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From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Mon, 10 Feb 2003 17:58:55 -0800


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Last week (February 3-7), Kenya played host to the 22nd Session of the UNEP 
Governing Council, whose task involved discussing ways of implementing 
resolutions made last year at the World Summit on Sustainable Development 
(WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa. AANA Correspondents Joseph K'Amolo 
and Henry Neondo attended the Session and filed the following report.

Wade Calls For Clearer Approach To Africa's Development

NAIROBI (AANA) February 10 - President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal has 
challenged African states to initiate programmes that can propel them to 
economic development.

The Senegalese President took issue with the fact that Africa had the 
resources and manpower, yet it was lagging behind in economic development.

He said there should be clear approach on developing Africa, and appealed 
to the First World to help, saying, "we alone cannot develop Africa".

He implied that Africa could be a partner in production of goods and also a 
big market. He said if Africa developed, it would not only be a benefit to 
the continent, but also to the rest of the world.

The Senegalese head of state observed that even though globalisation was a 
fact of life, Africa and other developing regions of the world faced 
serious challenges posed by it.

He singled out obstacles that developing countries had to encounter in 
selling their products, and unfair trade measures imposed by the developed 

He castigated the First World for taking advantage of Africa's 
non-performing economy and robbing it of its brainpower.

"We have the resources, we have the people, but even the people we train in 
Africa are snapped up by the developed countries by offering them better 
remuneration," lamented President Wade.

He said that while "we cannot stop people from moving to other places", the 
developed nations should repay developing countries for their investments.

The Senegalese Head of State was addressing the 22nd Session of UNEP's 
Governing Council and 4th Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi 
held between 3-7, February 2003.

He attended the meeting in his capacity as one of the brains and pioneers 
of NEPAD - the New Partnership for Africa's Development, which was 
initiated by African leaders to help in giving direction to Africa's 
stalled economic growth.

He told the gathering that NEPAD was also concerned about environmental, 
health, agriculture, information and communication, and energy issues.

The meeting brought together an estimated 800 delegates from all parts of 
the world.

Reported by Joseph K'Amolo

UNEP Supports Protection Of Minority Ethnic Groups

NAIROBI (AANA) February 10 - The United Nations Environment Programme 
(UNEP) has stressed a commitment to protect the interest of marginalised 
minority groups, saying their wealth on indigenous knowledge could serve to 
preserve biodiversity.

Addressing UNEP delegates before launching a micro study report on Kenya's 
Castaways - The Ogiek and National Development Processes, New York's UNEP 
representative, Mr Adnan Amin, assured Kenya's indigenous peoples that UNEP 
will not forsake them.

Mr Amin launched the report on February 4, at the United Nations Office in 
Nairobi during a Civil Society Side Event at the just concluded Governing 
Council Meeting of UNEP (February 3-7).

"Conservation of biodiversity is directly related to survival of indigenous 
peoples cultures, that are repositories of rich indigenous knowledge about 
the environment, hence the need to place more emphasis on their 
protection," he said.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan government has promised a comprehensive land policy 
and legal framework that will respect communal land rights.

"There is a serious need to appreciate the importance of the rich cultural 
diversities in Kenya, and to move forward to protect and promote them," 
said Mr Amos Kimunya, the Minister for Lands and Settlement, while 
addressing the delegates who attended the launch.

"I am aware of the aboriginal cases and seeing very clearly the parallels 
with the Ogiek, I can assure you that I am very sympathetic to your 
concerns," he added, while addressing representatives of the Ogiek community.

Kenya's Castaways - The Ogiek and National Development Processes is a 
four-page report that highlights several issues of concern to the Ogiek 
minority group in Kenya.

The report was published by Minority Rights Group International, a UK-based 
NGO, in partnership with Centre for Minority Rights Development, a Kenyan

Reported by Henry Neondo

Loss Of Biodiversity Poses Serious Challenge To Continent

NAIROBI (AANA) February 10 - Poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS, loss of 
biological diversity, natural disasters, conflict and terrorism, are among 
some of the most daunting challenges facing the world today.

Kenya's Vice President and Minister for National Reconstruction, Michael 
Wamalwa Kijana, said there was no doubt these were the most pressing 
challenges in developing countries.

He was speaking at the Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the United 
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), during its Governing Council 
meeting  (February 3-7).

