The Audacity of Hope Vis A Vis the Audacity of Hate

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The Audacity of Hope Vis A Vis the Audacity of Hate.
“There is no force in the world that can stop an idea whose time has come”-Victor Hugo.
The Time has come ladies and gentlemen to finally take the gloves off. The time to quote a former to- be President Stateside, after America was attacked by Osama Bin Hiding “to declare whether you are with us, or without”. Incidentally I am an ardent supporter of one Barack Hussein Jnr Wuod Obama, and unashamedly so. Not least because his ancestral home is less than one hundred miles from mine .as the crow flies, but do I say, to borrow an expression from Luo local parlance
It has to do with very fundamental and deep reaching issues, issues of a universal character.
The issue of hope and audacity, Vis a Vis, that of hate and pandering to those innate, pernicious and primeval human fears, that are also universal in character. Barrack,(Which is Arabic and by extension Swahili for blessings, has been and is the blessing that the world needs to be salvaged from its current state of quagmire. The quandary that is to the Americans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Foreclosures, The credit crunch, a dollar in decline, rising energy costs and a host of other domestic issues.
The predicament that is to the world, that of rising intolerance in the form of the multi headed hydra of Xenophobia, terrorism and racism. Cultural and religious intolerance, and an endless list of bias. Barrack Obama has consistently sold to America and to the world at large the enduring belief in hope. Hope in a bright future, hope in a better tomorrow; hope that even the darkest night has its dawn.
But more so the hope that we can, each of us, on a personal level, make it if we try. If we dare to believe that we can leave an imprint, a long lasting, worthwhile imprint on the sands of time. That summarily is what his candidature for POTUS, President of the United States of America, the highest office in both the free and bounded world, is about.
“Who would have thought that a skinny kid, with a funny sounding name would one day be a serious contender for the Presidency of the United States of America”
To quote the man, “Who would have thought that a skinny kid, with a funny sounding name would one day be a serious contender for the Presidency of the United States of America”. That statement in itself denotes the odds that were stuck against him, when he embarked on his unlikely journey to the Presidency of the U.S.A.I feel strong kinship with that statement as I guess most of you do.
So I am utterly dismayed when the Republicans more so Sarah Pallin, Governor of Alaska tries to distort this message by trying to sell Obama’s candidature as one of fear and hate. To pander to the lowliest fears known to man, the fear that somehow he means harm, for the simple fact that he is not like “Us”.
Stoking such deep psychological fears is not a new tactic having been effectively deployed in the past by the NAZI’S and Fascists who effectively created full-fledged ministries of Propaganda/’-. In Psychology it is referred to as the Apollonian, Dionysian conflict. Which was aptly captured in Mary Shelley’s Book, “Frankenstein”, which was later remade into a Hollywood Blockbuster Movie, and which to date ranks as a classic of the horror and macabre genre.


