Tag Archives: Wealth Disparity

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for Shs.700 million “for the purchase of building to house an office for retired President Mwai Kibaki…” is only be superseded by Mr.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!



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!


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.


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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Opening Pandora’s Box

Former Minister for Lands and Settlement and current Senator for Laikipia Mr. Godfrey ‘GG’ Kariuki has fired an opening salvo on the one issue that will define the legacy of President Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Jomo Kenyatta, the very person who, in my opinion, created the issue in the first place: the Pandora’s Box that is land ownership in Kenya.

Mr. Kariuki articulated, at the highest level ever by an influential and living Kenyan politician, a sentiment that has been echoed by millions of ordinary Kenyans across ALL tribes and regions since independence but until recently were deathly afraid to discuss publicly.

Said GG; “(T)here’s no reason why (President) Uhuru should not change this country forever. He has the power; he doesn’t need any other power. He has the wealth; he doesn’t need any other wealth.”

The context of the fore-going comment by Sen. Kariuki was Kenya’s history of land grabbing and suspicious accumulation of wealth by its presidents, politicians and the sycophants around them. The senator pointedly blamed the country’s history of corruption and impunity for the fore-going; an opinion broached by Charles Hornsby in the book KENYA: A history since independence, when he writes about “the monarchical nature of ‘King’ Kenyatta’s ‘divine’ rule…” (Pge. 107) once the country gained its independence from the British. Mr. Hornsby also argues that it was during this time that Jomo Kenyatta started to amass his personal fortune (Pge. 108) that was then inherited by his family. In short, the evidence is compelling that the current president is the beneficiary of ill-gotten gains courtesy of his father and is therefore uniquely positioned to address said subject.


Godfrey Gitahi Kariuki, who according to the website http://www.kenyahistory.co.ke/personalities.php?pg=personalities&id=76 was “at one time arguably the third most powerful man during the first four years of President Daniel arap Moi’s rule” is spot on with his assertion regarding President Uhuru Kenyatta’s unique position in resolving Kenya’s enduring issue of land ownership. Mr. Kenyatta can and should confront the sins of his father Jomo and those of his mentors Daniel Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki. Were he to do that, even symbolically, Uhuru would forever endear himself to most Kenyans who will at least give him partial credit for confronting the subject of land ownership and by default corruption; subjects that his predecessors have avoided like vampires avoid sunlight. Son of Jomo will not only cement his place in the country’s history, but rather than relying on the bi-tribal support that won him the 2013 elections, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta will garner support across a grateful and relieved country. Even more importantly, the self-proclaimed Christian and man of God would have done the “right thing” in the eyes of ALL.

Mr. Kariuki, as already mentioned, ministered the docket that oversaw all matters related to the subject at hand – land – at a time in his long political career when government ministers unabashedly lined their pockets with corrupt deals and outright theft! I doubt whether Mr. Kariuki, his proclamations to the current president notwithstanding, is an exception. He has therefore exposed himself to scrutiny and criticism by potentially “living in glass house AND throwing stones” so medoubts that his challenge to Mr. Kenyatta is a publicity stunt nor would I mind being wrong if it were one! The country needs to address the issue of land, plain and simple.  

I will never understand how Jomo Kenyatta could have amassed and “bequeathed” his family land the size of Nyanza Province http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&v=wUgnetCkEbw&NR=1 while millions of Kenyans struggled to eke out a living within a stone’s throw of the splendor that is “Mzee’s” home in Gatundu! And the silly mantra of “willing buyer/willing seller” regurgitated by his son as recently as early this year during the presidential debates http://allafrica.com/stories/201302260131.html has been rubbished by several independent historians and historical analyses, the latest being the just-released Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report that “accused all post-independence governments of having failed to honestly and adequately address land-related injustices that started with colonialism”.

By accusing the colonialists (missionaries) of trading their Bibles for Kenya’s land and turning around and doing the same thing to the good people of the Rift Valley and Coastal region, Jomo Kenyatta may have amassed enough wealth to make his third wife Ngina Muhoho and their children the wealthiest family in the land.  Unfortunately the very greed that amassed said wealth set the country on the ruinous path that exploded into the post-election violence of 2007 elections and in a bit of poetic justice, landed his son at The Hague for violence against Kenyans!

