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‘Literally’, illiteracy and strange reports

‘Literally’, illiteracy and strange reports

‘The roof literally came down on the House as furious MPs demanded a statement from Prime Minister Raila Odinga over the Kazi kwa Vijana (KKV) multi-million shilling scandal’, ran the opening line of The People’s front page report this morning under the headline ‘Raila away as youth cash row hits House’. The Forum thinks that someone should take the report’s author, Mwaniki Muhuhe, his sub-editor, possibly even the editor of The People and shoot them. Not shoot them ‘literally’, you understand but metaphorically.

The misuse of the word ‘literally’ occurs regularly in Kenya’s newspapers and magazines and it is enough to drive this Forum correspondent mad. ‘Literally’ means ‘factually’, ‘accurately’ and ‘exactly’ according to the Thesaurus consulted in preparation for this posting. If the roof of the House of Assembly had ‘literally’ come down one might have expected it to be reported in the newspapers, or to have heard a report of the disaster on a news broadcast. As far as The Forum is aware, Kenya’s House of Assembly remains intact and our beloved MPs safe from the dangers of falling masonry.


The People’s report was referring to the fracas in the House yesterday when Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi came to the dispatch box to issue a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister to refute claims that the World Bank-backed Kenya Youth Empowerment Project has a Sh33 million hole in its accounts that can’t be accounted for (according to a World Bank draft audit report).

The programme has now been cancelled by the government in order to ‘re-orient the resources’ after the World Bank withdrew a Sh4.3 billion loan to support the project and demanded a refund of the Sh945 already dispersed.

The Nation on Sunday broke the news (‘World bank cancels funding for Kazi Kwa Vijana over graft’) reporting that the ‘jobs for youth’ programme ‘had been cancelled after an audit review revealed officials of the Prime Minister had misappropriated millions of shillings’.

The House was ‘charged’ reported The Standard as the Deputy PM told Honourable Members that the report ‘only revealed weaknesses in the financial management of the project’ and that, “The report is subject to change after quality assurance reviews and validations”. He was no doubt right about that, you can bet it will be subject to change.


MPs were not happy, however. It was not so much what Musalia Mudavadi said, or did not say, that annoyed them but rather that he was saying anything in the first place. Where was Prime Minister Odinga to answer for himself? MPs wanted to know. To be fair to the Prime Minister, he was otherwise engaged making a speech to a UNESCO conference in Paris, appealing ‘to the international community to help in stabilising Somalia’.


Placed just beside The Star’s report of the cancelled KKV project was a small item headlined, ‘Truth Weekly offices raided, computers stolen’. According to The Star’s Chrispinus Wekesa, the offices of Talanta Africa Media, the publishers of Truth Weekly, were broken into on Tuesday evening and six computers and a camera were stolen amongst other items including some documents.

Gor Semelango, the company’s CEO said he found it puzzling ‘as to why only computers used by reporters were taken and those of the administration were left’. “Those involved in the raid took away documents we had for an in-depth story on the Kazi kwa Vijana scandal which we were working on”, Mr Semelango told The Star.

Perhaps the Truth Weekly’s expose was taken away for quality assurance reviews and validations.


Who wrote, ‘Kill the police, don’t give them a chance… I say use hot pure, bees, acid, fuel, put oil on the roads and light the fire…’ Coming up in tomorrow’s  Kenya Forum posting.


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