In recent weeks the McCain campaign has run adverts to this effect. Like the one featuring a couple expecting their first child declaring that they fear an Obama Presidency. Including the instance when Sarah Pallin,Governer of Alaska, declaring at a public rally, that she fears Obama due to his links to Bill Ayers, now a college professor. A 60’s Chicago radical who led a group in planning attacks on US installations to protest the Vietnam War and who was Chief Guest at Obama Campaign for the Illinois senate.
Whereas McCain Himself has sought to distance himself from such talk, the fact remains he has not stopped the more hawkish inclined side of his campaign from running such attack ads. Which is reminiscent of what happened in the run up to the Kenyan polls when hate ads were aired questioning the religiosity or otherwise, of current Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga, who was then running for the presidency of his homeland Kenya.
(Image of Obama with His Kenyan Grandmother, Mama Sarah Obama Outside Her Home in Kogello)
It is instructive to note that such hate mongering ultimately has a boomerang effect. As was witnessed in Kenya from December 29th onwards, after the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner in that years flawed electoral process. The announcement, which plunged Kenya into an abyss of pure anarchy, a period that can only be described as Kenya’s darkest hour.
Now, for the McCain Campaign to resort to such underhand tactics in a bid to win the American Vote Is not shocking, considering the lack of concise policy that side has been selling. What is perchance shocking is the venom at which this particular issue is being driven.
There are more pressing issues of global concern, than concentrating on trivial sideshows which will ultimately be of little or no bearing to the world at large. This is what I refer to as the audacity of hate. We Obamaholics as I prefer to refer to myself abhor such negative campaigning.
We know that the Apollonian Dionysian complex has been the root cause of so much untold suffering down the eons. So much blood has been shed in the name of rectifying such “differences”. To name but a few major ones the Crusades instigated by the Princes of Europe to conquer/retake Jerusalem (Which incidentally means the city of peace in Hebrew just like Dar-es-Salaam in Arabic) ironically named so ,in view of the fact that so much blood has been shed in the name of the City and the name of God.
The first and second world wars ,the Balkan conflict, The Masalit, Zaghawa and Fur Conflict with Sudanese authorities, a war otherwise known as the Darfur Conflict and a host of other such conflicts. Obama represents all things to all people his mixed ancestry his having studied in Indonesia, trip to Kenya, his rising to the pinnacle of academia, by being the first ever black editor of the Harvard law review and by graduating Magna Cum Laude, Juris Doctor, at Harvard.
But most importantly and what the gist of this article is, that if you can have an idea individually and collectively believe we can. Yes We Can. Since I am Kenyan and I believe I can, I have decided to coin a new compound word yes we “canyan”, a hybrid of Kenyan and can. You can too, if you dare to, so surpass yourself. Go Barrack Obama, wuod mama, juok piny en kodi.


BARACKING NEWS-Obama, McCain Neck-And-Neck For Rural Vote:

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REUTERS-Additional Links and Images Courtesy of Mdaku. -Thu Oct 23, 2008
WASHINGTON - After trailing by 10 points in U.S. rural areas, Democrat Barack Obama is neck-and-neck with Republican John McCain among rural voters in 13 swing states, a potentially key group for winning the White House, according to a poll released on Thursday.


Obama was supported by 46 percent and McCain by 45 percent of 841 likely voters surveyed from October 5-21, as U.S. financial turmoil deepened, according to the poll commissioned by the nonpartisan Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

A month ago, the poll showed McCain led 51-41. This time, respondents said Obama would do better than McCain on the economy, taxes and "the financial crisis in the country."

Nearly 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas. They tend to be social and fiscal conservatives. President George W. Bush won rural districts nationwide by 19 points in 2004.

                                      Obama Waving At Crowds During His Rally In Berlin.
The poll showed rural voters have cooled from their initial enthusiasm for Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president.


Forty percent view her favorably and 42 percent unfavorably, compared to a 48-33 split in September. Obama, McCain and Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for vice president, had higher ratings than Palin in the new poll.

McCain led Obama 53-43 on the question of who would do better in handling the war in Iraq. In the earlier poll, he held a 56-37 advantage as well as a lopsided lead on who would do the best job on taxes and a 3-point lead on the economy.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent. It interviewed likely voters in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.
By Charles Abbott-(Editing by Vicki Allen and Mdaku)


Republican Conspiracy Lands In Kenya With A Thud-As Drama Unfolds As Anti-Obama Author Is Deported.

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By David Ohito,Additional links Courtesy of Mdaku.

The high drama smear campaign characterising the American elections played out in Kenya, thousands of miles away in the land of Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s father.

An attempt by anti-Obama crusaders to launch a smear campaign ended in a dramatic anti-climax when an American author was bundled out of Nairobi, moments before he could launch his book, The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and The Cult of Personality

Dr Jerome Corsi, a Republican, was declared persona non grata and deported last night after earlier being detained by Immigration officials.

The charge... engaging in illegal activities in Kenya.

The move came hours before Obama and John McCain took to the stage for the second live TV presidential campaign debate.


Immigration officer Dume Wanda led Dr Jerome Corsi, the WorldNetDaily writer and author of The Obama Nation, to a waiting security vehicle at Laico Regency hotel, on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the presidential contest was turning increasingly nasty, as the presidential rivals launched personal attacks against each other. McCain is trailing the Illinois Senator in opinion polls by up to eight points, amid an economic meltdown.

Obama tried to reassure supporters, who are worried that the Republican tactics might work, saying: "One of the things we’ve done during this campaign, we don’t throw the first punch but we’ll throw the last".

