Category Archives: Life

Consequences re-visted

The Wednesday August 7 inferno that destroyed the arrival terminal at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the country’s main airport, could have been prevented if not contained had some very basic mitigants been in place and (periodically) enforced. It is a very sad commentary on a country whose nationals, especially those who support the ruling elite, have so much pride, not to mention hubris, that its “international” airport has non-functioning fire hydrants and fire-fighting equipment, untrained or poorly trained and motivated personnel not to mention fire-suppression systems that would have detected the smoke…and fire…and at least mitigated the damage…if not doused the flames once the fire started.

I will say it again:

Consequences:

Of the continued embrace of a system of governance that rewards plum positions, including directorship/leadership positions in critical organizations such as the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) without holding said leaders fully accountable for the performance of the organizations in their charge. That the fire hydrants were reportedly not working is a direct result of lack of maintenance – the director’s job – Yes, it is the director’s job to ensure that the organization in his/her charge adheres to all applicable international and national standards including maintenance of critical systems/equipment such as fire hydrants. It is also the job of the director to ensure that the organization has adequate resources – trained manpower and well-maintained and functioning equipment to perform the assigned tasks.

Of the continued culture of “kitu kidogo”; “something small” or bribery/bribes and impunity that Kenya and her leaders are known for all over the world; a culture that has allowed the construction of infrastructure/buildings such as the airport now reduced to rubbles, roads and bridges etc. that do not meet applicable local and international standards such as installation of fire-suppression systems, availability of functioning hydrants within the premises not mention use of sub-standard building material or material whose design-intent is mitigation of common occurrences such as fires, water leaks, wear-and-tear etc. The applicable standards would have been enforced during the building inspections prior to approval and final commission of said building. Subsequent follow-up audits and inspection would have ensured that the applicable standards had been met and if not, corrective action with due-dates and responsible person(s) would have been enacted. Unfortunately, the fore-going scenarios makes two deadly assumptions: that the building inspections and follow-up audits would actually occur and that they would be executed by incorruptible officials!

Of the very culture of “kitu kidogo” and impunity that has allowed a tipping point of employees who are hired, not because they have the requisite qualifications and experience, but because they are the relative of the hiring manager (or someone above the hiring manager) or as has always been the case in Kenya, because they are from the tribe of the hiring manager and those in power! While there is nothing wrong with hiring a qualified and competent relative or even a tribesman/woman, there is something absolutely unethical if said relative or tribesman is incompetent and unethical. This situation is compounded by the hubris and arrogance reflected in expressions such as “KANU itatawala milele na milele” or “KANU will rule for ever and ever” popularized during the reign of President Moi or that “the (Kenyan) presidency will never cross the Chania River” popularized after independence during the reign of President Jomo Kenyatta.

Consequences indeed!

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Filed under Corruption, Failed State, Governance, Governance - Kenya, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Tribalism, Tribe

The massive log in our collective eyes!

I am a Kenyan living in the United States and find the article by Ms. Muthoni Thangwa in the July 29th edition of Daily Nation to be laughable at worst and misleading, not to mention a case of deflection at best.

 http://www.nation.co.ke/blogs/-/634/1929974/-/view/asBlogPost/-/gepjjkz/-/index.html

God knows that America has its faults. This country has a very painful and sordid history; one that it continues to deal with to this very day as evidenced by the events at the center of Ms. Thangwa’s piece. It is a past AND present whose details I delve into in my book Wuodha: My journey from Kenya to these United States. However, the one thing America; the country I have called home for the past thirty-plus years has which the likes of Muthoni and her compatriots can only intellectualize and fantasize about is a system of governance that holds people, including the president of the country, not to mention their friends and family wholly accountable for their actions. And on a slight but pertinent digression, United States of America has institutions – judiciary, legislative, police and infrastructures – roads, railways, and buildings etc. that while far from perfect, make those in Kenya the very embodiment of a banana republic!

I do not agree with the verdict on the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. My disagreement with the verdict is however based on emotional considerations than on legal ones.

The fact is: a young man needlessly lost their life and his killer essentially walked away scot-free! I feel more for Trayvon’s parents and friends. I don’t feel for Zimmerman’s parents or friends. At least they still get to see him – he is alive even though he will forever be haunted by the fact that he took the life of another human – Thou shalt not kill. Finally, and adding insult to injury is the afore-mentioned history of racism and Jim Crowism in America, the south (Florida) in particular that African Americans have endured over the years. I therefore get the perception this verdict has created, not only throughout the world, but even here in America. I also get how the acquittal of Mr. Zimmerman for the murder of Mr. Martin has added to the narrative the Ms. Thangwa is working with. However bone-headed, the verdict was made within the confines of the existing law(s).

