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International environment ministers and delegates follow the proceedings of the historic United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) of the United Nations Envioronmental Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi. Photo by Caleb Mutua.

The Sports Planet

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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Kenya Formally Bids to Host AFCON 2017

By Omondi Onyatta

Dare to Dream: Kenya's 2017 AFCON bid logo 
The Football Kenya Federation (FKF) formally submitted the country’s bid to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on 29 September 2014. Kenya had thrown its hat in the ring after Libya, who were previously designated as the hosts, voluntarily withdrew due to insecurity concerns in the country.

A statement from FKF revealed that among the bid documents submitted was a documentary highlighting Kenya’s sports facilities. The federation exuded confidence that Kenya would be awarded the rights to host Africa’s largest football event. “The bid documents are already at the CAF (Confederation of African Football) headquarters. We are confident that our bid is strong enough for us to host this event,” the statement read.

However, Kenya will have to ward off strong bids from Ghana, Ethiopia, Mali, Algeria and Zimbabwe to emerge as the hosts for the event. This will only be possible with government support. The statement, signed by FKF Secretary General Michael Esakwa, further praised the government for its support. “We are extremely delighted by the government’s support on our bid,” the statement read.

So far, only the Ethiopian and Ghanaian governments have committed to supporting their football federations' bid to host the tournament. However, Wenlas Ong'ayo, the Director of Administration in the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts, reiterated the Kenyan government’s commitment to bringing the football bonanza to the country. “We have sent a commitment letter to the relevant authorities to show that this bid has the full support of the government,” he revealed.

Kenya has designated four stadiums in Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret and Kisumu as possible venues if the country is awarded the hosting rights. They include Nyayo National Stadium and Safaricom Stadium (Nairobi), Moi Stadium (Mombasa), Kipchoge Keino (Eldoret) and the recently refurbished Moi Stadium in Kisumu.

If the bid goes through, this will be the second time the country is awarded the rights to host the tournament. In 1996, the country was scheduled to host the event but pulled out after which it was awarded to South Africa who eventually won the tournament.

Friday, 26 September 2014

No Rest for Rampaging Ronaldo

By Omondi Onyatta
2013 FIFA World Footballer of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo has ruled out taking some time off playing to rejuvenate himself. The Portuguese attacker has been bedevilled with injury problems towards the end of the 2013/14 season as well as in the early stages of the 2014/15 season.

Ronaldo, however, insists that he is fully fit and does not need to rest at this early stage of the season. “I do not feel any pain and am still improving. I want to continue like this and need to play to gain confidence and rhythm. When the right time comes, I will rest and rotate,” the former Manchester United forward told the official FIFA website.

His fitness concerns have done little to hamper his goal-scoring spree as he has scored seven goals in the last two matches for Real Madrid. Last weekend, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Real Madrid thrashed Deportivo La Coruna 8-2 in a La Liga encounter. He followed it up with another stellar performance as he bagged four goals in a 5-1 win for Los Blancos against Elche in a midweek encounter.

 CR7 walks away with the match ball after a four-goal haul against Elche (Image Credit: asia.eurosport.com)
However, after five matches, Real Madrid lie in fifth position with nine points; four adrift of current table toppers Valencia CF. They have won three matches and lost two more — against Real Sociedad and bitter rivals Atletico Madrid. 

CR7’s blazing form is good news for club, country and the player himself after a difficult few weeks. Los Blancos have lost Argentine Angel Di Maria and Xabi Alonso to Manchester United and Bayern Munich respectively in the just concluded summer transfer window — both have proved instant hits with their new clubs.

These sales did not seem to go down well with Ronaldo despite the club finding able replacements in Colombian James Rodriguez from AS Monaco and World Cup winner Toni Kroos from Bayern Munich.

Ronaldo came off the back of a miserable World Cup campaign where Portugal were knocked out at the group stage after a 4-0 loss to Germany, 2-2 draw with USA and 2-1 win over Ghana. In a tournament he was widely expected to shine brightest, the Portuguese skipper only managed a solitary strike — an inconsequential last gap winner against Ghana.

In recent times, CR7 has expressed his desire to return to the Red Devils one day — the club where he first made his mark under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson.  The story has gained further momentum after Manchester United Manager Louis Van Gaal stated that re-signing Ronaldo was a possibility even though the Spanish side would be hard-pushed to sell.