I am, and continue to be a strong proponent of letting the International Criminal Court process play out to its conclusion. In a previous article titled The Loyal Opposition and The Fruit I offered that Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy may yet beat back the charges they face at The Hague. I will offer that the one way the suspect can assuage those calling for Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Ms. Fatou Bensouda to figuratively off his head (and that of his deputy Mr. William Ruto) is by tackling head-on, the root cause of the tribal animus, ergo post-election violence of 2007, that got the “digital duo” in trouble in the first place – land ownership.

The septuagenarian senator from Laikipia has given President Uhuru Kenyatta an opening on an explosive issue that the “young” president should grab with both hands and turn to his advantage; much like he turned the ICC issue to his advantage during the elections of 2013. Mr. Kenyatta should not minimize or offer platitudinous responses to the issue of land ownership and by extension, the plight of internally-displaced people (IDPs) as he has done in the past via claims that his family’s land was acquired in transactions between “willing buyers/willing sellers” or the sophomoric Econ 101 lecture that “land is a factor of production.” Being an astute politician and I would imagine student of the country’s history, I doubt whether Mr. Kenyatta actually believes that li(n)e! Additionally, he should not do what his mother Mama Ngina did when offered the opportunity to act sympathetic and magnanimous to the plight of IDCs – internally-displaced children – in front of cameras. The former first lady literally fled when the subject was brought up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcKY-t0CkZo by a reporter even as an aide offered the rather curious “hiyo politics ita fanye akose kurudi tena” (that politically-loaded question will prevent her from returning). Mama Ngina, as the former first lady was called, who had led massive prayer rallies for her son and Mr. Ruto after the ICC confirmed charges against the two, reacted in a cold, callous and un-Christian way towards the interminable suffering of God’s children. Ms. Muhoho missed an opportunity to do for the least of God’s children, something she asked Him to do for her son and Mr. Ruto and in so doing, she failed to turn the millstone hanging around her family’s neck into a humanizing and positive moment.

Her son and current president should not do the same.

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Sovereignty, Nationalism and Foreign Aid

So in the past 2-3 weeks, Kenyans have observed President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, toting the country’s well-travelled tin cup, meet with the dreaded “foreigners” America, represented by Microsoft and Japan to ask for assistance implementing the “free laptop” campaign promise and for modernizing the port of Mombasa respectively. The two principals are seeking help from the very entities (west/foreigners) they repeatedly railed against during the run-up to the 2012 elections for “trying to finish them off”. America and Japan represent the very “wazungu” Jubilee supporters rabidly and stridently accused of usurping Kenya’s “sovereignty” and “finishing off their sons” via confirmation of charges against them at The Hague; an institution that was accused by the revered and objective leadership of the African Union of, shudder the thought, being “racist”!

And while Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto were unabashedly soliciting aid from the west, their latest paramour and much-loved benefactor-of-the-month China is busy buying scrap metal from chronically unemployed and under-employed Kenyans, some who obtain said scrap metal by destroying their country’s own roads and bridges; infrastructure constructed by the same China using labor from; you guessed it: China! And as if the foregoing incestuous behavior and madness is not enough, Kenyans proceed to buy the sub-standard and disposable Haojin motorcycles, probably built using the (scrap?) metal they initially sold to China, at prices probably much higher than the sale price of said scrap metal in transactions between willing sellers and willing buyers!




While I am happy that Microsoft (USA) and Japan are both willing to assist the very “independent” and “proud” Kenya/Kenyans, that the very people – Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto – who were vilifying and casting aspersions at the hands they are now asking to feed them speaks to the unbelievable hypocrisy of the two men and should give Kenyans and the international community (ICC) pause about their honesty and integrity, especially with regards to the real and active fear of witness-tampering and intimidation.

Beyond pointing out the hypocrisy of President Kenyatta and his deputy, I would be remiss not to question how the two deals with Microsoft and Japan line up against the very real threats posed by foreign aid as depicted in the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins and World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability by Amy Chu; the former critiqued by Ms. Rasna Warah in her op-ed piece titled How American governments and corporations colonised oil-rich states.

