The year 2018 has been eventful for Kenyans with the good, the bad and the ugly.
During 2018, Kenya’s witnessed the ‘swearing in’ of opposition leader Raila Odinga, the deportation of Miguna Miguna and the bizarre murders of Monica Kimani and Sharon Otieno.
It is also in 2018 when a handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila calmed political temperatures in the country, Kenya Airways launched direct flights to New York and Harambee Stars qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations.
In 2018, some 207.9 million visits by 19.6 million users have been made to the Star website to read the cocktail of stories that our teams have worked on each day.
Here is the list of the most read stories on the Star in 2018 based on this data.
1. How Uhuru named CSs minus Ruto – On January 8, the Star put together details of behind-the-scenes manoeuvres before President Uhuru Kenyatta — with DP William Ruto conspicuously absent — on January 5 announced his first Cabinet nominees after the October 26, 20017 repeat election.
With the DP absent on Friday, the President and trusted lieutenants decided to retain some and name some new people — a lineup Ruto opposed. The DP has wanted to position his key allies in the Cabinet to promote his 2022 run for the presidency.
2. An HIV card, quarrel and 22 stabs, Miss Lang’ata Prison confesses – It is one of the most bizarre murders to ever rock the country. And on February 27, Ruth Kamande – on trial for murdering her boyfriend – confessed to stabbing him 22 times using a kitchen knife.
The 2016 winner of the Miss Lang’ata Prison beauty pageant told Justice Jessie Lessit she stabbed Farid Mohammed on September 20, 2015, in self-defence. Kamande, 24, told the court Mohammed tried to kill her after she discovered he was HIV-positive.
3. How Wanjigi pushed Raila to be sworn in – On February 1, the NASA coalition rallied together to dispel speculation that they were falling apart, even as details filtered in about the force behind Raila Odinga’s January 30 oathing.
The Star established that eccentric businessman Jimmy Wanjigi was the man calling the shots behind the scenes, despite a chill in the relations with the other three co-principals.
The NASA co-principals addressed a press conference at the Okoa Kenya office on that first day of February putting on a show of unity, saying it was their strategy to stagger the oaths and that their supporters should not panic.
4. Maribe to face murder charge – Celebrated Journalist Jacque Maribe was thrown into the limelight for the wrong reasons in October after the arrest of her then-fiance over the murder of 28-year-old businesswoman Monica Kimani.
On October 5, police confirmed to the Star that Maribe and her fiance Joseph Irungu would both be charged with the murder which they suspected occurred on September 20.
Maribe was implicated in the gory murder by her conduct and association with prime suspect Irungu aka “Jowie”, according to the police.
They were both charged and denied the charges with the case set to start in June 2019.
5. Is Uhuru targetting Supreme Court? – On February 13, President Uhuru Kenyatta dropped Attorney General Githu Muigai and demoted Solicitor General Njee Muturi in changes that ultimately appeared to target the Supreme Court and the Judiciary in general.
Githu was replaced by Appeal Court President Mwangi Kihara while Njee’s position was taken by lawyer Kennedy Ogetto, who was part of Uhuru’s ICC legal team.
But it is the nomination of three members to the Judicial Service Commission that signaled the President’s intention to live up to his threat to revisit the Judiciary.
6. Uhuru unveils new Cabinet, nominates Munya, Shebesh, Ababu, and Marwa – Election losers and women won big after President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed them to the Cabinet in changes announced on January 26.
The president also created a new position known as Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS).
“Chief Administrative Secretary will broadly be responsible for helping CS to coordinate running of affairs in respective ministries,” Uhuru said.
7. Miguna ‘deported’ to Canada – lawyer Nelson Havi – February 6 was an eventful night for lawyer Miguna Miguna who was the self-declared leader of the National Resistance Movement following the October 26, 2017 elections.
Miguna’s family and other sources told the Star that evening that he had been “deported” to Canada at around 11pm.
His lawyer Nelson Havi said he had been “reliably informed” of the ‘deportation’ by sources at the JKIA and in Miguna’s family.
