Monthly Archives: December 2013

Whose turn is it to eat?

NOTE: This piece first appeared as “Liaisons Dangereuse: Kenya’s new BFFs” on August 20, 2013, It has since been revised and modified to reflect recent developments.

In the article titled Kirubi joins Uhuru’s business entourage in China first published in the August 17, 2013 issue of Capital News, the online publication’s owner Mr. Chris Kirubi contends that “…it was time for Africa to look for new development partners who will strive to ensure that all parties get a fair share of the cake”. A result of this presidential junket was the procurement of Chinese funding for the Standard Gauge Railway Project – a kshs. 1.1trillion-plus undertaking that to paraphrase Mr. Kirubi, was supposed to ensure that all parties, presumably involved in the project, got a fair share of the ~$13.7billion project.

http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2013/08/kirubi-joins-uhurus-business-entourage-in-china/

It is “ensuring that all parties got a fair share” of the massive infrastructure project that in part prompted bomb-thrower de jour Nandi Hills MP Alfred Kiptoo Keter to allegedly “look at” President Kenyatta and his deputy Mr. Ruto and tell them to “…get rid of the thieves in their midst” even as he accused the “digital” duo of “….sidelining of Kalenjin professionals in government appointments…”. And in an apparent warning to the increasingly-wobbly Jubilee regime, Mr. Keter’s comments “received adulation from the audience, but stung the president and his deputy to respond at length and in uncharacteristically strong language.” Other opinion leaders and legislatures alike have since lent their voices to Mr. Keter with Mr. Billow Kerrow of sister publication Standard cautioning the president that the sentiments expressed by Nandi MP seems to be resonating “….well with the rank and file URP (United Republican Party) supporters in Rift Valley and elsewhere.

http://www.nation.co.ke/news/34-year-old-MP-giving-Jubilee-sleepless-nights/-/1056/2120718/-/biks8v/-/index.html

http://standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000100758&story_title=mr-president-don-t-sweep-concerns-under-the-carpet

Mr. Kirubi’s take on the nascent relationship between Kenya and China AND Mr. Keter’s recent onslaught against Jubilee are two seemingly disparate events with a common theme aptly captured by the main title of the book by Michela Wrong and Mr. John Githongo It’s our turn to eat. The back cover of the book describes it as an account of how as whistle-blower, Mr. Githongo became “…simultaneously one of the most hated and admired men in Kenya…exploring the factors that continue to blight Africa – ethnic favoritism, government corruption and the smug complacency of….donor nation.” The foregoing summary, in a nutshell, says it all.  

I would argue that Mr. Kirubi’s assessment of the trip to China and Mr. Keter’s reaction at the rally in Eldoret speak to the corruption, ethnic favoritism, nepotism and patronage that has been and continues to be the hallmark of Kenya since it attained independence in 1963. Mr. Keter may have been soliciting “matunda ya uhuru” or “fruits of independence” for “his people” in the ethnically-charged polity that is today’s Kenya. At least he was being open about it and was doing what his constituents elected him to do.

Mr. Kirubi is a businessman with a track record that was built, some would argue, courtesy of a system that restricted enjoyment of “matunda ya uhuru” to a handful of those connected to Kenya’s presidencies; the very point Mr. Keter and Nandi County Assembly Chief Whip Wilson Sang are arguing against even as they advocate it for “their” people! The distribution of Kenya’s national cake has historically been unfair and slanted in favor of specific tribes and regions – those in power or proximal to the center of power. Mr. Kirubi’s call for “partners” that “ensure that all parties get a fair share…” is thus disingenuous given some of the business deals that built his wealth. Regarding privatization of Kenya’s telecommunication sector in the late 90s and early 2000s, Charles Hornsby writes in the book Kenya: A history since Independence that “(T)he resulting dirty tricks and bribery allegation….led to a single preferred bidder, the Mount Kenya Consortium including wealthy…insider Chris Kirubi”; a “favoured son” who made his money in the 1980s and 1990s because of his association with then-president Moi. (pges. 642, 655).

