ICJ Kenya Jurist of the year 2014 Mbugua Mureithi acceptance

Mbugua Mureithi

Mbugua Mureithi

Members of diplomatic missions present

Hon. Judges present,

The Chair of the ICJ-Kenya,

Members of the Council of the ICJ-Kenya

My Learned Friends,

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Some things happen only once in a person’s life. Such is the humbling honour, privilege and recognition that the ICJ-Kenya has bestowed on me this evening/tonight. I also appreciate that this honour comes with the burden that the recipient will maintain the same standards that led the distinguished Selection Committee of the Jurist of the Year Award to pick the recipient. I promise you tonight that I will try to do so, even though I know, I am told authoritatively, that it is a one term award.

My journey to this humbling award has already been told and I will not repeat it. However, let me say something about the area that in the eyes of the public seems to define me at this moment i.e. human rights and counter-terrorism.

Our country has had to deal with the deadly scourge of international terrorism for a long time. Prior to the entry of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in the Somali conflict in October 2011, intended to rout the Al Queda linked Al Shabaab militants, the country had been used by international terror groups as a ground for launching attacks against Western interests particularly Israeli and US interests. This was the case with the bombing of the Norfolk Hotel on 31st December 1980, the bombing of the US Embassy on 7th August 1998 and the bombing of Paradise Hotel, Kikambala on 28th November 2002 and simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli Arkia Airlines Boeing 757 as it took off from Moi International Airport, Mombasa. As it turned out, our own people – Kenyan citizens, always bore the greatest brunt of these attacks.

Justifiably, following these terror attacks the government through the security agencies embarked on robust counter-terrorism measures including the establishment of the Counter-Terrorism Centre and the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU). Prior to the enactment of the Prevention of Organized Crimes Act, 2011 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2012, all counter-terrorism measures and strategies were done outside any legislative framework. They were extra-legal. It is in the period prior to these two legislations that I got involved in the legal discourse of counter-terrorism and human rights. I vividly remember that my first engagement in this discourse was as a substitute paper presenter at a workshop organized by the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and the Muslim Human Rights Forum (MHRF) sometime in mid 2007 at Lenana Mount Hotel. My colleagues Mr. Paul Muite and Mr. Harun Ndubi were the key presenters. However, Ndubi got pressing engagements and I was prevailed upon by Mr. Mikewa Ogada to replace him a day before the event. It was at that event that I met Mr. Al Amin Kimathi, the Executive Director of MHRF with whom, 3 years later, on 15th September 2010, we were arrested, tortured and detained in Kampala, Uganda on allegations that we were armed and dangerous terrorists!

Since the Lenana Mount Hotel workshop, I have worked in the area of counter-terrorism as a human rights, rule of law/legal consultant, defence lawyer and constitutional law litigator. In the course of my work in this area, I have represented individuals charged with terror related cases including those who are generally viewed as the leaders of terror in this country. I have also interacted with the security agents who are tasked with enforcing counter-terrorism legislation and strategies. I can therefore say that I am in a position to make comments in this area, particularly in light of the heightened terror attacks from the Al Queda affiliated Al Shabbab and the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014 with some measure of authority.

But first, let me say this for the record; the fact that I represent terror suspects does not mean that I am a supporter or sympathizer of terror. Every terror related case I take always troubles my conscience. However, I also remind myself of the oath we take on admission to the Roll of Advocates, to execute our professional duties as advocates without fear, favour or ill will, and the constitutional ideal that every person is entitled to counsel – even the scam of the earth. The true cumulative significance of the Advocates oath and the constitutional right of everyone to counsel is that advocates should not choose clients. As my learned friend, Judy Thongori, puts it; “advocates in private practice are public citizens who owe a legal duty to be accessed by everyone in need of legal representation.” In any case, it must also be remembered that the role of defence counsel is simply to ensure a fair trial for the accused. A fair trial is not synonymous with acquittal. Therefore, to resolve the moral dilemma in these cases and to maintain sanity, I restrict myself to taking such instructions that are only necessary to meet the case/charges at hand.

