A dream doesn't become reality through magic. It takes sweat, determination and hard work.

Monday, 30 January 2017


By Mary Pilon  


Donald Trump’s mother, Mary, was an immigrant. But Trump doesn’t often bring up his Scottish ancestry on the campaign trail. Photograph by Marina Garnier / NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty

In November of 1929, a seventeen-year-old Scotswoman, Mary Anne MacLeod, boarded the S.S. Transylvania in Glasgow, bound for New York City. With a high arching brow and deep, round eyes, MacLeod hailed from Tong, a remote fishing community in the parish of Stornoway, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Although the American stock market was in a freefall, Europe, in the shadow of war, was in no better shape. Scots had been emigrating for years, trying to find better opportunities.

In New York, MacLeod would find a well-established community of countrymen and women, including two of her sisters. She took more than one transatlantic trip before settling in New York, in the thirties. On at least two ship manifests and in the 1930 census, her occupation is listed as “maid” or “domestic.”

Mary MacLeod would eventually become Mary Trump, the mother of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for President. She died in 2000, long before her son’s political ascent but not before he became a business celebrity. This week, Trump visited his mother’s homeland, attending the official opening of a renovated Trump Turnberry, a golf course he owns in South Ayrshire. As global markets dropped precipitously in response to the Brexit referendum, just the day before, in which British citizens voted to break from the European Union, Trump praised the  sprinkler systems on the course—“the highest level”—and Turnberry’s “incredible suites.” His Turnberry speech was almost entirely about his golf course, but he did talk about his mother, and how she had enjoyed eating dinner at Turnberry when she returned to Scotland to visit. “Her loyalty to Scotland was incredible,” he said. “She respected and loved the Queen.”

Like Barack Obama’s father, Trump’s mother was an immigrant. But Trump doesn’t often bring up his Scottish ancestry on the campaign trail. The “about” section of the Trump campaign’s Web site makes no mention of the Scottish-born matriarch, nor have his opponents reached much for the chance at a dig, given Trump’s campaign-defining comments about immigrants, at least those from Mexico or who are Muslims. Only Ted Cruz brought up Mrs. Trump’s Scottish birth, in a Republican Presidential debate in January.

A request for comment from representatives with the Trump campaign went unanswered.

Mary Anne MacLeod was born on May 10, 1912. Her father, Malcolm, was a fisherman on the remote Isle of Lewis, and he and his wife, Mary Smith, raised a large brood of children. Tong is still dominated by fishing and, increasingly, tourism, and many extended MacLeod relatives live in the area. None of Trump’s cousins wish to speak to the press, William Foulger, the secretary of the Stornoway Historical Society, said, nor does the owner of the family home.

In the thirties, MacLeod reportedly met Frederick Christ Trump at a dance, and the two fell in love, according to a 2005 profile of the Trump family in Real Estate Weekly, although it has been disputed whether she was living in the United States at the time or just visiting. Fred Trump was a builder, having started a construction business while he was still in high school. By the late twenties, he was selling single-family houses in Queens for $3,990 each. Fred Trump and Mary MacLeod married in 1936 and settled in Jamaica, Queens, at the time a haven for Western European immigrants. By 1940, the couple lived with their two children and a Scottish maid, according to census records. The value of their home was twelve thousand and five hundred dollars, or two hundred and fourteen thousand dollars today. Fred made five thousand dollars a year, or about eighty-six thousand in 2016 dollars. As the Second World War raged in Europe, on March 10, 1942, the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn made Mary Trump a naturalized citizen.

Fred Trump’s fortunes would rise with the postwar real-estate boom, as throngs of middle-class dwellings sprouted in Brooklyn and Queens. A review of ship manifests reflects the changing nature of Mary Trump’s travel, from immigrant steamship to cruises and flights with her family to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, in the fifties. As the wife of a wealthy developer, Mary Trump became a regular on the New York social circuit and worked on a number of philanthropic causes, including organizations for cerebral palsy and intellectually disabled adults.

This was not the life a fisherman’s daughter from the Hebrides might have expected. Among Scots, “she would have been considered a bit of a hick,” said Richard Zumkhawala-Cook, an English professor with a focus on Scotland at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. “Americans wouldn’t have cared,” he said, but “most Scots wouldn’t have gone there because it’s so remote from cosmopolitan ideas, attitudes, and access. Scots Gaelic was not always something they wanted to speak proudly.”

In his 1997 book, “The Art of the Comeback,” Trump praised his mother—and indirectly criticized other women in his life. “Part of the problem I’ve had with women has been in having to compare them to my incredible mother, Mary Trump,” Trump wrote. “My mother is smart as hell.” Trump named a room after his mother at Mar-a-Lago.

