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Meek Junior: I express myself through poetry

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By LILYS NJERU
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It all started as an escape. He was 16 years and in Form Two. His parents had transferred him from a special school to a regular one. The transition was not as easy as he had expected, and to deal with this difficult phase, he began to write.

“I found tranquility in writing down what I felt and what I was going through in my new surroundings. I wrote in poetic style,” he says.
Charles Mulwa, 23, is a spoken word artiste. On stage, he goes by Meek Junior, meek a reminder to remain humble when success comes calling, because he intends to be immensely successful. He is also a seasonal singer, actor, writer, creative director and rapper.

To embody his poetry, he sometimes appears on stage with face paintings, and other times, to enliven his performance, dresses in a certain way. Poetry, he says, is an art.

“When I started writing, the poems were all about me, but I later realised that most of my acquaintances could relate to them since they had also had their fair share of challenges. That realisation encouraged me to broaden my content to include the gospel, politics, love, pain and fear. I draw my inspiration from God, encounters with people and music. Reading too,” he says.

Charles, a fourth year Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Development Studies at Machakos University, made his debut in 2016. The following year, he was invited to perform at the Blaze Summit held at Machakos Stadium.

His parents were oblivious about this development in his life.

“I thrive best in the creative world and I want to do it for a long time. Though optimistic, I was afraid that my parents wouldn’t support my new-found interest because it was a different career path. I only got to tell them last year while on my way for a TV interview,” he says.

Thankfully, they took it positively, though they implored him not to forget his studies. Charles, however, confesses that despite the fact that he enjoys what he is learning at the university, he sees himself becoming a full-time creative.

Charles Mulwa performing at KICC in 2018.

Charles Mulwa performing at KICC in 2018. PHOTO| COURTESY

“Spoken word poetry has created many opportunities and opened many doors for me. Presently, I am interning as a copy writer at Saracen OMD, an independent media specialist. I got the chance after my performance during the Blaze Summit.”

“Last year, I started a project: 24_in _254, a 24-episode endeavour that seeks to document the lives of ordinary Kenyans. One of my friends organised a show last year and I got to perform some of the pieces under the project. Thereafter, I got a scholarship to study film and cinematography at Kenya Film School – I start in September this year.”

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While he has an intent with all his poems, the delivery language varies depending on the audience.

“I mostly use Swahili and Sheng. Occasionally, I write in English. At the moment, I’m learning Filipino from a friend – I plan to write a piece in the dialect,” he says.

To incorporate aesthetics of word play and poetic elements like intonation, alliteration, metaphor, imagery and line breaks on one piece is a skill that Charles says is mastered through practice.

“I write almost on a daily basis. Sometimes, it takes me about two hours to write a poem. I also have those days that I hit the creative block. When that happens, I don’t push myself to write, I listen to underground hip hop for rejuvenation. I have written tens of poems…I lost count,” he says.

PLIGHT OF PEOPLE WITH ALBINISM

In his list of poems is one highlighting the plight of people with albinism, but he is quick to confess that the condition has not been an impediment in any way.

“People with albinism go through many challenges such as unfair treatment in work places or being looked down on by those around them. Growing up, I encountered this, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I am glad that my parents didn’t seclude me from other children. They instilled in me confidence, and over time, I learnt to embrace and accept myself as a unique gift.”

His greatest challenge, he points out, was getting people to believe in him, and to meet the cost required to professionally record his poems.

“In the quest to get myself out there, there were times I didn’t charge to perform or would only get bus fare reimbursement. Also, to hit the studio required me to operate on a shoestring budget and save most of what I earned as a part-time copy writer.

Now, with the number of requests coming in for me to perform, things are looking up. I market my content on my social media platforms meek junior and on my blog meekjunior.wordpress.com.”

To balance his studies and fulfill his obligations where he is interning, as well as practice his craft, he has learnt to be focused and become a good time manager.

“My employer is understanding in that I am allowed to work virtually when I have classes or a performance.”

In 2016, he initiated an event he calls Poetry Rush Hour at the university, which is held every Thursday. The aim is to mentor, inspire and create a platform for upcoming poets.

“One of the things that I have discovered is that there are many opportunities waiting for us, but only if we wake up and be ready to pursue them,” he says.



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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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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 –

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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.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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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.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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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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