Category Archives: Kenya

“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 Statista.com, 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…..it 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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THE 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARIES: THE RACE TOWARDS 1990 DELEGATES AND THE NOMINATION.

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.

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/01/08/how-people-around-the-world-see-the-u-s-and-donald-trump-in-10-charts/

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. (Factcheck.org)

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. (Factcheck.org)

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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RE: MIGUNA MIGUNA’S ON-AGAIN/OFF-AGAIN RETURN TO KENYA

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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All Throughout His Presidency Same Song

Okay so I “plagiarized”; make that paraphrased a line from Digital Underground’s song “Same Song” but the relevance of its hook given President Uhuru Kenyatta’s 2016 State of the Nation (SOTN) address is spot on.

In the 1991 hit, Shock-G nee Gregory Jacobs offers that life as a rapper — with the “jennies” or ladies — is the same all over the world. Shock-G, along with the late Tupac Shakur, goes on to sing that they’ve “Been all around the world” and nothing has changed i.e. “same song” regarding life on the road as a successful rap group.

Lost in the non-partisan self-flagellation over the childish and disruptive conduct of some elected officials during President Kenyatta’s address was a SOTN speech which may as well have been recycled from SOTNs of 2014 and 2015.

To be perfectly clear and to temper the ethnic vitriol and outright lies (libelous) directed at me, the conduct of the five members of the opposition was unacceptable and only enhanced the narrative that they hail “from a community of ‘stone-throwers’” or to quote a tweet by columnist and consultant Ngunjiri Wambugu; one that portends a dark and slippery slope of ethnic stereotyping:

“These Luo MPs! Shaking my head” — instead of “These 5 MPs!….”

When news of the disruption in parliament first broke, I wrote that it is one thing to express displeasure when one disagrees with a comment AFTER the comment is made just as it is to cheer a comment AFTER it — comment — is made. Either behavior is commonplace during the State of the Union (SOTU) here in the US as it is in the British Parliament — two institutions whose structure Kenya’s is modeled after — at least in part.

I then went on to write that it is an entirely different thing to disrupt or deny anyone the right to make the remark; that the MPs were wrong to disrupt the president’s SOTN address — plain and simple.

Having called out the offensive behavior of the five legislatures, let me now point out the elephant in the room:

– That regarding the existential threat that corruption and theft of public funds has become during Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency, there was nothing new in the 7,267-worded sermonizing that voters did not hear in 2015 and 2014 or to quote Shock-G, it was the “same song”.

– To wit, a consistent omission from this and other flowery, lofty and lengthy presidential bloviations are specific AND immediate presidential actions, well within the purview of his office, against those implicated in corruption and other economic crimes. This sense of urgency is fashioned by the dangerous reality that corruption has reached dizzying and untenable heights during the last 3 years; think the saying “desperate times call for desperate measures”.

A former high school mate pointed out that President Kenyatta “gets a high five for his coolness” in the face of vocal and disrespectful protestation; a point I agree with — to some extent. My friend, who shall remain unnamed, went on to write that “what the opposition did (during the SOTN speech)…lack(ed) finesse.” Gerald (not his name) also professed doubt whether “finesse and style in the delivery of their message” was a major consideration for the unruly parliamentarians. The former Old Cambrian alum argued, albeit tangentially, that the disruption in “bunge” was fashioned by the patently selective and erratic execution of the president’s “war on corruption and other ‘monstrous’ economic crimes”.

Simply put, President Kenyatta has demonstrated utter impotence confronting corruption inside HIS very office and government; a fact fully evidenced by his handling of the saga involving his appointee Anne Waiguru. The litany of statistics cataloguing Jubilee’s “success” in the fight (against corruption) are immediately rubbished by the president’s appointment and re-appointment of individuals, some in their seventies, to the very institutions whose resources and funds they are accused of plundering and mismanaging:

So much for the campaign promise to create “employment opportunities for the youth” and “hold those implicated in ‘monstrous economic crimes’ accountable”!

The puerile behavior of the few members of the opposition is also tame compared to the prescription put forth by Daily Nation’s David Ndii in his piece “Kenya is a cruel marriage, it’s time we talk divorce”.

In social phenomena it often takes varying levels of disruption to jolt society into action against an untenable status quo and God knows Kenya needs to be jolted out of its apathy towards corruption given the presidential acquiescence (tacit) on said subject, through his repeated dithering.

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Where Do I Count Myself?: An Open Letter

In response to a comment I made re: the article “Okemo, Gichuru Cost Taxpayers Billions in Loan Repayments”, someone in Mwaklishi accused me of “making it about myself” and being “a huge man with a big empty head”.

