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Gatanga veteran singers in search of fresh talent

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By AMOS NGAIRA
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Veteran musicians Daniel ‘DK’ Kamau, Peter Kigia, Timona Mburu, John Dematthew and Kariuki Kiarutara have one thing in common — they all come from Gatanga Constituency in Murang’a County. Gatanga is considered the cradle of music in central Kenya.

Now, the veterans are on a mission to groom a new generation of singers and have been holding talent shows across the constituency over the past few months.

Other artistes from Gatanga are gospel singer Sarah Kiarie, popularly known as Sarah K, Kimani Thomas and secular musicians Gachibi wa Thuo, Wamumbe and Joseph Muruaru.

The talent search is the brainchild of local MP Joseph Nduati Ngugi.

The talent shows will culminate in gala performances by the winners during the Gatanga Night to be held on November 9 at the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi.

The last Gatanga Night was held in 2012 under the patronage of then Gatanga MP, Mr Peter Kenneth.

Arrangements for this year’s event have been more elaborate as the organisers have had more time to prepare.

“We are looking forward to having the top artistes also attend and perform during the Gatanga Night,” Gatanga MP Joseph Ngugi said.

The wards in which the talent search contests have been taken place include Ithanga, Kihumbu-ini, Kariara, Kirwara and Mugomoini.

The finals will be held on October 21 ahead of the Nairobi event in November.

Plans are also underway to establish a recording studio to be used by the artistes from the county.

Speaking to the Saturday Nation, DK said he was happy to be part of the team grooming young musicians

“It has been a long musical journey for me and other veteran musicians from the constituency and we felt encouraged to team up and grow new talent,” he said.

DK, aged 69, is marking his 50th anniversary in music this year. He made his debut on the music scene in 1968 with a patriotic song in praise of the founding President titled Kenyatta wa Muigai.

His earlier popular love ballads include I love You (1970), Kanini (1975), Ningwite Nawe, Kiss ya Wendo and ZK Were.

Backed by his The Lulus band, DK toured various parts of Kenya and Europe.

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“Though I didn’t get an opportunity to perform during a major concert in Europe, I went there to try and broaden my musical skills,” he said.

DK, who was known for his striking stage show attire, also owes his success to music guru Joseph Kamaru.

“It was Kamaru who gave me encouragement in recording and producing my music,” he said. Kamaru, who comes from Kangema, also in Murang’a, is revered for producing some of the leading musicians from central Kenya such as Simon Kihara Musaimo and Queen Jane.

Kamaru is recuperating after having been hospitalised recently. DK, who is also a politician, had stint as a councillor in Gatanga. Another leading proponent of benga music from Gatanga in the 1970s was the legendary John Ndicu of the Cucu wa Gakunga hit song fame.

In a recent interview, Timona Mburu said he was happy about the search for new talent.

“Ours is to encourage young musicians from Gatanga to be able to excel in their various styles,” Mburu said. He is best known for benga hits such as Wi sumu and Guruneti.

Also playing a leading role in producing new artistes from Gatanga is veteran singer, composer and band leader Peter Kigia (wa Esther), who is known for his hit song Reke Tumanwo.

Like most of his counterparts from Gatanga, Kigia has also been dedicating much of his time to identifying and honing the skills of younger musicians.

“I am looking forward to performing during the forthcoming Gatanga Night to show the young ones how it is done,” he said.

His other popular songs include Gacheri, Njeri Gaitu, Dedication Yaku and Nairobi Weekend.

After making his debut in music production in Nairobi, Kigia later relocated to Thika Town.

Also in the front line among the Gatanga greats is versatile singer John Demathew of Peris Nduku, Njata yakwa and Menye Menye hit songs fame.

Others expected to perform include Gachibi wa Thuo and Wamumbe. Gospel songbird Sarah Kiarie of Liseme gospel hit song fame has also taken part in previous Gatanga Nights. Other popular songs by Sarah include Niinue, Usiyeshindwa and Unaitwa Jehovah.



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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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