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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.
Category Archives: Kenya
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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…”
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!
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?
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?
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.
Like my wise mother continues to remind me every chance she gets:
Wuoda (my son), show me you friends and I will show you your character – an endearing take on “birds of a feather…” or as only the good book can put it: He that walketh with wise [men] shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Proverbs 13:20.
According to Kenya’s deputy president, the United Nation Security Council’s (UNSC) rejection of the country’s ridiculously expensive and increasingly desperate and embarrassing efforts to defer the crimes against humanity cases facing Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy at The Hague “…was a clear testimony of who the true friends of Kenya were…” Mr. Ruto went on to assert that the Friday November 16 eight-to-seven vote by the UNSC against the “digital” duo’s request for a deferral of their cases was “…a clear testimony of genuine friends who can stand with us when it is shining or raining…” The DP then thanked the soon-to-be-50year-old polity’s new “best friends forever” (BFFs) for standing with them claiming that the “digital” duo has “a plan” to work and “endure any difficulties.”
The junior partner in the “digital” duo and his Jubilee counterparts in the parliament went on to excoriate the main targets of the party’s ire and wrath United States, United Kingdom, France and Ghanaian Kofi Annan complaining that the former Secretary General of the United Nations was “…behind ‘a well-orchestrated international plot’ to have President Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto jailed by the ICC”. I want to believe that the deputy president has evidence to support this rather outlandish claim.
Also included on the list of countries that torpedoed the duo’s attempts to have their charges deferred were Australia, Argentina, Guatemala, Luxembourg and South Korea.
Breathing fire and casting aspersions one minute and lathering effusive praise the very next, Mr. Ruto went on to shower praise on Kenya’s newest and “bestest” of friends Azerbaijan, Morocco, Pakistan, and Togo – all who voted in favor of the deferral. The other three countries that voted in favor of deferring the charges – China, Russia and Rwanda – were already inside Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto’s “circle of BFFs”: The former two, China and Russia, playing their usual and expected role of opposing anything their fellow UNSC veto-welding counterparts US, UK and France supported!
So in summary, Jubilee’s revised Kenya@50 “Taking Our Country Back” guest list reads as follows:
DO NOT INVITE:
Kenya’s “cowardly enemies”: Australia, Argentina, France*, Guatemala, Luxembourg, South Korea, UK*, USA*
Kenya’s “true and genuine friends”: Azerbaijan, China*, Morocco, Pakistan, Rwanda, Russia*, Togo.
* – Permanent members of the UN Security Council.
At the risk of posing a rhetorical question, has Kenya, a country once described as an “oasis of peace in a troubled region…” http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/66470/john-githongo/fear-and-loathing-in-nairobi become bosom buddies with countries that are the very antithesis of what it aspires to be; countries that are all synonymous with repressive regimes, corrupt government official and less-than-democratic forms of government?
I would NOT describe myself as a dyed-in-the-wool “westophile” i.e. an anglophile, Francophile or Amerophile given some of my pieces – http://www.thetwoninetyonetracker.com. On the other hand, I do not consider the governments of China, Russia, Pakistan or Azerbaijan representative of the types of government I want the country of my birth to emulate. Similarly, I do not have anything against Presidents Xi Jinping (China), V. Putin (Russia), Mamnoon Hussain (Pakistan), or Ilham Aliyev (Azerbaijan) but they lead governments that do not have a track-record on democracy and good governance that the “digital” government of Kenya should be aspiring to mimic.
A simple key word search on the internet using any combination of Kenya’s newest BFFs along with the words “corruption”, “human rights violation”, “media suppression” or any other less-than-appealing non-democratic quality will tell one all they need to know about Kenya’s latest motley crew of “genuine friends who can stand with us when it is shining or raining.” It is ironic that the duo’s self-proclaimed Christian faith takes a back seat as they seek “friends” of all strips, some who persecute the very faith the two practice, in their selfish attempts to avoid being held to account:
Under the headings Desperate times calls for desperate measures, The enemy of my enemy is my friend or The friend of my enemy is my enemy, the Jubilee administration is lurching the country from one extreme and bizarre partnership to the next all in pathetic and selfish attempts to save the two suspects, Kenyatta in particular, from answering charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague. The Kenyatta government is doing this even though his deputy’s case is well underway!