Another commenter asked me where I was when my “Godfather Raila Odinga” was “freecing (sic) Kenyans, with SCANDAL AFTER SCANDAL.” This same person then asked me to tell readers what I knew about a litany of scandals implicating the CORD Principal and/or those close to him.

The invectives and childish personal attacks aside, the one comment that drew my attention was the poignant “where do you (I) count myself?” presumably in the fight against the issues I repeatedly write about. The same commenter posed the question:

Why can’t you (I) lead these Kenyans crying foul to action?

Being in the public domain, I avoid exchanges that portend confrontation or abusive language. I will occasionally engage folks who seem to have genuine concerns/differences of opinion about something I have written but my rule of thumb is to avoid engaging angry, obnoxious and impolite folks.

I do agree with the sentiment that there is a certain level of repetition re: what I write about, a “cut-and-paste” hum-drum drone on the subjects of corruption and impunity in the (current) Government of Kenya. These topics CAN be dry and tedious unless you are wonkish.

Confession: I am a public policy/political science wonk my profession in biotech engineering and passion as an author notwithstanding.

It is with this knowledge that my mother’s caution continues to be my North Star whenever I put pen to paper:

Wuoda, ka iwacho adiera; kendo kiwache gi heshima gi dwond ma oluoro ji, kik iluor kendo kik ng’ato bwogi.

Loosely translated, my madhe was saying thus:

My son, if you are saying the truth using respectful language, don’t be afraid and don’t let anyone scare you.

So let me be as clear as possible:

  1. I am NOT interested in political office.
  2. I am NOT an investigative journalist i.e. “jicho pevu”.
  3. I WILL NOT repeat my position vis-à-vis Raila Odinga (or Gov. Kidero for that matter) because that is old news and available in the public domain for anyone interested.
  4. Finally, I won’t even deign to respond to the baseless and bovine charges that my writing peddles “tribal politics”, “tribal hate” or “tribalism”.

Now about “leading” individuals who share a common goal, in this case a Kenya free of wanton corruption, there are many ways one can do that.

I choose to “lead” using my writing (posted) on platforms the internet affords ANYONE. If and when I “cut and paste” any material, I almost always credit the source. I certainly don’t want to be accused of plagiarism especially being a contributor to a leading global aggregator of news. In writing about the proverbial “issues of the day”, I oftentimes give my readers some historical context re: the articles hence the sometimes pedantic nature of the pieces.

There are Kenyans in the diaspora who make significant contributions — monetary and non-monetary — to the country. They are also non-Kenyans with significant (vested) interests therein. Finally, thanks to the internet AND jet travel, the world has become a global marketplace of ideas and best practices. This being the case, I think of myself as a purveyor of perspectives on issues affecting a country — Kenya — the global audience including the “ignorant jungus” seem to care about.

The tinge of Schadenfreude some may detect in my writing is a function of the portmanteau “Kensanity” — “the country’s tendency of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” i.e. electing known kleptocrats and criminals into office then wringing their collective hands when these same people are implicated in one scandal after another.

I will end by paraphrasing Barack Obama and Mohandas Gandhi:

Don’t Complain: Publish YOUR riposte to my “cut-and-past” monotony and YOUR “interesting reading” re: the many scandals implicating Raila and those close to him – including Evans Kidero.

And finally, Yes You Can Be the Change You Want to See in Kenya.

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Foreign Intervention: A Necessary Evil To Prevent African Leaders From Being Successors to European Colonialists

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently told Africans and the world to “(F)orget foreign intervention, Africans are better placed to solve their own problems.” In a piece of the same heading in the Daily Nation, Mr. Kenyatta offered the assessment that the work the “founding fathers” of Africa begun is “…far from over…”

Using the tried but tired “blame-the-mzungu” meme that some in the diaspora accuse African-Americans of, the son of Kenya’s first president gave as a reason for Africa’s mediocre and erratic development, the “stiff resistance by those who benefit from a divided Africa.”

That there are those who benefit from a divided Africa is and has been a fait accompli for quite some time. However, seen within the context of the article’s heading, the president’s assertion is misleading. Penning a piece that announces that the continent’s problems are best “solved within rather than through….self-serving foreign intervention” without mentioning the many reasons why the dreams of the continent’s founding fathers lay in ruins is the height of irony and hypocrisy. Nowhere in the rather self-serving article does Mr. Kenyatta mention the many self-inflicted injuries the continent’s leaders have afflicted on the people they lead including corruption, impunity, abuse of humans, and the many isms and evils that continue to wreak havoc on Africans half a century after independence.

