Saturday, May 23, 2009

Egyptian Billionaire sentenced to death


CAIRO - Egyptian real-estate tycoon Hisham Talaat Mustapha was

 sentenced to death by hanging on Thursday morning for his role in the murder of Lebanese pop singer Suzanne Tamim in Dubai last year.

The Cairo court announced its verdict after months of wrangling that had left the Egyptian society frustrated over rampant corruption in the country. The court found that Mustapha had paid Mohsen al-Sukkari, a former Egyptian security officer, to murder the singer in her apartment in Dubai last July.

The death sentence must go to Egypt's mufti, the government's supreme religious arbiter, for approval before a 25 May sentencing hearing. The convicted men may appeal Thursday's verdict.


The court erupted in chaos after the judge read his verdict on Thursday morning, as family and supporters of the two convicted men shouted and wept in distress. Mustapha and al-Sukkari were quickly removed from the courtroom.

Transport made simple

Spotted somewhere in Africa...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Nyayo Stadium no longer on the Coke side of life

NAIROBI - The Kenya government on Thursday revoked a national stadium naming rights granted to international soft drinks firm, Coca-Cola, citing irregularities in the deal.

Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Helen Sambili canceled the three-year deal which gave Coca-Cola the naming rights of the Nyayo National Stadium. The 35,000-seater stadium, the smaller of the two national stadia in Nairobi, was

 consequently renamed Coca-Cola National Stadium in the deal that saw the multi national company pay the government US$ 120 million.

However, Prof. Sambili said the deal, sealed in February, was negotiated and implemented behind her back. She said there was no way a stadium owned by the government could be re-branded or leased to a private party without the direct knowledge and consent of the government. She blasted the state agency managing government stadia, Sports Stadia Management Board (SSMB), which falls under her ministry, for keeping her in the dark. The minister directed that the stadium reverts back to its original name - Nyayo National Stadium.

Following the development, the beverage firm Thursday pulled out of the deal but re-affirmed its commitment to the development of sports in Kenya. The giant bottling company further promised to support the annual Copa Coca-Cola soccer youth soccer tournament and other sporting activities meant to benefit Kenyans. Addressing the media on Thursday, Alex Maditsi, who is the Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Country Manager, said the firm was disturbed by the development.

Flanked by Norah Odwesso and Peter Muriuki, both Public Affairs and Communication directors, Maditsi said his company remained committed to investing in the development of sports in the country. ”Through our investment and support of the Copa Coca-Cola Under-17 grassroots football tournament, the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, World Cup and the Olympics, Coca-Cola will continue to maintain its rich legacy in the world of sports. We have held various consultative meetings with both SSMB as well as the minister for sports to consider the varying naming propositions given to us by the ministry and its parastatal,” Maditsi claimed. "We acknowledge and respect the minister's views with regard to the re-reinstatement of the emblem 'Nyayo' and have considered her views carefully.”

“Today marks a sad day for sports in Kenya. We embarked on a journey of transformation that we hoped would see Kenya adapt to global best practices in respect to our sporting facilities. The proposition put forward to us by the minister for sports and SSMB - to co-brand the stadium with its current and former names - is against the spirit of granting exclusive naming rights to a sponsor,” Maditsi lamented. He defended the deal, saying rights of re-branding the stadium were granted lawfully and transparently.

This followed the publication of a notice to tender placed by SSMB in media advertisements in September 2008, to which Coca-Cola, among several other interested corporate entities, responded by bidding.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kibaki should seek Moi's advice on Migingo

Until Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni spoke so disparagingly about the Luo in relation to the dispute over the Migingo Island, it did not seem like a very big deal. After all, Migingo is a piece of rock measuring just less than one hectare. Nothing grows on it. The fishermen who land KSh1.2 million fish on the island every day see more value in that piece of rock than in a fertile 10-heactare piece of land in the Rift Valley.

Every level-headed person has, until now, thought that the softly-softly approach that Kenya has adopted is proportionate to the size of the problem. Even so, in Migori, Kisumu and Busia, Migingo is a very emotive issue. It comes on the back of perceived official neglect of the Kenyan communities at the centre of the crisis, but especially the Luo.