Back to the conundrum of terror-related insecurity: In my view, the answers to the current security conundrum posed by terror attacks carried out by the Al Queda affiliated Al Shabbab is not the enactment of draconian and unconstitutional legislation as proposed by the Bill. The answers lie elsewhere. And some of the answers are basic. First, the security agents must research the problem. By now, the security agents should have realized that the Al Queda affiliated Al Shabbab terror group is a complex phenomenon. It is an international and complicated web of networks. As the West Gate attack demonstrates, its membership is not just Somalia and Kenyan based. All the four actual attackers of the West Gate Mall lived in Western countries in the period before the attack. The network also has sympathizers who act alone without any command – just like the Boston Marathon attackers in the US.

The presence of Kenyan university graduates within its ranks and file as was the case with the car bomb explosion at the Pangani Police Station in May 2014 demonstrates that the Al Queda affiliated Al Shabbab is not just a bunch of illiterate, crazed, fundamentalists who cannot secure regular jobs – according to information given to my client, the car owner, by the police, the actual suicide bomber in the blast was a university graduate son of a KDF officer. Thorough research into this criminal network is therefore absolutely necessary in order to inform the counter-strategies that will properly identify the true causes of enlistment into the group, its membership and therefore nip its potential for recruitment.

Secondly, the Government must realize and appreciate that the provision of adequate security and supportive infrastructures are not optional or matters to be left to the people themselves. Whereas the President is right when he says that it is impossible for the State to provide a police officer to every citizen and that assisting security agents is a collective duty on all of us, the Government must realize that provision of security to all is one of the fundamental pillars of the social contract between the State and its citizens. Citizens surrender their individual right of self-defence to the collective protection of the State – to avoid the Hobbesian State of Nature. Counseling individual self-defence entails the danger of encouraging vigilantism and mob violence – what Kenyans popularly call “mob justice.” Community security strategies must remain voluntary and the Government has no right to lay a duty on citizens to protect themselves.

The absence of security officers in large areas of the country is unacceptable. Yet, these areas also remain largely inaccessible with no meaningful roads or no roads at all. This was the case in the two recent Mandera incidents where reports indicate that the terrorists had all the time to fire their assault rifles in the air to celebrate the brutal murders of innocent, hardworking Kenyans. The terrorists must have done this in the full knowledge that there would be no counter-response anytime soon. Unfortunately, it is evident that the Mandera incidents can happen anywhere in the country – including the suburbs of Nairobi where we hardly see police patrols.

Thirdly, the Government must realize that the phenomenon of international terrorism is a complex matter that cannot be assigned to regular security officers. It is therefore not sufficient to just put together a group of regular cops, regular intelligence officers and regular soldiers and call them an Anti-Terrorism Unit or National Counter-Terrorism Centre. Such units must comprise of specially trained officers in counter-terrorism.

Fourth, counter-terrorism operations must be done strictly in accordance with the rule of law. Security operations that are mounted on the basis of collective guilt and mass victimization of communities must stop. Similarly, security operations that are themselves criminal (some even international crimes) such as kidnappings, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial execution of suspects must also stop. Such operations are simply counter-productive. They alienate individuals and communities that are otherwise valuable partners with the security agents in combating terror. These counter-productive operations also add to the grievances that in some cases are the motive of joining terror groups. Instead of diminishing the problem, such operations provide fertile platform for recruitment and enlistment into the terror groups.

Fifth, there should be greater and structured co-operation between the security agents and the Office of the DPP in the cause of investigations aimed at prosecutions. This will avoid the increasing cases of needless, baseless and trumped-up prosecutions. Many are times when investigation officers expressly confide in me that they do not have evidence in some of the cases brought to court. In some cases, the IOs will say all they have is “intelligence information” that the accused committed the offence in question. Such prosecutions only serve to erode public confidence in the criminal justice system and are similarly counter-productive in the fight against terrorism. They add to the perceived grievances of the affected terror suspects.

