Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mboya sends Obama to school

(Mboya welcomes Bob Kennedy to Nairobi, Mboya and Kennedy)

Why does nation newspaper in particular have such a problem with Mboya’s role in Kenyas independence?

Look at the following story in Nation 1 April 2008. In it there is no mention of Mboya. Look at the original story in the Washington post of 30 March 2008 and come to your own conclusion. Nation do not even mention 'Washington Post' but simply 'Washington'

If it were not for the efforts of Mboya Obama may not have been a presidential candidate today.

(Nation Story)

Obama admits Kennedy tale over airlift not exactly true Publication Date: 2008/04/01

Addressing civil rights activists in Selma, Alabama, a year ago, Senator Barack Obama traced his “very existence” to the generosity of the Kennedy family, which he said paid for his Kenyan father to travel to America on a student scholarship and thus meet his Kansan mother.
The Camelot connection has become part of the mythology surrounding Mr Obama’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
After Caroline Kennedy endorsed his candidacy in January, Newsweek commentator Jonathan Alter reported that she had been struck by the extraordinary way in which “history replays itself” and by how “two generations of two families — separated by distance, culture and wealth — can intersect in strange and wonderful ways.”
But the key details of the story are either untrue or grossly oversimplified.
Contrary to Mr Obama’s claims in speeches in January at American University and in Selma last year, the Kennedys did not provide the funding for a September 1959 airlift of 81 Kenyan students to the US that included Mr Obama’s father.
According to historical records and interviews with participants, the Kennedys were first approached to support the programme nearly a year later, in July 1960.
The family responded with a $100,000 donation, most of which went to pay for a second airlift in September 1960.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton acknowledged on Saturday that the senator from Illinois had erred in crediting the Kennedy family with a role in his father’s arrival in the US.
Meanwhile, with the next big contest coming in Pennsylvania on April 22, Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate McCain took much of the day off.
In their absence, Mr Obama took the opportunity to attack McCain’s stance on the war in Iraq, a war he said had failed to make the United States safer while costing billions of dollars in part because of Bush’s tax cuts.
“When you ask John McCain how it has made us safer you get - err,” Mr Obama told a raucus crowd of 2,000 at Harrisburg town hall in Pennsylvania. “He will argue that the surge has been the right thing to do but ... the question is why did we go in there in the first place.”
Earlier, Obama campaigned at Pennsylvania State University. where some 22,000 people came

to listen to him speak at an open air rally in what aides said was one of the biggest events of the Democratic campaign.
College students have been some of Obama’s most active supporters and in Pennsylvania he must score big among them if he is to do well against Clinton.


(Now the FULL story)

Obama Overstates Kennedys' Role in Helping His Father

By Michael Dobbs
Sunday, March 30, 2008;

Addressing civil rights activists in Selma, Ala., a year ago, Sen. Barack Obama traced his "very existence" to the generosity of the Kennedy family, which he said paid for his Kenyan father to travel to America on a student scholarship and thus meet his Kansan mother.
The Camelot connection has become part of the mythology surrounding Obama's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. After Caroline Kennedy endorsed his candidacy in January, Newsweek commentator Jonathan Alter reported that she had been struck by the extraordinary way in which "history replays itself" and by how "two generations of two families -- separated by distance, culture and wealth -- can intersect in strange and wonderful ways."
It is a touching story -- but the key details are either untrue or grossly oversimplified.
Contrary to Obama's claims in speeches in January at American University and in Selma last year, the Kennedy family did not provide the funding for a September 1959 airlift of 81 Kenyan students to the United States that included Obama's father. According to historical records and interviews with participants, the Kennedys were first approached for support for the program nearly a year later, in July 1960. The family responded with a $100,000 donation, most of which went to pay for a second airlift in September 1960.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton acknowledged yesterday that the senator from Illinois had erred in crediting the Kennedy family with a role in his father's arrival in the United States. He said the Kennedy involvement in the Kenya student program apparently "started 48 years ago, not 49 years ago as Obama has mistakenly suggested in the past."
The real story of Barack Obama Sr.'s arrival in the United States and the subsequent Kennedy involvement in the airlifts of African students sheds light on the highly competitive presidential election of 1960 and Africa's struggle to free itself from colonialism, as well as the huge strides made by the Obama family, which has gone in two generations from herding goats in the hills of western Kenya to the doors of the White House.
In his speech commemorating the 42nd anniversary of the Selma civil rights march, Sen. Obama linked his father's arrival in the United States with the turmoil of the civil rights movement. Although the airlift occurred before John F. Kennedy became president, Obama said that "folks in the White House" around President Kennedy were looking for ways to counter charges of hypocrisy and "win hearts and minds all across the world" at a time when America was "battling communism."
"So the Kennedys decided 'we're going to do an airlift,' " Obama continued. " 'We're going to go to Africa and start bringing young Africans over to this country and give them scholarships to study so they can learn what a wonderful country America is.' This young man named Barack Obama got one of those tickets and came over to this country. He met this woman whose great-great-great-great-grandfather had owned slaves. . . . So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born."
A more accurate version of the story would begin not with the Kennedys but with a Kenyan nationalist leader named Tom Mboya, who traveled to the United States in 1959 and 1960 to persuade thousands of Americans to support his efforts to educate a new African elite. Mboya did not approach the Kennedys for financial support until Obama Sr. was already studying in Hawaii.
Mboya, a charismatic politician, was assassinated in 1969. His daughter Susan, now living in Ohio, said the mass airlifts of Kenyan students to the United States had a "huge" impact on the young African nation, which gained its independence from Britain in 1963. She cited a University of Nairobi study that showed that 70 percent of top Kenyan officials after independence, including Obama Sr., were products of the American program.
In the late 1950s, there was no university in Kenya, and educational opportunities for Africans were limited. The British colonial government opposed Mboya's efforts to send talented young Kenyans to the United States for an education, arguing that there was a perfectly good university, Makerere College, in neighboring Uganda. The U.S. State Department supported the British and turned down Mboya's requests for assistance.
During his 1959 trip to the United States, the 29-year-old Mboya raised enough money for scholarships for 81 young Kenyans, including Obama Sr., with the help of the African-American Students Foundation. Records show that almost 8,000 individuals contributed. Early supporters included baseball star Jackie Robinson, who gave $4,000, and actors Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier.

There was enormous excitement when the Britannia aircraft took off for New York with the future Kenyan elite on board. After a few weeks of orientation, the students were dispatched to universities across the United States to study subjects that would help them govern Kenya after the departure of the British. Obama Sr. was interested in economics and was sent to Hawaii, where he met, and later married, a Kansas native named Ann Dunham. Barack Jr. was born in August 1961.
Among the other students on the first airlift was Philip Ochieng, who went on to become a prominent Kenyan journalist. In a 2004 article for the Nation, Kenya's leading newspaper, Ochieng remembered Obama Sr. as "charming, generous and extraordinarily clever," but also "imperious, cruel and given to boasting about his brain and his wealth." Obama Jr. paints a similar portrait in his best-selling 1995 autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," describing his father as exceptionally gifted but also "wild," "boastful" and "stubborn."
After the success of the first student airlift, Mboya decided to expand the program in 1960 and to include students from neighboring African countries. This time, he raised $250,000 for 256 students. Universities and colleges promised scholarships worth $1,600,000, but Mboya still needed money for the airlift itself. His American friends suggested that he approach Sen. John F. Kennedy, who had just launched his presidential campaign. In addition to chairing a Senate subcommittee on Africa, Kennedy controlled the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, named after his older brother who was killed in World War II.
The two men met at the Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port, Mass., on July 26, 1960. Kennedy later said that the family was initially "reluctant" to support the program because of other commitments but eventually agreed to provide $100,000 because it was impossible to raise the funds elsewhere.
Stephen Plotkin, an archivist at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, said a search of the records did not turn up any evidence that the Kennedy family supported the 1959 airlift.
Vice President Richard M. Nixon, determined not to be outdone by his Democratic rival for the White House, persuaded the State Department to drop its long-standing refusal to fund the program. The head of the Nixon campaign "truth squad," Sen. Hugh Scott, accused Kennedy of attempting to "outbid the U.S. government" in a "misuse of tax-exempt foundation money for blatant political purposes." Kennedy responded by accusing the Nixon campaign of "the most unfair, distorted and malignant attack that I have heard in 14 years in politics."
The former executive director of the African-American Students Foundation, Cora Weiss, said some of the money provided by the Kennedys was used to pay off old debts and subsidize student stipends. Even though Obama Sr. arrived the previous year, he and other members of the 1959 cohort benefited indirectly from Kennedy family support.
According to a letter on file in the Mboya papers at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, "most" of Obama Sr.'s early expenses in the United States were covered by an international literacy expert named Elizabeth Mooney Kirk, who had traveled widely in Kenya. Kirk wrote to Mboya in May 1962 to request additional funds to "sponsor Barack Obama for graduate study, preferably at Harvard." She said she would "like to do more" to assist the young man but had two stepchildren ready for college.
Susan Mboya credits the student airlifts with helping to make Kenya "an island of stability in a region rocked by turmoil" until very recently. "We were fortunate in having a lot of highly educated people who were able to come back and take over the government after the British left," she said. Products of the airlift project included Africa's first female Nobel Peace Prize winner, the environmentalist Wangari Maathai.
Obama's Selma speech offers a very confused chronology of both the Kenya student program and the civil rights movement. Relating the story of how his parents met, Obama said: "There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Junior was born. So don't tell me I don't have a claim on Selma, Alabama."
After bloggers pointed out that the Selma bridge protest occurred four years after Obama's birth, a spokesman explained that the senator was referring to the civil rights movement in general, rather than any one event.
Obama Sr. never quite lived up to his enormous potential. He achieved his dream of studying at Harvard after graduating from the University of Hawaii. He divorced Dunham in 1963 and married another woman.
He returned to Kenya and became a close aide to Mboya, a fellow Luo tribesman, at the Ministry of Economic Development. According to his old "drinking buddy" Ochieng, he antagonized other officials with his "boasting," was "excessively fond of Scotch" and ended up in poverty "without a job." He got into frequent car accidents, one of which led to the amputation of both his legs. He was killed in another car accident, in 1982, at the age of 46.