Mr. Kenyatta’s government recently unleashed its police force on school children who were demonstrating against a favorite Kenyan past-time originated by his own father – land-grabbing. Setting the police on schoolchildren protesting against the endemic corruption has very little to do with “foreign intervention” in the lives of Kenyans unless the foreigners being alluded to are the Singh brothers who allegedly serve as fronts for the mostly African land-grabbers.

Alfred Keter’s foul-mouthed rant heard and seen all around the world captured in no uncertain terms, the impunity with African leaders comport themselves away from prying eyes and alert ears.

Perpetration of the post-election violence of 2007 which Mr. Kenyatta was recently “acquitted” of was fomented, not by wabeberu or wakaburu:

The violence pitted Kenyans against one another – Luo against Kikuyu against Kalenjin against (fill in the blank). Civil wars pitting Africans against one another, of which the genocide in Rwanda was the worst, has been repeated with amazing regularity since independence. Indeed most of the continent’s killings (over natural resources and political power) have been instigated, indeed funded by foreigners. However, the inconvenient and uncomfortable reality is that the British, Belgians, Americans, French, Portuguese, Russians etc. would not have done so without the help of native Africans.

On a side but cautionary note, the continent’s current love-affair with China, while seemingly benign and a marriage of equals, is even more insidious and dangerous than the wars yore. Out-sourcing the continent’s economic development to a country whose record on freedom, open government and human rights is suspect and is only too willing to indulge the continent’s “big men” so long as they allow extraction of the continent’s natural resources and inflated contracts to build standard gauge railways (SGR) portends an extremely worrying development.

President Kenyatta does no one any favor when he makes lofty pronouncements such as the need for Africa to “jealously guard its sovereignty and assiduously work to secure its freedom” while his own administration moves to curtail the freedoms of those it disagrees with. The president is being disingenuous when he harps about “the exploitation by institutions” (such as the ICC) while institutions in his own government exploit and abuse citizens of Kenya as evidenced by the various unresolved extra-judicial killings and the corruption that has even seeped into his own Office of the President!

Until the continent’s leaders demonstrate a consistent ability to solve crisis in their own backyard, the calls by President Kenyatta will fall on deaf ears and provide ammo for those who decry the self-preservation decisions of the continent’s club for its “big men” – African Union (AU).

In an era of the global village where jet travel can transport the outcome of poor governance by a despot across the oceans in less time than it takes to navigate a rain-soaked Thika Highway, there is little doubt that foreign intervention will be needed in Africa for quite some time. The international community, of which the much-maligned International Criminal Court (ICC) serves as judiciary, would be remiss were it to take Mr. Kenyatta and his fellow “big men” at their word re: eliminating foreign intervention in Africa.

From confronting the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria, al-Shabaab in the Horn of Africa, Ebola and other pandemics, and the mostly West African refugees making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, Africa has yielded several crises that have morphed into full-fledged global security concerns. A leader in Europe or America would be deemed irresponsible were they to remain passive with such threats developing from afar. Stateside, President Obama has been repeatedly excoriated for his administration’s decisions to intervene in and/or withdraw from various global hotspots. The US President has been taken to task because he allowed the lack of “good” governance in faraway lands to morph into crisis at home in America.

Let me offer a different take on the very quote Mr. Kenyatta uses in his article. A founding Pan-Africanist, Kwame Nkrumah wrote that Africans needed the strength of their combined numbers and resources to protect themselves “from the very positive dangers of returning colonialism in disguised forms.”

“Colonialism” has many variants of which the one perpetrated by the Europeans and Americans is but one. The basic mechanics of “the establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition, and expansion of colony in one territory by a political power from another territory” i.e. colonialism has not changed since the “wazungu” left Africa in the 60s. In 1967, Kenyatta Pere’s nemesis Jaramogi Oginga Odinga offered the rather prescient analysis regarding the mutation of colonialism in his book “Not Yet Uhuru”.

Kenya’s first bona fide opposition leader offered the view that “Kenyans (were) still struggling to prevent (fellow) Kenyans in black skin…..from ruling as successors to the administrators of the colonial era.”

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Filed under Africa, African Union, AU, Big Men, Boko Haram, Corruption, Failed State, Foreign Intervention in Africa, Impunity, Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya

Yet Another Round of Unresolved Political Deaths In Kenya – RIP George Muchai & Philip Godana.