Having stated the fore-going, let me also state without any equivocation that Kenyans are as hypocritical a people as I have seen and I am Kenyan! I also know that I am generalizing, the very crime Ms. Thangwa commits in her piece! I also know that two wrongs don’t make a right! To which I say “oh well!”

The same yahoos screaming about racism and bigotry in America will shamelessly hack one another to death because they are “uncircumcised” and/or from the wrong tribe! The very folks shaking their fists at America about “due process” for Trayvon are the same ones who will turn right round and tell those who disagreed with the Supreme Court verdict during the 2013 presidential elections to “accept and move on“. The very Kenyans who bloviate about “human rights for Trayvon…and the hypocrisy of America..blah, blah, blah” are the same ones who will turn right round and throw stones at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for “going after their sons”, sons who are accused of organizing over 1200 Trayvon Martins for the very reason Ms. Thangwa is accusing America of – violating the human rights of the less powerful! Maybe Muthoni can tell her readers whether the human rights of the internally-displaced people (IDPs) were violated by “our sons” as charged by the ICC. What of the rights of Robert Ouko, Tom Mboya, Pio G. Pinto, JM Kariuki?

In the 2012 US elections, there was a report of Kenyans, now naturalized American citizens who could not countenance voting for America’s first non-white president because he “…had Luo blood in him” courtesy of his father Barack Obama Sr.; the very definition of “judging someone by the color of their skin, not the content of their character!” These are the very people who will turn right round and tell those who accuse Uhuru of being the recipient of ill-gotten gains courtesy of his father Jomo “not to blame the son for the sins of the father.”

http://www.kenyan-post.com/2012/11/kikuyus-here-in-us-did-not-vote-for.html  

The very Kenyans who have no compunction about “toaring kitu kidogo” i.e. offering a small bribe or conversely asking someone seeking service to “ongea vizuru” i.e. give a bribe for said service will take to the streets to complain about “MPigs” or castigate the International Criminal Courts for “finishing off their sons and daughters”. It is this hypocrisy and double-standard that has resulted in a country and a people as synonymous with winning the Boston Marathon as it is/they are with corruption and impunity!

I challenge Kenyans, who are notoriously religious, are prone to being “born again Christian” and are religious (no pun intended) attendants of “prayer rallies” to follow the very teachings of their holy book The Bible and look at the log in their eyes before pointing out the sliver in the eyes of others!

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Filed under Corruption, Democracy, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, International Relations/Global Issues, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Politics, Race, Racial Discrimination, Racism, The Hague, Trayvon Martin, Tribalism, Tribe

Twin Rorschach Tests: On Trayvon Martin et al.

I have just listened to son of K’Ogelo and American President Barack Obama address the dichotomous reaction of Americans to the verdict by the jury in Sanford Florida on the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a 17year old African-American boy. Trayvon was shot by George Zimmerman a bi-racial volunteer neighborhood watchman. Mr. Zimmerman, against orders from the police dispatcher who was handling his “report of suspicious activities”, followed Mr. Martin, got out of his car and in the ensuing tussle, shot him dead.

The verdict by the jury of six women; five white and one Hispanic – acquitted Zimmerman of all charges, basically ruling the death of the unarmed 17year old “justifiable.” America’s reaction to the jury verdict, much like Kenya’s reaction to the ruling by the Supreme Court on the results of the 2013 presidential elections and increasingly to the charges of crimes against humanity facing President Kenyatta and William Ruto has been a Rorschach Test on the two countries’ view on social issues such as race, racism, tribe, tribalism and impunity.

The Sanford jury verdict pitted Americans who supported the verdict against those who did not. On one side were Americans who believed that Trayvon Martin deserved what he got i.e. death at the hands of an overzealous neighborhood volunteer watchman who was just “standing his ground” against those “punks who always got away.” On the other side were Americans who believed that once again, the American justice system had let down an innocent black man (not to mention his friends and family) whose only fault was “being black in a neighborhood pre-dominated by non-blacks” and dared to challenge Mr. Zimmerman, who was just protecting those represented by their peers in the jury from his ilk; a young black man!