Six, the country needs a candid discussion on the continued presence of the KDF in Somalia. Kenyans must reject the current formulation of the debate that suggests that a discussion of possible withdrawal of the KDF from Somalia is simply a sign of defeat by the Al Queda affiliated Al Shabbab. On the contrary there are multiple facets to this debate. One, the debate must seek to assess the impact of the KDF in Somalia on the country’s predisposition to terror attacks by the Al Queda/Al Shabbab. As it is, all evidence suggests that prior to the entry of the KDF in Somalia in October 2011, there was not a single terror attack by the Al Shabab on Kenyan soil. Yet, for the last 4 years of the KDF presence in Somalia, Al Shabab sponsored terror attacks have continued unabated. It is therefore necessary to revisit the strategic and security logic in the original AU AMISOM mandate that expressly excluded countries bordering Somalia from contributing troops to AMISOM. The debate must also be informed by the fact that the AMISOM mandate is not indefinite. The current AMISOM mandate expires on 31st November 2015 and Kenya is at liberty to request not to be included in the next extension of the mandate. Kenya must appraise its strategic presence in Somalia particularly given the fact that the warring factions have been at it for 24 years now. Kenyans must answer the question whether we are prepared to go it for such a long period, which it appears, given the history of Somalia, the Al Shabab and other groups are prepared for. The discussion must also be entertained in the context of possible growth of Somali nationalism against continued “occupation” of Somalia by AMISOM troops. History teaches that there are no people the world over who welcome permanent occupation of their land. As it is, there is already growing sentiments amongst Somali MPs that the current AMISOM mandate should not be extended and the troops must begin preparing to leave Somalia. It would be an unforgivable strategic blunder if the KDF was caught up in Somalia in a situation where the Al Shabab and the Somali Government agree that AMISOM must leave.

A few comments on the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014; I have just browsed through the Bill and my comments are really from a first impression of the Bill. First, no doubt, the Bill contains some important and useful provisions in the fight against terrorism that are informed by lessons learned from previous terror attacks in the country. For example, the provisions requiring landlords to maintain some basic information about their tenants which are to be given to security officers upon demand, the requirement for motor vehicle dealers to keep a record of motor vehicles sold and particulars of the purchasers, the provisions punishing radicalization, the provisions creating the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (which has hitherto operated without any legislative framework), among other provisions. There are also provisions that seek to tidy-up the language of existing laws to the new terminologies and offices created by the 2010 Constitution. However, about 70% of the provisions in the Bill go against the letter and spirit of the Kenyan State created by the 2010 Constitution. The proposed amendments make huge dents on the Bill of Rights, on fundamental rights to personal liberty and presumption of innocence (proposing pre-arraignment detention of up to 90 days for non-terror related offences and 360 days for terror-related offences) to a fair trial (by watering down the traditional safeguards of an accused, rules of admissibility of evidence and even trial of an accused by admission of statements without calling the makers!), the right to human dignity and freedom from torture (by proposing segregated incommunicado of untried terror suspects), the right to privacy and the right to independent practice of the media. As Miss Muthoni Wanyeki put it recently, some of the amendments seek to create numerous modern day Nyayo House Torture Chambers.

The amendments also propose that Kenya abandons some of its obligations under international conventions particularly the conventions on the status of refugees (by proposing a limit on the number of refugees that can be allowed into Kenya at a given time).

Given their obvious unconstitutionality, the provisions in the Bill, if passed, will certainly be struck out by the courts and the reaction by the executive will be, predictably, to criticize the judges and even label them supporters of terror. Instead of creating harmony within State institutions in the fight against terrorism, the amendments are bound to place the executive and the judiciary on a frosty relationship. The proposed amendments must therefore be keenly scrutinized and most of them rejected in the national interest.

If the 70% of draconian provisions in the proposed amendments are not rejected, they will certainly be received as a pleasant Christmas message by the Al Shabab. The Bill tells the Al Shabab that their attacks have paid off. They have forced the Government of Kenya to prepare legal measures that will undermine much of the gains brought by the 2010 Constitution to make Kenya a more free and democratic society. The Government has capitulated and opted to redesign the Kenyan State on the very oppressive and repressive form preferred by the Al Shabab – from a constitutional democratic state to a national security state or a Police State.