Both mother and son shared a penchant for dynamic hair sculpting, as for years Mary Trump appeared in photos with a dramatic orange swirl. Slight in frame, she took to New York City’s streets draped in furs and jewelry, a far cry from the teen-age girl who set sail during the Great Depression. “Looking back, I realize now that I got some of my sense of showmanship from my mother,” Trump wrote in his 1987 book, “The Art of the Deal.” He recounted his mother “being enthralled by the pomp and circumstance” of watching Queen Elizabeth’s coronation on television. “She always had a flair for the dramatic and grand. She was a very traditional housewife, but she also had a sense of the world beyond her.”

Mary Trump died in New York City, in 2000, at the age of eighty-eight, just a year after her husband. In the aftermath of his mother’s death, Trump has had a turbulent history with her homeland. Following Trump’s comments regarding Muslims, reports have surfaced that organizers of the 2020 British Open have ruled out staging the event at Trump Turnberry. Trump was stripped of an honorary degree from the Robert Gordon University, in Aberdeen, because of campaign statements that were “wholly incompatible with the ethos and values of the university,” a spokesman for the school said. In December, Trump was deemed, by representatives of the Scottish government, who also cited his comments regarding Muslims, “no longer fit” to be a business ambassador to the nation.

Today, Mary Anne Trump is buried in a cemetery in New Hyde Park, New York, next to her husband, her son Fred C. Trump, Jr., and her mother- and father-in-law. More than a third of the people who live in the neighborhood surrounding the cemetery are foreign-born.

Mary Pilon is the author of “The Monopolists,” a book about the board game Monopoly. She previously worked as a staff reporter at the Times and the Wall Street Journal, where she wrote about sports and business.

The Man Who Has Lost Most Elections in the World Now Wants to Start a War in Kenya

By Thomas D Rothkopf - January 26, 2017


Habitual and world record holder of presidential elections loss, Raila Amolo Odinga is warning of destroying the Republic of Kenya if he does not win the August 2017 general election. 

Odinga who tried to overthrow a legitimate government in 1982 is hell-bent, his fellow politicians are warning. Odinga was quoted by both local and international media swearing he will revenge if he loses the polls citing registration of Ethiopians and Ugandans’ as voters in Kenya.

Odinga blamed the National Intelligence Service (NIS) the intelligence service of East Africa’s largest economy and military power. His assertions caused Uganda and Ethiopia to protest to Nairobi warning of diplomatic and subsequent economic relations drift if such unsubstantiated remarks are made by political leaders in Kenya.

An audit of social media sentiments in Kenya’s main cities namely; Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, and Thika, all which are multi-ethnic shows a sharp rise in ethnic undertones and extreme hatred. In some threads analyzed by our reporters, many citizens are ready to defend themselves from Odinga’s tribesmen who are threatening war.

In 2007, Raila Odinga after losing the presidential election to Former President Mwai Kibaki started an ethnic violence which left over 1300 people and hundreds of thousands others displaced. The main victims were from the Kikuyu community who Odinga accused of stealing his election.

In 2017, Odinga is using the same sentiments to create hatred and social injustices. He is doing this in broad daylight and no one seems ready to stop him, even the international community is playing blind to the small fires that stoke post election violence.

President Kenyatta has been preaching peace throughout his tenure and has been steadfast in warning warmongers against instigating or attempting to propagate hate.

The election in Kenya will be interesting to watch, the perennial election loser seems decided on his last chess move, and he wants a war and possibly gets a slice of the government as he did in 2007. The current regime has warned it’ll not bulge to such demands rather will win the election resoundingly.

As Kenyans brace for a turbulent political season ahead, and worse, possible violence in the magnitude of the Rwanda genocide the country’s economic future has been beautiful. 2017 might break this beautiful outlook courtesy of one man Raila Odinga who claims he has never lost an election rather he is habitually rigged. He now wants a war.

Thursday, 26 January 2017


Joe and his wife don't sit next to each other during Church services.

Even when going to Church services, they go in different vehicles; and when they travel in the same car, it is usually a very quiet and uncomfortable ride.

Joe sat at his usual spot in the Church service; the fourth line on the far left row. His wife sat on the center row.

The Priest took to the podium.

"Husbands, stop wasting your time praying" the Priest began.

The congregants got alarmed. No one expects to hear a priest saying prayer is a waste of time.

"I am not here to discourage you to pray. I am here to encourage you to pray right.

Husbands, stop wasting your time praying if you are not treating your wife well.

The Word says that when you treat your wife badly, it hinders your prayers. Men, you claim to be prayerful.

You come to church driving your expensive cars, giving your offertory and tithes, active in Church, some of you are Church leaders; but how are you treating your wife?

You may look good to us Church members, but it is your wife and children that know who you truly are" said the Priest.

Joe turned to face his wife. She looked at him. Joe could see her eyes.

Her left eye swollen from the blow he gave her last week when she confronted him about his alcoholism, pornography use and mischievous behavior.

People couldn't tell she had a black eye because of the make up she had on, so well done.