In a prior piece titled “The Enemy of My Enemies” written early this year for the blog http://www.thetwoninetyonetracker.com, I argue that Uhuru and his deputy “…will get legitimacy, not by cavorting with the Chinese, Russians, Syrians, Cubans or other countries that are eager to thumb their nose at the west or that are pariah states, but by being exonerated of the charges they…face for the sickening crimes against the very people who provided the two with their margin of victory in the just concluded presidential elections.” My position has not changed and their antics since they took power have only reinforced said position.
I further write that the desperate and expensive efforts by Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto to have their cases deferred may give them short-term gains as their try to avoid the embarrassment of being the first sitting president and deputy president ever to face charges at The Hague for crimes against humanity! The one thing their global gallivance and odd alliances will not do is erase the permanence of the pain and suffering Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto are accused of fomenting on the very people who elected them into office.
It is very sad that Kenyans gave Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto the “gravitas” and “bully pulpit” – as a sitting president and deputy president – the two, Mr. Kenyatta in particular, are shamelessly using as a shield against being held accountable for crimes – committed against the same Kenyans!
In my book “Wuodha: My journey from Kenya to these United States” published by Friesen Press, I write that there is an unusually strong and incestuous relationship between political power and wealth in Africa/Kenya (pge 22). This relationship is illustrated by the high number of wealthy Kenyans who also happen to be politicians, family members of said politicians and/or those close to said politicians. To be clear, I also write that this complementary relationship between political power and “mbesha” is not unique to Kenya. My adopted home America has its share of wealthy individuals who have transformed their economic wealth into political power and vice versa. The Kennedys and Bushes parlayed the wealth of their respective patriarchs Joe Kennedy and George Prescott Bush into three occupancies of the White House. Conversely, Bill Clinton, notoriously less-than-wealthy when he became president in 1992 now sits atop a foundation – Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation – worth a quarter billion dollars http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton_Global_Initiative#Clinton_Global_Initiative_.28CGI.29. Finally, the current occupant of the White House Barack H. Obama (and his wife Michelle) famously paid off their student loans in 2004; the same year he made his well-received speech at the July 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Mr. Obama went on to author the block-buster memoir “Dreams of my father” and the more wonkish “The Audacity of Hope”; a detailing of his vision on how Americans can tackle everyday societal problems. Royalties from the books form the basis of the former community organizer’s familial wealth.
Unlike Kenya, the one thing that most developed countries have that does not make the relationship between political office and wealth accumulation near-immutable is a system of checks-and-balances that tempers the avarice that is a function of being human AND having (political) power! The checks-and-balances that compel those seeking political office, indeed most prominent political/public figures in the west to put their wealth in a “blind trust” is almost non-existent in Kenya. Wikipedia defines a “blind trust” thus:
“A….trust in which the trustees…..have been given power of attorney (and)….have full discretion over the assets and the….beneficiaries (owners) of the trust have no knowledge of the holdings of the trust and no right to intervene in their handling. Blind trusts are generally used…….to keep the beneficiary unaware of the specific assets in the trust, such as to avoid conflict of interest between the beneficiary and the investments. Politicians or others in sensitive positions often place their personal assets (including investment income) into blind trusts, to avoid public scrutiny and accusations of conflicts of interest when they direct government funds to the private sector.”
It thus comes as no surprise when the publication “Business Daily” publishes the article “Kenyatta Business Empire Goes into Expansion Drive”; an article whose message is pretty simple and straightforward: With Uhuru as president, it is indeed the Kenyatta family’s turn to eat – again!
The following quote is from said article and underscores the point on the uniquely Kenyan trait of political power and the rabid accumulation of wealth sans any regards for considerations such as conflict of interest!
“It also helps that Uhuru is now president, providing the family with a strong shield against any risks arising from unfavorable and unpredictable government policies that send fear down the spines of many investors in Africa.”
The quote from the article, in a nutshell says it all: The marriage of politics and business interests in Kenya is complete in a process first set in motion after independence when the country’s first president and Uhuru’s father Jomo Kenyatta allegedly taunted former Mau Mau veteran Bildad Kaggia for having little (material wealth) to show for his liberation war even as he, Jomo “generously helped himself” to healthy portions of “matunda ya uhuru” or “fruits of independence – “It’s our turn to eat” by Wrong et Githongo; (pge 50). If anyone ever wondered why those in power are willing to go to any lengths to maintain their hold on said power, the fore-going article, summarized by the foregoing quote should put the wonderment to rest. Similarly, anyone who doubted that the brutality these paragons of the Kenyan society would deign to sink to just needs to look at the sickening amount of money/wealth some of them have accumulated over the years they have been in or close to the country’s political power.
