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Uhuru, Raila should honour Kodhek




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Events from today marking 50 years since minister of State for Foreign Affairs CMG Argwings Kodhek died will be more than a poignant family memorial and remembrance of an important public figure.

It will be an occasion to be looked at in terms of political schisms of his era that divide Kenyans to this day; and ongoing efforts by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga to finally heal the rifts that have caused the country so much political turmoil.

Kenya was united in grief 50 years ago today on waking up to the news that Mr Kodhek had died in an early morning car crash.

That tragedy towards the close of the first month of 1969 perhaps served as a precursor for what still stands as one of the most tumultuous years in the history of independent Kenya.

One of the brightest young politicians to make the transition from an activist in agitation for freedom to assumption of leadership in a newly emergent nation, Mr Kodhek died at a time when the country was deeply rived between the authoritarian Kanu regime of President Jomo Kenyatta and an increasingly bold Opposition led by Mr Oginga Odinga of the Kenya People’s Union.

The ethno-political divide of 1969 — President Kenyatta and Vice-President Daniel arap Moi in a Mt Kenya-Rift Valley power elite resisting the onslaught of an opposition built around Mr Odinga’s Nyanza power base — is almost perfectly mirrored in the power equation of today that confirms a dynastic duel.

Today, it is Jomo Kenyatta’s son, Uhuru, and Mr Moi’s successor at the helm of Rift Valley leadership, Deputy President William Ruto, paired up since the 2013 elections in resisting the perennial presidential quest of Odingas, first father and then the son.

When Mr Kodhek died in 1969, he was in the middle of an increasingly bitter political battle, playing a delicate balancing act in between loyalty to the Kenyatta government and his role as an MP for Gem, fiercely Odinga territory.

When Mr Odinga quit as Vice-President in 1966 to found the Opposition Kenya Peoples Union, Mr Kodhek was one of the senior figures in Luo Nyanza to defy the call towards the regional power bloc.

After the defection of Mr Odinga and 28 other Members of Parliament, the Kenyatta government had rammed through a constitutional amendment mandating that elected leaders who changed party allegiance seek a fresh mandate.

In the ensuing ‘Little General Election’, of 1966, KPU swept the Odinga strongholds. Mr Kodhek was spared because he had remained in Kanu and his seat was not up for the by-election.

But he was lonely as a Cabinet minister and Kanu MP in a strongly opposition region. A General Election was coming up in 1969. Mr Kodhek would have known that despite his status as a nationalist hero of the struggle for independence and stellar credentials, he would be in real danger of losing his seat.

He thus tried to play the role of conciliator, remaining loyal to Kenyatta, while maintaining cordial ties with Mr Odinga, with whom he had family connections going back to the 1930s.

Some in President Kenyatta’s court would have wanted to use Mr Kodhek as their spearhead in Mr Odinga’s home turf, but he resisted such moves, instead opting to be reconciler between the opposing sides.

That might explain why Mr Kodhek was genuinely mourned across the political divide.

President Kenyatta lamented the loss of a nationalist and a friend to all. Vice-President Moi moved a motion of adjournment in Parliament to pay tribute to a fallen colleague. That the motion was seconded by opposition leader Oginga Odinga stood as a testimony that Mr Kodhek was respected on both sides of the aisle, and also to the maturity of a multiparty Parliament at a time of otherwise hostile divides.

Although there were some violent protests when news broke of Mr Kodhek’s death, they soon petered out. Once it was generally accepted that he had died in a tragic car accident rather than foul play, events from the period of mourning, the funeral service in Nairobi onto the burial in Gem with mixed Christian and traditional rites proceeded placidly.


That turned out to have been the calm before the storm, as a series of calamitous events the same year affecting Nyanza and the nation at large served to dangerously poison the political atmosphere, with reverberations felt to this day.

First was the assassination of the brilliant Cabinet minister Tom Mboya; followed by the banning of KPU, imprisonment without trial of Mr Odinga and all the key opposition leaders; and regression of Kenya back into a de facto one-party state.

On July 5, 1969, a lone gunman fired bullets into the chest of Mr Mboya, then minister for Economic Planning and Development, as he walked out of Chaani’s Pharmacy on Government Road (Now Moi Avenue).

Widespread riots broke out in Nairobi and Kisumu amid suspicion that the Kenyatta government was responsible for the killing. There was an irony in that as opposition chief Odinga’s supporters broke out in grief and anger at the killing of one of their most promising son; they were also mourning one who had broken ranks with the community to serve the Kenyatta regimes machinations against their political champion.

It was Mr Mboya who in 1966 had orchestrated the manouevers that forced Mr Odinga to quit the vice presidency and Kanu to go into opposition.

He went on to become one of the most powerful figures in the Kanu government, and by 1969 was being seriously considered a potential successor to the ageing President Kenyatta.

That probably explained why he had to be eliminated, but that had the unintended effect of driving the Luo even more strongly into Mr Odinga’s camp.

Fast-forward to October 25, 1969. President Kenyatta went on an inspection tour of development projects, the highlight being the official opening of the New Nyanza General Hospital in Kisumu, Mr Odinga’s political capital.

That was not an innocent choice. Nicknamed ‘Russia’, the hospital was built largely with Soviet funds sourced by the eastern-leaning Mr Odinga, so the political undertones were clear.

The presidential convoy met hostility as soon as it entered Kisumu. At the venue itself, President Kenyatta from the podium and Mr Odinga seated on the terraces exchanged words. Stones were thrown, presidential guards opened fire into the crowd and amid the mayhem, President Kenyatta was whisked away.

What followed came to be known as the Kisumu Massacre. There has never been an official death toll but unverified reports have ranged from a dozen fatalities to 10 times that.

Over the course of the next three days, police rounded up scores of KPU leaders. Mr Odinga and his closest allies were put under detention without trial on national security regulations. At the end of the month, KPU was officially proscribed as “subversive both in its nature and in its objectives … dangerous to the government.”

Kenya became a one-party state, though not codified until the 1982 passage of the infamous Section 2A of the Constitution. Mr Odinga remained barred from politics until the section was repealed in 1992. But the alienation that Mr Odinga’s base feels it has been condemned to over successive regimes remains uncured.

If 1969 was the year everything came to a head, Mr Kodhek’s memorial 50 years later might just be the occasion for Kenyatta Jr and Odinga Jr to prove that the ‘handshake’ supposed to end a generation of hostility is for real.

There may also be a need to address the issues that have the Building Bridges Initiative viewed with suspicion, especially by DP Ruto’s wing of Jubilee.

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga can do this with the firm message that it aims not just at political pact between two individuals and their respective family and community strongholds, but at a much more inclusive effort aimed at true peace, reconciliation and healing for all Kenyans.



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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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 –




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.

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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.

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard




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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