Demonizing the west while accepting their aid sets the stage for the well-documented history of duplicitous relationships between donor- and recipient-nations not to mention the insidious and potentially corrosive progression of relationships predicated on double-speak. And for those who are tempted to argue that Microsoft is a private company that would not do the (American) government’s “dirty” work, I would point them to the on-going outrage over reports that Verizon Communications, an American company that provides communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies and ostensibly a private company, complied with a court order granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to give the National Security Agency (NSA) details on all telephone calls, both domestic and international.

China, a country with an economy second in size only to that of the USA but with a history of long-term planning and a long-range outlook on relationships appears to be reeling Kenya and Kenyans into its lair at an alarming rate with implications that, while not completely known, have some indicators that should prompt our “digital duo” to proceed with caution.



The one difference between the whipping boy de jour and much-maligned west on the one side and China and to a lesser extent Russia on the other is the fact that the former have open/civic societies with mechanisms such as open and free media that would not hesitate to bring attention to any misdeeds and malfeasance by their government and corporations – think Wikileaks and the Pentagon Papers – and for the record, it was a British newspaper, The Guardian, that broke the story about National Security Agency (NSA) data-mining phone numbers from Verizon! Conversely, the latter two – China and Russia – are countries with histories of keeping civic societies on very short and tight leashes. The Russians and Chinese would not hesitate to arrest those with prying eyes/lenses nor are they shy about detaining anyone perceived as “causing trouble” or “threatening national security”; something past Kenyan governments perfected!

Unlike the past when the likes of former president Arap Moi could manipulate the west and organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to release financial aid by making token reforms only to resort back to status ante of repression and corruption, the era of multi-party governance in Africa and easy access to the Internet has put in place mechanisms that mitigate abuse of aid. On the other hand and as evidenced by the periodic disruption of Internet services by the authorities, several high-profile failures of infrastructure and introduction of sub-standard and/or tainted product into the market, it is not unreasonable to argue that China has yet to demonstrate the level of tolerance to criticism, vigilance nor institution of effective mechanisms that check and balance its leaders. Finally, given Kenya’s past history of impunity and corruption, one can only speculate on how effective the two sides – Kenya and China – will manage the relationship between two countries with demonstrably intolerant leadership and centralized planning.

As previously mentioned, there is a long and ghastly history of imbalanced and extractive relationships between Kenya (Africa) and the west; that of extracting resources from Africa/Kenya only to return the raw and inexpensive material back to their country of origin in shiny packaged and expensive form! Sadly, the jubilant Kenyan consumers seem willing to pay the piper from the east AND from the west and move on now that “their” sons are in power!

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Choices DO have consequences: Corruption, Impunity and Hubris!

I have just finished reading the article titled Tanzania port project a big threat to Kenya’s economy in the June 2 issue of Daily Nation and concluded that the article is further evidence that Kenya’s future will continue to suffer due to the triple threat of corruption, impunity and hubris; threats that go hand in hand in a circular flow where one feeds the other and creates momentum, while periodically stalled, has continued unabated since the Brits “left” the country in 1963.


The story of Kenya’s culture of “kitu kidogo” is legendary and well documented most recently in the book Wuodha: My journey from Kenya to these United States and in the just-released Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Report. The latter a comprehensive and detailed accounting of the country’s sordid past, perpetrated mainly by and/or at the behest of the country’s presidents – Kenyatta Pere, Arap Moi and to a lesser extent, Mwai Kibaki.

