ForeverMissed
Inga Karin Steffensen is a soul that will be deeply missed. Those that personally knew her, mourn her loss with great devastation; those that knew her from the testimonies of her works, mourn her loss with reveling admiration; and those that benefited from her interventions and support, mourn her loss with deep sadness holding on memories of her kindness and open heartedness. All in all, Karin's death has left pain and agony but also fond memories and deep gratitude for the kind soul she was.

Tales are told of Karin's selflessness and personal sacrifices in fighting for justice and equal opportunities for those she came in contact with; testimonials are given for her interventions that nurtured careers and livelihoods for many, for decades on end.

Her fighting spirit and commitment to causes that sought to protect the vulnerable and provide opportunities for those most in need constitute the memories of her work that will linger on forever in the hearts of those who knew and worked with her. 

Her deep appreciation and commitment to her family and those that were close to her remain enviable traits for all to cherish and hold dear to their hearts. She was indeed one of her kind.

Many remember her honesty, generous spirit, spontaneity and enthusiasm for all things Kenyan and as you cross to the afterlife Karin, tales of your memories and contributions will never see end!

Go well our beloved!
Posted by Kepta Ombati on May 7, 2021
Tribute by Mtumishi Njeru Kathangu*
April 24, 2021

Karin Steffensen, was a warrior among us. She did great things silently and supported the social movement without vetting herself or the organisation and the Embassy she worked for.

She went out of her way to convince them on the importance of an alternative thought in Kenya's political realm. She did it, willingly, lovingly and concerned about our safety and future. For this, I am a witness.

I know many who she held as committed partners in the movement including my friend Gvnr. Kivutha Kibwana and quite a few others in leadership.

She deserves our recognition and honour. Let us keep her in our memories.

Rest in eternal Peace Karin.

*Mtumishi Njeru Kathangu is a former MP for Runyenjes (1997-2002) and detainee during the oppressive Moi-KANU rule. He is the incumbent Secretary General of FORD Asili Political Party. He also runs CREDO, the civil society organization he founded with support from Karin Steffensen and DANIDA in the 1990s.
Posted by Jacob Opara on April 29, 2021
This is how I remember Karin Stefessen. She worked with the Danish Embassy. In the year 2000, I applied for a scholarship at the Embassy to study for a post graduate diploma in mass communication at the University of Nairobi..

I had nothing ..I had no phone. I would walk from Easleigh to the city center to make applications for jobs or scholarships... I had given my brother's number for me to be reached out.

When Karin got my bundle of application she called my brother and told him to inform me that I should go and see her in her office. I had not applied for admission at UoN as I had no enough application fee (money) A friend by Peter Macharia had given me Kshs 1000 and the application form was selling at Kshs 1,400

When I met Karin on the 9th floor at HFCK building, she asked me whether I had applied for admission at the University of Nairobi..I told her I had a balance of Kshs 400 which I was sure would get ...

She opened her handbag and gave me kshs 500. I rushed out of her office after profusely thanking her straight to the University of Nairobi lest I eat the money since I was hungry and bought the admission form at Kshs 1400 and was left with Kshs 100 .

When I was admitted at the University of Nairobi School of Journalism I got a Kshs 300, 000...It comes in tranches...I left Post Bank and joined KCB . Karin passed on and she leaves behind a legacy of kindness and professionalism in her work .

We all may be puzzled by the happenings of this world but for sure nothing puzzles God .


Lawyer and friend, Lempaa

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Kepta Ombati on May 7, 2021
Tribute by Mtumishi Njeru Kathangu*
April 24, 2021

Karin Steffensen, was a warrior among us. She did great things silently and supported the social movement without vetting herself or the organisation and the Embassy she worked for.

She went out of her way to convince them on the importance of an alternative thought in Kenya's political realm. She did it, willingly, lovingly and concerned about our safety and future. For this, I am a witness.

I know many who she held as committed partners in the movement including my friend Gvnr. Kivutha Kibwana and quite a few others in leadership.

She deserves our recognition and honour. Let us keep her in our memories.

Rest in eternal Peace Karin.

*Mtumishi Njeru Kathangu is a former MP for Runyenjes (1997-2002) and detainee during the oppressive Moi-KANU rule. He is the incumbent Secretary General of FORD Asili Political Party. He also runs CREDO, the civil society organization he founded with support from Karin Steffensen and DANIDA in the 1990s.
Posted by Jacob Opara on April 29, 2021
This is how I remember Karin Stefessen. She worked with the Danish Embassy. In the year 2000, I applied for a scholarship at the Embassy to study for a post graduate diploma in mass communication at the University of Nairobi..

I had nothing ..I had no phone. I would walk from Easleigh to the city center to make applications for jobs or scholarships... I had given my brother's number for me to be reached out.

When Karin got my bundle of application she called my brother and told him to inform me that I should go and see her in her office. I had not applied for admission at UoN as I had no enough application fee (money) A friend by Peter Macharia had given me Kshs 1000 and the application form was selling at Kshs 1,400

When I met Karin on the 9th floor at HFCK building, she asked me whether I had applied for admission at the University of Nairobi..I told her I had a balance of Kshs 400 which I was sure would get ...