The April 2013 ruling by Kenya’s Supreme Court to disallow forensic auditing of the much-maligned and sub-standard information technology (IT) infrastructure used by the equally maligned and incompetent IEBC and award the presidency and deputy presidency to Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto pitted Kenyans who supported the verdict against those who did not support the court’s ruling: on one side were Kenyans who believed that the ruling by their Supreme Court was valid, rejection of the forensic audit of the failed IT infrastructure notwithstanding. On the other side were Kenyans who believed that once again, Kenya’s justice system had been manipulated by the rich, powerful and well-connected to maintain they hold on power.

And just as Kenyans who protested the Supreme Court’s decision awarding the 2013 presidency to Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were told to “get over it and move on”, so were Americans who rallied in protest against the verdict acquitting George Zimmerman of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin.

To paraphrase a line from the July 20th New York Times editorial piece on President Obama’s surprise appearance at the White House press briefing http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/20/opinion/president-obamas-anguish.html, just as the verdict crystallized the dissonance regarding race and racism in America, so has the dynamics of presidential politics in Kenya done on matters of tribe and tribalism. Americans idealize their society and mythologize the role the founding fathers played in the creation of said society just like Kenyans idealize Kenya and the role its founding father played in its creation.

Once again, paraphrasing the editorial piece from the NY Times: Viewed within the narrow confines of matters regarding racial justice and harmony, there is no doubt that America has done a yeoman’s job given its sordid history. The tangible/physical remnants of racism and racial discrimination are few and far between, definitely a rarity and an exception in the daily lives of Americans. Similarly, long gone is the overt and blatant tribal chauvinism originated by one Jomo Kenyatta after Kenya’s independence in the early 60s; chauvinism that included oath-taking by those around him after the 1969 assassination of Tom Mboya to ensure that “the (Kenyan) presidency does not cross the Chania River”. http://kumekucha.blogspot.com/2007/08/kenyan-presidency-was-not-supposed-to.html

http://diasporamessenger.com/this-woman-mary-wambui-kibaki/

Given the Rorschach-esque reactions to the twin evils of racism and tribalism in America and Kenya respectively, Republican Andy Harris may as well have been addressing the groups that reacted negatively to the acquittal of George Zimmerman and the hastily convened swearing-in (and prelude to the horrors of post-election violence) of President Kibaki in 2007, not to mention the ruling of Kenya’s Supreme Court to reject forensic auditing of the information technology (IT) system used by the electoral board commission with his flippant “get over it” remark!

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Democracy, George Zimmerman, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, International Relations/Global Issues, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Race, Racial Discrimination, Racism, The Hague, Tribalism

Kshs. 700Million is NOT enough!

The utter shock and flabbergast over The Treasury’s request for Shs.700 million “for the purchase of building to house an office for retired President Mwai Kibaki…” is only be superseded by Mr. Francis Kimemia’s response/comment during a phone conversation with the Daily Nation on the subject. President Kenyatta’s Secretary to the Cabinet is quoted as saying that he thought the reporter “would say that the Sh700 million is too little…

Publically stating that seven hundred million shillings or $8.5 million is not sufficient to secure an “office” for an ex-president who is also one of the country’s richest men is akin to telling average and poor Kenyans to “eat cake”. If ever there was a public personality in today’s Kenya that was tone-deaf and completely clueless on the nuances of public relations not to mention the public’s perceptions, Francis Kimemia would be that individual. The man epitomizes arrogance, flippancy and poor administrative skills. The only thing more scary but would not be entirely surprising would be if Mr. Kimemia’s actions are at the behest of his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta or reflect his desires!

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/MPs-reject-plan-to-buy-Sh700m-Kibaki-office–/-/1064/1887330/-/12ofmbb/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Sh700-million-for-Kibakis-new-office/-/1056/1884298/-/qyiifwz/-/index.html

The Shs.700million office building proposed for the retired octogenarian is in addition to the following farewell gifts:

  1. A residence in Mweiga, Nyeri complete with an office wing; allegedly his retirement home.
    1. A petrol station courtesy of the National Oil Corporation,
    2. Four fish ponds from the Fisheries ministry,
    3. An aquarium – Huh? The four fishponds are not enouh?
    4. Two dairy cows,
    5. Four Boran bulls. As a lover of mbuzi, kondoo na kuku, I am offended that no one offered the fore-going livestock in addition to the bovines.
    6. A borehole to be sunk in Mweiga by the National Youth Service.
    7. A library to be established by University of Nairobi at the former president’s home. One wonders which home!
    8. A copy of each of the books published by the same university – in English or Swahili?
    9. 10.   And a partridge in a pear tree!! Okay this one is a joke but I could not resist.