Speaking from personal experience, corruption at the port of Mombasa when one is trying to release shipment of goods from overseas not only deprives the government of the much-needed revenue, it frustrates well-meaning, industrious and entrepreneurial individuals including non-Kenyans who are not only bringing in the material and revenue, but may also want to start businesses that may in turn create jobs the country so desperately needs. While trying to clear an automobile I had imported from Japan back in 1998, I dealt with some of the rudest, most incompetent and corrupt individuals I have ever met at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) office in Mombasa and from all accounts, the problems persist to this day! I paid kshs. 5000, (~$72 at the prevailing exchange rate) to three different employees at the KPA, all who refused to process my shipment and clearance documentation because, and I quote: My shipping documentation was missing some very important pages. Customer service representatives at the Japanese company I bought the car from were insistent that they had sent all the paperwork related to shipment of the vehicle and given my experience with Japanese quality control, I did not doubt their claim. Finally after three days of epic frustration and wasted vacation time trying to track down the “missing pages”, I hired a “clearing agent” who laughed as he explained to me that the “missing pages” were the shilling notes the port employees were used to finding surreptitiously slipped between the paperwork they were paid to review and process! As if being fleeced by the good folks at the KPA was not enough, the “agent”, a friend from high school friend, disappeared after I had paid him his fees leaving me to navigate the meandering maze that was the clearing process at KPA! I finally cleared the car through customs exactly two weeks and almost 0.4million shillings later!

The notion that Kenya has done well despite lacking the natural resources abundant in the neighboring countries is a feeble attempt at the tried and true we may be corrupt but we are not as corrupt as Nigeria nor as dysfunctional as Somalia feel-good meme most Kenyans resort to every time someone has pointed out the country’s endemic corruption and dysfunctional government/polity. In a sobering reality-check, the article by Murithi Mutiga compares Kenya to Singapore, a country that like Kenya does not have much arable land and almost no minerals but with a standard of living that is light years ahead courtesy of leadership that has been ruthlessly intolerant of corruption! Additionally, one just has to look at the impact of the corruption caused by the coffee boom of the late 70s and by the elephant poaching that peaked at the same time to get a glimpse of what would happen if a country already reeling from wanton corruption had more natural resources! Countless human lives were disrupted and lost to the ensuing violence and greed as Kenyans, led by their leaders partook in the orgy of “magendo” or coffee smuggling. Similarly, the elephant population of the country was almost wiped out by poaching that reportedly benefitted the current president’s mother! The scale and scope of corruption in Kenya continues to be possible because the country’s past three presidents – Kenyatta Pere, Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki – have actively engaged in and condoned the behavior. Friends and families of the 3 presidents have then followed their lead or as characterized during the presidency of Daniel Arap Moi, “fuatad nyayo” without shame or fear of prosecution. Finally, the public sensing the opportunity and not wanting to be left behind in the relentless pursuit of “mbesha” also engorged at the trough and the culture of “something small” or “kitu kidogo”.

The country’s history of single-party rule, centralized decision-making and strong almost imperial presidencies has exacerbated the intensity of corruption. The idea of co-equal branches of government – executive, legislative and judiciary – was just that – an idea that has not really existed. Kenya’s presidents ruled with near-dictatorial power and total control of ALL instruments of power. Kenyatta Pere, Moi and Kibaki had their sycophants and/or relatives head the various institutions/branches of government designed to check the power of the executive. They also controlled the country’s law enforcement and security apparatus; a concept that is not unusual if the organizations are used to protect and serve the citizenry. To the contrary, Kenya’s security and law enforcement apparatus have been used to strike fear in the hearts of and murder its citizenry even as the level of insecurity and violence in the country has risen unabated.

The Greek concept of hubris, a seemingly abstract and esoteric has been on full display since Kenya obtained its independence in 1963. Kenya’s ruling class, their families and friends, not to mention their well-heeled supporters have comported themselves with pride and arrogance that is astonishing. The arrogance and flippancy is embodied in the recent and popular expression “Move On”. The expression has been used by supporters of the victorious Jubilee Coalition to urge, more like gloat at those in the opposition, mainly CORD and its supporters to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court of Kenya that awarded the 2013 presidential elections to Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto and “move on” with their lives. From the assassination of those who fell out of favor with the powers that be – Pio Gama Pinto, Tom Mboya, JM Kariuki, Robert Ouko – to the brutal death of the hundreds and thousands felled by violence such as the Wagalla Massacre, the post-election violence of 2007 and the recent clashes in the Tana Delta reportedly fomented by those seeking to maintain their hold on power. From the massive poaching of Kenya’s elephants and pillaging of its other resources as evidenced by the Goldenberg and Anglo-leasing scandals, the country has “moved on” or lurched from one scandal to the next and one tragedy to the next in a paroxysmal waste of its energy and resources while imbuing the perpetrators of said events with hubris and impunity unrivaled since the days of Meidias, a wealthy and well-connected Athenian, in 348BC. The orator and statesman Demosthenes, in an assault case against Meidias, argued that a democracy’s (Athens) viability and that of the institutions therein is imperiled when the wealthy and well-connected undermine the rule of law, by assaulting others (bodily and property) without suffering the consequences. Kenya’s past is littered with examples of the wealthy and well-connected absolutely undermining the rule of law by plundering public resources and murdering opponents without being held accountable by democratic institutions designed to do that.