While I am not against the legal and fair accumulation of wealth, it is not inconceivable to draw the chilling, indeed rather dark conclusion that those already owning boatloads of cash are willing to allow/facilitate the death and displacement of hundreds of thousands with nothing so as to protect said wealth. Kenyans are quick to point out that the US invaded Iraq because its oil…but are curiously silent when asked to delve into the true reasons behind the tribal violence that one can almost set their clock by every 5 years!
It is equally telling that the publication Business Daily can make the assertion that Uhuru’s presidency is a boon for his family’s businesses without being called out by the parliament or the fourth estate. The claim that Mr. Kenyatta’s presidency “…provides the family with a strong shield against any risks arising from unfavorable and unpredictable government policies…” embodies the very definition of insider trading, a charge the Kenyan-equivalent of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Capital Markets Authority (CMA); certainly the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) would be very interested in – I think!
“Combating corruption is not straightforward or easy. But it is not impossible, especially with increased public awareness of the problem.”
Dr. Gesami; Secretary, Policy Coordination Office of The Deputy President
The foregoing is quote from an article in the August 7, 2013 issue of the Daily Nation. The piece was written by a Dr. Gesami who is identified by the newspaper as a “Secretary, Policy Coordination Office of The Deputy President.” I could not believe the equivocation and rationalization of and on corruption put forth by a seemingly senior official in the DP’s office. The doctor appeared to be justifying and excusing poor governance and corruption.
Maybe I have been in America for too long, as I am often told but combating corruption, from the spectacular Goldenberg or Anglo-Leasing types to the petty “kitu kidogo” variety that Kenya and Kenyans patented a long time ago is as easy as choosing not to ask for a bribe. It is also as easy as choosing not to pay out a bribe when asked for one. I wondered aloud what was difficult or to quote Ms. Gesami; “not straightforward” about saying “NO” when asked by an officer to “ongea vizuri” after being pulled over, ostensibly because of a nondescript and benign traffic violation such as a broken tail light? If the issue is the widespread culture of corruption that is Kenya and Kenyans, then the country would have already created a professional and well-paid police force with the relevant checks-and-balances to mitigate the culture (of corruption); something it has and cannot do, in part because its leaders continue to be more interested in cementing their (tribe’s) hold on power by creating a force based on tribal/regional allegiance, not professionalism and/or competence. The recent tragedy at the Westgate Mall and the subsequent attempts by government officials to explain the botched rescue efforts not to mention charges of looting by the soldiers is a prime example of equivocation and tolerance of incompetence and corruption at and by the highest levels of the government! For good measures, I will throw in the current storm swirling around Ms. Charity Ngilu, the Cabinet Secretary of Lands and the inevitable “circling the wagons” by “her people” who pleaded with her boss Mr. Kenyatta that “to err is human” and asked that the errant secretary be “forgiven” for her transgressions!
Dr. Gesami works in the office of the deputy president. She should therefore have access to the best resources Kenya has to offer: Assuming this to be the case, what, therefore, is “not easy” about surreptitiously recording an
exchange between someone attempting to obtain title to a piece of land and a bureaucrat at the Land Bureau to expose any corrupt dealings during the exchange? The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently asked by the Jubilee government to help investigate the fire at JKIA and the attacks at the Westgate Mall routinely run “sting operations” that expose and take down corrupt politicians and businessmen with ease and regularity here in America. Kenya has the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), not to mention the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), presumably investigative and prosecutorial bodies with adequate resources to emulate the American “feds”.
At the risk of asking the obvious: Is it difficult for the CID and KACC to run the FBI-like “sting operations” because the very people they’d be targeting for investigations are the very people said agencies report and pledge allegiance to? I will argue that the main reason Kenya and Kenyans have continued their corrupt ways is because corruption in its many mutations has existed and continues to exist at the highest level of the society with an impunity that allows the erstwhile Minister for Finance, now president of the country, to flippantly refer to a suspicious and inexplicable kshs. 9billion line item in a supplementary budget as “…a computer error, a typing error or whatever...” without being called to explain said typo or glitch to the nation: A nation that probably does not care because “ their son is being persecuted” by mischievous opponents! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMsRIB-6UCg
It is the same impunity that has allowed perpetrators of high crimes and misdemeanors to walk around the country with nary a care in the world…because the crimes they are accused of committing, including murder most foul, of cabinet ministers and of members of parliament (MPs), have long since been swept under the rug…forgotten by all except those affected by said crimes.
