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MWANGI: Five reasons why 2019 will be the year of our great country

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By EVAN MWANGI
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My dog Sigmund and I are for the first time in many years agreed on a major issue: 2019 will be the best year for Kenyans so far, the national year of peremende (candy) all around. Because Sigmund is more serious with life than I can ever hope to be, I yield this space to him with a caveat. I am not responsible for what the dog tells you. Over to you, Sigmund!

Sigmund: (taking the mic, clearing his throat, and adjusting his military collar). Because of good leadership we continue to enjoy and its zero tolerance to corruption, everyone in Kenya will be as happy as a dog with a bone in 2019. All thieves in powerful positions will be handed long jail terms.

In 2019, we’ll be addressing our leaders as “Peremende So-and-So” because of the overflowing sweetness of their magnanimity and wisdom. Our peremendes at the very top, popular as the chapatis they eat in dingy kiosks to mimic our downtrodden lives, showed a lot of decorum in 2018, something we expect them to display in 2019 and beyond.

According to a Unicef report, an estimated 482,882 Kenyan children required treatment for acute malnutrition at the beginning of the year, including 104,614 suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

All the same, in a year of many blessings, every day of 2019 should include a national prayer breakfast. Let’s see our leaders eating expensive meals at high-end hotels as they commune with the Almighty. We’ll eat with them vicariously as we watch the prayer meetings on TV, chewing and swallowing our saliva as the leaders eat the real food on our behalf. In the name of the Lord, let the cameraman zoom on whoever will be having my favourite breakfast: Poached eggs with tomato, Swiss chard, and chickpeas.

It will be heart-warming to see our leaders prayerful on TV before they take a break from their confessed faith to loot every government penny they can lay their hands on then give part of the loot to eager churches.

In 2019, we expect the Kenyan government to jail a few journalists to teach everyone a lesson on best behaviour. Dr Ezekiel Mutua of the Kenya Film Classification Board should also be ready to outlaw Adui, should Wanuri Kahiu produce a sequel to Rafiki that I suspect she is at work on. Dr Mutua did a good job in 2018 by putting us on the world map as a nation of intolerant homophobes when he banned Wanuri Kahiu’s film for presenting lesbian relationships sympathetically.

As Kenyan kids sat their national exams at the end of the year, the government suddenly realised that quite a number of the teens were pregnant. Education officials, the epitome of intellectual aptitude in the country, offered an excellent solution to the problem of teen pregnancies: Banning internet porn sites. I support this move. The girls were impregnated by porn stars, who jumped out of computers and phone screens to take advantage of our children.

According to a 2016 report by the Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge and Exchange at the University of Bedfordshire, UK, when Britain was hit by a similar teenage pregnancy crisis in the 1990s, it managed to cut by 60 per cent incidents of under-18 pregnancies in 10 years by, after thorough research, “making sex and relationship education compulsory in schools.”

But in Kenya we are so God-fearing we don’t want such a comprehensive approach to the problem facing children of the hoi polloi. Furthermore, teenage pregnancies are mostly reported in rural areas because that’s where kids watch most porn on expensive smart phones and computers the government has given them and thanks to internet coverage. Let’s just block porn sites and wait to see a drastic drop in teen pregnancies next year.

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Towards the end of the year, the Education ministry flip-flopped on the implementation of a new curriculum like Diamond Platnumz performing his raunchy Mwanza video. We expect from the ministry more of this intellectual agility in 2019. Even if the pilot programme crashes because of lack of proper planning, it must be implemented to feed the cartels controlling the ministry.

Since Mr Polycarp Igathe abruptly left the Nairobi County administration on January 31, Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko hasn’t appointed a deputy governor yet. The peremende governor is likely to do so in 2019. Such an officer’s main duty is to succeed his boss, should the latter pop off. He isn’t going anywhere, but Nairobi needs assurance that, in case of anything, Mr Sonko’s legacy and good leadership skills will flourish beyond him.

Therefore, as he chooses his deputy, Mr Sonko should remember that Nairobi is a Third World city with burst sewage pipes everywhere. The governor in waiting should have a mouth like an open sewer and spew all sorts of garbage at the slightest provocation. Mr Sonko has led from the front on this score. The insults should be recorded and broadcast on social media, because Nairobi must have leaders that are exactly like it.

One of the best-trained economists in the world, Kenya’s Dr David Ndii, was mean in the way he greeted Deputy President William Ruto’s admission to the secluded club of PhD holders earlier this month. I expected Dr Ndii to hug Dr Ruto and congratulate him in Latin like the truly refined Oxford-educated intellectual he is. Dr Ndii instead imputed that Ruto’s PhD wasn’t properly earned and that it served only as a credential in an obituary.

Someone should remind Dr Ndii that Kenyan universities aren’t as stingy with degrees as an economist can be with cash. In 2019, we expect them to bring PhDs to the people and start one-year executive doctoral programmes in riparian architecture and narco-pharmacy.

Much of 2018 proved that ours are politicians who do everything with military precision. Ordinarily, a democratically inclined civilian leader does not wear military clothes or render the hand salute used by uniformed military personnel. But all democratic civilian leaders, including our own, should not only salute civilians (including their spouses), but they should spice up the comedy by raising the knee to the chin level and stomping the ground as they salute.

The force with which the foot comes to the ground will be symbolic of the energy with which our politicians are fighting corruption in high places. I’m sure western democracies would cheer civilian presidents like my friend Donald Trump if he paraded himself in a military uniform one of these days to remind his nation that he is so omnipotent he would wear clothes similar to God’s if he knew the Almighty’s wardrobe.

Let Trump and Vladimir Putin occasionally wear military uniforms as Omar Al-Bashir usually does. We don’t want such habits to appear like proclivities of Third World leaders drunk with power, a throwback to the era of Jean-Bédel Bokassa and Idi Amin Dada.

In anticipation of a year of sweetness for everyone, I, Sigmund — on behalf of Foolish Cow, who claims to own me, and on my own behalf — wish everyone a merry new year and a prosperous next Christmas.



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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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