Monday, 19 March 2018

By Tebby Otieno

“When there are cholera outbreaks in the country, it does not affect people in Muthaiga, Runda, Kitisuru or Riverside; instead it is experienced in slums. Most people die because of cholera”, remarked the Nairobi county women representative, Esther Passaris during the commemoration of the International women day, celebrated at the DCC grounds in Kawangware, Nairobi.

Passaris is advocating for zero slums in Nairobi saying that women go through a lot of challenges within slums. Among the challenges Passaris said women within slums go through include high risks during fire accidents due to the difficulties in exiting the buildings during rescue times and constant eruptions of cholera outbreaks due to poor sanitations
“We cannot allow cholera to be in Kenya at this moment. We must have water that is connected in houses, better houses with proper lighting and safety for our women`s children even when they are out at work”, said Passaris.
The Nairobi county women rep further urged young women to plan for their families. She advised them to start their businesses and be able to stand on their own before they get children. This, she said, will help reduce cases of women being abused in marriages.
“Women, let`s start by being firm, there are women enterprise funds. Let youths go get youth funds too, so that they can also be men with value so that we can also agree to wed them. When we press for progress, we need to outline the steps we`ve taken. If we take two steps forward, then ten steps backwards, that is because we don`t have many women in parliament”, she stressed.

Passaris also urged her constituents to pay loans back. She said borrowing Uwezo, Youth and women enterprise allocated funds and failing to pay the loans back, denies other people who also need the funds for their businesses. She urged women to form groups and start business
“My office is in Komarock, but we will walk in every corner looking for women. Form groups and start proper businesses. I want to start up one factory in Nairobi that will be manufacturing sanitary towels. The factory will be for us women”, Passaris said

This is as a fifty four year old woman in Riruta who attended the celebrations complains of challenges for women in the business venture. She does bead work, but only makes items after she has gotten orders from customers. She says, she spends about five hours to get beads for her work. Susan Njoki Wainaina says her main challenge is finding market for her bead work. “I leave my house at 11 am going to Kamukunji, buy beads then come back to my house by around 1 pm. Most people don`t know what I do and so if I make items before I get orders. The items stay in my house for long. My only joy is when I get customers”, laments Njoki.

Nairobi county women representative also condemned the high tax rate on women in small scale trade in slums
“If a woman is earning ten or fifteen thousand shillings from her trade, it is ridiculous to try and take even two hundred shillings from her. We need to empower the woman because she has got so many overheads. Houses in Nairobi are expensive. Let`s tax the rich and support the poor” Passaris said
Esther Passaris further stressed the need to teach women in small scale trade different business techniques
“Rather than all of them doing the same business where one woman here selling tomatoes another one here selling tomatoes …can we do something like have a global market where every woman brings her vegetable and then it`s one store so everyone gets maximum benefits” She stressed

Nairobi women representative argued that most women are not making the amount of money that they need to sustain their families since most of them can barely eat, pay their rents yet they are still taxed.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

By Tebby Otieno

Tebby Otieno, Radio Presenter, Mtaani Radio 99.9 FM. With the existence of community radio stations, within different sub counties in Kenya, radio listeners are now brought closer to their favorite radio presenters.Considering the fact that most radio presenters working in community radio stations, stay within the sub counties the radio stations they work for are located, the presenters are in better positions to understand their audiences` lifestyles since they easily interact one-on-one.
During the celebrations of World Radio Day, 2018, Kenya Community Media Network, KCOMNET brought together twenty three community radio stations’ representatives.It is during this session where, Deputy Director Freedom of Expression and Media Development Information and Communication Programme, Anthony Ngare, from Kenya National Commission for UNESCO, KNATCOM challenged media institutions to consider female sports reporters and also increase airtime for female in sports. According to UNESCO, only 4% of female journalists associate themselves with sports commentary.
`The fact that there are male dominated sports with male participants, that kinds of drives away the lady reporters. But still we have some big lady sports journalists in this country. The beauty with sports is analysis and if your analysis is spot on, and well researched, it doesn’t matter whether you are male or female` Says Ngare

According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural Organization, UNESCO`s world radio day, 2018 report: Women represent just 7% of sports people seen, heard or read about in the media. The report also shows that only 4% of sports stories focus primarily on women.