Special correspondent Michael Zielenziger in Stanford, Calif., contributed to this report.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Confronting the enemny that is 'Tribalism' (Phillip Ochieng, Nation Newspaper Feb 10 2008)

(The madness of 'tribalism')
For years, Kenyans have clamoured for laws better than the present ones. But, surely, there must be some good laws among the existing ones. What can be better than the one which states that a Kenyan can live in any part of Kenya?
It is a crime for a Taita to prevent a Teso from putting up a home in Taitaland, unless the Teso has acquired the land illegally. Yet that is precisely the law that we are now so busy breaking. Kenyans are chasing Kenyans with the civility of a cheetah pursuing a gazelle in the Maasai Mara.
WHAT CAN IT MEAN? SURELY, THIS – THAT THE “betterness” of a piece of law lies not in its wording but only in whether it is achieving its purpose. There are two ways in which it can do this. One is through the police – both to prevent flouting and to punish flouters.
But by far the cheaper and more effective one is to obviate the need for policing. Why waste resources -- which might be direly needed in vastly more important social areas -- on what Dostoyevsky called Crime and Punishment?
It is important to catch felons and bring them to book. Yet this can deal only with “manual crime.” But, as Jacob Bronowski remarks in The Ascent of Man, the hand is not an independent agent. The hand is merely “? the cutting edge of the mind?”
It is the mind that instigates the crimes that we commit, including the chauvinism which leads you to attack your neighbour on account of his ethnic affiliation. The upshot is that, in the war on crime, mental education is a hundred times more effective than a hundred manacles.
The chief failing of all our upbringing – including the classroom formality that we claim to be “education” – is that it does not attempt to remove from our minds any of the groundless assumptions, sentiments and thoughts that we hold against one another as ethnic communities.
THE CHIEF CULPRITS ARE OUR PARENTS, OUR teachers, our priests and – by the favouritism with which they hire and fire – our government officials. If these are members of our most “educated” elite, how can we expect our mass of peasants and proletarians to know any better?
That is why it is not surprising that, as we cut one another’s throats, most of us clamour merely for a greater police presence.
The police may have prevented much of what has happened. They may arrest us and the courts may sentence us to stiff punishment.
But they cannot arrest and detain or jail the parochialism that hag-rides us as races, tribes, genders and religions. It is not their duty. Appalling is the revelation, since December 27, that, since independence, Kenyans have not moved even a flea-hop in the direction of mental education, uplift and refinement.
Nothing is more embarrassing than to listen to PhDs from one community, seated at the counter of a pub, uttering the most fetid drivel about other tribes. They demand “revolutionary changes” in the body politic but only if these changes are manned by members of their tribe. At the counter – that’s why I call them counter-revolutionaries.
FOR IT IS THEY WHO OUGHT TO PLAY THE VANGUARD role in our seemingly insuperable task of creating a single national mind out of a conglomeration of disparate ethnic minds. Yet since December 27, I have not seen even a single suggestion from the academic community that tribalism is our national bane number one – leave alone how to tackle it.
If our professors are the ones who have created this straitjacket of thought during the 43 years in which we have been independent – probably uttering the bosh in front of their co-tribal students – how could we possibly have avoided December 27 and its aftermath? I ask you, my brothers and sisters: Is this what is called intellectual leadership?
The government says glibly that, economically, we have grown by six per cent. But I would be much prouder to hear that we have grown even by one per cent in our mentality, in our national awareness, in our sense of justice in governance, in our dedication to skill and experience alone when hiring cadres.
No, December 27 has not intensified our parochialism. It has merely removed the outer coating of our small-mindedness. It has merely laid us bare. It has merely made us the laughing stock among the comity of nations.
But, clearly, we cannot blame it on any absence of law or any shortage of policemen. We can blame it only on the refusal by our government and other institutions of moral upbringing to face tribalism full-throttle, to hound the behemoth by every weapon to us, till we slay it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Mboya Obama Kennedy link (Courtesy The Guardian)

(Obama on the campaign trail: the Kenyan flag)

(Mboya at Kenya Independence ceremony)

(Mboya and Kennedy)

The other Obama-Kennedy connection

How a Kenyan airlift that brought a young scholar named Obama to America in 1960 - where he met a wife and fathered a son - was saved by a young senator from Massachusetts.

Elana Schor in WashingtonThursday January 10, 2008Guardian Unlimited

A woman holds a Kenyan flag as Barack Obama greets supporters in Austin, Texas.

In his command of the US political stage over the past year, Barack Obama has inspired many a comparison to John F Kennedy. Both young senators brought a lofty message, an appealing young family and a movie-star aura to the presidential race. But the two men forged a less known link - before Obama was even born.
The bond began with Kenyan labour leader Tom Mboya, an advocate for African nationalism who helped his country gain independence in 1963. In the late 1950s, Mboya was seeking support for a scholarship program that would send Kenyan students to US colleges - similar to other exchanges the US backed in developing nations during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Mboya appealed to the state department. When that trail went cold, he turned to then-senator Kennedy.

Kennedy, who chaired the senate subcommittee on Africa, arranged a $100,000 grant through his family's foundation to help Mboya keep the program running.
"It was not a matter in which we sought to be involved," Kennedy said in an August 1960 senate speech. "Nevertheless, Mr Mboya came to see us and asked for help, when none of the other foundations could give it, when the federal government had turned it down quite precisely. We felt something ought to be done."

One of the first students airlifted to America was Barack Obama Sr, who married a white Kansas native named Ann Dunham during his US studies. Their son, born in 1961 and named for his father, has only once mentioned his Kennedy connection on the campaign trail.

"[T]he Kennedys decided: 'We're going to do an airlift,'" senator Obama said during a March speech in Selma, Alabama. "We're going to go to Africa and start bringing young Africans over to this country and give them scholarships to study so they can learn what a wonderful country America is. This young man named Barack Obama [Sr] got one of those tickets and came over to this country."

Many of the airlifted students worked their way up to elite universities in America before returning to help Kenya adjust to independence, and Obama Sr was no exception. He left the family to take a Harvard scholarship when the young Obama was only 2 years old, beginning the future presidential candidate's remarkable personal journey to Indonesia, New York and Chicago and Capitol Hill.

"Obama is hailed in Kenya as one of the great results of the airlift," said Cora Weiss, who led the US group that helped Mboya organise the airlift. At a recent reception for alumni of the program, she recalled, one Kenyan journalist made a rousing toast to the student exchange that produced "the next president of the United States". Thanks to a bizarre twist in the airlift saga, Kennedy ended up discussing his Obama connection much more openly than Obama mentions the late president's role in his life.

The bitterly fought presidential campaign of 1960 pitted Kennedy against Richard Nixon, then the vice president, who tried to steal his opponent's thunder by winning state department money for the airlift before the Kennedy family's grant could go through. A thoroughly modern political scuffle erupted over who would claim credit for supporting Obama's father and the other Kenyan students. Kennedy ultimately prevailed.

Joel Barkan, an Africa scholar at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said Kennedy's gift to Kenya helped forge a relationship with America that has remained strong for decades.

"There's no other African country where there is such admiration for the US ... There has always been a disproportionate number of Kenyan students in America to study. Their children come here, their grandchildren come here," Barkan said.
Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel peace prize, also studied in America thanks to the airlift.

Obama has made his own offering to Kenya in recent days, as a tide of violence unleashed by disputed election results threatens to topple one of Africa's most stable governments. In the midst of his grinding campaign schedule, the Illinois senator taped a radio message urging an end to the fighting and reached out personally to opposition leader Raila Odinga and Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki.

Strangely, the same weight of political dynasty that Obama is seeking to lift in America - putting a name other than Bush or Clinton in the White House - links the senator to both sides in the current Kenyan struggle.

Odinga stood beside Obama during stops on the latter's Kenyan homecoming in 2006, and the Kenyan presidential hopeful claimed on Tuesday to be a cousin of the US candidate. Odinga is also tied to airlift organiser Mboya, who was a political rival of his father during the 1960s.
All of the men belong to the Kenyan Luo tribe, which takes a particular pride in senator Obama's astounding rise in America. But the jubilation at the Obama victory in Iowa has been matched by anger at president Kibaki, a member of the Kikuyu tribe. The election was called for Kibaki on December 27 despite strong evidence on the ground of an Odinga win, prodding both sides to bloody clashes and riots that have killed as many as 1000 people, according to opposition estimates.

"Before the Kenya elections occurred ... there was a popular question circulating among Kenyan intellectuals: 'Which country will be first to have a Luo president, Kenya or the United States?'" wrote Dr Ali Mazrui, a Kenyan academic who directs the global studies program at Binghamton university in New York.

"The question was only half in jest," Mazrui added. "Raila Odinga supporters are now convinced Kenya would have been the first, but for the electoral fraud by Kibaki supporters."
Meanwhile, Kibaki has asserted his own tie to the White House race: he recalls working with the elder Obama in the Kenyan planning ministry in the 1970s, after the senator's father returned home following the airlift.

While a spokesman for the Obama campaign declined to comment further on Kennedy's role in the airlift, the senator discussed the instability in Kenya with reporters in New Hampshire on primary day.

"[I]t's important to me, obviously, because my father was from there, and I still have family that lives there," Obama said, according to the pool transcript. "I think it's important to the United States as well, though. Kenya is, has been a stable democratic government in a region that, uh, you know could end up being a base for, you know, terrorist activity, for ethnic violence that results in refugees. It could be very destabilising if the violence there is not contained."
Weiss, the airlift organiser who now leads the Hague Appeal for Peace campaign, has begun researching how many members of the newly elected Kenyan parliament are alumni of the exchange program.

"Airlift students became the nation builders of the new Kenya and a handful of other countries in Africa," Weiss said, adding: "It was all because of Tom Mboya's vision. If it helped to produce the next president of the US, hooray."

Monday, February 4, 2008

'de-tribalize yourself'

(picture: the 1,000 foot drop to the floor of Suguta valley. Home to the Pokot)

Why is it that we do the ‘musical chairs’ whenever the issue of tribalism arises. Even after seeing its devastating effects in full colour for weeks through various media we still can’t seem to put our ‘finger’ on the button. I have read my brain full, scoured documents and articles from media and the web. Still, I puzzle over us. An article on Rwanda, please read it here:


about the ‘Mutual genocide’ in Rwanda in the 90’s is insightful. Released by the ‘The International Center of Peace And Conflicts Reconciliation Initiative for Africa (ICPCRIA), it seeks to explore the root cause of the Rwandan conflicts and its possible remedies.

I am reluctant to delve into this topic actually because while I see the complications and contradictions in trying to unravel the root cause of the chaos that has engulfed us I also see a very simple solution.

