Sunday, June 24, 2012


The advisory did not mince words. The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi claims to have received information of an imminent threat of a terrorist attack in Mombasa. The US government officials  travel to Mombasa is now suspended till July  1st 2012. And its citizens advised to consider this information in their traveling planning. Translation: they are better off not traveling to Kenya.

         And the impact was instant. The British government, quoting the US warning, also advised its nationals to exercise extra caution and vigilance when considering visiting Coastal Kenya and much of North Eastern Province, and even parts of Nairobi which it described as ‘low income.’ They did not stop there, their citizens were asked to see their travel advice before traveling to any other part of Kenya.

This is a big blow to Kenya’s tourism business especially because the Coast attracts the bulk of Kenya’s tourists from the US and Europe. 2010 was Kenya’s most successful tourism year in history, with over 1 million tourists visiting. The government earned 73.68 billion shillings over the same period, and then tourism Minister set a target of 2 million visitors by the close of this year. This was a huge recovery since the 1998 bombing which literally brought Kenyan tourism to its knees.

To achieve this the Kenya tourist board has been aggressively marketing Kenya as a high value destination for high spending tourists and this has been paying dividends. In 2010 United Kingdom led in terms of arrivals with 174,051 followed by United States with 107,842 while Italy and Germany took third and fourth positions at 87,694 and 63,011. The status quo has largely been maintained in percentages. But the advisories hit Tourism where it hurts most- the numbers. The new US warning is an update on its advisory released on April 4th this year, citing  ‘potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya, particularly after the death of Osama Bin Laden.”

The fact is Kenya has been attacked by terrorists mainly because of its perceived close relationship with the US and its allies. The 1998 bombing in Nairobi was targeted at the US embassy. Yet over 200 Kenyans died and at least 4000 were injured. 14 years later Many Kenyans remain traumatized by the worst terror attack on Kenyan soil. In 2002 at least 15 people died when a truck crashed through the gates of Paradise Hotel in Kikambala. The targets were Israelis, another close ally of the US.

Since then the US has issued sporadic travel warnings against Kenya time and again, as Kenya increasingly appeared a pawn for terrorists targeting US interests,  ever since the superpower they declared war on terror. And while the US takes every opportunity to shout from the rooftops about its strong relations with this country and declare its support, in Kenya’s bid to protect itself, there is little evidence of material support towards the same. The spirit of partnership was largely lacking when Kenya stepped up the chase for Fazul Abdalla, the key suspect in the 1998 bombings. Fazul later died in hail of bullets from Somalia’s National Security Agency in June last year.

The US has also been largely AWOL as Kenya waged a one-man battle against AL-Shabaab, who have publicly declared their loyalty to international terrorist outfit Al Qaeda. When KDF launched Operation Linda Nchi and entered Somalia to pursue Al Shabaab, the international community was largely mute. Now our army is one city away from conquering Al Shabaab with the help of AMISOM.

On that evidence the alleged US support to Kenya in the fight against terror is largely lip service. Yet this war, in the first place, is their war. The advisories do nothing more than spread unnecessary anxiety, not just to their targeted audience but also Kenyans, besides hurting the economy. Ironically, whenever the US itself has come under attack on its own soil, the government has always responded by vowing not to be cowed by cowards.
TWITTER: @FerdyOmondi

Thursday, June 21, 2012


It has been a year of mixed fortunes for Chelsea. Two trophies in the locker covered for the disastrous Premier League Campaign, which saw the Blues finish an unacceptable sixth by their standards. And after two seasons of largely recycling an ageing squad, it appears the Russian is flushing out his cheque-book for a squad revolution.
    The capture of Eden Hazard was a huge statement of intent, and with names like Hulk and Edison Cavani in the air, it is safe to bet that at least one more big name will wear blue next season. Winning the Champions League had made Chelsea very attractive.
   But the bar has also been raised, no doubt. And with the aim to improve on next season's performances, the temptation to get tried and tested players is very high. Revenue from the Champions League success has also made sure money will be spent without worrying too much about the financial fair play rules lingering in the horizon. However, this also means Chelsea can afford to "ignore" the academy players, which in my opinion would be a very bad idea.
   Abramovich has pumped millions of pounds into the Chelsea Academy. Wouldn't it only be fair if a product of that academy made his way into the first team? And I am not taking about those sporadic appearances. I mean a proper regular.
   The last such success was John Terry, but now in his 30s that is so history. Yet Chelsea has no shortage of potential replacements for the ageing players. Ryan Bertrand is really threatening, and after starting in the Champions' League finals, I see him getting a lot more playing time, which is good. Suffice it to say Chelsea need not buy a left back.
Josh McEachran was shipped to Swansea to get more playtime, but the team did do well Brendan Rogers kept the poor boy on the same bench he was trying to avoid at the Bridge! McEachran's potential is not in question. But he needs to play to realise it.

Does anyone remember Gael Kakuta? He is supposed to be the Black Zidane! The 4-2-3-1 formation suits him. Perhaps he could deputise Mata on the left next season?

How about Sam Hutchinson? By Grace he is back playing after that early retirement. The knee problem is gone. If Chelsea need a John Terry replacement, look no further than Hutch.

Then there is the curious case of Romelu Lukaku. Only at Chelsea would a player be bought for 20million pounds and then kept to in the reserves for an entire season. None other than Lukaku himself has been baffled at this move. Drogba is gone now. If Chelsea need to replace the Drog, Lukaku has all the potential. He is virtually alike-for-like replacement.

Its not possible to name them all, what with the likes of Lucas Piazon and Islam Feruz standing tall in the youth squad.
The bottom line is, can Chelsea afford to ignore all this talent while buying marquee signings? the answer is no. Kevin de Bruyne and Marko Marin are promising youngsters. Chelsea noticed them because they got playing time at their clubs. Bertrand is now a solid squad player at Chelsea. A long Ashley Cole injury layoff at the close of transfer window (Gor forbid) may not be so much of a headache as it would have been two seasons ago. THAT is because Roberto Di Matteo trusted him, gave him belief, and he delivered.
 Bosingwa, Kalou and Drogba are gone. Malouda and Essien could follow them out of the door. Out of five possible vacancies, Chelsea youngsters deserve at least two.