Monthly Archives: January 2020

“Lord Charles of Kabeteshire” Still Has Time to Pen/Record His Memoirs and He Should!

Charles Mugane Njonjo, the former Attorney General (AG) of Kenya has been in the news of late. The ageless anglophile is fast approaching the “10th Floor” of his existence on God’s green earth and in his practiced courtly fashion, the soon-to-be centenarian spent the occasion touring Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park aided by a $300 “sedan chair” specially kitted for those unable to lord over the park’s demanding terrain. The “helicopter” – as the contraption is called – is carried, much like some colonialists were, by a team of eight to twelve African porters who take turns at ferrying their “tracker/s”.
Njonjo joins an exclusive group of humans who have lived to see their 100th birthday. According to United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the site, the former AG is one of approximately five hundred and thirty-three thousand (533K) members of the world’s Centenarian Club and THAT, in any language and/or any country, IS an achievement.

Happy Birthday “Sir Charles” and may you live another one hundred years!

Having dispensed with the salutations, let me now turn to an issue I have championed and will continue to do so:

Given the prominence Charles Njonjo (has) played in Kenya’s socio-political life and his longevity, the man represents a fountain of knowledge that Kenyans are most likely going to miss out on because he has yet to pen his memoirs or autobiography even though he has proffered opinions, many that have been captured in publications and in books.

Unfortunately, giving an opinion or offering a quote is usually not enough given some of the weighty matters (of national and regional importance) Njonjo has been involved in orchestrating in his role as a public servant notably, Kenya’s Attorney-General and Minister for Constitutional Affairs. One such matter of note would be Kenya’s peaceful transition from the tribal authoritarian rule of Jomo Kenyatta to the tribal authoritarian rule of Daniel Moi.

I would be curious, indeed very much so, to hear Njonjo’s take or counter to the characterization over his role in the “Change the Constitution Movement”:

That the AG, who quashed the attempted legislative putsch by lawmakers and powerbrokers from Central/Mt. Kenya aimed at preventing then-Vice President Daniel Moi from ascending to the presidency after Jomo Kenyatta, did so because he thought that Moi was a “pliant transitional figure he could manipulate until the time was ripe (for him) to succeed….” (p34, “Rogue Ambassador: An African Memoir”, Smith Hempstone)

One can grab on to Moi biographer Andrew Morton’s characterization of the nonagenarian – that he (Njonjo) “took him (Moi) by the hand and told him not to worry…..(that) nothing will happen (to him)…..” – as evidence of the man’s humanity/compassion and constitutionalist creds but I would like to hear what he, Njonjo, has to say in response.

I would be curious to hear from the so-called “Prince of Kenya” or “Lord Charles of Kabeteshire” regarding his academic chops – as called into question by Fitz de Souza (p231, “Forward to Independence: My Memoirs”) Did he, Mugane Njonjo, graduate from the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) and if so, what does he make of de Souza’ insinuations?

Mugane’s failure to pen his memoirs has allowed others to characterize his person and his role in creating the corrupt and balkanized anglophilic shithole that the former British colony remains six decades after independence. And the likes of Jeremiah Kiereini (“A Daunting Journey”), Marshall S. Clough (“Mau Mau Memoirs: History, Memory & Politics”) and Fitz de Souza (“Forward to Independence: My Memoirs”) among others have only been too willing to fill in the void – or offer their insight.

For my part, I will offer this qualification: I never met the 99-year-old former Attorney-General so I cannot attest to his person other than what I have read (as written by others) including the afore-mentioned books and the heavily researched and footnoted book “Kenya: A History Since Independence” by historian Charles Hornsby.
Keith Somerville, writing in “Ivory: Power and Poaching in Africa” implicates Mugane in the slaughtering of Kenya’s ivory to line the pocket of his boss Jomo and of family and of friends. Citing Game Warden Ian Parker’s EBUR Report on the ivory trade in East Africa, Somerville writes that “the AG, Charles Njonjo, had, on a number of occasions intervened to prevent charges being brought against those involved in illegal (ivory) deals……(with) President Kenyatta…..described as personally authorizing permits to export ivory…..” (p113-114). The so-called stickler for the law is described as offering cover for the illegal trading in ivory – “for a fee” with a Githeri Media that only commented on illegal trading affecting “those in menial positions.” (Ian Parker Collection of East African Wildlife Conservation: The Ivory Trade – University of Florida p38). Parker goes on to write that the illegal ivory trade i.e. “disregard for the law” that Charles Njonjo was willing to countenance, “for a fee” would have been “a minor if it concerned ivory alone… did not. Corruption extends to all walks of national life, in business, land purchases, acquisition of citizenship to specify but a few instances.”

