Kenya: Presidential wildcard plans 4-day weeks, cannabis farms | Uhuru Kenyatta

Nairobi, Kenya – Many understand him as immoral, outright loopy or each.

However George Wajackoyah, one among 4 front-line presidential candidates in Kenya, is urgent on, hoping to develop into the fifth elected president and clear up the nation’s debt burden by legalising hashish farming and exporting hyena testicles.

Tuesday’s presidential vote is seen as a straight contest between Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, however much less has been mentioned concerning the different two – David Mwaure, a conservative clergyman, and Wajackoyah.

However the latter, a 62-year-old professor of regulation and former policeman whose unconventional marketing campaign to date has taken the street much less travelled, away from the insult hurling that’s rife in Kenya’s political campaigns.

In 10 years, the nationwide debt has gone from 2 trillion shillings ($16.8bn), or 40 % of gross home product (GDP), to 9 trillion shillings ($75.5bn), or 67 % of GDP, and analysts say the subsequent president faces a tall order in reviving Kenya’s financial fortunes.

“The rising of marijuana … will allow this nation to pay its excellent money owed, and guarantee Kenyans have the funds for wherever they’re in order that we are able to maintain and arrest the [debt] scenario,” Wajackoyah mentioned.

“China in 2021 planted 169,000 acres of marijuana and made $1.2bn in returns,” he added, referring to Kenya’s prime creditor. “Right here is China that we’re 9 trillion shillings in debt, which means we’re spending China’s marijuana cash on our initiatives.”

He plans a large-scale export of hyena testicles and snake venom to provide Kenya sufficient export revenues and legalise hashish farming for medicinal functions, which, he says, would fetch Kenya 9.2 trillion shillings ($77.2bn) a yr.

The proceeds would assist clear Kenya’s debt and afford every citizen 200,000 shillings ($1,679) in annual dividends, he has mentioned.

Unsurprisingly, that has stimulated a nationwide debate on the topic and his candidacy has cultivated a small and rising followership.

Kenyan presidential candidate George Wajackoyah
Presidential candidate George Wajackoyah speaks throughout an election marketing campaign rally in Gatundu, Kenya, August 3, 2022 [File: Baz Ratner/Reuters]

A lifetime of many twists and turns

A seasoned lawyer, Wajackoyah shocked many when he promised to droop the structure for a month if elected and to hold convicted criminals to demise with rope product of hemp.

However younger folks have been excited by his promise to institute four-day working weeks and his campaigns have been extra like music live shows than rallies.

Sandwiched between younger girls wearing skimpy crochet outfits and Rastafarian colors, the sexagenarian has proven up in bars and nightclubs, dancing to blaring reggae music earlier than addressing his viewers.

He wore a durag and a T-shirt to submit his presidential nomination kind for the Roots Get together on the workplace of the Unbiased Electoral and Boundaries Fee (IEBC).

And regardless of being a proponent of hashish legalisation, he says he neither smokes nor drinks and can be a vegetarian.

A number of native studies have indicated that he has 16 levels, together with a doctorate from Walden College in the USA in addition to a sophisticated diploma in French from the College of Burundi. He speaks English, French, Swahili, Luhya and Luo.

He grew up on the streets of Nairobi and has instructed reporters that he was solely three years previous when his dad and mom deserted him after their divorce. He claimed to have taken to the streets whereas attempting to find his mom who was rumoured to have moved to Uganda.

A well-wisher reportedly rescued him and enrolled him at school, a narrative he tells to avenue youngsters whereas encouraging them to take training significantly.

Wajackoyah additionally reportedly spent 10 years within the Kenya Police Service’s Particular Department as a spy beneath the Daniel Arap Moi administration. He reportedly fled into exile after unearthing damaging particulars concerning the assassination of one among its ministers, Robert Ouko.

Details about his postings within the dreaded spy service within the Moi period is scanty however in a single interview, he defined that he fled the nation in 1991 to the UK.

Whereas there and learning regulation, he claims to have fended for himself by being a gravedigger, later shifting to the US to spice up his tutorial credentials.

The professor is married to an American citizen with three youngsters who’re cut up between the US and the UK.

‘An affect on the folks’

For a largely non secular and conservative nation, Wajackoyah’s eccentricity and position in politics have been questioned by members of the general public.