Man things have certainly changed since the days of a golden watch, a potluck and an out-of-tune round of “for-he-is-a-jolly-good-fellow” when one retired!

Added to the fore-going list that rivals the one compiled by the Three Wise Men who travelled from the east bearing gifts for Baby Jesus, the package put forth by the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act also entitles the retired president to Sh195,000 in monthly fuel allowances or 15 per cent of his last salary of Sh1.3 million a month and a house allowance of Sh299,000, not to mention the lump sum payment of one year’s salary per term served or the equivalent of at least Sh25.2 million!

The listed cart of goodies does not even take into account the wealth Mr. Emilio Kibaki has accumulated over the years, especially after independence. The former president was among the lucky few who helped themselves to more than their share of “matundu ya uhuru” during the corrupt 60s & 70s and the sycophantic 80s and 90s when he was the MP of Bahati, Othaya, Permanent Secretary/Minister for Finance & Economic Planning and Vice President respectively.

Mr. Kibaki then spent the five (5) years between 2002-2013 as the Big Man or president who “toshad” as in “Kibaki Tosha” and was supposed to rescue Kenya from the scourge that was Daniel Arap Moi’s quarter century reign of terror. One word, albeit hyphenated and an acronym summarize Mr. Kibaki’s two terms in office: Anglo-Leasing and PEV. During his first term in office, the trained economist presided over one of the largest scandals in Kenya’s unchallenged history of corruption scandals. Anglo-Leasing, as the scandal was referred cost the country an estimated Kshs. 3billion. The scandal also touched the innermost sanctums of ‘Baba Jimmy’s” administration and tarnished his staff including very senior members such as Kiraitu Murungi, David Mwiraria and Chris Murungaru. Mr. Kibaki’s second term in office inauspiciously started off with a dusk time swearing-in ceremony attended by a posse of sycophants even as the country was erupting into tribal violence protesting the rigged election results. It is the violence after the elections of 2007 that give birth to the acronym PEV – post-election violence.

The one ray of hope to emerge from this blatant attempt at fleecing the public coffers albeit legally is the intervention of the National Assembly’s Budget Committee whose members rejected the request. I say “ray of hope” because the chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee Mr. Mutava Musyimi told the Treasury “to go back to the drawing board and come up with other options ‘affordable’ to the taxpayer”: A Pyrrhic victory if ever there was one because it gives Mr. Kimemia and his band of accountants and lawyers another crack at weaseling the Shs. 0.7billion from the public who already took it on the chin thanks to the first “digital” budget!

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Budget-team-rejects-Sh700m-Kibaki-office-proposal/-/1064/1886802/-/wh9ilyz/-/index.html

Even more perplexing is the fact that Mr. Kibaki, the so-called “urbane and sophisticated gentleman of Kenyan politics” and recipient of the basket of goodies has not been heard from on the propriety and probity of such lavish goods amidst the belt-tightening and poverty in the country. Similarly, his successor Mr. Kenyatta has been noticeably quiet on the subject of his predecessor’s gravy train even as his Cabinet Secretary stumbles and bumbles from one scandal to another and his Finance Minister asks Kenyans to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill in his just announced 2013 budget, a bill that seeks to impose a 16 per cent tax on basic commodities including sifted maize flour, sanitary towels, newspapers, journals and periodicals, rice, wheat flour, bread, computers and computer software, and processed milk.

http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/DN2/As-food-prices-rise-brace-yourself-for-an-Unga-war/-/957860/1886176/-/5k1s1uz/-/index.html

I hate to sound like a broken record but choices have consequences and try as the jubilant supporters may, the consequences of their choice of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are fast becoming apparent and not in the most-positive of ways.

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Filed under Corruption, Disparity - Income Distribution, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Members of Parliament, MPs, Politics

Acquiescence through Silence

There are so many ways to parse the saga over Raila’s twin encounters with the “over-enthusiastic” civil servants at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) that in my opinion, all lead to the same endpoint:

Preventing the former prime minister from using a lounge supposedly reserved for VIPs speaks to an (Uhuru) administration that talks a good game but is curiously terrified of Raila Odinga’s (next) moves and is also struggling to deliver on the lofty albeit nebulous campaign promise of “kusema na kutenda” especially as the mantra pertains to humility in victory, embracing former political opponents and being a president for ALL Kenyans including those who supported his erstwhile  challenger and nemesis!

In a slight digression, that JKIA has three (3) levels of lounges – State Pavilion, VIP III and Government VIP Lounge – is pretentious obfuscation to be deconstructed on another day in another article!

