Wednesday, May 23, 2007



We are a nation under siege. The gruesome killing and decapitation of innocent Kenyans is not only barbaric and ghastly but it also sends some ominous signals about the collapse of security system in the country. These murders are becoming too frequent and too macabre to be the works of 'normal criminals'.

The execution style beheadings and dismemberment of the victims is symbolic of sending alarms, fear, despondency and submission to the populace. The people are being cowed and there is no apparent help from the law enforcers. Our police force is under siege, with their numbers being decimated daily by the same criminals they are chasing. Their response is to execute innocent tailors whose only crime is being law abiding and carrying legitimate business in crime prone areas. Whether these killers are mungiki or not, it does not matter, the bottom line is heinous crimes have been committed, innocent Kenyans have been massacred, beheaded, mutilated and fed to the dogs, policemen have been killed in line of duty, and we have not had these criminal apprehended and taken to court.

We have killers and their paymasters on the loose. People do not just become demented over night and start chopping off others heads without cause. Somebody is instigating this mayhem. Somebody is planning, supporting, encouraging and perhaps benefiting now or in future from this. It is just too systematic to be random. I do not claim monopoly of this theory, I am not a trained crime buster but I do not need to have gone to Kiganjo to come to these conclusions. I am sure the police must have come to the same conclusions. Let us see action, let us have the local leaders being utilised in the search for these criminals. Somebody knows these criminals, somebody feeds them breakfast, lunch and dinner, somebody washes their bloody clothes after they commit these crimes. Somebody sees them sleep the whole day and go to work at night, somebody sees them spend money without an apparent job. Somebody has a hunch about somebody else, yet no one comes forward with information. Perhaps we are too numbed, too afraid to speak. This is what the criminals want, the society we live in has been too inured and anesthetized to become my brothers keeper.

The people trust their government to protect them. From Mt Elgon to Karuri, Muranga to Kiambu, even in the city itself, tax payers deserve a better deal. Calling for calm and no retaliation is not the final solution, if no positive results are forthcoming, if the police will not defend the people, then the people will defend themselves and the results will not be pleasant. How many must die before drastic actions are taken. It is no weakness admitting your own weakness. Desperate time require desperate measures, these are desperate times. If the government is weak in solving crisis after crisis, murder after murder, call for help, this is no shame, there are foreigners more schooled in this yet we cling on to our myths of superiority while our people get killed daily and no convictions are obtained in courts. Get help and learn from it and move on.

Protecting the citizenry should be paramount. When people are insecure they cannot thrive. The government must come out firm and decisive, there should be no compromise. Those sympathetic to the criminals and those harboring them or bank rolling them should face the law. Some of those in the present government were ruthless in law enforcement during the Mau Mau war, why they cannot use the same decisiveness and wrath beats logic. The police should get to the root of these criminal activities that sprout every election year. They have the manpower, they claim to be the best, what is stopping them from getting the results. Is someone blocking their way? We do not want the parades of the suspects, we want the convictions of the criminals, that way we will know they are safely behind bars and we can continue our work in peace.

Mr. president, if you cannot twirl the whip and check this mayhem, then the people might turn and give it to someone else who can. Save your job.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Is Raila’s populism good for Kenya?

It is increasingly evident that the elections later in the year might be a race between the incumbent Mwai Kibaki and the pompous populist Raila Odinga. We have known Kibaki’s style of leadership tutored under Kenyatta and Moi, and whetted over the last four years in state house. Every one who knew Kibaki was aware that the man from Othaya was not a bulldozer that clears the forest of stumps and rolls the boulders away overnight. Kibaki is a calculating and patient operator hacking at the stumps and splitting the boulders a splint at a time. He tends to focus on specific issues, like economy, and pushes others, like security, to the periphery, as to the efficacy of this is a matter for another forum. Raila on the other hand is a bulldozer clearing all on his path without sifting through the debris while paving a highway for his hummer.

That Raila is a calculating politician is not in doubt. His frequent metamorphosis and mutation makes it difficult to discern what manner of a man he is. One day he is the revolutionary overthrowing a legitimate government by force, the next he is a die hand oppositionist of a duly elected government and on the third day he rises up as the secretary general of the very party whose cockerel he was feasting on the previous night. Raila’s casuistry and political maneuvers are all aimed at one thing, sitting on the throne at state house. Raila hopes to become a king , a supreme chief and not a servant of the people, he is like a chameleon which can hide its color but not its character.

