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By Anthony Kinyua Charles

It was a rousing journey that the three of my colleagues and 48 students of Al-Farsy secondary school-Mombasa embarked on.
We woke up early and by 7.30am we were securely seated in the Tudor secondary school bus ready for the tour. We started the 75 km expedition that took us about three hours. The thrilling journey took us through Likoni, Ukunda, Ramisi, Msambweni, all the way to Shimoni, where we alighted.
At Shimoni the driver parked the bus next to one of the historical sites worth seeing- the caves that were used by the long old Arabs to keep and store the slaves in the time past. The caves are dark inside, cold and mixed with hot and stuffy air that would make your stomach churn with vomit. Although old and well preserved, the caves have undergone tremendous weathering.

Inside the caves there are well kept  paths with a few light bulbs hanging on the roof tops to illuminate the caves for the would be visitors. The paths have been swept clean and they are tidy to behold, but with the passage of the slave trade, hundreds of bats have made the cave their abode and hiding place.
At around noon, we now start our ride across the Indian Ocean to Wasini Island by two boats. We are accompanied by Musa our island guide. Musa is a short bearded Arab man who from his looks is witty jovial and who chooses his words carefully. For the whole period of about 4 hours we were together, I can summarily say that he was a good company to keep.
Wasini is an island that is about 2km from Shimoni and a 15 minutes long boat ride. Wasini has an area of about 5 square Kilometres.
 The two boats we had moved at a slow speed and therefore all of us had a good view of the ocean, enjoyed the breeze and the ride.

When we set foot on Wasini the island, we went direct to one of the two primary schools there are in the island- Wasini primary school. Here we noted that the number of pupils was small and the school had just a few classrooms. Through our guide, we got to know and understand the island better than we had entered.
“Wasini is a small island whose population is about 1500 people.” Our guide started narrating. He continued,”Wasini island has three villages; Wasini, Mpwiro and Nyuma ya maji. These villages sit far apart and are on opposite ends of the island. The island faces two major challenges; lack of clean water for drinking and lack of electricity.”  Musa narrated. “Lack of electricity makes most of the islanders sleep early which has led to the spontaneous increase in the population. If you go to the villages, you will see so many small children. This is as a result of lack of electricity,” our guide explained without even a grin on his face. This was received with a prolonged loud laughter from the students who found this funny to their ears.
The main subsistence and economic activity of the island is fishing which is practiced by both men and women. Farming is an activity that is unheard here. In the process of fishing there have been several fatalities. The island has no secondary school and those who qualify for secondary education are admitted in Shimoni secondary school or other schools outside the constituency. The secondary school students are transported daily to Shimoni and back free –of- charge and their population does not exceed 30 students.

A women organization with the assistance of the donors has established a nature walk in the beautiful coral gardens.  We took a trek on the long wooden man -made bridge .The coral gardens are made of the remnants of the corals from the receding of the ocean. The trek took us to the mangrove trees a few metres from the start of the bridge. Behind the corals are evergreen mangrove trees which have roots intertwined like lovers during a rousing carousal. The mangroves are green and healthy and the breeze surrounding them acts as a balm and soothes our burning skins from the scorching sun. The proceeds from the coral gardens help needy students and other Wasini benefactors.
Wasini Island is sparsely populated and seriously underdeveloped. There are no cars or roads in the island. Wasini islanders speak Kivumba. Vumba tribe is a mixture of Wavumba, Wadigo and Arabs through intermarriages. Kivumba borrows some of their words from Kiswahili language though in their conversations they mostly use r and rarely use l.
After seeing the coral garden, it was our time for us to leave the island and go back to Mombasa but not until we happened to gatecrash in a wedding that was taking place right in the heart of the island. Though we saw the bride and the bridegroom we didn’t have an opportunity to savour the biriani and pilau of the day despite the hunger pangs that were biting us to the core.

