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Lifestyle: Time to worry in Kenya if you’re a public servant

Kenya is set to practically sniff if government officials are living within their means

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Kenya is set to practically sniff if government officials are living within their means.

President Uhuru Kenyatta gave indication to this effect when he announced that all public servants will undergo a compulsory lifestyle audit to account for their sources of wealth.

This latest announcement follows financial scandals that have rocked the country with revelations that millions of dollars were lost in various government agencies through corrupt deals that involved government officials.

Kenyatta offered himself to be the first leader to undergo the audit that seeks to identify corrupt public officials, saying the lifestyle audits would control the misuse of public funds. He said public servants would be required to explain their sources of wealth with an aim of weeding out those found to have plundered government funds.

“You have to tell us, this is the house you have, this is your salary, how were you able to afford it? This car that you bought, (don’t try to put it under your wife’s name or son’s name, we will still know it is yours), where did you get it? You must explain and I will be the first person to undergo the lifestyle audit,” he said.

In the past month, various corruption scandals involving tenders and suppliers in government agencies have been unearthed. The corruption scandals as revealed have exposed the theft of hundreds of millions of shillings by state officials from several government bodies.

So far, more than 40 government officials, including businesspeople, have been arrested over the recent scandals.
Kenyatta has continued to express his frustration about the graft, which seems to have spiraled out of control since he came into office in 2013.

“This issue of people stealing what belongs to Kenyans, I swear to God it has to come to an end in Kenya,” Kenyatta said.

The president said the lifestyle audit will be key among other measures also put in place by the government to curb the vice.

Earlier in the week, Kenyatta issued an executive order requiring all government entities and publicly owned institutions to publish full details of tenders and awards beginning July 1, 2018.

“For example, if this road is being built, we want to know: Who won the tender for the construction? How much was the tender? Who came in second and third? Why was the first person awarded instead of these two? All these reasons, we need to know. Kenyans need to know so that it is out there, that this company was awarded this tender, belongs to a certain person, these are the directors, these are the shareholders. There will be no more hiding,” he said.

On June 1, Kenyatta ordered that all heads of procurement and accounting units be vetted again. He said the vetting would include subjecting the officers to polygraph tests to determine integrity.

Kenya scored 28 points out of 100 on the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. The Corruption Index in Kenya averaged 22.62 points from 1996 until 2017.

Culture

Repentant Germany signs accord to return stolen Nigerian artifacts, Benin Bronzes

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Germany and Nigeria have signed a memorandum of understanding for the return of centuries-old sculptures known as the Benin Bronzes that were taken from Africa in the 19th century.

The memorandum of understanding was signed by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Culture Minister Claudia Roth, as well as Nigeria’s Culture Minister Lai Mohammed and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Zubairo Dada.

The German Foreign Minister admitted “it was wrong to take the bronzes; it was wrong to keep them for 120 years.”

Two pieces of artifacts, a head of a king and a relief slab depicting a king with four attendants were handed over to commemorate the return of the pieces.

 

“This is just the beginning of more than 1,000 pieces from the Kingdom of Benin that are still in German museums, and they all belong to the people of Nigeria,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said. “It was wrong to take the bronzes; it was wrong to keep them for 120 years.”

 

The bronzes “are some of Africa’s greatest treasures, but they are also telling the story of colonial violence,” Baerbock said.

African arts litter many museums in Europe and North America. Some of the countries have sought to resolve ownership disputes over objects looted during colonial times.

One of such museums, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, an authority that oversees many of Berlin’s museums, announced last year that it was beginning formal negotiations on returning pieces that are in its collection.

According to washingtonposthundreds of African artifacts were sold to collections such as the Ethnological Museum in Berlin, which has one of the world’s largest groups of historical objects from the Kingdom of Benin, estimated to include about 530 items, including 440 bronzes. Many of them date from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

Historyextra reports that Benin Bronzes are a collection of more than 3,000 figures and other decorative pieces looted by the British in 1897. The artifacts are housed in at least 161 public and private collections scattered around the world.

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Culture

First ever African Fashion exhibition debuts in the UK Saturday

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The first ever African Fashion exhibition which has been touted to be UK’s most extensive exhibition of African fashion artistry is set to debut in London on Saturday, July 2, according to the show organisers.

The epoch making African Fashion event which is aimed at showcasing designers from the black continent, as well as exoose Africa’s diverse heritage and cultures, which will open at London’s prestigious Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum, is also the country’s first exhibition dedicated to the medium.

Apart from the fashion show, there will also be an exhibition are African objects, sketches, photos and film from across the continent, starting from the African liberation years in the 1950s to 1980s to up-and-coming contemporary designers, according to the event organizers.

The project curator, Elisabeth Murray, in a statement, said the scene is set with a section on “African Cultural Renaissance”, highlighting protest posters and literature from independence movements that developed in conjunction with fashion.

“The Vanguard is the central attraction, displaying iconic works by well-known African designers including Niger’s Alphadi, Nigeria’s Shade Thomas-Fahm and Kofi Ansah of Ghana.

“Over 250 objects are on display for the African Fashion exhibition, with approximately half of these drawn from the museum’s collection, including 70 new acquisitions.

“Many of the garments on show are from the personal archives of a selection of iconic mid-twentieth century African designers with one of the highlight being the centre-piece made by Moroccan fashion designer Artsi Ifrach, called “A Dialogue Between Cultures” which was Inspired by the British trench coat and headscarf,” Murray said.

“The conversations and collaborations that have shaped the making of the Africa Fashion exhibition are a testbed for new equitable ways of working together that allow us to imagine and call into being the V&A of the future,” she added.

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