The letter that formed the basis for denying Mr. Odinga, retired President Kibaki’s co-principal in the Grand Coalition Government, entry into the “aprons of the airport” only reserved for VVIPs that include “retired former presidents of the Republic of Kenya” was written by Mr. Francis Kimemia – President Kenyatta’s Secretary to the Cabinet. The letter was copied to a host of high-ranking members of the president’s men including the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Mr Karanja Kibicho, Interior Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo, the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo, the chairman of the Kenya Airports Authority Mutuma Mugambi and managing director Stephen Gichuki. Finally, the letter was also copied to Mr. Kenyatta’s co-defendant at The Hague and the Deputy President Mr. William Ruto.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Raila-blocked-from-airports-VIP-lounge/-/1064/1871588/-/se2mgj/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Raila-caught-in-fresh-VIP-lounge-drama/-/1056/1873606/-/15eqqio/-/index.html

One would forgive the actions of the ubiquitous “over-enthusiastic” underlings if they applied a Spartan reading and interpretation of the Secretary’s letter. However, given Mr. Odinga’s gravitas, history, popularity and some would say notoreity not only within the country, but arguably globally, interpreting Mr. Kimemia’s letter to include denying the former Prime Minister access to the lounge reserved for “very very important people” is an unlikely scenario and frankly very audacious of the hapless civil servants caught in middle of the silliness of their leaders. Similarly, I would argue that any claim that Mr. Kenyatta was not aware of such a significant decision; one adversely impacting one of the country’s most visible personalities by a member or members of his administration, including his deputy is asking even his most rabid supporter to suspend belief and lose credibility/objectivity in the process. Now if the president was truly unaware of a decision that basically barred his closest opponent in the 2013 election and former president Kibaki’s co-principal from a privilege reserved for the “most important of persons” then that opens a Pandora’s Box of questions; most regarding the quality of service the president is receiving from those around him including the following:

  • Are the individuals listed above that incompetent or so tone-deaf that they did not foresee the furor resulting from the content of the letter they appended their names to?
  • And if they foresaw the uproar, why did they proceed with the decision?

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/The-letter-used-to-lock-out-Raila/-/1064/1877450/-/9dkfqq/-/index.html

http://www.jambonewspot.com/forces-behind-raila-airport-vip-lounges-woes-revealed/

You can tell a lot about someone by the way they act/behave in victory and in defeat. The issue for me is the on-going arrogance and hubris of those around Mr. Kenyatta and by extension, Mr. Kenyatta himself. In the piece titled “Getting His Groove?” I wrote that “…the president and his deputy should worry more about the advice offered by those around them than about what Raila and Kalonza will do next. Kenya’s history is littered with presidential aides and others with access to the corridors of power who acted selfishly by lining their pockets and fattening their bank accounts while claiming to act on “behalf of Bwana Mkubwa” or “The Big Man.” It is the actions of these selfish individuals that tend to erect a bubble/filter around the president thereby alienating him from the plight of everyday citizens.” I can now insert actual names of presidential aides and those around the presidency who act selfishly. I also still hold the preceding sentiment re: being wary of those around the presidency to be the case though I will now add that Mr. Kenyatta is not helping himself by keeping quiet when those in his employment – Messers Kimemia, Karanja Kibicho, Mutea Iringo, Mutuma Mugambi and Stephen Gichuki – come across as incompetent, vindictive and petty buffons.

The president’s silence on the disrespect shown Mr. Odinga at JKIA not once, but twice speaks volumes and can be filed under the heading those who refuse to speak out against an injustice are as guilty as those perpetrating the injustice – so goes the saying. Mr. Kenyatta’s silence is tacit approval of the actions of the “over-enthusiastic” civil servants. In failing to come out unequivocally against the disrespect shown Mr. Odinga by the airport employees, based on interpretation of a letter from the Secretary of Cabinet and copied to the deputy president and a host of other senior members of the Kenyatta administration, I can see the germination of the very “kitchen cabinet” that formed the sycophancy that was the hallmark of Mr. Kenyatta’s father’s presidency and that of his mentor Mr. Arap Moi.

Not a good sign.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Democracy, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Politics, Tribalism

Our turn to get MPaid!

Kenya’s Members of Parliament (MPs), having rejected the Kshs. 532,000 monthly salary PLUS allowances offered them by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, are now locked in a battle of will and attrition with the erstwhile “tool of the wazungu”, the country’s civil societies in a confrontation that is both entertaining and instructive. The visual of pink pigs and piglets gorging blood in front of the supposedly august and hallowed grounds of the country’s parliament is side-splitting. It also symbolizes the greed that is par for Kenya’s political leaders. The live tragi-comedy played out in front of Kenya’s parliament that was organized by Kenya’s Civil Society Organisations also resulted in the filing of a lawsuit by the Leader of Majority Hon. Aden Duale, a devout Muslim whose religion forbids its adherent from associating with anything remotely connected to pigs; creatures considered unholy. President Uhuru Kenyatta, to his credit, has already come out against the protestation by the MPs for a salary increase that would see their pay jump from the current kshs. 532,000/month to 850,000/= – a 60% increase! By contrast, the average Kenyan voter takes home approximately Kshs.6,600/month; a figure based on an annual per capita income of $976 – Wikipedia. It must be particularly irking for said “average Kenyan voter” whose euphoria after the Supreme Court ruled the presidential election in favor of the “majority” Jubilee Coalition is slowly turning into a nightmare to wit; it is going to be a very interesting five years for Mr. Kenyatta, his deputy Mr. Ruto and their jubilant supporters!

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000083679&story_title=mp-to-sue-for-being-likened-to-a-pig-during-protest

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000083610&story_title=drama-as-civil-society-protest-mps-greed

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/-/1064/1852332/-/bky1wx/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Uhuru-dashes-hopes-for-higher-MPs-salaries/-/1064/1750434/-/mx3s3v/-/index.html

Equally edifying is the hand-wringing, self-flagellation, and Schadenfreude, all in equal parts, taking place in the blogosphere. Bloggers are either livid, resigned or gloating at the “greed” and sense of entitlement on display by those they elected to represent their interests.

Below are comments from cyberspace that capture the essence of the country’s moods:

slycat – May 15 2013 11:00 AM: kenyans ! kenyans! . we never seize to amaze.we voted them in right?.. bend over and take it….the mpigs got this horse by the neck. This is what we get for voting in the greedy. apparently we are not tired of the same old stories..wacha wakule kabisa… eat mpigs. kula kabisa. kula yote..and guess what ?next general election, we will vote them in.

George Manyali – May 15 2013 5:06 AM: What MPs are asking is what is basically enshrined in our tradition and practice. Voters are truly the proponents of this culture. It’s time to break the norms.

Jose Muga – May 15 2013 1:52 AM: Hehehe let us laugh! We are now united finally there is no TNA or CORD. Kenyans are just about timing!

omusoreriOmusawa – May 14 2013 11:31 AM: Kenyans these are the fruits of voting for a party and not individuals…ignorance has brought us here: the reward of greedy MPs.

From afar, I have to say that I am experiencing feelings, albeit reluctant ones, akin to those expressed by omusoreriOmusawa and slycat: Moments of “pleasure derived from the misfortune” of those who are now faced with having to live with the consequences of their choice or vote followed by tinges of sadness about the dysfunction of the country’s politics not to mention the voracity of its political leaders! Former US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Mr. John Carson was indeed erudite when he offered his now (in)famous clarion call that “elections have consequences!” I would argue that the majority of Kenyans voted these people into office fully aware of the history of the country’s politics and that of its politicians. In a piece titled “Kenya’s Rorschach Test” – https://thetwoninetyonetracker.com/2013/03/15/kenyas-rorschach-test/ – written in late March/early April of this year; I opined that the 50%+1 Kenyans who voted the Uhuru/Ruto ticket into office during the just-concluded elections clearly evidenced their take on Kenya’s culture of impunity and entitlement. With the current hullaballoo over the salaries of their chosen representatives in full effect and the vanquished “cordants” opting to “move on”, I can now announce that the chickens of the aptly-named “jubilants” have started coming home to roost!

I am not sure which candidate/party the two bloggers – Langat and Arufeni – quoted below voted for but their comments are particularly enlightening:

Langat – 15 May 2013 10:56AM: Actually the pigs ni sisi. Tuliwachagua knowing full well what types we were electing – like-minded. The dysfunction is pretending to be outraged yet secretly we admire them & wish/know if we were in their shoes we would do exactly the same thing or worse. The buck stops with us.

Arufeni – 14 May 2013 11:44AM: US legislators earn 4 times the national average. UK legislators earn twice the national average. Both countries have schools that look like schools, not the crumbling hovels many of us voted in. They also have significant social safety nets for the poor. Kenyan legislators earn 45 times the national average. A first time MP whose name I unfortunately forget is on record saying that what people are failing to consider is that the pay is subject to 30% tax – this is in response to today’s protest. We all know the state of service provision.

