Category Archives: Events

7 Bravest Kenyan Whistleblowers

Since there are always as many scandals as there are potential scandals going in Kenya at any one time, it is hard to pick out a few whistleblowers from the many who go unnoticed.  It takes bravery to expose the system, especially when it involves the powers that be. The problem is that there is no reaction beyond a mere grunt from the populace, with the occasional twitching of the conscience that is quickly covered up with layers and layers of political sycophancy and apathy.

#7 The Grand Regency 11


In 2003, 11 employees at the Grand Regency Hotel volunteered information to the KACC on alleged corruption within the five-star hotel. It was at the time owned by Kamlesh Pattni. The hotel subsequently fired the employees.

Their testimony is said to have contributed somewhat to the decision by Pattni to surrender to hotel to the government. It did not, however, stop the fraud that took place when it changed hands to another owner. When the hotel was handed over to the state, the Receiver Manager reinstated the eleven back to their jobs but they were physically ejected and locked up at the Central Police Station.

#6 Kipkemoi Arap Kirui

Anyone who followed the 2007 elections remembers the man who the opposition party brought to the platform and whose introduction was ‘My name is Kipkemoi arap Kirui and I am a Clerk Assistant at the National Assembly working at the Table Office. I am a lawyer.’Some of the issues he raised include the suppression and reduction of results in some constituencies, and other irregularities.

Kirui’s information exposed the sham that was the counting and tallying process that was the ECK. It provided fodder for the opposition party to claim that the electoral commission had skewed the numbers in favor of the incumbent. While nothing tangible was ever done to correct the mistakes of 2007-except the cosmetics of course-Kirui’s courage in the middle of corruption and fraud is admirable.

Like many of the individuals on this list, he was forced to go into hiding as the country slowly sunk into mayhem and violence. Some of his academic work points towards a brilliant thinker on parliamentary procedure and democracy. 

 #5 Catherine Gicheru

One of the lesser known whistleblowers, Catherine Gicheru is a practicing journalist who wrote a series of explosive reports before the 1992 elections. Her scathing articles touched on two things, the involvement of KANU’s power men in the assassination of Ouko, and the corruption schemes to siphon off millions of dollars into a private housing development. Basically just exposing what KANU did whenever any of its leaders was concious enough.

Gicheru was harassed and threatened by thugs but that was pretty much it.  The KANU government banned the Nation from covering the Electoral Commission at the time. She was later awarded Courage in Journalism Award by the International Women Media Foundation.

#4 David Munyakei


A brilliant clerk who passed a chance to enter the military as a cadet for a job in the CBK, Munyakei blew the whistle on the Goldenberg Scandal. He noticed that Goldenberg International was receiving massive sums of money for alleged export of gold and diamonds. He leaked official CBK documents to opposition members of parliament and so initiated a series of clusterfucks that were the reactions to the multibillion scandal.

He was arrested, released, and then fired from his job at the CBK. He fled to Mombasa where he hid for four years. Within that time, he converted to Islam and married Mariam Ali Muhammad Hanii.He emerged from hiding in 1998.

After the NARC mistake took over in 2002, they used him for PR and he testified before the Goldenberg Commission. Munyakei died in 2006 a poor and dejected man. The scandal for which he sacrificed what would have been an illustrious career is still a blemish for which justice may never be achieved. Everyone received a slap on the wrist, a few went to prison for months, and everyone but the Kenyan taxpayer went home richer.

Munyakei’s heroic story is serialized in Billy Kahora’s book ‘The True Story of David Munyakei.’ 

Although the two were most likely unrelated, there is said to be some link between his troubles and the death of his mother.

# 3 John Githongo

gstatic dot com

Another famous whistleblower, Githongo made headline news when he quit his position as the Ethics and Governance Permanent Security and accused several power men of Grand corruption.

The scheme involved a $600m contract to Anglo-Leasing, a non-existent company. Some of the contracts in the scheme predated the NARC government but the new government had furthered and increased the money-stealing scheme. Githongo named Chris Murungaru, David Mwiraria, Kiraitu Murungi and Moody Awori, and Kibaki, ostensibly the most powerful men in the country at the time, as the people behind the scandal. He subsequently fled to London for a few years. His story is recorded in Michela Wrong‘s book It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower.

A former journalist, Githongo first founded the Kenyan chapter of Transparency International in 1999. The London-based New African Magazine selected him as one of the world’s 100 most influential Africans in its June 2011 edition .

Like the Goldenberg Scandal, the Anglo Leasing (Fleecing) Scandal remains a crude joke in recent Kenyan history.

#2 Oscar King’ara and Paul Oulu

These two were human rights activists whose work investigating police brutality and extrajudicial killings led to their public execution. Oscar, a lawyer by profession, was the founder and director of Oscar Foundation Free Legal Aid Clinic. Oulu, a former University of Nairobi student leader, was his assistant.

The two had played an extensive role in investigating police extrajudicial killings. In 2008, Oscar released a report that accused the police of killing and torturing 8, 000 people during a crackdown of the Mungiki gang. He also contributed extensively to The Cry of Blood — Report on Extra-Judicial Killings and Disappearances. Oscar had also given testimony to, and assisted UN Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston.

Assassins, almost definitely government operatives, ambushed them on March 5, 2009 during rush-hour trafficThe aftermath was even weirder. University students moved Oulu’s body into a hostel. When the police tried to retrieve it, they fired live rounds, killing one student. The police answered to the call a whole two hours after the shooting despite the nearest police station being a walking distance away from the crime scene.

The image above of Oscar’s body slumped in the driver’s seat in his white Mercedes remains a constant reminder that the dragon of police brutality is alive and well.The man who had spent his adult life fighting police brutality, was killed by what was ostensibly an extrajudicial killing. 

Addition 24 January:

Oscar and Paul’s story is featured in the 2013 movie, The Fifth Estate, which features the Wikileaks quest to expose the corruptions of power.

#1 Elias Njagi Kavanda

Rusty Corruption. Image Credit

Rusty Corruption.
Image Credit

One of Kenya’s unsung whistleblowers, Kavanda investigated and exposed corruption at the Kenya Railways Corporation in 2003. Kavanda was dismissed and his family subsequently thrown out of the government house.

Kavanda was employed at Kenya Railways in 2002 as the Senior Security Officer in charge of Central Kenya. He was the number two in the security department. Kavanda stupidly believed that his bosses were interested in ending corruption and over the course of his yearlong employment, investigated and reported cases of corruption.

Their first solution was to demote him to a small station at the coast. Here, he discovered a racket to smuggle new spare parts that would be later sold as scrap metal. Unrelenting as ever, he also discovered that his corporation and the police were in cohorts to steal bags of sugar in transit. Between February and July 2002 alone, over 1, 500 bags of sugar were stolen.

Even after his request for funds was denied, Kavanda investigated another fraud, this time involving his bosses. This one involved the movement of empty containers from Malaba to Kilindini where certain individuals would pocket the money. Other scandals included the corrupt sale of Railway land plots and houses. 

He started filing his reports at the Office of the President from where it was later leaked to his bosses. His bosses fired him and threw his family out of the government house. Luckily for him, he had backup copies of all his reports to defend his actions. The gravy train continued unabated, however, despite his relentless bravery.

Owaahh, 2014 © 


Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Crime, Despair, Discourse, Events, Kenya, Lists, Pages from the Past


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7 Kenyans who made it In Hollywood Before Lupita Nyong’o (Part 2)

This list is partially built from the comments on Part 1. There are some stark omissions such as an exhaustive character list for Out of Africa and The Constant Gardener for obvious reasons (that you know them already). This list focuses on the largely unknown Kenyan actors, and tries to straddle Kenya’s 50 years of independence, with the earliest role on the film being in 1967 and the most recent in 2012.

