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Jun 19, 2024 at 12:03PM
“Buda, tunaeza re-take hiyo shot tena? Nafikiri bado haijaingiana,” (Could we retake that shot? I feel it still lacks some oomph), says Eddie Butita in his usual heavy sheng intonation. The comic and scriptwriter turned director is not making it easy today, clad in a made-to-measure Caribbean short-sleeved shirt as he directs a 10-person crew. The 31-year-old, also wearing charcoal grey jeans matched with black and yellow sneakers, is shooting an advert for a client in a go-down in Nairobi, where he has requested we meet. It is difficult to have a calm conversation with him without interruptions. There are phone calls, most of which he ignores, but those he deems important, he answers with the same tagline: “Naeza kukupigia baadaye kiasi? Niko set.” (Can I call you back later? I’m on set.) The Kariobangi-born and raised comic is the man of the hour, with his newfound camaraderie with President William Ruto only fanning the flames. His recent trip to the US as the creative representative accompanying the president to Tyler Perry’s film studios in Atlanta stirred a huge social media buzz. Everybody now wants a piece of him. The pressure is intense, but he is careful not to drop the ball. “I have to stay focused, I can’t slack. You snooze, you lose. My association with the Head of State has come at a cost — the pressure. It’s something I have been adjusting to without getting distracted from my path of reinvention to become an entertainment businessman,” he says, as he calls out to one of the cast members who walks over to our shade. He feeds her the line she seems to have forgotten. Before breaking into the limelight in 2012 through the once-popular TV stand-up comedy show Churchill Show, Butita worked irregular jobs as a graphic designer. Thanks to his highbrow, he quickly metamorphosed into a satirist, writing jokes for fellow comedians like Daniel Ndambuki (Churchill), Phelix Odiwour (Jalang’o), and Eric Omondi to perform on the Churchill podium. This growth saw him temporarily step back from stage performances to concentrate on creative writing. It built his scriptwriting foundation and landed him a lucrative deal in 2021 when he was contacted and contracted by Netflix to scriptwrite and direct its first Swahili comedy show, The Upshaws—a dubbing of the American sitcom of the same name. Butita has also been involved in scripting all four installments of fellow comedian Njugush’s (Timothy Kimani) stand-up special Through Thick and Thin (TTNT) productions. The first installment was released in April 2020. Much of Butita’s success can be traced to the Covid-19 pandemic when the Churchill Show came to a halt. With no free-flowing gigs, including emcee engagements, which had been core sources of his income, it was time to adapt. Butita took advantage of his immense social media following, over one million cumulatively, to become a brand influencer. “The only reason I have been able to cope in this creative industry is my ability to reinvent myself. I can’t even recall the last time I did a stand-up comedy show. I think I need to do one,” he says. Butita always envisioned himself running his own empire. With the pandemic, there was enough time to conjure ideas that saw him launch his startup creative hub, Stage Presence Media (SPM Buzz), in April 2021 from his bedroom. “SPM Buzz’s first office was my bedroom, which I had turned into a makeshift working space with just four microphones worth Sh10,000 and a table. Initially, we were only three, but now the team has 14 employees on retainer and sometimes bloats to 45 when we have production assignments,” he says. He describes SPM Buzz as a 360-degree content hub dealing in content production, digital media, creative strategies, and marketing. Three years into operations, the hub has begun generating millions of shillings, leading to an expansion in personnel numbers and equipment acquisition. Just like many businesses, there have been significant losses along the way. “You have to understand that when starting out, I had no business mentors. Neither have I done any business courses. Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned on the go, and with that, you are bound to fumble. I have incurred losses of Sh5 million, Sh7 million, up to Sh10 million, but that’s the price you pay when chasing success,” Butita reveals. He has had to dig deeper into his pockets to keep his business running. “For a while, I ran the hub with a freestyle mentality. I didn’t care much about accounting for expenditure, and I learned my lessons the hard way. There were so many blunders—you would find the books not balancing, someone forgot to file returns properly, or we couldn’t tell if there was a loss or profit realised,” he says. These lessons made him realise that what he had envisioned was beyond just one man—himself. “With mistakes comes enlightenment. I realised I needed to find the right team. Now we have an accountant. We’ve also reached a point where we need a human resource manager because the team has been expanding organically, and we need someone to handle the different personalities so we can work efficiently and effectively,” Butita explains. These challenges give him satisfaction, seeing many people earning a living through his brand. He attributes his success to two factors: honing a product—Creative Think Tank Consultancy—that many others viewed as destined for discount bins, and not putting too much thought into finances whenever an idea arises. “From the beginning, my strategy has always been to be a think tank because my satisfaction comes from seeing things work. Because of this, I’ve ended up being used and exploited by the creative industry. Many of my peers would complain about how I allow myself to be used, but I always believe in being a destiny helper for someone. The beautiful thing is that my virtuosity is now being appreciated, and I have been charging premium rates, which is now part of my business model,” Butita says. Underscoring his unconventional approach in idea