De-tribalize yourself. That’s all there is to it. That does not mean you will cease to be from an ethnic community or practice your customs. What I intend it to mean is that we (you and I) must divorce ourselves from focusing on the ethic divisions among us as Kenyans and instead see all that unites us and agree as individuals, communities, regions and indeed as a nation that we are much better off united than divided.

Ultimately, my argument can be better versed in the words of the Apostle Paul when he says, ‘for who makes you different from anyone else, what do you have that you did not receive, and if you did receive it why do you boast as though you did not’,

None of us determined (or pre-) who we would be? Nor what clan we would belong to, nor what ethnic group, nor even what race. So what are we all arguing about anyway?

How much better can a Luo be than a Kikuyu? Or worse, or a Kalenjin from a Maasai or a Kamba from a Kisii or a Luyha? How much richer or poorer and ultimately so what?

We are all individuals thrown together in this ‘State’ called Kenya. Maybe our beef is that we didn’t want to be together. Okay. So what do we do now? Split up? Into how many pieces? Will that improve our condition? Then we may get to fighting about which clan or family is better or richer and simply move the argument to a different plane and take up our arms from there.

Really what I’m trying to say is that the only losers are US. And what’s the point of that.

Back to the beginning……. From the time of Kenya’s independence we became two things almost at one. A state (Republic) that is a self governing entity, and a Nation, a tightly-knit group of people which share a common culture. So in effect we are now supposedly a ‘Nation-State’ which is a nation which has the same borders as a State.

Or something like that.

We can blame colonialism all we like, or blame our own ignorance as a young independent nation, or the deviousness and malice of our early leaders but somehow we ended up systematically and deliberately weakening the very institutions that could and should have educated us on what Nations are and how they function. The result of this is that as we went along we became more polarized as ethnic communities and as such much more susceptible to the machinations of the increasingly corrupt political elite.

Unfortunately for the Kikuyu community, they as a group have inherited that dubious tag of being the group that initiated this moral regression because the Government at the time was largely controlled by a Kikuyu elite.

Other communities watched as various other factors combined to endow the Kikuyu with a clear economic advantage. Because of the perception that this advantage was gained more by political manipulation of Kenya’s economic opportunities a disproportionate fixation with politics took hold.

As time went on, we, the nation, instead of gaining an identity, lost our values. Money and power became the tools of trade to be negotiated fought over and killed where need be.

After the 1960’s Kikuyu elite sidelined Jaramogi and killed Mboya they inadvertently set a dangerous precedent that is still haunting us today. The Luo may visibly have recovered from these setbacks but are collectively traumatized nonetheless. This same impunity allowed them (the elite) to even take the life of their own who threatened the status quo, JM Kariuki.

In Moi’s time the Kikuyu were pacified while the Kalenjin set about creating their own political elite through largely the same though somewhat more sophisticated methods. But when the going got tough they resorted to the same brutal methods, hence the murder of Dr Robert Ouko. Yet another casualty for the Luo psyche.

During this period the ruling Kalenjin elite perfected the art of pacifying (read carrot and stick approach) any discontented or belligerent groups through what they learnt from the previous elite. In particular the single, simplest ‘carrot’ was land or the allocation thereof.

This flaw in the constitution empowered the executive to do what in my opinion may have caused more destruction to the fabric of Kenyan society than anything else. The ‘Ndungu report’ testifies to the absolute chaos that irresponsible land allocation has caused.

Meanwhile it was not lost on other smaller ethic communities that the quickest way to improve their lot would be to combine ‘forces’ to improve their bargaining position with the Government of the day, hence the revival of ‘Gema’ and the formation of the ‘Kamatusa’ group.

In the early 80’s a loose group of Luo and Kikuyu ‘old’ guard, disenchanted with the Moi regime staged a coup that was poorly executed and put down with not much difficulty. This though brought a new angle to the institutionalized corruption as the Kalenjin then sought to consolidate their grip on power and in the process subverted most of the institutions of Government.

Mega corruption became the order of the day. Dissent was not tolerated. Kenyans collectively as both individuals and communities suffered indignity and humiliation perpetrated by the ‘State’. As this culture became entrenched state resources, economic opportunity and hard cash went to the highest bidder and or the politically expedient groups or individuals. This period also witnessed unprecedented inflation and the attendant increase in the ratio of disparity between rich and poor further entrenching the perception, somewhat justified, that executive power was the ticket to ethnic/community empowerment.

By the end of the eighties, waning popularity and disillusionment from the masses allowed for the re-introduction of multi party politics. Again this was headed by a Kikuyu, Luo alliance, yet carrying with it a large portion of all other ethnic groups in the country. Moi probably rigged the 1992 election and with the two largest voting blocks going their own way in 1997 Kenya was ensured of another five years of economic hemorrhage.

Come 2002 and Kenya was prepared for change. Again it took an alliance of communities to create a loose coalition that took the battle to Moi and Kanu. That same Kanu of old now facing a collection of its own prodigal brood. A fallout in Kanu and the spoils to the new alliance (party) NARC swept Moi out of power and with it, thought Kenyans, the old order.

Under an MOU (whatever that is) Kenyans ushered in a new order that spelt freedom and prosperity and a reversal of fortunes for the poor and needy. This was not to be. As they say, ‘old habits die hard’. The MOU (needless to say, the masses did not see it or know its contents) was trashed early enough partly because Kibaki was in poor health and his lieutenants took the cue to make up for lost opportunities in the traditional Kenyan way.

Circa 2007 and were back to where we started, Kikuyu (Gema) on one side and Luo, Kamatusa on the other, but a flawed election between them and bloodshed. Plenty of bloodshed and very little sense.

This is what we need to talk about. These are the cards that we need to put on the table. This is why we MUST have a properly constituted, credible and expansively mandated ‘Truth and Reconciliation process’ (a committee or commission) that will allow Kenyans of all walks of life to come out openly, without fear and voice their concerns, their anger and bitterness. Their frustration and pain, their sorrow and loss. This and this alone will pave the way to the regaining of our values and the creation of a Kenyan identity and ultimately the healing of the Kenyan psyche and the growth of a real not merely convenient, ‘Nation’.

There is much more in terms of injustices real or perceived that need to be brought out. Massacres, killings, economic sabotage, corruption, poverty, favoritism and all other manner of anti social vices that we as Kenyans have committed against each other.

Ultimately this process should lead to the strengthening and re establishment of institutions that will give Kenyans the means to deal with issues about our Nationhood so that we come together instead of tear apart.

How we will deal with the immediate devastation that has befallen us is harder. To ask those who have lost loved ones and been terrorized on account of their ethnicity to forgive is a tough call. Yet the perpetrators of the violence be it spontaneous or organized are already known to the victims and will eventually come to light. Their shallowness is evident in that they seem to think that they and their families (because they do have them) can exist in a perpetual state of anarchy and commit atrocities against fellow Kenyans (indeed any humans) without retribution.

A stop to the violence is a prerequisite for any meaningful dialogue to deliver a political solution to the crisis. Hopefully this will include a period of stability that will allow for any Constitutional changes that may be required and the enactment of legislation to explore the flawed elections and reconstitute the Electoral Commission of Kenya.

To me it’s a foregone conclusion. We must save our country because it’s the only one we have. We must also save it, because we can. Kenya is only viable as one ‘State’ and one ‘Nation’. Much as we need to re examine our history to discover ourselves it is clear that the significance of Kenya both economically and politically to the continent of Africa and its future behooves us to dig deep within ourselves and pull together. If we don’t owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our children.

Lucas mboya

Roots of a crisis

Kenya: roots of crisis
by Gérard Prunier

(picture of Mboya with Markham Singh)

To many people in the world - and even to many Kenyans themselves itself - the violence which followed the elections in Kenya on 27 December 2007 has come as a surprise. Unfortunately, it shouldn’t have. The combination of economic and ethno-political factors in Kenya had created an explosive mix which was just waiting for the right - or rather “wrong” - circumstances to explode. The 2002 elections had been a lucky near-miss; this time, the favourable configuration that operated then did not repeat itself.

Kenya’s “democratic” politics

To understand the Kenyan crisis in the context of its national, regional and global situation, it is necessary to examine the regime which followed independence in 1963. Britain’s withdrawal from the country had taken place amidst a considerable fear that the Mau Mau anti-colonial insurrection of 1952-1960 might impinge upon the politics of the new state and lead to further violence. Nothing of the sort happened - partly because of the elevation to the presidency of the leader of the nationalist movement Jomo Kenyatta, who once in power swerved from radical nationalism to conservative bourgeois politics.

Kenyatta was a Kikuyu (or Gikuyu) and the enigmatic Mau Mau movement had largely been a Kikuyu phenomenon (most of the 12,000 rebels or “suspects” killed by colonial forces in a brutal campaign were Kikuyu). This had caused the British wrongly to conclude that Kenyatta was the leader of the Mau Mau. But in any case, on becoming president Kenyatta - head of the Kenya African National Union (Kanu) in an effectively one-party state - embraced extreme tribalistic politics and packed the new “Kenyan” bourgeoisie he promoted with Kikuyu and members of related tribes such as the Embu and the Meru. At the time of his death in 1978 most of the country’s wealth and power was in the hands of the organisation which grouped these three tribes: the Gikuyu-Embu-Meru Association (GEMA).

Kenya has forty-eight tribes, with three - the Kikuyu, the Luo and the Luhyia - together representing almost 65% of the population. Meanwhile, the GEMA tribes during Kenyatta’s time (1963-78) composed perhaps 30% of Kenyans, almost all concentrated in the highlands of the central province. These figures meant that in order to square the ethno-political circle in Kenya, power-brokers had to forge deals between the three big groups and somehow relate to the shifting gaggle occupying the fourth corner.

In Kenyatta’s time the deal was simple: the Kikuyu and their smaller relatives, after making an agreement with the minority tribes, ran everything. The Luo, who eventually tried to challenge this ordering, were forcefully marginalised as the prudent Luhyia looked on. After Kenyatta died in 1978, his vice-president Daniel arap Moi - who was from the Kalenjin minority tribe - inherited the mantle of power on the understanding that he would not upset the arrangement designed to keep the two other large tribes (and particularly the Luo) out of power.

But Daniel arap Moi proceeded to use his new status to cleverly divide his Kikuyu allies (amongst them the man who would be his successor as president, Mwai Kibaki), so as progressively to sideline them. By 1986, Moi had concentrated all the power - and most of its attendant economic benefits - into the hands of his Kalenjin tribe and of a handful of allies from minority groups (see Peter Kimani, “A past of power more than tribe in Kenya’s turmoil”, 2 January 2008).

