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AANA BULLETIN No. 04/03 February 3, 2003 (c)
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Mon, 03 Feb 2003 14:35:24 -0800
AANA BULLETIN No. 04/03 February 3, 2003 (c)
ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY
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Christians In Africa Need To Uphold Tenet Of Self-Reliance
NAIROBI (AANA) February 3 - The Church in Africa will need to uphold
self-reliance in its pastoral programmes for purposes of sustainability, a
Kenyan Catholic archbishop has advised.
Archbishop John Njue observed here on January 25 that "unlike in the past
when financial assistance for church activities flew into the continent
uninterrupted, the contrary was the reality today".
"It is with this in mind that I am appealing to churches in Africa to start
thinking seriously about the phenomenon of self-reliance. This is the only
way out for their fruitful performance in future", he added.
The archbishop was Speaking during the consecration of a Mill Hill Catholic
Bishop, Cornelius Schilder (61 years), at Ngong town (about 30 miles
south-west of Nairobi).
He caused laughter among the congregation when he said: "The African
people, as well as their continent, were not as poor as they either
portrayed themselves, or were being portrayed by other people".
"We need to get out of this thinking for our present and future
prosperity," he emphasised, adding: "Days were gone when (churches) relied
wholly on foreign financial assistance."
The archbishop is the chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference (KEC), a
national council of Catholic bishops.
Reported by Osman Njuguna
Gains On Sudan Talks Could Be Threatened By Iraq War
NAIROBI (AANA) February 3 The imminent Iraq war could influence the
on-going Sudanese peace talks here, a participant of the talks, Prof.
Cirino Hiteng, observed here last week.
He noted that the war could galvanise the Arab world against all Christian
communities, including southern Sudanese.
The war might also be of an advantage to southern Sudan. Khartoum might
take a hard-line position against the peace process in response to Arab
solidarity, putting it into direct confrontation with the Americans. This
may help southern Sudan.
The Sudanese peace talks have however reached a critical stage of settling
key issues, that have been the bone of contention between Khartoum
government and Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).
Prof Hiteng, who was on January 28 briefing the All Africa Conference of
Churches (AACC) on the situation of current Sudan peace talks, said that
the mediators (Inter-governmental Authority on Development - IGAD) had come
up with eight points that they wanted the two parties to discuss and reach
Among the key matters due to be agreed upon by the two sides are a new
constitution, elections, distribution of government ministries, national
capital and presidency.
Prof Hiteng said confusion had emerged over the constitution because the
government was pressing for an Islamic based constitution, while SPLM/A
wanted a new constitution drafted.
The international community has expressed the need for elections in order
to legitimise the peace process, an issue that both sides have consented
to. They however, have not agreed on the date.
The government wants elections held in the first year of the agreed
six-year interim period. SPLM/A insists that elections must be held in the
last part of the interim period, saying logistics for elections are not in
place in southern Sudan.
A constitution of national legislature is another contentious issue that
the warring parties have failed to agree on.
SPLM/A wants 40 percent representation in the lower house and 50 percent in
the upper house, while the government has objected to this number. Prof
Hiteng said SPLM/A argued on proportional representation.
He noted that on ministries, SPLM/A wants to be given key ministries since
they have never served in these positions from independence.
"We are saying that we need 40 percent in the sovereign ministries and
civil service but the government is arguing that all ministries are the
same," said Prof Hiteng.
He added that distinction has to be made between sovereign ministries and
"The government is also saying that we should be given only 20 percent and
that we need training in these positions first, since we have been in the
bush for so long," he said.
The Sudan government and SPLM/A have not agreed on which should be the
national capital. The current capital, Khartoum, is sharia-based.
"If it will be Khartoum, the SPLM/A wants Khartoum to be sharia-free. If
they insist on the state of Khartoum, our decision now is to curve part of
it to be sharia-free. This seems to be convincing to the international
community," said Hiteng.
There is also misunderstanding on the issue of presidency. SPLM/A would
like a rotating presidency during the six-year interim period which will be
divided into halves.
"In the first three years, Omar El Bashir (incumbent head of Khartoum
government) will be president, and John Garang (SPLM/A leader)
vice-president and also serve as president of the South, Prof Hiteng said.
He went on: "During the second half, Garang will be president of the
republic and Bashir vice-president."
Prof Hiteng, who is a lecturer of International Relations and Politics at
the United States International University-Africa Campus in Nairobi,
however, said that the government is rejecting this idea.
Head of Research and development at the AACC Dr Kwawang Kunijwok, who
represents AACC as an observer at the talks, said: "We have been shying
away from creating our own government. This time we have to do it whether
the North likes it or not".
The issue of wealth sharing is appearing to be more complicated and most of
the things are based on percentages.
"Since most of the resources are in the South, SPLM/A is claiming 70
percent of the wealth, but the government says it will give them only 10
percent," said Prof Hiteng.
He underlined the need for SPLM/A to penetrate the civil society and
ecumenical movements in order to gain support in pursuit of peace.
"Real Christian support is lacking in the peace process and we need it to
lobby for peace," he said, pointing out in comparison that Islamic
organisations "even supply military hardware to the government."
He said that ecumenical movements and the Church were powerful
institutions, which could bring about peace in the Sudan.
He recalled that the only peace the country had ever enjoyed was after the
Addis Ababa peace pact, which was brokered by AACC and the World Council of
Churches and provided a peace reprieve from 1972 to 1983.
Prof Hiteng, regretted the fact that the African Union (AU) had not paid
attention to the Sudanese peace process.
"The AU has no interest, no affection no passion for matters affecting the
continent. They do not even talk about the conflict in Sudan, while they
are supposed to be the voice of Africa," he stressed.
AACC interim General Secretary Melaku Kifle, said, his organisation was
willing to be involved in all matters affecting the continent. He also
expressed hope that a lasting peace was on the way for Sudan.
The negotiations were temporarily stopped for one day on January 28. The
SPLM/A delegation had sought one day off to consult, following government
bombardments on January 27, on three oil-rich towns in SPLM/A-controlled
SPLM/A accused the government of violating the Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) on cessation of hostilities, which was signed between the two parties
Reported by Joyce Mulama
Asylum Seekers Who Pose A Threat To Security
Malawi, one of southern Africa's peaceful countries, is now being termed a
victim of its hospitality. Refugees from neighbouring countries in
conflict are illegally taking over businesses and even engaging in corrupt
as well as illicit business deals. AANA Correspondent Hobbs Gama says
poorly equipped government authorities are having difficulties in
containing illegal immigrants.
alawi is grappling with an influx, in recent years, of refugees and illegal
foreigners who are blamed for increasing crime and conducting business
activities without required permits.
There has been finger pointing between the government and the United
Nations High Commissio for Refugees (UNHCR), with the former accusing the
later of laxity in accepting asylum seekers. But the refugee agency defends
itself saying it was only there as a helper.
Some refugees from Dzaleka camp in central Malawi, the main home for
foreigners fleeing war and persecution in their countries are said to be
owning commuter minibuses and taxis.
They are also engaging in importation and exportation of merchandise behind
the backs of authorities. Local people are said to be colluding with the
foreigners to successfully flout the law.
The Road Traffic Directorate (RTD) confirmed they had launched a campaign
to investigate all vehicles suspected to be owned by foreigners.
Jomo Mkandawire, RTD director, says in the past few months, 20 minibuses
and taxis belonging to foreigners were impounded. The foreigners run their
businesses in Lilongwe, the administrative capital of the country.
He was, however, quick to admit that tracing foreigners was proving a
nightmare because they run the businesses using names of their Malawian
"We have managed to hold some vehicles but the problem is that they are
under Malawian names. We have therefore asked the police to assist us,"
But statements from the Immigration Department in the Ministry of Home
Affairs charged that even foreigners had a right and were at liberty to
operate businesses in Malawi, as long as one completed a legitimate seven
year continuous stay.
Chief Immigration Officer, for the department, David Kambilonjo, said as
long as the foreigners followed proper procedures, they enjoyed the
fundamental right to embark on any legal business in the country of abode.
He quoted Malawi's Business Permit Law on Immigration Act 15/015 Section
"Such are the provisions, but the law is silent on foreigners who marry
Malawian women as one way of gaining access to operate businesses in the
country even before they attain a mandatory seven year order," Kambilonjo
Malawi cannot neglect housing refugees as it is party to the 1951 UN
Convention and the 1969 Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now African
Union (AU) convention, to take care of people fleeing their states.
