The Washington Post - 13.08.2019

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A6 EZ RE THE WASHINGTON POST.TUESDAY, AUGUST 13 , 2019


ARGENTINA


Macri’s poor showing


stuns financial markets


Argentine stocks and currency
plummeted Monday after
President Mauricio Macri was
snubbed by voters, who appeared
to hand a resounding primary
victory to a populist ticket that
includes his predecessor, Cristina
Fernández.
The preliminary results from
Sunday’s voting suggest that the
conservative Macri will face an
uphill battle going into general
elections in October and give the
populists, who governed
Argentina for most of the past two
decades, a strong chance of
returning to power.
The result stunned financial
markets. About a third of the
Argentine companies that trade in
U.S. markets lost half of their value
Monday, but losses were extreme


across the board.
With 88 percent of polling
stations tallied early Monday, the
presidential slate headed by
Alberto Fernández and his
running mate, Cristina Fernández,
led with about 47 percent of the
votes in the primary, which
featured 10 candidates. Macri and
his running mate had 32 percent
— a wide deficit that potentially
positioned the Fernández team to
win in the first round of the
general election, set for Oct. 27.
To be elected president in the
first round, candidates need to
finish with at least 45 percent of
the vote or have 40 percent and a
greater than 10-point advantage
over the nearest rival. If no
candidate wins outright, there will
be a November runoff.
The primary functioned largely
as a poll for the October vote. All of
the parties already had chosen
their candidates, and the only
practical result was to eliminate

from the general election a few
minor parties that got less than
1.5 percent of the overall votes.
— Associated Press

CANADA

Two teen fugitives died
by suicide, police say

Canadian police said Monday
that two fugitives suspected of
killing a North Carolina woman
and her Australian boyfriend as
well as another man died in what
appears to be suicide by gunfire.
The medical examiner
completed the autopsies and
confirmed that the bodies found
last week in dense bush in
northern Manitoba were indeed
those of Kam McLeod, 19, and
Bryer Schmegelsky, 18.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were
charged with second-degree
murder in the death of Leonard
Dyck and were suspects in the

fatal shootings of Lucas Fowler
and Chynna Deese, whose bodies
were found July 15 along the
Alaska Highway about 300 miles
from where Dyck was killed.
A manhunt for the pair had
spread across three provinces and
included the Canadian military.
Their bodies were found near
Gillam, Manitoba.
McLeod and Schmegelsky
themselves were originally
considered missing and became
suspects only later. Police were
investigating a photograph of
Nazi paraphernalia apparently
sent online by one of them.
— Associated Press

BRAZIL

Motion seeks to block
leader’s son from post

Federal prosecutors in Brazil
filed a motion Monday that could
block President Jair Bolsonaro’s

son from becoming ambassador to
Washington.
The prosecutor’s office in the
capital is asking a regional federal
court to specify that ambassadors
must have diplomatic experience.
The motion comes in response
to complaints about plans to name
congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro,
35, ambassador to the United
States.
The U.S. government has signed
off on the appointment, but it has
not yet been approved by the
Brazilian Senate.
The younger Bolsonaro has no
diplomatic experience. He recently
defended his qualifications by
noting that he had worked at fast-
food restaurants in the United
States several years ago.
— Associated Press

Blast at Iraqi weapons depot
injures 13: Iraq’s Interior
Ministry said a large blast at an
ammunition depot southwest of

the capital, Baghdad, injured 13
people, most lightly. A ministry
spokesman said it was not clear
what caused the blast at the al-
Saqr military base, which houses a
weapons depot for the federal
police and the mainly Shiite, state-
sanctioned militias known as the
Popular Mobilization Forces.

Death toll in Myanmar landslide
climbs to 56: The death toll in a
landslide that buried more than a
dozen homes in southeastern
Myanmar has climbed to 56, an
official said. The landslide hit a
village in Paung township on
Friday. The U.N. Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs said monsoon flooding had
displaced more than 7,000 people
last week in Mon state. Apart from
the landslide in Paung, houses and
a school in other townships were
washed away, roads were blocked
and villages were submerged.
— From news services

DIGEST

BY MAX BEARAK

mukuru kwa njenga, kenya
— With a nonchalance only teen-
agers have, the 13-year-old shook
out the contents of a tote bag onto
the table in the one-room shack
she shares with her grandmother.
Certificates and medals tumbled
out.
Sarah Momanyi has won na-
tional chess championships for
her age bracket two years run-
ning.
The slum where she lives, Muk-
uru kwa Njenga, is one of the
grittiest in Kenya’s capital, Nairo-
bi. It makes headlines for cholera
outbreaks, gang battles, prostitu-
tion rings and the city govern-
ment’s constant threats to raze it.
It is built on a wasteland between
two industrial zones. Every alley-
way is lined by two open gutters.
Sarah’s achievements come de-
spite both her parents’ absence in
her life. Her grandmother, who
raised her, said her own daughter
is an alcoholic with severe tuber-
culosis and that she tried to sell
Sarah as an infant to buy her next
fix.
“Mukuru is tough. But Sarah
has quite the brain. Nobody can
beat her,” said Josphat Owila, her
coach, who works for a Christian
charity.
Sarah has skills that could sup-
port her aging grandmother, in-
spire her community and — per-
haps most immediately on her
mind — be her ticket to seeing the