To further expound on Arufeni’s analysis, I used gross domestic product (GDP) and per capita figures obtained from the (Wikipedia) links provided below and came up with the following:

  • American legislatures – Congresspersons and Senators – earn a base salary that is approximately 3.5x the per capita income of the American electorate who elected them into office i.e. $174,000/$49,922.
  • Kenyan MPs currently earn Kshs. 535,000 or $79,259/year; 81x the per capita income of their supporters. They are seeking the equivalent of $125,926/year – Kshs. 850,000/month x 12/81 ($1 = kshs. 81) or 129x the per capita income of the “jubilants” who elected the majority into office – $125,926/$976! The hapless “cordants” who voted for the opposition have no choice but to “move on” to the pigsty! Ah the tyranny of the majority…not to mention that of Mr. Ngunyi’s numbers!
  • Mr. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House and the 3rd person in line to succeed Son of K’Ogelo and his VP Joe Biden as the “leader of the free world”, receives $223,500/year. The respective GOP and Democratic Party leaders – majority and minority – of the US Congress earn $193,400/year.
  • America, a country with a GDP of $15,685trillion ($15,685,000,000,000) or three hundred and eighty-one times (381x) that of Kenya’s $41,117billion pays its rank-and-file members of Congress $174,000/year.
  • Kenyan MPs, legislating over an economy that is a fraction of the American economy (.00262 – $41,117b/$15,685t) want to be paid 72% ($125,926/$174,000) of what their (American) counterparts are earning!

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

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

http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/congresspay.htm

Maybe those dreaded foreigners/wazungu are on to something and are not nearly as bad as they are made out to be! Humor aside, the fore-going comparison between the salaries of Kenyan and American legislatures, while simplistic and a near-apples-to-oranges exercise, is very instructive. The basic analysis provides a useful perspective for Kenyans and their leaders on the subject of remunerations for public servants and the services they supposedly render (to the public). The analysis also provides a window into the raison d’etre for Kenya’s “public servants”.

In my book Wuodha: My Journey from Kenya to these United States published by Friesen Press, I argue that most Kenyan politicians get into public office, not for altruistic reasons, but because it is a proven way to self-enrichment; and not in the abstract or spiritual sense, but monetarily! Perusal of a listing of Kenya’s rich demonstrates the strong co-relation between financial wealth and political power. And far from being a “hater” or jealous of the rich, I applaud those who have been able to “build it” or make money. On the other hand, there is nothing impressive about attaining said wealth illegally or because of who you are and/or who you know! I further argue a point now being proven by the on-going saga in front of Kenya’s parliament and the MPs clamor for more money: That most Kenyans with money/wealth worth writing about most likely used public service as a conduit for acquiring and amassing said wealth.  

I would have to say that Kenyans have finally met their enemy – and it is them! They formed a winning coalition with the votes/numbers to elect those tyrannical MPigs into office. Oh the duplicity, the treachery and capricious tyranny of numbers! It is indeed about time for these MPs to “move on” to other professions unless they believe that “wako pamoja na” a numerically-superior number of protestors who heaven forbid, support their quest for more money i.e. their greed. I hope not! On the other hand, I never thought I would live to see the day when the president and vice-president of the country of my birth faced charges at The Hague for crimes against humanity.

The way I see it is that unless the average mwanainchi or citizen holds her/himself to the highest ethical standards, it is very difficult, indeed highly hypocritical for them to expect their elected leaders to exemplify those high (ethical) standards!

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Disparity - Income Distribution, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Life, Members of Parliament, MPs, Politics

My Brother’s Keeper – POK on Otonglo

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000082744&story_title=president-uhuru-pledges-to-educate-otonglo-narrator

http://www.africareview.com/News/Kenya-star-drama-student-wins-presidential-sponsorship/-/979180/1766872/-/7fqoyp/-/index.html

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000082845&story_title=why-student-s-otonglo-times-may-be-over

The symbolism of this story has the potential to be a game-changer in the fractured and mercurial relationship/dynamics between two of Kenya’s more storied tribes – Kikuyu and Luo. By reaching out to the young 2nd Former at Highway Secondary School and offering Mr. Daniel Owira “full education sponsorship up to the university level,” the president is holding true to the adage that “to him that much is given, much is expected.” Luke 12:48.

Beyond just offering to pay for Daniel’s education, Mr. Kenyatta “also assured Daniel’s mother, Ms Rose Owiyo, that he would revive her business” and “support Daniel’s elder sister Susan, who works as a volunteer assisting girls in the slums.”

