Saturday, March 30, 2013

Supreme Court Upholds Kenyan Election

Saturday in Kenya, the Supreme Court of the country, upheld the results of the March 4, 2013 elections.

Kenyatta had received 50.07 % of the vote, winning the election and narrowly avoiding a run-off with his rival, Raila Odinga. Odinga contested the validity of the election process and results in court.

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said the court had agreed unanimously that the election had been conducted "in compliance with the constitution and the law" and the result was valid.

The following is the court order:

(Coram: Mutunga CJ, Tunoi, Ibrahim, Ojwang, Wanjala, Njoki SCJJ)
1. After extensive deliberations, we are happy to announce the Supreme Court has reached a unanimous decision on all the four issues that fell for determination in presidential election Petition No. 3, 4 and 5 as consolidated.
2. The following is the unanimous decision of the court:
(i) As to whether the presidential election held on March 4th 2013, was conducted in a free, fair, transparent and credible manner, in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution and all relevant provisions of the law; it is the decision of the court that the said elections were indeed conducted in compliance with the Constitution and the law.
(ii) As to whether the 3rd and 4th Respondents were validly elected and declared as President elect and Deputy President elect of the Republic of Kenya respectively, by the Second Respondent in the presidential elections held on the 4th March 2013; it is the decision of the court that the 3rd and 4th respondents were validly elected.
(iii) As to whether the rejected votes ought to have been included in determining the final tally of votes in favour of each of the
Presidential candidate by the 2nd Respondent; it is the decision of the court that such rejected votes ought not to have been included in calculating the final tallies in favour of each presidential candidate.
(iv) As to what consequential declarations, orders and reliefs, that this honourable court ought to grant based on the above determinations, the following are the orders of the Court:
a. Petition No.5 of the consolidated petitions is hereby dismissed.
b. Petition No. 4 of the consolidated petitions is hereby dismissed.
c. As to Petition No. 3 of the consolidated petitions, the prayer by the Petitioners seeking a declaration of recomputation of percentages by the 2nd Respondent is declined as the court as no jurisdiction.
d. Regarding orders as to costs, the Court orders that each party bears his/her/it’s own costs.
3. The detailed judgement containing the reasons for decision of the Court will be issued within two weeks from today.
4. Orders accordingly.
DATED and DELIVERED at NAIROBI this 30th March, 2013.
I certify that this is a true
Copy of the original

In responding to the court's decision, Raila Odinga said though he didn't agree with the decision, he would abide by it.  President-Elect Uhuru said that the order was a victory for all Kenyans who turned up to cast their votes on March 4, 2013.  He pledged that his government would work with, and serve, all Kenyans without regard to political affiliation or discrimination.

God bless Kenya.

Happy Easter Weekend to you all.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Vancouver South African Film Festival 2013

I'm fascinated by the story of First People's around the world. As an adult, I've made it a point to learn as much as possible about the First People's of particular countries where I've travelled.  I've been astounded to see so many similarities in cultures and beliefs despite the obvious differences of land, language and food.

About a year ago I attended the local Vancouver South African Film Festival (VSAFF). The VSAFF is in it's 3rd year here in Vancouver. On April 13 and 14th, it will present features and documentaries that explore the culture, history and politics of South Africa. The proceeds of VSAFF go to Education Without Borders, a Canadian organization which provides educational opportunities in disadvantaged areas of the world. Currently EWB is focussing on the township of Gugulethu, South Africa.

So at this point you might be asking yourself what is the connection between First Peoples and the VSAFF? This year one of the VSAFF films is "Tracks Across Sand", a film about the ‡ Khomani San, a people who were forced from their lands, pushed into poverty and denied even the most basic right to speak their languages. Sounds like a story familiar to many indigenous people around the world, including here in Canada.

"Tracks Across Sand" brings together the story of the African bushman in South Africa, their struggles and their ultimate successful claim. The film also returns to see how the people are making out 10 years after their settlement.  The film was made over a 12 year period by anthropologist, writer and filmmaker, Hugh Brody. My first and only introduction to Hugh Brody's work, was through his book, Maps and Dreams, a fascinating book about the hunting and land use maps of the Dunne-Za and Cree people of northern BC.

Here is a short trailer of the film.

There are also numerous other interesting looking films being presented by the VSAFF this year. I'm hoping to take in one or two. If you are in the area, check out the roster of films. Maybe you'd like to take one in also.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sponsoring Children in Africa

I often hear from people who would like to sponsor a child but just haven't taken the steps to do it. I like to talk about my experiences from time to time as a way to bring awareness to the need and also to help others who are thinking about child sponsorship.