This is not spoken in polite conversation, but the perceived neglect of the Luo, together with the perceived contempt of President Kibaki’s Kikuyu community for it, place the current crisis in context. Mr Museveni’s careless statement handed President Kibaki an opportunity to deal with the perception that Migingo is suffering neglect because it benefits Luos.

Unless the President takes decisive action beyond the talk-shops he has been having with his Ugandan counterpart, the unfortunate reading will be that Mr Museveni was only echoing his thoughts, or – forbid it – that he was continuing a conversation the two have repeatedly had. The fact that Kenya’s society is divided along tribal lines is an open secret. It is true that Kenyans tribalise all their differences and view them through the prism of ethnic stereotype. But that is a singularly Kenyan prerogative. Friends and neighbours do not have licence to talk about our "Jaluos", our "Kikuyus" and our "Kalenjins" – whether or not they uproot the railway.

The point needs to be made that Migingo is not Luo territory. It is Kenya. It cannot be that the only leaders in Kenya who speak loudly about it are Luo. The apparent lack of seriousness on the part of Uganda in tackling this issue, together with its repeated breaches of diplomatic protocol is designed to produce an outcome that is not peaceful. It is Kenya’s call – to engage on its own terms not on Uganda’s, as has been the case until now.

Whatever Kenya’s military weakness, whatever its shortcomings, the country cannot allow its neighbour to deflect attention from its governance challenges. President Museveni has continued to distract the world from focusing on his own shortcomings by sustaining wars in Northern Uganda, Rwanda and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kenya must demonstrate that it understands his difficulties but cannot assist him. If President Kibaki is looking for precedent on how to deal with belligerent neighbours, he should give former President Daniel arap Moi a call.

Mr Moi can provide free lessons on how he dealt with Mr Museveni in 1988. He can provide an even more recent example in how he dealt with Somali militants who deigned to steal military hardware. He grounded all flights to Mogadishu and starved the country of khat. Then he issued a 24-hour ultimatum to whoever had taken the tank to return it. Believe it or not, the warlords returned the military hardware in under 24 hours with profuse apologies.

The weaknesses of President Kibaki as commander-in-chief have been more than amply demonstrated in his failure to keep security off the agenda of national discourse for the six years he has been at the helm. He must be reminded that he occupies his position to protect the country from internal and external aggression. It is perhaps his most important duty. He cannot be seen to fail in discharging it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Migingo is a Kenyan issue, not a "Jaluo" one

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni says Migingo is Kenya’s island, but he adamantly and arrogantly asserts that the waters surrounding it are Uganda’s.

Museveni goes further and says there is actually no dispute between Kenya and Uganda over Migingo, but that it is Jaluo who are causing trouble. No, he is not done; he is just warming up. The Ugandan leader puts the boot in: He says he will not allow Jaluo to fish in Uganda’s waters.

When I heard Museveni’s interview on BBC radio, I was pretty upset. When I got to the office I found it was the matter my colleagues were discussing. I joined in the animated discussion with the following contribution: “Museveni’s remarks were calculated and meant to annoy; the man wanted to offend, and I think he has succeeded admirably in that. I am pretty offended.”

Alas! As if the man had not offended enough, he issued a statement in which he said that his statement had been quoted out of context and that he did not mean to offend anybody! So what will he say when he sets out to offend?

Jaluo is derogatory. The people are called Luo, and their language is Dholuo. The Luo are among the best fishermen in East Africa. It is just natural that they should be fishermen for their environment includes Lake Victoria. They exploit their environment to survive, and in this they are geniuses. God would be proud of them for it was He who commanded: “Let man be master.” Mastering the lake is what the Luo have always endeavoured to do.

Therefore the Luo are not causing trouble over Migingo. They have always known that Migingo is in Kenya. What will trouble them now is to try and figure out what it means for Migingo to be in Kenya and for the waters surrounding it to belong to Uganda.