The Priest continued, "People have perfected the art of cover up. Here in Church, so many are hurting but you wouldn't know.

People come here wearing their nice clothes, shiny smiles, they are active in ministry but hurting a lot in their marriage. 

We have become numb and plastic, brushing things under the carpet. But today we shall heal; we shall address those wounds we hide"

The Priest cleared his throat and continued, "Many of those who are hurting their spouse are using the church to hide. 

They think that because they give offertory and tithe, because they make public prayers, because they stand in front to read the Word or because they hold a Church leadership position that they are right with God. God is interested in what you do in your marriage and in your family. 

Your first ministry is your home. Stop trying to blackmail God with your service in Church yet you are mean and hurtful towards your spouse"

Many of the members of the congregation got restless and unsettled.

The Priest continued, "Many of those who are being hurt by their spouse hide their pain and want to project an image that all is well to validate that they are blessed and in control.

Some of you are active in Church to run away from the pain in your marriage"

The congregation was silent. Some straightening their ties, others fidgeting with their Bibles, adjusting their sitting position. 

This priest was preaching truth and it was uncomfortable.

The Priest continued, "The husbands are not the only ones guilty. Wives, don't you know the Word says when your husband found you he found good and you bring favour? 

Then why are you the source of your husband's headache and stress? Have you been so toxic that you have turned your prayerful husband into a prayerless one? 

Do you make him regret marrying you because you bring more complications than he had before marrying you?

How you treat your husband can be a stumbling block in his walk with God or an environment that encourages growth. 

Many of you married your husband primarily because of his relationship with God, why are you now destroying his relationship with God instead of celebrating and nurturing it? 

Why are you being a burden to your husband emotionally, spiritually, socially, sexually and financially instead of being one who brings favour?"

Joe's wife looked at Joe. Joe looked at her, she looked away.

The Priest paused to drink his glass of water.

The Priest continued, "When I am thirsty, I drink a glass of water.

When your spouse gets thirsty, will you allow God to use you to bless your spouse? 

You've been told many sermons that focus on you as an individual, that God will make you prosper as an individual.

I am here to tell you your blessings are tied to people, you are blessed to be a blessing to others. Our God is not an individualistic God.

Your blessing is tied to your marriage, your family. It's not about you, you, you; it is about Jesus and Jesus is about love. 

What good is it to prosper and be successful when you have no love? It is all vanity.

God cares about your family, how you treat your spouse and children"


"Yes, we pray. But what kind of prayers does your spouse pray because of you?

When your spouse prays, is it largely to cry to God because of the hurt you bring?

Is it to plead with God to change you from the monster you've become? 

Is it to plead for grace to deal with how difficult you are? Or is to give thanks for you?"


"Are you really prayerful? Do you really value prayer?

Then why is it that many of you find it easy to come to us priests for us to pray with you as an individual, you find it is easy to pray in public in a Church service or Bible study, but find it so hard to pray with your spouse? 

Isn't that telling of what is going on in your marriage? Don't you know that the more you pray with your spouse the stronger your marriage will be? 

But how can you find it easy to pray with a spouse you hurt or who hurts you?"

The Priest paused and looked at the congregation. Eyes staring at him.

"I challenge you. I challenge you to pray with your spouse and to treat your spouse well.

Husbands, you are the head of the home. I challenge you to stand up and go to where your wife is and pray with her as a start of a more prayerful chapter in your marriage.

Don't do it because I asked you to but because you want to. Your choice"

One by one, the husbands present stood up.

Joe stood up too. 

Joe walked to where his wife was. 

The face of Joe's wife overwhelmed with love, she looked on as her husband walked to her. 

She almost stood up but he gave hand gestures at her to stay seated.

Joe reached where she sat. Their eyes met.

Joe knelt down. He stared at her then kissed her swollen left eye.

"I am sorry" he said.

"Can I pray with you?" He asked.

She got up from her seat and knelt down too.

There, on the floor as the Church service was still ongoing, husbands prayed with their wives. 

Joe prayed kneeling with his wife.

They prayed for forgiveness, for thanksgiving, for love, for renewal, for peace, for direction; for their marriage.

Marriages were healed at that Mass.💏✝🛐☮

If You have been blessed by this message please share. You might just be saving a marriage.✝🙏

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Carer jailed for stealing £170,000 from 95-year-old pensioner


The Evening Standard

A carer for the elderly has been jailed for stealing more than £170,000 from a vulnerable 95-year-old pensioner.

Nazneen Chattun, cashed 71 cheques and obtained power of attorney, which gave her control of the OAP’s bank accounts.

The pensioner, from Isleworth, gave evidence during the trial of Chattun, who was being paid by Hounslow council to care for her at home.

Social services became involved after the woman was taken to West Middlesex Hospital casualty department in February 2012. They discovered she had been neglecting herself and living in sub-standard conditions. There was no heating in the house, it leaked and she was not eating or cleaning herself properly.