Havi said the controversial lawyer and Nasa politician, who has dual citizenship, was forced into a KLM flight at the airport in Nairobi.
8. UN sent Obasanjo to stop Raila oath, quell political tension – As controversy of the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta in the October 26, 2017 repeat election threatening to tear the country apart, the United Nations Secretary-General Antanio Guterres sent former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo to try and quell political tensions in Kenya.
Sources within the diplomatic circles told the Star that Guterres believed Obasanjo draws respect from both President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Obasanjo’s mission, according to sources, was to prevail upon Raila not to go ahead with the swearing in that is planned for January 30. A mission that failed.
9. Uhuru snubs Obasanjo call for dialogue – As the world watched how Kenya was to handle the political impasse arising for the election, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo left the country without meeting President Uhuru Kenyatta when he shuttled into Nairobi to broker a deal with NASA leader Raila Odinga.
State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu told the Star on January 19 there was no request from Obasanjo to meet Uhuru.
“No meeting was requested so it follows that none was granted,” Esipisu said.
The UN Secretary-General’s emissary was expected to meet the President Deputy President William Ruto after a session with NASA leaders.
10. NASA’s radical plan for Raila’s swearing-in –
By mid-January, NASA had drawn up radical plans in what appeared to be its final push to swear in its leader, Raila Odinga, on January 30.
Its think-tanks had concluded that restless opposition adherents, smarting from the contentious October 26 poll boycott, would accept nothing short of Raila’s inauguration as the People’s President.
“It is clear our supporters are not ready to engage in any other fight for electoral justice before the oath. When Raila was on the Christmas holiday at the Coast, people kept running after him with the Bible to be sworn in,” sources close to Raila told the Star on January 12, requesting anonymity.
11. Rift between State House, Ruto to blame for City Hall crisis –
On January 12, Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe announced his resignation over what he called failure to earn Governor Mike Sonko’s trust.
While the two had a frosty relationship from the start, the Star established that wars between Deputy President William Ruto and State House operatives were to blame for the crisis rocking City Hall.
Sources said the clash between the two sides over the control of the county affairs and the multimillion-shilling tenders led to Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe’s resignation.
Igathe had been in constant war with Ruto’s proxies at the county headquarters.
Sonko was perceived to be in Ruto’s camp, while Igathe was apparently the face of State House, having been seconded by state operatives to be Sonko’s running mate.
12. Ruto’s 2022 bid causes a stir in Mt Kenya – He was once said to be a shoo-in for President, but Deputy President William Ruto’s 2022 succession plan appeared uncertain in 2018.
Though Ruto is a known survivor, major hurdles are being thrown in his way as regions and politicians hatch their own plans for power in five years.
Further, not everyone applauds the UhuRuto pact that they will rule for 20 years — 10 by Kenyatta and 10 by Ruto. The Opposition calls this a poisonous ethnic duopoly and that narrative resonates with many people embittered after the election.
13. Nasa leaders’ security, passports restored after Uhuru-Raila handshake – Three days after the famous handshake outside Harambee House, Nasa leaders started reaping the benefits of the deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nasa chief Raila Odinga.
The security of Nasa Members of Parliament was restored on March 12 and their cars returned.
Passports that had been confiscated were also returned immediately and the cases against businessman Jimi Wanjigi and his father Maina were to be withdrawn – the two are facing charges over Jimi’s possession of firearms.
The government took tough steps to suppress the National Resistance Movement after Raila had himself sworn-in as the People’s President on January 30.
The surprise nomination came with no posts attached to them with some of the sitting Cabinets treated to a waiting game as the President remained mum on their fate.
The president indicated that he had retained Henry Rotich as National Treasury CS, Najib Balala (Tourism), and James Macharia (Transport).
Fred Matiangi was confirmed as Interior CS while manning the Education docket on an acting capacity with Charles Keter retained in the Energy docket while Joe Mucheru would still steer the ICT portfolio.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
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.
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.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
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
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
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.
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.
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.