Maendeleo Ya Wanaume chairman Njoka Ndiritu (left) and the organisation secretary Fredrick Wambugu (centre) during a press conference on Sunday. PHOTO/WILLIAM OERI
Yes, a significant number of Kenyan men are being battered by their spouses — to the extent of seeking medical attention.
A study carried out by three universities and published in the reputable British Medical Journal of Medicine seems to give credence to claims by a lobby group claiming that about 1.5 million men in Kenya are battered by their wives.
While agreeing with the lobbyists that there is significant violence against men, the study, however, says that men are the main perpetrators of domestic violence and blames alcohol for most of the cases.
The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey of 2003 claimed that more than half of all women in their 30s have experienced domestic violence inflicted by their spouses and cited drugs and alcohol as the main inducers.
Published in March and carried out by Maseno University and the US universities of Brown and Indiana, the new study says that while men still lead in spousal battery, women are giving back almost half of what they get.
The study was carried out at a rural setting in Mosoriot, a small town close to Eldoret. It says that although more women visit the local health centre with injuries caused by their spouses, a significant number of men also do.
In a study that covered 562 violent injury patients between 2002 and 2004 at the Mosoriot Health Centre, more women than men complained of spousal assault.
“Men and women were equally likely to suffer violent injuries, however, women were more likely to suffer injury from domestic violence at about seven per cent compared to about 4.7 per cent for men,” it says.
According to another study carried out by the University of South Carolina in the US, women and men perpetrate equivalent levels of physical and psychological aggression, but evidence suggests that men perpetrate sexual abuse, coercive control and stalking more frequently than women and that women are much more frequently injured during domestic violence incidents.
Meanwhile, the government has announced plans to carry out national campaigns on domestic violence in the wake of reports that men are abused by their wives.
Kenyan men battered by wives
First he put together a human robot, then an FM radio transmitter and now electronics wizard David Mwangi Macharia is achieving his dream — owning a television station.
The latest feather in his cap is the self-made television transmitter for the Unjiru TV (UTV) he operates in Machakos.
With no professional training in engineering or broadcasting he says the project is pure talent and a ‘miracle’ of sorts.
His transmitter, fashioned out of electronic transistors purchased from scrap metal dealers, is now transmitting TV signals to towns around Machakos within a radius of about 50km.
Armed with a broadcast licence from the Communications of Commission of Kenya (CCK) two cameramen as his staff, the sky is literally the limit for Mwangi. Ms Rachael Alwala, the CCK Corporate Assistant Manager confirmed to The Standard Unjiru TV is licensed to operate.
"We have registered a frequency in their name and as long as they are operating within the law we have no problem," she says.
Unjiru is one of the two TV stations registered to operate from Machakos.
Mwangi says of CCK: "They arrested me several times, but finally allowed me do what I love most. They licensed me after realising my system does not interfere with other frequencies."
He says equipment for his TV station is sourced locally, mostly electronic waste that is considered of no value.
"I have not gone far to look for raw materials, I have been working with wire obtained locally," says Mwangi.
Started as a hobby
This, he says, is the end product of what started as a hobby. One of the gadgets he made as result is a fully assembled UHF transmitter with linear amplifiers to boost his signal.
However, the budding inventor still faces hurdles in his quest to achieve his dream. Inadequate funds have made a mockery of his broadcasts.
He can be on air one minute and off the next — often without warning.
But undeterred by this monetary challenge, Mwangi sits back proudly to watch pictures of his handiwork.
He acknowledges that what started as child’s play while he was a pupil at Icuga Primary School in Unjiru, Karatina, 25 years ago, has borne the fruit of his dream.
Mwangi makes electronic components, which he boosts through self-assembled alloys to enable flow of electric current.
"You can see that in this system, I have personally drawn and insulated the components to make them work to facilitate flow of electrons just like the industrially manufactured ones," he says.
When The Standard visited Unjiru Television Station at a small rented room in Machakos, near Lukenya, we were awed by Mwangi’s passion for broadcasting.
At his transmission studio, he sits as the managing director of his station.
However, the station is modest without huge digital cameras, tripods, powerful studio light and state-of-art equipment usually found in modern TV stations.
Mwangi uses two light mini-digital cameras for simple programme production and live broadcasts.
His editing suite is basic too, comprising two computers and an old colour TV set to monitor what goes to the screen. His transmitter hangs precariously inside the studio but it seems to serve the station and its audience just fine.
To make UTV reception possible beyond Machakos town, Mwangi is lucky to have been allowed to hang one of his receiving amplifiers on top of a high mast that belongs to a different broadcaster.
"We pay a little fee for the support we get from the friendly broadcaster," he says.
It has not been easy for 37-year-old Mwangi, but in his time, he won an award in a secondary school’s national science congress competition.
He had wired a human robot to perform antics that kept show goers in Nairobi glued to his stand as the talk of a man-made "being" dominated the Jamhuri showground.
"From there I started thinking hard. I wanted to do something extraordinary. I thought about either a TV or radio station and when I finally achieved this, I knew my dream had finally come true," he says.
A phone-in programme at the station has become popular with the station’s audience.
But it is the local content and music aired from the station that has won over viewers.
"We have learnt that so many people watch UTV because of our choice of programmes. We broadcast African movies and local music as well as gospel programmes," he explains.
Mwangi prays that a sponsor or partner would help him improve his station into a full-fledged business and create jobs for the youth.
To assist him run office errands, Mwangi has bought a second-hand car. That of course is apart from the fact that he plays most of the roles at the station.
"Currently I am the presenter and the managing director, but I have two cameramen to assist me," he says.
Mwangi joined Kagumo High School in 1987. He is married to Mary Wamboi with whom they are blessed with two children.