UNHCR argues that the administration of asylum seekers is the
responsibility of the Malawi government, which is a signatory to several
international conventions governing the status of refugees.
Head of UNHCR in Malawi Michael Owor countered that his office only acted
as an advisor to government, while the whole administration rested in
"UNHCR helps to cope with its refugees problem. Malawi ratified the 1951 UN
convention on the protection of refugees.
What this means is that it agreed to grant asylum within its territory to
people fleeing persecution either because of their political or religious
opinion," reasoned Owor.
A technical committee comprising Immigration Department, the Police,
Ministry of Health, the Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness and UNHCR
was established to oversee affairs of asylum seekers.
Owor, reacting to accusations by immigration authorities about UNHCR's
hasty screening of illegal aliens and granting of refugee status, said it
was not proper to push blame on the agency while there was a whole committee.
Malawi, which has had no experience of internal war since independence from
Britain in 1964, has in recent years seen an influx of refugees and illegal
aliens from the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, and distant countries.
Malawians feel the government should do something about people entering the
country without proper documents.
Current increasing levels of crime is attributed to unchecked entry of
foreigners, who are said to bring with them small fire-arms such as the
Intermittent joint surprise swoops by the police and immigration has not
done much to curb illegal aliens. Early this year 70 foreigners were nabbed
and repatriated. But lack of resources has prevented the government from
carrying out regular cleaning exercises.
Indeed, the authorities are now beginning to experience the burden. Home
affairs minister, Monjeza Maluza, accepts that the current spate of armed
robberies, car thefts and hijackings are a result of infiltration of
illegal immigrants operating a syndicate with other criminals in southern
African countries in cross-border crime activities.
"We observe that most motor vehicle thefts are being committed by illegal
immigrants. The problem is that we give them refugee status ourselves,"
Last December the government announced that it was working towards
reviewing the Immigration Act to seal loopholes in order to curb the influx
of foreigners who circumvented the present law.
Serious Omission That Gave A Free Rein To AIDS
Until recently, focus on HIV/AIDS prevalence in Kenya has been on urban
populations and communities that have opened up to Western cultures, mainly
in cash-crop growing regions in western, coastal and central parts of the
country. The omission of the arid and semi-arid areas from AIDS
surveillance initiatives, gave a free reign to the disease among
cattle-herders in the north, reports Pedro Shipepechero.
n entire village in northern Kenya is on the brink of being wiped out by
Manyatta-Turkana, a settlement for Turkana herdsmen forced out of their
homes on the Kenya-Uganda border by extreme weather and famine, is now on
the receiving end of the ruthless march of the AIDS pandemic.
The settlement is located about a kilometre northwest of Kenya's northern
frontier town of Isiolo. It records on average, two deaths every
month. Each of the 166 families in the village has lost at least four
members to the scourge since 1990, when the villagers first became aware of
the ravages of the disease.
At first, they perceived AIDS as an evil that could only be exorcised by
night-long drum-beating ritual known locally as hayana, among the Somali
and Borana, or ajuran, among the Turkana.
Many homesteads in the three villages are without people. The owners have
died of AIDS. Adjacent to the Manyatta-Turkana village, there is a burial
ground for hundreds of people the residents say died of the scourge.
However, the nearby Kambi Sheikh and Kambi Somali villages are not as
seriously affected as Manyatta-Turkana.
But amidst the gloom that hangs over the area, the local people, who are
mostly of Somali, Borana and Oromo ethnics, talk about their afflictions
Even children, some as young as two years, speak openly about their parents
who died of the disease. This is unlike in many parts of Kenya, where
discussions on the disease are still shrouded in secrecy.
Describing the impact of the scourge on the migrant pastoralists, Emma,
a 68-year old woman, who villagers expect to succumb to the disease soon,
says she does not know how she was infected. The emaciated old lady's
condition is made worse by lack of food. She gets just a meal in a week.
Her minders say she has been a spinster all her life, an allusion that she
may have had more than one sexual partner.
Emma's determination to live on, however, is compromised by the squalor
she lives in. She is exposed to jigger infestation, not to speak of
insufficient nutrition and medical services available to her.