Kenya is now faced with challenges that it seems unable to deal with, the New Constitution and euphoria of the peaceful elections notwithstanding. One of the very basic challenges facing it is the insecurity that is rocking various parts of the country. Members of the public are now emulating their leaders and taking the law into their hands while circumventing due process. Frustrated citizens now mete out swift “justice” on suspected criminals. As recent as May 31, 2013, three suspected gangsters linked to a wave of insecurity and violence in Kiminini, Trans Nzoia were accosted by the public as they were being transported to the police station and set ablaze. One witness was quoted as saying that “they decided to lynch the three because they had lost faith in the judicial system.” These incidents are being repeated with alarming regularity throughout the country.


Similarly, beyond the quest for security is the quest for an end to impunity as evidenced by the actions of the villagers of Timboni village who “set ablaze four posh houses worth millions of shillings, claiming they were owned by drug barons.” According to newspaper reports, “the more than 1,500 angry residents gathered at a local mosque for afternoon prayers before descending on the four houses.” A spokesman “vowed that the residents would burn more buildings they believed were built with proceeds from the sale of drugs and lynch the owners because they “were frustrated by an unjust system in which corruption had led to the drug lords buying their freedom from police cells and local courts whenever they are arrested.”


The contention that the fore-going incidents are anomalies and not reflective of the country is belied by the portmanteau “Nairobbery”; a combination of the words “Nairobi” and “robbery” and macabre ode to the “city in the sun’s” never-ending incidents of carjackings, armed robberies and violent assaults. The name “Nairobbery” is now a fixture in the Urban Dictionary and a term used by the respectable magazine Economist!


One can imagine the country shaking its collective head and similarly having a hearty collective laugh at the rich irony depicted by the picture of the chairman of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Mr. Bethuel Kiplagat handing the commission’s final report to Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta. To begin with, the commission recommended that Mr. Kiplagat be investigated for complicity in the Wagalla Massacre of 1984, the murder of Robert Ouko and the comparatively pedestrian charge of land-grabbing! Mr. Kiplagat was handing the report to President Uhuru Kenyatta whose father Jomo was singled out, also by the commission, for engaging in massive land-grabbing schemes, crimes against humanity including the torture and murder of political opponents Pio Gama Pinto and Tom Mboya while simultaneously sending Kenya on its spiral towards the abyss of tribalism and tribal politics; a tactic he learned from the very “foreigners” he was castigating in the run-up to the country’s independence in 1963! And in the very essence of the maxims the fruit does not fall far from the tree and the one about those who refuse to learn from history, the recipient of the report, Kenyatta Son is now facing his own charges of crimes against humanity having been accused of fomenting the post-election violence of 2007 by none other than the very “foreigners” who taught his father to “divide-and-conquer” Kenya along tribal lines!

Unfortunately for Kenyatta Son but equally fortunate for the victims of those previously exempted from punishment for criminal acts, the impunity Kenyatta Pere enjoyed in the 60s and 70s went the way of the dodo as the internet beamed pictures of the violence and carnage wrought by tribal violence in 2007. Those ghastly images reminded an international community still remorseful because of its inaction in Rwanda of its collective responsibility to protect the weak and powerless within. Mr. Uhuru and his deputy are having to answer charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague, the embodiment of the very foreign institutions his father railed against!