McCain is attempting to tie Obama to controversial Chicago figures and accusing him of not being open with voters about his past, according to Baltimore Sun.

Said Obama: "If John McCain wants to have a character debate, then I’m happy to have that debate, because Mr McCain’s record, despite him calling himself a maverick, actually shows that he is continually somebody who relies on lobbyists for big oil and big corporations, and that he makes decisions oftentimes on what these lobbyists tell him to do". Arrested and detained alongside Corsi at the Libya owned Laico Regency Hotel in Nairobi was a US freelance journalist Thomas Buella. By the time of going to press, the duo was booked on a British Airways flight
[PHOTO: JACOB OTIENO/STANDARD]:Corsi Under Armed Escort Being Escorted Out Of Kenya.
that was scheduled to depart from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 11pm.

The Immigration officers, however, said Corsi was "free to apply for a valid work permit to come back and launch his book".

Sources at Immigration headquarters told The Standard that Corsi and Buella had their visitors’ passes annulled for violating rules.

Violated Terms



"They violated terms of the visitor’s pass by engaging in a business and marketing of his book. They required a special permit to do business," a top Immigration source said.

Corsi claimed he had earlier met with a top Government official, who "gave me a nod to go ahead".

Trouble started shortly after 9am for the controversial author when a team of Immigration investigators and Administration Police officers arrived at the venue of the launch.

He was questioned before being bundled into a waiting white Land Rover and driven to Nyayo House, the Immigration headquarters.

Pro-Obama youths led by Mr Dennis ‘Thande’ Hamisi protested outside the hotel, claiming the launch was a smear campaign against the US Democratic presidential candidate.

"We are here to register our displeasure and to oppose the sentiments of the Republican sympathiser and author," said Thande.

"It is bad propaganda and an affront to the people of Obama’s father and grandfather," Thande said.

Corsi claims the Illinois Senator is a dangerous, radical candidate for the presidency. The book has been described as laden with innuendo and false rumours — that Obama was raised a Muslim, attended a radical, black church and is secretly seething with "black rage".

Yet Obama was raised as a Christian and attended the United Trinity Church. Immigration sources said Corsi arrived in the country on September 30, aboard a British Airways Flight and has been allegedly in hiding. "He declared that he would be staying at Laico Regency Hotel on arrival, but the hotel has since distanced itself from the visitor," a senior police officer said.

Mr Joseph Mumira, a CID officer at the JKIA, confirmed that Corsi was at the airport for deportation.

As drama unfolded, the Laico Regency Hotel General Manager Solomon Adede issued a press statement disowning the author and the book launch.

Adede said a Mr Peter Mbae, the Editor-in-Chief of Eagle Christian Magazine, booked the ‘book launch’.

Considered Embarrassment

Said Adede: "We would like to assure our business partners and the public at large that Laico Regency Hotel is a law abiding institution and does not condone any smear campaigns.Mbae, Corsi’s publicist, later told Reuters that the author had broken no Immigration rules, but was considered an embarrassment.

"His papers were found to be in order. The passport was fine, his visa was fine," Mbae said, adding the Government did not want Corsi to launch the book on Kenyan soil hence the hasty deportation. Foreign journalists yesterday camped at Nyayo House, hunting for Corsi after news spread that he had been detained.

A statement announcing Corsi’s visit said he arrived last week at the invitation of Christian missionaries concerned about the rise of Islam.

Corsi was scheduled to meet Obama’s half-brother George Onyango Obama, who Western Press claim is living in abject poverty in Huruma Estate, Nairobi. The claim is part of a campaign to portray Obama as an irresponsible person incapable of leading a country, if he cannot help his brother.

Onyango has come out fighting in support of the US Senator, saying he was not living in squalor and admonished foreign media to stop using him to undermine the Democrat


Supu Escort ,Nyuma Mbili,Ugali Wembe,KandoKando Na Dunga, Tafadhali! (The Budding Gourmet’s Guide to Lunch in Nairobi)

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Fig.Yoda Having Lunch.
Dunga, Tafadhali! (The Budding Gourmet’s Guide to Lunch in Nairobi)
Workers the world over look forward to that hallowed period of time called lunch-hour. During these sixty golden minutes, people fill their bellies, strike up lasting relationships, and have a bit of time to carry out extra-curricular activities without incurring the wrath of their employers for being out of the office during working hours.


