H for Huduma Mystery, K for Kipchoge: The A-Z of 2019
By Nzau Musau | December 28th 2019
The year 2019 was the year of the pig, the last animal on the Chinese Zodiac calendar.
In Christian teachings, Jesus stuffed demons onto a pig. And in Islam, the pig is considered unclean.
Like a pig that is fraught with grunts, squeaks and growls, the year 2019 was a mix of syllables that shaped it out.
When the two scions of Kenya’s feared drug baron Ibrahim Akasha confessed to dabbling in drugs, they were not only bringing down their own empire but also network of allies in crime. Throughout 2019, lawyers, judges and politicians who aided them lived on the edge, suspended between the fear of being called out and being bundled onto waiting American choppers.
B for ‘bedroom’ politics
Pounded relentlessly by Deputy President William Ruto in Kibra by-election, Opposition leader Raila Odinga declared the constituency his bedroom. The scenes in Kibra were iconic; an ex-Senator wielding stones, an MP being de-capped and a political neophyte howling at the mic. When the dust on Kibra settled, “bedroom” had added swell to Kenya’s political lingua.
C for census and cholera
In keeping with the tradition, Kenyans were counted in 2019 with the results unfurling quite some shockers. In some instances, the numbers shrunk while doubts were placed on variance of voting numbers and the census figures. In the same year, cholera, the disease of inequity reared its ugly head in the country’s premier health facility, Nairobi Hospital.
D for divorce details in Linturi/Keittany
The Kenyan public was treated to raunchy details of the love-gone-awry between Senator Mithika Linturi and ex-Deputy President aide Maryanne Keitany. From the shape of the miraa bunch that she was given to chew, to revelations that Linturi was tucked away in a lodge with Keittany on the day he was supposed to be moving an impeachment motion against Anne Waiguru.
E for Ethiopian air crash
The horror of the Ethiopian plane crash is still raw; the shattered dreams of passengers, the anguish of Paul Njoroge whose family perished, the repulsive crater in Bishoftu formed by the Boeing aircraft when it dived on ground. And the grounding of Boeing 737’s.
F for ferry deaths
The lethargy and shame of Kenya Ferry Services stuck like a sore thumb when a car being ferried across the Likoni channel slid through the ramps onto the sea waters. For days, all eyes were on the channel as divers struggled to retrieve the car and its occupants, a mother and her four-year-old. Not long after, another man drove headlong into the waters.
G for gambling purge
After presiding over the implosion of gambling culture in Kenya for years, the government suddenly decided to come down hard on choice betting companies and in the process shattering businesses and lives of gamblers. Sports sponsorships suffered an instant hit while advertising revenues dropped exponentially.
H for huduma number
A bolt from the blues, the utility and the urgency of the Huduma Number registration remains one of the mysteries of 2019. On the day of the launch, all opposition leaders were dispatched to remote locations to grant it a stamp of credibility. Many months later, the number disappeared and Kenyans were left clutching onto waiting slips.
I for interest rates
Three years after capping commercial lending rates at not more than 4 percent above Central bank of Kenya benchmark rate, the government reversed the decision in 2019. Borrowers were then left once again at the mercy of commercial banks as MPs failed to reverse the move.
J for the stalled judicial appointments
Judicial Service Commission spent considerable time interviewing and selecting judges only to realize that its word may not have been final. The President dithered in issuing the formal appointments leading to an ongoing court case. In the meantime, Court of Appeal judges continued to shrink as judges retired, were promoted or died.
K for Kipchoge the great
Eliud Kipchoge proved himself worthy of the title "Greatest of all time" marathoner after he successfully completed the INEOS challenge of running a marathon in under two hours. The moment he bust through the tape, with a wild grin, history was made. He would later be crowned with Elder of the Order of Golden Heart (EGH) commendation by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
L for La Mada chronicles
The nation awoke to the shock of Deputy President William Ruto's claim that four of his cabinet juniors were plotting to kill him. Led by Peter Munya, the four CS's presented themselves to Directorate of the Criminal Investigation (DCI) but it turned out that the complainant himself had not recorded a statement. The matter dissipated in thin air.
