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Golf goes a notch higher

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The promotion of Kenya Open from second tier European Challenge Tour to the iconic European Tour as well as Karen Master’s Sunshine Tour debut were no doubt the most significant strides towards the country’s emerging potential in golf.

The European Tour is one of the two biggest professional golf tours in the world alongside the US PGA, meaning the 2019 Kenya Open will join a prestigious list of events including the Joburg’ Open, BMW South Africa Open, Tshwane Open and Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, the Trophee Hassan II in Rabat and prestigious events such as the Open Championship, the BMW PGA Championship, Scottish Open and the final event of the European Tour—the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

The 51st edition of the Kenya Open is a beneficiary of state funding. Kenya’s European Tour dream came to fruition in 2018 after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the government would double its support to the tune of 2.2 million Euros (around Sh280 million).

Doubling of the prize money means the 2019 Kenya Open will offer a prize fund of 1,000,000 Euros (Sh124.5 million) with the rest of the money being invested in logistics including affiliation fee to the European Tour.

The 2018 prize money was 500,000 euros (Sh62.5 million), where the winner walked away with 80,000 Euros (about Sh10 million).

But the main tour promotion will no doubt see Kenyans contend with a number of teething problems. Sustaining Tour standards will require heavy funding going forward. It may not be business as usual for local pros who were well represented on the Challenge Tour.

Kenya has over the years been allocated 22 slots for pros and 5 off-scratch amateurs but with the high level of competition, locals might not feature in their usual numbers. Other challenges include provision of a proper media centre and improved seating arrangements for spectators, considering next year’s event will attract some of the big names in the world.

Last year’s Kenya Open at Muthaiga offered the biggest prize fund in the Challenge Tour which revolves mainly around Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Far East countries.

Kenya Open 2019 slated for March 14-17 will now attract a higher calibre of professional golfers including the likes of Rory McIlroy, Trevor Immelman, Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed, Ernie Els and Francesco Molinari among other global players who are members of the Tour.

As a member of the European Tour, the Kenya Open will be transmitted live to millions of homes across the world giving Kenya’s golf tourism offering invaluable exposure.

The European Tour Production team will come to Kenya, film and air the Kenya Open across the world. The Kenya Open Golf Limited has been working round the clock to prepare the country for the European Tour.

After securing a European Tour slot last season, KOGL introduced the all-new Safari Tour as a prelude (for Kenyan pros) to the Kenya Open, ostensibly to offer local pros the requisite exposure.

The Safari Tour has a prize kitty of Sh1 million per event with each leg featuring a Pro-AM event, where host club members are given the opportunity to play alongside the top local professionals.

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KOGL publicity and sponsorship director, Kathleen Kihanya said: “The greatest success of the Safari Tour is the attainment of the objective for which the Tour was set up for; which is to give our local pros an opportunity to practice and play a lot more golf to the standards of the European Tour. This has given them an opportunity to practice, learn and be resilient. I am thus very confident we are looking forward to a Kenyan winning the first Kenya Open which will be part of the European Tour in 2019.”

The Kenya Open returns to Karen Country Club after a two-year hiatus with Muthaiga having hosted thew last two editions.

Meanwhile, Kenyan professional didn’t perform too well in 2018 with the Kenya Open title proving elusive for the umpteenth time. Only two professionals (Rizwan Charania and Mohit Mediratta) made cuts after the first two rounds with the biggest chunk falling by the wayside.

Although Dismas Indiza has not been very outstanding this season, winning the Uganda Open attested to his vast experience on the course. Indiza finished the Kenya Open on a disappointing gross total of 7 over par 150 to kiss the event goodbye.

Italian Lorenzo Gagli vanquished Swede Jens Fahrbring in a nerve-raking three-way play-off on hole 13 to emerge the winner of 2018 Barclays Kenya Open Championship at the Par 71 Muthaiga course.

In what will perhaps go down in history as one of the most dramatic editions, Gagli and Fahrbring parred the hole twice before an enthusiastic crowd which included His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga.

Both players were tied on 11 under 273 after 18 holes and were compelled to break the deadlock in a dramatic sudden death which treated hundreds of spectators to exhilarating displays.

Lorenzo had his campaign for the coveted title effectively sewn up in the third play off when Fahrbring excruciatingly sunk the ball into the dam to bogey on his third attempt. In winning the historic 50th edition, Gagli became the inaugural winner of the tournament’s jacket and the winner of the lucrative Sh11.5 million.

David Wakhu of Golf Park won the opening round of the Safari Tour at Nyali Golf and Country Club while Snow won two rounds of the local tour which culminates into the Kenya open. On the amateur front, Samuel Njoroge of Railway Nairobi Club was the most outstanding. Njoroge won the Kenya Amateur Golf Championship (formerly Goty) after winning the season closing round at Nyali and went on to win the Lagos Open.

The 23-year-old Njoroge also won the Tea Fields Trophy in Kericho,Hippo Pot -Nyanza Open and the Kenya Amateur Stroke Play. In winning the Kenya Amateur Open Stroke play championship, on-form Njoroge booked a ticket to the 2019 Kenya Open.

The KAGC season also saw Daniel Nduva of Nyali clinch Uhuru Shield, which is Royal Nairobi Golf Club’s round. Former Kenya team captain Robinson Owiti won the 2018 Railway Invitational at Railway Club while Edwin Mudanyi won the 2018 Manchester Salver with 2 under. Mudanyi also won the Mount Kenya Championship hosted on par 72 Nyeri Golf Club.

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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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