Nowhere is this hour more cherished than in Nairobi (indeed, I am writing this post within that sacred time). Kenya is a country where employees are famed for their ability to arrive in the morning, hang their coats, strew some papers on their desks and vanish for the day. Some employees have perfected the art to the point that a day’s work consists merely of replacing yesterday’s coat with today’s, and placing the papers on the desk in a more modern state of disarray. This onerous task is performed at the crack of dawn to avoid awkward encounters with inquisitive colleagues. In such a country, the chance for some legitimate time off is jumped at.

Lunchtime in Nairobi, for many, is not whiled away at the New Stanley Hotel. Nor is it spent ensconced in the lounges of the Nairobi Serena. There is a huge demand for affordable lunch in Nairobi. To cater to this demand, anywhere an office/college/factory/workshop springs up in Nairobi, it is almost inevitable that there will be a long, low-slung mabati establishment providing sustenance to famished employees. Some of the best meals I’ve eaten have come from these roadside taverns.

If there is one word that can be used to describe these haunts, that word is “thrift”. Even the entrance is likely to be small; one generally has to stoop to get in. The interior is generally quite dark, and takes some getting used to, owing to a shortage of light. This all-pervading thrift ethic can even be observed in the use of floor space. As little floor space as possible is taken up with tables. This saved floor space is used instead for chairs. It is not uncommon to find a multitude of 5 or so people elbowing their way through their midday victuals at a table meant for a more romantic 2.


The nomenclature of these places can range from the puzzling to the creative. I have never been able to understand the reasoning behind the name of a small chips-and-soda at Campus that was called “The Hidden Agenda”. More recently (not by much!), a new establishment has sprung up along a road I frequent called “Snuggles”. There is an even more intriguing slogan next to this name: “Let’s snuggle”.

There are a couple more facts which the tourist to Nairobi would do well to be informed of. Generally, the cashier’s office lair is situated near the exits. Bad debts are rare in this business as one cannot abscond without paying. Also, prices are likely to be highly variable in nature. I am not talking about month-on-month inflation here. I have been in places where the first chapati will be 10 bob, and subsequent ones will cost a sudden 20. Forewarned, friends, is forearmed.

The rest of this article will devote itself to the explaining commonly-used terms in these restaurants.

1. Dunga

Chapatis can be served either just the way they are, or if the eater so prefers, they can be served rolled up and speared on the end of a fork. This is a personal favourite. Many is the time I have allowed myself the simple pleasure of having my teeth sink softly through multiple luscious layers of chapati arranged as just described upon a fork…

2. Kando-Kando

Some establishments provide lunchers with the choice of whether to have all their food on a tray, or to have the main course served separately from the stew (kando-kando). The choice may seem obvious, but these Scrooges of the restaurant business have found ways of serving precious little on very narrow trays. The solution is to ask for kando-kando so as to obtain credible portions of each.

3. Nyuma Mbili

This is a term I was told evolved from a place that served fish and ugali exclusively. The main course and the stew being cast in stone, the only thing the client can choose is which half of the fish he would prefer. If the eater prefers the front part of the fish - kichwa - or the rear – nyuma - he may order a full meal by simply stating the relevant fish-half. Nyuma mbili hence means two full ugali-and-fish-tail meals.

4. Supu Escort

All too often, while eating, the happy gastronome will be brought up short by the unhappy circumstance that his ugali has outlasted his soup. At no extra cost, the eater can remedy this unfortunate situation by applying for Supu Escort. This is just what it sounds like – a bit of soup to aid the remaining ugali smartly down the hatch.


5. Ugali Wembe

This is a solution for the reverse of the circumstances related above; should your soup outlast your ugali, then this sliver of ugali, at no extra cost, is for you.
originally posted here by chrenyan.


Kenya National Security Scare-Fear And Anxiety As Prime Minister Hiccups Six And A Half Times At Dinner.

