The political scene in 2018 has been fast and dynamic, like never before. It has left many casualties in its trail and also created heroes alike.
In this light-hearted piece, we look back at some of the political figures whose acts stood out as representative of the political calendar or spread mirth on the political scene.
Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, aka Clifford Ndung’u, has over the years fashioned himself as the defender of the common mwananchi.
In January, he officially changed his name to Ferdinand Waititu Ndung’u Baba Yao, through a gazette notice.
The “Baba Yao” surname is meant to demonstrate the politician’s father figure, which he has exhibited to his political supporters over the past few years.
This year, Mr Waititu also acquired the fame of being “the man who moves rivers”. This follows his protest against demolitions of buildings in Nairobi built on riparian land, by suggesting the rivers should instead be moved.
In February, the people’s defender was at it again, this time challenging Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu to a physical duel: “Hakuna kusamehea mtu. Mimi na yeye tutashikana makoti, hapa kwa hapa, mpaka yeye alipe zile malorry zilichomwa kwa sababu ya ‘incitement’ yake (There is no forgiving anyone. I will deal with her individually until she pays for the charcoal lorries burnt because of her incitement).
Ms Ngilu had earlier called on residents to impound and burn lorries transporting charcoal from Kitui.
All in all, Baba Yao’s notion of moving rivers is the most hilarious — which makes him stand out as Kenya’s most positive dreamer of 2018.
The Nairobi Governor is the indisputable public cop of 2018. He has operated undercover, sneaking on his officers at the county, including influential businesses and close friends.
Sonko not only records their conversations, but leaks the same to the public thereafter.
Sonko once looped in President Uhuru Kenyatta in his fetish for recording confidential conversations.
The governor’s high-profile victims this year include his Kiambu counterpart Waititu, and Nairobi tycoons Praful Kumar and Mike Maina.
In his leaked conversation with Waititu, Sonko undertakes to release the Kiambu governor’s wife from police custody for flouting building construction rules in the city.
In August, Sonko shared a recording of Kumar attempting to bribe him with Sh1 million to allow him add two more floors to his hotel in Gigiri.
And in a recording doing the rounds on social media this month, Sonko hurls insults at Maina, accusing him of using fake documents to claim ownership of a 20-acre parcel of land in Kayole.
Sonko maintains that this is his style of fighting corruption and impunity at City Hall, which somehow qualifies him to be the public cop of the year.
For the 15 years he has served in Parliament — two terms in the National Assembly and one term in the Senate — the self-styled “mtetezi wa wanyonge (champion of the vulnerable)” has tried to live up to the expectations of his admirers.
And as the self-appointed voice of the voiceless, Dr Khalwale earned himself accolades of a giant slayer by daring and charging at the powerful like a bullfighter — his moniker.
For many years, Deputy President William Ruto was one of the bullfighter’s punching bags.
During the 2013 and 2017 electoral campaigns, Dr Khalwale particularly worked up the crowds with sensational claims linking Ruto to the Sh8 billion, 134-acre Karen land scandal and for “grabbing 100 acres of land from my poor kinsman”, Adrian Muteshi, among other corruption claims.
Come 2017, after losing the gubernatorial race against Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Dr Khalwale went underground in what he explains as: “After running such a blistering race, I had to cool off my heels.”
And when the bullfighter finally resurfaced, he was totally dehorned and limping to a new tune of Ruto — his erstwhile political enemy.
And for his radical U-turn, the bullfighter clinches the trophy of political unpredictability.
Remember that memorable scene in December 2016 of Mbita MP Millie Mabona Odhiambo walking bare feet — her shoes in her hands — to the National Assembly?
The police had cordoned off the area for fear of eruption of chaos, during a special sitting to deliberate on amendments to the electoral laws.
Kenyans immediately flocked to the social media with mock illustrations linking Millie’s stride to that of Johnnie Walker, the popular brand of Scotch whisky.
Celebrated by the Opposition and loathed by the government-friendly party, Millie unleashed a tirade of unprintable abuses at the President — a trademark political approach that has sustained her over the years and which guaranteed her re-election in 2017.
There is no denying the fiery legislator is a different breed.
But the vocal politician has since lost her voice and the Johnnie Walker majestic stride — thanks to the March 9 famous handshake.
Unlike Khalwale, she is yet to find her political footing or an alternative politician to back, other than Baba (Raila Odinga). Judging from her past record, Millie closes the year as the most muted politician.
With his bright coloured signature suits, with stripes of the national flag, David ole Sankok stands out more as a uniformed parliamentary orderly than a legislator.
He claims the national colours are meant to promote patriotism, yet Sankok is one of the most abusive and divisive politicians in Kenya.
His pet target is opposition leader Raila Odinga and this year he unleashed a bagful of venomous insults at the ODM party leader.
The MP recently confessed on Radio Citizen’s live show that …… “kumchokoza na kumshambulia Raila ni moja kati ya kazi nilizopewa baada ya uteuzi (bashing Raila is one of my roles),” in reference to Jubilee’s decision to nominate him to Parliament.
And his vitriol is spread across political parties.
During the gender rule debate, the MP stirred up the rage of female politicians by declining to support the affirmative action Bill “for slay queens to slay their way into the National Assembly, Senate or County Assemblies”.
Never mind that Sankok, who walks with the aid of crutches, is a beneficiary of affirmative action. For his mixed signals, Sankok goes unchallenged as this year’s most slippery legislator.
When it comes to political metamorphosis, few can match the progression the Suna East MP has undergone over the past 10 years.
From a Mayor of Migori Town to member of Parliament, Junet has emerged as a strong political player in the Opposition.
A member of the Somali ethnic group, Junet not only speaks fluent Dholuo but, as colleagues in Luo Nyanza have observed, “he is more Luo and militant in defending the Luo nation and Mr Odinga” than most local politicians.
Today the youthful MP is Minority Chief Whip in the National Assembly, as well as director of elections of the giant opposition party, ODM.
Junet has also emerged as a close confidante of Mr Odinga, and was the sole politician who accompanied the Opposition leader to Harambee House during the famous handshake with President Kenyatta.
These latest developments have totally reshaped Junet’s demeanour. From a streetwise and combative politician, Junet has become calmer and diplomatic overnight, unwilling to discuss “sensitive governmental issues” — a development that qualifies him as the most transformed politician.
As Devolution minister in President Kenyatta’s first administration, Ms Waiguru acquired the nickname of “Iron Lady —thanks to her strong influence and closeness to the powers that be.
But at the peak of her troubles over the National Youth Service scandal in the last Parliament, she melted into near oblivion after being shunned by political heavyweights including the DP and Mr Odinga.
But the “cat walker”, as she was sarcastically described by Ruto, has proved to be the number one political personality in epitomising the handshake deal.
She has literally walked to offices of her political nemesis and those she did not get along with, to build bridges.
Having patched up differences with Ruto, Waiguru has knocked at the offices of Mr Odinga, whom she had sued for “character assassination”, and those of the original “iron lady of Gichugu”, Kirinyaga County, Ms Martha Karua.
Waiguru and Karua locked horns in a hotly contested gubernatorial poll for Kirinyaga. For her building bridges efforts, she is the political peacemaker of the year.
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.