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The sponsor phenomenon: Greed or desperation?

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By SONI KANAKE
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The Nigerians call them ‘mentors’. In South Africa they are referred to as ‘blessers’. Here, we call them ‘sponsors’.

They tend to be married men of substantial age – in comparison to the women they date – who have girlfriends who they finance in exchange for sex and bragging rights.

We all know what is in this arrangement for the men – sexual variety on demand and someone to show off to his friends.

There is the assumption that all women get into such relationships to eat life with a big spoon. Is this always true? Clarissa* grew up in the village in a poor family.

When she found herself a sponsor, her daughter was two and the man responsible had walked, leaving her with the responsibility of raising their child alone.

And not just that – she was also expected to send money back home to support her parents’ monthly medications and hospital reviews as well as chip in her siblings’ education. Although she had just landed a new job, the pay was meagre and it would not support all her obligations.

Her fortunes soon changed when she met Musa, an old, wealthy man who had businesses both locally and abroad. “I wasn’t looking for a sponsor but Musa was kind and was genuinely interested in the plight of my family,” she says. “The first thing he did was give me money to rent a cab to ferry my parents to Nairobi for a review. He also made sure I had enough money to put them up in a good, classy hotel in town, pending their lab results, as my house was too tiny to host them.”

Five years later, Clarissa says she has no regrets. “I’ve been to nearly every continent in the world. I guess the only place I’ve never visited is Australia,” she says. Her sponsor, who was about 65 when they met, moved her from Eastlands to the leafy suburbs of Kileleshwa.

She always accompanies him on all his business and leisure trips abroad. Musa also bought his PYT (pretty young thing) a car though she complained that he had it installed with a car tracking device to monitor her whereabouts. “He’s quite possessive and wants to know my every move,” confesses Clarissa.

With a monthly allowance of Sh200,000 and a thriving business, her daughter enrolled in one of the prestigious schools in the country. Clarissa relaxed and soon started adding weight. “I didn’t like the way I looked, especially since I had put on too much weight around my waist,” confesses Clarissa.

The former village girl was introduced to plastic surgery by one of her friends and she managed to convince Musa to pay the surgeon’s fee of US$5,000, accommodation and travelling expenses to the US for a liposuction.

Today she owns a home in Riverside, thanks to Musa. Clarissa, however, confesses that a sponsor makes you dependent on them so much so that even when you make your own money you still want them to continue helping you financially. Now that Clarissa has her own money and is financially stable, does she have plans of detaching from Musa? “It is hard to let go because you have also become emotionally attached to him,” she says.

Florence* found herself a sponsor for almost the same reasons as Clarissa. “I have two children,” she says. “The father of my first child, a girl, relocated abroad and absconded his parental responsibilities. I met Tim when I was in my early 20s and he was in his late 50s.”

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Since then, he has helped her get a leg up. “The man opened doors for me,” she says. He not only took care of her but also her daughter, and gave her an opportunity to access quality education. And even when she sired him a son, Tim continued to provide for both children without discriminating, she says.

Florence now runs a successful business and travels frequently to the US and Europe. “I’m not your typical ‘slay queen’ who’s looking for a sponsor to rescue her including buying her credit for her phone. It’s more like a partnership and I’m doing this to secure the future of my kids. I have done all the heavy lifting (it takes to secure my income),” she says.

“Women should not put us down just because we want a little better for ourselves. It’s not as easy as it looks, too. Being beautiful and looking presentable will open doors for you but you also have to be an intelligent woman to have a man at your beck and call,” Florence explains. “You have to look the part. Don’t wear cheap clothes or perfume and expect him to take you on his yatch,” says Florence. I’m also a hard-working woman and not just expecting a man to come and rescue me from poverty,” she continues.

It would appear that men are always willing to come to the rescue of a damsel-in-distress. Carol narrates how she met a certain local law maker in New York, USA, during a business forum. “We shared a few drinks and I mentioned to him that I needed to buy a few things for a project I was working on back home,” she says. “He asked me how much I needed and I looked him in the eye and said US$3,000 (Sh300,000), which he assured me he would give me the following day… and he did!”

Linda,* now in her mid 30s, says she had a time of her life when she dated Tony, in his 50s, for the two years they were together. “He was an understanding man and told me that if I ever wanted to get married, he would support me,” reveals Linda.

Having been dumped for an older woman in her previous relationship, Linda was heartbroken and her self-esteem plummeted. “Tony was just what the doctor ordered. He was always available for me, treated me right and helped rebuild my self-esteem,” she confesses. “When his wife discovered about me, I opted out. Tony was such a generous soul that he gave me enough money to settle,” says Linda.

As much as these ladies say their lives have overall improved and it probably would have taken a lifetime to achieve what they have, they maintain they do not do it out of greed but to enhance their lives.

That said, we cannot turn a blind eye to the possible negative outcomes of such relationships, including murder of the young women and we are left wondering whether it really is worth it. Probably the bottom-line is to realise that everything we do has consequences.



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General

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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