This will trouble the Luo because while they are great fishermen, they are not cartographers in the mould of Museveni. The Luo would not understand where the border would be if water levels rose and part of Migingo was submerged. They would not understand because if water is to determine borders, then borders would become elastic. But then again, the Luo are not blessed with this Abunuwasi-style cartography to argue with Museveni.

Museveni's offensive remarks only serve to isolate the Luo from their countrymen.

What will trouble the Luo is that in Abunuwasique thinking at which Museveni is evidently adept, pots and pans give birth and therefore die. According to Abunuwasi, the owner of the apartment on the ground floor may declare that he is bringing down his house, and so the people above must devise ways of keeping theirs intact!

Oh no! The Luo cannot begin to argue that most of the water in Lake Victoria comes from Kenya. That cannot be an issue because what the Luo want to see is that the water level in Lake Victoria is always high. This is so because the Luo want to see that East Africans have fish and electricity and the River Nile always has enough water to ensure the survival of many African peoples all the way to Egypt.

The Luo will be troubled that Museveni appears to be out to isolate them from the rest of the Kenyan people. The Luo have not said that Migingo is a Luo island; they are saying that the island is Kenya’s. The people of Kenya, this blogger included, are not saying that Migingo is a Luo island. They are saying that it is a Kenyan island which happens to be in what is Luoland. So, why is Museveni speaking so derogatorily of the Luo and isolating them from their countrymen?

These remarks are at variance with what Museveni has said before when there has been friction between Nairobi and Kampala. When Museveni had disagreements with former President Moi, his position was that the people of Kenya and Uganda had no disagreements. It is the leadership, he correctly said, that had problems with each other. Museveni was correct in the sense that the leaders of Kenya and Uganda were out of touch with what their people wanted or that the people were running ahead of their leaders. This time round, Museveni is arguing that only the Luo are causing problems for the Kenya and Uganda governments and the peoples of the two countries.

What troubles me is that Museveni appears to be reading from a propaganda text scripted in Kenya. Former President Moi told us that "A Luo could be bought for Sh5,000." It was Amos Kimunya who told ODM luminaries that "The stock exchange is not a fish market!" After he was scorned and stoned in Kisumu in 1969, founding President Kenyatta never set foot in Luoland again. Hopefully, President Kibaki has not outsourced (to Museveni) the business of insulting and isolating the Luo from their sisters and brothers.

Is Museveni closer to President Kibaki than he is to Prime Minister Raila Odinga? Perhaps that is the case.

The Prime Minister has been hawkish on the matter of Migingo whereas the President’s silence has been thundering in our ears. Museveni was the first (and so far, the only - the US quickly withdrew theirs when they realised they were swimming in murky waters) head of state in Africa to recognise President Kibaki after the infamous 2007 presidential poll.

Now, given that Museveni has already determined the boundaries as regards Migingo, should we have this survey?

What will Museveni do to neighbours when oil revenues flood in? Pray he does not discover oil near the borders...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Wajaluo are mad: Did he or did he not say it?


Well, folks, you decide. Did he really say it or didn't he? Watch the video...

Friday, May 15, 2009

How to "get rid" of Mungiki once and for all

Official response to illegal armed gangs is less than satisfactory if the handling of the headline act called Mungiki is anything to go by. In fact, it is unacceptable.

From the day the Mungiki sect emerged as a pretender to cultural revival 23 years ago when it insinuated itself with Kikuyu traditional religion, it has expanded, mutated and grown a beard. The casual observer is at a loss why former President Daniel arap Moi kept holding public meetings with this group’s so-called leaders and still failed to help the country understand it better. Even after the murderous night of slaughter in Nairobi’s Kariobangi slums in 2002, and the subsequent official ban, this group ended up holding a very public demonstration in support of the presidential candidacy of Uhuru Kenyatta that year. No investigation of its revival and daring was attempted.