But Kikuyu ascendancy had been reined in only, not destroyed. Under Jomo Kenyatta, the Kikuyu - claiming martyr status for their sufferings during the Mau-Mau “emergency”, and relying on tacit government support - had spread beyond their traditional territorial homelands and “repossessed lands stolen by the whites” - even when these had previously belonged to other tribes. Thus Kikuyu “colonists” had fanned out all over Kenya, often creating strong rural antagonisms.

Kenyatta’s successor, Daniel arap Moi, used a consummate juggler’s skill to keep the ethno-political balance working in his favour. At the same time, the first two multi-party elections after other movements emerged to challenge Kanu (in 1992 and 1997) were occasions for carefully state-managed ethnic violence designed to achieve two objectives: keep the dangerous Kikuyu underfoot, and pit the Kalenjin’s minority allies against each other in order better to control them.

By the time of the 2002 election, however, the system had run its course: foreign donors were alienated, President Moi (having ruled for twenty-four years) was getting old, and a “democratic” opposition was gaining momentum. But if everybody agreed on the principle of ridding Kenya of its Kalenjin-based authoritarian state, the question of who and what would be the replacement remained open.Moi had a brainwave: he thought that the best way for him to maintain his influence over politics after leaving the presidency would be to pick as the governing party candidate Kenyatta’s own son, Uhuru. This artful move, Moi calculated, would rally the Kikuyu behind a prestigious but empty symbol (Uhuru was not overly bright and his name spoke louder than his personality). But the stratagem backfired completely and the opposition united behind the veteran Kikuyu politician, Mwai Kibaki, thus creating a unique situation in which both leading candidates were Kikuyu.

In other ways, however, they were very different: one embodied the ghost of yesterday’s near-dictatorship while the other was seen as offering the hope of a democratic opening. This contrast felicitously de-ethnicised the election, turning it into a contest between the old and the new. At the time Raila Odinga, the leading Luo politician, tirelessly campaigned for Kibaki and deployed his tribal followers behind a man who - albeit a Kikuyu and a Kikuyu with a past - was seen as the candidate for change. The economic stagnation of previous years meant that many of the expectations that were invested in Kibaki were of an economic nature: Kibaki, it was hoped, would restart the economy and then proceed to share out its benefits more equally.

The Kibaki administration

Mwai Kibaki was elected president in December 2002 with over 62% of the vote. The country’s foreign backers were only too quick to salute the polls as “a triumph for democracy”. In a way they were right - the polls had been free and fair, and the candidate for change had been elected. But in another way this was a hasty form of wishful thinking because the ostensible “de-tribalisation” of the election had been due more to a series of fortuitous coincidences than to a real decline in the appeal of ethnic politics.

The key words in the campaign, however, had been “hope” and “change”, and to some extent the new Kibaki administration managed to deliver the goods. The economy did pick up and Kenya witnessed a spectacular economic recovery, largely based on Keynesian economic recipes and helped by a favourable international environment.

This can be illustrated by the annual rate of growth in 2002-07, which reveals a gradual improvement from -1.6 % in 2002 to 2.6% by 2004, 3.4 in 2005, and an estimated 5.5% in 2007. But this was only one side of the economic coin. Social inequalities also increased; the fruits of economic growth went disproportionately to the already well-off (and, among those, to the Kikuyu well-off); and corruption reached new heights, matching some of the excesses of the Moi years. When John Githongo, the man appointed by President Kibaki to fight corruption, blew the whistle in January 2005, he had to flee to Britain in fear of his life (see Michael Holman, “Kenya: chaos and responsibility”, 3 January 2007). Githongo is himself a Kikuyu, and his denunciation of a massive series of financial scandals in which hundreds of millions of dollars had vanished was seen as a betrayal of his tribe as well as of the government he served.

Moreover, the security situation in Kenya deteriorated steadily in these years, with the ordinary people bearing the brunt of a triple process:

* a growing wave of routine crime in urban areas
* rival agrarian claims leading to pitched battles between ethnic groups fighting for land, particularly around Mount Elgon and in Kisii
* a running feud between the police and the Mungiki sect, which left over 120 people dead in May-November 2007 alone.

Mungiki is a bizarre cross between pre-Christian Kikuyu neo-traditionalism and an extortionist gang. The sect ran protection rackets on the matatu (collective taxi) routes, helping it to prosper among the poorest urban neighbourhoods and among the landless-peasant squatters in central province; it also has a tradition of hiring its muscle-boys to political candidates during election campaigns. In 2002, the Mungiki had backed the losing Uhuru Kenyatta camp. This cost it dearly in terms of political clout, and it had desperately tried to recover the lost ground by intensifying its terroristic hold on the slum population and on the matatu owners.

The accumulating result of these various processes was a feeling of deep dissatisfaction - not so much with President Kibaki as a person but with his entourage, with his robbing cronies, and with his incapacity to sympathise and do something about the plight of poor Kenyans (made all the more shocking by the level of economic growth the country was enjoying). Raila Odinga, the candidate of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), was then able to capitalise on that frustration in a way that fused various types of motivation:

* ethnic (the Kikuyu have grabbed everything and all the other tribes have lost)
* political (Kibaki betrayed his promise for change)
* social (crime and violence are out of control)
* economic (what is the point of economic growth when it does not bring any benefits to the ordinary citizen).

As the electoral campaign neared its climax in December 2007, the ODM opposition enjoyed a widespread lead in opinion polls and seemed ready to sweep Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) out of power.

The December 2007 election

The election on 27 December 2007 was both a parliamentary and a presidential one. At the legislative level, 2,548 candidates from 108 parties were vying for 210 seats; at the presidential level, three candidates - the incumbent Mwai Kibaki , ODM leader Raila Odinga and former foreign minister Kalonzo Musyoka (who had split from the ODM) - were competing.

Everybody (including himself) knew that Kalonzo Musyoka had no chance of winning and that he was simply angling for the position of a strategic post-election ally who could sell his support to a probable minority victor in need of additional backing. Kalonzo Musyoka is a Kamba, and the Kamba - although closely related to the Kikuyu - had chosen the British camp during the Mau Mau emergency. This gives them a hybrid status in the Kenyan ethno-political landscape, in which they hold the capacity to swing either with the Kikuyu or against them.

The polls were a messy business for a number of reasons. The voters’ rolls had been poorly updated or at times not updated at all. Some dead people were still on the rolls and electors who had changed residence had not been properly struck off in one place and re-registered at their new address. The rules governing the help which could be given to illiterate voters (up to 80% of the electoral body in some remote constituencies) were poorly enforced. Foreign and national observers were not always given free access to the polling stations, and later to the ballots.
But all in all, the parliamentary segment of the election proceeded smoothly. The definitive results have not at the time of writing been officially posted, but a provisional tally (based on 181 out of 210 seats) is possible. Twenty-two parties won seats, although only four can be considered as “serious” (the eighteen others have between one and three MPs, sharing twenty-eight seats between them): :

* Raila Odinga’s ODM, which won ninety-two seats
* Mwai Kibaki’s PNU, which won thirty-four seats
* Kalonzo Musyoka’s splinter ODM-K, which won sixteen seats
* Uhuru Kenyatta’s Kanu, which won eleven seats.

The results speak for themselves: with 45% of the MPs, the opposition has a clear majority over the incumbent administration .

This is what makes the results of the presidential election definitely suspect. Kenya’s electoral commission (ECK) declared on 30 December that Kibaki had garnered 4,584,721 votes against 4,352,993 for his rival Raila Odinga, and immediately proceeded to inaugurate the incumbent president as the winner. This tight margin (little more than 230,000 votes, about 2.5% of those cast) is very fragile in view of the following facts.

In seventy-two of the constituencies, the figures on the ballot forms signed by the ECK returning officers and the agents of the candidates differ from the figures released by the national counting centre. At Ole Kalou constituency, for example, local ECK figures gave Mwai Kibaki 72,000 and Raila Odinga 5,000 out of 102,000 registered votes. But by the time the figures for that same constituency were released at the central level, Kibaki’s winning tally had jumped to 100,980 votes (i.e. 99% of the registered voters).

The pattern was repeated elsewhere. In Elmolo constituency, Kibaki was said by local ECK officials to have won by 50,145 votes, which then translated itself into 75,261 votes at the national level. In Kieni the discrepancy was between 54,337 (local level) and 72,054 (national tally). In various other constituencies (Lari, Kandara, Kerugoya) thousands more had “voted” in the presidential election than in the legislative one, even though the two ballots had been held concurrently .

All this points to a limited but widespread form of rigging which would not have had such catastrophic consequences had not the race been so closely contested. (After all, if several constituencies have probable rigging levels of 10,000-30,000 votes, there is no way a victory by 230,000 votes be considered solid.) On 1 January, Samuel Kivuitu - the respected chairman of the ECK - admitted : “I don’t know who won the election and I won’t know till I see the original records, which I can’t for now until the courts authorise it”.

It seems that what happened was that the Mwai Kibaki vote was artificially inflated rather than that Raila Odinga’s vote was tampered with. The evidence seems clear: even if gerrymandering had distorted the legislative vote vis-à-vis the presidential one (during the Moi years, the “enemy” Kikuyu constituencies had seen their demographic weight systematically eroded in this way), how could the pro-ODM trend at the parliamentary level turn itself into a contradictory support for the anti-ODM president? The possibility of such a split-personality vote is remote, as it requires that almost all those voting for minority parties would also have voted for Kibaki.

The bloody aftermath

The results of this manipulation have been disastrous. Almost as soon as the ECK hastily proclaimed Kibaki to be the winner, both the Nairobi slums and the western province exploded - the violence of the slum-dwellers reflecting their social frustration and the westerners’ arson-cum-machete attacks stemming from their hatred of the Kikuyu “colonists”. The political violence should thus be seen as both tribal and socio-economic; because, even if far from all Kikuyu are rich beneficiaries of the regime, many rich beneficiaries of the regime are Kikuyu. Such a situation recalls - especially for the Luo - the frustrations of the 1960s and 1970s.
The vote itself was primarily anti-establishment rather than crudely anti-Kikuyu, however: only six members of the cabinet survived the landslide, and many of the victims - including vice-president Moody Awori, planning minister Henry Obwocha, roads minister Simeon Nyachae, and tourism minister Moses Dzoro - were not Kikuyu. Even the few Luo or other westerners who were also PNU members lost their seats. Several Moi administration survivors - such as former minister Nicholas Biwott or Moi’s own son Gideon Moi - were also axed, often by nearly unknown candidates who took their seats with ease. This is one reason why the minority parties won so many seats: incumbency was a distinct liability and voters appeared ready to elect anybody who seemed ready to promote change.

It is when that trend towards long-awaited change appeared about to be blocked once more by the man who had already betrayed it after 2002 that violence exploded. The configuration of two relationships - Luo-Kikuyu, and Kikuyu with power - meant in the circumstances that it could not but be anti-Kikuyu. At the time of writing there have been at least 600 “official” deaths (as registered in hospitals and by other reliable sources); but this total is almost certainly an underestimate, especially if information from all the isolated rural areas where old scores are being settled were available.

While Luo have slaughtered Kikuyu settlers in their midst in the west, Mungiki thugs have rallied to the tribe and have been busy killing Luo in the Nairobi slums, hoping to ingratiate themselves with the big bosses of Kiambu, Nyeri and Murang’a. There are already as many as 250,000 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees (into Uganda). Factories are idle, many roads are closed, and food and humanitarian crises loom. In Uganda, Rwanda and the eastern DR Congo, the interruption of fuel supplies coming from Mombasa is threatening transport. Even Tanzania is beginning to feel the economic aftershocks of the disturbances. By a conservative estimate, the Kenyan economy is losing $30 million a day and the loss for the whole region - though anybody’s guess - must be far greater.

On 2 January 2008, President Kibaki announced that he was “ready to have a dialogue with the concerned parties”. This was a good start but, once more, the 76-year-old president seemed to be a prisoner of his past (and, perhaps, of his entourage). He stalled Desmond Tutu on the bishop’s arrival from South Africa in the effort to mediate (in contrast to Raila Odinga, who had immediately met Tutu); and when on 3 January attorney-general Amos Wako announced the creation of three committees designed to find a solution to the crisis (on peace and reconciliation, on the media aspects of the situation and on legal affairs), they were packed with burned-out politicians like Simeon Nyachae, Njenga Karume or George Saitoti, most of whom had just lost their seats in the election.

On 7 January, it is reported that Kibaki has invited Ghana’s president, John Kufuor, to re-engage in the mediation effort that was proposed as the violence first escalated; and that he has offered to create a government of national unity with the opposition which (an official statement says) “would not only unite Kenyans but would also help in the healing and reconciliation process”.

It is an artful departure from the boast of his precipitous acceptance speech of 30 December, when President Kibaki had declared: “Fellow Kenyans, you have given us a vote of confidence in the values and principles…that we began five years ago. You have chosen the leaders you wish to serve you during the next five years”.In the circumstances, the claim was neither truthful nor realistic. It is unclear whether Mwai Kibaki’s latest manoeuvres represent a genuine shift of position or a tactical adjustment to desperate conditions. In any case, the creation of a government of national unity is now the sole, albeit painful compromise available if Kenya’s violence is to be contained and some sort of progress beyond this nightmare made. After that, a just and truthful reckoning with what has happened in Kenya must be attempted.

Wikileaks on crisis in Kenya

(picture: 50's newspaper 'East African Standard')

An American Solution to the Kenyan Constitutional Crisis
Wikileaks EDITORIAL (Kenya)2008-01-23

Kenya is home to more than 70 ethnic groups of different origins but with a long history of interaction. Most were already here when the colonialists arrived towards the end of the nineteenth century. In pre-colonial times, these ethnic groups all had historical connections to groups outside present-day Kenya:

The pre-colonial peoples of Kenya
The ethnic groups making up the black African population represented in Kenya fall under four main language divisions:

The Bantu
The Western Nilotes
The Eastern and Southern Nilotes
The Cushites
The groups can further be broken down into so-called tribes. Tribalism is primitive in a Globalised world and has no place in Kenya today.

The Independent peoples of Kenya

The Constitution Of Kenya carries the definition of a Kenyan Citizen in Chapter V1. There is a clear definition of a KENYAN citizen and no reference whatsoever to any ethnic group. All ethnic groups are Kenyans and all are equal under the Constitution of Kenya. For Kenya’s black communities to see themselves as Kenyan, they must also learn to see the other communities as equally Kenyan too. Nonetheless sensitive issues remain, such as land and the economic, political and educational privileges historically enjoyed by certain communities.

Kenya is a Democracy

The word democracy comes from the Greek demokratia, from demos, ‘the people,’ and kratein, ‘to rule’, and it means simply ‘rule by the people’. Democracy in its broadest sense thus means a way of governing based on people’s consent or the ‘will of the people’. It stands for the welfare of all and for the common good. The basic rules of democracy include recognition of the fact that power belongs to the citizens and the importance of achieving the following goals:
the greatest possible freedom for all;

a just society;
the same rules for all;
equality before the law;
respect for the rule of law; and
equal opportunities for all.

In a democracy, people rule themselves either directly or indirectly through their representatives. In a democracy, a high degree of political legitimacy is therefore necessary, because the electoral process periodically divides the population into ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. A successful democratic political culture implies that the losing parties and their supporters accept the judgment of the voters, and allow for the peaceful transfer of power – the concept of a ‘loyal opposition’

There are various ways in which different societies and governments seek to achieve democracy as an ideal. In some cases, people are involved directly in making decisions about public affairs. In other cases, people choose representatives to act on their behalf.

In direct democracy, the people themselves directly express their will on public issues. Direct democracy can also be described as participatory democracy as it involves all citizens in making decisions on public matters. Each person is given the opportunity to take part in making public decisions directly. People do not need to delegate that right to another person – or a representative – who represents their choices.

The best example of participatory democracy is where citizens vote in a referendum. A referendum is a direct vote by all the citizens to decide on a political matter of national importance.

For instance, a referendum can be used to decide whether to adopt or reject a new constitution, as happened in Kenya in November 2005.

Since, it is practically impossible to gather all the citizens of Kenya together to play a part of government, the function of Government must be performed by a number of individuals smaller than the totality of its citizens. An election is the chief basis of political legitimacy. The General election is the platform that we use to select a few Kenyan citizens to the National Assembly in order to represent our interests and perform the function of Government. The Members of Parliament are elected by the Kenyan citizens to watch over their interests and to, either form or check Government.

This is indirect Democracy. In indirect democracy, people elect their representatives periodically to govern on their behalf and to specifically express people’s feelings on public issues. The state in this form of democracy is not directly governed by the people themselves but by their representatives. This form of democracy is practised in the modern nation-states because they are large in area and in population. Their structures and problems are also complex and varied. It is difficult to involve everybody in such a situation.

As a form of indirect democracy, representative democracy requires individuals to elect other persons to exercise power and make decisions on their behalf. A person exercises his or her power through a representative. Kenyans elect their representatives every five years to govern on their behalf and to specifically express people’s feelings on public issues.

But, a democratic Kenya cannot survive, unless the people of Kenya feel that they can affect their system of Government and see all their preferences enacted. Nothing could be more important. Power must at all times; be exercised by the citizens of the Republic of Kenya, rather than the president!. Power can only be exercised by the citizens where the will of the people is seen to be done.

The problem with this country, lies in the fact, that we as citizens have for 43 years been elevating unqualified citizens to public office. The risks we have taken have resulted in Incompetence and Greed! We are responsible for creating a breed of Kenyan politicians who are not at all serious about the electoral process and the meaning of the phrase political accountability.

These Politicians are not only low, uncouth, immoral individuals but also clearly visionless. These people have without any regard taken away one by one, all our Individual Rights guaranteed to all Kenyans under our Constitution in the pretext of exercising our mandate.

The Bill of Rights

The Constitution of Kenya under chapter V guarantees all Kenyans the Bill of Rights. NO ONE HAS THE POWER OR AUTHORITY BY LAW TO TAKE AWAY THESE RIGHTS FROM KENYANS. Any attempt to do so is unconstitutional, treasonable and punishable by death, as it amounts to a subversion of our Constitution.

Civil Rights upheld in the Constitution of Kenya

The right to life,
The right to personal freedom,
Protection against slavery and forced labour,
Protection from inhuman treatment,
Protection from property being taken away illegally,
Protection against illegal search or entry,
The right to the protection of the law,
Freedom of conscience,
Freedom of expression,
Freedom of association and assembly,
Freedom of movement, and
Freedom from discrimination.

This means that all Kenyans have—

Political freedom

hold your own views and talk about what you think and believe,
associate and meet with others, and
move freely without hindrance.
Economic freedom
the ability to own and use property,
the chance to work and provide for your livelihood, and
freedom from forced labour and slavery.
Social freedom
the fair treatment of all citizens,
no interference with one’s body, premises or private life, and
no inhuman treatment.

In a democracy, all people are seen as having been born equal and are treated equally before the law. Democracy rejects any form of discrimination among people and provides a framework for justice, fairness and equality. Justice is a set of rules that provide each person and/or groups in society with basic rights. These include:

Human rights,
The rule of law,
Economic justice, and
Gender equity.

The current Administration is abusing these rules even though Kenya has ratified several United Nations conventions on human rights, among them:

The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights;
The International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights;
The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;
The Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The concept of the ‘rule of law’ is based on the idea of government by law. This means that no person is above the law. That is to say, all citizens (from the President to the lowliest Kenyan) are subject to and equal before the law. It means that no person can suffer punishment unless that person has broken the law and is rightly judged through the established judicial process. Leaders, too, must exercise their powers according to laid down law. Anybody who makes a decision must do so within the law.

For example:

The Constitution Of Kenya provides for freedom of assembly, and the government is bound by this rule. It cannot prevent a public meeting simply because it dislikes or disagrees with the views of those responsible for calling that meeting. Government officers must first obtain a court order before preventing a meeting from taking place.

Controlling the Abuse and exercise of political power

The state has legitimate power to control and influence actions within its borders. The principal organs (called arms of the government) through which the government exercises its powers are:

The Legislature: that makes policies and laws and also supervises the work of the Executive;
The Executive: that carries out the policies and laws passed by the Legislature; the institution that runs the government;

The Judiciary: that interprets and applies the laws passed by the Legislature and deals with any disputes that occur within the state.

The principle of separation of powers sets limits on the work of the Judiciary, the Legislature and the Executive. It provides the checks and balances that prevent misuse of power by any of the three arms of government. The principle of separation of powers requires that:

There should be the least possible overlap in the powers and functions of the different arms of government;
There should be no overlap of staff in the different arms of government;
No arm of government should interfere with the functions and work of any of the other arms; and
No arm of government should be more powerful than any of the others.
But is this the case in Kenya today? No it is not. Why?
Checks and balances are mechanisms to make sure that no part of the government has too much power, or goes beyond its functions, and that each arm of the government can check the misuse of power by the other arms of the government.