In fact, Kipchumba Some’s piece “Gems from History as former AG Charles Njonjo turns 98” (Daily Nation Jan 23, 2018) offers the plausible proposition that one can draw a direct line linking the imperial president that has been the bane of Kenya since independence to Mugane’s self-serving tweaks of Kenya’s Constitution back in the late 70s – to ingratiate himself with the fast-becoming senile Jomo Kenyatta and his kitchen cabinet, the shadowy “Kiambu Mafia”.

Underscoring the diabolical nature of the man with penchant for bespoken Savile Row tailored pinstripes and Northampton’s handmade wingtips is the revelation that Njonjo was actually one of Tom Mboya’s groomsmen. While this speaks to the premium Charles Njonjo placed on “personal relationships”, said attribute did not stop his boss Jomo Kenyatta from ordering or countenancing the assassination of Njonjo’s “friend” Tom Mboya! What does the centenarian say about the murder of his “friend”?

Keith Somerville adds that JM Kariuki, before he was disappeared and murdered “had seen (Ian Parker’s report on poaching implicating the Kenyatta family) and intended to use it in parliament to embarrass the government” (p113). We all know how the investigations into the death of the former MP for Nyandarua North was handled by Njonjo’s crack team of investigators who in the words of de Souza, “kow-towed to him” and “followed his (prosecutorial) preferences.” (p234)

Wow! Will Mugane let such conjecture go unchallenged?

The foregoing itemizes a series of charges/accusations against Charles Mugane Njonjo that make it difficult for me to hold true to the (African) tradition of cherishing, revering and eschewing speaking ill of the elderly.

On the other hand, given the hypocrisy between the man’s many public pronouncements and the realities of his behind-the-scene machinations as documented by many writers, historians and journalists, wouldn’t this be the perfect opportunity for the man the former US Ambassador to Kenya called “the second most powerful man in the land” (after Moi) to “set the records straight” in a “tell-all” book – “in his own words”?

I know that I would buy a copy and gift 2 or 3 copies to family and friends!

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This post tries to summarize the upcoming US Elections for my non-American/Kenyan friends who are interested in the event and in America writ large.

While the post also reflects MY personal interest in politics (US and World) since that’s what I studied in college, it was further prompted by an interesting finding by the Pew Research Center (PRC). In an article titled “How people around the world see the U.S. and Donald Trump in 10 charts” Jacob Poushter, a Pew Research Center associate director (of global attitudes) offered this finding:

That “65% of Kenyans surveyed had faith in Donald Trump”. Only the Philippines (77%) and Israel (71%) ranked higher than the East African nation in their support of Donald Trump.

This PRC finding is consistent with an observation I made some ten years ago as I was writing my book “WUODHA: My Journey from Kenya to These United States”; findings that have since been buttressed by several articles readily available in the public domain:

That the divide/animus between two of Kenya’s largest (numerically) tribes – Luo and Kikuyu – seemingly travelled with them across the Atlantic and came to fore during Barack Obama’s two runs for the White House – in 2008 and 2012. (“Tribe and Prejudice” – Guardian, November 2008 and “Mitt Romney’s Kenyan connection, Barack Obama’s problem with Pakistan, and other insights from global polls” – Quartz, October 2012). At a minimum, this dynamic between these two tribes (and tribal conflict in Africa in general) remains a topic of intense, interesting and oftentimes disparate research and findings.

Back to the on-going Democratic Primaries, the winner needs a majority of the 3,979 delegates up for grabs in the 2020 Democratic Primaries. This works out to 1,990+ delegates for the nomination.

Without getting into the weeds, the delegates are awarded “proportionally” i.e. a candidate who wins 40% of a state’s vote in the primary election will win 40% of that state’s delegates.

