Archive for July 2010

Calling on President Kibaki to Assent to the Alcoholic Drinks Bill 2009, ASAP

Dear Mr. President, receive greetings from a humble citizen yearning for justice

Sir, your assenting to the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2009 will go a long way in ending a historical injustice that Kenyans have had to contend with for years. It is most unfortunate that 46 years after independence Kenyan citizens continue to be barred from exercising some of their ought to be freedoms due to laws and restrictions that were retained even after the exit of the colonialists, a good example is the Liquor Licensing Act.

In law, we do refer to the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. A good law MUST have a good ‘’spirit’’ or a rationale of noble intentions, in short any good law must mean well for the populace, this therefore means a good law ought not derive from bad faith or aim at enslaving the majority. The letter of the law merely refers to the law as it appears on paper/as drafted.

The challenge we find ourselves in is that we have laws whose ‘spirit’ and intention was in bad faith and they have also been bypassed with time/events. For example, when the colonialists introduced cash crops such as tea and coffee they were largely resisted by the Africans who preferred the crops that they were accustomed to eg Cassava, Maize, sweet potatoes, ground nuts etc. A law was thus passed compelling Africans to care for the cash crops – it became illegal to uproot or to cut down the coffee and tea crops. The ‘spirit’ of this law was crystal clear, the preservation and protection of these precious cash crops whose value the African mind could not comprehend (after all the natives didn’t take coffee!!).

Surprisingly 46 years after independence, this law still stands!!!!!. Even though we now know the value of cash crops it still remains illegal for a citizen to uproot coffee from his own shamba!, one needs special permission to uproot a crop that he himself planted in his own farm.

Sir, the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill of 2009 thus seeks to remedy a situation similar to the one mentioned above.

Long before the colonialists arrived, our people had traditional brews made from millet, sorghum, coconut, cassava, banana, maize and honey. These were Muratina, Busaa, Mnazi, Chibuku, Chang’aa among others.

Our people used their liquor in a number of ways and in various ceremonies, for example there would be a poring of libations so as to appease the ancestors, liquor was also vital in inter-community forums such as peace talks and meetings bringing together previously warring groups. It was also of significance in marriage and dowry negotiations as it smoothened the talks.

Simply put, liquor was central to the social lives of our communities

However, the colonialist arrived with the sole intention of reaping as much as they could from Africa hence they came up with laws that would make their stay in Africa/Kenya more profitable. A law was thus invoked making all traditional brews ‘’illicit’’. An excerpt from the British East African Ordinance for regulation of the sale of wines, spirits and malt liquor, reads like this “No person shall sell, give or otherwise supply any native intoxicating liquor’’

With a stroke of the pen it even became illegal for one to give another Busaa, Mnazi etc as a gift!!. The African way of life and culture in general was thus under siege. The traditional brews played a crucial role within the African community hence banning it and making it ‘’illicit’’ was an act that was done in bad faith and for selfish reasons.

In making our brews ‘’illicit’’ the spirit of the law at the time sought narrow imperialist agendas and interests which were
  • By making ALL the traditional brews ‘illicit’ it was assumed that the Africans would have to make do with the bottled beer which the colonial settlers had introduced, this was thus a means of promoting their own companies and breweries.
  • Secondly, if Africans had to take bottled beer then it meant they would need money, money that they could only get by working on the settlers farm – what a clever way to get people to work for you!
  • The colonial regime was also insecure and deeply suspicious of gatherings of the natives.
Since our people would usually gather in the evenings as they sipped their drink the colonialists feared that as people talked they would enlighten each other and even incite each other against the forced labour system which was quite rampant those days. The move to ban the traditional liquor was thus aimed at mitigating against revolt brought about by community deliberations arrived at during drinking sessions. Since it was assumed that the natives would not gather in the absence of liquor this proved to be a superb strategy to delay and even derail the push for independence.

Simply put, even as we speak we continue calling our traditional brews ‘’illicit’’ based on unjust laws that had been coined with the sole aim of subjugating Africans. Even after 46 years of self rule we continue retaining pieces of legislation that were mooted to keep us in bondage, are we really free? Is there any reason why such laws remain in place?

Sir, by accenting to the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2009 you will be reaffirming that we are indeed a sovereign state whose laws are reflective of our cultural values, practices and way of life. It is a shame that all along the state has been promoting foreign drinks while impeding the use and growth of local ones.