The vice-president said that while commitments made at the WSSD in 
Johannesburg last year aimed at improving lives of people and reversing 
environmental degradation, it was only through creation of strategic 
partnerships, its achievements could be realised.

Wamalwa recognised the role played by the civil society in environmental 
matters, but added that there was need to have a clear policy on the mode 
of co-operation between them, national governments, and UNEP.

"All sectors of the society need to bear responsibility and be accountable 
with clear responsibilities in combating environmental degradation," said 
Wamalwa.  He regretted the loss of biodiversity, which he said, was of 
great concern to the developing countries.

He noted that biodiversity provided natural resource base for 
socio-economic development to meet the needs of mankind.

The vice-president further observed that though Africa's special needs have 
been acknowledged in major United Nations Conferences and the Millennium 
Declaration Goals, it was essential that the international community in 
general considered offering appropriate support to the continent.

He said it was within that context that Kenya was committed to the 
implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as 
well as other indigenous frameworks that embodied poverty reduction

He said NEPAD could give the continent an opportunity to reverse the 
negative environmental trends being experienced.

"The framework provides a window of opportunity for the attainment of the 
Millennium Development Goals for Africa, such as reduction of poverty by 
half by 2015 and reducing HIV/AIDS infection in most affected countries by 
25 per cent by the year 2005," said Mr. Wamalwa.

Reported by Joseph K'Amolo

Uganda's Rugunda Elected Head Of Governing Council

NAIROBI (AANA) February 10 - Honourable Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda's 
Minister for Water, Lands and Environment has been elected president of the 
22nd Governing Council of UNEP.

The election was held at the start of the governing council meeting at UNEP 
headquarters in Nairobi.  Hon Ruhakana takes over from Mr. David Anderson, 
of Canada, who has led UNEP's Governing Council for the past two years.

Reacting to his election, Dr. Ruhakana indicated his intention to 
strengthen what has been achieved. He said his election is an honour to his 
country and to Africa.

"I will use this office to promote down to earth implementation of 
environment and sustainable development programmes," he said.

"The first task is to ensure that this session of the governing council 
discusses substantive issues and agrees on concrete proposals to implement 
the recommendations of the World Summit on Sustainable Development," he 

Fifty-six year-old Ruhakana brings to the post a wide-ranging experience 
built on the various positions he has held.  He has been in Uganda's 
Cabinet since 1986.

Before joining the Cabinet, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda served as commissioner for 
animal industry, game and fisheries with the National Resistance Movement 
interim administration, where the current national environment policy and 
its management were conceived.

Apart from a wealth of exposure he has acquired through participating in a 
number of international meetings, Dr. Ruhakana holds medical degrees from 
University of Zambia and University of California.  He is author of a 
number of health publications.

Reported by Henry Neondo


Where Small Arms Can Be Traded For A Chicken

That Africa is awash with small arms, despite being a negligible producer, 
and not always at war, is cause for concern.  Observers say civil conflicts 
currently being experienced in parts of the continent are mostly 
responsible for the mess. But the United Nations recalls that the 
proliferation of light weapons on the continent started during the Cold War 
era, reports Osman Njuguna.

uman rights organisations refer to the prevalence of small arms and light 
weapons as a situation where arms are being used in the absence of 
conventional wars.

They explain that the weapons could prevail in armed robberies, cattle 
rustling and civil conflicts.

Such is the situation in Africa. The ready availability of small arms and 
light weapons in parts of the continent, has been a subject of concern.

Top on the list are the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions. Here, the 
prevalence of civil conflicts has heightened the presence of small arms and 
light weapons.

The most affected countries include Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and the 
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

But while this is the situation on the ground, it is also a fact that 
Africa hardly manufactures such arms. From where then, do they originate?

According to the United Nations (UN), millions of light arms - lightweight, 
highly portable, and devastatingly effective in the hands of even young or 
poorly trained users - were shipped to Africa during the Cold War to equip 
anti-colonial fighters, newly independent states and super-power proxy

"The collapse of the Soviet bloc saw a new flood of small arms entering 
Africa, as manufacturers put additional millions of surplus Cold War era 
weapons on the international arms market at cut-rate prices," states a UN 
publication titled Small Arms: Counting the Cost of Gun Violence.

Todate, in some parts of Africa, a Soviet-designed AK-47 assault rifle, 
coveted for its simplicity and firepower, can be purchased for as little as 
$6, or traded for a chicken, or sack of grain.