We must all resist this intended gift to the Al Shabaab.

Thank you very much.

Merry Christmas.

God bless you all and God bless our country.

Mbugua Mureithi


(Jurist of the Year, 2014)

11th December 2014

(Serena Hotel, Nairobi)

A quick nip through the Intel Tech Bonanza

Larry Madowo

Larry Madowo pitched the heck out of the bonanza

The Intel Tech Bonanza. I couldn’t escape that event. Larry Madowo on his Friday show The Trend on NTV ensured that we knew about it as we saw celebs like Wambui Kunga of Elani kicking his butt in video games. Or a musician guy (I can’t for the life of me remember his name) trying to figure the parts of the body in biology using the some other Intel influenced gadgetry.

So there I was walking into the Sarit Centre on Sunday to check out the bonanza. Unlike the other exhibition type events that we are familiar with at the centre there were very few exhibitors. It was a very few folks who were doing their thing. In one corner, there was the gaming area where one could play using the latest console. I am not and have never pretended to have any interest in games so I ignored this place. So I started checking out what was happening in there. My usual style is to quickly look around and then settle on the places I want to concentrate on. This was the one exhibition that failed to give me this luxury. As soon as I was in the general area of a stand I was approached and the people started making a pitch for me to check out the amazingness of their product and this kind of put me off. I wanted to take my time looking at products, THEN ask for assistance if I need it. I don’t know if there were few people at this gig so each visitor had to be pressed.

A birds eye view of the Intel Tech Bonanza

A birds eye view of the Intel Tech Bonanza

There were some brilliant things on their in spite of my gripe of being hassled. If you wanted to but a laptop this was the place to be as some of the machines on offer were amazing. At really reasonable prices. Acer, HP and the rest of them were in there looking very buyable.

There were also the biggest hypeman of them all DNG doing some hyping and giving products out at some unique raffle.

Ultimately, I left the event a bit earlier that I would have like to. Lets hope that next year, assuming there is one then, there are more crowds so that I could do my stuff in a leisurely manner.

If you missed out you can check out more images at the Intel Tech Facebook page here where they have Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.


Kenyans populate New African’s 100 Most Influential African list

Dazzling Diana

Dazzling Diana

The New African magazine has announced it’s most 100 influential Africans of 2014 and the list has given us the list of the most influential Africans in politics, media, the arts, activism and the like. It has many cool people on it. Some are there as a sort of “usual suspects” and a reminder that they are still alive – I’m looking at you Archbishop Desmond “Deputy Jesus” Tutu as well as new names like Trevor Noah.

There are fourteen Kenyans amongst the list Africa’s 100 most Influential. At top of the list is our #HashtagPresident President Uhuru Kenyatta. He became president last year and has gone to be one of the most talked about African leaders in recent times. I would add Fatou Bensouda here although her entry is because she spends so much thinking about getting the Kenyan leader (into jail).

Also in there is Lupita Nyong’o whose failure to appear on the list would have invalidated the list as it’s not very often we get an African winning an Oscar and then conquering the fashion world with awesome gowns.

In the same fashion space is Diana Opoti whose 100 Days of African Fashion made her an instant legend in African fashion circles as she showed off a new outfit for three months and ten days straight.

Totally Tabitha

Totally Tabitha

Talking about legends how about that Tabitha Karanja of Keroche Breweries getting into a space that SAB Miller, in its previous incarnation as SABL, was famously was kicked out of by dominant Kenyan player EABL. She is there as a business influential.’ Incidentally she also recently won businesswoman of the year somewhere else. Wicked.

Then there is Boniface Mwangi who promised to leave street protests to the next generation and then discovered that it wasn’t such a good idea as the #HastagPresident and his digital government was really making a mockery of running our country. Also in there is Jimmy Chuchu who became initially famous as a member of weird band Just-A-Band but also did a documentary that not all Kenyans are against “gayism” as there is a community of living and breathing “Ngays.” There is also Ory Okolloh who is very influential with her IT thing.

