President Kibaki: “I have only one wife”

President Kibaki made a rare show by holding a press conference to dispel rumours that he has a second wife or mistress. With the first lady Lucy Kibaki by his side, the president pleaded with the media to stop peddling what he termed as “uongo” (lies) about his involvement with another woman. He warned that anyone continuing to spread “such lies” would see him in court. After the president made his remarks the stunned members of the press seemed unable to ask any questions. Mrs. Kibaki then had a tearful outburst, calling out Paul Muite, among others. Yesterday Mr. Muite said that the government’s raid on the Standard three years ago was to prevent the newspaper from running a story about the president’s alleged second family. Mr. Muite has refused to either retract his comments or apologise to the first family.

wambui2_2The woman in the middle of the controversy is one Mary Wambui (left), popularly known as a “Narc-Kenya activist.” Ms. Wambui first came onto the national stage after president Kibaki’s election victory in 2002. Back then the media started to inquire about her relationship with the president when a 24 hour security detail was sent to her house.

I commend the president for his bravery on this matter. Whatever his involvement is/was with Ms. Wambui, I am glad that he came out and unequivocally denied that he had more than one wife. The first lady – and by extension the women of Kenya – deserve respect and the rumours about the president’s mistress have not helped that cause. I hope this denunciation of mistresses does not just end with the president but permeates across Kenyan society. I say it is time Kenyan men closed all those “nyumba ndogos”. Kenyan women deserve better.

KCSE results reveal a drop in performance

The (Kenyan) minister of education, Prof. Sam Ongeri, released the 2008 KCSE results today. This year’s results announcement was different in that it did not include the ranking of schools. Only students were ranked, with Mark Maugo and Velma Mukhongo emerging as the top boy and girl respectively. The top girl was fourth overall.The rankings also included lists of best students per subject.

The minister also noted a drop in performance, possibly related to the numerous strikes that rocked several schools mid last year. There were 460 fewer irregularities this year than there were last year.

While I appreciate the minister’s attempts to remove unhealthy competition among high schools, I still think that the ranking gave schools an incentive to make sure that ALL their students succeed. Now that only students are being ranked, we may end up with a case whereby schools only concentrate on their best students who will make it to the top ten lists of subjects nationally and forget about those at the bottom of the class. I think the media should do its job and find out which schools did better, to give parents a sense of where they ought to send their kids and to expose poor performers.

Competition breeds excellence, bwana Minister. And in any case you can’t erase the disparities between the ‘big schools’ as we know them and the smaller ones. The former still remain better funded and attract the best teachers. What the government should have done is not eliminate the rankings, but instead strive at improving all schools in the long run so that they can all compete fairly. Eliminating the ranking will not solve the problem, it is a shameful attempt to hide from the problem of inequality among Kenyan schools.