Now presiding over Kenya is the same person who was at the helm when the “computer error, a typing error or whatever…” was uncovered at the Ministry of Finance – Mr. Kenyatta – the very person trying to woo investors by “… promising drastic measures to fight corruption…” http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/Uhuru-Kenyatta-Machakos-Investors-Corruption/-/1064/2066024/-/wdp3dn/-/index.html
Where have we heard that song before?
Oh yes…from Mr. Kenyatta’s predecessors. The current president’s father continued the politics of patronage and of divide-and-conquer when the colonizing Brits “left” Kenya in early 1960s. Jomo aka Mzee continued governing Kenya colonialist-style and in effect cementing corruption and impunity into the fabric of the country and its people. Kenyatta Pere was then succeeded by M1 or Mr. Moi, also Kenyatta Fils’ mentor. Google “Kroll Report on Kenya” for some sobering reading on corruption in Kenya during the Nyayo (Moi) era. He, whose political vision is like that of a giraffe, gave control of the trough that is Kenya to Baba Jimmy and world-renowned economist Mr. Mwai Kibaki. Successive Kenyan presidencies have at one time or another promised to “wipe out corruption”…”end impunity”…or “take stern measures against grafts”.
I remember when President Moi set ablaze a mountain of ivory tusks in late 1989. http://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/19/world/kenya-in-gesture-burns-ivory-tusks.html. Now if ever there was political gamesmanship, drama and spectacular images symbolizing a “resolute” leader taking on the threat posed by poachers who threatened to wipe out the country’s elephants along with the tourist dollars the majestic pachyderms brought into the national coffers, this was it: The ignition of 12 tons of elephant tusks, artfully arranged by pyro technicians should have signaled to all that the Moi government was serious about putting an end to the killing off of Kenya’s elephants. Alas! It did not. The country’s elephants have been poached to the point of extinction in part because implicated in the scourge was the Kenyatta family! (Pges. 312-313, Charles Hornsby, Kenya Since Independence).
The point of the forgoing digression is to illustrate how and why the efforts to stem corruption and impunity in Kenya have been ineffective. The country’s presidents have bequeathed its citizens a country ranked near the bottom (or top) by Transparency International; an international organization that monitors and publicizes political/governmental corruption throughout the world:
Let me blunt:
Until corruption and impunity are dealt with at the very highest level of Kenya’s government, the country will continue to be a poster child for the twin evils while lurching from one scandal to the next even as its leaders “promise drastic measures to fight” the two!
TODAY, WE ARE ALL KENYANS.
OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS GO OUT TO ALL THOSE AFFECTED BY THE SENSELESS VIOLENCE AT THE WESTGATE MALL.
MAY HE GIVE ALL THE COURAGE, STRENGTH AND RESILIENCE TO RECOVER FROM THEIR PAIN AND SUFFERING.
D-Day in the form of H-Day came calling for the junior half of the digital duo on September 11, 2013. Kenya’s Deputy President Mr. William Kipchirchir Samoei arap Ruto, stripped of his eagle-eyed Recce security guards and the trappings and reverence that comes with the second most powerful office in Kenya was paraded in front of a panel of stone-faced judges at The Hague (hence H-Day). Juxtaposed with this comeuppance of an occupant of a hitherto “untouchable” office was the futile and frankly simpletonic vote by the country’s legislature to pull the country out of the Rome Statute that formalized the International Criminal Court (ICC). A basic reading and understanding of the pull-out process by the Jubilee-controlled parliament would have informed this band, presumably of lawyers, that the process to pull out from the ICC takes at least one year from the time the UN SecGen receives the letter formalizing Kenya’s exit from the body. But even more pertinent to the raison d’etre for parliament’s desire to pull Kenya from the ICC is the rule that cases already being heard by the court are not affected by a country’s decision to pull out of the treaty! The charges facing Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto are already being heard by the ICC
For the 1300+ Kenyans who lost their loved ones and the close to one-half million who bore the brunt of the post-election violence of 2007, seeing Mr. Ruto (and Mr. Sang) being held accountable for the pain and suffering they are accused of fomenting and causing must be cathartic. It is something Kenyans have not witnessed since independence: the high and mighty, stripped of their self-importance and protection, being called to account for the crimes they are accused of.