She opened her handbag and gave me kshs 500. I rushed out of her office after profusely thanking her straight to the University of Nairobi lest I eat the money since I was hungry and bought the admission form at Kshs 1400 and was left with Kshs 100 .

When I was admitted at the University of Nairobi School of Journalism I got a Kshs 300, 000...It comes in tranches...I left Post Bank and joined KCB . Karin passed on and she leaves behind a legacy of kindness and professionalism in her work .

We all may be puzzled by the happenings of this world but for sure nothing puzzles God .


Lawyer and friend, Lempaa
her Life

Remembering Karin and her roots

Karin was born in 1934. We have just celebrated her birthday on 31 March.
Her father, Walter Francke was a teacher of modern languages. Her mother, also called Karin, was partly Swedish. Karin’s father was born in the extraordinarily beautiful mountains of Ladakh in northern India,  where Karin’s
grandfather, Herman Francke, was a scholar of Tibetan language and culture and a missionary. On Karin’s mother’s side, they have some Swedish blood, a very  musical family, including Clara Wieck, a well known concert pianist and composer in the nineteenth century. Karin and her sisters obviously inherited this  musicality. They  enjoyed singing together, singing in parts, and as a child Karin played the piano and the recorder.
Karin’s pet name in the family was Kajsa, according to her sisters who were born in quick succession after her.  They  were brought up in a beautiful wooded area and loved the outdoors. Karin was evidently a leader of their games in the fields and the woods. She loved reading from an early age and her younger sisters regarded her as knowledgeable. This was obviously a time of happiness and simple pleasures at home, at school and in the countryside.
But then came the Second World War  in 1939, disruption, displacement, fleeing from advancing armies, and separations from time to time, then family reunions, as the family coped somehow. Karin bravely put all that behind her when she was in Kenya and didn’t allude to this difficult time.
As she grew into  a teenager at secondary  school, Karin began to show her independent mind and spirit.  She was bright at school, courageous and curious but sometimes fretted at rules and regulations. Her sisters marveled at how sociable she was even at a young age. But we  have now come to appreciate the extent of the challenges she faced during the war and as a teenager after the war,  through emails sent to us this week from her sisters whom she would often comfort when they had to face difficulties alone. We salute Karin and her sisters for overcoming those hard years. We note Karin’s fortitude for smiling, laughing and living a full life as we  have seen her live for over forty  years in Kenya.





Karin, her passions, her work, and contributions to humanity

Karin took a keen interest in every individual she met. She had an insatiable curiosity about life, events, social dynamics, politics and justice. She read intensively. She debated incessantly. Her love of Kenya took her into  all manner of topics and issues of the day.
Karin is noted in the NGO world of the 1980s  and 1990s  and continuing up to today, for the deep interest she took,  in her role  as a DANIDA Officer,  to follow  the issues of the day, to strengthen the role  of DANIDA in promoting democracy, and to interact with  donors on collaborative efforts in development. Her peers at the time, Kenyan and from the donor world, noted her commitment to integrity and transparency. She was involved in grant and scholarship selection and evaluation of progress being made through donor support towards achieving human rights, constitutional reform and election administration. Karin was an excellent networker and the contacts and friends she made during her work  with  DANIDA has brought her lifelong friends. And, one could add, as many of the DANIDA grantees studied journalism, she too has developed a lifelong interest in the power of the media.
During a couple of interim years in the 1990s  between contracts, Karin also worked for a time in administration at UN Habitat in Nairobi.
When Karin retired from the Embassy, she enthusiastically took on a new career as a specialist tour guide. Some of the most prestigious international tour companies sought her specialised guiding skills because Karin knew so much about the land, the peoples of Kenya, the history and current issues. She also became well versed in wildlife, nature and ecology. She would plan the tours meticulously. From her hilarious tales of the world of tourism, it is obvious that the tourists had a lot of fun on Karin’s tours and learned a lot.
After almost forty  years of life together, Karin and Peter solemnized their marriage on 16 November 2017. It was a great day in all its simplicity and quiet elegance. They were so deeply happy and content with this  decision and this  day of theirs.
We should note also something of Karin’s everyday life in the little community of maisonettes where she lived  in Kilimani. She simply loved the children of her neighbours. The visitors to her house know those children better than we  do the parents because they would happily wander in and out of Peter and Karin’s house at all times, knowing they were welcome. Auntie Karin had bought crayons and colouring books, coloured sheets of drawing paper and other things besides that the children could settle down with happily at the dining room table or on the floor. This was a house of welcome. Friends could pop in any time and find  a cup of tea. It was a happy house. But when Peter died Karin found it hollow. She grieved deeply for Peter. She missed him with  a raw pain of loss.  She would of course rouse herself and greet the next friend who came to the door, offer the next cup of tea, but there was a massive hole in Karin’s life. Peter had gone and life was simply not the same any more.