#7 Edwin Mahinda, Kitchen Toto

Kitchen Toto (1987) is a British drama film set in Kenya in 1950. The movie’s lead character is a young Kenyan boy called Mwangi, played Edwin Mahinda. The story is told from Mwangi’s viewpoint, with an impressive portrayal of a British household in colonial Kenya. A British administrator, takes the son  of a murdered priest as his kitchen servant.

 The lead character’s story is actually tragic. The freedom fighters infiltrate the kitchen staff and then plan an elaborate attack when the man of the house is away. They drag his wife out and in the confusion, the son of the house accidentally shoots her as he is trying to save her. Suspicion falls on Kitchen Toto and he flees his adopted home. To track him, the DO enlists the services of Maasai trackers who catch up with him and kill him on a bridge.

The movie has several other Kenyans credited in the cast; Paul Onsongo, Ayub Ogada, Job Seda, Ann Wanjuga (Mwangi’s mother), Nathan Dambuza Mdledle (Mwangi’s father) and Nicholas Charles.

Mahinda’s other film roles include The Lion of Africa (1988) and White Mischief (1987). He seems to have disappeared from acting after that, and very little is known about his life after his three roles.

#6 Lenny Juma

Before he became synonymous with Shuga and Mali series where he was the casting director, Lenny Juma cut his teeth as an actor in Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life. Juma plays the Turkana elder who Lara, played by Angelina Jolie, approaches seeking information about the Cradle of Life where the orb that leads to the mythical Pandora’s Box is said to be hidden. Juma doesn’t stare at Angelina’s chest the whole time, at least not on camera.

Lenny Juma has an impressive filmography that includes The Air Up There and the Constant Gardener. In Indiana Jones Chronicles, he plays the witchdoctor, anad Colonel Bao in Banged Up Abroad. He currently plays a gym coach on the AfricaMagic Entertainment series KONA. 

Bromance with Papa Shirandula. One of this men has been in physical proximity with Angelina Jolie. You can turn green now.

Bromance with Papa Shirandula. One of this men has been in physical proximity with Angelina Jolie. You can turn green now.

#5 Raymond Ofula


It was the TV Series Better Days that thrust Raymond Ofula to fame locally but he was already a big name internationally. Ofula plays a Village Leader in Tomb Raider, the same one that Lenny Juma appeared in. He had one previous role in To Walk with Lions (1999) as Chief Haji Abu Jibril.

His filmography includes roles in White Maasai, the Constant Gardener. He has acted in several local TV series other than Better Days such as Changes, Tabasamu, Mali and Nairobi Law. He also featured in the South African-Nigerian hit Jacob’s Cross. 

#4 Damaris Itenyo Agweyu

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Between 2004 and 2005, Damaris raked up four credits as an actress and then simply disappeared from the art. She acted in The White Maasai (2005) as Asma, in The Constant Gardener as Jomo’s Wife, in Project Daddy, and in the Transit as the Public Clinic Doctor.

Her character husband in The Constant Gardener, Jomo, is played by Bernard Onyango Oduor. John Sibi-Okumu plays Dr. Joshua Ngaba in the film.

#3 Karara Muhoro

download (1)

Karara Muhoro is the ultimate Kenyan hustler. He is an actor, a scientist, and former  former US Army National Guard.  The chemistry professor has three movies in his filmography; in Phone Booth (2002), The Legend of Tillamook’s Gold (2006) and Congo (1995) and the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2003). He is also a voice actor in the video game Resident Evil 5 (2009).

In Phonebooth (2002), Muhoro is the toy seller operating the toy robot that the caller (Kiefer Sutherland, yes, Jack Bauer) shoots when Stu (Colin Farrell) doesn’t believe he can shoot him from wherever he is.  The toy seller is credited as Nigerian but he speaks Swahili, which is one of the biggest goofs in the movie.

"Isn't it funny?You hear a phone ring, and it could be anybody...but a ringing phone has to be answered, doesn't it?"

“Isn’t it funny?You hear a phone ring, and it could be anybody…but a ringing phone has to be answered, doesn’t it?”

Karara Muhoro is now a chemistry professor at the Los Angeles City College. 

#2 Charles Malinda

Charles Malinda plays Sampson, in the 1967 movie Africa Texas Style. The 109 minute color movie was the forerunner to the TV series, Cowboy in Africa. The TV series was based on a similar premise spread across 26 episodes.

In the series, Sampson, Malinda’s character, is played by African-American actor Gerald Edwards. Samson is a young orphaned Kikuyu boy. He marks Jim, the cowboy, as his adoptive father and does everything he can to become the son of a ‘world championship cowboy.’ Jim promptly adopts him and spends most of his fathering time trying to nurture him into a proper man.

Malinda’s role, like Mahinda’s in Kitchen Toto, feels stereotypical. The Samson role is worse because it feels unnecessary”  “he’s cute as a button, but serves no real purpose other than to pad out the running time which, at 109 minutes is about 108 minutes longer than it really needs to be.

Charles Malinda was the foremost character played by a Kenyan in the film. There were several other Kenyans, including Stephen Kikumu, Ali Twaha, Mohammed Abdullah, and the awesomely named Honey Wamala as Mr. Oyondi. Stephen Kikumu was one of pioneer broadcasters in Voice of Kenya, now KBC.

 The soundtrack, featuring the song Harambee, was written by Daudi Kabaka. He is uncredited in the film.

#1 Belinda Akinyi Owino

In  Quentin Tarantino’s award-winning movie Django Unchained (2012), Belinda Owino plays one of the house servants in Candyland. She is uncredited for that role as an extra but is credite for her role as a Stunt Performer in the movie.

According to Belinda, working with the madman of Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino, was  the best role yet.

Belinda plays Candie's (Leonardo Di Caprio)'s house servant.

Belinda plays Candie’s (Leonardo Di Caprio)’s house servant.

In the span of three short years, Belinda Owino has built more impressive filmography than most of the actors on this list. She also has one credit as a writer on Everyday Advice for an Optimistic Life (2012)

Belinda’s mother was also an actor. Joseph Olita, the man who plays Idi Amin in Amin: The Rise and Fall (1981) is her great-uncle.

Owaahh, 2013©


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Disaster? Cue the Looting, This is Kenya

When I saw images of Abdul Hajj, I automatically knew he was not a Kenyan cop. There was something about him that told of affluence, a man who gyms in a proper facility and eats well. Later, I bounced on an image of the cop (the unlucky thief) currently being prosecuted for looting from the dead at Westgate. It is because we pay our police so badly, I thought to myself in a moment of temporary insanity. Then, when we all knew that KDF had almost exclusive access to the mall for days, stories of looting reappeared. This time, the possible looters were not poorly paid officers but elite forces that are among the best paid employees in the country. So I hang my head in shame and sighed. We are doomed.

It is not as much as what was stolen but by whom. The police, underpaid and neglected, have a ‘social license’ similar to that we give politicians who bribe us for our votes. We think it is an abhorrence, but we have learnt to live with it. If you commit a traffic offence, for example, and are arrested, anyone will tell you not to open your wallet in the arresting officer’s field of vision. One lady did exactly that and the officer snatched the bundle of brown notes, totaling 5,ooo bob, and let her free. And so it goes.

We have so institutionalized looting that we see nothing new about it. That’s why my sentiments on Westgate looting point towards the underlying and nagging idea that with exclusive access, the military officers might have hauled away luxury watches and other valuables. Our astute forces, well paid, and provided for as much as they would want, most of it untaxed and exclusive, might have conducted one of the most blatant thefts in the history of our society. It is too soon to claim the end of the AFCO tax breaks triggered the looting, so, why would those we pay well enough to do violence on our behalf steal from us like those from whom we expect similar services but pay poorly? Does it even have anything to do with the salary and allowances or is it deeper, engrained in our hastily clobbered national genotype?