As typically with near-everything related to the Democratic Party, there are exceptions to this rule – including the requirement that a candidate must win at least 15% of the primary vote in order to receive any delegates.

Then there is this thing known as a “Super Delegate”.

Oh, a “Delegate” is a person selected to represent the interests of a group of people, in this case the Democratic Primaries while a “Super Delegate” is an unpledged delegate who is seated automatically and chooses for themselves whom to support/vote for. I told you this can get confusing so for now, just remember that there are “Delegates” and “Super Delegates” and the winning candidate needs a majority of the three thousand nine hundred and seventy-nine (3,979) delegates available for grabs to face Donald Trump in the General Elections scheduled for November 3, 2020.

One last set of terms and their meanings:

CAUCUS: A meeting/gathering of supporters or members of a specific political party or movement. These gatherings allow participants to openly show support for candidates – by raising hands or breaking into groups according to who the caucus goers support. (

PRIMARY: A statewide voting process in which voters cast secret ballots for their preferred candidates. In an “Open” primary, all registered voters can vote for any candidate, regardless of their political affiliation while in a “Closed” Primary, voters can only vote for candidates of the party they are registered for. (

Below is the calendar for the respective primaries/caucuses beginning with the all-important Iowa Caucuses less than one month away:

– Monday, Feb. 3: Iowa caucuses (49 delegates)
– Tuesday, Feb. 11: New Hampshire primaries (33 delegates)
– Saturday, Feb. 22: Nevada Democratic caucuses (48 delegates)
– Saturday, Feb. 29: South Carolina Democratic primaries (63 delegates)
– March 3 (“Super Tuesday”): Alabama primaries (59 delegates), Arkansas primaries (36 delegates), California primaries (495 primaries), Colorado primaries (80 delegates), Maine primaries (32 delegates), Massachusetts primaries (114 delegates), Minnesota primaries (91 delegates), North Carolina primaries (122 delegates), Oklahoma primaries (42 delegates), Tennessee primaries (73 delegates), Texas primaries (262 delegates), Utah primaries (35 delegates), Vermont primaries (23 delegates), Virginia Democratic primary (124 delegates)
– Tuesday, March 10: Idaho primaries (25 delegates), Michigan primaries (147 delegates), Mississippi primaries (41 delegates), Missouri primaries (178), North Dakota caucuses (18 delegates), Washington primaries (107 delegates)
– Tuesday, March 17: Arizona Democratic primary (78 delegates), Florida primaries (248 delegates), Illinois primaries (184 delegates), Ohio primaries (153 delegates)

Of the more than twenty candidates who threw their names into the ring to vie for the nomination, the following are still in the running though I will confess that the state of the race is very fluid and dynamic:

1) Former Obama VP Joe Biden
2) Vermont Senator/2016 aspirant Bernie Sanders
3) Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
4) South Bend (Indiana) Mayor Pete Buttigieg
5) Hawaii’s House Representative Tulsi Gabbard
6) Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar
7) Entrepreneur Andy Yang
8) Billionaire Tom Steyer
9) Billionaire & Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg

Notables who have dropped out for one reason or another include incumbent US Senator/former State Attorney-General (CA) Kamala Harris, incumbent US Senator (New Jersey) Cory Booker, former Obama Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Secretary/Mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro.

Also out of the running are former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, incumbent New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and a handful of other not-so-notable aspirants including US Rep (CA) Eric Swalwell, Jay Inslee and the latest dropout, Texan-born author, spiritual leader, politician, and activist Marian Williamson.

All told, the contest for the Democrat who will face Donald Trump in the November 2020 General Elections will begin in earnest next month when all the prognostications, analysis, barnstorming and kissing babies take a back seat and the voters finally cast their vote for their preferred candidate.

Stay tuned!

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The hypocrisy/double-speak of the pockets of Kenyans now pulling out the “Rule of Law; Adherence to the Constitution” contortionism in the Miguna Miguna saga would be infuriating were it not so obvious and/or so predictable.

It is maddening because of the corrosive impact the convenient and selective call for adherence to the rule of law continues to have on the long-term viability of Kenya’s transition into a society of law/order and equality of its citizens before her laws.