Cool Calestous

Cool Calestous

Scientist Calestous Juma is one of the coolest chaps out there and he made the list. The Harvard professor and director of the Gates Foundation funded Innovation In Africa Project is a very cool chap if you were to follow him on twitter.

The writers were also in there with Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Binyavanga Wainaina and Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. And cartoonist Godfrey “Gado” Mwapwemba of the cartoons that annoy and the XYZ show.

Then there is the YouTube athlete Julius Yego. His claim to fame is being a Kenyan who is winning medals for such a strange discipline as javelin. I mean who know that people could win medals from throwing a piece of metal? Next you will hear Kenyans entering the shot put. Or the high jump. A more common influential athlete for a Kenyan is Denis Kimetto who broke the marathon world record in Berlin earlier in the year.

Congo’s Fatima Beyina-Moussa named President of the African Airlines Association

New AFRAA President Fatima Beyina-Moussa

New AFRAA President Fatima Beyina-Moussa

While we celebrate Kenya Airways on appointing two female board members, the rest of he continents airline industry is way ahead. The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has chosen Mrs Fatima Beyina-Moussa the Managing Director of ECAir (Equatorial Congo Airlines) as its President. She has headed the national airline of the Republic of the Congo since its creation in 2011.
Speaking at the conference the highlight qualified new president of the AFRAA spoke on her recent involvement in the industry. “In three years, we have been on a journey with our company,” says she said, “We have trained many Congolese people in aviation trades and our network is growing, along with our fleet. AFRAA represents continuity and complementarity. It is an excellent opportunity to promote our air transport policy and to stimulate discussions with our partners.”
The next edition of AFRAA will be hosted in Brazzaville, Congo under the auspices of the national airline of the Republic of the Congo, ECAir next November.


Thoughts on the Tusker Jenga Game promotion

Joseph Kadenge: This gentlemen won't convince me to go to the stadium

Joseph Kadenge: This gentlemen won’t convince me to go to the stadium

EABL’s current promotion for their Tusker brand is something called “Jenga Game” (build the game) which is meant to drive people back to sports stadia. The concept is very welcome as going to see a live match is still unheard of in many sporting disciplines. The football and rugby people are the ones who get the bulk of the people who attend matches and even there it is specific clubs who get the bulk of supporters. They include Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Harlequins (no longer the lip balm boys), Impala and Mwamba aka Kulabu. So every little help to get people out of the bars where they are making Arsenal Vs Man United, a mid table clash in England, trend on twitter and into Kenya sports arenas is appreciated.

My only concern is with the spokesmen that they chose to drive their campaign. The clever people at EABL sad down and opted for tried and trusted folks to run their campaign like former Harambee Stars captain Musa Otieno, legendary footballer Joseph “Kadenge na mpira” Kadenge and rugby player Lavin Asego. The adverts that we have been watching on TV have them reminiscing about their glory days on the pitch and how they were excited by the support of the fans so you too should go out and “jenga game.”

I understand why they used these names as they have name recognition where Kenyans are concerned and would theoretically appeal to us easier. Unfortunately, when you go out to the stadium you are unlikely to know the people who you are likely to be supporting if you follow these veterans advice. With this move Tusker misses out on a valuable opportunity to show us the current stars of the game so that when we go out we will immediately recognise an Andrew Amonde, a Dan Sserunkuma or a Jacob Keli as they ply their trade.

Please don’t give me a story about they are unheard so might not bring the fans to the terraces. Tusker Project Fame, one of the most celebrated reality TV shows in the country, is designed with the idea of unknowns getting the limelight. You can make big names from nobodies (sorry if you are a nobody and you consider yourself a somebody) if you put your mind to it. You however give potential fans watching those adverts the impression that the game has never moved on. You are telling them that there are no new crowd favourites if we have to stick with players who last plied their trade in the twentieth century to appeal to them.

These volleyball queens win trophies. Use one them.

These volleyball queens win trophies. Use one them.