execution as another winning strategy, the comic says, “Finances are always a Kenyan favourite excuse for why an idea wasn’t or can’t be pursued. I don’t see it that way. Great ideas don’t need money to execute. If the idea is tough to execute, then it’s not the right idea. Great ideas always find a way." "A good example is when we were planning the premiere event of A Nurse Toto (sitcom). We had almost no budget, having exhausted our money shooting it. But when we announced tentative dates for the premiere, we immediately landed sponsors. Why? Because the idea was great.” An episode of the sitcom, which wound up after two seasons, cost between Sh300,000 to Sh500,000 to produce, depending on the cast and the script of a given episode. “That’s the minimum, having done a lot of cost-cutting measures, but the ideal budget would have been Sh1 million per episode,” Butita notes of the production he chose to solely distribute on YouTube. “I saw you on YouTube,” were Steve Harvey’s first words when he shook hands with Butita at Tyler Perry Studios. With Perry missing from President Ruto’s visit to his studios, Harvey, an accomplished entertainer and businessman, stepped in. Butita recalls with nostalgia how surreal it felt shaking hands with his idol, who, just like him, began his career as a stand-up comedian, breaking into the limelight in the 1980s before developing a business acumen that has seen him gross over $200 million from content. “If I’m being honest, I never thought such an opportunity could ever present itself,” he tells Lifestyle, "meeting them in person is beyond a dream." "When he said, ‘I saw you on YouTube, you are doing an amazing job,’ referring to 'A Nurse Toto', it felt so humbling. He had done his homework on me. He didn’t need to—after all, he is Steve Harvey,” he adds. But when they sat for a luncheon after the tour of the vast Tyler Perry Studios, it turned out to be a business masterclass from the 67-year-old. “He appreciated what I did with the sitcom 'A Nurse Toto', but his concern was on the business side of entertainment, which he believes our industry lacks. How Harvey put it is that Africa has great potential, but what is needed more is for us to be shown other models that have succeeded in other parts of the world and have them replicated in our industry,” Butita recalls. He continues, “Most of his talk centred around effective distribution models and content marketing—in other words, how to sell a show and attract more budget. He gave an example of his "Family Feud" game show that he produced in South Africa and Ghana. He had been discouraged from attempting to produce it in Africa, being told it would incur losses, but he made his money back through proper distribution.”
Jun 19, 2024 at 11:23AM
Father’s Day was celebrated specially by netizens on Sunday, June 16, with every Tom, Dick, and Harry either sharing a special message, memory or post to honor their old man. The commemorative day is a special occasion dedicated to honoring and appreciating the fathers who have made significant contributions to their families. This year, several Kenyan celebrity fathers were celebrated in heartfelt and touching tributes by their wives/girlfriends/baby mamas. These public figures, known for their talents and influence, were recognized not just for their professional achievements but for their unwavering dedication and love as fathers. From social media posts brimming with gratitude to intimate family gatherings, these celebrity dads received an outpouring of affection and admiration. Their wives shared glimpses into the personal lives of these well-known figures, highlighting their roles as loving partners and devoted parents. These celebrations not only showcased the depth of their family bonds but also served as an inspiration to many, emphasizing the importance of fatherhood and the cherished memories it brings. We share some of the celebrity dads who were celebrated as exemplary by their equally influential wives on social media. Ruth K to Mulamwah Digital content creator Ruth K shared her appreciation for her baby daddy comedian Mulamwah for being a present dad in a video she captioned, “Happy Father’s Day baba kalamz ♥️😍 thank you for being the best dad ever & always working hard for us 😍♥️. much love.” Lornzie Gatabaki to Diallo J. Gatabaki Former Over 25 quarter-part Lornzie Gatabaki shared a series of photos and videos of her husband Diallo J. Gatabaki with their son Yahya which left netizens gushing over their love in the comments section. Accompanying the post was a heartfelt caption that read, “Happy Father’s Day Baba Yahya. My mubaba. Sexiest daddy I know. We love you! Thank you for everything you do for us. ♥️” Jackie Matubia to Ex YouTuber Jackie Matubia took the chance to honor her ex and the father of her first child, Kennedy Njogu, with a sweet message on Father’s Day. The mother of two thanked her first baby daddy for being an active dad to their daughter. She posted a photo of Njogu with their nine-year-old daughter and showed her appreciation for his involvement. "Happy Father's Day to Mr Njogu. Thank you for always being a present dad to our daughter and making co-parenting easier," Matubia wrote on her Instagram Stories. Matubia, however, did not give the same honor to Blessing Lung'aho, her second baby daddy. Despite having a daughter, Zendaya Nyambura, together, Lung'aho was not mentioned in Matubia’s Father's Day tributes. Amber Ray to Kennedy Rapudo Kenyan socialite Amber Ray went all out in showing her baby daddy Kennedy Rapudo some love. In a heartwarming post, the mother of two expressed, “Wishing a Happy Father’s Day to the loving father of our kids @kennedyrapudo Your strength, compassion, and endless love make our family thrive…….watching you be an amazing dad to our children makes me fall in love with you even more….Thank you for being the amazing dad and partner that you are.