It is predictable because this is not the first time these same pockets of the country have supported the weaponization of the country’s legal system – against opponents of those they support – in this case the incumbent Jubilee Party

Yes M-Sqd is a brusque and cantankerous loud-mouth – almost to a fault. But aside from the fact that he is NOT the only brusque and cantankerous loud-mouth trolling Kenya’s socio-political landscape or that being so is not against the law, when one juxtaposes the man’s brashness alongside the Building Bridges Initiative’s (BBI) stated need to “build bridges”, presumably between Kenyans of ALL stripes and political persuasions, then the only viable outcome in what Jeff Koinange referred to as a “quagmire” would have been to allow the man back into the country – consistent with the many stated goals of the initiative including the now meaningless:

“Humane Government, predicated on equality, freedom, democracy, social justice, human rights and the rule of law” emptiness. (“Building Bridges to a United Kenya: From a Nation of Blood ties to a Nation of Ideals”)

Even more important than reflecting the “building bridges” spirit of the yet-to-be-formalized initiative is the undeniable fact:

The ruling Jubilee regime can allow Miguna back into the country in full compliance with the rulings of Justice Weldon Korir and/or at a minimum, consistent with what can loosely be described as “supervisorial/prosecutorial discretion”.

At the drop of a dime and as it has done repeatedly, the Jubilee regime can set aside (“ignore”) the supposed legal requirements articulated by its spokesman, the unbelievably incompetent Col. (Rtd.) Cyrus Oguna, during the former soldier’s choppy and rambling articulation of the government’s position re: Miguna Miguna’s return to the country of his birth and allow the exiled lawyer back into Kenya – PERIOD.

My take is that were Miguna Miguna anything/anyone OTHER than the loud and brash articulator of the very hypocrisy Kenya’s current socio-political zeitgeist, his return to Nairobi would be a non-issue.
Why Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime refuses to allow the man to return to his country of birth remains a mystery, but I have my take:

In Miguna Miguna, a failed contestant for the gubernatorial seat for Nairobi County in 2017, Kenyans have a voice that has forcefully, unapologetically and consistently articulated near-EVERYTHING that is wrong with the government of Uhuru Kenyatta (and unfortunately**, with Raila Odinga).

** – I say “unfortunately” because I am on record supporting the ideals Raila Odinga supposedly stood for AND run on in the 2013 and 2017 Elections – the latter being the nullified Round 1. Raila/NASA did not compete in the re-election and Uhuru “won” with 98% of the votes re-casted! Notwithstanding, as much as the “handshake” between the two men – UMK and RAO – ushered “peace” and “stability” into an arguably failed state or one teetering on failed statehood, RAO’s support credentialized one of the Horn of Africa’s most corrupt and inept government and in so doing, legitimized a certified kakistocracy AND kleptocracy. Raila A. Odinga, the undeniable face of Kenya’s struggle for multi-partyism, incorruptible government and her opposition is now forever linked with a Jubilee government that many see as the most corrupt government in Kenya’s storied 60years of independence.

Allowing Miguna back into Kenya would not only shine a spotlight on this reality, it may just give other Kenyans so inclined to speak out against the “handshake” and its offspring “Building Bridges Initiative” (BBI) boondoggle the impetus (courage) to do so.

Additionally, Miguna Miguna “lost” the governorship to one Mike “Sonko” Mbuvi whose term atop the country’s and one of the Horn of Africa’s economic and political jurisdiction has been a flaming fiasco. Late last year, Sonko was arrested trying to flee the country and currently faces “economic crimes” charges as laid out by the country’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC). For good measure, Sonko, the sitting governor of Nariobi County is reported to have escaped from Mombasa’s Shimo La Tewa Prison “some 20 years ago” (“Shimo La Tewa wants governor back to complete his sentence” – Standard Digital, Dec. 2019)

Miguna Miguna’s touchdown at JKIA, in the Sonko-led Nairobi County no less, would be the classic: I hate to say I told you so – but…. Moment for the man.

In short, allowing the dual Canadian/Kenyan passport holder what I can only refer to as a “triumphant” return to the proverbial (and literal) scene of the crime would be a “Made for Miguna Miguna” dog-and-pony show the incumbent Jubilee Party wants to avoid at all cost.

Unfortunately, in so doing, Uhuru Kenyatta’s government only continues to highlight its ineptitude and its cowardice while rising the exiled activist’s already high profile.

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