However, any deal to bring back CR7 to Old Trafford would have to wait as the Portuguese is rumoured to want to break Real Madrid’s all time goal-scoring record before leaving the Bernabeu. Saturday’s match away to Villareal offers him the chance to bag more goals as he seeks to become Los Blancos’ all-time top scorer.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Kimanzi Refuses To Give Up On Title Fight

By Omondi Onyatta

Tusker FC tactician Francis Kimanzi is still optimistic that his charges can achieve a treble this season despite going down 2-1 to Ulinzi Stars in a midweek Kenya Premier League (KPL) encounter at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru today.

Goals by Kevin Amwayi and Stephen Ocholla put a huge dent on Tusker’s title hopes and left them in third place with 42 points; six points behind leaders Gor Mahia. The brewers won the Top 8 tournament earlier this season while they are still in the hunt for the GoTV Shield Cup  and they face holders AFC Leopards this coming weekend.

Kimanzi admitted that his team is now in an awkward position but exuded hope that other title challengers would falter along the way. “There are still five more matches to go and we will fight until the end. This match was difficult because Ulinzi Stars played well defensively and attacked well,” the former Sofapaka and Mathare United coach stated. 
Happy times: Tusker lifting the KPL Title in 2012 (Image credit: m.goal.com)
The soldiers were blazing hot at the start of the match as Amwayi gave them the lead at the half hour mark after heading in a cross by Evans Amuoka. However, Tusker equalized in the 47th minute through Ismail Dunga after a lovely one-two move with Kevin Kimani. 

The goal seemed to have rejuvenated them as they set out to find the killer goal that would put their title charge back on track.

A quick counterattack by Ulinzi put paid to these ambitions as skipper Ocholla beat Samuel Odhiambo in goal to claim a vital winner. The victory hauled the soldiers to the fifth position with 38 points; 10 shy of Gor Mahia.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Is Africa still a dark continent?