Then there is the use of only guys. Come on. In the last few Olympics women have been giving us just as much glory as the men so you can tell me that you can’t find at least one woman to have on your campaign. If you can convince our athletes then you can go with the volleyball queen or those hottie Orange Telkom hockey babes. You have no excuse in 2014 to run a campaign with only men in Kenya for a mass market product. Especially one that Tusker considers itself to be.

A review of Love Brewed in an African Pot by Kwaw Ansah

Love-brewed-in-an-African-potLegendary Ghanaian movie producer director Kwaw Ansah was in town for a movie festival recently. His biggest claim to fame in these parts is the 1981 movie Love Brewed in the African Pot. The visit of the producer reminded me about how much my mum loved the movie since she watched in when it was first screened in Nairobi in the early eighties at the Nairobi Cinema. She loved it so much that she always made a point to go to the theatre whenever they screened it again which tended to happen at least once a year. Her two yearly arts related habits are thus reading Pride and Prejudice that Jane Austen classic and watching Love Brewed in the African Pot.

If you want to enjoy the movie you can watch it now as it is available online for free on your tube. How cool is that? One hour and fifty seven minutes of movie that I can watch from the comfort of my computer. This I did and I was impressed. The movie is about Aba, a young woman born to privilege who falls in love with the son of a fisherman. That’s the story in a nutshell really; random dude who can’t even read gets to fall in love with a girl way out of his league and luckily for him she accepts his “love” and they marry. That theoretically should be end of the tale but we all know that this is never so when watching movies from our continent.

Aba’s parents especially her dad were hoping that their pretty daughter would marry the son of a prominent man who was a lawyer. The family of said lawyer had already approached Aba’s family seeking her hand as they do in such movies (and in real life sometimes I have heard). She rejects the advances and goes for her fisherman’s son who is a mechanic’s apprentice and marries him and they start living the simple life. She starts sewing clothes to help generate extra income and gets pregnant. Happily ever after surely? Nope.

First the lawyer dude who was rejected decides to opt for the stalking option and starts following the young woman Aba around trying to convince him to get back with him. Even though he knows she is a married woman. Psycho. In one of lawyer dudes unsuccessful approaches Joe sees the two engrossed in talk and the simple man loses it accusing his wife of cheating on him and disowning his child to be. He heads to the bar to catch a few pints and his wife unwisely follows him to ask him to return home; he says no and hurls her to the ground in anger and of course she loses her child. Sob. On returning from the hospital where her beloved Joe never visited, she encounters the stalker lawyer and she pelts him with tomatoes (food fights in an African themed movie from 1981 – how revolutionary). More bad things happen to her and she is eventually has to get the double treatment for her ills. First a witchdoctor cures her of the bad spirits and then she lands in the looney bin as she needs her hubby. He eventually comes to the rescue. Late bastard.

The movie was extremely enjoyable to watch with some very cool visuals in many areas with the beach scene where Joe shows his strength coming quickly to mind. In this scene, the men of the beach sit in a semi circle and those who felt the strongest would challenge whoever was in the centre to a pushing contest like with the Sumo people. The battle is very congenial with everyone singing and clapping rhythmically including the wrestlers which kind of takes away the sting of the battling. Then there were the dream sequences with the father visualizing his daughter being married to the most eligible dude in the land. It was a mite surreal that visual. Also in the surreal territory was the scenes of witches that were haunting the girl Aba.

Her father had wanted her to marry someone from her league and she of course chose her preferred mate who proved her dad right as he was a spineless no good dude who couldn’t even believe his wife when she had told him that she was only with him. Punk. He really deserved the pain and she didn’t poor child.

I recommend you watch this movie. There are some very dark scenes you have to navigate and there are some scenes that are not necessary, film editors weren’t that glorified in those days and there was no HD, but it shows Ghana in the late seventies/early eighties and you want to see that. The older you are the more likely to enjoy it.
You can watch the movie yourself below.

Airtel Kenya appoints Titus Naikuni Chairman, journos synchronise watches

ef03fBharti Airtel, has just announced the appointment of Titus Naikuni as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Airtel Kenya. Dr Naikuni’s most recent full time job was at the group CEO of Kenya Airways.