❤️❤️❤️” Wahu to Nameless Following singer Nameless’ hilarious video on being a father, his wife, Wahu did not let the day slide by without appreciating the great father that Nameless is. Wahu wished her husband a happy Father’s Day in a touching comment that read, “😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 happy Father's Day @namelesskenya and to all the other present dads! 😄🌸”. Julie K to Peter Kariuki Digital content creator Julie Kariuki celebrated her husband Peter Kariuki via her Instagram stories with a post that read, “Happy Father’s Day”. In the photo, the devoted father, and husband is seen holding one of their children in a warm embrace. Celestine Ndinda to Blessed Njugush Celestine Ndinda better known as Wakavinye melted hearts on Father’s Day after she hailed her husband, comedian Njugush as the best dad ever. Her post on Instagram read, “Wishing a happiest Father’s Day to the best Dad Ever!! One thing that stands out for me about Tim, is how He values time with those he loves. (Be it Family or Friends)” Shikie to Shiverenje Simani Shikie, who also goes by the moniker Miss Tiramisu shared a photo of herself and her husband in an outdoorsy setting all loved up. The content creator shared a sweet caption to her man that read, “The best one to ever do it. Happy Father’s Day @shivsimani.” The couple parents two daughters. Wanjiru Njiru to Ben Cyco Although their bun is still in the oven, Ben Cyco was subtly celebrated by his lifestyle content creator wife, Wanjiru Njiru, through a special post on her Instagram stories. The mother-to-be posted a heartwarming video of the gospel singer singing a gospel song to the baby bump while rubbing his wife’s belly. Wanjiru captioned the video saying how happy she is to be walking the journey with Ben. Nadia Mukami to Arrow Bwoy Kenyan Songstress Nadia Mukami kept things short and sweet with her Father’s Day post. The mother of one celebrated her baby daddy by posting a photo of him and captioned it, “Happy Father's Day to my Dzaddzy ❣️”
Jun 19, 2024 at 09:00AM
Pop singer Justin Timberlake was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after failing to obey a stop sign and twice veering from his lanein the upscale Hamptonsseaside area of New York, authorities said on Tuesday, June 18. Timberlake was arrested on Long Island in the town of Sag Harbor on Tuesday morning, according to a statement from the local district attorney's office. The 43-year-old was arraigned in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court and released, the statement said. His next court date will be a virtual appearance on July 26, the statement said. According to court documents, police spotted Timberlake driving a 2025 gray BMW shortly after midnight. The documents said Timberlake failed to stop at a stop sign and twice failed to keep to the right side of the road. When stopped by police, Timberlake's eyes "were bloodshot and glassy, a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage was emanating from his breath, he was unable to divide attention, he was unsteady afoot and performed poorly on all standardized field sobriety tests," the documents said. Representatives for Timberlake did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The singer's attorney, Ed Burke, told Us Weekly that the charge was a single count because he refused the breath test." "Mr. Timberlake was also charged with two other court citations, running a stop sign and not traveling in the correct traffic lane," Burke told the outlet. People magazine reported that Timberlake was taken into custody after he left a dinner at the American Hotel. Timberlake rose to fame as a member of 1990s boy band 'N Sync before starting a solo career. His hits include "Can't Stop the Feeling!," "Suit & Tie" and "SexyBack." In 2004, Timberlake infamously ripped off part of Janet Jackson's garment during their Super Bowl halftime show in Houston and briefly bared her breast in what was blamed on a "wardrobe malfunction." He returned to headline the Super Bowl halftime show in 2018. The singer currently is in the middle of his "Everything I Thought It Was" tour. He has two concerts scheduled in Chicago this weekend and two shows in New York City next week. Read more
Jun 19, 2024 at 08:00AM
Singer Bahati has voiced his concerns over the decline of the Kenyan gospel industry, asserting that it is no longer as strong as it was a decade ago. The former gospel musician took to social media to express his views, suggesting divine favor has shifted to countries like Nigeria and Rwanda. Bahati lamented that Kenyan evangelists, once favored, have succumbed to pride, and internal strife, and have become mere puppets. "Kenya was and will continue to be a part of the gospel revival, but we may not be in a position to produce significant gospel brands as we did ten years ago. Why? Because God has shifted that favor to Nigeria and Rwanda," Bahati stated. He pointed to influential gospel artists from other countries as new leaders in the genre. "We look up to people like Sinach and my friend Israel Mbonyi. It's not that Kenya lacks good singers or good gospel songs, no. The truth is that the talents God nurtured in the church have turned into mutual hatred among themselves," he added. Bahati criticised the gospel industry for having more puppets than the secular world. "There are more puppets in the church than in the secular world. When someone succeeds, people quickly unite to bring them down in the gospel industry rather than in Gengetone." Despite his criticisms, Bahati clarified that he seldom discusses church matters publicly to avoid accusations of seeking attention. "I don't like to talk much about church matters, and I know they know themselves. They will say I'm seeking attention, but the truth is I fear approaching this industry because I know how they hate each other," he said. Admitting that he is not more righteous than others, Bahati emphasised the need for humility and repentance within the gospel community. "One thing I know is that we need to ask for forgiveness and stop being puppets so that God can take us to another level. Otherwise, I pray that God continues to lift Arbantone as we pretend to be deputies of Jesus and you are puppets," he concluded.