That Kenyans do view their country as the pride of Africa has never been in doubt, it thus baffles me that it is in this sector that we have been bypassed by other African countries.

South Africa for example, moved fast and acknowledged the key role played by the traditional brews. Their version of Chang’aa the ‘Umqomboti’ was fully embracrd and even popularized by Yvonne Chaka chaka in her song that declared the Umqomboti to be the African beer.

It is quite sad we are actually the only ones lagging behind in the region as traditional brews are most popular in all the neighbouring countries. Uganda leads the way as their version of Chang’aa the Uganda Waragi is loved by all, they also have supplementary and equally popular brews such as Inguli, Kwetee, Omwenge etc.

Never being the ones to be left behind, our Tanzanian brothers have their equivalent of Chang’aa which they call ‘’Konyagi”.

Sir, I thus see the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill of 2009 as a Godsend as it will open up the sector and even help in regulation by the authorities.

Whereas the traditional brews such as Mnazi etc may have some shortcomings it is embarrassing that they remain referred to as ‘illicit’ due to an old, brutal and insensitive colonial law – this is indeed a historical injustice that remains begging for attention.

Today’s reality is that quacks, con artists and counterfeiters have flooded the market, we thus have in our shops fake batteries, contraband and harmful cigarettes, even most of the cheap medical tablets going around are fake and harmful. In short, even though we have witnessed cases of people taking lethal brews this is not an isolated case as even some of facial creams, bottled mineral water, milk etc are harmful as they have been adulterated by those seeking quick profits.

By legalizing the traditional brews the state will be able to reign in those brewers who seek to make lots of profits by shortening the brewing process only to later on add some harmful chemicals to the otherwise would be sweet and nutritious drink. What we need is merely stiffer penalties for all those who sell lethal or below standard goods be they cigarettes, juice, Chang’aa, mineral water, milk etc

Sir, our pride as a people now rests with you, our fate is solely within your hands.

Sir, please accent to the bill to not only put us at par with the other independent African states but also to reaffirm our independence and a break off from the oppressive colonial laws.

Thanks in advance


Humble and patriotic Citizen

Alan E Masakhalia

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Kenya Political Gossip - The Star

A former MP was among those listed by a golf club in Kiambu as one of the members who had not paid bills. The former MP, who during the former regime earned a reputation of handing out huge bundles of notes at harambees especially when Moi was the guest of honour, had apparently not paid the club for the hospitality accorded to him.


First it was Jamleck Kamau who ditched the Reds for Greens and then Peter Munya followed suit. Now we are told that Peter Mwathi of Limuru might be the next MP to jump ship. Those in the know tell us that Mwathi might decamp before the end of the week. The emissaries sent to Mwathi had among other persuasion tricks told him he will be personally received by President Kibaki if he decides to decamp. This brings to mind the highly publicised defections that were organised during the Kanu days when people would literally line up to be received by Moi, then the party supremo!


Who broke into the Red Card Centre that houses the No camp and what was in the computers that were stolen? Our moles in that office tell us that the break-in could have been an inside job. Some of the staff were reportedly unhappy about something and had whispered they might do something to show their displeasure. Investigations by police will reveal more.


Claims by the NO team that the August 4 referendum will be rigged are growing as the D-Day draws near. The Yes supporters are adamant that there are no such plans and the NEC has been open about the arrangements being put in place to ensure the polls are free and fair. Maybe the No team should tell Kenyans about their specific concerns as to how the rigging will happen so that they can be aware. Or are they just crying wolf the way Kenyan politicians are known to do?


We are told Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire has banned non-Embu players from a constituency league sponsored by the CDF sports fund. This was after her village team, Kanja FC, lost 5-3 two weeks ago to Kagaari FC which is from the cosmopolitan Runyenjes town.

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Corridors of Power Political Gossip - The Star

We are told that Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere will soon be making his fist major changes in the police top brass. Our mole tells us that Iteere is ready to "clear the wheel" of predecessor Hussein Ali's administrators. Those slated for "big things" include Director of Personnel Charlton Mureithi. Possible casualties include Nyanza Police boss Njue Njagi, Nairobi police Chief Anthony Kibuchi and Director of Operations Julius Ndegwa who might be retired.