According to Lydia Gachungi, Regional Communication Expert, Safety of journalists and Media Development Communication Sector from UNESCO, there is need to sensitize and empower women, through radio to have them join sports programmes. She says women voices are more captivating compared to men

"For sure, the voice of a woman who is commentating on sports is captivating more than a man, because we`re so used to men, and for a woman they come with different views. A woman will even talk more and give more platform and even uplifting the role of women when it comes to sports. Besides that, if a woman is a commentator, she will go out even to look for those women that are playing sports and she can talk about them. She will resonate better even with the listeners, this will in fact, increase the radio listenership, audience and the local women`s sports content within the radio stations" Says Gachungi

Kelvin Nyangweso, Mtaani radio station manager says, the existence of the radio station, within Dagoretti has transformed lives of youths in various sporting clubs

Mtaani radio, 99.9 FM, is a community radio, based in Dagoretti serving the cosmopolitans and the larger Dagoretti sub county; we try to give platforms to various activities and especially in sports. We came up with programmes that promote sports, especially football which we try to give priority to uplift the talent within this region. We have also customized particular programs that promote activities in terms of peace. Every Friday, we have a sports show where we invite coaches to our studios. We also have sports news that is presented by both male and female presenters at the station ` Explains Nyangweso.

Kenya Community Media Network, KCOMNET is a network of 23 community radio stations within 18 counties in Kenya. KCOMNET`S coordinator, Njuki Githethwa says through the network they keep the stations in producing contents in relation to the marginalized. "Our work is essentially to keep on insisting, that the content of programming within community radio should be focused on those sectors of societies, which are marginalized and women, historically have been marginalized. Particularly this year, as affirmative action, in community radios being the heartbeat of the community, if they don’t broadcast centrally issues of women and profile them based on reports about their marginalization in terms of sports and reorganization, then we shall not be doing any service to our communities. So that is our call for the radios" Elaborates Githethwa

Radio has the power to break conflict and differences among communities. World radio day is marked on 13th February, annually. 2018`s theme focuses on `radio and sports for economical development and peace`

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Needy candidates, shine in KCPE

By Tebby Otieno

Kinyanjui Road Primary School teachers and parents, in Dagoretti south, Nairobi county on November 24th , 2017 lift up, Osuri Joan Akinyi, who scored 416 marks in the 2017, KCPE examinations

Osuri Joan Akinyi, who scored 416 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, KCPE hopes to join Starehe girls, in 2018 as she will be proceeding with her secondary education. She emerged top in her class of over three hundred candidates. Akinyi wishes to be a pilot or an aeronautical engineer.
Mageni Ashley Alivitsa became second best after scoring 407 marks. Juma David Praise became third best after getting 406. He says he is proud of making his parents proud too. Praise would love to join Mang`u high school. He wants to be an aeronautic engineer.
Muthoni Fidelis Wangari got 401 marks and became position four in her school.

Hamisi Brian Oyondi closed top five in his school after scoring 400 marks. He has right hand injury that he got in 2014, during games time. This made it hard to prepare for his examinations, he however, feels glad and excited about his marks. Oyondi wants to be a neurosurgeon

Kinyanjui road primary school head teacher Christopher Muguti says 2017;
KCPE candidates boosted the school mean score to 277 from 273 recorded in 2016 KCPE results. This he says was contributed to by team work from parents, candidates and teachers.

Mr. Muguti however, says that despite the fact that most of his children come from humble families, he believes their lifestyles will change with time, `I am so proud because majority of my parents come from very needy background. Like my top candidate who has been with us since class one has 416, the mother sells sukuma wiki (kales) outside the school gate, the other candidate with 406, the mother sells chips again outside the school gate. I am happy with the parents I`m dealing with and I know now we`re raising the community and soon this community is going to change` says Mr. Muguti
Muguti had kind words for the team that contributed to an increase in the school mean score. Kinyanjui road primary school had 318 candidates, who were divided into 70 per class.

Thursday, 3 August 2017


By Tebby Otieno;

Victor Ng’uono, an astute pupil at MM Shah Academy in Kisumu County scooped the most coveted trophy during the recently concluded Kenya National Spelling Bee Championships held at Nyali Beach International Hotel and Spa in Mombasa on 24th July 2017. Victor Brian Maina of Nyeri Primary School and Christina Njeri of Tender Care Nairobi emerged first and second runners up respectively. The Kenya National Spelling Bee (KNSB) is an English spelling competition, which is an adaptation of the Scripts National Spelling Bee which is an annual spelling competition held in the US and in Canada mainly to promote English literacy. The KNSB was started in a quest to improve literacy in the English language as well as improve the reading culture among primary school pupils in Kenya.