In Its Our Turn to Eat, the case is made through the Anglo leasing story that being in a position of power in Kenya is chance to loot. If you don’t do it, someone else will, goes the story. We tend to associate politicians with five year mandates with this social license to raid public coffers and behave plainly like assholes in their interactions with us common folk. We allow that, because they are elected or nominated, and are thus in a God-given electorate-legitimized position to thief for themselves and their ilk. Maybe some crumbs will fall our way, we think.

It does little to our collective national psyche and legendary apathy, and will probably be forgotten in no time, but it raises questions of a deep moral angling. Is it that we have become so used to looting, whether as participants or victims, that we can only be shocked now if it is done by those we thought above such a trivial offence? Didn’t the crowd that had to be repulsed using teargas want to access the mall even before it was secured? They had an epiphany of what the disciplined forces, bar none, would do when left alone in a upper class mall where all hell had broken lose? It seems they did.

Almost all disasters are followed by looting of some degree, so much so that one academic called it the ‘cliché of disaster journalism.’ In most cases, it is simple citizens first looting for basic stuff such as food and water (before eventually hauling luxury items, going up the Maslow pyramid) but in Kenya, the protectors are quite adept at it. Instead of appearing as astute members of the disciplined forces, as perhaps we all think of military officers, policemen tend to appear as low socio-economic players.

It happened before at JKIA and has probably happened many times prior. It is just that now that we all have and want good stuff, we are talking about it. Living in a consumerist society, you want to know that at least your valuables will outlive you, and go into your estate should you die during a terrorist siege or a traffic accident. But that comfort, friend, is denied. We will loot. We will loot from you everything on your corpse before your soul reaches the roof. Hell, if you are not dead enough to let go of your iPhone, we will help you either journey yonder or wait like vultures, until your lungs heave that last one, and away we go with all your bling and cash. Maybe your family will get your wallet. Such is not assured.

What ails our national morality then? In the cliché mentioned prior, most cases tend to be instances of horrific disasters such as Hurricanes and earthquakes. There is a desperate need to get basic utilities and, for those whose inner animal has an automatic switch, acquire nice things. Yet there is hardly ever looting in Japan.

It became a phenomenon after the earthquake and Fukushima nuclear reactor aftermath. The Japanese do not loot, and if they do, not at the scale seen in other scenes globally, even in richer societies. In most discussions of this phenomenon, most contributors argue that the Japanese culture of shame, community, and respect, has something to do with it. The consumerist culture has not managed to kill of this national conscience, and the deep respect for one another stretches to a moment of desperation. Where other countries take years to recover from a disaster, Japan’s system is efficient because it is built on a system of restraint, if not trust.

One can imagine the temptation, the fact that you are standing in front of a shop with things you have only seen on displays. There is no one to catch you, or a bigger crime (than the one you are about to commit) is being committed. Who will worry about the dead man’s phone anyway? Or how much cash he had on his person when the hooded terrorist shot him point blank? The dead do not need the money, their dependents are probably rich enough to survive without it, you think. But you do. Who will ever catch you anyway? If the police do, you will only have to forfeit a portion of it and voila, the handcuffs of justice will magically disappear. Hell, you will even get an armed escort home that day. Such is. Such is.

Our culture of looting and plundering is not epitomized by Westgate but by our reaction to it. It is the deeper sense of apathy where we figure most of the shops were insured and thus, it does not matter that their valuables were lost in a crime scene. A crime scene with layer upon layer of cordons, and a retinue of our protectors. Our protectors got rich that day, maybe they will not be too hungry when they arrest us tomorrow.

But looting feeds avarice, another of our national treasures, which in turn breeds the kind of hunger that addicts of morphine get on subsequent doses. That is why majority of the onlookers at Kenyan crime scenes are there. It is not to ask after the dead and injured but to await the slightest opportunity to carry a trophy. Drive on any road and if you come upon an accident, study closely how first responders pocket valuables while pulling people from the wreckage. Such is.

There is an actual criteria for when looting is morally permissible. In such cases as where there is actual desperation. The argument there is that in an interdependent society such as ours, everybody plays a part, however minute, to the production in and progress of society. This position thus means that in case a fair exchange of goods is not possible because of the circumstances, such as breakdown of social order after a disaster, then one is in his human right to seek basic needs from those who have. It would be, another argues, selfish of us as human beings to judge those desperately seeking to survive. Our very existence as a species would be at risk.

But there was no breakdown of social order per se at Westgate or JKIA. There was perhaps, too much order. Normal ad hoc looters do not come carrying grenades and other explosives to open safes and access ATMs. Neither do they, at least the first wave, go after the cash registers and other movable currencies. Yet that is exactly what happened at Westgate, and before at JKIA (there were no explosives here though). Systematically, responders took time off their busy schedule of protecting us to help themselves to items on the aisles and the mannequins. The clinical organization meant that even shop owners who had luckily managed to lock up their shops still suffered the same fate as those who left them wide open.

Those looting were not poor and desperate, as we would be if, say, a Hurricane were to miraculously hit Nairobi. They were in no danger of imminent hunger if they did not wear the gold chains and watches from the shops. In fact, brave Kenyans filled their cars and set camp to feed responders. There was more food where that came from, that’s for sure. All, except maybe the community policing units, receive a constant monthly salary and allowances that was still assured when and if they survived their mission there. There was no social order to warrant breaking into ATMs, or even justify it. Yet the hapless gaffe-prone Interior Cabinet Secretary will proudly downplay the significance of the crime by saying only ‘two or three shops were looted.’

In this god forsaken land we were born in, numbers shock us but hardly ever enough to make an actual difference. 1, 100 people died during the 2007/8 massacres. 40 officers died in Baragoi. Over 100 civilians died in Tana River. Another 40 died in a single bus accident. More die each day. The death toll in the Northern Frontier is so high that it does not make headline news anymore. Wajir was bombed the day after Westgate was (sic!) retaken (and bombed, for some reason). Isn’t it ironical that we should derive a lesson as ‘the death of one is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic’ from a diabolical dictator who massacred his people with the gun and famine? Shouldn’t it embarrass our very core as an ‘inter-religious’ but constitutionally secular (ignore the allusions of faith) in the Preamble country?

A US official recently told Museveni that his military officers are ‘good soldiers but thieves.’ Then reports appeared pointing towards Kenya’s complicity in the charcoal trade in Kismayu, the very jewel we won from its murderous rulers just last year. Do you know what that would mean if it is true that our military has been facilitating illegal business in Somalia? That we actually funded the Westgate 5 (or 15 or 20, no one seems to know how many hostiles held us in panic for over 72 hours) and all that they did. We rubber-stamped our own death by spreading the tentacles of our selfish ambition to enrich ourselves at whatever cost. Sealed our fate so our wallets could be heavier. The children will never know their education was funded with blood money. The wives will never know the red on the flower petals is blood from victims of our greed. Even if they do, they will not care much. It was not anyone they knew, they will argue, and if we had not done it, the next person would have. So why not us? Also, we prayed for forgiveness and filled the offertory.

Some might argue that from a Hobbesian perspective, looting is a way through which those who-have-not seek to bridge the class gap with those who have-yachts. But the injured driver who loses his valuables to his helpers is a man hustling as any other. Start a fire in a slum and see whether the looting of other residents has anything to do with class warfare. It is pure human greed, nothing else.