M for mercury purportedly found in sugar
Thousands of tonnes of rice, sugar and fertilizer were confiscated in government renewed war against contraband goods in first quarter of 2019. However, it was the revelations that most of the sugar confiscated had tasted for destructive levels of mercury that shocked Kenyans. Later, the government banned popular maize flours claiming their contained aflatoxin.
N for NIS men who took charge
In 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta completed his vision of key institutions being run by National Intelligence Service (NIS) luminaries. When Joseph Boinett retired as Inspector General of Police, Uhuru picked on Hilary Mutyambai, a top NIS official. The same at Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission where Twalib Barak, a former military intelligence officer took charge.
O for oil export
It is during 2019 that Kenya exported the first crude oil export consignment from Turkana. Aboard Mv Celsius Riga, the Sh1.2 billion marked the beginning of a journey that many hope does not turn tragic. A Chinese state-owned firm ChemChina won the tender to buy the maiden Kenyan oil.
P for prominent deaths
In 2019, prominent Kenyans succumbed to the grim reaper. From rally ace Jonathan Toroitich to Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore and from former Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso to writer Binyavanga Wainaina. Outside Kenya, Robert Mugabe the former Zimbabwean independence hero and President passed away this year.
Q for quotes of the year
The year presented opportunities for memorable quotes that earned their place in Kenyan’s psyche. Among them is Eliud Kipchoge's "No human is limited".
R for referendum drives
The year 2019 was characterized with persistent calls for referendum. It is the year Dr Ekuru Aukot's Punguza Mzingo referendum drive was born and killed by county assemblies. Towards the very end, BBI referendum discussions almost split the country before one side strategically pulled back.
S for Seventh Day Adventist Church wrangles
The sight of Flying Squad head Muga Nyale storming St Maxwell SDA Church in Nairobi shocked many Kenyans. A leadership wrangle had mutated to the point that Flying Squad had to be involved. Besides the SDA church, the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) was involved in a messy transition process in 2019.
T for tax purges
In the year 2019, Kenya Revenue Authority pulled a shocker, coming down hard on businessmen and women it claimed owed them taxes. Notable targets in the purge included Keroche Breweries boss Tabitha Karanja and businessman Humprey Kariuki.
U for uniting of the Kakamega twins
It was perhaps one of the outstanding stories of 2019 when twins- Sharon Mathias and Melon Lutenyo were reunited. Born on the same day in August 1999 to same mother Rosemary Onyango, the pair had grown up in separate homes following a mix up in the delivery room only to be reunited this year.
V for victory against terror
Despite starting the year on a sad note, Dusit Attack, 2019 registered considerable progress in defeat of terror and its sponsors. The response in Dusit is said to have been more coordinated, leading to more rescues and extermination of the terrorists. Over and above that, and despite sporadic bus attacks and kidnappings in Mandera, Kenya made significant steps in taming terror.
W for wash-wash and the Dubai gold scam
It is the year that the thriving fake dollar money syndicate was busted in Kenya. Multiple raids in Nairobi suburbs netted millions of fake money and boxes of fake gold bars. The country's top politicians were also caught up in a Dubai gold scam which allegedly involved a member of a royal family.
X for x-rating of Kenyan politicians
In the year, Kenyan politicians, assisted by Apostle James Ng’ang’a, continued to stretch their expletives limits. From MP Charles Njagua threatening to flush out Tanzanians off Gikomba to Cate Waruguru coming down hard on Anne Waiguru, it became quite a task to watch live proceedings of rallies with inquisitive toddlers on the side.
Y for you, yes you!
The year 2019 presented a lot of opportunities to get things right. You failed the country if you continued to make choices on tribal or parochial considerations. If you failed to speak up in the face of an injustice or to encourage a good deed, you failed. You, the man or the woman in the mirror.
Z for Zzzzzz in Parliament
The year 2019 came and left Member of Parliament in deep slumber as Kenyans were taken for a ride on many fronts. The President had his way with most legislation as MPs gave feeble protest. Parliament lost its place as the last line of defense for hapless Kenyans.
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