The cynic in me is tempted to and can indeed make a compelling argument that the politician in Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta is doing this as a photo-op and for publicity given his poor showing AND standing with Daniel’s tribe – the Luo. I can also argue that for Mr. Kenyatta, a man with a net worth of several billion shillings, paying tuition and living expenses for the lad to attend a school classified by Wikipedia as “a provincial day school” i.e. a 2nd/3rd tiered institution of higher learning, while supporting the young man’s family (mom and sis) in the slums of Nairobi, is akin to an ordinary Kenyan giving a couple of shillings to one of the many beggars/street urchins running around in downtown Nairobi! Finally, I can make the claim that this deed is a “one of;” a “one time” random act of kindness that while worthy, does little to solve the problems/issues young Daniel’s tableau illuminated – the frustrations of job-seekers who travel from their rural homes to Nairobi after completing their studies not to mention the stark disparity between Kenya’s haves and have-nots or its historically imbalanced regional development.

The above-mentioned notwithstanding, Mr. Kenyatta’s action towards young Mr. Awira and his family is perspicacious on several fronts. The optimist in me sees Mr. Kenyatta’s offer from the following perspectives:

1. A magnanimous act; to deserving and needy humans. A self-proclaimed Christian who littered his campaign with so much religion and religious symbolism that I thought the Republican Party had indeed opened itself to Blacks; Mr. Kenyatta is doing for the least of his brothers and sisters thereby serving the Lord and embodying the teachings of Matthew 25:40.
2. A savvy and adroit political move. A Kikuyu reaching out to a Luo, a Kenyan of one tribe reaching out to a Kenyan of a DIFFERENT tribe can only beget good things given the specifics of this story! The innocuous and nondescript relationships between Kenya’s 40+ tribes is just that – random, everyday and commonplace. On the other hand, given the animus between said tribes; animus that (a) was on full display during the PEV of 2007; indeed has been demonstrated repeatedly over the years, (b) was vividly evidenced by the voting patterns in 2013, and (c) is embodied in the tribal chauvinism that is mirrored in cyberspace – the anonymous underbelly of any society, maybe, just maybe this move by Mr. Kenyatta is the tipping point in efforts to assuage said animus.
3. A timely move given what, in my opinion, is the single most important obstacle facing Mr. Kenyatta and his running mate Mr. Ruto – the charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague. As jingoistic and hubristic as the president’s “Jubilant” supporters may want to be since their candidate’s victory, the specter of facing Ms. Bensouda at the ICC continues to cast a gloomy pall over their celebration since fulfilling the prophecy of the felled Mugumo Tree. The president’s continued efforts towards reconciliation between the tribes thereby the addressing a key element at the heart of the PEV in 2007 – tribal animus – should be looked at kindly by the world’s court (and its principal benefactors America and Great Britain).
4. An act whose symbolism, especially as evidenced by the apparent bonhomie between Mr. Kenyatta and young Daniel during the tour of State House, tells young Mr. Owira that the presidency and the State House are not as unattainable nor as sacred as someone from the slums of Nairobi may think; actually as some of the pompous bloviating sycophants around Mr. Kenyatta make it to be! (Think the impact of Barack Obama’s presidency to black boys).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo0I3jiQ8Ew&feature=player_embedded (1.00-1.11)
5. A “feel-good” story that brings together, in a worthwhile union, the two extremes of the country’s various demographics: The rich and the poor, Kikuyu and Luo, privileged and under-privileged, youth and wazee etc.

Like I mentioned in a previous posting titled Getting His Groove? President Kenyatta Fils finally appears to be standing on terra firma as the president of the entire country – in words and in deeds. I will argue that POK (President of Kenya) has made some moves that continue to earn him goodwill with the very voting bloc he needs beyond the usual (regional) suspects. It is goodwill that will go a long way in making Mr. Kenyatta’s presidential mandate more national in appeal. Whether it is walking hand-in-hand with his erstwhile opponent and nemesis Raila Odinga, towards the gravesite of the former Secretary-General of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Mr. Okuta Osiany , at the event held in Nyando, the very heart of Kenyatta’s opposition or telling Daniel that he is now one his “sons” and reminding him, like any father would to, to make sure that he gives him (Mr. Kenyatta) his report at the “end of every term,” the president is definitely endearing himself to this Kenyan.

Well Done Mr. President! Well Done!!

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Filed under Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Life, Politics, Tribalism, Tribe