Category Archives: Tribe

The Hague imefika!

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.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Elections, Failed State, Governance, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, The Hague, Tribalism, Tribe

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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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

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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To Serve and To Protect ALL Kenyans

Some of the comments in response to the article titled “Police siege on Kisumu and Kibera fuelling ethnic hate” written by Otieno Otieno in the April 20 issue of the Daily Nation reflect an ethnic chauvinism that is reminiscent of the racial animus and stereotyping common amongst conservative white Americans towards African-Americans and Latinos here in the US. Comments by bloggers such as Magu Wa Maitha, Mtadao, Frankyzilla, Njanemuiruri, Pikipiki, Zeki Timona and Oldframe that characterize fellow Kenyans as “stone-throwers” or as “having “genes…that invite rioting” or display “the phenomenon of overreacting emotional characteristic..” are similar to the stereotypes that describe others as “thieves” or “dumb”. It is the same bigotry that contends that Blacks are “lazy” and “like water melons and fried chicken”: The same stereotyping that characterizes whites as “serial killers” who like any one of the one hundred and fifty “stuff” listed in Christian Lander’s book Stuff White People Like! To put it bluntly, stereotyping is ugly and idiotic. The behavior should have no place in any discourse – public or private – and those promoting such views should be called out by those of us who want a society where people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin nor the tribe from which they hail.

The bloggers making the argument that the heavy-handed approach to law enforcement by the police, General Service Unit (GSU) and other presidential security personnel is to be expected during “preparation for a presidential visit” or in response to the unlawful behavior of a small section of the population are part of the “law and order” crowd in the mold of William Bratton, Bernard Kerik, Benjamin Hinga, John Michuki, Darryl Gates, Patrick Shaw etc. The strong-arm approach to law enforcement by these law enforcement professionals may have garnered them short-term positive results in New York, Nairobi, or Los Angeles. The same tactics however alienated the very communities they were supposed to be ridding of the crime and illicit activities; the very communities whose inhabitants ended up bearing the brunt of said tactics. I abhor violence and do not condone the culture of “No Snitching” i.e. the unspoken rule amongst some communities to avoid giving law enforcement any information that may help them during investigation of a crime. On the other hand, I can see how police brutality, not to mention fear of retaliation by the perpetrators would foster such counter-productive behavior. It is my opinion that the onus is on those with the power, in this case the police, to break the cycle of brutality and abuse of power so that those they are sworn to serve and protect see them not as enemies, but as friends. The evidence in favor of community policing – systematic use of partnerships and policing techniques that proactively involve the community in addressing conditions that create crime/public safety issues – is overwhelmingly favorable.

I have been within a couple of feet of the “rope line” as former President Clinton “pressed the flesh” in Washington DC i.e. shook hands with the public just before boarding Marine One then Airforce One on his way to Morocco for the July 1999 funeral of King Hassan. In fact, my partner at the time, being from DC, was blasé about the presence of POTUS and inadvertently crossed the security line thereby “contaminating” the previously “sterile” security zone. The ever-present and alert Secret Service personnel hardly flinched or panicked when my friend entered the “sterile zone.” The agent closest to us lifted his left wrist to his mouth and said something into a microphone hidden under his sleeve. He continued to monitor the crowd paying extra attention on me, my partner and her five-year old nephew. I told my friend that she had crossed the security line just as the agent firmly but politely told her to “get back behind the rope ma’am” while simultaneously instructing all within earshot alternately to “keep both hands in front of you and visible please” and “let me see both your hands please.” The agent was calm, professional and efficient. He was also courteous. Needless to say, we all complied, quickly putting our hands in full view of the agent as instructed. I was also impressed with the cool and efficient manner in which the agent handled the breach. Granted not all security breaches go down as I observed on that day but the point is the manner in which this particular episode was handled by the Secret Service (law enforcement personnel) and the indelible and positive impression their professionalism left on me.

