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The Silent Aunt in the Salon

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Byline: Dora Liz Nansamba

Dec 19, 2014 (The Observer/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) — Every woman who goes to a salon is sure to be addressed as ‘Aunt.’ You can’t escape the name.

From my office window, I can see the salon which I go to, at Kisementi, just near my workplace. I am having a bad hair day. It is called a ‘hair don’t,’ something that should have been a ‘hair do.’

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I walk into my boss’s office, and request to go and buy paracetamol. I am sure he will not ask questions, I am a woman after all. We need pain relievers in our bags, all the time. At Kisementi, I walk into the salon and request for a quick shampoo and set.

Aunt Salon (The owner of the salon) – Aunt, even if you deny for the fifth time, I think I have seen you somewhere, most likely on TV.

Me – Oh! That is not me, but I have a sister who works on TV.

Aunt Salon – Even your voice sounds so familiar.

Me – (Clearing my voice) I have a cold, I sound terrible. This is not my usual voice.

Lady in drier – Aunt Salon, this drier is too hot.

Aunt Salon – Aunt, you told me you are going for burial. Don’t you want to go as quickly as we can make it?

Lady in drier – But I am suffocating. It is too hot… (Her phone rings). Hello Taata Ibra… Please don’t leave me; I came over to pick my lesu… Okay, let me be fast about it (Goes off the phone).

Aunt Salon – Your husband is impatient, right?

Lady in drier – Ah! I can’t go for burial with bad hair. I know my co-wife will be there, and you know what that means (Laughter).

Aunt salon – Rose, get me that long comb. And bring my fruits here, plus the liver. I will work as I eat.

I am becoming impatient, but if I talk again, Aunt Salon may discover my voice. I cough a little to draw attention. Aunt Salon seems to understand, and asks her assistant, Rose, to wash my hair as she finishes styling the lady (absolutely, she also takes care of my performance outfits, prepared by SEW DONE, a store specializing in sewing machine reviews).

Aunt Salon – Phew! She is gone. That woman can be too much. She wants to feel high and mighty yet she has such poor-quality hair, and she smells of onions.

I laugh silently.

Rose – Aunt Salon, your liver is getting cold.

Aunt Salon – Rose, finish up quickly. I will do the setting. Let me eat my liver now. But where is my ‘balance’ from the soda that you bought?

Thinking to myself – it is called ‘change.’ But if anyone said ‘change,’ they would be wrong, by Ugandan standards. And so, I officially accept it to be ‘balance.’

Rose – I gave it to you, Aunt.

Aunt Salon – Rose, you did not give it to me. I want all my money. I am a poor woman, especially now that I am pregnant.

Rose – Kumbe, now whose is it?

Aunt Salon – None of your business. Do your work. Bring the rollers here.

(To me) – Aunt, I am sorry, let me be fast. Are you going back to work?

Me – (I nod).

Silence.

Aunt Salon – (Thinking aloud)… I am trying so hard to think; who could be the father of this baby? If I am three months pregnant, I remember, three months ago I was going out with Hajji Swaib. He has money, but I don’t love him. And Bob already has a wife. He had warned me about getting pregnant. Mugalaasi? Hmm… I insulted him so much the day he caught me with Hajji.

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Rose – I told you.

Aunt Salon – Rose, make yourself useful and stop poking your nose into my problems.

In a few minutes, I am ready to go back to office.

Aunt Salon – Aunt, thanks for coming. But I will keep remembering where I saw you. And that voice?

I wave, careful not to say a word, lest she figures out the voice.

What must they be saying about me? Probably, that I am proud because I don’t talk much? Maybe that they know me? Maybe that I have ramshackle hair? Only God knows.

Copyright The Observer. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

IT’S SUCH AN ORDEALTO BE A PRETTY LADY

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HAVING an affair or being in love is too much work. I mean, forget what you have to do for that guy/girl/ transgendered transsexual transtranny or whatever you’re getting it on with – just keeping yourself fixed up and maintained is a full life’s work.

