession. “If change cannot come through the ballot, it will come through the bullet.”

Part of the resistance was to be driven by “People’s Assemblies”. The same were to be established in NASA leaning counties. A number of county assemblies ratified the move. 

It was through these that later on January 30, the opposition brigade embarked on a vigorous plan to swear-in Raila as the People’s president.

Former Attorney General Githu Muigai warned that Raila would be charged with treason if he proceeded with the oathing plan. The punishment for treason is death. 

But Raila defied the threats, wore a white outfit and a black cap and proceeded with oath. He swore by the Bible and signed documents to the effect of assuming his role as the People’s President. 

“I, Raila Amollo Odinga, do swear that I will protect the nation as the people’s president.. that I will be faithful … so help me God,” he declared to thousands of his followers at Uhuru Park in Nairobi.

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The ecstatic supporters who went to the venue from as early as 6am cheered, danced and blew whistles during the proceedings. The police declared the meeting illegal but later withdrew. 

Raila’s oath was administered by Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang and former Nairobi governor candidate Miguna Miguna.

Read: Raila ‘sworn-in’ as people’s president, Kalonzo absent

A day later, Kajwang was arrested in a police crackdown on individuals linked to administering the oath.

“I have just been arrested by eright Flying Squad policemen. If my arrest and prosecution will be the ultimate price I must pay for my role in Swearing of the People’s President, then I am ready,” he said.

In February, self-proclaimed NRMKe General Miguna Miguna was also dramatically arrested at his Runda home.

Miguna would be detained in various police stations before being deported to Canada where he is currently based.

However, the High Court in a recent ruling declared Miguna is a Kenyan citizen and ordered state to pay a Sh7 million as compensation for violating his rights.

Read: The ‘movie script’ of general Miguna’s deportation after Raila oath

See: State justified to deport Miguna Miguna, says former aide to Raila

Before the dust of Miguna’s deportation settled, Raila and Uhuru surprised Kenyans, especially their ardent supporters, with their truce ending the 2017 poll tussle. 

The March 9 handshake (as it would be popularised) at Harambee House saw an end to the hostilities pitting pro-change agents and supporters of the status quo. 

Uhuru noted the meeting with Raila would be key to ending the political differences that triggers inter-communal conflicts in Wajir, West Pokot, and Elgeyo Marakwet counties. 

Read: New dawn: Uhuru and Raila resolve to work together to heal Kenya

Also read: Uhuru, Raila enter pact to end ethnic tension and heal wounds

Days later, a 14-member advisory committee was formed to steer the country to lasting peace under the Building Bridges initiative.

The team was gazetted, hence, cementing the legal provision that would make its resolutions, expected in a year effective May, legally binding.

Read: Handshake committee gazetted, given a year to present report

The handshake deal would later see the AU appoint Raila as the High Representative for Infrastructure Development.

Chairperson Moussa Mahamat said the decision was part of the African Union’s drive to expedite the integration of the continent through infrastructure.

Read: Uhuru congratulates Raila for AU appointment

See: Raila’s AU job stirs fear over his future

More handshake gains followed when the two, Uhuru and Raila, were in October with Black History Month, African Peace Award 2018.

The award ceremony took place at the British House of Parliament, Westminster Palace in the UK on October 18.

Since the March 9 truce, the two leaders have been speaking in one voice, especially on the fight against corruption and unity.

Though they say the journey to hand shake is bitter and painful, they are ready to tread on that route to leave a legacy that will be remembered in years to come.

Recently, Raila hosted Uhuru at his Bondo home. The president also presided over a series of development activities in Kisumu.

They were also conferred honorary degrees at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University citing their efforts to unite Kenyans.

Read: Uhuru, Raila conferred honorary degrees over handshake

The unity has also seen Deputy President William Ruto publicly announce an end to his political rivalry with Raila. He vowed to support the handshake deal.

Related: Uhuru hints at referendum to share power

Also see: ‘Handshake not about 2022’: Raila narrates how Uhuru reached out

Raila is regarded among the leaders who have fought for Kenya since independence, he has gone against odds just to ensure that Kenya is safe and a good place for its citizens to live.

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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