I will forever say this: The impunity and wanton disregard for the human and civil rights of Kenyans that the country’s elite has acted with over the years finally landed them in trouble; with a force that has more power and deeper pockets than all of them combined; and I am glad!
I have to say that the cases against Mr. Ruto and Mr. Sang could have started out much smoother than they did. Ms. Bensouda appeared unprepared and in a moment that harkens back to the petition filed by Mr. Odinga’s CORD Party, as not helped by a tardy witness and an aggressive and bombastic all-foreign defense team headed by Mr. Karim Ahmed Khan. http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Why+Karim+Khan+stands+tall+among+his+peers+in+battle+/-/1056/1988990/-/143p2cgz/-/index.html Evidence from CORD, for those who care, was famously declared “time-barred” by Kenya’s highest court. And while the ruling was deemed within the guidelines established by the Constitution, it left a bitter taste in the mouths of supporters of CORD who felt let down, AGAIN, by a judiciary geared towards serving the rich and powerful and maintaining the status quo!
Fortunately for the victims of the post-election violence and in a sharp departure from the decision made by Chief Justice William Mutunga’s court re: CORD’s petition, the presiding judge at The Hague Nigerian Mr. Eboe Osuji, while admonishing the chief prosecutor Fatou Besouda for her lack of preparedness, decided to adjourn the proceedings and give Ms. Bensouda time to present her first witness rather than use their tardiness as an excuse to completely disallow their testimony. http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000093331&story_title=court-adjourns-in-ruto-sang-icc-case I would imagine that the decision by Mr. Osuji, who was the principal prosecution appeals counsel at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the case of Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia was based on the import of the case; something most CORDians would have wanted during the presidential petition, a case most, including myself, saw in similar light.
At the risk of sounding glib, given the argument hatched by Mr. Katwa Kigen that the case against his client KASS Radio DJ Julius Sang is an assault on the Kalenjin way of life, I am glad that the case is being tried by an African in a courtroom presided by yet another African! http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Kalenjin+way+of+life+on+trial+says+lawyer+Katwa+Kigen/-/1056/1989102/-/7rd3hcz/-/index.html. The infamous “they” say that justice is blind and that “one’s perception is their reality”. I would pay top dollars to hear the Gambian/Nigerian members of the team prosecuting the case against Mr. Sang call out the race-baiting bull&%@t of a fellow African Katwa Kigen! To quote my ten-year old son, that would be “sweet!”
For all the blustery, confrontational and inflammatory utterances by the two principal lawyers – Mr. Khan and Mr. Kigen – the cases against their clients Mr. Ruto and Mr. Sang will respectively run through their course unimpeded and unadulterated: In the case of the deputy president and his boss the president, the cases will be heard by a judicial body that is so far removed from the sphere of their (executive) influence that ordinary Kenyans could never have imagined.
As written in previous articles, the high-priced lawyers, especially the ones representing the two principals, paid for by the fortunes of the country’s richest family, may successfully argue dismissal or acquittal for both the president and his deputy. If that were to happen, I would not be happy. I would be disappointed because to date, no one would have been held accountable for the death and destruction wrought upon the weak and innocent in Kiambaa, Kibera, Kisumu, Nakuru, Naivasha etc. On the other hand and in a uniquely Kenyan meme, if no one was to be brought to account for the hate crimes that shocked the entire world in 2007/2008, I would most likely join fellow Kenyans who have this strange ability to “accept and move on” from one unpopular and grossly unjust decision to the next so long as their “sons and daughters” remain in power.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has told his nemesis Raila Odinga to “stop politicizing” the land issue. http://www.news24.co.ke/National/News/Uhuru-tells-off-Raila-on-land-issue-20130902 The senior half of the digital duo also lambasted the vanquished head of CORD to stop politicizing the value-added Tax (VAT) recently implemented by Jubilee government. http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/business/2013/09/stop-politicizing-vat-law-uhuru-tells-raila/. And if that was not enough, The Hague-bound Son of Jomo may as well accuse Son of Jaramogi, his father’s chief rival, of engineering his summons, along with his deputy’s, to The Hague! http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/How+ICC+and+Raila+created+coalition+of+the+accused/-/1064/1634576/-/2r1hjxz/-/index.html Frankly I am waiting for Mr. Kenyatta and his sycophants to call on Mr. Odinga to “stop politicizing” the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against the rebels!
