The Kenya Forum | Trending: a weekly round-up of this week’s biggest news stories - The Kenya Forum

August 11, 2023


In this week’s ‘Trending’ article, we look at Uganda’s spat with World Bank, the Uasin Gishu scholarship scandal and the US embassy bombing.

More by Cameron Grant

Trending: a weekly round-up of this week’s biggest news stories

Trending: a weekly round-up of this week’s biggest news stories

This ‘Trending’ column was started as a vehicle for giving all the Kenya Forum’s busy readership a chance to make themselves abreast of what it is that’s presently influencing the country’s conversations.

It is intended to be a synthesis of what is being reported on by the country’s big media houses and what it is that Kenyans of X (formerly Twitter) are discussing. The benefit of this synthesised approach is that this news round-up isn’t just what’s happening; it is also an illustration of how we, as Kenyans, feel about what is happening.

It is this writer’s hope that those who have read our previous ‘Trending’ pieces come away from their reading of it a little better informed of the factors affecting the general mood of Kenyans.

This week, with Kenya Kwanza and Azimio negotiators gearing up for the real beginning to their negotiations on Monday, the focus of Kenya’s newspapers and it’s X commentators has shifted. This week, we’re covering some news from our neighbours to the West, a big conversation from the counties and more.

#Uganda and #WorldBank

The terms #Uganda and #WorldBank are both trending on X – the app formerly known as Twitter – right now, and it’s for the same reason. That reason is because World Bank has officially suspended Uganda’s right to make any new requests for loans. This comes in the wake of the country’s bringing into force the notorious anti-LGBT law.

In a statement that was – curiously – hand-written and then photographed before being posted to the Government of Uganda’s X account, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, stated that he had been called by a World Bank agent on the 8th of August and that the World Bank agent informed him of the World Bank’s stance.

Museveni has proven himself a president unwilling to bow to externally applied pressures. Regardless of one’s position regarding the morality of his stance on matters relating to the LGBT community, he cannot be accused of positioning Uganda as submissive to foreign pressure.

The written statement stands as further testament to this fact. “Uganda”, he wanted to tell Ugandans, “will develop with or without loans”. “It is unfortunate”, he said, “that the World Bank and other actors dare to want to coerce us into abandoning our faith, culture, principles and sovereignty using money.”

In this same statement, Museveni was optimistic about Uganda’s future. Despite referencing the fact of corruption’s continued influence over Ugandan officials, there were hopeful mentions of Uganda’s oil industry beginning to produce in 2025 and of continued growth in agriculture and the service industry.

The Finland/Canada Scholarship Saga/Scandal

Thursday’s ‘Trending’ list for X in Kenya was dominated by a series of seemingly unconnected hashtagged terms. #UasinGishu, #TheBigConversation, #MercyTarus and #Mandago were all trending at the same time. If you read Thursday’s papers or you have prior knowledge of the Uasin Gishu Scholarship scandal, you may well have an idea why. If you didn’t and haven’t, then this section is for you.

The Finland/Canada Scholarship scheme was posed as an easy way of securing a placement at a Western University. University graduates from Uasin Gishu County were told that if they contributed to a fund organised by the County government, it would then secure them scholarships to continue their studies in the Western Countries.

Some 126 Uasin Gishu graduates who enrolled and paid into the scheme’s communal pot have seen no scholarships materialise. What’s more, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission are now investigating claims that the money donated has been embezzled.

On Thursday, at Uasin Gishu’s County Hall, programme contributors and County government officials met to discuss the scheme’s failings, where the money has gone and potential remuneration. Mercy Tarus, a graduate of Kabarak University, a victim of this scandal’s misgivings and now the face of the many complainants against Uasin Gishu, kicked off the County Hall meeting by dressing down the government officials for their tardiness.

Her vocal attack of Uasin Gishu’s government officials, including its Senator, Jackson Mandago, has now gone viral. Even as Mandago admitted that the money was gone and that the graduates did deserve a refund, Kenyans of X made clear their thoughts on Miss Tarus’ handling of events.

Some commentators are praising the young lady for her bravery and precociousness as she attempts to force justice’s hand. Others, as is typical of social media commentaries, are critical of the outspoken woman’s outspokenness.

This week, on the 7th of August, marks 25 years since the US embassy bomb blast

On August 7th 1998, two nearly-simultaneous bombs went off on the premises of the USA’s embassies to Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Hundreds of lives were lost.

The X account for the US Embassy of Nairobi memorialised the event with an ode to those who lost their lives. Their post was, they said, a way to “honor the lives lost”.

Many Kenyans used the conversation around the memorial to do the same, recounting memories of loved ones lost or their thoughts on that heinous day.

Others, however, took the opportunity to air oft-peddled complaints about compensation that they perceive as being owed to them by the US. Following the attack, the US government did compensate some of its staff for the injuries they received as well as awarding some compensation to family members of those who lost their lives.

However, there are many of those that were injured or who lose family members who received nothing. Organisations such as the Victims’ Consortium have lobbied hard for the compensation that they see as their due.

However, the US government has repeatedly stated that it believes it has paid its due. In it’s latest rebuttal to calls for compensation, a spokesperson for the US government told The Nation that “the US government provided support and assistance to Kenyans affected”. Through medical assistance, counselling, business developmental aid and continued military assistance in the fight against terror in East Africa, the US feels it has done its duty to Kenya on this point.


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