The history of acrimony between African-Americans and Latinos on one side and the predominantly white police/law enforcement establishment here in the US on the other side did not happen in a vacuum. The anti-police/anti-authority mind-set that Black American and Latino male have towards the “men in blue’ was caused by the well-documented history of racist behavior and racism within those institutions. Google “Rodney King,” Darryl Gates” and “LAPD” and see what pops up. These same institutions have also made great strides in improving relationships with the communities they serve, not by sweeping their sordid past under the rug, but by opening themselves up to criticism, objective and otherwise from those who were victimized by their brutality and resultant cover-ups. I would also argue that the animus that some communities in Kenya have towards law enforcement and the institutions therein did not happen in a vacuum. Kenya Police, GSU, CID/Special Branch, Nyayo House are law enforcement institutions in Kenya that have a long, sordid and terrifying history of botched and disproportionate responses to peaceful or boisterous and tense gatherings, shoddy and non-investigations of corruption, torture and assassinations not to mention the rampant acceptance of “kitu kidogo” or bribes that one would have to be wilfully naïve and ignorant to disregard said history in any analysis of law enforcement in Kenya.

And before I get mail accusing me of peddling racist, tribal or anti-police views, let me state categorically that the point of this piece is not whether or not Kenya’s law enforcement can do its work by investigating and arresting law-breakers or “stone-throwers” as Luos are derisively called by some commenters. The main point of this piece is to highlight the manner in which the police/authorities have discharged said responsibilities over the years and the consistency with which enforcement has been exacted from one group to the next. Evidence, while sketchy and not as well-documented as it is stateside points to a Kenyan law enforcement establishment that over the years, has been over-bearing, punitive, selective in enforcing the law, corrupt, and a “matundu-ya-uhuru” to be doled out to cronies and tribesmen/women of those in power. The resulting politicization of these institutions is evidenced in the afore-mentioned shoddy investigations of corruption, torture and assassinations not to mention the rampant acceptance of “kitu kidogo” or bribes and a recent addition – extra-judicial killings.

Until ALL Kenyans feel that law enforcement and those who oversee those institutions are impartial arbiters of law and order determined to serve and protect them without discrimination, the anti-police sentiment that is all too common among some communities in Kenya will continue unabated.

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Getting His Groove?

I know it is a bit premature, but it looks like President Uhuru Kenyatta is finding his groove as president of a perilously divided Kenya. The meeting held at the State House on April 13, 2013 between the president, his deputy William Ruto and CORD leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka gave this Kenyan a reason to be optimistic about the tone of leadership and types of leaders the country of his birth elected into office. The picture on the front page of the Daily Nation dated April 13, 2013 of the four men sharing a hearty laugh is, to use a cliché, priceless! That picture is one of intense political rivals who appear able to put aside their deep oftentimes acrimonious political rivalry for the greater good (of a country divided). Indeed this is one picture that is worth more than a thousand words. Hopefully the increasingly rabid supporters of the two sides can take their cue from said picture and cool down the tension, especially online.

Add to the State House meeting between the two top candidates of the just-concluded presidential contest and their deputies the fact that on Friday, April 19, the two men – Uhuru and Raila – both attended the burial of the late Secretary-General of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) David Okuta Osiany in Nyando, near Kisumu. Reports of the two principals walking hand-in-hand towards the grave of the late leader of the teachers’ union is a powerful image that will go a long way in endearing Mr. Kenyatta towards a Luo community that overwhelmingly voted for Raila Odinga. The visuals of the president and his erstwhile challenger reportedly walking hand-in-hand towards the grave of Mr. Osiany is one that should be played and re-played over and over again until it is seared in the collective minds of all Kenyans, especially the two communities represented by the president and his “older brother.”