At an August 6 rally for Odinga, Emily Adhiambo, a 31-year-old who does menial jobs in Kiambi, a Nairobi slum, mentioned she wouldn’t vote for the professor as a result of “Wajackoyah will spoil our youngsters with bhang [cannabis]”.

When members of Kenya’s clergy got here out strongly calling him out for tearing the society’s “ethical cloth”, he retorted at a rally within the Nairobi central enterprise district by saying the bishops “don’t know what they’re speaking about”.

“Bhang is smoked in Israel, even Jesus smoked weed,” he continued because the youths cheered him on.

Quite a lot of youths, tickled by his ideologies, trailed his marketing campaign truck chanting his slogan, “bangi! bangi! bangi!”, the Swahili phrase for hashish.

“Kenya has one of the best marijuana on the earth,” he introduced in the course of the rally. “All of the flower beds shall be became lovely inexperienced shrubs of bhang.”

On the marketing campaign path, the professor of regulation largely dons sweatpants and a T-shirt with “Roots Life” inscribed as a reference to his political social gathering and a trademark durag on his greying hair, There are additionally the sandals which he shoves apart usually, preferring to stroll barefoot.

Generally, he wears inexperienced coveralls with Rastafarian tags and inscriptions.

It’s a departure from years in the past when he appeared in court docket with fits accessorised with a bow tie. His gray beard was additionally neatly trimmed then, in contrast to its increasing mass now.

Kenyan elections might be pressured right into a second spherical if no candidate will get greater than an outright 50 % of the vote. So, it has been prompt that he’s “a state venture”, strategically positioned within the presidential race to take sufficient votes from the main candidates.

This comes as President Uhuru Kenyatta and the ruling Jubilee social gathering and the state equipment have been backing former opposition chief Odinga, beneath the umbrella of the Azimio la Umoja coalition.

At a membership in Kisumu on June 24, Wajackoyah requested for respect for Odinga, in what many interpreted as both a pledge of help or a Freudian slip.

“I’ve roots within the Luo neighborhood and we should respect Raila. If you happen to don’t vote for me you then would somewhat vote for him,” he mentioned.

However Wajackoyah is unperturbed by those that say he stands no probability of successful. For him, the endgame is to not win elections however to vary mindsets. “A win is once I affect on the folks, and that I already see,” he instructed Al Jazeera.

That change within the mindset has already landed a few of his staunch supporters in bother with the regulation.

On June 12, a die-hard fan Boniface Mutua was arraigned in court docket for smoking throughout campaigns. He pleaded responsible however argued that he smokes hashish to get braveness to marketing campaign for the Roots Get together.

“Who is aware of, I is likely to be among the many industrial farmers of bhang if my candidate is elected President and legalises marijuana,” Mutua acknowledged amid laughter inside the court docket.

Benard Ogoye, a Nairobi resident, mentioned although he doesn’t help Wajackoyah’s presidential bid, he helps legalising hashish to regulate its utilization and likes the marketing campaign.

“Political seasons are sometimes so tense and Wajackoyah provides humour to it, easing the environment,” he instructed Al Jazeera.

Certainly, the professor nameed a comic, Jaymo Ule Msee, as his spokesperson.

Dismus Mokua, a Nairobi-based political analyst believes that the unorthodox campaigning has gotten Wajackoyah nationwide consideration, in a rustic the place the main focus is on two candidates.

“I feel he’s positioning himself as a global lobbyist for marijuana,” mentioned Mokua. “He’s a really good man and clearly, being president just isn’t his objective … when main prescribed drugs are searching for uncooked supplies or international locations the place they’ll develop bhang, they’ll know who to strategy.”

Ukraine: Russian warplanes pound Kyiv after weeks of calm | Russia-Ukraine war News

Russian air strikes hammered Ukraine’s capital Kyiv for the primary time in weeks, slamming into an condo block and kindergarten and killing at the very least one individual with others trapped in destroyed buildings.

As much as 4 explosions shook central Kyiv within the early hours of Sunday.

“The Russians hit Kyiv once more. Missiles broken an condo constructing and a kindergarten,” mentioned Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s administration.

Deputy Mayor Mykola Povoroznyk mentioned one individual was killed and 6 wounded. He mentioned explosions heard later in different elements of Kyiv had been air defences destroying additional incoming missiles.

There had been no main strikes on Kyiv since early June.