http://www.ghafla.co.ke/news/music/item/9765-allegations-of-capital-fm-s-chris-kirubi-s-corruption-scandals-surface-read-the-shocking-story-here

http://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2011/11/16/meet-chris-kirubi-mr-kenya/

In a previous piece titled Liaison Dangereuse: Kenya’s new BFFs, I argue that one of the main reasons Kenya’s economy has lagged behind those of countries it was literally tied with back in the 80s despite heavy involvement of and support from western countries is the toxic cocktail of corruption, tribalism and impunity. The foregoing have all combined to create the exceedingly inefficient and wasteful culture of patronage that is at the centre of the verbal and very public circular firing squad between members of the current ruling coalition. Former president and Finance Minister Mr. Kibaki knowingly or unknowingly made the same argument in a recent speech titled Kenya @50: Of hindsight, Insight and Foresight, Reflections on the State of the Nation

The adage “to the victors go the spoils” is a common and accepted fact of electoral politics. The adage aptly describes distribution of cabinet positions by the winning Jubilee coalition after the 2012 election. It is the same here in the US where the winning party – Democrat or Republican – forms the government; staffing it with party stalwarts and loyalists, ideally from ALL subgroups within the winning coalition. In a slight digression, I will point out that most victorious US presidents make it a point to appoint one or two widely-respected individuals from the losing party to the cabinet. To this end, Democrat Barack Obama appointed former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be America’s Raychelle Omamo as Secretary of Defense. The foregoing digression notwithstanding and as was the case during the pre-Civil Rights era in the US, allocation of funds and resources in a fractured society with Kenya’s history should be done with an awareness befitting said history. It is this awareness that prompted the United States to develop quantitative methods such as Affirmative Action and the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA), a precursor to the 2000 Core-based Statistical Area (CBSA) to delineate the demographic breakdown of defined metropolitan areas and ensure that allocation of federal resources was equally distributed to ALL groups including those whose candidates lose elections and those previously shut out by the “tyranny of the majority” who always believe that it is “their turn to eat”! It is this same CBSA metric that is also used by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate employment discrimination against women and minorities.

http://www.census.gov/population/metro/about/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action_in_the_United_States

While I support the expansion of Kenya’s business relationships beyond the usual western countries and corporations, it is disingenuous to offer that these new business partnerships are going to be any different than those of yesteryears: From the on-going audio-visuals of the internal machinations within Jubilee, the Chinese have simply replaced the British and Americans as the cash cow that the likes of Mr. Kirubi and other well-connected Kenyans will fatten and eat! It is this reality that Mr. Keter is calling attention to albeit in a narrow and ethnocentric way. To paraphrase Mr. Kisero in his December 22, 2013 piece titled There is more to railway contract row than Keter, the fight to inherit the patronage of yet another Kenyan presidency is intense as are the battles to supplant foreign contractors politically linked to the outgoing regime!

http://www.nation.co.ke/news/There-is-more-to-railway-contract-row-than-Keter/-/1056/2121792/-/15l20otz/-/index.html

Almost a year into their administration, the “digital” duo of Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto has offered little more than tired platitudes towards addressing the quad-evils of corruption, nepotism, favoritism and patronage; a sentiment vociferously shared by Mr. Alfred Keter.

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Kenya looks in the mirror and sees South Sudan