About a month ago I wrote about my two new sponsored children in Zambia.

First up is Hiness who is 12 years old and in Grade 6.  Next is Lindunda who is 15 years old and in grade 7.
After sponsoring these two children, I felt led to help another one. His name is Humphrey and he is in Grade 2. I don't know his age yet.

These children go to school in Livingston, Zambia.
I have written my first letters to these precious young children and am excitedly waiting to hear back from them.  I've been spending a fair bit of time shopping for appropriate things to send to them every few months so that I can have them on hand for when I am ready to send them other letters.

All 3 of these children go to Christian School in Livingstone, Zambia. If you can help, the school needs many more sponsors for children. I have the link at the bottom of this post.

I also sponsor two boys in Kenya (Peter and John, who I've written about before).  I am also what is called a "correspondent sponsor" to a boy in Ethiopia named Haile.  Someone else whom I do not know, is his financial sponsor.  For whatever reason, the financial sponsor does not write to Haile and I have volunteered to write him and encourage him.

This is Haile in Ethiopis showing his development over the last 5 years or so. On the left is his most recent photo taken at age 21.

I've only been writing to Haile for 2 years.  He has been in the program for much longer than that.  Haile is 21 but only in Grade 8.  He suffers from epilepsy which makes it hard for him to really focus on his education.  In Africa many children have a late start in school.  Alternatively they have inconsistent school attendance due to lack of funds.  Families have a very hard time feeding their children and getting the money together for daily food must take priority to sending someone to school, especially when you factor in all the costs associated with education.  Even in Canada, so called "free" education comes with a huge financial burden for parents to pay for all the things that the schools cannot pay for. It is the same situation in Africa though the needs might be somewhat different.

Haile will be 22 years old in June and will no longer be able to continue in the child sponsorship program through Compassion Canada. I've been sending him a flurry of letters as we near his completion program.  I am trying to "pour into him" some scriptures and some encouragement as he transitions to life on his own.  Mostly I need to remember to pray for him as there is no way to contact him once he graduates or for he to contact me.  Hopefully the faith he has come to know through the program and some of the skills training he has received will help him in his future.  What I worry about besides the obvious things like food and shelter is about whether he will be able to seek medical help and continue to afford medications. I definitely need to keep him in prayer.

Compassion, has offices all around the world and many children who need a loving sponsor if you would like to sponsor a child through an established organization that can give you a charitable receipt.  It costs about
$ 38/41 (US/Canadian) dollars a month, plus the annual Christmas, birthday and family gifts to sponsor a child.  If you do not have funds, perhaps you could think about becoming a correspondent sponsor?

All children need to be encouraged, motivated, and inspired as well as held up in prayer support. You might be that one who can provide it to one special child through your cards and letters.  You can click here to reach the Compassion Canada page for sponsoring children. At the top of the page, you can select the country in which you would like to sponsor a child. If you are not Canadian, at the bottom of the page, you will find links to other country websites where there are Compassion offices.  If you want to be a correspondent sponsor, you can send an email to the appropriate office and let them know you are interested in writing to a child (see the Contact Us page at the website). It can take awhile to be matched up with a child in this situation but it is well worth the wait.

Don't forget too that there are many grassroots organizations in Africa that try to help their own. These ones do not have an organization in foreign lands to help them provide charitable tax receipts but they need your help nonetheless. When you give this way you can "cut out" the middle man and avoid most administration expenses although not entirely.  You can be assured that your funds are going to real needs on the ground.  There are no administration offices with their attendant costs so your help will go directly to those that are in dire need of support.  Even so those in the community that help to get the help to those that need it also have needs for food, shelter, travel and costs associated with delivering the particular help.

If you would like to help one or more of the Zambian children at the Christian School in Zambia, sponsorship is $11.50 a month. Please click here for more information.

Many of you will know that from time to time I go on self-funded missions to help the grassroots people in Kenyan villages.  This means helping people with many of their day to day needs and in diverse ways (food, clothing, school supplies, jiko stoves, seeds & fertilizer, medical needs, travel and costs associated with school and medical helps). It can be expensive especially in a country like Kenya.  But these people desperately need help.  If you wish to help in any way and in any amount, please do contact me at my email here or by leaving a comment.