It’s a big statement from the Mombasa Road based firm which has been dealing with some serious competition from the leading firm on the other side of town. Hopefully the company which has the best products in Kenya’s mobile environment right now, in my opinion, will start showing my countrymen the real deal.

Commenting on the appointment, Christian de Faria, CEO – Airtel Africa, said: “We are pleased to have Dr. Naikuni on the Board. His wealth of experience will add immense value to the Board and provide strategic guidance to our operations in Kenya, to enable Airtel gain an important place in the Telecom sector in the country.”

Titus Naikuni: please note the watch journos

Titus Naikuni: please note the watch journos

You can expect to see a change within Airtel Kenya going forward from now on I suspect. And you expect to see journalists who attend press conferences for the firm getting there bang on time as Titus Naikuni has not time for tardy journos. Synchronise your watches ladies and gentlemen journos.

“Kenya’s newest billionaire Peter Nduati” articles are coming

edmpcResolution Insurance have a new moneybags investor; Leapfrog investments. The company will be investing KSh 1.68b ($US18.7m) for a majority stake in Resolution Insurance, through its holding company, Resolution Health East Africa Limited.

LeapFrog Investments is the world’s largest dedicated private equity investor in emerging markets financial services. The group’s portfolio of companies currently reaches over 22 million people across 16 countries. It also has investments in insurance underwriters and distributors in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and India. Resolution Health East Africa Limited is the holding company for leading East African general insurer Resolution Insurance with operations in Kenya and Tanzania and in partnership with IAA-Resolution in Uganda.

The new investment makes sense to Leapfrog as they get to get a foothold in the East African regions burgeoning insurance sector estimated to be worth KSh 180 billion (US$2 billion) and growing. In fact LeapFrog partner Dominic Liber said of the connection: “Resolution is a strong and growing business, with an exceptional management team. In a short time, Resolution has grown to become Kenya’s fourth largest health insurer and positioned itself as a rising star in East Africa’s fast-expanding health insurance space. Our investment positions Resolution to take the next leap in its growth, and we look forward to working with them to expand their reach in health insurance and beyond.”

Shock as Peter Nduati looks like a normal breathing human being

Shock as Peter Nduati looks like a normal breathing human being

Resolution CEO, Peter Nduati was equally chuffed with the new proceedings and stated; “We are excited to partner with LeapFrog for our next stage of growth. We believe that LeapFrog’s dedicated operational investing approach, strong track record in health insurance, and emerging consumer expertise will add tremendous value. Importantly, LeapFrog shares our entrepreneurial ethos and commitment to financial inclusion.”

The concern is that with the Kshs1.6 billion injected where Nduati is a majority shareholder you can expect to see many news outlets running with “the newest billionaire in the Kenyan streets” story. Expect magazine covers on Management, quirky Business Daily profiles with Jackson Biko (Update: Its been done already), profiles on the business segments of KTN, NTV and Citizen. Also CNBC. Then the social websites Mpasho, Ghalfa et al will start serving you blogs like, “Shock as Billionaire Peter Nduati seen eating mutura at Njugunas!” The gist of that post will be that it is surprising that such a rich man would stoop so low when he should be eating only at Caramel. Another headline would be “Shock as Kenyan Billionaire seen dancing with ratchets (Photos| NSWF)!” (Apologies but those blogs love using the word “shock” with the thesaurus on their computers having been disabled) When you click like you do you will see the guy dancing on stage at Blankets and Wine or Koroga. It’s going to be epic. You heard it here first.

A very impressive play Kaggia by John Sibi-Okumu

Harry Ebale as Kaggia and Bruce Makau as Jomo Kenyatta

Harry Ebale as Kaggia and Bruce Makau as Jomo Kenyatta

The most recent play at the Phoenix Players was Kaggia written by well known playwright John Sibi-Okumu aka JSO. Of course I had to watch it. I am big fan of JSO and I have been going back to the theatre in recent times so this worked quite well for me.

Phoenix Players at the Professional Centre on Parliament Road usually costs Kshs500 for those who might want to visit and their plays happen on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 6:30pm and at 3 and 6 on Saturday and Sunday. I went to watch this play on Thursday evening as I knew that there was no way I would be getting seat on the Friday.