Instead, it emerged the following year – after further slaughter in Nakuru following the elections – that this illegal group had gained use of vehicles from the military. Again, there were no reprisals and no investigations. In the meantime, the Mungiki kept changing into an extortion racket targeting transport and retail sectors as well as slums rents. The collection of extortion money that has revealed the Mungiki’s most ruthless aspect – in gruesome beheadings and other murders. At the height of these killings, a sitting MP claimed that his colleagues had been forced to take the Mungiki oath of allegiance. No satisfactory investigations were carried out. Instead, the police appear to have taken out a licence to kill – murdering between 500 (official figures) and 1,700 (human rights figures) young men in two years.

Last year, the BBC published a report claiming members of the Mungiki held meetings at State House to plan violence in relation to the 2007 elections. The denials from government were strident, but there was no independent investigation.

The Mungiki forced a shutdown of business in Nairobi and Central Province last year, and the police confessed they had been caught by surprise. Again, last year, Prime Minister Raila Odinga seemed to stretch out to the Mungiki by offering to listen to their grievances. The police dispersed a group of women who attempted to meet him, and he has never raised the matter again. Last month, villagers took the Mungiki problem in hand. According to Gichugu MP Martha Karua, 3,000 people rode past a market carrying axes and pangas as they went to seek out Mungiki members. They killed a few, and then the sect allegedly paid them back in their own coin. At least 40 people have died. So it was fitting that this matter should come to the attention of Parliament – as it did last week. The debate has side-stepped this rich history.

The casual observer instantly notes that the Mungiki has always had sympathies in the government. These sympathies have been so deep as to ensure that investigations are never completed. The sect’s leaders have access to powerful individuals and defenders within the system. Even in Parliament, the speeches left a lot to be desired. Perhaps it is fear that makes MPs forget that the Mungiki is a 20-year state security problem. Perhaps sympathy makes MPs not ask the hard questions about why investigations into this so-called sect have not yielded useful results. Perhaps indifference makes leaders not demand that someone pays for crimes committed by this group and others like it.

Yet, there is agreement on the table about demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration of all militia after the 2008 crisis. That agreement has the signatures of the negotiators from the Orange Democratic Movement and the Party of National Unity. It has not been acted upon.

You cannot demobilise what you do not know. As long as membership of the Mungiki sect continues to be secret, attempts to break it up will not succeed. The government has tried to fight this group by driving it underground for over 20 years. It is time for a new approach: Mungiki should be invited to join the Kenyan community by registering as a movement of whatever nature. That way, its members can be made to account for acts committed in its name.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I

NAIROBI - MPs on Wednesday launched a scathing attack against Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, calling him an “expansionist” and asked President Kibaki to stand up and defend Kenya’s territorial rights. They were particularly angered by statements made by President Museveni on Monday, during a lecture at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, terming them as insulting to Kenyans.

The MPs, mainly backbenchers, demanded that the Kenya Government explain the relationship between the two countries. The Ugandan leader had made disparaging remarks against the Luo community and declared that although the controversial Migingo island belonged to Kenya, the water surrounding it was Uganda’s. He vowed to stop Kenyan fishermen from fishing around the island once an ongoing boundary review is completed. On Wednesday, a Motion asking the government to use all possible means to reclaim the disputed island from Ugandan “occupation” failed due to lack of quorum.

Only 28 MPs were in the House when the quorum bell sounded, forcing temporary Speaker Philip Kaloki to call off debate and adjourn the House. In what appeared like a deliberate attempt by the front bench to halt the heated debate on the Motion moved by Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale, assistant ministers streamed out of the Chambers before David Musila alerted the Chair about the quorum hitch. Musila, an assistant minister for Defence, had earlier ruled out military action as demanded by some MPs.

Meanwhile, President Museveni on Wednesday said his remarks on Migingo island had been misunderstood. Through his communications officer Fred Opolot, the President said the comments were not meant to offend anyone. “The statement was misconstrued, misunderstood and taken out of context... the reason he made reference was the reason that they (British Broadcasting Corporation) are the ones who brought up the issue,” Opolot said. “That was the reason he made reference to Migingo.”