"Her death would have been humane if she had access to food and
antiretrovirals. The only government health facility in Isiolo town is
under-equipped to meet medical needs of the villagers.
In addition, the local residents cannot afford to pay for private transport
for their sick to hospital", says Ms Pauline Kinyua, a volunteer community
health worker with the Kenya Red Cross Society.
"The devastating impact of the disease on the village is worsened by lack
of succour and care of the infected," adds Kinyua, who is a former employee
of the Ministry of Health attached to the Isiolo District Hospital.
Kinyua recalls that prior to 1990, about 600 families lived in the village.
"The families, with an average of about six members, are now 166 and the
sizes of the families continue to decline," she says.
She links the relentless march of the disease to the government's poor
health policies that have marginalised the nomadic communities that roam
about four-fifths of the country's landmass in search of grass and water
for their livestock.
The high prevalence of the disease in the region, according to Joseph
Ekuwam, a Roman Catholic catechist, is a product of poor government
policies and the dictates of nature.
Ekuwam, who ministers in the neighbouring Kambi-Sheikh village, says that
information on AIDS is scanty and is often conveyed in English and
Kiswahili, which are not understood by the communities that have not
benefited from the country's education policies.
"To create awareness, the information should be conveyed in local
languages, otherwise the disease will continue ravaging the villages
unabated," says the catechist.
The villagers lost their entire herds to the El Nino and La Nina weather
phenomena between 1996 and 1999. Ever since, the communities depend on
international relief agencies for alms, which do not meet their nutritional
needs, says Kinyua.
One of the villagers affected by the phenomena was John Silale. Since he
lost his job in the livestock management department of the Ministry of
Agriculture in the 1990s, he and his family have survived by begging on the
streets of Isiolo town.
He says that lack of food forced his wife and daughters into prostitution,
the result of which has been the death of five of his children and his wife
in the past three years. Silale and his surviving two children are also
infected with HIV/AIDS.
"I know I have only a few days to live. But I am morally-bound to talk
about my condition so as to save the youth from the scourge", says
Silale. "Unless we go public about our HIV status, the entire clan will
perish," he adds.
It is this kind of openness Kinyua hopes will check the spread of the virus.
For 20-year old Leah Lowas, her parents succumbed to the disease in 1996,
forcing her out of school to assume the responsibility of fending for her
six siblings two sisters and four brothers.
"Although I knew that my parents died of AIDS, that did not stop me from
looking for a way of fending for my siblings," says Lowas. She opted to
become a commercial sex worker until she conceived two months ago. She is
now a mother of a three-month-old baby, who too must be taken care of.
Besides the death and morbidity impact the disease has had on the
community, it has also resulted in the deterioration of the ecology. The
residents have resorted to burning charcoal to earn a living.
Kinyua says the focus on densely populated regions of the country denied
the drylands the resources that would have been used to scale down the
spread of HIV/AIDS.
Mungiki: A Mysterious Sect, A Thorn In The Flesh
They have the instinct of predators, preying over their victims with no
remorse. Sanctity of life is not in their vocabulary, making their thirst
for blood only comparable to that of so called vampires. That is the
dreaded Mungiki sect, now sprouting in Kenya and assuming the
characteristics of a blood-curdling monster. Authorities seem to be having
difficulty in eradicating them. Joseph K'Amolo reports.
he formation of Mungiki sect remains a mystery to many Kenyans. There have
been contradicting statements.
Some reports say the group possibly started in 1988 with the aim of
toppling the government of immediate former president of Kenya, Daniel
Torotich arap Moi.
Those who share this thinking believe the group was an offshoot of
Mwakenya, an underground movement formed in 1979 to challenge the Kenya
African National Union (KANU) regime.
Other reports indicate that Mungiki was founded in 1987 by some young
The activities of the sect, however, came into the limelight in late 1990s,
when reports started flowing in of groups of suspicious looking youths,
many donning dreadlocks, being seen taking unusual oaths, and engaging in
Confronted by authorities, their swift defence would be that theirs was a
group of traditionalists interested only in re-introducing and promoting
traditional way of life among the Kikuyu ethnic group. They posed as a
traditional religious group, but an unusual one because taking snuff during
worship was their trademark.
