Saturday, November 22, 2008

This is the response the Kenya government made following my blog on piracy. These Somali leaders should go home and build their country and stop this piracy. They cannot do it from the safety of Nairobi.

Kenya threatens to impose sanctions on Somali MPs (Daily Nation)

By OLIVER MATHENGEPosted Saturday, November 22 2008 at 22:07
Kenya has threatened to impose sanctions against Somali leaders if they do not spearhead efforts to restore stability in the Horn of Africa country.
Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula issued the threat on Friday saying leaders must be responsible for the political situation in Somalia.
The minister said member states of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Development (Igad) would impose sanctions on the leaders and their family members.
He said this would ensure that the Somali leaders no longer sought “safe havens abroad. We are faced with an embarrassing situation where Somali Members of Parliament came to Kenya for a meeting and have refused to go back home,” the minister said.
“They have to go and build their country. They can’t leave it to warlords that are partly benefiting from this criminal enterprise. I think hard decisions have to be made in one way or the other to enable us move to the next level.”
Mr Wetang’ula was speaking at the InterContinental Hotel in Nairobi, where he hosted heads of foreign missions in the country for a consultative meeting over the escalating incidences of piracy along the East African coastline.
He attributed this increase to the political instability in Somalia. Defence minister Yusuf Haji also attended the meeting.
The international community has raised concern over the growing number of hijacked ships in the Indian Ocean reportedly by Somali pirates. The minister said President Kibaki would host an international conference in Nairobi to discuss the matter. He however did not give a date for the meeting.
“The plot has been thickening day by day, and has now turned into a major international enterprise affecting all of us,” the minister said. He said the fact that pirates were now hijacking ships from as long as 800km from the shore showed that the problem was big.
Praising a decision by India three days ago to destroy one of its hijacked vessels, Mr Wetang’ula said that all countries must now prepare to act tough on the pirates.
“I think sometimes we must take decisions that are harsh... We must act now,” he said.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I hate to say this but I told you so. In a previous post on piracy I warned that these thugs will be targeting a more valuable vessel than the fishing boats they have been hitting. They now have a 100 million dollar worth of crude and a whole tanker under their armpits. They are operating with daring impudence and temerity. They are collecting ransom right left and center. They defied international maritime law and instituted their own banditry laws that puts to shame the pirates of old, Caribbean included. The world is still at a loss on how to handle them.

We cannot turn merchant ships into warships. Merchant vessels should prowl the waters safely and uninhibited. The law of the sea cannot be turned to the law of the jungle. These pirates must be faced with utmost force and be annihilated. There should be no safe haven for them. All their operating bases should be targeted and destroyed. All who harbor them should hang with them. The beneficiaries of the loot should not be spared either.

This brings me to the question, where is all the ransom money going? We know it is not financing the building of hospitals in Mogadishu, neither is it financing education or supplying water to the Somalis. This loot is being recycled to buy arms to destabilize the region and entrench some warlords in power. This is a recipe for disaster both inside Somalia and in the neighboring countries. Kenya is still sitting and watching and even hosting the so called Somali government MPs in the capital. If they cannot control their own backyard, what business does the Kenya government have in according them any recognition.

You cannot lead by telepathy, which is what these fellows attempt to do from the safety of Eastleigh lodgings. Kick them out and let them go and tame these pirates. Parading some fellows in court delivered by the British doesn’t mean we are doing much. Don’t we have a sizable Somali population in Kenya? Don’t they have links with some of those Somalis? Must we wait for someone to put their finger in our noses before we react. As Achebe would ask, if someone comes and defecates on your floor, do you close your eyes and pretend not to see? No! You take a stick and break his neck. These have not only defecated on our floor they are defecating on our food lines, our export routes, our import routes, our fuel route and we are closing our eyes and pretending not to see.