Jun 19, 2024 at 07:00AM
Comedian Eric Omondi has recounted the last moments he shared with his younger brother, Fred Odhiambo Omondi, who tragically died in a road accident on Saturday morning. Fred, a former comedian on the popular Churchill Show, was involved in a fatal collision around 6 am on Kagundo Road. A police report filed at Buruburu station stated that the accident occurred near the Caltex Petrol station when a bodaboda carrying Fred collided head-on with a speeding bus. Authorities revealed that the bus was traveling towards Nairobi CBD from Kayole, while the bodaboda was heading in the opposite direction and was on the wrong side of the road. The impact of the collision resulted in Fred Omondi's immediate death at the scene. "The accident happened near Caltex Petrol station on Kagundo Road," the police report noted. Speaking with Nairobi News, Eric Omondi shared how deeply the loss of his younger brother has affected him. "His death has completely affected me as his brother. It has not even sunk in. In my family, Fred and I are the entertainers. We were very close, and apart from being brothers, we always worked together," Eric said. Recounting their last moment together, Eric revealed: "The last time I saw him was one week before his death. We had a show together in Kisii. We performed until around 3 am. I was rushing to Uganda, so I paid him and left him to continue the show for one more hour before he also proceeded to a show in Kericho. It is untimely and unfortunate." Eric further described Fred as a beloved figure in the entertainment industry, saying: "He has performed in every part of this country. He had a good relationship with creatives and everyone he met." The loss has been particularly hard on their foster mother. Eric shared, "My foster mother supported my brother in his life. I am avoiding her so much because I do not want to cry. I don't even want to meet her or even talk to her." Eric said their sister who lives in Germany will attend the burial. In a heartfelt message to Kenyans, Eric asked for their prayers, "Please pray for us as a family."
Jun 18, 2024 at 06:12PM
Business in Nairobi's central business district was disrupted on Tuesday after demonstrators protested against the Finance Bill 2024. Many offices and business premises remained either shut or partially opened with the transport sector in the CBD bearing the brunt of the low business. The situation was worsened when police started hulling teargas to the protesters. Police threw tear gas canisters at hundreds of protesters, forcing businesses to close for fear of looting and also feared for their safety. “Disruption started at around midday when the protesters started running away from the police and it has affected our businesses,” Wilfred Odoyo a trader along Kimathi Street, said. A spot check by Nation.Africa showed that business people operating exhibition stalls within the CBD trading in clothes, jewellery, mobile phones and shoes closed their shops immediately after the chaos started. Most traders, just like the case in other city locations, closed or kept off their premises as a precaution against losing their wares. The protest came ahead of the tabling of the Finance Bill, 2024 report by the National Assembly's Finance and Planning Committee. Kenyans who attempted to assemble outside the Nation Centre, National Archives, Kencom and Jeevanjee grounds were swiftly arrested. Civil society groups say demonstrations and a planned sit-in outside parliament will go ahead despite the arrests. Nairobi police commander Adamson Bungei said on Tuesday that no group had been given permission to protest in the capital. The right to peaceful protest is guaranteed in Kenya's constitution, but organisers must notify the police in advance. Police generally give the go-ahead unless there are security concerns. Some major tax proposals in the bill were dropped after a meeting between ruling party MPs and President William Ruto on Tuesday morning. Finance committee chairman Kuria Kimani said the proposal to impose a 16% VAT on bread had been dropped. Other levies that had sparked debate and were amended include a proposed 2.5% annual vehicle tax to be levied on insurance.