The ethics of looting depend on the facts of the subject. After 9/11, for example, firemen took water from nearby stores to rinse their eyes. When a hungry man steals from a store, then there is a moral case to let that man eat; and to make sure that he has a living so he does not have to break social norms again. In the Argentina food riots of 1989, poor women walked into stores and stole food and other basic supplies. There were no cases of looting of non-essentials and the cash registers until later when other mobs followed. But Kenya’s two recent cases are interesting and disturbing.

The looters are not desperate hungry mobs, at least not in an ad hoc sense of the word. They are organized units with a clear mandate and training to handle emergencies. Their very job description is built on the fact that their role in society is sacred. The salaries are low, the hours depressing, the populace thankless (unless it is in one of those rare occasions of national reflection), and all but hope is lost. That is still no defense for such an abhorring crime as grave robbing.

So, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Since it is their work to do that to us, to hurl us in jail if we (are caught) loot, to protect us from external threats by doing violence on our behalf, who will do it to them? In the next disaster, as one surely will come, are we to helplessly stand by as our businesses are ransacked simply because these are ‘the untouchables.’ One of the victims succinctly saidThis is Kenya. Let’s just face it, what’s lost is lost.”

It is plunder, mate, and these are times of war and uncertainty. Accept and move on. In fact, grab something from that glass window or aisle and move on with it. 

Edit, 2nd October 2013 1710hrs

Prompted by panoramicdon’s comment below, I remembered that indeed the TJRC report is teeming with testimonies of looting by our ‘esteemed’ forces. A cursory reading of the relevant volumes points towards a tradition of looting as a military strategy, a strategy of yore, the medieval days of pirates and plunder. Even sadder, looting is connected to other crimes such as rape and murder. But no commissions, if any, have ever been formed to investigate the suffering the NEP and Mt. Elgon residents went through. We are an unequal society, dear reader, and you are not invited to the looting.



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6 Chilling Survival Stories in Kenyan Aircraft Crashes

Aircraft accidents are the Grim Reaper’s buffet. But sometimes some people just refuse to die, some of them don’t just stare down death in the face and wag a finger at it, they also swim for miles or feed their infants whisky. Wait, what? Sorry Reaper, not today (hiccup).

—-#7  Mr. Bean Saves the Day

(Added 8 September 2013: Thanks to MMK’s comment down there for adding this entry to the list)

Rowan Atkinson, the ‘hilarious’ ageless Mr. Bean once saved himself and his entire family after the pilot blacked out. At 4, 877 meters on a flight from Mombasa to Nairobi, Mr. Bean flew a plane despite having zero experience flying the twin-propeller engine. 

The Cessna 202 chartered plane had four passengers: Atkinson, his wife Sunetra, and their children Ben and Lilly. The pilot fell unconscious about 45 minutes into the flight, forcing the comedian to take the controls as his wife tried the good old method of slapping the KO’d guy into consciousness. It worked.

Where some of us would just soil out pants and pray someone deletes our internet history while telling the wife that we never liked her morning breath anyway, Atkinson took the damn controls. Like a typical man, yanked that think up and down until the plane balanced from its murderous nosedive.

The pilot is thought to have been suffering from dehydration. Once he revived, Atkinson moved from the controls and let the pilot do the professional piloting.

It is unclear whether he immediately went into character at the time and grinned as he saved the day.

#6 “Let it Burn”

Over to you, Usher.

Over to you, Usher.

Image from


Ever hated a plane so much that you begged the fire crew to let it burn immediately after you saved yourself from its murderous cabin? Of course you haven’t, but someone has.

On 11 April 1962, an EAA operated Canadair C-4 Argonaut plane struck the Embakasi Airport (Now JKIA) runway and almost immediately caught fire. The plane was carrying out stimulated three-engine approaches when the training captain attempted to unfeather the feathered engine and feathered one of the others. The plane stayed airborne for 1.5 miles before hitting the runway and beginning a fire bonanza!

The Canadair Argonauts had been forced on the EAAC by the BOAC, British Airways predecessor, despite the fact that they were ill-suited for East African routes. So the pilots hated them. So much that after saving his own skin and that of his two crew members, he simply asked the fire crew to…Let it Burn!

Now we know where Usher got his inspiration.

#5 Richard Leakey 

Setting standards for badass poses.

Setting standards for badass poses.

But whenever he is not out looking for poachers or cavemen treasures, Richard Leakey was out there surviving plane crashes.  He survived a small propeller-driven plane accident in 1993 that crushed his lower legs, which had to be amputated. Three months later, the man was again walking on prosthetics.

It is well-known (but hush-hush, don’t-tell-anyone-I-said-it kind of news) that the crash was most likely an assassination attempt. Given that no attempts seems to have been after that, it seems the Reaper and the assassins simply recognized his invincibility and left it to good ol’ time to do the work.

 When he was 11, he fell of his horse and fractured his skull.He also survived Moi and Kenyan politics.

Oh, and when the aircrafts weren’t trying to kill him, his kidneys were. He was diagnosed with terminal kidney disease and given a prognosis of less than 10 years. He got a kidney transplant in 1979 from his brother Philip but it was rejected only a month later…he survived the pneumonia and pleurisy from a weakened immune system

Whenever death sees this guy, it just offers him a cigar and kisses his ring.

#3 ‘The Drunk Infant’

On 28th June 1946, a Rapide VP-KCU plane enroute from Nairobi to Mombasa made a crash landing in Garsen near Lamu.

The pilot had been flying on the wrong bearing and went off course, eventually running out of fuel and being forced to crash. The eight passengers promptly abandoned the wreckage and begun a three day survival series that would be so awesome that it would almost be forgotten in Kenyan History.

The passenger manifest shows that the passengers included a pilot, five adults and a baby girl.

The plan was spotted by RAF Baltimore on the 30th but the party was only rescued the following day. In total, the six adults and an infant survived three days in the wilderness with nothing to eat but biscuits, marmalade, chocolate, and whisky. 

Whisky, saving babies since 1946.

Whisky, saving babies since 1946.

…and dew water of course. There is no mention of whether the eight month infant was fed on whisky. But aren’t babies always high on something?

#4 Flight KQ 430

When a Kenya Airways Airbus A310-300 crashed into the cold Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Ivory Coast on 30th January 2000, there was little hope of finding any survivors. There was no distress call from the pilot before the crash, and it took at least two hours for rescue operations to reach the wreckage. But one man didn’t wait to be found, he swam his way to life.

The bird crashed less than two minutes after taking off from the seaside runway. 168 people died in that horrific accident; which was also Kenya Airways first fatal accident since its formation in 1977. Rescue operations involving powerboats and local fishermen saved seven survivors from the water.

The still unnamed Frenchman’s survival instincts kicked in, and his good swimming skills also helped, and he swarm 1.6 kilometers (1 mile), with cuts and bruises, to the shore. How did he find the beach? Simple, he followed arc lamps set up by the rescue operators. 

He was a good swimmer. That’s how he managed to survive.” Also, he flipped the Grim Reaper-this part is not mentioned in the story. 

#2 A Propeller Walks into the Cockpit

Knock Knock Who's there? Just me, Propeller, Prepare to die!

Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Just me, Propeller, Prepare to die!

On 27th April 1964, an EAAC plane landing at Kilwa in modern-day Tanzania left the runway. The soft ground brought the plane to a sudden halt, causing the port propeller to contact the ground. Given the design of the plane, the propeller flew off, hitting the cockpit and killing the pilot.

The man who survived the horrendous accident was First Office Tommy Turk. Turk survived because the pilot did not follow DC 3 flight manual procedure on a planned forced landing at the time. As he notes in his report, the manual stated that the captain should land the aircraft from the right hand seat, the FOs side, with the FO moving to the passenger compartment.

