Tag Archives: Paul Ndungu

Poetic Justice: Coming Home To Roost During His Son’s Regime: Jomo Kenyatta’s “Policies” of Land-grabbing.

Juxtaposed alongside the lengthy piece on Jomo Kenyatta’s formative years by Daily Nation’s Murithi Mutiga titled “Jomo Kenyatta’s troubled years in London that drove him to greatness” is a piece in the Standard titled “Trail of Blood, Big Money in Land Scandals in Kenya”. Taken together, these two articles underscore the negative impact the “policies” of Kenya’s founding father has had on the country’s long-term stability much like Jim Crowism has had on matters of race here in America. I put the term policies in parenthesis because one can argue that Mzee Jomo Kenyatta DID NOT have any policies for the accounting and the allocation of land after Kenya’s independence. In fact once they assumed power, Mr. Kenyatta and those around him ruled Kenya much like the “dreaded” Brits did. That opiate of the masses religion/Christianity, supposedly used by the missionaries to usurp land from Africans, was effectively replaced first by nationalism then by tribalism as Kenyans imbibed the euphoria of independence and of being in power respectively.

As much as Kenyans have sought to canonize Kenyatta Pere (and now Kenyatta Son), the inconvenient truth is that the country’s founding father bequeathed them a society of “ten billionaires and forty million beggars” as presciently opined by the late JM Kariuki. For Kenyans who have a notoriously short and selective memory, let me remind them that Josiah Mwangi Kariuki famously uttered the revised quote regarding Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya shortly before he was assassinated in 1975. I will leave it up to those interested to research and conclude on whose order the MP for Nyandarua was murdered. Similarly poignant are the comments of one KimPP who wrote in reaction to the picture accompanying Mr. Mutiga’s piece that “jumping higher than Jomo” celebrating his (Jomo’s) release was Tom Mboya whose life came to a tragic and violent end much like JM’s. Not surprising, implicated in the assassination was the “big man” whose release from detention Mboya was celebrating!

There is no escaping the fact that the (land) policies of Jomo’s Kenya are coming home to roost in Kenya@50. The idea of blaming “the British policy of divide and rule…for what is ailing Kenya today and all its former colonies” as put forth by one Arsenal2014 is curious at best if not ridiculous and outright hypocritical. Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta himself has seemingly taken to blaming the west for what ails Kenya and Africa. Fully illustrating the hypocrisy of Kenya and her leaders is a piece titled “Home guards’ ghosts still haunting Kenya” where Mr. Maina Kiai argues that the president’s rhetoric may be anti-west but his Peponi schools are as British as they come, run by British educators and providing a British education; his public relations advisers are British, whispering propaganda against those wishing for a different Kenya; his business advisers are British; his lead lawyers at The Hague are British; and his K24 station has been funded by the British, among others.

Kenya will not have an honest discussion with the resultant real/permanent solutions to this most explosive of issues – land ownership – until it faces up to and ACTS on the reality that its leaders, including the revered Jomo Kenyatta and his son are up to their eyeballs in the corruption and greed that pervades the issue. The hypocrisy of Mr. Kenyatta’s handling of land-induced violence is underscored by the fact that the same president now warning “leaders to do their homework well before making reckless statements and naming people, linking them to (the Karen land) scandal” was the same person who accused unnamed “local political networks” and opposition politicians of being “reckless and hatemongers engaged in ‘ethnic-profiling’ of one community” during the violence in Mpeketoni and Lamu back in June 2014; violence also related to land. I am still waiting for Mr. Kenyatta to retract the rather impetuous and incorrect allegations he made back in June now that an investigation has revealed that the efforts of one of the individuals he accused of dereliction of duty were in fact stifled by his bosses and the individual relieved of duty during an on-going and active investigation.

To paraphrase a comment made by one Chiriku in response to Mr. Mutiga’s piece, Kenyans seem willing to revise the country’s history; in the process praising and absolving those implicated in the (historic) plunder of national resources. Instead, WaKenya Halisi take to blaming the colonialists who have been gone for over 50 years.

Daily Nation columnist Ms. Rasna Warah offers that Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta would have made a good president had he not relied on a coterie of advisers who are more interested in amassing personal wealth even if it means taking the country back to the days of the all-powerful presidency when the rule of law was considered a mere inconvenience. It does not bode well for Mr. Kenyatta’s fight against corruption at the highest level of his government when he chooses to transfer individuals adversely mentioned in scandals rather than suspending them pending the outcome of investigations.

One would grudgingly accept the angling for presidential plausible deniability offered by Ms. Warah’s article were it not for the high stakes involved: The columnist writes that the 2007 election showed that when historical grievances are not addressed and when issues of marginalization, equity and justice are left on the back-burner, aggrieved communities can rise up against the state and against each other. All it takes is manipulative and self-serving politicians (which Kenya@50 has by the boatload) to ignite the flame.

The chickens of land-grabbing are indeed coming home to roost and charged with confronting them less than half-way through his term in office is the son of the man who created the problem.

Poetic justice?

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Dadi Ameleta Peremende: Daddy has brought sweets!

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.”

https://thetwoninetyonetracker.com/2013/04/26/kusema-na-kutenda/

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.

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000092360&story_title=uhuru-issues-titles-as-jubilee-bets-on-land-to-woo-coast

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.

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000092362&story_title=celebration-as-president-issues-land-papers

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.”

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/RPDLPROGRAM/Resources/459596-1161903702549/S2_Ndungu.pdf

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.

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Filed under Corruption, Failed State, Governance, IDPs, Justice, Kenya, Land, Land Ownership, Land-grabbing