The glaring irony is that the same man accusing his chief political enemy of politicizing land ownership, bread-and-butter/economic issues and the on-going trials at The Hague is in point of fact doing the very same thing: Talk about huevos or chutzpah!
Mr. Kenyatta recently “handed” out title deeds to folks in the voter-rich and CORD-leaning region of the Coast. http://standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000093358&story_title=disputes-stalk-president-uhuru-kenyatta-coast-title-deeds&pageNo=2 I am sure he did this out of the kindness of his heart and not because he was looking ahead to the 2018 elections. That Son of Jomo is incredibly altruistic!
The national budget delivered by Mr. Henry K. Rotich, President Kenyatta’s Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury on June 13, 2013 outlined the broad development policies of the Jubilee coalition including its commitment to seal “…leakages in our revenue collection…and extending the tax base while ensuring efficiency in public expenditure.”http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/The+full+Kenya+Budget+speech+2013/-/539546/1881852/-/view/printVersion/-/535sgq/-/index.html. I am neither an economist nor an expert on budgetary matters but I interpreted the line about “extending the tax base” to mean implementation of a policy along the lines of a value added tax (VAT) the two scions of Kenya’s political titans are wrangling over.
Finally, the one issue that I would bet my Man U jersey keeps Kenyatta Fils awake at night is the one issue he, Mr. Kenyatta, used as a vehicle to Kenya’s presidency! Upon being accused of crimes against humanity by the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Mr. Ocampo, Mr. Kenyatta and co-suspect Mr. Ruto formed a “coalition of the accused” and with his mother, Kenya’s former first lady Ms. Ngina Kenyatta leading the various “prayer rallies” across the populous regions of Central and Rift Valley, the two accused transformed the summons to The Hague into a tyranny of numbers all the way to Kenya’s presidency; the ultimate politicization of the charges facing the digital duo. http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000032591&pageNo=1
UK is beginning to sound like George W. Bush and the Republicans, especially in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy when Son of Bush famously told those who decried his gun slinging response to the event and pursuant foreign policy that “they are with us or against us.”http://edition.cnn.com/2001/US/11/06/gen.attack.on.terror/
Anyone who questions Mr. Kenyatta’s policies or positions on issues of national import is either “a tool of the west,” “anti-development,” “un-patriotric,” “politicizing the issue” or engaging in some yet-to-be-named nefarious behavior.
Memo to Mr. Kenyatta:
As much as you and your supporters would love for him to go away, Raila Odinga is the face and voice of Kenya’s opposition. Like you, he is a politician and looks at most issues through a political lens. Mr. Odinga is as much a “patriot” and “development-minded” as you are. And incase y’all had forgotten, Mr. Odinga is also Kenyan!
Remind Kenyans again how you and William Ruto ended up winning the presidency, CJ Mutunga’s ruling notwithstanding?
You and Mr. Ruto had a “better vision for Kenya?”
Sure you did…and you were able to wrap that vision in an anti-ICC/anti-The Hague/Xenophobic shuka at the various “prayer rallies” held “throughout” the country all the way to the presidency. By running for the presidency despite the charges facing you and your running mate, you dared the criminal court to try (and convict) the president and deputy president of a member state. And while presidential campaigns are by “political”, you Mr. President have continued to wrap your presidency using the same shuka you used during the (political) campaign. You have continued to draw on the energy generated at the “prayer rallies” during the campaigns by continuing to politicize the issue.
“Jamba”, who recently took a position on charges facing him at The Hague…not as a “personal challenge”, but as the “duly elected president of the sovereign Republic of Kenya”? I will help you out: It is you. Mr. President, you famously said that the charges facing you at The Hague were “personal challenges” that will not spill over into your role if elected to the presidency. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/feb/11/kenya-elections-presidential-debate
Well sir you are now the president of Kenya.
That Kenya, ‘ere the decision by The Hague not to run your trial and that of your digital twin Mr. Ruto simultaneously, run the risk of being rudderless were you and Mr. Ruto to face the “foreigners” at the ICC at the same time is the direct result of your politicization of your (collective) charges.
Bw. Rais, it is disingenuous and blatantly hypocritical to accuse Mr. Odinga of “politicizing” issues that matter to Kenya and Kenyans even as you and your sycophants do the same.