Jun 18, 2024 at 05:58PM
Singer Arrow Bwoy has stirred controversy by declaring his intentions to take a second wife if his current partner, Nadia Mukami, does not want to have more children. The father of one made this revelation during an interview with Oga Obinna. "Nadia is a good wife but I have a problem since she does not want more children," Arrow Bwoy stated. "I am inspired to have more kids but Nadia is not ready. She is a baby girl and I want her to remain the same. I don't want her to be stressed. So I have requested her to allow me to get another woman so I can have more children. I want two more children. I am a Muslim and polygamy is allowed. I am hopeful about that. I will retain her as my first wife." He further explained that he is willing to support Nadia in maintaining her physical appearance post-pregnancy. "If she gives me two children, I will be okay. She is afraid of losing her shape, but I will facilitate for her body to be okay. I don't want to also make her tired." In an earlier interview, Nadia Mukami shared her perspective on expanding their family. "I honestly love children. I would like to have more but I don’t have the time. Other than being a mother, I have businesses that I need to take care of. There is the salon business, a music hub (Sevens Creative Hub), and also my own music career. All these things demand time. This is the reason I am not planning to add to my brood any time soon," Nadia said. She elaborated on the complexities of motherhood, emphasizing the importance of mental health and a supportive partner. "Motherhood isn’t as tough as many portray it; it’s a good experience. In the first year, it was challenging for me and I actually vowed never to get pregnant again. But as the child grows, my perception has changed. I think before having a baby, ensure you have the right partner and, most importantly, ensure your mental health is stable because you don’t want to subject your child to trauma," she added. Nadia and Arrow Bwoy are raising their two-year-old son, Kai.
Jun 18, 2024 at 05:40PM
The Inspector General (IG) of police, Japhet Koome has assured Haitians that it is committed to the Multilateral Security Support Mission to the troubled Caribbean nation ahead of deployment. Koome who held talks with a visiting delegation of Haiti police at the National Police Service (NPS) headquarters, in Nairobi, hailed the collaboration that will help restore law and order in Haiti. Speaking after meeting with the team on Tuesday, the IG assured the delegation of the commitment to the Haiti mission. “The National Police Service (NPS) remains committed to collaboration in the mission, for the good of the people of Haiti, especially women and children,” IG Koome said. His Caribbean counterpart assured him that Haiti would accord the Kenyan contingent all the necessary support to make the mission a success. “We are counting on your support for the good of the people of Haiti, especially women and children,” said the Haitian Police official Joachim Prohete. The meeting was also attended by DIG Kenya Police Service, Douglas Kanja, and DIG Administration Police Service, Noor Gabow, who is the lead NPS Officer on the Haiti Mission. Currently, preparations are at the helm and the Kenyan officers are expected to jet out of the country and head to the Caribbean-based nation any time soon. The Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti was authorised by the United Nations Security Council on October 2, 2023, under Resolution 2699. Kenya is set to deploy a contingent of 1,000 police officers to Haiti which is supposed to kick off in the coming days will be at a time when the Caribbean-based country is facing numerous challenges. For instance, the mission which is being funded by the UN is taking place at a time when Haiti has the highest number of gangs compared to similar assignments that have in the past taken place there. The gang-infested nation has seen over 2,500 people get killed since January 2024 and over 360,000 people displaced. Interim Prime Minister Garry Conille, who was sworn in on June 3, has to select a new cabinet and get a transition council to agree on how to improve security and restore control. Restoring political stability is a priority for the U.N. agencies and other local and foreign aid groups trying to deliver food and other essential items in areas controlled by gangs. The first time the UN carried out a similar mission in Haiti to restore peace was in 1994 and had over 1,200 members. What awaits the Kenya-led mission in Haiti remains unknown even as top gang leaders led by Mr Jimmy Cherizier alias Barbecue warn that they will face a “massacre.” A group of lawyers under the umbrella of the Law Society of Kenya is opposed to the deployment of the officers to Haiti. However, despite all this President William Ruto has already made it clear that the officers would still go to Haiti.
Jun 18, 2024 at 04:10PM
Social media content creator Murugi Munyi was among those arrested while participating in a protest in Nairobi's Central Business District (CBD) on Tuesday. Munyi joined fellow Kenyans in demonstrating against the proposed 2024 Finance Bill, which has sparked widespread public opposition. During the protest, Munyi shared videos and photos from inside a police car, documenting her harrowing experience. In one of the videos, she described the chaotic scene leading to her arrest. "We were running. I fell. My cousin came to pick me up. A tear gas canister exploded right next to us. I couldn't breathe, so I couldn't run. Before I knew it, a policeman was manhandling me. Now we are at the back of a police van with a man who wasn't even protesting. He was just entering his car," Munyi recounted. She further informed her followers that she had been taken to Central Police Station. "Msijali(Don't worry), I have alerted Munyi, he will come bail us out. We feel no fear for we know we will be counted on the right side of history," she added. Meanwhile, renowned activist Boniface Mwangi said his car was impounded, and its number plates were removed. Boniface shared on his social media pages: "The police officers from Kilimani have arrested everyone in my car. They have also taken our T-shirts, and placards. All the arrested people have been taken to Kilimani Police Station. They have stolen the front number plates of my car, and impounded the car too. The police thought l was in the boot of my car but l wasn’t." The arrests come amid growing tension and opposition on the proposed Finance Bill, which if approved, will increase the cost of living and exacerbate economic hardships. The bill has been a flashpoint for protests, drawing participants from various walks of life, including high-profile figures, celebrities like Murugi Munyi, Carey Priscilla, Boniface Mwangi, Jackie Matubia among others. The Kenya Kwanza Government has this morning abandoned several contentious tax proposals from the Finance Bill 2024. This decision followed a parliamentary group meeting convened by President William Ruto at State House, Nairobi. National Assembly Finance Committee Chair Kuria Kimani emphasized the government's commitment to protecting Kenyans from the rising cost of living. "After robust public opposition, it became clear that some of the proposed taxes would significantly burden the populace. We have taken decisive action to address these concerns," Kimani stated. Key proposals that have been dropped include: Taxes on Bread and Motor Vehicles: These levies faced strong backlash due to their potential to drive up essential living costs. Eco-Tax: The eco-tax, originally intended to apply broadly, has been scrapped in its initial form. Excise Duty on Vegetable Oil: This duty has been removed to avoid increasing food costs for consumers. Taxes on Locally Manufactured Diapers and Sanitary Pads: These products will no longer face additional taxation, benefiting families and women.