The play is directed by Nick Njache and has a cast of Harry Ebale, Lydiah Gitachu, Yriimo Mwaura and Bruce Makau. The way the play is designed, two people come on stage and they start discussing scenes from the life Bildad Kaggia, which are being acted out, and how they would make a movie from it. The title role of Kaggia is played by Ebale while the freedom fighter’s wife Wambui is played by Lydia Gitachu. The other scenes are shared between the other two actors.

Some of the scenes they portray from Kaggia’s eventful life include the timehe is serving time in jail in the North to when he is fighting in Egypt where he had been during World War Two. In independence times we get to see the politician and the drama he has to survive to represent his people as well as after he leaves active politics and starts working at a posho mill. There are also scenes from his domestic life with his wife and daughter.

Some of the more colourful portrayals were done by Makau who played a wide variety of characters including two of the presidents Kenyatta senior and Arap Moi. That actor was very versatile and impressed me.

Also playing a role to remember was Gitachu who is a Phoenix Players veteran with her turn as Wambui. In one scene, she speaks to a journalist (the audience) as she explains how she came to be with this legendary man and how she was happy to share his painful journey however difficult it got.

The play is carried by Harry Ebale as Bildad Kaggia as he goes through his different phases; young man too shy to approach Wambui to fire filled man who stands up to Jomo Kenyatta telling him he was there to represent his people and not become rich. His final monologue where he speaks of the love of his just passed on wife at the funeral is one of the best I have seen in a long while and it left a tear in my eye.

The play is brilliant. JSO is quite the feminist if what was on offer is any indication. He brings out the women in the liberation struggle who have long been unheard of in many narratives about that period of our history with the wife of the hero playing a prominent role. It was appreciated by this play watcher as I have a thing for seeing women in more diverse roles in our arts.

Then there is the history of the period. Kaggia shows a gentlemen many of us were never privy to and you can see the research that was done by the playwright. JSO tells me that there is a biography going for Kshs2,000 at the bookshops and I will be looking out for it.

Taking about the history it reminds us that the brutality that was meted out on our society was so awful that any lists of the evils feature our poor nation prominently. Here is one handy one from Listserve to show you just how bad the Brits did us in; 10 Evil Crimes Of The British Empire – Listverse

With more information coming out as the time passes it is gratifying to see some of our best writers, John Sibi-Okumu is one of the best on the continent in my view, start dealing with those demons. Kenya was done horrible things and we seemed as a society to be suffering some collective Stockholm Syndrome; cosying it up with everything British. Maybe we want to look again at who we are is what this play tells me. It’s a call to action to start digging again to see if the “independence” we gained was at a cost that we are still paying. I have started that journey recently and I recommend that you do.

Public Relations Awards 2014 on the way

prskomegaThe PRSK Awards has continuously endeavored to recognize and reward PR practitioners who have showcased successful delivery of strategic, creative and professional public relations campaigns. The awards are open to members and non – members drawn from business enterprises, associations, private and government bodies as well as students pursuing pr/related studies. The PRSK Awards reflect the level of competitive services offered in the Kenya PR industry and are aligned with the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Golden World Awards. The 2014 awards are divided into three sections namely PR Campaign Categories, Supplementary Categories and Honorary Categories:-

PR Campaigns categories

  1. Media Relations Campaign of the Year
  2. Consumer Relations Campaign of the Year
  3. Public Affairs Campaign of the Year
  4. PR Event of the Year
  5. Social Responsibility Campaign of the Year
  6. Internal Communication Campaign of the Year
  7. Sponsorship Campaign of the Year
  8. New Media PR Campaign of the Year
  9. Public Sector Campaign of the Year
  10. Not for Profit Campaign of the Year 

Supplementary categories

  1. Corporate Publication of the Year
  2. Young Communicator of the Year

Honorary categories

  1. PRSK Golden Honours
  2. PRSK Sheppard Honours.

Winners of the awards will be announced on 5th December, 2014 at a gala dinner hosted at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi.

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