By Ngumbo Njoroge
The other day the world was treated to a good show in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to celebrate 50 years of the continental organisation’s existence.
African presidents took turns to make speeches to fellow Africans and the world on the political unity and sovereignty of African nations.
However the real history of the last 50 years in Africa was overlooked. The elephant in the house was the International Criminal Court painted as a puppet of the west to deal with African presidents.
I do not mean to say that President Kenyatta is innocent or guilty but I have issues with the proponents fighting Kenyatta’s battles and at the head of the army Uganda’s Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
His credentials on justice, democracy and human rights are wanting. This is a man who like African tyrants of the past century fought his way to power and for the first years exposed benevolence.
The more things changed in Uganda, the more they remained the same. As Museveni was addressing Africa, his errant boys (Ugandan police) back home were running over the media for playing the right of serving the public’s right to know.
On the international stage, Museveni portrays progress, alluring speeches but back home in Kampala, he overruns opposition like a mad dog.
This pops the question, “Has Africa outlived the tag of a dark continent?”
When Europeans met around a conference table in the German capital Berlin in 1884 to divide Africa, Africans had no idea what was happening in Europe. In the eyes of the European invaders, they were still benign, savagery and barbaric. It was the Europeans who first named Africa ‘the Dark Continent’- a tag that Africans worked so hard to shed during the first half of the 20th century.
Through the Pan-African conferences, Africans and black people led by George Padmore, Booker T Washington, Dr. William E.B du Bois, Kwame Nkrumah and others worked so hard to emancipate Africa and Africans from the shackles of colonialism, a fete that was achieved throughout much of the 1960s and70s.
But after the first dance of freedom, there was much optimism in Africa facing the future and Africans relished overrunning their former master economically.
In his book, Martin Meredith records the episode ‘Birth of Nations’: “The honeymoon of African independence was brief but memorable. African leaders, riding the crest of popularity, stepped forward with energy and enthusiasm to tackle the tasks of development and nation building; ambitious plans were launched, bright young men went quickly to the top of the mountain.”
Independence had come amidst an economic boom and Africa seemed on the take-off, terms of trade were favourable and a barrel of oil cost less than 2$ a barrel.
But the episodes that soon followed put to jeopardy Africa’s grandiose wishes to shed the tag- it has not been able to- it was the coming of tyrants.
As soon as the honeymoon was over-African nations were overrun by the army and military juntas were the norm rather than the exception. In the Belgian Congo, the killing of Patrice Lumumba was the catalyst to a never ending vicious cycle of war that has made Congo the poorest country on earth despite the rich deposits under its soil.
In Uganda, Central Africa Republic, Guinea, Togo and Gabon, the Heads of these States were more prominent and important than the State. Jean Bedel Bokassa spent a quarter of his country’s budget during his coronation as Emperor of the Central African Empire.
Uganda under Amin was worse, Ethiopia under Mengistu Haile Mariam and Chad’s power tustlles in the 70’s put to question Africa’s place as the Dark Continent.
The Somalia story after the overthrow of Gen Mohammed Siad Barre sent the nation to a chapter of 20 years of uninterrupted civil war that began with America’s humiliation by Mohhamed Farah Aidid in the dusty streets of Mogadishu, the Black Hawk Dawn operation.
Sudan also experienced a chapter of 25 years civil war that was only halted with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Nairobi between the Sudanese government and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SLPA).
But perhaps the worst episode happened in the land of a thousand hills in a 100 days of 1994. Over 800,000 souls of Hutu and Tutsi origin butchered each other as the world and Africa watched. It was a shame on a grand scale, a story that should never be repeated.
At the turn of the century there was some ray of hope in South Africa. The release of Nelson Mandela was seen as Africa’s defining moment of the last century. Mandela was a revolutionary who had spent 27 years in prison and upon release embarked on reconciliation. After one term as president he left power, very unusual in Africa.
In addition, at the turn of the century Africans still lived on less than a dollar a day and the economies of Africa were crumbling. Even thou tyrants had gone, new tyrants were coming to power, some who had graduated from revolutionaries to autocrats, the likes of Muammar Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak, Charles Taylor, Ben Ali and Yoweri Museveni.
Despite 50 years of independence, nothing much has changed in Africa. Poverty, disease and ignorance, tribalism, nepotism, corruption, ethnic clashes, coups and terrorism are still part of everyday Africa.
Is Africa a dark continent? In terms of complexion, Africans are still dark. Economically, African economies are still struggling. Socially, Africans are still living in slums, affected by hunger and diseases.
Politically, Africans are still in the dark. African presidents have to watch over their shoulder because they are facing charges at the International Criminal Court for committing crimes against their people.
Africa’s best brains are running European economies. The education system is below the international standards, African universities hardly do any serious research and the technology we import from Europe and Asia should be home-made. Ironically, Africans still import razor blades from China.
The only ray of hope is in technology, young Africans in towns are very active on the World Wide Web, daunting latest Iphones and tablets but so what? Majority of Africans are still living on less than a dollar a day and aid meant to better their lives is still ‘dead aid’as Dambisa Moyo once wrote.
Ceteris Paribus, without the slave trade and colonialism Africa was never a dark continent.
Mr. Ngumbo is a blogger at theopinionpress.wordpress.com and an alumni of the
School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Diplomacy should be Africa’s second option

By Bironga Chadwick Makori
Diplomacy is widely defined and regarded to be a tact or skill in handling affairs and or contentious issues without arousing hostility.
It is a complex and often challenging practice of fostering relationships in order to resolve issues and advance interests. On the international and national front, diplomacy is known to typically deploy its dexterity to secure advantage for one nation or certain individuals.
Diplomacy is the principal substitute for the use of force or underhand and unorthodox means in statecraft. Diplomacy does not necessarily make up for the problem it was tailored to redress but rather masks it up. It is a time-bomb which if triggered can set a country helplessly on fire.
David Lloyd George was once quoted as saying that diplomats were invented simply to waste time. That is the utter truth and it is backed by Irish sages of old whose adage says that a diplomat must always think twice before he says nothing. Resorting to the use of diplomacy is just but a waste of both time and monetary resources.
On the international scene, French has always been used as the official language for resolving diplomatic rows. However, scholars argue that French is increasingly anachronistic as a language of diplomacy. However, you are wrong if you think French is to blame for the failure of diplomacy to bear any fruit. Diplomacy is in itself a desperate attempt that is all but bound to be futile.
I am of the opinion that we should not refer all of our problems to boardroom diplomacy tussles that drain tax-payers’ money. If the bone of contention is an election, then it should be nullified and let the warring factions go back to the battlefield and face new elections. If a certain appointment has been done in a not-so-meritocratic way that has triggered outcries of foul play, then it should be re-done all over again sticking to the laid down principles. Diplomacy is not an end to most problems but rather a banana skin on which volatile matters cannot be balanced. It only helps pile up the potential for an outburst of rage.
Africa is a textbook example of the failure that diplomacy is. Diplomacy gave Kenya a grand coalition government where the section that did not deliver could fall back to the a half-loaf antics as scapegoat. Zimbabwe also found itself in this very situation, and Old Bob and Uncle Morgyas regime at the helm has not brought about any substantial prosperity.
Why then go the diplomatic way? Let us hit the bull in the eye. Hit reality where it hurts most and solve all problems at source, no make-ups please. As for use of diplomacy, it should only be used when other problem-resolution methodologies have failed (or so, methinks).
Bironga Chadwick Makori is a freelance writer, poet and blogger. You can check his blog at www.birongamakori.wordpress.com
First published in May 2013.