Raila is at constant pains to explain himself, his chequered past haunts him and places veritable blocks to his veracity and trust. Our professed aspirations are measured against our past actions. When it comes to walking the talk your past paces and strides determine the trust and faith the people accord your current pronouncements.

Kibera is home to one of the biggest slums in Africa. Of late we in the diaspora have been inundated with news clips of various dignitaries visiting Kibera. The squalor, filth and dilapidated life of the residents have become a tourist attraction. Recently one of the most widely watched television programmes in the USA, American Idol, featured Kibera’s emasculated, bedridden HIV/AIDS victims. Yes, this helps to touch the American benevolence but it does not help to shore up Raila’s leadership and concern. Pictures of dignitaries jumping over cesspools and open sewers are not the showpiece of the backyard of an aspiring president.

Raila thrives on populism and mass adoration. He does not thrive on performance and delivery. Raila is heavy on promise and weak on delivery. Langata, like every other constituency in Kenya is recipient of millions in CDF, yet there is little to show for it. While he is busy traversing the country like a gothic warrior, his backyard is a quagmire of desolation and disdain. It is true Raila did not create Kibera slums, Raila inherited Kibera slums but Raila has not shown a way out of Kibera slums. Charity begins at home. If you cannot scratch your own itching belly, how can you scratch my itching back.

Raila thrives on hero worship. Those that will not bow to his throne will be discarded. Those that have crossed his path in the past, directly or by association better be digging holes to hide when he is enthroned. Raila will not just be sworn in, no, his handlers can not allow that, Raila will have a coronation, complete with pages, horse carriage and bag pipers. Raila’s ego cannot allow him to be humble in victory just as he cannot be meek in defeat.

There are numerous obstacles in his path to the state house though. The people will have to be convinced that he is not going there for revenge. As yet most Kenyans fear this may be a driving force. Raila’s combativeness will not give room to dissent and reconciliation. In politics you only need a whiff of fear, despondence or disdain for the embers to erupt into flames. The people will need continuous assurance and appeasement that there will ot be revenge and retribution. Kenya has thrived on forgiving and forgetting the suffering of the past. Kenyatta paved the way with reassurance of the settlers, Moi followed with the Ngorokos and change the constitution group, Kibaki followed with Moi and his henchmen. That is how Kenya has survived. We cannot build a nation on fear and apprehension, peace and tranquility does not thrive in suspicion and mistrust. Raila does not exude tranquility, forgiveness and humility. At this early stage of campaign, he manifests the arrogance of the monarch rather than the timidity of the servant he purports to become.

Raila is hampered by cultural bias. No matter how much we try to ignore it, culture, customs and ethnicity, play a big role in Kenyan elections. Kenyans may be mesmerized by flamboyance, big entourage, and bashing of the government of the day, but they will recede to their tribal and cultural cocoons when the push comes to the shove. Kenyans have started to feel the warmth from Kibaki’s fire, they feel their pockets being heavier, they are more optimistic than before , they are more prone to blame Kibaki’s handlers, and punish them, and leave Kibaki alone. Kenyans know that Raila is notorious of jumping ships whenever he sees it being steered from his chosen course.

Raila is not a team player no matter how much football allegories he alludes. Raila would rather sink the boat than have it steered to a safer port if he is not at the wheel. Raila will rock the Kenyan boat and derail the progress that is already initiated through his extremist policies if he takes the helm.

The emerging middle class that purportedly support Raila is the same class that never bothers to vote. The elitist campaigns alienate the poor and suffering. Ostentatious parades and grandiose launchings resonate very well with the middle class and some western donors, but are fodder for those opposing him. The majority of voters are for here and now and will not remember the promises of yesterday tomorrow. But they will remember the missed meals when the left over was fed to the pigs.

It is time to tone down the big talk and get to the nuts and bolts of how and where. The platitudes and slogans are the hallmarks of revolutionary leaders. Humility, meekness, modesty coupled with positive actions, vision and trust are the trademarks of true leaders. The same multitude that shouted Hosanna! Hosanna! is the same that shouted Crucify Him! Crucify Him! five days later. Raila led the Hosanna chorus five years ago, now he is orchestrating the crucify chorus. You can’t trust this man.

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