Kenya’s president Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta expressed regret “…that the crisis in Southern Sudan, which started as a party dispute, had been portrayed as ethnic cleansing by the media, NGOs and others.” Mr. Kenyatta’s red herring came even as Mr. Salva Kiir, president of the troubled country “…called for an end to wanton killings and tribal-based atrocities.” Mr. Kiir’s call for an end to “tribal-based atrocities” belied claims by both Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Kiir that the conflict between the latter and Mr. Machar is “political and not tribal.”
http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Leaders-seek-to-end-Juba-war/-/1056/2126162/-/geyuso/-/index.html
http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000100852&story_title=south-sudan-president-kiir-urges-end-to-tribal-atrocities
During the crisis meeting with the council of ministers of South Sudan at State House, Juba, Mr. Kenyatta, in his capacity as chairman of East African Community and ironically, a crimes-against-humanity suspect as well, accused the yet-to-be exposed “media”, “NGOs” and the nebulous “others” of characterizing the conflict between Salva Kiir and his former vice-president Riek Machar as a political stalement even as observers, aid workers and fleeing refugees reported atrocities including the discovery of mass graves, extrajudicial killings and rapes.
http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/in-south-sudan-reports-of-massacres-and-mass-graves/?ref=africa
There is little doubt that the conflict in the continent’s newest nation is between two political rivals Mr. Kiir, who is from the Dinka ethnic majority and Mr. Machar, who is from the Nuer ethnic group; a group whose population is less than the Dinka’s. But as Kenya has amply demonstrated since independence, the conflict is primarily about power, of which political power is but one component. The crisis was sparked by fighting between Dinka and Nuer soldiers i.e. fighting between two distinct ethnic groups. The fighting between soldiers allied to the two ethnic groups then morphed into allegations of a coup, allegedly orchestrated by the ousted former vice-president Riek Machar, against the government of Salva Kiir. This allegation seemingly cemented the ethnic dimension of the conflict that many African leaders including Mr. Kenyatta were/are desperately trying to downplay if not deny outright. Lost in the blame-game and recriminations are the earlier actions of Mr. Kiir who, in July 2013, dismissed his vice-president Mr. Machar and the entire cabinet and went on to arrest the latter’s predominantly Nuer allies.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/world/africa/south-sudan-crisis.html?_r=0
The reality is that Mr. Kenyatta, as president of Kenya; a country with a past splattered with ethnic clashes is looking at the conflict in South Sudan and uncomfortably sees the country he presides over. The dynamics of the conflict between Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar might as well be the dynamics of the conflicts between Jomo Kenyatta and his nemesis Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and the many variants of these two venerable figures of Kenya’s socio-political history. As recent as 2012, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta himself had to form the Jubilee Coalition, effectively a “coalition of survival” with fellow crimes-against-humanity suspect and deputy president Mr. William Ruto. The marriage between Mr. Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) party and Mr. Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP) was a coalition that primarily pitted two ethnic groups – Kikuyu and Kalenjin – against a majority of the other ethnic groups in Kenya. And as is the case in South Sudan, distribution of the many permutations of “power” within members of TNA and URP has come under withering verbal attack from within; courtesy of Nandi Hills MP Mr. William Keter. Now as the father of modern war Mr. Karl von Clausewitz said, make that cautioned, war is the continuation of diplomacy/speechifying/policy by other means!
http://www.military-quotes.com/Clausewitz.htm
Before I am called an agitator or something less savory, let me categorically state that efforts at peace and conflict resolution by the delegation from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the council of ministers of South Sudan should be commended and supported: They are indeed timely. Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar should set aside their “personal challenge”…er..make that “personal ambitions” and differences and put the well-being of the people of South Sudan first. Having said that, let me add that few African leaders – past and present – can deal with situations such as the one in South Sudan with the credibility the situations deserve not to mention looking extremely hypocritical like most of them did when trying to claim Nelson Mandela’s legacy.
The cynic in me sees President Kenyatta preaching peace and reconciliation between South Sudan’s Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar while coalitions in his own backyard are clinging on to tenuous and fragile peace imposed on them by relentless pressure from the International Criminal Court! That Mr. Kenyatta has suggested “power-sharing” between Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar as an option is the height of irony given the blistering attack the president’s own supporters launched against the power-sharing arrangement, derisively referred to as the “nusu mkate” arrangement, between Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga back in 2008; an option that saved Kenya from further ETHNIC blood-letting even as it landed Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy Mr. Ruto at The Hague. The curmudgeon in me further argues that Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar survey the regional landscape and see the evolution of Kenya, Uganda, Mali, CAR and the Democratic Republic of Congo and adduce that power indeed comes through the barrel of a gun or through the “tyranny of numbers”; the latter a coalition that effectively blunts efforts to arrest impunity. The two antagonists from South Sudan finally conclude that acquisition of said power enables them to have their turn at the trough of “uhuru” (pun unintended); a calculus unmistakably demonstrated by the father of the person now preaching peace and reconciliation between the warring parties of Africa and the world’s newest nation!
The mirror certainly does not lie.