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Anthony Kinyua

In every household in Kenya, there is one or more paper bags stored for immediate or later use. A paper bag in Kenya is such an important property that doesn’t discriminate. It will be used by the poor, the middle class as well as by the affluent.

One question though that remains unanswered is, why has it proved difficult for the government to outlaw the use of plastic paper bags despite the knowledge that these papers are an environmental pollution hazard? Why do we have factories licensed to continue producing plastic paper bags that are continuously contributing to environmental degradation that in turn cost us a lot of money in treating airborne to waterborne diseases? Who is this high and mighty personality in Kenya who has vested interest in the production of these polythene.

 It is true that these factories producing these paper bags employ a good number of people who derive their income from them. They use the money to feed, clothe, school, and provide shelter for themselves, their families and their siblings. It is also true that the government earns some revenue from these factories. Kenyans are also proud to have easily accessible bags to carry their shopping.

But one question begs for answers here. Why do we Kenyans derive much pleasure in earning these short time benefits at the expense of our health. History has shown that we are unable to manage our waste no matter the amount. Once the paper bags are used, we mostly throw them in to the environment. These papers are quickly blown away and where do they go? They perch on the trees, buildings and any other thing they can find.

If they don’t perch on anything erect, they will be blown by the wind and can land anywhere- including inside your own house. Others wait patiently for the rains. They are washed down the drainage systems leading to their blockage. The results are burst and over-flooded sewers that spill their waste on the roads, to the rivers and to the oceans.

Once the air and the waters have been polluted the repercussions are enormous. Residents attract contagious airborne and other waterborne diseases. Cases of Tuberculosis, Malaria, Dengue and Typhoid become rampant and they in turn cost us a lot of our hard earned money to treat.

In most of our dump sites in Kenya, the major component of the waste available are the plastic paper bags that take long to decompose and they are also mostly mobile. These paper bags have become a disgusting eye sore for anybody who bothers to behold. Do our leaders see the same, or do they spend more in the air than on land?

I suggest that our legislators come up with legislation to ban production and use of plastic paper bags within the boundaries of Kenya if we are really concerned about the health of our poor citizenry.


*The writer

Anthony is teacher at Sheikh Abdalla Al farsy Sec. School, Mombasa. He can be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


By  Anthony Kinyua

I'm sure you know Charles Taylor.? Regardless of your answer, I’ll inform you.

From 1989 to 1997, Charles Taylor was the leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), a rebel group that fought to overthrow the government of Samuel K. Doe. Charles Taylor was later to be a ‘democratic’ president of Liberia.

This is what David Blair writes in the Telegraph on 30th May 2012. “ Charles Taylor,  the warlord who became president of Liberia and one of the most bloodstained figures in African history, received a 50-year jail term yesterday for ‘aiding and abetting’ crimes against humanity.”

The prosecutor alleged that Mr. Taylor was responsible for crimes against humanity which include murdering and mutilating civilians, including cutting off their limbs.

Have you read about Joseph Kony and his bizzare acts? Well here are the facts.

He is the chairman and commander-in-chief of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group which has been carrying out an insurgency against the government of Uganda and the Uganda Army since 1987. Joseph Kony is a wanted man on the run for crimes against humanity, crimes that include murder, abduction, sexual enslavement, mutilation, as well as mass burning of houses and the looting of camp settlements.

Charles Taylor and Joseph Kony are significant in this article because they help us define the word mutilation, a crime they are alleged of committing.

To mutilate is to injure, disfigure, harm, deface or damage. They are accused of ordering the cutting off of the body parts of the people they didn’t like; the hands, the legs, the feet among others.

Have you ever driven a car, and then you will agree with me that if the car is electrically and mechanically sound, then you will obviously have a smooth, warm entertaining and a lovely ride?

During the ride the vehicle parts should be well greased and oiled to reduce friction that would otherwise increase the tear and wear of the car to uncontrollable levels. However oiling is not enough guarantee that the ride will be thrilling. There is need for all the touchables to be there; touchables like the gear lever. Am sure you will curse all the way and even stop driving if the gear lever and the gas pedal are not working to the required expectation. I said the gear lever ought to be of the right size and in the right place.