I will argue that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s overtures towards Mr. Okuta, and by extension the Luo community from which the dearly-departed hailed, has been the polar opposite of his father’s behavior towards said community. Kenyatta Pere’s conduct towards his chief political rival Oginga Odinga, indeed towards the Luo community during his presidency, came across as condescending, disrespectful and full of disdain. One can make a compelling argument that his government’s policies towards the region (Nyanza) were consistent with the fore-going characterization. Additionally, the July 1969 murder of Tom Mboya, supposedly on the orders of the “Big Man” (rumored to be Jomo Kenyatta or someone very close to him) started the alienation of the Luo community from the country’s leaders. Add to the anguish and fury over Mboya’s death, the war of words that erupted between Kenyatta Pere and Odinga Pere during the opening of the New Nyanza General Hospital in Kisumu in October 1969. The acerbic verbal exchange between the two doyens of Kenya’s post-independence politics and the ensuing violent and disproportionate response by Kenyatta’s security towards the predominantly Luo crowd in that charged atmosphere that resulted in the death of hundreds (of Luos) only firmed alienation of the community from a government they all believed was unfair and responsible for the death of one of their own (Tom Mboya)!

Granted the president and his deputy were inaugurated less than two weeks ago on April 9, 2013 for a two hundred and sixty week-term in office i.e. 5yrs x 52weeks/year. Additionally, Mr. Kenyatta is yet to name his cabinet which he claims will “reflect the true face of Kenya.” Finally, it is important to note that the parliament and the public has yet to begin the vetting process on the selected members of Kenyatta’s cabinet; a process that can be very messy and has been described stateside as “making sausage.” The latter – making sausage – is an expression that alludes to the ugliness of the sausage-making process that includes blending animal parts that most people do not normally eat by themselves with spices and other additives to produce sausage, a product most people gladly devour without hesitation! It will be interesting to see how Mr. Kenyatta deals with the process previously seen by his predecessors including his father Jomo Kenyatta and those around them as their opportunity to “eat matundu ya uhuru.” In a clear illustration of the adage “elections have consequences,” the deal-making and backroom power-sharing agreements between the winners collectively have the potential to further widen the gulf between the various communities represented by Uhuru’s Jubilee Coalition and Raila’s CORD.

It is my hope that Mr. Kenyatta’s actions since the Supreme Court ruled in his favor are beyond symbolic and definitely not photo-ops – photo opportunities i.e. carefully planned and recorded events often masked as news(worthy) and intended to present those in the photograph, in this case Mr. Kenyatta, in a positive light. I hope Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto make decisions that support the positive start and statements they have made and have been making early in their administration. I will take it a step further and opine that the president and his deputy should worry more about the advise 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.

Uhuru can put an end to this cycle by ensuring that his administration does not join the pantheon of corrupt and tribalistic administrations of yesteryears nor reflect the tyranny of the majority as embodied by the jingoism and hubris reflected in the comments made in cyberspace by his supporters.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Kenya, Politics, Tribalism, Tribe, Uncategorized

Becoming THE Solution

This weekend I spoke with someone I had not spoken with for over twenty years. We met when I lived in Southern California in the 80s and had been Facebook friends since 2010 but had yet to talk. Juliana (not her real name) is also from Kenya. Her mother is from Nyeri and her father is from Kiambu – someone definitely crossed the Chania River! We caught up on what has happened in our lives since we last talked almost two decades ago. She waxed maternally about her two beautiful children – Julianna (with two “Ns” instead of one – there is a big difference I was told – forcefully) and Julian (Juliana sans the “A” at the end). I listened and concurred with her description of her offsprings knowing that I expected her to do the same when I started babbling about my equally beautiful son. As presciently as I had imagined, Juliana and I both agreed that fortunately, Malo, my adorable ten-year old had inherited his mom’s looks! I shamelessly plugged my upcoming book Wuodha: My journey from Kenya to these United States. I also told her about my blog, thetwoninetyonetracker.com once again with little shame! It was at this point that our conversation took a sharp turn and focused on the just-concluded presidential elections and the postings on my blog.