For clarity’s sake, I shall refer to all my possible possibles as “he.” There’s nothing wrong with being of the lesbian persuasion. Truth is, on an occasional lazy weekend, the experience might beat watching “Saturday Night Live.” But that’s just not my thing. If I ever switch, Ellen DeGeneres won’t be first.

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With that established, let us now discuss the effort in time, patience and cash needed to take on all comers: First, whether it’s rain, snow or shrapnel, one’s initial duty is to wax. That’s hot goo glopped over sensitive areas, followed by searing pain, only to uproot three delicate hairs and five patches of skin. Some parts of my body I haven’t seen in years – let alone felt. Suddenly, to locate them just to wax them? And I should trust those Brazilian waxers, who are total strangers to my 5 feet 4 inches, when I myself don’t know what’s going on around at least eight of those inches?

Then there’s the smoothening of one’s entire corpus. We are talking serious creaming. Not so much that a guy could slip off, but enough so that any contact sport would not result in his getting a sandpaper rash. So you cream your body, cream your hands, cream your soles, your heels, the big toe bunion and the little toe corn. And that’s just the feet. My facialist then insists on a special lightening salve for those unsightly pigmented spots. I was going nighty-night with so much oil on me that I was sliding out of bed.

The dermatologist suggested glycolic lotion for rubbing into what’s called your “laugh lines.” Those are the lines that are laughing even when you’re not. He had many helpful ideas. Helpful to him. This guy was putting two kids through college. One helpful hint was some silicone byproduct. He wanted me pumped up so much that if I fell down I’d have bounced.

The dentist Dr. Lazare demands I floss in the morning, after breakfast, before lunch, instead of tea, following dinner, during my late night cookie fix and before bed. I’m so busy flossing I haven’t time to eat.

The hair person says teasing and spraying isn’t good. This I already know. I don’t have to pay $65 a shampoo-and-set to learn that. I bought a conditioner, a steamer, a set of ampules to massage in, a plant pack. My late husband didn’t get as much attention as my scalp. Hairdresser Lisa says to have a big, thick, glorious mane of wild lush hair, I must brush 100 strokes every night. I say if I attack those weak little follicles that much I’ll be a cue ball. So the choice is either King Kong or Melissa Etheridge. In the words of Bruce Willis: Bald is not bad. At least it’s neat. Manicurist Bianca told me to prevent callouses I need a pumice stone. Forget what I told her. She began fretting over my cuticles. They’re getting raggedy, she said. She would be, too, if she had to do as much work on herself as I do.

The facialist says my lashes are breaking and advises shmearing them with Vaseline. Please. If I did that I couldn’t open them wide enough to find the floss for my teeth, the brush for my hair or the pumice for my hands.

Some physiotherapist prescribed butt-tightening exercises to tighten the valance that hangs beneath my cheeks. Forty-five minutes every morning. Who has 45 minutes every morning? That’s when I’m creaming, massaging, flossing and Vaselining. He says it won’t take any extra time because I can do all that while I’m tightening my bum. And those women’s magazines make you want to go under the wheels of a speeding truck. Page 46 proposes a seven-times magnifying mirror, staring at yourself in brilliant high-noon sunlight, then attacking your facial fuzz with a scythe. Page 37 suggests putting your face up in curlers altogether.

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All of this for a guy (girl/tranny/whatever) who either A) has no job or B) has no future or C) has no apartment and wants to share yours or D) does have garlic breath or E) does have gummy-soled shoes or F) does have more belly hair than that hound Carlee who just won Westminster or G) all of the above.

I tell you the truth, the whole deal is such an effort that I might just chuck it all to join some monastery and become a monk, if not for the fact that those crappy rags in Central Park hadn’t turned me off the color orange altogether.

Jaramogi’s Heir

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Nairobi, Dec 18, 2004 (The East African Standard/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) — Raila has not always been seen as the natural successor to his father’s political capital

Of all the shadows cast by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga’s family tree, the one by Raila Odinga is the most paradoxical, controversial and perhaps the hardest to understand.