Fool me once, shame on you
Fool me twice, shame on me
Fool me thrice; I must be Kenyan!
In a previous piece titled “Kusema Na Kutenda – To Say and To Do”, I wrote that “Mr. Kenyatta also needs to deal with the internally-displaced persons (IDPs) AND the land issue without the platitudinous and perfunctory ‘land is a means of production but not something to always fight for. Let us work together in finding a permanent solution to this problem’ line from his stump speeches.”
Recent decisions by POK (President of Kenya) point to Kenyatta Son indeed attempting to deal with the country’s seemingly intractable issue of land ownership and its corollary the internally-displaced persons (IDPs). The president recently issued title deeds to over 60,000 residents of the Coast and while the move was welcomed by some, indeed long overdue, the secrecy and haphazard nature of the process does not bode well for the long-term resolution of the land issue.
On the surface, one can argue that the president “semad” and is now “tendaring” as in he campaigned on the issue of land and is now carrying out the (campaign) promise. While I give Mr. Kenyatta kudos for tackling Kenya’s problem of land ownership, I question the process he appears to be using to tackle the problem. To a lesser extent and not as vociferously, I also question his motives.
The process was reportedly secretive and in my opinion, harkened back to the days of Kenyatta Pere and his successor Mr. Moi when allocation of land and approval of the loans to buy said land was done in secrecy and benefitted a select few. Mr. Najib Shamsan of the Kenya Land Alliance was quoted as warning “…that the titles being issued could attract a court battle against the commission if there are reports of discrimination in giving land in settlement schemes.” Mr. Shamsan went on to claim that “there were serious disputes in settlement schemes such as Mwembe Legeza and Ziwa la Ng’ombe in Mombasa and Kijipwa in Kilifi and we doubt whether this has been sorted out.”
The perception of “political interference” and diktats by Mr. Kenyatta’s appointee and Lands Secretary Ms. Charity Ngilu runs the risk of creating the same outcome that Mr. Kenyatta’s father Jomo created when he and those close to him interfered with the distribution of land, especially in the Coastal region of the country and in the “white highlands” of the Rift Valley.
“Demand for (and issuance of) free land contravened the agreements reached with the colonizers that private property should be protected not to mention the ideological sensibilities that land should be earned not granted.” The foregoing is a quote paraphrased from Daniel Branch’s book KENYA: Between hope and despair, 1963-2011 (Pge, 91). The quote speaks to the pitfalls surrounding ownership and issuance of land that faced Kenya shortly after she attained her independence.
The following quote is from the chairman of the Commission of inquiry on Illegal and Irregular Allocations of Public Lands (2003/2004) aka Ndungu Land Commission Mr. Paul Ndungu before he gave the presentation titled “Tackling land related corruption in Kenya”: Mr. Ndungu told those gathered that “The land laws inherited from the British had literally vested the whole Country in the President, and he and his advisors naturally felt that, just as the British Monarch had the power to alienate land as he pleased, it was perfectly in order for the President to use the same powers in favour of whoever he wished.”
Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta runs the risk of repeating the errant ways of his father if he continues along the monarchical path of land issuance sans consultation with others in the government and by near-royal decree.
I will generously file the fact that the National Land Commission and the Cabinet Secretariat (of Land) do not appear to speak with a unified voice under the heading “growing pains” as a result of the New Constitution. Having said that, I will also point out that the disjointed voice between the two entities underscores the import Mr. Kenyatta should attach to ensuring that the handling of this most sensitive of issues, one at the center of the country’s numerous tribal clashes, be done so in a manner that is beyond reproach and with the sensitivity deserving of an issue that is critical to the stability of the country.
Finally, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta studied Political Economics at the exclusive and expensive Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts; arguably one of the best liberal arts colleges in the United States. He is neither dumb nor naive. The man affectionately referred to as “Njamba” has also demonstrated a keen understanding of history, especially Kenya’s. It would be very unfortunate were he to repeat the mistakes of his father on this very issue of land ownership by allocating or granting land to people in a manner that may be construed as favoring political supporters and with an eye towards upcoming elections.
At the risk of repeating myself, it is this approach to governance that set Kenya on the path towards the tribal animus that erupted into full-scale violence in 2007 and landed Kenyatta Son in front of Ms. Fatou Bensouda on charges of crimes against humanity.