The list of Kenyans who have disappeared, died under mysterious circumstances or assassinated is endless. It also contains some of the country’s most prominent and promising names and spans the country’s post-independence existence:

Pio Gama Pinto (1965), Argwings Kodhek (1969), Tom Mboya (1969), Ronald Ngala (1972), JM Kariuki (1975), Kungu Karumba (1975?), Jean-Marie Seroney (1982), Bishop Alexander Kipsang Muge (1990), Robert Ouko (1990), Mugabe Were (2008), George Saitoi and Orwa Ojode (2012), Mutula Kalonzo (2013), George Thuo (2013), Albert Muriuki (2013), Dickson Bogonko Bosire (2013).

We can now add Mr. George Muchai, the MP for Kabete cut down by a hail of bullets, to that macabre list. And like they did in the past, the country’s leaders, this time President Uhuru Kenyatta, vowed “to leave no stone unturned” in bringing the perpetrators “of this heinous crime to justice”. Mr. Kenyatta went on to claim even before any arrests were made, that George Muchai was killed because of his war against corruption:

“(W)e cannot allow a few people to continue with corruption and impunity. Even if we will leave all to God to do his will, there are times when anger overwhelms you.”

Taking their cue from their party boss, Mr. Kazungu Kambi, the Cabinet Secretary of Labor, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and his Thika Town counterpart Alice Ng’ang’a all echoed the president’s very sentiment that they know “…the people who plotted the killing of.…George Muchai….” even as investigations were still on-going!

Less than one week after the professional hit on Mr. Muchai, “robbers” broke into the Syokimau resident of former Moyale MP Philip Godana and shot him dead as well. In a more measured and less speculative reaction to Mr. Godana’s death, Tuka Jirmo, the late MP’s cousin cautioned that the family “will not speculate the reason for the killing but ask the police to be thorough with the investigations.”

It was a reaction more measured and reflective than the one that followed Mr. Muchai’s death: reactions from Mr. Kenyatta, his CS for Labor and other politicians in the ruling coalition that prompted the leader of the National Assembly Justin Muturi to ask “leaders to use caution” when making statements on Mr. Muchai’s untimely death.

Line up the presidential, ministerial and lawmakers’ claims, all unsubstantiated, alongside the reality on the ground: That of the rather speedy and seemingly convenient arrest of “all the suspects…in the killing of Kabete MP George Muchai and his three aides…” including “recovery of the weapons used in the incident…” and I hope readers can forgive my cynicism and skepticism, my well-documented incessant criticism of the Kenyatta government notwithstanding.

What is happening in Kenya as illustrated by the rampant violence and unresolved killings not to mention corruption at the highest level of the government is downright scary. The fact that government officials and prominent personalities continue to die under mysterious circumstances or through assassination on a regular basis is extremely disturbing.

Equally terrifying is the impunity with which the country’s leaders have used the very organs of national security and law enforcement as tools against their political opponents!  That the subsequent investigations on these deaths and murders are led by the same institutions and people – CID’s Ndegwa Muhoro in the case of Mr. Muchai – controlled by those with a near-diabolical desire to stay in power should send chills through the collective spines of all Kenyans.

Maybe it is my “shallow and naïve diasporan lens” or sadness at the lack of justice for the families of the afflicted, myself included, but doesn’t it bother WanaKenya Halisi that it now appears that the country has embraced murder as the one sure way of (a) settling differences and (b) maintaining their preferred candidate’s hold on power?

In a narrative that has become as Kenyan as “eating chicken”, the country has continued to rationalize, indeed accept the inept investigations, abrupt and summarily disbanding of blue, red, white or other hued ribbonned commissions and/or the subsequent mothballing of their finding apres presentation of the reports to the president(s). Kenyans routinely point out that “all is well because the country has not fallen into a state of anarchy just as the US did not devolve into chaos after the assassinations of JFK, MLK or the attempt on Ronald Reagan’s life!” They are equally hasty in urging one another to “accept (fill in the blank) and move on” after every national tragedy.

Given the rash of unresolved deaths and extra-judicial killings laying siege on the country, could Kenya, a country that wears its many religions on its collective sleeves be bearing witness to the (religious) teachings that “those who live by the sword also perish by the sword?”

Finally, is the country inching closer to a failed state where the regular killings of people — big and small — is greeted with the ho-hum of a society that has multiple centers of power – hence multiple proprietors of the basic instruments of power – weapons of death?

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Filed under Daniel Arap Moi, Disappearances in Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya, Political Assassinations in Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta