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There is more to Kwale than Diani Beach: PHOTOS




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Traversing the hinterland on the Kenana-Shimoni road in Kwale County, one hardly notices a small signage on the left side of the road.

It is not easy to see it because it is covered with dust from the ongoing road construction.

The signage shows the direction to the Three Sisters Caves at Fikirini in Tswaka village.

The caves are about 15 kilometres from the Kenana-Shimoni junction.

The three caves, named Pangani, Kisimani and Mdenyenye, all have cultural artefacts of the Digo people.

The entrance to one of the Three Sisters caves

The entrance to one of the Three Sisters caves at Tswaka village in Kwale County. PHOTO | SAMUEL BAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Our journey to the caves was through our guide Dote Salim. Salim, a resident of Tswaka village, seemed knowledgeable about history of the caves.

“The first cave is called Mdenyenye and is the largest among the three. It has a wooden staircase built by the locals,” he said.

Salim said the word Mdenyenye means the act of ascending or descending using a rope or hanging roots.

“Most of the visitors who frequent this cave prefer using the hanging roots of the trees to go down the cave.

History has that this cave was specifically used as a hideout for the villagers who were running away from slave traders,” he said.

The second cave, Pangani, has several chambers that Salim said were used for prayers and resting. Their ancestors also had their meals in the Pangani cave.

Pangani is unique since it has an underground tunnel stretching six kilometres that connect to the Shimoni caves.

“Unfortunately the tunnel has been blocked and it is impassable now. The slaves used to run away from Shimoni using this tunnel,” he said.

The third cave, Kisimani (Swahili for a well) has a fresh water well that never runs dry.

“This is an important site where visitors can spot baboons and monkeys as they quench their thirst. This cave is also home to thousands of bats,” he said.

There are at least seven species including Egyptian fruit bats, common bent-wing, long-fingered bats, tomb bats, as well as angle-faced bat.

The three caves are managed by a community-based organisation and opens doors to tourists and locals at an affordable fee.

“Last year we had about 2,000 visitors, mainly tourists and some locals who flocked the caves to sample the rich history of our community,” said Salim.


It is also claimed that Arabs used the caves as holding areas as they waited for arrival of ships to transfer their captives to the infamous slave market in Zanzibar, and then onward to Saudi Arabia. 

Another wonder of the county is the Lwayo Lwa Mulungu tourist site in Lunga Lunga. In the local Duruma language, it means God’s footprint and is about five kilometres from Lunga Lunga town.

Whether it is mere superstition, love for religion or something beyond human understanding the footprint has drawn more attention and mixed reactions from both residents and visitors who flock the area to see the wonder.

The area is inhabited by the Duruma people, who say the footprint must be God’s since no human foot is that big.

A local, Kengo Mangale, says residents believe that God walked on the rock, leaving the mark which has since been made a place of worship.  

“Although the footprint cannot be proven to be that of God, belief impacted on the people since childhood has made them to associate it with that of God,” Kengo said.

Lunga Lunga residents at the Maji Moto springs

Lunga Lunga residents at the Maji Moto springs in Kwale County. PHOTO | KAZUNGU SAMUEL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In Kwale, these tourist sites cannot be exhausted. After the wonders of Lwayoni in Lunga Lunga, we headed to Maji Moto springs also in Lunga Lunga.

Although little known, the Maji Moto (hot water) springs has not been fully explored. 

Abdallah Mwabedi, a caretaker at the site told us the site has been neglected even though the county government erected a fence and gate in 2013.

“Our generation has forgotten about the rituals that were performed to appease the spirits of the springs,” Abdallah said.

The source of the springs is the dormant volcanic Dzombo Hill, according Joseph Mulandi, a teacher at Maji Moto Primary School.

He said the locals believe water from the hot springs has medical value.

“Occasionally, those with different ailments flock the springs to bathe in the hot water with hope it will cure their diseases,” Joseph said.

Kwale County is famous for its pristine Diani Beach that has been voted the best beach destination five times in a row.

But it also boasts of other tourist sites, including Shimoni caves, Wasini Island, the Shimba Hills National Reserve and Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, part of the Tsavo National Park, Sheldrick Falls among others, that can be tapped to bring more revenue for the county.

Speaking in an interview at his Mvindeni office in Kwale, Tourism minister Masudi Bungale said county has commissioned a study to map all its tourist attraction sites.



Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’




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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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –




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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard




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