A top No personality confided in the Star that he doubts the "incredible passion" with which sections of the No leadership are pursuing the campaign against the proposed new constitution. It does not look like it's about the draft, the man said and added, "that is my biggest worry for now". Like the pied piper of Hamelin's act, the man fears that the genuine No people and the church are being led down River Weser to drown.


A Central Kenya politician who held his parliamentary seat for two terms was overheard saying he has no interest in defending his seat come 2012. Reason? He has seen better prospects of becoming a governor!


Talking of the new constitution, we hear that jostling for the key jobs of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution have started in earnest. The nine-member commission is tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the development of legislation and administrative procedures required to implement the new constitution. The lobbying is informed by a realisation that the No side needs a miracle to win the referendum.


Round Two of the National Cohesion list of shame should be out this week. We hear investigations against several politicians accused of hate speech are ready to go to police. The first round included former assistant minister Wilfred Machage and MPs Fred Kapondi and Joshua Kuttuny. An ex-minister from Coast is a candidate.

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Top Stories from Around Kenya - Week 29 2010 - Weekend Star Siasa Magazine

Bomb Pastor

IN a story broken by The Standard, a Githunguri "pastor" who is also a PNU nominated councillor, was arrested carrying bomb-making materials when he was allegedly headed for Mombasa on the eve of a No campaign rally there.

Pastor John Kamau Mbugua of Victory Church was accompanied by an accomplice Samuel Chege who allegedly was take him through a bomb making process. Subsequently, he was arraigned in court and then released on a Sh500, 000 bail.

The Yes Team

FORMER President Moi has been asked to keep off the referendum campaigns because he has been misleading Kenyans on the proposed new constitution. Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said Moi failed to give Kenyans a new constitution during his 24 year rule and is now misleading the public to reject the proposed constitution.

Meantime the crossing over to the Yes team of minister John Michuki and MP Jamleck Kamau of Kigumo constituency both from Muang'a District has re-energised the Green team and boosted their chances of passing the new proposed constitution. Michuki who is also the MP for Kangema constituency joined the Yes team last week when the president visited the district, while Kamau was received by Uhuru Kenyatta this week.

The President and the Prime Minister were also reported to have been holding private talks with key religious and political leaders in the No camp, with a view to getting them to change sides.

And on Thursday in Garissa, the president borrowed from the 2005 referendum playbook, and "handed out" three new districts and also promised to put up a new public university in the region.
The No Team

THE NO de facto leader William Ruto has charged that the US government hopes to sneak in the rejected Anti-Terrorism Bill in Parliament once the proposed constitution is passed. Ruto made the allegations on his coast campaign circuit when he asked the south coast residents to "reject the draft constitution because the re-introduction of the anti-terror bill would see the harassment of Muslims".

Ruto and the former president Daniel arap Moi, held a No campaign rally at Suswa, where they were heckled and booed by protestors supporting the Yes camp.

The International Criminal Court

ICC has allegedly flown out three key witnesses of the post-election violence who were considered to be "in danger of elimination by masterminds of the post-election violence". This allegedly took place in secret, three weeks ago.

Uganda Blast

THE double bomb blasts that rocked a section of Kampala city and killed 73 people was the work of suicide bombers and Pakistanis. "These attacks were carried by suicide bombers. The evidence is overwhelming", said Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura


STUNG by COTU secretary general Francis Atwoli's remarks on their intentions to hike their salaries, MPs are plotting to tame the trade unionist by passing a bill in the house that will limit the retirement age of the Secretary General's position to 55. But Atwoli has shrugged off the parliamentarians threats by admonishing that trade unions are bigger than parliament. "Parliaments can amend laws we can refuse to obey them," said defiant Atwoli.


Former US Ambassador to Kenya, Ms Prudence Bushnell, said it was her country's intelligence blunders which made possible the 1998 terrorist attack on the US Embassy in Nairobi. The mistaken assumption, she said, was "Nairobi was a backwater so why would anyone bother to blow it up?"

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PLO Lumumba finally named head of KACC Kenya anti-graft body - The Star

"WE will not favour, we will not fear," were the words from the new Kenya Anti- Corruption Commission Executive Director as he accepted his official appointment as the country's anti-corruption czar.

On Friday, President Kibaki appointed Dr PLO Lumumba the new KACC boss and Prof Jane Onsongo and city lawyer Pravin Bowry assistant directors.