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Filling Mandela’s Shoes – Easier said than done!

As Africa, Africans and the international community join Mr. Nelson Madiba Mandela’s family and South Africa in mourning his passing; it is very interesting to see leaders of all strips falling over themselves to praise the fallen global icon. Over the years, Mr. Mandela evolved from a detainee; some would say “terrorist” to a prisoner-turned-Nobel Laureate-turned-president-turned-ex-president to a revered international icon whose funeral service commanded a gathering of the world’s most powerful and famous including four American presidents, one whose father is Luo! Madiba’s amazing life, legacy and now passing prompted me to take a closer look at some of the leaders now waxing poetic and eloquently about “their time with Nelson” or “their encounter with Madiba”. Senator Mike “Sonko” Mbuvi even went as far as photoshopping himself in a warm embrace with Madiba! http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/529059/20131210/nelson-mandela-photoshop-legacy-tribute-mike-sonko.html.
Mr. Mandela’s death also got me thinking about past leaders who have been held in the same stead as the man lovingly referred to as “Tata”, who unlike nearly all African leaders of his generation, served only ONE term as president of South Africa then STEPPED down voluntarily! I thought about leaders such as Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere and Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda. Of the four Pan-Africanists, only Nyerere and Kaunda voluntarily stepped down from the presidency, the former in 1985 and the latter in 1991. Mr. Nkrumah was overthrown while on a visit to Asia and Mr. Kenyatta died in office, ostensibly on a “working vacation” in Mombasa.
While this piece is not a comparison between the afore-mentioned founders/leaders of the Pan-African Movement and Mr. Mandela, it allows one to place the latter alongside these leaders of yore who have been lionized, indeed deified either by the people they led, the African continent or the larger global community. I will say that the outpouring of love and affection for Nelson Mandela underscores that for a leader/president; especially of an African country, the man’s appeal is singularly unique and deservedly universal. Furthermore, Nelson Mandela’s global appeal is for the best of reasons, not the notoriety of most of his fellow (African) leaders – past and present. Close to one hundred heads of states spanning the entire spectrum of political persuasions attended his funeral services. America’s Barack Obama, the country’s 44th president placed Nelson Mandela alongside such revered figures as fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipients Civil Rights’ leader Dr. Martin Luther King and non-violence advocate Mahatma Gandhi and America’s Founding Fathers. To quote President Obama:
“(T)he struggle here against apartheid, for freedom, Madiba’s moral courage, his country’s historic transition to a free and democratic nation, has been a personal inspiration to me. It has been an inspiration to the world. The outpouring of love that we’ve seen in recent days shows that the triumph of Nelson Mandela and this nation speaks to something very deep in the human spirit — the yearning for justice and dignity that transcends boundaries of race and class and faith and country.”
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/africa/Obama-meets-family-of-ailing-hero-Mandela-/-/1066/1899202/-/bcbd1sz/-/index.html
America’s first black president also led the world in eulogizing the fallen global icon and South Africa’s first black president saying that “It is hard to eulogize any man…how much harder to do so for a giant of history.” In the same memorial service for Mr. Mandela and in keeping with the reconciliatory nature of the man, Barack Obama shook hands with perceived “enemies” of the United States President Uhuru Kenyatta and President Raul Castro of Cuba, much to the consternation, chagrin and wagging tongues of onlookers, pundits and spinmeisters alike.
http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Obama-leads-world-in-celebrating-Mandela/-/1056/2106878/-/qs3mjq/-/index.html
We now see all, including those who rule, have ruled, comport and have comported themselves in ways completely antithetical to what Mr. Mandela stood for tripping over one another to embrace the fallen nationalist and the principles he stood.
The current occupant of State House and crimes-against-humanity suspect Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta said that the former South Africa President “….had taught the world the strong virtues of humanity, which made him stand out.” Mr. Kenyatta went on to add that Mr. Mandela “…believed in the noble principles of equity, justice, cohesiveness and inclusiveness in governance. He had faith and confidence in the ability of his people to realize the dream of a free, united and prosperous South Africa.”
http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/mobile/?articleID=2000099552
