Maasai celebratory songs rent the air at the plenary hall of the United Nations in Gigiri, Nairobi, as Narok First Lady Sarah Tunai received a UN Commendation Award.
The occasion was the UN Day which commemorates the day in 1945 when the UN Charter came into force, leading to the founding of what is today the premier global union of nations. This year’s celebrations marked the 70th universally of the UN.
First Lady Sarah was awarded for her work in support of eco-manyattas, the modernized environmentally friendly manyattas that she has been championing, and her campaign against female genital mutilation as well as her ongoing programme in support of girl-child education.
In a moment that took the UN dignitaries by surprise but which they evidently seemed to enjoy, the Narok County traditional dance troupe, resplendent in Maasai attire, escorted the First Lady to the stage and ceremoniously accorded her a heroine’s reception.
That Maasai touch set the hall abuzz and set the tone for the day. As each of the two other award winners, Bernard Chepchumba and Martha Karua, took the stage to receive their awards, the day’s guest of honor Finance CS Henry Rotich called on the Narok team to the stage to crown the moment. And the dancers, who are this year’s East Africa Community state organ traditional dance group champions, obliged with style and gusto.
Benerd Chepchumba received an award for his work in polio immunization while Martha Karua was celebrated for her pioneering efforts in fighting for women rights through her legal practice and in politics.
The First Lady was accompanied to the event by her husband Governor Samuel Tunai, family members and friends. Also present to support the First Lady were her counterparts from Machakos and Taita Taveta, First Lady Lillian Nganga and First Lady Hope Mruttu.
Among the dignitaries at the event were the Director-General of the UN Office in Nairobi Sahle-Work Zewde, Finance Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro.
The event also saw the launch of the UN70 postage stamp by Stephen Munita of the Office of the Postmaster General.
Narok Governor Samuel Ole Tunai yesterday held consultations with the County Assembly on new laws to manage new investments in the county as well as reform the management of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
In a day-long consultative meeting, the governor updated the assembly on the progress made in preparations for the Narok Investment Conference slated for the first week of December, and explained the need for an investment board to oversee all investments in the county.
He also apprised the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) on the progress the county government has made in reviewing the Maasai Mara Management Plan.
The County Assembly team was led by Speaker Ololtisatti Ole Kamwaro, majority leader Stephen Kudate, minority leader Dickson Muntet and Chief Whip Richard Keter. In a another sign of the close working relations between the County Assembly and Governor Tunai, only two of the County’s 47 MCAs were absent from the meeting – and the two had sent apologies.
On investment, Governor Tunai reported that over the last few months, international consultants working for the county government have mapped the resources and investment opportunities in the county and prepared investment memorandums for potential investors. Subsequently, the governor has held multiple bilateral meetings with private and state investors in India, UAE, Turkey and Oman.
As a result, two investors have committed to set up an abattoir and a potato processing factory. Discussions over several other investments are at an advanced stage, including a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant and a high end private hospital. Many other investors have confirmed participation in the investment conference in anticipation of making investments.
The governor asked the County Assembly to enact a law establishing an investment board so as to oversee all aspects of investments during and after the investment conference. Investment in Narok has to be anchored in law, declared the governor.
On Maasai Mara, the governor revealed that a bill to revamp the management of the game reserve would soon be tabled in the County Assembly. He asked the MCAs to debate and enact the new law as soon as possible so as to enable the county government implement far reaching reforms.
The new Mara Management law will set and enforce standards in quality, location and type of tourism facilities in the Mara, as well as define relationship with local communities, including setting up new laws on land use, grazing and community sharing of profits from the reserve.
The governor also noted that virtually all Narok MCAs attended the meeting and thanked them for their support and spirit of cooperation.
It was a day of music, dance and poetry at this year’s Mashujaa Day celebrations at the Maasai Mara University Grounds. The Narok County Cultural Troupe performed one of the dances that won them this year’s East Africa traditional dance trophy. Five year old Christabel Bonareri from Door of Hope Primary School recited her famous poem about floods. One of her key issues with floods: the lack of maize “choma” when it floods.
In all, 17 dance groups, choirs and schools performed – and more would have done so were it not for time constraint.
But it was matters of meat and potatoes that stole the day. Governor Samuel Tunai, the day’s guest of honor, took the occasion to announce that two foreign investors have confirmed plans to set up a meat processing and, separately, a potato processing firm in the county.