Cut off those safe havens. Simply splatter them along the ocean shore. Bomb them if need be to oblivion. This way we are protecting ourselves from being hit where it hurts. If this piracy continues we are going to pay dearly and the events of August 1998 will look like Diwali fireworks. My philosophy is simple, preemptive strike is not cowardice. Let us give maximum support to those fighting our battles for us, the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy, While we shamelessly debate over whether to punish the killers in our midst who sponsored the ethnic cleansing after the elections, the two nations have taken the mantle to defend our gates. We have lost the moral authority to point at these pirates for our actions are worse than theirs. The pirates in our leadership should be routed out too.
If that supertanker is not rescued, through ransom or by force, and the pirates destroy it as they might, the environmental consequences will be catastrophic. Believe me they are prone to destroy it. nothing matters to them other than ransom. Then what? They will take another one and another one? Someone must put a stop to this. There must be preemptive action. Seal those safe havens, splatter those mother ships, cease those ransoms, enforce maritime international law. Kenya government stands indicted. This happening at your door step on your watch, and you are doing nothing discernible to help yourself or others. The ball is squarely in your coat. Do not fold your tail and hide behind grass blades. Even if you can’t bite, just bark.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


So Kenya declared a public holiday to celebrate Obama’s victory. A number of goats and bulls and countless chicken have met with premature death in the name of celebration. This is all good and befitting the man soon to reside in the best-known address in the USA. All this euphoric celebration made me think of the way we celebrated our own election results some ten months ago. Instead of slaughtering goats and chicken we slaughtered each other. Instead of letting the law and legally empowered institutions take action we hijacked that responsibility and went berserk. Instead of accepting defeat in humility and meekness we still harbor grudges and seek revenge. Yet when the Americans carry out the very same process and elect their leader, we shamelessly take to the streets in tumultuous celebration and declare holidays.

What is the lesson to be learned from the American elections? First is the maturity of democratic practice. People listen, reason and react. People do not react then reason. If the power of the spoken word is not backed by the power of the character behind the word, then the prospective candidate has no chance. In Kenya we want to back our words with force not character. That is why we have politicians hiring some goons to intimidate their opponents. We saw the humility of John McCain in his concession speech, if you are defeated, eat the humble pie and live to fight another day. But Kenyans are never losers, even if they get one per cent of the votes it is rigging and not democracy.

Second we must learn to cherish our institutions. Beginning with the election process. This must be made sacrosanct. It must be beyond manipulation and bias. This can only come about if we learn to man the institutions with competent men and women. Our social, economic and political fabric has been weakened by our allowing cronyism and payback is the guiding principles of appointing people to these institutions. We must transcend this and look at competence, integrity, patriotism and devotion to democratic ideals in the appointments.

Third we must learn to appreciate our own values. We should not rush to embrace only those who turn out to be successful. There are many Kenyans who in their own small ways should make us proud. Let us also celebrate them the way we celebrate this American whose father was a Kenyan.

Fourth every child out there ought to take heart and know that the only thing that can limit your becoming what you dream is you. Obama grew without a father in the house, his mother died of cancer, and his grandmother who did not live to savor his victory brought him up. This is typical of some boys out there and they should take heart that someone has walked the path and made it. This however does not mean the fathers should abscond from their responsibilities. But there is much to learn from this victory than claiming kinship and seeking favors. The greatest lesson to me is that dreams come, true, no matter how long it takes.

Some members of parliament are bending backward looking for appropriate preachers and priests to conduct public prayers of thanksgiving. There is nothing wrong with prayers but there is everything wrong if the purpose is to be seen to be most loyal and greatest praise singer of the US president-elect. Remember the IDPs in your backyard; they need more prayers and perhaps some handouts, if not their homes. When was the last time you called for prayers or help for them or visited them? If you are religious you might remember the saying that Jesus said that if you help any of these (referring to the children and suffering) you are doing it to me. Charity begins at home. Pray to Our Father who art in Heaven, not to the one who art the Whitehouse.

Lastly, if we are a working nation we need to change our attitude to work. Kenya has at least eleven official public holidays, more if you are a Hindu, more if the president visits your area and more if Obama wins elections. Thank God it is only possible one more time. Add to this the annual leave, sick leave, funeral leave and you have two months of working time off and paid. Kenya should rethink her work ethic. The policy of hanging jackets on chairs and closing offices for lunch should be reviewed. Stagger the lunch hours, even if this will dismantle the nyama choma lunch clubs, and deliver services whole day. Pay people per hour rather than per month or per day and this will improve productivity. Instead of a public holiday, Kenyans should have worked full day Saturday, and for free.

So my fellow Kenyans as we rush to establish kinship with the US president-elect, let us first cherish the kingdom we have in our land, nurture it, and learn from the lessons of the American Dream. Blood, sweat, toil, and fatalities of Civil War and civil rights movement marked the path walked by many before Obama could start on the journey towards the presidency of the United States of America. Let us not just see the breasting of the tape but the rigors of the journey, the agonies of the afflicted, the desperation of the destitute, let us pull them up for they too have a dream.

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