Given the fore-going, is it any wonder that Kenya’s landlocked regional neighbors – Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan and S. Sudan – are actively seeking to re-direct their shipments to Dar-es-Salaam, Bagamoyo and Djibouti away from the corrupt and inefficient KPA-run port of Mombasa? With a Transparency International 2012 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) rating of 35 (100 being Zero Corruption) and a global ranking of 102 (out of 176 countries surveyed), Tanzania, Kenya’s “socialist” neighbor to the south is ahead of Mozambique, the other sea-faring country along the eastern coast of Africa with a CPI rating of 31 and ranking of 123 as an alternate gateway to the afore-mentioned landlocked countries. Similarly, Djibouti with a CPI of 36 and a global ranking of 94 is siphoning off business from Ethiopia, Sudan and S. Sudan respectively.

Yes indeed, choices DO have consequences!

For the record, Somalia’s CPI ranking was 174, Eriteria was 150 and Kenya was ranked 139 – the bottom three countries in the eastern part of the continent. Somalia is the poster-child and definition of a failed state. Eriteria gained its independence twenty years ago in 1993. Kenya celebrated its 50th Anniversary of self-rule also known as Madaraka Day on June 1, 2013 – two days before this piece was published!


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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!





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!




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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People In Glass Houses…

I have just finished reading Ms. Rasna Warah’s piece titled How American governments and corporations colonised oil-rich stateshttp://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/How-American-governments-colonised-oil-rich-states/-/440808/1850318/-/eo9yfxz/-/index.html – and could not resist creating an anagram as follows:

I replaced the words “American governments and corporations” from Ms. Warah’s article with the words “Kenya’s leaders and politically-connected elites”. I then replaced her term “oil-rich states” with my term “country’s wealth and resources” to formulate the title of my piece: How Kenya’s leaders and politically-connected elites colonized the country’s wealth and resources.

The similarities between how America and Kenya co-opted, bullied and in some cases eliminated opposition in their unrelenting quest for economic resources is uncanny and very eerie! The former (America) executed its “economic hits” in faraway locales; mostly 2nd and 3rd world countries against the Arabs, Latin Americans, Indonesians and Africans. The latter (Kenya) executed its ruthless plunder within its borders, primarily against Kenyans!  Exposing the looting and accumulation of Kenya’s resources by its politically-connected elites should be the unyielding focus of Ms. Warah and her peers (journalists and opinion-makers). That Kenyan taxpayers are just about to shell out over kshs. 4billion to one Kamlesh Pattni of the Goldenberg scandal fame is confirmation that the country and its leaders are yet to effectively deal with the tri-problems of corruption, political patronage and impunity.

The good book, also known as The Holy Bible writes, and I paraphrase: “Let s/he without sin cast the first stone.” A different version of the fore-going verse states: “Why look at the sliver in your brother’s eyes when there is a log in yours?” As a country, we have lulled ourselves into complacency and the belief that “we may be corrupt, but we are not as corrupt as Nigeria!” Kenyans have bought into the analysis that their country is “an oasis of peace and tranquility in the midst of failed states and dictatorial regimes.” I would argue that Ms. Warah’s article, continuing the fore-going meme, is a red herring: A disingenuous diversion from the evils perpetrated by Kenyan leaders against the very people they are sworn to serve and protect. In my opinion, the focus should be on how Kenya’s leaders and its populace have failed to put “their house in order” by learning from (a) their history and (b) the trajectory of other countries, including America, before casting aspersions (on others)! If the intent of Ms. Warah’s piece is to caution Kenya and her leaders against embarking on the path charted by America and her leaders in their never-ending search for resources, then it is not as clearly stated as I believe it should have been; coming at the very end of the piece albeit shrouded in cautions, not against the corruption and impunity of Kenyan leaders, but against the “imperial ambitions” of the “powerful Chinese government.”