world beyond Mukuru, and be-
yond Kenya.
Invitations have rolled in for
continental and even global
championships in places such as
China. This year’s African Youth
Chess Championship in Namibia
is just a few months away.
But she has had to turn down
every invitation, and not for lack
of support from the charity that
sends her to school. She’s stuck
because she’s facing an opponent
tougher than anyone who has sat
across the chessboard from her:
Kenya’s stifling bureaucracy.
Like about 35 percent of Ken-
yans, Sarah doesn’t have a proper
birth certificate. It means she
can’t access almost any public
services, let alone procure a pass-
port.
Janet Mucheru, the director of
the Kenyan government’s Civil
Registration Services depart-
ment, said it is impossible to
know exactly how many Kenyans
are undocumented by their own
government, but that they num-
ber in the millions.
“What we have is guesswork,”
Mucheru said. “Our biggest prob-
lem is lack of awareness among
parents. They don’t know that a
birth certificate is essential to
access government services.”
Mukuru kwa Njenga’s maze of
tin shacks is home to more than
100,000 people, a small propor-
tion of whom are — just like you’d
find anywhere else — prodigies of
some sort.

Once Sarah began winning, her
grandmother, Christine Kibagen-
di, and coach Owila, realized the
lack of a birth certificate was
going to be a major obstacle.
“I am trying my best to figure
out how to get her papers in order
so that she can go different plac-
es,” said Kibagendi, who dotes on
Sarah. She occasionally sells
curios to make ends meet, and
she fashioned Sarah’s first chess-
board out of discarded soapstone
from nearby stalls.
“I have even pretended to be
her mother, but they figured me
out. They said, ‘You are too old to

be her mother,’” she said.
To get a birth certificate, Sarah
and her grandmother would have
to prove that she is her mother’s
child. One way would be to pro-
duce the slip one gets from the
hospital after birth. But like a vast
number of Kenyans, particularly
in slums and rural areas, Sarah
was born at home.
Another option would be for
Sarah’s grandmother to legally
adopt her, but a byzantine adop-
tion process puts off many Ken-
yans. For Kibagendi, who lives
day-to-day on her earnings, the
time and money it would cost are

prohibitive.
So, she took an easier route:
She paid a broker around $15 to
get a birth certificate made for
Sarah.
“Ah, the brokers,” said Valarie
Ang’awa, a lawyer at Kituo Cha
Sheria, an organization that pro-
vides free legal advice to Kenya’s
poor. “Our most desperate people
— they look for the cheapest
option, but it only leads to more
frustration. That girl will face
doubts her whole life. There will
always be questions about how
she got this document.”
Sarah isn’t easily discouraged.
On a small, wood-framed mirror
that hangs by the door of her
home, she wrote the words “Nev-
er give up.”
When other kids broke the
chessboard her grandmother
made, she wasn’t distraught —
she’d already mastered the game.
Hundreds of opening sequences
and end games were already
stored in her mind.
“People would say to me, ‘Girls
can’t play chess,’ ” she said, walk-
ing through a market on a recent
day, flashing a smile. “I beat all
the boys, too.”
Her ambition does not stop at
chess. Ideally, she said, she’d be-
come a surgeon one day. “The
skills are the same: concentra-
tion, and being able to see many
moves ahead.”
But even prodigies run into
realities. Owila is worried that
time is running out for her to stay

in school. The church-based char-
ity he works for, Lynchburg,
Va.-based Sports Outreach, will
be able to sponsor Sarah’s school
fees for only a couple more years
at most.
“When the fees are just 2,
shillings a month, we can man-
age,” he said. That’s about $20.
“But what happens when she has
to go to secondary school, which
is far more costly?”
Owila and his colleagues are
trying to use the birth certificate
Sarah’s grandmother bought to
apply for a passport, but they
haven’t made progress. Even if
the document was accepted, the
online application portal has
been down for weeks.
Owila’s reliability can some-
times pose a problem. On a recent
Saturday, he neglected to pick up
Sarah at a designated meeting
spot, and she sat at a busy inter-
section for hours, without a
phone to call him. The league she
was supposed to compete in
wouldn’t let her play because she
showed up late.
She’d be back the next week,
though, cheered on by her grand-
mother.
“The hope that Sarah brings
home — that’s what we live on,”
Kibagendi said. “Letting her play
chess is taking a big chance, but
we live on chances.”
max.bearak@washpost.com

Rael Ombuor contributed to this
report.

Chess champ’s formidable opponent: Red tape


Kenyan teenage prodigy wants to compete abroad, but the government won’t issue her a passport


PHOTOS BY SARAH WAISWA FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

TOP: Sarah Momanyi, a 13-year-old chess prodigy from a Nairobi
slum, has received invitations to compete worldwide. But the lack
of a birth certificate has stymied her efforts to get a passport.
ABOVE: Sarah, who wants to be a surgeon, focuses on a move.

The World

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