May you and your family have a Blessed Easter Season and May God speak to your heart as you consider
what you can do to help a vulnerable family in Africa today.

Court Cases ~ Post-Election Kenya

Dear friends,

Since my last post about court challenges to the conduct and outcome of the Kenyan elections, the Supreme Court has begun to deal with the many applications put before it.

Several of the court's decisions have been around who has standing (right to appear in court on the issues) and whether certain applications/petitions were filed on time, etc.

On Monday, March 25, 2013, the Supreme Court ordered a recount of ballots cast at 22 polling stations before it rules on the validity of the recent elections which were held on March 4, 2013. 

“The re-tally shall aim at establishing whether the number of votes cast in each of these 22 polling stations exceeds the number of registered voters,” Justice Smokin Wanjala said at a pretrial hearing today in Nairobi.

The six judge panel of the Supreme Court has until Saturday March 30, 2013, to decide whether the President-Elect, Uhuru Kenyatta should be confirmed as the country's new President, or whether new elections should take place.

In other news, my friend Jonah's brother was injured in a motor bike accident in Kenya. Please keep this family in your prayers as they deal with this and other matters.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Update 2 - Kenyan Elections

I left off in my last post with news of the victorious Jubilee Alliance leaders, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, who were declared winners of the Presidency and Vice-Presidency in the recent Kenyan elections. I also posted about Raila Odinga's plans to contest the election results. The Honourable Odinga was vying for the Presidency and he and his running mate, Kilonzo Musyoka, felt that the election process was ripe with fraud or vote rigging and that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) failed in a number of areas concerning the conduct of the election process.

These children live in a very dry part of Kenya where water is a problem. They are standing at the site of an uncompleted water project.

Kenya's new Constitution provides for the legal contest and indeed this is a vast improvement over civil strife and mayhem that occurred after the last election results were disputed in 2007.  Odinga filed his legal challenge today (Saturday) in the country's Supreme Court in Nairobi.  In filing his claims, the Honourable Odinga made this statement to the press

 “I am not challenging the election outcome because I am determined to be declared president; but I realised that to do otherwise would be a betrayal of the new Constitution and democracy given the malpractices.”

Grounds on which the Honourable Odinga and the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) hope to build their legal challenge:
  • IEBC failed to carry out proper and valid voter registration in accordance with Article 83 of the Constitution
  • In some constituencies, the number of votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters
  • IEBC allowed a mobile phone service provider to co-host both its server and that of the TNA
  • IEBC electronic results transmission systems adopted were poorly selected and designed
  • IEBC failed to conduct transparent, verifiable and accountable elections

Apparently several other court cases concerning the elections have been filed.  I'm not sure what they are but my guess is that the CORD Coalition court case is the most significant one since it cuts to the heart of the electoral process.  Raila is seeking an invalidation of the entire election and the holding of a fresh poll.  If the Supreme Court invalidates the election, a new election must be held within 60 days.

Despite the fact that the election process is in effect in limbo, I think the Cord case is an important one.  Almost 50% of the electorate voted for Cord.  It is important for the leadership candidates and their team members, and for all Kenyans, to be fully assured of the election process and outcomes so that they can stand behind the elected leadership with certainty that the election was won fairly and squarely.

These children are curious onlookers to a meeting going on with the women of the village. You can see that there is a lot of lush vegetation as this area gets more rain but clean water is still an issue here as it is in many rural parts of Kenya.

Please continue to pray for Kenya and for the six (6) Supreme Court Justices who are entrusted with hearing the petitions and making appropriate rulings.  The outcomes will affect the future generations of Kenya.

This photo is taken in a very dry part of Kenya. These children have grown up in this harsh climate. It would be great if they could have access to a ready supply of refreshing, clean water.  Water, roads, food security, etc. are all important things that generations of Kenyans look forward to and their hopes are pinned upon their elected leaders. Keep them in your prayers.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kenya Election (2013) Update

In my last post I asked for prayer for the nation and the people of Kenya who on March 4 this week, underwent their first national election since 2007.  After the election results were announced in 2007, horrendous violence broke out.  About 1200 people were murdered and countless people became internal refugees as clashes broke out over ethnic rivalries and Presidential election outcomes. It took a lot of negotiations, diplomatic interventions and Constitutional reform to try to bring hope to the ordinary citizen of Kenya.

National elections again took place on March 4, 2013.  One of the candidates vying for Presidency (Uhuru Kenyatta) and his running mate (William Ruto), face crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) of the Hague.  Uhuru Kenyatta's trial  at the ICC was to begin in April but as of March 8th his trial date has been set for July 9, 2013.  Generally in courts, one is deemed to be innocent until proven guilty, but the ICC and many Kenyans, and indeed even foreign governments, have so far acted as if these individuals are presumed guilty until proven innocent. Many people base their feelings and opinions about the individuals charged, based on their ethnic or tribal affiliation and the history of the political divisions in Kenya.  Often political leadership determines patronage for the best jobs and contracts or ensure that particular tribes wield a lot of influence. It is difficult for a foreigner to understand why and how this happens unless they understand the colonial history of the country, the transition of the country to democracy and the "tradition" of corruption that has flourished in the country since the transition.  Most ordinary citizens of the country have not benefitted from post-colonial democracy and most just want to have equal opportunity to education and a livelihood. Most also want good and affordable health care and better infrastructure. None of this is really possible as long as the country remains divided along tribal or ethnic lines.  There are many examples of how this kind of co-existence can lead to devastating impacts on a country.

Nairobi, Kenya's Capital
During Monday's election some people died.  I'm not sure the exact number but the reason seems to be attacks on the electorate by members of a separatist party.  For the most part, the elections were conducted peacefully although the fact that many workers did not return to work and have been anxious about the election outcomes give one a good idea of the state of tensions in the country.

An overwhelming turnout of 70% of the registered voters (14.3 million people) queued in line for hours upon hours to cast their votes. The people have been sitting on tenterhooks since Monday, as they still do not have final results of the elections.  To give you some idea of the massive scope of this election process (and hopefully some idea of the logistics, monetary investment & time required to conduct it and to tally the votes, there are 290 polling stations with 10,000+ candidates.  They are vying not only for the position of President, but also Governors, Senators, Members of Parliament and Women's Representatives.

Kibera Slum, near Nakuru, Kenya.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission  (IEBC) of Kenya is responsible for tallying the election results.  Legally they have 7 days to do it.  Kenyan voter expectations were high and they expected results on Tuesday because the initial tabulation and transmission of voter results was to be done electronically.  The electronic system failed and the IEBC has had to alter it's process and rely on manual tallying.  They have been giving updates about their process and giving new forecasts as to when they expect to announce final and official elections results.  But tensions rise each day.  Each day of delay leads people to think that something is amiss and that the process is being rigged.  This is what happened in the 2007 elections which ultimately ended in violence.

Look out along the Nairobi-Nakuru Hwy. overlooking the Great Rift Valley.

All returning officers from all parts of Kenya, including some very isolated areas of the country, have now made their way to Nairobi.  As of Wednesday they are all together undergoing the tallying of the votes. The Chairman of the IEBC, Isaack Hassan, has appealed for patience among his countrymen.  He has appealed to Kenyans to await the official results has tried to reassure them that given the security of the tabulation system, it is not subject to vote rigging.  Now however, one of the Presidential candidates, Raila Odinga (as reported in at least one paper), and his running mate (Kilonzo Musyoka) have called into question the credibility of the tallying process.  It is this kind of talk that stirs up the emotions of people  although the running mate did specifically appeal for calm and for the tallying process to be halted and started anew.  Raila Odinga was also a Presidential candidate in the 2007 elections and so it is understandable why and his running mate feel frustrated by the issues with vote tallying. It is also difficult for people at the grassroots to remain calm precisely because they felt cheated in the last election.  Some people, including me, think, it would have been more prudent for the political candidates to wait until after official results are announced before determining what interventions are needed. In fact, I believe the new Constitution of Kenya would not permit the IEBC to halt tallying in the midst of it.  They must return an official count within 7 days.  I believe that those that have standing to dispute the results can then file a claim in court.  The courts have apparently geared up to ensure that such claims are dealt with expeditiously.

A busy street on one of Kenya's busy cities. I cannot remember where but I think it is in Nakuru.

Schools are still closed for the protection of the children.  Government offices have remained closed as Kenyans anxiously await the announcement of final presidential results.  Today (Thursday) civil servants were ordered to return to work by 8:00 a.m. Friday.  The private sector also appealed to workers to return to work. I've heard that street vendors are back on the streets selling their wares.  They are too poor to miss work and prices for food stuffs have tripled over the past few days. My guess is because most stores are closed  there is a small  opportunity for poor vendors to try and make some money. There are also probably not as many customers on the streets as people sit at home waiting for election results.