Not to be left behind, the junior partner of the digital duo and fellow crimes-against-humanity suspect chimed in with the somber-sounding
“The world has lost a moral example of selfless leadership, a man of courage, principle and honor. The African Continent is poorer without Madiba. We are mourning a father to multiple generations of Africans. Madiba left a legacy of leadership and he was a shining example that we should all emulate.”
http://www.nation.co.ke/InDepth/-/490068/490832/-/hlndic/-/index.html
It is one thing to lather praise about the ideals enshrined in a document such as the Constitution or embodied in the legacy of a man such as Nelson Mandela. It is an entirely different ballgame to live one’s life and govern a polity to said ideals to wit I wonder whether Mr. Kenyatta and his sycophants would embody (honor?) Mr. Mandela by stepping down from the presidency AFTER one term! What of facing a “personal challenge” such as being charged – fairly or unfairly – head on without using a country’s limited resources and goodwill or without playing the “race card” to avoid facing said charges?
President Kenyatta opined rather eloquently that Mr. Mandela believed “…in the noble principles of equity, justice, cohesiveness and inclusiveness in governance…” yet he, Uhuru Kenyatta, is the willing and less-than-noble beneficiary of wealth and privilege, most obtained under dubious circumstances and through the less-than-cohesive and exclusive government of his father Jomo Kenyatta. Add to the hypocrisy of Mr. Kenyatta’s commendations of Mr. Mandela’s legacy of inclusiveness is the exclusivity of his Jubilee government; one whose composition is dominated by the two tribes that gave the party the winning majority in the 2013 elections.
Again I say: It is one thing to blame someone for the sins of their father. It is an entirely different discussion when the person being blamed for their father’s sins embraces, indeed embodies some of the very sins the father is accused of. Born into royalty, Mr. Mandela eschewed the trappings of the royal court and chose instead to lead a humble life “….sharing insights and listening to and learning from others” including those who had imprisoned and tormented him. Mandela grew up to govern South Africa by embracing former South African President William de Klerk; a man whose government continued his detention before releasing him in 1990. Mr. Mandela also embraced a political rival and founder of Inkatha Freedom Party Mr. Mangosuthu Buthelezi; appointing him as his Minister for Home Affairs and as acting president on more than one occasion!
Madiba also exemplified a quality that most leaders in Africa, certainly none of Kenya’s past presidents can even come close to personifying. In a segment on preparations for Mr. Mandela’s burial in his childhood home of Qunu, presenter Gregory Warner of radio station KQED FM88.5 marveled at the lack of ostentation, indeed underdeveloped state of the village of Qunu; ancestral home of South Africa’s first black president and the world’s most revered public figure of his generation! Mr. Warner reported that the roads leading up to Qunu had to be upgraded in preparation for Mandela’s funeral procession because they were not tarmacked and the recent rains in the area had made them virtually impassable! Additionally, Qunu did not reek of the one-sided allocation of developmental resources that was the hallmark of Kenya’s own founding father and his successors.
In response to reports of rampant corruption, cronyism, nepotism, poor governance and wealth disparity that pervades today’s South Africa, the country’s current president and archetypal “Big Man” Jacob Zuma was mercilessly booed by his countrymen/women gathered to pay respect to South Africa’s first black president and the very antithesis of said “Big Man” caricature Mr. Nelson Mandela. Adding insult to injury was the fact that Mr. Zuma was being booed by South Africans who had just enthusiastically cheered America’s first black president and the man Kenya’s current government has chosen to demonize for allegedly conspiring to have its leader (Mr. Kenyatta) and its deputy (Mr. Ruto) face charges at The Hague.
Mr. Jacob Zuma, a man two presidencies removed from Mr. Mandela’s tenure and is accused of unMandela-like behavior including allowing his South African government to support the even more unMandela-like charges both Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto are shamelessly trying to avoid answering for at The Hague was raucously booed by his countrymen/women even as Mr. Obama, the man whose American government is accused of pushing to have Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto answer the crimes they have been charged with received a prolonged and warm ovation.
The symbolism reflected in the dichotomous crowd reactions to American president Barack Obama and to the host country’s own Jacob Zuma should give pause to all those tripping over themselves to carry Madiba’s mantle including Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto. It is indeed a fitting bookend to Nelson Mandela’s legacy of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable leadership.

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An Honest Day’s Work – Is that demeaning?

So Kenya’s self-appointed “peeler of masks” Miguna Miguna has “peeled” yet another “mask” by revealing that Gem MP, Jakoyo Midiwo was a taxi driver and a mortuary attendant when he was living in the US in the late 1990s. The author of Peeling Back the Mask; A Quest for Justice in Kenya went on to say that Mr. Midiwo, a current member of parliament “later returned to Kenya without anything to show for having lived in the US for more than a decade”; this in spite the fact that he, Mr. Midiwo is a legislature for the good people of Gem. And in typical Miguna Miguna fashion, the former aide to Prime Minister Raila Odinga concluded that “without his blood relationship to the Odingas, he (Midiwo) would be a total failure…

http://www.kenyan-post.com/2013/12/jakoyo-midiwo-was-taxi-driver-and.html

Like Jakoyo Midiwo, I came to the United States standing on the shoulders of friends and family; all who came together to raise funds for my plane ticket and initial living expenses. Like Mr. Midiwo, I did jobs/assignments Mr. Miguna would find less-than-appealing to support and put myself through college. In short, my life in America, seemingly like that of Mr. Midiwo and as chronicled in my book Wuodha: My journey from Kenya to these United States was bumpy with some very dark moments. It was also made possible by others without who I may have been “a total failure”. I will also point out that arguably the most important and famous man of my generation and current President of the United States Barack Hussein Obama came to be because his father Barack Obama Sr came to the United States courtesy of the generosity of others before him; namely the late Tom Mboya.

Memo to Mr. Miguna Miguna:

Maybe it is a function of the different cultures – America and Kenya – we have lived in but I can categorically say that there is nothing wrong driving a taxi or working as a mortuary attendant. Millions in my adopted home America have built solid lives and careers driving taxis and working in mortuaries. Similarly, maybe Mr. Miguna is a self-made man and did not need relatives (and friends) to help him along his illustrious life and career. However, some of us needed the kindness of wealthy and generous relatives AND friends to get over the hump. I know I did!

On working as a taxi driver, I wonder whether the Canadian-trained barrister knows that a taxi license (or medallion) in New York is actually a major investment whose value appreciates over time thus earning the owner equity much like a stock or house. As an example, on October 2011, a medallion auction prices topped $1million or kshs. 82million a piece! Taxi drivers, mostly from Africa and Asia have put their children through Ivy League schools using the appreciated value of their taxi medallion.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_taxi#Medallions

Regarding working as a mortuary attendant, the Atlantic Magazine writes that “dying in America is expensive” in its analysis of the funeral/mortuary industry; one that is worth $15billion annually; just under half of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 ($37.5billion). In other words, the INDUSTRY whose workers Mr. Miguna is denigrating is ~40% the size of the entire value of goods and services produced in Kenya in 2012!

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/01/the-10-companies-that-control-the-death-industry/69768/

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/kenya/gdp

The foregoing summation of the taxi and mortuary industries is to counter what I believe is Miguna Miguna’s disparagement of the fact that an apparent political rival Jakoyo Midiwo not only worked as a taxi driver and a mortuary attendant while in the US, but is where he is because of his relationship to the Odinga family.

There are people who work as taxi drivers and mortuary attendants while studying for their ultimate career. There are doctors, scientists and computer programmers who moonlight as cab drivers and 7/11 clerks all across America even as they keep their focus on what their long term goal is – including becoming a lawyer. There are also others who use said (menial) jobs as a stepping stone towards owning their own taxi or funeral home.