Wednesday’s Motion in the Kenyan Parliament provided an opportunity for MPs to launch scathing attacks on the Ugandan leader over the island row. The angry MPs demanded that the Kenya Government act firmly and with resolve against what they depicted as a creeping military occupation of Kenyan territory. They demanded that the government act without delay to protect Kenya’s territorial integrity. They termed the remarks provocative and insulting, describing Uganda as a “hostile” state.

In his Motion, by Dr Khalwale wanted the government to take all measures necessary to protect Kenya’s territorial integrity and regain control of Migingo island on Lake Victoria and parts of Pokot said to have been occupied by the Uganda Army. Two MPs John Mbadi (Gwassi, ODM) and Millie Odhiambo (Nominated, ODM) called for President Museveni to be removed from power. Before Musila raised the issue of numbers, a minister and four assistant ministers walked out of the Chambers, claiming that the Chair had ignored their pleas to contribute.

Labour minister John Munyes and assistant ministers George Khaniri, Adan Duale, Musila and Kabando wa Kabando walked out, only for Musila to return and notify the chair of the quorum hitch. An agitated Dr Khalwale, who had tabled documents from the US State Department showing that Migingo island was in Kenya, was deflated after the matter was postponed.

President Museveni made disparaging remarks against the Luo community and declared that although the controversial Migingo island belonged to Kenya, the water surrounding it was Uganda’s.

Earlier, an attempt by Musila to halt attacks on President Museveni was defeated when MPs insisted that Uganda was no longer a friendly country. Standing Orders bar adverse reference to leaders of “friendly nations” unless under a substantive Motion. “Uganda has severely failed the good neighbourliness test,” Dr Khalwale said. Duale, who had been in the House before the walkout five minutes to adjournment, differed with Musila, saying “the mere fact that Museveni discussed Kenyans in an international forum” warranted a rebuttal by the people of Kenya through their representatives.

An assistant minister for Foreign Affairs, Richard Onyonka, said MPs had raised serious matters but the government needed time to prepare a response. Debate in parliament was raging as details emerged on how members of a joint Kenya-Uganda technical team working on demarcation of the boundary were disagreeing. Minutes of the technical experts meetings showed that members from Uganda had at times staged walkouts protesting against documents presented by the Kenyan team. The lawmakers also demanded an immediate answer from the government, issued either by President Kibaki himself or the government spokesman, on why a foreign Head of State could insult Kenyans on an international platform. Mbadi said: “We want Kibaki to tell Museveni that his comments on the Luo are unacceptable; we can’t let him bring his dictatorial tendencies into our country.” Mbadi asked Museveni “not to turn a national issue into a tribal issue.” Ms Odhiambo asked the United Nations and the United States to intervene, saying that the remark by President Museveni that “the Luo are mad” threatened regional peace and security. She said that since diplomacy had “apparently failed” it would be prudent for President Kibaki to flex his muscles on the matter.

Moving the Motion, Dr Khalwale asked President Kibaki “to make Kenyans proud of their leadership by disciplining a rogue neighbouring country.” The angry lawmakers said Museveni was simply taking advantage of the confusion in the coalition government to expand Uganda’s territory. The Ikolomani MP told the Ugandan president to keep off Kenyan territory since it was an independent and sovereign state. He warned: “When the leadership changes … Museveni should not expect to be treated the same way come 2012.”

The Ikolomani MP filed the motion two weeks ago at the acme of the dispute over the island and amid reports that Ugandan soldiers were destroying beacons at the border in Kanyerus, North Pokot. Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro and Duale held the view that since Mr Museveni had made his offensive remarks at an international forum, he had already breached diplomatic etiquette.

Garsen MP Danson Mungatana warned that the MPs were “not beating war drums yet”, but merely asking the government to take stern action. The MPs threatened to disrupt cross-border trade until President Museveni “got some manners” in dealing with neighbouring countries ahead of the enactment of the East Africa Community Common Markets agreement.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Comrade Zuma's ladies

While it is customary before an election to wonder who will emerge as first lady, it’s unusual to ask the question when only one man can possibly be president.