Speaking to the Star, Dr Lumumba said that he will lead the anti-graft agency into a "gloveless" war on corruption.

"The mandate we have been given is as clear as crystal, it is a new dawn and we want to walk into it together as Kenyans. The task ahead is one which is not easy but we must deliver," Dr Lumumba said.

Dr Lumumba said he will not favour any individual with corrupt tendencies and urged Kenyans to help in the war.

Through a gazette notice published yesterday the President said that the appointments will each last five years.

His two deputies will replace Fatuma Sichale and Dr Smokin Wanjala who both resigned at the height of the same pressure.

Lumumba, a renowned city lawyer, served in the defunct Constitution of Kenya Review Commission CKRC) as its secretary.

Prof Onsongo has been lead of research at the 4 Catholic University while Bowry is an advocate.

By Isaac Ongiri

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CBK: Hiding money in socks a crime - The Star

ARE you among the people fond of hiding their money in their socks or shoes? Well, you may need to think twice as this innocent safety precaution could land you in jail for three months.

The punishment is even severe if you are caught defacing a coin with the intent of reducing its weight as you could be sent to jail for seven years.

According to the Central Bank of Kenya, bad currency handling such as putting notes in socks or shoes or even close to your heart and in those popular dug out savings spots is punishable as it amounts to the notes' mutilation.

Matatu touts should also pray that they are not caught folding notes between their fingers as this is regarded as bad handling of currency and can lead one to jail.

"Any person who willfully and without authority or excuse defaces, tears, cuts or otherwise mutilates any currency note shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceeding two thousand shillings or both," says CBK in its latest newsletter.

CBK says that folding, crumpling or shoving bank notes into the pocket without care greatly damages them. This shortens the lifespan of the currencies which ends up becoming an expense for the country for their replacement. "Improper handling of currency depreciates the bank notes and coins faster than they ought and a result., the Central Bank will have to replace these currencies with new ones," CBK says.

Liquids, detergents and chemicals are known to have an adverse effect on banknotes when in contact. And even though genuine banknotes in circulation have some security features that distinguishes them from counterfeits, the features are washed away when in contact with some of these liquids which contains detergents.

"Simple checks such as emptying the pockets before a laundering process will ensure that the notes are not subjected to this kind of damage," CBK advises. "We advice the public to invest in wallets, simple as they may be."

CBK advises PSV operators to invest in money pouches "to ensure that the currencies are not only handled well but also for their security."

By Peter Kiragu

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The Star Corridors of Power Political Gossip

The remaining 12 days of the referendum campaigns are expected to get really dirty. We are told some of the leaders in the Yes team are digging up the skeletons to find the dirt on any of the Catholic bishops and priests, Evangelical church leaders and pastors which they can use to their advantage. Several private detectives have been on the trail of the Catholic priests who are known to have fathered children contrary to the oath of celibacy. The names of the 'fallen' priests and bishops are expected to be released in the coming week.


Kenyan politicians can learn something from Rwanda's President Paul Kagame when they are campaigning. Instead of making an ostentatious and noisy entry at a rally, they should drive themselves and whenever possible, enter the rally venue without the obvious trappings of power including — you guessed it — the long motorcade and heavy security. And when you get to the venue, ensure the vehicle is parked close to where you can address the people before driving off to the next rally!


Yet another Yes campaign advertisement — this time allegedly showing Higher Education minister and No team leader William Ruto supporting the proposed constitution — is in the works. Our mole tells us the new commercial includes a clip which shows the minister issuing a statement in support of the proposed constitution. The news clip was allegedly recorded at his Eldoret North Constituency a day after the PSC retreat in Naivasha. The clip which is set to run from Monday has Ruto asking his constituents to support the proposed constitution since "I have read every chapter of this constitution".


It is just a matter of time before a well known city businessman who harbours political ambitions is arrested. The man has taken to 'grabbing' his son from school without the mother's knowledge or consent. Under the terms of their divorce, the man only has weekend visitation rights. But he has been causing anguish to Makini School administration as he has been breaching the visitation rights which the mother has informed them about. Yesterday, the man was at it again and he went to the school, grabbed the child and drove away without informing the school.


We understand that the Interim Boundaries Review Commission has finished its report. Those in the know tell us the commission has made very radical proposals that, if adopted ,will significantly change the administrative areas the country has known for years. The report is expected to be released next month.

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