Cases of the propeller ‘walking’ into the cockpit after a crash were not uncommon. And that’s exactly what happened, a propeller strolled into the cockpit and sliced the good Captain in half. Tommy Turk later described the scene : “The Captain. was in a huddle on the floor, at an odd angle, holding his elbow, saying ‘my arm, my arm’. The arm had almost been totally severed, just above the elbow… I leaned over to pull the Captain up towards him so he could better apply pressure to the artery.  Only then did I notice that the Captain’s  body had been sliced in half by the propeller. Within seconds the Captain lost consciousness and died from the massive blood loss.”

Tommy Turk was a Hungarian pilot who lived in Kenya for most of his life. He retrained and retired as a Captain in 1973.  

#1 Captain Solomon Nyanjui

Death 0 Cpt Nyanjui 4

Death 0 Cpt Nyanjui 4

Captain Nyanjui is a man who has come to a consensus with death. You stop messing up my flights and I’ll stop making you look so incompetent. And given that he is still flying choppers today, it seems the deal is working.

Captain Nyanjui has crashed four times, each seemingly crazier than the last. While flying a chopper from Isiolo on November 15, 2007, Nyanjui crashed into the dense forest underneath. Thus begun one of the greatest survival stories that would last eight days.

The crash broke the man’s ribs but not his spirit. He had no food so he survived by eating leaves. To further compound the situation, and to make Lost even look more realistic, he had crashed in a region with torrential rainfall and teeming with wildlife. Wildlife is too general a reference, according to the man, a herd of elephants rocked the aircraft at night. Now, your nightmares of accidentally being rejected by your crash look like child’s play don’t they?

He then found the dislodged battery for his phone and sent an SMS to a friend. A whole new level of wingmanning was thus born, and can only be surpassed if someone in space needs to be rescued from a nagging date. He was, however, found by a group of farmers out digging a water trench.

He is a man who the gods of the air have tried to kill incessantly, and to no avail. Two years before the crash, he had crash landed an aircraft in the Aberdares while carrying the then Nation and Safaricom CEOs-Wilfred Kiboro and Michael Joseph. The crash was caught on camera.

…and of course he went back to flying again a few months later (he said he would)because fuck you, death.

You would think the Grim Ripper would just quit, right? Well, in 2008, Nyanjui had to make yet another crash landing while carrying a dignitary. 


Owaahh © 2013


Posted by on September 7, 2013 in Badassery, Death, Events, Pages from the Past, Short Lists


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7 Kenyans Who Made it in Hollywood before Lupita Nyong’o (Part 1)

Lupita Nyong’o’s role in 12 Years of a Slave (2013) is a milestone by itself. Although it represents the achievements of Kenyans and Kenyan-born actors on the global film scene, she is not the first Kenyan to make it that far. In fact, there are about eight decades between her and the first Kenyans to act in a Hollywood movie.

You can read Part 2, another list of 7 Kenyans who made it in Hollywood, here.

 #7 Kipsang’ Rotich in Star Wars


You probably know that episode in Star Wars: Episode VI-Return of the Jedi where Nien Nunb says something in an alien language that happens to be the Kikuyu language. But did you know that the guy who voiced Nien throughout the episode is Kenyan? And not even Kikuyu? Kipsang Rotich  is not credited for his role in the film.

However, we know that Rotich replaced some of his scripted lines with dialogue from Kenyan dialects, which would explain the Kikuyu line which, translated, means “All of you over there, come here.”

Nien Nunb is Lando’s first officer in the Death Star run in Jedi. The rest of his lines that sound gibberish even to the Kenyan listener are actually in the Haya language spoken in Tanzania. Since the Kikuyu line is missing from the episode’s script, we can’t tell whether it was still Kipsang who voiced it or someone else.

#6 Mary Oyaya in Star Wars

Originally a model, Oyaya’s only claim to this list is the Star Wars character she played in two Star Wars movies. She played the role of the Jedi Master Luminara Unduliin in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.Her modeling agent hooked her up with the Luminara casting role and she was an automatic fit when she first went to the Fox Studios for auditions.

She is a Kenyan-born globetrotter who has lived in Kenya, Sweden, Canada, and Australia.

#5 Benjamin Ochieng’ in The X-Files

The X-Files (1999), Tears of the Sun (2003), The Shield series (2005), The Anatolian (2007), The Disciple (2008). Benjamin Ochieng’  is Hollywood’s go-to actor for Kiswahili lines. Benjamin’s claim to stardom has actually been his proficiency in Swahili. After playing 50 to 60 roles as an extra, he told the Associate Director on X-Files that he spoke Swahili and was hired three minutes later for his first speaking role.

He is now an actor with an impressive filmography and is fast making a name for himself as a producer and sound editor. With 20 titles to his filmography that include a voice actor in Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, Ochieng has also worked in movie crews as a sound editor and a writer. He has also directed two short films: Mr. Brewer’s Difficult Day (2011) and MISSInformed (2013).

#4 Kiran Shah and Deep Roy in almost every movie

I bet you didn’t know there is a Kenyan-born actor in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, Titanic (1997), and Alice in Wonderland. Wait, did someone say Titanic? The Titanic? …and all three Lord of the Rings movies?

The man with such a splendid filmography is Kiran Shah. Shah was born in Kenya in 1956 but moved back to his parent’s native India when he was only twelve years old. A stuntman and actor, he first featured in a movie in 1977. His most recent role is as Goblin Scribe in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Which Kenyan-born actor has starred in Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Star Trek? Hint: All the Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are digital replications of him? No, it’s not Kiran, its Deep Roy, also credited as Roy Deep or GorDeep Roy. Ignoring the fact that reading those names aloud sounds like making bedroom noises, Deep Roy is also of Kenyan-Indian descent. He was born Mohinder Purba in Nairobi but emigrated to Britain.

Deep Roy

Here is a good list of Roy’s most prominent actor roles. In the Doctor Who serial Talons of Weng-Chiang, he plays Mr. Sin. In played Droopy McCool in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, and an Ewok on Endor. In Star Trek (2009), he plays the alien Keenser.

Kiran has 31 Titles in his filmography and Deep Roy (we can’t get enough of the name) has 46.

So, why are these two actors often mistaken for each other? There is the obvious similarity that they were born in Kenya, at around the same time, immigrated, then launched their careers in the 1970s. But there is something more apparent. They are both dwarfs! Roy is 4 ft 4 inches and Kiran Shah is slightly shorter at 4’ 2” or 1.26 meters tall.

Now, guess which one of the two was Elijah Wood’s (Bilbo Baggins) body double in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

#3 Edi Mue Gathegi in the Twilight Saga and House


I know. We shouldn’t be proud of one of Kenya’s sons making it to Twilight. Not since the series made vampires look so timid and mushy (and one spent his immortality vibing an underage highschool girl). But if you think about it, given our proven acumen on the track, we would make superb I’ll-even-give-you-a-head-start vampires. Gathegi is already making it happen.

Born on March 10, 1979 in Nairobi, Gathegi has acted in X-Men First Class (2011), Crank (2006), House, Gone Baby Gone (2007), and Twilight (2008). In Crank (2006), Gathegi is the Haitian cabbie; in Death Sentence he is Bodie; Darudi in The Fifth Patient; Cheese in Gone Baby Gone; He is Dr. Jeffrey Cole in House; Laurent in Twilight; and had a guest star role in CSI: Miami. Most recent roles include Atlas Shrugged and Family Tools.

He took up acting because it was an ‘easy course’ after he injured his knee playing basketball. When he first auditioned for his role as Laurent, he had not even read the Twilight books—understandably-and had no idea that the character was a vampire.