An MP described him as “the most talked about politician in the country, more talked about than God.”

Either they are plotting how to finish or support him.

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Raila is the second son in the family, but increasingly, he is seen as the bearer of his father’s mantle, a man ready to defend his father ferociously and who borrowed many of his political structures.

He understands that structure well, including his father’s local chain of friends and what made him tick in politics.

By the standards of those who love him, like his cousin Aoko Midiwo, Raila is a great man to have around, a focused man who may change his mind about how to achieve what is good for the country but not on the necessity of it.

Those who hate him do so fervently. They find him outrageous, forever scheming and unreliable.

They reason that without family connections and Jaramogi’s name, he would never have occupied the position he holds today; that Raila is just running on his daddy’s name.

Raila’s friends and family defend him vigorously.

To some of them, it always looked obvious that after working so hard on other people’s campaigns, he was inevitably going to make a bid for himself one day.

If he inherited anything, it could be only a good name, not the votes,” his sister Wenwa Akinyi says.

But there are also those who say Raila did not just inherit his father’s battlements.

He has performed unprecedented acts of synthesis; taking his father’s weaknesses, like excessive loyalty to people and reluctance to tell off friends who had let him down, and mixed them with his own political tactics.

When his father died in 1994, Raila was little known and even less appreciated as a political force, even in Nyanza where his father had controlled almost every voice.

Raila’s political friend, Mbita MP Otieno Kajwang’, recalls that in the Ford Kenya elections that followed Jaramogi’s death, virtually all the Luo MPs rallied behind the then Ugenya MP, Mr James Orengo.

Orengo defeated Raila in the race for the party’s vice chairmanship largely because he was seen as the automatic heir to Jaramogi’s mantle, especially in Luo country.

From the ashes of defeat, Raila proceeded to build a political machine that now chugs and huffs when turned on, upsetting the political equation across the country.

In Nyanza Province, in particular, Raila’s word has carried more weight than his father’s once did.

Between 1994 when people saw Orengo as the bearer of Jaramogi’s mantle and now, Raila has changed everything.

People now see Raila as the one who stands for what Jaramogi once represented, according to Kajwang’.

The last doubt seems to have been laid to rest when Orengo fell to his own brother-in-law and Raila’s preferred candidate, Archbishop Stephen Ondiek, in the 2002 elections in Ugenya.

Today, people are not protecting Raila when they get upset for him. They are protecting themselves. He has blended with the community such that people think if something happens to him, they will be hurt as a community. I don’t see that ending soon and I don’t know what mistake he can make to take it away,” Kajwang’ says.

Some politicians say Jaramogi favoured Raila to take over from him. That the old man felt he owed Raila something after all the trouble he had gone through, often with the father’s tacit consent.

Others, including family members, say Raila has always fought his own battles, has never relied on his father’s political machine and hardly sees himself as a warrior for his father.

“There is a way in which he inherited the collective sympathy his father enjoyed. But most of what Raila has is a product of sheer hard work. When he started a battle with [Michael Kijana] Wamalwa, Luos saw him as the underdog, and wondered why they were fighting Jaramogi’s son,” Kajwang’ says.

“Raila changed tact after losing to Orengo. He began to get to the people directly. His candidates began coming in through by-elections. Then people began to see another side of the man that was not known. That Raila is true to his friends. When Raila is your friend, he will never turn his back on you even if it means he risks his own life or job. That earned him support,” Kajwang’ said.

Where others are surprised to find the family on stage after Jaramogi’s death, the family does not find it mind-boggling that it is largely Raila who has brought them there.

Wenwa, traces the reasons for Raila’s rise to their childhood when he was a schoolboy while she had not even started school.

She says she saw then the Raila she sees today political, aggressive, defiant and brave.

From childhood, there are things Raila used to do that made him stand out,” Wenwa, Raila’s immediate follower, says.

In school, there was a rule that when a teacher canes or slaps you, you should salute and say ‘Thank you’ to the teacher. Raila refused to do that when he was only in Class Two,” Akinyi recalled.

This defiant spirit blended with Raila’s desire to be in touch with current affairs through radio, the most popular media channel in the village then.

She recalls that whenever Raila was being sent out of the house when news time was approaching, he would drag her and plant her in front of the radio with instructions to listen carefully and tell him what was in the news.

“But I was too young, and I did not know what I was supposed to be listening to. He would come back, and I would not know what to tell him. Usually I would tell him about an advert, the one I remember well was on Vaseline Hair Tonic. I would tell him that and I would be in a lot of trouble because it upset him,” she recalls.

Looking back, Wenwa says Raila was already in politics at that tender age, contrary to the belief that Jaramogi introduced him to it.

Among his admirers, Raila goes by the name of Owadgi Akinyi (Akinyi’s brother). When the minister, his elder brother Oburu and Akinyi were growing up, both boys shared that title. But it was mostly associated with Oburu.

Gradually, the balance shifted towards Raila until today, it almost his name, no longer associated with anybody else in the family.

Akinyi uses this as early evidence of Raila’s capacity to outshine others.

Raila and Oburu are not taking over from where Jaramogi left. They were in politics even when Jaramogi was there. You don’t see the moon when the sun is still shining,” she says.

Raila agrees that he was close to his father and that he learnt a lot from him.

“I was close to him because I was the one in politics at that time. My other siblings were either abroad or in the civil service. I worked with my father and shared a lot. I was like his assistant in many ways,” Raila says.

I learnt a lot from him, sometimes merely by seeing how things are done,” he adds.

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Raila had considered running for the Langata seat in 1974 but his father prevailed on him to leave it for another man who had just left a job with the International Monetary Fund to run in Langata.

But the real reason why Raila did not run was that Kanu had refused to clear all former Kenya Peoples Union members.

Feeling awkward to run when others had been barred, Raila retreated to Bondo and campaigned for Elekiah Ougo, who was running against Odongo Omamo. Ougo won the seat.

In 1979, we were denied clearance again. That is why we tried to form our party in 1982. The rest is history,” Raila says.

Raila says he ran in Langata in 1992 against stiff opposition from some of his father’s friends. Jaramogi’s friend Achieng Oneko had lost the race for Langata twice, in 1983 and 1988.

“People told Jaramogi I was going to embarrass him by losing immensely. There was a feeling that [incumbent MP] Philip Leakey was unbeatable. They wanted me to try Kisumu Town or Muhoroni. I insisted I would stay here, and Jaramogi decided not to interfere. I insisted I was going to make a career in Langata or just quit politics.”

The only thing the old man may have passed to Raila, according to his sister, is an addiction to politics that would not subside even with the worst of experiences. Raila has been detained thrice and once fled into exile faring political persecution.

Raila cannot stop being in politics. He sees it as running from responsibility. That is the way Jaramogi saw it and I think Raila inherited that,” his wife Ida says, adding that their children also appear keen on politics.

“All my children are politicians. Fidel started following Jaramogi when he was young and even today, he rarely misses rallies. Raila Junior is reserved, but still waters run deep. When I first met Raila, he was a very quiet person.”

by Dennis Onyango

Copyright The East African Standard. Distributed by All Africa Global Media(AllAfrica.com)

News Provided by COMTEX (http://www.comtexnews.com)

>>> Click here: Banish that blemish! And keep it away for good! Here’s some ammo if you’re batting acne breakouts

Banish that blemish! And keep it away for good! Here’s some ammo if you’re batting acne breakouts

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Ben was always on the quiet side, but he never had a problem making friends or fitting in when he was in grammar school. Things began to change when he turned 14. “My skin started to break out, “he says. “I was going into a new school, and I was really self-conscious. Some of my friends and the kids I saw on the bus were breaking out too, but I always felt that I looked worse.” Ben was so self-conscious about his skin that he made excuses not to go swimming all summer (“my back was a mess,” he says) and stopped raising his hand in class to avoid drawing attention to himself. Like most kids his age, Ben was struggling with the blemishes we call acne.

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What Is Acne?

Acne is a broad term for those annoying whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples that approximately eight out of 10 teens get as they go through puberty. Here’s what happens: As your growth hormones kick in, the sebaceous (oil) glands in your hair follicles step up production. The oil is necessary to keep your skin and hair from becoming too dry. But adolescent glands are likely to be overactive and make too much oil. When that happens, pores get clogged with a combination of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.

Why does this happen to some teens and not to others? Your genes may have something to do with it: If your parents had acne, you have a greater chance of getting it too. Stress doesn’t cause acne, but in cases like Ben’s, it can make it worse by triggering the release of even more hormones.

Though it’s not unusual for adults in their 30s and 40s to battle breakouts occasionally, “the worst of it is usually over after the last growth spurt, generally around age 17 or 18,” says Mark Oestreicher, M.D., chairman of the dermatology department at Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut. Dermatologists are medical doctors specializing in skin conditions. The good news: There’s plenty you can do to minimize breakouts, and products are available (both over-the-counter and through prescription) that can help.

Skin Care Basics

The most important thing to do for your skin is to keep it clean and free of excess sebum (oil) and bacteria. “It doesn’t matter if you use a washcloth or your hands. Just be gentle and cleanse two to three times a day,” says Dr. Oestreicher. Scrubbing vigorously will just irritate the skin and stimulate oil glands–the opposite of what you want to happen. An exfoliate scrub can be great for removing dead skin cells and making skin look better, but limit usage to once or twice a week.

After washing, go over your T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) with a cotton ball moistened with astringent (toner) to remove excess oil. If an astringent feels too harsh and drying, try one that doesn’t contain alcohol. Either of these will remove makeup residue too. Sticky pore-strips may work for some people, but for others, they irritate the skin.

Existing blemishes then can be dried up with an over-the-counter cream containing benzoyl peroxide. Some of these even come in tinted formulas to match skin tone.

Some teens have combination skin; that is, they tend to have excess oil–and to break out-on their T-zones, yet their skin feels dry or looks flaky on the cheeks. In that case, use a water-based moisturizer. For makeup and sunscreen, choose products that are water-based and oil-free or that say “non-comedogenic” (non-clogging).

“If an over-the-counter agent doesn’t do enough, a dermatologist may prescribe an antibiotic cream or one with vitamin A,” says Dr. Oestreicher. “For the vast majority of teens, these help control acne until the body can take over and learn to limit oil production.” However, for teens with severe, cystic acne that doesn’t respond to OTC products or antibiotic creams, doctors may prescribe an oral retinoid medication. “It’s a medicine that can cure the problem permanently, but it’s also a medicine of last resort,” cautions Dr. Oestreicher. “In some cases it may cause depression.”

OBJECTIVE

Students will understand the causes of acne as well as the basics of skin care and over-the-counter and prescription products intended to help control acne.

REVIEW/DISCUSS

* How prevalent is acne among teens? (Eight out of 10 teens experience ache at one time or another as they go through puberty.)

* Describe how acne occurs. (As hormone levels rise in the teen years, the sebaceous glands in hair follicles begin to make more oil. The oil is necessary to keep skin and hair from becoming dry. During teen years, these glands are likely to be overactive and make too much oil. When that happens, pores get clogged with a combination of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.)

* What are some of the factors that can influence acne in teens? (Genetics is a factor: If one or both of your parents had acne, you have a greater chance of getting it. Stress, while not a cause of ache, can cause the release of extra hormones, which in turn may contribute to ache.)

* Outline a basic three-step formula for acne-control skincare basics. (1. Gently cleanse your skin two to three times per day to keep it clean and free of excess oil. 2. Go over your T-zone–forehead, nose, and chin–with a cotton ball moistened with an astringent or an alcohol-free toner.

3. Treat existing blemishes with an over-the-counter formula containing benzoyl peroxide. Patches of dry skin can be treated with a water-based moisturizer. If these measures do not work after faithfully following them for a few weeks, consult a dermatologist.)

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ACTIVITIES

l. Assign students to design a Shopper’s Tip Sheet for acne products, including an easy vocabulary reference that could help someone evaluate a product in the store. They should first compile a list of words that the class feels are important to include. They should include such terms as: astringent, exfoliate, cystic acne, noncomedogenic, sebaceous gland, etc. The tip sheet should be small, succinct, alphabetically ordered, and printed in a small font that is convenient yet readable.

2.Invite a dermatologist or a physician’s assistant who works in a skin care clinic to come to your class and discuss skin care basics briefly, focusing on acne treatments that are available only with a doctor’s supervision.

TEACHER RESOURCE

The American Academy of Dermatology maintains a site that can help you and your students locate dermatologists in your local area and obtain profiles about many of them. Visit www.aad.org/findaderm_intro.html.

CLEARING UP

Zit Myths

1. Pimples don’t happen because a person is dirty.

2. Picking at pimples will not make them go away faster. Doing so can spread the infection. Worse, it can turn today’s pimple into tomorrow’s scar–and that’s permanent.

3. Tanning may make acne look better for a short time, but it won’t clear it up. Plus, to much sun can cause wrinkling and skin cancer later in life.

4. Soda and junk food are very rarely the cause of breakouts.

A Good-Skin Guide

Here are some pointers to help keep zits under control:

1. If you wear a baseball cap, wash it regularly. The dirt and oils on the band can lead to breakouts on your forehead. Dr. Oestreicher suggests carrying medicated pads in your pocket so you can clean your forehead easily during the day.

2. Love to gel your hair? Great, but keep the goo away from your face. That goes for sprays too.

3. Keep your hands off! Avoid resting your chin on your hand or touching your face frequently. And don’t cradle the telephone with your chin.

4. Change sheets and pillowcases frequently.

5. Avoid right clothes–they can aggravate breakouts on your chest and back.

6. Notice when your skin feels greasy (after sports or job flipping burgers, for example), and was as soon as you can.

7. Shampoo hair frequently. It doesn’t have to be every day, but chances are you can’t go as long as you did as a kid. Keep hair off your face.

The Chains of Freedom

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Nairobi, Jun 06, 2005 (The Nation/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX)

Stepping out of the prison gates three months ago, her eyes squinting at the bright sunshine and the people walking about freely, she played out the family reunion scenes in her mind. But these were not to be.

Elizabeth Mwita had waited for this day for 16 months. Others, like John Njuguna Chege, for five years; John Mwangi (10); Catherine Kiarie (three); Isaya Onyango Achok (21) and Kisilu Mutua for the longest time of all – 36 years.

Inmates at the langata women prison are revising a past KCPE examination paper most inmates are learning subjects of their choice to help them advance their career.

But they found out soon enough that release did not necessarily mean freedom. They met hostility, rejection and disdain from their families and society. It is a cruel, free ‘jail’ out there for former convicts.

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Elizabeth had served a shortened version of a two-and- a- half-year jail term after being arrested by Kenya Bureau of Standards (KBS) officers and convicted of selling cosmetics with prohibited substances.

A former teacher at Kilimani Junior Academy, she says she did not know she was selling banned substances. “The cosmetics earned me money to supplement my salary. Then one day KBS officers arrested me and charged me in court. The trial proceeded quickly. Within no time, the judge sentenced me to a prison term with the option of a fine. I could raise only Sh80,000 of the Sh250,000 fine.”

This meant she would serve slightly over half the sentence. “My daughter was sitting for her examinations in Kampala, Uganda, where she was living with my husband. We had to keep what was happening to me a secret,” she says.

“Luckily, the girl passed well. She was ranked fifth in town. She came to know of my predicament later, but she coped well with it.”

If Elizabeth thought everything would run smoothly, she was mistaken. “Jail life is not easy. I was used to a good life where I had everything. I had a nice job and my family was comfortable.”

But once the sentence started, everything changed. She barely coped in prison. Her husband, a senior officer with the World Food Programme, was never there to console her.

“Every inmate is treated equally. We were all regarded as criminals, even if we were there by mistake,” she says.

She endured these conditions for 18 months. “I looked forward to the day I would be released to return to my family.”

When the day came, she suffered total rejection. There was no welcoming party. Her husband of more than 10 years filed for divorce. He said he could not live with someone who had been convicted of a criminal charge.

“I could not believe it. I had stood by him for years. He was the last person I expected to give me a cold shoulder, let alone file for divorce.”

At school, her former colleagues were uncomfortable with her. Without any words being uttered, it was clear that she would be better off staying away.

“There is so much stigma on jailbirds. Even close friends and relatives keep off,” she says.

All her efforts to get a job have been futile. Today, she conducts private tuition for students and also runs small businesses using skills learnt at Langata Women’s Prison. “I make shampoos, hair conditioners and juices for sale,” she says, adding that she is waiting for the verdict of the divorce case.

John Njuguna Chege

He served five years and came out with only Sh30 to transport him from Kamiti Maximum Security Prison to his home.

It was not enough. He walked from town to Dandora as the money was enough only to get him to town. “I was told that it was all I had from the prison’s earning scheme.”

He had been away for five years and his 10 children had no source of income. The younger ones had dropped out of school.

“Nobody would offer them employment as they were ‘children of a criminal’. My family was torn apart. They had nothing to live for from the day I was arrested in April 1998. I was released a few weeks ago.”

He adds: “Anywhere my sons went for a job, they were turned away when they said their father was serving a jail sentence in Kamiti.

“Our society is very unwelcoming to people who have been in jail. It views them with contempt and suspicion. That is why many return to crime.

“Even my close friends have run away from me. Some are waging a smear campaign to deny my children chances of getting gainful employment.

Chege says he was framed for a crime he never committed. He was accused by his employer of stealing car tyres. The case dragged on for four years – until 2000 when he was jailed. He was taken to Industrial Area Prison and later transferred to Kamiti.

“I was beaten, tortured and starved by prison warders and fellow inmates. Whoever says prisons are rehabilitation centres is lying. What happens there just hardens jailbirds. And when they face rejection by society on being released, many have no option but to turn to crime.”

At 50 years, Chege has lost hope of being employed. But he cannot even transact any business as nobody is willing to associate with him.

“At times we go without food. There is nowhere to beg since those who would have assisted us are the same ones shunning my family.”

However, Chege relishes freedom from Kamiti. “I would die if I went back there,” he says.

“What I saw is humbling. Sodomy and drug abuse are rife. You have to use money to get anything – including prison uniform.”

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Now, courtesy of Resources Oriented Development Project NGO, Chege has trained in making soaps and detergents. But he has no capital to get going.

Inmates assemble for drill. Life after prison is just as bad for many of them..

“I wish I could get a loan to start a business and train my children. Nobody seems ready to lend me even a shilling.”

Kisilu Mutua

He is believed to be Kenya’s longest serving prisoner. When he was released on July 4, 2001, he knew he would be facing an uncertain future.

He spent 36 years behind bars on accusation of murdering politician Pio Gama Pinto in 1965. Now 63, Kisilu knows nothing but prison life.

He lives a hopeless life four years after his release – with no family and no property.

His relatives lost hope of ever living with him again. His brothers subdivided the family land without considering him.

When he was freed, he found that he was not welcome at home. He was seen as an impostor and was forced to seek accommodation elsewhere.

A trained carpenter and tailor, he was offered accommodation by a local administrator, along with carpentry tools to set up a business.

But he is short of capital. People still look at him oddly, none offering a helping hand. They are perplexed by the man who spent half his life in prison over the death of one of Kenya’s foremost politicians.

When he was released, the Press, lawyers and human rights activists made a big story out of it. But the excitement died and Kisilu is a lonely figure in the remote village of Kyethivo, Machakos district.

by Odindo Ayieko

Copyright The Nation. Distributed by All Africa Global Media(AllAfrica.com)

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>>> View more: Sugar Crisis Presents Big Opportunity for Self-Employment [opinion]

Sugar Crisis Presents Big Opportunity for Self-Employment [opinion]

Full Text:

Byline: Maalik Fahd Kayondo

Aug 11, 2011 (The Monitor/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) — In 2006, this writer with a manufacturing engineering background, introduced for the very first time in Uganda, a new system of vocational education focusing on alternative vocational skills.

Such skills were packaged to be all inclusive in nature, meaning, with no education, gender or age limits and acquired through a non formal training arrangement.

Despite short training durations (1 – 5 day) and communicating in indigenous languages, many Ugandans were still of the view that a candle, soap or sugar could only be made by an Asian or a European.

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To date, about 35,000 Ugandans have passed through this system. As a result, many have realised that we do have the potential to manufacture and out-compete imported products.

Many people have started producing products such as candles, soaps and detergents, cosmetics and confectioneries from home.

Joyce, in her 30s, a resident of Wobulenzi Town Council, has no formal education background but since 2007, she is practicing a chemistry-based project producing liquid soap, hair shampoo, hair relaxer and hair conditioner. In 2008, her husband abandoned his job to join the more productive wife’s project. Today, they have nothing much to worry about because they have built brand loyalty along Kampala – Luwero Road and as far as Entebbe.

Ms Grace Segujja of Kyalusowe, Masaka acquired bar soap making skills in 2008. With no formal education, she has beaten the odds by making her husband abandon his job to join her. They have been producing and selling a weekly average of 2,500 bars of soap though of recent they have put emphasis on the more productive bathing herbal soap.

The above two examples have two things in common; a focused mind set and commitment. Should such people get a chance of acquiring business management skills training in their mother tongue, they have the potential to grow into medium scale industrialists.

The biggest lesson from Grace and Joyce is that one does not have to wait for ideal conditions to start something. Get up now and start with the little you have.

Sugar crisis

Of recent, sugar has graduated from being a necessity to a luxury in many households. It is partly because Ugandans cannot ‘make hay while it shines.’

With abundant sugar canes grown in most parts of the country, the short cut to riches is within your reach now. Do not wait for ideal conditions, remember.

Starting out

Identify and migrate to a good source of sugar canes. Using the open pan non – sulphitation process, set up a mini sugar plant with 10 TCD (tons crushing per day).

With this, you will buy a sugar cane crusher at Shs5m, four boilers at Shs4m, holding tanks at Shs2m, filter equipment at Shs1m, a crystalliser at Shs2.5m and a centrifuge at Shs5m. With Shs19.5m sunk into the project, we set up a good shed plus other minor requirements.

At the current market price, we shall buy 10 tons of sugar canes at Shs600,000. After cleaning (say washing) and crushing the sugar canes, we get 7,000 litres of cane juice. Seated in the settling tanks, organic (natural) clarifiers are added to the juice prior to filtration.

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We shall close the day with 25 bags of organic sugar plus about 250kg of molasses. Selling at only Shs100,000 per 50kg bag, you will get Shs2,500,000. Taking off the cost of sugar canes (Shs600,000) and other costs like labour and utilities, you will retire with close to a million shillings.

Have you realised the potential in the sugar industry? Why would you buy a risky commuter taxi or own 10 boda bodas when the same money would be put to a more profitable investment?

Having 100 such mini sugar plants in Uganda would cost us Shs3b but delivering 3,000 direct employment opportunities and requiring 5,000 – 10,000 small scale farmers (average 5 acres) to produce and supply the required sugar canes.

The mini sugar plants would produce 30,000 tons of sugar per annum. The cost of sugar would be in control whereas on the export side, we would have more to offer to our neighbours.

Mr Kayondo is C.E.O/ Lead Consultant at Telesat International

Copyright The Monitor. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).