Jacob Zuma is about to take power in South Africa but the identity of his official consort is an open field. The gregarious president-in-waiting has married five times, although one wife has divorced him and another committed suicide.

The favourite is Nompumelelo Ntuli, a 34-year-old from the same rural area of KwaZulu-Natal, whom he married a little over a year ago. But she is not the newest wife as Thobeka Mabhija, a Durban socialite with whom Zuma is said to have two children, was wedded to him this January.

MaNtuli, as last year’s wife is known, also faces a challenge from Zuma’s first wife, Sizakele Khumalo. They have been together for 50 years and married in 1973, but MaKhumalo is rarely at official engagements and never speaks in public.

The 67-year-old has not hidden his polygamy which is allowed under a 1998 law recognising customary marriage practices. It is traditional for a Zulu elder to have several wives. Zuma often sounds bemused at the attention his marriages attract, pointing out that his approach is preferable to the hypocrisy of leaders in other countries who have kept mistresses. “I love my wives and I’m proud of my children,” is his stock response. Those children are reported to number at least 15, although many more women have claimed to have had children by the politician. Zuma’s camp has refused to comment on who is ahead in the race to be first lady, and told people to wait until after his inauguration. There can be only one name admitted to the spousal office of the presidency at Pretoria.

Zuma, who has no formal education, joined the ANC aged 17. Like Mbeki, he has served it all his life, much of it in exile in Mozambique and Zambia. 

MaNtuli is the pundits’ favourite after a speaking appearance last month, and could well be in the photograph with Carla Bruni or Michelle Obama when the new president goes on tour...

Number one
Sizakele Khumalo - whom he met in 1959. She lives at his rural R1.5 million home at Nkandla in northern KwaZulu- Natal and they have no children.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - with whom he had four children: Msholozi, 24, Gugu, 22, Thuli, 21 and Thuthi, 19. They divorced in June 1998 due to "irreconcilable differences."

Late wife
Kate Zuma - with whom he had five children: Saady, 29, twins Duduzile and Duduzane, 25, Phumzile, 20 and Vusi. She committed suicide on December 8, 2000 after apparent strained relations with Zuma.

Still on honeymoon
Nompumelelo Mantuli Zuma - whom he married in January. She has two children: Thandiswe, 7 and eight month old Sinquobile.

Waiting in the wings
Thobeka Stacey Mabhija - with whom he has two children, including a 5 month old baby.

Mrs Jacob Zuma number six?
Bongi Ngema - from Umlazi, has a seven month old son.

Old flame
Minah Shongwe - The sister of Judge Jeremiah Shongwe, has a 30 year old son, Edward, with Zuma.

Left at the altar
Zuma also paid half lobolo for Swazi Princess Sebentile Dlamini, 38, the granddaughter of King Sobhuza III, in 2002 but nothing has come out of it.

So, there we have it: 5 Marriages, 1 Half lobolo, 3 sleeping partners and 13 to 18 Children, depending on who you ask. Check the age differences between the children from different mothers, ya neh, UZuma wa sebenziza um'shini wakhe!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Teenage girls in steamy gay romp at Smirnoff Street Jam

KAMPALA - A randy lesbian couple had heads turning as they got into a steamy gay sex session at the just concluded Smirnoff Street Jam. Crowds of astonished party-goers watched as the drunken teenage girls dumped their pants and got down and dirty at the last Saturday's massive gig outside Club Silk in Industrial Area.

They kept at it for 20 minutes before they reached climax. The pair romped just behind the stage, in full view of singers and some revelers. And all onlookers cheered them on as they got breathily deep into it. Several revelers filmed the drunken session, giving running commentaries to their instant "blue video". And last night the couple described by friends as "young focused citizens with bright futures" — were said to be "mortified" by their actions. Witness Jackie Aine, 24, said: "I expect when the two gals woke up the next morning they died of shame. They are lesbian porn stars now."