Street vendors along a busy highway.  The cabbages in Kenya are huge.

Please continue to pray for the election outcomes, the protection of the Kenyan people and their beautiful country. It is Friday tomorrow and the expected day of official election results though the IEBC tecnically has a few more days if required. Updated March 8: 2:25 p.m. Kenya time:  The race is down to the last moments with the top candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta hovering near 50 percent.  To win the Presidency, a candidate must get 50% +1 vote to win, otherwise the country will face a run-off in April.  Groups of security forces are starting to appear in the streets of the cities to ensure they are ready for any potential eruptions.

On my side of the world it is wee hours of the morning and I need to get some shut eye. I will learn of the new President on Friday my time.  Update March 8: 11:27 p.m. Kenya time:    There is still no clear winner but with 271 out of 291 constituency votes tallied, it appears that the leader of the Jubilee Party, Uhuru Kenyatta, is set to win on the first round.  Update March 9: 12:04 a.m. Kenya time:  A representative of the IEBC has just announced that final and official election results will not be announced until 11:00 a.m. He also announced that this was to maintain the integrity of the process which includes an audit of the final tallies, and the presence of representatives of all the political parties. Update March 9: 6:54 a.m. Kenya time:  The media is reporting that the IEBC quietly announced Uhuru Kenyatta as the new President of Kenya at about 2:00 a.m. local time.  The margin of victory is slim.  I believe the IEBC will still make an official announcement at 11:00 a.m. as planned. Raila Odinga,  the other lead Presidential candidate, is expected to make a statement sometime on Saturday morning.  Update March 9: Approximately 2:45 p.m. Kenya time - James Oswego, CEO of the IEBC and Isaack Hassan announced the official results of the election and declared Uhuru Kenyatta the new President-Elect. They also handed him one of 3 certificates with the official results as they are bound by law to do.  There are two other certificates of the official election results, one for the sitting President, Mwai Kibaki ,and the other for the Chief Justice of Kenya, William Mutunga.  Results - Uhuru Kenyatta 6,173,433 (50.07%); Raila Odinga 5,340,546 (43.31%).  Both Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga give speeches to their countrymen.  Uhuru Kenyatta gave an excellent Presidential type speech and thanked everyone who ran for office and ensured a robust democratic process.  He thanked the people of Kenya and pledged to work with all presidential candidates to move Kenya forward.  His Vice-President-Elect, William Ruto, introduced him and moved me to tears and laughter with his praise to God for the miracle of their election victory, and his anecdote about when he first met Mzee Kenyatta.  The Honourable Raila Odinga, gave a speech in a different location and indicated that he will contest the electoral outcomes in the Supreme Court, which is his legal option.  He also appealed to Kenyans to remain peaceful while he undertakes the legal challenge.

Many people seemed jubilant about the election outcomes despite the long and tiring process of the elections.  Media houses showed revellers in different cities across the nation.  One especially moving clip I saw was when a group of Kenyans marched along the streets of Nairobi chanting and singing.  They came to a stop at Jomo Kenyatta's mausoleum, knelt on the sidewalk, raised their hands and prayed to God. Jomo Kenyatta was the first Prime Minister, and later President of Kenya, and he also happens to be the father of the new President-Elect,  Uhuru Kenyatta.  Kenya has turned a new chapter in it's political development and has matured and taken another step forward in it's democratic development.

I thank those of you who prayed for Kenya and her people. I thank God that the Kenyan leaders also pray and look to God for his wisdom and help.  I pray that God would continue to lead them and guide them as they continue to grow their democracy. God bless Kenya!

Once things have settled down, I hope at last to post about my giveaway.  For now it seems inappropriate as I wait for the outcome along with my friends who live so far away.

God bless.

 Pray without ceasing.
1 Thess. 5:17

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pray For Kenya

Dear friends,

Kenya is having a national election on Monday, March 4, 2013.  For those of us in the western Hemisphere, it will still be Sunday evening while Kenyans are out voting.

The last Kenyan national elections were held December 27, 2007. It was a violent time. Kenyans and their supporters abroad don't want a repeat of this.

Please keep Kenya in your prayers for a peaceful outcome to their elections on Monday, March 4, 2013, and for God's hand to be involved in leadership selection.

Have a great weekend and may God bless your leadership too.

Tuesday 4 ~ Books

Welcome back to Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4 . Books are such a big part of many people's lives. Maybe we should talk about that. 1. Do y...