FGM is an act of removing the lever so that you are unable to change gears and accelerate to the speed of your choice. How would you like hiring a car that won’t accelerate no matter how deeper you pressed the gas pedal? Personally I would crash it, leave it behind and feign serious injuries.

FGM or circumcision is simply mutilation of the gem of a female anatomy that gives pleasure even to the teeth. Do you remember Charles Taylor and how he contributed in mutilation of the Sierra Leone's body parts including their limbs. If you were to see a man without limbs you would appreciate the need of having them. To mutilate according to Encarta Dictionary is to damage or to inflict serious damage on something seriously. It is simply to maim, injure, hurt, disfigure, harm, damage, spoil, deface, mar or dismember.

The WHO defines the female genital mutilation as, “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

According to WHO , the practice is done in 28 countries in Western, eastern, and North-eastern Africa, in parts of the middle East and within some immigrant communities in Europe, North America and Australasia.

This is simply a bad practice whose medical benefits are not anywhere documented in the whole world. It is a practice that only serves in degrading the women, maiming them and condemning them to unfathomable levels of frustration.

In Kenya some communities, though now secretly, are still mutilating the girls. Some of these communities are the Meru, Embu, Maasai, Kisii, Turkana, Pokot, Somalis and Samburu. Why do the parents allow their daughters to be mercilessly maimed? They advance all sorts of reasons.

Many say that when a girl is not circumcised, it is easier for her to stray, that is, become ‘generous’ to the male gender to the disgrace of her parents. Hence the need for the cut. They say it is a way of reducing her sexual urge and hence making her docile and tamable. The practice is carried out by some communities who believe it reduces a woman’s libido. Others belief that the practice is a religious obligation that should be done to control women’s sexual desires.

Two, a mutilated girl earns respect from her peers, men and other members of her community. Isn’t this too farfetched? It is therefore considered that she will have more ‘say’ in the village and whatever she proposes will be taken seriously than if she was not.

Three, it is also argued by the proponents of the practice that in the event that she gets married, her husband will respect her. In these communities men will be more proud marrying a woman who has been maimed in the epicenter of her womanhood. They will brag that they got a real woman. Many of them will be heard saying,” I cannot marry a woman who is not mature.” Meaning circumcised. Those who are not circumcised are likened to children.

Four, most traditional communities in Kenya practice polygamy. A girl or woman will want to be circumcised so as to earn respect from her co-wives. If she is not circumcised the co-wives will treat her with disrespect and contempt that befits a lesser being.

Five, in the event of the parents marrying off the girl, they will fetch a handsome dowry befitting that of an elder in the community-many cows, goats and camel. On the contrary the parents will not be proud of what they get. Instead they will be humiliated, an act they abhor as parents.

The other reason a girl will opt to go for the cut even when there are campaigns all over the country against the practice is that the girl sees herself as a member of her society. She has to conform to the demands of her community. Call it the identity crisis at work. Therefore for her to fit and feel proud, she will opt to do what the others are doing in her society. Are women their own worst enemies?

This culture is more rife in the pastoralist communities that have little or no formal education. To them it’s a rite of passage, from childhood to adulthood. Kondoyang a 15 years old Pokot girl who has spent her entire life out of school taking care of her siblings says,” I want to be circumcised because all my friends are circumcised. If I don’t get circumcised, I won’t find a man to marry, and even if I get married I will not be respected by my co-wives.”

Jean Fourcroy writes that, “ women in countries that practice FGM call it one of the  ‘three feminine sorrows’: the first sorrow is the procedure itself, followed by the wedding night when a woman with Type III has to be cut open, then childbirth when she has to be cut again.

*Notes about the writer

Anthony Kinyua is a professional high school teacher and a freelance journalist based in Mombasa – Kenya. Many of his articles are found at