The two firms mark the first batch of investors to enter Narok since Governor Tunai began a concerted international campaign to woo investors in preparation for the county’s first investors’ conference. For the first time, the Governor also announced the date of the much anticipated investor conference: December 2nd-3rd.
The Governor also explained that he was looking to get investors in the major produce sectors of the county, in particular wheat, maize, meat and milk processing. There is no reason, he declared, why Narok’s produce should be leaving the county without value-addition and the added returns to our farmers.
Citing the ongoing Tarmacking of the Nairagie Enkare road, the governor assured residents that his administration would continue its development efforts in all other sectors. In this financial year, the county government will spend 2 billion on roads alone.
Not surprisingly, the El Nino rains – which have not yet started in Narok – featured in the proceedings. Narok East MP, Lemanken Aramat, set the ball rolling with a tongue-in-cheek complaint against the meteorological department for making famers prepare for the rains only to discover the rains would be late. Governor Tunai, County Commissioner Afande Mutindika and Deputy Governor Evalyn Aruasa followed up on the subject with a caution to residents to prepare for the rains and, if necessary, move to higher grounds. The Governor added that the County government would continue the construction of check dams in the Olopito and
Ntimama Dam areas to ensure the floods do not cause the level of damage they caused earlier in the year.
There were, too, echoes of Nairobi at the Narok Mashujaa Day event, particularly on the raging national debate over Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang cases at the international Criminal Court. Like President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Mashujaa Day national event in Nairobi, Governor Tunai took issues with the ICC’s for attempting to stop Kenyans from discussing the case. The ICC is expected to lead by example, declared the governor, and not entertain a rule such as Rule 64 which allows the court to admit recanted evidence. He argued that not even the world’s most infamous dictator, Hitler, had such a rule, and that protecting the right of the victims is no justification to trample on the rights of the accused.
Narok County had a big Sunday yesterday as the Suswa historic grounds hosted a record 200 MPs and Senators – besides the host Governor Samuel Tunai, Samburu Governor Moses K. Lenolkulal, Narok deputy Governor Evalyn Aruasa and Nakuru Deputy Governor Joseph Ruto. The event was the prayer rally for Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang who are facing an increasingly controversial case at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Upwards of 90 MCAs from Narok, Nandi, Kajiado, Nakuru and Kisii were also in attendance. That made it the best attended prayer rally for the ICC duo since the current round of prayers began.
Perhaps inevitably, the rally also saw an incredible number of speakers take to the microphone. From the host MP, Ken Lemanken Aramat to the last speaker, Majority Leader Aden Duale, no less than 82 MPs and Senators addressed the gathering.
The Suswa prayer rally was also the first since ICC Judge, Nigerian Chile Eboe-Osuji, inexplicably spoke out on the series of prayer rallies being held to seek divine attention and express dissatisfaction with the way the Ruto-Sang case at the ICC is being handled.
But if Judge Osuji had expected his veiled reprimand to cow the Jubilee leadership, the Suswa rally put paid his expectations beyond a doubt. Speaker after speaker emphasized that Kenya is a sovereign country where citizens routinely criticize their leaders and institutions – including the Supreme Court, Parliament, the county governments and the presidency – and can therefore not succumb to treating the ICC any differently. All speakers at the rally read the ICC reprimand, which Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen called a ‘msomo’ as a sign that the ICC was feeling the heat of Kenyans opposition to how it is conducting itself and an attempt to intimidate Kenyans into silence.
Taking cue from the welcome address by host Governor Samuel Tunai, the leaders also pointed out that Kenyans believe in prayers and would therefore continue praying regardless of the court’s discomfiture. The court’s recent decision to admit recanted evidence under Rule 64 was also roundly criticized as being against the basic principle of natural justice. Rule 64, declared Governor Tunai, was an anachronism that did not exist in any other court system, not even in the worst dictatorships.
An interesting angle to the ICC reprimand also emerged at the rally. In the press statement by all the leaders that was read by Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau, the leaders pointed out the curiosity of Judge Osuji speaking out on a matter which neither the prosecution nor the defense or the victims lawyer had raised. As explained by Senator Murkomen who is a lawyer, a judge never addresses a matter that has not been moved by a party to a case. Yet Judge Osuji had done exactly that, in effect acting as an interested party to the case rather than a judge.