Examples of the checks and balances contained in the Constitution of Kenya are:

The President, as head of the executive, can reject a Bill passed by Parliament, although Parliament may override the President’s decision with a second vote.
The Judiciary can cancel laws passed by Parliament if these laws are not in line with the Constitution.
The Judiciary can cancel any action by the Executive if this action is not in line with the law or with the rules of natural justice.
The Executive has to get permission, by asking Parliament to pass the national budget, to use public money for administration.
The President cannot dismiss a judge from office unless a tribunal has been appointed to investigate and recommend an action against the judge.

The act by Kibaki to steal the election and swear himself into Office was the ultimate Act of Corruption. That of Abuse of Power for personal gain. The check for this action would have been that the Judiciary can cancel any action by the Executive if this action is not in line with the law or with the rules of natural justice. But rather than this course of action the Judiciary swore Kibaki into Office, following his illegal declaration as winner of the Presidential Election. Here the principle of separation of powers between the executive and judicial functions of the government has not been applied leaving Kenyans with very few options.

Will it be Kenyans that set the democratic agenda?

A democracy represents the ‘will of the people” We went to the polls, voted peacefully and weeks later, we still do not know who won the election. What we do know is that Kenyans are killing Kenyans, the Police are killing Kenyans, The country is on fire and our Constitutions seems to have been suspended by Kibaki who seems to be ruling by decree! We have lost every single one of our Constitutional Rights. So, What is the way forward?

We declare ourselves Independent from Constitutional office bearers who have abused the Constitution and refuse to be governed by them by cutting all ties. How?

We try going the American Way. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is at once the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty and Jefferson’s most enduring monument. Here, in exalted and unforgettable phrases, Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people. The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new; its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers. What Jefferson did was to summarize this philosophy in “self-evident truths” and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country. The American Declaration of Independence, opens with a preamble describing the document’s necessity in explaining why the colonies have overthrown their ruler and chosen to take their place as a separate nation in the world. All men are created equal and there are certain unalienable rights that governments should never violate. These rights include the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When a government fails to protect those rights, it is not only the right, but also the duty of the people to overthrow that government. In its place, the people should establish a government that is designed to protect those rights. Governments are rarely overthrown, and should not be overthrown for trivial reasons. In this case, a long history of abuses led the colonists to overthrow a tyrannical government.

The president of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki, is guilty of very specific abuses. The President has interfered with Kenyans Constitutional rights to their Fundamental rights and for a fair judicial system. Acting with other Constitutional Office bearers (the Chief Justice, the Registrar of the High Court, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, the Attorney General, and the Heads of all the disciplined forces of the Republic) the President has unconstitutionally sworn himself in as President and is in office illegally. Acting with Constitutional Office bearers, the President has instituted legislation S.25A without the consent of Parliament that will affect the people of Kenya without their consent. This legislation allows appointees by the President to forgive and negotiate with individuals who have looted Kenyan tax payers money in a non transparent manner. Acting with Constitutional Officers , the President has given shoot to Kill orders against the People of Kenya to quash dissent. Acting with Constitutional Officers, the President has removed their right to judicial trial by courts, and prevented Kenyans from trading freely. Additionally, the President and the Police Commissioner are guilty of outright destruction of Kenyan life and property by their refusal to protect the Kenyan and their Fundamental rights to property and life. The president acting with Constitutional Officers has allowed foreign mercenaries to come to Kenya (some from Uganda) and threaten the security of the citizens.

The People of Kenya have tried to reach a peaceful reconciliation of these differences with the President and the constitutional offices, but are being continually ignored. International Mediators who have appealed to the President have been similarly ignored. despite their shared concern with Kenyans for their just cause. After many peaceful attempts, Kenyans have no choice but to declare independence from these Constitutional office bearers. The new nation will be called the ————and will incorporate the people driven Constitution the BOMAS DRAFT as the new Constitution of Kenya. The new government under this Constitution will reserve the right to levy war, make peace, make alliances with foreign nations, conduct trade, and do anything else that nations do.
Kibaki will have to go and will go- by whatever means necessary. Kenya will not have a Dictator. Never Again. We must restore Democracy in our Country at whatever cost. This is our Patriotic Duty that will protect Kenyan generations from Tyranny.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

power vs influence (a look back at the politics of 1996) reflections of 2008

Power Vs Influence.

:What Is Happening to Our Beautiful Country?

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice”.
James 3:16. (New International Version)

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Kenya is apparently 75% Christian, yet in a 1996 report released by Transparency International, a Berlin-based lobby group, it is ranked as the third most corrupt nation on the face of the planet. Ironic isn’t it? Actually, it is the most corrupt ‘Christian’ nation on earth! In both Nigeria and Pakistan who are ranked first and second respectively, Christians are a minority.

How is it then that our green and pleasant land, has earned itself such infamy?

The credit (if I may call it that) must go to the 74-year-old Mr Daniel arap Moi under whose helmsmanship corruption has become the fastest-growing cottage industry around.

A recent cover story in Time Magazine ran thus: “Strange things have been happening to Kenya’s President Daniel Arap Moi on the way to the piggy bank. In a country famous for it’s game parks and safaris he has found himself in the sights of an elephant gun levelled by international donors who have declared open season on corruption. The conflict centres on $ 400 million in illegal export-incentive payments that Moi’s Government made to a local jewellery maker Goldenberg, supposedly to reimburse taxes paid on imported raw materials. However no taxes had been paid and no hard currency was brought into the country. So the IMF demanded an accounting of the missing money, the equivalent of 6% of Kenya’s annual output. When the Government closed down a private prosecution of the Goldenberg team, the IMF cut off $ 169 million in credit”[1]. A candid, if somewhat less than flattering assessment of how the outside world views us.

It has grown increasingly difficult to discuss corruption with us Kenyans for a variety of reasons. Either we cannot see it touches our lives or we have become so completely bogged down in it as to feign indifference whenever it is mentioned. The truth is, it has affected our lives and well being most profoundly in the last 20 years and will continue to do so unless we change course.

Since the dawn of time, and it is recorded in the earliest annals, the insidious stain of corruption has ravaged mankind. There is evidence in the bible to suggest that the prophet Moses grappled with this vice 4,000 years ago. One famous book that tackles the subject is by Nikolai Gogol (1809-52). In 1836, this one-time Saint Petersburg government clerk published The Government Inspector a satire on the dishonesty of small town officials in Imperial Russia.

The Oxford English Dictionary describes corruption as “perversion or destruction of integrity in the discharge of public duties by bribery or favour”. Transparency International[2] have called it “the use of public power for private profit”. Greed, arrogance, malice, deceit and vengefulness are all it’s hallmarks. To look into corruption is to unveil the darkest secrets and the basest forces of the human soul: It’s real perpetrator is human nature itself.

Rome, the greatest empire the world has known was riddled with it. In A.D. 369, an anonymous writer sent a document to the Emperor Valens. An extract from this treatise read “public grants have made the rich even more extravagant, while the poor are driven by their problems into crime”[3]. The ordinary Roman was by then paying up to one third of his income in taxes and another third in rent. Sound familiar ?4 The Roman Empire’s biggest enemy was itself: The same corruption that fuelled it’s growth being responsible for it’s collapse. In today’s world, various laws and constitutions designed to keep this night of the soul in check have been enacted with varying degrees of success.

There is a pattern in the affairs of nations, a rule of thumb if you will, that always applies:
Wherever you find the rot of corruption has set in, you will invariably find leaders that are not subject to the same accountability as the populace. “When extraordinary powers are vested in any one individual in a government” wrote American revolutionary Thomas Paine in 1792, “rest assured that it will lead to the misappropriation of public funds. This individual becomes the centre round which every kind of corruption generates and forms. Give to any man a million a year and thereto the power of creating and disposing of places, at the expense of a country, and the liberties of that country are no longer secure”.5

The giant sucking sound coming from Africa nowadays is that of money leaving. A recent report allegedly emanating from a Swiss banking source, has estimated the amount held in Swiss banks on behalf of African leaders alone as being in excess of 20 billion U.S. dollars.6 In his 32 years of misrule, the late Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko is estimated to have made away with $ 1 billion. He is a prime example of the so-called Bwana Mkubwa (Big Man) who could not (constitutionally) or would not (by any other means) be held accountable.

Though some of Mobutu’s wealth was amassed as a result of ‘gifts’ he received from western nations in return for keeping communism at bay during the cold war, a large part of it came from foreign aid advanced to his impoverished countrymen. Sese Seko was notoriously unable to distinguish between his country’s coffers and his own pocket. In any case, retired General Olegusun Obasanjo, himself a former Nigerian ruler and who until recently was in detention along with the late Moshood Abiola, has said that: “in the African concept of appreciation and hospitality , a gift is a token ; it is not demanded; the value is in the spirit of the giving, not the material worth. Where a gift is excessive it becomes an embarrassment and is returned”.7

Mobutu’s despotic regime was what may be termed an ‘imperial presidency’(one that is above the law). In this feudal scheme of things, the natural progression is for those close to ‘the throne’, be they business associates, political allies and friends, etc to develop a limited immunity to prosecution. It is human nature that the lawless will go where there is no law (or where they can get above it) and they will make the rule of the strongest reign8 something akin to the Al Capone era in 1920’s Chicago.

Once there is an obeisance to this ‘law of the jungle’ scenario, overnight you will get billionaires and multimillionaires, born of extensive and underhand dealings, springing up all over the place. What you will also find is bands of parasites living in luxurious indolence out of public taxes. This ruling clique, may claim to hold each other accountable but in reality they manipulate a country to their own ends- their sole aim is to hitch their personal wagons to the state’s gravy train.

A news agency despatch in early April ran: “Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace is set to make 19 million Zimbabwe dollars (U.S 1.18 million dollars) profit from a mansion built with government money, the Financial Gazette said today. The house dubbed “Gracelands” by it’s critics was built in the upmarket Harare suburb of Borrowdale on four hectares overlooking a golf course designed by champion international golfer Nick Price”.9 After 18 years in power, it would seem that Robert Gabriel Mugabe is another good example of an African leader who has outstayed his welcome
The source of corruption then is always the same: a leader or group of them that can no longer be held accountable. And while it may be true that most countries out of necessity have a ruling group; one that has what former US President George Bush termed “the vision thing” (enterprise and ideas for progress); it must have the fear of being overthrown or outvoted, if it is to look beyond it’s own interests.
Lord Acton’s aphorism, “Power corrupts and absolute (read unaccountable) power corrupts absolutely” may be all too familiar with many today. Sadly though, it still holds true. One need only to be honest with themselves, painfully so, to see this adage at play in present-day Kenya.