Jun 18, 2024 at 03:21PM
The Kenya Kwanza Government has abandoned several contentious tax proposals from the Finance Bill 2024. This is in response to widespread public opposition. This decision followed a Kenya Kwanza Parliamentary Group meeting convened by President William Ruto at State House, Nairobi. National Assembly Finance Committee Chair Kuria Kimani said, "After robust public opposition, it became clear that some proposed taxes would significantly burden the populace. We have taken decisive action to address these concerns," Kimani stated. Key proposals that have been dropped include: Taxes on Bread and Motor Vehicles: These levies faced strong backlash due to their potential to drive up essential living costs. Eco-Tax: The eco-tax, originally intended to apply broadly, has been scrapped in its initial form. Excise Duty on Vegetable Oil: This duty has been removed to avoid increasing consumer food costs. Taxes on Locally Manufactured Diapers and Sanitary Pads: These products will no longer face additional taxation, benefiting families and women. However, the existing 15% tax on mobile service transfers remains unchanged. The Eco Levy will only apply to imported finished goods to promote local manufacturing and reduce reliance on imports. This move aims to enhance local manufacturing capacity, create jobs, and save foreign exchange. The government has also raised the VAT registration threshold from Sh5 million to Sh8 million, providing relief to many small businesses. Additionally, responsibility for electronic invoicing (ETIMS) has been relieved from farmers and small businesses with turnovers below Sh1 million. To protect local farmers, excise duty has been introduced on imported table eggs, onions, and potatoes. This measure is intended to shield domestic agriculture from foreign competition. In a bid to encourage safer and more affordable production of alcoholic beverages, the excise duty on these products will now be based on alcohol content rather than volume. Furthermore, the monthly exemption for pension contributions has been increased from Sh20,000 to Sh30,000, offering greater financial relief to contributors.
Jun 18, 2024 at 03:01PM
Comedians from the popular comedy show, Churchill Show, have announced a mega show in honor of their late colleague, Fred Odhiambo Omondi. Fred, a beloved figure in the comedy scene, tragically passed away in a road accident on June 15. The accident, which occurred around 6 am on Kagundo Road, involved a fatal collision between a bodaboda carrying Fred and a speeding bus. According to a police report filed at Buruburu station, the bus was traveling towards Nairobi CBD from Kayole, while the bodaboda was on the wrong side of the road, heading in the opposite direction. The collision near the Caltex Petrol station proved fatal for the young comedian. Fred Omondi, a former star of the Churchill Show, was known for his selflessness and charismatic presence both on and off the stage. In an exclusive interview with Nairobi News, Daniel Ndambuki, popularly known as Churchill and the godfather of the comedy industry, described Fred as a lyrical comic genius and a friend to all. "It is a big shock for all of us. It was untimely. Fred was a very young talent and he was a lyrical comic genius. He was a charismatic young man. As soon as Churchill Show took a break, he was one of the most booked MCs in the country for club appearances. "He was a friend to all comedians and he helped them come up with content and showed up for people’s events just to hype it for free. He was a kind person," Churchill said. Despite the ongoing national concerns such as the Finance Bill, Churchill emphasised their commitment to giving Fred a befitting sendoff. The comedy fraternity has decided to push Fred Omondi's burial to June 29 to ensure ample time to celebrate his life. "As the industry, we have decided to move every plan to next week on June 29 at his home. There is a comedy show, 'Fred Omondi Last Laugh,' at Carnivore this coming Friday. With the entire Churchill Show comedians, the industry is coming to honor him in a special way. It is too much and too soon. We just lost Jahmby the other day, and so it is a huge loss for the industry," Churchill said. Fred Omondi was introduced to Churchill by his brother, Eric Omondi, another well-known comedian. Recalling the introduction, Churchill noted, "Eric brought Fred to me and described him as a bit funny. They are all talented differently. Even their sister, it’s just that she did not get an opportunity to be out there." Churchill’s message to Kenyans is one of gratitude and a call for support: "We can’t do without our fans and we hope they show up on Friday so we can give Fred a befitting sendoff. Let us come through for him." The comedy show, 'Fred Omondi Last Laugh,' is set to be a memorable event with performances from the entire Churchill Show ensemble. Some of the notable comedians performing are, Butita, YY, MP Jalango, Jemutai, MC Jessy, Nasra, Terence Creative, Chipukeezy, Sammy Kioko, Tom Daktari, Jasper Murume, Oga Obinna, Adhis Jojo, MCA Tricky among others.