Change of Mind; what is known Vs possible outcome

Civic Rights activists protest during the the demos. Photos by Alale
By Diana Lutta
The past weeks have been graced by venomous reactions from the public and civil society over the hamper Members of parliament  wish to take home as salary. It beats logic when Kenyans are tempted to believe that credible laws may at the least be passed by a grappling parliament.
We have around 14 independent commissions trying to fulfill their mandate in line with our August 27th , 2010 promulgated constitution which was delivered in a historic fashion. But in as much as each of their heads is trying to put a show for Kenyans to imagine that they are relevantly functional, there is no fundamental change likely to be witnessed in the near future. This is evident right from the highest rank of leadership.
Take for example the president-head of a sovereign democratic state who must seek non exploitation of tax payers. How then do you explain his deputy’s exorbitant Africa tour?  The Chief Justice-head of the judicial service commission and who was at the time of his appointment a darling of reform and justice. How then do you explain the controversial verdict of the Supreme Court over a petition filed against the outcome of the just concluded disputed general elections?   The inspector general –who exercises command over police service commission and who many Kenyans think is heaven sent and who swore to delve into the matter of police reforms.
How then do you explain the accelerating level of insecurity with police killings? The TJRC chair whose mandate is to see that reconciliation is brought forth between the victims of atrocities and the perpetrators and has had people waiting for years for his final word. How then do you explain the many loops in the submitted final report by the TJRC?
These are just but a few of the many situations aimed at blinding Kenyans to what is really happening. What Sarah Serem is trying to do is to lead and take actions by the book and foregoing the spirit of Kenyans which is being displayed by our legislators. It is therefore possible that our MPs will not do anything productive during their prescribed term unless they settle their grievances by themselves to their own fill.

Lutta works with HESED-Africa and a political science student at the University of Nairobi.
First published in May 2013.

Abbih; the gospel afro fusion maestro

Abbih Ngumo in studio doing his thing. Photo: Courtesy of Abbih Nguma.
By Caleb Mutua
Abbih is a young artist determined to take Afro Fusion to the next level. Showbiz Digest sought to find out why the musician decided to delve in this exceptional genre.
Cal: Who is Don Abbih Nguma
Abbih: My name is Mboloi Nguma Abbih. I was born in Mombasa and grew up there. I am the first born in a family of 5 boys: Abel, Moss, Kim and Solo. I am currently a 4th year journalism student at the University of Nairobi, School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Cal: Why gospel music?
Abbih: Simple, I was born to praise God and am happy that God gave me this talent. I am going to use it to praise Him to the fullest.
Cal: When did you start singing?
Abbih: I first set foot in a studio in 2007 but I began singing way before in church and other places that I could sing.
Cal: What makes you different?
Abbih: The fact that I have been seasoned with time and I have my act together. I am in this for the ministry nothing, more nothing less. If you love somebody, u give them your all and your best; that makes me different. I also do Afro Fusion, a genre that not so many young people do.
Cal: What motivates you to sing?
Abbih: Having a brand new day to God and winning souls to Christ through afro fusion music.
Cal: What are you upto?
Abbih: I am planning my own show dubbed Introducing Don Nguma at the end of the year. I will also be performing at different places next month not yet confirmed but guys can visit my Facebook page, Don Nguma, and like it to see my scheduled shows
Cal: What should your fans expect?
Abbih: Good uplifting sensational music and more shows; they should expect a revolution.