The lust-filled lesbian lovers were in their late teens or early 20s. One of the girls first peeled off her friend's trousers, then dropped hers. The lesbian pair were soon writhing, moaning and groaning unconcerned by the 100+ odd people watching. "The couple did not care who was looking and just kept going as if they were in their own bedroom,” a witness said. Then when they were done, one pulled her trousers up and helped her girl lover put hers back on...

Friday, May 8, 2009

More on that native-hunting aristocrat

NAIROBI - The scion of Kenya's most famous and notorious white settler family, Tom Cholmondeley, returned to Kamiti Maximum Prison in the outskirts of Nairobi after being convicted of the manslaughter of Robert Njoya, a stonemason.

Hours earlier he had been driven in a prison van with other inmates to Nairobi High Court, hoping that he was about to make his final appearance in Court No 1. The courtroom was packed with lawyers, prison officers, reporters, cameramen, and Cholmondeley's friends and family. His parents, Lord and Lady Delamere, sat in the seats they have occupied for many days in the past two-and-half years. Behind them more than 20 of Cholmondeley's friends, with sun-bleached hair and deep Kenyan tans, sat and waited nervously.

Near them sat a diminutive figure who has attended almost every day of the lengthy trial: Serah Njoya, the widow of Robert Njoya, the man killed on the Delamere Estate on 10 May 2006. The judge, Mr. Justice Muga Apondi, dealt with half a dozen other cases before launching into his judgement.

In the course of the past 30 months the prosecution has called 38 witnesses and the defence nine. Mr Justice Apondi started working through a summary of all the evidence the court has heard. Two-and-a-half hours later he was still reading from his files. He moved into the final passage of his judgement, but not before one woman standing at the side of the court had fainted, overcome by the heat. As he started to explain how he had reached his judgement, every ear in the room strained to catch every word. Supporters and friends of Tom Cholmondeley had approached this final day apprehensive, but advised that the case the state had made had not been strong.

This is not a total surprise, we were ready in a way for this. - Friend of Tom Cholmondeley

 They were also encouraged by the verdict returned in the case by two assessors - people who act as a jury to assist the judge, and provide him with a non-binding decision. The assessors had found that Tom Cholmondeley was innocent of the charges against. But Mr Justice Apondi said he was setting aside the assessors' opinions. He ruled that Tom Cholmondeley had not acted with premeditated "malice aforethought" when he fired his rifle three years ago. But Cholmondeley had, in the opinion of the judge, been the man who had killed Robert Njoya and had therefore committed manslaughter.

As he delivered the verdict the accused - now the guilty man - stood erect and impassive. Shock swept across the massed ranks of Cholmondeley's friends and family. Lord Delamere, his father, appeared very shaken. The shock felt by many was tempered by a certain anticipation of the unexpected. One senior Nairobi lawyer, a friend of the convicted man, said: "This is not a total surprise, we were ready in a way for this." Cholmondeley's girlfriend, Sally Dudmesh, wept, and others wiped tears from their eyes. Serah Njoya looked inscrutable and said she took no pleasure from the verdict, but "that man", she said, "killed my husband". She has four children, no job, and no husband.

Tom Cholmondeley's defence counsel, Fred Ojiambo, was unrestrained in his response. "Appalling… unbelievable, I am stunned," he said.

He said they would be appealing the verdict, which he said was unjust and wrong. "How", he asked, "can the judge base his findings on the testimony of one man [Carl Tundo] whose evidence is full of holes?"

The case was a success for the lead prosecution barrister, Keriako Tobiko, Kenya's director of public prosecutions. There were times when his very detailed questioning of prosecution witnesses appeared to be gratuitous. But he led a case which convinced the judge, and as one man who had come into court to watch proceedings said: "This man, Cholmondeley, has killed two people. It is right that he serves time in jail."

He was referring to a previous case in 2005 when Tom Cholmondeley admitted he shot and killed a Kenya Wildlife Service ranger on the 55,000-acre family estate. The case came to court; he was charged with murder, but the Attorney General entered a nolle prosequi, a curious circumstance that left man puzzled.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


NAIROBI - A white Kenyan aristocrat has been cleared of murder but found guilty of the manslaughter of a "poacher" on his family's estate in 2006. A judge ruled Thomas Cholmondeley did not show "malice aforethought" in the shooting of Robert Njoya in May 2006.