In the stiffly contested battle of wits and words, the three students tied before judges tightened the rope by injecting new technical words into the contest. These included: DIPHTHONG, FELINE, ENCUMBRANCE, OBSCURANTISM, SCHIZOPHRENIA, ASCERTAIN and MENINGITIS. However, still Victor Ng’uono sailed through making him the overall champion having been the only one who got right the spelling of the word SCHIZOPHRENIA. The three contestants all got the spelling of the word ASCERTAIN correctly. But when it came to spelling the word MENINGITIS, Christina Njeri was unable thereby breaking the tie to get the first and second runners up.
The trio bagged home fat education scholarships.Victor Ng’uono, the one who took the cake, went home smiling with a colossal amount of Ksh. 500,000 thanks to his razor-sharp intelligence. The first and second runners up were also awarded Ksh. 300,000 and Ksh. 100,000 respectively. The teachers for the three also received cheques worth Ksh 50,000, 30,000 and 20,000 respectively. This was in a bid to motivate them for their relentless efforts and knack for details matter of factly spelling of words.

In an exclusive interview with Mtaani Radio during an educational programme, The Kenya National Spelling Bee, Chief Judge – Mr. Jeremiah Makau said the participants in the spelling bee championship were each given four books namely The Winner, Let Her Be, The Village Fool and Miss Uhuru three months prior to the competition. Mr. Makau showed confidence that the three spelling giants will enable Kenya emerge the top in the African championships slated to take place September 2017 in the coastal city – Mombasa when they will battle it out with other budding grammarians from 18 countries dotting the vast African landscape

"Actually, we expect them to do far much better this year than last year because, last year we had taken the three students who represented us in the African Spelling Bee Championships, we took them from only Nairobi County. This time round because we have taken the finest from all the 47 counties, we expect that we have got a better lot. So we are expecting that they are going to perform far much better. Now that we are going to be at home, where our national competition took place, our students are already familiar with the venue and will sure enough have an upper hand over the other contestants." Mr. Makau expressed his expectations.
Proponents of grammar and its correct usage adduce that frequent use of dictionaries by learners who are not native speakers aid in the correct spelling and retention of words. Speaking during the launch of the third edition of the Oxford Primary Dictionary for East Africa (OPDEA) on 18th May, 2017, Oxford University Press East Africa, General Manager Mr. John Mwazemba termed the launch as a milestone in learning and teaching English in primary schools in Kenya and beyond. Mr. Mwazemba added that the third edition of the OPDEA has been well researched in relation to the advancing technology.

`Oxford Dictionaries is home to the world-famous Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the definitive guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of more than 280,000 entries – past and present – from across the English-speaking world. The third edition of the OPDEA not only has additional vocabulary, but also has 600 illustrations which reflect the people, environment and the culture of Eastern Africa. We believe that the addition of this feature will go a long way in aiding students’ comprehension and retention of words. This dictionary has been made child-friendly, with shorter entries, written in simpler language and larger text size, making it the ideal dictionary for all Primary Students in East Africa.’ Said Mwazemba.
Speaking during the launch of the National Spelling Bee Championships in Mombasa, Principal Secretary for Education, Dr. Belio Kipsang’ said that people who are exposed to books and a lot of vocabulary are often good spellers unlike those who depend on spell checker, a handy tool for general use
‘Our research has shown people who are exposed to books and a lot of vocabulary are often good spellers, those very high-achieving spellers have heightened sensitivity to those letter patterns. They can proofread and edit by identifying quite easily what parts of words might be correct or incorrect. However, we have noted with growing concern that with the advancement of technology, people have resorted to the use of spellcheckers to autocorrect their spelling mistakes. This includes the use of spell checkers in communication gadgets such as Mobile Phones, Computers, Tablets and Laptops. Although a spell checker is a handy tool for general use, it will never fully take the place of educating yourself properly and polishing your vocabulary, grammar and writing skills,’ noted Kipsang’.

The 2017 edition organized by the Kenya National Spelling Bee (KNSB) targeted 50 schools in each of the 47 counties. KNSB Programme Manager, Mr. Eric Mosoti said the competition was set to involve four rounds and the pupil who will emerge top in the national category,

'Children who are good spellers are often avid readers; they can unpack words and understand all the meaningful parts of words and how they go together. Our key objective is to build a greater appreciation for the importance of spelling in the development of English language literacy among young learners in school` explained Mr. Mosoti.