#2 Charles Gitonga Maina in The Air Up There


This 6’10”giant of a man was born in Kenya 1976. His claim on this list is The Air Up There (1994) where he co-starred with Kevin Bacon and Yolanda Vazquez. Maina stars as a tall basketball Winabi prince who is spotted by the main character, Jimmy Dolan, played by Kevin Bacon, as new talent for his college team. After seeing a home video of Saleh doing his signature skyhooks and reverse slum dunks, played by Charles Gitonga Maina, Dolan travels to Africa to recruit him. 

For the Saleh role, Maina and his friend were selected at the final auditions in LA. His natural talent got him the role and a basketball scholarship at Lynn University.  He moved back to Kenya after being unable to return to the US from Greece where he had gone to try out for a pro-team.

Maina also acted in SeaQuest DSV as Professor Obatu.

 #1 Mutia Omoolu and Riano Tindama in Trader Horn

1931. That’s when the first Kenyan-born actors made it to Hollywood. Trader Horn (1931) is a story about the titular character, Trader Horn’s journey to an unexplored area of Africa. They find a missionary has been killed and her daughter abducted by a native tribe. Nina, the daughter, has become their queen and Horn’s role is to ‘bring her back to civilization.

The movie was shot in Kenya and the reshoots at the MGM Studios in California. In the Kenyan set, Mutia was the unofficial casting director for the Kenyan crew. During the shooting, a crewman fell into a river and was eaten by a crocodile. A boy was killed by a charging rhino-and the scene was captured on camera and is included in the movie.

Mutia and Riano got very stereotypical roles. Mutia’s role in the movie is Horn’s Gun Bearer while Riano is a Witchdoctor; Riano is not credited in the film. They moved to California for the duration of the reshoots.Legends grew around their presence in Hollywood, including one popular, but fake, anecdote of how Mutia once threatened his boss at MGM in an alleged love triangle involving a Central Avenue prostitute. Mutia is said to have protracted a venereal disease from such sexacapdes.

The bigotry-oozing article titles as “Jungle Actors are the Unhappiest of Film Stars’ tell the modern reader much about the culture shock and racial stereotypes the two faced. In the article Mutia is said to have shed tears when his shoes became too tight. It goes on to say that their only savior from the culture shock was the set where they enjoyed acting with a ‘childlike innocence.’

When they returned to Kenya, Mutia started a business with his money but never talked about the film again. Riano simply disappeared from the streets of Nairobi and from history.

 Owaahh, 2013.



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When Uganda and Zambia had Space Programs

Yes. The answer to your question is yes, both Uganda and Zambia have had space programs. As have hundreds of other countries, you rebut? Well, the Zambian and Ugandan programs hold the cake for nongiveafuckery, something whose primary symptom is well, not letting obvious weakness stop one from dreaming.


Of course it was Idi Amin’s gig. Of Uganda’s countless head of states before the hat guy, who do you think could have the balls to simply say “fuck you earth’s atmosphere, I am become space!”? Of course it’s the Uncrowned Last King of Scotland, that man whose last name means ‘sister’ and was acquired from his habit of sneaking his ‘sisters’ into his military barracks when he was a junior office. Amin was not only your usual boring kill-everyone-who-disagrees-with-me dictator. He did do that, but he also makes anyone trying to be powerful and eccentric look like an amateur.

barewalls dot com

Movies have been made about the man. Hollywood makes movies of you if you are either too awesome to ignore, or bring in such new madness that the old madness looks sane. “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular” also wanted to own the bragging rights in space exploration.

That one time he made British businessmen carry him in regal style complete with an umbrella man? That wasn't part of the program...

That one time he made British businessmen carry him in regal style complete with an umbrella man? That wasn’t part of the program…

Amin’s idea got past the blueprint stage and got as far as car tyres. It was smoke, of course it was. The tyres? For an obstacle course designed to help the astronauts survive in space. At least Amin’s idea of it. Sadly, the idea was soon overshadowed by his other madness and its audacity lost in how well he managed to outdo himself. Say what you will about the man, but he dared to dream.

Of all his dreams and crazy endeavors though, only this one made it to Time Magazine’s 100 Worst Ideas of the Century. Such takes effort.


Eight years before Amin, there was a Zambian man with a somewhat similar dream. To go to the sky, far far into the red planet, and beat those so-called superpowers to it. He had seen the space inhabitants via his telescopes, he said, and the only way man could walk on the moon was on his hands. Nothing could stop him from going though. Well, almost nothing. Like a pregnancy.

Edward Makuka Nkoloso joined the Space Race in style. The school science teacher established the Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy as Zambia’s answer to NASA. The first plan? To send twelve astronauts and ten cats to the Red Planet. He even wrote about it in an editorial where he said that his makeshift facility was only a temporary site pending funding from UNESCO.

Yup! We are going to the red one. Namaste bitches!  Photo from

Yup! We are going to the red one. Namaste bitches!
Photo from

At his awesome facility, the would-be astronauts were rolled down a hill in a 44-gallon oil drum. According to the man, that would help train the astronauts the feeling of weightlessness.

Just watch the video of this guy and tell me he is not oozing of awesomeness.

See the floating in an open jerrican, the swings, it looks like a kindergarten playing field for young adults, no? That woman seated on the far right in the opening scene who doesn’t look like she’s trying?

Nkoloso did not let his lack of facilities and the fact that the guys interviewing him were only using him to fit a stereotype stop him. Mh. Mh. He stares right into the camera and says he is going to take people and felines to space, and the space inhabitants need not worry because his missionary has express instructions not to force Christianity on anyone.

So, what could stop a man with such clear goals, except of course, gravity?

If you said a pregnancy, here’s a cookie. Matha Mwambwa, the 17-year old space girl and would-be first African woman in a rocket, got pregnant and had to leave the program. It was she, a missionary and two specially trained cats who were to make that first trip outside earth.

But why cats, Nkoloso? What did you view on the surface of the Red Planet that informed your decision to send a scout party that includes cats? Are there alien mice, perhaps?

“They won’t concentrate on space flight; there’s too much love-making when they should be studying the moon,” Nkoloso said before he closed down the academy. Nothing more is known about how the cats were rehabilitated back to earth standards of weight and no alien mice. Nkoloso disappeared too, as did the dream of beating the superpowers to Mars.

Not pictured, the Space cats that no one talks about...

Not pictured, the Space cats that no one talks about…

Uganda’s and Zambia’s Space Programs are laughable by today’s standards because they point to a deeper sense of innocence. Yet the audacity to pursue such dreams despite the clear challenges in technical expertise and funding are impressive, if nothing else.

For Idi Amin, the space program was merely one in a series of outrageous projects he would pursue before he was ousted. The man claimed to have witnessed UFOs over Uganda, and given the wider context of his actions, the space program looks less outrageous than his frequent massacres.

What of Nkoloso? Pure balls, that’s what. Only an overly ballsy person can stare into a camera and outline his goals so eloquently without giving an ounce of anything what the world thinks of him.

Owaahh, 2013.

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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Badassery, Events


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7 Most Outrageous Things Ever Done to Win in a Kenyan Election

Kenyan elections are never boring events. They are the equivalent of gladiatorial fights, complete with an arena and a euphoric audience. In fact, often, as in Rome, winners are determined by who can better use sharp objects and who can transform euphoric chants into motivation. In such an environment of blood and paper, it is often hard for anything to stand out but once in a while, something sure comes up.