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By MUTUMA MATHIU, mmathiu@nation.co.ke Additional links By Mdaku
IN SUMMARY

No confidence in the Government Chemist.
Sources demanded that the president issues a statement to clear the matter.
Prime Minister Juma Hodari hiccupped six-and-a-half-times while having dinner at his Karen residence on Thursday night, we can authoritatively reveal.

The prime minister, dressed in a blue polo shirt, a beige jacket and a pair of whipcord trousers and suede loafers, was seated approximately six inches from the edge of the European oak dining table when the incident, which has caused strain in the coalition and threatened national security, occurred, according to an impeccable household source, who would not agree to be named discussing delicate food issues.

“The prime minister is known to hiccup three times when he is having supu and ugali, the food he was served on the material night. This is a wild deviation from the mean,” Party chief whip Joko Owadi said. “You can report that parliament will be investigating it.”

MR OWADI SAID HOUSE FINANCE COMmittee chairman Sulumu Sukumaka is to chair the team, to be named the House Select Committee on the Hiccup Affair.
The party has launched its own investigations with one official saying: “We have seen enough tricks in this coalition. We are the senior partner in government, and we are not prepared to be robbed twice.”

The official, who did not wish to be quoted expressing an opinion, said they had no confidence in the Government Chemist and were considering sending samples to the Tanzanian Chemist instead.

The official said they have so far been unsuccessful in obtaining a sample of the food, accusing a top member of the household of blocking their efforts. He said the household member told a sample-seeking delegation to “leave my family alone, you idle morons”.

But the party is undeterred, the official said, and has people on the inside working on the case.

This reporter was not allowed into the prime minister’s compound as one guard claimed that the family had advised this reporter to go and find something more useful to waste his time on.

Efforts to reach the prime minister to dispel this false claim by the guards, who were appointed by Party of Native Unity in Africa (PANUA), were fruitless by the time of going to press, but more efforts will be made in our follow-ups.

“It is an absolutely important political issue which must be investigated. It goes into the heart of power, has linkages to the presidential succession and significant correlations to our history,” said political analyst Mwatao Mutai on (sic) telephone.

Mr Mutai, though reached halfway through a steam bath at the Hilton health club, was, however, able to quote Nicolo Machiavelli and Karl Marx six times, to support his arguments.


At party headquarters, work was at a standstill when we visited, with workers huddled in small groups, discussing the incident in low tones.

“We ordinary, hard working people will not allow the people’s movement to be hijacked by reactionary and anti-change elements,” a top official, who did not wish to be quoted expressing an opinion, said before he was driven away in his official Mercedes Benz S-Class, blue in colour and left-hand drive.

“Don’t put that monkey on our shoulder, it has nothing to do with us,’’ PANUA spokeswoman Samantha Omwea, a lawyer by training and the president’s blue-eyed girl, said.

Vice-President Maridadi Maridhawa’s spokesman, Mr Kasoso Basoto, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “We wish our brother well, he is a national and not a party figure. But he should not dance himself lame before the main dance. Sympathy votes can expire in four years.”

THE INVESTIGATION IS CENTRING ON an uncomfortable relationship between the PM’s cook and a security guard.

Sources said the guard has been too cheery in his greetings to the cook, who has not demonstrated rebuffing of such inappropriate advances.

A security expert who worked for a city guard firm before he retired in 1980 said: “There has obviously been a serious breach. This is a national security crisis bigger than any we have faced before and it requires immediate attention from the highest offices in the land.”
Party officials, who did not wish to be named for reasons they did not reveal, said they were furious with Head of Public Service Nthiga Mutaratara, who has not issued a statement distancing the government from the incident.

The officials said Mr Mutaratara was “not treating the matter with the seriousness it deserved” and had maintained his stance of being “unhelpful”.

Sources demanded that the president issues a statement to clear the matter. The president’s spokesman, Mr Isa Matata, promised to comment but switched off his phone. Later he issued a terse press statement about “media madness over trivia” and “infantile cult of personality.”

The president was not seen in public the whole of yesterday and questions are already being asked about who is running the country.

Meanwhile, a civil servant claiming to be the Prime Minister’s spokesman yesterday issued a statement in which the PM extolled the media’s importance in democracy and the development of the country.