Juliana and I blamed everyone and everything for the dysfunctional nature of present-day Kenyan politics. She decried the gloating of “her” people from Central Province (over the election results), “their domination” of Kenya’s socio-political and economic life since independence and their perceived sense of entitlement. I lamented over the “herd” and “victim” mentality of “my” people from Nyanza; wondering about the wisdom of their near-permanent status as the mainstay of Kenya’s political “opposition”. We both blamed the politicians from Kenyatta Pere to Kenyatta Fils, Odinga Pere and Odinga Fils, not to mention the sycophants around them, for the country’s halting socio-political and economic development since independence; economic development whose trajectory, especially in the late 70s, was on par with that of the Four Tigers – South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong – or so I argued in my senior thesis in 1989 in a paper well-recieved by my advisor Professor Chalmers Johnson, a noted political economist and expert on Asia. We did not forget the role M1, as Daniel Moi was called back in the days, played in exacerbating the tribalism, corruption and human rights abuses set in motion by Kenyatta Pere. We mused over the third crossing of the Chania River by one Emilio Mwai Kibaki. A development I described as Kenya’s Camelot Era that started with so much promise only to fizzle in an orgy of post-election violence in 2007: His “re-election” birthed the post-election violence that forever tarnished Kenya’s image as an “oasis of peace” surrounded by the Idi Amins and Siad Barres of this world; the same PEV that Messer’s Kenyatta and Ruto are answering for at The Hague. Our pride was unmistakable as we marveled at how the half-Kenyan Luo Barack Obama rose to become the first black (and bi-racial) president in America no less – a country whose past is similarly marred with deadly violence between its citizens – blacks and whites. We then laughed uncontrollably as we wondered how he would fare were he to vie for Kenya’s presidency. All told, it was a heartwarming conversation. It felt great to reconnect with a long-lost and dear friend.

The one thing Juliana and I started to discuss albeit not as vociferously as we did when assigning blame for what ails Kenya was OUR role in contributing to the dysfunction. The two of us spent more time casting aspersions at all save us for Kenya’s problems.

I have to admit that I have offered more criticism than solutions to the problems facing the country of my birth; an admission and realization that brought me to the quote below from a YouTube clip titled “Bull’s Eye: Life after the elections.”

wallace Gathungu 2 days ago

It is my prayer UK/Ruto reach out to Luo Nyanza no matter how many times they may be rebuffed. UNITE KENYA.

I did not support Uhuru Kenyatta’s candidacy because I believe that he is the poster child for all that has been at the heart of Kenya’s socio-political problems: Corruption, nepotism, entitlement, privilege, patronage, impunity etc. and because he is facing charges at the International Criminal Court for crimes against fellow Kenyans. Maybe it is just my quirkiness or maybe I have been away from Kenya for too long but there is something morally wrong when a presidential candidate and his deputy are both facing charges as heinous as the charges facing Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto.

Having said that, I recognize and respect the fact that Mr. Kenyatta was duly elected by the majority of Kenyans, Supreme Court-confirmed and finally inaugurated as President of Kenya. I will give him the honeymoon period he deserves even as I continue my critique of his presidency. However, I also want the criminal proceedings at The Hague to continue to their conclusion, if for no other reason than to provide some semblance of justice for the thousands of Kenyans brutally murdered and hundreds of thousands more displaced from their homes because of actions allegedly fomented by Mr. Kenyatta and his VP.

Though I am not familiar with the series “Bull’s Eye,” I think of it as political satire addressing current events in Kenya. It is, I believe, the equivalent of two shows that air stateside on the TV channel Comedy Central featuring Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert. The comedic respite of the YouTube clip aside, the comment from Mr. Gathungu was timely and extremely instructive. I would, however, replace the words “Luo Nyanza” with “their opponents” thus the comment would read: It is my prayer that UK/Ruto reaches out to their opponents no matter how many times they may rebuff their efforts (to unite Kenya).

It is my sincere hope that President Uhuru Kenyatta takes Mr. Gathungu’s advice to heart. It is also my hope that as Kenyans, we take Mr. Gathungu’s words to heart and become the change we want in Kenya to wit: Anyone interested in adopting an IDP?

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Democracy, Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Life, Politics, Tribalism, Tribe