Mauritius-born Chattun, 55, of Hounslow, was convicted of three counts of theft totalling £171,455 between June and August 2013.

She gave more than £8,000 of the pensioner’s money to her children. Police were able to seize £130,000 held in Chattun’s bank account.

At Isleworth crown court she was sentenced to two years and four months in prison.

Recorder Edward Jenkins QC said: “You came to realise quickly she was to be an excellent source of money for your needs and you started to steal from her for a sustained period. You acted in breach of trust of your employers and the trust society has placed in you as a carer.

“You needed to take further steps to control her money  and you got power of attorney over her financial  affairs, showing a level of persistence and considerable sophistication.”

During  the trial the OAP gave evidence via video link, but answered: “I don’t know,” and “I can’t remember,” to most of the questions. She said of Chattun: “I don’t know much about Naz. She’s someone that used to pop in every other day.

“She used to do a bit of shopping sometimes if I ever wanted any bread or whatever and sit and talk. I didn’t take much notice.”

    Saturday, 14 January 2017

    NASA are the same monkeys we knew from 1970s,what they have done is to change the forest.

    Raila Odinga,kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi were Moi`s cabinet ministers in 1990`s.
    They are the same people who has been in government more than 35 years each.No one can show any development project they help to initiate when in government all those years except looting from public.

    Friday, 13 January 2017

    Police woman sued over killing politician's relative with high heels before wedding

    By Pkemoi Ng'enoh Friday, 

    Jan 13th 2017 at 07:07


    The deceased Johnson Mbugua Njenga and the accused Jedidah Kasolo Kasungu.....PKEMOI NG'ENOH

    A policewoman who has allegedly been hiding after killing a nephew to a former MP has been arrested and arraigned in court. 

    The accused, identified as Jedidah Kasolo Kasungu, is said to have killed Johnson Mbugua Njenga — nephew of former Gatundu South MP Moses Mwihia. The suspect allegedly killed Mbugua in  June, 2016. 

    Jedidah, who was attached to the Diplomatic Police — and who had been hiding for the last six months — was traced by international private detectives hired by the family of Njenga, a UK-based car dealer who had relocated to Kenya at the time of his murder.

    It was reported that the accused and his boyfriend attacked Njenga following an altercation at a parking lot in Nairobi’s Umoja estate where Jedidah is said to have stepped on Njenga’s neck with her high heels as he writhed in pain on the ground.

    The serious injuries incurred led to his admission to hospital. Njenga died before finalising his wedding plans.

    The court directed Jedidah to deposit a Sh1 million bond and a surety of a similar amount with an alternative of Sh500,000 and a surety of a similar amount.

    The judge also ordered Jedidah not to make any contacts  with the intended prosecution witnesses.

    “The accused person is hereby ordered to report to the OCPD, Buruburu Police Station once every month pending hearing and determination of the case,” the court ruled.

    Her boyfriend and co-accused, Bryan Willie Marende alias Rasta, was charged in September 2016 and released on similar terms.

    The mention and consolidation of both matters will be on  January 17, 2017.

    Thursday, 12 January 2017

    Lawmakers dismiss Nasa and cast doubts on its survival




    From left: Opposition leaders Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga, Moses Wetang'ula and Nick Salat in a show of unity during the unveiling of Nasa at Bomas of Kenya on January 11, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP. 

    In Summary

    • They claim the National Supper Alliance (Nasa) was formed on shaky grounds and it will fall moment after its flag bearer is named.
    • Kilifi South MP Mustapha Iddi, his Ganze counterpart Peter Shehe and Mombasa Nominated Senator Emma Mbura on Thursday said the launch was a public relations exercise with nothing to deliver to Kenyans.
    • There is nothing new Kenyans should expect from the coalition formed by, among others, Raila Odinga (ODM), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Moses Wetang'ula (Ford-Kenya) and Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), 
    • Mr Iddi said.

    Jubilee leaders and supporters in Kilifi have dismissed and cast doubts on the survival of the new alliance opposition leaders have formed in their bid to dethrone President Uhuru Kenyatta.

    They claim the National Supper Alliance (Nasa) was formed on shaky grounds and it will fall apart moments after its flag-bearer is named.

    Kilifi South MP Mustapha Iddi, his Ganze counterpart Peter Shehe and Mombasa nominated Senator Emma Mbura on Thursday said the launch was a public relations exercise with nothing to deliver to Kenyans.

    There is nothing new Kenyans should expect from the coalition formed by, among others, Raila Odinga (ODM), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Moses Wetang'ula (Ford-Kenya) and Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Mr Iddi said.


    “The naked truth is that those fronting the union had served this country and failed to raise the standards of Kanyans' lives," he said.

