2019 Comprehensive Rewind of Top Stories
2019 is finally coming to an end. If anyone is asked how the year has been, they will give their own accounts and experiences that they remember about this year. According to the poll conducted by Trends and Insights for Africa, (TIFA), the year 2019 was a tough one for Kenyans with many complaining that the hard cost of life, unemployment, business, and economic downturns affected them in this year as compared to 2018.
Here are the top stories and personalities that hit the headlines in 2019. (No particular order)
Dusit D2 Attack.January 15, 2019, will go down the Kenyan calendar as the day that all hell broke loose at a Nairobi luxury complex. A group of Al Shabaab terrorists made their way into Nairobi’s building in Riverside 14 Drive that hosts offices of several local and international companies and organizations. The militants carried out the deadliest attack that left 21 innocent citizens dead. The security officers and volunteers responded swiftly and restored normalcy after a 20-hour operation. Tech firm, Cellulant was the hardest hit by the attack, losing six senior members of its staff. Business at Dusit D2 later reopened after seven months.
Ethiopian Airline crash, Flight ETOn 10th of March, 2019, a Boeing 737 Max plane operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed killing all the 157 people on board. The ill-fated flight ET302 was on that Sunday morning en route to Kenya’s capital Nairobi from Addis Ababa when it lost contact with the Air Traffic Control just six minutes after takeoff. The pilot was reported to have made a distress call to the controllers and efforts to trace the plane were immediately launched only to be discovered that it had crashed near Bishoftu, southeast of the Ethiopian capital. A tragic six-minute accident that left 32 nationalities dead; 36 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, 9 Ethiopians, 8 each from China, the United States, and Italy, 7 each from France and Britain, 6 from Egypt, 4 each from India and Slovakia, 8 crew members among others.
The Grounding of Boeing 737 Max
Aviation authorities released reports of accident similarities between the deadly Ethiopian airline and Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 that left another 189 people dead leading to the worldwide grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 planes. Thousands of flights were canceled and efforts by the Boeing’s executives to restore public trust in its Max planes bore no fruits. China became the first country to ban the model from its airspace and ordered all its domestic flights to ground MAX 8. The UK, Europe, France, Morocco among many other countries and airlines followed. Boeing fired its CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, a week ago and hopes David Calhoun who is the designated CEO will stem the crisis in the company.
Many cases of cancer deaths were witnessed in 2019. Cancer is the third killer disease in Kenya right now. Many Kenyans online called on the government to declare cancer an emergency in order to pull efforts towards suppressing it.
- Bob Collymore.
Safaricom CEO Robert Bob Collymore died on July 1, 2019, after a long battle with cancer. Bob took a one-year sick leave In October 2017 to seek treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia in the UK, he later returned in July 2018 to resume his duties. His contract was extended by the Safaricom board in March 2019 by one year to compensate for the sick leave but sadly passed away 3 months later.
- Joyce Laboso.
On May 29, 2019, Bomet Governor Dr. Joyce Laboso left the country for Britain to seek treatment for cancer of the colon at the Royal Madden NHS Hospital in London. She was later transferred to India before jetting back home. She was immediately admitted to the Nairobi Hospital where she passed away 2 weeks later. Governor Hillary Barchok was sworn in to assume the office after her burial.
- Ken Okoth
On 26th of July 2019, Kibra Member of Parliament, Ken Okoth succumbed to colorectal cancer at 4 PM at the Nairobi Hospital after years of battle. The legislator had just returned home from Paris France where he had been receiving treatment. Cases of cancer deaths continue to cripple the country. Going forward into the new year, I hope this scourge will be given keen attention and all the necessary steps will be taken to save thousands of Kenyans.
Murder and other death cases
- Tob Cohen
The news of the Dutch tycoon who vanished in July 2019 shocked the country when his rotting body was found inside a septic tank in his Kitisuru home. The 71-year old is said to have been following up a divorce case he filed to part ways with his longtime wife Sarah Wairimu. According to the DCI Director Kinoti, the murder of Cohen was the most gruesome. Initially, his wife Sarah told the police that his husband had left the country to seek treatment in Thailand. Sarah Wairimu who is facing husband’s murder charges was released on Sh.2M cash bail.
- Ivy Wangechi.
This is another gruesome murder case that shocked the country. Ivy Wangechi, a Moi University student was axed to death in a broad daylight at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret by his so-called boyfriend Nafthali Kinuthia. Kinuthia admitted that he killed the girl due to rejection and is currently facing murder charges.