But their hardline stand against Western idiologies put them on a collision
course with the police. They started stripping naked in public, ladies
wearing miniskirts and long trousers, and violently promoted female cut.
They would engage police in fierce running battles, and on a number of
occasions, violently raided police stations to "free arrested members".
Their violent activities intensified. They systematically and forcefully
began taking over management of commuter service vehicles, popularly known
In March last year, they clashed with a vigilante group in Nairobi, and
later unleashed terror on residents of a slum area, killing 23 people and
injuring several others. This prompted the government to outlaw their
grouping. They however, continued to exist, and even more openly propagated
their warlike activities.
Personalities associated with Mungiki are Maina Njenga as the sect leader,
and Ndura Waruinge as its national co-ordinator. The hierarchy of the
group includes provincial and district co-ordinators.
According to a source close to the sect, Maina, the leader, had a vision
from God, commanding him to bring together all the people oppressed by
Western ideologies. He chose the name Mungiki, which in Kikuyu language
means "many people".
Big names in political circles are said to have joined in to offer
financial support. The sect quickly grew in membership to an estimated 1.5
to 2 million members today. Its membership is drawn possibly entirely from
the Kikuyu community.
The source, who asked for anonymity, says Mungiki mission at its inception,
was to propagate African culture and to frustrate Christianity, which to
them, was a cultural manifestation of Western civilisation that perpetuated
It is no wonder that the sect at one time sought to have close ties with
the Islamic faith to intensify fight against Christianity. This was
ostensibly to win support of Muslims in their acts of destruction and
orgies. Unfortunately the Muslims, through their superiors, disowned them.
If one was to follow the chronology of mayhem and trail of blood left by
Mungiki, it would be hard not to link them with drugs, the same thing they
claim to preach against.
The March incident in Nairobi was just one of the many innocent killings
Mungiki has engaged in. Last month, 16 other lives were lost in Nakuru
town, in Rift Valley Province in yet another Mungiki attack.
Within the same month, several other people were killed by the same group
in Laikipia and Muranga districts in Rift Valley and Central provinces
These happened just as the current government (NARC) gave ultimatums to the
sect members to surrender, or otherwise face the wrath of government
machinery. Mungiki vowed not to give in, but to counter any attacks on
them by the authorities.
Their adamant stance, observers say, could be a manifestation of the
leniency with which the past government (KANU) handled their cruel behaviour.
This became evident last year in the run-up to the general elections, when
members of the sect thronged the streets of Nairobi to express solidarity
with Uhuru Kenyatta, former president Moi's choice of successor.
The police stood by as the club, machete, and sword-wielding Mungiki
members took charge of the city centre. People were baffled at how such a
volatile and outlawed group could easily chant around the streets carrying
crude weapons without police interference.
But there was an answer. The Mungiki were simply responding to a challenge
by two former Members of Parliament and ardent KANU supporters, Mr. Kihika
Kimani and Steven Ndichu, that they "parade up and defend KANU". Silence
from the then government gave the impression that it tacitly supported the
Close observers thought Uhuru Kenyatta, then a presidential candidate,
would come out and denounce the cult. This did not come immediately. A
mockery of the highest degree, observers said, when he
finally disassociated himself from the sect.
Mugambi Kiai, a lawyer by profession, deduces that KANU regime must have
tried to use the carrot-and-stick trap to deal with Mungiki. A
pseudo-Mungiki was created to infiltrate and neutralise the real
Mungiki. This, however, did not seem to work.
It was a relief to many Kenyans when violence-free elections were finally
conducted on December 27 last year. It had been feared that Mungiki, would
strike to intimidate voters.
But as Kenyans craned their heads high in a show of pride for having set a
good example to the rest of the continent, Mungiki suddenly struck with the
Nakuru killings. The celebration dust had hardly settled.
Mungiki's contention was that they had been barred from controlling a
Matatu terminus in Nakuru Town, about 200 kilomtres from Nairobi.
The Matatu industry has been a target, says a Mungiki member who asked for
anonymity, because it is vulnerable and run by young people who the sect is
trying to convert. According to the source, they are succeeding in this.
But for whatever reason the sect was formed, the heinous act of killing
with impunity has brought the members into a tricky warpath with the
government and the public at large. Observers say their acts can
potentially scare away foreign investors as they depict insecurity.
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