    The Kilifi South lawmaker said Mr Odinga served as prime minister in the Mwai Kibaki regime and during his time, a scandal rocked the Kazi Kwa Vijana programme, leading to loss of public funds.

    Mr Mudavadi and Mr Musyoka, he claimed, served as vice-presidents but did nothing to improve the lives of Kenyans.

    “Moses Wetangula served as a powerful Foreign Affairs minister but there is absolutely nothing Kenyans can see from his tenure,” he added.

    Failure by Nasa to name its flag-bearer, he claimed, was a clear indication that they would not hold together for long.


    “The truth is that they failed because they feared for early fallout. The same will happen after they name their flag-bearer,” he said.

    Mr Shehe has said the launch will not deter Jubilee from winning the August General Election.

    “We as Jubilee are currently busy serving Kenyans. That is our core mandate and Kenyans will look for a development-oriented leader while voting. Their colourful Nasa launch has nothing to do with development of the country,” he said.

    Ms Mbura has said the union was bound to fail because it was formed out of greed for power.

    “I was just looking at their body language during the launch and the message was very clear that they will not go anywhere since everyone wants to be at the top,” said Ms Mbura, who has declared her interest in the Rabai parliamentary seat on a Jubilee ticket.


    The leaders, she said, were the same ones who served in different capacities in previous governments but did nothing for Kenya.

    “Many people would want a working government like Jubilee, which has worked hard to realize development for the region, but not a rhetoric union,” she said.

    Kilifi County Jubilee youth leader Allan Karisa reiterated that Nasa is not a threat to Jubilee in any way.

    Kilifi resident George Komba said the launch of Nasa would cause a lot of confusion in party nominations, especially at the grassroots, and that will work in Jubilee's favour.

    “I can foresee confusion during nominations and again it will be a big task to bring together several aspirants to form the Nasa unity at grassroots. That will be a plus for Jubilee, which will easily nominate a candidate,” he said.

    Sunday, 8 January 2017

    Nairobi, Kenya ranked best city to visit in 2017 by UK firm



    A view of a section of Nairobi City skyline on July 2, 2014. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

    In Summary

    • The UK travel publisher notes that en-route to Kenya’s national parks and palm-fringed beaches, most visitors only make forays into the city for the traditional art markets, coffee stores and museums
    • In the top 10 budget destinations, Detroit (US) emerged the top destination for 2017 while Mexico and Transylvania, Romania were placed second and third respectively.



    Nairobi has been ranked third best city in the world to visit in 2017 by a United Kingdom travel publisher, Rough Guides.

    Paris, France, took top position in the list of top 10 cities in the world to visit in 2017 while Iran’s Isfahan and Nairobi, were second and third overall respectively.

    Bristol, England, was placed fourth, Antwerp, Belgium, fifth, Medellin, Colombia sixth, Atlanta, US was seventh, Osaka, Japan eighth, Guadalajara in Mexico ninth while Palma, Mallorca completed the list of top 10 cities.

    “Nairobi, Africa’s youngest, fastest-growing metropolis and the beating heart of the continent’s largest economy, has for too long been overlooked,” says the Rough Guides.

    The UK travel publisher notes that en-route to Kenya’s national parks and palm-fringed beaches, most visitors only make forays into the city for the traditional art markets, coffee stores and museums.

    “Make time to explore further and you’ll find a dynamic urban landscape with cool restaurants, groundbreaking art projects and a burgeoning fashion scene,” Rough Guides urges travellers.

    “Skip Nairobi now and you are missing out, big time,” remarked Rough Guides.

    On top 10 countries’ category, India was voted the best country in the world to visit in 2017 while Scotland and Canada were second and third respectively.

    Uganda was fourth overall, Bolivia was fifth, Nicaragua was sixth, Portugal seventh, Finland eighth, Namibia was ninth while Taiwan completed the top 10 list.

    In the top 10 budget destinations, Detroit (US) emerged the top destination for 2017 while Mexico and Transylvania, Romania were placed second and third respectively.

    Cambodia was placed fourth, Greece fifth, The Albanian Coast sixth, The Philippines seventh, Texas Hill Country was eighth, Leipzig, Germany was ninth while Adelaide made the tenth position.

    On the other hand, Myanmar was ranked top in the top 10 country list of reader’s choice while Nepal and Iceland were second and third respectively.

    Italy was fourth, Mexico fifth, Sri Lanka sixth, Colombia seventh, Indonesia eighth, Ireland ninth and the United Kingdom closed the top ten list.

    Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast executive officer Sam Ikwaye said Nairobi deserved the accolade as for the last two years, it has been putting the country on the world map for attracting high-profile conferences.

    He added that Nairobi has attracted international hotel brands such as Radisson Blu, Kempinski Hotels, Crowne Plaza, Sankara, Hilton Garden Inn among others.

    “Nairobi is also famous for having a national park, the world’s only game reserve found within a major city,” he said.