- Joyce Syombua and her two children
Joyce Syombua, 31 and her two children; Shanice, 10, and prince 5, went missing mysteriously three weeks after leaving Kayole for Nanyuki to visit her husband Major Peter Mugure who works in Laikipia Airbase. The bodies of the three were later discovered buried in a shallow grave in Makaburini in Laikipia County. Husband, Mugure is the prime suspect and is currently in police custody. Syombua and her children were buried on December 7, 2019, at their rural home in Kitui.
West Pokot Floods tragedy
52 West Pokot residents perished on the night of November 23 after a deadly landslide which resulted from flooding that hit their county. Around 450 survivors were evacuated to safety and have since received humanitarian support from various donors and organizations, the latest being Telco Company, Safaricom.
Likoni Ferry Tragedy.This was the top tragedy that hit the headlines this year. A video emerges online of a Silver Toyota car slowly and helplessly sinking into the ocean, onboard, Mariam Kigenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu. The poor souls perished when their car slid off the Harambee Ferry in Likoni, what followed was a chain of blames, online outrage, and desperate 2-week search to retrieve their bodies. Kenyans heaved a euphoric sigh of relief when their car was finally pulled from the ocean. This is one incidence that will be remembered every time the word Likoni is spotted or mentioned. The two Likoni tragedy victims were laid to rest on October 19, 2019 at their rural home in Mung’ala, Makueni County.
Kibra Parliamentary Battles.
After the death of Ken Okoth, Kibra Constituency entered into a hot By-Election period. Jubilee Party’s Macdonald Mariga, ODM’s Imran Okoth who is the brother to the late Ken Okoth and ANC’s Eliud Owalo were the top contestants. It was however turned to a battle of egos and supremacy between Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto. ODM’s Imran Okoth emerged the winner and was sworn in on November 19, 2019, as the new Kibra Member of Parliament.
Huduma Namba, a project by the National Government, under the Ministry of Interior was rolled out this year with the authorities claiming the government would be able to serve its citizens effectively after the registration. The registration exercise which lasted for 45 days saw the National Integrated Identity Management System harvest data of millions and millions of Kenyans at the whopping cost of 7.7 billion shillings.
Kenya Census 2019
As if the Huduma exercise was not enough, the government through Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, KNBS, conducted the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census 2019 in August. The exercise themed “Counting our People for Sustainable Development and Devolution of Services” saw KNBS collect information on the demographic, socio-economic, emigrants, and housing amenities characteristics relating to the Kenyan populations. The report which is out now put the country’s population 47,564,296.
Safaricom’s First Kenyan CEO.
Kenya’s Telco giant Safaricom appointed its first-ever Kenyan CEO this year. Safaricom announced Peter Ndegwa as its new CEO on the 24th of October 2019. Peter’s appointment will take effect on April 1, 2020, and will be taking over the multibillion company from Michael Joseph who’s been acting since the demise of Bob Collymore.
Kenya Power also appointed a new CEO after the former boss, Ken Tarus, was suspended over irregular tendering of power transformers.
Following the handshake by the President and ODM Leader Raila Odinga, a task force was formed to conduct a survey on steps to a cohesive nation and was named the Building Bridges Initiative. The members of the task force after months of touring various places in the country to collect the views of the citizen handed the report to President Kenyatta. The President officially unveiled the 156 pages report at the Bomas of Kenya on November 27, 2019, assuring Kenyans that the proposals in the document are aimed at building a cohesive and progressive country.
Eliud Kipchoge’s historic INEOS Marathon challenge, Vienna, Austria.
On to the final and most amazing news of the year! Eliud Kipchoge on the 12th of October 2019 made history on the streets of Vienna in Austria by running a 42KM race under two hours. Eliud Kipchoge dared to attempt the greatest feats in the history of athleticism in the world, encouraging himself that no human is limited. The marathon which was dubbed INEOS 159 Challenge was sponsored by Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe. At around 2 PM, history was made, Eliud Kipchoge beat the record by completing the 42KM marathon race at 1:59:40. This immediately threw the world into a joyous celebration especially Kenya. That was truly the making of history. I have never been glued to my screen as I did for Eliud’s Vienna history. Eliud was honored with the highest civilian award in the country Elder of the Golden Heart, was crowned the IAAF male athlete of the year and the Laikipia University awarded him the Honorary degree, Doctorate Degree in Science.
Kenyan chef Maliha Mohammed also broke the world record by cooking for 75 hours nonstop. Eliud together with Maliha are the first Kenyans to break the Guinness World records.
So yes, the year has been with ups and downs, but we’re finally closing it. Thank you 2019, thank you, everyone. Going into the next decade 2020, we hope we can be inspired and through the spirit of camaraderie that we’ve exhibited for each other in the tough year of 2019, we can achieve more in the New Year.
Happy New Year 2020!