Kenyans have grown accustomed to the sight of new trunk roads that break up almost before they are completed - the end product of shoddy workmanship and unbridled greed. Roads that are built by contractors; whether local or international; on the precondition that they will give the government officials who have awarded them the tenders a percentage in kickbacks.

Gavin Bennet, a motoring correspondent, put it succinctly: “our cars are on death row the moment they are driven from the showroom”. Driving on our roads he says is like “a daily demolition derby”. If Martians existed they might easily mistake our pothole-strewn motorways for the craters on their own planet.

Indeed, the sorry state of our roads would be laughable if only one didn’t come away with a sinking feeling that they serve as a metaphor for what is happening to the rest our country.

“The name of the game is corruption and the fact is that nobody has had the will to take on the hydra-headed monster previously until now. It is becoming virtually impossible for ordinary Kenyans, for example to get any services or licences from government offices without paying what is normally known as kitu kidogo”.10 This is because as someone pointed out the other day: “the war (on corruption) has been declared for the umpteenth time but not a single battle has been fought”.

Maurice Wangutusi of the accounting firm Coopers and Lybrand made this disquieting observation :“one is tempted to ask where the revenue collected by government goes. It is patently clear that not all of the revenues collected are used to finance the intended projects. Reports issued by the Controller and Auditor-General record this fact. Indeed, Government has itself admitted that the rate of corruption in this country is very high. Most people believe and opine that a substantial part of the ‘tax’ they pay goes to finance corruption and inefficiency”.

He continues; “Corruption feeds on itself, creating a widening spiral of illegal payoffs until ultimately development is undermined and years of progress are reversed. And the very growth that permitted corruption in the past can produce a shift from productive activities to an unproductive struggle for the spoils. Over time corruption becomes entrenched, so that when Governments finally do move to contain it they meet with powerful resistance”.11

Is that not what is going on today in Kenya? Where does this leave us then? We know that the real problem is corruption and that investigating clerks in Nyayo house can only be an idea mooted by the ‘sacred cows’ that benefit from it the most. It’s foolhardy at best. In 1984 by George Orwell, ‘doublethink’ is defined as the ability to hold two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accept both of them.

The Kenya government seems to indulge in it’s own version of ‘doublethink’ by believing it can tackle corruption without starting at the top. Until that is addressed , fighting graft will remain a fleeting illusion- to be pursued but never attained. So how do we set about solving this problem?

The presidency, there and there alone can one begin to tackle this terrible scourge. Simply put, as long as the head of state in any country, whether elected or not, is above the law and by extension above investigation, corruption will always have a palatial home. He is the one who sets the standards for the rest of the nation. Just as a school rarely rises above it’s headmaster (bad administration), neither can a nation rise above an inept President.

As the president or leader of a country one has a great deal of responsibility. Credit for success and criticism for failure. The two go hand in hand. Pity the leader who wants the credit without the criticism. Pity him because he will breed his own enemies.12 To the man in the street what goes on at State House has always been a complete mystery. This has served to build a mystique or an aura of untouchability around the presidency.

If you were the president of a corrupt nation, could you possibly blame corruption on all manner of things apart from yourself? Who would take you seriously? What is the point of occupying the highest office in the land and watching the mushroom cloud of corruption grow without doing anything to stop it? Unless of course one was unaware of what was going on, which would point to an incredibly uninformed leader. One perhaps, who should not be in that stately position. What can be made of leaders who admit to corruption in their governments yet respond with half-baked attempts at exposure?

“Such an individual is the last person to promote a spirit of reform, lest in the event it should reach to himself. It is always in his interest to defend inferior abuses. So that the parts of the system he has set up will have such a common dependence that it is never expected they will attack each other”.13

When a leader is aware of the fall-out that graft has visited upon his country and does nothing about it, does not his indifference implicate him in the same? What for example can be read into the following statement?: “ The Mosop MP John Sambu (Kanu) told parliament in April that close confidantes of the President were responsible for the economic mess facing the country. He said the leaders were working behind the Head of State’s back to ensure the economy collapsed so that the ills would be blamed on the Head of State. They surround the President and cheer and praise him but the moment he leaves, they draw their knives and start eating the economy”.14

What I can read into it is this: a man is known by the company he organises (keeps). “A crucial ability for the chief executive is perceptiveness. This will bear heavily on the quality of the Presidential appointments and his ability to mould his people into an effective administration. It is not enough to say a President “can hire managers”, as he delegates he must know how to keep track of the delegated work; he must understand what his managers are managing”.15

Even if as the Mosop MP said, the President’s men are responsible, the buck ultimately stops with him for appointing them in the first place. He doesn’t have the luxury of just sitting back and saying this is wrong, that is wrong ...and I can’t do anything about it. He has to act.

“Leadership can be summed up in two words, intelligence and integrity or to use two synonyms competence and character. Integrity denotes an honourable private life. We don’t see those characteristics in government today”.16 One of the reasons the presidency is imbued with it’s powers is to be in a position to nip graft and any other malaise in the bud. If a leader misuses these powers, then of what use is his leadership? A British politician once posed four questions to ask a supposedly powerful leader. “How powerful are you? Who gave you those powers? Who are you accountable to? And finally, how can we get rid of you?” Nobody is indispensable.

Corrupt leaders wield power not influence, never influence, unfortunately most of them can’t tell the difference. The dictionary definition doesn’t help much either since the terms power and influence are often used interchangeably. It would be easier to make a distinction by examining how the two work.

Power invariably works through fear and brute force; coercion, manipulation and intimidation are it’s touchstones. It is fuelled by hush-money, payoffs and bribery. In this hunter-gatherer brand of politics, violence is commonplace, the ‘powerful’ man’s only solution when the rest fail, murder is the culmination. They acquire an appetite for destruction and a taste for blood. Yet power ultimately fails to achieve, in most cases it only destroys the lives of those who wield it, as narrow minded as they are. The same dark fate that overtook Liberia’s Samuel Doe may await all those who persist on this path.

Is power then influence given that in the end others bend to your will? No, but if that were the only yardstick for gauging influence then it would be. Power however, works against the will of the individual, influence does not; power is selfish, influence is not; power seeks glory, influence builds harmony; power divides a country, influence builds it up.

Underneath the facade we have built of peace, love and unity lies a deeply divided country. Nairobi is a place where people dressed like royalty brush shoulders with abandoned street children. Where abject squalor lives side by side with well-manicured lawns and sprawling mansions. One West African novelist could well have been describing Kenya when she wrote “Powerless is also characteristic of the poor, and poverty is personified by the mentally disturbed people who roam the streets, infested with lice, stinking so badly that their stench infests the whole city”.

“The all-pervading stench shows what happens to the ‘wretched of the earth’ affects everybody, of those who exploit the people with detached indifference, violence will force them into such recognition. There will come a time when it will no longer be possible for them to count on their ‘lucky star’. Their fat bank accounts and endless privileges they enjoy will collapse with the rebellion of the downtrodden”.17

I am not one of those advocating the violent redistribution of wealth because I believe that commerce and honest gain is the true means of enriching a country. But what we see in society today is one plunderer succeeding another and that is why we have a small upper class comprising of the superrich; a rapidly diminishing middle class, and an enormous underclass living below the poverty line.

Let’s face it, we’ve leaders with power, not influence. Power that elevates them above contradiction and is leading us down a road marked with exploitation and control. We must not make excuses for them while they continue to go against our understanding of what is right if we are to survive.

Influential leaders are a rare breed on our political landscape today. Influence works through reasoning, consensus, policy, practicality and mutual respect. Influential leaders are those who can sway the masses through sound reasoning, through example. Their integrity precedes them. They will not need to bribe the electorate, or bully the unyielding because their confidence does not come from an ability to rig or buy their way out of difficulty but from their commitment to what is right for the majority. The influential leader will receive a willing response, the powerful leader will have to buy his.

Influence may convert a friend, but power coerces friend and foe alike. Plato, Aristotle, St Thomas, Shakespeare, Galileo, Newton and Kant were men of influence but none of them exercised any noticeable power. Let’s look at some other examples, Mahatma Gandhi, was he powerful or influential?

The man, Jesus of Nazareth, Lord to all who believe, had at his disposal all the powers in the universe, yet how did he choose to work. By brute force or winning people to his ways? What of Martin Luther King Jr, or South Africa’s Bantu Steven Biko and Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. What about Uganda’s Archbishop Janani Luwum and Kenya’s very own, Thomas Joseph Mboya, Ronald Ngala, Josiah Mwangi (J.M.) Kariuki, Pio Gama Pinto, or Robert John Ouko. Did you see power in them or influence?

Out of the ten leaders I’ve mentioned nine were slain, why? Because their murderers being merely powerful lived in constant fear of their integrity. For anyone who may think that power is strength and integrity weakness, allow me to re-calibrate your line of thinking.

Take two men who have the chance to make hefty profits in a business contract. In order to do this though, they have to get round a corrupt government official who irregularly wants a substantial payoff before awarding the deal. One man desists because he refuses to compromise his integrity. The deal is awarded to the one who parts with a little chai.18 Which of the two men’s actions required greater strength? I say the former. He knew that he stood to lose, but still held to his principles.

Powerful leaders cannot do that, self gets in the way. Influential ones can, they look to the interests of others. Abraham Lincoln, himself a victim of an assassins bullet believed that when a people have suffered under a tyrant for a long time, and all legal and peaceful means to oust him have been exhausted, and prospects for his early departure are grim, then people have a right to remove him by drastic means.19

The late President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines was besieged at the Malcanang Palace by a Catholic-led ‘people power’ revolt that his armed forces refused to crush. More recently we witnessed Indonesia’s Suharto felled by widespread discontent. Could we be headed in the same direction? The writing’s on the wall.

We all know that there are leaders in this country today who rely on money and their ability to use it to corrupt the judgement of others, to make headway. That is the essence of a corrupt nation. A nation whose leaders have looted and plundered the electorate, leaving them in abject poverty. How else does one explain close to 50% of Kenyans living below the poverty level?