Mr. David Karangu, owner of one of the largest black-owned car dealership in Atlanta, GA started off working as a car salesman while attending Morgan State University. For the record, car salespeople occupy the least-trusted and least-respected positions in the US economy http://943thepoint.com/what-are-the-most-trusted-and-least-trusted-professions/. For “deigning” to work in the least-trusted least-respected job in America, Mr. Karangu was recognized by the Black Enterprise Magazine’s Top 100 black-owned business and by Cable News Network (CNN) as one of the most prominent black business owners in the US car market. How dare he make an honest living in such a “dishonest and disrespected position” AND rise to such heights?

http://alusainc.wordpress.com/2008/02/05/david-karangu-augusta-georgia/

Back to Mr. Miguna2’s rant against Mr. Midiwo:

It speaks of one’s insecurity if they have to speak ill of others or talk about what they own or where they live; presumably to show that they “have more or are ‘better’ ”. This is simple psychology but before I receive questions regarding my qualifications from the acid-tongued lawyer, let me state categorically that I am NOT a trained psychologist. I just took a 3 introductory classes as a sophomore in college. This would not be the first time I have read about Kenyans denigrating other Kenyans because of what they do or how their lives have progressed/are progressing. It is not unusual to read comments/blogs by Kenyans telling fellow Kenyans in the diaspora to “go back and wipe the asses of the elderly” or to “come back home instead of flipping burgers at McDonald” as a counter to any criticism of the way things are back home.

In Wuodha, I write about thinking that “I (had) finally made it” as a valet was bringing me what I thought was the car of dreams; the very thing that gave me the inflated sense of self! Fortunately (of unfortunately), this bloated sense of self-importance was completely deflated when I saw the cars belonging to the other patrons of the restaurant my son and I had just patronized; cars that made my car look like a mkokoteni! I also write about making small talk with nondescript-looking customers at a favorite coffee shop in downtown Palo Alto; customers who unbeknownst to me at the time, had options worth millions of dollars from the hottest social media company in the valley! Finally, I point out that the beauty of Silicon Valley is that one can never tell how much money someone has because they rarely talk about it or flash it around.

An interesting corollary: Leading up to the initial public offering (IPO) of Facebook shares, an event that promised millions to the company’s twenty-something programmers and software engineers, rumor has it that the CEO Mark Zuckerberg let it be known that he would find it “uncool” if one of his underlings were to pull up in a Lamborghini shortly after the public offering! http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/18/technology/a-start-up-is-gold-for-facebooks-new-millionaires.html?pagewanted=all. I am not sure whether the newly-minted millionaires heeded their boss’s advice but I know that the cars I see in company’s parking lot do not speak to the wealth generated by the IPO.

Mr. Miguna on the other hand feels the need to point out that he lives in Runda where “failures” do not live! http://www.jamiiforums.com/kenyan-politics/562074-miguna-miguna-why-i-hit-raila-below-the-belt.html

During my life in these United States, I have tried to take pride in whatever job I have been fortunate to have: I have worked as a machine operator opening and closing the door of an injection/molding press, five sometimes six days a week, eight (8) hours a day from 11:30PM to 7AM. I have also cleaned up after customers at a Jack-In-The-Box – a fast food restaurant similar to McDonald’s, including washing dirty and soiled toilets. I have worked the famous Holiday Pie Crush at Bakers Square and Pie Shop. All this I did to support myself and pay my way through college even as I remitted millions of shillings, yes millions of shillings back to the very people on whose shoulders I stood on my way to America. Isn’t it ironic that the very taxi drivers and mortuary attendants Mr. Miguna is disparaging contribute as much foreign exchange to Kenya’s economy as do tea, horticulture and tourism?

http://www.theafricareport.com/Reuters-Feed/Kenyan-remittances-on-course-for-record-in-2013.html

Mr. Miguna, there is nothing to be ashamed of doing “menial” work to earn an honest living. That you ridicule people who “drive taxis” or “work as a mortuary attendant” says more about you than it does about them.

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