The African Spelling Bee was founded in 2016 by 10 Spelling Bee organizations from Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe and they had the very first African Spelling Bee in the same year in Johannesburg, South Africa, bringing together 27 National Champions from each of the countries to participate.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017


Meet Lydia Wangare, a widow who worked at Saudi Arabia for nine months. During her normal duties as a house help, one winter season in 2016, she accidentally slid in the cold snow. The accident led to injuries in parts of her fingers, knees and back. When she was taken to a hospital, she was only given pain killers to ease the pain
“I slid, I did not know about winter and the snow outside, there was water shortage, the lady boss then asked me to go outside and turn on the main water tap. I had slippers, immediately I opened the door and stepped out; I slid and rolled down the stairs. I got injuries at the fingers, back and hands. I went back to the house, wet allover, showed the lady boss…… she did not even tell me sorry, she only said it is alright” narrates Lydia
Almost a year since the accident, Wangare has never visited any hospital for medical checkup, this is despite the fact that she quit her job as a house help in Saudi Arabia and came back to her home country, Kenya. She says, she has no source of income and so she fears going to hospital because she believes she will be asked for money
“I still use pain killers because it’s what I can afford.” Laments Lydia. “Sometimes my knees swell so bad that I have to walk by supporting myself. The society expects a woman to be very strong so I have to persevere. If only I could get money to go for a proper diagnosis know what exactly is wrong with me before it’s too late, nothing would make me happier but for now there is nothing much I can do for myself. I am not only jobless but even if I got a job now, I cannot do it because of my back and if I can’t work what kind of person am I? If walking in itself is very difficult for me imagine the trouble I go through to use a pit latrine at home.” says Wangare

Hellen Malube, Nuga Best Health Company Manager in Riruta, Dagoretti says that spine injuries interferes with the central nervous systems` normal communication in the body and is restored during the alternative treatment known as a thermo massage offered at the facility.
“When we talk about the spine, we are talking about the whole body. If the spine is injured, then the entire body cannot function. Therapy helps to balance the spine which makes sure that every bone or every vertebral and every disc in the spine is at its position well-arranged so that there will be no problem when movement or work is needed to be done in the body. Says Malube

Malube further says that if spine injuries are not treated other diseases and problems like diabetes, ulcers, nervous breakdown, lame and backaches, vision and hearing degeneration and high blood pressure among others can also be caused by spine injuries. However, Lydia Wangare may have more than just spine injuries considering the regular episodes of depression following the hectic nonpaying job she did in Saudi Arabia and also the difficult life she lives in Kenya with her two children.
`Sometimes I feel like committing suicide. I don’t even have a house; I am only given beddings for me and one of my children. The other stays with my other sister because I cannot feed them” Says Wangare.
Could Lydia’s depression be as a result of her spine injury? Malube explains that if the backache is as a result of a spinal injury, it might lead to other organs in her body failing to function normally resulting to the victim developing numerous other complications including stress, high blood pressure, stroke or depression/despair due to unwanted thoughts.

Lucy Nyokabi, a nurse at Kivuli dispensary in Riruta says depression is a mood disorder that is common and also very serious but can be controlled by sharing problems and talking to other people
“There are those risk factors, like losing someone they love; losing a job etc. can lead to depression. Women are able to share their problems, talk about it and that is why they are able to deal with depression unlike men. Exercising and sharing issues with other people as well as accepting that someone is depressed are some of the first steps towards getting help. We can support people ailing from depression by accepting, loving them and helping them to engage in activities that can help them recover from depression.” concludes Nyokabi
According to the latest estimates from world health organization, WHO more than 300 million people in the world are currently living with depression. This is an increase of more than 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.World Health Day is celebrated annually on 7thApril. The theme for 2017 was ‘Depression, let`s talk.

By Tebby Otieno

Thursday, 9 March 2017


She is 34 years old, married and a mother of four children; three girls and a boy. Faridah Salim Khamis who was brought up in Kambi Muru in Nairobi says that she is a hard working mother who was taught very early in life to be independent. Her life has never been easy since her childhood a fact that she says has made to her be the strong woman she is today.
“I have come a long way. I first started selling mitumba (second hand clothes) in Gikomba market. When things didn’t go as I wanted, I decided to venture into communication when mobile phones were first came into the market. Back then, ‘Simu ya jamii’ (community pay phone) was the only way most people could access and use mobile phones. The Motorolla T28 was the popular phone back then but it was very expensive unlike nowadays where you can get a phone for a thousand shillings. To have an edge over other businesses I also used to sell homemade snacks popularly known back then as sinachuki; peanuts cooked or mixed with hot sugar syrup” recalls Faridah.

As the size of Faridahs family grew, her expenditure grew as well so she decided to put her passion and nine years driving experience into a more lucrative venture – taxis. Since she had heard that the popular taxi service, Uber had become popular in the country, she decided to venture into the field in February 2017. Even though there are other female drivers in the Uber taxis, Faridah Salim Khamis is proud to be the only Muslim lady driver. She says she would love to drive a high profile customer who can appreciate what women do to put something on the table.