A 1999 Red Cross report estimated that in the Somali capital (Mogadishu) 
alone, the 1.3 million residents possessed over a million guns, out of an 
estimated 550 million small arms in circulation world-wide.  The ratio of 
gun-to-man in this city could therefore, be close to one-to-one.

A human rights report on Kenya, released last May titled Playing With Fire: 
Weapons Proliferation, Political Violence, and Human Rights in Kenya, cites 
this East African state as an example of countries that have turned victims 
of the situation due to their geographical position.

"Kenya is vulnerable to weapons trafficking because of its geographic 
location in a conflict-ridden region," the report says.

It explains: "The weapons circulating in Kenya originate from places as far 
away as China and the United States, but most of them passed through war 
zones in neighbouring countries before making their way to Kenya's illegal 
gun markets".

For years, Kenya's territory has been a conduit for weapons shipments 
destined to nearby areas of violent conflict, but more recently, the spread 
of weapons has spilled back into Kenya itself, according to Human Rights

A recently released report on a global survey on internally displaced 
people by the Geneva-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), confirms that 
the continent imports most arms.

The report titled, Internally Displaced People: A Global Survey, also notes 
that there is manufacture of weapons in parts of the continent, even though 

In North Africa, for example, countries like Egypt, Sudan, Algeria and 
Morocco have varying levels of irregular production capacities.

Countries with production capacities of weapons in sub-Saharan Africa are 
Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, 
Zimbabwe and South Africa.

South Africa is singled out as being Africa's largest and most 
sophisticated producer of arms.

What worries more though, is the effortless access to the small arms and 
light weapons. Quite often, they end up in the wrong hands.

According to NRC, the easy presence of light weapons on the continent is 
responsible for fuelling civil wars and conflicts.

This, according to Ms Virginia Gamba, a former director of the Arms 
Management Programme of the South African Institute for Security Studies 
(ISS), poses a major threat to Africa's development.

The UN publication (Small Arms: Counting the Cost of Gun Violence) states: 
"Reducing the availability and use of small arms in places where fighting 
has ended has become increasingly important to Africa's development 
prospects, as the number of conflicts has increased over the past decade."

It notes that the widespread abuse of weapons diverts scarce government 
resources from health and education to public security, discourages 
investment and economic growth, and deprives developing countries of the 
skills and talents of the victims of small arms.

However, attempts are being made to remedy the situation.  An example cited 
by the NRC report is a Declaration of a Moratorium on Importation, 
Exportation and Manufacture of Light Weapons In West Africa in 1998, which 
the entire 16 member states of the Economic Commission of West African 
States (ECOWAS) signed.

More recently, the southern Africa regional Action Programme on Light 
Weapons and Illicit Arms Trafficking has sought to strengthen regulation 
and control of small arms and light weapons.

Former immediate Anglican archbishop, Rt Rev Dr David Gitari of kenya, 
while commenting on the subject, said recently: "External people, 
institutions or governments, should feel obliged to battle out the issue, 
because they have contributed in creating it".

Rev Gitari was delivering a public lecture on the topic, Towards Conflict 
Resolution, in Kenya mid last month.

He observed that "churches should feel obliged to participate in battling 
out the issue, because it has negative impact on the life of the people 
through avenues such as escalation of civil conflicts".

Churches That Provide 'Quick Answers' To Faithful

Once scorned by the mainstream churches, African indigenous churches are 
starting to command a sizeable following in Kenya. The leaders of these 
churches say they should not be taken for granted, but some mainstream 
clergy are viewing them with suspicion.

By AANA Correspondent

ndigenous churches have prospered in Kenya, becoming more assertive each 
day. The leaders of these churches, which may have as many as ten people or 
several hundreds, have asked Kenyans not to take them for granted since 
they are serving a major role.

But some bishops from the mainstream churches in the country have urged the 
government to look into the beliefs of some of the traditional religious 
orders, to see if their teachings are right.

Careful not to hurt the existing freedom of worship in the country, the 
bishops have recalled the Kanungu tragedy in Uganda,  where 1000 people 
were killed by	sect leaders about three years ago.  They warn that the 
emerging denominations should not be taken for granted.

"If the behaviour of these groups is suspect, then they should be 
investigated," Rt. Rev Peter Njoka, the Anglican bishop of Nairobi told 

But Archbishop Ndingi Mwana A' Nzeki , the head of the Catholic Church in 
Kenya  maintains that all these groups are acceptable.