Karin, adventure and Marriage

Karin’s sisters watched these travels and exploits and found themselves married in England and in Australia, also far  from home. This was indeed an adventurous family and we  saw the result of this  when Karin reached Kenya, made Kenya friends, met Peter, her beloved husband, and decided to stay. Kenya would be her home for the next 43 years. At Peter’s funeral just three years ago, Karin told us of their amazing chance meeting, at the side of the dusty road at the foot of the Ngong Hills, and they travelled together the one hour’s journey back into  Nairobi. That was the beginning of four  decades of happiness for Karin. Life had its up and downs, of course, but Karin would always praise Peter for his infinite patience, his love and count their many blessings. Peter was a good man and Karin knew this  to the depths of her soul.  Peter, in turn loved Karin’s honesty, her generous spirit, spontaneity and her enthusiasm for all things Kenyan.
Peter was devoted to his family and to their land. He and Karin would make so many visits  to Kisamis, bearing trees to plant, and looking after the various agricultural and livestock projects Peter had with  his father. Karin got to know the family and the little sisters, who were quite young at the time.
Karin expanded her role  in the Danish Embassy to a variety of areas. Her curiosity about Kenya became experience of and knowledge of Kenya. She became a valued source of information on all manner of subjects to her Embassy. She met a never-ending stream of visitors to the Embassy, particularly young Kenyans starting off on their studies and careers, many of whom are now leaders in their professions and in the Parliament of Kenya itself.

Recent stories

Ripped - Karin Steffensen’s Last Message to Friends, April 16, 2021

Shared by Kepta Ombati on May 7, 2021
Good afternoon Otsieno, venner and comrades.
Thank you, Otsieno and Pauline for visiting me jana. It was a great pleasure to have you, although I didnt have anything to offer you, but I hope you will come again.
The short version of my sickness is this: 
I went to Nairobi Hospital to have a couple of gallstones removed. They did a lot of tests, and when I after three days asked when the stones would be removed, they said they would treat my other diseases first.
Which diseases? 
Tuberculosis, pneumonia, colon cancer and a clot in my heart. I told them I don't have either and asked to be discharged even without the removal of the gallstones. They presented me with a bill of Ksh 1,1 milion for doing zero but would not discharge me without paying.
I did not get my file with xrays, reports and the bill a.o.
I then on 28th Feb went to Aga Khan Hospital where a relative of Peter's works as a nutrionist. They removed the stones, but I felt an excrutiating pain on the left side of my chest, where the spleen sits, all round to the spine on the back (gallstones are on the right) when I woke up from anesthesia.
They gave me painkillers and did tests over three days. I asked to be discharged on 7th March because I received no treatment or explanation of the pain. They were very reluctant to discharge me, but I insisted.
I have now studied the spleen on the net and it says the pain could be caused by damage, rupture or enlargement of the spleen. Home treatment: no sugar and fats, lots of water and patience. So that's where I am now.
Thanks for listening and your concern, but you may understand that I feel ripped of by both hospitals and received none or very unprofessional treatment.

For me it is: Hospitals Never Again!
_____
*Karin died barely 5 days later on April 22, 2021 at her home in Nairobi
Shared by Peter Makori on April 28, 2021
I met Karin at a human rights/media workshop in Kisumu, sometime around 1997. I did not know that the casual meeting was to result in Community Radio training at the Danish School of Journalism, Denmark in 1999.

Karin was also to become my informal silent advocate when I faced persecution because of standing up for what was right. In 2003, I was picked up from an incident of murder I was covering. Brutally beaten up by the despicable flying squad and threatened with execution inside Kodera forest, I was to spend 11 months at Kisii and Kodiaga prisons. During those darkest hours, I befriended prison wardens who sneaked for me letters that were sent to Karin. She then utilized her influence within the human rights networks to quietly but consistently petition for my release. 

After my release from Kodiaga, I got credible information information that the then Kisii DC who had instigated my arrest and torture, was planning to have me executed so that the killing could be attributed to a dreaded militia, Kusungusungu. When she got wind of this, Karin invited me to meet with the then Assistant Minister in the president’s office, Prof. Kivuta Kibwana. We met at Yaya Center. I was still limping and in slippers because my feet that had been extremely injured one year back, were still very painful to put on shoes.

At that meeting, Karin presented my case to Prof. Kibwana, informed him about extrajudicial lynching of individuals in Kisii by the Kisungusungu. Karin wrote emails to New York and to anyone who cared to listen, documenting my case. She introduced me to Jacky Klopp who had wide networks in New York, especially at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) where my case was articulately presented. 

i cannot explain the degree of endless compassion Karin showed on me for so long, especially that time. At the time I was a fugitive, she could give me some little money here and there, for toiletries. I recall after she lost all her money at Chase Bank, Karin was deeply affected. One day, I unexpectedly sent her Ksh10,000. She wrote an email and stated, “Peter Makori, I did not expect this from you. You’ve made me cry..” And I told her, “you did a lot to me for I’ll never pay you back!”

Folks, I don’t have the stamina to write more than this. Karin was a mother to many. She was a woman who personified what’s good and Godly in a society beset with corruption and led by heartless politicians. She epitomized true love and care for those who faced the horrors of State thuggery. 

She fought the good fight. She has finished the race, She has kept the faith! Rest in Eternal Peace.