Let me insert a line that has become a standard repartee in my postings given some of the responses I have received: I am neither an apologist for, nor do I blindly sing the praises of the “great satan” America. I am not a “runaway Kenyan” as someone recently called me! My history of calling out America’s sordid past and her hypocrisy is well-documented not only in previous postings, but in my self-published memoir Wuodha: My journey from Kenya to these United Stateshttp://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore – self-published because I can already see comments alluding to my works as being “funded by wazungu” as has befallen the likes of Maina Kiai, Prof. Makau, J. Githongo and others who have chosen not to “move on!” As for being a “runaway Kenyan,” I don’t even know what means and efforts to get clarification from the purveyor of that characterization are yet to bear any results – the originator having gone silent – inexplicably – after beginning the exchange with gusto!

I have a copy of Mr. Perkins’s book and I do agree with Ms. Warah: It is indeed a riveting read and does capture the insidious nature and treachery of the US government. A great accompanying read for Mr. Perkins’ book would be Ms. Amy Chua’s World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. I also have a copy of Michela Wrong’s It Is Our Turn To Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-blower co-written with former head of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) Mr. John Githongo. Additionally, I have copies of the following must-read books documenting the insidiousness and treachery of Kenya’s leaders: The Risk Of Knowledge: Investigation into the death of Robert Ouko by William Cohen and E.S. Atieno Odhiambo, Kenya: Between Hope and Despair, 1963-2011 by Daniel Branch and Kenya: A History since Independence by Charles Hornsby  Finally, let me also direct those interested in preventing Kenya’s leaders from emulating the American leaders whose policies are described in Mr. Perkin’s book to the Kroll Report on Corruption in Kenya (http://wikileaks.org/wiki/KTM_report.pdf, the report by Waki Commission (http://humansecuritygateway.com/documents/WAKI_Kenya_Post-ElectionViolenceReport.pdf) and finally, the Akiwumi Report (http://www.hrw.org/news/2002/10/31/kenya-report-politicians-fueled-ethnic-violence)

The very evil Ms. Warah (and Mr. Perkin) accuse American leaders of perpetrating in pursuit of the country’s interests are the very evil perpetrated by Kenya’s leaders since independence, some would argue in pursuit of selfish/personal interests. I would also argue that the one difference between illegal activities by past American leaders and illegal activities by Kenyan leaders is that the latter conduct their nefarious acts with impunity that is near-total, in broad day light AND with the acquiescence of the very institutions designed to check and balance one another! Mr. Kamlesh Pattni, a friend of Kenya’s rich and powerful has just been cleared of any wrong-doing by the High Court even though the evidence that he master-minded the Goldenberg scheme that cost the country over kshs. 5billion and almost brought down its economy is overwhelming! And as mentioned above, in an act akin to rubbing pepper onto an open wound, said Mr. Pattni is set to pocket Sh4.2 billion if the ruling of Ghanaian judge Edward Torgbor on the matter of Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) vs. Kenya Duty Free (KDA) stands! Like they say stateside: The guy Pattni has huevos!


Using information from the books and reports referenced above, one can offer a point-by-point listing of actions by Kenya’s leaders that mirror the actions of American policy makers that are described in Mr. Perkins’ book. From the grabbing of land; an issue at the center of the post-election violence referenced in Mr. Waki’s report to the assassination of J.M. Kariuki and R. Ouko, allegedly because the two were privy to corruption at the highest level of the Kenyan government – ivory poaching and kickbacks related to revitalization of the molasses plant (in Kisumu) respectively – not to mention the practise of inflating, then skimming off monies from government contracts and World Bank/IMF loans, Kenya’s post-independent leaders have plundered the resources of the country since they took over from another plunderer – the British – with the same impunity that Ms. Warah accuses US policymakers of! Kenya’s leaders have lied to and manipulated international donor organizations who then gave them loans/financial aid, ostensibly for the country, that were then skimmed into personal accounts and the balance used to buy political support thereby prolonging their stay in power! The foregoing behavior of Kenya’s leadership compares point-for-point with that of the “evil” USA in their relationship with the leaders and countries of Latin/South America or Asia!

The same conclusion arrived at by Ms. Warah applies in either situation. To paraphrase Ms. Rasna Warah: American/Kenyan leaders not only got the contracts/loans for the projects, they also ensured that these proceeds from the (host) countries and lending institutions were used to serve their selfish economic and political interests.

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My Brother’s Keeper – POK on Otonglo




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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