“I don’t feel different because I am a Muslim lady driver. I believe what a man do, a woman can do better. My dream is to carry H.E. the First Lady Margret Kenyatta in my taxi. I want to driver her around and even bring her here in Kibera”. She says while smiling

As with every business taxis driving has its best and worst moments. For Faridah Salim Khamis, her best moments are when she has guaranteed clients that she has to pick and drop on a regular basis. However, her worst moments are when she has to deal with stressful clients. “I have to work hard to earn my commissions just like everyone else. No employer wants a lazy person”. Explains Faridah.

Faridah thinks that Taxi drivers in Kenya are not as well paid as compared to those in the western countries. “I`d love to work for the United Nations, at least they pay reasonably” she says smilingly
The fact that Faridah Salim Khamis had difficulties during her childhood but she still made it, her mother remains her hero. She is inspired by the Muslim ladies who are out there making a difference and clearing the world`s doubts
“I always feel inspired seeing a hijabi on the top list of being successful. I salute Ilhan Omar, who contested and won the Minnesota house representative sit, she`s the first American Somalia law maker. Naru Asia, the first hijabi cover girl Ambassador. Ginnela Masssa, also the first hijabi newscaster in Canada. I`m proud of them and myself, Muslims are not selfish or lazy, they can change the world too!” She tells me

Despite not driving her own car, Faridah Salim Khamis still believes that as long as she continues working, she will one day own her own fleet of cars. She remains focused and calls for change where every woman takes up the challenge in the society to start doing something rather than depending on men.

“If you have this potential of driving, come to this taxi industry it doesn’t choose a woman or a man, a Muslim or a Christian. Actually in this world of today, you cannot depend on your man alone, it`s better you wake up and get out. It is not all about going to an office in a huge building, my car is my office as I use my passion to earn a living” she adds

As we celebrate 2017 International Women`s Day, Faridah Salim Khamis says she is bold enough to bring change in women`s lives
“Of course I too I’m bold enough to bring change. Women have to wear so many hats and endure a lot of social and economic pressures, but if as a woman you have the passion for something you can do like me, get up and do it, it`s not all about driving, do something for yourself, start a small business. Do whatever you can” She concludes.

Faridah Salim Khamis also boasts as the first lady to open a cultural boutique in Kibra. She is a good caterer. No road is impassable for Faridah.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


Kawangware primary school pupils and their two teachers pose for photo session at their school

The joy of emerging the best in the concluded 2016 Kenya National Music Festival in the girls’ set piece category cannot be hidden from the team of girls that saw them change the image and perception that has been there about the school in the informal settlement of Kawangware, Nairobi. The talented girls performed uniformly to the rhythm of the violin keenly following their choir conductor Mr. Edward Namiti`S instructions all the way from sub county level to national level held at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi where they were announced the winner of the 2016 girl`s set piece.

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In an exclusive interview at Kawangware primary school, Mr. Edward Namiti who is music composer, arranger, director, adjudicator and trainer in the primary school category said that, Ron de ley ho class 201 Girls` set piece is the song that made the year 2016 very different and special for their school

Edward Namiti: Kawangware School Music Trainer

“Kawangware School was crowned the best choice in Kenya and for the first time we did a song in Latin, unlike past years, this year I have not really struggled because the team had a very good musical background. I didn’t struggle to train them and in fact, we spent very little time training especially during lunch hour and not every day and we still won! So I must say this year was very special year”.

Four trainers including patrons worked very hard to see that the girls took the trophy to their school. As per why we only did a girls` set piece, Namiti says that is about specialization `every music trainer/director in Kenya are known because of entering into certain classes. We are a group of about five schools in Kenya and Kawangware School is among those that perform girls` set pieces very well.

The school head teacher Mrs. Milliam Kelonye, (pictured below) motivates talented children to use their talents as she says this does not affect academic performance as perceived by many.
`Many good things are happening with our children, actually, we are developing an all rounded child because many of our children are participating in different events` says Mrs. Kelonye.

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If you thought working with children is difficult then you got it wrong, these young ones just need to be guided on the direction one wants and they will follow. The team that represented Kawangware Primary School in the 2016 music festivals was not auditioned. Many of them naturally have interest in singing and are determined. This team took the girl set piece trophy from Precious Blood Girl’s High School that won it in the year 2015.

BY TEBBY OTIENO , @TebbyOtieno
Photographer; Edwin Nyang`au