#7 Hire a Militia

sunray22bWhat would a good election in Kenya be without a series of small, unacknowledged massacres and ‘ethnic displacements?’ Boring and bad for the economy, that’s what! Kenyan life revolves around elections, stopping every five years to decide on who to hate for the next five years. Its never much of a choice really, your surname pretty much tells the observer who you are voting for, but not why; the reasons are often blurry but the numbers, tyrannical. So how does a good Kenyan politician make sure he or she wins decisively, or by 2 votes, or by none, but is declared the winner? Simple! Hire a private army, a small ‘ragtag militia’ to win you the election with weed, machete, and halitosis. I don’t know about the last one, its always the image I get whenever I hear of gangs, guys with unkempt hair and no knowledge of how emancipating a clean mouth is…

Colgate, untapped market (hint, hint)

Colgate, untapped market (hint, hint)

The logic is pretty simple and begins years before an election.  In places where a majority might not be as defined as to provide the necessary tyranny of tribe, politicians employ militia to start a war against ‘the other tribe, ’ referred to as ‘madoadoa’ as recently as 2007. Not only does a private army give you clout, but it also means you never get to lose a brawl again. You get to determine who lives and who dies, who gets raped and who doesn’t, who gets to give birth and who gets to miscarry. You are the evil overlord of your small electoral conquest, ruling from behind the shadows, conveniently away from the frontlines to not die in the counter attacks but always making sure your troops pass the message. If we didn’t know better we would think you a deity.

Pick any multiparty Kenya elections and someone somewhere had a militia ‘campaign’ for him or her. Tribal politics have led to ‘tribal clashes’ during elections which begun in earnest with the 1992 ethnic cleansing strategy in the Rift Valley, Baghdad Boys in Kisumu, the Kaya Bombo raiders and other militia in 1997, Mungiki in 2002 (when both leading candidates were from one tribe) and then hit a climax in 2007. Jeshi la Mzee, Jeshi la Embakasi, Nganda Nyenze’s ‘Ndeteleka Group’ and other ‘private armies’…the list is so long that one needs to only point to a spot on the map of Kenya to locate a place where a militia exists or has been. All the ones mentioned in this previous list were at some point used to win someone an election.

Up until now, every militia in Kenya has been constituted on ethnic and gender lines; can’t a good militia also be an equal opportunity employer.

#6 Bring in the Mossad?

Not pictured: Said spy agency...

Not pictured: Said spy agency…

It is impossible to say enough bad things about Moi, formerly Citizen #1 without using all possible negative adjectives. Never has one man does so much evil in less than quarter of a century, oh, scratch that, the man has peers.

To be fair to the man, Kenya was never much of a country to begin with, just a small country with cobbled up diverse groups that had to learn to share a national cake that belonged to the 1 percent. Other than its strange borders and rampant avarice, Kenya had had more than a few massacres already. The national numbness was (still is) a dictator’s dream and the women wore miniskirts to church….the good old days.

 Upto 1990 at least, Kenyan elections had been simple cases of who was the better sychophant. Moi opposed multipartyism vehemently, even going as far as having his VP at the time, Kibaki, fence sitter extraordinaire and the slowest Head of State ever (Paraplegics do not count in this comparison) make sure ‘one-partyism’ waslaw; arguing that it would bring tribalism and division. When he realized that couldn’t win, he jumped onto that train-the tribalism one, although he had always been on it- like a boss, in fact he was the boss.

Lets go vote...

Lets go vote…

The earliest attack in the lead up to the 1992 elections was an attack in October 1991 on members of the Luo ethnic farm in Meitei farm in South Nandi District. Over 300, 000 were displaced in the resulting attacks and counter-attacks. KANU blamed the clashes on the opposition, and the latter blamed it on the former, then everyone went back to their Muthaiga homes and laughed maniacally.

The never-released (at least officially) Kroll report (Thanks Assange, hope you get some sun soon) suggests that the 1992 clashes were the work of Moi’s right hand man at the time, the ‘Total Man’- whose feeble attempts at clearing his name are often hilarious- and ridiculously expensive. More specifically, one of the Total Man’s ‘business’ associates, a Mr. Danny Vardi. said to be the same guy behind the disappearance of key Dr. Robert Ouko murder witnesses. Vardi is thought to have been a link to the Mossad although the claim is largely unsubstantiated-but given how unsure we are about the truth in what we know, not entirely implausible.

#5 Rape your Opponent?

Immediately after the 2013 elections, the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association accused some unnamed male aspirants of using threats of sexual violence to force the female candidates to back down. While they did not name and shame the misogynists, their assertions were not new…or even surprising.

Elections in Kenya have always been more testosterone than adrenaline, more where the meat comes from than if it is even safe for consumption. In such a state of cultural misogyny, political office is seen as a man’s world, and the few women who have balls (I had to) to run for any office find themselves the targets of attacks and sometimes…rape and death threats.

The current levels of intimidation of female candidates in multi-party Kenya can be traced back to 1992 (again, this must have been the year of all shenanigans) when the political stakes went beyond simply being friends with Mwananchi #1-and throwing yourself prostate whenever he was around. Before 1992, if the Big Man said you were running, you were running, and winning, gender being inconsequential. From 1992 however, it was open season. Everyone woke up one day and realized would never be any progress without getting female candidates. The resulting interest in female candidates ‘threatened men’ when their campaigns drew mammoth crowds, the commonest way of gauging how effective your witchdoctor was. So politics went to the strays, predictably.

“ For a good part of the campaign period, the media reported some of the most unlikely election tales. Married women candidates were accused of neglecting their families for personal gains. Widows were accused of having been the cause of their husbands’ deaths. Divorced women were accused of having loose morals.”

The TJRC Report, Volume 2A p 736, 86 contains an excerpt on unnamed female candidate who tells the story of how she was raped and beaten by a group of thugs who told her that she ‘troubling men.’ She says “One of them suggested that they leave because I was not proud. Then another one asked what they were going to say. That is when I realized that they had been sent.”

You think we left this curse in the 1990s? That TJRC witness is talking about the 2007 elections and the KWPA was talking about events of less than three months ago…and a related one from 2013.

#4 Outsource Witchcraft

No African election is complete without a half-dressed guy sitting on your head-and presumably farting on your face as he utters incantations and makes you regret going for aromatherapy. He also has to make you eat peppery things as he jumps around you and yells things to ‘bless the ballot’ and make you ‘invincible at the vote.’ If you are not sitting on a three-legged stool in a smoky hut talking to a guy who does not shower much, then you are probably doing it wrong. If you have a smoky hat and a three-legged stool and are not already advertising services for the byelections, you are also doing it wrong.

There is a sequel by the way...its called Handkerchief 2.

There is a sequel by the way…its called Handkerchief 2.

A few days before the last elections, Moses Wetangula, then a candidate for Bungoma Senator, claimed that he had concrete evidence that his rival was using witchcraft to ‘bind voters’ and “do funny things at various venues.” The funny implied here being not ‘funny ha-ha’ but ‘funny hhhmmm WTF?’  While it is almost impossible to ignore the BDSM connotations in the choice of descriptors of said goal of witchcraft, it turns out that the ‘witchdoctors’ in question had been outsourced from a West African nation. We have all watched enough Naija films to know that a handkerchief, with the right amount of magic, can get a personality and an evil, almost electrical laugh followed by exclaims and unnecessary handclapping.

The candidate in question was Musikari Kombo [he outed himself to clear the rumor that he was part of said BDSM] who clarified that the alleged witchdoctors  in question were actually Nigerian MPs. He said that the MPs had accompanied him during his campaign rallies (and implied that West African legislators cannot good withcdoctors make… Naija filmmaker, over to you). It turns out witchdoctors might be one of our largest expatriate population for the duration of the polls. Tanzania is kind enough to furnish us with the much needed expertise, and if the advertisements nailed to the few remaining trees all over Kenya are anything to go by, being a Tanzanian witchdoctor is an added advantage.

But its not all lost, just last year, 105-year-old John Dimo predicted that Obama would win re-election and surprise surprise, BO won! Who would have thought? Maybe this thing works guys, but can it be used to choose a wife?