Part of our problem stems from a partial rather than full adoption of democracy. We must remember that democracy and capitalism are not traditional African concepts. Democracies are supposed to have elected leaders who are subject to the same laws as are the electorate. They can be prosecuted as can be any other citizen who falls foul of the law. In traditional African society the chief was the highest authority, he could not be outdone, his word was final. Normally this would not lead to trouble, the chief had little to gain by perverting justice.

Yet when you mix the traditional African chief model of leadership with democracy and throw the tremendous amounts of wealth that capitalism generates into the brew, then the urge to pervert justice is much higher. In real democracy the final word must always be by consensus (parliament) not the executive. Thus usurping the role of the parliament is a most heinous crime.

This is unfortunately what has happened in numerous African states including our own. A generation of leaders still exist who seem incompatible with democracy and all that goes with it though they cling tenaciously to power thinking themselves influential. Some, having lost their perspective confuse propaganda and name calling with policy.

The same leaders won’t stop to appreciate that maybe 60-80% of their respective country’s population are below 35 years of age and to a greater extent ignore the comical antics of their so-called leaders. Sadly it is this younger generation and their children that will pay the price for the destruction of their inheritance by leaders who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In view of this Kenyans need to be bold enough to tell it as it is. To put aside the tribalism that their leaders parlay, a conflict that is outdated and pointless. Tribalism can only thrive amidst corruption. The two fuel each other. Get rid of corruption and Tribalism can be conquered. But only then and not before .

Currently, politicians are Kenya’s only leadership class. There is a strident anti- intellectualism in government that not only discourages but also prevents original thinking. Consequently, businessmen, financiers, academe, and the news media have been forced into the back seat. We all need to believe in each other if we are to build a country where politics play second fiddle. After all being a politician does not necessarily make one a leader. Leaders lead, politicians talk. Nothing comes from talking but talk, nothing comes from dreaming but dreams, action is necessary.

I’ve often wondered who the leaders of countries like Switzerland or Sweden are? You don’t hear much about them on the world news. Yet these countries have some of the highest standards of living in the world and are among the least corrupt. I’m convinced that in such countries, businessmen feature just as prominently, if not more so than the politicians. In corrupt countries politics is the fastest way to get rich. In Switzerland you’ll get no such chance.

Does that sound unpatriotic. I hope not, its actually because I’m extremely patriotic that I feel compelled to speak as candidly as I am. If Kenyans are unable to express their views on our present predicament then our road to recovery is already handicapped. Jeffrey Sachs, a professor of international trade at Harvard University has written that good government means relative safety from corruption, from breach of contract, from property expropriation, and from bureaucratic inefficiency. On most of these counts our government has failed.

There is corruption even in the so-called model democracies in the West, but three factors
bail them out. Firstly they have working legislation that inhibits theft of public funds. Secondly those who steal from public coffers tend to keep the proceeds in the country preventing the capital-flight that we are gripped by today. Thirdly, their judiciaries have the will, competence and independence to prosecute all offenders.

The reason we find ourselves in dire straits now is because of capital flight over the last score years. Money that should have been banked in Kenya is shoring up economies elsewhere. According to the Minister of Finance, “the government is broke”. Given the lack of transparency in the past it is impossible to tell whether our government is unable to govern because it has no money, or whether it is using the fact that it has no money as an excuse not to govern.

Assuming they are broke, this not only presents a serious economic problem, but a security risk too. Kenyan taxpayers have all the while assumed that their Armed Forces are on a high state of alert and well-prepared for any eventuality. Yet how can this be if the Government has no money. The first risk that arises should the Armed Forces fail for any reason to receive their dues is of a mutiny. God forbid, but they would be hard pressed not to take matters into their own hands as we recently saw in Zaire under the late Mobutu Sese Seko.

The second risk we run is even more sinister. Should Kenya come under attack from a private army or some mercenaries for whatever reasons, would the Armed Forces be able to defend the country? How would they be financed throughout such a crucial event?

Finally, because the press serve as society’s watchdog, they have a duty to investigate the thoughts and feelings of the nation without being overcautious or vague. Pick up a newspaper nowadays and you invariably find editorial writers, columnists, businessmen and even (funnily enough) politicians crying out in a chorus of ‘Leadership! Leadership!’ It is almost as if the ship of state like some doomed ocean liner is about to self-destruct on the icebergs of complacency with the captain nowhere in sight.

When the Kenya Wildlife Service director Dr David Western was recently sacked (only to be reinstated because of pressure from donors) an editorial stated: “Sacking executive after executive not only makes a mockery of job security and professionalism, it speaks of something very fundamentally wrong somewhere very high up”. But it stopped short of saying how high up ‘very high up’ is.20

It would be a welcome thing to see less media coverage of politicians and a greater focus on the opinions of the common man in both urban and rural areas. Let us remember that this country belongs to Kenyans, not the Kenyan government or parliament for that matter. Those are institutions devoted to the governing of the country. It’s ownership rests with it’s citizens and they alone.

The press usually shapes the focus of a nation. If they cast the limelight mainly on politicians and politics then so will the nation, yet we see little progress on that front. If they portray those who may be corrupt in glowing terms then the general public over a period of time may come to see corruption as a positive thing. Using the term ‘the powerful’ to refer to leaders may be a true depiction, but how does Joe Public understand that you were not trying to glamorise him (the leader)?

The press must never tire of fighting for a moral society while maintaining truth and ethics in their reports. If they allow themselves to be impressed by the wealth of corrupt individuals, then society as a whole is bound to lose.

While I have decried the rampant corruption within government, all generalisations are false. There exist, I believe, those who are committed to wiping graft out from within. I do not pretend to be a politician or leader of any kind. There are also those to whom the things I have discussed are bread and butter but what I can say is that now more than ever is the time for courage. Courage that may look misplaced in the face of voices which warn of terror and retribution if we speak up. Courage, for it is the only way forward because to remain silent is to invite more abuse.

“Future generations will ask ‘what did you do to change this?’ The actions we take right now will crystallise. We do not know if this is for better or worse. But one thing is certain. Nothing would be more damaging than to crystallise the current status quo for younger generations”.21

Kenyans have lost faith in talk of freedom and change as words used often but emptied of their meaning; vows made in the storm but forgotten in the calm. I don’t think we have any option other than to face our own demons.

Like the patriarch Jacob (which in Hebrew means ‘the deceiver’) we can no longer escape our past. But if we struggle as he did until daybreak we have the bright hope of creating a new name for ourselves as a land of morally upright people. A country which with the passage of time has the potential to become one of the great nation-states of the earth. A “safari nation” at peace with itself and the world.


Since the General election of December 1997, Kenya has had the misfortune of not having a Vice President with speculation flying fast and furious as to what agenda the President is pursuing in not naming one.

Leadership abhors a vacuum. Without a Vice President, should the President become incapacitated we would be faced with a successional dilemma at best. At worst an ensuing power struggle could lead to either anarchy or out and out tyranny. It is an appointment only he can make and must not delay any further.

Besides the inherent dangers posed by having no successor to the President there has been debate as to whether the government in it’s current form is then legally constituted. Legislator James Orengo has on more than one occasion argued that the constitutional requirement for a valid government is the President, Vice President and cabinet. Without an occupied Vice President’s seat, he says the government cannot be legally constituted. Hence the President would be breaking the law by failing to make this appointment.

And on this I will let Thomas Paine have the final word: “All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Government is not a trade which any man or body of men, has a right to set up and exercise for his own emolument, but it is altogether a trust, in right of those by whom that trust is delegated, and by whom it is always resumable”.22

The President (in any nation) is not greater than the nation itself. Neither are his personal interests above the well-being of the country as a whole. I am sure many Kenyans are incensed by this total disregard to their concerns; it is tantamount to playing Russian roulette with their destiny. The President must convince Kenyans that not having a Vice-President is somehow in their best interests.

As matters now stand, he is in breach of the trust placed in him by wananchi, he has failed to uphold his presidential oath, and owes the country both an explanation and an apology. He is in office by our mandate alone. Could it be he feels threatened by his own understudies? Whatever the case, any problems that may arise from this lack of prudence, he must be held directly responsible for.

1. “A World War On Bribery” by James Walsh, Time Magazine June 22,1998.
2. Transparency International is a non-profit making, non-governmental organisation, working to counter corruption both in international business transactions and through their national chapters, at national levels. It’s world corruption ratings are arrived at from a survey of business people, risk analysts and the general public.

Their address is:
Transparency International (T I)
Heylstrasse 33, D-10825 Berlin, Germany
Tel: (49) 30-787 59 08 Fax: (49) 30-787 57 07
E- mail: ti @ contrib.de
Internet: http: // www.is.in-berlin.de/service/ti.html

Chairman: Peter Eigen (Germany)
Managing Director: Jeremy Pope (New Zealand)
Bank Account No. 09 332 145 00
Dresdner Bank Berlin (Bank code 100 800 00)

3. “Contrasts and Connections” Schools History Project Discovering the Past Y7
Colin Shephard, Mike Forbishley, Alan Large, Richard Tames, 1991.
Problems in the Empire p.58,9.

4. Incidentally, our level of taxation stands at higher than that of 32 countries in Africa south of the Sahara. it is also higher than in many countries in the west where a kind of welfare state exists. We also have exceedingly high tax evasion rates. The annual income per Kenyan has fallen from $ 420 in [4][5]1980 to $260 today. The estimated number of Kenyans living below the poverty line has risen from 44% in 1989 to 50% today.

5. Thomas Paine “The Rights of Man”,1792.
6. Wall Street Journal, 27th May,1986 and Financial Times, 23rd February,1987.
7. Financial Times, London 14th October,1994.
8. Western traveller,1847.
9. The Daily Nation , Friday April 3,1998.
10. The Daily Nation editorial of Wednesday, May 20,1998.
11. The Daily Nation, Tuesday May 26,1998.
12. “There is no end to what a man can do as long as he doesn’t mind who will get the credit”- Ronald Reagan.
13. Thomas Paine “The Rights of Man”,1792.
14. The Daily Nation Thursday April 16, 1998
15. Paraphrased from “Jobs Specs for the Oval Office” By Hedley Donovan Time December 13,1992.

16. Lance Morrow, Time Magazine November 9,1987 “Who’s In Charge?”
17. Veronique Tadjo,
18. Literally ‘tea’ in Swahili but is used euphemistically to mean a bribe.
19. Ernest .W. Lefever, Senior fellow at The Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington as quoted by Time Magazine December 22, 1997.
20. The Daily Nation editorial Sunday May 24, 1998.
21. paraphrased from Val d’Oiseau, Veronique Tadjo.
22. Thomas Paine “The Rights of Man”,1792.