The meeting also witnessed a big announcement. As explained by Majority Leader Aden Duale, almost 200 MPs had already signed a petition and delivered it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for onward transmission to the UN Security Council and ICC Assembly of State Parties. The petition contests the retrospective use of Rule 64 and calls for the activation of the ICC Statute on oversight over the court’s prosecutor and judges.
The bottom line: Once again, as has happened many times before, the historic Suswa Grounds – a sacred prayer ground to the Maasai Community – lived to its reputation as the place where major political declarations are made. This time it was the ICC getting a ‘msomo’.
The grading and gravelling of the 45 km Mutenkuar to Pimbiniet Road in Kilgoris Central is now off the blocks, thanks to the official launch of the project by Governor Tunai.
The road project will cover the Nailare, Kilena and Tororek sections, effectively easing transport in most of Kilgoris Central Ward.
Governor Tunai on Friday led a high powered delegation of leaders in raising 11.8 million for Mutenkuar Secondary School.
The governor was joined in the fundraiser by Nairobi County Speaker Alex Ole Magelo, Narok Deputy Speaker Ketuyio Otuni, Kilgoris Central ward MCA Tompo Kuya, Kimintet MCA Kijape Tunai and Nairobi County Chief Officer Simon Leboo Morintat.
The governor contributed 1.5 Million and promised residents to return in a few weeks time to launch milk coolants in the ward.
Narok Governor Samuel Ole Tunai yesterday gave the County Assembly of Narok a glimpse of the investments expected to feature at the County’s investment summit – investNarok Summit – scheduled for mid next month.
The governor told a packed assembly that he had received firm investment undertakings from several investors during his recent investment lobbying trips to the United Arab Emirates, India and the United States. Among the investments that he discussed with investors – and for which negotiations are at an advanced stage – include meat processing, contract farming, potato processing, medical supplies and educational facilities.
The governor made the announcement during his third State of County Address to the Narok County Assembly. He was received at the Assembly by the County Speaker, Nabulu Kamwaro and a guard of honor mounted by the County Rangers.
Governor Tunai also informed the Assembly of the various measures that his administration has undertaken in various sub-sectors. Among the notable achievements that he enumerated is the employment of additional medical staff, disbursement of bursaries and construction of classrooms, school dormitories, dining halls and administration blocks across the County. Also mentioned were road infrastructure developments, the Narok water supply project and the revamping of the management of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
Governor Tunai’s address was also heavy in reconciliation and a call for unity of purpose between the two arms of the County government and across the county’s political divide. He recalled in passing the political upheavals that had gripped the county earlier this year and thanked the people of Narok for demonstrating tolerance and resilience during that period. The governor reiterated his commitment to serve all the people of Narok irrespective of their ethnic or political backgrounds and assured the County assembly of his continued support.
The imminent El Nino rains also featured prominently in the governor’s address. The governor revealed that the county government was constructing 12 flood check dams and a series of water pans to control the flood waters from the Olopito area. Three check dams and five water pans are nearing completion in the Ntimama dam area in the outskirts of the town.
The county has also set up a Disaster Management Committee and sub-county disaster management committees that are closely liaising with the County Commissioner’s office.
Narok County today became the first County government to respond to the recent plea by the judiciary for devolved governments to donate land for the expansion of judiciary services.
In a brief ceremony at the County Headquarters in Narok, Governor Tunai handed over a letter confirming the donation of an acre of prime land within Narok town to the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, Anne Amadi.
The land will be used to construct a new High Court Branch. Currently, Narok residents have to travel to Naivasha in neighbouring Nakuru County for High Court services. Governor Tunai caused laughter by noting that Nakuru County already has another High Court branch in Nakuru town – and that upwards of 70 percent of the cases at the Naivasha branch are from Narok.
The governor also informed the Chief Registrar that the judiciary’s new approach of meting custodial sentences to poaching convicts is having a noticeable deterrent impact.
Chief Registrar Amadi assured the governor that the construction of the new court would begin before the end of the year. She revealed that the judiciary has resolved to have High Court branches in the 13 counties that currently lack the service and thanked Narok for being the first county to donate land for the setting up of a court.
In response to a request by the Chief Registrar, Governor Tunai also undertook to find appropriate land for the construction of residences for judicial staff.
The Chief Registrar was accompanied by newly posted Narok Chief Magistrate Wibrodah Juma and Narok Magistrate Allan Sitati.
Five flood check dams and three water pans will be completed this week on the outskirts of Narok town as the county prepares for the El Nino deluge. The announcement was made by Deputy President William Ruto during an inspection tour of the construction sites yesterday.
An additional ten check dams will be completed by the Narok County Government further upstream of the flood path that cuts through Narok town.
The Deputy president also announced that the national government will prioritize the construction of a full-fledged dam to be known as the Narok Dam in the next financial year to permanently resolve the threat of floods in Narok. The dam will also provide a reservoir of water for irrigation and livestock farming for area residents.
The construction of the dams and water-pans is being undertaken jointly by the County Government of Narok and the national government in what marks a turning point in the prevention of floods in Narok. Unlike in the past when flood prevention was limited to clearing the flood paths, a joint committee of the national and county government settled on a strategy of deploying control dams and water pans as a way of taming the flood waters before they reach the town.
A contingent of 200 NYS personnel will also be on the ground in Narok during the rainy season as part of a rapid response emergency team. Up to a thousand local youth, medical staff and flood management experts will join the team.
The Deputy President was accompanied by Water and Irrigation CS, Eugene Wamalwa and Narok County Governor Samuel Tunai.
The inspection tour by the Deputy President came a day after Governor Tunai and the new Narok County Commissioner, Afande Mutindika, spent the larger part of the day verifying the county’s readiness for the imminent rains.
Among the measures already in place is the widening and reinforcing of the existing storm drainage system along the main flood path. The concrete-reinforced drainage tunnels that hug the town’s main road have similarly been repaired.
In a public address at the Majengo Grounds yesterday, the Deputy President also reiterated the message that the government has been making across the nation in the count-down to the El Nino rains: the forecasted massive rains are for real and everyone should take all necessary precautions.
In his address, the Governor Tunai also appealed to residents of Narok town and other parts of the county that are known to be prone to flooding – such as Suswa and Nairagie-Enkare – to be extra-cautious and be ready to temporarily move to safer grounds. Livestock and other possessions should be similarly kept away from flood paths.
While assuring his constituents that the check dams and water-pans will hugely reduce the impact of flooding in Narok, the Governor noted that the precise magnitude of the expected deluge was still unclear and may well necessitate additional measures.
Five flood check dams and three water pans will be completed this week on the outskirts of Narok town as the flood prone county prepares for the El Nino rains.
Speaking during an inspection tour of the construction sites yesterday, Narok County Governor Samuel Tunai said the dams and water-pans will hold back about 80 percent of the flood waters that typically threatens the town during the rainy season.
The Governor also announced that an additional ten water pans will be completed within the week further upstream of the flood path that leads into Narok town.
Existing flood paths through the town are also being widened and deepened to further ease the flow of water. Work on reinforcing the huge trenches with concrete was ongoing as the press joined the Governor on the inspection tour.
The town’s drainage system, particularly along the town's main road, has also been redone after the floods that ravaged the town in April this year. Over 15 people perished at the time after floods swept away cars and destroyed buildings.
The governor was accompanied by the new Narok County Commissioner, Afande Mutindika and a host of MCAs and other local leaders.
The construction of the dams and water-pans is being undertaken jointly by the County Government of Narok and the national government in what marks a landmark in the prevention of floods in Narok. Unlike in the past when flood prevention was limited to clearing the flood paths, a joint committee of the national and county government settled on control dams and water pans as a way of taming the flood waters before they reach the town.
Following expert advice from the committee, the County Government set aside Ksh200 million to construct a chain of dams and water pans in all the flood prone areas of the county. The first five dams and three water-pans have been constructed specifically in anticipation of the heavy rains expected from the imminent El Nino rains.
A proposal to relocate the town to higher grounds was shelved after it become clear that it was not only uneconomical and likely to take years but also unnecessary.
Governor Tunai also called on residents of Narok town and other parts of the county that are known to be prone to flooding such as Suswa and Nairagie-Enkare to be cautious and take all necessary measures to avoid being caught in the floods. While assuring his constituents that the check dams and water-pans will hugely reduce the impact of flooding in Narok, he noted that it was still unclear how serious the El Nino will be. He asked all those at risk to temporarily move to safer areas and keep their livestock and other possessions away from flood paths.