Jun 18, 2024 at 01:19PM
Police on Tuesday arrested dozens of protesters within Nairobi streets for taking part in the Finance Bill, 2024 which police have since declared illegal. Dubbed ‘Occupy Parliament’, the demonstrations are meant to pressure lawmakers against passing the bill which the House will consider on Tuesday. Among those arrested was activist and journalist Hanifa Adan who was protesting at the National Archives. Police officers in uniform and civilian clothes were seen handcuffing those who were wearing black T-shirts and forcing them onto a stationary police van. Outside Nation Centre along Kimathi Street, protesters whose plan was to march to parliament was temporarily thwarted by anti-riot police, who fired tear gas canisters at them. Others were arrested along Moi Avenue and near the Kenya National Archives which was to be one of the assembling points for protestors. The theme of the day was for the protesters to dress in black t-shirts which some of the protestors were distributing to those who didn’t have. Motorists, commuters and pedestrians were also caught in the incident with some being compelled to open their luggage for inspection by the police. Earlier, Nairobi Regional Police Commander Adamson Bungei outlawed any plan to organise protests in Nairobi saying it was illegal even as the organisers said they had informed the police of their plans as required. Mr Bungei said no one had applied for a gathering or picketing permit as required, terming it illegal. According to the police boss, they only received a 'faulty' document dated June last year, which he said doesn't meet the protest permission threshold. “The notification they left at Central is dated June 17, 2023. It is faulty. We can't allow them. No demonstration. Kenyans should be allowed to do their business and those with grievances should direct them where they know well,” he said. The ‘Occupy Parliament’ protest has been organised by Kenyans who have been mobilising on various social media platforms for weeks under the hashtag ‘Reject Finance Bill’ to rally numbers to pressure MPs to shoot down contentious provisions in the Bill.
Jun 18, 2024 at 12:42PM
At least six people were injured on Monday night including a journalist after two groups clashed seeking to control a plot where the once-popular Simmers Restaurant in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) stood. The clash saw at least 12 people arrested over the control of the parcel of land located on Kenyatta Avenue. Chaos erupted after police officers stormed the area while wielding guns and ordered everyone to get on the ground after aone of the group said they were the bonafide owners of the plot and had brought in an auctioneer. The other group which was already occupying the plot also said that they were the new owners and denied the auctioneer who had hired goons access to the plot. Police later arrested at least 12 people in an operation that led to the injuries of many including journalists. Two machetes were recovered at the scene and were booked as evidence. The latest turn of events came after a city businessman sought the assistance of the Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome to enforce a High Court order by kicking out over goons from the leased prime city land opposite 680 Hotel which now houses several eateries and a parking lot. Mr James Mwangi who leased the property from a former MP Suleiman Murunga for a period of six years spanning from January 1, 2023 - to December 31, 2029, had obtained orders from Justice Oguttu Mboya and Milimani Commercial Court chief magistrate Samuel Aswan Opande restraining anybody claiming ownership of the land from evicting him or tenants from the prime property. Mr Mwangi through lawyer Kibiru Njenga informed the IG that the orders of the court had been defied and the Officer Commanding Central Police Station (OCS) had failed to obey the orders of Mr Opande and Justice Mboya to keep away intruders into the prime property leased out by a former MP to the businessman (Mwangi). In those court orders the Officer Commanding Central Police Station (OCS) has been directed by Justice Mboya and Mr Opande to ensure that no intruders are allowed to disturb over 10 tenants who have rented the premises. The property houses a car park, food parlours, a coffee joint besides other businesses.