    Nairobi’s strategic position, investment in infrastructure, beautification programmes, he added, are among the factors which have attracted international leisure and business travellers to the city.

    He called on Mombasa to borrow a leaf from Nairobi to be able to attract international hotel brands and international conferences.

    “For Mombasa to attract more visitors and investments, the county chiefs must rid the town of the sickening filth,” he said.

    “There is need for the county government to give the town a facelift while the Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach must be upgraded to woo more beach enthusiasts,” he added.

    Saturday, 7 January 2017

    Britain’s New African Empire

    Mark Curtis

    Companies listed on the London Stock Exchange control over $1trillion worth of Africa’s resources in just five commodities - oil, gold, diamonds, coal and platinum. My research for the NGO, War on Want, which has just been published, reveals that 101 companies, most of them British, control $305billion worth of platinum, $276billion worth of oil and $216billion worth of coal at current market prices. The ‘Scramble for Africa’ is proceeding apace, with the result that African governments have largely handed over their treasure.

    Tanzania’s gold, Zambia’s copper, South Africa’s platinum and coal and Botswana’s diamonds are all dominated by London-listed companies. They have mines or mineral licences in 37 African countries and control vast swathes of Africa’s land: their concessions cover a staggering 1.03million square kilometres on the continent. This is over four times the size of the UK and nearly one twentieth of sub-Saharan Africa’s total land area. China’s resources grabs have been widely vilified but the major foreign takeover of Africa’s natural riches springs from a lot closer to home. 

    Many African governments depend on mineral resources for revenues, yet the extent of foreign ownership means that most wealth is being extracted along with the minerals. In only a minority of mining operations do African governments have a shareholding. Company tax payments are minimal due to low tax rates while governments often provide companies with generous incentives such as corporation tax holidays. 

    Companies are also able to avoid paying taxes by their use of tax havens. Of the 101 London-listed companies, 25 are actually incorporated in tax havens, principally the British Virgin Islands. It is estimated that Africa loses around $35billion a year in illicit financial flows out of the continent and a further $46billion a year in multinational company profits taken from operations in Africa. 

    UK companies’ increasingly dominant role in Africa, which is akin to a new colonialism, is being facilitated by British governments, Conservative and Labour alike. Four policies stand out. First, Whitehall has long been a fierce advocate of liberalized trade and investment regimes in Africa that provide access to markets for foreign companies. It is largely opposed to African countries putting up regulatory or protectionist barriers to such investment, the sorts of policies where have often been used by successful developers in East Asia. Second, Britain has been a world leader in advocating low corporate taxes in Africa, including in the extractives sector. 

    Third, British policy has done nothing to challenge multinational companies using tax havens; indeed the global infrastructure of tax havens is largely a British creation. Fourth, British governments have constantly espoused only voluntary mechanisms for companies to monitor their human rights impacts; they are opposed to enhancing international legally binding mechanisms to curb abuses.

    The result is that Africa, the world’s poorest continent, is being further impoverished. Recent research calculated, for the first time, all the financial inflows and outflows to and from sub-Saharan Africa to gauge whether Africa is being helped or exploited by the rest of the world. It found that $134billion flows into the continent each year, mainly in the form of loans, foreign investment and aid. However, $192billion is taken out, mainly in profits made by foreign companies and tax dodging. The result is that Africa suffers a net loss of $58billion a year. British mining companies and their government backers are contributing to this drainage of wealth.

    We need to radically rethink the notion that Britain is helping Africa to develop. The UK’s large aid programme is, among other things, being used to promote African policies from which British corporations will further profit. British policy in Africa, and indeed that of African elites, needs to be challenged and substantially changed if we are serious about promoting long term economic development on the continent.

    Thursday, 5 January 2017

    How city cartel rakes in billions from matatu owners with police help



    Travellers board matatus at the Tea Room bus stop on Accra Road in Nairobi on January 4, 2017. The industry is controlled by cartels. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

    In Summary

    • Investigations by the Nation show that bus owners part with between Sh30,000 and Sh100,000 to launch operations on a route.
    • Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai said the extortion ring runs deep in the sector.
    • The KBS boss said a majority of the highly "pimped" vehicles are those operating for the sake of it, but largely in money 



    More by this Author

    Kenya’s public transport industry loses at least Sh47 billion every year to a network of cartels that run the sector — including organised criminal gangs, rogue traffic police officers, county askaris and touts.

    Kenya Bus Service Management Managing Director Edwins Mukabanah says public service vehicle (PSV) owners who do not bow to this brutally ravenous cartel are either pushed out of business or forced off lucrative routes.

    As a result, many opt out as others remain hostage to the syndicate.

    “If you add up all the money we lose to the cartel and the lengthy compliance requirements that come with running a matatu, you can see why even the oldest operators have never grown to become multinationals despite the fact that this is a multibillion-shilling industry that is always lucrative,” Mr Mukabanah said.

