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It’s a season for giving

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By LILYS NJERU
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By THOMAS MATIKO
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There’s no doubt about it, the festive season gets most people into a gifting mood. Big or small, expensive or cheap, as long as you put some thought into it, those that you gift will probably appreciate it.

Take American singer John Legend, for instance. In 2015, he presented his wife Chrissy Teigen with a cheese wheel for Christmas, and guess what, she called it a “lifetime dream”. See? All you need to do is put some thought into it. Back home, what are some of your fave musicians gifting this season?

Gospel artiste Papa Dennis.

Gospel artiste Papa Dennis. PHOTO | COURTESY

Dennis Mwangi is a Kenyan Gospel musician. Born and raised in Western Kenya, he is the last born in a family of five. Named the 2018 African Muzik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA) Gospel artist of the year, he is known for songs such as Nashukuru and Mayaya.

Do you intend to gift someone this festive season?

Yes, I intend to give gifts to people who have supported and stood by me in my ups and downs. Mid this year, I lost one of my siblings, which really destabilised me. I was unable to concentrate on my music and had to undergo counselling organised by my management. I managed to return to the studio, where I worked harder than before. My hard work paid off because I won the 2018 (AFRIMMA) Gospel artist of the year. Some of the people I wish to gift include the team at Maliza Umaskini Records, a non-profit foundation that seeks to elevate the livelihoods of young and talented people – they have worked round the clock to ensure that I succeed.

Do you have particular gifts that you will be giving them?

My team is quite big, and as you can imagine, they all have different personalities. Shopping for their gifts is not easy, but it is not as difficult as shopping for the Maliza Umaskini Records CEO, Sadat Muhindi. Every Christmas has me scratching my head, wondering what to get him. Fortunately, he is very appreciative of any gift I get him, no matter how small. As with every year, I plan to visit a couple of children’s’ homes. I grew up in poverty. The only day my siblings and I knew we would get special treats was on Christmas day. When we lost our parents, that privilege was taken away from us. With this in mind, every Christmas, I ensure that I visit a couple of children’s homes and take some food with me.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

When I ventured into music as a young artist, I was doubtful of making a breakthrough since they were already many established artistes. I approached several for collaboration but they turned me down. My breakthrough came when Jimmy Gates, (gospel musician) accepted my request. That was the best gift I have ever received.

Do you have someone you’d wish to gift but are no longer in touch?

Whenever I get paid after a gig, my mother comes to mind. I wish she was here to celebrate my success because the values she instilled in me are still my guiding light. She taught me the importance of honesty and respect. If she were here today, I would ensure that I give her a comfortable life and occasionally treat her to a holiday.

Any gifting plans for your fans?

My fans are my world. If it were not for them, I wouldn’t have achieved what I have in music. They support me in many ways – listening to my music, praying for me and following me on social media. Some even go to the extent of sourcing shows for me. I have big plans for 2019 – I endeavour to give them great music, some of it collaborations with great artistes.

Do you have any last minute gift ideas you can give readers?

Although this is considered the season of giving, don’t put yourself under duress. Remember that you can only give what you have. If you asked me, it’s the thought that counts.

Gospel artiste David Wonder.

Gospel artiste David Wonder. PHOTO | COURTESY

David Junior Odiera is a gospel artist who has been in the industry for two years. He is known for his song, “Ndogo Ndogo”, which he collaborated with Bahati.

Do you offer gifts on Christmas?

Oh, yes. I believe that giving is what makes this festive season special. I don’t have a permanent gifting list, so who and what I give each year is different. This year, I plan to visit a couple of relatives who complain that since I started doing music I don’t have time for them.

What is the best gift you have ever received or given?

That has to be the gift of salvation. I got saved a few years ago and it is that one thing I don’t want to lose. The best gift I have ever given out is a pair of shoes I gifted someone close to me. They cost me a lot and I really liked them, but I gave them out anyway.