Jun 18, 2024 at 11:00AM
When the Nigerian government announced plans in April to develop a multilingual AI tool to boost digital inclusion across the West African nation, 28-year-old computer science student Lwasinam Lenham Dilli was thrilled. Dilli had struggled to scrape datasets from the internet to build a large language model (LLM), used to power AI chatbots, in his native Hausa language as part of his final-year project at university. "(Creating local language LLMs) is a way to ensure that our local dialects and languages will not be forgotten or left out of the AI ecosystem," Dilli told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The world has been swept up in a whirlwind of AI mania, with tools such as OpenAI's ChatGPT, Meta's Llama 2, and Mistral AI captivating millions globally with their ability to generate human-like text. But for many tech-savvy Africans, the excitement has been tempered by a frustrating reality: when languages like Hausa, Amharic, or Kinyarwanda are entered into the chat, many of these advanced systems falter, often producing nonsensical responses. Technology experts warn the lack of LLMs in African languages will lead to the exclusion of millions of people on the continent, increasing both the digital and economic divide. The Nigerian government-led initiative to develop a multilingual LLM aims to level the playing field. "The LLM will be trained on five low-resource languages and accented English to ensure stronger language representation ... for development of artificial intelligence solutions," said Nigeria's Digital Economy Minister Bosun Tijani in April. The government will partner with Nigerian AI startups, and local data will be collected by volunteers who are fluent in any of five Nigerian languages: Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Ibibio, and West African lingua franca—Pidgin. To build the model, the project will also draw on the expertise of more than 7,000 fellows from Nigeria's tech talent programme. Africa is home to more than 2,000 languages spoken across 54 countries, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. However, the majority of African languages remain underrepresented on the internet. English dominates the digital space, accounting for around 50 percent of all websites, followed by Spanish, German, Japanese, and French. Along with the Nigerian government initiative, there are also a small but growing number of African startups rising to the challenge of developing AI tools in languages like Kiswahili, Amharic, Zulu and Sesotho. In Kenya, for instance, health tech firm Jacaranda Health has pioneered the first LLM operating in Kiswahili to improve maternal healthcare in East Africa. Built on Meta's Llama 3 system, UlizaLlama (AskLlama) aims to refine Jacaranda Health's SMS service for low-income Kiswahili-speaking expectant mothers who have queries ranging from dietary concerns and foetal movement to exercise during pregnancy. The platform currently provides pre-written automated responses, but once UlizaLlama is integrated by the end of June, it will tailor responses to individual needs, offering more detailed pregnancy guidance and emergency support. "A lot of these expectant moms can't do a Google search. UlizaLlama's goal is to make sure that we get them the accurate answers in the fastest possible time," Jay Patel, Jacaranda Health's director of technology, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. In South Africa, the Masakhane initiative is using open-source machine learning to translate African languages. Lelapa AI, a South African AI research lab, has pioneered VulaVula — a for-profit language processing tool that translates, transcribes and analyses languages in English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Sesotho. But AI experts say building LLMs in African languages poses significant challenges, ranging from availability of data to ethical concerns over consent, compensation and copyright. Many African languages are low-resource languages, meaning there is a scarcity of data to train these models effectively — unlike high-resource languages such as English or French. Michael Michie, co-founder of Everse Technology Africa, an AI startup building intelligence into data protection and privacy, said collecting the data needed to train LLMs also raised ethical questions. In many African communities, oral tradition predominates, and certain communities may not be interested in sharing their language to train LLMs and this should be respected. Open-source initiatives like Creative Commons, which allow creators to legally share their work with specified conditions like ensuring attribution and non-commercial use, are also not a perfect solution, said some AI experts. "There's this push of saying everything should just be under Creative Commons," said Vukosi Marivate, associate professor of computer science at the University of Pretoria and co-founder of Lelapa AI. But if everything is open source, it may be harder to properly reimburse and acknowledge the original contributors to these language models, he said. "A lot of people are working on LLMs now because of the prestige, that's where the money is, but we need to make sure that our languages are actually being taken care of." Read more
Jun 18, 2024 at 11:00AM
Brad Pitt's as-yet unnamed Formula One movie will be released globally on June 25 next year, with a North American debut two days later, F1 and Apple Original Films announced on Tuesday, June 18. The film is being made with the cooperation of teams and drivers and directed by Joseph Kosinski, whose 'Top Gun: Maverick' grossed $1.49 billion worldwide, with Jerry Bruckheimer as producer. It will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures in cinemas and IMAX. Seven-times F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is a co-producer, with filming starting last year and continuing during selected grand prix weekends this season. The production team have had a garage and pitwall stand as a fictional 11th 'APX GP' team. The plot sees Pitt, who is 60 years old in real life, star as a former driver making a Formula One comeback alongside Damson Idris, who plays his rookie teammate, at APX. Other cast members include Academy Award winner Javier Bardem and best supporting actress nominee Kerry Condon. Formula One said production of the movie would be completed at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December. The sport is hoping the movie cements the appeal of the Netflix docu-series 'Drive to Survive' that has boosted Formula One's popularity and growth worldwide and particularly in the key U.S. market. Formula One now has three U.S. races in Austin, Miami and Las Vegas. "We’ve already seen the great work and impact of the Netflix show and I think this will take it to new heights beyond that," Mercedes driver Hamilton, who is joining Ferrari at the end of the season, said last year. Read more

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