    “Our crews are under siege and matatu owners are left with almost nothing, not even enough to properly maintain the buses. That is why many quit.”

    Rogue traffic police officers and county askaris, illegal gangs and route cartels make the deepest cuts into the PSVs’ revenues, with each group collecting at least Sh200 from the 120,000 matatus daily.

    This means each group pockets some Sh8.6 billion a year, although stakeholders believe the figures could be much higher, as some routes pay charges running into thousands of shillings.


    So normalised is this theft and extortion that new vehicle owners often have no qualms about paying a "fee" to join a route or be allowed to pick up passengers from a designated terminus.

    Investigations by the Nation show that bus owners part with between Sh30,000 and Sh100,000 to launch operations on a route.

    Gangs on some routes — such as No. 102 to Dagoretti and Kikuyu — demand the new vehicle for their exclusive use for some time before the owner can start earning from it.

    They also dictate who will be part of the crew of a vehicle before sanctioning its operations.

    Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai said the extortion ring runs deep in the sector and the crews are usually caught up in the web, cooperating to save their lives as those who fail to comply are harassed out of business or even killed.

    He, however, rejected claims that PSV operators are responsible for feeding the cartel, which has given the business a bad name.

    "Who wants to just give money for free?" Mr Kimutai asked.

    "Even the crew would rather keep it for themselves. But they are compelled by the system of extortionists backed by the police.

    "They are helpless. Otherwise, how do you explain the role of idle men at a terminus? As a matatu owner, I would not just gamble with a Sh5 million investment.

    "But I can tell you for a fact that they have totally diluted the business.

    "We are left with the major expenses such as insurance and repairs, while the bulk of the harvest is scattered across the extortion ring."


    The cartel has disrupted order in the public transport system, encouraging lawlessness and providing protection to law-breaking crew at the various terminuses and bus stops.

    They are also known to be on standby to deal with any passenger “causing trouble” to the conductors by demanding civility or respect.

    At the Railways bus terminus in Nairobi, matatus reverse into the Haile Selassie-Moi Avenue roundabout as traffic police watch.

    One crew member explained to us that once the required fees have been paid, they are allowed to pick up passengers from any point at the roundabout.

    "Policemen come here at 5am and they immediately start collecting the funds until about 9am,” said the informer, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.

    "Each bus has to pay Sh200 first, and that is the standard rate.

    "If you don’t pay, then the debt piles up and you risk being arrested for any charges because, even the way this terminus is structured, it cannot hold all these vehicles.

    "So, either way, you will be dropping off or picking up passengers at the wrong place."

    At the Eastern Bypass-Thika Superhighway junction in Ruiru, matatus block the road for hours; at Roysambu, right across from the Kasarani divisional police headquarters, they pick up and drop off passengers on the highway, creating a traffic mess that often leads to accidents; and at Ngara they occupy the highway.

    In all these cases, police feign ignorance of the blatant disregard of traffic rules and regulations.

    Each route has a special representative who collects the "fees" on behalf of the police.

    At Railways, a well-built, bald-headed man stands near the traffic police and occasionally dashes to the driver's window of a few buses to collect money.

    He represents Route 4W — to Satellite and Kabiria.


    Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai talks to reporters at Brook Special School on January 1, 2015. He has said rogue police officers and cartels are ruining the matatu sector. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


    Others — who represent Rongai, Ngong, Mlolongo, Kiserian and Kibera — make similar moves as the lucrative matatu business is milked dry in broad daylight.

    Once full, the buses leave to different routes, where the stage touts wait for their cut.

    A crew of two is always stationed near estate routes to take over the bus as the driver and conductor take a break.

    This is a deliberate strategy to allow the touts, through what is commonly known as a “squad” run, to make money as the fare collected during this round trip in the estates is usually retained by the temporary crew.

    During the recent vetting of traffic police officers, the National Police Service Commission was shocked to learn that an officer transacted more than Sh35 million through his M-Pesa account in one year.

    Last October, a police officer earning an average of Sh35,000 a month attracted the attention of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission for having deposited Sh33 million into his bank accounts in two years.

    Constable Jamal Bare Mohamed of the Thika traffic police department was among 34 junior officers alleged to have received millions of shillings over the previous two years in bribes, according to EACC investigators.

    Mr Mukabanah says the reduced income is to blame for the poor maintenance of vehicles as the owners cannot afford the cost of repairs.

    Asked how the matatus can afford the expensive graffiti, music, television and even Wi-Fi and still operate, the KBS boss said a majority of the highly "pimped" vehicles are those operating for the sake of it, but largely in money laundering.

    "I have been in this business for more than 30 years and I can tell you for sure that you cannot invest an extra Sh250,000 to decorate a matatu and make a profit," Mr Mukabanah said.

    "This industry has no entry rules. So those who want to cleanse illegally acquired money prefer to be in it."