The civil servant claimed the PM asked the media to desist from confusing the public with “fiction, imagination and a sinister affinity for trivia.”

The PM’s official spokesman, Mr Slim Kaburu, retired last month and could not be reached for comment. Mr Mutaratara has blocked the appointment of a replacement.

...........................................

CORECTION & CRALIFICATIONS (sic)

This important story was intended for the front page and was printed here due to unavoidable inconveniences (sic). The error is utterly regretted.

Mutuma Mathiu is the Sunday Nation managing editor.


For Advanced Web Analytics Get Clicky.

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For Advanced Web Analytics Get Clicky.
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High Drama On The High Seas-Somali pirates maintain ransom demand for Ukrainian arms ship.

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MOGADISHU (AFP) Links provided courtesy of Mdaku. 

 Somali pirates holding a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and military hardware Thursday maintained their demand for a 20-million-dollar ransom as a blockade around them tightened.

Kenyan police meanwhile charged a maritime official who had claimed that arms shipment had been bound for Sudan and not Kenya, as both Kiev and Nairobi have said.

As warships from the United States and other navies kept close watch on the MV Faina off Somalia's Indian Ocean coast, the pirates insisted on being paid before releasing the cargo and the 21-member crew.

"We are negotiating with the company that owns the vessel. The discussions are headed towards a positive end, but nothing has been finalised," the pirates' spokesman Sugule Ali told AFP.

"We are demanding 20 million dollars and that figure still stands."

The figure would almost double the estimated sum already paid this year to free hijacked ships.

Meanwhile, Somali Islamist militants urged the pirates to destroy the cargo and the vessel if no ransom is paid, while admitting that they would be interested in acquiring the arms.

"If they do not get the money they are demanding, we call on them to either burn down the ship and its arms or sink it," Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, a spokesman for the hardline Shabab movement, told AFP in an interview.

But Robow said his movement, gradually gaining ground over government troops in southern Somalia, was not linked to the pirates who seized the Belize-flagged freighter last week as it headed for Mombasa in Kenya.

"We have no contacts and links with the pirates and they are in the waters for their own interests."

"It is a crime to take commercial ships but hijacking vessels that carry arms for the enemy of Allah is a different matter," added Robow, whose movement nearly stamped out piracy when it controlled southern Somalia in 2006.

The US Navy has vowed to prevent the pirates from offloading the arms.

But Robow said his movement would not mind getting hold of them in a bid to boost its campaign against troops from Somalia, Ethiopia and the African Union in Mogadishu.

The freighter contains 33 T-72M1 and T72-M1K battle tanks, six anti-aircraft defence systems, 150 RPG-7 grenade-launchers, six missile-launchers and 14,000 rounds of 125 mm ammunition.



There are about 50 armed pirates aboard the ship mingling with the crew.

Although there had been no reports of violence against the hostages, there had been several exchanges of fire on the ship, Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, said in a statement. They had seen no victims of the gunfire.

"The priority should be to resolve the problem only through negotiations with the pirates without the use of force," the statement added.

Earlier in the week, the pirates said the arms were headed for Sudan, a view shared by the United States. The Ukrainian owners of the freighter and Nairobi have insisted the tanks were destined for Kenya.

Kenyan police in the port city of Mombasa charged Andrew Mwangura of the local chapter of the Seafarers Assistance Programme of "making alarming statements" for his statements to the media that the cargo was for Sudan.

Mwangura, who was also charged with possession of marijuana, pleaded not guilty to both charges. He was denied bail and remanded until October 7.

"He appears to be their (the pirates) spokesperson, especially when pushing for ransom to be paid," government spokesman Alfred Mutua told reporters.

The Ukrainian freighter has 21 Ukrainians, Russians and Latvians in the crew. The ship's captain died of an illness on board, according to Russian media.

The number of pirates currently operating off the coast of Somalia is believed to be upward of a thousand. Most of them are former coastguards.

Piracy along Somalia's long, unpatrolled coastline on the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden started years ago as an effort to deter foreign fishing boats depleting the country's maritime resources.

Over the past few years, it has evolved into a well-organised industry, with well-armed pirates targeting anything from tourist yachts to huge merchant vessels and demanding huge ransoms.