Is there someone you’d wish to gift but, for whatever reason, you are no longer in touch?

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One of my cousins, who I was close to, passed away sometime back – I wish she was around to see how far I have come. She was one of my greatest encouragers and got me gifts frequently. If she was alive today, I would have given her a gift she would have remembered for years to come.

What would you tell those that can’t afford to buy their loved ones gifts?

If you have no gifts to give, encourage someone who needs it, you never know, it might be the best gift they have ever received.

Kenyan musician Vivian.

Kenyan musician Vivian. PHOTO | COURTESY
 

Before Vivian Wambui ventured into music, she was a hawker, selling items such as cups and plates. She came into the limelight in 2015 when she collaborated with Jaguar, (Starehe MP Charles Njagua) in the song, “Dream”. Three years on, she has gradually built her brand and won herself many fans. Some of her songs include “Chum Chum” and “In Love”.

Do you believe in giving this time of year?

Yes, I do. I often visit children’s homes. Next week, I will visit Heroes of the Nation, a children’s home in Nyahururu.

As a creative, what guides your gift list?

Every year I have different themes. There are years when my giving is themed around family or friends for instance. This year, however, I will be paying school fees for a certain girl at a children’s home, besides gifting a couple of relatives and friends.

What is that one gift you have ever received that you hold dear?

Family is very dear to me so anything I give or receive from them lifts me. That said, a gift doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be a kind act, words of inspiration and encouragement to a friend or even a stranger. It could also be giving of your time to friends, family and the community.

Is there that one person you’d want to appreciate but can’t?

Some of my old friends – I no longer know where to find them yet they were instrumental in my growth.

Gospel artiste DK Kwenye Beat.

Gospel artiste DK Kwenye Beat. PHOTO | COURTESY

David Kilonzo is known for songs such as “Kijana wa Kayole”, “Asusu” and “Hajawahi Kuniangusha”, a collabo he did with Moji Short Baba, also a gospel musician. He recorded his first single when he was only 14 years. Since then, he has won several awards.

What is the best gift anyone can give you?

I realised that the best gift I can give those that matter to me is my time. Although I have a busy schedule, I try to create time to spend with my loved ones. Also, my giving is not structured, it is as random as it can get. I also believe in being thoughtful in my gifting, so the gifts I give are sometimes a solution to a particular need, sometimes simply for appreciation. I started gifting at the start of the month.

What is the best gift you have received or given this year?

A watch that I was given by Ugandan artiste, Exodus. It’s rose gold in colour. I like it so much; I intend to surprise a friend with one exactly like it. If you can afford to give a material gift, go for it but don’t put yourself under pressure to do it.

Gospel artiste Hope Kid.

Gospel artiste Hope Kid. PHOTO | COURTESY

Simon Peter Wambua was raised in Kayole, and started singing at a young age, his audience fellow classmates and family. Besides his music career, he is a fashion designer, having studied fashion design at Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts.

Who do you plan to appreciate this year?

There are people who have been very instrumental in my career journey. They include DJ Mo, (gospel DJ) and Mc Alemba, (Kenyan music artiste and MC). I find ways of appreciating them through our day-to-day interactions. I also plan to buy foodstuff and visit St Mary’s Blessed Children home in Mathare.

Is there a particular gift that you cherish above others?

The best gift I have received so far is the ability to gift others. I am part of a group called Autism Lights Awareness. As the name suggests, we create awareness about autism. I value my input. I also treasure my fans because they have contributed to my growth since I started singing in 2012. When I first performed at Daddy Owen’s album launch, most people didn’t know who I was yet the response I got was amazing. That warm reception encouraged me to continue making music. My gift to my fans is an album, which I plan to release next year.

What best last minute gift would you recommend?

Well, that is difficult to say because we are all blessed differently, also, my taste could be different – just give whatever you can, big or small, as long as it’s from the heart, it is good.



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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.

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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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