He says everyone is free to worship the way they choose, since there is 
freedom of worship. He notes that the emerging religious sects may not be a 
threat to the mainstream churches.

The archbishop says that the Catholic Church encourages inculturation of 
some of the African traditions, which they consider as good. "In the 
African tradition, divorce does not exist. We want to see how we could 
approach the issue in order to make this African value part of our church 
teachings," says Ndingi.

"It would be wrong to see these churches as serving no purpose at all. We 
may be small in number, but some of us now command a large following," says 
Reverend Michael Kamau of the Universal Prayer Group, one of the indigenous 

Early last year, more than 50 indigenous churches in Kenya formed a 
council, the Indigenous Churches Council of Kenya (ICCK).

Convinced that they had a mass following, the leaders said they would be 
talking for their faithful. They even promised to forward views to the 
on-going constitutional review process in the country.

But, while they continue to be branded the religion of a minority, the soul 
soup for the helpless, and abodes of "Satanism" by some Pentecostal 
charismatic leaders, experts have explained that these churches are likely 
to find a massive following among impoverished groups.

The main reason for this is that they are able to offer "quick answers" to 
problems that the mainstream churches may guardedly solve.

The picture presented in one of the churches may be described as 
therapeutic. Around 30 faithful dance to beats of traditional drums and the 
clang of a metallic gong.

The sun is blazing and worshippers are sweating as they try to dance to the 
frenzied instruments. The middle-aged population, majority of who are women 
are earnestly singing a tune in their local language. They are so 
pre-occupied such that they do not even notice an intruder.

"Prayer is the centre of our work. We believe we can do everything with it. 
We actually believe in the trinity, which may not be a feature of major 
churches in this country," says Reverend Kamau.

Experts in religious affairs however say it is no surprise that these 
churches are growing that fast.  Prof Gilbert Ogutu of the religious 
studies department in the University of Nairobi, asserts that African 
people want to reach God in the shortest way possible.

He observes that because Africa is challenged with catastrophes, the 
society is seeking solutions through worship. "Moreover, they are a big 
business," Ogutu adds.

In Kenya, ethnicity is a major feature of these churches. Musanda Holy 
Ghost, for instance, accommodates mainly the Luhya ethnic community, while 
Legio Maria has more of the Luo.

Israel Church combines both the Luo and Luhya.	Its counterpart, Israel 
Church of East Africa, goes deeper.  It accommodates all communities in 
central Kenya. But the most recent ones have chosen names that bring them 
closer to the mainstream churches.

Some of the the indigenous churches maintain controversial beliefs, which 
the originators choose to keep with their faithful only.

The Akhorino, for example, are known for their stand against conventional 
medicine.  They do not take the sick to hospital. Such a belief has also 
been imitated by many others, saying that they can pray to God for 
immediate healing without necessarily going to hospital.

Ngonya wa Gakonya, a well known religious sect leader in Kenya,  is an 
outspoken advocate of traditional African ways of worship.  He founded Tent 
of The Living God in 1997 and became its priest.  He has interesting 

"African religion is perhaps the oldest in the history of mankind. But the 
[conventional] Church has ignored its existence and its values....We have 
come to demand the return to our culture through our churches," says wa 

"Most people do not understand religion. The greatest religion is in the 
homestead, that is why when there is a crisis, we go back to our 
homesteads," he continues.

Ardent followers of Africa indigenous churches believe that their priests 
teach them what is right. According Alfred Opudho of the Legio Maria, a 
black Christ came to Africa through the Nile. The faithful believe that 
Father Simeon Melkio, whom they worship, is indeed Christ.

Observers feel that the wave behind the churches is simply charismatic. 
According to a Tent of The Living God faithful, John Kihiu, as long as 
there is social, economic and political dissatisfaction, there is going to 
be trends of increasing diversion from the mainstream churches.

The fascinating thing about these groups, however, is that despite the 
uproar from the mainstream churches, they have survived the test of time. 
And more fascinating is that poorly educated priests lead them.

Fresh Concerns Raised Over Grotesque Swelling

A number of East African men along the Indian Ocean coastal stretch nurse a 
painful swelling in the groin. Now there are new concerns that their 
condition may be frustrating family planning efforts here, writes Oscar

xcept for the swelling that keeps his legs apart, somewhat slowing his 
pace, Juma Saidi walks with a swagger, exuding an air of self importance.