I am become Gallup yawa!

I am become Gallup yawa!

In one scene in the two part-video above (and below), the witchdoctors’ rate Dennis Okari’s chances of victory (his star is “…at 35 and it needs to be at 58…). Does anyone know the criteria for this rating, maybe it is more reliable than our opinion polls but then again, the witchdoctors in the expose never figure out that Okari is the same Okari on TV. Wait, what’s that? Maybe they too do not watch KISS TV? Oh, yes, no one does…

 I am not sure how the ass-sniffing is necessary, but I would go for the being carried around and jumping over horns. It looks like good fun for the man and for the heart.

#3 Mlolongo System- The Dick-Measuring Contest

Why is that guy even impatient, its not like the queue is supposed to move...

Why is that guy in the middle even impatient, its not like the queue is supposed to move…

Entry #6 up there already discussed how we should blame Moi for all that ails this badly drawn map. Still, if you think the man did his worst in and after the 1992 elections then you probably do not know about the joke that was the 1988 KANU elections. KANU was ‘chama cha baba na mama’ and the symbol of the party was (and still is), the cock, or cockerel, if we insist on writing the long version to avoid the hilarious ambiguity. Since winning the KANU nomination was winning the election outright, there was a lot of haggling and murdering and bribing whenever the nomination elections were held. There was also comparing Mwalimu #1 with the Christ in Christian and letting him know that he was your monarch through and through.

The Mlolongo voting system was a queue system where party members lined up behind the photographs of their preferred candidate. These elections were actually part of a larger plot; on February 5, 1988, Moi had announced the release of nine political prisoners followed quickly by a snap general election on March 12 that he christened the ‘big broom.’ The National Assembly had been expanded from 158 to 188 seats with 12 members appointed by the Father of the Nation, the man with the wand. Any candidate who won 70 percent of the nomination would go straight to the August House. for the water.

Dramatization…voting for the water.

The idea behind this seemingly bad joke is that, ideally, the candidate with the longest queue wins the nomination and thus, the elections. It is sort of like how young boys choose opposite teams before a football match, only this were the actual elections. You can see the returning officers coming out of their stuffy offices, shielding their eyes from the sun to ‘see far’, and then declaring someone the winner right?

Like all dick-measuring contests, it turned out that length wasn’t the only thing you needed, the girth of your queue, and presumably vigor of your sychophancy, also played a part.

“KANU made sure that whoever it wanted was the winner –long queue, short queue, it didn’t matter.”

If the line above does not sound like the typical dong-measuring contest then I don’t know what does. It was the same the election that gave us the professor of mathematics and the man with his legs on both sides of the political divide, both former vice presidents, both dead, one politically, the other literally and politically.

#2 Stage a Fake Kidnapping


In 1997, Uhuru Kenyatta (Now Landlord of the Nation) was a thin young man with a bad taste in suit jackets and zero knowledge about why you should wear your party colors during a campaign. His mismatched suits were just beginning to feel the pressures of being a feudal prince with a dynasty to propagate. Despite his otherwise unappealing prospects, Mkenya #1, HE Daniel, had seen something in him (dynasty!) that no one else, including the State House operatives, had not.

So Moses Muihia, UK’s erstwhile rival for the Gatundu South seat was more than just a simple parliamentary candidate, he represented the hopes and dreams of those who wanted to quash UK’s political brand. This was a typical Kenyan election, you could kill the man’s supporters, begin a tribal war, hire the Mossad, or even simply pay off the man to quit, but why would you when several pints of blood and a river could do the trick? If there is a medal for this kind of thing then these guys deserve one, a podium finish, even if they are the podium.

Well, 1997 was a different time, there was no internet in Kenya just yetand news was still pretty much oral…read, spread by the single guy in the village who could afford the newspaper. UK was a strong candidate alrightand he had the support of Mkulima #1. Working with the knowledge that Moi was running in his last elections-which he had already won even before the ballot papers were printed-his Kitchen cabinet decided to frustrate the young prince’s chances of succeeding him.

Nothing to see here, just winning an election is all...

Nothing to see here, just winning an election is all…

So they hired a group of former University of Nairobi’s student leaders to make sure the young prince lost the election…on election day!

Muihia was ‘kidnapped’ in a stage-managed plot that included plunging a car into River Thiririka and pouring some pints blood (from a nearby slaughterhouse) into the river. Then the town crier-equivalent made sure everyone knew about the ‘kidnapping’ of the Kenyatta rival. What did the voters do? Of course they voted for the guy whom they thought dead or kidnapped, a concept known in sham democracies as a ‘protest vote.’ At 2 pm the ‘victim’ appeared conveniently and told voters (who had just voted for him) that he was still alive. He had already won the election…and added to the infamy of Comrade University,

Fake kidnapping, winning unwinnable battles for men since forever...

Fake kidnapping, winning unwinnable battles for men since forever…

#1 Amend the Constitution!

The age-old adage "Constitutions are paper, bros are forever"

The age-old adage “Constitutions are paper, bros are forever”

While Kenyatta the Elder had his failures, this entry will show that if nothing else, he was the best wingman a man could ever have. The wingman, as described in the Bro Code, is a sacred role that is occupied by only those who can handle such responsibility. It turns out that if you’re the successor to the Queen, you can make quite the wingman… Plus, who knew the Bro Code is greater than a country’s constitution?

During the 1974 elections, Paul Joseph Ng’ei prevailed upon his rival, Henry Muli, to withdraw from the race. Muli later filed an election petition against Ngei’s win claiming that “… he (Ngei) had bound Kangundo voters to back him by administering an oath.” The high court ruled that Ngei had indeed committed the electoral offence, nullified his win and disqualified him from the consequent by-election. When he realized that this meant he couldn’t eat at five star hotels and point the waitresses to State House when they presented him with the bill, he turned to the man who still owed him a lifetime of favors.

Hhhhmmmm...what do you mean the constitution is sacred too? The Bro Code is sacred!

Hhhhmmmm…what do you mean the constitution is sacred too? The Bro Code is sacred!

Mzee, ever the Lannister, made Njonjo and Moi (who had been part of the efforts to ‘finish’ Ngei politically) come up with a solution that had to be passed by Parliament in 12 hours. Since Parliament was scheduled to go for recess, the Head of State and Government, Landlord of the Nation and Protector of the Tribe declared that the recess was conditional; they could only go if they enacted the amendment…which they did with Moi proudly declaring “I support this amendment because we know that the President is above the law…” He would know. 

Ngei’s hold over the Man with the Fly Whisk is said to have begun at Kapenguria where he saved the man from getting beaten by his jailers several times, and even foiled Kariuki Chotara’s assassination attempt on the future president. When a man saves your life and even takes a beating for you in prison, that man owns you! He can walk into your compound anytime and eye any of your wives, and the implied Bro Code demands that you must comply. Ngei spent most of his time cashing in this blank cheque and pissing everyone off, once taking a Mercedes from a showroom and refusing to pay for it (aaaahhh…the good old days). He ‘test-drove’ it for 20 years.

The result? Constitutional Amendment Act. No. 1  of 1975, or as it is colloquially known, the Ngei Amendment. This seemingly harmless amendment extended the presidential prerogative of mercy to include annulment of the result of an electoral court (where an offence had been proven).

Even more proof that this is the most outrageous thing ever done to win an election? As soon as the amendment had served its purpose (annulling the nullification of Ngei’s election), it was repealed..presumably so no one could abuse it, no one else at least [sic!].

“[O]nce demagogy and falsehoods become routine, there isn’t much for the political journalist to do except handicap the race and report on the candidate’s mood.” 
― George Packer

 Owaahh, 2013.


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