Town’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, mentioned on the Telegram messaging app that some folks had been trapped within the rubble of a nine-storey condo block.

“They’ve pulled out a seven-year-old woman,” Klitschko mentioned. “She is alive. Now they’re attempting to rescue her mom.”

A Ukrainian air pressure spokesperson mentioned the strikes had been carried out with long-range missiles fired from Russian bombers greater than 1,000km (620 miles) away within the southern Russian area of Astrakhan.

Ukrainian experts work outside a damaged residential building hit by Russian missiles in Kyiv on June 26, 2022
Ukrainian specialists work outdoors a broken residential constructing hit by Russian missiles in Kyiv [Sergei Supinsky/AFP]

‘Symbolic assault’

Talking to Al Jazeera, Klitschko mentioned the missile fireplace on Kyiv was a “symbolic assault” within the run-up to a NATO summit set to happen on Tuesday.

Klitschko added the air strikes had been harking back to ones that came about in the course of the late April go to of United Nations Secretary-Common Antonio Guterres, who went on to explain the battle as a “mindless struggle”.

Russian missiles additionally struck the central metropolis of Cherkasy, which till now had been largely untouched by bombardment, in response to regional authorities, who mentioned one individual was killed and 5 others wounded.

Russia’s defence ministry mentioned it used high-precision weapons to strike Ukrainian military coaching centres within the areas of Chernihiv, Zhytomyr, and Lviv – an obvious reference to assaults reported by Ukraine on Saturday.

Russia denies concentrating on civilians, however Ukraine and the West accuse its forces of struggle crimes in a battle that has killed 1000’s, despatched thousands and thousands fleeing Ukraine, and destroyed cities.

United States President Joe Biden referred to as the assaults “barbarism” after he arrived in Germany for a Group of Seven (G7) summit.

Ukraine’s Overseas Minister Dmytro Kuleba mentioned G7 international locations ought to reply to the most recent missile strikes by imposing extra sanctions on Russia and offering extra heavy weapons to Ukraine.

Severodonetsk falls

The jap battlefield metropolis of Severodonetsk fell to pro-Russian forces on Saturday after Ukrainian troops retreated, saying there was now not something to defend within the ruined metropolis after months of fierce combating.

It was a significant defeat for Kyiv because it seeks to maintain management of two jap provinces, Luhansk and Donetsk, that type the Donbas area, which Moscow calls for Kyiv cede to separatists.

The RIA information company quoted a pro-Russian separatist official as saying separatist forces had evacuated greater than 250 folks, together with youngsters, on Sunday from Severodonetsk’s Azot chemical plant.

The plant’s surrounding industrial space was the final a part of the town held by Ukrainian forces.

Russia’s TASS information company quoted the identical official as saying forces had been now advancing on Lysychansk throughout the river from Severodonetsk. Lysychansk is now the final main metropolis held by Ukraine in Luhansk.

A Ukrainian servicemen attend to a wounded fellow soldier during a medical evacuation
Ukrainian servicemen attend to a wounded fellow soldier throughout a medical evacuation on a highway within the jap Ukrainian area of Donbas [File: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP]

‘Have to remain collectively’

Biden condemned Russia’s actions and pressured that allies want to stay agency even because the financial reverberations from the struggle take a toll across the globe by fuelling inflation, meals shortages and extra.

“We’ve to remain collectively as a result of Putin has been relying on from the start that by some means NATO and the G7 would splinter. However we haven’t and we’re not going to,” the US president mentioned throughout a gathering with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who holds the G7′s rotating presidency and is internet hosting the gathering.

The leaders had been set to announce new bans on imports of Russian gold, the most recent in a collection of sanctions the membership of democracies hopes will additional isolate Russia economically.

Glenn Diesen, a professor at College of South-Jap Norway, instructed Al Jazeera whereas sanctions on gold might result in “extra issues” for Russia, they might even have the identical impact on the worldwide economic system as they did on Russian vitality sources.

“When the NATO international locations started to [implement] sanctions, oil and gasoline costs rose considerably to the purpose the place Russia might merely export much less however nonetheless made rather more cash than it did prior to now,” he mentioned.

“This might additionally occur to gold as nicely.”

G7 leaders meet
G7 leaders collect for a dinner occasion at Citadel Elmau in Kruen, close to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany [Markus Schreiber via AP]