Saidi nurses a swelling in his groin, which has reached the size of an 
average paw paw fruit. He has to wear a kanzu (long flowing robe) to 
conceal the grotesque swelling.

Like other kanzu-clad men of Tanzania's coastal city of Dar es Salaam, 
Saidi has adopted a slow gait.

He suffers from a medical condition involving a collection of serum fluid 
in the tunica vagilais (scrotum).

The swelling subjects its victims to untold suffering, including rendering 
them immobile and even impotent.

The condition, referred to as hydrocele, is mainly rampant among men along 
the Indian Ocean coastal stretch of East Africa, and the island of Zanzibar.

According to available statistics, Dar es Salaam and Mombasa cities 
of  Tanzania and Kenya respectively, have some of the highest infection 
rates in Africa. Hydrocele can only be cured through surgical operation.

Dar es Salaam city residents associate the condition with increased libido 
among men, which locals refer to as umwinyi. This condition may be 
frustrating family planning projects here.

Medical experts agree that excess fluids in the scrotum sustain a warm 
temperature that activates the libido, especially in the initial stages of 
the disease.

The ensuing scenario, translating into babies, is becoming a point of 
concern to family planning agents in Tanzania.

"Victims of hydrocele have no doubt become obstacles to our advocacy for 
small and manageable families," says Dr David Kihwele, Director of 
Programmes with the Family Planning Association of Tanzania (UMATI).

However, the exact opposite is true in cases of advanced infection. At this 
stage, according to Dr Kihwele, the swelling may cause the scrotum to 
disappear into the abdominal cavity.

"If [they] are denied the outer temperature, they get so warm and chances 
are that this may interfere with sperm formation," observes Kihwele, a 
medical doctor by training.

Besides, the male genital organs may get "swallowed" making it practically 
impossible for any active sexual contact to take place, adds Kihwele.

Either way, says the UMATI boss, the hydrocele condition disrupts the very 
family planning process.

While family planning agents worry about family size, old men nursing the 
disease have learnt to live with the disability.

"Most old men here end up with giant scrotum anyway. Busha (local name for 
the condition) has been with us from time immemorial," Saidi says resignedly.

But Saidi has another reason for his happiness - the societal notion that 
busha is a special disease only for the wealthy.

Strangely, the slow gait adopted by sufferers is admirable in some 
quarters.  "The idea was initially propped up by the sufferers as a way of 
consoling themselves and by the society as well, to dissuade people from 
mocking sufferers," explains Muhamoud Mohammed Bakari, a Dar es Salaam 

In 1998, hydrocele accounted for as many as 15 percent of the major 
operations in Tanzania. This number was predicted to increase, according to 
a 1999 World Health Report. Ghana reported the highest representation of 25 
percent during the same year.

According to a 2000 publication, Bancroftian Filariasis: An Assessment of 
its Economic Importance in Tanzania,  about 20 million men in Africa suffer 
from hydrocele.

The economic burden over the same is US$ 1.7 each year. Eighty-three 
percent of this loss is due to disability in men with hydrocele.

Though the disease affects thousands in East Africa, there still hangs a 
cloud of uncertainty on the actual cause. What is clear, however, is that 
it exists and that the culex mosquito spreads it.

Studies have shown that the culex mosquito, which carries the microfilaria 
germ from one person to another, spreads the hydrocele disease.

When the germ multiplies, it blocks fluid circulation in the affected area, 
leading to a tuber-like accumulation of lymph and serum fluid.

Some observers attribute the high infection rate in coastal areas to the 
warm climate, which facilitates mosquito breeding.

Located in the high and humid tropical belt zone, Dar es Salaam, for 
instance, experiences an average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius.

Coconut juice, a favourite of male coastal people, is also associated with 
the disease. This is mainly because men in these regions partake to the 
drink in large numbers, and that hydrocele appears to be a man's disease.

An official of Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), however, dismisses 
this link. "Given that the drink is taken leisurely in the evening under 
mnazi (coconut tree), drinkers (normally men) risk infection because they 
are more exposed to mosquito bites.

Women are also prone to a different version of the infection, which 
manifests in enlarged breasts and the labia majora. The effects are, 
however, limited and not very pronounced because of the woman's anatomy.

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