The case, involving the descendant of one of Kenya's first British settlers, has attracted huge media attention. In 2005 Cholmondeley admitted shooting a Maasai ranger, but the case was dropped owing to insufficient evidence. That decision provoked outrage and mass protests among the Maasai community.

The courtroom was packed with lawyers, reporters, cameramen, and family and friends of Thomas Cholmondeley. There were gasps of surprise as High Court Justice Muga Apondi gave his ruling after reading out a 320-page verdict on the case, although the defendant himself remained impassive. "I find as a fact that it was the accused who had shot the deceased resulting in his death," the judge said. "In view of the above analysis I hereby find which I do, that the accused did not have any malice aforethought to kill the deceased."

• Educated at exclusive British school, Eton

• Great-grandson of third Baron Delamere

• In line to become 6th Baron Delamere

• Sole heir to family's massive Rift Valley estate

• Divorced father of two sons

The Eton-educated 40-year-old, who has spent the last three years in jail, is due to be sentenced next week. He faces a maximum term of life imprisonment. "I'm amazed - dumbstruck actually," said Cholmondeley's defence lawyer. "We will appeal. There is no doubt about that."

The incident took place in a remote corner of Cholmondeley's sprawling family farm in the Rift Valley region, acquired by his great-grandfather, the third Baron Delamere. Cholmondeley told police at the time that Njoya was with three companions and a pack of dogs, and he suspected them of hunting a gazelle. He said he had shot at the dogs, killing two of them. Njoya was hit by a bullet and died on the way to hospital. Cholmondeley's defence had argued that the fatal shot may have been fired from a weapon carried by his friend, but this was rejected as an "afterthought" by the judge. The judge's verdict is contrary to the non-binding not guilty verdict found by a panel of lay assessors - who do a similar job to juries in Kenya - in March.

The outcome will surprise some who followed the case closely. But it will please those Kenyans who believe Thomas Cholmondeley should have been prosecuted over the shooting of Maasai ranger Samson Ole Sisina in 2005.

Cholmondeley, a divorced father of two, had admitted the earlier shooting, but said he acted in self-defence mistaking the warden for an armed robber. The latest trial has stirred up lingering animosity against some in the white farming community, who live on large areas of land, illegally grabbed early last century.

Arsenal fan hangs himself after Man United victory

NAIROBI - A Kenyan fan of English football club Arsenal hanged himself after his team's defeat by Manchester United.

The north London club was beaten 3-1 in the European Champions League semi-final second leg on Tuesday evening. Suleiman Alphonso Omondi, 29, who was watching the game in a bar in Embakasi was incensed by the club's poor showing. He left at half-time after arguing with a Manchester United fan and was found hanging from a rope in his house, still dressed in an Arsenal shirt.

The unprecedented incident has shocked football fans in Kenya. According to his friends, Omondi was in good spirits at the beginning of the match and even when Arsenal conceded the first goal, he did not seem to be affected.

He was so angry that he left in a rage - Eyewitness

But things changed when the team conceded a second goal 11 minutes into the game. A woman, who sat next to him in the bar, said Omondi was so disappointed by Arsenal's poor performance that he broke down during half-time. Another eyewitness said that it was at this point that a Manchester United fan started taunting him. "Suleiman got hold of him angrily by the neck and started pressing him so hard," he said. "We quickly intervened and asked him to stop. Suleiman then stopped, but he was so angry that he left in a rage."

"We were watching the match at Bamba 70 pub, and when Arsenal was defeated, Suleiman just walked out in protest and he was crying," Calvin Otieno, one of his friends, said. "We didn't know he was going to hang himself until this morning when we received the reports and came here to find his body at the balcony," Otieno said outside the deceased's home.

His body was found on Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Swine flu update

Migingo in 2030

Why Kenya and Uganda are fighting over Migingo "island: