Monday, February 9, 2009

New Jobs for Foreign Language Speakers

Translators wanted by recruiter in Washington, D.C language company that provides translation and interpreting services to the US. government. The recruiter suggested I share these new career opportunities with you. If qualified, please reply this email and I will forward them to him.
Please reply by Thurs Feb 19, 2009. Reply only if you meet the requirements stated below.
Preliminary Requirements for all Interpreters:Resume including all formal and informal interpretation experience US Citizen or Permanent Resident (green card holder) Lived in the US for 3 of the past 5 years Must have one year of judicial interpretation experience for The Department of Justice contract –
Please response with your resume including all interpretation experience.
Luo – Kenya
Maragoli - Kenya
Nuer - Sudan, Ethiopia
Bamun – Cameroon *
Basaa ( Douala ) - Cameroon
Ngemba - Cameroon
Oku - Cameroon
Vengo (Babungo) – Cameroon
Ngwe - Cameroon
Chokwe - Democratic Republic of the Congo *
Tama – Chad *
Ejagham - Nigeria
Baule - Cote d'Ivoire *
Bassa - Liberia
Kru - Liberia
Dagbane – Ghana *
Ga - Ghana
Moba - Togo
Dyoula - Burkina Faso
Songhay - Burkina Faso
Toma – Burkina Faso
Manjaku - Guinea-Bissau *
Kissi Northern – Guinea
Limba - Guinea/Sierra Leone *
Mende - Sierra Leone
Temne - Sierra Leone

Languages needed The Department of Justice – Immigration Court in specific locations: (all languages are urgent)
Amharic – Ethiopia – Los Angeles and San Francisco
Tigrinya – Ethiopia - Los Angeles and San Francisco
Soninke – Mali and all other regions – New York City
Somali – Somalia – San Antonio

Languages needed for Department of Homeland Security – Telephonic Interpretation (does not require one year of experience)
Amharic – Ethiopia – morning availability
Fulani – West Africa - daytime availability
Somali – Somalia – daytime availability
Tigrinya – Ethiopia – daytime availability
DioulaBurkina Faso - open availability
Mandingo – Senegal - open availability

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Runner Knows She’s Not in Kenya Anymore

Courtenay Morgan Redis for The New York Times

Salome Kosgei had never seen snow until she arrived at Kennedy Airport in 2004.

Published: February 5, 2009
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — When Salome Kosgei arrived at Kennedy Airport with only a change of clothes and a track scholarship, she stepped into a world she had never imagined.
Courtenay Morgan Redis for The New York Times

Salome Kosgei placed a call to Kenya after winning a race in late December.

Courtenay Morgan Redis for The New York Times

Salome Kosgei set seven team records at Iona College and graduated with a degree in economics.

Smiling as she recalled her first “I’m not in Kenya anymore” moment, Kosgei said: “There was snow all over the place. Everything was white. This is country I’ve never seen. Wow! I remember trees were, well, dry. No leaves. This was most amazing to me.”

On that December morning in 2004, Kosgei did not anticipate becoming one of the fastest female runners inIona College history or graduating with an economics degree just as the financial crisis strangled markets around the world. And she did not foresee cradling an infant son on her first visit home.

Salome Kosgei (pronounced sah-LOM-ay KOSS-gay), who is about 5 feet 6 and weighs barely 100 pounds, has a fluid and elegant stride. When Kosgei, 28, won the Bermuda International Half-Marathon in early January, finishing nearly three minutes in front of her nearest competitor, she was driven by the same thought that pushes her to the trails each morning as she faces another day apart from her son, Michael — prove that the sacrifice is worth it.

Her dreams of becoming a great runner took seed on her family’s farm in the red volcanic dirt above 8,000 feet in the Keiyo District of Eldoret in northwestern Kenya. Kosgei was a quiet adolescent member of the Kalenji tribe, living in the shadow of the mountains above the Rift Valley, which is home to many fleet-footed East Africans. Of seven siblings, she was the only one to leave her village and attend college.

In her three years at Iona, Kosgei set seven team records, from the mile to the 10,000 meters. She was a nine-time regional champion, and the most outstanding female runner in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in 2006. She reached her peak as an all-American in the 5,000 in early 2007.

At a meet in which Kosgei set Iona’s 5-kilometer record, 16 minutes 1.03 seconds, she “cruised, lapping everyone else at least once,” said her coach at the time, Mick Byrne, who now leads the men’s cross-country team at the University of Wisconsin. That qualified her for the 2007 N.C.A.A. indoor championships, where she finished eighth.

That spring Kosgei earned a spot in the 10,000 at the N.C.A.A. outdoor championships. But as the meet approached, her training was not producing results. Doctors at the New Rochelle, N.Y., campus eventually told Kosgei that she was pregnant.

“Sometimes in the families, you know, the ladies don’t have much freedom,” she said in December. “If they give the ladies such a freedom, they maybe get spoiled.”

Kosgei took a sip of water, then looked away as she continued.

“Spoiled like food that is not good,” she said. “Things can happen to ladies. And if you make a mistake, maybe you will not be able to express your talent. And then, maybe you become a burden to your brothers and they have you cut off” from the family.

She revealed the pregnancy in a call to her oldest sister, Ann, whose encouraging words brought relief and solace.

Kosgei declined to identify the father, who provides no regular child support, but said counselors at Iona and at the Pregnancy Care Center, where she lived with other single mothers close to campus, offered help.

She also relied on Mike Barnow, her coach with the Westchester Track Club, whose top runners are primarily East Africans. He and Kosgei spoke daily about her training, her health and her concerns.

When Kosgei woke after a Caesarean section on Nov. 7, 2007, she found the reality of motherhood both beautiful and terrifying.

“I was so scared,” she said. “I cannot be prepared for this, I was thinking.”

Barnow, who figured a return to training would help untangle her emotions, talked Kosgei into running again. Four weeks after giving birth, she started with walking, then jogging easily. Within two months she was running daily for more than an hour.

Although her training was going well, her student visa and the center’s policy required her to work or attend school. The staff could not grasp that running was her job.

In January 2008, ethnic violence after a national election killed more than 1,200 in Eldoret. While her family remained safe in their village, many in her tribe were dead or injured. Kosgei could not go home immediately, but she knew she would eventually accept her family’s help in rearing Michael.

The turning point for Kosgei came in New York last June. She placed 10th in a high-caliber women’s field at the New York Mini 10K. It included the race winner, Hilda Kibet, a Dutch citizen born in Kenya; Madaí Pérez, Mexico’s leading marathoner; and the three American qualifiers for the Olympic marathon in Beijing, Deena Kastor, Magdalena Lewy Boulet and Blake Russell.

“That really gave me the motivation — that if I can run this big race and come in 10th, I know I can make it,” Kosgei said.

Like many immigrants, at least 30 high-caliber East African athletes toil in low-wage jobs in the New York metropolitan area, sending money home to ailing parents and multiple siblings. Runners are like day laborers — they work even when they are sick, no matter the weather, without health insurance or a steady paycheck.

Kosgei must train twice a day and, like most professional runners just below elite status, resist the temptation to run too much to eke out a living. Racing well means money in the pocket, but an injury from overuse can end a career.

Unable to afford child care while training and racing, Kosgei had few options. Barnow offered to pay her way home — and back.

“Salome never asked me, but I understood what she was thinking,” Barnow said.

Kosgei prayed and talked it over with her sisters. Last July she flew home with Michael.

Twelve excited relatives met them at the Nairobi airport and took the five-hour bus ride to Eldoret. Over the next eight weeks, Kosgei answered the villagers’ many questions about the United States.

“ ‘Tell us about crops, cattle, farm machinery,’ they all ask,” Kosgei said. “At that time I have no answers. I never saw such things in America.”

In September, Kosgei returned alone on a tourist visa. (She has applied for a P-1 visa, for internationally recognized athletes and entertainers.) Her younger sister, Naomi, offered to raise Michael alongside her two young daughters, for the time being.

“I would never want anyone, any friend, to live this sacrifice,” Kosgei said, holding back tears. “It is the most difficult thing I have ever done. It still affects me so much to be this great distance from my son.”

She lived temporarily with five other Kenyan runners crammed into a two-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. Then a local newspaper article prompted MaryElizabeth Murray to invite Kosgei to stay free in a private suite in her Greenburgh home. After a big snowstorm, they decorated the Christmas tree and shoveled the driveway, another first for the Kenyan.

A 10-minute walk and a short bus ride deliver Kosgei to her favorite running trails at the Rockefeller Preserve in Tarrytown. Some days she trains with the team in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, averaging 70 miles a week.

Kosgei is climbing the ranks on the national level. At a 10-kilometer race in California over Thanksgiving, she finished in front of Lewy Boulet, earning $2,250 for a course-record victory in 32:27. In late December she won the Millennium Mile in 4:36 after leaving home at 4 a.m. for a seven-hour bus ride to Londonderry, N.H.

Once she is consistently earning enough money, Kosgei said, she will bring Michael here and maybe pursue a graduate degree, or perhaps live and train in Kenya but race internationally.

After making her weekly call home, she glanced at the snow falling outside. Kosgei said she hoped she was making the best choices for her family.

“They say, maybe, you make a mistake, but you can still do good in life,” she said. “If you have a talent, a gift, you can still achieve it.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Chaotic Kenya Vote and a Secret U.S. Exit Poll

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.Kenyan police officers charged at supporters of the opposition leader Raila Odinga in the Nairobi slum of Kibera last January.
Published: January 30, 2009

For three days in December 2007, Kenya slid into chaos as ballot counters steadily took what appeared to be a presidential election victory for the challenger and delivered it to the incumbent.

Noor Khamis/Reuters. Ballot-counting in Nairobi, Kenya, in December 2007. Violence erupted when the incumbent was finally declared the winner

As tensions mounted, Kenneth Flottman sat in Nairobi and grew increasingly frustrated. He had in his hands the results of an exit poll, paid for by the United States government, that supported the initial returns favoring the challenger, Raila Odinga.
Mr. Flottman, East Africa director for the International Republican Institute, the pro-democracy group that administered the poll, said he had believed that the results would promptly be made public, as a check against election fraud by either side. But then his supervisors said the poll numbers would be kept secret.
When the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, was finally declared the winner amid cries of foul, Kenya exploded in violence that would leave more than 1,000 people dead before the two sides negotiated a power-sharing deal two months later. With rioters roaming the streets, Mr. Flottman sent an e-mail message to a colleague saying he was worried that, in rebuffing his pleas to release the poll, the institute had succumbed to political pressure from American officials.
"Supporting democracy and managing political outcomes are two different objectives for a nonpartisan, foreign-based organization or country," he wrote, "and sometimes there is a conflict that requires a choice."
A year later, the poll's fate remains a source of bitter contention, even as Kenya has moved to remake its electoral system. The failure to disclose it was raised at a Senate hearing in Washington last year and has been denounced by human rights advocates, who said it might have saved lives by nudging Mr. Kibaki to accept a negotiated settlement more quickly.
Exit polls, of course, are not always accurate, and it is impossible to know if events might have played out differently had the institute publicized the results, as it has usually done elsewhere. But in Kenya's highly contested election, this particular exit poll, conducted by an experienced American organization, might have been the best gauge of who really won.
An examination by The New York Times found that the official explanation for withholding the poll — that it was technically flawed — had been disputed by at least four people involved in the institute's Kenya operations. The examination, including interviews and a review of e-mail messages and internal memorandums, raises questions about the intentions and priorities of American observers as Kenyans desperately sought credible information about the vote.
None of those interviewed professed to know why the institute withheld the results. But the decision was consistent with other American actions that seemed focused on preserving stability in Kenya, rather than determining the actual winner.
When Mr. Kibaki claimed victory on Dec. 30, 2007, the State Department quickly congratulated him and called on Kenyans to accept the outcome, even though international observers had reported instances of serious ballot-counting fraud. American officials backed away from their endorsement the next day and ultimately pushed the deal that made Mr. Odinga prime minister.
After insisting for months that the poll was flawed, the institute released it last August — long past the point of diplomatic impact — after outside experts whom it had hired determined that it was valid. It showed Mr. Kibaki losing by about six percentage points.
The institute would not make anyone available for interviews. In written responses to questions, a spokeswoman, Lisa Gates, said that the decision to withhold the results was based on "a lack of confidence in the data, nothing else," and that any suggestions that it was at the behest of the United States government were "completely false." To clear its name, the institute has asked that the State Department inspector general look into whether the poll was withheld "at the request of U.S. government officials," she said.
"Had I.R.I. released a poll which we had reason to believe was incorrect," she said, "The New York Times would be asking — quite rightly — how we could have been so cavalier and irresponsible." The outside experts' review, she said, showed that the initial results were off by two percentage points.
American Preferences
The institute, which is mostly government financed, conducts campaign workshops, polling and election monitoring in emerging democracies. It has earned praise from elected officials in many countries. But at times, it has also been accused of meddling. In Haiti, for example, a former American ambassador asserted that the institute's operatives undermined reconciliation efforts among political opponents, contributing to a coup in 2004. The institute denied it.
The institute has worked in Kenya since 1992, but the 2007 presidential election provided its most high-profile assignment yet: monitoring the vote and conducting an exit poll for the United States Agency for International Development.
Despite initial economic successes and popular support after his election in 2002, Mr. Kibaki had gained a reputation for playing divisive tribal politics, and his administration had become tainted by scandal. Still, he had a good relationship with the Bush administration and generally supported American counterterrorism policies in East Africa.
Mr. Odinga was viewed skeptically by some in Washington because of his flamboyant manner and his background: he was educated in East Germany and named his son after Fidel Castro.
Heading the institute's Kenya operations in 2007 was Mr. Flottman, on leave from his job as a senior counsel for a major defense contractor. His position put him in close proximity to Western officials in Kenya, including the American ambassador, Michael E. Ranneberger, a career diplomat appointed in 2006. Mr. Flottman said he was surprised when, before the election, Mr. Ranneberger made public comments praising Mr. Kibaki and minimizing Kenyan corruption.
Behind the scenes, Mr. Flottman recalled, the ambassador was even more direct. A few months before the election, Mr. Ranneberger proposed releasing a voter survey showing Mr. Kibaki ahead and trying to block a roughly simultaneous one favoring Mr. Odinga, according to Mr. Flottman, who said he witnessed the episode during a meeting at the ambassador's office. The suggestion was dropped, he said, after the embassy learned that the pro-Odinga results were already out.
"It was clear, in my opinion, that the ambassador was trying to influence the perceptions of the Kenyan electorate, and thus the campaign," Mr. Flottman said.
In an interview, Mr. Ranneberger said it would have made little sense to try to squelch one of many pre-election polls, and he called the suggestion that he had tried to tilt the outcome toward Mr. Kibaki "utter nonsense." He added, "Odinga praised me for being very evenhanded."
Deepening Disquiet
Another episode deepened Mr. Flottman's unease. As the institute assembled its monitoring delegation, the ambassador objected to plans to include his predecessor, Mark Bellamy, according to two delegation members and a former State Department official. The institute withdrew the invitation, citing budget constraints.
"I don't know the reason why the ambassador wanted Mark off, but he did," said one delegation member, Joel D. Barkan. He added, "Perhaps somebody in the Kenya government made comments along the way."
Mr. Flottman reached the same conclusion during a conversation in which the ambassador remarked that the Kibaki camp viewed Mr. Bellamy as "antigovernment," according to an e-mail message that Mr. Flottman sent to institute officials in Washington shortly afterward.
"In sum," Mr. Flottman wrote, "the ambassador indicates respect for our independence, but seems to have some agenda in regard to the election itself."
Mr. Ranneberger disputed that characterization, saying that he played no role in Mr. Bellamy's removal. Mr. Bellamy declined to comment.
Under its contract, the institute was expected to consult with the Agency for International Development and the embassy before releasing the exit poll results, taking into account the poll's technical quality and "other key diplomatic interests."
Quality was not expected to be a concern. In addition to retaining a local polling firm it had used since 2000, the institute contracted with Clark C. Gibson, chairman of the political science department at the University of California, San Diego, to oversee the design of the questions, the surveying of voters and the collection of data.
When the voting ended and ballot-counting began, Mr. Gibson and others involved in the exit poll said they expected its results to be announced soon.
But senior institute officials decided to withhold it. Most opposed to releasing the numbers, Mr. Flottman said, was Constance Berry Newman, the institute board member leading the monitoring delegation. In an e-mail message to another delegation member shortly after the election, Mr. Flottman said Ms. Newman opposed "any kind of release from the outset — essentially suggesting it would be inflammatory and irresponsible."
Ms. Newman, who had worked with Mr. Ranneberger when she was the Bush administration's assistant secretary of state for African affairs, declined to comment. Mr. Ranneberger said he recalled speaking briefly with Ms. Newman or another institute official about the exit poll but had no role in deciding whether to release it.
By Dec. 29, two days after the voting, trouble was brewing. The Kenyan electoral commission's tally showed that Mr. Odinga's 370,000-vote lead had shrunk to 38,000 and was still dropping, prompting accusations of fraud. Demonstrators took to the streets in several cities, setting fires and threatening members of rival tribes. The next day, paramilitary officers converged on the ballot-counting center, and the commission chairman, on state-owned radio, declared Mr. Kibaki the winner.
Push for Information
Among those aware of the exit poll, there was rising clamor for its release.
"With the breakdown of the electoral commission, that is precisely the point when you want an exit poll to be released," said Mr. Barkan, a Kenya expert and a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The institute remained silent until Jan. 15, 2008, when it issued a statement citing "concerns about the validity of the initial results."
In February, with Mr. Kibaki resisting calls to share power, the leaders of two Kenyan human rights groups wrote an opinion article for The Times, saying the refusal to release the poll had "fueled mistrust." After the poll was mentioned during a Senate hearing, the institute stepped up its public criticism of the poll, saying it "does not have confidence in the integrity of the data and therefore believes the poll is invalid."
Mr. Gibson said he told the institute that its technical concerns were baseless, to no avail. His contract barred him from publicly disclosing the polling data for six months, and in March of last year the institute asked him to sign a new contract that would have restricted him from speaking publicly about the institute's polling program without written permission.
"I think they were trying to shut me up," he said. "I refused to sign it."
In July, after his contract expired, Mr. Gibson and one of his doctoral students presented their analysis of the data at a seminar in Washington. A month later — one day before Mr. Gibson was to testify before Kenyan investigators — the institute announced that, after the outside review, it "now had confidence" in the poll and released the results.
For Mr. Odinga, bitterness lingers. He declined to sign a letter the institute drafted last month that amounted to an unqualified endorsement of its conduct. Instead, he wrote that while he appreciated the institute's past work, "the 2007 experience has cast some doubts among ordinary Kenyans."
"While I have no evidence to make me believe that I.R.I. withheld the exit poll results at the request of the U.S. government," Mr. Odinga wrote, "my supporters believe that had I.R.I. released those polls, they would have made a huge difference and even saved lives."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama's Kenyan choir signs deal

The choir were formed in Nairobi in 
1998 and count 40 members
An African youth choir has been signed by Universal Music after performing at President Barack Obama's inauguration celebrations in the US.

The Boys Choir of Kenya signed the deal in the transit lounge at London's Heathrow Airport as they returned home to Nairobi from Washington DC.

They were the only international choir to sing at the inauguration.

The choir, who are aged between 13 and 24, put on an impromptu performance for passengers before flying on to Kenya.

They have toured the US several times, and their performances have raised school fees for their members, as well as helping them take on several orphans.

Artistic director Joseph Muyale said: "We heard about the record deal about two days ago. I felt delighted on behalf of the boys.

"We began from humble beginnings and to be recognised by a large recording company is so humbling and quite an honour. We just thank God."

Universal Classics A&R representative Tom Lewis signed the contract at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 4.

He only saw the choir for the first time at the weekend, after a colleague advised him to watch a clip of them online.

Director Joseph Muyale Inzai signed 
the contract at Heathrow Airport

Lewis said: "It has been frantic. I didn't know how I was going to get to see the choir - they're not allowed to leave the airport because they're in transit.

"At one point, I even considered buying a ticket so I could join them. But we've been allowed into the departures lounge."

He added: "I went onto YouTube and I saw their CNN performance and I thought, 'Wow - I do not want anyone else working with them.'"

The Boys Choir was formed in Nairobi in 1998 but expanded to members from outside the Kenyan capital in 2004. They now have 40 singers.

They were asked to sing at several events surrounding the inauguration of President Obama, whose father came from Kenya - although he never managed to see them perform.

The choir's repertoire includes a wide-ranging number of pieces from traditional Masaai and Samburu chants to contemporary songs from around Africa. They will now share a label with the likes of Amy Winehouse, U2 and The Rolling Stones.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/01/23 16:29:00 GMT


Monday, January 19, 2009

Nyama choma party awaits Obama's big day

Ms Alice Mukabane at Safari DC, Halala partner enterprise.

Ms Alice Mukabane at Safari DC, the restaurant and disco in Washington that she co-owns with husband William Mukabane. She plans to serve Kenyan food on 20th. Photo/ KEVIN J KELLY

By KEVIN J KELLEY in Washington, DCPosted Monday, January 5 2009 at 20:57
Within two weeks, Alice Mukabane expects the mother of all parties — complete with nyama choma — to break out at the Kenyan restaurant she co-owns in Washington, DC.

The celebration of Barack Obama's inauguration that night of January 20 could prove even more joyous than the party that raged at Safari DC on November 4 following his victory in the US presidential election.

"This place completely erupted" on that occasion, recalls Frank Simu, one of the regulars at the restaurant and disco Ms Mukabane opened in 1998 along with her husband, William.

It was marvellous

"It was marvellous, amazing — something difficult to put into words," Mr Simu says. "It's still hard to believe that the president will be not only an African-American, but the son of a Kenyan."

Ms Mukabane plans to remain at Safari DC throughout Inauguration Day rather than travelling two miles downtown to watch the parade and Mr Obama's swearing-in ceremony.

"It's going to be too crazy," she says. "Millions of people are coming to town. I'll see it all on TV."

She will also be hard at work cooking and serving drinks to the hundreds of Kenyans and friends of Kenya who will turn up at Safari DC, which opens around noon on January 20 and closes, in compliance with local law, at 4am.

Anyone coming from Kenya for the inauguration will be "very welcome" at Safari DC, Ms Mukabane says. But she cautions that all hotel rooms in and around Washington were booked weeks ago.

"Not even Americans can find any place to stay that night," she notes.

Many of the Kenyans living in the Washington area eat, drink and dance at Safari DC even when one they've claimed as their own is not being inaugurated president of the United States. They have come to regard Safari DC as "a home away from home," William Mukabane says.

The couple established Safari DC in a two-story building they bought because 10 years ago, there was nowhere in Washington to find Kenyan food. It's still the only place of its kind in a metropolitan area with about 6 million residents and scores of Ethiopian restaurants.

"Those aren't the same," Alice points out. "Ethiopian food is very different from ours. Nothing is as precious as a mother's food.

The menu at Safari DC includes nyama choma, mbuzi choma, tilapia kadhalika and, of course, Tusker. Kenyans often share dishes with one another at the 20 or so tables or at the bar, which is decorated with Obama photos and posters.

The president-elect hasn't actually visited Safari DC — "we're hoping he'll come soon," Alice says — but Prime Minister Raila Odinga has been there several times. Members of Parliament and other government officials also stop by when they are in town.

Although Kenyans predominate on most nights, the crowd typically includes African-Americans, Caribbean immigrants and white Washingtonians who have visited Kenya. "It's a pretty international place," Ms Mukabane says.

Potomac River

She helped start Safari DC in a mainly African-American neighbourhood with money saved from a catering business she and William ran across the Potomac River in the state of Virginia.

William Mukabane had worked as an executive chef at hotels and restaurants in the Washington area after getting a degree from the Culinary Institute of America.

He arrived in the United States in 1978 to attend the State University of New York at Buffalo, while Alice remained in Nairobi, working for a marketing firm, until 1996. The Mukabanes have two daughters — Maryam, a teacher in Western Province, and Caroline, who works as a waitress at Safari DC on weekend nights.

Alice still spends about 80 hours a week at the restaurant, preparing food and making her guests feel comfortable. She describes herself as "an incredibly hard worker" who is happy to be doing what she does. "You have to enjoy what you do in order to be successful at it," she says.

She also attributes her achievements to the sense of possibility that America offers immigrants. The United States "gives you the opportunity to be what you want to be," Ms Mukabane says.

By electing Mr Obama, the US has also shown the world "how to go beyond race," Mr Simu adds. "People in Africa think of Europe as more progressive; it's here that a black man will be president. I don't think that could happen there."

Ms Mukabane says she hopes Kenyans will learn a lesson from what has happened in the US. "Maybe Kenyans will look at this and say tribalism has to go."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Abamenya of Bukhayo are mourning the death of George Omoyi.

The Late George Omoyi Lukoba
Sunrise Feb 1937 Sunset 4 Jan 2009
George Omoyi Lukoba was born in 1937 at Ebuloma Village Nasira sub location Bukhayo in Busia District. He was the first child of late Mzee Ibrahim Lukoba Odulwa and Mama Monica Christine Auma Lukoba (Namani). 'Omoyi' was so named a Teso name after a loyal herdsman who was very helpful while he was being born. He spent his early childhood with his beloved Grandmother Munyakho (Nakhabi) who was very fond of him and taught the skills of life including how to grind flour using traditional stones (olukina), fetch firewood and water from the river. This gave him a strong foundation for his future activities. He joined Nambale Primary School in 1946 for his common entrance exam in1952 and then proceeded to Nambale Intermediate School in1953 where he did his Kenya African Preliminary Examination (KAPE) in 1956 and passed.
Having come from a humble home he decided to forego further education and opted for employment to assist his parents and siblings. The first opportunity that came his way in terms of his profession was Medical Training School at Kisumu in early 1957 but he later abandoned this course for Railway Training School at Jinja where he trained as station clerk. After six months training he was posted to Tororo Railway Station in mid 1957 where he worked for a short time before he was posted to Kampala Railway Station. He worked at this location until early 1959 when he was sent to Railway Training School (RTS) Nairobi where he trained as an Assistant Station Master for six months after which he was posted to Kiu Railway Station. He later worked at various stations including Fort Hall Murang'a, Simba, Lukenya, Sultan Hamud, Embakasi, and Dagorreti. He thereafter went back to RTS to train as a Station Master. He then proceeded to work at Eldoret Railway Station as Station Foreman in the late sixties until 1970 when he was transferred to Nairobi Railway Station as Yard Foreman before being promoted and posted to main station upper class booking office as in charge of reservations. He worked in this Office until he retired from Railways after 35 years of distinguished service in 1992.
George Omoyi met and married Faice Alice Mayabi (Namudu) who at present is a Lay Canon in church, on 9th March 1960 and later solemnized his marriage in the year 1979. He was blessed with five children, four sons and one daughter namely Geoffrey Omoyi, Vincent Omoyi both of New Jersey, Samuel Odhiambo, Samson Lukoba and Abigail Omoyi all based in Kenya. He is also survived by his grandchildren Ruth, Faith, John, Brigid, Elizabeth, Joy, Ashley, Imelda, Baby Joshua, Michelle and Aydan. Siblings Peter, Morris, Janet, Maximilla, Hannington, Naliaka, Adhiambo, Nabwire, Patrick, Wandera, Narotso, Nekesa, Khadudu, Thomas and Barasa and stepmother Nabwire. He was also brother to the late Maloba Lukoba and Henry Lukoba. He was also father in-law to Lydia Makhandia Omoyi and Alice Kariuki. Brother in-law to Lawrence Mugala Mugasiali and Florence Murema. Nephew to Lambert Barasa, Uncle to Kenneth Kaunda Odulwa, Julius Okuku, Arthur Lukoba and Charles Lukoba all of New Jersey And also he was a great uncle to Beatrice Maloba of New York. As well as cousin to Abigail Lunzalu and Olivia Kunguru of Texas
During his working life George invested his resources heavily in the welfare of his family including the education of his siblings and children, Land matters and subsequently income generating activities. After his retirement he concentrated on community development activities. He was the first Chairman of the Nambale Business Community, Member Board of Governors Kisoko Girls High School and Nambale Boys High School. He also served as Treasurer of Nambale Constituency Development Fund (CDF). He personally initiated the establishment of Nasira RC Secondary School and as the first Chairman of the BOG and subsequently served as a member. He spearheaded the construction of Nambale Bugeng'i road through Nasira Market and the electricity project from Tanga corner to Nasira. He was also on the forefront of requesting the creation of Busibwabo Location which was carved out of Suo Location. Until his death he was the first Chairman of Bukhayo Council of Elders Association. He initiated the creation of Busibwabo Dispensary. He was a respected senior mentor of his clan, the Bamenya of Bukhayo.
George Omoyi was devout Christian. He was a life member the Kenya Anglican Men's Association. (KAMA). He played a big role in the establishment and construction of St Johns Buloma Church and was Treasurer of this Church. He once served as a member of the Nambale Parish Council and until his untimely death served as Finance Chairman of the Parish. He always offered valuable ideas for the development of the church in general and contributed generously to its activities both in terms of resources and time.
God blessed George Omoyi with good health most of his life. In July 2007 he stated complaining of recurring headaches and treatment at Tanaka Nursing Home initially. He later traveled to for treatment at Nairobi where he was diagnosed with a brain tumour which necessitated urgent surgery. He underwent a successful operation on the 23rd August 2007 and the doctor advised for further treatment for radio and chemo therapy which was referred to Doctor Kannan of PJ Hinduja Hospital Mumbai in India between October and November 2007. He returned home to recuperate and continue with medication. Throughout his treatment the Doctors were helpful to the family and prepared us for any eventuality. George fought hard and was committed to his treatment never missing any appointment or his medication. While at his ancestral home in Busia District, on Friday 2nd January 2009 he ate all his meals and went to bed and slept peacefully and woke up on Saturday morning to bid goodbye to his daughter and grandchildren who were leaving for Nairobi, however he was not able to eat anything the whole day. He was taken to Tanaka Nursing Home for medical assistance where the Doctor attended to him and returned home that evening. However his condition got worse in the evening and continued to deteriorate throughout the night. He finally succumbed peacefully on Sunday the 4th January 2009 at 7.15 a.m. in the presence of his wife, brother Peter, son Samson and attendant Nicholas.
Only God know what a wonderful life you led
Only God knows what a loving husband you were
Only God knows what a caring father you were
Only God knows how you adored your siblings
Only God knows what a pain you suffered
Only God knows how you endured the pain without complaint
Only God knows what a man you were
Only God knows that your soul is at peace
"You Lived a Full Life, You Kept the Faith and May God Rest Your Soul in Eternal Peace, Amen!!!"


George Omoyi alizaliwa mwaka 1937 katika Kijiji cha Ebuloma, katika lokesheni ndogo ya Nasira, Bukhayo, Wilaya ya Busia.  Alikuwa mtoto wa kwanza wa marehemu Mzee Ibrahim Lukoba Odulwa na Mama Monica Christine Auma Lukoba (Namani).

‘Omoyi’ ndio jina alilopewa ya Kiteso kwa heshima ya mchunga wanyama mwaminifu kabisa aliye saidia wakati alipo kuwa akizaliwa. Akiwa mtoto, nyanyake marehemu mpendwa Munyakho (Nakhabi), alisaidia kumlea, nyanyake alimpenda sana marehemu na alimfunza mengi kumtayarisha kwa maisha ya mbeleni ikiwa ni pamoja na jinsi ya kusiaga unga akitumia mawe ya kienyeji (olukina), kutafuta kuni na kuchota maji mtoni. Mambo haya yalimpatia msingi imara kabisa kwa shughuli za maisha yake ya usoni.  

Alijiunga na Shule ya Msingi ya Nambale mwaka 1946 na kufanya mtihani wa ‘common entrance’ mwaka 1952 na akaendelea Shule ya Nambale Intermediate hapo mwaka 1953 alikofanya mtuhani wa Kenya African Preliminary Examination (KAPE) mwaka 1956 na akapita vyema. Kwa kuwa alitoka familia isiyokuwa na uwezo mkubwa, aliona hafadhali asiendelee na elimu ya juu na akatafuta riziki ili aweze kuwasaidia wazazi na ndugu zake. Nafasi ya kwanza aliyopata kuhusiana na utaalamu wake ilikuwa ni MedicalTraining School ya Kisumu mapema mwaka 1957, lakini baadaye aliwacha mafunzo hapo na kujiunga na Railway Training School huko Jinja alikopata mafunzo ya ukarani (clerk). Baada ya mafunzo ya miezi sita alipewa kazi huko Tororo Railway Station katikati ya mwaka 1957 ambako alifanya kazi kwa mda mfupi kabla kupelekwa kufanya kazi Kampala Railway Station. Alifanya kazi hapo hadi mapema mwaka 1959 alipopelekwa Railway Training School (RTS) Nairobi alipopata mafunzo ya Naibu wa Mkuu wa Stesheni (Assistant Station Master) kwa miezi sita na baadaye alipelekwa Kiu Railway Station. Baada ya hapo alifanya kazi katika stesheni mbalimbali ikiwa ni pamoja na Fort Hall Murang’a, Simba, Lukenya, Sultan Hamud, Embakasi, na Dagorreti. Baada ya hapo alirudi RTS akapate mafunzo zaidi awe Mkuu wa Stesheni (Station Master). Halafu akaendelea na kufanya kazi Eldoret Railway Station kama Msimamizi wa Stesheni (Station Foreman) katika mwisho wa miaka ya sitini hadi 1970 alipohamishwa na kwenda Nairobi Railway Station kama Yard Foreman kabla ya kuongezwa mamlaka na kupelekwa ofisi ya tikiti za upper class katika stesheni kuu (main station upper class booking office) kama msimamizi wa tikiti za reservations. Alifanya kazi katika ofisi hii hadi alipostaafu Shirika la Reli hapo 1992 baada ya miaka 35 ya kazi imara kabisa.

George Omoyi alikutana na kumuoa Faice Alice Mayabi (Namudu) ambaye kwa sasa ni ‘Mshemasi’ (Lay Canon) kanisani, hapo Machi 9, 1960 na baadaye akahalalisha ndoa yake mwaka 1979.  Alibarikiwa kupata watoto watano, mmoja wa kike na wane wa kiume, wanaoitwa, Abigail, Samuel, Geoffrey, Vincent na Samson. Amewacha wajuku wake Ruth, Faith, John, Brigid, Elizabeth, Joy, Ashley, Imelda, Baby Joshua, Michelle na Aydan. Ndugu zake Peter, Morris, Janet, Maximilla, Hannington, Naliaka, Adhiambo, Nabwire, Patrick, Wandera, Narotso, Nekesa, Khadudu, Thomas na Barasa na mama wa kambo Nabwire. Alikuwa pia kakake marehemu Maloba Lukoba na Henry Lukoba. Alikuwa mkwe wa Lydia Makhandia Omoyi, Alice Kariuki, Lawrence Mugala Mugasiali, Florence Murema. Alikuwa mpwa wa Lambert Barasa, Ni babake mkubw Kenneth Kaunda Odulwa, Julius Okuku, Arthur Lukoba and Charles Lukoba wote wakazi New Jersey Na pia alikuwa mjomba wa Beatrice Maloba mkazi wa New York. Alikuwa binamu wa Abigail Lunzalu and Olivia Kunguru wakazi wa Texas.

Wakati wote alipokuwa akifanya kazi, George alituimia rasilimali zake kwa wingi sanakatika kuimarisha hali ya familia yake ikiwa ni pamoja na kuwaelimisha ndugu zake na watoto, maswala ya ardhi na pia baadaye katika miradi yakuchuma pesa. Baada ya kustaafu alikazana sana na shughuli za maendeleo ya jumuiya. Alikuwa Mwenyekiti wa kwanza wa Nambale Business Community, Mwanachama wa Baraza la Magavana (Board of Governors) wa Kisoko Girls High School na Nambale Boys High School. Pia, alikuwa Mweka Hazina wa Nambale Constituency Development Fund (CDF). Kwa juhudi zake mwenywe, aliongoza kuanzishwa kwa Nasira RC Secondary School na akiwa Mwenyekiti wa kwanza wa BOG na baadaye akahudumu kama memba. Aliongoza ujenzi wa barabara ya Nambale Bugeng’i kupitia Soko ya Nasira, pamoja na mradi wa umeme kutoka kona ya Tanga hadi Nasira. Alikuwa pia katika msitari wa mbele katika kuomba kubuniwa kwa Lokesheni ya Busibwabo iliyoundwa kutoka kwa Lokesheni ya Suo. Hadi alipoaga dunia, alikuwa Mwenyekiti wa kwanza wa Baraza la Wazee wa Bukhayo (Bukhayo Council of Elders Association). Alianzisha ujenzi wa Hazanati ya Busibwabo. Alikuwa kiongozi mkuu (senior mentor) aliyehishimiwa sana na ukoo wake wabamenya wa Bukhayo.

George Omoyi alikuwa Mkristo wa dhati. Alikuwa mwanachama wa maisha wa Kenya Anglican Men’s Association. (KAMA). Alishughulika sana katika uanzilishaji na ujenzi wa kanisa la St Johns Buloma Church na alikuwa Mweka Hazina wa kanisa hilo. Wakati mmoja alihudumu kama mwanachama wa Baraza la Nambale Parokia na hata alipotuaga ghafla, alikuwa Mwenyekiti wa Fedha za Parokia hiyo. Daima alikuwa akipeana mawazo na maoni ya maana kuhusu maendeleo ya kanisa kwa jumla na alichangia kwa roho mkunjufu katika shughuli zake kwa kupeana rasilimali na hata wakati wake.

Mwenyenzi Mungu alimbariki George Omoyi na afya nzuri kwa mda mrefu maishani mwake. Julai 2007 alianza kulalamika kuwa kicha kilikuwa kinamuuma mara kwa mara na mbeleni alipata matibabu hapo Tanaka Nursing Home. Baadaye akasafiri hadiNairobi kwa matibabu zaidi ambako aligundulika kuwa na utomvu wa bongo (brain tumour) na ikabidi afanyiwe upasuaji wa haraka. Hapo Augusti 23, 2007, alifanyiwa upasuaji uliofanikiwa vyema an daktari alishauri apate matibabu zaidi kupitia radiotherapy na chemotherapy ambazo zilipendekezwa na kwa Daktari Kannan wa PJ Hinduja Hospital Mumbai huko India kati ya Oktoba na Novemba 2007. Alirudi nyumbani kuendelea kupata nafuu na kuendelea na matibabu. Wakati wote alipokuwa akipata matibabu, madaktari walikuwa wanasaidia sana familia na wakatutayarisha vyema kwa hali yoyote ile ingeweza kutokea. George alikazana sawasawa na akaendelea na matibabu yake bila kuchoka na hata hakukosa mara moja kufika kwa daktari na kupata madawa yake. Alipokuwa nyumbani kwao walikotoka wazazi wake huko Wilaya ya Busia hapo Ijumaa Januari 2, 2009 alimaliza chakula chake na akaelekea kupumzika kitandani na akalala makini kabisa hadi alipoamka asubuhi ya jumapili ndio ampe kwaheri mtoto wa kike na wajukuu wake waliokuwa wanaodoka kwa safiri ya kurudiNairobi, lakini hakuweza kula chochote siku nzima. Alipelekwa Tanaka Nursing Home apate usaidizi wa madktari na daktari alimshughulikia na akarudi nyumbani jioni. Lakini, hali yake iliharibika na ikaendelea kuzorota usiku wote. Mwishowe alituaga kwa amani hapo saa moja na dakika kumi na tano asubuhi siku ya Jumapili Januari 4, 2009. Kando yako walikuwa Mke wake, kakake Peter, mtoto wake Samson, na muuguzi wake Nicholas.


Mwenyenzi Mungu Pekee anajua vile uliishi maisha bora

Mwenyenzi Mungu Pekee anajua vile ulivyokuwa mme mwenye mapenzi

Mwenyenzi Mungu Pekee anajua vile ulivyokuwa baba mwenye kujali wanawe

Mwenyenzi Mungu Pekee anajua vile ulivyopenda ndugu zako

Mwenyenzi Mungu Pekee anajua vile ulivyoumia kwa maumivu

Mwenyenzi Mungu Pekee anajua vile ulivumilia maumivu bila kulalamika

Mwenyenzi Mungu Pekee anajua vile ulivyo mume shujaa

Mwenyenzi Mungu Pekee anajua vile ulivyo tulizwa roho na usalama


“Uliishi Maisha Kamilifu, Ulidumisha Imani na Mwenyenzi Mungu, na Mungu aiweke roho yako mahala pema peponi, Ameni!!!”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Halala On the Move

In August 2007, we at HALALA formed a committee once again to meet routinely to plan yet another conference that would bring together as many Luhyas as we may contact. The purpose was to create a framework upon which we would build a coalition of willing soldiers of goodwill who would transcend sub tribal buriers and resist conventional pessimism to give help to the helpless and hope to the hopeless. The agenda was set to include forming a resource network for Luhyas worldwide. Provide a forum to discuss issues that affect the Luhya Diaspora and harness the opportunities offered by the American society to better the lives of those in Kenya.
The Luhya story, of which we are co-authors, had a very good beginning but somewhere along the course of time it become sad, and now it’s beginning to turn tragic. But the good news is that we still have the power to re-write this story and give it the happy ending it was always meant to have. We can re-write it by giving hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless.
Today people in Western Kenya are still dying from preventable disease and Halala has committed to do something about it by raising funds to provide a mobile clinic in the region.
A four-year project with a vision to raise $50,000 by 2009 will mark the begining of a long awaited medical facility to serve residents of Western Kenya. Residents will have access to, TB testing, Malaria, HIV 1 AND 2, Hep B &C, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, pregnancies, and also provide medication to those who cannot afford it.
Fundraising efforts to realize the above objective will be carried out by all Halala Chapters in the US.
Halala USA plans to conduct three fundraisers in the month of April in New Jersey, August in Maryland and November in Washington DC.
Members of Halala USA have committed to contribute $20.00 every month for 14 months and will be reaching out to friend and well-wishers to assist in these efforts. All contributions by checks should be made in the name of
Halala USA and can be mailed to 390 Park Avenue East Orange New Jersey 07017