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Bad News


We’re having a run of bad luck in Kenya at the moment, with worrying local news headlines every day:

Mungiki: 300 arrested as hunt stepped up – Daily Nation - June 4

The most worrying is the rise in power of the Mungiki sect. Since the end of April, the Mungiki have appeared in the news headlines for brutally killing at least nine people. The illegal group has mutated over the past five or ten years from a harmless Kikuyu cultural group from Central Province whose aims included educating youths on original Kikuyu values, to a sprawling mob of youthful gangsters running a fearful protection racket along matatu routes countrywide and within the urban slums. Members are initiated into the group by participating in an ‘oathing’ ceremony. Apparently gruesome and shameful practices used in the ceremonies have been likened to those employed by the Kimathi’s Mau Mau (such as drinking blood etc). Others have come forward to say that they were forcibly initiated into Mungiki after being kidnapped by gang members and held for several hours. The penalty for being disloyal to the sect is beheading.

Previously the Mungiki have been used by MPs and the government to appear in force at political rallies. However, the group has is now recognised more for its move into organised crime, which started when the group began to recruit unemployed youths to levy daily fees on matatus (mini buses) operating certain routes through Central Province and the Rift Valley (ie 200 shillings per day, per vehicle; 40,000 shillings per new matatu onto the route). When matatu owners refused to pay recently, they were punished by violence and beheading, outraging the public and making the police and government stand up and take notice. The Mungiki is also powerful urban areas, finding it easy extort money inside the slums, charging fees for offering protection; use of public toilets and hijacking electricity supplies then reconnecting residents at a fee. Since the problems arising from the Mungiki sect have exploded two policemen have been shot dead and the Mathare slum in Nairobi (thought to be a Mungiki stronghold) has been subjected to armed police raids, numerous shootings and strict curfews. The poor, unemployed youth are often targeted as it’s difficult to positively identify Mungiki members and the innocents’ sense of injustice at being picked on is growing. This dissent in the slums may lead to a destabilisation of government.

Disaster in Slum – Daily Nation – June 11

Thirteen people were killed, including three children aged between five and ten years, in Nairobi’s Mukuru kwa Reuben slums on Saturday night due to the collapse of a fifteen metre high wall onto corrugated iron houses during heavy rainfall. Apparently the 800 metre section of wall surrounding a construction company’s offices in the industrial area fell onto houses constructed too close to their perimeter. The disaster happened at 8pm and rescue efforts were hampered by the dark and wet conditions.

Bomb Terror – The Standard – June 12

A bomb, thought to have been left in a black rucksack at a busy city centre bus stop exploded yesterday killing one and injuring over thirty people. Sadly the man killed was an innocent bystander and two suspects escaped the scene. There is some speculation that the bombers tried to board a bus to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta airport, but were turned away as the ‘citi hoppa’ was full. Shoe shiners, road sweepers and office workers were among the victims who were burned, dismembered and badly injured. The incident is believed to have been a terror attack, possibly intended to detonate on the bus or at the main airport.

All this combined with the Kenya Airways plane crash makes for a pretty disastrous couple of months in Kenya.

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