    Wednesday, 4 January 2017

    Kenya: This Is the Year Nairobi Finally Welcomes Standard Gauge Rail

    2 JANUARY 2017

    The Nation (Nairobi)

    By Edwin Okoth


    This will be the year of the railway - perhaps mimicking 1899, when the current railway reached Nairobi.

    By then, the railway was Colonial Kenya's most expensive project. Today, the new standard gauge railway is still the country's most expensive infrastructural project.

    A historical transport masterpiece in the region, SGR has encountered numerous challenges like her predecessor, the metre gauge line that is more than a centenary old now.

    The resilience that will see the project officially launched six months before the planned timeline is admirable even to its harshest critics.

    The Sh327 billion project is set to transform logistics from the rapidly expanding port at the coast to the mainland, with cargo set to take more than ten times less time to get to the Ugandan border compared to road transport.

    The port which handled 30 million tonnes of cargo in 2015, with 70 per cent of these being hauled via road to other parts of the country including the capital where SGR will have a huge container depot as well as a large, airport-type station at Syokimau.

    With six diesel locomotives already dispatched from China and expected in the country next month, the dream of cargo and passenger movement in a relatively modern railway is fast taking shape.

    Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said 56 such locomotives are expected to operate on the line targeting to transport at least 40 per cent of the port cargo.

    Of the 56 locomotives, 43 will be used for movement of cargo, five will be for passengers, while another eight will be used for shunting operations.

    The locomotives manufactured by CRRC Qishuyan, one of the major diesel locomotive manufacturers in China will be capable of carrying up to four times the cargo possible to be hauled by the current metre gauge 

    This, according to Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina, will decongest the port and create even more jobs along the line as cargo moves inland.


    "Kenyans are looking forward to the completion of this project, given the benefits we expect to reap from it. We expect decongestion of the Port of Mombasa, better efficiency in rail operations, reduction in transport costs, reduction of incidents and accidents occasioned by heavy trucks and trailers on Kenyan roads, reduced transit times for goods, better connectivity to regions and, ultimately, a desired improvement in the overall transport sector in Kenya," Mr Maina said.

    The ongoing civil works for the first phase of the single-track standard gauge railway between Mombasa and Nairobi is said to be 98 per cent complete, but not with its own share of challenges. The 472km stretch of the line will run through the counties of Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita-Taveta, Makueni, Kajiado, Machakos and Nairobi.

    Local suppliers who had angled to gain from the massive project missed the deal when the contractor challenged the quality of local cement and steel as the materials were shipped in huge quantities from china.

    Their targeted 40 per cent of supplies was reduced to less than 25 per cent as they struggled to meet the new standards they had not been made aware of in the initial stage.

    The contractor who is delivering the coaches, wagons and who will also serve as SGR operator for the first five years, has been criticised for reaping more than triple benefits as some critics claimed many manual labourers were also brought in from China.

    This, together with hurdles of land compensation, has been a huge headache for the line launched about three years ago and is likely to be experienced in the longer stretch to Malaba in the second phase. At one point, residents attacked the Chinese workers, accusing them of taking all jobs and leaving them to be observers.

    "One would have expected even more hurdles given the magnitude of the project but it is good to know that now we are not far from completing the first phase and the benefits will be evident as soon as possible," Mr Macharia said in an earlier interview.


    A flagship project under the Kenya Vision 2030 development agenda, the project economic benefits are anticipated to go across the borders after tripartite agreement was signed by the governments of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda in August 2013 to fast track the development of the railway to their respective capital cities.

    Although the first phase is set to run parallel to the existing meter gauge railway and the Mombasa-Nairobi Road or A109 Highway for the most part, the second phase will most likely create new urban centres like the first line did in the precolonial years.

    With the design set to have state-of-the-art passenger stations at Mombasa and Nairobi as well as five other intermediate stations at Mariakani, Voi, Mtito Andei, Sultan Hamud and Athi River, the readiness to handle the possible 1,380 passengers in one trip is a massive business opportunity in those areas.

    A total of 40 stations are planned to be built along the line, 33 out of which will be ready when the railway becomes operational.

    Kenya's new rail will now be slightly above the Abuja-Kaduna rail line which is one of the first standard gauge railway modernisation projects undertaken in Nigeria.

    The SGR journey has been long, starting back in 2008, when Cabinet approved the project as a government to government Financed Project.

    A year later, on August 12, 2009, the then Ministry of Transport and China Road and Bridge Corporation, a state-owned Chinese company, signed a memorandum of understanding for the latter to undertake feasibility study and preliminary designs on phase 1 of the SGR.

    As the first phase comes to a close in June, many lessons will have been learnt as well.

    The government says the Chinese builder has been contractually obliged to set aside at least 40 per cent of supplies to the locals. A move that will see the locals share the Sh153 billion for the project, a great stride in translating the economic benefits.